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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4889/society-in-jail/

Society in Jail

April 9, 2006 by

People who criticize government as nothing but beating, killing, and hanging — to use Mises’s phrase — are sometime accused of using exaggerated and hyperbolic language. Surely government is more than that and is not always that. Something as simple as a stop sign doesn’t beat you or kill you! And yet even that law which appears to be a mere guideline and a help, must ultimately be enforced at the point of a gun. FULL ARTICLE


Luke Fitzhugh April 10, 2006 at 7:36 pm

The problem is that government courts are naturally biased in favor of government defendants. This is inherently unfair.

The only solution is private courts.

Marty April 10, 2006 at 7:38 pm


I can’t speak for the South, but in New York City the same typ of offense is a violation of the Vehicle and Traffice Law VTL 511. In NYC the arrest is know as a “511″. No warrant is issued but, if you are driving with outstanding tickets and a cop runs you license you can be taken to jail. I have never heard of anybody spending more than 24 hours in jail for that type of offense and although not something many cops like arresting for, it is felt that if a guy ingnores his tickets the way to get them paid is by taking them to jail. Many fatal accidents are caused by people later found with suspended or revoked licenses.
In NY anyway, no prison outfits, no rapes (in holding cells) and no warrants to take you out of your home.
Most “511″ arrrests are treated with respect and dignity even more than others because of the fact you are not a “criminal”.
The story, you tell while very true and shows the over reaching of the state is a bit dramatic.

Marty April 10, 2006 at 7:46 pm

As far as private security treating people more humane, where is that so? What do we base that on? If a cop is rude, than we say its the big bad state and its coming to get us. But is a bouncer beats you up and throws you in the street is that ever blogged about or a security guard that could never made it as a cop threatens you with his big flashlight that’s just bad customer service?
How do we know private security is more humane?
BTW I am all for the larger use of private security but the only reason you listen to the security guard is because he may call the real police.

Marty April 10, 2006 at 7:48 pm


The way you describe prison, it sound slike anarchy. Small groups create a power base and divide property and make their own rules.

xteve April 10, 2006 at 9:13 pm

“Many fatal accidents are caused by people later found with suspended or revoked licenses. ”

So, if they had paid their fines, these accidents would not have happened?

You don’t need a license to drive a car. You only need a license when the police stop you.

Thomas J. Van Wyk April 10, 2006 at 11:48 pm


How do you define “anarchy”?

And have you actually read/heard any accounts of real people who were in real prisons?

I have never been in a prison as inmate, guard, or visitor. But we’ve all heard the accounts…

Anson E. Long April 11, 2006 at 12:14 am

This (unverifiable) horror story reinforces my uninformed opinion that it seems preferable to resist arrest than to submit. But somehow the whole penal system manages *not* to terrorize career criminals. Anyhow, it comes across as an argument for shooting the cops!

Of possible relevance is a subject my brothers have spoken of when prompted by local noisy nuisance traffic. It seems that decades ago, in our city of 10-12,000, police put significant effort into cracking down on loud vehicles and young punks (such as my brothers then were) drinking. Nowadays, given the incidence of real crime, they don’t have so much time for that any more.

As for prison rapists, I can only recommend that people learn unarmed combat methods–and prepare to *kill* any such assailants they encounter.

An alternative, of course, is to forcibly remodel the US government, exercising what ol’ “Tyrant” Abe called the people’s revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. The drawback, no matter what happens, is that we’re still dealing with the same species with the same bloody human nature. So, parents, *bring up* your *#@* kids!

Nemo me impune lacessit.

Alan Andersen April 11, 2006 at 1:11 am

I was an attorney for 15 years before I had a jail experience and it changed my thinking dramatically. I had to meet a long-time penitentiary inmate on a pro bono habeus corpus petition in the courthouse holding area where he was held with about 15 other prisoners from the local penitentiary.

The courthouse guards/police took me to the holding room, opened the door for me and slammed it shut behind me. I was left standing there in my business suit in a tiny, hot, windowless room with about 15 noisy prisoners waiting their turn for brief court appearances.

The first thing is the smell. It’s like nothing else. Something like stale male sweat combined with dank concrete walls. Since then, I have smelled that same odor in other jails.

The next thing was that they all immediately started asking me what time it was. Like you write, no clocks.

Next was the realization that I was stuck in a tiny room with 15 fairly hardened long-timers who could have as easily killed me or severely beaten me as anything else and there was not one shred of protection anywhere. There was no intercom, no buzzer, no glass windows, and it was fairly sound-proof.

It never before had occurred to me that guards in prison are not there to look after your safety; they are there solely to protect the rest of society against you! And they truly do not care what happens to you. That is a concept that might seem obvious when you think about it, but when its applied to you, its as if the floor had just dropped out from under you. They don’t care! The only thing that guards care about is not having anything happen for which they can be fired or held criminally liable, which is almost nothing as long as they are following protocol. Guards stop other prisoner’s from killing you only when they notice it, feel like doing something about it, and maybe want to punish the guy who is trying to kill you. But its no concern of theirs if you lose an eye first before the violence is stopped.

Next, was the realization that in jail, you wait, and WAIT, and WAIT. I had to wait until the guard decided to come back and open the door again. There is no buzzer there like on an airplane when you buzz the flight attendant. They are not your servant; you are theirs.

