This article was published in the Autumn 1993 issue of Formulations
by the Free Nation Foundation
Problem X
 by Richard Hammer

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 In most of my discussions about politics it seems I am attempting to convince someone that it is not necessary for government to do X. Most people believe that we must have government - because only with government can they imagine that X will get solved to their satisfaction.

Of course we libertarians are experienced in pointing out that different people expect different things from government. Suppose we had a list of all the things that government does, or could do - a list of all possible X's. We could extract some familiar groupings from the list. One group, of things that regulate economic activities, characterizes the political agenda of the left. Another group, of things that regulate personal lifestyle choices, characterizes the agenda of the right.

We notice with amusement that sometimes there is no overlap between the X's chosen by a person from the left, and the X's chosen by a person from the right. Government might vanish entirely if both the right and left had to agree to each X.

And even most of us who call ourselves libertarian will pick some items from the list; we have our X's. But unfortunately we too differ considerably among ourselves on the X's. We share a common complaint, too much government, but we do not share a common vision of a society with minimal government. We have no community of agreement on which things on the list could constitute a country that could work.

The Free Nation Foundation will work to build, among those who participate, a shared confidence in the critical institutions of a libertarian country. We will discuss those institutions and develop specifications in which we have faith. Our job will be to discuss among us problem X.

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