A Rebuttal to “Sorry Libertarian Anarchists, Capitalism Requires Government”

I find it rather fun to debunk articles about why anarchists are wrong. Mostly, this is because the people writing them are generally in favor of limited government, yet use all of the tactics of their big government counterparts when arguing against voluntaryism. This article called Sorry Libertarian Anarchists, Capitalism Requires Government, by Harry Binswanger was a slightly better critique of anarchism compared to Austin Petersen’s, but essentially makes the same mistake of failing to differentiate between defensive force, and offensive force.

The anarchists object to the very idea of a monopoly on force. That only shows that they cannot grasp what force is. Force is monopoly. To use force is to attempt to monopolize. The cop or the gunman says: “We’ll do it my way, not your way–or else.” There is no such thing as force that allows dissenters to go their own way.

If a man wants to have sex with a woman who doesn’t want it, only one of them can have their way. It’s either “Back off” or rape. Either way, it’s a monopoly.

Does he not realize that this argument says rape need only be deemed legal and the rapist is in the right? Anarchists recognize the aggressor as always wrong. Anarchists understand that force is a meaningless word in the way that he uses it, because he fails to differentiate between types of force. Defending against rape is not monopolizing force, it is monopolizing your body. And monopolizing your own body is where all rights stem from.

You are your own property, and therefore philosophically have total autonomy. He speaks of a “proper government”, which is mythical, unless you count the individual as a government of one. The only thing you have the right to monopolize is your own body, and the property that stems from the right of self ownership (acquired by trade, or original appropriation mixed with labor). This highlights the difference between the force used in rape, and the force used in defense of rape.

Monopolizing force in an attempt to rape would not be “proper government” (defined as a government that does not violate any rights) because it seeks to monopolize more than your own body (and your property which stems from self ownership). Monopolizing force to defend against rape would indeed be “proper government” because you are only monopolizing your own body, and demanding that no other (government or individual) break your monopoly on self ownership.

He really digs his own grave on this point, since all government does is in fact “rape”, by failing to recognizing autonomous individuals who own themselves, and therefore monopolize their own body. Government says it has partial ownership of you, and the proof is that they can force you to do things you do not want to do. And in this sense, he makes the same argument as Petersen: they both believe that just by wielding force, whether defensive or offensive, you are a government. But practically no one agrees with their definition of government.

Governments monopolize regardless of rights, and individuals acting in self defense are monopolizing only in accordance to their rights. If a government only operated without violating others’ rights, this means they would not forcefully exclude a competitor, and therefore would not be a government, but a competing business to fulfill a market demand.

And after all of the effort to show how force will be monopolized no matter what, Binswanger then argues that we need government force in order to protect us from force from others. But he never explains why the government’s force is better than those it protects you from. In essence he admits that there is no difference between “the cop or the gunman,” then arbitrarily chooses the cop’s force over the gunman’s. Binswanger would therefor not necessarily prefer the woman’s monopoly on force to the rapists: first he must check with the government to see which will be allowed under their monopoly.

He then goes on to praise the non-existent “American system” of government, which even in its perfect form violates the individual’s right to self ownership, and therefore does not fit the definition of a “proper government”.

The genius of the American system is that it limited government, reining it in by a Constitution, with checks and balances and the provision that no law can be passed unless it is “necessary and proper” to the government’s sole purpose: to protect individual rights–to protect them against their violation by physical force.

Tragically, the original American theory of government was breached, shelved, trashed long ago. But that’s another story.

No, it is not another story, it is very much a part of this story. What is so genius about a system that could not maintain itself? How was it reigned in by a Constitution, if he admits that it was “shelved and trashed long ago”? As Lysander Spooner said, the Constitution either allowed such a system as we have, or failed to prevent it.

Never has a government existed whose sole purpose was and stayed to protect individual rights, let alone doing so funded through voluntary means! So Binswanger can keep arguing for that type of government, but without saying how to get or keep it, what good does the argument do? I could use this same argument for a monarchy or dictatorship, and just ignore the fact that it would be impossible to always have a benevolent dictator in power.

Anarchy on the other hand, tells you how it will remain free: through market decisions. If the market dictates that force be used not only in self defense, we may end up right back where we are now. But that is a less likely scenario based on everything we know about markets and competition–competition delivers a better product for cheaper. It also speaks volumes that we are currently living in the worst case scenario for how anarchy would turn out: violent monopolization of force without accordance to individual rights stemming from self ownership.

But this last point, Binswanger would argue, is moot, because protection is not production, so it is therefore not an economic service which can be provided by the market.

However protection is creating a proper environment for economic transactions, just like vacuuming the floor at a shop creates a proper environment: vacuuming is not production, but it allows the store to be more productive by appealing to customers who want to shop in a clean store. A guard does not produce whatever you are selling, he allows you to be more productive by creating an environment where people feel safe shopping, working, or living.

The anarchists do not object to retaliatory force, only to it being wielded by a government. Why? Because, they say, it excludes “competitors.” It sure does: it excludes vigilantes, lynch mobs, terrorists, and anyone else wanting to use force subjectively.

“A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control–i.e., under objectively defined laws.” (Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)

There can be only one supreme law of the land and only one government to enforce it. (State and local governments are necessarily subordinate to the federal government.)

Yet despite his arguments, governments currently use force subjectively! And how can he claim competition for retaliatory force would be more subjective than monopolization on retaliatory force? What evidence does Binswanger have to show that government can more effectively objectively define laws than competing firms? None! In fact an examination of every government’s laws on earth will yield no such objectivity, especially when their aggressive actions are examined next to their laws. Read the Constitution for proof, and tell me if you think our government is objective in their enforcement.

Vigilantes, lynch mobs and terrorists would all be subject to further retaliation when they violate others’ rights. Not always, but more often than in government, will objective laws come from companies who wish to turn profits, because conflict is costly, and not conducive to the bottom line. Competing entities are not simply competing in force, but in productivity. They must bring people to justice in order to serve their customers, but not invite conflict by going beyond the objective, previously defined contracts they agree to fulfill. In other words, the competing wielders of force have all the incentives to lay out their “laws” and stick to them, while government has no such incentive.

Binswanger does not say what land area a government may cover, so we can assume that governments could be as small as we want, except that he says local and state governments are “necessarily subordinate to federal government” (despite arguing earlier in favor of the Constitution which subordinated the federal government to state governments). But why does a law of the land have to be subject to arbitrary borders? I might assume he would support one world government, because then the ultimate “agreement” across the board would be had over what an individual can and cannot do.

He claims the mythical government that he wants will not get its money through force, but voluntarily, and only wield force in a retaliatory manner. So the monopoly on law is what he really wants the government to have. Throw in the possibility of different courts defining different segments of law, or laws in different regions. The laws would depend on the people who voluntary patronize such firms for protection, while agreeing that they will not violate the laws they are protected with, and voila, we have an anarchist society.

People, consumers, would define the laws by patronizing competing agencies of law–security companies, third party arbiters, crime insurance companies, etc. Desire for profits will keep these competing firms from breaching contracts or waging wars. Governments on the other hand, routinely wage wars when they cannot agree with other governments.

The anarchist idea of putting law on “the market” cannot be applied even to a baseball game. It would mean that the rules of the game will be defined by whoever wins it.

An absurd analogy! In order to play a game at all, it must first be defined! This is a paradox; how can there be a winner if it takes a winner to define what it means to be a winner?! How can a game be won, if there is no game until it is won?

Imagine someone saying, “We’re going to play a game. Okay, I win; now I will tell you what the rules are. The rules are, I win.” That sounds like a government to me.

But let’s follow the baseball example. Two people or companies engaging in free trade would be the baseball teams, and they must both agree on the terms of the game before playing with each other. If they never agree, they never play!

If they agree on the rules, they then both agree on a third party to whom’s authority they will voluntarily submit, in order to engage in the game–the economic transaction–because they both want to play, they both see some benefit in the game. So both teams hire an umpire to call the shots based on rules that both teams agreed to, not that the umpire simply makes up.

Again, it is hilariously cringe-worthy that Binswanger would use an example of a baseball game, that could be compared perfectly to an anarchist scenario. Both teams agree on the end that they want: to play a game. They create law by defining the terms of the game. They know the umpire won’t always make the calls they want, but they also know the game essentially would be chaos–not anarchy–without the third party making the calls. Its a win win, even for the loser, who will have the chance to play other games, since other teams know they play fair.

The market was created by the two teams. The two will not be playing the same game, or in the same stadium, unless they first agree on the rules.

Binswanger also forgets that economics is not a zero-sum game. There is no outright winner in economics, and there is only a loser when the business shuts its doors. Otherwise, the business will stay open to competition. The team may lose one game, and win the next one; that is it may lose one customer, and gain the next one, based on how well it plays the game. But the teams it engages with are always on the same page, or they would not be engaging.

This guy might do better writing for the Onion. Look at these two lines, where he tells us why government functions cannot be accomplished through competition:

Actual competition is a peaceful rivalry to gain dollars–dollars paid voluntarily in uncoerced trade.

Governments are necessary–because we need to be secure from force initiated by criminals, terrorists, and foreign invaders.

Peaceful competition cannot exist without violent force. Allowing violent force to be used against you is the only way to prevent violent force from being used against you. Peaceful competition is the ideal, therefore we must accept violent force to make sure all competition is peaceful. He should be embarrassed that he wrote these two sentences in the same article, let alone right next to each other.

Government forcing you to fund and use their services is coerced trade! A voluntary trade would be hiring a firm who agrees to protect you from criminals, terrorists, and foreign invaders. And you would hire the best firm, not the one that says it will cage you if you refuse to engage, as the current government does.

Binswanger has already said that the only moral use of force is to defend rights, yet even when governments have defended some of these rights, they do so by first violating them in order to gain their funding through violent theft via taxation. It is a contradiction of objective morality, unless he somehow thinks paradoxically that an immoral act is required to stop other immoral acts.

