16 Jan 2014

Potpourri

Bitcoin, Potpourri 175 Comments

==> Reisenwitz vs. Borowski, settling things the way libertarians always do: through voting.

==> Why your iPhone footage from Europe has a weird strobe light effect.

==> John Carney looks at a Fed paper that (implicitly) challenges Austrian business cycle theory.

==> NYT on Edward Snowden (from a couple of weeks ago, I just haven’t posted it yet). I think some in even the mainstream media realize the danger in letting government crack down on whistleblowers.

==> Some in the Bitcoin controversies asked me to read this essay (by Niels van der Linden). They claimed that Rothbard botched things, and needed to go back to Menger, when it came to understanding the demand for media of exchange. The only real issue I see in this article, is the claim that when a commodity comes to be demanded as a medium of exchange, this wouldn’t actually increase the total demand for it. (In the standard Rothbardian treatment, there is a snowball effect as more and more people increase their demand for it.) The reason, according to van der Linden, is that you would just be substituting one person’s demand for another. For example, if I acquire a goat not because I want to consume it, but because I will trade it away down the road, then sure, my demand went up by “one goat” but then the person to whom I trade it will now reduce his demand from the rest of the community by “one goat” (since he’s getting the goat from me).

I see what the issue is here, but I don’t think it works. People hold media of exchange for a length of time, and sometimes not having specific future exchanges in mind. Think of it this way: If the whole community is walking around with gold coins in their pockets, and this was facilitated in part because there are a fraction of them who wear gold as necklaces, it is nonetheless true that the community is holding more total gold than would have been the case had gold not been adopted as money. It’s not the case that each gold coin is merely a shifting forward of that gold’s destiny as a commodity.

175 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Bob Roddis says:

    I think John Carney has the correct explanation:

    They [Mises and Hayek] were writing about a time when currencies were backed by gold and exchange rates tended to be fixed. Without those constraints, prevailing interest rates do not directly signal anything about current savings and future consumption. Instead, they reflect policy-makers’ views on things like what rate will bring about both price stability and low unemployment.

    This means that interest rates aren’t really very good at communicating to CFOs what to expect in the future. And, in turn, would mean that CFOs wouldn’t rely much on interest rates when making plans for the future.

    As I recall, in 2009, most Austrians predicted years and years of bad times due to super low interest rates which signaled nothing more than the fact that Keynesian insanity was controlling economic policy as far as the eye could see.

    • Dan (DD5) says:

      Yes well, it’s only too bad that CFO’s (or CEO’s or whatever other managerial title you would like) do not invest anything since they are not the capitalists/entrepreneurs but mere subordinates of them. So if you are going to conduct a survey instead of doing actual scientific work then at least conduct it on the right population.

      • Chaddery says:

        I thought the same thing, Dan. Why survey employees who have little to no skin in the game.

      • Lord Keynes says:

        “Yes well, it’s only too bad that CFO’s (or CEO’s or whatever other managerial title you would like) do not invest anything since they are not the capitalists/entrepreneurs but mere subordinates of them.”I

        That is plain stupidity. In virtually all public companies, owners/capitalists — the stockholders — are not making investment decisions: the managers/CEOs are.

        More shocking evidence from the real world:

        “The CEO Confidence Survey researches CEOs’ views on obstacles to hiring new workers, reasons for layoffs, concerns about their industry and the economy, including their short-term and long-term economic outlooks. CEOs are regarded as people who have the power to make large investment decisions that can impact the economy as a whole. This is why the CEO Confidence Survey can provide investors and traders with valuable insight into economic conditions. “

        http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/ceoconfidencesurvey.asp

        • Ben B says:

          But they don’t make the decision on whether to invest or consume; investment for them is a given. Hence, they are subordinate to the suppliers of capital…capitalists. So strictly speaking, they don’t invest anything.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Not entirely accurate. CEOs/CFOs can always have influence in raising or lowering dividends, which may go to consumption instead of investment. So there is some attenuation there. Some time preference.

            • Dan(DD5) says:

              MF: “….So there is some attenuation there. Some time preference.”

              Nobody contended that they don’t influence on raising or lowering capital. CEO/CFO’s do not invest or save(as part of their functional roll as managers). They do not affect the societal time preference other then their own. I mean sure, the CEO of General Electric, who may be perceived as knowing his sh#t, can scare off his shareholders by declaring that it’s the end of the world or something, and people then go off and become more present oriented out of fear. But so can Barak Obama have such an influence. Why not survey him also according to this line of reasoning.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                “Nobody contended that they don’t influence on raising or lowering capital.”

                Ben B contended:

                “But they don’t make the decision on whether to invest or consume; investment for them is a given.”

                “CEO/CFO’s do not invest or save(as part of their functional roll as managers). They do not affect the societal time preference other then their own.”

                Their own time preference affects what you are referring to as “societal time preference.”

                Societal time preference is just the term Austrians use to refer to the collection of all individual time preferences. There is no time preference in reality other than individual time preferences.

        • Tel says:

          Hmmm, the article is of such high quality that no one even wanted to put their name to it.

          The sentence you highlighted is just an opinion, and stated with no justification whatsoever.

        • Chaddery says:

          Ad hominem and Investopedia. I guess that ends the debate. You’ve changed my opinion Maynard.

          Not really, of course, Ask any capitalist — you know, that inconsequential peon whose investment created a CFO/CEO job — if interest rates matter. Dollars to donuts it does.

          By the way, I’ve worked with Investopedia in the past. Their articles are written mostly by 20-something no-nothings who work for virtually nothing.

        • Hank says:

          I would like to clear something up.

          In economics, we are talking about individual actions, not the person themselves.

          Whether or not a person is a CEO, this person may or may not engage in actions that relate to entrepreneurial activity or managerial activity.

          Its the actions themselves that matter. We need not construct this imaginary “person” who is a CEO and therefore only engages in managerial activity. This person may theoretically engage in any market activity.

    • Lord Keynes says:

      “They [Mises and Hayek] were writing about a time when currencies were backed by gold and exchange rates tended to be fixed. Without those constraints, prevailing interest rates do not directly signal anything about current savings and future consumption.”

      Even with a gold standard,interest rates are not signalling any reliable information about current savings and future consumption plans, because interest rates are a monetary — not a real — phenomenon. And as Keynes noted:

      “An act of individual savings means –so to speak – a decision not to have dinner to-day. But it does not necessitate a decision to have dinner or to buy a pair of boots a week hence or a year hence or to consume any specified thing at any specified date. Thus it depresses the business of preparing to-day’s dinner without stimulating the business of making ready for some future act of consumption.” (Keynes 1936: 210).

      • Bob Roddis says:

        Unless you live in a Keynesian Kleptocracy, people gotta save before they can spend. If they’ve saved a lot, there are ways to determine if they are inclined to spend it and on what. Whether they feel like spending or not is none of the government’s business and is certainly not the cause of any crisis that requires the type police action required to enforce Keynesian mandates.

        I’m ready to go to the public with “you need savings in order to spend”. You can go to the public with your hoax. As usual, your whole line of argument is nonsense. Other people can argue with you about this. See ya.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        “Even with a gold standard,interest rates are not signalling any reliable information about current savings and future consumption plans, because interest rates are a monetary — not a real — phenomenon.”

        Incorrect. The liquidity preference of interest is fundamentally flawed. Interest rates are a phenomenon that arises out of time preference.

        If “liquidity preference rises”, interest rates are not necessarily affected, because there could be a reduction in both consumption AND investment spending, which leaves the difference between the two, and hence profits, and hence interest, unchanged.

        Money abstracted from real goods is not even money at all. All pure “monetary theories” are not economic theories.

        “An act of individual savings means –so to speak – a decision not to have dinner to-day. But it does not necessitate a decision to have dinner or to buy a pair of boots a week hence or a year hence or to consume any specified thing at any specified date. Thus it depresses the business of preparing to-day’s dinner without stimulating the business of making ready for some future act of consumption.”

        Keynes, as many writers have already shown, constantly confused cash hoarding with saving. Saving is the use of money for purposes other than consumption, in a context of exchanges. Exchanges are where interest rates and prices are formed. Saving is not holding onto money earned. But even if you want to semantically call cash holding “saving”, it still does not follow that the rate of “saving” to spending is the ultimate driver of interest rates.

        People earn and hold money for the purposes of acquiring real goods and services later on. If they hold more money because of uncertainty, that is still holding money for the purposes of acquiring goods and services later on. The fact that money held NOW is not spent NOW, does not “depress business”, nor does it fail to “stimulate future consumption”, provided of course the increased cash holding comes at the expense of present consumption. For in this case, the ratio of consumption to investment has changed, namely, to a ratio with greater investment to consumption. Such an increase does indeed “stimulate” future consumption, because it brings about a redirection of resources from present consumption, to future consumption, due to the fact that the rate of profit has decreased, which puts downward pressure on interest rates, which makes more capital intensive projects more profitable where they were not profitable before.

        Top to bottom, Keynesianism is full of errors. I mean Keynes couldn’t even keep the concept of saving consistent, nor could he avoid contradicting himself in advancing the marginal efficiency of capital doctrine, which conflicts with his multiplier doctrine.

  2. Peter Šurda says:

    Also Nielsio’s argument misses that there are goods which are demanded due to them decreasing transaction costs, rather than for being consumed or used in a production process. For example a cash register. I explain this in the paper I submitted to AERC 2014, and Menger explains it in Principles of Economics.

  3. Ken B says:

    I believe demand for cigarettes went up in post war Germany.

  4. Lord Keynes says:

    “John Carney looks at a Fed paper that (implicitly) challenges Austrian business cycle theory.”

    lol… anyone familiar with the empirical evidence would know that business people have been implicitly challenging the ABCT since the 1930s and saying that interest rates aren’t that important for investment decisions:

    “The success of the OERG [sc. Oxford Economists’ Research Group] was immediate. Within two years, the members realised that, in spite of the diverse and sometimes confused replies to their queries, they had novel results with respect to pricing and to the effect of interest rates on investment. Shackle felt that the most interesting question raised by the Group concerned the non-influence of the interest rate on the businessmen’s decision to invest because it revealed that uncertainty was the over-riding factor when they made investment decisions.”

    Lee, Frederic S. 1998. Post Keynesian Price Theory. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York. p. 88.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “lol… anyone familiar with the empirical evidence would know that business people have been implicitly challenging the ABCT since the 1930s and saying that interest rates aren’t that important for investment decisions:”

      False. The empirical evidence is 100% consistent with Austrian theory.

      Interest rates are indeed an important factor in investment decision making. It affects the discount rate, which affects net present value calculations. The lower the discount rate, the more valuable long term cash flows become.

      The empirical evidence is consistent with the theory that housing, for example, is stimulated with lower interest rates as opposed to higher interest rates.

      A survey that shows “uncertainty” instead of interest rates as “the overriding factor” does not refute the theory that interest rates affect investment. This is because uncertainty is not independent from interest rates.

    • Hank says:

      I imagine (correct me if I am wrong) the banking business would be MUCH different in an unhampered market where the federal reserve did not set the rate of interest.

      You conflate the hampered and unhampered market in your analysis, as I have come to expect from you.

  5. Lord Keynes says:

    And Daniel Kuehn in “Hayek’s Business-Cycle Theory: Half Right” (Critical Review 25.3–4 (2013): 497–529) notes the same thing: business people do not respond to interest rates in the way the ABCT predicts: interest rates do not much affect production decisions in already established firms (Kuehn 2013: 505, citing Akerlof et al. 2000: 505), especially if they have excess capacity.

    The finding of Davis, Haltiwanger, and Schuh (1996) “suggests that most job creation (and destruction) happens at large, mature establishments which are presumably primarily making capacity-utilization decisions rather than new capital-expenditure decisions” (Kuehn 2013: 506).

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2013/12/daniel-kuehn-on-austrian-business-cycle.html

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Of course, since funny money interest rates don’t transmit the same information as true free market rates……Oh, never mind.

      FLASH: Studies show that if the Fed directs banks to give 1% interest rate loans to all homeowners regardless of wealth, income or home value for refinancing and equity loans, nobody will borrow. Right?

    • Richie says:

      So the Fed is meaningless?

      • skylien says:

        Seem so, as you can read above interest rates are, unlike other prices, not based on a real phenomenon…

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        No, just that we have to be careful about the extent to which the cost of capital is the important transmission mechanism to think about, and why it’s important.

        Tullock did say they considered the interest rate for large capital expenditure decisions. They did not consider it in deciding production levels (i.e. – it did not factor into questions about long vs. short production processes).

        Keynesian explanations are less dependent on this issue of the time structure of production and think that to the extent that the interest rate influences output levels, it influences it through the demand for new capital. Tullock says this is precisely where businesses DO take interest rates into account. That’s actually more directly what this Fed paper is about.

        Keynes himself, a lot of Post Keynesians and New Keynesians don’t care so much about this. Keynes said investment is partially determined by the interest rate, but it’s relatively insensitive to it. PKs care about capacity utilization responding to fluctuations in demand from distributional problems, and NKs care about Fed policy and long-run expectations. Both PKs and NKs, in that sense, follow Keynes’s ideas pretty well. It’s the old Neoclassical Synthesis Keynesians that emphasize this direct interest rate influencing investment concern, and are arguably further from Keynes as a result (but in my view, not all that bad as a first approximation until better ideas came along).

