But What About the Mail?


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What is so special about the mail? Must government be the sole provider? Would a postal system really be so terrible in the hands of a competitive system? We and most other countries have a government monopoly, so maybe it must be that way.

Libertarians are often called out for believing the State should be responsible for as little as possible. As Henry David Thoreau wrote (taking some liberty with the motto of The United States Magazine and Democratic Review): “That government is best that governs least.”

But the mail, really? Who believes this service can be provided without a State monopoly? As this October 9, 1967 Newsweek column by Milton Friedman shows, economics provides evidence for why a competitive system would work better. And not only that: The State, along with special interests, has pulled the wool over our eyes to hide the true reason the government’s monopoly exists.

I believe Friedman is right and our lack of imagination is our undoing. Just because the State currently performs a function does not mean the private sector cannot do it. Once we realize that government is “inefficient and backward,” as Friedman put it, and the competitive system can actually solve these problems, we should start asking if maybe, just maybe, the market might be the better option for other things the State does today.

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July/August 2014

The United States' corporate tax burden is the highest in the world, but innovators will always find a way to duck away from Uncle Sam's reach. Doug Bandow explains how those with the means are renouncing their citizenship in increasing numbers, while J. Dayne Girard describes the innovative use of freeports to shield wealth from the myriad taxes and duties imposed on it as it moves around the world. Of course the politicians brand all of these people unpatriotic, hoping you won't think too hard about the difference between the usual crony-capitalist suspects and the global creative elite that have done so much to improve our lives. In a special tech section, Joseph Diedrich, Thomas Bogle, and Matthew McCaffrey look at various ways these innovators add value to our lives--even in ways they probably never expected.
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