Dear WSJ: Governments Are Little Different Than Pirates

Editor, The Wall Street Journal

200 Liberty Street

New York, NY 10281

To the Editor:

Arthur Bowring is correct that pirates raise costs to consumers ("The Price of Piracy," November 25).  Having to confront predators possessing the brute force to seize their cargoes and persons, merchants naturally cut back on their commercial activities and demand premium payments for whatever services they continue to perform.

But it's no stretch to arrrggggue that pirates share much in common with the stationary bandits we call "governments."  Governments, too, routinely threaten to seize persons' assets and persons if those persons don't pay the ransom called "taxes."  And like pirate activity, government regulations and taxes increase the risks and costs of doing business - expenses ultimately passed on to consumers.

The chief difference between the two sorts of bandits is that, unlike governments, pirates don't insult the intelligence of their victims with assurances that the pirates' predations are for the victims' own good.


Donald J. Boudreaux

Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser.