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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7551/victims-on-trial-the-everyday-business-of-courts/

Victims on Trial: The Everyday Business of Courts

December 17, 2007 by

JustitiaIn a courtroom packed with purported criminals, not even one of the people who appeared before the judge was a danger to society. Nearly all were in for victimless crimes.

The two who had perpetrated actual crimes — petty theft from Wal-Mart and the local mall — could have easily been dealt with without involving the state. So far as I could tell, the place could have been emptied out completely and our little community would have been no worse off, and massive human suffering could have been avoided.

But that’s not the way it works. These people, overwhelmingly black and poor but dressed very nicely in the hope of impressing the master, found themselves entangled in the web and thereby elicited the glare and killer instinct of the spider. How painful it was to watch and not be able to do anything about it. FULL ARTICLE

{ 89 comments }

Eric Sundwall December 17, 2007 at 8:52 am

Jeffery,

You never completed your component of the story !
What happened ?

I always fight seatbelt tickets and frequently win because the officer fails to show up. Speeding tickets too. If more people fought these things and protested louder we would have more freedom.

Rob Levine December 17, 2007 at 8:54 am

Great story. Mind telling us where this took place?

severin December 17, 2007 at 9:29 am

I went to court to fight a window tint violation, and they ushered me off to a separate chamber and a judge just let me go, I think they thought I might end up being more trouble than it was worth when I showed up to court to argue over a $25 dollar fine. I wish I could have seen a bit more of the other proceedings. The whole thing is a joke, but I believe stories like yours are really getting out there and people are more aware now than in the past at how it is just a joke designed to extort money from people.

Even the punishment for the real crime is a joke, like the lady who stole the ham and had to pay the court $800, how much of that money made it back to Wal-Mart? None. Even though I am sure it was Wal-Mart security who actually caught her. Wal-Mart’s security probably took the ham back and that was it.

TC Bell December 17, 2007 at 11:31 am

Great story! I’m going to print copies of this and hand them out outside my local court house! Thank you!

homunculus December 17, 2007 at 12:04 pm

relatively low incidence of cross traffic +
relatively wealthy neighborhood +
4-way stop +
convenient place to hide =
————-
$$$$

seriously, the driver’s license suspension for ‘public intoxication’ is stupid… I’ll assume s/he was under 21 (perhaps a working student). Difficult to see what one thing has to do with the other.

J D December 17, 2007 at 12:46 pm

God knows we need some growth industries and incarceration is a good one.

And somebody needs to support the justice business.

Maybe declaring lawyers as legislators a conflict of interest would improve things.

Jarrod Atkinson December 17, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Jeffrey, you forgot about one of the most important free market aspects in regards to traffic violations and property rights enforcement. When you get a ticket and are found guilty or even plead no contest, it goes on your driving record, which then enables and even encourages your insurance company to increase your premium because you are now considered to be a higher risk driver. Personally, I think that the free market can handle the enforcement of traffic violations by occasionally tracking your driving patterns via GPS and adjusting your premium based on their observations. Essentially, you take traffic enforcement away from the police who should be endeavoring to protect us, not serve us traffic tickets.

Likewise, Wal-Mart or an insuring agent should be able to mete out punishment by banning individuals from its stores and to seek civil remedies for theft, remedies which should match the scope and scale of the offense. The state has no idea what is a reasonable remedy, but they know how much they want to raise in the form of fines each day. Businesses know what theft costs and do things like put the Prilosec, a relatively high priced, yet easily shop lifted item, behind the counter or glass in certain locations as a response to theft. Every time the state hands out a ridiculous judgment against a thief, the property owner feels less responsibility for protecting his or her property because the nature of the opportunity cost changes.

What truly amazes me is that traffic fines have increased exponentially, while, I can only imagine, traffic accidents have not or, at the most, have hardly decreased. They write tickets under the auspices of protecting others on the road around you, but it has not actually translated into safer driving or fewer accidents. Instead of concentrating on driving with the flow of traffic, everyone on the road has to check their speedometer frequently and watch out for police vehicles. My paranoia has definitely caused me to needlessly and unexpectedly apply the brakes numerous times in traffic, which cannot be good for the flow or safety of travelers.

Also, the way in which the revenue collected from the tickets is distributed plays a part in all of this. In North Carolina (when I lived in the region, so it may have changed in 5 years), the revenue went to the state capital, so the police were more interested in deterring and punishing dangerous driving than raising money. In Virginia, the money goes directly into the county, so the State Troopers, who live in and are generally from the counties in which they work, pull over everyone they can and issue citations for all manner of “violations.” The judges in those localities have every incentive to issue high fines as well. I’m sure their mindset is that “It’s helping the community” both from a safety angle and on the Income Statement.

I received a ticket in Virginia in college for “Failure to Maintain Control” of my vehicle during the course of a traffic accident involving me, my car, the road, a mound of dirt, and a giant rat with horns known as a deer. Once in court, I was ordered to pay a fine after my attorney advised me to plead no contest (because there was no evidence that I had done wrong) and my insurance company penalized me as well. The judge seemed less concerned with my welfare than with my ability to pay a fine. He never asked if I sustained injuries from my wreck, during which no property was damaged and no material harm came to anyone but me and my car. He dismissed my recollection that a woman had died a week prior to my encounter when a deer went through her windshield and while both were live, gored her to death. He just forced me to pay a large fine and perform community service, a double punishment which is common in Prince Edward County.

