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20151017 Machinery of Freedom

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MAIN IDEA:

The main idea of this book is to present consistent set of libertarian approach to practically all main functions of contemporary society and demonstrate how this approach could leads to much better society than we live in now. The key foundation of this libertarian approach is private property and use of privately controlled entities to fulfill all functions that currently done by governments not only in economic, educational, environmental, safety net, and similar areas, but also in area of use of violence necessary to protect country, maintain order, and support effective legal system.

DETAILS:

Part I: In Defense Of Property

  1. In Defense Of Property

This is a brief review of meaning of property and its link to human rights. Basically it is about human rights to property. It also reviews notions of public property versus private property and different forms of property from land to airways. It also looks at market as a place for property exchange and government interference with exchange and other activities, consequently reviewing socialism as a system of coercion incompatible with human freedom that necessarily includes uncontrolled behavior and free exchange..

  1. A Necessary Digression: This is discussion about connection between effort and returns where author makes a point that in private property based free market society everybody gets what he deserves based on need for result of his/her activity.
  2. Love Is Not Enough: This is about free market exchange while being selfish, nevertheless provides necessary goods and services to everybody unlike any other system either religious love based charity or socialist expert led allocation of resources that typically leaves people at best underserved and at worse dead, like Ukrainian peasants who were starved by communists who confiscated their food and sold it on the world markets to finance industrialization.

Interlude: This is a brief note noting that reality is always different from theoretical analysis. In theory one can talk about pure private property vs. public property when in reality everything is always mixed in unpredictable proportions.

  1. Robin Hood Sells Out: This is an interesting point that majority of programs of welfare society in reality does not transfer resources from rich to poor, but quite opposite from poor to people who are better off. The typical example is social security that transfers resources from relatively poor young to relatively well to do seniors.
  2. The Rich Get Richer And The Poor Get Richer: The point here is that in free market society without government intervention while rich are getting richer, the poor have a lot more resources as result, so despite relative increase in inequality, the conditions of the poor are getting better all the time.
  3. Monopoly I: How To Lose Your Shirt: This is a very interesting and quite convincing discussion of impossibility to seriously benefit from monopoly on free market with multiple examples of how attempt to benefit from monopoly hurts monopolist at the long run.
  4. Monopoly II: State Monopoly For Fun And Profit: The second part of monopoly discussion relates to monopoly enforced by government. These ones are really profitable in all their varieties because they all amount to limitation of free market and artificially restrict supply, forcing customers overpay.

8.Exploitation and Interest: This is a brief discussion of Marx’s theory of value and consequently critic of idea of exploitation with derived notion of unfairness of inheritance tax.

  1. I Don’t Need Nothing: This is critic of use of notion of need as justification for claim on resources created by other people. As soon as needs are satisfied via government intervention, the individual ability to define own needs disappear, necessarily substituted by government decisions which needs are legitimate and which are not. Obviously such decision making process completely denies individual’s freedom.

Part II: Libertarian Grab Bag Or How To Sell The State In Small Pieces Paranoia

  1. Sell The Schools: This is about school vouchers as libertarian solution for education.
  2. A Radical Critique Of American Universities: This is critique of universities, as organizations in which interest of worker (teacher) does not really relate to the task of teaching. It is directed at obtaining tenure via publishing articles in professional journals and building career enhancing relationships.
  3. The Impossibility Of A University: Contemporary universities become political organization and as such they are promoting political solutions beneficial for them, which always include resource transfer to universities to train bureaucrats and overall growth of government in order to provide jobs for increased ranks of trained bureaucrats.
  4. Adam Smith U.: This is author suggestion for restructuring universities to make them flexible, market oriented, and capable to train professionals with skills valuable on free market.
  5. Open The Gates: This is libertarian solution for immigration: open gates. Author believes that as long as government expense is at or below taxes paid by immigrant, everything will be fine.
  6. Sell The Streets: This is suggestion to privatize streets and roads and make people pay for their use. It was written before GPS so technologically it become even more feasible now.
  7. 99 and 44/100ths Percent Built: This is suggestion to reshuffle city transportation system. It is outdated, but could be characterized as expansion of idea behind the Uber.
  8. A First Step: Here author discusses drastic localization of government as the feasible step in direction of libertarian future.
  9. Counterattack: This is about capitalism’s counterattack against big government, which always decreases quality of life when it expands in another area. This opens opportunity to legal action government supported against monopolies that hurt people.
  10. Might Have Been: This is about hypothetical development of space industry sans government intervention. It is quite possible that it would developed much faster and in more efficient way if it were private money used to try many different ways to achieve success and in process finding the most effective way. As it were, it become one and only way of development selected by bureaucracy that was used and whether it was efficient or not would forever remain unknown. Author even comes up with Friedman’s law: government invests twice as much as private sector to achieve the same result.
  11. Is William F. Buckley A Contagious Disease? 21. It’s My Life: These chapters directed against conservatives’ proclivity to criminalize non-violent behavior such as use of narcotics and overall government interference in medicine and other areas to save people from themselves. Obviously such interference is completely against libertarian ideas.
  12. The Rights Of Youth: This one is about libertarian attitude to children’s rights.
  13. Creeping Capitalism 24. If You Want It, Buy It 25. Scarce Means Finite 26. Pollution 27. Buckshot For A Socialist Friend

This group of chapters is about tendency of capitalism to fill up for multiple deficiencies of real socialism of XX century. It uses example of Czechoslovakia to demonstrate how it happens. It also discusses how socialism fails in different areas and, very important, it states that capitalism does not impose any restriction on people who want socialism except preventing them from taking property and lives of people who do not want socialism. After all millions of socialists and sympathizers can combine their property, set up whatever organization they want to and live according to their ideas.

