26 May 2011

Policing for Profit

Drug War, Shameless Self-Promotion 102 Comments

I use that video of highway robbery in Tennessee to endorse the Rothbardian view of government. An excerpt:

Although his views are understandably perceived as radical, in essence all Murray Rothbard stated was that politicians and other government officials should be subject to the same legal and moral rules as everybody else. If it’s a crime for, say, Bill Gates to take my money at gunpoint while giving me the latest version of Windows, then why is it acceptable for Barack Obama to take my money at gunpoint while giving me the latest Predator drone attack in Pakistan?

The other “radical” aspect of Rothbardian thought is that he opposed monopolies in police and judicial services. Everybody knows that in normal settings, a monopoly (enforced through the threat of violence) restricts output, reduces quality, and raises prices for the customer. Most people would see the danger and folly of giving a monopoly to, say, a particular car company, or to a single manufacturer of men’s suits. Yet people think it’s perfectly normal to give a monopoly to the group that has all the guns and can decide to throw people in cages for life.

102 Responses to “Policing for Profit”

  1. Lord Keynes says:

    “The other “radical” aspect of Rothbardian thought is that he opposed monopolies in police and judicial services … Yet people think it’s perfectly normal to give a monopoly to the group that has all the guns and can decide to throw people in cages for life.

    The answer is given by R. G. Holcombe, 2004. “Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable,” Independent Review 8.3: 325–342.

    Private protection firms would in fact have an incentive to victimise potential customers to increase market share. Violence of the type that already happens between private mafia groups might occur. A natural monopoly would probably develop as the most powerful firm drove its competitors out of business (or a cartel might become dominant), and one would be left with a de facto state, the very thing anarcho-capitalism sought to abolish!

    Moreover, the power relations in an anarcho-capitalist society would appear to be rather like feudalism, with no sense of the common good. If history is any guide, a movement towards anarcho-capitalism might well result in the kind of incessant violence and warfare between private warlords/protection agencies, as in medieval feudalism.

    • Zack A says:

      LK,

      How could they “victimize” potential customers? They need to treat their customers well to even stay in business in the first place. I would argue that private protection firms have an incentive to protect the property rights of their clients, and treat them well because if they don’t, consumers will leave the firm and seek out a firm that does not abuse them and better protects their property rights. Abusing your customers is bad for business.

      There is no one person with the all knowing knowledge of the “common good.” Value is subjective, and people will vote in the marketplace with their dollars for things that they feel are “good” without some omnipotent state imposing it on them.

      If property rights are protected securely by private firms, who have an incentive to do so in the first place, I don’t see why violence and warfare would emerge at all in a free society. Violence and warfare emerge in real life, between nation states. They are a product of government. Millions of people have died throughout history because of it. Statism is deadly.

      • Lord Keynes says:

        “How could they “victimize” potential customers?”

        Precisely as the mafia does – a real world example of free market “protection.”

        “There is no one person with the all knowing knowledge of the “common good.” Value is subjective, and people will vote in the marketplace with their dollars for things that they feel are “good” without some omnipotent state imposing it on them. “

        Economic value and morality are 2 different things. Don’t conflate them.

        • sandre says:

          Precisely as the mafia does – a real world example of free market “protection.”

          Mafia’s don’t exist in a stateless environment. They are extremely strong in places where overbearing bureaucracy creates incentives conduct business through black markets.

          • Lord Keynes says:

            Name me one stateless environment where mafias does’t exist. Please…

            • crossofcrimson says:

              I’m not aware of any geographical land-masses that aren’t wrought with the legacy of state institutions. If you’ve found a level playing field from which a stateless society has sprung, let me know.

    • Jeremy says:

      I think the major difference is choice.

      People paying “protection” to the mafia don’t have a choice of which family to pay. If they did they would probably choose the one that allows the most peaceful continuation of business. Nobody would patronize a family that constantly brought violence to their area.

      The same holds true for the feudalism comparison. If serfs could choose who to work for don’t you think they would choose the one that has the least chance of getting them killed?