The attempt to invoke individual rights to justify “competing” with the government collapses at the first attempt to concretize what it would mean in reality. Picture a band of strangers marching down Main Street, submachine guns at the ready. When confronted by the police, the leader of the band announces: “Me and the boys are only here to see that justice is done, so you have no right to interfere with us.” According to the anarchists, in such a confrontation the police are morally bound to withdraw, on pain of betraying the rights of self-defense and free trade.

First of all, whose rights have been violated? Men walking down the street with guns is not an infringement on any rights. On the other hand, armed police officers walking down the street, paid and armed through theft of the citizens wages, is itself an immoral act (according to his own definition) due to the rights violated to make it possible. Of course the police are morally required to withdraw.

But say it was just two gangs of gun toters: the immoral party would be the first one to fire a shot unprovoked. This isn’t hard: the people in the wrong are the ones who initiate force, who violate others’ rights, who infringe on the self ownership of others, who seek to break the monopoly that the individual inherently has over himself.

And anarchists think a free market for the services government provides would more often hold the wrongdoers accountable, based on the fact that the free market more often serves the consumers’ demands in every area in which the government doesn’t interfere.

Anarchy is no guarantee that a man’s rights will not be violated. Government is a guarantee that a man’s rights will be violated.

Economic competition presupposes a free market. A free market cannot exist until after force has been barred. That means objective law, backed up by a government. To say it can be backed up by “competing” force-wielders is circular. There is no competition until there is a free market, and some agency has to protect its condition as a free market by the use of retaliatory force.

He’s got it all backwards! The only natural law, that offensive force is barred. If you allow government to wield the force, then force has not been barred, and it is not a free market, which is presupposed for competition!

The question is, what is the most effective way of getting to a truly free market? Recognizing all force as immoral would be a good place to start, as opposed to giving government the magic power of abracadabra, and they are somehow not guilty of an immoral act.

If you can disassociate, and refuse to do business with someone, that is a free market. Government, which forces you into their marketplace, does not create a free market.

Competing force wielders would be more constrained by the market than monopoly force wielders, thus being more likely to lead to a freer and freer market, until economic incentives dictate the only rule that ever needed to exist: do not initiate force against others.

And at that point there will be 7 billion “proper governments” on earth called sovereign individuals.

5 Reasons Why the Article “5 Reasons Why I’m Not An Anarchist” is Wrong

I had to click on an article called “5 Reasons Why I’m Not An Anarchist” by Austin Petersen on The Libertarian Republic to see if it offered any new perspective I hadn’t considered.

The article was chock-full of logical fallacies notably the straw-man, red herring, and non sequitur. Petersen’s main method of argument was what socialists use against the free market: “well how would that work?” Austin Petersen can’t think of how private property would work without monopoly government force, so his conclusion is that it cannot. He starts off right from the beginning in a way that makes me question his basic understanding of libertarian philosophy.

1. “Rights are Guarantees”

A right is something that MUST be provided. Any society aimed at protecting natural rights must use some type of force to guarantee those rights. Any mechanism of force used to guarantee those rights have [sic] the same effect as government, no matter what that form may take.

Already his first sentence is so wrong. A right is absolutely NOT something that must be provided. A right is something that occurs naturally. You are alive, so you have the right to live. You are un-harmed, so if someone tries to harm you, you have the right to fight back. You built a home without kicking anyone else off the land, so you have a right to that property.

The reason a right is not something that must be provided is because that right would necessarily infringe on others’ rights, because they will be forced to provide “the right” in a non-voluntary society. If you have “the right” to medical care, that means you have “the right” to force others to provide medical care for you. A real right is expressed in the negative, not requiring action (No one may assault me), not a positive, requiring the action of a third party (someone must make sure I am not assaulted).

Also, needing “some type” of force to guarantee rights does not mean you need aggressive force. Defensive force is the only acceptable type to use in a voluntary society. Governments inherently use offensive force, or aggression, to achieve their ends, including supposedly “protecting natural rights” –which they violate by regulating non-aggressive actions without consent of the governed using stolen money. Well if we don’t have a natural right to not be robbed of the product of our labor, what do we have?

“Any mechanism of force” to retain rights does not have to be a government. Just because something has the same effect as government (or better) does not mean that the thing is a government, or has to be accomplished with coercion, as with government. My gun helps me maintain my right to live. Shooting an attacker protects my right, and does not require government. And contrary to what Petersen later argues, voluntarily creating a defense coalition does not necessarily make the organization a government.

anmemebastia

Then Petersen does what liberals do when defending government welfare. He pretends that if the government doesn’t protect the poor, the poor will have no protection.

A fully privatized law system would be justice for sale to the highest bidder…

…the constitution laid out the means for citizens to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, cruel or unusual punishments, or from things like double jeopardy. It means that while citizens have the right to defend themselves, they must also be defended if they are too weak to defend themselves.

It would not be “justice for sale to the highest bidder” because there would be competing interests. The government is currently selling justice to the highest bidder, precisely because it doesn’t have competitors! With competition, nothing is stopping other companies from taking your business if you sell to the highest bidder. Nothing is stopping other companies from stepping in on behalf of injured parties.

Corporations today buy off politicians for relatively small amounts of money in campaign contributions. A single person or corporation would have to spend too much money to manipulate the multitude of other companies that would be involved in various levels of the justice system. There would be no overarching authority preventing whistle-blowing. With government, the corporations spend a little money to make a lot in subsidies, regulations, or laws. It would quickly become more profitable to simply not be a corrupt company in the law enforcement industry. People would run legitimate businesses because of consumer demand and competing suppliers: no, the free market doesn’t suddenly fail when it comes to the defense industry!

Also, how is the constitution doing stopping unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and keeping poor folks from being “railroaded” into prison? It’s not. But the market would punish police and courts for these miscarriages of justice for the poor, unlike our current system.

Petersen’s definition of a “right” is wrong, he fails to understand the basic nature of what “government” is, and does not distinguish between defensive and offensive force.

2. “…unable to protect its citizens from foreign invasion”

A fully anarchist society with no collective means of defense is at the mercy of foreign powers who have not abdicated such means of survival. An anarchist state is at the mercy of anyone who wishes to expand into their territory unchecked. The Native Americans can attest to this.

The constitution laid out the means through which American society can protect itself. If I band together with my neighbors to form a mutual defense pact, and we call that a constitution, it would necessarily have the same effect as government.

Austin is very confused about the difference between voluntary and involuntary collectives. The constitution is not a contract, because we didn’t sign it. Are you responsible for adhering to contracts you didn’t sign? If you sign one with your neighbors, great! That’s anarchy. If you force the neighbor who didn’t sign to go along with your rules on their own property that is a government.

But again, Petersen says it would “have the same effect as government,” [emphasis added] not: “it would be a government.” I must however assume he is conflating something having a similar effect to government, with something being a government. Otherwise, why would he write a piece against anarchism when his statements support the idea? Voluntary associations would have the same effect as government, but without the coercion. So we can safely bet a voluntary system would yield better results as well; the old, you’ll know the tree by the fruit it bears.

joejarvisinvasionmeme

I’ve talked about this before, why anarchist societies would not be conquered. Basically, without any central control mechanism (government) what is there to take over? An invader would need to force every individual, business, and household to comply, which would be a problem if they were all armed. But if you conquer a country that already has a central oppressive system, you simply get to take over the puppet strings and be done with it: keep collecting taxes for your plunder. Otherwise it would cost more to invade than could be gained.

And of course governments prey on their own people as often as they invade foreign lands; a government is no guarantee that your own government won’t do worse things than the feared invading army. So take your pick of who you want to be pitted against. I would choose a foreign invader who everyone recognizes as an aggressive enemy versus a homegrown monster who you can’t defend yourself against.

In America, under the constitution he keeps mentioning, the “defense” was what originally victimized the Native Americans! Is Petersen simply arguing that it is better to be on the winning side? That would explain the offensive military juggernaut that the military has become today, creating more enemies than it repels.

The idea that we need government to defend a homeland rests on no morals grounds, and at best shaky strategic grounds.

3. “Anarchy means the non-aggression principle is optional”

If you believe in the non-aggression principle… who’s [sic] job is it to enforce it? If someone breaks into your home, and you are unable to defend yourself, or pay for private security, who do you call? If you have a dispute with your neighbor, who (you allege) stole your life savings, how will you sue them or have them arrested to get it back, assuming you might be correct?

Who did they call for protection when the constitution was written, Austin? The constitution was never meant to provide protection, it was meant to allow you to provide for your own protection in whatever way necessary. The government agents almost never prevent a crime, they just do a poor job investigating it, and a poor job bringing the assailant to justice.

What the constitution did provide was a way for the government (with a monopoly on criminal justice) to invade your neighbors home to search it if the same government grants itself a warrant saying the government has sufficient evidence to invade that home. Perhaps a search warrant would still be issued in an anarchist society, but it would not happen by monopoly decision, without any oversight from independent agencies.

I would rather live in a world where a man is still innocent until proven guilty, and unmolested until hard evidence of a crime is uncovered. With hard evidence, an anarchist society and the markets therein could bring justice better than government currently does or can.

Breaking the non-aggression principle does not mean it doesn’t exist, just like violating a right does not mean the right didn’t exist. Austin clearly believes in rights. Well, the non-aggression principle sums up every right. It says that naturally the attacker is in the wrong. The attacker doesn’t have to agree to the Non-aggression principle, but that won’t stop him from being shot, or apprehended, if he breaks it. An attacker might also not agree that you have the right to life, but you can still defend yourself against him, and dole out justice for his violation of your right/ the non-aggression principle.

Enforcing the non-aggression principle would come down to individuals and the people they hire. Vigilance will always be required, like the vigilance that would have been required to retain our rights from the Bill of Rights. But control over government, wielded through voting, is a sham, while the effect vigilant consumers have over the free market is proven.

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The non-aggression principle is a natural law. That doesn’t mean it is never broken, it means the one breaking it is always in the wrong. Remember that Austin doesn’t understand the difference between aggressive and defensive force, but an aggressor does not have to agree to me defending myself.

Things don’t work out perfectly now. Petersen acts like if a neighbor steals your money, the police will clear it right up! If there is hard evidence, the scenario would be no different, except that the profit motive for private courts would make it more fair, since they would be out of business if they weren’t. Currently, you just have to have the right judge: one corrupt person, not a whole corrupt company. Current courts are never defunded no matter how horrible they are. A private court would lose their business if they were unfair.

