Patri Friedman on competitive government

Fifteen years ago, he wrote,

Government service providers have monopolies over wide areas. Most people live in buildings and own lots of physical property. They are likely to have family and friends in the surrounding geographical area, and to work at a nearby job. While there may be people who live in RV’s, only have friends on the internet, and telecommute every day, they are surely rare. Thus if an individual wishes to switch providers, they must physically relocate to a new country. This involves an onerous series of steps: sell their house, pack up all their possessions, quit their job, move to a new country, deal with immigration requirements, buy a new house, get a new job, make new friends, learn a new culture. This is an extremely costly process.

In other words, government is like Facebook. You can complain about it, but there is not much you can do about it, because you are stuck there.

He comes up with proposals for a system for competitive government, which he calls dynamic geography. If we already were living under his system, then it would work. But the problem is to get from where we are today to something new, given the switching-cost problem. The same switching costs that make government lazy and unresponsive to constituents make it very hard to get a new system going.

My approach to more competitive government would be to institute a right to secession or recombination, subject to a sort of common-law court. That is not a perfectly workable solution, but the idea would be to allow people who are otherwise happy with their location take advantage of competition in government services.

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8 Responses to Patri Friedman on competitive government

  1. collin says:

    My approach to more competitive government would be to institute a right to secession or recombination, subject to a sort of common-law court.

    And how is Brexit working out right now? It is clear the UK is having a lot of trouble with Brexit because the EU, especially France & Germany, hold all the cards and salivating on taking high paying finance jobs from London. Even living in California, I wouldn’t vote for CalExit and I bet neither would 70% of the population. Separating your area, county, state, or city is a lot you would think in today world.

    Anyway, state governments do compete and we see a decent amount of movement across state lines.

  2. it should be like Facebook, where you can opt out. Paying taxes for stuff you don’t want is mandatory . My idea for an ideal government would be to have two systems: one where you can opt or or opt in, sorta like a shopping mall. Businesses voluntarily purchase space in exchange for the customers, infrastructure, and security provided by the mall. The businesses, in turn, have to follow the rules set forth by the mall management.

  3. Matthew Young says:

    “My approach to more competitive government would be to institute a right to secession or recombination, subject to a sort of common-law court”

    This is proportional democracy. The voting districts are occasionally dismembered and reconstructed by demographics.

  4. Dave says:

    https://jacobitemag.com/2017/08/04/why-liechtenstein-works-self-determination-and-market-governance/

    Liechtenstein actually has thr opt-out approach and its existance increased freedom and government efficiency.

  5. Eric Hanneken says:

    My approach to more competitive government would be to institute a right to secession or recombination, subject to a sort of common-law court.

    To get to seasteading, someone needs to solve a difficult set of technical/cost problems. To institute a right to secession or recombination, someone needs to . . . what?

    • Thales says:

      You also need to solve the very difficult problem of some government fleet taking your plastic island and throwing you in a brig on charges of . “Exit” is not a solved problem.

  6. true libertarian says:

    This is only a problem for people. Capital has no such restrictions, so why is it even a problem since we all know that free flow of capital will solve all other inefficiencies, don’t we?

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