When I was very young, I believed, as I think most children do, in what I was told by my elders. People said that without G-d, man would have no morals. People said that without the state, all order would break down and that civilization would decend into chaos. This immediately seemed at odds with reason. If people get their morals from G-d, why would the absence of the state create a state of chaos? Would not people still have their morals to guide them in the absence of government, or is government itself the deity? I had no answer.
When I was entering my teen years, I had an argument with a bright young woman who was a few years my elder. She argued the man need not have a government at all. She argued that many species of animals live within groups and without government. She argued that people would have morality and reason without a state. I became an anarchist. This argument seemed natural to me.
In my late teen years, I encountered libertarianism. The libertarians I met first were minarchists. They had ideas of individual liberty, self-ownership, and ethics that were new to me. They talked about how communes were still robbing the individual of his/her freedom and that this was wrong. I went from left-anarchism to libertarianism. I also joined the military around this time. It was there that I experienced extreme statism. This changed my opinion. Less government of all types has to be the answer. Once I was on this track, things changed quickly. I started reading books on economics, philosophy, and logic. I started to think that perhaps that young woman, years before, had been on the right track after all.
These libertarians had the right thoughts about organization, ethics, and economics, but the anarchist had the right ideas about governance. The best government was no government.
Monopolies are bad. This is easily observable. Every place in which a monopoly is established the quality of the product or service offered is diminished, and the price of the service or product is increased. This rule does not quit applying merely because the economic actor gains a name of "government" and a pretty costume. The monopoly on law is bad. The monopoly on enforcement is bad. The monopoly on money is bad. These are bad economically, and they cost human lives as well.
It is also important to note that only government can truly own land under the statist model. As the state can take land from anyone at any time, and the state requires rent for that land it is reasonable to assert that the state claims ownership of all of the land under its dominion. This is a massive economic problem. This robs people of resources that could otherwise be used in the production and trade of value.
The most important thing I discovered, however, had little to do with anything people normally discussed. *Violence is staggeringly expensive, and it is violence upon which the state is built*. Some may argue this point. Some may say, "what does it cost to point a gun at someone and demand his/her property". Well, that depends. Do you want to do it yourself or would you like someone else to do it? How many people are you holding up?
Any time you initiate violence, you are are taking a very big risk. You have a high chance of incurring physical harm when you attempt thievery, assault, rape, kid knapping or murder. The state regularly engages in thievery, assault, and kid knapping. It only engages in murder occasionally, and rarely does rape occur. The state pays a relatively low wage to police and military personel in comparison to the risks they take, but if we keep benefits and retirement in mind, and then multiply that total by the number of men and women in those fields... it gets to be quite a large sum. We also need to keep the equipment and the buildings in mind. Then, you need to take the cost of the prisons into account. This is all quite expensive. The mafia incurred similar costs, which resulted in a high cost, and increased the mafia's product and service prices.
Another component of the cost of violence is that each person who becomes a victim of the police or other violent agency is a person gone from the labor pool. That's a person who can not longer provide a service. Economic loss. If you then account for all of those in prison, all of those who are police, and all of those who are in the military, we have even more lost human capital. When we have an abundance of labor, we typically see an increase in market innovation and then a boom in new formed markets. This cannot happen when that human capital is constantly being thrown in cages or drawn into agencies of destruction.
I am not saying this to be cold. I am saying this because people often completely discount and/or ignore anarchist and voluntaryist moral arguments, and therefore the only argument left is economic.
It is far cheaper to let actual market forces provide the services a state would normally provide. Think about your real necessities. The state does not provide them, and you do quite well. The markets provide your food, shelter, and clothing. The markets provide the state and private defense companies with weaponry and armor. There is no reason to think that the market could not provide you with law, protection, investigation, and other services. Like food, clothing, and shelter, we would expect prices and costs to go down and quality to go up.
In the 20th century, over 260 million people were the victimes of democide. It would seem that the idea that governments protect their people is false...