Then Austin does what liberals do when they argue against the free market and against “greedy businesses”:

In an anarchist state, no one is responsible for defending life, liberty, or property unless they are paid to do so. Crimes such as theft, fraud, breach of contract, or murder could be committed against those who do not have the means of self-defense. In Ancapistan… no one can hear you scream. And no one cares.

Because if something is not done by force, it can’t be done, right? Because the market delivers the best results which lift all ships… but not when it comes to security?

If you understand that the poor will be provided for through voluntary charity in a prosperous free market world, then you should also understand that those without protection will be provided for in a prosperous free market world. And that doesn’t even consider the probability that poverty and crime would be virtually eliminated in a free market world, judging by a comparison of relative poverty among a regions’ poorest members, between current freer market versus less economically free regions.

4. “The Non-Aggression Principle? I didn’t sign sh*t!”

The Non Aggression principle is a social contract… but I didn’t sign it, and neither did the enemies of liberty. Anarchist often sneer at constitutionalists, arguing that they didn’t sign the document, nor did they agree to it. Then they claim that the only thing we need to live in peace and harmony is the non-aggression principle. The only problem? I didn’t sign it. And neither did Kim Jong Un, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, or any other statist dictator on the planet. The non-aggression principle is a social contract, but there is zero obligation to live by it. Indeed, it would be dangerously naive to submit to any form of a non-aggression principle, for as soon as one party signs, those who have not could feel free to decline, and everyone who chooses to live life in a pacific state would be easy prey for those who do not live according to that principle.

Wrong again! That is 0-4 for everyone keeping score at home. The constitution is an involuntary grouping, or social contract, because no one alive today signed it.

The non-aggression principle is not a social contract, because it does not force any obligations on you. Not aggressing, or not violating another persons’ rights is not an obligation; like a right, it is expressed in the negative: an inaction. The constitution is an obligation, a positive, requiring an action of a non-aggressive party who did not agree to adhere by it.

Agreeing not to aggress on someone does not mean you agree to be freely aggressed upon! There is a difference between not attacking someone and allowing yourself to be attacked. You don’t have to sign the non-aggression principle, because it is not forcing you to do anything, it is a statement that whoever aggresses is naturally in the wrong. It is not a social contract, because it does not require the consent of both parties. It is a statement: if you attack me, you are in the wrong, and I will fight back.

Also, I suspect Petersen knows, and just ignored, that the non-aggression principle is not a statement of pacifism. I can’t stress this point enough: offensive force, attacking, is what violates the non-aggression principle, NOT defensive force, force used to protect yourself from an attacker.

Just being in the wrong doesn’t mean you will be punished. But if enough people asserted the non-aggression principle, it would very quickly be in every individual’s self interest to adhere by it. They don’t have to, but I also don’t have to follow laws. I will go to jail if I don’t however, and if you don’t follow the non-aggression principle, you might get shot, because you attacked someone!

Also, in many cases the non-aggression principle forbids the basic principle of a preemptive attack for the purpose of self-defense. Anarchists argue that there is “no harm, no crime,” however, if that is the case, then someone pointing a gun at you is not a crime. For if someone points a gun at you, it could be considered aggression, but if they do not shoot, then there is no harm. A minarchist society punishes threats and rightly labels such acts as aggression.

Where does he come up with this stuff? Of course aiming a gun at someone is aggression; the harm is in the threat! Shooting someone who aims a gun at you is not a preemptive strike. You don’t have to wait until you are punched, if someone is winding up to punch you; they have began the aggression against you. But yes, an actual preemptive strike IS aggression!

Now, what if Kim Jong Un placed a nuclear weapon on the launchpad aimed at Los Angeles… the equivalent of pointing a gun? Is it then moral or ethical to destroy their means of aggression.

Ownership of a non-precision weapon (which means not only a specific intended target can be hit) is de-facto aggression, because it cannot be used without aggressing on innocent parties in the vicinity of the guilty target. It would indeed be defense to disarm a nuclear weapon pointed at your city.

5. “Private Property”

Who defines what is private property? In an anarchist society, there is no commonly accepted definition. Some may choose to argue that intellectual property is private. Some may decide otherwise and begin acquiring that property for their own benefit. Some may argue that they have a right to food, and thus their neighbor’s surplus should be rightly theirs, seeing as how the creek from their property fed the crops next door. The farmer next door might argue that the creek actually belongs to him, since it flows across his fields. The beggar next door might argue that the fields are his, since he has been sleeping in them for longer than the farmer has sown them.

Without a firm definition of what constitutes private property, there can be no reliable transactions between parties. An anarchist society can attempt to define what is truly property, but they cannot enforce it, even if they all agree.

This is Petersen’s best point, but that is sort of like saying gonorrhea is the best STD: they all suck. So his solution to property disputes is to have a third party decide by force? Well couldn’t the same thing be done through arbitration in an anarchist society, but without force?

The difference would be that the third party is performing a service in an anarchist society, and therefore must keep their customers (both people in the dispute) and potential customers (people shopping around for dispute resolution) happy in order to maintain profits. Government will maintain profits (stolen tax dollars) regardless of the outcome, and actually has an agenda of its own, which will often dictate with whom government sides, regardless of who is right or wrong.

We can refer to the non-aggression principle to understand property rights. Are there going to be quarrels? Of course! But the question is, do we settle these by force, or by agreement? Right now, the two hundred some odd landowners regularly quarrel over borders (war), and involve all their subjects at dire costs in human life, and production. By allowing these governments to “solve” our land disputes between neighbors, we allow a whole larger monster that would otherwise never erupt beyond the Hatfields and McCoys.

Is the solution to the stream problem that the EPA owns it? That is where Petersen’s precious constitution has ended us. Is the answer to the hobo in your fields property taxes, in order to exclude the poor and income-less from calling a piece of land their own?

Do we all need to agree perfectly on private property to get along? Nope. Through our free interactions a definition of private property will be developed that is more fair than the one we currently have: we can be sure of it just as we are sure that the market will provide better options for deodorant, restaurants, and grocery stores.

We don’t have to know exactly how private property will be designed. But it will be much easier to be vigilant over the local business that make that call, than to be vigilant over our convoluted statist juggernaut between the local, state, and federal government.

Please check back next week for a complete article on property rights in an anarchist society, as the subject deserves more discussion.

Conclusion: Austin Petersen Doesn’t Understand Basic Philosophical Concepts

It simply amazes me that someone could make so many logical errors, and have such little understanding of concepts such as rights, principles, and voluntary versus involuntary grouping. I don’t know if Petersen willfully ignores the difference between defensive and offensive force, or honestly doesn’t understand the different.

And this is a guy who calls himself libertarian! That means we know he would make all these exact opposite arguments in a discussion with bigger statists than himself. Libertarians argue against the need for state welfare because the free market will raise all ships through trade and charity: Petersen argues that the poor would have no protection without government. Libertarians argue that the second amendment and gun rights are to protect us from our own government: Petersen argues that individual gun ownership could not protect us from foreign governments. Libertarians argue that government is a poor regulator that would be well replaced by a free market: Petersen argues that we need government to regulate private property, regulate security businesses, and guarantee rights (by violating others’ rights in order to pay for the guarantee).

Is this guy even a libertarian? He is seeking the nomination to run for President under the Libertarian Party. If Austin Petersen ever happens to read this, and I hope he does, please know there is an open invitation for a public debate over whether or not we need government.


Fiction helps a lot of people envision a voluntary, anarchist society, so I encourage you all to read my novel “Anarchy in New England,” in order to explore a world without government, and some ideas of how that society might function.

It Is All About Consent (and not just when it comes to sex)

Is it ever okay to have sex with someone who has not consented? No! Of course not! Essentially everyone agrees that consent is required before having sex, apart from a few rapists who try to justify their aggression by blaming the victim.

Aggression is failure to secure consent before taking an action that damages an individual.

But when we talk about consent in every area of governance, victim blame is rampant, or even the standard.

A business owner consents to you working there, and you consent to doing the job for a prescribed price. Then the government says it is going to take 25-50% at least of what you earn. What, I didn’t agree to that?! “No it is okay, look at all these wonderful services they are providing you!”

No, it is okay for me to rape you, because I am really good at sex! You’ll enjoy it.

I buy a house with cash; it is mine right? Sure, just pay $4,000 to your local government every year. But I didn’t consent to that! “It’s called a social contract, your consent is not required, just being a living breathing human binds you. And anyway, we paved the road in front of your house.”

I took you out on a date and paid for dinner, so you are going to have sex with me. I don’t need your explicit consent, it is implied by your presence, and the fact that you accepted the dinner for which I paid.

If a person does not consent to their labor, their time, or their money being taken, then it should not be taken! It is as simple as that. Why is it so easy to see this when it comes to rape, yet people have no problem ignoring consent in every facet of governance?

No, a majority cannot consent for you. If the whole frat house votes for you to have sex, that does not mean you gave consent. And if an entire country votes that people who smoke weed, or use cannabis as medicine, should be jailed, the victim is still the person using weed! They did not agree to that law, they did not consent to having plants be banned from usage, they did not aggress on anyone by using the plant, and they certainly did not consent to being locked in a cage for violating such rules.

joejarvismeme

Now some would try to flip my argument about consent, and say that if society makes a law, and the law is broken, society is the victim. But this is victim blame. The non-aggressive party is being blamed for the aggressor’s actions. We defend the jailers and condemn the jailed because we’ve been hypnotized to think laws are more important than actual aggression. But if a law is not protecting someone from aggression, it is itself aggression: forcing people to do something, or forcibly prohibiting them from doing it, without gaining their consent.

“Well what if a rapist doesn’t consent to being punished?” He took, he did not ask. Therefore his victim will set the price of what he has taken. Whatever the price–life in prison, death, public flogging–he took that risk by aggressing. If you don’t discuss the terms before the forced transaction, you can’t complain when the bill comes.

