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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16347/criminal-justice-is-no-job-for-the-state/

Criminal Justice Is No Job for the State

April 4, 2011 by

The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, with 1 in 100 people behind bars. The prison population in America equals that of the cities of Los Angeles and Miami combined.

FULL ARTICLE by Doug French

{ 101 comments }

Kakugo April 4, 2011 at 9:11 am

One thing that should be kept in mind is the weight of law industry when lobbying is concerned. Individual lawyers and law firms are by far the first contributors to political campaigns, far outweighing such heavy hitters as public employee unions and Big Pharma. And they lobby “left and right” (ie they are the first contributors to both Democrats and Republicans) without problem. Is in this lobby’s best interest to, say, end the War on Drugs or ask for milder sentences?

André April 4, 2011 at 9:55 am

True, criminal justice is no job for the State. But, it is also no job for a private entrepreneur.

First of all, administering punishments is not a GOOD. If we accept such a dangerously broad definition of the concept of “economic good”, then you must concede that also expropriations, murders, and rapes should be considered MARKETABLE goods – there are people out there who enjoy perpetrating this sort of things.

Moving from a monopolistic penal system to a private, opened one does look like a big improvement to me. Each and every act that administers punishments is a violation of property rights. On paper, those who misbehaved in the first place have already lost this kind of rights, so there is no technical “violation” of their rights. But this is an extremely naive view. In the real world, in most cases, it is absolutely not possible to establish what really happened with scientific accuracty. There is someone accused of something and someone else accusing. Both parts try to find facts that fit their own, specific perspective. You want to give a private company this task? Fine for me, but do not expect a significant reduction in the typical abuses of modern penal systems.

Ancient Greek societies had a completely different way to deal with such issues, that’s true. But it was nothing like the modern, “inclusive” way to deal with criminals. Criminals were thrown out of the community, they were “excluded”. That’s is the libertarian way to deal with crime, in my opinion. I don’t really care if the guy who is running the penitentiary has to report to investors, to electors, or to elected bureaucrats. Such things are not a service to the community as a whole, but to a part of it. Therefore, is more than natural that those who do not benefit from the “service” of being locked up in jail, try their luck in another community. It is not a matter of public vs private, it is a matter of respect for the individual man. This at least in ancient Greece.

Inquisitor April 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

“True, criminal justice is no job for the State. But, it is also no job for a private entrepreneur.

First of all, administering punishments is not a GOOD.”

That depends entirely on your view of retributive justice. Though I agree with the thrust of your post, if you hold to approaches like Kinsella’s estoppel argument, its administration is certainly an economic good inasmuch as services like debt collection are.

Dave Albin April 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm

You’re right – the ejection from society system is the most libertarian. In a libertarian world, if you don’t have something that others find productive and useful (and that could be anything) and would cause trouble for others, you would be shunned out of society.

Gil April 5, 2011 at 12:07 am

How can a criminal be ejected from society if there’s no such thing as society in Libertopia?

Nuke Gray April 5, 2011 at 12:59 am

But there would be public opinion, and reputation. If a criminal tried to buy goods from your store, and the Internet showed you their past, you could arm yourself, and then tell them to leave your property. If enough people did this, they would need to move a long way away to escape community banishment.

Andy April 5, 2011 at 3:26 am

And everyone knows that the internet is a 100% reliable source of info.

Dave Albin April 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Some sites are reliable, others are not. People can figure that out on their own.

Dave Albin April 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Society would all be voluntary. People who find each other useful (for whatever reason) would all choose to live together. The government wouldn’t own any property, and so, there would be unclaimed tracts of land where no one lived – for homesteading, for people to go where they have no where else to go after being ejected from societies, etc. So, Gil, you would be welcome in my society because your useful to argue with! Don’t worry…..

Andy April 6, 2011 at 5:48 am

Dave,

We already tried separate but equal, and it failed.

Why would I respect the property rights of someone that I felt necessary to eject from society? The banishment wouldn’t stop until they were shunned onto land that no one else wanted, presumably because it doesn’t have recognizable value for the moment that it is occupied by the rejects. The imposed scarcity would make political means more valuable than economic means.

It may be in my best interest to join the bands of pilaging social outcasts, if I am unable to use economic means to attain the protection of a private security company. The cheapest deal in town may not be adequate protection and I don’t get a choice other than becoming part of the new, growing state. My lack of security becomes your breached security by simple proximity.

Wealth disparity and income inequality are inherent with Capitalism. Political means are chosen over economic means if you expect to gain more politically. What is it that will keep the state from re-emerging again and again? Take away more and more economic means and you are left with more attractive and sensible political means for a rational person to take.

The Libertarian method seems to be labeling someone a slave to the overlords while disregarding understandable concerns about perceived, if not actual, inequities. You may not be aware, “but they have televisions” argument comes across as “let them eat cake.” (Don’t care if she didn’t actually say it)

Dave Albin April 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm

We tried forced separate but equal by the state, and it failed. Explain to me why I have to be around someone who isn’t useful to me? Do you want to be forced to interact with people who are harmful to you, or just plain useless to you? This may sound cold, but it is reality. The notion of everyone sitting around singing songs in harmony is downright silly. The fact of the matter is, in the USA, those who are productive and take nothing (or little) from the state are becoming a smaller group. We have more and more takers and less and less producers – you tell me who’s in charge here?

Wealth disparity and income inequality will always exist. They are increased by the presence of the state, with its regulations and taxation that favor one group over another. In the libertarian method, those who work hard and are innovative will do better than those who are neither – as it should be.

“What is it that will keep the state from re-emerging again and again?” Of course, this is the obvious question with no good answer, as recent (the past few hundred years) history shows.

Dave Albin April 10, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Andy,

Actually, I have to be around people I may not like. For example, the state takes my (or my parents’) money and forces me to go to public schools. Why not just go to a private school of my choice? Fine, but I still have to pay for the public schools. So, tell me how it’s my choice here? The state is saying either, do what we tell you, or we will steal from you. Think about this for all aspects of life where the state takes money from us and limits our choices. So much for liberty…..

In terms of the state enforcing property rights for me – that’s the idea, I agree…. However, I want to keep all of my income – sorry, the tax laws say I will go to jail. I want to keep my property – sorry, eminent domain laws, the state will take my property….. You get the idea…..

(sorry – this was suppose to be with the posts below…..)

Gil April 6, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Your “society”? What would that actually be? Your private home? So all you can do is tell a criminal you’re idea of punishment simply means he can’t ever comes to your home again? What if we’re neighbours and you see him on my premises as a guest and there’s nothing you can do about it? Since there’s no “society” your ability to banish would mean very little.

Dave Albin April 6, 2011 at 11:21 pm

If would mean a lot if most everyone else agreed with me…… If it only mattered to me, then it would only matter on my property, correct…..

Andy April 8, 2011 at 5:39 am

Dave

You don’t have to be around anyone that isn’t useful to you. Stay home. You just have to be able to separate yourself from anyone that you do not wish to be around.

It isn’t forcing you to do anything. It’s more like you being unable to force other’s that you dislike from doing what you both desire. Kumbayah, my friend.

What makes you so unique that everyone has to deal with YOUR dislike of them? If you don’t like someone, that is YOUR problem to deal with, not theirs.

Andy April 8, 2011 at 5:42 am

Dave

“The fact of the matter is, in the USA, those who are productive and take nothing (or little) from the state are becoming a smaller group. We have more and more takers and less and less producers”. This statement is slightly ambiguous. Who are the takers and who are the producers?

