A Meditation on Minarchy
By Arnold Kling
continued growth of government is not inevitable. But a word of caution: Neither is big government’s demise inevitable. Sometimes conservatives and even libertarians predict that big government is doomed. Some point to modern technology as the savior: The rise of personal computers and the microchip, along with the move away from mass production toward small batch, specialized production, was supposed to mean that modern, top-down bureaucracy was obsolete. But it hasn’t worked out that way.
The essay is hard to excerpt, because it is fairly tightly integrated. Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for the pointer.
I do think that modern technology creates more complexity and more local knowledge than central government can handle.
But how would we get to limited government?
a) The leaders will wake up one day and decide to give it to us.
b) Lots of people will one day wake up and demand it.
c) Competition for strong central government will emerge.
After Iain Murray’s talk yesterday, a woman who works for a small libertarian organization in France told me that half of recent French graduates of top universities are currently residing outside of France.
Mencius Moldbug would have us consider undesired government programs, regulations, and taxes as a form of rent that we pay. George Lakoff prefers to think of “membership dues.” Perhaps the rent in France has gotten too high for some of the best and brightest there, so they are moving to the UK and the U.S.
This suggests that the real technological fix for libertarians would be enhanced mobility. By the way, I once heard Robert Metcalfe say that the ultimate killer application for the Internet would be teleporting, so that your physical location is not a constraint. If that were possible, would government rents go way down?