Even when you vote for someone, get them elected, and then they pass a law that you must follow, this is still not consent! Because you consented to sex last week, does not mean the man can come in whenever he wants and rape you! Although you agreed to sex earlier, you can withdraw your consent at any time! (Of course this gets into some muddy water, because electing a politician is essentially enabling a rapist).

Saying people deserve to be ruled without consent because of the horrid way they act, is like saying “she deserved to be raped because of the slutty way she dressed”.

And then of course there is the whole, “Well without the government who would keep us safe, build the roads, bomb hospitals in the middle east, teach children, blah, blah, blah.” Yes, and without rapists, how would women ever get pregnant and procreate?

In short, the government is a rapist trying to justify their aggression by blaming the victims: us!

If there is a “rape culture” the government has created it. Anyone against rape cannot possibly be for government without being quite hypocritical. We must consent, or an action is simply unjustified aggression.


Can Individuals Delegate a Right They Don’t Have to the Government? -Video

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Jan: Can you properly delegate a right you do not have?

Sen. Inoue: You cannot tax your neighbor, but you can authorize me as a senator to vote for programs that will tax your neighbor…

Jan: Then you think that you can actually delegate a right you do not have? …It is interesting to me how the agent can have more power than the principle. If the principles are the people, and the source [of power] comes from the people, the individuals do not have the right to initiate force against others-

Sen. Inoue: As individuals-

Jan: Well, if they get together then all of the sudden they have the right?

Sen. Inoue: If they authorize the government to do so, yes. If they authorize the government to enter into a war and kill people, that’s a right.

Jan: Where does this right come from if it doesn’t come from the people?

Sen. Inoue: The people through the Constitution.

Jan: The Constitution was made by the people right? So then the people are the source of all legitimate power, so if the people did not have the right to initiate physical force against anybody, then the government cannot have- It seems like there’s a contradiction there as far as if you say that all legitimate governmental power is derived from the people, and you agree that the individual citizens do not have the right to initiate force against other citizens, then it would seem clear that they cannot delegate that right to the government.

Sen. Inoue: Why don’t we just leave it this way, we disagree.

What Jan Helfeld is saying is that if a citizen does not have the right to do something as an individual (like rob their neighbor), then what gives the government the right to rob his neighbor on the citizen’s behalf? If the government derives its power from the people, where does this extra power come from, that the people can never exercise as individuals?

What is so magic about government, that suddenly they can act on an individual’s behalf in a way that the individual could never act on his own? What is so magic about a group of individuals that allows them to rob their neighbor, or initiate force, when said force would always be illegitimate as an individual?

There’s nothing magic about it. It is wrong to initiate force as an individual, and it is also wrong to initiate force as a group, even with approval of the majority. The only legitimate way to take someone’s money (time, labor, wealth) is for them to voluntarily hand it over to you. Otherwise it is theft, even if the government is the robber.

Charity versus taxation is the difference between sex and rape.


How Police in Iceland Dealt With a Fight I Witnessed

Last week I was in Reykjavic, the capital of Iceland. The scenery and the people are just great, and so is a lot of their culture. People talk about the socialist aspects of Iceland and other Scandinavian countries, but whatever the detriments caused by their relatively big government for their population size, police brutality is not one of them.

Only one person has ever been killed by the police in Iceland, and he was shooting randomly from his apartment. I realize less densely populated areas generally have less crime as well, but even adjusting for population size and crime rates, American police would have been expected to have killed 1,000-3,000 people since the 1960’s; not over 1,000 each year as it currently stands.

The other night I witnessed the Icelandic police officers’ restraint in dealing with drunken idiots. In America, they would have filled up the paddy wagon, or worse. In Reykjavic, they appear to be more interested in diffusing situations, not escalating them.

First, there were multiple officers standing around dealing with some situation, and a very drunk viking was screaming at them in Icelandic. I assume he was saying something negative towards the police. The drunkard’s friends ushered him away, and calmed him down. The police did not even acknowledge him. This is called restraint, and American police should take note. Instead of acting like a rival street-gang and throwing the rude drunkard to the ground or murdering him for being intoxicated in public, they let his friends deal with him. I guess they don’t have as much to prove.

Then, I just so happened to be in the vicinity of a couple guys who started yelling at each other. I didn’t know what they were saying, and at first honestly thought they may have been joking around with each other. But they were not, and one ran over and tackled the other to the ground. Friends stepped in to make sure it didn’t get too bad. There were some punches and kicks, but I don’t think those involved even wanted to really inflict much damage. The fight had mostly been broken up by the time the police van (which had only been a block away) stopped and about eight Icelandic police calmly stepped out.

I think one of those involved in the fight had already departed the area quite quickly, but a few others involved were gently beckoned to the police so they could figure out what happened. After a couple minutes of talking, everyone was sent on their way. No arrests, no brutality, and no one, not even those who had been fighting, were really hurt.

In America, someone would have been arrested, and put through the ringer. In all likelihood they would have been tackled to the ground, leading to worse injuries than were sustained in the actual fight. Then the police would have lectured them about how violence isn’t the answer–unless you are the police. Then it is always the answer.

This is a simple anecdote that doesn’t prove much, it is just what I saw from the police in the safest country on earth, with practically non-existent police brutality. But maybe it shows that America needs to rethink how situations are handled. Are police here to actually keep peace, and diffuse situations as the Icelandic police did? I don’t think so. I think the majority of people who become police in the USA do so for dubious purposes. Instead of setting an example of how to act, they use their position to act however they want. And I think the majority of police departments are more interested in writing traffic tickets in order to increase their budgets.

That being said, the system of public police does not properly place the incentives to behave well, neither in Iceland nor in America. If police were private, then the company they work for would be able to be defunded if the customers went elsewhere. In order to maintain a good image, and protect their profits, companies would fire and even prosecute bad officers. Currently we cannot defund the police no matter how few crimes they solve, or how many innocent people they maim.

The smaller a government gets, the more control the market has, though still indirectly. And that is probably the real reason why the Icelandic police are pretty good, because they still somewhat feel market pressures that a private company would feel. In a country with 300,000 residents, you have more access to the President than Americans have to their representative, where districts include over 700,000 people for the smallest federal office.

And we see the same thing in America. Generally speaking, the worst atrocities committed by police happen in big cities where the people and the voters have essentially no control over their politicians, nor the people they hire, including the police. In small towns, people know the police chief, and can knock on their selectman’s door. The politicians are much more likely to feel the brunt of their bad hiring, or failure to address cases of police brutality.

Even things that are technically illegal victimless crimes in Iceland were not enforced. Apparently it is illegal to carry around a beer, but everyone was doing it, and the police did not hassle people over it; probably because they are their neighbors, friends, and relatives.

This is not a complicated issue. If we want police to behave appropriately, we must place the incentives properly. Private businesses have the incentive to make sure their officers respond with appropriate force, instead of looking for an excuse to escalate situations. Governments–especially big ones–have essentially no reason to enforce high standards among police.

Interview on Free Talk San Franciso

Check out an interview from last week that I did about my novel, Anarchy in New England. Host Steven started Free Talk San Francisco, and was kind enough to invite me on as a guest! We discus adaps (advertiser’s apartments) and pod tunnels from the novel, private police, and free markets.

Lord of the Rings: Do You Know The Enemy?

Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him. Yet so little faith do we find now in the world beyond Lothlorien, unless maybe in Rivendell, that we dare not by our own trust endanger our land. We live now upon an island amid many perils, and our hands are more often upon the bowstring than upon the harp. – Haldir, Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Rings

Distrust has been sewn among the ranks of all those who oppose the Dark Lord. But they are right to be distrustful! Bad things do happen, and blind trust is more likely to allow the enemy his chance at sabotage. And since they are so accustomed to having to defend themselves, a violent reaction becomes second nature.

But I want to live in a world where the hand is more often upon the harp. When force is being used widespread against peaceful people, how can we not be on our guard? We don’t want to be victims of attack by the government or fellow citizens, so we can’t go placing blind trust in strangers. Many of us today do feel that we live “upon an island amid many perils.”

So what must be destroyed is the Dark Lord, but to do this, power itself must be destroyed; Tolkien embodied this power in the Ring. And it is like that today as well. Who do you trust? Well this is the live and let live philosophy. Don’t take action against someone unless they try to impose force on you. If multiple groups are working towards the same goal, eliminating power monopolies and therefore the government, we should not fight amongst ourselves.

Right now movements fight amongst themselves. The right claims to hate the power that the government wields, and the left claims to hate the power that the corporations wield. Yet this power is one and the same. Corporations could not use force without the government selling them their power. It is therefore the power that must be destroyed. But today’s equivalent to Sauron is happy to have Republicans fighting with the Democrats about whose ideas will lead to less oppression.

The enemy is the power of force. The elves and dwarves should not be fighting while they both oppose the Dark Lord, and neither should conservatives and liberals while they both seek to solve problems in our society. And when either side wants to use force to solve these problems through government, they will be corrupted and become the evil that they once fought to eradicate.

Indeed, many on the left and the right simply want “their side” to win, and gladly use the force government has to offer. They are the enemy, agents of Sauron. We should not be fooled by someone in our own movement, whatever that may be, who claims to believe in freedom, and then seeks to use force. And likewise we should not categorize everyone in a rival movement, when they may be working for the same goal. The test is easy: do they want to use force to get their way, or are their ideas good enough to stand alone?

If we all properly recognize the enemy as those who use force to get their way, instead of mutually beneficial transactions and agreements, we can join forces and achieve the better world, by destroying the ring of power, and destroying the power of force. And when that force is no longer legitimized with the magic word “government”, our hands will be more often on the harp.



Lord of the Rings: Let’s Use the Power for Good!

‘True hearted men, they will not be corrupted. We of Minas Tirith have been staunch through long years of trial. We do not desire the power of wizard-lords, only strength to defend ourselves, strength in a just cause. And behold! in our need chance brings to light the Ring of Power. It is a gift, I say; a gift to the foes of Mordor. It is mad not to use it, to use the power of the enemy against him…’

‘And they tell us to throw it away!’ he cried. ‘I do not say destroy it. That might be well if reason could show any hope of doing so. It does not.’ Boromir, Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Rings

Essentially Boromir is saying that all we need is the right people in positions of power, and everything will be fine. But he leaves out the important part about how we will make sure only good men are in positions of power, especially when power attracts the worst type of men.

