Why Seasteading Matters

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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:

  1. Far more people were killed in the 20th century by their own governments than by individuals.
  2. More death and illness were caused by the ban on DDT than by pollution from corporations during the same time period.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

 

 

5 comments

  1. Corwyn 2:05 am

    Is it perhaps sending mixed messages to have a libertarian blog and call yourself ‘captain’ Patri.

    Your examples seem not too clear. who banned DDT? How would even begin to count pollution? If you are feeding a person an accumulative poison, and are at 50% of a lethal dose, are you guilty of murder? If somebody spends untold billions cleaning up CO2 (unnecessarily as you think) and thus don’t save children with asthma, how do you count that? Which is more governmentally involved the biofuels mandate or subprime lending? I couldn’t begin to guess.
    Someone might ask which did more harm the school lunch program or winchester firearms company, in an exactly similar manner.

  2. Anonymous 2:06 am

    And this “Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval.” seems particularly libertarian…

  3. Wayne Gramlich 2:33 am

    The problem with selecting individual governmental programs and saying “these programs are bad, thus government is bad”, is that people immediately focus in on the selected programs and argue with you about them.

    A better question to ask is: “Is the government of country X getting better or worse?” where X is the country that you care about. Another question to ask is “Are there feedback mechanisms in place to get the government to improve or are they totally broken?”

    If you compare Russia under Stalin vs. Russia today, you might conclude that things actually improved. However, you might also look at some of the behaviors of Vladimir Putin and conclude that maybe things are starting to head south. So time scale matters and feedback systems matter.

    In the best of circumstances, we have good government with good feedback mechanisms. Is better to live in a country with mediocre government, but good improvement feedback mechanisms or a good government where the feedback mechanisms are kind of broken?

    -Wayne

  4. Captain Patri 9:45 pm

    Anonymous – moderating comments from unregistered users is done as a spam-fighting technique.

  5. Douglas Knight 5:13 pm

    What ban on DDT?
    The one in America, where people don’t get malaria?

    Maybe Kling is correct when he retreats to the claim that there’s a secret ban enforced by erratic retaliation, but referring to “the ban” as if it were clear what you’re talking about is deceitful.

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