The property owners, which are ultimately the one’s with the balls to make it so, have given us comparatively liberal property rights. You can keep anyone out of your house that you wish to keep out, and the state will help you to do so. They will help you keep intruders outside of the artificial boundaries created by property deeds and titles and security fencing. They will take stolen property that belongs to you forcibly from the criminals home that violated your property.

In exchange, if you decide to go into business for yourself, you must allow anyone with legal tender into your business provided that they do not violate your person or property as per se statutory regulation.

Andy April 11, 2011 at 5:42 am

Dave,

“In terms of the state enforcing property rights for me – that’s the idea, I agree….”
“However, I want to keep all of my income…”

You want the benefits, but you don’t want to pay for it? There is a cost to enforcing property rights whether it is done publically or privately. You don’t want to pay taxes for it, but as your neighbor, I have to rely on you to pay a private firm to protect our mutual interest in securing the community we share?”

If your home is taken over by a gang of thieves (because your security company sucks or you got a BMW instead of security), I let it happen or pay my security company extra to vacate the premises for someone more desirable (not necessarily you if I pay for the service)? Or you pay another company to get your property back, which may be in direct conflict with me, your neighbor, if I have already replaced you with someone that I find more useful?

The condo argument above is suggesting that this is a more desirable arrangement than giving everyone in a specific territorial jurisdiction protection, regardless of ability or willingness to pay. I am arguing that some degree of collectivism is necessary for security and efficiency. What are you arguing? Do you want public or private protection for your property? You have made a claim for both.

The original argument was about you keeping people from living where you chose to live based on your subjective valuation of their worth to you… “Explain to me why I have to be around someone who isn’t useful to me?”

I assume that includes where you go to school and the businesses you frequent and own. “I want to eat here, I find you useless so”…So what? My suggestion is that you stay home. What do you think should happen? I go to my second choice and let you enjoy OUR first choice? I say no, fuck you, and what are you going to do about it? I don’t want to hold hands and sing songs, I want to go where I want to go just like you.

Assuming that you always seek out the most desirable places to be, Dave, everyone that you dislike and effectively deny access to said places will be second class to you and everyone that agrees with your assessment of usefulness. Eventually, if there are enough people like you, there will be a minority group and a majority group. The universe always strives for equilibrium.

Dave Albin April 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Andy,

I’m not asking for it both ways. I pointed out several ways that the state, rather than protecting my property rights, steals property from me – especially if I don’t go along with what they want me to do (example, public schools).

I’m not exactly sure what you’re saying, but I have no problem with some collective activities as long as they are voluntary. If you and I are neighbors, it may behoove us to both hire the same security company – or, it may not. With the state police, that was chosen for both of us, and we are presented with the bill, whether we would have hired the state police or not. See the difference?

Again, in terms business dealings, it may be beneficial for us both to frequent the same business, etc., even if one of us doesn’t like the other. This is still voluntary, if it is unpleasant. With the state in the way, this process becomes more challenging because they use taxation and regulations to favor certain industries over others, giving us, the people, fewer, more expensive options.

I think you may have gotten carried away with my comments about “useful” people. Maybe this will clarify it? I can”t deny others access to someone else’s property – but the property owner should be able to keep anyone off his or her property for any reason.

Andy April 12, 2011 at 4:03 am

Dave,

Dave, “People who find each other useful (for whatever reason) would all choose to live together. The government wouldn’t own any property, and so, there would be unclaimed tracts of land where no one lived…” The obvious question, what happens to the “useless” people that are shunned from society?

Andy, “We already tried separate but equal, and it failed.”
The outcasts develop land, making it more attractive to outsiders, and are further banished into more and more undesirable tracts of land.

Dave, “Explain to me why I have to be around someone who isn’t useful to me?”

Andy, “You don’t have to be around anyone that isn’t useful to you. Stay home.”
Rather than require the people that you dislike to leave. Good luck with that. You won’t get their compliance or the governments on those grounds alone.

Dave, “Actually, I have to be around people I may not like. For example, the state takes my (or my parents’) money and forces me to go to public schools.”

Why do you think I have gotten carried away with “useless” people? I don’t know exactly what you mean by “useless people”. What does public school have to do with who you do or don’t like? If you choose to go to the private school of your choice and opt out of paying for public school, then it isn’t public education anymore.

I may be wrong, but you seem to be justifying the abolition of public education on the grounds that people don’t like each other, which totally disregards the fact that many people want public education.

“…but the property owner should be able to keep anyone off his or her property for any reason.” They can, and they do. Until you reason or otherwise change the state’s entitlement to emminent domain, it remains their property. Simple.

The gang of thieves in my previous illustration have exercised eminent domain against your property. Until you are able, or until someone else is willing to help you, it remains their property. According to your ideal world, the government owns no property. What incentive is there to protect your rights? If I pay to evict the undesirables, I am going to expect something in return from you, perhaps a xat payment?

Why, for the sake of protecting my own property, would I allow you to return? You have proven yourself lacking in foresight because you didn’t purchase security. Or, you don’t have the financial ability or skill to adequately secure your property from people that subsequently become a greater threat to me. Either way, you are useless to me as a neighbor if my goal is living in a safe neighborhood.

Dave Albin April 13, 2011 at 11:17 am

Andy,

I am indeed advocating getting rid of public education because of people who I find “useless” – if I live in a public school district that either does a poor job with education, or where the students are not even safe, the public educators are “useless” to me. I should be able to take all my money away from this school and pay for another school somewhere else that is good and safe. Currently, I cannot do this – I am forced to financially support my local public school no matter what they do to me. In my opinion, this is evil. In my ideal world, everyone could choose what kind of education to buy – just because some people want to keep the same public education system is irrelevant. Some people wanted to keep slavery, but it’s wrong whether it’s legal or not. Public education is more like slavery than you are prepared to admit.

As to your other points – yes, if I should have chosen to purchase security, but didn’t, and someone takes my property, I bear some of that responsibility for choosing poorly. Currently, I am forced to pay for a police force who is not legally responsible for protecting me (numerous court cases have stated this). Surely we could do better in a free market.

Joe April 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm

“You want to give a private company this task? Fine for me, but do not expect a significant reduction in the typical abuses of modern penal systems. ”

I think the sum of the argument written is to say that the justice system costs too much, that we are incarcerating individuals for petty crimes yet sentencing them as if they were violent offenders, and that the private sector can do it in a more cost efficient manner. I don’t think he is trying to argue the fact that the private sector will be more “just.”

I also agree that it would not be beneficial to put justice into the private sector. The sole purpose of Government is to protect life, liberty, and property. They make the laws, and they are required to enforce the laws. It would be an interesting economic experiment, however, to pay private businesses money to incarcerate prisoners – but not to capture, try, and administer justice to them. It is a ‘good’ that will ultimately end up being paid for by the state in the end anyways. What individual is going to pay the bill when we are all sharing the service?

Daniel, Prince of Darkness April 4, 2011 at 11:03 pm

It’s funny because history proves otherwise

Having a government do it means they do it with impunity. Private parties trying to met out “justice” or whatever that means will entail the private parties involved actually responsive to the opportunity cost of exacting said “justice” and thus, something that would actually entail being more of a “good” than what any government (with a state and all) does

Andy April 5, 2011 at 3:39 am

“…to pay private businesses money to incarcerate prisoners – but not to capture, try, and administer justice to them.” The interesting experiment turned into an interesting scandal.

“Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are said to have received $2.6 million for ensuring that juvenile suspects were jailed in prisons operated by the companies Pennsylvania Child Care and a sister company, Western Pennsylvania Child Care. Some of the young people were jailed over the objections of their probation officers. An estimated 5,000 juveniles have been sentenced by Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2002.”

Google Pennsylvania private prisons.

Wildberry April 5, 2011 at 8:08 am

Under private protection schemes, how do you protect the accused?

Really, the most cost-effective administration of justice is simply assassination. How is the accused supposed to insure something like due process?

Nick April 4, 2011 at 10:01 am

Great article. I do, however, have one concern: if criminal justice is taken out of the hands of the state, how will it be enforced? How could a private justice system be implemented without legitimizing the use of violence and coercion amongst non-consenting individuals? What’s more, by legitimizing such practices, it removes any justification for criminals to be punished, since what they did – initiate the use of force against another person – is no different to that which is being done to them.

nate-m April 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

It’s a difficult question.

The only reference I have that provided a acceptable solution is Biblical, which covers law that existed before the state.

Examples I remember:

For crimes like theft, if the person got caught then they were not incarcerated… they owed 200% of the cost of the item they stole.

If there was a accidental death through negligence, manslaughter, then the the person that contributed to the death owes financial compensation to the family.

For murder, it was up to the family of the person being murdered to carry out the punishment. The punishment for ‘true’ murder (with the direct aim of killing the person) was death. But, I believe (my memory is foggy on all of this) you required two witnesses. The penalty for bearing false witness is as bad as the punishment fro the crime itself.

If a person was wrongly accused (say by accident or misunderstanding) and was under threat of the murdered person’s family then they had to run away to the next city or tribe or whatever. It was that town’s moral obligation to house and protect the accused and it was up to them to continue protecting the accused if he was innocent, or give him up to the family if he was guilty. Through a trial or whatever.

There are all sorts of things like that. I don’t have time to look up the laws and punishments right now, but none of them were designed with the idea that you have a publicly ran professional police force to back them up.

With the Norse culture, which pre-dates the state also, if you were involved in a wrongful death or murder then it was your obligation to cover the financial loss of that provider. So yeah, if you wanted to kill a guy because he pissed you off you were certainly allowed too.. but only if your willing to take care of his widow and children!

That’s all I remember about the Vikings law specifically. They had a complex system of trading and laws that governed various things. It seems like they invented writing for the expressed purpose of contracts…. all the writings they can find I think revolves around business dealing and you own me X many sheep due Y, if you miss that date then you own me Z.

Of course anybody can easily point how these things can be abused, but it’s pretty obvious that the current system is abused heavily right now.

Andy April 5, 2011 at 3:44 am

If I kill Bill Gates accidently, his family is just shit out of luck.

Gil April 5, 2011 at 11:45 pm

FTW!

nate-m April 6, 2011 at 6:43 am

More then likely it would be the other way around.

Andy April 8, 2011 at 2:58 am

I doubt they would be satisfied with the compensation they could get from me. My family would live nicely if Bill were to accidently kill me, however. You can’t get blood from a turnip as they say.

It just doesn’t seem fair, but me and Bill are on very equal ground when it comes to state run prison time for negligent homicide. Unless of course I get jail time and he makes restitution instead. (even more likely than YOUR even more likely) I believe, if given the chance, our families would rather us not die in the first place and would favor regulation that may prevent negligence from becoming homicide at all.

billwald April 4, 2011 at 11:32 am

Return to old good old days and let families handle the criminal justice problem as they will? Cut out the middle man and let the Mob run things?

Inquisitor April 4, 2011 at 11:42 am

Cut out the monopolist.

William April 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

Can someone explain to me why the articles on this website are always so anarcho-capitalistic?

From what I’ve read by Mises, he understood the importance of the state and its role in law, defense, and criminal justice. He made very clear the need for the government to keep addictive drugs in check as well (e.g. heroine, not to be confused with marijuana), since those drugs disrupt the social order.

Now, I understand that Rothbard had a very different take on these subjects, and he was more of an anarcho-capitalist. And while Rothbard was a very smart man, and I get a lot of value from his writings, I still feel that I relate more to Mises and his common sense views.

Maybe I’m wrong in my understanding of Mises, but I don’t think he advocated complete private control of everything, especially criminal justice and national defense.

Inquisitor April 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

“Can someone explain to me why the articles on this website are always so anarcho-capitalistic?”

Because no one here just buys into an argument because it was made by Mises (or indeed Rothbard etc.) and because few thinkers here seem to think minarchism survives an application of economic analysis to the state.

William April 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

Perhaps my original comments didn’t come out as I intended. I value different points of view, and don’t mind reading these articles, but I very rarely come across a Mises Daily that advocates the state as a necessary evil, which surprises me because this is how Mises himself felt, and this is how the majority of libertarians feel (as you say, minarchists) as well. I feel like the articles tend to be very anarcho-capitalistic on the whole.

John P. Cunnane April 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm

That’s a reasonable point William. The Inquisitor answered appropriately. I agree the institute has adopted a Rothbardian view of ethics. Rothbard’s argument, “once the monopoly is granted, service in protecting liberty declines and the cost goes up” has unfortunately played out over time. Even Rothbard may be surprised how quickly. I think Rothbard called the government’s monopoly on coercion our “invader/protector”. Some would answer, “that’s why the Founding Fathers chose a republican form of government with powers retained by the individual except for those granted to the state. Rothbard’s proofs, that minarchism is a contradiction, and that coercion accelerates, seem more convincing.

Like you, I pause at the thought of no government. My son says it’s the result of permitting myself to cling to an incomplete argument. When I see the consequences of the scale of the errors made, of the incessant war, the loss of liberty, et. al, I understand his point.

Anarchism certainly seems a more logically valid, consistent position but the statists have so far not alienated me enough to totally give up on a bare minimum of collective force. The collective is however losing ground in my internal battle, every day.

nate-m April 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm

As far as I am concerned the most legitimate purpose of the government is preventing other governments from taking it’s place. It seems the reality of the past few hundred years is that if you don’t have a state currently ruling you then other states will rush to impose one, one way or the other.

So as a result having a minimal government to act as a placeholder is probably apropos.

Right now, personally, I feel that a civil anarchy were we are self-governing is the ideal state of affairs. The closest we can get to achieving that the better. Even if it is in steps.

William April 4, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I agree that the ideal state would be anarchy, but to quote Madison:

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

We need to keep a government in place for the exact reasons you say; to keep other governments from springing up in its place. They could spring up organically, via tribes, or they could be imposed by other existing nations. Either way you look at it, anarchy is as much a foolish ideal as communism.

nate-m April 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Either way you look at it, anarchy is as much a foolish ideal as communism.

Yet you said in beginning that anarchy is the ideal state? How can it be the ideal and then be as bad as communism? (Unless you think that communism is ideal also.)

Why should we stop striving for the ideal society anyways? The closer we get, the better off we are in the majority of situations.

William April 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Yes, those words came out a bit contradictory. Communism, in its utopian form, would be an ideal state if it could ever be reached, but because of human nature and the lack of a pricing mechanism (as Mises thoroughly explained), it would be impossible to get ever get there without self-destruction. The same dilemma exists with anarchism.