Boromir’s folly is that he trusts men, even himself, with power. And how tempting it can be! If I was dictator of earth right now, I could create a paradise! But would I? Reason suggests such is impossible. As noble as I know myself to be, I cannot predict what that sort of power would do to me. Would I, would anyone, really be able to give up that type of power of force? Slowly the control would take over, and we would make excuses for ourselves as to why we needed to continue our rule. Just around the corner would always be the goal that if reached, surely we would give it up!

What I love is that Boromir admits that destroying the ring would be the best option, but that it is impossible to do so. I often hear people tell me that anarchy sounds good in theory, but reason shows no hope of attaining such freedom. So instead, they say, agreeing with Boromir, we must wield power in order to eradicate the world of evil… and then maybe we can destroy the ring.

This is sort of the same thing the communists said. We don’t want to keep the power once there is a dictatorship, we just need to eliminate the evil exploiters of the proletariat, and then control will be abolished, and everyone will live on in peace and equality forever. But people like Lenin and Stalin never destroyed the ring, they kept in and wielded it for either, just as all had before them.

Boromir is noble, yet before the first book is over he has attempted to take the Ring of Power from Frodo by force. Its allure is too strong for him. Even though he truly desires the Ring to protect Gondor and Middle Earth from Mordor, even outside his possession the Ring manifests evil through him. He was willing to steal from Frodo, to violently rob him at least, in order to gain power, the power of force.

As treacherous and unattainable as it may seem to destroy the Ring, it is the only option for lasting good to reign. If any remnant of legitimized force remains, then it is only a matter of time until Sauron rises again. This is why any bit of government that exists will eventually grow itself into evil that dominates all it touches.

We must start from the position that force is never okay, but only agreement and mutual benefit. Never can a peaceful individual who has harmed no one be deprived of his labour, life, or freedom. It must be recognized that anyone who inflicts such damage on him, even under the guise of government, through taxes, or “the greater good”, must be punished accordingly based on his transgression.

Destroy the Ring, destroy the power of force, for it is the only option if we are to hence forth recognize any aggression as wrong. No “necessary” evil, no brutal force to make the trains run on time, no local authority with the power of force, under the excuse that it is too small to ever become evil.

Force itself is evil, and it must never be given an excuse, or a disguise in the form of government.

Excerpt from “Anarchy in New England,” a Fiction Novel by Joe Jarvis

Just in case you have been on the fence about buying “Anarchy in New England,” here is an excerpt from the novel in order to help make your decision. Don’t forget to leave an Amazon review if you have already read it!


That night Mr. Barry and Mr. Drake met for dinner. Drake had suggested Hillside, but Barry insisted on a less popular restaurant where he wouldn’t run into as many familiar faces. Of course formal attire was required, so Mr. Drake and Mr. Barry were dressed similarly to their work attire, but classier.

Formal clothes were reminiscent of just before the collapse, but with some notable differences. Blazers and suit jackets didn’t have any buttons, and were hardly ever made to close, but when they were, it was with poly-melding-elastomer. This synthetic rubber-like material was made to bond and fuse together to form a seal, but could easily be touch activated to release to its old form.

Poly-melding-elastomer replaced zippers and other fasteners, and its use extended beyond clothing. Many high-end windows and doors would seal with poly-melding-elastomer for more efficient insulation. Reusable food containers made of poly-melding-elastomer had become quite popular lately, forming to the food and sealing without air pockets, or molding to any shape needed to fit in the refrigerator or storage and remain firm. But the material could always return perfectly to its initial state.

Whole garments were made of poly-melding-elastomer as well. For sports and physical activity, the clothing would regulate how much air was allowed through the garment based on body temperature. A shirt would increase ventilation during hot weather, and seal shut if it got too cold. Poly-melding-elastomer was a favorite for chiseled men and well endowed women, whose clothing would form fit and seal to accentuate their features. And they never had to buy a new size, as the material would expand or contract naturally, as needed, even as they breathed. Poly- melding-elastomer gloves and belts always fit perfectly. There were even anti-rape poly-melding-elastomer undergarments coded to unseal only under specific circumstances. It would be hard to find a home without something made from the new high tech material.

But any poly-melding-elastomer that Drake and Barry wore was well hidden, so that they would not appear tacky. The collars of their shirts were much thinner than pre-collapse collars, or sometimes only an outline with a different material, flush with the rest of the jacket. Dress shirts were also closed with poly-melding-elastomer so that there were no buttons, and only smooth cloth could be seen down the front of the formal shirt. The neck was wider, collar less prominent, and no one wore ties anymore. Instead a “badge” would be worn on the center of the chest, about three quarters of the way up the dress shirt.

Badges attached magnetically or with poly-melding-elastomer, depending on the design of the badge and shirt. Some were small like an old tie clip, but others, especially for formal occasions could be quite large. Most companies had their own insignia, in various sizes and styles, which employees would wear for work; however for personal wear, badges were quite varied.

Drake wore a pure silver badge – except for the poly-melding-elastomer back that attached to a strip of the material on the front of the shirt – which bore his family crest. The coat of arms was engraved with a dragon holding a sword in one hand, and scale in the other. The seal was created by Drake’s grandfather when he adopted the family name Drake in the late 2030’s after Food Corp operations expanded beyond its walls. Drake’s grandfather had been ashamed of how his family raised him before the collapse, and disgusted with the things they did to survive after the collapse. For a range of reasons it was common for people to take a new last name after the collapse, with a strong influence of history and mythology.

Barry wore a badge the size of a large coin that had a black sapphire set in glazed Brazilian rosewood. Barry was a pre-collapse family name, his grandfather was on the board of directors for Food Corp and never suffered much upset during the collapse and New England Renaissance.

“All I need is for the wrong person to see us together and there will be more wild accusations about collusion.” Barry hissed.

“For God’s sake Barry we aren’t the first arbiter and security CEO to ever eat dinner together.” Drake said looking up from his touch screen menu as Barry sat down, glancing around to make sure no one he knew was in the dimly lit basement bistro.

“Well with the way BER is up my ass it wouldn’t take much right now, with their…erroneous and… flippant…” Barry stumbled as he searched for words to express his anger in an intelligent sounding way.

Drake calmly set his menu down, and offered an amused smile; though a smile on Drake’s face was hardly detectable. Slight dimples could be made out however, and his bulldog cheeks were raised, ever so minimally.

“Well I wouldn’t exactly call it erroneous… You did take the bribe after all.”

“And why shouldn’t I? I work hard everyday, aren’t I entitled to a bonus? Don’t I deserve to offer my services outside of the typically expected products arbitration can deliver?” Barry shot back quickly and defensively as 3 slow chuckles made Drake’s head bob. “And you’ll drop me as soon as the report comes out, don’t try to claim otherwise.”

“Well,” Drake shrugged, “If you get downgraded I might have no other option. Believe me Barry, I am not too keen on the idea of spending more money for less favorable arbitration outcomes.”

“This whole thing is just a big mess I don’t want to have to deal with! And now my retirement is in jeopardy! I can’t even sell the business if I get downgraded, I’ll get peanuts, I’ll be destitute!”

“You could always move into an adap.” Drake joked dryly.

Barry’s stare burned of indignation as he spoke a bit too loudly, “Could you take this a bit more seriously Drake! Aren’t we friends? I could use some support!”

“Of course, of course,” Drake glanced quickly around and made a calming motion with his hand, telling Barry to take it down a notch.

Barry lowered his voice, leaned in, and continued venting. “There’s too much competition these days. Remember 20, 30 years ago how easy it was? We were still the first kids on the block, and people needed us! We were running the world and should have done something to keep it that way while we had the chance. Now we’re just slowly bleeding to death while these go-getters pull the carpet right out from under us!”

“Speak for yourself, bleeding to death,” Drake drawled without glancing up from his menu.

“Ha! I know how your business is doing Drake, you’re just as doomed as I am,” Barry picked up his glass of wine and gestured to it before taking a sip, “We should enjoy this while it lasts. Pretty soon we’ll be swigging little more than spiked grape juice.”

Drake was annoyed, but his annoyed expression looked pretty much like his normal expression, and only slightly drearier than his “joyful” expression.

“Well to be honest, I had been thinking about the same thing. Running a business these days isn’t like it was when my grandfather started NESA. No one knew what was going on back then, and people like him were able to corner the market. Took a long time for anyone to catch up.”

“Yes,” replied Barry darkly, happy to have Drake agreeing with him. “And before that, in the days of government, people in our positions never had to give up what we had earned. Men like us were set for life, pensions, tenure, the treasury of a whole continent at our disposal. But today, despite the years of service, we can still be pushed out and left to die in the cold like a stray dog!” Barry finished dramatically, biting into a fresh caught crab cake brought over by a silent waiter. Still chewing Barry continued, “Of course, some places still have governments. Things would be different if we were born in Korea or even Texas.”

“Yea but Korea’s a shit-hole, and in Texas judges and security chiefs couldn’t pay for this dinner with a month’s salary. Even ruling those countries wouldn’t put us where we are now.”

“But how long can we stay where we are now?! I thought that million I put into Transcend Space Travel would pay off, but they’ve had setback after setback. They said they would be able to travel to Mars by now in under a week.” He was talking with his hands, one still holding half a crab cake, and a full mouth, crumbs dropping onto the table. “I can’t keep my company afloat with today’s competition! I’ve been racking my brain and I can’t think of what to do! If only that bitch Molly would – ” He stopped himself.

“Would what?” Drake chuckled.

“Die!” Barry blurted out loudly, laughing; it became apparent to Drake that Barry must have been drinking since noon.

A slightly more detectable smile crossed Drake’s face. But he let a good time pass before speaking, just in case Barry had attracted any attention.

“We do seem to be in a unique position to help each other out. You know there is one particular firm that has been sucking up my customers.”

“Atlas no doubt”, Barry chimed in obliviously, helping himself to another crab cake.

A shudder of fury boiled up inside Drake, and he closed his eyes for a moment to quiet it before speaking.

