Morning Links

Monday, December 5th, 2011

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47 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Ted S. | 

    When I see the phrase “NOM pledge”, my first thought is of the “Num Yum” scene from I’m Alright Jack:

  2. #2 |  SamK | 

    Eh, I’m not 100% on what I think about occupy protesters…but this is rather telling from their “compatriots” across the pond…

    “Of those interviewed in the Reading the Riots study, 73% said they had been stopped and searched in the previous 12 months.”

    I think mistreatment by police is something we can all get behind.

    ((on a side note, what’s the markup for hyperlinks in this forum? I tried a few I was familiar with but…messy))

  3. #3 |  Cornellian | 

    Hmm, the NOM pledge includes the following two points:

    “In signing the NOM agreement, they have pledged to five key points:

    Sending a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman to the states for ratification.

    . . .

    Supporting legislation that would give people living in the District of Columbia the right to vote on marriage.”

    Doesn’t the first basically contradict the second?

  4. #4 |  derfel cadarn | 

    I have several questions that require clarification please. Why do Americans need government permission and sanction from their government for marriage ? How does other people(s),regardless of sex or number,pledging their troths to each other in loving earnestness lessen what you have in the same situation ? Why do Americans insist on negating others beliefs and then attempting to impose their own beliefs in invisible sky wizards,unicorn farts and the tooth fairy ? Until you can adequetely address the conundrum above it would be in everyones best interests if ALL Americans would learn to mind their own businesses. Christians now the shoe is on the other foot, Islam is attempting to usurp your rights,will you accept it ? Then why would others accept it from you? If you tell me that is gods way then i require that god herself tell us in person. Until that time ,members of ALL religions please believe whatever you like,but you do not get to impose it on anyone else. Mind your own business!

  5. #5 |  Juice | 

    I was disappointed in the statement from the Paul campaign regarding the Trump debate. It used phrases like “beneath the office of the presidency” which is fine on its own, I guess, because if anything can go that low it’s something involving Donald Trump. But it also said the office of the presidency has “history and dignity.” Say what? History, sure, but dignity? Yeesh.

  6. #6 |  Juice | 

    Is there a market for good law? Without the state providing law, could it be offered by multiple, private, and competing agencies?


    I’ve heard all sorts of arguments for this and they are complete fantasy. It would quickly result in turf battles that would get ugly. Can you imagine all the authoritarian law and order types more than adequately funding a truly tyrannical private law enforcement agency? Then the more peaceful types would have to fund another agency to fend them off? Maybe in the end there would be some sort of truce (maybe) that would end up in a quasi-monopoly anyway.

    Whenever I hear anarchists (or “voluntarists”) talk about this sort of thing, I cringe because it sounds like they just didn’t think it through. Or, they just hope (or they “know”) that the market will provide the right answer, because they have a religious faith about it. “How would this work out?” “I’m not really sure, but the market (Jah) will provide.”

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Ron Paul vs. Donald Trump…

    From the article:

    My worry is if we actually turn it into a reality show by allowing Trump to moderate the debate, the Republican primary election will fold in on itself and pop out of the spacetime continuum.

    If it took the republican party with it, it would be the best thing to happen to the U.S. since independence.

  8. #8 |  picachu | 

    Trump also thinks “Dogs playing pool” is one of the great treasures of western art.

    If they let Trump host a presidential debate they might as well let the cast of Jersy Shore do one too.

  9. #9 |  Reggie Hubbard | 

    >Few people take Ron Paul seriously and many of his views and presentation make him a clown-like candidate… I am glad he and Jon Huntsman, who has inconsequential poll numbers or a chance of winning, will not be attending the debate and wasting the time of the viewers who are trying very hard to make a very important decision

    Donald Trump’s line about Paul and Huntsman is something that nobody who plans on moderating a political debate should make. Even if Trump wasn’t a clown already, saying this about a serious Presidential candidate should make any reasonable candidate turn down the debate. Unfortunately, this is American politics so the phrase “reasonable candidate” is practically an oxymoron.

