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General / Rude Hedgehogs
« on: July 14, 2009, 09:13:47 AM »

The Show / Saturday's archive
« on: June 21, 2009, 02:41:40 PM »
Being in the UK, I generally listen to the show's archives, and was looking forward to the interview with Walter Block. Unfortunately, Saturday's archive seems to to be less than a minute long due to technical difficulties. Is there going to be a fixed version put on the site soon?

General / The Incredible Bread Machine
« on: June 16, 2009, 11:45:40 AM »
Libertarian Movie
[youtube=425,350]<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/ycGRERrGsMo&hl=en&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/ycGRERrGsMo&hl=en&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>[/youtube]

The Show / Anarchy in Somalia
« on: May 09, 2009, 06:50:33 AM »
From the Independent Institute, Peter Leeson "Better off Stateless: Somalia Before and After Government Collapse."

Notable quotations:

Overall assessment

I use an “event study” to investigate the impact of statelessness on Somali development. This study compares the state of 18 key development indicators in Somalia before and after its government collapsed. These indicators are comprehensive in covering all angles of development for which data are available pre- and post-statelessness. While it is important to avoid romanticizing Somalia, the results suggest that statelessness has substantially improved Somali development. I find that on nearly all indicators Somalia is doing significantly better under anarchy than it was under government. This improvement has been made possible by renewed vibrancy in key sectors of the economy and public goods in the absence of state predation.


Most depictions of Somalia grossly exaggerate the extent of violence. In reality, fewer people die from armed conflict in some parts of Somalia than do in neighboring countries that have governments. In these areas security is better today than it was under government (UNDP 2001). About the same number of annual deaths in Somalia are due to childbirth as are attributable to war—roughly four percent of the total UNDP/World Bank 2003: 16). And these deaths are combatants, not civilians. “Atrocities against civilians are now almost of unheard of” (Menkhaus 2004: 30). This is still too high, but far from cataclysmic. In fact, it’s not far from the percentage of deaths due to homicide in middle-income countries such as Mexico, which in 2001 was 3.6 (WHO 2006).

Crime relative to governed neighbours

Information about crime in stateless Somalia can also be gleaned from this thriving [cross border cattle trading] sector. The cross-border livestock trade is facilitated by brokers (dilaal) who certify for buyers and sellers that traded livestock are not stolen. Dilaal incur liability if livestock they certify is illegitimate. In this capacity they act as insurance for cross-border traders. Data on brokers’ fees pre- and post-anarchy suggest that fees have not risen since government’s collapse. Between 1988 and 1998 dilaal fees remained the same (Little 2003: 109). If thievery increased between 1988 and 1998 we would expect to dilaal fees to have risen. The fact that they have not suggests that, at least in the sizeable livestock sector, thievery has not increased under anarchy. In fact, dilaal fees are lower on the Somali side of the cross-border trade than they are on the Kenyan side, indicating that thievery is more problematic in Kenya, which has a government, than in Somalia.

General improvements

The data depict a country with severe problems, but one which is clearly doing better under statelessness than it was under government. Of the 18 development indicators, 14 show unambiguous improvement under anarchy. Life expectancy is higher today than was in the last years of government’s existence; infant mortality has improved 24 percent; maternal mortality has fallen over 30 percent; infants with low birth weight has fallen more than 15 percentage points; access to health facilities has increased more than 25 percentage points; access to sanitation has risen eight percentage points; extreme poverty has plummeted nearly 20 percentage points; one year olds fully immunized for TB has grown nearly 20 percentage points, and for measles has increased ten; fatalities due to measles have dropped 30 percent; and the prevalence of TVs, radios, and telephones has jumped between 3 and 25 times.

Importantly, the indicators in Table 1 also do not measure the substantial increase in personal freedoms and civil liberties enjoyed by Somalis since the emergence of anarchy. The Somali government ruthlessly suppressed free speech, censoring newspapers, radio andtelevision. Most forms of free expression were punishable by death and foreign travel was severely restricted. Today, in contrast, Somalis are free to travel as they please (restricted only by governments of other nations) and enjoy greater freedom of expression, both privately and publicly. 20 private newspapers, 12 radio and television stations, and several Internet sites now provide information to the Somali public (Freedom House 2005). Satellite-based televisions
enable the transmission of international news services, including CNN (Little 2003: 170-171). Authorities in Somaliland and Puntland have attempted to interfere with media providers in their territories, but freedom of expression remains improved compared to its status under government. This constitutes an additional important, though unmeasured, increase in Somali welfare under anarchy.

