23 February 2011

Well That’s Weird

In spite of breaking all the rules, Japan is doing quite well:

Ultimately, the reason that Japan gets such bad press here is that the Japanese don't do any of the Chicago School/Washington Consensus stuff - they are still essentially mercantilist, strictly limit immigration, are paternalistically concerned about equitable distributions of wealth, and are not about to let their country to become a turnip squeezed for blood by Wall Street.  And despite rejecting the whole package, they have some of the best outcomes in the world in terms, again, of life expectancy, economy/wealth, education, crime, and so forth.

To translate this for free-traders and the more obtuse anarcho-libertarians, Japan has succeeded, in practical metrics, because the government protects domestic production, doesn’t allow foreigners to come in and destroy the culture, and doesn’t allow corporations to blatantly rip off taxpayers.  I wonder how they ever managed to succeed in spite of these handicaps.


  1. I await with bated breath your explanation of how government stealing money at gunpoint and passing it to favored corporations is a logical consequence of anarcholibertarianism. Did you miss the anarchy part?
    As for immigration, anarchy would mean the end of fair housing laws and return of the freedom of association. If people valued their culture, they would actually be free to not sell land to those who didn't share it or show willingness to assimilate into it.
    I'll grant the domestic production angle, as force (aka government, per George Washington) is the only way to preserve an unnatural valuation of the labor of certain humans over equally qualified others.

  2. @Pode- the only thing I wanted anarcho-libertarians to take away from this was the limit of immigration. Japan has preserved their culture, and it has served them well. Some, not all, anarchists have made a point of defending the free movement of labor, in spite of its obvious detrimental effects on culture. Their theory is largely correct, but their application leaves much to be desired in the real world.

    The only reason I bring up equitable distributions of wealth is because the exact opposite is found in America. Here, the government takes from everyone and gives to the banks. I do not favor redistribution in any form. I simply wanted to point out that the Japanese do not make a point of stealing from their citizens and giving to the rich.

    Incidentally, in an anarchist society, wealth would naturally be more equitably distributed, because corporations wouldn't exist. Businesses would, for sure, but there is a difference between a business and a corporation. The corporation is offered a ton of legal and financial advantages through the government, which shifts some risk from owners to taxpayers and consumers, reducing owners' moral hazard. If owners had to bear all the risk associated with their actions, they would behave more conservatively (risk-wise), which would in turn lead to slower growth/smaller profits than would otherwise be the case, which would lead to a more equitable distribution of wealth (non-government sanctioned, of course).

    One of the more common mistakes that anarcho-libertarians make, and I am occasionally guilty of it myself, is to forget that the state does, in fact, still exist. As such, policy recommendations should reflect the fact that there a lot of government-caused market distortions that are inter-related. Arguing for deregulation in light of business subsidies is asinine, no matter how you slice it. Arguing for amnesty for illegal immigrants in light of the war on drugs is also foolish, since some illegals are tied up in the drug trade and have a tendency to bring violent crime with them (see Texas, etc.), and this crime is often of the violating-property-rights sort.

    In sum, while I would desire to live in a stateless society, and am inclined to effect change towards that outcome here in America, I find that it is best to consider fully what government distortions exist and how best to address them in light of the effects of government interference. Granting amnesty, for example, removes one government distortion, but does not remove all government distortions in the realm of labor. As such, it is still a government-caused market distortion, just in the opposite direction. This should not be construed as a reflection of the free market.

    Really, the only way to know what true freedom would look like would be to abolish the entire state all at once. Since we are unable to this at this point in time, we must dismantle the state in bits and pieces. In doing so, we must be careful not to cause new, detrimental government-enforced distortions of our own making.