Prison is all about waiting. It’s a form of punishment and everyone waits, not just the prisoners. The family members wait all day to get in for visitation; even attorneys wait (unless you are an attorney or bail bondsman on the “A” list, which I suspect involves some sort of steady stroking of the officials).

A family friend was sentenced to about four years in federal prison for a non-violent white collar crime. He was given a three-day furlough, and a light cheap suit, to wear to attend his mother’s funeral and told to report back to the prison at 10 pm sharp on a specified date. So this 60-year old gentlemen dutifully reports at 10pm as instructed. And of course, by 10pm, the intake office is closed, so they buzz him into a holding area by the front door, and of course, there he stands or sits until 8 am the next morning in the freezing cold of a Colorado winter night with very little heat in this entry area. Why didn’t they simply tell him to show up at 8 the next morning, or warn him that even though he is allowed to stay out till 10pm, he better get there by 5pm if he doesn’t want to sit there all night? I think you know the answer. That would not be half as fun would it?

Ever since that experience, and a few more minor encounters with jails (like bailing out a drunk friend), I thank God I have never been called upon to serve so much as one day in jail myself (at least not yet).

And I can never view sentencing in the same way. People throw around these long sentences as if they were nothing. In my view now, even one day in jail is an enormous sentence and one-year is a life-time. And it almost makes me physically ill to hear talk show hosts like Jay Leno joke about Martha Stewart, prison rape, or whatever. Yet everyone laughs. Fools all.

A friend of mine recently asked me how best to assert his constitutional rights if he is ever pulled over for DUI. I told him that 10 years ago, I would have told him to assert some rights, but this time I told him, just treat it like you were pulled over by the Nazi Gestapo and get through it the best way you can. Do what they say, say what they want you to say, even if you have to confess or take a blood test. If you try to assert your constitutional rights, it will go much harder for you; you will get rough handling, tight handcuffs, maybe a beating, and extra hours or days in jail. In the end, you will still plead guilty. Your misfortune was in being caught in the maw. Next time, hide in your house and avoid trouble.

That’s all I want now, is to avoid trouble; to avoid being noticed by the authorities.

Jack April 11, 2006 at 1:29 am
Sione April 11, 2006 at 1:48 am


Interesting “solution”.

Killing another prisoner who may have raped you, or is preparing to, is no “solution”. Where would killing a man lead? A conviction for murder or man slaughter and you are in jail for years. And you won’t be able to kill them all. And they will be well aware of just why you are in there with them all. As they say. “One day…”

Interestingly, exactly this scenario was the subject of one of those forensic investigation shows recently. A young man was falsely accused of a crime and imprisoned. By the time the good guy forensic investigators had it all worked out and could show who the real perpetrator actually was, the young man had been raped and then managed to kill his rapist. The show ended with a sympathy scene but it’s clear he’s going to be in there for years and years.

See, they even make entertainment shows about it. People know what’s occurring. But what is being done?


andy April 11, 2006 at 6:30 am

V Harris, if you enter a restaurant totally drunk, you will be quickly expelled. I do not know any restaurant, that would detain you and call police (unless you have broken something). It just does not pay. The private road owner would not resort to the same – or worse – way of enforcing his rules, because he would risk losing customers. I do not belive most people would not hesitate making a contract, which explicitly states that they can be detained in jail just for missing a stop sign.

Billy Beck April 11, 2006 at 12:24 pm

Go read this.

Some of the language is (in the immortal words of Frank Zappa) “not fit for children or Republicans”, but it’s all true. Bear in mind that DMV law is only one small sliver of the action (the one that I took up).

“I was an attorney for 15 years before I had a jail experience and it changed my thinking dramatically.”

I’ve been saying it for at least fifteen years: nobody who has not spent at least one night in jail can possibly understand American politics now. If you haven’t been through that, you’re simply ignorant, and just about completely disqualified from the entire discussion.

D. Saul Weiner April 11, 2006 at 12:32 pm

This article and the comments are excellent.

Many have asked why we tolerate this situation. I would have to believe that a substantial part of the answer is that conservatives have obtained political advantage by accusing liberals of being “soft on crime”. They have convinced a lot of people that being soft on crime has made society more dangerous. Therefore, any politician who might have advocated for more humane treatment would certainly think twice.

drp April 11, 2006 at 12:43 pm

True, the poor have never had many rights. Wittness the “vagrancy” laws, as another poster points out. But mission creep now means that more affluent, occasionally even rich, people commonly get swept up in the criminal justice masher in undeserved ways. This is the evil cross-product of law-and-order- conservatism with a socialist police state that promotes class struggle. If Martha Stewart cannot get justice, nobody can.

As Founding Father James Otis notes in “Against Writs of Assistance”, one the complaints of the American colonists was that low class servants of the crown could lord it over their social betters with impunity— A proto-Marxist arguement, but in the opposite direction. Basically, the colonists felt they needed control of their own affairs, so they could keep the cops in check.

V Harris April 11, 2006 at 12:57 pm

Eric, I’m rather sure I’m not missing the point of the article, which is the shabby treatment ‘violators’ receive at the hands of the custodial State — a point with which I agree. However, I disagree with the implication of the article that said violators would not be so ‘unjustly’ treated if only the actors were soverign individuals and not public officials. I assert there is no basis on which to draw this conclusion, and that in fact a stronger case might be made to presume just the opposite will be so — the treatment of violators on private property might be worse.