The following summer, I went before a judge in Texas in order to defend my right to operate a vehicle because I had received a number of tickets in Virginia, but had a Texas Driver’s License. He was amazed that the “failure to maintain control” ticket that had been issued, much less adjudicated. He stated that no ticket like that would be issued in Texas and would be thrown out of court by any rational judge, especially in rural areas where navigating around and through those filthy beasts in common.

Anyway, while I concede that the State has the right to encourage and/or enforce various standards of safe driving, it is, nevertheless, not the appropriate entity to deal with small, victimless crimes. Wal-Mart and Progressive can and should deal with these things themselves.

billwald December 17, 2007 at 1:08 pm

In the bad old days in Washington State and I suppose in most every other state a traffic ticket was a criminal offense. One had a right to face his accuser and the city had to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt.

After most traffic offenses were decriminalized the judge only had to conclude there was a 51% chance of guilt. Unless the judge thinks the officer (or traffic cam) is plain lying there is little chance of beating a ticket in most jurisdictions.

Fines are set just low enough that most people will not lose a day’s wage to protest. Then there is the stall and delay tactic . . . .

Robert B December 17, 2007 at 3:10 pm

I went through a similar experience accompanying my wife to court over a speeding ticket. (English is not her native language and I wanted to assist.)

After hours of waiting, during which we both missed work and thus lost money, she was offered a reduced fine by the judge. When she hesitated, he told her it was a good deal. She agreed to pay it even though she felt the officer had lied about her speed.

The whole experience had me infuriated because:

1. The judge’s comment about this being a good deal presumed her guilt. I thought we are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

2. This was a “preliminary hearing,” which means my wife had to show up (so they could entice her into admitting guilt) but the accusing police officer didn’t have to be there. We lost time and money but he lost nothing.

3. If my wife didn’t agree to the reduced fine we would have had to come back again and lose more time and money. At that point, even if the officer didn’t show up and the ticket was thrown out, we would still have suffered a net loss.

The system is a sick joke. It has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with the state’s first purpose: plunder.

Max C. December 17, 2007 at 3:49 pm

Four things:

  1. Everyone should go to Court and see this for themselves at least once. It is very educational.
  2. Most cities hand out these kind of traffic tickets as a form of revenue. In fact, new officers are given traffic quotas — in order to get promoted to dealing with real crime, they have to right a certain number of traffic tickets. The funny thing is that just entering a not guilty plea will almost always cost the city more than the ticket is worth.
  3. There is an entire industry of defense attorneys that deal with this stuff for you. In my experience, they cost between $100 and $200. You sign some forms and pay them up front and then you don’t have to worry about it. The lawyer will go to court and threaten a not guilty plea to extract a “deal” from the prosecutor. These “deals” generally result in almost nothing happening to you. The next time you get stopped, I highly recommend it.
  4. In many of these victimless crime cases, the police use tactics that violate the 4th amendment because they know that most of the people they catch will just plead guilty. If people started suing (and costing the state money), they would be more careful.

Jeanette Ambrose December 17, 2007 at 3:50 pm

It would seem that the Ca$h-flow court-rooms in some areas of the US have abandoned Reason as well as actual rule of Law.I thought a nation of Law based upon Reason,vs. arbitrary application of color-of-law was our American inheritance?

We need Remedy.As in Constitutional.

“The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it.”-John Hay,”Castilian Days,II”,1872

“Crime does not pay unless you get elected.”-Andrew J.Galambos

Harry Roffey December 17, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Over here they nick your car

Regards

Harry Roffey

http://www.corruptpolice.co.uk

David Van Der Klauw December 17, 2007 at 5:22 pm

This was a worthwhile read apart except for the first and last lines which are religious nonsense.
“justice, for which there is a supply and demand like any other good”
“The state is their enemy, as it is for everyone else.”

The state is the most powerful gang. Tucker lives in a democracy where this gang is elected. I prefer this way of selecting the gang. If Tucker doesn’t he can move to another place where the most powerful gang is unelected. Perhaps such a gang would be the friend of the poor (in your dreams). I believe that democracy is the best AVAILABLE system and Tucker seems to believe this also, as he chooses not to emmigrate.

This article shows evidence of a govt that is fining citizens to raise money instead of to increase justice and a fair go for all. Why not spread the word and vote out such a govt? This is the beauty of democracy. No violence is needed to vote in a better replacement. It seems to me that Tucker’s real gripe is with the majority of citizens who support an unfair govt with their vote. His gripe is not with the state itself. The state is just a reflection of the majority who voted for it (greedy and moronic).

Chris Belkas December 17, 2007 at 6:18 pm

A good read, but I must say that you giving up in the end kind of ruined the impact of the story for me. If we can’t fight traffic tickets out, how are we supposed to handle everything else?

