Governance without Government: Introduction

In advocating a much smaller role for the government, I have found one of the greatest points of resistance to be an inability to imagine non-government provision of certain services. Interestingly, however, in the vast majority of cases such provision has existed, at some time. Thus, as a research project for myself, and to condense this information for others, I plan to write a series of articles documenting these private provisions of allegedly public goods.

At present, I plan to address the following topics, based primarily on what I can recall having arisen in conversation; if any of my readers have suggestions for additional topics or superior classification, I would greatly appreciate them.

Protection of rights (and not rights):
Security/police protection
Judicial arbitration
Foreign aid
National defense
Civil rights/child labor

Care for the poor
Care for Orphans
Unemployment/disability compensation
Natural disaster

Public transportation


I need hardly say that I do not believe such examples to be logically necessary; while it is true that without assuming the perfectibility of human nature imperfection of results of the present system does not constitute prima facie proof of the possibility of a better system, the absence of a better system in history does not constitute prima facie evidence against it. Nonetheless, I think that these articles may be of help to some who seek practical confirmation of theoretical conclusions.


3 Responses to Governance without Government: Introduction

  1. Sam says:

    Ian, I expect I’ll disagree with you on some of these; for example, roads are specifically provided for by the Constitution (well, technically “post roads” – but if a mail truck travels on it, then it’s a post road, thereby making all roads post roads). I am, however, interested to see lighthouses, as these seem to be very much a public good (of course, now they are supplanted by GPS). Also, I’m interested to hear what you have to say police protection and judicial arbitration.

    • The Ambulatory Sesquipedalian says:

      Here I seek not to prove these Constitutional or unconstitutional, or even just or unjust, but rather to explore the empirical question of whether such services have been provided by the free market, and if possible how the market might provide them under modern technology.

  2. Sam says:

    Right – I do think that there’s something to be gleaned from looking at the question though. Perhaps on roads, we might glean that the Founders decided that roads could not be adequately provided for by the free market because they made it a federal responsibility.

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