As to your point that we can’t know what a genuinely libertarian world will produce, I agree. However, I also agree with the line of thinking frequently discussed here that behavior will be improved among individuals because wrongful behavior no longer gets you detained by the State — it gets you dead. Behavior is improved because the consequences of poor behavior are so severe. This is exactly my point — with private enforcement compliance improves because the penalties are so harsh for failure to comply.

Andy, the driver in the article was detained, not for missing a stop sign, but for failing to pay the fine for a prior ‘violation.’ Further, while the private road owner might lose this particular customer over poor treatment, they have many other customers to satisfy by insuring the safe, orderly flow of traffic on their roads — which likely includes taking into custody and banning those customers who violate the rules. And, of course, collecting both current and past due ‘violation’ monies from them while they’re in custody. It’s hard to imagine why this particular repeat violator of the ‘rules’ would have gotten better treatment from private road owners than he did from government agents.

Ralph April 11, 2006 at 1:45 pm

These are some great comments and experiences. My “life of crime” began back in the early seventies, as Vietnam was closing down. I was in the marines, who refused to promote me on the simple grounds that I didn’t look good in uniform. According to the charts, I was thirty pounds overweight. What the charts couldn’t say was that I also deadlifted 500 lbs, squatted 600 lbs, and bench pressed over 300 lbs. I also ran 8 miles a day and “maxed” their sit-ups(80 in two minutes) on every PFT.

Long story short, in challenging their garbage, I stood two Company Office Hours, Two Battalion Office hours, was sentenced to two months Correctional Custody with no pay, and stood a Special Court Martial, which finally, I won. The marines heard my story, apologized, restored my original rank, and promoted me meritoriously to the next highest rank.

Thus began my libertarian odyssey and my hatred of government. A few weeks ago, I get stopped by a highway patrolman. I’m a live and let live kind of guy. He has his job and I have mine. As long as he respects me, no hassle. But this guy takes it on himself to lecture me on my duty to obey the state!

The marines taught me the hard way that if you have a gripe, you better spit it out right then, or you’ll be eaten alive. I’ve followed that prescription as a civilian for the past thirty years. Trouble is, my fiancee, who knows me well, was digging her thumbnail into my pinky finger so I wouldn’t give him a lesson on Constitutional theory.

I wrote a LTE to the local paper and explained my point of view. Boy, I stirred up a hornet’s nest. People actually think that law enforcement should rightfully protect us from ourselves!

I responded with another LTE regarding the 14th Amendment and state action, and explained that, since no other citizen could claim harm from my unfastened seat belt, the only one who could claim harm was the state, which made the state the plaintiff/accuser, the prosecutor, and the judge.

If I had actually harmed someone, like murder or theft, the state would have taken every opportunity, dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” to protect my rights, even to appointing an attorney at state expense.

Yet with an unfastened seat belt that could harm no one other than myself, the state ignored my rights, and even defined my rights in violation of the 14th Amendment.

I explained these things in my second LTE and got only silence. No response, even from a judge or lawyer(which I never expected).

If rights are violated, make a noise. I challenged the highway patrol and the legal system openly and nothing negative has happened.

tmcothran April 11, 2006 at 2:23 pm


There actually is a very good reason to suspect that a anarcho-capitalist society would be better off with regard to excessive punishment than the present society.

The state, by its nature, infringes on rights (including those in the prison system). While it may claim to reduce aggression by others, it must necessarily aggress itself, and it must do so to a greater degree than any other aggressors to maintain its geographical dominance.

A state free (anarcho-capitalist) society is, by its nature, non-aggressive. The problem is that a perfectly anarcho-capitalist society is impossible. There will always be aggression, and so anarcho-capitalists do not profess to erase agression entirely. What they do profess is a system which would try to erase aggression entirely. Just like no (reasonably large) society that is free from murder is possible, and yet the best society (with regard to murder) is that society which attempts to stamp out murder, so it is with aggression.

Aggression will, of course, occur in an anarchist society. The important difference is that aggression runs contrary to the nature of an anarchist society, but it is not in conflict with the nature of as state governed society. The violation of human rights is to be opposed in an anarcho-capitalist society, while it is absolutely necessary in a society with a state.

But your question is not about principle, it is about utility. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as the question of utility is asked after — and subordinated to — the question of moral principle. First you should ask: “Should the state exist,” and then it is appropriate to ask: “Would I, my family and my friends, benefit from a state not existing.” I would tend to say that if the state is in fact immoral, then everyone would benefit from its non-existence. That is based in a confidence that what is right is best, the Socratic conviction that if a person obeys the rules of morality, ultimately that person will be better off for it. However, I don’t think at this time I could provide an airtight argument for that; it may just be naive optimism.

There really is no straightforward empirical evidence to show that an anarchistic society would respect human rights more than the present society. Just as I could not argue that a society would be better off without a state, you cannot argue that it would not be. There is insufficient empirical evidence to support either claim. However, the facts that the nature of the state is to aggress, and the nature of an anarchist society is not to aggress, would strongly indicate that an anarcho-capitalist society (to the extent that it may be made actual) would be better off, in terms of aggression, than a state controlled society such as ours. Furthermore, one may infer from the general fact that in areas with more powerful states there is more aggression than in areas with less powerful states, that areas with no state at all would suffer the least aggression.