BWM December 17, 2007 at 7:08 pm

As much as I love this site, this is the type of article that makes libertarianism a joke to most people. Sure, there are problems in the justice system, but everytime someone says that “the state can’t do it”, they fail to give any viable alternative. Okay, so Wal-Mart, say, bans that lady. How do they enforce it? An internet database? Scan every person who walks in the store? That’s absurd! And without the threat of “calling the cops”, the lady knows that the punishment is a joke. And what if she actually stole a decent amount of merchandise? What can Wal-Mart do? Kidnap her and lock her in a dungeon in the warehouse? That violates her rights and, furthermore, goes against all moral principle as she hasn’t been tried yet. Maybe arbitrate it first? What, do we all sign a waver everytime we walk in a store? And is it even “arbitration” to ask a Wal-Mart employee to settle it? Well, if Wal-Mart CAN’T do this, than it’s lost merchandise is just that; lost. The money is gone and no one has the right to get it back from her. And even if they had a private court system, this article posits that resistance should be legal, meaning that Wal-Mart has to either try and kidnap her when she is out and about, or break into her house and risk getting shot.

In other words, without our traffic and minor infraction courts, we have NO way to punish people like this except to laughably ban them from our store, which would only work in small, individual stores. No doubt; if it’s run by the state, there are issues. But the only way to settle things without our justice system is a poor, jigsaw puzzle of a society where every business and person has to constantly beware of his neighbors, because, short of preventing the crime, they have no real way to get even short of committing a crime themselves. Government was originally made to enforce uniform, arbitrary (as in, not targeted) laws to allow for business and commerce (Hayek posits this), and that’s the best we are going to get. It’s not perfect, but the perfect is the enemy of the good and an illusion anyway.

Inquisitor December 17, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Actually the reason most people think libertarianism is a joke is because they are ignorant morons who have not bothered to educate themselves, or in most cases unfortunately do not have the time to. Be that as it may…

‘And even if they had a private court system, this article posits that resistance should be legal, meaning that Wal-Mart has to either try and kidnap her when she is out and about, or break into her house and risk getting shot.’

Yes, so they trial her in absentia. Why would kidnapping even be necessary? Subsequently, measures can be taken such as freezing her bank accounts etc. It is perfectly possible to insure her compliance. Has state provision of sources really dimmed individual creativity this much? And yes, it is most definitely Wal-Mart’s (or its agent’s) task to insure its property is insured, and no one else’s. It has no right to demand it of others.

anonymous December 17, 2007 at 9:45 pm

We need the State to create and enforce the law.

The private sector only operates on voluntary exchange. However, compliance to the law must be mandatory, and enforcing the law, such as laws against murder, theft, and fraud, requires force against those who would challenge it.

Secondly, creating laws and imposing penalties to enforce them requires the exertion of authority. A private-sector entity has no authority over another private-sector entity. A public-sector entity does, because it is democratically elected.

Thirdly, only the State is morally qualified to create and enforce laws, because it (ideally) has no profit motive. A private-sector entity with a profit motive is said to be innovative. A public-sector entity with a profit motive is said to be corrupt.

The Founding Fathers were successfully overthrew a state which oppressed them terribly, yet they never questioned the necessity of the State. Statelessness is doomed to fail because of a simple paradox: if force is banned, how can the ban be enforced?

chas December 18, 2007 at 12:19 am

OMG you worry about seatbelt and speeding? those are for your safety !!

HREOC President von Doussa officially named for Human Rights violations in HIGH COURT

HREOC President von Doussa officially named for Human Rights violations in HIGH COURT of Australia

On the issue of the competent judicials

“The
International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) states that an
individual “shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a
competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law”
(Article 14.1).

The issues are simple:

1. Access to the legal system?? as prescribed in HREOA 1986 and ICCPR and ICERD;

2. access to HREOA 1986;

3. access to RDA 1975; and other (human rights) laws;

4. executive powers in the judiciary?

5. rules of evidence?

5. exemption from obligations to ICCPR and ICERD for judiciary?

http://kangaroocourtaustralia.com
http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/hreoc-president-von-doussa-officially-named-hr-violations-high-court

Brent December 18, 2007 at 12:56 am

“We need the State to create and enforce the law… …A private-sector entity has no authority over another private-sector entity. A public-sector entity does, because it is democratically elected… Thirdly, only the State is morally qualified to create and enforce laws, because it (ideally) has no profit motive…”

The State makes statutes. It acts tirelessly to pervert ‘the law’.

Because it is democratically elected? What about the people who refused to vote or voted for the other guy? Plurality wins or majority wins? Can they be impeached by the same margin at any time? Give me a break. THIS kind of talk is the real joke.

No profit motive? How about a POWER Motive? I bet they’d perform better if they had a profit motive tied to people’s evaluation of the value of the services they provide – oh, right, that can never happen.

As for morality, you are on the wrong website. You have to first convince us that theft, fraud, racketeering, extortion, and mass murder are moral.

TLWP Sam December 18, 2007 at 1:19 am

So? Libertarians have a hard time convincing everyone else that ‘force & fraud’ wouldn’t occur without guvmint. Or that ‘protection agencies’ would act perfectly moral. Or that those who hire ‘protection agencies’ are perfectly moral. Similarly happy abitration might be fine for simple business disputes but what of serious crimes? It has even been pointed out by Minarchists at least the State has the provision for ‘final abitration’ and ‘serious force to imprison dangerous felons’ who sure as hell wouldn’t voluntarily walk into a jail much less to a noose.

