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Friday, July 13, 2007

North Korea Statism as Organized Crime

Today's article from the Informed Reader Blog over at the Wall Street Journal discusses N. Korea's statism. The first paragraph is quite good and spurred my thoughts.

The North Korean government’s stake in criminal enterprises is large enough that it will prolong the rogue state’s clash with the West, whether or not Pyongyang halts its nuclear-weapons program. Through interviews with defectors and policy makers, Time’s Bill Powell and Adam Zagorin describe the mechanics of how government dealings in Pyongyang translate into counterfeit money in New Jersey and heroin in Russia.
I'd love to hear a libertarian's thoughts on the first sentence in particular. It's a shame most libertarians live in advanced western culture, where their philosophical ideas, no matter how odd or unproven, are allowed to flourish.

State Criminal Activity
The idea of the State engaging in criminal enterprises is quite alarming to me. My libertarian friends might say that the State is already an organized crime unit by their own definition. In any case, its clear N. Korea's interests are not in promoting the welfare of its citizens through its "comparative advantage in violence."

Illegal activities bring $1 billion a year to Pyongyang, a State Department official tells Time. That compares with $1.7 billion in legitimate exports in 2005, based on estimates by the Central Intelligence Agency.
In addition to constituting more than half of N. Korea's trade income, counterfeiting has been cited as a means of modern warfare. Debase the quality of a country's products, commodities, or currencies, and you've got people worried. Call it "economic terrorism." We've even engaged in it ourselves.

Our libertarian friends would be more apt to quit their Rothbard-inspired gold buggery and focus on the dangers presented by counterfeiting paper currency by other governments, not our own. Don't get me started on commodity-based currency, but foreign counterfeiting could pose a serious threat to the strong currencies of the world.

1 comment:

cxx_guy said...

I would agree that North Korean counterfeiting would be as dangerous as Federal Reserve counterfeiting, except that their capacity is smaller, and they probably will not be able to permanently expand the money supply. Their bills will be (eventually) recognized and discarded. I wish I could say the same for Federal Reserve Notes, which people seem to treat just like money!