      Any private police or protection firm that gained a reputation for being heavy handed or even unscrupulous wouldn’t receive much business and would be subject to constant lawsuits from those being victimized.

      Unlike the state monopoly on police I imagine the courts could actually accomplish something to deter officers acting in such ways. As it is now jack booted thugs get paid vacation, or even if they’re fired by the city the police still stick up for them:
      http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7582320.html

      “On a mid-June day last year, Houston Mayor Annise Parker stood next to Police Chief Charles McClelland in a press conference and sternly announced the firings of seven Houston police officers in connection with the assault of a suspect in March 2010.”

      “Despite the public flogging, records from the state commission that licenses cops show nary a blemish on those officers’ records. They could walk into any police department in Texas to apply for a job, and potential employers would never know from the commission records that they were disciplined following the assault of Chad Holley.”

      • Lord Keynes says:

        “Any private police or protection firm that gained a reputation for being heavy handed or even unscrupulous wouldn’t receive much business and would be subject to constant lawsuits from those being victimized. “

        And it’s truely interesting that you think private and privately enforced lawsuits would have any effect on a powerful protection agency unwilling to apply. Suppose there is a cartel and they conspire to prevent enforcement?

  2. Daniel Hewitt says:

    LK,

    Are you willing to apply the same criticisms to public protection firms?

    http://lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory213.html

    • Lord Keynes says:

      The public law enforcement monoply has the safeguards of a democractic state with a legislature, judicial oversight bodies and public opinion. Private protection firms in an anarcho-capitlism system have no such safeguards.

      • sandre says:

        The public law enforcement monoply has the safeguards of a democractic state with a legislature, judicial oversight bodies and public opinion.

        That’s gives me no comfort. You should see the government run mafia in India, with all the mafia run judicial oversight bodies and, of course, public opinion with extremely short memories.

        • Lord Keynes says:

          Then look at a country where law enforcement is competent, non-corrupt and effective, as in a lot of Western European states or Canada etc

          • sandre says:

            What makes the system in Western European states or Canada better? What caused the Bismarckian welfare states to go berserk at the beginning of the century? What’s the guarantee that current arrangement permanently stable?

            • Lord Keynes says:

              Good Institutions? Years of rule of law and good public oversight? They are wealthy countries where poverty is not a big issue. Public officials get paid well?
              Shall I go on??

              And your last question has now degenerated into absurdity.

              You might as well ask: what’s the guarantee we wont all be wiped out tomorrow by a plague?? That we are in fact living in a “Matrix” world??

            • sandre says:

              beginning of 20th century?

              • sandre says:

                Good Institutions? Years of rule of law and good public oversight? They are wealthy countries where poverty is not a big issue. Public officials get paid well?

                Why do they have good institutions? Why are they wealthy?

                what’s the guarantee we wont all be wiped out tomorrow by a plague??

                Whats the point of good institutions if it can’t provide better welfare, freedom, and social order?

      • RG says:

        The market safeguard is competition ready to treat your customers better than you. It’s the same type of safeguard that has made your current computer better than the Apple II you used back in the mid 80′s.

        The legislature is a state appendage as is judicial oversight. It is in their interest to drive law enforcement prices higher while delivering less service at lower quality.

        You should really give Hoppe’s collection a thurough analysis before spouting absurdities.

        • Lord Keynes says:

          “The market safeguard is competition ready to treat your customers better than you.”

          And it is precisely thepoint that a cartel or monoply could result in a free market in protection that invaides that assuption.

          Have you never heard of monoplies developing on a free market naturally?

      • Dan says:

        Well, cased closed. For some reason the only way to have judicial oversight or public opinion is if you have wise overlords.

        Could you imagine how corrupt competing police agencies would be? They would probably be able to kill an unarmed 14 year old kid after he punched another kid at the bus stop. I bet he would just get put behind a desk without even a charge against him. It wouldnt even matter if he had been suspended 4 times before that. No wait, that just happened in our statist wonderland.
        http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/88698.html

  3. Blackadder says:

    I take the Tennessee cop video to be a rebuttal to Rothbard’s views. Rothbard thinks that “government is a gang of thieves writ large.” And yet, seeing government officials actually acting like a gang of thieves is shocking in a way that, say, seeing cops hand out speeding tickets is not. It’s shocking even to anarchists like Bob who profess to see no moral difference between the two cases.