Inquisitor December 18, 2007 at 7:50 am

Funny, because I do not remember any market anarchist arguing that anything such as perfect morality would exist…

Anonymous: ‘A public-sector entity does, because it is democratically elected.’

How does this grant it any particular special moral authority?

‘Thirdly, only the State is morally qualified to create and enforce laws, because it (ideally) has no profit motive.’

I’m not sure why a monopoly on law and order should be exempt to the laws of economics. Why will it not extract as much revenue as it can and supply as little as possible? Further, the public sector already operates on a pecuniary motive, albeit not a profit-motive; it’s called bribery.

‘Statelessness is doomed to fail because of a simple paradox: if force is banned, how can the ban be enforced?’

Whoever said it must be banned in self-defence?

George Gaskell December 18, 2007 at 8:23 am

only the State is morally qualified to create and enforce laws, because it (ideally) has no profit motive

Drivel. Taxation is pure profit. Even the transaction costs of collecting the tax are paid for by the victims.

The Founding Fathers were successfully overthrew a state which oppressed them terribly

1. They are not my “fathers.”

2. The modern socialist-democratic mafia organization that calls itself the US government is far more oppressive than anything that existed in the 18th century. The tax (i.e., theft) rates alone are proof enough, not counting the multiplication of economic restrictions and other forms of interference, which are always harmful.

Please at least read one or two of the foundational writings of the Austrian school before you embarrass yourself any further by regurgitating the propaganda you apparently learned from government-paid teachers.

Scott D December 18, 2007 at 10:55 am

BWM:

Okay, so Wal-Mart, say, bans that lady. How do they enforce it? An internet database? Scan every person who walks in the store? That’s absurd! And without the threat of “calling the cops”, the lady knows that the punishment is a joke.

You enter my store. One of my employees asks to swipe your membership card. Since you have none, he directs you to a nearby kiosk where you fill out a form and provide identification. A pair of polite but well-trained security personnel look on casually.

My employee enters your information, but your name is flagged from a database of known shoplifters. You remember the incident from a few months ago. A DVD plucked the shelf and quickly tucked beneath your jacket. Security spotted you on camera and caught you before you were halfway to the door. They confiscated the stolen merchandise, revoked your membership card and escorted you outside.

My employee apologizes and directs you to another establishment that will better accommodate your “special” needs. The prices are a bit higher at the other shop, but fortunately for you, first offenses only carry a one-year ban. For most shoplifters, that is enough. The truly undesirables, the repeat offenders, end up paying significantly above the normal prices and never come in contact with goods until after they are purchased.

It is not nearly as hard as you think. “Viable alternatives” are almost always simple extrapolations of already existing business models, such as the membership card that many stores already use to track their shoppers’ spending habits. Is it so much of a stretch to put the scanner at the door instead of the register and then start tracking their stealing habits?

I stopped seeing these problems as unsolvable once I began to recognize the full potential of the market to find efficient solutions. If people value it, the market will provide it.

anonymous December 18, 2007 at 3:23 pm

(I’m in a hurry, so pardon my paragraphs which seem to wander from one topic to another.)

It has nothing to do with the rate of taxation, but ,i>taxation without representation,. Secondly, I went to private Christian school, not government school. Thirdly, how could an anarchist system defend itself against a nuclear armed foe such as the Soviet Union? Self defense is not enough.

The Declaration of Independence, which laid the legal foundation for the Constitution and the American system, says that government “derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.” Ergo, a Constitutional, democratically-elected, limited government is legitimate. If somebody voluntarily refuses to vote, they cannot claim to “not have a voice” be be “oppressed by the master.” The systems allows for you to have influence.

Why does it occur to nobody that maybe I do understand Austrian principles completely, but choose to reject part of them?

George Gaskell December 18, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Ergo, a Constitutional, democratically-elected, limited government is legitimate.

Government is legitimate because someone who helped create that government says so? How convenient.

Jefferson also wrote the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, which declared that when the federal government exceeds its delegated powers, such acts were “utterly void” and of no force and effect.

Several states, some years after that sentiment was written by Mr. Jefferson, legally seceded from the US government, and they were invaded for it, conquered and forcibly annexed. So much for the consent of the governed.

How many current activities of your fabled democratic, constitutional US government exceed the express delegation of authority in its own founding document? About 95% of what it does?

Please. Whatever legitimacy the United States government may have once had, it ended a very long time ago.

Why does it occur to nobody that maybe I do understand Austrian principles completely, but choose to reject part of them?

Because you speak in cliches and worthless generalities.

anonymous December 18, 2007 at 8:43 pm

“Several states, some years after that sentiment was written by Mr. Jefferson, legally seceded from the US government, and they were invaded for it, conquered and forcibly annexed.”

Do you think a civilized nation-state ought to tolerate an insurrectionist, slave-trading, apartheid regime within its own established borders? I don’t.

“Because you speak in cliches and worthless generalities.” Such as…???

Also, can you please answer my earlier question: how would an anarchist system defend itself against assimilation by a nuclear armed communist power?

Brent December 18, 2007 at 9:05 pm

“Ergo, a Constitutional, democratically-elected, limited government is legitimate”

Yes, because people hundreds of years ago can force everyone who comes after them to a “social contract”, right? Give us a break.

“Also, can you please answer my earlier question: how would an anarchist system defend itself against assimilation by a nuclear armed communist power?”

