Tom’s guest Warren Redlich talks about DUI checkpoints. Show notes here.
I suppose from a NAP perspective drunk driving shouldn’t even be illegal, right?
If I decide to play Russian Roulette with your head as the target should that be legal too?
Josiah right, I get your point, but by the same token someone on the other side could say, “It’s possible that you will use a butter knife to stab your neighbor, so it should be illegal to use butter knives.”
I don’t see what the impossible quandary is. If a private company owned the roads they would have to decide what level of risk was acceptable at what cost. If the state owns the roads, they have to make the exact same decisions.
In any event, even if road privatization is a good idea, that doesn’t mean that drunk driving should be legal on state owned roads (which is what Lew says in the article Dan linked to). You might as well say that the state should legalize murder.
“I don’t see what the impossible quandary is. If a private company owned the roads they would have to decide what level of risk was acceptable at what cost. If the state owns the roads, they have to make the exact same decisions.”
No, they don’t make the same exact decision. A private company faces the risk of going out of business if they lose their customers. The State doesn’t lose customers or face going out of business if people don’t use their roads. The State has very little incentive to eliminate drinking and driving. They make bank with DUIs. Their incentive is to maximize the amount of money they take in for DUIs.
Al Sharpton: KNIFE CONTROL Comes Next After Guns
Should you be allowed to drive while you’re tired, listening to music, eating, taking a drink, smoking, etc.?
I’d be in favor of privatizing the roads and letting the owner set the rules. Let people freely choose the level of risk they are willing to accept.
Most things shouldn’t be illegal. Reducing risk is a problem for insurance companies.
You’re right, Josiah, you’ve pointed out yet another impossible quandary with State ownership. There’s no real solution here, except to privatize the roads. It’s obviously not a violation of anyone’s rights for a private owner to decide rules for the use of his or her property.
I don’t think drunk driving itself violates the NAP, but reckless driving certainly does. It’s a threat, just like your Russian roulette example (to a much lesser extent).
Driving under any circumstances is playing Russian Roulette, since at any moment someone could just decide to plow into another car.
By that logic you could say that anyone at a shooting range is also violating the NAP, because at any moment they could turn around and shoot someone. No, for something to be a threat, the action they are taking in that moment has to be threatening, not a possible future action.
“No, for something to be a threat, the action they are taking in that moment has to be threatening, not a possible future action.”
If your definition of “threatening” doesn’t involve intent, then any situation in which it is merely *possible* that someone can be harmed must logically qualify as similar to Russian Roulette, in your worldview.
And if your definition doesn’t involve intent, then drunk driving isn’t similar to Russian Roulette.
“And if your definition doesn’t involve intent …”
This should read “… definition does involve …”.
Sorry about that.
Reece: “No, for something to be a threat, the action they are taking in that moment has to be threatening, not a possible future action.”
Further to our discussion below, merely pointing the gun can do not harm. On must pull the trigger to cause harm. Therefore pointing a gun is an action that carries no threat, as it is the possible future action of trigger pulling that carries the threat.
“I don’t think drunk driving itself violates the NAP, but reckless driving certainly does.” I don’ t understand that. If you drive recklessly but do not have an accident, why is that different from driving drunk and not having an accident? How has it violated the NAP if no-one was injured? If you drive drunk you know you increase the chances of an accident, which is reckless. I don’t see how one can be a violation and the other not.
An argument could be made that drunk driving in of itself is a threat, but I’m not convinced since it is so dependent on the person. A person could reasonably drive drunk and not be a threat to anyone, but the very act of driving “recklessly” inhibits safety. At the very least, you would need proof that the specific drunk driver was a threat to others, which would be difficult.
The real problem with drunk driving is that it generally leads to reckless driving, which is a threat. So drunk driving could be at most a threat of a threat, which really starts to minimize the violation.
“How has it violated the NAP if no-one was injured?”
I’m really confused at this. Do you think that if I point a gun at someone and say “I am going to shoot you,” I haven’t violated the NAP? Nobody was injured.
“If you drive drunk you know you increase the chances of an accident, which is reckless.”
You would need to prove that the specific person increased the risk of an accident, and by enough to be a threat, not just give averages. If I am swerving down the road, there is a clear threat to others. If I am driving drunk, but reasonably, there probably isn’t enough evidence that I am a threat, regardless of how other drunk people may drive.
“I’m really confused at this. Do you think that if I point a gun at someone and say “I am going to shoot you,” I haven’t violated the NAP? Nobody was injured.” I would count fear and distress as injury. The driving is different. It is more like I point a gun at your back, but you do not see it. Have I violated the NAP? By driving drunk I am not threatening anyone directly.
It would be reckless to drive around a blind curve so fast that you travel onto the other side of the road. If there is a vehicle coming, you will crash. If there is not someone coming, you will not. This is why it is reckless, because whether or not you crash is a matter of chance. If there is no crash, then who has been violated? It cannot be the driver of the car that wasn’t there.
“I would count fear and distress as injury.”
I think that would lead to a lot of ethical conclusions that most people would not be willing to go to. For example, Robby Soave wrote an article at Reason a couple of weeks ago about a boy who was supposedly banned from a college campus because he looked similar to someone who raped a girl there. There is little doubt that seeing someone that resembles someone who committed such a horrible act can be distressful, but I don’t think there exists a right to use force because of this. (Even if you think the college had the right to do this due to it sort of being its property, you can imagine a similar circumstance elsewhere.)
“The driving is different. It is more like I point a gun at your back, but you do not see it. Have I violated the NAP?”
Yes, you would be. I generally lean toward a pacifist viewpoint, but I would be willing to use limited violence to stop someone from pointing a gun at someone’s back, even if it didn’t distress me. I don’t see how that would not be a threat.
“By driving drunk I am not threatening anyone directly. It would be reckless to drive around a blind curve so fast that you travel onto the other side of the road. If there is a vehicle coming, you will crash. If there is not someone coming, you will not. This is why it is reckless, because whether or not you crash is a matter of chance. If there is no crash, then who has been violated? It cannot be the driver of the car that wasn’t there.”
Good point. I’m not really completely sure my answer to this would be correct…
First, some clarification: I think you’re saying that if there was someone coming from the other side, and the reckless driver had, say, a 90% chance of hitting that person, it would violate the NAP. But if someone was not coming from the other side, there would be a 0% chance of said driver hitting another person, since nobody is there. So there is no NAP violation in the second case.
But I would argue that the risk has to be looked at on both ends, not just the chance of the drunk driver crashing if someone is on the other end of the curve. So if I had a 90% chance of being on that curve and the reckless driver had a 90% chance of hitting someone (if they were there), even if I happened not to be there his reckless behavior would be a risk to me.
Imagine if my neighbor did not own the area right in front of his front door (suppose it was public property for whatever reason). Suppose that most days he walks out at exactly 7:30 AM to head to work. If I fired a gun at exactly 7:30, right in front of the door, I think there is a strong argument for it being highly risky to him even if he happened to be late that day.
On the other hand, it’s possible this could also lead to ethical conclusions I would not be willing to go to. In that case, I would say that rights were only violated if someone was nearby during the risky behavior.
Murray Rothbard said “No one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property…” I think that “threaten” is key here. If I point a gun at you and say “do this or I shoot!” I have threatened you, so violated the NAP. If I just point a gun at you, it may be that that is sufficient threat to violate the NAP. However, if you could not be aware of my pointing the gun, in order for it to be a threat we must argue that by pointing the gun at you, I threaten your safety because there is a real chance that I will pull the trigger accidentally. In this case I don’t see that this is any different from driving recklessly or while drunk – or even driving at all. My take is that if you are not aware, it would not be a violation of the NAP. This would allow pointing guns, driving recklessly and while drunk. I can also sympathise with the alternative view that these actions are threats, so do violate the NAP.
Zwolinski says: “That principle seems compatible with only two possible rules: either all risks are permissible (because they are not really aggression until they actually result in a harm), or none are (because they are). And neither of these seems sensible.” If you want to rule some OK and some not, one seems to require an arbitrary judgement, which sort of looses the point of the NAP.
The threat thing also covers in part the “fear and distress”. If I cause you fear, I may have threatened you and thus violated the NAP.
It seems that causing distress is generally considered as not breaching the NAP, so verbal bullying is fine as long as there is no physical threat.
According to Wiki, Mises believed in the NAP through consequentialist reasoning – that is it is not a moral imperative, but following nearly always ends up with the best outcome, so it should be accepted as a moral rule. Rothbard justifies it through a natural rights approach, i.e. the NAP is objectively moral. Not sure if that is how everyone sees their views.
Suppose I ran at you with a knife or pulled out a gun and pointed it right at you, but didn’t actually say anything. In both of these cases there is a chance that I wouldn’t actually intend you any harm, and there was no explicit threat, but I think you would clearly be in the right to use force against me. I don’t think threats have to be said out loud or be extortion in order to be against the NAP. Or, you could imagine me pointing a gun at someone behind their back. A friend or family member (or even a stranger) would almost certainly use violence to stop that, and I think they would be in the right to do so.
I know Rothbard disagreed with this, but I think his reasoning was off. Using drugs for example is not in of itself a threat; it’s the things that are done after using drugs that might constitute a threat. I think for any risk to be a threat it would have to directly threaten the other person, not just increase the likelihood that you *will* do something else that will threaten or hurt someone. So, for example, me pointing a gun at someone is a threat (I am partaking in a risky action toward specific possible victim(s)), while me being born a certain way that makes me statistically more likely to commit a crime is not a threat (I haven’t actually done anything that puts others at risk).
I strongly disagree Zwolinski’s critique. Ethical rules always have grey areas and some lines that have to be made. Proportionality is a classic example of this. I can’t shoot someone walking on my lawn, but I can shoot someone trying to blow up my house. I have my own arguments for this one specifically, but there are still lines that must be made. Explicit threats also have this problem. When is a threat serious and when is a threat not serious? There are some common sayings that are technically threats but any reasonable person would be shocked if someone actually took it seriously. Even contracts can be arbitrary to some extent. If I sell you an apple, there is an implicit contract that the apple will not be poisonous.
For risks, society can determine what violates the NAP and what doesn’t through reasonable analysis and different anarchist judges might rule differently on this. If something is to be determined a threat, anything with a similar risk would also have to be outlawed. If it would be ridiculous to outlaw some of the other things (like driving in general), then the bar is being put too low, and the action should not be considered a threat.
As for distress, I would not consider that a threat both because the risk would be too low and because distressing someone doesn’t actually put them at any risk of another aggression, which is a requirement of a threat violating the NAP. If I threaten to stop selling kittens to you, I haven’t violated the NAP under either of our positions despite threatening you. If I am swerving around in my car, I am putting your property at risk of an aggression.
Yes, It seems we must end up with some arbitrary choice about whether something is aggression, as you say, judges may disagree.
The important aspect is whether there is a category difference between activites that do or do not violate the NAP. Zwolinski sees no such line. I do not see it either, but that may not be because it is not there.
“Using drugs for example is not in of itself a threat; it’s the things that are done after using drugs that might constitute a threat.” I tend to agree with this, and driving may be one of the things done after using drugs that may be a threat. If judges may disagree, the NAP dos not help in resolving this.
“So, for example, me pointing a gun at someone is a threat (I am partaking in a risky action toward specific possible victim(s))” I don’t think we can use the specific victim as a reason for this to be a threat. What if I point a gun at a crowd? If I throw a hand grenade of a roof? If I throw a hand grenade off a dis-used quarry? Launch a missile at Tel Aviv? Fly a plane over Tel Aviv? The un-specified nature of the victims does not make these non agression.
I don’t think even reckless driving must necessarily be a violation of the NAP. Look at Formula 1. These dudes drive at 200mph, they tailgate, they don’t indicate, they brake violently. They often crash into each other and if they are punished, it’s within the sport (they get pushed back down the starting grid the next race for example) but it doesn’t go to a criminal court. That’s because other drivers consent to this. Just like when a boxer gets his face smashed by Klitschko, it’s not battery.
But i see your point and agree. Assuming “normal” drivers don’t consent to F1 style of driving, such driving might be considered to be an assault even if the private road owner doesn’t explicitly ban it in his T’s and C’s. But if he explicitly does, it would not qualify as reckless.
What I meant was “if he explicitly does allow it”.. Because then you’d have to assume the users of his roads are ok with it. Just like drivers on German freeways are ok with some cars going at ridiculous speeds, well above 100mph (I was once overtaken while going 160 myself). Ok, not the best example as German freeways are state-owned so people don’t have a choice and theoretically might desire a fascist speed limit UK-style, but you get the point.
Yeah, I agree. I generally short-hand on things like this and assume non-consent (kind of like saying punching people violates the NAP, which also isn’t necessarily true).
Yeah, and in practice you’d probably be right. But it’s important to realize the principle. One thing is the consent : if people do consent to a potentially threatening driving, then it’s not against the NAP. The second thing is : if they do not consent, WHAT is threatening driving? You’re going to get different answers in different areas. In Germany people will tell you that driving at 150 mph is no problem, because they see it every day and it means no problems. You get used to be mindful when changing lanes, that’s all. But in the UK (or USA) where people are not used to these speeds, you will, at least initially, get different perceptions.
the key thing is: the law on private roads would reflect that. On state roads it doesnt.
Here’s an analogy: Right now the government runs a bunch of K-12 schools. When you run a school, one of the decisions you have to make is which textbooks get assigned for the students to read. Private schools need to make this decision just the same as government schools do.
One way to deal with this decision would be to say that the government run schools just shouldn’t assign any textbooks. You could write some posts using BS statistics to argue that textbooks don’t actually do any good, and that we’d all be better off if they were done away with entirely.
I hope we can all agree that this would be a stupid way to deal with the issue. And no, it does not help if you say that you’d be fine with a private school assigning textbooks. Maybe there should be no government run schools (I’m inclined to think so). It does not follow that government run schools shouldn’t assign textbooks. Similarly, maybe there should be no government roads, but it doesn’t follow that drunk driving should be allowed on government roads. Further, when you argue that prohibiting drunk driving is not worth the cost, that is an argument that applies equally to private roads as it does to government roads.
When you argue like this, you end up looking like a fool. Don’t look like a fool.
GUEST ON TOM WOODS SHOW: I don’t think the president should blow up people with drones. Lots of innocents get killed. Here are other ways that president could fight terrorists.
JOSIAH: Oh, I suppose from an NAP perspective, having the federal government fight terrorists with tax money is theft, right?
BOB: Well, yes, that’s true Josiah. Only real solution here is to privatize all military services.
JOSIAH: I don’t see the problem. I suppose you’re against public libraries buying books? Don’t be a fool Bob.
In case the above is too cryptic: I never said drunk driving should be legal, Josiah, just like I have never said public school teachers should lead their classes in prayer every morning. I can see the merits of people on both sides of these issues, and my own position is that there is no non-arbitrary solution except to privatize it all and let owners set the policies.
Tom’s guest wasn’t advocating anything nutty; he was pointing out how innocent people get arrested and have their names publicized as horrible drunk drivers even when they blow a 0%. You went out of your way to pick a fight with me by sarcastically bringing up the NAP, so I answered you correctly in the terms you chose. Then you called me a fool. I guess I was a fool for answering your question, yes.
You’re right. You never said that drunk driving should be legalized. On the other hand, Lew Rockwell did write a column titled “Legalize Drunk Driving.” And when I asked about the issue, Dan linked to another article titled “Legalize Drunk Driving” and defended that position. So obviously there are libertarians who do take that line. Those are the people I’m calling foolish, not you. I apologize if that wasn’t clear.
One of these days you’re going to slip up in your blog commenting, Josiah, and when you do: I’ll be watching.
The state (better word than the government) shouldn’t do anything except resign. It shouldn’t run roads, punish drunk driving, investigate murders. So it DOES follow that, given it runs roads, it STILL shouldn’t punish drunk driving. And it DOES follow that, given it runs schools, it STILL should pick no textbooks. I find it bizarre that if the question is “should the state assign textbooks or not?” you would say “of course, we WANT the state to play an active role in our lives, living without the state would be stupid”
if you are an anarchist, you want the state out of everything and anything, all the time. I want it out even in areas where the state might do some good, e.g. catching murderers. Because without the state we can catch them much more efficiently.
Having said that, while your textbook example can be quite easily dismissed I think, I would struggle if your example followed the same logic but was from a different area. For example, if you said “I agree the state shouldn’t run hospitals but given it does, and given it has cancer-stricken patients lying in its operating theaters waiting for an operation from a state doctor, should the doctor do nothing?”, i couldn’t answer “the state should do nothing except resign so sure, the doctors should go home”.
so i am not completely clear on this and see your point.
“Further, when you argue that prohibiting drunk driving is not worth the cost, that is an argument that applies equally to private roads as it does to government roads.”
The argument isn’t that prohibiting drunk driving is not worth the cost. How do we know libertarians are not making this argument? Because they have no problem with private road owners banning drinking and driving. The argument is that allowing the State to ban a victimless crime like drunk driving is not worth the cost. Why? Well, some of the reasons I’m not in favor of the State banning drunk driving is that they inevitably use the law as a money making scheme, they don’t have the profit/loss incentives to properly determine the best way to reduce drunk driving, they arbitrarily determine what it means to be driving drunk, etc.