    • RG says:

      I think it safe to say that even private owners of roads would hand out fines and such for not behaving per your driving contract (e.g. speeding). Although I have no control over the rules of the state “owned” roads, I can expect the market to drive the rules, fines, and prices of the private roads.

      This is quite a bit different than state agents stealing property on the state roads. Privately owned roads would generate lots of competition if they decided to steal from their customers.

      • Blackadder says:

        I think it safe to say that even private owners of roads would hand out fines and such for not behaving per your driving contract (e.g. speeding).

        Correct. So when governments do the same thing, they aren’t actually acting like a gang of thieves writ large.

        • crossofcrimson says:

          “So when governments do the same thing, they aren’t actually acting like a gang of thieves writ large.”

          Yes. If you aggress against me so that I may only patron your store and not the stores of others, you are still a thief – even if I need to and do eat the food.

          Although, I think there’s value in separating what would be legitimate interaction, would it have been voluntary, from illegitimate action in either case (I believe Rothbard does this). For instance, a policeman stopping an assault – legitimate action through illegitimate means. A policeman stopping you from drinking a Coke – illegitimate action through illegitimate means.

          • Blackadder says:

            crossofcrimson,

            What Bob said was: More generally, the report is a perfect vindication of the Rothbardian point that, in a very real sense, government is a gang of thieves writ large.

            That’s not true. Not only does the video not vindicate Rothbard, but it illustrates that we react to actual highway robbery by government officials quite differently than we react to ordinary government activity (this is true even of anarchists).

            Now, maybe there are other arguments out there proving that, contrary to appearances all government action is illegitimate. But those arguments don’t have anything to do with the Tennessee video.

            • crossofcrimson says:

              “That’s not true. Not only does the video not vindicate Rothbard,”

              Yes, it is, and yes, it does (at least within the Rothbardian framework). What makes them a thieves is that they’re forcing you to purchase the service or product.

              If I’m standing by the side of the road forcing cars and gunpoint to slow down, pull over, and buy fruit from my stand, that is stealing. Pointing out that I may voluntarily pay for such a service privately and at my will does not remove the involuntary nature of the action at hand.

              As I stated in a previous response, yes – there is a difference between legitimate and illegitimate action (in terms of ends). But constitutive parts of that action must be accounted for as well . Buying a TV from Walmart is a peaceful, voluntary transaction – commerce. Being forced at the point of a gun by a Walmart employee to purchase a TV is an aggressive non-voluntary transaction – theft.

              • crossofcrimson says:

                Sorry for the hopeless (hapless?) grammar.

              • Blackadder says:

                If I’m standing by the side of the road forcing cars and gunpoint to slow down, pull over, and buy fruit from my stand, that is stealing.

                Quite right. If you heard that cops were doing this, I can only assume that you would be shocked and disturbed. I submit, however, that you would not be similarly shocked and disturbed if you heard that the government had installed toll booth along the same road.

                On a visceral level you recognize that the two situations are not the same, even if on an intellectual level you can’t see the difference.

                Maybe this visceral reaction is deceptive. Perhaps Rothbard is correct and the government operating toll roads is morally no different from a guy stopping your car and robbing you at gunpoint. But it is bizarre to point to one’s visceral reactions as proof than Rothbard is right when if anything they show just the opposite.

              • crossofcrimson says:

                If your point is one about behavior, culture, environment, etc., then it’s a different discussion altogether. I can buy that people can buy into such actions being legitimate….not only because they’ve been taught to believe that their whole life, but because they still believe it to be true. That, of course, doesn’t begin to really touch on the actual ethical or philosophical efficacy of the action though, I would contend. There are many things throughout the annals of history that bear a great majority seeing nothing wrong in what we today would find particularly disturbing. If you’re simply making a historical footnote, I’ll step asside.

