01 Feb 2020

BMS ep 97: Lyn Ulbricht on the Absurd Trial and Sentence in the Silk Road Case

Bitcoin, Bob Murphy Show 2 Comments

Standard podcast audio here, or here is the video.

2 Responses to “BMS ep 97: Lyn Ulbricht on the Absurd Trial and Sentence in the Silk Road Case”

  1. Tel says:

    For the record, I believe there were many DPR’s and that Ulbright was the “patsy” who ended up taking the fall while the others got away. That’s fairly much the perfect crime (unless you are “patsy”) and if anyone ever gets involved in a criminal enterprise the first thought should be “Who will the others throw under the bus when this thing winds up?” I also think the penalty was obviously intended as a social message to discourage the use of these technologies, which of course fails every time because harsh penalties don’t discourage people who think they can get away with it (statistically speaking, most of the DPR’s did get away with it, likewise most of the online shops selling illegal merchandise did profit and get away with it). New versions of Silk Road popped up like mushrooms after heavy rain. The War on Drugs looks like a failure, but it’s profitable for both criminals and for enforcement bureaus alike … perhaps it’s not a total failure.

    That said, I might have a slightly unpopular opinion on this issue and I will start with Bryan Caplan’s open borders, declaring that we don’t need any immigration law, just throw it all away. Unrelated? Let’s keep going here … then we have Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson declaring you can’t even use the word “illegal” to describe someone who broke the law. He’s offended if you talk about it. You see Bryan Caplan and Gary Johnson think that all people should be law abiding except for when they personally decide to make exceptions … then it’s different.

    Now we have the Silk Road libertarians where some people decided they don’t happen to agree with drug laws (fair enough I don’t support those laws either) thus they will organize themselves to break that law, but they still expect the rest of the people to be law-abiding around them. They say, “These particular laws are wrong (in our opinion) so we can break the law if we decide it’s wrong.”

    Then we get FBI agents … paid to do the job of enforcing the law … and these FBI agents tell themselves, “Sure there are rules, sometimes you have to bend those rules, for the greater good. I’m Dirty Harry Callahan hunting down the scum of society and regular Joe Citizen needs rough men to protect him while he sleeps.” Oh gosh, turns out the people enforcing the law also discover that they are willing to bypass the inconvenient stuff, and (just like the others) they break the laws that they personally decide should really work differently.

    Now you see where I’m going with this? But it keeps going …

    We have the activist Judge who says, “I’m not a mindless machine cranking out some legal judgement by the book. It’s important that a Judge be willing to ahhh refine the law, even perhaps improve it where that’s required. We can’t expect the legislators to have thought of everything and in this pivotal case I must ensure the precedent is set properly, sending a suitable message to those nasty criminals. Imagine the fearful consequences if those criminals could break the law with impunity!”

    The activist Judge, shall we say … puts a little thumb on the scales of justice? Is that a fair description? I mean, for the good of society, it’s necessary to do this. We are a nation of laws, and everyone must be taught respect the law, so the judge is teaching people a lesson with a very stern penalty.

    We can talk about the “Social Contract” … go back to John Locke or even go right the way back to Epicurus and look at the concept of people making agreements with one another. Once you have a deal and then realize the other guy is no longer abiding by that deal … then buddy, we don’t have a deal no more. See how that works?

    • Harold says:

      ” The War on Drugs looks like a failure,”

      We can agree on something.

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