RE: [lpsf-discuss] Checks & balances (was Re: anarchy & limited g overnment)

And thanks also for your excellent posts, Starchild. I haven't systematically responded to all the good points you and Rob have made, but that doesn't mean they weren't worth responding to, sometime (whether to challenge or to agree with). Somebody complained that this discussion seemed futile; it's actually been quite helpful to me. I include in the helpful contributions the articles Mike Denny has forwarded.

A few small points: We've usually understood government (whether we approved of it or not) as holding a monopoly on the legal use of physical force in a given territory. That seems to me pretty much to entail that it be the strongest entity in a society. Any stronger entity could do as it pleased, no? Maybe that wouldn't matter if the stronger entity were also nice, but that seems an academic qualification.

As for incentives, the idea of incentives for destruction of government has promise, I should think.

A miscellaneous thought: We're accustomed to thinking of government as something good people need to control bad people. But I'm noticing lately how much of the impetus for government comes from bad people wanting to control good people. According to the article on the Articles of Confederation which Denny forwarded, much of the support for the Constitution, and a strong national government, came from states which had imposed tariffs to protect their businesses. They were then frustrated to see Britain carrying on a lively trade with states without tariffs, so they wanted _national_ tariffs. I think a lot, maybe most or all, economic regulation comes about this way.

I'm also appreciating, incidentally, what a tough sell the libertarian idea is of "Don't do something, just stand there." Maybe to Americans above all. Martin van Buren is remembered, if at all, as a "do-nothing" President. Jeff Hummel, in his article on van Buren, points out that, in the space of 4 years, van Buren, with his superb negotiating skills, kept us out of wars with both Mexico and Canada, and resisted pressures to do something about the Panic of 1837. The economic indicators in that panic were as severe as those of the Great Depression of 1929, but, because van Buren refused to intervene, it was all over in 6 months. But if van Buren _had_ gotten us into two wars, and had vastly worsened the depression with government intervention, he would be remembered as one of the greatest Presidents. "Education" hardly seems the word for the task we confront.