  10. #10 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    RE: Private Law
    “Always find this topic fascinating, but ultimately unconvincing.”

    I share your fascination/skepticism on this matter, Radley. I eagerly promote voluntary, non-coercive alternatives as much as possible, but I guess I always get off the train when the discussion turns to courts and laws. Yes, most people should try to settle their differences without having to turn to the state. And yes, I also understand that private arbitration firms are more prevalent than most people realize. But at some level, I continue to belive that public courts, as well as a basic legal framework need to exist.

    Sure, most people don’t need a law to understand that they should not kill, rape or steal. But my experience in the security field leads me to believe that a handful of people DO need clearly stated, codified laws in place to deter them from committing certain acts. If you listen to enough criminals, you begin to notice that they will purposely avoid certain acts (say producing a gun during a robbery) that may lead to enhanced penalties. Their acts are not purely impulsive people unfamiliar with their methods may believe. I am simply not convinced that fully privatized legal mechanisms could properly deal with such people. And what about child abuse, not to mention abuse of the elderly or disabled. If no one has the authority to pursue such investigations in the face of resistance or non-cooperation of suspects or their associates, how will we resolve these matters?

    Those are just a couple of my problems with the theories of Friedman and others. I am all for theorizing, but I deal with the realities of law/crime, and I just don’t think it will work. Perhaps our mutual friend CyniCAL will respond to help me out here. I am not saying anything’s off limits here, I am just saying I see way too many holes.

  11. #11 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    I think you might be on to something there. Let’s have LOTS of Presidential debates, sponsored by LOTS of different people and groups. The can’t possibly be less informative than photo-ops and press-the-flesh mobbings orchestrated by just one candidate. OK, some of them will be pointless exercises in puffery, but how are we worse off?

  12. #12 |  MH | 

    “Why do Americans need government permission and sanction from their government for marriage ?”

    Marriage has various financial and legal consequences that have to be recognized, or not, by third parties. I’m not sure why you appear to single out Americans, as the debate is playing out over the whole world.

  13. #13 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    Official video of the NOM pledge:

  14. #14 |  Robert | 

    RE: “This is not a bargain.”

    And yet, I’m sure they will get takers on this.

    Off-topic. I LOL’d at the ads on the site for “Americas Most Wanted” new episodes.

  15. #15 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “Occupy D.C. protesters claim a First Amendment right to build a house in a city park. And then to pee off of it. Or something.”

    Breaking away from the workplace hamster-wheel…
    It just dawned on me how peculiar it is that we’ve been hoodwinked, scammed, and manipulated to the point we’re forced to start occupying our own friggin’ country.

  16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Marriage has “various financial and legal consequences” because the government established them. If it weren’t for that, it could be handled just like any other private contract. There is no reason why the government has to set the terms for marriage. The two (or more) parties involved should be the only ones who determine the terms of their relationship. Furthermore, the rules shouldn’t change depending on what sate you move to and the government shouldn’t be able to arbitrarily change the rules later on as it does now.

    Marriage is a consensual relationship between people. If the government can regulate that, then it can regulate ANY consensual relationship which, in case you haven’t noticed, it does quite routinely in areas of sex, employment, health, minority preferences, majority preferences (in the case of women), insurance, banking, commerce, etc.

    It is easier to name those few aspects of your life that you still control than it is to name those directly controlled by government.

  17. #17 |  Dave Krueger | 

    And, by the way, the fact that the whole world is doing something, isn’t any better an argument than saying “that many people can’t be wrong” (you know, like when everyone thought the world was flat or when the whole western world thought that debt was a great way to finance government).

  18. #18 |  CyniCAl | 

    Hi Helmut. It is one thing to expound on theory. Anarchist theory is sound — I firmly believe that the only valid and sound way to diminish the incidence of violence is to refuse to practice it in any situation. It is quite another to achieve this in the real world, which of course is (dis)ordered through violence. I also believe that you are correct — private law (anarchy) in a population larger than some really small number approaching 1 is impossible. The problem is human mortality.