In any case, I think it one should act on moral principle, and not on utility. To illustrate this point, let us think of a specific type of aggression: rape. Rape has always existed in societies, we do not know what a society without rape would be like. But I have confidence that, because of the grossly immoral nature of rape, a society without rape would be better off, however I do not know this empirically. I may even be sure that no rape-less society could possibly. My vision is for a utopia. However, I am obliged to do what I can to bring about a rape-less society based on moral principle. And I am right in doing so.

Just fill in any particular type of state aggression for rape. It is no different.

tz April 11, 2006 at 2:33 pm

I do “understand that a free market creates new ideas that 99.99% of us cannot ever envision”.

What a market can never do is change human nature.

Nor can a market create anything that violates the law of noncontradiction.

Invest time and money to create a nonemotional human? The closest thing I can think of to that however is a serial killer.

Invest time and money to find something so that we can have inflation in the money supply but no malinvestments nor price increases? No.

The market is not magic nor alchemy. It can only do things with what it is made of – real human beings in a physical world with physical laws.

The market is very powerful, but only within its own realm. It has no power to do what it cannot by its own nature accomplish.

Justice is not part of that. Or if it is, why not start with other virtues. Why do people still pay for prostitutes instead of imbibing X which would free them from the desire? Why do people – even prosperous ones shoplift? Where is the market fix to evil? Couldn’t someone have outbid the 9/11 sucidal hijackers even though they didn’t care to save their lives?

I wish it were so. It is not. The market cannot cure evil so it, or some agency other than the market must deal with evil.

Worse, any power capable of magically enforcing Rothbardian ethics could also enforce the Catholic Catechism or even Islamic Sharia. Are you sure you want the market to find such a power.

And that is the contradiction with Anarchy – it is usually bracketed with an assumption that everyone would just go along with something like the non-initiation of force principle, but it cannot do so. Anarchy is to be without principle, or anything superior to the individual, so what happens if I don’t “volunteer” to follow your principle?

Winston Smith April 11, 2006 at 4:16 pm

One of the most salient features of the budding police state that is sprouting up all around us is the way that the criminal justice system treats its law abiding citizens. When I was a boy America was still a free country and law abiding folks didn’t fear the cops and courts but criminals certainly did. Now it seems that the cops and courts treat criminals with kid gloves while law abiding folks are treated increasingly harshly. That combined with the rapid militarization of our police spells real trouble for us in the years to come.

I routinely drive through “revenue traps” where four or more county cops will hide in the bushes at an intersection to make sure drivers are wearing their seat belts. When they spot one, they swarm the car from every angle as if the driver was wanted for murder. My city even has “seat belt checkpoints” posted at major roads into the city during rush hour to catch seat belt law violators. The same is true for cell phones and infant seats.

As I drive to work I pass red light cameras that are owned by a private company that gets a percentage of each ticket. Independent groups have found that the length of the orange light has been deliberately decreased in many cities where these cameras have been installed to unfairly ensnare more citizens. If you dare to go to court over one of these warnings you will be told by the judge before your trial begins that “If you’ve received a red light camera ticket you’re guilty.” Research has found that injuries actually rise at intersections that have these dubious “crime fighting” devices installed, yet the race to put up more of them continues unabated.

After I’ve made it past the poltroons hiding in bushes and Orwell’s Panopticon I pass the ever-growing state prison. I wonder who it is that they’re locking up in there that they need all that space. I guess between the War on (some) Drugs, the War on Guns (which is disguised as the War on (some) Drugs), the War on Terror, the War on Crime, and various other wars we’re fighting there’s always a need for more prison space. But lately the jails are run by private corporations who are contracted by the state. They are set up in business where prisoners are forced to work almost for nothing. If the prisoner misbehaves, the private company can just add more time to his sentence and have him work longer (better for them any way you slice it). Given that so many of the prisoners are black, I wonder why nobody has ever brought up the obvious parallel between this system and slavery. Worse yet, as the Bush administration is trying now (or has already succeeded in) expanding this prison labor program for the war on terror, I wonder why the silence is so deafening. And I wonder why the war on terror needs prison labor. Finally, I’ve heard that a very high percentage of prisoners are there for victimless drug posession, which makes me wonder why we need to lock them up at all.

I also wonder why every cop in every Podunk little town in America has to have a black ninja suit, bullet proof vest, and an M-16. I wonder why we have allowed the police to routinely use precussion grenades when entering the homes of our neighbors and executing search warrants looking for dreaded drugs. Such raids are usually based on informant information which is usually coerced from them in return for a reduced sentence. It seems like every week I read a new story about police killing an innocent victim in such a way. Why doesn’t anyone object to that? Why can’t they just knock on the door? Why do they have to wear masks over their faces? Aren’t they proud of what they’re doing?

I could go on and on for hours. And if a picture is worth 1,000 words what are two videos worth? The first video linked below shows the finest poltroons money can buy beating and harassing kids at an outdoor rave. Were there drugs there? Probably. Did they need to send in Rambo to rappel down from a helicopter to beat and arrest these kids? I think not. The second video shows beat cop – the worst and the dumbest. He goes to Wendy’s and is convinced that the clerk short changes him. Not content to speak with the manager about the problem, he decided to go behind the counter and mace the girl before arresting her. Where is t he manager during all this? Protesting that the officer had not been short changed at all.