“Yes. Atlas. But I see an opportunity for us both to benefit, Barry.” Drake said his name because he wasn’t sure Barry was paying attention. Here Drake was, trying to propose a solution, and Barry seemed to care more about hors d’oeuvres and wine.

“What’s that?” replied Barry, mouth full, his moments-earlier bad mood seemed to have been quelled by good food and good wine.

“Well…” Drake briefly considered dropping the subject, but continued. “Atlas is prosecuting that murderer, Ted, from the Cape. The real sick one with the trust fund. It’s an open and shut case. He obviously did it. But Atlas just so happens to own some stock in Ted’s daddy’s brewing and distilling company, Illicit Liquors.”

“So how’s that going to help us?” Barry was beckoning to the waiter to bring more wine, so Drake, annoyed, waited for the waiter to leave the area before continuing.

“So if it turned out the case wasn’t so open and shut, it may look like Atlas wanted little Teddy to be prosecuted, to save the business from crumbling when he takes it over.”

“Well that doesn’t really make much sense, unless Atlas owned some big percentage of the company. How much stock does he have?”

“Practically nothing, but it doesn’t need to make sense, it just needs to be widely believed. The story is that Atlas owns a piece of the distilling company, and wants to make sure it succeeds at all costs. We can get the story out, and if we repeat it enough times, people will believe it. You should know that from all the history books you read.”

Barry chuckled, “Yes, but in the history books, everybody and their brother didn’t own a news website. They just had to get a handful of people to agree, and the world would believe whatever they passed down to their minions.”

“We can handle the media,” said Drake who owned a controlling stake in a popular area news site, News of New England, and had some connections to others with Internet companies. He figured he’d just pay off the right people, and reimburse himself later by extorting money from Ted’s family for the favorable outcome.

Barry put down the knife he was using to butter his roll, finally catching on to Drake’s plan. His stressed out demeanor returned as he realized this meal was meant for more than fraternizing.

“But how could I do anything about that. BA isn’t even involved in the case.”

“No, but if a conflict of interest arose for the arbiters on the case, it would be moved, and if I give Teddy’s father a nudge and a wink, I think we could get Barry Arbitration involved in the case.”

“And then I commit career suicide by putting my neck on the chopping block when it’s found out that my ruling was false!” Barry was not convinced. “I could be confined to an adap for that, and what do I get in return? Nothing.” Barry was shaking his head no.

“Nothing?” Drake gave a small snort and sigh, “You get to be rid of a certain reporter, and have certain files of hers go missing as well. In the shock and confusion, the report from Business Ethics Review never comes out, and no one pays attention to Barry Arbitration’s rating.”

“Oh,” Barry was taken aback, surprised that the plan had escalated so quickly. “I see. But that still doesn’t protect me from it coming to light that I lied about the evidence in the murder case. I’d just be digging my hole deeper, and kicking the can down the road.”

“Only if we stop there” Drake retorted.

“Where else is there to go? I undermine your main competitor’s credibility, saving your business. You bury a negative report, saving my business… until it is found out that I blatantly lied, at which point I become a confine until I die.”

“Well that’s where the rest of the plan comes in. Molly’s murder won’t be just any murder. It will be a drug cartel murder of an innocent, beautiful young women.” Drake hadn’t planned on discussing this in such detail, but he was too  excited, and was planning out loud as much to convince himself as Barry.

Drake had been dreaming this plan up for a while, but now added the details from recently emerging circumstances. “Only the 9th murder this year in all of New England, quickly followed by the 10th, 11th, and 12th – the victims strategically chosen to both elicit fear that no one is safe, even the rich, and take out the people who would most stand in our way. We make it brutal, we frame outside cartels, and we scare people into demanding a border. A border which we control.”

“And when other agencies protest the border,” Barry said, staring somewhere behind Drake, thinking as he spoke and becoming visibly excited, “BA shows ‘evidence’ that they are working for the drug cartels, meaning the only ones that can be trusted are ourselves and our partners!”

“Then NESA graciously provides patrols free of charge to anyone within the border,” Drake continued, “cutting out the business of whatever security companies are left. We take enough of whatever is coming into our territory on roads and magnet tubes that we control – a sort of tariff – in order to pay for these free patrols, and once NESA and its affiliates are all that’s left, impose a tax on the population.”

“We trump up charges against other arbiters, or absorb them – pick the right ones to form branches of government with the right positions as bargaining chips,” Barry was now smiling with wide eyes, taken away by the possibilities of Drake’s plan for power, like a child planning his first trip to Disney World: “I become the Minister of Arbitration, you the Minister of Security, and from there on out it’s easy street! Just like pre-collapse!”

Drake’s smile was more detectable than usual, “Bingo!” he drawled as he raised his eyebrows and took a sip of his wine.

The better part of a minute passed in silence as the two considered the plan.

“But…” Barry was still thinking, and his smile turned into a sideways frown, skeptical that the plan could fall into place, “It would be such a risk.”

“All great men once took a great risk,” argued Drake calmly. “But we have this opportunity once, before our businesses decline or come crumbling down. It’s now or never.”

“How would we put it all into motion though, without it getting away from us?”

“Just leave that to me, I know who to talk to, I know who I can trust. I’ve already done some probing and testing, so to speak.”

Barry wasn’t convinced, and he took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I need to be sure. I can’t just throw caution to the wind with nothing but your assurance.”

The two fell silent as their food arrived. The juiciest pink-in-the-middle fillet mignon – rarer these days as people were used to much less meat in their diets, and cattle raising never resumed on the same scale after the collapse. On the side were mashed potatoes with garlic and real butter, grilled asparagus, assorted raw leafy greens topped with goat cheese and a raspberry vinaigrette, lamb-broth gravy with mushrooms and onions, lobster tail with a cream sauce topped by caviar, and olive oil painted dinner rolls with herbs that looked like an artist had prepared them for a museum.

“Listen,” Drake began as he lowered his voice and cut into his steak, placing a bloody, dripping morsel into his mouth, and chewing, “We can handle the media. We have more to offer with this plan than money, we can now offer power, straight up, unadulterated force, used for whatever they desire. So we set up Ministries, and sell the positions to those with the most power. I happen to have the right connections in the news world so that we can control the very thing which will advance us to the next level; it will be state propaganda… like the Soviet days.” Drake added, knowing Barry’s obsession with history, particularly dictatorships.

“I’m reading about Joseph Stalin now!” Barry exclaimed, excited to add value to their relationship.

Drake acted as if he hadn’t heard Barry, and he was so wrapped up in his plan that he indeed might not have heard. “We might need some strategic Internet blackouts, but we can take care of that with a couple of false flag killings, and then some raiding of the right businesses. But the key is that the things going wrong must look like it is society disintegrating around the people. And when my men arrive on the scene everything is righted, and NESA is the hero. BA will apply the law as it currently stands in the most common contracts, but you will be the only arbitration agency left, so there will be no one to check up on the rulings, the evidence, and the convictions. We purge the detractors by charging them with crimes connected to the cartels, or crimes destabilizing the region.” Drake wasn’t even talking to Barry anymore, and Barry sensed this, feeling left out for a moment.

“And we’ll call Barry Arbitration New England Arbitration for cohesion!” Barry slammed his fist on the table a bit harder than intended, and his half full glass of wine spilled onto the white tablecloth, creating a deep red stain like blood, as Barry let slip an expletive.

Drake was brought back to reality and looked at Barry with a note of agitation and slight disappointment in his face as the waiter rushed over to clean up the mess, “Yes, that is a good idea”, and he did in fact like the idea of renaming the agencies to match the new state.

Barry turned a little red in the cheeks at his mishap, and the two ate in silence for a minute or two. Barry was coming back to his senses, and again starting to worry about the potential for the plan to go awry.

“But can you imagine if we got caught, Drake, how terrible the remainder of our lives would be, like dogs in a kennel,” Barry was almost whining.

“As opposed to your life now? As a house-trained dog who’s got to wag his tail and lick the hand of his owners that we call customers? A man leashed by the market, who barks on command, and who is about to be put down by some bitch vet because you pissed on the wrong fire hydrant?”

Drake is quite the orator, Barry thought. Barry was comforted by his friend’s conviction, and more convinced as Drake’s confidence about their plan shined through his normally sullen face. In reality Drake had only convinced himself that the plan would work while explaining it at dinner. And Drake was comforted by his minion’s support.

The truth was that Drake too thought of Barry as a dog, but knew that a dog could be man’s best friend. Loyalty from Barry was not in question, and Drake knew that all Barry needed were a few pats on the head, and Barry would growl and flash his teeth at anyone who his master deemed an enemy.

Barry was thinking hard, and couldn’t decide what he wanted. The plan did sound great to him – well definitely the end result. And pleasing Drake was another huge plus; and with a man like Drake at the wheel it did seem more likely to Barry that they would see success.

But the risk! This was an all-in moment, and Barry was not the type to make tough decisions. As much as he hated being chained to the market, he had always tended to rely on popular demand of the customers to guide his actions; the reason he was successful in the first place. But here he was, one man who had to decide whether to take the risk with such an immense potential reward, but with such dire possible consequences.

Barry was used to betting with his money, but he had never bet with his freedom before. But then true power, in the old sense, had never been on the table. He felt like this was the reward that his whole life was building up to, and to give up on power would leave him only money – which was already at risk because of the pending BER report.

Barry thought that even if he did manage to hold onto his business, and maintain profits, what more could he look forward to in life? The very probable possibility of diminishing profits and less spending money only added to the desire to take this bet, and risk it all. Barry was shaking his head, gazing up in thought, biting and pursing his lips in quick and random succession. As his mind swayed from yes to no and back his body could practically be seen mimicking the thought process, like a drunk man trying to catch his balance after standing up too quickly.

“If there was some sort of insurance policy…” Barry pleaded, unable to commit, though wanting so badly to see the plan fulfilled. He was avoiding direct eye contact with Drake.

Drake was staring squarely at Barry. “How hard do you think it is to flee the area, go somewhere that no one will recognize you.”

“Pff,” Barry let out a humorless laugh, “any agency in this hemisphere would recognize us through facial recognition eventually, and collect the probably gigantic bounty.”