                If you’re saying that our emotional reactions justify or excuse the actions as actually legitimate, however, then we need to roll back to the principle of the thing – which I think, clearly, shows that there is a quite a difference between being forced to purchase something and voluntarily purchasing something.

              • Blackadder says:

                crossofcrimson,

                Of course there is a difference between being forced to purchase something and voluntarily purchasing something. But there is also a difference between what is shown in the Tennessee video and police giving out speeding tickets.

              • crossofcrimson says:

                If you want to talk about the video specifically, then that’s fine. But I was directly addressing this previous comment and the reply you made to it:

                Previous:

                “I think it safe to say that even private owners of roads would hand out fines and such for not behaving per your driving contract (e.g. speeding).”

                You:

                “Correct. So when governments do the same thing, they aren’t actually acting like a gang of thieves writ large.”

              • Blackadder says:

                crossofcrimson,

                Well yes. If you want to point me to examples of an actual gang of thieves handing out speeding tickets, I ‘d love to see it.

                Most of what the government does does not actually resemble the behavior of a gang of thieves. Showcasing the rare instances in which they go act that way only underscores that fact.

              • bobmurphy says:

                BA, now you’re just being silly. Most of what the mafia does, does not actually “resemble the behavior of a gang of thieves.” Most of it is voluntary commerce.

                Anyway, the whole point of Rothbard making that statement is to shock people, to get them to realize that the “normal” and “legitimate” actions of government are in fact criminal. I get it, I get it, you don’t think they are, and most people agree with you right now.

              • Austro-Liberatarian says:

                @Blackadder:
                “‘If I’m standing by the side of the road forcing cars and [sic] gunpoint to slow down, pull over, and buy fruit from my stand, that is stealing.’
                Quite right. If you heard that cops were doing this, I can only assume that you would be shocked and disturbed.”

                So, how come you are not shocked and disturbed when federal agents come take me at gunpoint so that they can put me in a cage for not “paying” taxes to buy the behemoth government we have today?

              • Blackadder says:

                Austro-Libertarian,

                Let’s take a specific case. Wesley Snipes is currently in jail for not paying taxes. Suppose that, instead of being in jail someone had kidnapped Snipes and was keeping them in a cage in their basement.

                Are you honestly going to tell me you would be equally shocked and disturbed about both cases?

              • crossofcrimson says:

                “Are you honestly going to tell me you would be equally shocked and disturbed about both cases?”

                I’m not trying to nitpick here – but if you mean “shocked” as in “surprised that something happened” then I think all of us can put down the argument. I’m not “shocked” when someone who’s been repeatedly convicted of the same crime continues to repeat said crime. Would us not being shocked by the criminals continued propensity to do such make it qualitatively different from the same action(s) undertaken by people we would have been more “shocked” by had they done it?

              • Austro-Liberatarian says:

                Blackadder,
                “Let’s take a specific case. Wesley Snipes is currently in jail for not paying taxes. Suppose that, instead of being in jail someone had kidnapped Snipes and was keeping them in a cage in their basement.
                Are you honestly going to tell me you would be equally shocked and disturbed about both cases?”
                1) No. But that doesn’t matter. Feelings don’t decide morality. An example: In ancient Rome, it was perfectly acceptable if a man committed adultery, but if a woman did so, it would have been perfectly acceptable for her husband to beat her, even to the point of death. Just because that was acceptable back then does not mean that it’s morally permissible. It’s the same with your example above – my (or your) personal feelings on it do not make it good/bad. Also, I think that the only reason that I am not equally shocked by both is because I have become hardened to people getting severely punished for trying to protect their income from thieves.
                2) You’re dodging my question. Let me rephrase it to make that harder to do.
                If someone were to tell you “Hey, give me 30% of your income or I bring men with big guns and drag you into jail!”, how is that different from a 30% income tax (exempting trivialities such as “hey, the IRS doesn’t actually come and tell you ‘hey, give us…’”)?