    Death and the omnipresent fear of death (the survival instinct) are the forces that bind together all humans who live in society under the power of the State (violence). As a result, violence, and the inability to trust one’s fellow man to refrain from violence, IS the human condition. Only the eradication of death can change this, and until then, the amount of violence in the total system is conserved: diminish State violence and individual violence increases by the same amount.

    In general, humans have too little time, energy and courage to take personal responsibility for self-defense (counteracting death and fear of death), so the State steps into that vacuum and serves that function, albeit imperfectly, randomly and arbitrarily. For its trouble, the State extracts rent by “selling” the only commodity it produces: its restraint from the use of its monopoly on “legal” violence.

    The net effect of this for the individual is, to paraphrase, “one who trades his liberty for security gets neither.”

    The sad part is that in the end, we are all dead anyway, and on net, people would lose nothing that they wouldn’t otherwise by practicing anarchy instead of statism. It circles back around to fear of death (survival instinct). There’s also the classic problem of mass action. The State is incredibly well-organized, the masses are not, and as history has proved in this world, the better organized side ALWAYS wins.

    This is why I seldom engage in these discussions anymore except to remark with wry amusement at the weakness of my species and observe some bright minds, in the manner of Sisyphus, wrestle with the impossible problem of controlling the State.

    So, to everyone, there’s no controlling the State, there’s no reforming it, it is not broken, it is working perfectly according to plan, there’s no defeating it. Until death is conquered, the best an individual can do is to distance oneself from it as best as one can, and perhaps strive to be as Nock and present the world with one improved unit, oneself.

  19. #19 |  GregS | 

    “Always find this topic fascinating, but ultimately unconvincing.”

    Let me respond with this: I’ve always found the topic of public enforcement of law fascinating, but ultimately unconvincing. Most law is already private. Most interactions are mediated privately, and most conflicts are resolved privately. I won’t insist that Friedman’s vision of the world is stable; no one knows if it is. He would insist that it is the “least bad” of many bad options. I’ll point out that no one knows how “stable” our system is; “instability” is the main criticism of anarchocapitalism.

    I’m curious if some of the other skeptics are aware of the vast literature on this topic. (“Literature” in this case does not mean “wild speculation.”) In 18h and 19th century England, you essentially had to catch your own criminals if you were a victim. Businessmen organized very effective “Prosecution Associations” to capture them. There weren’t public police forces until the 19th century. In present day America, private security outnumbers public security 2 to 1. They provide 2/3 of the security; the more absurd position is that private entities “couldn’t possibly” do the last third.

    The books “Order Without Law,” “The Not So Wild, Wild West,” “The Voluntary City,” and “The Enterprise of Law” all provide great real-world examples of systems of private law working. Some are working in the absence of a leviathan state. It’s often assumed that the state is ultimately needed as a backstop for these private systems of law to function; apparently that isn’t the case. I’ll insist that all the critiques of private systems of law apply just as strongly to public systems of law.

  20. #20 |  MH | 

    (Helmut writes:)
    “[…]at some level, I continue to belive that public courts, as well as a basic legal framework need to exist.”

    You will note that advocates of private law believe the same thing, with a twist on the meaning of ‘public.’ Private courts would still be ‘public’ in the sense of publishing their decisions so that others could examine their reasoning and fairness.

    “[…]My experience in the security field leads me to believe that a handful of people DO need clearly stated, codified laws in place to deter them from committing certain acts.”

    While there are various concepts of private law, in Friedman’s version there would in fact be such codified laws in between any two people, arising from contracts made in advance between private defense firms. The law would depend upon consumer preference rather than geographic location. (I acknowledge people couldn’t get _any_ law they wanted: they’d get the law they wanted among like-minded people, and negotiated agreements among people who disagree).

    “And what about child abuse, not to mention abuse of the elderly or disabled. If no one has the authority to pursue such investigations in the face of resistance or non-cooperation of suspects or their associates, how will we resolve these matters?”