Read this and get back to us.

You pretend like it is impossible to defend yourself without a State. You overlook all the many ways (at least the ones the State hasn’t banned private individuals from undertaking) private individuals and businesses defend themselves. Locks, insurance, guns, private security, lighting, social shaming, etc. etc.

K Chirs C. December 18, 2007 at 11:53 pm

Well here in Illinois they are now resorting to the old “lost in the mail” scam–you know, like that rebate you sent in 6-weeks ago.

Part of a long story, I was ticketed for “improper lane use.” This was the cops answer to not investigating an “accident” where the other driver deliberately rammed my car–ticket us both and wash his hands of it.

I then filled out the form on the back stating my lack of guilt and mailed it off confident to get my date in court.

6 weeks goes by-why is it always 6 weeks–and a card arrives stating that they never received my mailing and therefore found me guilty in the resulting proceeding, that I was never notified of.

At least Tucker got part of his day in court.

Mark Young December 19, 2007 at 7:43 am

As a victim of the divorce industry which stole my three kids in 1989, I appreciate your description of your cout experience but disagree that the private sector has the solution. Your description is of a public court room which acts as a business.

That is the problem: Judges acting without mercy, compassion and a sense of justice, much less following their oaths to uphold the Constitution and other laws.

Rather, we need to take back the PUBLIC’s courts of law. Otherwise, we may as well scrap the U.S. Constitution altogether.

Cameras in all courtrooms accessible via the Internet is a good way to start. If judges know they are being watched by the PUBLIC they may actually do their jobs. I doubt Wal-Mart would allow the public access to their dealings with shoplifters.

Mark Young

Inquisitor December 19, 2007 at 8:07 am
George Gaskell December 19, 2007 at 8:55 am

Do you think a civilized nation-state ought to tolerate an insurrectionist, slave-trading, apartheid regime within its own established borders? I don’t.

It’s getting hard to count all of the errors and fallacies in your posts. I’ll try:

1. The nation-state you refer to (these United States) already agreed, in their founding charter, to “tolerate” that very thing. I thought you were one of those guys who revered the Constitution. Does your willingness to follow it wax and wane depending on your mood?

2. The States that seceded were, by definition, no longer within the borders of the United States. That’s the whole point of secession –they became, at that instant, a foreign territory. I haven’t seen you or any of your other fellow statists clamoring for an invasion of all the other foreign states around the globe that practice slavery today. I guess that is another sentiment of yours that changes depending on the way the wind is blowing.

3. The United States did not invade and conquer the Confederate States for the purpose of ending slavery. Lincoln said so openly. His proposed version of the 13th Amendment was the exact opposite of the one that was passed after the invasion — it guaranteed slavery’s perpetual existence on a permanent basis. The North invaded to ensure its continued collection of federal taxes, and to prevent the CSA from becoming a free trade zone.

As for cliches and generalities, I see several. The idea that a government force is legitimate merely because it is democratic. The idea that a government has no profit motive. The idea that oppression under King George was worse than today.

Please open your mind to the idea that all of these assumptions are false. At best they are merely mistaken, and at worst they are lies propagated by self-interested criminals.

George Gaskell December 19, 2007 at 9:06 am

In 1867, Lysander Spooner summed up the true character of the Constitution and the Northern Invasion: http://www.lysanderspooner.org/notreason.htm

“On the part of the North, the war was carried on, not to liberate slaves, but by a government that had always perverted and violated the Constitution, to keep the slaves in bondage; and was still willing to do so, if the slaveholders could be thereby induced to stay in the Union.

“The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.

“No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle — but only in degree — between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man’s ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.

“Previous to the war, there were some grounds for saying that — in theory, at least, if not in practice — our government was a free one; that it rested on consent. But nothing of that kind can be said now, if the principle on which the war was carried on by the North, is irrevocably established.”

Brent December 19, 2007 at 2:21 pm

It’s always the same “make it more public (i.e., get the government bureaucracy more involved)” argument.

We already have public (i.e., government-run) courtrooms. If you don’t like the way they are run,you simply can NOT say they are run “too much like a business”. Sorry, they ARE PUBLIC.

It’s like when people say the Post Office would be better if it were government-run. It IS government-run. In fact, if it weren’t for the Post Office’s use of private (FedEx) delivery planes, the Post Office would be even worse. Of course, if it wasn’t for the Post Office’s legal monopoly on first-class letters, they’d have little left to do – but they wouldn’t go out of business… because they ARE NOT IN BUSINESS.

David Van Der Klauw December 19, 2007 at 6:50 pm

Scott D
You have given a very interesting idea for preventing shoplifters from going into certain stores.
This idea has a lot of merit and I have pondered similar things. One problem is that a big shop has little incentive to give a fair go to a tiny minority. Walmart might decide to ban all blacks from drugsville where 99% of people are thieves. This makes economic sense but is very unfair to Mr and Mrs NiceBlack who never stole a thing in their life. I have heard of real estate agents who blacklist bad tenants. Great idea, but when they make a mistake and blacklist a nice family, the agents have little incentive to go to the trouble of straightening out the error. Govt can ban the use of unfair blacklists and solve the problem created by this market.

