Jeff Sessions vs Legal Marijuana: Here’s Why Sessions Will Lose

In the face of overwhelming opposition, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has doubled down on the War on Drugs.  Specifically, the War on legal marijuana. He announced last week that the federal government is going to start enforcing federal marijuana laws again in states that have legalized marijuana.

At first glance, this looks like a major step backwards on the road to ending the government practice of invading private property, kidnapping non-violent people, stealing their money and valuables, and then locking them in cages for the “crime” of possessing a plant unapproved of by the federal government.

This will backfire on the Sessions and his drug warrior cronies, however.  In fact, this may be the spark that ignites the flame of legal marijuana across the entire Unites States.

The Best Way to Get Rid of a Bad Law

Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.”

His point is that if an unjust law is enforced sporadically, or unevenly throughout a population, it is likely to stay on the books forever.  It can then become a tool for law enforcement and corrupt politicians to use against specific enemies or groups.  If only some of the population is made to suffer the indignities of an unjust law, the rest of the population isn’t likely to force a change since it doesn’t concern them personally.

However, once an entire population is forced to endure the unjust law, they will quickly rise up and force its repeal.

The backlash that the Trump administration will get for strictly enforcing federal marijuana laws in legal marijuana states will quickly lead to a reversal on this new policy.

The Legal Marijuana Revolution

Today, over half of the population lives in a state with some form of legal marijuana.  Every election cycle more states are legalizing it.  This is a tidal wave that can not be stopped.  People are realizing that letting individuals consume a plant that has countless medical applications, and is impossible to overdose on, isn’t as scary as the fear-mongers led us to believe it would be.  State governments are also realizing that the extra tax revenue gives them more power and money.

Now that individuals, particularly sick and dying individuals, are seeing the benefits of legal marijuana, it’s going to be that much harder to convince them to go back to the old ways.  Same goes for state governments that are flush with a new source of revenue in the form of marijuana taxes.

In fact, even before one soul has been sent to federal prison under this new policy, states are already fighting back.  Vermont just became the first state to pass a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.  Republican Governor Phil Scott has indicated he will sign the measure into law.

Imagine what will happen when a cancer patient is sent to prison in a state where they are legally allowed to consume marijuana.  Even if Sessions and his marijuana Gestapo are smart enough to leave sick and dying individuals alone, they are sure to shut down dispensaries where sick and dying patients get their medicine from, thus causing huge backlash.

If Sessions wants to keep marijuana illegal, the last thing he should be doing is going after sick and dying patients and the dispensaries that supply them their much needed medication.

State’s Rights

They’re not just for Republicans anymore!  Thanks to Sessions and his crusade against non-violent, consenting adults who are buying, selling, and consuming a plant without permission from the federal government, Democrats are actually making arguments in favor of State’s Rights!  This puts typically anti-pot Republicans in a difficult position.  Either go against State’s Rights or side with Democrats.  Either way they’re going to have backlash.

If their base sees them as siding with Democrats against Sessions, they may be viewed as weak.  If they side with Sessions against State’s Rights, they are potentially giving up a huge tool in any future fight against federal overreach in other areas.  With public opinion overwhelmingly in favor of legal marijuana, and with many prominent Republicans already criticizing Sessions, it looks like the State’s Rights argument will eventually defeat Sessions.

The Future of Legal Marijuana

In 2013, then President Obama released a memo saying he would no longer obstruct states that have legalized marijuana.  Up until then, the Obama administration had waged a war on legal marijuana that would make Jeff Sessions blush.  The Obama administration had conducted more raids on legal dispensaries than the previous 12 years combined.  Obama’s first term saw $100 billion more spend on interfering with legal marijuana laws than under 8 years of Bush.

The backlash from this caused Obama to cease this federal overreach in 2013.  If a President coming off a landslide victory for his 2nd term couldn’t get away with interfering with the legal marijuana industry, a widely despised Sessions working under an unpopular Trump administration has no chance.

Prominent leaders in both major parties are in favor of legalization and, more importantly, the population is ready for legal marijuana.  With an almost cartoonishly evil Sessions in charge of a renewed federal crusade against peaceful pot users, it won’t be long until this becomes a wedge issue.  In fact, with the level of hatred that already exists for Sessions, those of us on the side of not throwing non-violent people in cages for consuming a plant couldn’t ask for a better adversary.  We may even see more states following Vermont’s lead and legislating legalization sooner than they otherwise would have just to spite Sessions and his unpopular crusade.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

You may also like this from Mike Tront – Marijuana Can Be a Victory for Libertarians, Unless We Screw it Up

Ending Net Neutrality Will Bring Free Internet Access To The World

With the exception of the 2015 Net Neutrality ruling by the FCC, the Internet has largely been left alone by the most powerful government on the planet.  This “light touch” regulation has resulted in industry growth that is virtually unmatched in human history.  From AOL, to DSL modems, to fiber optic cable, to 3, 4, and 5G phones, to near ubiquitous Wi-Fi, delivering the Internet to the masses is a story of ever increasing options, exponentially better speeds, and decreasing prices.  The logical next step is worldwide Internet connection to everyone on the planet for free.  However, the 2015 Net Neutrality ruling may have empowered the largest government in the world to slow, and possibly stop, the inevitable future of free Internet access to the world.

How Is Free Internet Access Possible?

The idea of free or low cost Internet being broadcast to the world has been in development by several people and companies for years.  Internet giant Facebook has plans in the works.  Google has plans as well.  A little known company based in New York, called the Media Development Investment Fund, is attempting to throw their hat in the ring by creating something called the Outernet.  An alternative to the Internet that’ll broadcast for free all around the world from cube satellites circling the globe in low Earth orbit.

Perhaps of most interest to libertarians is Nexus Earth.  Nexus is a crypto currency that has teamed up with Vector Space Systems to launch cube satellites into low Earth orbit in order to broadcast their blockchain to the world for free.  The development team of Nexus sees this as a step towards a fully decentralized and free (meaning both no cost to the user and free from government censorship and control) Internet for the world.

Basically, all these organizations are attempting to beam connectivity down from the sky rather than using expensive infrastructure down on Earth.  As these sky-based technologies become cheaper, and as more and more competition enter this market, it’s just a matter of time before the price is driven down to zero for anyone, anywhere to access the Internet.

Current Problems

Like all advancing technologies, this will not go from 0-60 overnight.  There will be incremental advancements.  The current problem with connecting to the Internet from the sky is that it is extremely expensive to send access to the entire Internet this way.  Not only do you have to put hundreds of cube satellites in orbit to have a functioning and fast network, but you have to send data to these satellites from the ground.

Thankfully, launching these cube satellites is becoming cheaper and cheaper.  It’s building the means of sending Internet data to the cube satellites that is going to be one of the biggest (non-regulatory) stumbling blocks.  Until it becomes cost effective to access the entire Internet this way, companies are experimenting by only sending specific websites and applications directly to the user.

How Will Net Neutrality Stop Free Internet Access?

As we’ve heard over and over again, Net Neutrality is in place to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISP) from prioritizing data.  Under this regulation, your ISP can’t decide to block you from accessing a certain website and they can’t send data from one website at faster rate than another website.  The idea is to prevent censorship and to prevent an ISP from holding certain websites hostage unless they (or you) pay an extra fee.

I’m not going to get into these specific concerns here, as they’ve been addressed thoroughly elsewhere and this post is focusing on a different aspect of the debate.  But if you’re interested in hearing a quick, funny take down of these concerns you can check out Why John Oliver is Wrong about Net Neutrality by Andrew Heaton via Reason TV.

If the idea of Net Neutrality is to make sure all ISP’s give full access to all of the Internet, then free Internet beaming down from satellites will be almost impossible to develop.  Net Neutrality will effectively make it illegal for a company to beam free Internet down from satellites unless they can guarantee that the people receiving the Internet will get ALL of the Internet.  In fact, this has already happened.

Facebook has been attempting to beam free Internet to some of the poorest regions of the world.  Regions that have no access to the Internet.  They are doing this by using a combination of drones and satellites to beam down a limited number of useful websites.  They call it Free Basics.  So is Facebook being heralded as an important leader in bringing about much needed Internet access to the third world?

They are not.  According to this Guardian article, Facebook Lures Africa with Free Internet – But What is the Hidden Cost?, there is no shortage of outrage over Facebook not being able to connect the world’s poorest people to the entire Internet for free.  In fact, they aren’t even allowed to offer their Free Basics program in India.  From the article:

It is not the first time Facebook has faced challenges to its initiative. In India, Free Basics was effectively banned after a groundswell of support for net neutrality – a principle affirming that what you look at, who you talk to and what you read is ultimately determined by you, not a business.

That’s right.  Net Neutrality was used by the Indian government as an excuse to stop their people from accessing free Internet services.

Later in the article, this tidbit also stood out:

In April, Reuters revealed that Free Basics had been blocked by Egypt’s increasingly oppressive government after Facebook refused to let it snoop on users.

Imagine that, governments are pushing back against free Internet access because it’s harder to spy on you.

The Future of Free Internet Access

Currently, all major ISP’s support Net Neutrality.  Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon have all issued statements of support.  Yes, they do push back on some of the regulations they face from the FCC, but when it comes to delivering content to their customers, they all wholeheartedly support the idea that all ISP’s should be forced to deliver all of the Internet to their customers.  If I were them, I would too!

They know more than anyone that their business model will soon be obsolete.  It’s only a matter of time.  Who in their right mind would deal with these companies, and pay for their services, if they could get free Internet access from satellites?  It’s not just ISP’s who are scared.  You’d be hard-pressed to find any Internet giant that opposes Net Neutrality.  Again, I would support it too if I were in their shoes!

These businesses will be disrupted as well by free Internet access.  Companies could launch their own satellites and beam down their own service for streaming TV shows and movies.  Their customers wouldn’t need an ISP, they’ll just need a device that is Wi-Fi enabled.  Social media sites, email companies, shopping sites, anyone could do this.  And their customers wouldn’t be confined to any certain geographical region, either.  The entire world would have access to their sites without having to pay for an ISP first.

This is precisely what Nexus Earth, the crypto currency I mentioned earlier, is attempting to do with their blockchain. They have the ambitious plan of giving the entire world free access to their crypto currency.  No Internet connection required.  Just a Wi-Fi enabled device.

As more and more companies utilize this business model, innovation will happen quickly.  This will bring down costs and eventually the entire Internet will be accessible to the entire world for free.

Plenty of billionaires and billion-dollar companies stand to lose money and market share from such a truly free and open decentralized Internet.  It’s no wonder they all support Net Neutrality.  Think about it this way, when’s the last time a group of billionaires got together with the government to conspire to help you out at their personal expense?

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

Prisons Without The State

Even in a stateless world based on the libertarian ideals of self-ownership and private property, prisons may be a necessary evil.  I’ve written many posts based on how criminal justice could look in such a world, all of which I’ll link to at the bottom of this post, but I’ve never dealt directly with prisons.  I put a few ideas in some of those posts, but this post will serve as a stand alone post dealing solely with how prisons could look without a government monopoly and funding through taxation.

What Prisons Won’t Look Like

In a stateless society, prisons would look nothing like they do today.  Even though there are “private” prisons in America, they aren’t private in any sense of the word.  They are completely funded by government and are completely tied to the government court system.  They have all the privileges of a government enforced monopoly.

Without a government to fund prisons, public or “private,” one would imagine that they couldn’t exist at all.  It would be impossible for the current business model of warehousing criminals in giant concrete buildings, for years on end, to exist without forcing people to pay for it.

With that in mind, we need to imagine a model where the prison would fund itself.  Most prisons would most likely be funded voluntarily by the prisoners themselves.

Voluntary Prisons

Before I go into the concept of voluntary prisons, first I have to answer the question of “Who the hell would voluntarily go to prison?!”

Let’s say we have a person that is found guilty of a violent crime and is found to owe $20,000 for restitution, court costs, and costs of capture.  Presumably, this criminal is broke so he won’t be able to pay it back.  The criminal, because of his own violent actions, would have no right to object to the victim from using force to acquire this restitution.  Basically, the criminal is at the mercy of his victim.  Even though the victim would be obligated to use the least amount of force necessary to acquire this restitution, it would probably be in the benefit of the criminal to negotiate favorable terms in paying back what is owed.

Possibly, if the debt is small enough and the criminal seems trustworthy enough (maybe he’s a teenager who is on track to have a productive life, but just made one mistake hanging with the wrong crowd), both sides might just agree to let the criminal go free so long as he agrees to pay a monthly payment until his debt is gone.

More than likely, this won’t be the case.  We can assume that the criminal would want to pay back his debt as soon as possible in order to be free.  We can also assume the criminal wants to be as safe and comfortable as possible while paying off this debt.  So why wouldn’t both sides work together in order to find a solution?  Based on whatever skills the criminal may have, there could be many competing prisons that would utilize his labor to pay for keeping him locked up, while at the same time paying off the debt the criminal owes.

Some prisons may even offer programs to teach new skills to prisoners.  This would attract more prisoners, allow the prison to make more profit, and allow the prisoner to pay off his debt sooner.  This has the added benefit of giving the prisoner a new skill he could utilize to make a living once he’s free.

