Philosophy and Pragmatism

I do not believe it is any secret that I am philosophically against government, and thus can be described as an anarchist. But I do want to point out a feature of my anarchist beliefs that dramatically differs from the popular perception of anarchism - institutions matter. There must be sufficient institutions for resolving externality and public goods problems, including laws, defense, and controlling pollution.

I wrote:

Philosophically I'd rather NASA did not exist (that classical liberal desire for less government). On the other hand between the public goods problem of basic scientific research and a desire to get the best value for my tax dollars I do not want to see NASA gutted.

I can conceive of institutions that solve the public goods problem of basic research that are better than NASA, NOAA, NSF, and any other government science funding agency. I am even more confident that better institutional solutions than I can conceive could exist. But those institutions do not exist today. The institutions we have, while far from perfect, are better than nothing. Pragmatically then, NASA as a provider of a true public good falls pretty low on the priority scale of government programs that need to be axed. Private goods that are being provided by government are far better targets. One example of a much higher priority target is privileges granted to certain financial and industrial institutions. These privileges do nothing to help the general welfare over the long term and when the piper brings the invoice (he already did and it is due!), the costs are astronomical.

[Correction. On re-reading the linked to post I realize that I made a big error. The dichotomy is legit. But the rest of my point is somewhat useful.]
Related to this, Jacob Lyles commits the fallacy of the false dichotomy. He talks about the structural libertarianism and policy libertarianism as if one must choose between them. has a post or two on policy vs. structural libertarianism. I prefer think of it in a different way: structural libertarianism and policy libertarianism inform each other. David Friedman, Murray Rothbard, and others have proposed some good libertarian structures, Patri offers up a way make those structures possible. But there are policy decisions within the confines of the current political reality that also need to addressed. Related to sea- and space- steading are modifications and interpretations to various treaties dealing with the Seas and Space. General economic conditions need to be addressed to give us enough prosperity to make these schemes possible. Reform of various regulations has further practical implication on various aspects of development. Then there is the simple economic and political reality that not all the desired structural changes can be done at once - policy libertarianism helps us sort through what areas to work on first.

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I don't think it makes sense

I don't think it makes sense to say as a rule that we shouldn't get rid of government institution X because analogous private institution X does not exist. Sometimes the reason the private analog does not exist is because the public institution exists and crowds out the private institution with the same mission. That seems like it would be fairly common as public institutions can raise money by theft which in a lot of cases is easier than getting it voluntarily.

I personally would like to see NASA gutted because I think it has long stood in the way of a sustainable private ventures in space. I cannot keep track of the number of small start-ups I have seen in the past few years go from trying to make it on private dollars to sucking at the government tit via contracts with NASA or some other government agency.

Why gut it?

No need to "gut" NASA or any other government facility or enterprise. Just auction it off. Sink or swim.