Food supply is a basic human need. There is a danger that shops might monopolise the food supply (within a 10km region in a city) and then make a blacklisting mistake and make it very hard for an innocent person to live in that area. As an alternative perhaps shoplifters could be allowed to browse the aisles from a caged mobility cart with robot arm. Or else the shoplifter could be weighed before and after browsing the store. Internet ordering + counter pickup is a possible solution. A market might come-up with these ideas, or govt could impose them if the market failed to provide a sensible solution. eg govt says “you may ban thieves from walking around your store but only if you provide one of the above alternatives”

You also say “If people value it, the market will provide it.” This is religious nonsense. I value a world that gives a fair and necessary share of land (and other vital natural resources) to every baby born into the world. I value a world where no pointless wars occur. The market has not provided this. Which market will? The USA govt’s market? The Iraq govt’s market? The Russian market? Which laws construct a market that will do this?

Inquisitor December 19, 2007 at 7:05 pm

You must be new to this site – market ‘failure’ is fiction. Governments solve nothing, not even the problems they themselves generate. In fact, government intervention as a solution to problems is ‘religious nonsense’.

The market will fulfill any values one can afford by being productive. It will not fulfill whims and wishes. And this is as it should be. There are no positive rights to another’s labour and the products thereof, not even to ‘necessary’ resources.

Before arguing on this site make sure you’ve at least studied the core tenets of Austrian economics.

Jake December 19, 2007 at 8:59 pm

Force is necessary to deter criminals. It just is.

Every private-sector solution proposed so far to deter shoplifting (ID cards, blacklists, ethnic profiling, robotic cages) is a pain in the rear. How could society possibly deter shoplifting, or any other crime, without forcibly punishing the offenders?

David Van Der Klauw December 20, 2007 at 1:51 am

Inquisitor,
This site has improved since my last visit. Still plenty of zealots ready to attack, but now there are many more sceptical people posting intelligent criticism of the mises religion. You say that “Governments solve nothing”. Govt is merely free-willed individuals forming a powerful gang to achieve their ends. People as individuals or gangs do solve things and also often fail. Govt, being a gang of humans will often harm or help individuals. The silliest posts on this site decry the use of force by govt, yet propose that the way to avoid murder, assault and theft is to form local gangs and use force against the aggressors. This is what govt is – a gang using force.

The market is what happens when govt restricts individuals with a restriction called property rights. As individuals work under this regime we get market action. There is nothing free about a market. Govt can and does change these property rights regularly to achieve its aims.
Austrian economics is just common sense when studying money, inflation, booms and busts. The problem is that many nasty selfish individuals try to pass-off their self-serving religious nonsense under the banner of “Austrian Economics”.

anonymous December 20, 2007 at 4:14 am

I have nothing against limited government, private property, capitalism, individual liberty, or gun ownership, but whenever I hear “we should get rid of government”, it inevitably involves

1) Allowing victims of crimes to unceremoniously punish criminals themselves (known as “lynching”)

2) Permitting absolutely anybody to own, use, and sell firearms (known as “illicit arms dealing”)

3) Permitting people to hire unlicensed, unqualified armed security (read: “hit men”)

4) Private-sector court systems available, like any commodity, to the highest bidder (called, “political corruption”)

5) Permitting people to hire entire battalions of security forces for protection of property rights and retribution against offenses by rivals (or, as the FBI calls it, “gang warfare”)

6) Allowing these “security forces” to purchase tanks, rockets, and heavy artillery, and make use of them at their own discretion (kind of like terrorists)

7) Unlicensed doctors, untested medicines, and no recourse in a court of law against malpractice

8) Turning education into a commodity for the wealthy, instead of a birthright funded by taxpayers

9) No regulations whatsoever on cleanliness or the environment. “I’ll have the mad-cow hamburger, moldy fries, and arsenic-flavored lemonade. Mmm, delicious!”

10) A lot less scientific innovation. Without universal education, state universities, government scientific research, cloak-and-dagger defense systems, and NASA, (all paid for with “stolen” money, I might add) it is unlikely that the Information Age would be at its current state of progress and blogs like these would exist; then again, that would be the least of your troubles.

11) Legalized prostitution, drug use, child labor, and practically anything else that could help turn the most prosperous, powerful nation in the world into a third-world hellhole

12) Absolutely no national defense structure to protect against foreign invasion. It would actually not be needed. No nation in the world would possibly want to invade, and if they did, we would be better off.

Okay, you might think that is completely far-fetched, but in the absence of formal government and legal structure, what would stop those things from taking place?

Eduardo December 20, 2007 at 7:05 am

Anonymous:

Absolutely all 12 points you made DO HAPPEN today, if not all in all countries, a least most of them. And always UNDER PRESENT GOVERNMENTS.

I do concede that point 6 offers partial reason to you since I have not heard of private operational tanks. But otherwise, for example in Colombia’s jungles or in Brasil’s favelas, there are missiles, heavy artillery, machine guns, even they have submarines and armoured vehicles, if we are to believe press reports. Certainly I am convinced because a couple of months ago, here in Uruguay it was discovered a band of military men who sold mechine guns, mortars, rifles, etc., and those state weapons were sold to brazilian gangs. People went to prision and all that. Of course, this was the official report, depends on you to judge its credibility, or its accuracy.