So what’s the bottom line? We have built a police mechanism that is so big and so powerful that if we don’t dismantle it, it will dismantle us.



Curt Howland April 11, 2006 at 6:44 pm

TZ, so what happens if I don’t “volunteer” to follow your principle?

Then you and I will not do business together.

The problem with the interventionist state is that there is no room for dissent. I may not disagree and not pay for programs I don’t want, I may not say “no” to the police man who “asks” to see my drivers license.

Your “Anarchy is to be without principle” is a non-sequiter. I have principles, you have principles, everyone here has principles. We agree to interact voluntarily, based upon our own principles. What is missing is coercion, and therefore this forum itself is a perfect example of anarchy.

Cardascian@hotmail.com April 11, 2006 at 7:10 pm

Wary American wrote:
What do you think of this: a senior in HS just turning l9–signed up for shop to fix an old car he purchased. He missed the bus and mistakenly drove his car down the block. A law enforcment officer spotted his uninspected sticker. He was cuffed, finger printed, jailed with his vehicle being towed===on a FRIDAY, too.
He used an old Insurance form to get his vehicle out. He had never driven it but wanted to get it to the shop. WE had AAA but he didn’t use it.
Anyway, compounded was the issue of providing our old insurance with a current date.
When they found it and he appeared for court he was thrown in a closet by SIX officers.
Next, he was jailed again.
They claimed he gained a benefit. No so, as they wouldn’t release he nor his vehicle.
First he was prosecuted for a Misdemeanor….
RESULTS he was threatened with 20 years in jail. Cost for towing, storage, jail, court, probation etc. TAMPERING WITH A GOV DOCUMENT.
There were females whom had declared 5 children having received $50,000 in welfare, food stamps other benefits—FRAUD.
But the worst thing was he was told to provide DNA. I couldn’t believe it and of course, we had no attorney nor help. NOW his as is our DNA a national database which is accessed by anyone whom deems it necessary. I fear for our lives; especially his.
Have you ever heard of this?
ILLEGALS live in the USA for lengths of time: REWARDED for breaking the law with the donation of citizenship. Yet none have been prosecuted for Falsification of ID’s etc which is Tampering with governement documents etc.
If this has happened to you in any form:
Filing a Fraudulent Gov Doc or Tampering please ONE NATON UNDER G O D

Henderson April 11, 2006 at 8:49 pm

Stunning article, Tucker. These issues can rarely be appreciated by someone who has not experienced them firsthand. Bravo.

Tim April 11, 2006 at 10:07 pm

you are so right, how well I know…God alone is our safety.

anarkhos April 11, 2006 at 11:39 pm


The profit motive is definitely there–to line their own pockets with tickets!

I’m also in a small town (less than 3k), and there’s over a dozen cops. It’s the local industry. I got a $280 ticket I couldn’t pay, so now I’m without a license.

anarkhos April 12, 2006 at 12:19 am

(forgot to mention. The ticket was for not coming to a complete stop. I could see traffic and people for a 1/4 mile at that intersection. I was a danger to no-one)

drs April 12, 2006 at 12:37 am

Of course if you question the nobility of law enforcement in a conversation with the average person, you will be looked at as worse than Hitler. The majority of cops are former high school bullies who just love being able to pursue their former hobby as a career while receiving kudos from every loyal subject of the realm. It sure must be great to be praised for “putting your life on the line” after a day of busting up high school keggers and pulling over speeders. Furthermore, why is it that the first words out of a constable’s mouth if you question the propriety of anything he does are “do you want to go to jail?” I have met some good cops, respectful professional types, but these are the exception.

Ralph April 12, 2006 at 12:56 pm


“Worse, any power capable of magically enforcing Rothbardian ethics could also enforce the Catholic Catechism or even Islamic Sharia. Are you sure you want the market to find such a power.”

Your statement embodies a straw man, “magically enforcing”, and then using that statement to “prove” the development of enforcing catholic catechism or Islamic Sharia.

The present system does enforce certain behaviors in accordance with the state by centralizing the banking system(though it claims this is not so) and using the government as a process by which Federal reserve Notes are issued as a result of debt created by a loan to our federal government. No citizen voted on his/her willingness to repay that loan, yet it is thrust upon all of us in taxes or inflation. That is “magical enforcement” which I have yet to see in any concept of Rothbardian ethics.

In order to “magically enforce” catholic catechism or islamic Sharia, both catholic and Muslim religions would have to control the issuance of currency so that their particular belief system would make all economic transaction dependent on their approval.

In the United States, even with the First Amendment, all religious freedom is reduced to impotence because all behavior is subject to the control of the issuance of currency. We are “free” to believe as we wish, so long as we pay our taxes and allow the system to continually create debt and inflation, robbing us gradually of any religious truths to guide moral behavior.

OTOH, if religions could all control issuance of currency with free competition among currencies, the economic AND moral value of all religion would greatly improve, thus providing both greater justice and morality, which you say the economic system is incapable of supporting.