Human nature, and therefore human action, would never allow either system to exist in its purest form. Communism could not exist because people yearn to be free and do what they please, and anarchism could not exist because people will attempt to gain the most with the least amount of effort, resulting in the strong looting the rich, or mob rule (democracy) springing up.

nate-m April 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Communism could not exist because people yearn to be free and do what they please, and anarchism could not exist because people will attempt to gain the most with the least amount of effort, resulting in the strong looting the rich, or mob rule (democracy) springing up.

For the majority of the people that existed during the majority of human history (as in the people that are not alive now, I understand the population is very large currently) they existed in a state of anarchism, or at least without a state government. It’s not until the past 200 years or so before the majority of the planet was conquered by state governments through military force. Before that kingdoms and governments were spread throughout the world, but they controlled only a relatively small amount of people and property. I think that it’s possible to get back to that. I think that it’s even extremely likely, although we might have to go through ww3 and a nuclear war to get to it… because that is exactly were we are heading today. It’s a train that is speeding up…

If you noticed in my original post I am willing to accept a minimal amount of state government is a requirement to prevent other state governments from imposing themselves on us. But I think that striving for a ideal is not foolish nor is it equivalent with the communist movement. Far from it. it’s almost the exact opposite. Being a extremist in terms of desire for liberty is a GOOD thing. It’s a virtue.

Inquisitor April 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

The strong (which are usually the rich but also the “poor” represented by the likes of big unions) already loot the productive, be they poor or wealthy or in-between. There is a lot of libertarian analysis on why a monopolist provider of law and order is the easiest institution to capture due to the dispersed costs and concentrated benefits it offers to lobbying groups.

Inquisitor April 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Personally, I foresee a move to a breakdown of many larger nations (like the UK, US, Germany, Belgium etc.) and eventually towards city-states. The current economic situation is beyond sustainable and it will begin to showcase how vapid and fleeting the alleged benefits (and the immense actual costs) of big governments are. This will be a state of affairs more conducive to the development of pure private law.

Matthew Swaringen April 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Even though the site is named after Mises, historically speaking Rothbard/Lew Rockwell had more to do with it’s creation if my understanding is correct.

Having said that, I don’t think pointing to “common sense” is best here. It’s best to know why logically and based on human nature you think the incentives behind the state crime management system work better than those of a private system.

I think basically this argument boils down to whether you see a stronger need to punish crime or a stronger need to provide restitution for crime. Also the level of adherence to the principle of non-aggression is a big factor.

William April 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I’ve seen a lot of theories floated around regarding a privatized justice system, and how there could be competition between justice systems, but I have never seen a sufficient argument as to how someone under Company A could go after Company B, when the laws under each might be different. If the person under Company B doesn’t subscribe to the laws of Company A, how would that be enforced? It seems self-evident that law must have jurisdiction over a territory, and not over individuals. At least then, people would know who’s law they are breaking when they are in a particular area.

My biggest gripe with the privatization argument, though, is with national defense. The theory sounds nice, but there is no national defense “company” that could ever rival the army of an enemy state (especially a powerful one, like China or Russia). And if they WERE big enough to do so, it wouldn’t be very difficult for them to take control of the entire population anyway, so we would inevitably see some form of dictatorship ultimately arise.

Its not that I disagree with either of these proposed ideas in principle, but the cons of each seem worse than the cons of a central state.

nate-m April 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm

> If the person under Company B doesn’t subscribe to the laws of Company A, how would that be enforced?

This is one of those things that would have to be agreed on prior to doing business with one another. That is during the contractual negotiations.

This backed is by insurance.

So that if ‘company b’ backs out of the agreement and then refuses to obey the resulting judgement, then the insurance company will compensate you for their transgressions.

Therefore before doing business with another company in a significant manner then part of your decision making process must involve how highly you value the private court and then how much you trust the insurance company that the other company uses. If you don’t like the court system and/or you don’t trust the insurance company backing them then you are probably better off not doing business with them.

It’s all about risk calculation.

JAlanKatz April 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I can’t imagine how supermarkets work, or insurance.

William April 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Supermarkets and insurance have nothing to do with the theory of law. Do you think law can be reflected by prices? (Of course, if you are a US politician it can be… but that’s not my point.)

Matthew Swaringen April 5, 2011 at 6:54 am

William, you talk about people being naive and then you talk about territory. I know that in the US and modern countries we have some level of exactness on territory but does it work that way with most governments in the world? There are many people due to being a part of other ethnic groups or just being close to the border will associate more with one ruling body than another.

It’s not so simple as a government draws down lines on a map and magically everyone agrees to be ruled by government x instead of government y.

So the solution of having law governed by territory isn’t really a solution at all. Not only that but you seem to support the existing Federal system which is based on having competing governments (national, state, local) that each declare their own constitutions and limitations. And then of course the different levels then break those limitations illegally, but the smaller government’s have no rights to disagree.

Additionally, exactly how much of the law really should be law compared to our current system? Perhaps 1%? (This is way too high if I add in regulations).

So if you were dealing with company A and B, how much different would they really be? It’s doubtful they would be much different at all, but on the very small points where they did have a difference of opinion they would have made agreements between one another beforehand both on who could arbitrate between them and on some rules governing common situations.

Why would they do this? Because their customers would expect it. Unlike the existing government’s which will go to war and stay at war against the will of the people these businesses only make money if people pay them. And if they try to become a government, people will resist. Additionally they would probably expect controls/audits to ensure that the agency was acting in line with it’s charter.

On the matter of “army of an enemy state” it sounds like you are implying they would want to attack, which is almost certainly not the case, but provided they did either Russia or China would have to send tremendous amounts of people overseas to attempt to conquer, and with a decentralized society they would have to defeat every individual segment. If Russia thought they were bogged down in Afghanistan this would be much worse.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm

@ William April 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

William, I will be less PC than you. I find that 1) the majority of the heirs of the Mises works are ardent Rothbard An-caps; Rockwell, Tucker, Kinsella, French, Hoppe, etc. and 2) it is an absolutist position, meaning it does not tolerate anything less than total abolition of the state. Kinsella calls this the only “consistent” form of libertarianism.

It is shocking, in a way, how easily adherents here will dismiss Mises as having died too soon to realize the inevitability of the an-cap position, later elaborated by his pupil Rothbard.

Radicalism is ultimately alienating, which to some degree the leadership here takes as a badge of courage; notice the vileness that is often directed at those who do not toe the line.

Personally, I have stopped referring friends to this site and have stopped paying membership. When I see the “circle A” painted on windows in London after firebombing cars, and the same symbol on Rockwell’s website, I simply don’t have the time or interest in explaining the difference, presuming there is one. It is becoming impossible to come here and not get a large dose of An-cap with your tea.

Mises has appeal to a populist audience, but it is limited by the fanaticism displayed on this site for a particular, radical point of view, which was explicitly not shared by Mises or Hayek. When I once called Stephan an extremist, he replied “Thank you.” It wasn’t meant as a compliment.

nate-m April 4, 2011 at 1:18 pm

When I once called Stephan an extremist, he replied “Thank you.” It wasn’t meant as a compliment.

When coming from certain people insults can the be the highest form of praise.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Thank you for making my point.

nate-m April 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Thank you for making my point.

I don’t think I did. At least not a point that existed prior to my comment.