Prisons would also compete based on safety and comfort.  The victim may not care much about this, but if the goal is to get restitution back as soon as possible, and get it back in a way that would involve little or no extra force (which could become costly and dangerous for all sides involved,) there would have to be some incentives for the criminal to want to voluntarily agree to go to a prison.

Will it always go down this easy?  Of course not!  Some criminals may agree to go to voluntary prisons, only to refuse to work or even purposely sabotage their work.  Others simply won’t agree to work to pay back their victims.  Violent criminals are often irrational or just downright evil.  They have no concern for their own safety, their own life, or the lives of the people they hurt.  How will they be dealt with?

Involuntary Prisons

When considering how a prison full of people who have no desire to work off their debt will be funded, the first thought that comes to mind is some kind of forced labor system.  However, I’m not convinced that such a system could be profitable.

We’re talking about the most violent and deranged people on the planet here.  If they are forced to work in some kind of factory, they would have access to any number of objects that could be used as deadly weapons against their captors.  The costs of constantly monitoring, housing, and generally keeping such a business going would far out way the benefits of free labor.

The same goes for any kind of agricultural based forced labor camp.  The costs of keeping these prisoners working and overseeing their every move would be astronomical compared to simply hiring some migrant workers who show up voluntarily, accept meager wages, and go on about their way.

Plus, the idea of forcing someone into slavery, no matter how evil his deeds, is something that people would widely view as wrong.  This could lead to people refusing to do business with forced labor prisons, thus making them even more unprofitable.

With forced labor out of the question, what options do we have left?

One way is charity.  There’s not many people alive who wouldn’t want the most deranged and evil people removed from their world.  With this overwhelming demand to see violent people locked away, we can imagine the market satisfying this demand with prisons funded through charity.  The bulk of this charity would probably come from businesses and individuals who benefit most from seeing violent people locked away somewhere.  Insurance companies and security companies immediately come to mind.

Another way for an involuntary prison to turn a profit without forced labor is by turning it into some kind of tourist attraction.  There is an almost endless fascination the general public has with evil people.  TV shows, movies, and documentaries are made every year showcasing crimes and the people who commit them.  Perhaps there could be a demand for some kind of tourist attraction called “Violent Criminal World.”

You could pay to see the worst of the worst up close and personal.

Another somewhat related idea is for an involuntary prison to have its own reality TV show.  They could produce and sell there own show based on the everyday happenings of the prison.  There could even be a market for people to pay for access to a 24/7 live stream of every camera in the prison.

A percentage of the profits from these ventures could then be dispersed out to the victims of the criminals locked up.

These are just a few ideas.  The beauty of a free market system is that absent of a government forced monopoly, there’s no limit to what entrepreneurs will come up with.  In order to meet the significant demand to keep violent criminals away from non-violent people, we can expect a plethora of options available to the victims of violent criminals.

Quick Overview of a Private Criminal Justice System

For an in depth overview of these topics, I’ll link to the individual posts below.  But I’ll try to give a quick summary of what would occur after a crime has taken place in a stateless society.

So you’re a victim of a violent crime.  A criminal broke into your house, stole valuables, and injured you in the process.  Perhaps they hit you several times and tied you up.  In a free market, we could get insurance that not only covers our property, but covers our body as well.  You can then file a claim with your insurance company for all damages resulting from this crime.

When the insurance company pays your claim, they’ve now bought the right to go after this criminal and recover the damages.  They are now incentivized to solve this crime and apprehend this criminal in order to recoup their losses.  Most likely, they would offer a bounty to anyone who can put enough evidence together in order to secure a conviction in a court that is widely viewed as reputable.

If and when they are able to apprehend the criminal and get enough evidence to secure a conviction, they could then negotiate with the criminal on the best way for him to pay back all the damages, court costs, and costs of capture.

If the criminal is willing, they could agree to a voluntary prison stay until the debt is paid.  If the prisoner is unwilling to negotiate or work, then they could go the involuntary prison route.  Perhaps the involuntary prison company could just pay the insurance company a one time, upfront fee for the right to have the prisoner in their custody.  Or more likely, they’d probably agree to pay a percentage of profits to have him in their prison until the debt is paid.

With competition for prisoners, the invisible hand of the market would steer the outcome toward maximum benefit of all parties, including the criminal.  This would insure that restitution would be paid back as quickly as possible and that prisoners wouldn’t be locked up for longer than they would have to be.  Only the truly heinous criminals would rack up enough damages to be locked away for life.  Other criminals, by working off their debt and possibly learning new skills in the process, would have an opportunity at true rehabilitation.

As always, we can never know exactly how things will shake out after the government monopoly is finally dissolved.  There will never be a perfect system.  Even in a stateless system there can be no guarantee that all criminals will be brought to justice.  There can be no guarantee that there will never be an innocent person locked up.  However, without a monopoly of powerful people in charge, any mistake or corrupt actor at any level of the criminal justice system will not have immunity from prosecution as the prosecutors, judges, politicians, and police officers enjoy today.  This alone will ensure much fairer and equitable results.  That along with unfettered competition will give us the most just and fair system mankind has ever seen.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

For further reading on Criminal Justice without the State from Mike Tront:

7/20/2016 – A Private Criminal Justice System

7/29/2016 – Capital Punishment In a Libertarian Justice System

8/11/2016 – Crime Solving, Libertarian Style

1/27/2017 – But Without Government, Who Will Prosecute Criminals That Hurt The Poor?

2/03/2017 – Private Criminal Justice:  Who Will Protect The Homeless?

8/03/2017 – Libertarian Courts In a Stateless Society

Libertarians Can Solve The Abortion Issue With Evictionism

Abortion doesn’t just divide the left and right in America, it divides libertarians as well.  Libertarian economist Walter Block has come up with a solution called “evictionism” in an attempt to bring both sides together and to allow everyone’s rights to be respected.

What Is Evictionism

Block says that an unborn child, from the point of conception, is a human being with all the rights that any innocent human being has.  Block also says that a pregnant woman owns her body and her womb, and has every right to decide if an unborn child may or may not use her body and womb and for how long.

Block says that because the unborn child is an innocent human being, no one has a right to kill it.  However, since the Mother owns her body and her womb, she has every right to have the child removed at any time in the gentlest manner possible.  In other words, an evictionist couldn’t kill the baby and remove the body like abortionists do today.  They would have to keep the child alive and unharmed as much as medically possible.

What evictionism means for unborn children in today’s world is that most children evicted in the third trimester will survive.  Some evicted in the second trimester will survive.  And any child evicted in the first trimester will die.  For the babies evicted before they are viable outside the womb this is a tragedy.  They are innocent and helpless.  This tragedy, however, doesn’t change the fact that no one has the right to the body of another.  The woman is the owner of her body and she has the right to choose who can or can’t be inside of it or live off of it.

In the near future, however, medical technology will allow for babies evicted at even the earliest stages to survive and live full, healthy lives.

This is a quick and simple explanation of evictionism.  For a deeper understanding you can read a comprehensive essay penned by Block and Roy Whitehead here, or you can listen to a Podcast from the Lions of Liberty where they have a deep discussion with Block about evictionism here.  Otherwise I’ll attempt to quickly handle some objections and add some thoughts of my own.

Objections

The main objection is the idea that the unborn baby is not a trespasser, but was invited into the Mother’s womb by the woman and therefore she must be forced to carry it to term.  The argument is that by agreeing to have sex, the Mother took on the potential responsibility of a baby being created.

In the case of a voluntary sex act, this is a strong objection.  Libertarians don’t concede that positive obligations exist (no one has the right to force you to take care of them, for example), but they do concede that implied agreements can exist.  For example, if I take you up in my hot air balloon, I don’t have the right to kick you off while we’re in midair.  By taking you up in the balloon, it’s implied that I’m going to safely bring you back down!  In the abortion/evictionism debate, the act of sex is claimed to be an implied agreement with the child if a child is created.

There are two problems with this line of thinking.  The most obvious problem is that some pregnancies aren’t agreed to!  Rape is the main example used, but that’s only a small fraction of potential abortion/eviction cases.  There are also cases of birth control failure. There are cases where one of the parties was told by a doctor that they were infertile, but clearly the doctor was wrong!  There are also cases where the man agreed not to release his seed into the women but did so anyway.  In all of these cases, measures were taken to prevent a pregnancy or the woman simply had no choice.  How can the woman be forced to carry the unborn child to term in these cases where she clearly took appropriate measures to prevent a pregnancy or had no choice in the matter?

While it’s true that the unborn child is an innocent bystander in all these cases, that doesn’t mean it has the right to the woman’s body.  Imagine a scenario where you woke up one day and you find that someone surgically attached an innocent person to your body.  In this highly unlikely scenario, you’d have every right to remove this innocent person.  You wouldn’t have the right to kill the person, but no one could say that you should be forced to live with this arrangement, even if it could be proven that surgically removing this innocent person would lead to their death and keeping them surgically attached would mean they could survive.  In this tragic scenario, the innocent person attached to your body can’t force you to keep them since they have no claim to your body.

The second problem with the implied agreement argument is that the child didn’t even exist when this implied agreement was supposedly made.  For there to be an implied agreement between two or more parties, those parties have to exist!  When the voluntary sex act took place, the future child doesn’t exist and therefore can’t be apart of any implied agreement between it and the Mother.

One could still argue that someone engaging in the act of sex clearly knows that a child could be created.  Therefore they should be held accountable by being forced to carry the baby to term if one is created.  As a believer in the importance of personal responsibility, this argument is hard to combat.  On a base level, I agree with it.  I think people who act irresponsible should deal with the results of their actions.  But just because I think this way doesn’t mean I have the right to violate the person or property of someone when they act irresponsibly.

Take for example if I saw someone leave their car for several hours parked in a bad neighborhood, with the engine running, and the door wide open.  This is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do.  This is almost guaranteeing that someone will steal the car.  If I decided to take the car, does the owner still have a claim to it?  After all, I could claim that the person leaving the car was being irresponsible and should live with the outcome.  They knew something like this could happen!  This would be a ludicrous argument though.  The car is still not my property and it still belongs to the owner, even if they were being irresponsible with it.  We can all agree it was irresponsible for the person to leave it running for hours unattended, and we might not have any sympathy if it gets stolen, but that doesn’t negate the owners right to the car.  In the same way if a women is being irresponsible with her sex life.  At the end of the day, she is still the owner of her body with the right to decide if someone should live in it or not.

The only situation where it would be legitimate to punish a woman who gets an eviction is if there were an agreement between the man and woman prior to the pregnancy.  One example would be if the woman was hired to be a surrogate.  She agreed to rent her womb and body out to the person who paid her and thus would be breaking a contract by getting an eviction.

Another example would be if there were some sort of prior agreement between the couple.  They may have agreed that if she were to get pregnant, they must both consent if there was going to be a removal of an unborn child.  In this situation, the woman would have to get the man to sign off on the removal per their prior agreement.  If the man refused to sign off, but she got the unborn child removed anyway, she could be liable for whatever damages were laid out in the contract.

Guardianship Of The Removed Child

So an unwanted fetus is removed, can they simply ignore it and let it die?  If not, who is the guardian responsible for caring for the child?  This is perhaps the most important issue to be worked out for evictionism to be legitimate.  What I say is that whoever performs the eviction is taking over guardianship of the child.  Since the Mother gave up this right, the person agreeing to do the eviction is also agreeing to take on that responsibility.

Therefore, it is the evictionist who must do everything in their power to make sure that not only does the fetus survive the procedure, but that it is taken care of once it is safely out.  “But if libertarians don’t believe in positive obligations, how can the guardian be forced to care for the child?” you ask?

This is the same debate around the question of “Is it legitimate for a parent to neglect their child to the point of injury or death?”  It is not legitimate, because when the parent voluntarily took on the guardianship of a child, they have made an implied agreement to not only care for the child, but to make sure that they find someone else to care for the child if they decide to discontinue their guardianship role.

A parent can decide to stop being a guardian, but they can’t just simply let the child die.  By doing this, and not making an effort to drop the child off at an orphanage or with another suitable guardian, they are precluding others from taking on the guardianship of the child.  In essence, a parent can stop being a guardian of a child if they choose, but they can’t stop others from taking over guardianship of the child.  Therefore, they must seek out a new suitable guardian before they are legitimately able to stop caring for the child.

To wrap up this train of thought, anyone agreeing to perform an eviction procedure is also agreeing to become the guardian of the child until they can find another suitable guardian.  An evictionist who removed a child and let it die would be just as much of a criminal as any parent who neglected their child to the point of death.

The Future

Perhaps the best thing to come out of this theory is that in the not too distant future, all unborn children will be able to survive outside the womb.  Technology will soon allow for even the earliest fetuses to survive and develop normally without a human womb.  Once this is the case, both sides of the abortion issue will have no choice but to accept the evictionism argument.  If you’re pro-choice, how can you possibly advocate for the ability of a Mother to kill her fetus if it can just as easily be removed, saved, and survive?  If you’re pro-life, how can you argue that you have the right to force the Mother to carry her baby to term when she can just as easily and safely let an artificial womb incubate the baby?  If the evictionism theory is the only theory that respects the rights of all parties involved in the future, than we have to begrudgingly admit that it is legitimate today.  Our rights don’t change with the times.  They are the same whether we lived 100 years ago or live 100 years from now.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

You may also like this by Mike Tront:

What Would It Look Like If The Federal Government Outlawed Abortion

Free Speech is Under Attack; Republicans Respond by Going Socialist

With a new wave of political correctness sweeping through America, speech is being stifled at an alarming rate.  Expressing unpopular opinions is getting people banned from Facebook. It’s getting YouTube videos demonetized.  It’s getting websites kicked off of the servers that host them.  It’s getting websites delisted from Google searches.  It’s even getting people fired from their jobs.