    That’s a tricky question, and I hope you’ll acknowledge the state has not done a very good job at this historically. The advocate of private law generally wants to make it in someone’s interest to do good, rather than relying on beneficence, which is nice, but unreliable. Imagine a restitution-based legal system in which awards from a court could be transferred or pro-rated. Advocates for children or the disabled could make a living pursuing abusers and splitting awards with the victims. Obviously the process would be frought with complexity and controversy, but I think that would be true under any system, as it’s just hard to strike the right balance between respecting the family and preventing abuse.

  21. #21 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Thanks as always for your thoughts on this subject. Fear of death is indeed a primary motivator. It strengthens the state, not to mention another dangerous entity, organized religion. And I certainly agree on the importance of improving oneself and being, to the greatest extent possible, self-reliant. If people started with themselves, their families and their communities (neighborhoods, small towns) and began to operate as autonomously as possible, then the expressed need for state intervention would fade rather quickly. Its tricky though, as you know.

  22. #22 |  Juice | 


    Sure, affluent businessmen could afford to catch their own transgressors, but most people could not. Recently, some Wall St. corporations hired squadrons of New York’s finest for private security. They had the full powers of government police. If lower income people had to compete with that, how would that turn out? Also, in 18th and 19th century England, you had ‘public’ courts and a monopoly on law. So the laws that privateer cops were enforcing was the law handed down by government, which was prosecuted in government courts.

    I’m far from arguing for the current state of affairs, but allowing competing systems of law and law enforcement on common turf is a thoroughly bad idea and would be much worse than what we have now.

  23. #23 |  Juice | 


    That is a tricky question.

    Anyone can simply not agree to follow any law. How would you enforce a contract on someone who is party to no contract whatsoever?

  24. #24 |  GregS | 

    An “affluent” businessman in 18th or 19th century England was far poorer than a “poor” American is today. They had far fewer resources at their disposal. If the “affluent” of two centuries ago could afford something, today’s “poor” people can certainly afford it.
    “Recently, some Wall St. corporations hired squadrons of New York’s finest for private security.”
    Indeed, publicly supplied law ends up in the hands of the politically connected. Privately supplied goods and services don’t end up going “to the rich.” Your reference is a point in favor of private law (or if not that, at least a mark against public law).
    If anyone is really curious about the state of law enforcement in 19th century England, I suggest reading David Friedman’s writings on this rather than my (or Juice’s) summary.
    “…but allowing competing systems of law and law enforcement on common turf is a thoroughly bad idea and would be much worse than what we have now.”
    Do you live in a city that bans entry to state troopers? Or a state that excludes federal law enforcement? Are malls and businesses in your city unable to hire their own security guards? Assuming that these different agencies have overlapping jurisdictions, do they often break into firefights?

  25. #25 |  Mo | 

    derfel cadarn,

    You don’t need government permission to get married. You need government permission for the government to recognize that marriage and provide all of the legal niceties associated with it.

  26. #26 |  CyniCAl | 

    Yes Helmut, I agree that decentralization of power to the smallest possible unit of local control is optimal. It seems that you and I are getting down to the bedrock here while others are still quibbling over the details. The solution must come from the ground up. However, the tricky part is overcoming fear, which will never happen until death is conquered. So the only use in belaboring the subject is to spend time discussing an interesting topic and advance education, which is about the best anyone can hope I guess.

  27. #27 |  Dave Krueger | 

    After rereading MH’s comments and my response, I see that I have made a complete friggin’ moron of myself by interpreting it completely wrong. I apologize.

  28. #28 |  Fascist Nation | 

    They may be plagued by rapists and thieves. After all if you get enough people to collect in one area the makings of a government starts to spontaneously coalesce. But these Occupy people are entertaining!

  29. #29 |  David | 

    While it would be nice to get the government out of marriage entirely, the idea that banning government recognition of same-sex marriages is a concrete step in that direction is ludicrous. I support legalizing marijuana, but that doesn’t mean I’d consider legalizing marijuana only for white people as a halfway measure.