        • RG says:

          They are acting like a gang of thieves – they set prices and regulations that the market would not bear. Therefore they steal (divert) resources from their most effective uses. Even if they come close or even accidentally trip upon the actual market rate of a specific price, the guy that set the price is not making a market wage.

          • Blackadder says:

            RG,

            Have you ever been robbed? (I mean actually literally robbed, not in a “the government taxed me!” sort of way)

          • RG says:

            Yes, and there is not difference. I see on my paycheck that someone took my possessions without my permission.

            • MamMoTh says:

              No, you are just paying down the debt you voluntarily contracted with the government of the country where you voluntarily decided to live.

              • crossofcrimson says:

                “No, you are just paying down the debt you voluntarily contracted with the government of the country where you voluntarily decided to live.”

                Ah, that’s so strange. It just happens by circumstance that you’ve agreed to wear a funny had by living (voluntarily) where you live. Can we come arrest you now?

              • James E. Miller says:

                And this is where I tend to disagree. I may be voluntarily living here (though I am limited in my financial means to leave), I don’t see that as an excuse to just accept what is given to me by the government.

                I am only 23, so I know all the spending on entitlements is bankrupting my generation. People my age are too oblivious to give a crap and see it, so a decent voting bloc can’t be formed to stop it. People that do vote are in favor of such programs I know I most likely won’t get to see. That is the fallacy of democracy, the majority takes advantage of the minority by the sheer fact that they are the majority.

                I have a hard time accepting that I am contractually obliged to go along with my government. A pen and paper weren’t put in my hand as soon as I busted out of mother’s womb and I haven’t signed a contract since. I guess you could say my parents did for me, but correct me if I am wrong, they had no choice in me getting a birth certificate or SS number. It is done automatically I believe.

                I understand your point, and you are right to some extent, but opting out of said contract has become incredibly difficult. I did sign up for my passport the other day which was relatively easy, but from what I have heard, the form is about to get a lot more complex.

              • James E. Miller says:

                My message above was directed at MamMoth, just so there is no confusion.

              • MamMoTh says:

                Ok James, I understand your point too. I think the real problem is that opting out is not that easy, although it’s relatively easy for an American compared to an African.

                I wish people could just move freely to wherever they would like to live instead of being stuck where they were born.

              • James E. Miller says:

                Agreed, I think we would all be happy if we were able to move about from country to country without many impediments.

              • RG says:

                If that was the case, I could end my voluntary contract and tell them to take their business elsewhere.

                Using your “logic”, slaves are voluntary laborers.

              • Avram says:

                @MamMoTh

                There is nothing voluntary about accepting a country’s laws.

                You think if you don’t like a country you can just walk out to the next one just like that?

                Have you ever lived in a place full of poverty, hunger, kissed by the fires of war, where men were so desparate they’d gut you for a loaf of bread if no one was around? Do you know what “voluntarily” trying to change your country in such a place costs you? A bullet in your brain that’s what. How do you think people feel “voluntarily” giving up half of what little they made in a year to support their “voluntarily contracted debt”

                No. Good. So keep your mouth shut you naive sheltered WASP.

                How fast you stupid westerners are moving down toward socialism, its only been 20 years. You even call it “social democracy” and endear it. It would be amusing if it weren’t so tragic.

              • bobmurphy says:

                Avram, you’re getting a bit testy here…

              • MamMoTh says:

                @Avram

                I have, actually.

                You think you are going to make me shut up?

                Try that, face to face.

              • Avram says:

                Fine, if you say you have, you have.

                But then pray tell how you can possibly say “the debt you *voluntarily contracted* with the government of the country where you *voluntarily decided to live*” if you know that you can’t voluntarily decide to live anywhere, because when you try to live where you want to live some guy shoots at you?

                Seriously how can you say that are you blind, stupid, or what?

                Or were you in the party?

              • Avram says:

                @Bob

                You are correct and my apologies. I will take my time out in the corner now.

            • Blackadder says:

              RG,

              Are you telling me that your reaction upon learning that your car had been broken into (or whatever happened) was the same as when you get your paycheck every other week and notice that payroll taxes have been deducted?