Plus there is nothing wrong with being a extremist when your position is actually correct and the non-extremist position is wrong.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Extremists alway feel that way. It part of the condition.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm

@Wildberry:

Yeah you would also call people who are radically against torture extremists.

For a person like you who has no logical and consistent system of ethic beliefs radical positions might seem extreme. The same goes for thieves if you explain to them that stealing is not right in any case.

William April 5, 2011 at 7:45 am

@Anti-IP Libertarian

To say that someone has no logical or consistent set of beliefs because they aren’t a pure anarchist is just ridiculous.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm

@William:

You misunderstood: I did not state that “someone has no logical or consistent set of beliefs because they aren’t a pure anarchist”

but because he has no CONSISTENT set of beliefs. Accept facts as facts.

If you cannot go to extremes with you beliefs and test them there you have a consistency/logic problem. It is as easy as that.

William April 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I feel that the Mises Institute still provides me with a lot of value and promotes some great ideas, so I come here daily to get the latest information and ideas, especially by those of Bob Murphy and Tom Woods. I also have taken a couple courses at the Mises Academy. However, there are some authors that I find particularly abrasive a lot of times. Lew Rockwell and Doug French are the most prominent. They claim their ideas are based in logic, but I almost find them to be without logic. One example would be Lew Rockwell’s opinion of drunk driving laws, and how we should get rid of them. Such an idea, first of all, would imply that driving on a highway is an individual right, which is obviously not true, since the individual does not own the land, nor did he build the roads. Sure, he paid taxes to help fund them, but partial ownership does not mean that he can use them how he pleases without “consulting” the other owners (i.e. the city or state as a whole, and in particular their representatives).

Without getting off topic, I’d just like to conclude by saying how much I think this site would benefit from some more grounded views, like those of Mises, Hayek, and Ayn Rand. The radical anarcho-capitalistic views mostly espoused here are the reason why Ron Paul’s witnesses in Congress get labeled as “extremists” for being a part of the Mises Institute.

Sione April 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm

William

Madison got it wrong. He should have written, “the great difficulty lies in this: you must first oblige the government to control itself; and in the next place oblige the people to govern it.”

One trouble with government arises in that it possesses a monopoly to rule over other people. The individual has no means to control the government, nor can any individual exclude it from controlling his personal affairs/transactions/activities at any time, for any arbitrary reason or lack thereof.

Regarding the roads and similar “public property”, such are unowned. While they are indeed paid for by individuals, no such is able to dispose of his share of the notional (and utterly illusory) ownership. He can’t sell it or borrow against it or cash it in or physically rearrange it in order it make it a more productive asset to better suit his purposes. In other words there is no ownership, in that there are no individuals who own any of it.

The trouble with drink driving “laws”, among others, is they necessarily criminalise acts which in most cases result in no victim and cause no damage. Further they institutionalise the practice of treating individuals as guilty of a “crime” until proven otherwise (thus shifting the burden of proof). Further yet, they are an expression of a monopoly control over unowned and as well as over all privately owned property.

The trouble with your formulations are that you necessarily assume an acceptance of the notion of government as sovereign over all individuals. Your formulation also requires acceptance of the principle that individuals must assume the burden of proving innocence of any act the government decides to criminalise. Your formulation accepts a government monopoly over all property, whether owned or unowned. Govt is the sovereign and there is no arbiter to which any non-sovereign individual can appeal to limit its powers or to arbitrate any dispute or disagreement he has with it.

It might pay to reflect on the unprecedented levles of violence, torture, rape, looting, fraud, murder, warfare, total warfare, weapon making and deployment thereof, destruction of property and wealth etc etc etc that the institution of government caused over the last century or so. A more grounded view on your part would be an admission that the institution of govt is so totally flawed, and proven dangerous, that it is unfit for Man.

With all due respect, it is the radical (and grossly irresponsible) views of support for the institution of govt espoused so commonly by persons such as yourself that allows the commissioning of the most absurd and terrible crimes to be conducted in your name. That is extremist. By comparison anarch-capitalists are the very model of restraint, rationality, logic and civility.

Sione

JAlanKatz April 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I question just why Rothbard’s views are ungrounded, but unquestioning worship of the rich (Rand) is somehow grounded.

Your point on drunk driving raises an important point that must be emphasized: liberty is not a piecemeal proposition. Social engineers of various stripes can tinker around with issues, but the advocate of freedom is talking about a full society. The roads are funded by taxes – but such a state of affairs is no more satisfactory than the existence of drunk driving laws in the first place. What matters here is that the state ought have nothing to say (ought not to exist, but leaving that aside) about victimless behaviors, such as driving drunk. That you can come up with a technical objection, based in the funding mechanism, just means that funding mechanism is wrong too.

William April 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm

“One trouble with government arises in that it possesses a monopoly to rule over other people.”

This is absolutely false in a Republic. I understand your point, but that is the reason why we have a Congress (and unfortunately a Senate since 1914) to represent the people directly.

I don’t disagree that anarcho-capitalists are an example of “restraint, rationality, logic and civility”, but they are also an example of naiveness, in thinking that all others are equally rational, logical, and civil.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

@ Sione April 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Madison got it wrong. He should have written, “the great difficulty lies in this: you must first oblige the government to control itself; and in the next place oblige the people to govern it.”

Because you get Madison wrong, you get your conclusion wrong. The government is obliged to control itself, and the people are obliged to govern it, to use your terms.

When it doesn’t control itself (inevitable), it must be controlled: elections, court, resistance, protest, activism, etc. Both avenues are clearly proscribed in the Constitution. Why are we failing to live up to that ideal? Lack of vigilance by patriots.

Regarding the roads and similar “public property”, such are unowned. While they are indeed paid for by individuals, no such is able to dispose of his share of the notional (and utterly illusory) ownership.

There are three types of ownership: private, communal, and state. In the case of roads, communal ownership is delegated to the state for enforcement and maintenance functions. (In my view, only enforcement is legitimate) Because they are not privately owned, you can do none of the things you can do with private property, as you point out. So what?

The trouble with drink driving “laws”, among others, is they necessarily criminalise acts which in most cases result in no victim and cause no damage.

I don’t think your assertion here conforms to the facts. While it is true that a given drunk driver may drive drunk without causing injury or damage, inevitably accidents do happen, such injuries do occur, and it is usually devastating for the victims, (oddly from which the driver seems often to unnaturally escape).

So is it deterrence in general that you oppose, the communal ownership of roads, or the enforcement by the state, or perhaps more likely, all of the above?

Further they institutionalise the practice of treating individuals as guilty of a “crime” until proven otherwise (thus shifting the burden of proof).

This is factually untrue, as the accused is entitled to all the same constitutionally guaranteed due process as all others accused of a crime, including all the defenses.

Govt is the sovereign and there is no arbiter to which any non-sovereign individual can appeal to limit its powers or to arbitrate any dispute or disagreement he has with it.

I am not an expert in Australian law, but presumably the Constitution there does not include an equivalent to the Bill of Rights. Perhaps this explains your misunderstanding of how government is designed here in the US? The government is challenged here often. Almost any decision, short of Constitutional Amendment, can be reversed legislatively, but even Amendment is possible. It would be hard work, as it should be, but it is a guaranteed recourse available to citizens acting through representative government agents.

It might pay to reflect on the unprecedented levles of violence, torture, rape, looting, fraud, murder, warfare, total warfare, weapon making and deployment thereof, destruction of property and wealth etc etc etc that the institution of government caused over the last century or so.