“There are places to go,” drawled Drake as if this was obvious. He knew Barry was on the tipping point. “And we are talking worst case scenario.”

Barry thought worst case scenario. Worst case scenario I take off on my yacht and sail the world. He thought that might not be so bad. Of course that still had its risks if he planned to go ashore at port, but then again he could choose his ports wisely, and perhaps hire people to buy the supplies he needed. Maybe there would be tropical islands without cameras. He would need to have supplies ready to change the appearance of his yacht enough so that it would not be recognized were he to become an outlaw. The idea was romanticized in Barry’s head, and he briefly imagined himself as a pirate, before becoming embarrassed at himself for having such a childish thought. But still, the rest sounded plausible. Plausible as a worst case scenario, if the ultimate plan, with the ultimate reward, failed.

“We’ll have to do this so that we will get some warning if things sour,” Barry was speaking seriously and skeptically. “I’ll be on my yacht when it all happens, and I’ll want to be in contact with you throughout the entire ordeal. The first one you call as the pieces fall into place. Just don’t hang me out to dry.”

Drake had convinced him. Drake’s face was the brightest Barry had ever seen it, and he swore he could see a full fledged grin for a split second. “I knew you would come to your senses,” finished Drake triumphantly as he held up his glass of wine for a toast. “To government.”

Barry smiled. He was entering into the most important contract of his life, what it had all led up to, with the best possible partner. He was starting to once again relax.

“To government!” he toasted. Clink.


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Emails: Debating Limited versus No Government

Limited Gov Guy: I was arguing with [my girlfriend] last night about the Affordable Care Act and how it is not the government’s place to take care of sick people. I argued instead that the government is mainly there, to plagiarize Milton Friedman’s words, for the role of enforcing contracts between individuals and punishing individuals who violate others’ rights.

If you accept that (I know you might not), then consider this:
In the following scenarios, a citizen’s right to life is threatened by three different assailants.
– If an individual were to assault someone on the street for no reason, I would want the government to imprison that individual.
– If a wild animal were to attack someone unprovoked, I would want the government to contain or destroy that animal.
– If a bacteria infects someone and starts to kill them, then why should not the government take actions against that bacteria to protect the citizen’s right to life?
That’s what [my girlfriend] said to me, and I had no response.
I know it’s wrong, but I don’t know why.
Thoughts?

Free Association Man: If an individual were to assault….. but this doesn’t mean the gov can force you to enter into a contract with a body guard.

If a wild animal were to attack… but this doesn’t mean the gov can force you to enter into a contract with an animal trainer.

If a bacteria infects… but this doesn’t mean the gov can force you into a contract with a health insurance company….

BTW: We have the CDC, NIH, and the FDA already charged with viral and bacterial defenses for the population.

The pain for the ACA is all back-loaded to 2017. Mr. Obama says the ACA is “working” because more people have health insurance. But that’s because the gov is subsidizing enrollments. This is why a SCOTUS decision against subsidies would have killed the ACA. The subsidies expire, penalties begin, and all the new taxes (not fees…thank-you Chief Justice Roberts), start Jan 1 2017.

Example: The tuition at my school is 10K. Now lets mandate that every kid on the Cape has to enroll in my school. Lets further mandate that my school has to cover all sorts of new services (health clinics, free breakfast, psych counseling…) But not-to-worry.. the tuition is subsidized so that 10K tuition will only cost you 2K and you get all these great new services. What do you know?? Enrollment is booming at my school! What will the tuition bill be in 2017 when the subsidies expire? Parents are going to be wishing for the good-old-days when they weren’t mandated to enroll and the tuition was only 10K. This is why most analyst say that the ACA is not sustainable after the subsidies expire. (google: ACA-subsidies-expiration). Johnathan Gruber – the main architect of the ACA – said that the ACA is not sustainable and called the American people “stupid” for not seeing this (http://dailycaller.com/2014/12/30/obama-adviser-jonathan-gruber-in-2009-obamacare-will-not-be-affordable/).  And where will Mr. Obama be in 2017? Playing golf.


Economics Guy: In all those cases I want to be my own first line of defense.  If an attacker or an animal survives my defense (which can include nearby citizens), then the government (or a private entity that provides a similar service) can take appropriate action.
If I decide that I need help with an illness, I have the option to contract for that help with whomever I think can help me.  In my lifetime this is how it was.  You got sick, if you needed to see a doctor you paid him.  You only paid for what you needed.  Medical care was less costly before the government got involved.  (Everything was.  More on that to follow.)
It might seem like a good idea to have government agencies trying to identify and contain disease in general, and maybe it is.  The problem is that nobody ever asks “What will this cost?”  The other problem is that every government program expands and becomes a horribly inefficient bureaucracy.  The cost thing might sound callous, but it is an unfortunate reality.  Products and services are not free.  Somebody must produce products and services and that somebody wants something in return.
Economics 101:
Wealth is created, it is not distributed from some pre-existing stash.
Wealth is the availability of a standard of living higher than naked, alone and afraid, struggling to survive 24/7.
You want to eat?  Go find some berries, pick them, chew them and digest them.  You just produced one meal.
You want to get out of the rain?  Find a cave and defend it against the bear that comes looking for a den and a non-berry meal.  You just produced shelter.
You want a companion?  You have to offer her a better deal than the one she has.  Better companionship or more food or more comfortable shelter.
You see where this is going.  People enter into agreements to produce for each other.  The standard of living increases.  Infrastructure gets created.  It is all supported entirely by people who produce more than they consume.
Fast forward to 1776.  The colonists decide they are not happy with the British government.  They decide to create their own.  There are big government guys and small government guys.  We end up with a republic with a constitution that limits the federal government to very specific roles.  The government needs some amount of revenue.  It comes from taxes.  Taxes are the taking of some of the produce of the producers.  Almost everybody is on board with some amount of government and therefore taxes.  Government produced a producer-friendly environment the cost of which is taxes.
But the government starts to grow.  There are government people who keep thinking of new things the government can do.  It can do them because it can take from the current producers and borrow against what it will take from future producers.  Few in government ever ask if the government should do these things.  It is easy to spend other peoples money.  Some people like some of the things government does, other people like other things the government does, almost nobody likes all the things government does.  If you are a net producer you pay for it anyway.
How can we tell if we are producers?  Don’t government employees produce something?  Often government employees produce things.  Teachers teach, firefighters fight fires, researchers conduct research etc.  The litmus test is this:  Would a free market pay them to do what they do and how much?  Some people have always been willing to trade what they produce for what a teacher produces, or what a blacksmith produces or what a composer produces.  Can an artist produce enough art in a free market to live comfortably?  Good for him!  The list is endless.
But who will trade their produce for an IRS audit or for the NSA to spy on them?  Or for a bureaucrat to give some of their produce to a non-producer who could produce?
Today’s government is so bloated with bureaucracy that most of what producers produce goes to supporting the non-producing bureaucrats.  It is not that they don’t do what they are hired to do, it is that they shouldn’t have been hired to do it in the first place.  To make matters worse much of what bureaucrats do, make it harder for producers to produce.
Economics 102:
Economics is the study of incentives.
Costs rise or fall to match the supply with the demand.
When something costs less the market wants more of it.  When something costs more the market wants less of it.
Cost in this case is not just part of your produce.  It can be your freedom or your state of well being or pretty much anything you care about.
If you attend an event with an open bar you might drink more because you don’t have to trade your produce for it, your host has decided to trade his produce for your drink.  Or you might drink less because you don’t want to take advantage of your host.  In this case your cost is the idea that you are taking advantage of your host and that is a higher cost to you than your produce.
Our government routinely hides the true cost of things from us.  Piles and piles of red tape and taxes drive costs up while subsidies, tax breaks and special treatment drive costs down, sometimes on the same product.
Insurance was invented as a way to share economic risk.  A group of people who all face a more or less similar level of economic risk agree to create a pool of money to be paid out to those members who have an actual loss.  This works if the level of risk is relatively low over the life of the agreement.  Homeowners insurance is a good example.  You can’t afford to lose your $250K house and neither can most people so you all pay $500 a year to the insurance company who provides (produces) the organization to collect the pool and investigate and pay claims.  They probably get about 8% of the pool each year for this service, and everybody is happy.  It works because everybody faces about the same risk which is low, the incentives to try and cheat are small and the pool can pay the actual costs with enough left over for the insurance company to get its cut.
Health insurance is different.  Risk is affected by your lifestyle, your age and your genes.  Young, clean-living, hardy specimens don’t want to share the risk with broken-down old drug addicts.  Paying an insurance company $54 so they will pay for your $50 doctor visit doesn’t make a lot of sense.  A 60 year old man paying an insurance company for pre-natal care makes no sense at all.
Government medical care makes medical care look free or low cost.  When things cost less, people want more.  When demand goes up, actual costs (which are hidden from the consumer) go up.  This is why I said earlier that everything costs more when the government gets involved.  They can re-distribute the costs but they can’t make them go away.
The lowest possible costs and the most efficient solutions occur in a well informed, truly free market.  A true free market has never existed in America, but we were a lot closer in the past.
Obamacare (and every other government program) will benefit some people at the expense of many others.  This is socialism.  There is a limit to how much socialism we can afford.  There is no limit to how much wealth we can create.  Poor people in America today live better than kings and queens of yesterday.
Freedom creates wealth.  Socialism destroys wealth.
The bottom line: There are few if any things the government does that can’t be done better at lower cost by the free market.  (The real free market, not the government manipulated “free” market.)

Scary Anarchist:Allow me to pontificate.

1. I’d much rather mitigate risk from criminals, animals, nature by voluntarily entering into contracts with privatized for profit agencies than to be forced into conditions imposed by government.

2. “Where do you find these angels to run government.” Milton Friedman.


Limited Gov Guy:These are all excellent points, but I think I should have specified.

