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Author Topic: the Tiebout Model  (Read 1599 times)


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the Tiebout Model
« on: July 15, 2003, 01:42:34 am »

 I generally empathize with anarcho-capitalists in their sentiments, but something always strikes me as a bit odd about them. I believe in ultimate freedom for the masses, but doesn't that freedom also imply the freedom to congregate and contractually bind oneself to a specific set of laws? It seems to me that it does.
 The way to best achieve real freedom is to allow for small islands of government in a sea of freedom. If you want to be a communist fine, find 8 other people who want to be communists too and go somewhere else and buy some land to have your commune on. I don't care. I guess that makes me a kind of extremist minarchist, but I tend to think any attempts at anarchy will also result in a similar situation.
 If any of you have read Neal Stephenson's sci-fi masterpiece "Snow Crash" this will sound pretty familiar as it's a bit like the common economic protocol and franchise neighborhoods located within it. Part of any good sci-fi writer's genius is the ability to peg great future trends, and I think Stephenson hit the nail on the head with this one.
 In 1956 Charles Tiebout, in an article in the Journal of Political Economy, proposed a system by which local governments were optimised for population and greatly diversified in their political goals. This "Tiebout Model" has spawned a lot of research in urban economics, and for good reason.
 Imagine small, diverse urban areas located within the same geographic proximity that a city would. Each of these areas offers a package of options which you choose by signing a contract and moving in. Want to live in a place where your child can be schooled and grow up with others in her age range? Move to a neighborhood with modest property taxes funding a public schoolhouse and park. Want to save every last penny you earn and don't care about how your neighbors' houses look? Move to a minimal tax neighborhood that only supports its roads as a sort of private driveway.
 Any scale problems in services, such as the need for public water facilities to be subsidized by a minimum user base to be efficient, can be solved by neighborhood coalitions or subcontracting. It's a beautiful, near perfect system in my estimation, and I'd love to hear what you all think of it.
The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
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