Currently, the type of speech being stifled is confined mostly to ideas that I personally find wrong, ignorant, and in some cases completely antithetical to the type of anti-authoritarian free society I want to live in.  However, I also want to live in a society that allows bad ideas to be exposed to rigorous and open debate.  Plus, I’m afraid that once the censorship ball gets rolling, anti-authoritarian libertarian ideas will soon be blacklisted as well.

For now, stifling “objectionable” conservative opinions is the trend of the day.  This is being met with stiff resistance and condemnation from virtually everyone on the right. Sadly, this has also led many prominent republicans to look to the government for a solution.

The Republican Solution

After Google fired James Damore, prominent republican talk show host Tucker Carlson had this to say:

Google should be regulated like the public utility it is to make sure it doesn’t further distort the free flow of information.

Carlson isn’t the only republican thinking this way.  According to this recent article from The Daily Caller, even otherwise pro-market republicans like Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon are on the anti-free market train in regards to Google and other social media platforms.

So what would it look like if popular social media sites became public utilities?  I’m sure if you ask these republicans, they’d assure us that there’d be no government takeover, just a bit more regulation to make things more fair and equal.

Anyone who studies history knows that whenever you give government regulators an inch, they take ten miles!  In order to get the level playing field these republicans want, they’d have to empower government to take over the Google search algorithm to ensure a more fair algorithm for right-leaning sites.  They’d have to take over YouTube’s monetization policy to ensure every creator gets the same pay rate.  They’d have to rewrite Facebook’s user agreement to make sure that no one gets banned for having a conservative opinion.  They’d have to take over Twitter’s algorithm to make sure certain people don’t get shadow banned for having unpopular opinions.

What could be more socialist than the government stepping in to level the playing field and make sure all views and parties have equal representation, regardless of the desires of the actual platform owners?

Problems With Government Takeover of Social Media

Just the above words should send a chill down anyone’s spine, regardless of their political affiliation.  Even if there was a way for a completely fair and open commission (ha!) to be set up to simply make sure the free flow of information isn’t restricted, does anyone really believe it’ll stay that way?  How many times do we have to witness a well-intended government program get perverted for political and financial gains before we understand that government is never a solution?

Once government takes over the search algorithms and social media user agreements, it’s only a matter of time before they’re tweaked to suit the needs of the people and lobbyists in power.  In fact, there are numerous exceptions to the 1st Amendment, so why wouldn’t the government alter the search algorithms of all search engines to help stamp out potentially unlawful speech?  This would allow government to hide, or even eliminate, vast amounts of content that might fit into such categories as “obscenity,” “false statements of facts,” “fighting words,” “incitement,” and many forms of commercial speech (which is considered less protected.)

Is it really hard to imagine the major news outlets lobbying government to hide independent news outlets because they made “false statements of facts?” (#FakeNews!) Is it really hard to imagine the government hiding or eliminating websites that are generally anti-state under the claim that they may incite people to do violent acts against state actors?  Is it really hard to imagine wealthy corporations lobbying government to make it harder for new companies to advertise on social media sites?

Perhaps the biggest problem with government turning search engines and social media platforms into public utilities is that it turns these social media platforms into legal monopolies, thus preventing any further innovation in this incredibly important field.

The Free Market Solution

Competition is the ultimate equalizer.  No matter how big and influential a company gets, it will never be immune from the constant pressure of competition.  Just in my short lifetime, many corporate giants have been decimated from competition.  Giants like General Motors went from being one of the largest companies in the world to filing for bankruptcy.  Only a government bailout saved it from going out of business completely.  IBM went from being the top computer company on the planet to posting record breaking losses.  Sears was once the largest retailer in America.  Today it’s fighting to stay profitable while closing stores all across the country.  MySpace went from being the largest social media site in the world to being nothing more than a punchline.

What happened to these giants?  Why did they fall so far so fast?  As companies grow, so do their expenses and potential liabilities.  Their workforce becomes bloated.  Their infrastructure, factories, and stores become out of date or obsolete.  They become targets for lawsuits.  Sometimes, even if a company does everything right and makes all the right moves, consumers just change their desires and tastes.

As companies and industries become more profitable, other entrepreneurs are tempted to enter their field in search of some of that juicy profit.  These new competitors have the advantage of being much more nimble and adaptable to the changing needs and desires of consumers.  They aren’t saddled down with layers of bureaucracy.  Even when the top dogs adapt and stay profitable, no one has ever stayed on top forever.

The new wave of social media censorship is just that, new.  Already we’re seeing the market react.  Gab was created last year as a alternative to Twitter. Gab promises no censorship of its users.  DuckDuckGo is a rising alternative to Google.  It’s main selling point is that it doesn’t track its user like Google does.  Not only does it keep your search terms private, but it eliminates the Filter Bubble that plagues other platforms.

It may seem impossible to imagine any company taking over the markets currently dominated by Google, Facebook, and YouTube, but it was once impossible to predict the fall (and the rise again!) of GM and IBM.  There’s no way to predict who or what will knock over these behemoth’s of the Internet, and there’s no way to predict how long it will take.  One prediction I will make is that if the government turns them into public utilities things will only get worse for free speech.  With public utility status also comes the status of legal monopoly.  If you think it’ll be hard for competition to take down popular social media platforms due to their network effects, just wait until they have the power of government behind them as well.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

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Confederate Statues, Funding For the Arts, and Left/Right Hypocrisy

In the wake of the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Confederate monuments and statues are being taken down across the U.S. Predictably, the standard right wing response is outrage and the standard left wing response is jubilation.

I can sympathize with both sides here.  Monuments, even of bad events or people, shouldn’t necessarily be forced to be taken down.  However, people who have no desire to fund a particular monument or statue shouldn’t be forced to fund it.

The libertarian solution is pretty simple, but before I delve too deep into how this can easily be solved with libertarian principles, I’d like to look at the hypocrisy on both the right and left that this controversy has exposed.

Right Wing Hypocrisy

For his 2018 budget, Donald Trump is planning on eliminating funding for several federal programs that subsidize the arts.  Including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  The response from republicans is overwhelmingly positive.  The main reasoning for right wing support was summed up by White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney:

“Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?” he asked. “The answer was no.”

So this week it was interesting to see Trump abandon this logic when it came to the removal of publicly funded Confederate art.  He had this to say on Twitter:

Nowhere did he say that public funding should be cut for these statues and nowhere did he echo Mulvaney’s point about it being wrong to make a “coal miner” or “single mom” pay for these Confederate Monument Programs. As usual in politics there’s no principle, only tribes.  The right wing tribe views the NEA as overwhelmingly subsidizing liberals and their pet art projects.  On the other hand, they have no problem using public funds for monuments and statues that glorify people and events that liberals hate and conservatives are more likely to enjoy!

Left Wing Hypocrisy

Going back to Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the arts, there’s no shortage of left wing outrage.  It’s hard to find anyone on the left who favors cutting government funding to any arts programs.  But therein lies the hypocrisy.  Aren’t Confederate monuments art?  Regardless of any objectionable actions taken by the Confederates, many of these statues and monuments can be seen as aesthetically pleasing, right?  I’m sure many local artisans were paid well for their work in creating these monuments, what liberal could object to that?

It’s easy to see how people who’ve had ancestors suffer through slavery would object to Confederate monuments, but many religious conservatives could easily object to some of the risque art that’s been funded through the NEA.  Additionally, if democracy is to be held up as an ideal, a majority of Americans believe the Confederate monuments should stay!

It seems a bit hypocritical for liberals to champion funding for arts that largely benefit their constituents and donors, but advocate for public art that doesn’t satisfy their constituents and donors to be torn down.  Especially when a majority of Americans want those particular monuments and statues to stay!

Libertarian Solution

If you’ve read anything I’ve posted before, I’m sure you can guess what the solution is.  Privatization!  The only moral and satisfactory solution to this issue is a complete separation of art and the state.  The conservatives are completely correct in their idea that the “coal miner” and the “single mom” shouldn’t be forced to fund art projects.  The liberals are completely correct in their idea that ancestors of slaves shouldn’t be forced to fund Confederate monuments and statues.

To this end, all funding to the NEA and any similar government programs should be cut immediately.  If you happen to value the type of art that the NEA funds, you are free to donate your own time and money to support these artists and galleries. Similarly, all publicly funded monuments and statues should be defunded.

Additionally, all statues and monuments should be sold off to the highest bidder.  Are you a person who hates what the Confederacy stood for?  Do you want to see these statues destroyed?  Great, I’m sure there will be many fundraisers to buy and destroy these statues.  Are you a Confederacy lover and do you want to see these monuments preserved?  Awesome, there will be plenty of fundraisers to buy and preserve these monuments as well.  You can fund any project you want, or no project at all.  The revenue generated in these sales should then be given back to the taxpayers they were taken from.

The tragedy of government funding the arts is that we are all forced to pay for art we may never view and in some cases we’re forced to pay for art that we find terribly objectionable.  This forces people to take sides and fight, since whichever side wins gets to control where the funds go.  Conversely, whichever side loses has to suffer the consequences of their conqueror possibly using the spoils directly against them.

The libertarian principle of non-aggression tells us that you have no right to force others to pay for your wants.  The libertarian principle of private property tells us that others have no right to stop you from pursuing your own wants on your own property or with your own money.  The beauty of these principles is that it allows all of us to directly fund and pursue the art we personally find enjoyable and important, and it allows those of us that don’t particularly enjoy art to use our funds for something that we do enjoy.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

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Libertarian Courts In A Stateless Society

Previously I’ve written about how a private criminal justice system might look, you can find it here.  However, in that piece I didn’t go much into the nuts and bolts of how private courts might work in a libertarian society.

Objections To Private Courts

There are numerous potential issues we can imagine if all courts were private.  Who decides which courts are legitimate?  How do courts get authority?  What happens if a corrupt court takes a bribe?  Who pays for the court?  What if an accused person doesn’t want to participate in a trial?  How does a poor person get legal representation?

In this piece I’d like to quickly offer some solutions that entrepreneurs may come up with if we had a free market in courts.

Voluntary Courts

If a dispute can’t be settled outside of court, the best case scenario would be for all sides to voluntarily agree to let a court decide the outcome.

So let’s look at a scenario.  You get carjacked and roughed up.  Your insurance company pays you restitution through a violent crime insurance policy.  The insurance company then wants to find out who committed this crime, take them to court to make sure they’re guilty, then extract restitution from the criminal to cover their losses.  They hire someone to gather evidence and put together a case.  They find out that the evidence points to me being the criminal.  They approach me and claim I own them $100,000 in damages for the restitution they had to pay as well as the costs of gathering evidence and finding me.

At this point, we could settle out of court and agree to have me pay them back over time.  Or if I’m viewed as untrustworthy, they could offer to let me join a prison work camp that keeps my salary and pays my debt for me.  Or I could refuse to pay them.

If I refuse to pay, they’re going to want to find a way to justify using force against me without upsetting the public and without starting a war between them and the security service I may have hired to protect me.  If I do have a subscription with a security service to protect me, I’m sure that service wouldn’t want to protect me against the victims of my violent acts.  So they would probably have a clause in their contract with me that voids their responsibility to protect me if I’m found guilty of a crime by a reliable court.

So at this point I’m refusing to pay restitution and the insurance company can’t risk using force against me. They need a reliable court to find me guilty before they can proceed in extracting restitution from me by force.  How do they get me to voluntarily agree to go to court and abide by the ruling?  Even if I’m innocent, the deck would appear to be stacked against me.  Couldn’t they just hire the best attorneys and make me pay for their costs after I lose?  Wouldn’t they have a friendly relationships with most courts and judges?

Even if I were innocent, I wouldn’t want to take my chances under this scenario…unless my accuser lets me pick the judge and their prosecutor!  What if the insurance company is so confident in their evidence that they believe any competent attorney in the world could prosecute the case and any competent judge/jury in the world would unanimously find me guilty?  Why wouldn’t they let me pick their prosecutor?  Of course they’d make sure it would be an attorney that has a certain level of certification from a reliable certification company.  I couldn’t just pull in a bum off the street.

If an accuser gives me the terms that I get to pick my own attorney, I get to pick their prosecutor, and I get to pick the judge/jury with the understanding that I immediately agree to surrender myself if I’m found guilty, I’d say these are pretty good terms whether I’m guilty or innocent.  Of course the loser of the trial would also agree to pay all attorney and court costs.

If this offer became standard in criminal trials, it eliminates almost all possible objections to a private court system.  The wealthy can’t push around the poor with superior attorneys or with friendly local judges.  And since both sides are voluntarily agreeing to the outcome, they are establishing authority in the court’s decision.

This also has the added benefit of protecting innocent people.  With this extremely high standard, I can’t image many accusers bringing people into trial unless they have overwhelming evidence.

Forcing Someone Into A Trial

No one would have the right to force someone to participate in a trial.  Such an act would be considered nothing less than kidnapping if anyone other than a government did it today.  Now I’m not saying that it won’t happen, just that it wouldn’t be standard practice.

One example of a possible scenario where a defendant might be kidnapped and held against his will is in the case of a particularly heinous crime with clear evidence of who the guilty party is.  For example, if someone walks into a crowded area and opens fire on a crowd of innocent people, but is apprehended without getting killed himself, he would probably be held captive until a court rules on his guilt and liability.  In this case it’s clear who committed the crime as he was apprehended in the act with numerous witnesses!

So who decides which defendants get held captive before trial and which don’t?  There won’t be a universal standard, but the decision would be based on potential risk and liability.  If someone is held hostage, and is later found not guilty, the people who held him hostage have committed a grievous rights violation.  One which would call for a potentially huge restitution payment to the person who was held against his will.  So if someone is to be held against his will before a trial, the people holding him better be sure of his guilt!  Money isn’t the only consideration.  If an organization gets the reputation of consistently getting it wrong and violating innocent people’s rights, I can’t imagine they’d stay in business long.

Trial In Absentia

The final issue I’ll address is what happens when someone doesn’t willingly participate in a trial?  We’re assuming here that the accused wasn’t caught in the act of a heinous crime like the above example.

At this point there’s no choice but to try him anyway.  This posses a very real problem though.  How do we get the authority and justification to use force against him if he’s found guilty?  After all, if I’m picking the judge, jury, and attorneys wouldn’t it seem like I’d intentionally try and stack the deck?  Or at least wouldn’t it be viewed that way even if I was completely fair?

When thinking about this problem, one thing to keep in mind is that there would be no immunity like there is today with government.  If a court today finds someone guilty and throws him in prison, but later it’s discovered they’ve made a mistake, the people that threw him in prison and found him guilty can’t be held accountable.  In a stateless society, there is no immunity.  So if I do stack the deck and railroad an innocent man, I’m liable for any damages I caused him.  Even the attorneys and judges involved could have some liability if it’s shown that they were negligent in trying the case.  This accountability alone will force an accuser to attempt to put on the fairest trial possible.  The last thing they need is to take more losses by violating the rights of an innocent person.

How would the process look?  The best thing to do to make sure it’s a fair trial is to find some kind of service that specializes in representing people who refuse to participate.  There could be any number of law firms out there competing with each other to prove how fair they are.  Various rating and certification agencies could exist to rate these firms.

Once the accuser picks a firm that has a good reputation in representing people in absentia, the same standard could apply as if the defendant participated.  The firm representing the absent defendant could be offered to pick the prosecuting attorney, court, and judge/jury.  This also has the added benefit of reducing or eliminating liability for the accuser if they do convict an innocent person.  The accuser could claim that they did everything possible to put on a fair trial and that the bulk of the liability falls on the law firm that unsuccessfully defended the innocent person.  This potential liability could also ensure a vigorous defense.

Corruption

Corruption will always be a concern when money and force are present.  A private court system will not be immune from people attempting to pervert the scales of justice .  If there’s a law suit that involves a large amount of money, why wouldn’t one side or the other attempt to buy off someone?  If my side could win millions, it’d be worth a several hundred thousand dollar “investment” to buy off a juror or to pay the opposing lawyer to throw the case, right?  And if a juror or lawyer could get a large payday so easily, why not take it?

I’ll admit this could happen, but with full liability I can’t imagine it happening very often.  If a bribe is taken and is discovered, the bribe taker would be liable for all damages done.  If an innocent man was forced to pay a settlement, the bribe taker would owe that innocent man back the money he was forced to pay along with any other damages he suffered as a result of being put in such a position.  The briber would also be in the same boat when it comes to liability.  Even a hint of someone taking a bribe could ruin someone’s reputation and career, whether or not any actual evidence is ever discovered of a bribe.

These disincentives would make bribery a rare occurrence.

No Perfect System

In thinking about if society should be organized with a central government in some capacity or if it should be completely left up to the market, we have to realize that no system will be perfect.  Mistakes will be made.  Bad people will do bad things.

The idea here is to find a way to eliminate all systematic violence.  Even the smallest government rests on the ability to use taxes to finance it.  Even the smallest government necessitates a monopoly of the courts, thus forcibly keeping competition from innovating and providing superior services to consenting adults.  Perhaps worst of all, even the smallest government will be its own final arbitrator in whether or not one of its decisions is just and whether one of its agents is liable for their actions.

When government is allowed to be the final arbitrator of all rights and wrongs, even the smallest and most well checked government will abuse this power and grow.  Only a completely stateless and private court system will prevent this inevitable erosion of individual liberty.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

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4 Reasons Why The Grenfell Tower Fire Would Have Been Avoided In A Libertarian Society

The Grenfell Tower Fire in London was a horrendous and preventable disaster that, as of this writing, has claimed 79 lives. In a libertarian free market based society, this tragedy would have been avoided.

From what we know, a small fire broke out in one of the apartment units and spread rapidly. The rapid spread of the fire appeared to be fueled by a recent renovation that left the building with sub-par cladding. This cladding apparently was not fire resistant and may have even been quite combustible. This, along with the complete lack of a sprinkler system in the individual units, doomed the building and its unfortunate inhabitants to suffer the tragic consequences we all witnessed.

Whenever something like this happens, especially when it claims innocent human lives, my thought goes to “Could this have been avoided?” My second thought is usually “Would the outcome have been any better in a libertarian free market society?”

After looking into what we know so far, it’s clear that government incentivized the neglect necessary for this terrible event to happen. Here are four reasons why this would not have happened in a libertarian free market society.

1: The Grenfell Tower Was Government Owned

In a totally free market, there are no government owned assets. When the government owns something, no one is directly responsible for its proper or safe use. There are people who oversee its use, of course. And in the case of The Grenfell Tower, a government funded non-profit property management group known as KCTMO was tasked to oversee the everyday operations of the Tower. But the buck doesn’t stop anywhere.

With government owned housing, no one put up their personal wealth to build it.  No one stands to lose money or clients if a building is managed poorly or engulfed in a preventable fire. No one is held accountable. Worst case scenario for the government is that someone loses their job. Even then, they could easily use their contacts and friendships within government to get another cushy gig.

In most cases, citizens aren’t even allowed to sue the government in these situations. And if they do end up getting some kind of settlement, it’s not coming out of the pockets of the people responsible for the mismanagement and negligence, it’s coming from the taxpayers.

This overall lack of accountability incentivizes negligence, corner-cutting, favoritism, and bribes.

In a free market, whoever built such a building would have to risk their own money, credit, assets, and reputation. If their building is unsafe or is ran negligently, they stand to lose the millions of dollars they invested. They could also be sued. Their reputation could also be tarnished to the point of being put out of business permanently. In a free market, incentives are in place to insure that people build safe buildings.

In spite of all these incentives to do right in a free market, what if someone does want to build an unsafe building?

2. Insurance

Insurance companies would be a huge problem for the perspective builder of unsafe buildings. In a free market, insurance companies would have a lot more latitude than they have today in deciding who they choose to insure and under what terms.

With that in mind, can you imagine an insurance company risking potentially tens of millions of dollars without sending a team of inspectors to assess the safety of a building? Not just for fire risks, but any number of risks that could cause harm to customers which could lead to lawsuits that the insurance company would have to cover.

I view this as the biggest check and balance against unsafe building in a free market society. Any insurance company that insures unsafe buildings would quickly be bankrupted with claims. And with no government to bail them out, they wouldn’t be able to stay in business to continue insuring unsafe buildings.

3. Inspections

When people think about a world without government, one horror they imagine is a world without building codes and inspectors. They imagine people and companies cutting corners in their construction in order to save money. However, I see the opposite happening.

Today, government has a monopoly on building codes. If their department puts their stamp of approval on a building, we assume it’s safe. But because it’s a government monopoly, it can’t go out of business. If they employ a building inspector that is incompetent, or lazy, or just going through motions and passing buildings that are unsafe, we’re stuck with it. Same goes for cases of bribery or favors to friends of those in power.

In a free market, building inspectors would face competition and would be judged on their track record. For example, if a building inspection company gave The Grenfell Tower a passing grade on fire safety, chances are they’d be out of business right now. Not only that, but since they are obviously incompetent and/or untrustworthy, all their former clients would have to get re-inspections immediately from a more reputable company in order to satisfy their customers. After all, if my building had a seal of approval from the same company that gave The Grenfell Tower a seal of approval, I’d be demanding a new inspection immediately or threatening to move out. Wouldn’t you? Today, we don’t have that luxury. Some government agency signed off on The Grenfell Tower at some point, and that same agency is out right now signing off on another building.

But if the government isn’t there to force buildings to be inspected, why would greedy owners pay money out of their own pocket to get them inspected, you ask?

First, we go back to insurance companies. In order to get the best possible premium, insurance companies could offer discounts based on how often buildings got inspected by trusted inspection companies. Plus, it’s safe to assume that insurance companies would have their own inspectors on staff doing their own due diligence. And if a building owner refused to get inspections, how many insurance companies do you think would insure them?  My guess in none, unless the owners are willing to pay outrageous premiums, which would defeat the entire purpose of cutting corners in order to save money.

Second, to attract customers. If you’re looking for an apartment and you find several that are similarly priced, but some have a very recent seal of approval from a reputable inspection company, and others have no seal of approval or approvals from ten years ago, which building would you want to live in? Or one may have a seal of approval from a reputable company, and another from a company that just got caught taking bribes and approving unsafe buildings. Again, which would you trust? Apartment buildings would compete with one another to prove how safe they are to you.

4. Personal Liability

For centuries, wealthy businessmen have been finding ways to use the coercive power of government to protect their assets and businesses.  Perhaps one of the most effective policies they’ve managed to put in place is the idea of limited liability.  This means that when someone goes into business as a corporation, they are now personally off the hook for any losses, debts, lawsuits, and any other possible negative consequences from the action of their business.

So if a wealthy person had owned The Grenfell Tower, the victims of his neglectful business practices couldn’t sue him personally.  They could only sue the actual corporation that owned the Tower.  And if the corporation’s assets were limited to the Tower and the land it sat on, the victims would be fighting over scraps while the owner’s other assets would be shielded from lawsuits. This lack of personal liability makes it easier for an already wealthy business owner to engage in potentially risky and negligent business practices.  Practices they would never imagine engaging in if they were personally on the hook for any harm that these practices caused to innocent people and property.

In a libertarian free market society, there is no government to shield business owners from liability.  If your negligence causes great harm to other persons and property, you are responsible.  It doesn’t matter if you do it as an individual or as a business owner.

Fear is a wonderful motivator.  If business owners were afraid that their actions as a business owner could possibly harm their personal assets, we can easily see that that business owners would take greater care in running their businesses.

But Couldn’t It Still Happen?

We can never say for sure that something wouldn’t happen under different circumstances.  All we can do is speculate on how people would act given different incentives.  We can clearly see that a free market would greatly disincentivize the type of negligence that was necessary for a Grenfell Tower type of tragedy to take place.  And if someone did happen to build such a building, they and everyone involved in building, insuring, and inspecting this building would be quickly put out of business and their personal fortunes would be subject to lawsuits from the victims of their negligence.  Nothing can bring someone back from the dead, but at least in a market based society there wouldn’t be a government to stop victims from seeking full restitution and there wouldn’t be government monopolies that prevent bad actors from going out of business.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

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Private Borders: There Won’t Be a Wall Without Government

Since the rise of the Trump Movement and the Alt Right, some in the libertarian community are rethinking their stance on borders and immigration.  Traditionally, libertarians believe that the government has no right to restrict people from traveling.  Today many are abandoning that stance in favor of government controlled borders.  Specifically, Trump’s plan to build a massive wall is somehow seen as a legitimate government action.

So how do libertarians morally justify a massive, centralized government border-industrial-complex?  There are two major arguments libertarians typically use to justify themselves here.  The first boils down to “the ends justify the means”.  Higher levels of immigration will equal bigger government, they claim.  Therefore, supporting an endlessly costly big government program and the inevitable Liberties it will trample on is worth it because it will actually REDUCE the size and scope of government.

This seems to be the most popular argument among closed-border libertarians, but that’s not the argument I’m tackling today.  Most of the holes in this stance are tackled very well in this Reason Magazine piece if you’re interested in reading that counter argument.

The other argument, which is the one that I find most compelling, is what I’m tackling today.  It’s the claim that since a world without government would have private borders, it’s not necessarily anti-libertarian to advocate for government controlled borders in the meantime.

Why It’s Compelling

An interesting analogy to the border situation is the fact that even the most hardcore libertarian doesn’t object when the government prosecutes murderers, rapists, and thieves.  The government has a monopoly on criminal prosecution, thereby preventing private actors from legitimately prosecuting criminals and extracting restitution.  Since they are actively preventing private solutions, we have no choice but to at least begrudgingly advocate for the government to do what it can to prosecute these criminals.  We may prefer a private option, but in the meantime we can’t just let these violent criminals run free.

Similarly, the government monopolizes the control of the border.  It owns large swaths of land that border other countries, it owns the roads, and it exercises tremendous control over airports and seaports.  The closed-border libertarians theorize that without government, these points of entry would all be privately owned and therefore owners would be able to restrict and prevent people from entering.  Private land owners would take measures to prevent trespassing.  Airport owners and seaport owners could put whatever restrictions on who can use their service that they like.  And road owners could similarly prevent access to their roads to anyone they please.  Since these owners could restrict who would be able use their property in a free market, closed-border libertarians claim that it’s completely legitimate to advocate for government to enforce similar restrictions in the meantime.

Since we’re willing to accept and even advocate for the government to be involved with prosecuting violent criminals, we should also accept the government exercising control over the borders, the closed-border libertarian could claim.

Where It Falls Apart

While it’s true that private property owners could prevent people from using or traveling on their property in a free market setting, there’s no clear evidence that all owners would want to stop people from certain geographical regions from using their services.  There’s no clear evidence that even a majority of these owners would be so restrictive.  In fact, the more restrictive a firm is, the less money it will make.

Take private airports for example.  On the surface, you would think it’d be easy and cheap to prevent immigration.  An airport could just simply refuse to accept airplanes from certain countries.  Boom.  Problem solved.  Except that someone from a “bad” geographical region could just move to a “good” geographical region and enter the country through their airline.  So the airport would either have to accept that a few “bad” immigrants would get in, or they’d have to spend huge amounts of money to do extensive background/litmus tests on every person coming in from an International flight.  I can’t imagine that they’d opt for the latter solution, especially since they’d have to pass the expense to their customers.

But let’s say, for some reason, the majority of airport owners decide that they don’t like making as much money as possible and they do whatever it takes to stop “bad” immigrants from using their services.  The only thing they will accomplish is raising the profits of their competitors that still allow these people to use their service.  And even if ALL the current airports in the land decide to form some kind of cartel with the intention to heavily restrict foreign flights, this will only embolden some profit-seeking entrepreneur to build a new airport outside of the cartel to take all the previously unwanted business.  And since they’re the only game in town, they’d make tremendous profits.  These huge profits would incentivize other people to build similar airports, or it would incentivize current airports to buck the cartel and start loosening their restrictions.  In a free market, discrimination can be costly.

The same goes for roads.  Yes, some road owners could have some sort of litmus test that they force all their customers to take before using their road, but that can get costly and intrusive for their customers.  The increased costs and intrusive paperwork will restrict the “bad” immigrants, but it will also drive away large amounts of “good” Americans who just want to travel without paying big fees and filling out intrusive paperwork.  Plus, entrepreneurs who are seeking profit are always there to pick up the slack from businesses who refuse or alienate potential customers.

The Wall

But surly The Wall is feasible in a free market, right?  Today we see many examples of gated communities and corporate buildings with walls, fences, tight security, etc.  There are already numerous examples of private walls to protect property, so wouldn’t the invisible hand of the free market lead entrepreneurs to build a wall along a border with a government controlled territory in order to stop its people from trespassing?  No.

The first problem is money.  Private walls are only built, maintained, and guarded in order to protect property that has significant value.  It wouldn’t make sense for someone to build, maintain, and guard a wall if this wall costs more than what the actual property is worth!

We could hypothetically say that a network of walls could happen if the entire border is populated with wealthy, thriving neighborhoods and valuable companies on the “good” side.  These communities could be gated as many are today.  However, any wealthy and thriving community is constantly in need of customers and workers.  The people on the “bad” side could end up being both.  In this case it would be in the best interest of the businesses of the communities to allow access to its services to as many people as possible.  More people also means a wider potential employee pool, which could ensure better employees and better services and prices for members of the communities.  Someone also has to mow the lawns, clean the pools, pick up the trash, and perform any number of menial low-paying jobs.  The homeowners who live in these expensive, gated communities probably aren’t garbagemen and pool cleaners.  Even in this hypothetical world, any private borders that are built would have to be rather porous.  No wall will overcome the demands of commerce.

The other problem is the lack of monopoly.  Unless we’re talking about a very small border, odds are at least some of the property owners on the border won’t erect any barriers.  In fact, just the opposite would happen.  Since this is a free market, if there is a demand for people to travel, entrepreneurs will work to satisfy that demand.  Without a government monopoly, who’s to stop someone from buying land on a border and building roads that charge potential immigrants for using them?  Right now potential immigrants pay thousands of dollars to smugglers, called Coyotaje’s, to get them across the Mexico/U.S. border.  With this much market demand, I can’t imagine entrepreneurs NOT building roads to make profits off people who are in the market to escape their oppressive territory.  The only way to stop private individuals and firms from doing this is if there is a centralized government that has a monopoly on the border.

Freedom of Association

When all else fails, the closed-border libertarian often falls back on the freedom of association.  No one has a right to force them to associate with people’s that they don’t wish to associate with.  They are correct, but that only works on their own private property.  Once you leave your property, and enter someone else’s property, they choose who they would like to associate with.  Freedom of association works both ways.  You get to choose who you’d like to associate with on your property, but you don’t get to dictate to someone else on their property who they get to associate with.  And in a free market setting, whether the closed-border libertarian likes it or not, businesses are incentivized by profit to associate with as many people as possible from as many lands as possible in order to get the most customers and the best employees.  Only a government monopoly can build barriers and walls to stop the movement of people.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

You may also like Can Libertarians Justify Physical Removal? by Mike Tront

The Importance of Beltway Libertarianism: Or Why I Disagree With Tom Woods and Lew Rockwell

Beltway libertarianism, or plain vanilla libertarianism (as Tom Woods puts it) often gets a bad rap among many in the libertarian community.  Organizations like the Cato Institute, Reason Magazine, and even the Libertarian Party itself get accused of not being libertarian enough.  Being too centrist.  Pandering to people in power.  Or just flat out not hating government enough.

Recently this disdain for beltway libertarian organizations is illustrated in Episode 870 of the Tom Woods Show.  Tom and his guest Lew Rockwell, of lewrockwell.com, wondered why “plain vanilla” libertarian websites are not considered fake news while Tom’s and Lew’s websites are.  They are referencing a list of websites compiled by a professor and her class from Merrimack College.  This list displays a number of news sites and labels these sites based on their level of bias and fakeness.  This list has been out for months, but it is back in the news now that the Harvard Library put out a guide on how to identify fake news, and linked to this list as a handy reference.

On this list, tomwoods.com and lewrockwell.com aren’t actually labeled “fake news”, they are labeled “unreliable”.  “Unreliable” meaning:

“Sources that may be reliable but whose contents require further verification or to be read in conjunction with other sources.”

Not as bad of a distinction as the “fake news” sites, but still ridiculous that they’re even on this list to begin with.  Tom and Lew don’t claim to be news organizations and they simply offer quality, consistent, truthful libertarian content.

Also on the list is The Cato Institute.  Cato is a mainstream, Washington D.C. based think tank that offers libertarian leaning solutions in government.  They generally strive for limited government policies, but fall far short of the “tear it all down” type of solutions that many of us desire to see.  Think of them as the Gary Johnson of the think tank world.  Not surprisingly, Cato is labeled “Credible” on this fake news list.  “Credible”, according to this list, means:

“Sources that circulate news and information in a manner consistent with traditional and ethical practices in journalism”.

This leads to a discussion between Woods and Rockwell, in the above mentioned Podcast, about why “plain vanilla” libertarian organizations aren’t feared by the mainstream like Woods and Rockwell are.  Rockwell states:

“These people are not exactly a threat to the regime.  In fact, they’re a part of the regime.  They play their role, just as [George] Soros plays his role with another hat on, but that’s what’s wrong with plain vanilla libertarianism”

Before I go on, I’d like to say that I have nothing but love and respect for Tom Woods and Lew Rockwell.  These guys do more for the advancement of libertarianism on a slow Tuesday than most of us will do our entire lives!  Hell, I wouldn’t have even known about this conversation if I wasn’t a Tom Woods listener!  However, no two libertarians agree with each other 100%.  When Lew and Tom downplay the importance that beltway libertarians have in the movement, I’ll wholeheartedly disagree.

My Path

Most of us aren’t born libertarians.  From the time that we’re conscience of the outside world we’re taught from schools, parents, religion, and media that government is a positive force in our life.  Everything we know and love is either given to us by government, or protected by government from the scary bad guys.  At some point, however, we libertarians start to doubt this narrative.

Once we begin to question this narrative, especially after decades of conditioning, it’s important to have many different resources we can use to move us along the path to libertarianism.  Not all of us are able or willing to jump in head first.

I don’t exactly remember what lead me to discover libertarianism.  My earliest memories were in High School. For some reason I stumbled upon Harry Browne’s campaign website for President in 2000.  I also remember being in a debate class in High School, and for some reason only one resource seemed to line up with my personal opinion on the subject I was debating.  It was the Cato Institute.  In that class, they would give you a resolution and lists of resources to use for your arguments.  You could only use arguments and stats that were acquired from any number of credible resources that were provided.  Cato was one of them.

I don’t remember if Harry Browne and the Libertarian Party came first, or discovering The Cato Institute came first, but once I started down this rabbit hole it was a done deal.  I was a living example of the old libertarian joke:  “What’s the difference between a libertarian and an anarchist?  About 6 months!”

Beltway Libertarianism IS a Threat

Lew Rockwell says these groups aren’t a threat to the regime.  In and of themselves, he is right.  They aren’t trying to tear it all down.  For the most part, they provide seemingly practical solutions to make government run more efficient and at a much lower cost to the taxpayers.  However, they also cast doubt on the necessity of government involvement in many aspects of our lives, both economically and socially.

While every other think tank and political organization is promising to use the enormous power of government to keep you safe and give you things, “plain vanilla” libertarians are the only people in Washington actually using the existing framework of government to get the message of smaller government out to the masses.

You and I both know that they have no shot at limiting government.  We also know that their message is often watered down and within the boundaries of political correctness.  However, it’s exactly because of this politically correct and watered down message that they’re considered “credible” and not scary by the establishment.  This gives them one important advantage and one important role in our movement.

Lao Tzu said “A Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  The “plain vanilla” libertarians are the first step.  If this politically correct and credible first step weren’t available, many of us would never have gone down the libertarian path at all.  In this respect, “plain vanilla” libertarian organizations could be one of the most important prongs in the fight for a libertarian world.  Without these mainstream organizations, I imagine many current listeners and readers would have never even discovered Tom Woods or Lew Rockwell.

Just like how some people consider marijuana a “gateway” drug, one where if someone consumes it they become more likely to consume more dangerous drugs, mainstream libertarian organizations are the gateway to the Tom Woods’, Lew Rockwell’s, and every other truly anti-state organization and person in the movement.  With that in mind, “plain vanilla libertarianism” is definitely a threat to the establishment.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

This Week In Hypocrisy 3/6 – 3/12/17

The Telegraph – Student Union Bans Conservative Society From Speaking Out – Because They Challenged Its Position On Free Speech

Lincoln University’s Conservative Society has been censored by its student union after it posted an image online showing that the university had been ranked “very intolerant” on free speech in a recent survey.

In response, the Students’ Union swiftly suspended the society’s social media accounts, on the grounds that highlighting the university’s ranking had brought it into disrepute.

If you think we’re intolerant now, just wait to see how intolerant we get when you point out our intolerance!

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The Guardian – Jeff Sessions Urges Prosecutors to Target Drugs in Push Against Violent Crime

The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is advising the federal prosecutors under his authority across the US to re-intensify the nation’s drug war as part of a Department of Justice initiative to target violent crime. Citing a 10.8% increase in the number of murders nationwide, and a decline in federal prosecution for violent crime, Sessions has issued a memo advising US attorneys “to employ the full complement of federal laws to address the problem of violent crime in your district”, including the use of prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act.

Government at its finest.  Violent crime is a problem, so in order to combat it they’re focusing on non-violent drug offenders!?  A bigger crackdown on drugs will only lead to higher drug prices, which will lead to higher profits for drug dealers.  This inevitably leads to more violent people getting into the drug trade in search of massive, quick profits.  Couldn’t we just focus on prosecuting the individuals who are actually committing violent crimes?

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The Blaze – Democrat Who Blasted Betsy DeVos Over School Vouchers is a Big Fan of School Choice For His Own Kids

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was one of Education Secretary  Betsy DeVos’ biggest critics during her confirmation hearing. One major point of contention Franken had with DeVos was her support for a voucher system for middle-class families. This, in part, led him to claim that DeVos was “fundamentally unqualified to lead the Education Department.”

and

However, information has surfaced that shows Franken isn’t opposed to school choice at all — at least not when it comes to his own family. According to the Daily Caller, Franken sends his own children to one of the most prestigious schools in New York, where tuition is more than the yearly salary of those Franken claims he’s looking out for.

I’ve got no problem with Franken sending his kids to a prestigious school, no matter the cost.  It’s his money after all.  But to blast someone who advocates for a path to get kids out of the failing, and often times dangerous, public school system while at the same time refusing to send his own kids there, is abhorrent.

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The Daily Caller – Pelosi on Obamacare Replacement:  We Have To Find Out What’s In It Before We Pass It

The American people and Members have a right to know the full impact of this legislation before any vote in Committee or by the whole House.

That was Pelosi last week.  Of course we all know what she said in 2010 about Obamacare:  “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” Amazing how much difference that little “R” or “D” next to someone’s name makes.

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Inside Higher Ed – U of California, Berkeley, to Delete Publicly Available Educational Content

Today, the content is available to the public on YouTube, iTunes U and the university’s webcast.berkeley site. On March 15, the university will begin removing the more than 20,000 audio and video files from those platforms — a process that will take three to five months — and require users sign in with University of California credentials to view or listen to them.

 

The Justice Department, following an investigation, in August determined that the university was violating the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. The department reached that conclusion after receiving complaints from two employees of Gallaudet University, saying Berkeley’s free online educational content was inaccessible to blind and deaf people because of a lack of captions, screen reader compatibility and other issues.

 

“In many cases the requirements proposed by the department would require the university to implement extremely expensive measures to continue to make these resources available to the public for free,” Koshland wrote in a Sept. 20 statement. “We believe that in a time of substantial budget deficits and shrinking state financial support, our first obligation is to use our limited resources to support our enrolled students. Therefore, we must strongly consider the unenviable option of whether to remove content from public access.”

Now the university has settled on that option.

I truly wish for a world where everyone has equal access to everything.  But today we live in a world of limited resources.  It’s unbelievable to me that Berkeley was providing this free service but because they don’t have the extra money and time to subtitle thousands of video and audio files, they have to deny everyone free access to it.  So now blind and deaf people still don’t have access to the content, but neither does anyone else.  Are we really better off?

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This Week In Hypocrisy comes out every week from Mike.  You can get it in your inbox, along with all his blog posts by signing up here.  It’s free and we don’t spam or give or trade your email address.  Or you can view his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com.

Libertarians Are Losing The Transgender School Bathroom Debate

Last year, President Obama’s administration issued guidance to public schools that said they must allow students to use the bathroom with the gender they identify with, regardless of their actual sex.

This year, the Trump administration reversed that order.  Now states and localities will be deciding what their transgender bathroom policies will be.

For libertarians, this is a complicated issue.  One the one hand, if there is to be a government, we’d like it to be as decentralized as possible.  So there’s definitely an argument in favor of state’s rights.  However, this particular issue deals with public property.  Since it’s public property, partially funded with federal dollars and overseen by a federal department, there’s an argument that the federal government has a duty to accommodate the needs of transgender students.

What should be the libertarian solution?  To paraphrase an old saying, “If you ask two libertarians their opinion on something, you’ll get three answers!” That quote couldn’t be more appropriate here.  Libertarians may argue over what the public school transgender bathroom policy should be, but we ultimately agree that the real solution is to privatize all schools and let the owners and customers decide.

Instead of each state or district or the entire country having a one-size-fits all policy, any school could have their own policy since they’d be privately owned.  That way no matter where you live, you’ll have options to choose from.  Just like we have many choices in grocery stores, we should have just as many options in education.

Why We’re Losing

In the sales world there’s an effective selling technique known as the Alternative Choice Close.  The idea is that you present your prospect with two choices, both of which end in them buying your product.  If you’ve ever bought a car at a dealership you’ve seen this technique in action.  When the salesperson is giving you an offer on a car, they’ll give you several different payment options and ask “Which option would you prefer?”  This technique increases the chances of a sale compared to asking the prospect a “Yes/No” question.  One where “No” is an easy option.  I.e. “Would you like to buy it at these terms?”

Or to relate it to the dating world, if you want to ask a girl out on a date it’s much more effective to say “Where would you like me to take you: Applebee’s or Chili’s?” Instead of “Do you want to go on date with me?”

On the public school bathroom issue, and many other issues, libertarians are being had by slick salesmanship from those in charge of the government.  Government presents us with a conservative and liberal choice on an issue, and we feel the need to pick the least bad side.  No matter what choice we get sold on, we’re buying a government solution.  The people in power don’t care what side ultimately wins out.  So long as they keep their control over the topic in question.  Same with the car salespeople.  They don’t care which payment you choose, just so long as you pick a payment and they get the sale!

On this issue in particular, too many libertarians are choosing to side with either the right or the left.  Perhaps some libertarians have bought into the fear-mongering involving transgender people.  Perhaps some libertarians are trying to curry favor with one side of the isle in the hopes of being seen as tolerant.  Perhaps some libertarians are just tired of being left out of the debate and want to feel like they’re being heard, even at the cost of choosing a lesser evil.  Whatever the excuse, by siding with the left or right, we’re dooming our ideology to a life of existing just outside of the Overton Window.

Unapologetic, Consistent Freedom

The two greatest salespeople for libertarianism in the last 100 years were Ron Paul and Ayn Rand.  No two people were responsible for more converts to our ideology in that span.  In spite of their extreme differences in how they lived their lives, they had one important thing in common.  They were unapologetic and consistent in their defense of human freedom.  Even when it took them to unpopular places.  Or in the case of Dr. Paul, even when it caused him to wallow in obscurity for decades before people started taking him seriously.  Ron Paul is a perfect example of the concept that it usually takes years of hard work to become an overnight success!

When it comes to the ongoing battle over transgender bathrooms and public schools, we can’t fall victim to the false narrative that it has to be one or the other.  Yes, I realize that eliminating public schools isn’t an option any time soon.  It may not be an option ever, at least politically.  Technology will most likely make public schools obsolete way before government gives up their control of education.

So why not pick a side if our solution isn’t even an option, you ask?  I see two big reason why we should stick to our seemingly hopeless guns.

First, this is how we win converts.  If we’re seen as nothing more than a centrist movement, where we take a little bit from the left and a little bit from the right, we’re not going to inspire anyone.  If we have no clear ideology on issues, or if we’re seen as being easy to throw away our ideology in order to settle for the lesser evil, we’ll always be thought of as the nerdy kid trying desperately to get into the cool kid party.

Second, we’re not going to sway the people in charge anyway!  Seriously, could you imagine a scenario where the government is deadlocked on an issue, so they come to the libertarians to make the call?  The idea is laughable!

This tyranny train is roaring full steam ahead with or without us.  Since we seem to be the only group of people on this train that can see we’re heading off a cliff, it’s our duty to ourselves and our fellow humans to do our best to point out the truth and offer the only moral solution.  Instead of advocating the conservative or liberal “solution”, we need to present the libertarian solution.  The fact that the libertarian solution isn’t even on the table for discussion isn’t an excuse to settle for the lesser evil.  In fact, that’s all the more reason to be presenting our solution far and wide, if only to move the Overton Window toward libertarian ideas.  In this case, unapologetic privatization of everything to do with education.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

You may also like Government is Turning College into High School by Mike Tront

Libertarian Gun Control: Could It Happen?

As a libertarian, there’s few things I hate more than the government trying to limit our access to guns.  The Second Amendment is perhaps the most important, and effective, check on government power written into the Constitution.  Every government that has orchestrated a mass genocide against its own people banned those people from owning guns first.  I firmly believe that without the huge number of guns in private hands in America, the military would have been turned against us at some point.  With that being said, I’d like to explore the possibility of various forms of gun control that could happen in a libertarian society.

Before I get a bunch of knee-jerk hate mail, let me be clear about something.  I don’t support ANY form of government gun control.  No government has a right to pick and choose who can and can’t own guns.  What I’m interested in exploring is if we were living in a society with little or no government at all, would the free market make it harder for some people to own guns or carry guns in public?

I say yes.  In a free market, there will still be forms of gun control.

Private Property Gun Control

The easiest type of gun control to imagine is the type that you personally institute on your own property.  If you invite people on your property, you have every right to say that they aren’t allowed to carry guns.  If they don’t like it, they don’t have to associate with you.  This goes for businesses as well.  If a business doesn’t want armed customers, they can take measures to refuse entrance to anyone who is armed.  Just because we have a right to own guns, doesn’t mean we have a right to carry them onto someone else’s property without their permission.

We can argue all day long about whether a business or person is making their property less safe with this policy, but the fact remains that they have every right to do it and some people will exercise this right.

Neighborhood Association Gun Control

Some people really don’t like guns.  They truly believe that the less guns they’re around, the safer they’ll be.  With that in mind, I don’t see why they couldn’t live in their own little gun-free communities.  This goes back to private property rights.  If someone builds an apartment building, they get to choose the rules and regulations of the property.  They can make it pet-free if they like.  They can make it a retirement community so only senior citizens can move in.  And if they choose, they can make it a gun-free community.  People who rent or buy their units would have to agree to the rules and regulations of the community.  If they don’t like the rules, they don’t have to live there.

Since we know there are millions of people in America today that are vehemently anti-gun, we can imagine that at least some of them will establish and live in gun-free communities.

I would argue that having a gun-free community would be about as “safe” as government mandated gun-free zones are today, but I have no right to make them change the rules of their property.

Gun Sales and Liability

So far, nothing I’ve talked about is really controversial or groundbreaking.  I’m sure even the most ardent 2nd Amendment lover can concede that other people have private property rights.  But this section of the piece will ruffle some feathers.

Absent of government gun control laws, I think people could potentially have some liability if they give or sell guns to someone who uses them to harm innocent people.  This potential liability would lead to gun dealers denying service to many potential gun buyers, unless they can show that they are responsible individuals.  Thus reducing or eliminating the dealer’s potential liability.

The first scenario in which someone could get denied service by a seller is an easy one.  If someone comes to a gun shop to purchase a gun, and he talks about his desire to use it to shoot innocent people, and he is sold a gun, the seller could easily have some liability.  By supplying someone with a deadly weapon, while having the knowledge that he will use it to commit harm to innocent people, the seller is now an accomplice.

If someone verbally states his intent to cause harm to innocent people, I can’t imagine too many sellers today or in a libertarian future that would sell him a weapon.  But what if someone shows non-verbal signals that they may be dangerous to innocent people?  Could the seller have liability if this clearly unstable person is sold a gun and commits a crime against innocent people with it?

Take this as an example.  Imagine someone comes into a gun shop and buys a gun.  But something just doesn’t seem right about him.  He’s muttering to himself.  He seems nervous and agitated.  He doesn’t seem to possess much knowledge about guns.  He’s asking strange questions about the neighborhood clearly signifying he has little or no knowledge of the area.  This person clearly seems like someone that any reasonable person would hesitate giving a gun to.  But he never verbally states his intent to do harm to innocent people.

If that man then goes out and does something horrible with his newly purchased gun, would the seller have any liability?  Hell yeah they could.  If there were witnesses to this gun sale that can testify that the buyer was clearly deranged, and potentially dangerous, and that any reasonable person should have been able to recognize it, then the seller could easily be sued by the victims for negligence.  This fear of liability could limit the people that gun dealers decide to do business with.

It may even get to a point where after every innocent person gets shot with a newly purchased firearm, a law suit could be coming just to investigate any possibility of negligence on the part of the seller.  Most of these will probably be thrown out, and the seller would probably have insurance to defend him, but the nuisance alone will give sellers pause to do business with everyone that walks in the door.

Insurance And Background Checks

After a few successful negligence law suits, insurance companies are going to have to change how they insure gun dealers.  My guess is that insurance companies will refuse to insure any gun dealer unless the dealer agrees to only sell guns to buyers who have passed some sort of independent background check and training course.  This way if a gun buyer does harm to an innocent person, any lawsuit against the gun dealer would be stopped in its tracks once the seller shows that they did their due diligence before selling him a deadly weapon.

So will the gun shop have their own training course and background check?  Probably not.  In fact, there’d be so many independent, competing companies certifying gun owners that the shop wouldn’t have to.  What I can see happening is everyone that wants to own guns and especially anyone that desires to carry guns at their workplace, or at the mall, or at entertainment venues, or anywhere in public, would get themselves certified.

They’d go to a trusted, widely accepted certification company and request their Seal of Approval.  The company would probably have some basic test to see if the applicant understands when it’s acceptable to brandish or use a fire arm.  They’d do some sort of background check to make sure the applicant isn’t a dangerous fugitive or has a history of violence.  They might do a basic psychological exam.  They’d test their proficiency with their weapon to make sure they can effectively and accurately use it.  And after the applicant shows that they would most likely be a responsible gun owner, the certification company would give them their Seal of Approval.

This Seal of Approval could be used to satisfy the companies that insure gun dealers.  This puts the gun dealer and their insurance company at ease since any potential burden of liability would shift to the certification company if this buyer should harm an innocent person with the newly purchased gun.

Carrying Guns in the Workplace and Around Town

Another huge reason to get yourself certified by one of these companies is so businesses and workplaces will feel comfortable letting you carry a gun on their property.  Think about schools.  I definitely wouldn’t want my children attending a gun-free school.  It’d make me feel at ease if I knew teachers and security guards had the ability to defend my children against a possible violent threat.  However, it’d make me feel even more at ease if I knew that the school made sure anyone who carried guns on their campus was certified not just in gun safety, but in proficiency by a reputable company.  Not only would I know that these gun holders would be safe with their weapons, but they would be able to quickly and accurately neutralize any threat.

This could be a great selling point.  Schools could advertise that they have high standards for their security guards and teachers in order to carry guns, and thus parents could feel better about their child’s safety.

Same goes for sporting venues.  Or retail businesses.  Or workplaces.  I’m sure some of these places would be hesitant to let just anyone carry a gun on their premises, so they’d only allow people to carry who’ve been certified by a reputable certification company.  But forget about the business owner, more than likely it would be their insurance company that would be more hesitant.  After all, if a business lets just anyone carry a weapon on their premises, and a crazy person comes in and shoots up the place, the business owner could be sued by the victim’s for having a negligent weapons policy.  Therefore, insurance companies may not insure businesses that don’t have a “Certified Gun Owners Only” policy for guns.

Libertarians love to imagine their ideal world with little or no government, and they usually imagine themselves being able to carry their weapons anywhere, anytime.  However, we also have to acknowledge that in this free society other people have property rights too.  This means they can restrict what you can do on their property.

Libertarians also tend to underestimate the effect insurance companies will have on a society with little or no government.  Most of us will be relying on insurance companies to protect our valuable property as well as protect us against lawsuits.  In order for us to get the most possible insurance for the lowest possible price, these companies would give business owners incentives to have policies that would reduce potential lawsuits.  Just like drunk drivers are uninsurable, or at least have to pay enormous premiums, businesses and workplaces that don’t require certification to carry guns would increasingly become uninsurable as well.

This vision of society, where there are places you can’t carry your gun unless you’ve been vetted by some third party, doesn’t seem much different than today!  However, there is one enormous difference.  With no government one-size-fits-all gun control legislation, no one will have the right to tell you that you can’t carry a gun, so long as you have the permission of the property owner.  And no one will have the right to tell you if you can or can’t own guns, so long as you’re able to convince someone to voluntarily sell or give them to you.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

You may also like A War On Guns Is Another War On Minorities by Mike Tront

Can Libertarians Justify Physical Removal?

Physical removal, so to speak, is an idea popular in a particular segment of the libertarian population.  Specifically, libertarians who consider themselves right libertarians.  Those who may sympathize with the altright and those that may be motivated by their hatred of anyone who considers themselves politically left wing.  If you’re motivated by your hatred of leftists more than you’re motivated by your love of individual human liberty, you’re probably sympathetic to the idea of physical removal.

The general idea is that if there is ever to be a libertarian world, one where personal liberties and property rights are protected, it is morally justifiable to use force, up to and including deadly force, against “people” who are deemed unfit to live in a free society.  “People” who call themselves communists seem to be the number one target.

The word “people” is in quotation marks because according to the physical removal advocates, the people who they are using force against aren’t actually people.  That means they’re not violating anyone’s rights.  How convenient!

From the Father of Physical Removal, Hans Herman Hoppe, in his book Democracy: The God That Failed, page 173

A member of the human race who is completely incapable of understanding the higher productivity of labor performed under a division of labor based on private property is not properly speaking a person (a persona), but falls instead into the same moral category as an animal – of either the harmless sort (to be domesticated and employed as a producer or consumer good, or to be enjoyed as a “free good”) or the wild and dangerous one (to be fought as a pest).

According to Hoppe, if you come across a “harmless” person who doesn’t understand economics, you have a right to domesticate them.  They may also be “enjoyed” as a “free good”.  Basically, you may treat them as a farm animal (slave).  Or, if you deem them to be “wild and dangerous” (presumably without due process), you may justifiably use violence against them.

I have no objection to fighting off someone who is actively harming you or your property, but Hoppe’s proposed treatment of non-violent people is impossible to reconcile with libertarianism.  To be fair, in any conversions I’ve had with the pro-physical removal crowd, I’ve never heard them bring up their perceived right to enslave a “harmless” person whose only crime is not understanding economics.  However, I’ve heard them say over and over again that communists aren’t people.  I’ve always took this as a joke.  How wrong I was.  I really shouldn’t even be surprised by this.  After all, if they claim to have a right to remove someone from their own legitimate property and/or murder someone who they deem to be unfit to live near them, why wouldn’t they also have the right to enslave them?

So as far as Hoppe is concerned, enslaving these unfit, yet “harmless”, people would be just as justifiable as violently removing them.

In this particular case, I’m having a hard time believing any libertarian could possibly go along with Hoppe on this.  Imagine if you will, a 30-something year old man living in his Mom’s basement.  He likes to go online and post pro-communist stuff on Twitter, so now a gang of people have a right to burst into his house and drag him off?  Or to enslave him, just because he’s guilty of the “crime” of not understanding economics?

The very basis of libertarinism is that no one has a right to initiate aggression against a non-aggressor.  Simply believing in an idiotic philosophy doesn’t make one an aggressor.  Only if that 30-something year old basement dweller actually takes up arms to violate someone’s person or property, or poses an immediate and credible threat to do so, can he be legitimately met with force.

If we turn back the clock on the definition of a person, one can justify all forms of aggression and still claim to be advocates for liberty and justice.  After all, there was a time in America where one could enslave someone, viciously beat his children, rape a woman (as long as she wasn’t someone else’s wife, i.e. property), and kill an Indian and still not be thought of as a criminal in any way.  The reason for this is that the people he committed these horrendous crimes against weren’t considered people.

We don’t get to be liberty loving, non-aggression advocating libertarians simply by magically changing the definition of who counts as a person.

Physical Removal in a Private Community

Hoppe is way off base in his assessment of who he chooses to consider a person.  However, he later articulates a vision of a completely private community, governed by an owner who leases all land to everyone in the community.  Instead of you buying and owning your land, you’d join a community and pay a monthly fee to use a parcel of land and enjoy any and all benefits of living in said community.

In this specific example, physical removal is simply a matter of contract.  Just like today, if you sign a lease with an apartment complex, but you break the lease by violating any of its terms (not paying rent, being too noisy, threatening neighbors, subletting, etc), the apartment complex has every right to kick you out of the community.

In this example, physical removal is well within the bounds of libertarian ideals.  If you voluntarily join a community that has rules against certain types of political speech, even if you are doing no harm to anyone or their property, the owner can kick you out if you violate said rules.

How does Hoppe imagine this happening?  Here’s another passage from Democracy: The God That Failed page 218:

As soon as mature members of society habitually express acceptance or even advocate egalitarian sentiments, whether in the form of democracy (majority rule) or of communism, it becomes essential that other members, and in particular the natural social elites, be prepared to act decisively and, in the case of continued nonconformity, exclude and ultimately expel these members from society. In a covenant concluded among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one’s own tenant-property. One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society.

In his example here, there’s one huge detail missing.  Due process.  From what Hoppe seems to be envisioning here, your right to stay on your land is completely at the whim of the “natural social elites” of the community.

Traditionally, before the owner of the apartment complex can kick you out, they must take you to court and prove their allegations.  If it turns out that they can’t prove that you’ve violated the terms of the lease, they have no right to kick you out.  If they kick you out anyway, they will be liable for damages from breaking their end of the contract.

Now there could be a voluntary community that has a stipulation that the owner, or the “natural social elites”, can remove anyone at anytime without due process, but I’m having a hard time imagining anyone, let alone a libertarian, agreeing to such an arrangement.

Oppressive Liberty

Finishing up the above quote from Hoppe’s Democracy: The God That Failed page 218:

Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They-the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism-will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.

Hoppe’s vision of a libertarian future is a bleak one.  It appears no less totalitarian than the world we live in today.  We’re simply trading one set of rulers for another.  Instead of a government telling us what to do with our property and how to act in our personal lives, we’ll have the covenant owner dictating this with little or no recourse.

I have no problem with someone voluntarily wanting to live in such a community.  Amish communities today are very similar.  There’s very little room for individual expression or alternative lifestyles, and if one does not conform they are shunned and kicked out of their private, Amish communities.  However, if the only way to achieve a libertarian society is to violently remove single parents, homosexuals, nature lovers, and pretty much anyone who Hoppe deems is living an “alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyle” from their legitimately owned property, then we’ve accomplished nothing.

The essence of libertarianism is individual rights, not collective rights.  The individual is to be judged solely on their own actions.  If that individual does not initiate force against anyone’s person or property, then it is never right to use force against them, even if you think their lifestyle choices or personal views are bad for your “social order”.  “The ends justify the means” is the mantra of collectivists and should never be uttered by anyone who considers themselves libertarian.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

You may also like A Private Criminal Justice System by Mike Tront

CNN Opinion Piece: You’re Racist If You Support Private Schools

By Mike Tront

To oppose the appointment of Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education, opponents have brought out the old race card.  DeVos is seen as being open-minded to the idea of private schools.  She desires that more parents should have the option of choosing private schools for their children.  With that in mind, we get this opinion piece published by CNN, authored by Felicia Wong: A Vote For DeVos Is a Vote For Resegregation:

School choice is not really about freedom. Freedom, of course, is a bedrock American value. But the kind of “freedom” associated with the flight away from integration and toward racial isolation will never lead to a more truly free United States.

In her condemnation of private schools, Ms. Wong only makes one argument.  She claims that private schools cause greater racial segregation.

She goes over the history of private schools in America, pointing out that after public schools were segregated in the 50’s and 60’s there was a boom in private schools.  She also points out that even today, private schools tend to be more segregated than public schools.

Ms. Wong does have a very good point here.  Private schools show a disturbing lack of minority student enrollment.  It is a travesty that minority students don’t have the same access to quality, safe private schools that their white and Asian peers have access to.  But what’s the reason for this?  Is it because private schools are inherently racist and do their best to discourage non-Asian minority enrollment?

Minorities and Private Education

To find out why there is a lack of minorities in today’s private schools, I went right to the source linked in Ms. Wong’s above CNN article.  From the source she linked to:

White and Asian students enroll in private schools at two times the rate of black and Latino students. Private school enrollment rates are much higher among middle- and high-income families than low-income families. Differences in white and minority private school enrollment rates contribute substantially to overall patterns of segregation in many local school markets.

Amazing that someone could read this and NOT realize what the problem is.  In clear English it says that private schools are largely attended by middle and high-income families, not low-income families.  Unfortunately, black and Latino families in America today have a much lower income than white and Asian families.  It’s not racism that’s keeping minorities out of private schools, it’s lack of money.

Minorities and Public Education

Thankfully, Ms. Wong does point out that public schools are no bastion of opportunity for non-Asian minorities.  From her article:

Now, American public schools are falling back into a kind of racial segregation that is reminiscent of our country before Brown. In the last 25 years, the number of severely racially isolated schools, defined as those with 0-10% white students, has tripled. In 2010 in New York City, 92% of black students and 88% of Latino students attended schools that were majority-minority, some of which see such severely racialized and concentrated poverty that they are dubbed “apartheid schools.”

Clearly, Ms. Wong can see that the current system is terribly flawed and often our most downtrodden suffer the most under it.  This lower quality public education makes it harder for someone who happens to grow up in the wrong zip code to move up to a better zip code.  The cycles continues.  So what’s her solution? This is all she gives us:

So as senators consider DeVos’ nomination to oversee public education for every American child, they would do well to remember the deepest values of public schooling, as well as the deeper meaning of appointing a Secretary of Education associated with a more exclusive and racially exclusionary vision.

She doesn’t tell us how the Department of Education can foster a better, or more inclusive, public education system for minorities.  She only alludes to the fact that DeVos is in favor of private solutions, and the current private solutions are out of reach of many non-Asian minorities, so they therefore must be racist.

Is Betsy DeVos The Solution For Minorities?

She is a step in the right direction, but she’s probably not the solution.  As long as we have a massive, one-size-fits-all federal bureaucracy in charge of our children’s education, costs will continue to rise and quality will continue to fall.  Especially in our poorest communities.  There’s just too many special interests who stand to loose too much money if the system is significantly changed in any way.  So relax DeVos opponents, even if she tries her best to allow children to escape their zip codes for a better education, bureaucratic stagnation and special interest lobbyists will likely halt any progress.

However, if the Department of Education does miraculously allow public school students and their parents to escape the system with some kind of Voucher Program or Education Savings Account Program, it will result in more integration.  Not less.  Not to mention more choices and competition in the education field.  Like any field that allows choice and competition to flourish, i.e. electronics and cell phones, prices go down and quality goes up.

But how will this help non-Asian minorities specifically, Ms. Wong may ask?  Since zip codes and pay checks will no longer determine where their children are forced to go to school, any parent could choose to enroll in any school.  Sure, there will still be elite secondary schools that only the very wealthy will be able to attend, and they will probably be largely white and Asian like they are today, but if this generation of black and Latino children could just get a chance at escaping their “apartheid schools,” the next generation will be able to afford to send their kids anywhere they choose, even the most elite and expensive private schools.

 

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Private Criminal Justice: Who Will Protect The Homeless

By Mike Tront

In a continuation of my series on criminal justice in a libertarian world with private police and courts, last week I wrote about how crimes against a poor person could still be solved.  Even if the victim couldn’t afford any upfront costs or crime insurance.  You can check it our here.

This week, I’m going to write about a specific, unfortunate situation and how it could be effectively solved without government.  I’m talking about how could a murder against an absolute friendless, family-less, homeless, penniless, insurance-less, destitute person ever get solved?

In today’s world, we know that solving violent crime falls on the government.  They have a monopoly on police and courts and jails, so we have to use them for better or for worse.  If you’re wealthy, it tends to work out better for you and if you’re poor it tends to work out worse!

The Problem

Without taxes to fund a government police department and court system, the murder of a destitute person seems destined to go unsolved and unpunished.