  30. #30 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Yeah, and the gay marriage movement wasn’t campaigning for equality. They were interested in membership to the exclusive club known as marriage wherein some people get special benefits that single people don’t get. If they had been campaigning for equality, they would have been interested in eliminating state sanctioned benefits for marriage completely.

  31. #31 |  Marty | 

    as far as private law goes, I’m surprised there aren’t firms specializing in family law, with pre-established mediators for their clients. You’d get a pre-nup, if the relationship goes sour, it’s negotiated within the firm. The firm would check on their clients on a regular basis- divorced clients would be able to easily give feedback and adjustments would be easier to implement. as clients grow older, the firm would handle wills, power of attorneys, etc.
    as horrible as the family courts are, this seems like a no-brainer.

  32. #32 |  Anonymous | 

    I’ll just leave this pdf.

  33. #33 |  Anonymous | 

    And this link for the non-anarchist “libertarians”.

  34. #34 |  Anonymous | 

    And this link for those on the “left” that treat the market as something to be feared.

  35. #35 |  GT | 

    #6 – Juice (and @radleybalko to a lesser extent), what you’re revealing is that while you may have thought about it, you have no idea of the extent of the literature on the subject, the historical examples (the law merchant, for example)… but FAR more importantly, the OTHER things that you bring into being when you grant territorial monopoly of violence to one group – namely, bureaucracy, taxation, and war.

    Unless you’re fully conversant in the Buchanan-style analysis of public goods problems, (right on through to arguments about optimal taxation) – and EXTENSIONS to Buchanan that incorporate ideas of X-inefficiency, and the impact of government interference on the supply functions for goods in non-target markets; well, until you can sensibly converse on that topic, all of your musing is pointless because it starts at a point well behind those of us who are equipped with the mechanisms for evaluation of economic systems (and jurisprudence is just another good: private-vs-public provision is an economic question).

    There are a multitude of very good reasons why Rothbard (and others like him) knew full well that private law enforcement was both feasible and morally superior to State-based mechanisms: first, COMPETITION in the absence of capturable bureaucracy will REDUCE violence (because violence is the COSTLIEST mechanism for dispute resolution: agencies that resort to violence would go out of business unless they can force non-subscribers to pay their bills). Second, the absence of a capturable bureaucracy eliminates the possibility for sociopathic megalomaniacs to infiltrate and exploit the tax base.

    When you sign up for a tax-funded ‘justice’ system, you don’t just get “good” cops, upstanding prosecutors and non-corrupt judges: you also get the Scalias, Yoos and every single one of Mr Balko’s “Bad Boys” prosecutors. AND Joe Arpaio.

    And you get wars – because the State will ALWAYS expand to the point where it is on the verge of stifling the host, and then it will start a war to divert the attention of its domestic victims.

    So you’re prepared to force OTHERS to participate in and fund your force-based tax-funded whackery because someone on the internet has convinced you that you would be subject to periodic expropriation by bands of privateer marauders: that’s a juvenile view of the world that flies in the face of CENTURIES of private law enforcement (including a tradable-rights system in Iceland during its Commonwealth period… a system that lasted longer than the US experiment has lasted to date, and which only started to fail once the Catholic Church invaded and forced centralisation of power).

    Seriously. I love the internet, but it’s full of people who think “persento, ergo rectum” (“I feel strongly, ergo I am right” – or more accurately “I feel strongly, so I will pull an argument out of my rectum”).

    I recommend some reading – for non-economists, Stefan Molyneux has a bunch of stuff (for free) which is all about private-sector contract enforcement through DROs (dispute resolution organisations).

    Private law -> no stupid nation-wide prohibition policies -> no “war on drugs” -> no incarceration of MILLIONS for victimless crimes.

    Private law -> tighter budget constraints on rent-seekers -> no periodic hysterias where prosecutors spend vast amounts of taxes looking for non-existent Satanists/baby-sacrificers/iDosers/Sexters/VodkaTamponners.