Curt Howland April 12, 2006 at 3:32 pm

Anyone who reads this far, keep in mind that even amongst “libertarians” it is rare to find someone who does NOT believe that the State has a legitimate function in the prosecution and punishment of wrongdoers.

The present discussion presents ample evidence as to how well that function is being performed. It is clear that coercive bureaucracy is just as awful at that task as it is at everything else.

I agree with the statement above that what we are seeing is the direct result of politicians, the supposed watchdogs, taking every opportunity to ignore what problems do leak out because of a fear of being seen as “soft on crime”.

As Ralph makes so clear, very little “Law Enforcement” has anything to do with “crime”.

Nora Bachman April 13, 2006 at 7:08 pm

I have had a run in with the courts for having the nerve to question a bank and its debt collector and then I had the nerve to question the legal system. I have paid dearly for over 2 year now. I have been put on probation (they call it Accelerated rehabilation disposition)for a crime I did not commit and cannot be convicted of and made to pay restitution for this(I am disabled and had no income)so now they are trying to revoke my probation and file other charges against me for non payment and not agreeing to sign anything. What they will file is beyond me? I do not know. So far it has been a nightmare all due to a nasty debt collector who got there car back maybe later than they wanted it?? But in excellent shape and begged (like a little spoiled chiild for candy) for the judge to arrest me and make me pay for the hoops I put them through. I am a 48 year old disabled woman on SSD. I am such a threat to society and a big ticket item to them Hehe. I cannot not imagine what they do to working people who have an income. It is not a justice system it is a system of control as in controling your behavior and trying to control your thoughts. I see no justice when I called the Attorney General’s office for this state of PA I was told they could not help me since they have an agreement with the BAR association to not interfere. I could however file charges against the judge for misconduct but she didn’t think I would get to far with that considering the lawyers and alike are on that panel as well and only a few regular citizens. I can only pray that God gives me strength to get thru it all. I am not allowed to be pro se anymore or the DA will not talk with me so I was forced to get an attorney. If it happened to me it could happen to anyone. I have had one maybe two speeding tickets in my life and that has been it till now. Dont’ question and we will leave you alone. HA. I may end up in that little thin jail suit who knows what is in store for me with them next. Whatever you do make sure you have witnesses with you when you have to face there ugly little minds if you can. I do believe like the gentleman said in an earlier paragraph there are some good men out there doing there job correctly and honestly and it is sad to have so many think they are doing a good job only to find out later they were mislead. Even if I lose, I won’t lose if it can help one other person then I have won. Scared? yes I am, anyone would be, but not scared enough to let them do this to me without a fight. look at the demons we have to face at play here. I have my faith and God alone will see me thru. God Bless and don’t lose your Faith thru any of this it has gotten me this far.

John Duty April 14, 2006 at 9:43 am

Society in Jail…How I spent my summer vacation

Jeffery Tucker: Your article really hit a nerve with me. This past summer, I was working at my computer late at night and a knock sounded at the door. It was three Sheriffs and they were here to serve a warrant on me. It was a nationally extraditable warrant for grand theft, a serious matter. I asked to see the paperwork to get some idea of what they were speaking. They acted oddly and reluctantly gave me the paperwork. I looked it over and it was from Florida and had NO judge’s signature, NO magistrate signature, NO oath or affirmation, NOT even a notary stamp on it. It was a blank piece of paper with my name on it and a charge and that was all.

I was taken to jail on this mystery warrant and the Sheriffs said they were sorry and they had never seen anything like this before, but, “They were only doing their job.” To which I replied, “That is the Nuremberg defense and you know what they got the Nazis don’t you.”

I was booked and repeatedly asked questions concerning terrorism, whether or not I had attended college in Moscow, and other ignorant questions. Then I was issued the obligatory paper-thin suit and plastic sandals and sent to a cell. They took away my medications I brought with me to the jail and after I had missed my evening dose, I started having chest pains and distressed breathing and was getting sick. I called for the jailer and he came so I asked him for my meds so I wouldn’t have a heart attack. He drew his taser gun and said, I’ll give you something to have a heart attack over you son of a bitch”, then he entered the cell, which is against the rules of conduct. I withdrew and begged him not to shoot me and he said, “Then shut your fucking mouth.”

I was on a floor that was allowed afternoon phone privileges but in the midday I was transferred to a floor where we got morning calls and I had just missed the time out. It wasn’t until the next day that I got my phone call. Then it was just as you said, Prison phones don’t work in prison.” Also, I don’t remember numbers well and didn’t have my wallet so I couldn’t remember anyone to call as I was in shock. I finally remembered the number of the nursing home where my 83-year-old Alzheimer’s patient father resided and I got a nurse to accept the $2.75 collect call. She was kind and helped get hold of my ex wife who attempted to help me but they wouldn’t allow bail as the “formal” paperwork had not come in from Florida. I spent 5 days waiting for Florida to get off their asses. In the meantime, my dogs were locked in the house and starving. My employees didn’t know where I was. I couldn’t leave a message on the answer machine because it wouldn’t accept the collect call.

While on the inside, there were a lot of sadistic cops and one named Hamblin was griping about how he wasn’t allowed to taser a man who was obviously mentally ill and had doused himself with gas. Hamblin was mad because he wasn’t allowed to, “Light him up.”