Inquisitor December 20, 2007 at 7:21 am

“Inquisitor,
This site has improved since my last visit. Still plenty of zealots ready to attack, but now there are many more sceptical people posting intelligent criticism of the mises religion. ”

And we will continue attacking the ‘progressive’ cult until it is purged and its intellectual cover is torn to pieces. We will not relent.

“You say that “Governments solve nothing”. Govt is merely free-willed individuals forming a powerful gang to achieve their ends. People as individuals or gangs do solve things and also often fail. Govt, being a gang of humans will often harm or help individuals. The silliest posts on this site decry the use of force by govt, yet propose that the way to avoid murder, assault and theft is to form local gangs and use force against the aggressors. This is what govt is – a gang using force.”

That is correct. It is a gang using force to attain whatever ends it cannot achieve via voluntary means. Ergo it must not be tolerated.

“The market is what happens when govt restricts individuals with a restriction called property rights. As individuals work under this regime we get market action. There is nothing free about a market.”

The market is what happens when people voluntarily exchange and abstain from the use of force. Spare me the pseudo-progressive BS.

“Govt can and does change these property rights regularly to achieve its aims.”

And?

“Austrian economics is just common sense when studying money, inflation, booms and busts. The problem is that many nasty selfish individuals try to pass-off their self-serving religious nonsense under the banner of “Austrian Economics”.”

Nasty? Selfish? Are you reduced to flimsy psychologizing now? We’ve heard these idiotic critiques a hundred times over. They are still pathetic. If this is the best you can do, I suggest not wasting mine or anyone else’s time here.

Inquisitor December 20, 2007 at 7:24 am

Anonymous, are you even a minarchist? Anyone versed in Austrian economics would know why most of those critiques, or at the very least the ones linked to public goods, are nonsensical.

George Gaskell December 20, 2007 at 9:42 am

This site has improved since my last visit.

Well, that’s good to hear, because we live for no other purpose but to please you.

Please toss us another morsel of your praise, O great and merciful evaluator of quality and assayer of worth.

Govt can and does change these property rights regularly to achieve its aims.

Change? The word you are looking for is “violate.”

newson December 20, 2007 at 9:48 am

anonymous has obviously parachuted way behind enemy lines, and it would be too tiresome for words to rebut all his points. let’s have a shot at just one nonsense:

“No regulations whatsoever on cleanliness or the environment. “I’ll have the mad-cow hamburger, moldy fries, and arsenic-flavored lemonade. Mmm, delicious!”

had you actually done some homework on bse, you would have realized its prevalence is linked to agricultural subsidies that the eu linked to production. incentives that made rapid fattening (via bone meal) profitable. ask yourself why we didn’t get bse here in australia, where farm subsidies are much lower, or non-existent?

as for food poisoning, are you seriously saying it currently doesn’t happen under the existing public regime?

perhaps you’d also care to tell us where the eu agricultural subsidies ($2/day on average for each european cow), fit into abolishing hunger in africa, a potential farm product exporter to europe (absent trade barriers).

George Gaskell December 20, 2007 at 10:02 am

1) Allowing victims of crimes to unceremoniously punish criminals themselves (known as “lynching”)

Of course, since it’s the state’s ceremony that matters.

2) Permitting absolutely anybody to own, use, and sell firearms (known as “illicit arms dealing”)

Now you’re bootstrapping. It’s only illicit because you say it is. Otherwise, yes, people don’t need your permission to buy and sell useful things. It’s called “freedom.”

3) Permitting people to hire unlicensed, unqualified armed security (read: “hit men”)

Again, people don’t need your license to secure themselves. Besides, the State’s efforts at security have been a miserable failure.

4) Private-sector court systems available, like any commodity, to the highest bidder (called, “political corruption”)

It’s also called arbitration. And it’s not corrupt if it’s mutually voluntary. I realize that private courts are beyond your present comprehension, but maybe after you understand the rest, we can deal with courts last.

5) Permitting people to hire entire battalions of security forces for protection of property rights and retribution against offenses by rivals (or, as the FBI calls it, “gang warfare”)

How many times have you been directly affected by “gang warfare”? How much of it is CREATED by the unconstitutional “controlled substances” criminal statutes? Besides, do you prefer the government’s battalions of armed forces stealing your property and controlling your economic and personal life on a daily basis?

6) Allowing these “security forces” to purchase tanks, rockets, and heavy artillery, and make use of them at their own discretion (kind of like terrorists)

Sounds like government to me.

7) Unlicensed doctors, untested medicines, and no recourse in a court of law against malpractice

The licensing of doctors has restricted supply for 100+ years and given us astronomical health care costs. As for recourse, we’ll have to wait until you understand the concepts of private courts.

8) Turning education into a commodity for the wealthy, instead of a birthright funded by taxpayers

I see. Birthright. You have the right to force me to educate you. Lovely.

Are there any other birthrights of yours that I shall be required to pay for?

9) No regulations whatsoever on cleanliness or the environment. “I’ll have the mad-cow hamburger, moldy fries, and arsenic-flavored lemonade. Mmm, delicious!”

Ha! If you only knew the extent to which government “safety” regulation made things worse! You do realize that all of those “safety” schemes were bought and paid for by existing industry, don’t you?