Compared to Governed neighbours

Consistent with Table 1, Somalia performs worse on adult literacy compared to its neighbors between the periods. Still, on the majority of the indicators considered here, Somalia improved more than its neighbors over the same period, suggesting that the collapse of government resulted in greater development improvements than would have occurred in its absence. In a number of cases, Somalia has been improving while its neighbors have been declining.

The Show / Private protection of our neighbours
« on: May 03, 2009, 01:09:36 PM »
Wow, it really kicked off on Saturday with that whole thing about whether the market could provide police protection!

Anyway, Mark said that, in a free market society, firms would only be incentivised to protect their clients, not anybody else. So he said that if your neighbour was getting burgled, and your security firm knew, it would have no incentive, or little incentive to do anything about it.

My thoughts on this are, firstly, it is simply not true that security firms have no incentive not to protect people who are not their clients: Think about mall security. If you were gtting beaten up in your local mall, the security would come help you. You aren't their client, though.

Secondly, Ian's point was good that the firm might want to increase goodwill towards it, kind of like Wal*Mart following hurrican Katrina. However, Mark's point in response was good, that the burglar could have his own security firm, and so yours and his would have to resolve disputes between them, which could be costly for your firm, but it couldn't cover those costs in you bill, etc. On the other hand, though, your firm could film the guy burgling, keep a record of the movements, and submit this in case your neighbour wanted to bring the burglar to justice. This won't cost as much.

However, another thought on this I had was, OK, so that means that if you don't hire the services of private protection agencies, you may not get protected - other firms may have little incentive to protect you, because you haven't paid them to. But so what? Should it really be the case that people should be robbed to pay for the protection of others against being robbed because those others don't get their own protection?

The Show / Evil robot takeover
« on: April 23, 2009, 09:50:49 AM »
Oh God, its gonna be awful:

The Show / Geolibertarianism
« on: April 15, 2009, 05:46:13 AM »
I think Ziggy explained Geolibertarianism wrongly on the show. Without advocating it myself, here is a different explaination: To have a right to do anything, you have to have a right to exclusively control the physical location of that action. So all rights are property rights, or property rights are the only rights. So far, so Rothbard, OK? This means that if anybody has any rights, they must be self-owners, because any action we have a right to do must involve some use of at least ourselves, so we cannot have any rights without being self-owners.

However, just about any action we can perform also involves use of, for want of a better term, external resources - those not just of ourselves. Some external resources are the products of labour, of course. The traditional Lockean theory is that we can mix our labour with the land, and thereby get to own some of it. Now we can accept that if I mix my X with my Y, then I own the composite, XY, because I own the component parts. So, if I use my planks to make a bench, I mix my labour with the planks, and produce a bench. However, what if they are your planks, and I, without your permission, mix my labour with them to make a bench? Now, surely, I do not own the bench. The reason, some Geolibertarians have said, is because the planks were not mine: I own X, but not Y, so I don't get to own the composite XY. By analogy, then, mixing my labour with the land would not mean I get to own the resultant farm land or whatever, because whilst I owned the labour, nobody initially owned the land, so I didn't.

Meanwhile, because all rights we have imply rights to control ourselves and some parts of the external world, it is the case that if people are to have any rights at all, they must have a right to land. And rights being initially equal, this must be an initially equal right to land. Look at it this way: Suppose that all land was appropriated, but not by you. You could not possibly act without violating the rights of others, since you would have to be acting on their land. But if any action you perform violates the rights of others, that would mean any right you have would be a right to violate the rights of others. But there cannot possibly be a right to violate rights: This generates an incompossibility - your rights, and the rights of others whilst both being logically possible, but are not simultaneously possible.

So for everybody to have a compossible set of equal rights, everybody would have to have an equal right to land. But if people appropriate so much land themselves that there is not enough left for an equal share to others, then they violate the rights of those others, and those others are entitled to compensation, this compensation being an equal share of the value of the land.

In this way, the Land Value Tax is not aggression, it is defense: It reclaims for people compensation for the violation of their rights.

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