The jail was filled with Mexicans and I was one of the very few whites. They took my food and it was three days before I was allowed a bath and 4 days before I got a change of clothes.

When I finally got in front of a Judge, she said this paper would never fly and let me out on my O.R.. Then I had to drive from Washington State, 3500 miles, to Florida, surrender to the Florida cops and this time I took the bail bondsman with me, and went in the front door and out the back door. This is what it took to get this paper on the prosecutor’s desk. When he reviewed the charges, he found they had no merit and threw it out. I found out that the disgruntled daughter of my fathers deceased girfriend, with whom he lived for 25 years in Florida, was mad because I had taken my dad from Florida to Washington to live with me due to the Alzheimer’s condition. I grew suspicious so I ordered all his banking records only to find she had embezzled over 80K dollars from my dad’s accounts and was mad because I thwarted her retirement account so she made a false report/claim that I had robbed her mothers estate. This was the basis of why I was arrested. No evidence, no proof of any kind, just the ravings of an old woman who was already rich and lived on Marcos Island, the fifth richest neighborhood in America.

This all cost me five days of my life/freedom, almost got me tasered, deprived of medication for two days and was sick for a week afterward, and $8,000.00 dollars in bail bonds and travel expenses all while my business languished for three weeks during my peak sales season. The woman who caused all of this has not been charged, and I am told they will not charge her but her word alone caused me this huge penalty… to be GUILTY until proven INNOCENT… and on my dime.

This proves without a doubt that Justice is blind as well as stupid, malicious, conniving, and sadistic. Oh…did I mention the $3500.00 I spent on a criminal defense attorney to handle this while I returned to Washington and attempted to get my business back on track and put this behind me. Yep, this is how I spent my summer vacation in the land of the brave and home of the free!

John “madder than hell” Duty

Brett Celinski April 15, 2006 at 7:36 pm

What I’d like to know is that how in the world is the market NOT human nature? How is that statement ever proven by the status quo?

Befree May 3, 2006 at 5:50 am

I am not an American, but in my country it is widely felt that America is a police state. In our country we are a wannabe police state but luckily our govt is still too incompetent to organize it.

Kearby December 19, 2007 at 2:27 pm

Stories like this are happening everywhere. It is not just in small towns of America anymore (although it happens quite often there with the “good ole boys”).People are stuck in jails and prisons for minor offenses or wrongfully accused and they wonder why the jails and prisons are so overcrowded these days. Maybe if people were innocent before proven guilty like it is supposed to be then there wouldn’t be such a problem!

David C. Mandelstamm June 10, 2009 at 1:42 pm

I had been a victim of a series of internet and investment frauds, which wiped me out financially back in 2004. The aftermath of this nightmare put into play a whole series of unfortunate consequences, from which I still haven’t recovered fully. You could call it the “gift that keeps giving”!

At the time, I was living in Tyler, an East Texas city of about 90,000 population. On the surface, Tyler appears to be an inviting place (piney woods & lakes, branch campus of UT, annual rose festival, etc.) However, the “underbelly” is notoriously evil.

Because I had lost practically every dollar to those con artists, I was unable to afford car registration and insurance. Yet I needed my car to get around to find employment, because I was living six miles out of town, and no mass transit existed.

Anyhow, I received a ticket for not having insurance, and it escalated into a $400 fine, which I definitely couldn’t afford to pay, seeing as how I had no job! So… you guessed it… I was driving down the road on the way to a job interview, and get stopped for having expired tags. As expected, the policeman’s computer flagged me as having an outstanding arrest warrant, and I got hauled into Smith County jail for four days.

While in the holding cell area for the first two days, I was able to make a couple phone calls (after begging repeatedly and persistently to use the phone). Neither my wife nor my family were able to help. (My wife didn’t have the bail money, and my family lived in another state).

The holding cells have cement floors and are so small that you can’t get more than four feet away from the toilet — with all the filth, stench, and potential for disease. No blankets there. You get to sleep on the floor, or on the limited space on one of the narrow wood benches.

I was then transferred to a facility north of town, because the jails in Tyler are running out of space. (I wonder why???) If I remember right, there were 12 bunk beds in each cell, and it was certainly more comfortable than a holding cell.

However, I had the misfortune of being in the same cell with some very intimidating ghetto types. Luckily, I was finally released without getting beat up (or raped). I then walked to my car (about an hour and a half walk!) and drove home. I suffered from post-traumatic stress from this incident for months later, and kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking that I was back in jail!!!

J.B. Smith is the sheriff in Smith County, and is one of the most corrupt people you could ever meet. He’s a completely pathological character, and is heavily involved in drug running, bootlegging, prostitution, gambling, and every other illicit business known to mankind.

While I realize that jail is not supposed to be like the Waldorf Astoria, J.B.’s jails don’t even deserve a Mobile one-star rating!

Blame all this on the evils of small-town injustice and/or corruption, but it’s all part of a much bigger picture, going all the way up to the top echelons of world power and domination (illuminati, Bilderbergers, etc.)

These sick tapeworms are occult/satanists who thrive on human misery, and are the most filthy, underhanded and conniving vermin you could imagine. Their hidden (or maybe NOT so hidden) agendas are increasingly being revealed for what they are.

I can tell you it’s no coincidence that America has the highest percentage AND highest number of incarcerated citizens of any country in the world. Even more than Communist China!!! Crime has become incentivized, and private for-profit companies such as CCA and Wackenhut are now heavily involved.

