[ExI] Private and government R&D

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 11:23:06 UTC 2009

2009/6/30 Dan <dan_ust at yahoo.com>:

> Again, you're back to the myth of a social contract.  A government is fundamentally unlike owning stock in IBM.  You usually have no exit option -- or the exit option is set along the lines that makes exiting extremely impractical, such as you have to leave the country.  (Leaving the country to escape a state, of course, happens, but from the rights point of view, the state does not own the country -- any more than a criminal gang owns your neighborhood and you must leave if you don't like it simply because the gange moved in and claims the neighborhood.)

The state owns the communal property and therefore this communal
property is owned by the people. When state-owned assets are sold, the
proceeds are used to retire debt or reinvested, same as when a company
sells assets. States set rules for their employees and citizens and
levy taxes. Companies set rules for their employees and sometimes
raise money from shareholders by selling new shares, causing existing
shareholders to lose out unless they participate. If a majority of the
shareholders agree to make a particular change to the way the company
functions, the change is made, no matter how stupid it is or how much
it is opposed by existing management. Similarly if the majority of the
citizens want to make a change to the way the state is run, no matter
how radical the change, and no matter how much incumbent politicians
argue against it. Of course existing management or politicians will
have a lot of sway, but only because people allow themselves to be
manipulated. Ultimately, dissatisfied shareholders or employees can
leave a company, and ultimately dissatisfied citizens can leave a
state or eg. refuse to work if they don't want to pay the fees (tax),
but it is admittedly harder in the case of the citizens.

>> If you limit
>> yourself to decisions that can be made only on an
>> individual basis or
>> with 100% agreement of all affected individuals, that
>> places a severe
>> limitation indeed on what can be achieved.
> This puts a false dichotomy: either we have majoritarian democracy or we have some form of individual veto democracy.  Again, the choice is a voluntary society or some form of coercion (which includes all forms of democracy).  In the voluntary society, you don't need 100% agreement on things.  You can spend your money your way and I mine.  We might, as it stands, come to a voluntary relationship where you and I both agree to spend some of our money on something together -- as in a business agreement.  That's the kind of collective pooling of resources that can and does happen voluntarily.  But your and my agreement does not bind anyone else.  You and I can't say, "Well, we agreed to fund the nanotech project.  Now, since we two constitute a majority, any third person we grab now must spend her or his money the way we want."

But if three of us voluntarily form a company, the third person has to
go with the decision of the other two, or else leave. This is also
what happens when someone migrates to a particular country, and is
aware of the rules at the point of entry. It's a bit different for the
person born in the country, since no-one decides where he will be
born. But this is an insurmountable problem, unless we say that the
native-born are not bound by any of the rules that immigrants are.

Stathis Papaioannou

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