[ExI] Serfdom and libertarian critiques (Was: Call to Libertarians)

Richard Loosemore rpwl at lightlink.com
Thu Mar 3 15:25:49 UTC 2011

Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 11:34 AM, Damien Sullivan
> <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:
>> If 10% of my income goes to build a private palace, that's theft. Â If
>> 50% of my income goes to zero-fare public transit, universal health
>> care, funding for basic research, good law enforcement, safe housing,
>> and many other public services, I may consider that a good deal.
> ### But public transport, especially zero fare, as well as universal
> (I presume you mean "free") health care are highly inefficient as a
> way of apportioning resources - and of course, provision of services
> by a public (i.e. monopolistic, non-accountable) authority is also
> highly inefficient. You are very unlikely to get a good deal if it's
> offered as something you cannot refuse.
> The key to efficiency in fulfilling human desires within a social
> structure are the twin abilities to freely make and refuse offers.

But, Rafal, this is not accurate except as a theoretical ideal.

Consider the simple concept of "free public transport".  In London in 
the late 1970s, the cost of public transport had risen so much that 
people were using cars more and more.  The city was becoming a nightmare 
of gridlock and pollution.  Many people overlooked the bad side effects 
and simple decided that the high fares were more important .... partly 
because those high fares were *immediately* apparent to them (tight 
feedback loop) whereas the sickness engendered by pollution, the road 
deaths and injuries, the cost of maintaining the roads, and so on, were 
all feeding back to those people along open, extended feedback loops 
(and so were completely invisible).

Then a local government came to office and slashed the tube and bus 
fares.  Immediate result was that the same public transport facilities 
were used more, the cost of maintaining roads, etc etc, went down.  The 
city benefited enormously.

You have just described that as "inefficient".  It was not :-).  Simply 
as that.  It was tremendously beneficial.

Then the Conservatives won the next election and the whole scheme was 

People did have the "twin abilities to freely make and refuse offers" 
and it didn't help.

Richard Loosemore

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