Feed on

Since people in the United States seem to think that there is such a thing as “we” and given that “we” seem to all want a hefty dose of socialism now, I thought it would be polite to spend a week talking about some of the things that government does (when it is not pointing a gun at me) that appear to be good ideas …After all, since there is a “we” it must be the case that I am a socialist too!

First up … Mandating sprinkler systems in certain buildings

  1. The advent of sprinkler technology has substantially reduced the cost of dealing with fires … but more importantly, it has made “fire protection” more of a private good than a public good. So this is a step by government to lower the costs of public fire protection services, and to move us in the direction of freedom.
  2. Of course, sprinkler companies stand to gain from such mandates, at the expense of some other alternatives … let’s just give the benefit of the doubt here for the sake of brotherhood and solidarity.

A runner up for my top choice was going to be rules that make it illegal for me to drive on the wrong side of the road … restricting my freedom can increase ALL of our freedoms. But then, think about whether order would emerge without such “laws” on the books.

2 Responses to “Be Nice to Socialists Week – Entry #1”

  1. Patrick says:

    “But then, think about whether order would emerge without such “laws” on the books.”

    Maybe, but extra incentives don’t hurt usually. I mean, you certainly need laws against murder, and other such crimes. There’s not enough incentives for people to behave in an anarchy system, in many cases I think.

  2. Patrick says:

    You might say that a legal system could emerge without government. Maybe, I mean if I went out and robbed Mary Sue over there than I could be ostracized from society, or even robbed back by someone else. Vigilante justice could still exist.

    But isn’t a police force and legal system organized by the government just a way of reducing transactions costs for justice, basically? Its a lot easier for Mary to call the 100% ready and trained angry mob (the police) to go after me than for her to try and rile up a bunch of her friends to try and come out and force me to pay her compensation. Taxes are a kind of an insurance system; if you don’t want to be robbed you should pay them. Of course if taxes were optional you get free rider problems, so the government solves the free-rider problem by forcing everyone to pay taxes.

    Just like the middleman can reduce prices and still make a profit, the government can reduce freedoms and still make a better society. Just because there is not a more efficient way to have a police force or an army, really. Any private force encounters free rider problems, and in order to solve those problems in a LARGE society you need to make participation mandatory.

    As for sprinkler systems, if they weren’t mandatory you would get a lot more fires I’m sure. People aren’t necessarily that forward thinking and, just like they don’t buy certain kinds of insurance or whatever they may decide that it would be easier not to have sprinklers. It affects other people if you have a fire, because they spread to other buildings and people could get injured. So in order to make sure people take into account the externalities the government does some magic hoohah and makes it mandatory to have sprinkler systems in some buildings.

    I don’t know if that makes any sense at all, because I don’t know my economics too well at all, but that’s how I would look at it.

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