So, instead of giving the State the power to make money banning victimless crimes, I say we get them out of the way entirely and allow private road owners to determine how they want to operate their roads, and let the profit and loss system determine what conditions people will tolerate driving under. I feel like your solution simply compounds a serious problem.
The argument isn’t that prohibiting drunk driving is not worth the cost. How do we know libertarians are not making this argument? Because they have no problem with private road owners banning drinking and driving.
No, that just shows they are being inconsistent, which is hardly uncommon.
Well, some of the reasons I’m not in favor of the State banning drunk driving is that they inevitably use the law as a money making scheme
Is drunk driving a money making scheme for the state? I know that writing traffic tickets can be (we should probably get rid of stop signs just to be on the safe side), but enforcing the laws against DUI seem to be fairly costly.
I would note, BTW, that the guy Tom Woods interviews in this episode literally makes his living off of people driving drunk. So if you’re worried about people using the law as a money making scheme…
they don’t have the profit/loss incentives to properly determine the best way to reduce drunk driving
You know what’s probably not the best way to reduce drunk driving? Legalizing drunk driving.
they arbitrarily determine what it means to be driving drunk, etc.
As opposed to a private company, which would… arbitrarily determine what it means to be driving drunk.
“No, that just shows they are being inconsistent, which is hardly uncommon.”
No, it shows that their argument is different than the way you characterized it. There is nothing contradictory about believing that private owners should be able to ban whatever they want on their property, and also beliving that the State shouldn’t ban victimless crimes.
“Is drunk driving a money making scheme for the state? I know that writing traffic tickets can be (we should probably get rid of stop signs just to be on the safe side), but enforcing the laws against DUI seem to be fairly costly.”
Costly to who? The State doesn’t pay the costs. We pay all the costs. It’s not like billions of dollars brought in each year from DUI arrests are returned to the taxpayer.
“I would note, BTW, that the guy Tom Woods interviews in this episode literally makes his living off of people driving drunk. So if you’re worried about people using the law as a money making scheme…”
Yeah, lots of people make money off of drunk driving laws. So what? My cousin is a CPA making his money because of the IRS. I still want the IRS abolished, and for him to find another line of work.
“You know what’s probably not the best way to reduce drunk driving? Legalizing drunk driving.”
You know what’s probably not the best way to reduce drunk driving? Turning it into a crime that allows the State to use for revenue generation. You know what is a good way to reduce drunk driving? Get the State out of the picture, privatizing the roads, and allowing the free market to solve this problem. Hell, I can think of a ton of ways to reduce drunk driving if the State wasn’t in the way. For example, end taxi service regulations which would allow more competition, lower prices, and get more people to use their services instead of driving drunk. But, anyways, the question is whether the money the State sucks out of us by banning drunk driving is a benefit overall. I think the minimal reduction in drinking and driving caused by their laws is not worth the tremendous cost.
“As opposed to a private company, which would… arbitrarily determine what it means to be driving drunk.”
Yes. The difference being one is ruled by profit and loss, face competition, and rely on attracting customers to survive.
“Hell, I can think of a ton of ways to reduce drunk driving if the State wasn’t in the way.”
Don’t criminalize people for parking on the side of the highway to sleep it off, or for driving “too slow” when they still must get somewhere even if they are drunk.
Josiah, I have no problem with legalizing drunk driving. I have no problem with driving blindfolded. I have a problem with people smashing into other people’s things and or harming other people. Why the hell is drunk driving a worse excuse than any other kind of carelessness? Punishments should fit the crime, what crime is being committed by drunk driving; none. Take the internal logic of punishing people based on something that could possibly happen and apply that across human activity, it is a joke.
I posted a response to that last comment but forgot to put in my name. So it’ll show up under anon after awhile.
The UK has just introduced a driving under the influence of drugs law. However, it is not really “under the influence” as the limits are set very low, they are not even intended to be set at a level where impairment occurs, but slightly above “zero tolerance” levels. Cannabis and cocaine can be checked using a roadside test.
Blood alcohol has little effect on driving accident rates below 0.04% Most legal limits are 0.05 or 0.08%, so they are sensibly set above the point where “impairment” is a reasonable conclusion. Anybody with 0,04% cannot be said to be impaired wrt driving accidents. Union Pacific Rail-road has a limit of 0.02%, which is the same as for pilots in Europe – in the USA the limit for pilots is 0.04%.
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