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Public Goods and Private Solutions in Maritime History

  • The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics
Larry J. Sechrest

Tags Free MarketsWorld History

 

Volume 7, No. 2 (Summer 2004)

 

Among all those goods which have been offered as examples of public goods, national defense and lighthouses have been among the most frequently cited. In both cases, it is typically claimed that only a government can effectively provide the good. This paper will present historical evidence which demonstrates that such a claim is false. For instance, the 700-year history of privateering—-the use of private armed ships during time of war—-will show that national defense in the form of warfare on the seas was not, and need not, be monopolized by government. It will also be shown that lighthouses were frequently built and operated by private entrepreneurs, rather than by governments.

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Cite This Article

Sechrest, Larry J. "Public Goods and Private Solutions in Maritime History." The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 7, No. 2 (Summer 2004): 3–27.