A lot of bad things happen in the world, which means there are a lot of options for those who wish to make the world a better place. And there are some consistent patterns to the badness which make some areas more fruitful than others for the advancement of humanity. Arnold Kling writes:
My co-blogger cites the number of people murdered by Stalin as an example of government-caused harm that is very difficult for the private sector to top.
Here are some more comparisons to consider:
1. The total death and illness caused by all of the chemical pollution ever created vs. the death and illness caused by the ban on DDT.
2. The GDP lost due to consumption of illegal drugs vs. the GDP lost due to the drug war.
3. The deprivation and suffering caused by predatory lending and other subprime mortgage shenanigans vs. that caused by biofuel mandates.
Now, I am not an expert on any of these topics, but each of them is something I have read a bit about. And while I’m not going to claim that any of these has been definitively proven, I agree with Arnold that there is a strong case to be made that:
- Far more people were killed in the 20th century by their own governments than by individuals.
- More death and illness were caused by the ban on DDT than by pollution from corporations during the same time period.
- More GDP is lost due to the drug war (particularly the labor lost from the huge prison population it creates) than by drug addiction and other negative effects of drugs.
- Biofuel policies are causing enormous, worldwide harm (although so did subprime mortgage shenanigans – I’m not willing to make a direct comparison here).
In other words, there is a very practical, non-ideological argument that if you look at the empirical evidence, the largest concentration of badness occurs due to government action. Which is why seasteading is so enormously important. For whatever reason (and we have our ideas), the political arena turns out to be the area that is most holding us back from having a healthier, richer, happier world.
So while we here at TSI support anyone who is trying to make the world a better place, whether fighting disease, poverty, or injustice, the simple truth is that not all of these noble quests are of equal value. We may be biased (and surely we are), but we think that by fighting to reform government, we are working on the key problem currently facing humanity. The course will be long and stormy, but we think we’re pointed at the greatest prize.
So please consider joining our informal community, and watch this space for more ways to help.