        • Jonathan Finegold says:

          But that survey evidence doesn’t really address the Austrian prediction. This is my read of Prices and Production. When Austrians talk about a lengthening and shortening of the structure of production they’re not referring to the length of time requires for one firm to produce an output given a set of inputs. They’re talking about the number of intermediate stages between the “original means of production” and consumption — i.e. think about Hayek’s multistage…bar graph, I guess…, showing the distribution of profits at a given equilibrium rate of interest. Your survey evidence seems to challenge the claim Austrians aren’t making, rather than the one they are.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        This is Hayek I am talking about in the paper, by the way.

        Other renditions of ABCT are far less dependent on the capital structure, in which case my point here is less directly relevant. Bob doesn’t say in the post whether he’s specifically thinking of Hayek’s version or someone else’s.

        They’re obviously similar, but not precisely the same.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “Interest rates do not much affect production decisions in already established firms (Kuehn 2013: 505, citing Akerlof et al. 2000: 505), especially if they have excess capacity.”

      The empirical evidence is fully consistent with the theory that interest rate changes affect the types of investments made.

      The concept of “capacity utilization” is subordinated to already existing investment which was affected by interest rates. With a great enough change and persistent change in interest rates, that “capacity” will also be affected, due to a change in the actual physical capital that comes through the pipeline, replacing the older and used up capital.

  6. skylien says:

    Since we are at the ABCT. I found this part extremely nice of Böhm Bawerk. It is describing in my view ABCT in a different way. Or I think it sheds light on Mises’ analogy of building a house with a too big groundwork laid so it cannot be finished with available means in a different way. It is a bit longer though:

    “Interest and Agio must appear. Assume for a moment
    that they do not. Present goods and future goods are
    exchanged on the great subsistence market at par, and the
    labourers, for the week’s work, get the whole value of their
    future product paid down to them in present goods. Say
    that the average production period, assuming the nation to be
    enormously wealthy, is ten years: that the week’s work consequently
    yields 40s. and that the labourer receives the whole
    of this as wage. What will happen ? The undertaker who
    employs people to work with him in a ten years’ process makes
    no profit outside of his own personal labour. For the 40s., which
    the labour of his people yields him at the end of the production
    period, has already been wholly expended as wage. But
    how if he extends the production period still further ? If the
    week’s labour has returned 40s. in the ten years’ process,
    experience tells us it will return more in a twelve years’
    process, say 44s. In still longer processes, say, fifteen years,
    it may return perhaps 48s. Now as the undertaker, by
    hypothesis, can buy present goods at par on the subsistence
    market, it would be foolish of him not to extend the production
    period for himself and his employes to fifteen years. If
    he does so, he pays his workers out of the borrowed advances
    40s., the price on the labour market: in fifteen years he
    recovers 48s. from the product: from that sum he pays back
    the advanced 40s. at par, and has remaining the respectable
    profit of 8s. out of each week of labour. And with this we
    have the “surplus value,” the profit on capital.
    To prevent its appearance the labourer’s wage would have
    to be raised from 40 s. to 48 s. But this is not possible.
    For the well-known levelling tendencies of competition do not allow wages to rise permanently in any isolated branch—so
    long as it does not presuppose peculiar personal qualities—
    inasmuch as there will at once be a rush from less paying
    branches into any particularly paying branch. But neither
    is a general rise of wages to 48s. possible, because the existent
    stock of wealth is only sufficient for an average ten years’
    period. The extension of the process to fifteen years, consequently,
    can occur only in isolated cases; the bulk of productive
    employments must continue the ten years’ process
    which yields only 40 s. per week, and cannot, therefore, permit
    of any higher wage than 40 s.
    On the other hand, it is obvious that something else will
    make its appearance. However sharp undertaker A may be
    in borrowing money free of interest, and securing a nice
    surplus value of 8 s. per week of labour, undertakers B, C, D
    and E will not be far behind. The desire to prolong the
    production period, and, with that, the demand for increased
    advances of subsistence, will become general: it will not be
    possible to supply this increased demand from the limited
    funds of subsistence: and, finally, the weeding out of competition
    will begin among the classes who constitute the
    demand. Here, then, we have the agio again appearing in
    the universal market price of present goods, from which, by
    hypothesis, we had for the moment banished it.”
    Böhm Bawerk – Positive Theory of Capital, 374 (1891)

    In contrast to LK I think interest is far from being “not real”… And for those who are not sure. Yes opportunity costs are involved as well if you want to understand this.

    ;)

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      re: “In contrast to LK I think interest is far from being “not real”… And for those who are not sure. Yes opportunity costs are involved as well if you want to understand this.”

      And Silas Barta is happy to explain opportunity costs to anyone that doesn’t understand them…

      • Silas Barta says:

        And Daniel_Kuehn is happy to joke about how an $8/hour job could only possibly be a loss if you’re paying someone else the entire cash salary.

        • Daniel Kuehn says:

          Yep, I find the multi-part cost benefit analysis one liners usually don’t go over as well as the quick ones.

          Granted, when you’re around nothing seems to go over well.

        • Ken B says:

          OK, this whole thing is getting irksome. But let’s at least be accurate. The claim DK reacted to was NOT that “the job wasn’t worth the trouble” ie opportunity cost. Gop back and read what was actually said. Here it is: ” The point of his job is not to make money. It’s a net loser when I factor in the transportation costs.” That looks to me like a claim that it’s a net loser *of money* when you factor in the transpo cost. Even if that isn’t the meaning it is surely not clearly a statement that “the net pay is less than the sacrifice of the next best alternative”. That is all DK needs for his damn joke. DK’s joke — and it was a joke — is warranted by Mike M’s phrasing.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            OK – I shouldn’t have taken his bait, but I maintain that even if it was framed in more opportunity cost language (I honestly didn’t pay attention to the exact language), I would have posted it, and it either would have flopped or not.

            And I submit that if Silas hadn’t come along no one would have even considered that I was making an analytical point and ignoring opportunity costs, and perhaps a handful would have chuckled at it.

            • Silas Barta says:

              So you still wouldn’t have believed it could be a loser in opportunity cost terms before I put up the numbers?

  7. Ken B says:

    ” settling things the way libertarians always do: through voting.”

    I realize Bob is joking, but voting really does sound like the way Rothbardians want to settle legal issues: one dollar, one vote

    • skylien says:

      “legal issues: one dollar, one vote” sounds like nothing would change then…

      • Ken B says:

        “We all live in the gutter but some of us look at the stars.”

        • skylien says:

          “When absurdity starts to make more or less sense
          Embrace all your demons, then banish them hence
          When clarity flows in the sweet by and by
          And questions are answers, you’ll know which is why”

        • Major_Freedom says:

          “But only the stars that are willing to point their guns at innocent people.”

    • Bob Roddis says:

      No. It means prosecutors, police and judges would not have immunity for being monstrously political, biased, bureaucratic, dishonest and just plain dumb. You could select your legal system like you select your fancy new and improved cell phone.

      • Samson Corwell says:

        Police are supposed to have some amount of immunity in order to do their jobs.

        • Eduardo Bellani says:

          Why? I could say I need some immunity in order to do my job as well.

          Heck, even today I was badly in need of beating a homeless man to death in order to get some task done.

          • Ken B says:

            Should I or a stranger off the street be able to search your house once a judge issues a search warrant, or might we want to restrict that power a tad?

            • Bob Roddis says:

              Since the street will be private, I doubt you will be afflicted by many strangers on the street. The type of searches to which you would be subject would be contractual and police and judges who breached the contracts would be liable for breach. Unlike now when judges can and do destroy the constitution without fear and without liability.

              • Ken B says:

                Hilarious, since your goal is to eliminate all constitutional protections entirely.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Pretty sure he’s against coercive constitutions (ones that violate property rights), and not against all constitutions (including voluntary ones).

              • Samson Corwell says:

                …type of searches to which you would be subject would be contractual…

                Searches need to work on the basis of warrants, not “contracts”.

              • Ken B says:

                “Since the street will be private …”
                This IS a thread about a man beaten to death because someone said he was trespassing, right?

              • Ken B says:

                Samson, here is the key idea. For rothbardians, every aspect of law and justice and punishment, every single one, is for sale. There are no exceptions to this rule at all.

              • Samson Corwell says:

                Samson, here is the key idea. For rothbardians, every aspect of law and justice and punishment, every single one, is for sale. There are no exceptions to this rule at all.

                Indeed. A true system of crony capitalism if there ever was one.

              • Samson Corwell says:

                Since the street will be private[…]

                France used to be the property of Louis XVI. Look what that got him.

              • Tel says:

                France used to be the property of Louis XVI. Look what that got him.

                Now it’s the property of someone else. See? Goods go into circulation, thus the benefits of free trade.

            • Bob Roddis says:

              Further, what is being proposed is a society where fraud and the initiation of force are forbidden. It would require a vast majority of people who are agreeable with those restrictions before one could have an An-Cap society. It is unclear to me how a society composed of people who oppose fraud and the initiation of force will be subject to increasing criminality, especially since criminals can simply be forbidden to come into one’s private neighborhood.

              • Ken B says:

                Forbidden how? It’s a meaningless term in a world without authority. You mean where violence is for sale without hindrance except the like sale of countervailing violence. Oh, and frowns. Good people will frown.

              • Tel says:

                Ken, violence is already for sale right now.

              • Ken B says:

                Yes it is Tel. But Roddis et al deny it will be in Rothbardia. But my point is about the vacuity of the claim that anything is “forbidden” in that fantasy.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Rothbard doesn’t deny that violence MIGHT, indeed will likely occur, in private property anarchy.

                The question is whether there will be more or less.

              • Samson Corwell says:

                …private property anarchy.

                No such beast. Anarchy is lawlessness.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Samson:

                “No such beast. Anarchy is lawlessness.”

                Lawlessness does not imply individuals cannot defend their property rights.

                I don’t ask of you, nor will I expect from you, to accept intellectually that there is any “law” of private property. I will just defend my property rights against your aggression, and you can call that whatever you want.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              Who says the power cannot be restricted?

              If a monopolist can be restricted according to the restraints you believe can restrict it, then those restrictions would only be multiples of times more effective in a competitive protection environment.

          • Ken B says:

            “Heck, even today I was badly in need of beating a homeless man to death in order to get some task done.”

            That’s a regrettable personal flaw Eduardo, but what concerns me more is that you argue you should be able to, as long as you pay the blood-money.

            • Eduardo Bellani says:

              ‘That’s a regrettable personal flaw Eduardo, but what concerns me more
              is that you argue you should be able to, as long as you pay the
              blood-money.’

              That’s one way to put it. I’d prefer to put it in this other way:

              “An aggressor should be responsible to make its victims as whole as
              possible”

              And now that we are on the subject of blood money, what do you think
              about some who argue that people in funny costumes can kill other
              people and pay, let’s say, 0? Or perhaps, heaven forbid, get paid by
              taxes to do it?

              • Ken B says:

                What do you think of men in funny costumes who grab people, toss them over their shoulder, and start running. I say what I always say to underspecified questions: it depends.

            • Tel says:

              … what concerns me more is that you argue you should be able to, as long as you pay the blood-money.

              Given that the present regime beats up homeless people and does not pay their debts, I’m leaning towards Eduardo’s approach, on balance.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                For what it’s worth, Ken B. did indeed support my posts bringing outraged attention to the Kelly Thomas situation. So he’s not being coy in pretending to care about police brutality in Rothbardia while not caring about it in practice in USA. But maybe that’s because Ken is Canadian…

              • Ken B says:

                Also fwiw I am a lot more skeptical of cops since I moved south.

                Its worth noting that the state did not let these cops off. It was the jurors, the prospective hiring pool for private policeman, who did that. I think that clearly falsifies any claim that wouldn’t be anyone to hire such thugs.

              • Samson Corwell says:

                …does not pay their debts…

                A little off topic, but I just wanted to point out that debt only lasts for as long as it is recognized.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Samson:

                Obviously that means debts are nothing but illusions. Fake imaginary dreams with no Earthly reality whatsoever.

                Obviously.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              “That’s a regrettable personal flaw Eduardo, but what concerns me more is that you argue you should be able to, as long as you pay the blood-money.”

              In statism, not only are you beaten, but you have to PAY for the privilege.

          • Anonymous says:

            To make the trains run on time, lad.

        • Richie says:

          For what do they need immunity if they are only “protecting and serving”?

          • Ken B says:

            Do feel free to ignore the example already cited above. Answers only rudely smutz up your pristine rhetorical questions.

            • Richie says:

              It read it, and disregarded it because it is not sufficient. But thanks for trying.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      One dollar is earned through the “democracy of the marketplace.”

      If you want to whore out Mises, at least quote him correctly. He made an emphasis on the fact that dollars, in the free market, gravitate to those individuals who are relatively most productive to their fellow mankind. Having more dollars is ALREADY a sign of a “vote” that took place prior.

      • Ken B says:

        You say Mises,
        I say Rothbard,
        Mises, rothbard. Rothbard, Mises,
        Let’s call the whole thing off.

        • Bob Roddis says:

          LK and DK often have interesting and informative things to say even when we disagree. Other opponents, not so much.

          • Ken B says:

            Well, LK understands economic calculation and says interesting stuff about it that’s for sure.

            • skylien says:

              I really doubt that. LK thinks at least some 80% or so of all prices could be easily managed by government directly just as good as the market does. Do you believe that too?

              • Ken B says:

                Of course not. That doesn’t mean LK doesn’t understand Mises though. What LK disputes (I say misses)is that markets eventually enforce discipline and drive participants towards efficiency effectively. Thats what the big three in Detroit thought for a long time too.

              • skylien says:

                This:
                “That doesn’t mean LK doesn’t understand Mises though.”

                And this ”Of course not.“ and “(I say misses)” is a contradiction in my view. If he “misses” something then according to your own opinion he doesn’t understand it (Mises) correctly.

                As a side note:
                Of course LK is as justified as Bob R to claim that BR or even all Austrians don’t (fully or at all) understand economic calculation (else they wouldn’t be Austrians). Such statements are just truisms that follow from the conviction of that person. Saying someone doesn’t understand this or that doesn’t make it so. So even I am (even if I think that he is right, which is just a logical conclusion of my convictions) annoyed by BR repeating this “no one except Austrians understands economic calculation” statement so often, because it doesn’t add to the discussion. It only makes it more emotional. It is like saying “We disagree!” (Who would have known?), only with the implication that the others are either evil (would go against their agenda to tell how it really is) or too stupid to understand. That is offensive and poisons the discussion.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              Is that a joke?

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Yeah but the idea you elicited, and the stock response, was handled by Mises.

          You say Rothbardians as if you don’t distinguish between the two.

          • Ken B says:

            No, talking about a different idea. I think Mises has a good point and is generally right. It’s certainly reasonable to argue that in a functioning market economy money gravitates towards those who are most productive and provide the most value to others. What does not follow is the conclusion that therefore they are entitled to superior protection of the law or justice. What does not follow is it selling justice to the highest bidder will result in inequitable and workable system. And my point is specifically that Rothbard wants to sell access to legal redress to the highest bidder. This confuses economic worth with moral worth. Aside from the fact that it won’t work.

            • Hank says:

              “What does not follow is the conclusion that therefore they are entitled to superior protection of the law or justice. What does not follow is it selling justice to the highest bidder will result in inequitable and workable system.”

              Austrian economics, strictly speaking, gives no opinion about legal or ethical systems. However, which Austrian writer, in your view, expressed what you described in the above quoted?

              • Hank says:

                I see you said Rothbard. I am going to bed.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              “What does not follow is the conclusion that therefore they are entitled to superior protection of the law or justice.”

              Your solution to this non-problem, namely coercive territorial monopolists of protection, introduces the very injustice to which you claim is present without such a territorial monopolist.

              Your arguments that advocate for a state are always contradictory Ken B.

              So what are you saying? That if a person is alive, can eat, shit, and talk, then it “follows” that they are entitled to the protection services from others of a quality that is above and beyond what others are willing to provide to them voluntarily? That in order to prevent injustice, we have to introduce it? Is that it? We can’t have people victimized by violence (same thing as inadequate protection) so people should…victimize others with violence?

              Please tell me you can see the contradiction in your worldview.

              Does it “follow” from being alive that you are entitled to equal quality services as someone who is more productive than you, no matter how those individuals behave towards others?

              “What does not follow is it selling justice to the highest bidder will result in inequitable and workable system.”

              Rothbard never claimed it would be “equitable”. (I’m assuming you meant to write that instead). Have you not read his essay “Egalitarianism as a revolt against nature”?

              “And my point is specifically that Rothbard wants to sell access to legal redress to the highest bidder. This confuses economic worth with moral worth.”

              No it doesn’t. Economic worth is not independent from moral worth, in a world without systematic aggression against property.

              “Aside from the fact that it won’t work.”

              Of course it works, you just have a different conception of a “working” population from those who are against initiating violence against innocent people in the name of justice and protection.

              • Anonymous says:

                Major_Freedom, in your Rothbardian world, what would stop rich people from committing aggression against poor people, and then using their greater financial means to make sure that they face no legal consequence for their actions?

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                Major_Freedom, in your Rothbardian world, what would stop a rich person from engaging in aggression against a poor person, and then using his greater financial means to ensure that he faces no legal consequences?

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Ken B:

                And besides, what you are ignoring is that just because A has inferior protection from violence as compared to B, due to B being more productive and more wealthy, it does NOT follow from these facts that the quality of A’s protection is inherently shoddy and bad.

                Just like it doesn’t follow from a higher degree of wealth inequality that the poor are absolutely worse off, so too does it not follow from a higher protection inequality that the poor are absolutely worse off.

                In a free market, the highest bidders are NOT always the wealthiest. The reason why poor people can shop at Wal-Mart and live in modest apartments and so on, is because they are succeeding in outbidding wealthy people for those goods.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                “Major_Freedom, in your Rothbardian world, what would stop a rich person from engaging in aggression against a poor person, and then using his greater financial means to ensure that he faces no legal consequences?”

                People learning, and anticipating, that paying this person further is helping him hurt innocent people. People who are his customers can cease soliciting his goods and services, or they can fight back. Greater army doesn’t always mean stronger army. After all, libertarianism exists even if it is currently overpowered.

                In your statist world, what would stop a corrupt judge, executive, and legislative branch, from murdering 100,000 people to steal their oil?

                In your statist world, what would stop a murderous police state?

                If you have faith in humanity to stop a powerful monopoly of terror, then surely you should have faith that smaller, less powerful terrors can be stopped as well.

                Interestingly, your question is actually more applicable to states, which collect TRILLIONS of dollars a year, COERCIVELY, than individual wealthy people.

                You claim to be against wealthy people using their resources to steal from the less powerful, and yet that is EXACTLY what the state IS.

                You and Ken B need to engage in some serious self-reflection. It’s like you’re completely ignorant of your own ideology, and you’re critiquing your own ideology by attributing it in those who disagree with you.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Think about it Keshav: The state is the very “rich person” in your hypothetical. They are in a position of not only dominating a poorer, weaker person by beating them to death, stealing their house, children, etc, but so strong that they succeed in squashing opportunity for that poorer weaker person from even hiring, or using, a force-based protection to defend himself against the person hurting them.

              • Ken B says:

                Keshav, see my exchanges with Eduardo on this thread.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Your exchanges with Eduardo are pedantic and evasive.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “Just like it doesn’t follow from a higher degree of wealth inequality that the poor are absolutely worse off, so too does it not follow from a higher protection inequality that the poor are absolutely worse off.” But the difference is, doubling a poor person’s wealth and quadrupling a rich person’s wealth doesn’t really hurt the poor person, wheras if protection inequality increases, that can do direct harm, because if the rich person and the poor person have a conflict, the rich person is more likely to win in terms of legal consequences, regardless of whether he was on the right side of the non-aggression principle.

                “People learning, and anticipating, that paying this person further is helping him hurt innocent people. People who are his customers can cease soliciting his goods and services, or they can fight back.” What if those people don’t do anything, either because they don’t care or because they value his services too much? Or what if he’s wealthy enough hat he doesn’t need their business, or powerful enough that they can’t effectively fight him?

                One way or another, I don’t think that this Rothbardian world is the one that minimizes violations of the non-aggression principle, which is presumably the goal. If I was the kind of person who held the Rothbardian non-aggression principle as the sole standard of political morality, I think a nightwatchman state with strong checks and balances would be more effective than an Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society in minimizing the total amount of aggression. But that is of course an empirical question. (I hope you don’t think praxeology can settle that too.)

              • Ben B says:

                Keshav, How can a night watchman State reduce the total amount of aggression, when it’s very existence is an act of aggression?

                Besides, in order for a night watch man State to exist, (as well as a Rothbardian AnCap society), there must exist a strong public opinion against aggression regardless of who and why. If we are assuming a public opinion against all aggression, then it seems to follow that the total amount of aggression would be higher with a night watchman State since any State is necessarily an aggressor.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “Keshav, How can a night watchman State reduce the total amount of aggression, when it’s very existence is an act of aggression?” Well, it could prevent other acts of aggression that would have otherwise occurred. So it might prevent more aggression than it causes.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Keshav:

                “But the difference is, doubling a poor person’s wealth and quadrupling a rich person’s wealth doesn’t really hurt the poor person, wheras if protection inequality increases, that can do direct harm, because if the rich person and the poor person have a conflict, the rich person is more likely to win in terms of legal consequences, regardless of whether he was on the right side of the non-aggression principle.”

                Two problems with this claim.

                One, you’re still ignoring HOW the rich person became rich in the first place, given there is private property anarchy. He had to spend his days producing for his fellow man. That would go a long way towards constricting individuals from engaging in a life of MASS violence, the kind that states commit.

                Two, the logical conclusion of your claim would suggest that every current nation of the world, since they all have varying degrees of quality and quantity of protection, are necessarily antagonistic towards each other because of that difference in protection quality. Stronger European nations for example should, by your claim, be constantly threatening to invade and kill the weaker European nations. And, extending it further to the world, the strongest nation should be invading and killing the people of every other nation, since after all it is the difference in protection that somehow causes people to invade the lands of, or kill, those weaker than them.

                So essentially what you are saying is that there must be a natural urge for there to be a one world government. But if it is natural, why hasn’t it happened yet? Why haven’t the weaker nations been invaded by the stronger ones, on the basis of random disagreements conveniently going the wealthier more powerful nation’s way, such that there is a one world government now?

                Clearly there is something else besides mere brute strength that is limiting this from taking place. I’ll leave it to you to THINK about what that might be.

              • Ben B says:

                So again, we have to assume a relatively natural absence of aggression (public opinion) in order for an AnCap society or a watchman State to exist. If we define the State as a territorial monopolist of protection services, then we must assume that there also exists at least a desire for other entities to provide protection services. For if there wasn’t a demand for at least the possibility to purchase protection from other providers (or from none at all), then there would be no need for one to become a monopolist on protection services. The act of using violence on other entities or individuals in attempt to prevent them from providing protection services through contracts with its potential customers is an act of aggression. So for you to say that a night watchman State could prevent more aggression then it causes is incorrect.

                Or, at least it seems that your argument should be that a night watchman State would be more efficient at preventing aggression than a competitive market of protection services.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Keshav:

                “What if those people don’t do anything, either because they don’t care or because they value his services too much? Or what if he’s wealthy enough hat he doesn’t need their business, or powerful enough that they can’t effectively fight him?”

                “One way or another, I don’t think that this Rothbardian world is the one that minimizes violations of the non-aggression principle, which is presumably the goal.”

                You do realize that “minimize” does not necessarily mean ZERO, right?

                If there is necessarily more violence in a world separate private protection institutions, then you are implicitly saying that the way to minimize violence is for there to be a one world government. Then no protectors will have to fight against any other independent protector, since there is only the one protector.

                However I strongly doubt that a one world government will be less violent, precisely because there would be no other government to stop it from becoming tyrannical.

                In other words, it is more reasonable to think that the more independent protectors there are, the LESS violence there will likely be, and the fewer independent protectors there are, the MORE violence there will likely be.

                Just imagine if the US state had NO other government to defend any territorial monopolies. Do you think the US state would be less or more incentivized to engage in imperialistic behavior?

                Also, it is absurd to believe that violence will be minimized if violence is permanently introduced through a state. The whole point of protection and security is to prevent violence, not to make it permanent. Initiating violence to stop violence is a contradiction.

                “If I was the kind of person who held the Rothbardian non-aggression principle as the sole standard of political morality, I think a nightwatchman state with strong checks and balances would be more effective than an Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society in minimizing the total amount of aggression. But that is of course an empirical question.”

                Why don’t you want to “test” the theory of anarcho-capitalism? If you admit that the theory that there will be less violence in a nightwatchmen state is but “an empirical question”, then you can’t conclusively assert that it is. As an empiricist, you would have to admit that the theory that anarcho-capitalism is less violence, deserves testing as well. After all, empiricists can’t A PRIORI argue that any social system is more or less violent than any another.

                If you refuse to even entertain testing anarcho-capitalism, then you’re not actually engaging in empiricism at all. You’re using a priori reasoning to conclude that a nightwatchmen state is least violent.

                Which means it is actually not an “empirical question” you’re advertising.

                Also, there has already been a test of your hypothesis of nightwatchmen statism. The US state for example started out as night watchmen. Now look at it. Would you admit that your theory has been empirically falsified?

                Actually, that’s a trick question, because even if you do admit it was falsified, empiricism gives you a way out. You can be skeptical of the outcome. You can claim that certain variables were overlooked, that if we run the test again, this time with those previously overlooked variables in place, then we won’t have the outcome we did in our actually history.

                And then if the theory is AGAIN falsified, empiricism can do the same thing over again. Maybe yet another variable was overlooked. Run the test again.

                And again.

                And again.

                And again.

                What if I myself told you that we should run a test of anarcho-capitalism, and then if there ends up being more violence, I do the same thing empiricism calls for, and say that I overlooked a particular variable, that if we run the test again, we should get the outcome of less violence? And that if it fails again, I ask to run the test again? And again? And again?

                Do you see where I am going with this? Empiricism actually CAN’T answer the question of which system is less violent.

                We must use a priori reasoning. The challenge with this approach is that it is very difficult to do, due to emotions and all the other psychological influences affecting one’s a priori reasoning that are themselves grounded on contradictory premises. Anger and frustration derived from contradictory premises cloud one’s ability to a priori reason to settle which system is least violent.

                You for example believe, a priori, of an inherent conflict of interest between human beings. I can see it in your writings. It’s there. You believe the “natural” state of human life is conflict and war. Since this worldview ignores reason, and only considers physical force, it is no wonder that you retreat to empiricism, demanding that we continually test the state theory that is in fact a priori flawed, which you could understand if only you thought about your premises more. You don’t want your worldview critiqued by your own self, and would rather impose it on everyone else, over and over, using, of course, physical force, the very thing you claim is prevented or minimized with a state.

                “(I hope you don’t think praxeology can settle that too.)”

                Praxeology serves as a set of principles that constrain thinking and argumentation to what is true for actors like ourselves. It isn’t a set of theories that are empirically testable. They are not a set of principles that if followed, we’ll have libertarian Utopia.

                I hope you aren’t trying to cover up your own lack of understanding praxeology, to be true for me, or to be what praxeologists believe. You are asking a question that shows more about your view of it, than mine.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Keshav:

                “Well, it could prevent other acts of aggression that would have otherwise occurred. So it might prevent more aggression than it causes.”

                How? How can introducing violence, reduce violence as compared to an the absence of introducing that violence?

                Empirically, how could you even test this? And, how would you interpret the test outcome?

                Suppose we test anarcho-capitalism, and during the first 5 years (suppose we are now at the end of the first 5 years) there has been less violence as compared to what we have now. Or, suppose we find that there has been more violence than we have had up until now.

                Anyone could claim, regardless of the outcome, that certain variables were overlooked, that corrupted the test of X-ism leading to less violence, and prevented that theory from being confirmed. No matter the outcome, the theory tested wasn’t conclusively refuted.

                I think your approach needs to be radically different.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “One, you’re still ignoring HOW the rich person became rich in the first place, He had to spend his days producing for his fellow man. That would go a long way towards constricting individuals from engaging in a life of MASS violence, the kind that states commit.” Well, what about someone who inherited his wealth? He wouldn’t have that constraint on him. And even if you’re right about mass violence, what about individual acts of violence?

                “Two, the logical conclusion of your claim would suggest that every current nation of the world, since they all have varying degrees of quality and quantity of protection, are necessarily antagonistic towards each other because of that difference in protection quality.” No, I’m not saying that protection inequality necessarily leads to more antagonism and violent confrontations. I’m saying that whenever there are violent confrontations, protection inequality makes it more likely that the person with more protection wins, regardless of whether the non-aggression principle says that they ought to win.

                “And, extending it further to the world, the strongest nation should be invading and killing the people of every other nation, since after all it is the difference in protection that somehow causes people to invade the lands of, or kill, those weaker than them.” I never said that differences in protection causes people to kill, although people might be more emboldened to engage in acts of aggression if they’re unlikely to face consequences.

                “Why haven’t the weaker nations been invaded by the stronger ones, on the basis of random disagreements conveniently going the wealthier more powerful nation’s way, such that there is a one world government now?” I think it is true that disagreements between countries often result in the richer country winning, but I don’t see how that would necessarily result in one world government.

                “You do realize that “minimize” does not necessarily mean ZERO, right?” Yes, of course, but do you have a system that would guarantee zero violations of the non-aggression principle, even if there are people in the society, who have a desire to engage in aggression? I assume you don’t, so we can only talk about minimization.

                “If there is necessarily more violence in a world separate private protection institutions, then you are implicitly saying that the way to minimize violence is for there to be a one world government. ” Yes, I suppose I am saying that minimization of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle requires a one-world government, albeit one where power is relatively decentralized and there’s a system of checks and balances. (Note that I’m not actually a supporter of Rothbard and his non-aggression principle, so I’m not outlining the ideal form of government that I would advocate.)

                “However I strongly doubt that a one world government will be less violent, precisely because there would be no other government to stop it from becoming tyrannical.” Well, there are other ways to curb the emergence of tyranny, like separation of powers, checks and balances, and the ability of the people to overthrow the government in extreme situations.

                “Also, it is absurd to believe that violence will be minimized if violence is permanently introduced through a state. The whole point of protection and security is to prevent violence, not to make it permanent. Initiating violence to stop violence is a contradiction.” Why is it a contradiction? Isn’t it possible that someone could initiate violence in order acquire resources, and then use those resources to prevent other initiations of violence? Do you think that that’s impossible even in principle?

                ” If you admit that the theory that there will be less violence in a nightwatchmen state is but “an empirical question”, then you can’t conclusively assert that it is.” Yes, I’m not conclusively asserting it on the basis of some a priori means, I was just stating my opinion. To see whether my opinion is right would of course require empirical work.

                “Also, there has already been a test of your hypothesis of nightwatchmen statism. The US state for example started out as night watchmen. Now look at it. Would you admit that your theory has been empirically falsified?” Well, falsified would be too strong a word, but I do concede that the fact that the US government started out as fairly libertarian and became more expansive is an important data point against my claim.

                “Actually, that’s a trick question, because even if you do admit it was falsified, empiricism gives you a way out. You can be skeptical of the outcome. You can claim that certain variables were overlooked, that if we run the test again, this time with those previously overlooked variables in place, then we won’t have the outcome we did in our actually history.” I think you have a misconception about how empirical science works. Yes, you can always say that any empirical finding is invalid because it didn’t take into account some variable. But the thing is, we have tools in science for assessing how important a variable is. (For instance, statistical analysis.) To take an extreme example, you’re empirically studying how the Mississippi river flows in different seasons, you can always say “we neglected the gravitational field of Jupiter”, but we have ways of determining that Jupiter’s gravity is probably not that important a factor, so that kind of doubt isn’t very reasonable.

                “Empiricism actually CAN’T answer the question of which system is less violent.” Well, it can’t definitively answer the question with 100% certainty, but that’s not the standard of empirical science. In science we strive for high degrees of confidence, not necessarily certainty. If we’re able to establish that there’s a 99% chance that a nightwatchman state leads to less aggression than a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society, that’s a good scientific conclusion.

                “Anger and frustration derived from contradictory premises cloud one’s ability to a priori reason to settle which system is least violent.” Well, it’s hard for me to see how it’s possible, even if you were completely clear-thinking and unaffected by emotion, to find out which system produces less violence through a priori means.

                “You for example believe, a priori, of an inherent conflict of interest between human beings. I can see it in your writings. It’s there. You believe the “natural” state of human life is conflict and war. ” I’m sorry to have given you such a misleading impression. I don’t think that Man is necessarily prone to violence, or that he doesn’t have an inherent faculty of reason. Human beings have the ability to live in great harmony. It’s a tragedy that a lot of people fall short of their best selves, but I’m sorry to have given you the idea that I think that conflict is always the natural path of Man.

                ” Since this worldview ignores reason, and only considers physical force, it is no wonder that you retreat to empiricism, demanding that we continually test the state theory that is in fact a priori flawed, which you could understand if only you thought about your premises more.” What makes the theory that the state can reduce the total level of violence a priori flawed?

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “How can introducing violence, reduce violence as compared to an the absence of introducing that violence?” By giving someone the means to stop other people’s initiations of violence, which they would not otherwise have been able to obtain if they hadn’t initiated violence

                “Anyone could claim, regardless of the outcome, that certain variables were overlooked, that corrupted the test of X-ism leading to less violence, and prevented that theory from being confirmed. ” Yes, someone could always claim that, but we have the ability to evaluate the plausibility or likelihood of those claims. I think what you (or if not you, then at least other Austrians) may be missing is that counterfactuals aren’t some esoteric concept unique to economics and the social sciences. Natural science confronts them all the time, and it’s found ways of dealing with them. We have ways of determining, with a high degree of probability, what the counterfactual scenario would have looked like.

                A beautiful example of this is Bell’s theorem. Quantum mechanics is an incredibly strange theory, especially the concerning the phenomenon of quantum entanglement. Some people, including Albert Einstein, argued that although experiments involving entanglement seemed to produce results consistent with quantum mechanics, this would not actually be the case if we knew what was going on in the counterfactual scenarios. But then John Bell, using extremely simple mathematical reasoning, was able to show that if Einstein et al. were right about what was going on in those counterfactual scenarios, that would lead to an empirically testable disagreement with quantum mechanics.

                Here’s a really easy to understand explanation of Bell’s theorem: http://quantumtantra.com/bell2.html

                “No matter the outcome, the theory tested wasn’t conclusively refuted.” Yes, but science doesn’t require that. That’s the nature of a posteriori subjects: we try to find the most reasonable and parsimonious explanation of the data at hand, preferably in a way that ensures that it has a relatively high probability of being right.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “Or, at least it seems that your argument should be that a night watchman State would be more efficient at preventing aggression than a competitive market of protection services.” Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Keshav:

                “Or, at least it seems that your argument should be that a night watchman State would be more efficient at preventing aggression than a competitive market of protection services.”

                Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

                OK, so you’re saying that if you want to be protected by person A, or group of people G, whereas I want to be protected by person A*, or group G*, then it would be more “efficient” if A* or G* threatened you with violence if you didn’t submit to their protection services and demands for payment.

                Is that what you really believe?

              • Tel says:

                it would be more “efficient” if A* or G* threatened you with violence if you didn’t submit …

                That’s how they demonstrate the quality of their fine wares.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Keshav:

                “Well, what about someone who inherited his wealth?”

                Obviously to protect against theft, that money has to be stolen by hitmen, so that the inheritor doesn’t hire hitmen.

                “He wouldn’t have that constraint on him. And even if you’re right about mass violence, what about individual acts of violence?”

                All violence is individual acts of violence. Pretty sure if someone doesn’t have access to the stolen loot of 300 million people, they wouldn’t be able to put together genocidal armies.

                “Two, the logical conclusion of your claim would suggest that every current nation of the world, since they all have varying degrees of quality and quantity of protection, are necessarily antagonistic towards each other because of that difference in protection quality.”

                “No, I’m not saying that protection inequality necessarily leads to more antagonism and violent confrontations. I’m saying that whenever there are violent confrontations, protection inequality makes it more likely that the person with more protection wins, regardless of whether the non-aggression principle says that they ought to win.”

                Yes, but then the person acting as a protector, who has more wealth, must have shown in the past to be more fair and more just than other protectors, thus making his judgment likely better than the other person’s judgment.

                “And, extending it further to the world, the strongest nation should be invading and killing the people of every other nation, since after all it is the difference in protection that somehow causes people to invade the lands of, or kill, those weaker than them.”

                “I never said that differences in protection causes people to kill, although people might be more emboldened to engage in acts of aggression if they’re unlikely to face consequences.”

                What would stop state A from invading another country B, given that state A is more powerful? Why wouldn’t those factors apply to private armies where A is stronger than B?

                “I think it is true that disagreements between countries often result in the richer country winning, but I don’t see how that would necessarily result in one world government.”

                By the stronger governments invading the weaker nations. What is stopping them?

                “You do realize that “minimize” does not necessarily mean ZERO, right?”

                “Yes, of course, but do you have a system that would guarantee zero violations of the non-aggression principle, even if there are people in the society, who have a desire to engage in aggression? I assume you don’t, so we can only talk about minimization.”

                Agreed, but I still don’t see how you’ve explained why states are less violent than private armies, given theory and history. Theory shows that people who wage violence who have access to an entire country’s wealth, would be able to wage more violence than someone without such access. History has shown governments to be far and away the most violent institutions, far greater than any anarchist territory.

                “If there is necessarily more violence in a world separate private protection institutions, then you are implicitly saying that the way to minimize violence is for there to be a one world government. ”

                “Yes, I suppose I am saying that minimization of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle requires a one-world government, albeit one where power is relatively decentralized and there’s a system of checks and balances.”

                If you expect a government to be able to restrain itself in the fact of NO competition according to self-imposed “checks and balances”, then because there are even greater checks and balances from external restrictive, as opposed to self-imposed restrictive forces, then your premises lead to no states as having more restrictions than states.

                “(Note that I’m not actually a supporter of Rothbard and his non-aggression principle, so I’m not outlining the ideal form of government that I would advocate.)”

                If you are not a supporter or advocate of the non-aggression principle, then your argument about wanting to minimize violence, is two faced.

                “However I strongly doubt that a one world government will be less violent, precisely because there would be no other government to stop it from becoming tyrannical.”

                “Well, there are other ways to curb the emergence of tyranny, like separation of powers, checks and balances, and the ability of the people to overthrow the government in extreme situations.”

                Those other ways are more powerful in a world without states, because not only are there the restrictions you mentioned, but there are independent protection agencies that can turn mere demands and shouts, into stopping/reducing aggression from others.

                If you believe that a state can restrain itself willingly, via structure of checks and balances, and revolts from the population, and this is in a world where they have a monopoly, then surely you would have to believe that private institutions, who can also restrain themselves willingly, via structure of checks and balances, and revolts from the population, would be even more checked, because there are actual external protection institutions, akin to other governments in the sense of being external, ready to stop any aggression that may arise.

                “Also, it is absurd to believe that violence will be minimized if violence is permanently introduced through a state. The whole point of protection and security is to prevent violence, not to make it permanent. Initiating violence to stop violence is a contradiction.”

                “Why is it a contradiction? Isn’t it possible that someone could initiate violence in order acquire resources, and then use those resources to prevent other initiations of violence?”

                So you don’t want to stop violence per se, you only want to stop violence against certain people, while you want violence waged against other people. Let me guess: You want to hire your personal choice of protector, namely a monopolistic state, and to reduce violence against you, you want that state to initiate violence against others. The net effect would be a reduction of violence against you.

                Is that it? Really?

                Sorry if I don’t get on board with your rather self-centered via of justice. You want a double standard. Violence against others, no violence against you because you got your choice for protector.

                “Do you think that that’s impossible even in principle?”

                What you described is not what the debate over statism versus anarchy is about. The debate is not about how to reduce violence against you personally, but how violence can be reduced in general. Fewer people murdered, robbed, raped, etc. People being murdered, robbed, raped, fewer times, etc.

                ”If you admit that the theory that there will be less violence in a nightwatchmen state is but “an empirical question”, then you can’t conclusively assert that it is.”

                “Yes, I’m not conclusively asserting it on the basis of some a priori means, I was just stating my opinion.”

                Based on what premises?

                “To see whether my opinion is right would of course require empirical work.”

                But no matter the outcome, empiricism admits to skepticism of the results, and hence no obligation to try something else. One could always point to previously unconsidered variables and run the test again and again, with no end in sight.

                For here was have had tens of thousands of years of history, i.e. empirical evidence, and you see that states have murdered far more people and robbed far more, than any other institution ever devised by mankind. And yet here you are, still claiming that “it’s an empirical question.”

                I am not saying you’re wrong for saying it’s an empirical question, because like I said, strictly speaking it will ALWAYS be one, so the method you actually should adopt is one that can DEFINITIVELY answer the question. To do that, you can’t use empiricism.

                For suppose there was anarchy, and X level of violence, and we had the same discussion. I would say “It’s an empirical question.” We could have anarchy for multiple 10 year periods say, and every time, no matter what happens, I could always claim that the theory anarchy is less violent has not been conclusively refuted. It remains an empirical question.

                So my question to you is, if you admit that BOTH are empirical questions, why aren’t you supportive of testing anarchy, so that you can learn what you admit you cannot know unless it is tried?

                Clearly, something other than empiricism is preventing you from being as open to testing anarchy, as you are in testing statism.

                “Also, there has already been a test of your hypothesis of nightwatchmen statism. The US state for example started out as night watchmen. Now look at it. Would you admit that your theory has been empirically falsified?”

                “Well, falsified would be too strong a word, but I do concede that the fact that the US government started out as fairly libertarian and became more expansive is an important data point against my claim.”

                Why is falsified too strong a word? You just said that the state becoming more expansive is a result that is against your theory. That is the definition of falsification.

                “Actually, that’s a trick question, because even if you do admit it was falsified, empiricism gives you a way out. You can be skeptical of the outcome. You can claim that certain variables were overlooked, that if we run the test again, this time with those previously overlooked variables in place, then we won’t have the outcome we did in our actually history.”

                “I think you have a misconception about how empirical science works. Yes, you can always say that any empirical finding is invalid because it didn’t take into account some variable. But the thing is, we have tools in science for assessing how important a variable is.”

                That is not a counter-point to my characterization of empiricism. You’re saying that certain previously unaccounted for variables can be tested for signficance, which I do not deny. Yet what I was talking about was the fact that it admits previously unaccounted variables AT ALL.

                I do not misconceive of empiricism. You’re validating my description of it.

                “(For instance, statistical analysis.) To take an extreme example, you’re empirically studying how the Mississippi river flows in different seasons, you can always say “we neglected the gravitational field of Jupiter”, but we have ways of determining that Jupiter’s gravity is probably not that important a factor, so that kind of doubt isn’t very reasonable.”

                But then you haven’t escaped the position of having to admit that there might still be unaccounted for variables that you have not yet accounted for. You’ve just excluded one variable. That doesn’t mean you have excluded all possible ones. No matter the result, empiricism prohibits you from saying something like “We’ve taken into account all possible variables that might reside in our 5% level of type 1 error.”

                The very fact that ALL tests have a 5% level of significance is precisely because the assumption has to be made that there are unaccounted for variables in the test. ALL tests.

                Excluding Jupiter is the tip of the iceberg.

                “Empiricism actually CAN’T answer the question of which system is less violent.”

                “Well, it can’t definitively answer the question with 100% certainty, but that’s not the standard of empirical science.”

                Then there is no good reason not to try anarchy.

                “In science we strive for high degrees of confidence, not necessarily certainty. If we’re able to establish that there’s a 99% chance that a nightwatchman state leads to less aggression than a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society, that’s a good scientific conclusion.”

                But according to empiricism you don’t know this unless you try Rothbardianism. You’re making a conclusion based on actually testing Rothbardianism. But you won’t even be open to testing it. Thus, you cannot even pretend to claim that nightwatchmen state is less violent with 99% certainty.

                “Anger and frustration derived from contradictory premises cloud one’s ability to a priori reason to settle which system is least violent.”

                “Well, it’s hard for me to see how it’s possible, even if you were completely clear-thinking and unaffected by emotion, to find out which system produces less violence through a priori means.”

                You analyze the meaning of the concepts in question. Make it clear what a state actually IS. Make it clear what they are NOT. Just doing this is something 99.9999% of all statists don’t even bother to do.

                “What makes the theory that the state can reduce the total level of violence a priori flawed?

                The fact that states are themselves initiators of violence. Initiating violence cannot reduce violence. If I wage violence against you, I am not reducing violence against you. I am not your protector.

                “How can introducing violence, reduce violence as compared to an the absence of introducing that violence?”

                “By giving someone the means to stop other people’s initiations of violence, which they would not otherwise have been able to obtain if they hadn’t initiated violence”

                That does not decrease violence. You are just stealing from Paul to protect Peter.

                “Anyone could claim, regardless of the outcome, that certain variables were overlooked, that corrupted the test of X-ism leading to less violence, and prevented that theory from being confirmed. ”

                “Yes, someone could always claim that, but we have the ability to evaluate the plausibility or likelihood of those claims.”

                That’s not the whole story. The whole story includes the possibility that there are UNKNOWN variables that might have corrupted the theory. You can’t test all possible previously unaccounted for variables.

                “I think what you (or if not you, then at least other Austrians) may be missing is that counterfactuals aren’t some esoteric concept unique to economics and the social sciences. Natural science confronts them all the time, and it’s found ways of dealing with them. We have ways of determining, with a high degree of probability, what the counterfactual scenario would have looked like.”

                Pretty sure that’s not applicable.

                “A beautiful example of this is Bell’s theorem. Quantum mechanics is an incredibly strange theory, especially the concerning the phenomenon of quantum entanglement. Some people, including Albert Einstein, argued that although experiments involving entanglement seemed to produce results consistent with quantum mechanics, this would not actually be the case if we knew what was going on in the counterfactual scenarios. But then John Bell, using extremely simple mathematical reasoning, was able to show that if Einstein et al. were right about what was going on in those counterfactual scenarios, that would lead to an empirically testable disagreement with quantum mechanics.”

                Tangent.

                “No matter the outcome, the theory tested wasn’t conclusively refuted.”

                “Yes, but science doesn’t require that. That’s the nature of a posteriori subjects: we try to find the most reasonable and parsimonious explanation of the data at hand, preferably in a way that ensures that it has a relatively high probability of being right.”

                You can’t do that for anarchy unless you TEST it, using your premises for what constitutes knowledge.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “Yes, but then the person acting as a protector, who has more wealth, must have shown in the past to be more fair and more just than other protectors”. Why is that? And anyway, who said anything about which protector had more wealth?

                “What would stop state A from invading another country B, given that state A is more powerful? Why wouldn’t those factors apply to private armies where A is stronger than B?” Those factor would apply to private armies. I never said that more powerful people always attack less powerful people. All I said that is that when there’s a confrontation between more powerful people and less powerful people, the legal result will go in favor of the more powerful people regardless of what the non-aggression principle says.

                “If you expect a government to be able to restrain itself in the fact of NO competition according to self-imposed “checks and balances”, then because there are even greater checks and balances from external restrictive, as opposed to self-imposed restrictive forces, then your premises lead to no states as having more restrictions than states.” We’ll, I think the violence prevented by checks and balances by external parties is outweighed by the violence that would be initiated by those external parties.

                “If you are not a supporter or advocate of the non-aggression principle, then your argument about wanting to minimize violence, is two faced.” When did I say I want to minimize violence? All I said that is that IF someone wanted to minimize the amount of violations of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle, then a nightwatchman state would be more effective than a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society. Personally, I’m not actually interested in minimizing such violations. For me the Rothbardian non-aggression principle isn’t really the standard of morality, or even politically morality.

                “So you don’t want to stop violence per se, you only want to stop violence against certain people, while you want violence waged against other people. Let me guess: You want to hire your personal choice of protector, namely a monopolistic state, and to reduce violence against you, you want that state to initiate violence against others. The net effect would be a reduction of violence against you.” First of all, I am not advocating what I want at all. I’m just talking about what would be most effective from the point of view of someone who wanted to minimize violations of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle . Second of all, yes, I’m saying that it’s possible to initiate violence against some people in order to reduce violence against other people, in such a way that the total amount of violence is reduced.

                “Sorry if I don’t get on board with your rather self-centered via of justice. You want a double standard. Violence against others, no violence against you because you got your choice for protector.” It’s not self-centered at all, because I’m not even talking about my personal preferences.

                “The debate is not about how to reduce violence against you personally, but how violence can be reduced in general. Fewer people murdered, robbed, raped, etc. People being murdered, robbed, raped, fewer times, etc.” Yes, that’s what I’m talking about too.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Keshav:

                “Yes, but then the person acting as a protector, who has more wealth, must have shown in the past to be more fair and more just than other protectors”.”

                “Why is that?”

                The same reason Microsoft has more money than my cousin Larry who can’t program computers for sh*t. The same reason you would likely be more willing to give more money to Apple, than you would me, if you wanted to buy a phone.

                Best provider wins more money.

                “And anyway, who said anything about which protector had more wealth?”

                You kinda did, when you brought up the problems of wealth inequality in a context of protection.

                “What would stop state A from invading another country B, given that state A is more powerful? Why wouldn’t those factors apply to private armies where A is stronger than B?”

                “Those factor would apply to private armies. I never said that more powerful people always attack less powerful people. All I said that is that when there’s a confrontation between more powerful people and less powerful people, the legal result will go in favor of the more powerful people regardless of what the non-aggression principle says.”

                That isn’t true. If a larger protector keeps “winning” despite the fact that it is in the wrong all the time, then that implies that it itself is the aggressor, and would likely be viewed as such by the population of potential protector customers.

                This is of course assuming we do have anarchy, which means I can reasonably assume that enough individuals ARE AWARE of the non-aggression principle such that they can recognize violations of it from the market of protectors if it occurs.

                Yes, it might occur that the largest protector wins by virtue of pure power, regardless of the NAP. But you have to think more long term. Would it be in the interests of a protector to cease protecting and instead playing favorites? What would the public think of this protector? Who would agree to trade with any of its customers, given that it is enforcing its own conclusion even if it is itself a violation of the NAP?

                Suppose you had a much larger protector than mine, and I noticed that your protector keeps flaunting the NAP, and rules in favor of you even when you’re clearly in the wrong. Why the hell would I ever trade with you? And, since I am not trading with you, that puts you at a marginal disadvantage (think of me as any other individual). You would therefore have an incentive to leave your current protector, for a better one that is more fair and just in the marketplace.

                “If you expect a government to be able to restrain itself in the fact of NO competition according to self-imposed “checks and balances”, then because there are even greater checks and balances from external restrictive, as opposed to self-imposed restrictive forces, then your premises lead to no states as having more restrictions than states.”

                “We’ll, I think the violence prevented by checks and balances by external parties is outweighed by the violence that would be initiated by those external parties.”

                I doubt it. Violence is more likely when the potential victims have no defender. External parties are less likely to attack a well armed protector, than a well armed attacker against a non-protection providing population.

                In other words, if we’re next door neighbors, and I am armed, I would be far less incentivized to invade and rob your home if I knew you were well armed and a protector of your home.

                “If you are not a supporter or advocate of the non-aggression principle, then your argument about wanting to minimize violence, is two faced.”

                “When did I say I want to minimize violence?”

                I’m sorry, I had assumed you weren’t a psychopath.

                “All I said that is that IF someone wanted to minimize the amount of violations of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle, then a nightwatchman state would be more effective than a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society.”

                Which you have not actually shown by the way.

                “Personally, I’m not actually interested in minimizing such violations. For me the Rothbardian non-aggression principle isn’t really the standard of morality, or even politically morality.”

                Then what do you call the standard that is the one you are assuming when you engage in a debate with me? Totalitarian dictatorship morality?

                “So you don’t want to stop violence per se, you only want to stop violence against certain people, while you want violence waged against other people. Let me guess: You want to hire your personal choice of protector, namely a monopolistic state, and to reduce violence against you, you want that state to initiate violence against others. The net effect would be a reduction of violence against you.”

                “First of all, I am not advocating what I want at all.”

                Sure you are. You are advocating for a state, you just won’t admit it explicitly.

                “I’m just talking about what would be most effective from the point of view of someone who wanted to minimize violations of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle .”

                Anarchy would be most effective. Prove that wrong.

                “Second of all, yes, I’m saying that it’s possible to initiate violence against some people in order to reduce violence against other people, in such a way that the total amount of violence is reduced.”

                Interpersonal utility comparisons for the loss.

                “Sorry if I don’t get on board with your rather self-centered via of justice. You want a double standard. Violence against others, no violence against you because you got your choice for protector.”

                “It’s not self-centered at all, because I’m not even talking about my personal preferences.”

                Your personal preference is to argue in favor of a state, and against anarchy. Excuse me while I go out on that huge limb, and assume you’re advocating for a state.

                “The debate is not about how to reduce violence against you personally, but how violence can be reduced in general. Fewer people murdered, robbed, raped, etc. People being murdered, robbed, raped, fewer times, etc.”

                “Yes, that’s what I’m talking about too.”

                There is less violence in a world without permanent violence.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “Based on what premises?” Well, I’m just stating an opinion, not drawing a conclusion, but as for the reason, it’s that I think a society in which law enforcement is privatized is a society in which legal decisions will tend to go the way of the highest bidder.

                “Why is falsified too strong a word? You just said that the state becoming more expansive is a result that is against your theory. That is the definition of falsification.” Well, it’s certainly evidence against my claim. But my claim isn’t that a nightwatchman states will always produce less violence than Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist societies. I just think that on average they’ll produce less violence.

                “The very fact that ALL tests have a 5% level of significance is precisely because the assumption has to be made that there are unaccounted for variables in the test. ALL tests.” Yes, but we can at least find out probability that there are unaccounted variables that are strong enough to alter our result.

                “Then there is no good reason not to try anarchy.” Well yes, the empirically valid way to this would be to create a bunch of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist societies and a bunch of nightwatchman states and see how they fare. (Personally, though, I wouldn’t favor doing such a test, only because I believe a Rothbardian society would be a profoundly immoral society, and I don’t care enough about the answer because I’m not really interested in finding out how to minimize violations of Rothbard’s non-aggression principle in the first place.)

                “But according to empiricism you don’t know this unless you try Rothbardianism. You’re making a conclusion based on actually testing Rothbardianism. But you won’t even be open to testing it. Thus, you cannot even pretend to claim that nightwatchmen state is less violent with 99% certainty.” Well, I can claim it, I just don’t have empirical backing for my claim unless I try it out.

                “The fact that states are themselves initiators of violence. Initiating violence cannot reduce violence. If I wage violence against you, I am not reducing violence against you. I am not your protector.” Yes, but if you manage to prevent violence against many other people in the process? My claim is simply about the total level of violence, I’m not claiming that the nightwatchman state is necessarily a Pareto improvement over a Rothbardian society.

                “That does not decrease violence. You are just stealing from Paul to protect Peter.” Stealing from Paul to protect a thousand Peters, for instance can certainly decrease the total number of violent acts.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Keshav:

                “Based on what premises?”

                “Well, I’m just stating an opinion, not drawing a conclusion, but as for the reason, it’s that I think a society in which law enforcement is privatized is a society in which legal decisions will tend to go the way of the highest bidder.”

                And? This isn’t a counter-argument, unless you show why “the way of the highest bidder” is inferior to the statist ideal of “the way of the most violent people.”

                Food and clothing go to the highest bidder, for example, and yet I don’t see you saying that this is evil, and that food and clothing should be coercively monopolized just like protection.

                Going to the highest bidder doesn’t necessarily mean the wealthiest person. Poor people are outbidding wealthy people for run down crappy apartments all the time, for example.

                What is wrong about the most productive getting the best protection first, before the innovations are replicated by other providers for the greater masses?

                “Why is falsified too strong a word? You just said that the state becoming more expansive is a result that is against your theory. That is the definition of falsification.”

                “Well, it’s certainly evidence against my claim.”

                That’s the definition of falsification.

                “But my claim isn’t that a nightwatchman states will always produce less violence than Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist societies.”

                Ah, so now you’re saying not always. I notice a change as compared to before, when it was more definitive one way.

                “I just think that on average they’ll produce less violence.”

                Based on what reason? So far you’ve only said “Just my opinion.” I hope you can understand if I am skeptical of that. I mean, that isn’t how disputes are rationally settled. There needs to be reason and evidence.

                “The very fact that ALL tests have a 5% level of significance is precisely because the assumption has to be made that there are unaccounted for variables in the test. ALL tests.”

                “Yes, but we can at least find out probability that there are unaccounted variables that are strong enough to alter our result.”

                Actually no, you can’t do that. The 5% level of significance is discretionary. It is decided upon, and the researchers accept the consequences.

                The point is that because 5% is the typical margin of error, for all tests, it means that no matter what tests are conducted, unaccounted for variables are assumed as possibly corrupting the test outcome.

                “Then there is no good reason not to try anarchy.”

                “Well yes, the empirically valid way to this would be to create a bunch of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist societies and a bunch of nightwatchman states and see how they fare.”

                “(Personally, though, I wouldn’t favor doing such a test, only because I believe a Rothbardian society would be a profoundly immoral society”

                Actually it would be profoundly far more moral than ststism, because violence is immoral, and anarcho-capitalism ethically prohibits violence.

                “I don’t care enough about the answer because I’m not really interested in finding out how to minimize violations of Rothbard’s non-aggression principle in the first place.)”

                Then why call Rothbardia “immoral”? Why do you call statism “moral” or at least “more moral”? These are all value judgments, which imply that you do in fact “care”. You can’t call something immoral or moral in one breath, and then claim you don’t care in another breath.

                Again, you want me to believe you’re not explaining your personal preferences, but like I said before, I know your preferences, you just don’t want to explicitly admit them.

                “But according to empiricism you don’t know this unless you try Rothbardianism. You’re making a conclusion based on actually testing Rothbardianism. But you won’t even be open to testing it. Thus, you cannot even pretend to claim that nightwatchmen state is less violent with 99% certainty.”

                “Well, I can claim it, I just don’t have empirical backing for my claim unless I try it out.”

                That’s kind of what I meant by “can’t”. You don’t have reason or evidence. Yes, you can give your opinion, and yes, you’re physically capable of claiming it, but my standard is more than just people’s opinions. I can’t take your claims seriously. They aren’t grounded on anything that would constitute a rational grounds.

                “The fact that states are themselves initiators of violence. Initiating violence cannot reduce violence. If I wage violence against you, I am not reducing violence against you. I am not your protector.”

                “Yes, but if you manage to prevent violence against many other people in the process?”

                Imagine? Yes, someone can imagine an alien invasion and pretend that killing you would end up convincing these aliens not to invade Earth.

                “My claim is simply about the total level of violence, I’m not claiming that the nightwatchman state is necessarily a Pareto improvement over a Rothbardian society.”

                Your claim is groundless, as per your own admission.

                “That does not decrease violence. You are just stealing from Paul to protect Peter.”

                “Stealing from Paul to protect a thousand Peters, for instance can certainly decrease the total number of violent acts.”

                From what? You’re just imagining there is more violence if Paul isn’t robbed.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “Best provider wins more money.” But it depends on what the standard of best is. What if best does not translate into “most closely conforms to Rothbard’s non-aggression principle”?

                “You kinda did, when you brought up the problems of wealth inequality in a context of protection.” Well, I was talking about the wealth of the buyer of the protection affecting the level of protection, not about how wealthy a given protector is (although they’re obviously correlated).

                “And, since I am not trading with you, that puts you at a marginal disadvantage (think of me as any other individual). You would therefore have an incentive to leave your current protector, for a better one that is more fair and just in the marketplace.” Well, what about people rich enough to not need to do much trade, or specifically people who inherited their wealth? And in any case, yes, some people may boycott someone with a protector who violates the non-aggression principle, but others may not even believe in the non-aggression principle, so they may decide not to carry out any boycotts, or they may engage in boycotts according to other principles. And there may be some people who believe in the non-aggression principle, but who may not carry out a boycott, because they care about the product too much or they don’t have deeply held convictions about it. For instance, there are a lot of people who believe that certain companies do immoral things, for instance people may oppose a company paying its workers too little, but relatively few people participate in boycotts. So that marginal disadvantage might be relatively small and less than the benefit of engaging in aggression when you see fit.

                “I’m sorry, I had assumed you weren’t a psychopath.” I’m not. It’s just that I don’t subscribe to the Rothbardian non-aggression principle, so I’m not interested in minimizing “violence” if it’s defined as violations of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle. That doesn’t mean that I’m not against “violence” as the term is used in common parlance. But I should add that I’m not a utilitarian or consequentialist, so fundamentally I’m not interested in what society minimizes negative consequences.

                “Then what do you call the standard that is the one you are assuming when you engage in a debate with me? Totalitarian dictatorship morality?” If you want to know what I think the standard of morality should be, the answer is the Hindu religion.

                “Sure you are. You are advocating for a state, you just won’t admit it explicitly.” Well, let me admit right now, I am in favor of the state. I’m not an anarcho-capitalist or even a libertarian.

                “Interpersonal utility comparisons for the loss.” Well, I’m not making interpersonal utility comparisons. I wasn’t talking about whether a nightwatchman state or a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society maximizes social welfare, I was talking about which one minimizes the total number of violations of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle.

                “Your personal preference is to argue in favor of a state, and against anarchy. Excuse me while I go out on that huge limb, and assume you’re advocating for a state.” You’re right, I am in favor of a state.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Keshav:

                “Best provider wins more money.”

                “But it depends on what the standard of best is.”

                According to individual customer valuations among competing providers. If individual customers are not to decide, who will?

                “What if best does not translate into “most closely conforms to Rothbard’s non-aggression principle”?”

                Peace is the best.

                “You kinda did, when you brought up the problems of wealth inequality in a context of protection.”

                “Well, I was talking about the wealth of the buyer of the protection affecting the level of protection, not about how wealthy a given protector is (although they’re obviously correlated).”

                States are no different from that. States provide more protection to those with more to lose. You need more resources and a greater level of protection service, to protect more wealth.

                “And, since I am not trading with you, that puts you at a marginal disadvantage (think of me as any other individual). You would therefore have an incentive to leave your current protector, for a better one that is more fair and just in the marketplace.”

                “Well, what about people rich enough to not need to do much trade, or specifically people who inherited their wealth?”

                They must be providing present consumption to those who ask for it. That’s a good thing.

                “And in any case, yes, some people may boycott someone with a protector who violates the non-aggression principle, but others may not even believe in the non-aggression principle, so they may decide not to carry out any boycotts, or they may engage in boycotts according to other principles.”

                Then that is just a choice of statism. I am talking about the choice of anarchy.

                “And there may be some people who believe in the non-aggression principle, but who may not carry out a boycott, because they care about the product too much or they don’t have deeply held convictions about it. For instance, there are a lot of people who believe that certain companies do immoral things, for instance people may oppose a company paying its workers too little, but relatively few people participate in boycotts.”

                That’s because some people paying other people a wage isn’t an immoral act in the minds of most people. If someone offered to cut my grass in exchange for less than the minimum wage for example, most people would not consider that to be something that justifies shooting at me or the person cutting my grass. Maybe to you it deserves execution, but most people are not psychopaths.

                “So that marginal disadvantage might be relatively small and less than the benefit of engaging in aggression when you see fit.”

                Yes, there is little marginal benefit in initiating aggression where there isn’t any to start with, but rather productive behavior. Humans have learned to produce and trade because they (we) have found it gives us more than if we just engaged in a war of all against all, all the time.

                “I’m sorry, I had assumed you weren’t a psychopath.”

                “I’m not. It’s just that I don’t subscribe to the Rothbardian non-aggression principle, so I’m not interested in minimizing “violence” if it’s defined as violations of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle.”

                That’s precisely what makes a person a psychopath. Psychopaths hurt innocent people without remorse. Hurting innocent people is a violation of the NAP. You want to violate the NAP and you don’t seem to have any remorse. That makes you a psychopath. It’s just a name we give to people who have no remorse in hurting innocent people.

                “That doesn’t mean that I’m not against “violence” as the term is used in common parlance.”

                Common parlance of violence is violations of the NAP. Shooting at innocent people, hitting, stabbing, robbing, all of this is what in common parlance is understood as violence, and they are all violations of the NAP.

                “But I should add that I’m not a utilitarian or consequentialist, so fundamentally I’m not interested in what society minimizes negative consequences.”

                That’s what psychopaths believe, you know that right?

                “Then what do you call the standard that is the one you are assuming when you engage in a debate with me? Totalitarian dictatorship morality?”

                “If you want to know what I think the standard of morality should be, the answer is the Hindu religion.”

                You better reread Hinduism, because it preaches non-violence. Ahimsa is the concept of nonviolence. And yet you’re saying you don’t care about the NAP.

                “Sure you are. You are advocating for a state, you just won’t admit it explicitly.”

                “Well, let me admit right now, I am in favor of the state. I’m not an anarcho-capitalist or even a libertarian.”

                You say this like it wasn’t clear until you explicitly say it. You do know about reading between the lines, right?

                OK, suppose I am your next door neighbor. Suppose you want to hire A to be your protector, whereas I have already hired A* to be my protector.

                Since peace between you and I going forward would result in anarchy, since there wouldn’t be the same territorial monopolist in protection demanding payment from both of us, my question to you is this:

                Given that we would be in anarchy, would you point a gun at me, threatening to kill me if I choose to keep soliciting the services of my chosen protector A*, and not your protector A?

                Or will you only think of using violence against me if I threaten you with violence first, or will credibly initiate violence against you first?

                “Interpersonal utility comparisons for the loss.”

                “Well, I’m not making interpersonal utility comparisons. I wasn’t talking about whether a nightwatchman state or a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society maximizes social welfare, I was talking about which one minimizes the total number of violations of the Rothbardian non-aggression principle.”

                How can permanent violence against millions of people be a reduction in violence from every other possible protection mechanism?

                “Your personal preference is to argue in favor of a state, and against anarchy. Excuse me while I go out on that huge limb, and assume you’re advocating for a state.”

                “You’re right, I am in favor of a state.”

                Would you threaten to kill me if I had my own protector that didn’t match your preferred protector, and I refused to hire your protector?

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “This isn’t a counter-argument, unless you show why “the way of the highest bidder” is inferior to the statist ideal of “the way of the most violent people.”” Well, we can set up the government in such a way that it settles disputes according to the non-aggression principle, and we can set up a system of separation of powers and checks and balances to try to ensure that it stays that way.

                “Food and clothing go to the highest bidder, for example, and yet I don’t see you saying that this is evil, and that food and clothing should be coercively monopolized just like protection.” The difference is that starving to death doesn’t violate Rothbard’s non-aggression principle, but being murdered does.

                “What is wrong about the most productive getting the best protection first, before the innovations are replicated by other providers for the greater masses?” Well, what’s wrong is that if you get a lot of protection then you can use it to engage in oppression with relative impunity.

                “Then why call Rothbardia “immoral”? Why do you call statism “moral” or at least “more moral”? These are all value judgments, which imply that you do in fact “care”. You can’t call something immoral or moral in one breath, and then claim you don’t care in another breath.” Well, what if you were confronted with a bunch of people who believed that what matters for morality is not whether you murder someone or not, but whether you’re wearing a green shirt? Then I would say that a society in which people followed “greenism” would be a profoundly immoral society, but it wouldn’t interest me what society would maximize the number of people who wear green shirts.

                “States are no different from that. States provide more protection to those with more to lose. You need more resources and a greater level of protection service, to protect more wealth.” Well, there may be more protection in terms of more resources going into the protecting a rich person’s wealth, but what I mean is the protection they receive under the law when there’s conflict.

                “They must be providing present consumption to those who ask for it. That’s a good thing.” Well, they need not. And in any case, that wasn’t my question. I was asking, if you have someone who is really rich and doesn’t need to trade much, perhaps because of inheritance, what stops him from hiring protectors who are willing to not decide things in favor of the non-aggression principle?

                “Then that is just a choice of statism. I am talking about the choice of anarchy.” I was assuming we were talking about what would actually happen if we abolished the government, not what would happen if people acted the way you want them to act. If a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society only works if everyone is a Rothbardian anarcho-capitaist, then it seems unlikely to work.

                “That’s because some people paying other people a wage isn’t an immoral act in the minds of most people. If someone offered to cut my grass in exchange for less than the minimum wage for example, most people would not consider that to be something that justifies shooting at me or the person cutting my grass. Maybe to you it deserves execution, but most people are not psychopaths.” Well, I think a lot of people believe that a company should be threatened with losing its business license if it doesn’t follow minimum wage laws. Are they psychopaths?

                “Yes, there is little marginal benefit in initiating aggression where there isn’t any to start with, but rather productive behavior. Humans have learned to produce and trade because they (we) have found it gives us more than if we just engaged in a war of all against all, all the time.” Well, unfortunately there are some people who do find significant benefits in aggression.

                “You want to violate the NAP and you don’t seem to have any remorse. That makes you a psychopath. It’s just a name we give to people who have no remorse in hurting innocent people.” I’m certainly against harming people who’ve done nothing wrong. And if you think that anyone who doesn’t believe in the Rothbardian non-aggression principle are psychopaths, then you must believe that the vast majority of people are psychopaths.

                “Common parlance of violence is violations of the NAP.” No, I don’t think that’s true. If you explain Rothbard’s views about the non-aggression principle to the average person, they’d disagree. But if you ask them whether they were against violence, they would say yes.

                “That’s what psychopaths believe, you know that right?” Do you really think that all non-utilitarians or all non-consequentialists are psychopaths? Aren’t there a fair number of libertarians who have a deontological view of liberty, as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence for instance? Are they all psychopaths?

                “You better reread Hinduism, because it preaches non-violence. Ahimsa is the concept of nonviolence. And yet you’re saying you don’t care about the NAP.” I’m a firm believer in Ahimsa. But violence as defined in Hinduism is not the same as violation of the Rotbardian non-aggression principle. The notion of Ahimsa does not commit me to the Rothbardian idea of homesteading, for instance.

                “Given that we would be in anarchy, would you point a gun at me, threatening to kill me if I choose to keep soliciting the services of my chosen protector A*, and not your protector A?” No, you were utilizing the services of an illegitimate government, then I wouldn’t point a gun at you just to make you stop doing that. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t consider what you’re doing to be immoral.

                “Or will you only think of using violence against me if I threaten you with violence first, or will credibly initiate violence against you first?” I definitely would NOT use violence against you just for the sake of self-defense or revenge if you threatened me with violence or initiated violence against me. Concerning for my own life is too petty a concern to justify pointing a gun.

                “Would you threaten to kill me if I had my own protector that didn’t match your preferred protector, and I refused to hire your protector?” Well, I think it can in principle be legitimate for a government to use force to collect taxes.

      • Gamble says:

        MajorFreedom wrote: “One dollar is earned through the “democracy of the marketplace.”

        If you want to whore out Mises, at least quote him correctly. He made an emphasis on the fact that dollars, in the free market, gravitate to those individuals who are relatively most productive to their fellow mankind. Having more dollars is ALREADY a sign of a “vote” that took place prior”

        This is what I do not understand about todays market and “capitalism.” Investor capital, hedge funds and other vehicles keep business afloat rather than consumer driven profits. How can this be? Is this wrong? Why am I so confused? Has tax code, regulation and other intervention bypassed consumer and placed majority of capital and control into hands of investors regardless of profit, demand and utility?

        • Major_Freedom says:

          “This is what I do not understand about todays market and “capitalism.”

          Please note that what I said, what you are responding to, wasn’t a claim about “today’s capitalism.” It was a claim of capitalism.

          “Investor capital, hedge funds and other vehicles keep business afloat rather than consumer driven profits. How can this be? Is this wrong? Why am I so confused? Has tax code, regulation and other intervention bypassed consumer and placed majority of capital and control into hands of investors regardless of profit, demand and utility?”

          I don’t know what you mean by “keep business afloat” there. If you mean profits, then profits can be generated by capital goods and consumer goods investment and subsequent sales, where the difference between the two is positive.

  8. Blackadder says:

    Bob,

    Speaking of Rothbard botching things, what do you make of the highlighted Rothbard quotess here?

  9. Samson Corwell says:

    They claimed that Rothbard botched things[…]

    No, really?

  10. Bob Roddis says:

    At the moment, Tom Woods is explaining the importance of pricing in a police/justice system.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYSUgDeZAbc

  11. Bala says:

    Keshav,

    When you say this

    I think what you (or if not you, then at least other Austrians) may be missing is that counterfactuals aren’t some esoteric concept unique to economics and the social sciences. Natural science confronts them all the time, and it’s found ways of dealing with them. We have ways of determining, with a high degree of probability, what the counterfactual scenario would have looked like.

    you are actually missing the crux of the point that the other Austrians, maybe even MF as well, are making.

    The Austrian claim is not that the use of counterfactuals is unique to economics and the social sciences. Rather, it is that unlike in the natural sciences where the subject matter is non-volitional, the volitional nature of the subject of the social sciences including economics, i.e., man, makes it impossible for any human being to define the counterfactual universe with any certainty. The reason people are able to use counterfactuals as they do in the natural sciences is the underlying position of repeatability, a position that is untenable in the social sciences. And if you are unable to even define the counterfactual universe, how do you ever see yourself testing the propositions of the social sciences they way you test those of the natural sciences?

    If I rightly presume that I am among those other Austrians simply because I have harped a lot on this in my arguments with Ken B, then the additional point I have is that empirical data is useless because it involves comparison of what is, not with what would have been but with what was.

  12. Ken B says:

    Kesha and Samson,
    Let’s for the moment Grant, for the sake of the argument, that a free-market will always provide the optimal amount and distribution of any named good. Optimal there has a special meaning. It implies valuing the wishes and desires and goals of everyone participating in the market. Rothbardians want a market in murder and violence. (Yes MF they do, since they want to market in everything.) let us grant that rothbard Topia will achieve the optimal amount of murder. Here the special sense of optimal bites. I want to value at zero MF’s desire to murder Lord Keynes. I want to value at zero the rewards he gets from seeing his foe dead.

    • Ken B says:

      Oops, early submit.
      We can see that there will be too much murder in Rothbard Topia. The optimal amount will be calculated using MF’s positive utility from the murders. Unless you except that it is legitimate to value and ask desire to murder Lord Keynes the same way you would value his desire to help Lord Keynes you must conclude that Rothbard Topia leads to too much murder, by the very same argument and standards that the Rothbard crowd put forward.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        “We can see that there will be too much murder in Rothbard Topia. ”

        How can you claim to see events in a world that does not exist?

        Are you getting the same messages from the same invisible man in the sky that Christians get their messages from?

        “The optimal amount will be calculated using MF’s positive utility from the murders.”

        False. The optimal amount of murders in anarcho-capitalism is zero. Anarchy means without authority. Murder is an exercise in authority, indeed the ultimate exercise of authority.

        You don’t even know what you are arguing against.

        “Unless you except that it is legitimate to value and ask desire to murder Lord Keynes the same way you would value his desire to help Lord Keynes you must conclude that Rothbard Topia leads to too much murder, by the very same argument and standards that the Rothbard crowd put forward.”

        It is a violation of Rothbardian ethics to murder people.

        • Ken B says:

          I agree its a violation of Rothbardian ethics to murder. It’s an example of Rothbardian ethics to allow a market in it.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            That’s a contradiction.

            You can’t claim it is a violation of Rothbardian ethics to murder, and also claim that murder is an example of Rothbardian ethics. Murder for hire is still murder.

          • razer says:

            You don’t even see he contradiction in that statement, do you? Do you know what the “N” in NAP stands for? I’ll give you a hint, its what differentiates the Libertarian philosophy from statist one.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “Rothbardians want a market in murder and violence. (Yes MF they do, since they want to market in everything.) ”

      No, they don’t. You can repeat that lie as many times as you want, but it isn’t true. Anarcho-capitalists want a free market in protection, not a free market in aggression.

      They want a market in GOODS, not a free market in goods AND bads.

      If A hires B to kill innocent victim C, this would be a violation of Rothbardian ethics. You are making a false accusation by claiming that Rothbard wanted a free market in rape and murder.

      The reason Rothbard considered his ethics “anarcho-capitalist” is because of the fact that “capitalism” calls for a respect for individual person and property rights, and that the protection of such rights should be guided by market forces.

      Anarcho-capitalism isn’t anarcho-tyranny.

      And if anyone would be in support of murder, it would be you, because you want me to pay the same protector as you, ultimately at the threat of my own death, because that is what must be the ultimate judgment against me if I act upon my disagreement with you as to who shall protect me and who shall not. If the threat of death is not there, then I will use a gun to protect myself from your theft and the theft from your chosen “protector”, and simply say “Leave me alone, or else.” They would have to cease and desist harassing me, or else they would have to kill me.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Besides, even the concept of “free market in murder” is a contradiction in terms. An oxymoron.

        A free market means something. It doesn’t just mean A and B agreeing with each other, abstracted from every other individual. A free market is a process that applies universally, that is, in Rothbardian ethics a free market ethic applies to EVERY individual.

        A free market means there are no free market violations, to whatever extent that free market is free to take place in the absence of murder, theft, rape, etc.

      • Ken B says:

        The point is MF, to some murder is a good. If there is no authority then it is meaningless to say x is forbidden. You can say x will be opposed or countered, but not forbidden. So there will be a demand for it and a market for it.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          “The point is MF, to some murder is a good.”

          No, your point was that in anarcho-capitalist ethics, murder is a good.

          If your point NOW is that to “some people” murder is a good, then you’re no longer talking about anarcho-capitalist ethics. You’re no longer talking about Rothbardian ethics. You’re talking about those who violate anarcho-capitalist ethics.

          It doesn’t matter that they NAME murder a good. That isn’t what Rothbardian ethics is all about. It does not permit any and every activity that random people CALL “good”.

          “If there is no authority then it is meaningless to say x is forbidden.”

