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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: February 2015

9 - Better Off Stateless*


In the developed world the relationship between state and society is fairly straightforward. Although rent seeking, public corruption, and government abuse exist, to a large extent developed economies have developed precisely because they have succeeded in overcoming these problems. While far from perfect in this respect, government in the United States, for example, does a good job of protecting citizens’ property rights and uses its monopoly on coercion to provide public goods that, at least in principle, stand to make society more productive.

In the developing world, however, the relationship between government and citizens is often very different. Here many political rulers routinely use government to benefit themselves and their supporters at citizens’ expense. Rather than using state power to protect citizens’ property rights, these governments use that power to prey on society. In the extreme they devolve into little more than glorified thuggery, seizing every opportunity to extort their citizens. Ultra-dysfunctional states not only fail to provide public goods and protect citizens’ property. They're the primary threat to their citizens’ property rights and security.

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