              If you can honestly say that your reaction is the same then all I can say is that your reaction is not typical, even for self-professed anarchists.

              • James E. Miller says:

                His degree of reaction I don’t see as very relevant if you regard theft as the the taking of your possessions without your permission.

              • Dan says:

                I’ve had my car broken into as well. My reaction was only different in that I expect the government to steal from me and fear for my life if I resist. When my car was broken into I felt just as disgusted as when I look at my taxes being taken. I also didn’t even call the cops when my car was broken into. I didn’t want to risk a confrontation with a criminal with a badge.

              • RG says:

                No, I’m much more scared and outraged by the a-holes that steal half my earnings from me every week as opposed to the one time someone took a DVD without returning it.

    • Scott says:

      “And yet, seeing government officials actually acting like a gang of thieves is shocking in a way that, say, seeing cops hand out speeding tickets is not. It’s shocking even to anarchists like Bob who profess to see no moral difference between the two cases.”

      Good point. You seem to make a lot of good points.

      To me, this looks like the fallout of one of those cases of trying to turn everything into a business to make it efficient. Not every place is appropriate for the ‘business model.’

      To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose…and all of that.

  4. Bob Roddis says:

    The owners of the private road probably wouldn’t allow criminals or even dopers on the road or in the area in the first place. Pursuant to contract, criminals (or people who breach the equivalent of homeowner’s association agreements) could be fined or banished. Children could be protected from ever meeting a doper, much less learning the trade,or how to inhale.

    The entire drug war with its attendant gang bangers is the result of the inability under our “progressive” social democracy to just avoid the druggies by employing private property and contractual arrangements. Such avoidance will get you sued and defamed as a racist or worse.

    Drug warriors love gang bangers.

    And Republican warmongers hate the troops.

    And “progressive” Obama supporters hate the innocent victims of Obama’s drone missile attacks.

    Just so you know.

    • Blackadder says:

      Pursuant to contract, criminals (or people who breach the equivalent of homeowner’s association agreements) could be fined or banished.

      Which proves my point. If private roads would hand out speeding tickets, etc., then when the government does this it isn’t acting like a gang of thieves. The same is true for most of what the government does (at least in developed countries).

      • Bob Roddis says:

        A speeding ticket is a different animal than a drug bust or government theft of a bundle of cash unrelated to a REAL CRIME like murder or theft.

        Since voluntary arrangements can solve all of these supposed problems, what’s your excuse for the initiation of force?

      • Bob Roddis says:

        Just so we don’t spend another 38 years, 4 months on definitions, my question to statists is always some form of: Why call the cops if voluntary, contractual and private property arrangements can solve societal problems? That goes for private policing as well as central bank money dilution.

        What problem do you think you see that can’t be solved by voluntary contractual arrangements? Why call the SWAT team?

        • Blackadder says:

          Bob Roddis,

          Libertarian arguments against the government doing X can be divided roughly into two categories:

          (1) Arguments that the government shouldn’t do X because voluntary arrangements would do a better job of performing that function.

          (2) Arguments that the government shouldn’t do X because all government action is inherently immoral and evil.

          I’m sympathetic to a lot of arguments in the first category. Arguments in the second category generally strike me as being kind of crazy.

          Rothbard’s argument that the government is a gang of thieves writ large is a category two argument. Responding to my criticism of it with category one arguments doesn’t rebut my criticism.

          If you want to concede (even just for the sake of argument) that Rothbard’s moral argument fails, then I’m happy to discuss practical arguments about the relative merits of public vs. private roads or police. But it won’t have much to do with my original criticism.

          • James E. Miller says:

            From what I have seen of your arguments on this post, the Rothbard claim of the state being robbery writ large comes down to two things: The state derives its resources through taxation which is regarded as theft because its coercive and that the state has a monopoly over things such as roads and general police protection.

            • Blackadder says:

              James,

              I am familiar with Rothbard’s moral arguments against the state. As I suggested above, I don’t find such arguments particularly convincing.

