The Case for Small Government

A Libertarian Perspective on Economic and Social Policy

March 25, 2006

Consequentialism, II

If consequential libertarianism is simply cost-benefit analysis, why does it consistently conclude that small government is the right policy?

On the one hand, consequentialism argues that markets work better than most critics recognize. This is not to say markets work perfectly. But in the consequentialist assessment, market work well enough that the case for intervention is not obvious.

On the other hand, consequentialism argues that government works less well than advocates of intervention recognize. This is not to say interventions always make things worse. But in the consequential assessment, government causes sufficient problems that a presumption against intervention is reasonable.

None of this proves the consequentialist perspective is correct. The statements above describe consequentialism rather than “prove it.” Support for consequentialism must come from showing on on a case-by-case basis that markets work moderately well while interventions work badly.

20 Comments:

At 6:36 AM, Blogger Mike Huben said...

Let's see consequential libertarianism consistently conclude that small government is the right policy for roads, defense, public health, police, courts, lawmaking, social insurance, etc. Please refer to real-world examples where possible.

Oh, and while you're at it, please tell us just how small small government is. Is it 5% smaller? 50%? 95%? If you save one dollar, are you instituting small government?

 
At 5:15 PM, Anonymous read von Mises said...

Such consequentialist arguments can be found in this classic book written by von Mises:

http://www.mises.org/etexts/mises/interventionism/section7.asp

The book simply takes on all basic types of government intervention and shows what the actual consequences and side-effects are.

 
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