Comment: Free riders

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In post: On Equality

Free riders

The question, as I understood it, was about how to resolve the free-rider problem without force. The state uses force. In an anarchic community force could be used, too, but only by violating the NAP. Like I said, if those are the things we're comparing then it's just about picking the kind of overlord you want, gang or government.

In an idealized community like you're envisioning, where equality is taken to mean that nobody has the right to take another person's property by force, you either have to make free-riding impossible (which I don't see how you would do) or the community has to accept that free-riders are just exercising their choice in a way that must be respected (which I don't think is sustainable in practice).

However, if the neighbor can afford a tank, he would've probably already paid to pave the road.

Why? He'd be paying to keep the road in Lexus quality, which also benefits you (convenience of being able to drive faster, less wear and tear on your truck). So you're the free rider in that situation. It might be a small amount at stake but it gets under his skin.

So he smiles when you say that to him, and reminds you that when he had a lexus he made the same argument to you, that if you could afford that nice SUV you could certainly afford a fair share of keeping the roads paved. Now he's going to tear up those roads faster than you can build them to give you a taste of your own medicine. He really loved that Lexus. (When he gets out of your neighborhood and into one that hasn't devolved into a feud, he uses the motorcycle that's strapped to the tank to go the rest of the way to work.)

It's not the best example for it but the point is that free rider situations tend to be unstable, because if someone is paying for something voluntarily, but sees that others are choosing to pay nothing and getting the same benefit, then it's only natural that they would resent that and also want the benefit for free.

Besides, if I have to put up with those types of problems versus a government using taxpayer money to murder people around the world and devaluing the currency through counterfeit, I'll take the shitty roads.

You say that as if those are the only choices.

To take it back to the original question, *if* it's impractical to have a zero-government nation on the scale the founders had to deal with, then given that the local government at the time was not oppressive, a centralized government *of the kind they tried to implement* wasn't a bad idea. Coordination between the states about things like trade and money and so on isn't a bad thing. And to a large extent the Constitution, as originally intended, didn't take much power away from the states, and arguably in the Bill of Rights (as originally intended) it represents a collective commitment between the states to respect liberty and hold each other accountable to that standard in the future.

In other words, I don't think that even if they had more completely embraced the concept of equality it would have followed that they should not have proposed the system of government they proposed (as originally intended). If a zero-government solution is not sustainable in practice, then they should not have seen that as a goal. If some government is needed, then trying to minimize the potential for future oppression is a worthy goal. The Constitution (as originally intended) didn't add any oppression, but it did among other things put some obstacles in place (as originally intended) against future oppression.