Do We Need Government?

Students, get a full week of this at a summer seminar: Should government provide law enforcement? Most would argue that government is absolutely necessary for law enforcement. Prof. Edward Stringhman, however, argues that government may not even be necessary at all. To come to this conclusion, Prof. Stringham asks a few important questions. First, if something is really important, does it logically follow that government should provide it? Second, are markets capable of providing law enforcement and security in the modern world? Third, how are disputes currently settled between people of different countries? Looking at the first question, it doesn’t seem to be the case that important things must be provided by a government. For instance, think about food. Food is necessary for life, and yet, markets do an excellent job of providing food to consumers. Even if you’re convinced that markets can provide important things, you may think law enforcement and security are a special case that markets are incapable of providing in a modern world. However, markets already enforce private rules and provide security. Disney World, Las Vegas, and malls all have private rules that are enforced by private security. Accepting the arguments above, you may still be skeptical about market’s abilities to settle disputes between different systems of rules or law. This, in fact, was Ayn Rand’s primary reason for advocating a minimal state. Current interactions in the real world

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    21 Responses to “Do We Need Government?”

    1. XxBaTtLeToThEdEaThxX Says:

      The fact is, if you want government to take care of you cradle to grave you will have no freedoms to choose. If you want to be your own person and not be controlled by the government you have to take care of yourself. Governments slow human advancement, and make the majority of the people stupid. Also public education, it is bad because they teach our kids WHAT THEY WANT OUR KIDS TO KNOW. I bet almost every kid out there doesn’t even know what the Fed Reserve is!

    2. XxBaTtLeToThEdEaThxX Says:

      Do you know why they don’t teach our kids these things? Because it hurts them! They teach the kids, that the government is always right and anyone who questions the government is wrong! They teach the kids that it is ok to kill a person as long as they are serving the country for “our freedoms” They will never teach our youth anything they don’t want them to hear. Public education is evil and needs some competition.

    3. XxBaTtLeToThEdEaThxX Says:

      The founding fathers of this nation are rolling in their graves because of the amount of power this government has. Not only that but the founding fathers principles are similar to those of a libertarians. I also bet you believe in Democracy, don’t you? Our founders warned us against such a government. They said a Republic is a much more free and stable form of government, which is only there to protect liberty and defend the nation. NOT CONTROL EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE.

    4. formless777 Says:


      The best way that the people can put a corporation out of business is to change the corporation law so that rogue organizations are simply dissolved and the perpetrators prosecuted. You cannot put a corporation out of business by not buying from them, Ricardo pretty much proved that people will buy any old shit regardless. It is the law that creates Corporations and the law that can be made to dissolve them. Collective, not individual action however is required.

    5. formless777 Says:


      Well, I seriously want my government to insure that no citizen is allowed to starve, I want them to have access to shelter, education, and health care. I want a society where people contribute to the welfare and protection of other people, and thus we engender trust in each other through shared responsibility. And yes, I trust the education system and I am proud to be a part of it, because it provide the skills to keep this complex society functioning.

    6. formless777 Says:


      What government education system are you talking about ? Why does it evoke such utter paranoia in you ? I agree that militarism taught in the guise of patriotism is unworthy, but the animal truth is that without territory we humans die, so grouping together to defend each other is a necessity. Also. don’t pretend that these things aren’t debated or spoken about in schools, because they are, you probably just slept through those classes.

    7. formless777 Says:


      Hang on, you previously posted that you were against teaching that killing for one’s nation is bad, and now here you are suggesting that the Founding Fathers are somehow upset. Well, the founding fathers certainly thought their own government was worth killing for; it’s called the War of Independence. The bit where people first learn about killing for their country is in History when covering that war. You can’t have it all your own way.

    8. ReasonAndLiberty Says:

      Doing it in an inefficient and unethical way is pointless.

    9. ReasonAndLiberty Says:

      And either way, the point is – we don’t have a free market. Your argument is that the market makes it expensive.

    10. formless777 Says:

      I am wondering which of my comments this comment of yours is in response to ? It is kind of decontextualized.

    11. formless777 Says:

      Not so. Civil Rights activists were being murdered, abused and tortured by “Confederate” police. When Kennedy called out the National Guard it was an act of supreme moral courage on his part, because it was a very unpopular decision, but it was also the right and moral decision as history will attest. Of course if you’re a Libertarian, then Kennedy was a monster to protect Black Citizen’s rights with heavy handed government interference.

    12. formless777 Says:

      That’s right, the “market mechanism” is just as likely to drive prices through the roof as through the floor, and seldom arrives at the happy medium predicted by Adam Smith’s invisible hand. As with everything else in the world, there are winners and losers, and that’s why I prefer government, there is more chance of justice that with the arbitrary invisible hand, that ultimately only ever favors established privilege.

    13. ndyt Says:

      silly anarchists.

    14. KeroroGunsouTX Says:

      “Government” is simply a division of labor. Law enforcement, legislators, judges and so on represent various specializations. If services like law enforcement are provided by private industry, then that is not “eliminating” government, it is simply “commercializing” government and turning it into a commodity. And just as bad laws are enforced by government, bad laws can be enforced by private industry. If enough consumers support discrimination, then the market will support discrimination also.

    15. dloksrednil Says:

      whats wrong about discrimination? its just your own preferences^^ although it may cost you to have them if they are not well grounded.In any case divison of labor has nothing to do with it. having one person doing the whole thing ala judge dredd versus having courts with judge and jury and police seperate is division.. The point is markets produce these services better then government has any incentive to do.

    16. 0pyrophosphate0 Says:

      Government is a self-legitimized monopoly on the use of force.

    17. formless777 Says:

      Government is not a monopoly. In case you hadn’t noticed there is more than one government in the world. Even within the USA there is the Federal Government, all the State Governments which have substantially different laws, and local municipal governments, and then there are the various boards and committees, all “checked and balanced” by the constitution. So rather than bitching about it, why not take one over ?

    18. formless777 Says:

      The notion that markets produce civil order better than Government is wrong. Business exists to generate a profit, so how does a judge make a profit ? Well he decides that rather than arbitrating on moral and legal principles, he arbitrates on principles of profit maximization. The Judge says “I will decide in favor of whoever bribes me more, let the bidding commence !” This is called corruption and it means society falls apart due to injustice leading to civil war.

    19. dloksrednil Says:

      Except you are describing something much more likely in our system with just one choice of arbitration. For one bribing means extra costs on those that are forced to do it becouse you have to overbid the other party. Additionaly as justice is what they are selling the reputation for this feature is of the most importance and thus bribes must be dealt with convincingly. Adding an appalete court not tied to the first would further give the market an advantage.

    20. formless777 Says:

      You say there shouldn’t be only one form of arbitration. Once there was a division of Civil and Canon (Religious) authority in Europe and that was simply an unworkable clusterfuck. Which law would predominate ? The Crown or the Church ? Cases dragged on for decades without clear resolution and normally ended not with appeal to law but with more lawless murder. Better to have one system, closely monitored to remove corruption, and the force required to settle violent disputes.

    21. egutzait Says:

      Police needs to be government controlled otherwise you get instances like Singapore where the police have bribe boxes and if you don’t pay the bribe they don’t protect you/investigate anything on your behalf.