Detlev Schlichter moves beyond his usual stamping ground of paper money collapse, to answer the Rothbardian question, below.
It’s a long essay. Some might even say that it’s the beginnings of a new book. Some people, noncoercively of course, might even demand that it becomes the beginnings of a new book.
I, of course, would write a much shorter answer, and point you at several books by Murray Rothbard and Professor Hoppe, if you wanted me to extrapolate. But as I’m contemplating forty days without red wine and dark chocolate, as my sacrifice for Lent, I’ve got time on my hands trying to avoid the Pinot Noir section at my local wine shop, to expand myself a little. So here’s my fully extended answer to the same question:
What is the correct size and proper function of the state?
I want you to imagine the smallest thing you can possibly imagine. For me, that’s a microscopic black hole emitting Hawking radiation. Now, just as that tiny little black hole evaporates, and releases the last dreg of its mass as a last photon of energy, it is a singularity in the strictest sense, in that it is the tiniest amount of space-time that is physically feasible in this current universe. With me so far? Well, I’d like you to imagine that, and then shrink it down again, an infinite number of times, until there really is absolutely nothing left of this infinitesimally small singularity. That, ladies and gentleman, is how big the state should be. Obviously, I could make that simpler by saying the optimal size of the state should be absolutely nothing at all, but where would be the fun in that? And my mechanism for creating this tiniest of states, and this removal of mafia gangs and bandits writ large controlling our lives? It is Walter Block’s eminently sensible plan; privatise everything that moves, then privatise everything that doesn’t move, and if there’s anything left after that, then privatise it. Indeed, as Lew Rockwell put on Professor Hoppe’s T-shirt, ‘Privatise Everything’. If we really wanted to stretch the analogy, we could say that if you allow the state to have any mass at all, like a black hole, then it inevitably grows, and grows, and grows, until it sucks in the entire universe, destroying everything in its path, but as that’s the plot of a science fiction novel I’ve been thinking about for a while, I think I’ll leave that one there. Not that I’m thinking about red wine and dark chocolate, at all, oh no.