10) A lot less scientific innovation. Without universal education, state universities, government scientific research, cloak-and-dagger defense systems, and NASA, (all paid for with “stolen” money, I might add) it is unlikely that the Information Age would be at its current state of progress and blogs like these would exist; then again, that would be the least of your troubles.

Now you are getting crazy. The market, not the government, creates technological innovation. And the market gets smaller and smaller as government grows.

11) Legalized prostitution, drug use, child labor, and practically anything else that could help turn the most prosperous, powerful nation in the world into a third-world hellhole

The US is not the most prosperous nation. Government does nothing to stop prostitution and drug use. Child labor laws were created by unions for their own selfish reasons — to lock out younger competition — thereby forcing many children into prostitution, by the way.

12)Absolutely no national defense structure to protect against foreign invasion. It would actually not be needed. No nation in the world would possibly want to invade, and if they did, we would be better off.

Like courts, national defense is above your head at the moment.

Inquisitor December 20, 2007 at 10:31 am
John December 20, 2007 at 10:53 am

To the non-anarchists reading this thread:

1. Keep in mind that libertarians never suggest that murder, theft, rape, poverty, child abuse, corruption, etc. would not exist in a free society. We argue, correctly, that they would be better dealt with and easier to reduce without the state-socialist law-enforcement monopoly getting in the way. They will always exist in every human society, forever.

2. There would be much fewer of these and other problems in a free society because there would be no state to create and exacerbate hundreds of them.

3. Regarding the argument that robbery and murder would reign in the streets and no one would be deterred from a life of crime without the state to enforce rules: Turns out most people consider it in their self-interest to not get shot and killed.

4. It is not legitimate for individuals and businesses to use firearms to defend their bodies and property? Yes, it is, and it is certainly illegitimate for the majority (mob) to inflict the rest of society with a monopolistic entity that pays no price for being wrong.

5. Um, Bruce Benson has written at least one book about free-market justice systems and procedures that have already existed. Not hypothetical musings from wild-eyed anarchists.

6. For those who still doubt that order, contract enforcement, property protection, and cooperation could even exist, much less flourish, in a free society, you should check out some of the books sold at Mises.org and elsewhere, by Rothbard, Benson, Morris and Linda Tannehill, and de Jasay on anarchic justice systems. Since you are obviously already interested in some aspect of libertarianism because you’re reading this site, I think you’d find them quite intellectually stimulating and psychologically envigorating.

7. If you’d focus your wild imaginations on the possibilities of free-market solutions to justice instead of loony apocalyptic visions of the misery that would be anarcho-capitalism, you’d be pleasantly surprised at the simple but elegant solutions you (and billions of other people) could come up with.

David Van Der Klauw December 20, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Inquisitor, I will question you only about part of your post.

You say “a gang using force to attain whatever ends it cannot achieve via voluntary means. Ergo it must not be tolerated.”

Imagine that you and I live on a bountiful island where many trees grow. You and I use the trees for firewood etc, and so do many visitors (some regulars, many first-timers) on passing ships. There has been no problem there. But one day I realise that each person is always chopping the biggest tree for firewood and hence no really big tree has time to grow. I would like to set-aside some trees to grow really tall so I can build myself a long canoe, or an electricity pole or whatever. It therefore makes sense to form a powerful gang (you and I) to create property rights (these trees are mine) and use force to prevent visitors from accessing these resources.
My questions to you: Have I just described private property and a market? Is this a free market? Is this based upon a gang and force?

You say “The market is what happens when people voluntarily exchange and abstain from the use of force. Spare me the pseudo-progressive BS.”
But my example shows how private property is a restriction and relies on force. The voluntary arrangement is where any visitor can cut-down any tree. I believe you are wrong when you say a market is voluntary and involves no force. I believe a market is the complete opposite of this.

Inquisitor December 20, 2007 at 6:26 pm

To appropriate something you must expend labour and make first use of it (http://www.lewrockwell.com/kinsella/own-ourselves.html), or alternatively offer something in exchange for it. You may defend it with force, just as you may defend your body with force. The only force involved here is defensive, not aggressive. A ‘voluntary’ arrangement of body-ownership, by your standard, would be one where anyone can use my body as they please. Utter rubbish. They may claim neither my body, nor my labour, nor its products. QED.

David Van Der Klauw December 20, 2007 at 6:39 pm

Inquisitor, I don’t understand how your reply answers my questions. I don’t wish to discuss your body. I asked a simple question about the trees on the island.

On the island I don’t wish to expend any labour until the tree is full size. I wish to set-aside some trees so that nobody is allowed to touch them until they grow to full size. I don’t wish to offer anything in exchange for it, because I have nothing to offer and there is nobody to offer it to – except the tree-cutting visitors who will come later. Are you proposing I should pay every visitor not to cut the big tree? That could make it prohibitively expensive to get one lousy long tree.
Please answer the very simply questions I asked about my island and tree example.
1 – Have I just described private property and a market?
2 – Is this a free market?
3 – Is this based upon a gang and force?

Inquisitor December 20, 2007 at 7:02 pm

The body is a scarce resource itself, and thus is property of a form – indeed, the very first form of property. You seem confused; you have every right to _defend_ your own property against theft from others, since you have expended labour and time to make first-use of it. There is nothing unjust about defensive force. You may trade anything you appropriate on a market through exchange.

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