As libertarians describe all of the horrendous problems with government actions, we often hear the reply: “Instead of abolishing many of the government roles in our lives, why don’t you libertarians just try and reform it to make it better so that it actually works effectively and efficiently”. They also say things like: “Well, that bad thing happened under that bad leader, so all we have to do is choose a good leader this time”. The problem is that people have been saying this forever and it never works. Most people who accept the usual government paradigm want to have an effective and efficient government, whatever that means to them, and they haven’t been able to make it happen in democracy. Lots of people think they have the correct plan or leader, but these plans and leaders are often quite different.
The problem is the system itself, and the incentives that it produces. We cannot simply change the people in charge or the content of some laws and expect a significant improvement if the overall system under which all this operates is the same. The success or failure of the current system sadly depends on whether or not the right people are in charge of “pushing the buttons”. But, central planning can only succeed if the government directors and planners are infinitely wise, intelligent, foreseeing, incorruptible, and if they have all the detailed information and data of the world and fully understand how everything works. Obviously that’s never going to happen (can you imagine Sarah Palin was almost in a position to run the U.S., yikes!!!). Why subject ourselves to such an unstable chaotic system, where one rare minute we might have competent directors and the rest of the time we have incompetent directors, where our wellbeing is determined by whether the right person is in charge of some program. Just by observing history, it’s practically impossible to merely dictate effectiveness and efficiency on a large scale. Instead, we need a system that establishes incentives for effectiveness and efficiency. That system is freedom and protection of property rights, where each person is in charge of running their own lives.