Comment 26565

By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2008 at 03:38:53

A. Smith, that depends on your definition of government. Taking it at its broadest (and in my view, most useful) meaning, government is simply the existence of leadership in society. There are usually one or two adults that govern the average household of children, in the same way that there is usually a person or a group of people that govern a nation. Money is the way we regulate exchange - and a much neater method, I dare say, than the barter system. Sure, I suppose that if you like, each person could have their own currency, or each married couple, but that would make trade a lot more complicated than it needs to be. How do we size up different value systems? Much easier, it seems, that everybody agree on one standard of economic exchange. If you don't believe me, look at what the Euro has done for the EU.

Your assertion that all building owners have a vested interest in making sure their buildings are livable is ahistorical. It ignores what many buildings were like for the urban working poor in the western world after the industrial revolution. If the people who ran the dirty, disease-infested slums were the same people who operated the factories, one could say, I suppose, that the higher-ups would have a vested interest in keeping workers healthy enough to work in factories. This was rarely the case, however. For the owners of tenement buildings with little or no responsibility for the health and well-being of the people inside (and for whom it is cheaper to collect rents than to pay to demolish a building and re-build), however, there is no incentive to ensure the structural integrity of their buildings beyond the lowest possible standard. The same logic would operate for sewers as well if they were privately funded.

The privately-funded toll-roads of medieval yore would not, I think, measure up to what most people consider to be an acceptable standard of quality. Today, many, if not most, large roads are indeed built with the help of the private sector, but most expensive projects require the aid of government resources as well. Even in the late nineteenth century, before income tax, the private sector did not have enough money to complete a transcontinental railway on its own. Government endorsement was required.

A. Smith, for some reason you suggest that Ryan is trying to hijack the success of the James North rebuilding, which is absurd.

How long did you spend writing your poorly thought-out response to the article? Under 10 minutes? Under 5, I dare say? Frankly, and without meaning to get nasty here (though you did suggest that Ryan was just like a "any conceited politician"), it reads like you didn't even bother to finish reading the article before feeling as if you had the full authority to comment on it.

What is most "disgusting" here is not that your arguments against government involvement are exceedingly poor, but that somebody who does not even bother to apply themselves to developing a reasoned counterargument can so blindly and impertinently dismiss the enormous efforts undertaken by individuals in the interests of a better city. Like many others, I welcome a good argument, but your posts have so far amounted for the most part to a particularly brutish form of political anarchism. They aren't much better than the spam that this website had to contend with last spring. They detract entirely from the core issues that draw many others to this publication, and that are capable of sparking lively, productive debate.

Unfortunately, there are lots of blog sites out there that discuss the social-Darwinist, anarchist nonsense you seem to enjoy. You might find a readier audience there. If you continue to post here, my suggestion would be to either put more effort into your entries and have more respect for the efforts of others, or else be prepared for a more complicated mathematical question devised to deter those who waste volunteer-funded web space with thoughtless, unproductive and uninteresting drivel.

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