I am curious what governments you are referring to? As far as I know, the US, UK, or even Australia hasn’t implemented a rape program that I’m aware of. What is the basis for this claim, or are you referring to some African dictatorship or anarchist warlords?

A more grounded view on your part would be an admission that the institution of govt is so totally flawed, and proven dangerous, that it is unfit for Man.

Wow! That is quite a statement! Your basis for this belief is…?

By comparison anarch-capitalists are the very model of restraint, rationality, logic and civility.

In Korean bad English, there is a saying about someone being “NATO”. It means “No Action, Talk Only”. Given that Ancaps as a group have no power or influence to speak of in any political, economic, military, police, or even school board member sense, statistically speaking, IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, it is not surprising that in comparison to any agent of government in any land you choose, you are innocent of any action except individual action.

No action means great innocence.

Wildberry

Dave Albin April 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I understand what you’re saying. However, in my opinion, when the state exists at all, they always seem to find a way to expand their authority over everyone. The US Constitution was suppose to limit the role of the government, but, no matter who is in charge, the monster grows and grows as time goes on….Sure if people were perfect, we could have the state, even communism.

William April 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm

The Constitution reserved power to the states and to the people as a last line of defense against the encroachment of the federal government. It is our own fault (we, the people) that the government has gotten so large. We were not taking responsibility for our role in society. Once could attribute this to basic flaws in human nature, but that would only further point out how easily large groups of people could take control over the rest in an anarchist society.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm

@Dave Albin April 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm

…they always seem to find a way to expand their authority over everyone.

Constitutional government was meant to be strengthened by a dynamic tension between the government and the governed; The tendency to grow ever more powerful was desinged to be checked by the vigilence of patriots.

Wouldn’t you agree that we’ve not held up our end of the bargain?

Dave Albin April 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Absolutely, Wildberry. We’ve allowed a large percentage of the population to be bought off – the poor with welfare, the elderly with social security, farmers with the farm subsidies, etc., paid for by you and me. There will always be groups willing to sell out. When this is to the government, a group who produces nothing and gets what it wants via forced theft, we’re in big trouble. In the private sector, this wouldn’t go on for long because no one could afford to give freebies for very long, and due to competition from other firms. The point is, with anything like a government present, more and more people will pseudo-enslave themselves to it due to any one or a combination of the following: laziness, inflation, taxation (theft), excessive and concentrated force, some bizarre love affair, brainwashing from childhood, meekness, and on and on. It is for these reasons that a bunch of small governments are better than a large, central one. However, we’ve seen how keeping large centralized power in check goes.

John Cunnane April 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Wildberry,

I think your comment is disengenuous.

I have read some of your posts. Provide another source of information that is better than the Mises Institute. Logic is not coercion (this from the introduction of Ethics of Liberty). If you are frustrated with the an-cap views expressed here and the lack of tolerance for minarchism, imagine the frustration of the posters here with society. If they can’t express their views with vehemence here where can they post?

This country started out with a minarchichal government. Where are we now? Rothbard’s view that coercion builds on itself appears to have some relevance to reality.

I received an email on Mises in Chicago. I sent it to a friend of mine that lives there with the message, “this is a day that could change your life”.

Trying to make the point that the Mises Institute is intolerant and unuseful is a ridiculous position for a thinking person like yourself.

Joe April 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm

@John,
I agree with William above when he says, “It is our own fault…”. I agree with this position and that is why I have a hard time in supporting an Ancap viewpoint. I think there are basic flaws in human nature and Madison also recognized this dilemma. Just as the constitution has been pretty much destroyed over the years I can see an Ancap society probably being destroyed even sooner. I think all Libertarians would welcome a Ancap society if they thought it would not turn into an oppressive might equals right society. I know we are not going to change human nature so for now I will take my chances with the constitution and try to get it back to where it once belonged. (I’m a Beatle Fan)

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

@John Cunnane April 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm

You have a point. I admit I come here often, but you have to admit there is a drumbeat that strongly interprets the subjects through the filter of an-cap rather than simply Austrian economic theory.

It is a funny thing about fanaticism. Fanatics don’t tolerate the “infidels”, but those same “infidels” have no problem making room for fanatics. You see, it tends to work in only one direction. That is a problem that can only be overcome by self-restraint, which is lacking by definition in the fanatical point of view.

No one, including me, is advocating that the an-cap view should not be represented, but it would be better overall, IMHO, if there was more of a balance with other views. Why, do you think that balance is absent? Certainly it is not because such views are necessarily in contradiction to Austrian libertarianism, as illuminated by Mises and Hayek.

I agree that coercion builds on itself, especially if not adequately checked by vigilance. We have failed miserably, for lack of trying. We are generally passive in our opposition. As a most recent example, where is the public outrage that Obama prosecuted a war in Libya without Congressional consent, as is required by the Constitution? Our bad.

I don’t know what the “Mises Institute” is, other than through the writings of the prominent leaders of it, and the contributions of bloggers, authors, and daily writers. It is largely a repository for the works of the masters Mises and Hayek and Rothbard, with a very heavy bias towards the conclusions of Rothbard. Murphy seems much less caught up in the an-cap rhetoric, which I appreciate.

As another Misesian once said about a recent Mises Circle, this has definitely been a Rothbard year. It would be nice to see more balance.

I am not intolerant, and don’t see or imply that Mises.org is exclusionary. However, I do see that dissenting opinions to Ancap bias are often rudely shouted down and invited to leave, by both words and conduct. Do you disagree?

Tolerance is an attitude, which implies a corrolary intolerance of the “moral low ground”, as the intolerant define it. That attitude is demonstrated often here.

I do appreciate that you view me as a thinking person, though. I do try to be.

Joe April 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm

@Wildberry,
First I want to say that I thoroughly enjoy your discussions on this site. I believe along with you and William that we need to follow Madison and try to get the constitution back to where it was. Even though there are Ancaps on this site I find their postings to be interesting and provide a different point of view. We will never change the basic arguments that separate us but there are other individuals that read these posts and they will make up their minds by reading the diversity that is shown. I hope you stay vigilent on this site and I would find it sad if you ever leave. Keep the faith and we shall overcome.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm

@ Joe April 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Thank you Joe. I rarely hear from supporters, so I appreciate you taking the time to chime in.

Regards,

JAlanKatz April 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Well, isn’t your position that nothing is acceptable other than the institution of a state? Isn’t this radical and extreme?

We could say this: the extremes are a state on one end, and the complete absence of order on the other. In the middle, right in moderate-ville, lives Rothbard.

Regarding Hayek, by the way, I’m told that, when confronted by anarchist arguments, he responded only that he was too old to mess around with that stuff, but if he were younger, he didn’t see how he could escape the logic. Just an anecdote, though.

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Israel Kirzner, also not an anarchist, many times. It is an incredible experience, but also a bit confusing. I heard him talk, at length, about the miracle of the market – you may not imagine how it can happen, but Paris does get fed, and so on. He then immediately transitioned into why the market cannot provide security, which comes down to “I cannot imagine how a market can do it, therefore, we need a state.”

Iain April 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm

JalanKatz-

Very nicely put. Extremism is very subjective and your formulation is much more reasonable.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Thank you for your post.

Minarchists believe/assert that in a free society criminals would rule. Therefore they argue beforehand that they themselves would be the better rulers and become criminals themselves. It’s the method of the Mafia: You have to pay us for your protection.

