Alex Tabarrok has written what might very well be the stupidest thing I’ll read this year, about the Mexican Mafia. In it, he portrays their extortion as “taxes” because folks like him love to do the opposite and portray taxes as extortion. He takes it a little further than most, though, by claiming that the MM “became a kind of government” because some of their actions could be construed as protecting property rights or adjudicating disputes. Is that enough to make a government? Is it really equivalent to the torts and courts on which even the most free societies and markets depend? Does the MM provide anything equivalent to national defense – the one institution even the most radical government-haters seem to favor? No, they rely on prison guards, and beyond them the real military, for that. In fact, their whole enterprise depends on Real Government doing all the hard work of delivering victims by incarceration. Tabarrok concludes that the Mexican Mafia has “much to teach us about crime and governance” despite all this. I disagree. An unelected and unaccountable authority defined by ethnic homogeneity and engaging in “taxation” without representation would have no legitimacy as a government, and bears no resemblance to the one with which Alex is not so subtly comparing it. Even a meth habit doesn’t explain that kind of writing.

In other, slightly better, news, Radley Balko has finally figured out that the limited-liability corporation is really an exercise in political economy, and might not be truly compatible with libertarian ideals. Yeah, the “limited liability” part, unaccompanied by anything in return for that governmental favor, kind of gave that away. The corporate structure is to liability what an address in the Caymans is to taxation. Many people have recognized that for years. They’ve suggested that, if we’re going to break the relationship between profit and risk (which real free-market theory tells us is essential), we should at least try to limit or recover the losses that result. Do you suppose that whole careers spent attacking such people as socialist might explain why normal people see “libertarian” as nothing to do with free markets? Of course, the comments to Radley’s article make it quite clear that even asking an innocent question is viewed as heresy. Ours is not to question. Ours is only to accept our position below the New Aristocracy in Washington and Wall Street.