Therefore, I have always accepted Somalia as an example of the features of anarchy, even if I could not, until now, explain what exactly was going on there. This was simply because the place was being misrepresented.
I'll open with the humdinger.
"In the year following the state’s collapse, civil war, exacerbated by severe drought, devastated the Sub-Saharan territory killing 300,000 Somalis (Prendergast 1997).
Though largely unrecognized by economists, the widespread violence that ravaged Somalia in its first year without government vanished considerably by 1994. By the mid-1990s peace prevailed over most of the country (Menkhaus 1998, 2004). Since 1997 most indicators of Somali development show slow but steady progress and today are above their pre-stateless levels."
And I think that's exactly what you could expect if you implemented anarchy right here and now. Mass death, followed by improvement.
This is an issue that I think lies behind most objections to anarchism, but I never see brought up explicitly. Indeed, in nearly any particular, we can easily see that the government is incompetent and would be better off leaving well enough alone. It's even easy to get agreement on this if you don't make your interlocutor actually think of it as anarchism.
There's just that little bit of mass death between here and there, so if you do bring up anarchism, it covertly takes over the entire dialogue. So, try it out, as I'll be doing. Every time I see an objection of the form, 'but government is necessary for X,' I'll replace it with, 'but what about the mass death?' and see if it still makes sense in context.
"On the one hand, popular opinion sees government as universally superior to anarchy.""On one hand, opinion sees government as universally superior to a period of mass death." Seems to be working out.
Page twelve has the table listing the actual statistics at hand. The table notes a decline in GDP, which shows how useless GDP is. Radios, TVs, telephones, and physicians all go up, but wealth goes down? Notably, Leeson has an excellent analysis of why the statistics fall like this, but I think the analysis could be generalized farther than Leeson would be comfortable with. I'm also highly amused that literacy and schooling have dropped while life expectancy, and indeed general health, has increased.
Things that are truly important, full list:
Actually that's not true, it's just that government education is basically worse than useless. For instance, the medical advances the Somalis are using to improve their health would be impossible without at least one person getting educated, in spite of being schooled.
I am especially amused by this bit, emphasis mine
"Public goods come from a variety of sources in stateless Somalia, including the “taxes” charged by militia. Clan militias provide security to citizens in their territories, and militiamen for hire protect businesses, seaports, large markets, and trade convoys. In other cases shari’a, a form of religious law/courts discussed below, provide security by including guards in their court militia in return for payment from businessmen (UNDP 2001: 109-110). Clan leaders also work together to provide needed public goods in areas outside of Somalia’s big cities where very few exist."
While Leeson has discarded the automatic association between anarchy and mass death, by noting that the mass death can't go on forever, he has failed to discard the association between certain goods and the term 'public.' Public goods are defined as those which can't be properly paid for by being charged for. Although, I can understand why Leeson might be unconsciously reticent to admit that the basic service that his government provides - security - is not, actually, a public good.
Another thing working exactly as your average anarchist says it would:
"Private courts are funded by the donations of successful businessmen who benefit from the presence of thisSomething that needs to be uplayed a great deal:
publicgood in urban centers. Under anarchy, dispute resolution is free and speedy by international standards (Nenova 2004; Nenova and Harford 2004)."
"Expansive domestic clan-based social networks also provide social insurance."The role of a robust social fabric is critical in any anarchic situation. It's one of the reasons anarchy here and now would lead to mass death.
I hate to be so topical, but hey Obama, considered Somalia?
"Private healthcare is also available. Although the state of medicine in SomaliaFifty cents. ... Fifty cents?! Puts that dollar a day ("extreme poverty") wage into perspective, doesn't it? Given a minimum wage of eight bucks, that would be $30 for a doctor's visit around here. Medical care, when government isn't mucking with it, is priced on par with DVDs, and moreover markets do not produce shortages, two reasons you know that the American healthcare system is not private, whatever they're fond of saying.
remains extremely low, medical consultations are very affordable ($0.50/visit)"
Another thing that puts the dollar a day wage into perspective...most of Somali is pastoral. Many earning that dollar aren't relying on that dollar for all their wealth the way a western citizen does. They not only have farms, they have friends with farms. Living hand to mouth isn't something we really do here - but, literally, at least some of those 'extremely poor' Somalis are making things with their hands, and then consuming them. Instead, they're just using the cash to pay for doctor's visits.
Despite all this, I have three concerns. First, the GDP issue is probably just the tip of an iceberg of dodgy statistics. The paper may not be as supportive as anarchism as it appears. Second, the paper only barely touched the fact that while Somalia lacks a central government, it is not really anarchy, but rather polyarchy, which would simply invoke the well-known principles governing monopolies, rather than the people's ability to self-govern. For example, the paper places the free market price on roads - apparently it is 5% of something, but that could simply be because the local militias compete with each other for traffic, and is not likely to continue indefinitely.
Finally, in the Europe of say 1500, military realities would have forced a place like anarchist Somalia off the map in a matter of days, only limited by the time it took for the armies to march across the landscape. What has changed? Depending on the answer, anarchy may be even more viable than Somalia leads us to believe...or Somalia may be unknowingly dancing across a knife edge.
 Does that mean an MRI would cost about as much as a DVD player? If so, a getting a truly private MRI would probably be about as much hassle as buying a DVD player. The Somalis do not have the capital investment to afford MRIs, but, in a decade or so, perhaps we'll find out? If the TNG doesn't get off the ground, that is.