Inquisitor April 4, 2011 at 8:03 pm

BTW many argue anarchism is merely a consistent application of Mises’s economics and utilitarianism. He himself said where feasible secession should be allowed down to the individual level, which is much farther than most minarchists will go. Rothbard’s own analysis derives from Mises’s.

William April 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm

There are so many branches of this thread, I will just summarize to answer everyone on why I believe a government is necessary.

As Mises, and others, pointed out, human action is the result of humans needing to remove some uneasiness. He also noted that to remove that uneasiness, humans would take the path of least resistance, and that man’s ultimate aim is to achieve the greatest result with the least amount of effort.

It also does not need to be explained (only observed) that some people are bigger or stronger than others. Some of those who are more powerful would subconsciously (and logically) conclude that the most they can obtain for the least amount of effort is by taking what others have already produced, especially the weak. Of course, being bigger or stronger does not guarantee that this will take place, even if it is a logical thought.

On a group or societal level, we would naturally see the same result. A bigger, stronger family, tribe, or town might naturally conclude that they obtain the highest reward/effort ratio simply by taking from those who are weaker. This is what we might refer to as the “mob mentality”.

In addition to the above scenarios, we may also observe that some individuals find the highest mental reward/effort ratio can be achieved simply by listening to others. This is why, throughout history, leaders have naturally sprung up no matter where you look… whether it be the smallest tribe, or the largest empire. (Of course, some take this position by force, which goes back to my previous points.)

As a result of the above examples of basic human nature, a government (i.e. familial, tribal, etc.) is necessary, and for the survival of the people it represents, it must be at least as strong, if not stronger, than those who might decide to loot from it or to take it over. In the very least, you would need a government of some sort to maintain alliances with other governments, so that you can help defend each other from would-be oppressors.

Ponderer April 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

Thanks again Doug for reminding us all of the inefficiency of the public so-called justice system. Daniel D’Amato’s paper on justice in Ancient Greece is an absolutely priceless glimpse into the functioning of societies before states attempted to take over most of their functions. Perhaps a less state-dominated past still has some lessons to teach us?

It is worth noting the world described in the Iliad and Odyssey was probably not the Mediterranean one; rather, as convincingly demonstrated by Prof. Felice Vinci in “The Baltic Origins of Homer’s Epic Tales”, that world was probably centered around the Baltic Sea. The overlap with Germanic restitution-based justice concepts (e.g. wergild) is obvious. Though I lack the research to prove it, I suspect that standard Near-Eastern “justice” systems (say, Egyptian or Phoenician) were probably quite a bit different.

R Lee April 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm

As usual the crap all starts with “What should society do?”. The answer is that “society” shouldn’t do a damn thing; it’s none of society’s damn business. Free individuals can and will take care of all the problems which arise in their own way. Nobody has any “right” to do otherwise.

Ben Ranson April 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm

“The prison population in America equals that of the cities of Los Angeles and Miami combined.”

No. According to a quick check on the Wikipedia, there are 2.3 million people in prisons and jails in the United States. In comparison, the population of L.A. is 3.8 million, and the population of Miami is 2.5 million.

Mr. French is probably adding the 4.9 million people on probation or parole for a total of 7.2 million. These people are not actually in prison, though.

MLJ April 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm

The conclusion seems to say that we need a privatized prison system. But our government says we’ve privatized the system when the State contracts with private corporations. It’s public funded and privately profited. This is the way CPS operates. It’s described as public, whenever some social worker is dragging off another child or when a social worker is assaulted. It’s private when somebody claims the “public” worker failed his/her duty to care for the child. What duty? I have no duty. The child was under the care of a PRIVATE corporation. What I think we have in the American Goolag is quite similar. Prisons actually advertise. With commercials.

nate-m April 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm

You missed the point. It really doesn’t matter who runs the prisons. That’s really totally irrelevant to what is described in the article.

It’s the entire justice system that is the problem.

Dagnytg April 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Nate-m,

You’re absolutely right. Most of the comments on this thread are missing the point.

If we eliminated most of our laws to only laws of property right violations, and if we discern between violent crimes towards individuals (i.e. premeditated murder) verses non-violent crimes (i.e. theft), we are not left with much crime.

Today, many of our violent crimes are a result of government (i.e. the illegal drug business) and as such would be non-existent in a society of few laws.

It’s most likely there would be few it any prisons, and the justice system as we know it would be non-existent.

Andy April 10, 2011 at 1:35 am

Meth heads are the most rational, tranquil people I have ever come across. Can we at least regulate, so that potentially explosive meth labs must be located far from my home?

Oxycontin and alcohol are both legal. Why do people still steal it at gun point, and sometimes murder the asshole that works behind the counter?

nate-m April 10, 2011 at 2:53 am

The fact that criminals exist does not justify a corrupt system.

Right now the USA has a higher percentage of people involved in the justice system then is conceivable. Right now 3-4 in 100 Americans are ‘criminals’ being processed by the justice system. About 1 in 100 are currently incarcerated in jail or prison.

It’s a racket. It’s not about reforming people or even protecting the public. It’s about government corruption and individuals and groups are profiting directly on getting as many people convicted and put in prison for as long as possible. 3 strike rules, drug wars, all of it… it is not about keeping you safe, it’s about profits.

We are #1 in terms of prisons. We have 5% of the population of the planet, but have 23% of the prison population. We went from about 0.20% of the population in prison in the late 70′s/early 80′s up to around 0.80% or so now. Something like a 400% in terms of percentage of population in 30 years. How does that make sense?

Whatever we are doing… we are doing it wrong.

How does it makes sense that the ‘freest country in the world’ has one of the most draconian, violent, and punitive justice system in the world? Your being lied to by the same groups of people that profit from the system.

We are turning from a open and free society to one that is nothing but frightened people hiding in their homes. Half of the population is scared of the other half, while the other half is scared of the police state.

Freedom Fighter April 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Most laws criminalize victimless behaviors. That’s the problem.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm

@Dagnytg April 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm

This is brilliant! You have just solve the crime problem by defining them away.

Could you please define me as rich?

nate-m April 5, 2011 at 1:02 am

I can.

Your rich. Now go and be happy.

Dagnytg April 5, 2011 at 2:46 am

Wildberry,

You are right, I am defining crime. I am defining it by the libertarian standard of property rights. And to keep it simple (I don’t want to go down the IP road) property is tangible… so it’s very simple to know if someone is committing a crime or not.

But your comment on my use of definition leads to an observation and one that often frustrates me when having discussions with others at mises.org.

Many of the people who comment on this site fail to define exactly what the essence of their argument is. In my opinion, if you aren’t willing to define the terms of your position with a definition, axiom, ethical value, etc. then you’re saying everything and nothing at all…at the same time.

In other words, if one doesn’t have a foundation from which they speak…then their words really have no meaning.

So as to defining you as rich…it really depends on how we define rich. Are you rich as in cash, assets, spirit, love, family, etc.? And since the word rich is a subjective term, are you rich compared to what? A person like myself who lives in cosmopolitan Northern California, a tribesman who lives in the Sudan or Bill Gates?

You see, without definition we have no foundation for a discussion (at least not an intelligent one). By defining crime I have taken it from the subjective and made it objective, simple, and clear for all to see.

Wildberry, my critique is not aimed at you personally but speaks to a broader issue that has bothered me for some time. I thank you for bringing the issue up.

