i met again recently 2 people i admire a lot. my biology and form teacher ms wong and my ex-boss in army. ms wong has just returned from teaching in china and NGOing there as well, while my ex-boss is still in the army.

my respect for some of the people in uniform is still there. i don't always approve of the lengths nations go to secure their "national security", but i've always wondered how a libertarian would justify national defense. in a world with complete freedom of movement, then people would move anywhere, to where they could make the most money, feel the safest. yet our world now is pretty much imperfect. many people stay where they are. borders and differences between people exist. i think many of my peers are right to go overseas, where they can fulfill what they really want to achieve. yet at the same time i'm really worried, that if i get called up, my platoon will be half empty. but i guess it's just like a bank run, isn't it? if you know a system isn't sustainable, then you better get your money out before another person does. who else can you blame, the world is like that? but then i worry. that is my big question about a libertarian world, because co-ordination and co-operation breaks down.

if i could implement a perfect world, where people could move about anywhere they want, not being credit-constrained, not being time-constrained (and alas, not even the most ardent economist can create an intertemporal market for time) by having to take care of sick parents,
not limited by borders or religion or feelings of revenge for past wrongs, then the economics i learn can be readily converted into a recipe for life. at heart, the liberal project is not a bad one. remove borders let people flow around, just like in the EU, reduce defence spending.

but i look at the reality around me, the stories people have. people are constrained. they have their own interests and biases, racial or otherwise. so implementing wide differentials, giving 100% reward for performance or human capital investment at the margin, low marginal taxes on income, no national defense, i don't think i can live in that type of world, and so i don't think i can justify those type of policies. true, in today's world, we are always someone's pimp and we have to keep taxes low enough to attract sufficient business, but i wouldn't be ideologically in favour of totally free markets. i cannot, because i don't think that poverty or unequal outcomes are fully the result of lack of ability or effort. it could be someone falling ill at a not-too-convenient time in your life.

so, to make certain sacrifices to keep what you have, i can accept. i can banish the selfish demon which comes along to ask sometimes "why did you do NS". Of course, I think sacrifices should give you a certain right to speak at the table. so far, nothing bad has happened. but i can imagine a world where someone with no military service orders all of us to fight some pointless war, and i think we should have a say in that. it has happened, after all, in the biggest developed country in the world. another worry. same with the doctors i guess. if they have to work so hard and study so much, perhaps we should look at making an effort to retain them by paying slightly more, compared to the excess returns now available in some industries. i want a pareto-optimal world, but there's so much wealth and endowment sloshing around that it's basically a jungle economy now.

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