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Seasteading in The Freeman

February 27, 2011

Patri and I have an article in the latest edition of The Freeman. Here’s the intro:

Libertarians have done a wonderful job of pointing out the inefficiency and cruelty of government and identifying some of the causes. We know that current policies are bad; we know that such policies are the inevitable outcome of unrestrained democracy; and we even have some ideas about what would work better. The most fundamental problem with government and the most promising form of activism have been largely ignored, though. If we want liberty in our lifetimes, we need to think more carefully about why we have bad government and how best to improve things.

To think about this question, we need to avoid being either too romantic or too cynical about governance. While readers of this publication are at no risk of being romantic about government, there is a chance of excessive cynicism. Government currently works very poorly, but this doesn’t need to be so. Competition would force providers of governance to offer high-quality rules and public services at a reasonable price, unleashing institutional innovation and making the world a much better place.

So far, most libertarians have been hacking at branches, while a few come tantalizingly close to striking at the root. We’re going to try to convince you that the root at which we should be striking is a tangled mess of barriers to entry and costs of switching in the governance market. The ax we should be using is the technology to settle the ocean.

We’ll also be doing an online Q&A for The Freeman’s Idea Room on March 8. You can ask questions now!

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