The Machinery of Freedom/animated lecture/claims

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  • The term "liberalism" was stolen by the enemies of liberalism; modern libertarians are the true liberals. (¶1)
    • objection: Liberalism was about doing away with centralized control of markets; modern liberals are against that too -- they're just willing to admit that corporate control is just as bad as government control, and that well-designed government regulation can decrease centralization overall.
  • Libertarianism (formerly called liberalism) is the philosophy that supports small government and free markets. (¶1)
  • Libertarianism holds that the function of government is to do a few things that can't be done by individuals associating voluntarily in private markets: (¶2)
    • police
    • courts
    • national defense
  • Where the same thing can be done either by government or privately, private is usually better. (¶3 ¶16 ¶23 ¶30)
    • Private markets produce better products than socialist systems do -- "we expect markets to produce better cars than socialist systems". (¶16)
      • Objection: it's not clear what definition of "socialism" he's using here.
        • Europe (especially Sweden) is often called "socialist", but they produce pretty good cars.
    • objection: This ignores the fact that there are some things government does better and private organizations do worse. While it may be that the REA/AA scheme will in fact do better than government, we can't assume that this will be so just because "private is better".
      • response: For the most part, Friedman does support his conclusions with reasoning.
        • objection: It just needs to be understood that this reasoning applies only to individual cases. We can't just assume that the private organizations will do better than government just because they are private organizations -- because for many tasks (e.g. healthcare), government does a far better job.
    • (DF¶23) on a free market, your choice affects what you get -- whereas in a democracy, your choice has vanishingly small effect.
  • (DF's main argument) The basic functions of government can be handled privately:
    • police (enforcing laws)
      • individuals hire private firms (rights enforcement agencies - REAs) to protect their rights and settle their disputes with other individual
        • objection (DF¶6): conflict between REAs
          • objection detail (DF¶7): REAs will use violence to settle their disputes
            • response (DF¶8): violence is expensive -- REAs are not likely to use it to settle conflicts because in the long term it's a losing proposition with uneven results
              • objection (W): What if an REA is unreasonable?
          • response (DF¶9¶13): REAs will hire arbitration agencies (AAs) to settle their disputes with other REAs
    • courts (making laws) - handled by arbitration agencies (AAs)
      • objection (DF¶11): who will enforce the use of AAs and adherence to their decisions?
        • response (DF¶11): the discipline of constant dealings
          • objection (W): ...which requires a highly stable, non-transient society -- which we don't have now, and which there is no reason to expect would be delivered by this system
      • objection (DF¶17,W): What if two REAs can't agree on an arbiter? (e.g. what if one REA's customers prefer a death penalty, while another REA's customers are opposed?)
        • response (DF¶18): an argument that has something to do with raising prices in response to demand and/or buying the acquiescence of the other and/or its customers. This doesn't really answer the question.
          • objection (W): To the extent that the argument is relevant, however, it seems to depend on everyone having similar amounts of money -- otherwise a view can prevail because of the holder's wealth rather than the degree of their conviction that they are right.
    • national defense (not covered; conceded that privatizing this is an easier problem to solve)
  • objection (DF(¶13): Under this system, different sets of people/entities will operate under different sets of rules. Isn't that unfair?
    • response (DF(¶13)): Actually it's an improvement, because:
      • we already live under a system where rules vary (by state, munucipality, etc). (¶13)
      • any rules needed for any given interaction can be worked out non-coercively via this method (¶15)
      • rules will be more closely tailored to the needs of the people ruled by them -- people will only get the rules they want (¶20)