              Suppose that we had some private roads patrolled by private security guards, and it turned out that the security firm was stopping drivers and shaking them down. If someone said “see, this just vindicates my view that markets are inherently illegitimate, and that there’s no moral difference between McDonald’s and the Klu Klux Klan” this would not be a compelling argument. It doesn’t become compelling just because it’s a different ox that’s getting gored.

              • James E. Miller says:

                I think the difference comes down to choice and the ability to opt out. You can opt out of businesses in the private sector but not the public sector unless you leave the country.

              • Blackadder says:

                I think the difference comes down to choice and the ability to opt out. You can opt out of businesses in the private sector but not the public sector unless you leave the country.

                Well, you can’t opt out of the rules of Disneyland without leaving Disneyland either, but all that’s beside the point. Maybe Rothbard is right that the state is inherently evil. My point is that the videos don’t show that he’s right. If anything, they suggest that he is wrong.

              • Dan says:

                How does a video showing government officials shaking people down show Rothbard is incorrect to call them thieves? If videos showing the government take people’s money without cause doesn’t support our position what kind of video would?

              • Blackadder says:

                How does a video showing government officials shaking people down show Rothbard is incorrect to call them thieves?

                The videos show what real thievery by government officials looks like.

              • Dan says:

                Ok, I get the point you’re trying to make but I don’t think it’s right. If Bernanke went and put $10 billion in his bank account we would be shocked. This would not mean that when they pass money to GS that they are vindicated because now we see what real thievery is.

          • MamMoTh says:

            I know I might be doing a disservice to you, but totally agree with you.

            • James E. Miller says:

              Ha, another sign that MMTers and Austrians have more in common than they think.

          • Bob Roddis says:

            Blackadder,

            I’m easy. I’ll take the Nozickian minimal state for 30 years at which point we can all decide on whether going the next step makes sense. Meanwhile, private alternatives can be established by way of “opting out”, for example schools and private neighborhoods.

            You can keep the major roads and national defense in the hands of the government for the short run. Sounds like a fair trade-off, right?

            • Blackadder says:

              Bob Roddis,

              Sounds great. Where do I sign?

      • David says:

        The concept of “voluntary” is what you are not considering.

        The difference comes in that the private road and security is voluntary, whereas the government version is coercive. They may be employing similar tactics (this is speculative, I’d think the private roads would be forced to maintain a higher degree of liberalism in driving), but the degree of choice in going from a state service to a private service increases from 1 choice to infinite choices.

        • Blackadder says:

          The difference comes in that the private road and security is voluntary, whereas the government version is coercive.

          The difference between cops handing out speeding tickets and cops shaking down drivers is not that one is voluntary and the other isn’t. Both are done by the government and hence aren’t voluntary in the Rothbardian conception.

  5. Bob Roddis says:

    Detroit, Michigan, my home town.

    Destroyed by the “progressive” policies of the social democrats of both parties which impaired private property, contracts and savings and had the expected results.

    1. Compulsory attendance and taxation for “local” government schools gives us a city with a 50% illiteracy rate.

    2. The drug war producing hordes of murderous gang bangers.

    3. Freeway ditches dug through existing black neighborhoods using eminent domain and taxes to help subsidize suburban sprawl, helped along by funny money dilution.

    4. Distortion of the capital structure by funny money dilution impairing the auto industry and other capital intensive industries.

    5. Government enforced union rules allowing unions to essentially impose excessive wage rates upon local manufacturing companies.

    A photo essay of “progressive” destruction:

    http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1882089_1850973,00.html

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    A brilliant group of the benevolent order of donut eaters have slaughtered a former marine:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/25/jose-guerena-arizona-_n_867020.html

    Under a contractual police arrangement, the killers would probably be liable for civil damages if not some form of criminal action initiated by relatives of the victim.

    Again, what is that problem that contractual arrangements cannot solve?

    • Daniel Hewitt says:

      Strange how it’s always the public security employees who do this kind of thing, despite their being outnumbered by their private counterparts.