BoB April 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm

The stigma of anarchy, is it has been preconditioned/propagated as bafoons and derilicks running rampant and pillaging/raping everything in their paths, so as to counter this from a mini-archarists point of view, they must need to attach order with a State. This sounds reasonable, but a lot of Evil sounds reasonable, because those vigilant people don’t adhere, historically (as short as it may be), to resisting a Central Authority in the realm of Modern State. They vote for Security, and find every excuse to because the i.e. “The Crops Failed”, “The Prices Must be Controlled”, “Or the Whole Financial System will Collapse”, “Their is a Natural Disaster Around the Corner”, and the most damaging excuse “The Boogey Men Over There Will Come and Get You”, all to grow their limited, but Necessary Evil known as Limited Govt. No society has done this followed their play book. They cannot Contain the Disease. And men use the Coercion as advantage over others, nothing more. So….now what? Rothbard and the An-Caps ain’t looking so bad.

The search for Truth, and betterment of mankind didn’t stop in 1776, 1787, or with the Great Ludwig Von Mises.

I do believe Rothbard said that the problem with State Worship, is that they as a proganda tactic make the Founders God Like, so this can be with school of thought, etc.

Besides you either believe the market can solve man’s problems or you don’t. People still, even I at some point want that Ultimate Authority as a guide.

BoB April 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm

But I see the Logic of the AnCaps to see around that closed mindset.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 4, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Minarchism is the beginning of communism: If only the right people were ruling, if only the right people were to decide…

Nuke Gray April 5, 2011 at 1:53 am

Minarchism is an attempt to minimise the state. Whilst anarchists want to do away with the state, minarchists think that the state will exist in some form, because politics is part of the genetic heritage of social animals, like us. We want small, local politics to pre-dominate- and I want a time-share system, where we all share equally in all essential government functions, on a rotating basis. Thus you would only be governing when someone else was performing militia duties, for example. since every citizen would have been weapon-trained, the chances to take over a polity would be minimal.

BoB April 5, 2011 at 11:27 am

But the problem with that is they give into trap of Nationalism thus Socialism by the Political Classes. It would be fine if it stayed local, and nobody went out looking for loot (by the political means that is), thus stolen. And unfortuneatley this happens with a monopolized currency through a central bank, and thus Expansion through National War, the very most important ingriedient for Levithan State.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Why establish a criminal system just because you fear that a criminal system might become established?

Why do YOU want to force people? Why don’t you join with others on a free basis?

Do you want a second Sparta or what?

John M. Brock April 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Anyone who is going to engage in serious debate about criminal justice and how to deal with individuals who are convicted of crimes against person or property, visit a jail and a prison and do a thorough walk through. Then sit down and talk with a variety of victims. Lastly, interview some law enforcement officials; young and old. Regardless of what point of view one has, one’s argument is left weaker without exposure to those directly involved in the criminal process; criminal, victim or law enforcement officials.

John April 5, 2011 at 1:38 am

6 billion a year devided by 2.5 mil = 2,400 a year, seems like a low number? 60 or 600 billion with cost to enforce and imprison might be closer, and if you add the drag on socity I could see trillon + numbers in there, ie jury service for free, traffic tickets paid, lost production and so on.

Daniel J. D'Amico April 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm

John,

You are right I meant to say over 60 billion on corrections. Sigh tis the problems with single take interviews. Thanks for the catch

Ben Ranson points out a similar mis-speak. Though the inclusion of parole’s is pretty standard throughout the literature for a variety of reasons. 1. Other nations use parole a lot more than incarceration so comparing numbers across nations is easier with the most inclusive estimates. 2. Dominant proportions of current inmates (about 80 – 95% depending on what figures you look at) eventually exit prisons and significant proportions of that group get re-incarcerated (about 40-60%) at different points in recent American history. In other words, incarceration is not solid wall delineating free from jailed it is instead a permeable membrane. The comparison to the populations of Miami and L.A. are usually meant to invoke thoughts about the dissemination of culture and identity.

Sione April 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Daniel

Regarding that “permeable membrane”.

During the time of Soviet occupation and the reign of Communist government in Hungary there was a saying that translates as, “There are three types of people; those in jail, those who were in jail but have now been released (for the time being) and those who are going to go to jail.”

Amazing to see how other parts of the “free world” are approaching that ideal.

Sione

Sione April 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm

William

I mentioned that, “One trouble with government arises in that it possesses a monopoly to rule over other people.”

To which you responded, ” This is absolutely false in a Republic. I understand your point, but that is the reason why we have a Congress (and unfortunately a Senate since 1914) to represent the people directly.”

In regards of who has sovereignty the government in a republic is no different from the government in the darkest totalitarian tyranny. Govt in both instances is sovereign and possesses monopoly to rule over other people. That is the primary and fundamental attribute of government. It rules. All else must obey (OR ELSE).

Govt reserves monoply on sovereignty to itself. All else have permissions by the gracious indulgence of the sovereign ruler, the govt. Competition for sovereignty from the subjects is something no government can allow to persist indefinitely. A republic is not exceptional in this regard. In the end, the practical difference between a republic and a totalitarian is the scope and type of permissions allowed to subjects by the govt.

Moving on. The Congress and the Senate are not your “direct representatives”. The members of those august bodies do what THEY like regardless of some fellow they have never heard of and don’t care to hear from either. They act on their own interests and do not defer to your instruction. As with most other people, you have no “direct representation” in the Senate or in the Congress. (If anything, this belief in “direct representation” is an example of a naive delusionality which is most difficult to surpass- except by true believers in Communism perhaps). They legislate, you comply (or else). That is the true nature of the relationship, such that it is.

You write, “I don’t disagree that anarcho-capitalists are an example of “restraint, rationality, logic and civility”, but they are also an example of naiveness, in thinking that all others are equally rational, logical, and civil.”

According to this formulation anarcho-capitalists reckon the likes of Bernanke, the Obamarroid (rhymes with haemorroid), Krugman and so on are rational, logical and civil (after all they are among the “all others” to which you refer).

Riiiiight.

You need to read a little more about what anarcho-capitalists think about critters such as those ones. It would be a good idea to know what you are on about prior to commenting.

Sione

John Cunnane April 5, 2011 at 4:16 pm

It seems obvious that the Constitution, interpreted by a Supreme Court that is appointed by our Presidents, has not been effective in limiting the power of government. No matter how simple the language, people change the meaning of words over time. It appears as time goes on the Constitution will be invoked more often by collectivists than by liberals. I get the Constitution thrown at me more and more by those looking to use it as a means of controlling others. Jefferson said it might fail, Spooner thought it was a travesty, (to paraphrase) “it either authorized the government we live under or failed to prevent it, in either case it is unfit to exist”. It’s also true that the Founding Fathers were not the most liberal; the Alien and Sedition Act cropped up pretty soon after the founding of the republic and the whole slavery thing is a bit disconcerting.

To see the moral authority of a democracy in action is concerning. (Ask any American about Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, The Indian Wars, suspension of Habeus Corpus, killing of non military civilians by Lincoln (anything about Lincoln), internment of Japanese Americans in California.) The responses are startling.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm

“internment of Japanese Americans in California”

But the Japanese were bad people. They attacked Pearl Harbor.
And as we all know there are genes and heritage and a collective spirit… so that means Japanese Americans had to be bad people themselves. They could have taken over!!!!!

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