Monday, December 03, 2007

Somalia: Been Down So Long, It Looks Like Up To Me...

Better off stateless: Somalia before and after government collapse

Peter Leeson
Journal of Comparative Economics, December 2007, Pages 689-710

Could anarchy be good for Somalia's development? If state predation goes
unchecked government may not only fail to add to social welfare, but can
actually reduce welfare below its level under statelessness. Such was the
case with Somalia's government, which did more harm to its citizens than
good. The government's collapse and subsequent emergence of statelessness
opened the opportunity for Somali progress. This paper investigates the
impact of anarchy on Somali development. The data suggest that while the
state of this development remains low, on nearly all of 18 key indicators
that allow pre- and post-stateless welfare comparisons, Somalis are better
off under anarchy than they were under government. Renewed vibrancy in
critical sectors of Somalia's economy and public goods in the absence of a
predatory state are responsible for this improvement.

KPC has talked about this several times. Certainly there EXISTS a structure of government, in my mind at least, that would be better than the current situation. But it is quite possible, as Pete shows, that the ACTUAL government on the ground was in fact worse.

And that's a big problem. Many of my statist friends object to Libertarian claims. Their objections always come down to this: "If the government would do what *I* want, the world would be better, in my opinion, than things are now."

Well, I'm not sure that's true. But even if it is, that doesn't mean that the actual government won't look, like the government we have right now. We aren't Somalia, by any means. But we aren't the America outlined in the Constitution.

(Nod to KL)

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