If you can imagine, the conditions inside these private prisons are reputed to be even worse than government-run prisons. (Hard to imagine, isn’t it???) Also, these private prison corporations lobby Congress to increase sentencing for minor crimes (such as marijuana offenses) so that prisoners will stay longer in their facilities ($$$), Talk about conflict of interest! Welcome to the new prison-state Amerikkka!

This post has gone on a bit long, but here’s something else to consider long and hard…

Many decades ago, before attorneys took over, America’s legal system was based on the common law. The common law was quite straightforward and simple for the lay person to understand. If you could understand the Ten Commandments, you could understand the common law. Basically, a criminal was defined as somebody who caused damage to other persons and/or property. Really simple. Conversely, if somebody did NOT cause damage to other persons and/or property, that person was NOT a criminal. Right? Okay then.

So now enter the “statutory legal system” which has largely supplanted the common law. It is exceedingly complex, convoluted, vague, and nearly impossible for a lawyer, much less a lay person, to understand. The powers-that-be LOVE it just that way. Why? Because now they can criminalize practically ANYBODY at will for violating any of the literally MILLIONS of incomprehensible statutes. And under the statutory legal system, the government has no obligation to produce an aggrieved person or party.

For example, if a driver chooses not to put on their seat belt, and a police officer pulls over that person and issues a citation, where is the aggrieved party? In other words, WHO was damaged as a consequence of that person that being buckled up? NOBODY…… except for a legal fiction known as the CITY OF ______, COUNTY OF _______, STATE OF ______, etc. These capital letter entities are nothing more than revenue-making CORPORATIONS. They are merely divisions or instrumentalities of the federal corporation!

The difference between a government corporation and a private corporation is that the enforcement arm of the government corporation (police, courts, etc.) is vicious, brutal and unrelenting. Make no mistake about that fact. If you have any doubts, just look at all the incidents in recent decades where cops are quick to taser citizens with very little or NO provocation.

Bottom line. It’s all over here in the U.S., at least for anybody who doesn’t want to live in constant fear! The previous poster from Brazil pretty much summed up the current situation in the U.S., a country which is increasingly emulating the worst Communist and fascist regimes on the planet!

StopUSAGiveaway July 9, 2009 at 3:08 pm

ATTN: to the person who stated “I am sure glad I have prepaid legal”
Pre-paid Legal: claims to do a lot of things, but their big one of the customer-consumer payor of their services such as l) PPL will write a letter
Try to get them to do so
2) PPL will answer all your questions
Try to get them to do so
3) PPL will do a free will for you
Try to get them to do so
and without claiming other charges
4) PPG will defend you
that would be even more frightening…
Someone needs to file against PPL and their scamming attorneys.
What may have been a good idea: when attorneys are involved: F R A U D, T R E A S O N,
or isn’t the Bailout and Stimulus and et all enough
to prove attorneys are for their own name on their own personal bank account??!!
HYATT LEGAL doesn’t even have the staff: most have 1 -2 attorneys signed up
so you pay for nothing…except “we don’t have that type of attorney”
It is free to call and ask attorneys if they do that type of case or search on-line: but getting an attorney to help someone who needs help who is being wronged is a rare exception.
May GOD Bless those who do need help and never get it yet we have the frivolous cases like Dustin _________ of the GRADUATE who also played Tootsie in a dresss later file and get money from some media placing a photo of him in a dress.
Big Deal
SF Attorney: bought a cabbage path doll without the socks and got $47,000 from it. His daughter was upset. Bet that same Judge got his cut.
McDonalds: old lady in sports car drives off with hot coffee between her legs get millions
MEXICAN ILLEGAL DISH WASHER lst weekend receives paycheck: DRUNK falls on tracks get rewarded
VIETNAMESE can read English: steps on electric platform after trespass: of course get millions
Middle Easters kids break into SF ZOO: taunting Lion–its shot: they sue. Someone should have shot the drunk/druggies or too bad the lion didn’t rip them apart.
ALL rewarded: but a child or senior or any female rapped: what do they get?
ILLEGAL runs down US Border Patrol:
ILLEGAL shots two Houston Police Officers:
Cong Green Houston, Cong Lee Cong Luis Gutierrez(Chicago) concerned for “immigrants” family integrity
T R A I T O R S Congressional Violators of Oath
While US Troops are being systematically sacrificed on foreign soil for Open Borders
US TROOPS our sons, daughters, mothers,\
grandfathers, grandmothers ALL
US Troops B E H E A D E D
yet media attn: to Guantanamo
The ARAB-Muslims must own the NYTimes as daily they bombard the public as if the Guantano port-wine-underwear incident is a Holocaust.
Sick, upside down, EVIL has arrived…

Billytudes July 23, 2009 at 1:20 pm

To compare men willingly using force and guns to enforce the law with someone who did not pay their ticket and spent a little time in jail is a major stretch.

I grew up in Auburn, and went to college there. It’s a tiny town where almost no crime is committed. (I never locked my car door for the 8 years I had a car there, and have left my front door wide open by accident over the weekend) Most of the time the police are trying to catch drunk drivers.

Don’t even try to portray Auburn police as draconian inquisitors.

Please shutup.

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