    Private law -> no government granted monopolies -> more consumer surplus in the pockets of individuals (you do KNOW monopolies tend to result in higher prices and lower output, right?).

    Private law -> no FED -> no Politburo-style mismanagement of the short term cost of funds -> no bureaucrat-induced misallocation of capital through intertemporal ‘carry’.

    Private law -> no professional parasites in palaces -> no industrial scale war.

    EVEN IF the freeing-up of competition in jurisprudence resulted in a period of adjustment during which your mythical Genghis-Khan style roving marauders preyed on the weak… do you think that the sum of all the Genghis Evil would come CLOSE to those last five points?

  36. #36 |  CyniCAl | 

    Yes, Hasnas is one of my faves.

  37. #37 |  GT | 

    Oh – one final thing… let’s not pretend that under the current (monopoly, forced, tax-funded system) that the pigs actually PROTECT or SERVE, or that judges and prosecutors are remotely interested in Justice (one is reminded of the famous statement of a man who went on to become a Law Lord: “We are not here to administer justice: we are here to administer the LAW.”)

    Most ‘law enforcement’ is, in fact, ex post facto attempts to apprehend people who have transgressed against State edicts, not against persons or property. Drug war, much?

    And to the extent that the curent system actually attempts to force perpetrators to atone for their actions: that atonement is for the benefit of the State, not the victim. The State gets low-cost labour (and the private prisons get HUGE piles of tax money), and the victim is encouraged to FEEL like they got “made whole” because they get the vindictive pleasure of seeing the perp in chains.

    And then we have ‘pre-crime’ – events where nobody has been injured and no property has been damaged, but a POSSIBLE probability tilt has occurred, making a future accident perhaps more likely. DUI and speeding stops are good example – the actual literature on the quantifiability of the increase probability of an accident due to being over legal limits, is shoddy and performed by non-disinterested parties (mostly it relies on simple “X died on the roads; Y were thought to be speeding – hence the proximate cause of 100Y/X% of accidents is speed”. In other words, the worst sort of post hoc ergo propter hoc non-reasoning is good enough to take away a man’s liberty).

    Seriously, it gets my fucking bile up when doofi start braying that the current system is anything remotely LIKE the optimal system for preventing bad actions, remedying the consequences of actions already performed, and punishing the wrongdoers. It so observably ISN’T.

  38. #38 |  CyniCAl | 

    And never was meant to be.

  39. #39 |  Mo | 


    There are some. They’re primarily used by Orthodox members of the religion (see Judaic or Sharia [ZOMG!!!] courts). There are also private civil courts, known as arbitration. What I find interesting is that they are mostly used when one side has significant leverage over the other (eg. cable/telco/credit card contracts). However, when there is a balance of power between the two (eg. two large corporations) they opt for local state law.

  40. #40 |  Juice | 


    You just committed the fallacy that you think you are pointing out in others.

    You just pulled faith-based assertions out of your ass, like:

    Private law -> no stupid nation-wide prohibition policies -> no “war on drugs” -> no incarceration of MILLIONS for victimless crimes.

    Oh? What makes you think so? As they say “citation needed.”

    Private law -> tighter budget constraints on rent-seekers -> no periodic hysterias where prosecutors spend vast amounts of taxes looking for non-existent Satanists/baby-sacrificers/iDosers/Sexters/VodkaTamponners.

    And I say this kind of shit would get worse. There wouldn’t even be the semblance of restraints on “officers of the law” and the “law” would be whatever the hell the “protection company” says it is.

    Private law -> no professional parasites in palaces -> no industrial scale war.

    Bull fucking shit.

    What makes you think so? You feel strongly about it, that’s what. You have zero data to back these assertions up, only your faith in the magical powers of “The Market.”

    The market is just human interaction. If you think that abolition of government is going to change human nature overnight (within 1000 years) you’re dreaming.