  7. RS says:

    This is the best rebuttal of Rothbardian anarchy that I have read thus far…

    http://www.hblist.com/anarchy.htm

    • Bob Roddis says:
      • RS says:

        and is this site not a perpetual pissing contest between Mises and Keynes? was there point you were trying to make?

        • RG says:

          Statists vs. Anarchists

          That is the only argument.

    • crossofcrimson says:

      I think when I (personally) can refute about every other sentence in a piece, I can safely say it doesn’t constitute much of a rebuttal to anything…let alone the best. Any ANCAP from Murphy to Long could (and generally have) made most of those objections look pretty silly.

      • RS says:

        Any cartoonist can also portray anything as appearing silly, that does not make it true.

        • crossofcrimson says:

          That’s exactly what I felt when I read the linked piece.

          I’m going to walk through the piece (later) when I have more time and knock it down line by line. There are plenty of arguments that I’m simply not smart enough to touch – I’ll openly admit that. No such arguments appear in this piece fortunately.

    • RS says:

      This paragraph is especially poignant in that it shows one of the many inherent contradictions in the idea of conflating concepts that refer to market actions vs concepts that refer to political actions.

      “By their talk of “competition” in the context of government, these “libertarian” anarchists endorse the statists’ equation of production and force (see “The Nature of Government”). “Competition” is an economic, not a political, concept; it refers to the voluntary exchange of values, not to the exchange of gunfire.”

    • RG says:

      Wow, what a great thinker. To be protected, I must give up my ability to protect myself. Genius!

  8. Bob Roddis says:

    Just another little cartoon explaining why we need the government because voluntary arrangements just won’t work:

    http://reasonandjest.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/politically-incorrect-cartoon.jpg

  9. RG says:

    You’re either a statist or you’re not. There is no degree of government. Either you have ultimate say over what you can or can’t do with your body and property or you don’t, there is no “limited” slavery.

  10. Avram says:

    Private law enforcement only works if poor people can sell their law suits (and thus all benefits from them) to rich people. This way a competing firm always gets an advantage when its rival becomes abusive.

    • crossofcrimson says:

      “Private law enforcement only works if poor people can sell their law suits (and thus all benefits from them) to rich people.”

      I don’t understand why this would necessarily be true. I could imagine several different setups for arbitration. It seems to me the loser of a case could easily be made to compensate the other for the lawyer’s fees in addition to any criminal compensation.

      • RG says:

        You wouldn’t want to be the person that refused to compensate after a judgment. It would be hard to find people to trade with.

  11. bobmurphy says:

    Some quick points touching on much of the above discussion:

    (1) Blackadder, if someone told you (a) your best friend was shot by a mugger and died versus (b) someone in Bangladesh was shot by a mugger and died, would you be equally shocked and disturbed? Of course not. So does that mean there is a significant moral difference between the two? Of course not.

    (2) Of course the government isn’t merely a gang of thieves writ large. The government actually is far more dangerous than a mere gang of thieves, precisely because of the legitimacy that most of the public ascribes to it. So that means the government has to do a bunch of things that a run of the mill criminal gang wouldn’t do, and it also means a different type of person can go into government service.

    I’ve had this argument with Gene before. The point of saying “taxation is theft” isn’t because an-caps like to walk around uttering truisms. We’re not stretching our minds out before we tackle some math problems. No, we’re saying it to try to get people to realize it’s not OK for the government to take money out of your paycheck. You should be outraged by it, and yet you’re not (for various reasons). So to say, “You must be wrong, I’m not outraged by it” is a rather odd defense.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Another few points BA:

      (3) In 20 years, I think this type of video won’t shock American anymore. At that point, when a few intrepid people catch cops pulling people over and gang raping them, someone named Mr. Bean on a blog will say, “This video proves our government isn’t criminal. I mean, we are all shocked by seeing it gang rape motorists, and so the contrast between that and confiscating drug money is quite stark.”

      (4) In North Korea, the title of Kim was “dear leader.” He didn’t call himself “kingpin.” They had nonstop propaganda. So even in the most despotic regimes, the government doesn’t act like a typical criminal gang, in the way you mean.