Thursday, November 13, 2014

How BATNA is Now?

Noah vs. Eli on the role of government.
Economics is unambiguous on only a small handful of issues. One of these is that individuals, organizations, and even states are at their most productive when they confine their activities to where they enjoy a comparative advantage. By doing so, they can be as productive as they are able, and can then trade their surplus for all the other wonderful things they wish to consume.

Governments have a comparative advantage in using the tools of force to promote law and order.

I can't speak for libertarians generally, but if I fall into using the "government size" trope, what I would probably mean is "government reach," a lament about the activities of government that lie outside the scope of its comparative advantage. Legislating against consensual sex work, for example, obliges vice cops to harass peaceful sex workers, thereby passing up the natural alternative use of their time by seeking out and prosecuting forcible child prostitution. For me, "size" isn't a budget issue; it's a scope of practice issue.

We are in the BATNA now. We are exploited and oppressed, particularly those of us who are poor or minorities. Liberals, conservatives, and libertarians of good conscience should consider an alliance to restore to the state its primary function as keeper of the Constitution and protector of the public order. Universal state-funded day care is a slightly lower priority than ending the mundane tyrannies of the various wars on crime, drugs, terror & al.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?