    Greg S,

    It’s all relative. An “affluent” businessman of the 18th and 19th century was affluent without the quotes and they could afford to buy much more than the poor of the time. Today’s poor could not afford the same “protection in law” that the rich could.

    And cops who work for different layers of government are all enforcing the same monopoly law and will send you to be prosecuted in the same court system with a hierarchical system of jurisdiction. They are not competing agencies. A security guard MUST defer authority to the police (from whatever layer of government) and have their powers limited by those very police. It’s simply NOT AT ALL analogous to competing private companies.

  41. #41 |  Mo | 


    What makes you think the Arpaios would go away? He’s excedingly popular. He keeps getting reelected in landslides. Like it or not, cruel, power-hungry law and order types are surprisingly popular.

  42. #42 |  GregS | 

    It is certainly not “all relative.” You’re committing the zero-sum fallacy. A “relatively poor” American today is still far richer than a “relatively affluent” Brit from the 19th century. He can afford to buy more of everything, including law enforcement. Anyway, I don’t know what your expertise is on this matter, or how you know that only the affluent were able to purchase law. I assume you’re guessing, until you say otherwise. I know that even very poor British neighborhoods had access to private conflict resolution. (Again, see “The Voluntary City” for historical examples.)

    Conflicts between different government jurisdictions are very real, and have very real stakes. It is perfectly legitimate to turn the question around and ask, “What stops these people from engaging in all-out war?” The forces that restrain different levels of government from fighting with each other also exist in a private system of law. Wars are costly. Questionable or avoidable wars undermine the moral integrity of the aggressors. These constraint becomes much more important when you can easily switch from one enforcement agency to another. I agree that the analogy isn’t perfect. For example, private actors spending their own money are less likely to get away with grandstanding bravado, or aggression for aggression’s sake. Firms that engage in this behavior would see their soldiers leave (or demand higher risk premiums to compensate them), and would see their customers leave, both in moral disgust and because of good old-fashioned elasticity of demand. The constraints that stop different levels of government from fighting are MORE powerful in a private system of law, not less.

  43. #43 |  Highway | 

    In the Washington Post today: Adult with BachSci Degree, two Masters Degrees, successful businessman, and School Board member takes 10th grade mandatory tests. Does very poorly.

    I tend to agree with the conclusion that the guy’s not stupid, but that the tests are not realistic.

  44. #44 |  Mo | 


    No he can’t. The problem is that a poor person today isn’t bidding against the 19th century affluent, they’re bidding against the people today. Sure, on technological things that didn’t exist or services that have had orders of magnitude more productivity. But like education and string quartets, law enforcement hasn’t had much gains in productivity because it’s still people intensive (read up on Baumol’s cost disease). A poor person can’t buy more housekeeping services than an affluent 19th century Brit, same with college education (at a non-government subsidized price).

  45. #45 |  JOR | 

    Instead of re-hashing the same old arguments I got bored of a decade ago to the same tired objections people raise over and over and over again as if nobody else ever bothered to think of them or answer them, I think I’ll just link to Roderick Long’s admirably thoughtful Anarchism as Constitutionalism, which to this day remains light-years ahead of most anarchist apologism.

    One important point: the state is not a Great Celestial Bureaucracy controlling society from the outside. It’s just people. It is, in every way that matters, just another private conglomerate acting in its own private interests. So if anyone’s afraid that a system of private law would devolve into an evil monopoly, well, you’re certainly right that it can: we have one of those evil monopolies right now, and it got that way at least partly through market means. There’s no automatic shortcut to liberty; constant vigilance is required. The “market” is just a fancy word for “lots of people doing stuff”. What matters is what they’re doing.

  46. #46 |  JOR | 

    Think I screwed up that link.

  47. #47 |  CyniCAl | 

    #40 | Juice — “Today’s poor could not afford the same “protection in law” that the rich could.”

    Hahahahahahaha! My vote plus my wife’s vote is twice as powerful as David Rockefeller’s vote!

    Mindy McCready just got away with kidnapping! Sure the poor today get “equal treatment” before the law! Sure they do!