17 Aug 2009

More Challenges to Chaos Theory

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Daniel Cotter is debating a minarchist buddy and told him to read my pamphlet, Chaos Theory [.pdf]. Below is a list of questions that the minarchist had. These are great questions, but unfortunately I am too swamped with “real work” to answer them anytime soon. So I hope some of you can help Daniel in his proselyti–educational efforts.

Let me remind everyone that two important sequels to my thoughts in Chaos Theory are these Mises Daily articles: “But Wouldn’t Warlords Take Over?” and “The Possibility of Private Law.” In retrospect, I think the last essay comes logically before the beginning of Chaos Theory. –RPM

Questions From a Skeptical Reader

I meant to glance at Chaos Theory but I ended up reading the whole thing. All in all I found it very interesting but I wrote a list of issues that I have with Murphy’s analysis:

-The system of apprehension of criminals requires the criminal to approve their own detention by accepting the terms of a contract to enter a premises (in his example a movie theater). This seems to imply that if a criminal did not leave his own property, he could not be apprehended.

-If criminals can only be jailed voluntarily in order to keep down the costs of their insurance, then they would probably prefer to live under house arrest. That way they wouldn’t need to enter into contracts with others and wouldn’t need insurance.

-Murphy points out that the costs of combat are high so conflict between security providers is unlikely, but I believe that using force against the competition is still profitable if you can eventually establish a monopoly. I suppose that is a matter of conjecture, but he didn’t address it.

-In the footnotes he mentioned that it would be unlikely for parents to collude in mistreating their own child, but it certainly has happened. He does not account for children born out of wedlock or for children that have only one parent present for whatever reason. His assessment of markets in which children are traded neglects the fact that when children are abused for gratification, especially sexual gratification, or forced to perform other work they are economically valuable outside of their value as a loving child. Such a market would also probably lead to various derivatives like future trading in children.

-I found the comments on abortion to be quite strange. Ultimately, I suppose, this system would make abortion a matter of choice. That being said, those that don’t approve, would probably not be satisfied with simply locking themselves into a gated community and pretending that abortion doesn’t happen. There is no prohibition on pro-lifers forming exclusive gated communities now, but I’m yet to come across one. They tend to get out and about and make their disapproval known.

-With various companies providing their own title registries, there would be a myriad of different lists that you’d have to check before buying property. The whole idea sounds unworkable. I think that it would lead to a monopoly or at best a small oligopoly since people would not want so many registries complicating every major purchase.

-The fact that very wealthy individuals could afford massive insurance premiums means that they could, if they so desired, kill people and just pay out the victim or pay the higher premium. Putting a price on the value that is to be paid out is in itself problematic in that in some circumstances it may be profitable to kill someone. Basically, this insurance based system doesn’t prohibit the use of force. It just associates a cost with the use of force.

-Insurance companies that are meant to defend an anarchist society would likely collude with an invading army since the aggressive state could nullify their contractual obligations. So the company could just collect insurance premiums from it’s customers until a state invades and then surrender and collaborate with the new state so it doesn’t need to pay its customers out. The company would loose its income stream, but there would still be opportunities to trade with the formerly anarchist market under the new regime. And the state could even legislate it a monopoly.

-Murphy also asserted that if a defense firm initiated aggression against a neighboring state, that the insurance company which covers the defense firm would need to make payouts to the victims. This seems unlikely. The insurance companies are only used so that other actors in the anarchist economy will trust and therefore trade with the defense company. People residing outside of the anarchist economy would not be covered by the insurance contract. Why would the defense company pay higher premiums to cover deaths in the neighboring state with whom it doesn’t trade. Even if it did trade with them, it could set up a subsidiary to attack the neighbor. As long as it honors contracts with those who reside within the anarchist economy, it would not have any problems.

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