I am attempting to figure things out theoretically, in a vacuum of sorts, where the only considerations are individual freedoms versus collective security.
Many of your arguments are based on the impracticality and budgetary butchery of government work. I agree with all of these ideas, and perhaps they are your sole reasons for opposing the ACA.
But imagine a world in which the government could provide such services (police, corrections facilities, healthcare — all to protect the citizen’s right to life) just as efficiently as the private sector.
In this scenario, with numbers aside and the only factors being individual freedoms versus collective security, where do you draw the line?
I would be willing to pay taxes for the government to protect the public from criminals and wild animals, but not for them to protect us from disease.
The more I think about it, the more inconsistent it seems. Why do I pick and choose?
It seems the only reasonable progression is that government provides ALL services or NONE of them…

Economics Guy: Correct!  But does everybody need or want all the same services?  The only way government can provide anything at all is to first take it from somebody else.  If everybody wanted the exact same thing from government, and if government were efficient and had no agenda of its own, then it may indeed be the best way to provide those things.

But none of those things are true.

[My town] provides water and sewer service, collects the trash, has a school system, plows the roads, collects leaves in the fall, has curbside recycling, maintains parks and athletic fields and some other stuff.  Hopedale residents pay for this in the form of property taxes, which are high.  If you have a small lot, lots of kids, plenty of money and aren’t very handy then this is a good deal.  If you have a big lot that would support a septic system and a well, don’t generate a lot of trash, have no kids, don’t use the park and dump your leaves in the corner of your own property then you are getting screwed.  Your only option is to move.  If you stay in [my town] you are paying for stuff you don’t need or want.
On the federal level it is even worse, there are zillions of government programs that almost nobody would voluntarily support, and the option to move is more or less unrealistic.  So I come down on the side of very limited / no government.  This will preserve my freedom and a market WILL develop to serve people who want a higher level of service.

Joe Jarvis: I agree, it is much easier to consistently argue from the no government perspective. Then, it is a simple matter of not being robbed (in the form of taxes). Healthcare would be wrong, not necessarily because of what was provided, but because it was done by force. This is akin to how charity is no longer charity when you steal someone else’s money to donate.

Now our idea of limited government would be protection from foreign invaders essentially, and protection from being victimized by fellow citizens. In that sense the argument would be, if the USA is going to declare 3 million square miles “theirs,” then at least they have the responsibility to repel hordes and make sure they foster a safe environment within. But even this stands on shaky ground, because A) how do you pay for it without theft which is wrong, and B) how is it legitimate to claim land people already own, live on, work etc.?

If the answer to A is competing government agencies which you can defund by patronizing another one, that would seem to no longer fall under the definition of government; it would be more like a business. Yet that is exactly what would deliver the best results, as every other sector of the free market.

The competing agencies could team up in the event of a larger outside threat. Think of if every state’s police and national guard were privatized, had to find investors to buy back their equipment, and rebate the money to the taxpayers. Then they could start their own agencies, and the ones who provide a good enough service in the free market would still exist. The Colorado State Police, from what I hear, would do quite fine as a private company, due to the high quality service they provide to the public. People would still voluntarily pay for their policing activities, be it business owners, individuals, or road owners, because there is value in the product.
But I guess I am getting a bit off topic.

Scary Anarchist:Here’s a good barometer if you choose to put all other aspects aside.

Is it voluntary?

If taxes were voluntary would anybody pay them? If social security were voluntary only those who wanted it could CHOOSE to partake and pay into the system. What’s wrong with that? If police “protection” were optional, could I opt out of the system and provide my own protection? In fact isn’t this what we call privatization? Much of what we are subject to by govt. is deemed a “collective right” thus justifying it as a NON-voluntary system. If the system were option many who make their living off of thieving and controlling you and I would be out of a job. But what is a collective but a collection of individuals. I am an individual not a collective, who has different dreams, fears, hopes, wants, needs, then the next. The litmus test of all political theory for the libertarian minded is the championing of voluntary transactions and maximum individual liberty while upholding the non-aggression principal (NAP). Case and point: isn’t it good if we’re all forced to get immunization to keep deadly disease at bay (which beckons the question how are they going to force this)? This may be true but I would say NEGATIVE. Cannot subject individual liberty to this supposed “need” of the collective. If it’s truly a good idea than the market will uphold it. What is “the market” you say…. much to learn you have young Padoine!


Limited Gov Guy: I’m beginning to think that government should exert no control outside of a few necessary evils:
1) The Feds should defend our borders from other nations, and have almost no influence on American citizens themselves. This would require a federal tax, unfortunately. However, in order to preserve the freedoms inside our borders, I think I could bear a defense tax.
2) The States/counties/towns should deal with violations of rights among their residents. If one violates another’s rights to life or property (which I think are the two basic rights from which all others stem), then the government has a court system and a police force to deal with him. I also think that, at this lower level, government could own land for the sole purpose of selling it to any citizen who wanted it.
3) All else would be left to the free market.
I can’t say I completely buy into the anarchist mindset, even though I really enjoyed the ideas in Joey’s Anarchy in New England.
1) I’m not sure the private arbitration agencies could be trusted to agree upon verdicts impartially. I understand the idea that business ethics reviews would destroy such agencies if they made unjust rulings, but they might not all adhere to the same standards. What if there was a Muslim-run arbitration agency ruled that a thief ought to be beheaded?
2) And lastly, I think the lower-level government would have to own land and sell it to citizens. Otherwise, there would be no legitimacy to land ownership. Anybody could claim as much as they wanted, as long as they had more guns than the next guy.
Could the free market take care of such things?

Joe Jarvis: Yes, I believe the free market would take care of these things better than the government can. Competition and the profit motive are what will allow for this, while monopolies, including one on defense and conflict resolution, means no alternatives.

1) Currently Muslim run Governments dictate that thieves be beheaded (or witches, or woman drivers). An arbitration agency however would be competing with other ones. If I was a thief, and have representation, then it is likely that a Muslim agency would adjust their sentences to themselves avoid action against them. However if an entire region (customers) agreed thieves should be beheaded, the punishment would persist.
But the profit motive and competition means a draconian agency would have to justify their existence to customers, versus forcing customers to fund their “service” (the government). The fact is our current system is not impartial, and states/ towns do not have the same standards. An ounce of weed has landed people with life sentences in some states, while in MA it is a $100 fine. Any agency that tried to jail a man for life for possession of a plant would be opening a can of worms that would threaten their profits, and open up competition for rival, less crazy agencies.
And everyone would save money because a crime would require a victim. Currently the government steals our money, and labels things crimes, even if there is no victim. We are forced to pay to lock up non-violent drug offenders. But without government monopolizing security, consumers would balance service with cost. The best service (as decided by the consumers, who in a truly free market would also necessarily be producers) for the lowest cost would win out. War has high costs, and so does dishing out draconian sentences that people (your customers, or customers of rival agencies) will protest.
Is it possible for injustices to happen? Of course. But based on what we know about market forces, we have to assume the injustices would be fewer, farther between, and more easily righted outside of monopoly control.
And finally, we cannot take the best example of government, and act like all governments will be that way. Cliche, but look what Stalin, Hitler, and Mao’s governments did. Absolutely no private agency could afford to do that, get nearly as far, or survive the public backlash.
2) Land ownership is indeed important, and I think the structure would be slightly different without government, but no less just. First off, there is no private ownership of land currently. We rent it from local governments; the rent is called Property Tax. If you don’t pay your rent (property tax), they will eventually confiscate the land from you. The Feds can also confiscate your land according to the Constitution, and give you what they decide is the market price. How absurd: the market price is whatever I want to sell the land for. If I don’t want to sell, the price might go through the roof. If you want occupied/ owned land, pay for it what the owner asks, or move on.
So that is the price we pay for allowing government to control land ownership. Currently, the guys with the most guns indeed claim the most land. America claims 3 million square miles officially, and another 54 million square miles unofficially. I think I will trust the market to ensure that at least more than a few hundred governments own all the land on Earth.
It is not legitimate to claim land you do not use. I cannot say for sure how this would go down, as it would be different in different regions, however the consumers would still decide on what constitutes land ownership, just as they would dictate the laws through patronizing a security company that shares their values. This would give us true votes (with dollars) on what laws exist, as opposed to mob rule law as it currently stands.
If I owned a security company, I would agree to protect land that people use and/or improve. If you have a house, and a fence around your property that no neighbors dispute, then it is easy: register with your security company the land you want them to protect. If anyone else claims it, they will legitimize the fact that it is yours. Same if you build a factory: it does not magically belong to the workers. Absentee land ownership would be legitimate as long as his capital paid for the improvements on the land.
Does a random tree in the forest belong to you? No. But when you cut down the tree, mill the wood, and make a bar out of the tree, the bar belongs to you. Even if you cut down the tree and split it into logs, they belong to you. The berries on the bush belong to you once you pick them. And an unoccupied piece of land belongs to you if you add value by manipulating the natural resources.
Something not legitimate would be claiming Isolation Mountain as your own. No security company would agree to protect that land as yours, because it would threaten their public perception, and profits. In fact multiple New England agencies might even get together, and decide on large swaths of land they will never register to a single owner (in order to avoid later conflict, and thus save money). You could still go out and build a hut in the forest, grow a garden and in my opinion that would make the land your own.
Land ownership, in that sense, predates humans. Wolves understand the invading party to be in the wrong, and that invasion will most likely lead to mutual destruction, with a slightly higher possibility of the owner coming out on top, due to incentives to protect ones own property. It is possible, though less probable, the invading wolves win the land. But as I’ve already noted, the American wolf pack has already stolen your land. So it is a matter of collective ownership of all 3 million square miles (if you agree not to threaten the alfa male, you might be allowed to live on THEIR land for a relatively low cost, with some benefits, including other wolf packs not invading your land, but with the very distinct possibility of your own wolf pack cannibalizing you).
But you couldn’t simply claim an area you do not use as your own because: A) it would require the personel to protect it, in which case, you are adding value in a sense (providing jobs, and therefore using/ occupying the land). or B) if there are already people on the land, this is aggression on their property which the owner’s security should protect, and if you impose your will or take a tax from the people within the land your claim, you have just created a government.
The subject of land ownership really requires a book, but perhaps I will try to tackle it in a post. One thing I am sure of however, is that the free market will make for better rules of private ownership of land than the current monopoly provides.