          False. I do not need any authority over you, nor do you need any authority over me, for you and I to defend ourselves from possible murder from the other. It is not an exercise of authority to DEFEND against initiations of authority. It is authority with the initiation, which of course is a choice, and not inevitable.

          “You can say x will be opposed or countered, but not forbidden. So there will be a demand for it and a market for it.”

          That is a violation of Rothbardian ethics.

          Anarcho-capitalism prohibits murder.

          Yes, there will likely be people who, in any social system, would accept murder for hire. That is the nature of statism for example. But it is not the nature of anarcho-capitalism. Occurrences of murder for hire are necessary in statism, prohibited in anarcho-capitalism.

          It’s easy to prove. Suppose there are 4 people in the world. You and I are next door neighbors. I have already hired A* to be my protector. You want to hire A. In order for anarchy to be squashed as you desire, given that I refuse to hire your A willingly, you must hire A to murder me. For if you hire A to only rob from me, I will point a gun at him and defend myself from his theft. Anarchy will reign.

          Only if you tell your A to shoot at me if I refuse to pay A, will you get your desired statism, namely, a territorial monopoly of A being “protector” for us both…against A* I guess.

          Thus, murder for hire is actually a COMPONENT of statism, whereas it is an accidental occurrence, a non-essential choice, in anarcho-capitalism.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Also, another argument against yours:

            “You can say x will be opposed or countered, but not forbidden. So there will be a demand for it and a market for it.”

            Since murder is not “forbidden” in statism, there is a demand for murder in statism according to your argument.

            • Ken B says:

              Of course there is.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Hiring statesmen to murder has no contra-legal force stopping it, since the state is the final judgment on its own murder for hire affairs.

                With a market for protection, at least there would be.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                And like you said, with a monopoly, there is typically an undersupply, so in the case of protection against murder for hire, there would be an undersupply.

            • Harold says:

              Murder occurs now, so there is clearly demand. I don’t suppose that will disappear if we switch to AC.
              “Anarcho-capitalism prohibits murder.” As do all states, yet it occurs anyway.
              “Occurrences of murder for hire are necessary in statism, prohibited in anarcho-capitalism.” Yet they will occur nonethless.

              “If A hires B to kill innocent victim C, this would be a violation of Rothbardian ethics.” What are the consequences for A and B if they are identified?

              • Ken B says:

                Yes. This is what’s so irritating about these discussions. Roddis et al say murder would be “prohibited” in Ancapistan, without giving any sense what that means, and assuming it means murder would be non existent or rare, without argument.
                it’s like MF saying only “goods” would be possible and murder is a “bad”. Vacuous.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Is “murder” allegedly ambiguous or is “prohibited” allegedly ambiguous?

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Ken B:

                “This is what’s so irritating about these discussions. Roddis et al say murder would be “prohibited” in Ancapistan, without giving any sense what that means, and assuming it means murder would be non existent or rare, without argument.”

                What’s frustrating is your penchant for associating “an-capistan” with a physical geographical territory, instead of what it is, an ETHIC.

                To the extent that the an-capistan ETHIC is practised, yes, it is indeed true that murder would be “prohibited.” It is prohibited by definition.

                In statism, murder and/or the credible threat of murder, is required to enforce a monopoly in protection.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                “To the extent that the an-capistan ETHIC is practised, yes, it is indeed true that murder would be “prohibited.” It is prohibited by definition.” Major_Freedom, by that argument you don’t even need private protection agencies in an-capistan.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                It’s an ethic that could be practiced by numerous geographical areas. Within each area, there could be a separate set of bylaws for areas that are religious or not etc based upon the mores of the people who wish to live there. One could be contractually bound to suffer a certain sanction for violating what we might consider is a silly religious taboo (or a politically correct one — whatever). If you don’t like the mores, leave or never move there.…..

                But the broad proposal is for people who are not in contractual privity to agree to not initiate force or commit fraud.

                I don’t see how this proposal is so ambiguous and I do not understand how the widespread adoption of this ethnic somehow leads to its violation. Of course, if people refuse en masse to be bound by the NAP, then there will plenty of violence and violations of the NAP. Duh. Human societies are not mechanical and there is no magical Mary Poppins stomping around to put things right.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Keshav:

                “It is prohibited by definition.”

                “Major_Freedom, by that argument you don’t even need private protection agencies in an-capistan.”

                We need protection against those individuals behaving “external” to the ancapistan ethic.

                Yes, you’re right, my household doesn’t need protection to stop us from killing or hirting each other. But we need protection against those who would want to violate the ancapistan ethic.

              • Ken B says:

                MF I think you have misunderstood Keshav. He wants a perfect Hindu state. It’s an ethic. If everyone agreed to abide perfectly by Hindu scripture then there would be no crime, by definition.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Ken B:

                I understand what Keshav is saying. I am the one who prodded it out of him because I suspected as much all along.

                It doesn’t matter if in some hypothetical perfect Hindu state there would be “no crime by definition.”

                The fact that individuals would be initiated with violence in his ideal, is sufficient to show that his conception of “crime” isn’t grounded on the individual, but on some abstract, indeed supernatural, universal.

                The point is that his ideal contains contradictions, which I have shown above. Similar to your contradictions, but instead of being based on Humanism, his is based on a different Religion.

              • Ken B says:

                Whoosh. Make that WHOOSH!

              • Harold says:

                BR “Is “murder” allegedly ambiguous or is “prohibited” allegedly ambiguous?” Both, apparently. Murder is by definition unlawful killing. Without a state to make laws, the term becomes ambiguous. All killing is not murder. Self defence, euthenasia etc make it a very ambiguous term.

                Prohibited is “that has been forbidden, banned” or “prohibited by authority”. Since the authority is ambiguous in an-cap, the term prohibited is also ambiguous.

                I was trying to get at whether Ken B has a point about a market for murder. What happens to A and B in the hypothetical is important. Is it a case of A and B being shunned because they have shown themselves to be not part of the an-cap society?

              • Ken B says:

                Harold: “What are the consequences for A and B if they are identified?”

                Indeed a key point. The answer is that good people will frown.

                More than that will happen of course. Major Freedom will declare them not to be part of Ancapistan and Bob Roddis will say “See, no murder in Ancapistan!” Bob will call them as annoying as hell.

        • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

          I don’t think it’s fair to suggest there is “no authority” in an AnCap society. Authority is just voluntary, rather than coercive.

          That said, your very existence and livelihood will depend upon your ability to meet your contractual obligations, almost all of which will assuredly include a “don’t murder” clause.

          Even under the “authority” of the state, there is still a market in murder, in the sense that some people are willing to pay the cost in order to participate in it. But “the cost” is simply life in prison rather than some sort of monetary fee or shunning or what have you.

          Is it possible that in Rothbardia, the “cost” or murder will be lower than it is under the state? Maybe, but I’d say not likely. A well-implemented social shunning could theoretically result in a de-facto death penalty for murderers.

        • Bob Roddis says:

          I think Ken B’s hangup is on the alleged lack of “authority”. It’s like LK’s a priori omniscient and benevolent regulator. There’s only us humans. There is no Big Nanny or Mary Poppins to look to for “authority”.

          I fail to see how a world where everyone is in contractual privity and has agreed to enforce the NAP and the prohibition on fraud is a more dangerous world than the one we have without those protections.

          • Ken B says:

            “a world where everyone … has agreed to enforce the NAP”

            Unicorns.

            But let’s make this point clear: I have a veto over the establishment of Rothbardia. So does Keshav and Samson. Because your premise is that*everyone* agrees.

          • Bob Roddis says:

            I suppose if you have an army/SWAT team and/or some bombs, you could exercise your veto by initiating and attack upon a peaceful community. Further, since you refuse to disavow the initiation of force, I presume that you would be ostracized by the peaceful community who would try and keep an eye on your for their own protection.

            • Bob Roddis says:

              TYPO:

              by initiating AN attack upon a peaceful community

            • Ken B says:

              Category error. You said in Ancapistan everyone agrees to the NAP. Since some don’t you never get there from here.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                That is another way of saying the ethic of ancapistanism.

                If some don’t agree, they are not practising ancapistanist ethics, and are hence not “in” ancapistan according to your misconceived notion of what it is.

  13. Ken B says:

    I read the whole MF vs KS sub thread. Keshav had MF on the ropes, bloodied and senseless, until he suddenly conceded with this: ” If you want to know what I think the standard of morality should be, the answer is the Hindu religion.”
    Due to this sudden appeal to authority Keshav is disqualified and the referee must award the exchange to MF.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Your ability to assess discussions is as poor as your humor.

      At no time was KS even close to what you claim. All KS was doing was repeating the same fallacies that you yourself have claimed. Yes, when someone talks like you, thinks like you, and wants to hurt people like you, then to someone like you that looks as though that person has the upper hand.

      You’re still smarting from the the shellacking you got from me. I threw contradiction exposing jabs all over the ring.

      “Due to this sudden appeal to authority Keshav is disqualified and the referee must award the exchange to MF.”

      That exactly describes your ethics. Appealing the authority of whoever happens to be the most violent and murderous group over a given geographical territory. For that isn’t just what our state happens to be, it is what states are in themselves.

      • Keshav Srinivasan says:

        “Appealing the authority of whoever happens to be the most violent and murderous group over a given geographical territory. ” I assume Ken B would not support the authority of the Nazis over Germany.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          “I assume Ken B would not support the authority of the Nazis over Germany.”

          Ken B has already made it clear that he is against anarchy period, which of course implies he would choose the authority of the Nazis over anarchy, if that was the alternative. Universal claims have that nature. Unless he’s not a true scotsman.

          • Eduardo Bellani says:

            One thing that confuses me is exactly why should an empiricist (which I assume Ken B to be) be a priori against killing innocent people.

            Shouldn’t they be open to the experiment to see if it increases social welfare? It is a valid hypothesis after all.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              The neat thing about trying to appear empirical is that one can rather easily couch one’s a priori convictions in terms of consequentialism or utilitarianism or some other a posteriori framework.

              It’s why Ken B and LK and DK and others have a hard time with a priorists. We are essentially demanding, argumentatively of course, that they address their convictions as a priori ones, which of course they cannot rationally defend, because they’re based on premises that don’t jive with each other.

              Ask a utilitarian if he would support the murder of 10 defenseless children if it meant the greater number of adults in the population became more happy because of it.

              Ask a consequentialist whether or not it is ethical to secretly drop a chemical in someone’s ear now, given that the chemical has effects that won’t become known until 10 or 20 years later.

              Ethics, as rationalism shows, must be a priori. It has to tell us what we can and cannot do in the here and now. Ethics cannot be grounded on the non-existent future.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                Why did you call me a psychopath for rejecting utilitarianism and consequentialism, then?

                By the way, did you see my latest response to you? http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2014/01/potpourri-181.html#comment-199839

              • Ken B says:

                In general, yes it’s ethical to treat ear aches. What an odd question.
                Next you’ll be asking if a consequentialist thinks it’s ethical to lie about whether there’s a Jewish girl hiding in your attack. When her mother asks it’s probably right to tell her.

            • Ken B says:

              So you conflate empiricist with utilitarian?

              • Eduardo Bellani says:

                No, I just know that both philosophies are related, and that every single person that I’ve met that used empiricism as the sole basis to understand ethics and justice was an act utilitarian in the end. So I assumed it was your case.

                Was I wrong in the assumption? If yes, please forgive me, and could you answer why it is wrong to murder a homeless person in order to save 6 police officers lives (a random example).

              • Ken B says:

                “every single person that I’ve met that used empiricism as the sole basis to understand ethics and justice”

                1. We’ve never met.
                2. I’ve never said any such thing. I will go so far as to say that facts matter, and so do consequences. I for instance think we should respect the double jeopardy clause in re OJ Simpson. Many here consider that immoral or insane as he is certainly guilty, but I think trashing that rule would have seriously badconsequences for others.

          • Ken B says:

            You are truly remarkable MF.

          • Ken B says:

            Ironically I am one of the few on this blog who applauds those who fought Nazis.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Ken B. wrote:

              Ironically I am one of the few on this blog who applauds those who fought Nazis.

              Unlike Ken B., I oppose melting thousands of Japanese children.

              • Ken B says:

                Indeed. Part and parcel of opposing the prisoner revolts in Treblinka and Sobibor. So we both support policies with costs.

                But since you raise such a subject Bob, it would have been your policy to allow Dow Chemical to sell zyklon b the Germans during the war wouldn’t it?

                (Still want to play this game?)

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Ken I don’t want to play any game with you, not because I fear the amazing speed with which you will slay my position, but because you’re annoying as hell.

              • Ken B says:

                I get it Bob. I get accused of supporting Nazis, and point out a relevant data point. You respond with a riff on killing children but when I turn the logic back on you I’m annoying. Got it.

                Good lord what faux pas will I commit next? Point out a simple fact about biology? Note when two quotes do not really contradict each other? Assert scoence is empirical?

            • Peter says:

              You mean to say: “applauds those who forced our kids to fight the Nazis though conscription.” There, fixed it for ya.
              A friendly reminder:
              “I Ain’t Got No Quarrel With The VietCong… No VietCong Ever Called Me Nigger” — Muhammad Ali, 1966

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