 

Part III: Anarchy Is Not Chaos: Anarchy

  1. What Is Anarchy? What Is Government? 29. Police Courts, And Laws–On The Market 30. The Stability Problem 31. Is Anarcho-Capitalism Libertarian?
  2. And, As A Free Bonus 33. Socialism, Limited Government, Anarchy and Bikinis 34. National Defense: The Hard Problem 35. In Which Prediction Is Reduced To Speculation 36. Why Anarchy? 37. Revolution Is The Hell Of It
  3. The Economics Of Theft, Or The Nonexistence Of The Ruling Class 39. The Right Side Of The Public Good Trap 40. How To Get There From Here

These chapters present discussion about hypothetical libertarian society where everything including violent organizations of army, police, and legal system are in private hands and ruled by free market rules. Also is discussed a strategy of transfer from current society to libertarian one.

 

Part IV: For Libertarians: An Expanded Postscript

  1. Problems 42. Where I stand 43. Answers: Economic Analysis Of Law Enforcement 44. Medieval Iceland, And Libertarianism 45. Is There Libertarian Foreign Policy? 46. The Market for Money 47. Anarchist Politics: Concerning The Libertarian Part 48. G.K. Chesterton-An Author Review

This is continuation of review of fine points of libertarian position on implementation of substitutes for government functions of violence and economic control via money supply with libertarian solutions based on private property right.

Part V: Further Thoughts

  1. The First Legal System 50. Anarcho-Capitalism: The Kindergarten Version 51. Bargaining into Anarchic Order 52. A Positive Account of Rights: This part provides more detail on author views on non-governmental legal system, individual rights and libertarian approach to these issues.

 

  1. Market Failure, an Argument for and Against Government 54. Anarchy and Efficient Law 55. Default Rules and Stability 56. The Hard Problem II: Author defines Market Failure as situation when individual rational decision leads to irrational decision by the group. Example provided is soldier’s behavior on battlefield that if runs away alone would save his live without significant change in outcome, but if everybody runs battle would be lost and defeated army including this soldier massacred. Group cohesiveness is a hard problem for libertarians so author provides his ideas of solution.
  2. Initial Appropriation: This discussion is about libertarian ideas of initial creation of private property as moral foundation of libertarian society. Author reviews different approaches to this issue.
  3. Welfare and Immigration:

This is brief discussion about link between welfare and immigration: the best approach is unlimited immigration on condition that welfare state is dismantled.

 

Part VI: New Stuff

  1. Problems with Ayn Rand’s Derivation of Ought from Is 60. The Economics of Virtue and Vice 61. An Argument I lost: Here author discusses moral philosophy of libertarianism and critics Ayn Rand’s objectivism for logical deficiencies of its moral argument about life and death. Then he provides kind of economical point of view on vice and virtue.
  2. Capitalist Trucks 63. The Conservative Mistake 64. The Misuse of Externality Arguments:

These chapters somewhat repeat earlier discussion on necessity of government for control of use of common goods like roads and attempt to demonstrate that libertarian society could handle this and no government would be required for this.

  1. Unschooling: A Libertarian Approach to Children

This chapter is about author’s highly successful experience with educating and training his children at home.

  1. Welcome to the Future

The final chapter presents author’s hope that libertarian order will be achieved sometime in the future and the world of strong property rights, minimal to non-existing government, and free market is eventually coming on the long run.

MY TAKE ON IT:

I consider myself rights libertarian so my main difference with author is limited to private property – author believes in its sanctity, while I believe that property is just effective and efficient mechanism to control and use resources based on violence and coercion and as such has no sanctity whatsoever. However being the best mechanism invented to support human lives and society of humans, private property need a small enhancement in form of equal rights for natural resources for everybody so an actual property owner who controls property in amount more than average would have to purchase rental rights for such excess from people who own and/or use less. This enhancement removes the reason for welfare state, which legitimacy comes from need to support people who are propertyless and unable to make living by selling labor, because with equal rights for resources nobody is propertyless.

Another significant, but much less important difference is that author believes in viability of private army, police, and legal system, while I believe in necessity, of government in possession of overwhelming violent power capable to suppress any competition. I think that democracy in conjunction with bureaucratization of violent organizations of army and police when individual leaders could not obtain effective control over these organizations proved to be quite sufficient mechanism capable to prevent coups and use of violence in order extract rents directly. In my opinion multiple private armies and police organizations would be less effective in protection from external threat and prone to fights between themselves. Other than these issues I agree with just about everything in this book.


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