Katrina versus Libertarians

Like much of the blogosphere, Centroids has been
discussing the fallout from Katrina and what it tells us about
both government and Libertarian philosophy — specifically, the
limits of both.

The discussion has certainly been spirited, if somewhat uneven.
One of the most creative was Rich Hockett’s proposal for privatizing and tying
together flood prevention and insurance, which led me to
assert three fundamental fallacies of Libertarianism
:

a) There is always a
solution that does not require a strong central authority with coercive
powers

b) Big business
is inherently wiser than big
government

c) Rational,
self-interested financial calculations *always* yield the optimal social result

and the following axiom of small
government
:

In
order to deal with a real, large problem, the only way to make government a)
smaller is to simultaneously make it b) stronger, and c)
smarter

My problem with
Libertarians is that they demand (a) while claiming (b) is undesirable and (c)
is impossible! I also replied to Rich’s fundamental
principles:

> 1) there
are many problems that can (and should) be handled by the private sector rather
than the public, and that’s OK
🙂

> 2) local institutions
(private and public) are more effective and efficient than big
government

> 3) rational,
self-interested financial calculations often yield better results than political
aspirations

with my own
premises:

a) Market
solutions allow greater individual creativity at the price of lower social
accountability

b) Local
solutions enable greater responsiveness at the risk of global
mis-optimization

c) Rational,
self-interested financial calculations are only optimal if they take into
account long-term
consequences

d) Rational,
self-interested political calculations are only optimal if they take into
account long-term
consequences

though I did
concede:

e) Our current
financial systems tend to provide greater discipline than our current political
systems

Though as a fixable aspect
of the systems involved, not an immutable law of nature.

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