I imagine most people would have violent crime insurance, so their beneficiary would get paid by the victim’s insurance policy.  The insurance company would then pursue the matter to find out who committed the crime in an attempt to recoup their losses in the form of restitution from the criminal.  Even a victim who didn’t have insurance, but who does have a spouse, child, parent, close friend, etc who could be considered a beneficiary, could have the murder solved without upfront payment.  The potential beneficiary could hire a detective willing to take the case on a contingency basis in the hopes of getting a hefty percentage of the restitution.

But what about the homeless person with no family, friends, or beneficiary?  With no one to pursue the criminal, how can this case get solved and the proper criminal get punished?

The Solution

The best solution to this problem is the homesteading principle.  Traditionally, homesteading is something we think about when we’re talking about previously unowned or abandoned land.  The idea is that if a plot of land is undeveloped and no one owns it, you can become the owner by mixing your labor with the land.  Either by clearing it out and farming it, or building a house on it, or building a road, etc.

So what does this have to do with a homeless guy getting murdered?  The way I see it, if this victim has no beneficiaries available to collect the debt owed to his estate by his murderer, then that estate becomes abandoned property.  At this point, anyone who mixes their labor with his estate can own it.  In this case, successfully finding out who murdered our unfortunate victim, prosecuting the criminal, and collecting the debt would be considered mixing labor.

Competition

One of the most beautiful aspects of this is the idea of a competition among detectives to find the killer.  Since there is only one estate to be had, it will be a race among local detectives to gather the necessary evidence to obtain a conviction.

Gaining a conviction is just a start though.  Multiple detectives may get a conviction.  So who would be the rightful owner of the estate if more than one agency gets a conviction?  At this point, it would go to whichever agency actually tracks down and apprehends the criminal.  With the criminal and conviction in hand, it’s going to be hard for the other detective agencies to claim they have any rightful ownership to the estate and subsequent restitution payments acquired from the criminal.

Acquiring the Restitution

Here we come to the hardest part.  Once the criminal is found and prosecuted, how will restitution be acquired?  Odds are that this criminal has little or no assets.  With this being a murder case, the restitution could and should be somewhere in the millions of dollars.  How do we get this payment?

Today, this criminal would be thrown into a prison at great expense to the taxpayers.  The prisoner is now in a terribly unsafe environment and will acquire no job skills that could help him stay away from crime should he be released one day.  No restitution is paid to the victim’s estate.  It’s a no-win scenario for everyone.

In a private system, prisons like this couldn’t exist.  No one would fund them.  Criminals who commit smaller property crimes, or violent crimes that don’t cause great bodily harm, could probably negotiate a settlement without resorting to going to a heavily monitored work camp to pay their restitution.  Something similar to a work release program or a probation type of program, like we have today, could be used to these smaller crimes.

Murderers, rapists, and other people who do great bodily harm to their victims probably wouldn’t have that kind of luxury.  These types of crimes would require huge restitution payments, and the perpetrators of these crimes are clearly violent people.

This leads me to believe that these criminals would require a 24/7 prison type environment.  But instead of the prison being forcibly paid for by the victims, the prisoners would pay for it through their labor.  There could be farm camps, construction camps, factory camps, etc for people that have little or no job skills.  For people that have more technical skills or computer skills they could have their own camps too.

The goal of these camps would be to make them voluntary.  Someone who is there voluntarily would clearly make a much better worker.  Not to mention the prison would be much more cost effective.  Now why would a convicted criminal voluntarily sign up for a work camp he can’t leave until his restitution is paid?

Since these camps would be voluntary, there would be competition.  They’d compete on how quickly they could get restitution back to the victim, and thus how quickly the criminal could become free again.  They’d compete on their safety record.  They’d compete on their education programs that would make it easier for the criminal to re-enter society and get a job.  Or, in the case of a person who would likely never see freedom again due to their crimes, they could compete on keeping them at least safe and somewhat comfortable.

For those unwilling to go to a work camp, perhaps there would be more of a traditional, forced prison option like we see today.  Since it couldn’t be funded with taxes, perhaps it would be funded through donations.  Maybe they could make it a tourist attraction where people can pay to visit “Violent Prison World” and see these criminals through two-way mirrors.  Maybe they’d film it all and make it a reality TV show.  Either way, there would still be ways to house these violent, terrible people and possibly still get some restitution payments to their victims.

No system is perfect.  Just like today, some crimes will go unsolved.  Victims will go without restitution.  Not everyone is going to be walking away from these interactions satisfied.  However, a private system would allow for many victims, even the poorest and most downtrodden, to receive some kind of restitution.  It would also incentivize people and companies to actually compete with each other to solve crimes.  Even crimes committed against society’s most downtrodden people.

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Related Posts:

7/20/16 – A Private Criminal Justice System

7/29/16 – Capital Punishment in a Libertarian Justice System

8/11/16 – Crime Solving, Libertarian Style

1/27/17 – But Without Government, Who Will Prosecute Criminals That Hurt The Poor?

But Without Government, Who Will Prosecute Criminals That Hurt The Poor?

By Mike Tront

In the past I’ve written about how a completely privatized, free market criminal justice system could look.  One basic theory I’ve proposed is that it would largely be based on insurance and restitution.  You’d have an insurance company that covered you for any losses you’d incur from violent crime, fraud, and even murder.  The insurance company would pay you whatever it’d take to make you whole.  They would then have the responsibility to find out who committed this crime against their client, prosecute them, and hopefully collect what they are due.  Everything from the restitution paid to their client, to the costs of capture and trial, and the costs associated with collection/imprisonment.  You can read about it here.

In theory, if you have the proper insurance, this should work out pretty well.  Whether or not your insurance company actually catches the criminal, you are at least given a settlement from your company to cover your losses.  However, something has been sticking in my craw.  What about a person that is too poor to afford this insurance?  Or what about someone who could probably afford insurance, but just doesn’t bother with it.  What happens if they are a victim of a violent crime?

How Will They Pay For A 911 Service?

The idea of a violent crime or home invasion taking place, and a private policeman refusing to render service unless he’s paid on the spot by the victim, is an image used to scare people away from a world without government police.  To me, I see this as one of the easiest problems to solve.  Unless you live out in the middle of nowhere, or you like the idea of fending for yourself, I imagine most neighborhoods would have some kind of association that would keep up with the basics like security, fire protection, roads, sidewalks, parks etc.  Instead of paying a government property tax, you or your landlord would pay a monthly homeowners association fee to cover the basics.  This isn’t perfect of course, because just like today a wealthier neighborhood would have better security and services and a poorer neighborhood would have lower quality services.  But the big difference is that the neighborhood could at least choose their provider.  Today, they are stuck with the local police department whether they are effective or not.  Not to mention the competition among providers would drive the costs down and the quality of the service up.

Solving Crimes Against The Poor In A Libertarian World Without Government

Every libertarian that’s talked to a normal person has also heard that without a strong, centralized government, poor people will have no access to courts.  We need a government, they say, so that poor people will have access to court services and so that criminals that wrong them can be prosecuted.

I could argue that under the government monopolized police and court system of today’s world, the poor actually fear the police and courts more than they fear the average criminal!  Police are constantly locking up poor people in prison for non-violent activities, police rough up and even shoot unarmed people, courts lock them in prison if they can’t pay a traffic fine, and police can even seize what little assets they may have even if they aren’t charged with a crime.  But I’m not going to argue any of this.  Even if the current police and court system worked well for the poor and downtrodden, a private system would still work much better for them.

The main reason is competition.  Instead of having just one local police department to rely on for crime solving, a free market could have countless individuals and businesses solving crime.  With a monopoly, a government justice system doesn’t have to produce results to get paid.  They get their pay check whether they solve a crime or not.  In fact, often times the more crime there is in a particular area, the more money they get!  It could then be argued that they are incentivized not to solve crimes!

Without government taxes to rely on, any private crime solver would have to produce results to get paid.  But how would they get paid if the victim is poor and/or doesn’t have insurance, you ask?

The beauty of a free and open market is that we can’t possibly imagine what entrepreneurs will come up with to solve problems.  But this is a problem that has a solution that is already in use for civil cases today.  That’s contingency lawyers.  When you’re wronged, and you’re due for a payday from the person or company that wronged you, lawyers will line up to take your case for free and will only charge you if the win.

Problems With Crime Solving Contingency Lawyers

The first problem is that this probably won’t work for small crimes.  If someone keys your car, there’s not a huge payday coming.  Especially if you’re car isn’t worth much to begin with!  However, with the ubiquity of security cameras everywhere, and with the cost of surveillance cameras going down every year, it’s becoming cheaper and cheaper to solve even small property crimes.  With small crimes, if the victim deems it’s worth pursuing, he’d probably gather the evidence himself and hand it off to an attorney to do the prosecuting in a local court for a percentage of the recovered funds.

For grievous crimes, crimes that involve great bodily harm where there would be the possibility of a large restitution payment, a free market would be much more preferable even for an income challenged person.  We can imagine a scenario where word gets out that someone got shot who was uninsured, so it would be a race among local detectives and attorneys to be the first to gather evidence and find out who committed this crime.  The victim could get shot on Friday, and by Monday he could have multiple people soliciting his business with evidence to show that they would be able to get a quick conviction.

Of course, there is one other huge hurdle to overcome.  Let’s say we’re able to convict someone of this grievous crime, and the judge rules that the crime is worth a $150,000 restitution, how do we collect?  I’d image most violent criminals aren’t exactly wealthy!

I touched on this briefly in my above linked article.  Since we couldn’t have government funded prisons for criminals to rot away in at great cost to society, a new business model would have to spring up.  Something like a voluntary work camp where the criminal could work off his debt, have room and board taken care of, and possibly learn new skills so he can re-enter society as a better person when his debt is paid.  I say voluntary because once found guilty of a grievous crime, if the criminal is unable to pay restitution, he is at the mercy of his victim.  It would be in his best interest to work with his victim on a settlement arrangement.  The two sides could come together to find the best possible scenario to find the optimal work camp for the criminal.  One where his skills could be utilized to make the most money in the quickest time.

These camps would compete with each other to provide the safest, most profitable camp to get restitution payments flowing quickly.  It’d be in the best interest of everyone to make sure it’s a safe camp.  Having a situation like today where prisoners are involved in gangs, where they’re constantly afraid of getting stabbed, beaten, and raped wouldn’t make for a profitable business model.  A prisoner can’t make money if he’s recovering from a stab wound.

Plus it’d be in the best interest of the camps to teach their inmates new and valuable skills.  This would ensure higher and quicker payments, but it would also attract more customers to use their camps.  The victims would want to get their money quicker, and the criminal would want to be free quicker and have a new skill to use to get legitimate work once his debt is paid.

Government prisons as we know them today offer none of this.  They are violent places where people sit and rot their lives away.  They learn no new skills, other than skills associated with being a better criminal once they get out.  They are often forced to join gangs for their own safety and are constantly exposed to illicit drugs.

If someone should find themselves victim to a violent crime, even if they are without any kind of insurance coverage, a completely private, libertarian system would be far superior to the government monopoly system we see today.

Next week, in a companion article on this topic, I will go over how the murder of a homeless person with no friends, no assets, no estate, and no insurance would get prosecuted and solved in a libertarian world without government.

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Canadian PM Justin Trudeau Glowingly Eulogizes Fidel Castro, Twitter Makes Him Pay

By Mike Tront

Amidst the jubilant celebration of Cuban Americans upon hearing of Fidel Castro’s death, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a very different take.  Here is the full eulogy from the head of the Canadian government:

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.

“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

“I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”

No mention of Castro’s firing squads, the extreme poverty he’s forced upon the Cuban people, or the fact that he’s brutally done everything he can to stop people from freely leaving his giant prison camp of an island he’s developed.

Thankfully, the people of Twitter have made Trudeau pay with countless hypothetical eulogies Mr Trudeau might have given for histories most brutal people.  I’ve pulled some of the best and put them here for your enjoyment, including one of my own:

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For more head to Twitter and follow the hashtag #TrudeauEulogies


mike

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A Vote For Hillary is a Vote for Freedom…in 2020

By Mike Tront

Being a libertarian around election time has its ups and downs.  On the positive side, election time is the only time when people actually care about what libertarians have to say!  On the other hand, being a third party means we have to listen to cries of “supporting your team means the bad team will win!”  The “bad team” being the Democrats or Republicans, depending on who we’re talking to.

This election is unique, though.  Never have there been two more hated people running for president.  This hatred, coupled with the normal derisiveness of politics, pretty much ensures that whomever wins in 2016 will lose in 2020.  The cruel fact is that the only person who can lose to Hillary Clinton is Donald Trump, and vice versa!  So unless we have a repeat of Trump vs. Hillary in 2020, we’re going to have a new president in 2020.

If Trump Wins

Although it seems like a long shot for him to win now, Trump has come back many times before after being counted out.  So what if he does win?  What would four years of Trump really look like?  Well, if you’re thinking that he will change Washington in any way, shape, or form, you will be disappointed.  Just like Obama had every intention of putting his mark of “change” on the country, while failing miserably, so too will Trump.  Whether it’s the entrenched bureaucracy, enemies on both sides of the isle, or just simply his own unwillingness to give up the power he just won, government will only get bigger.  Not smaller.

Troops will continue to be engaged abroad, thus creating more enemies and more attacks on the U.S.  The currency will continue its inflation and inevitable march toward disaster.  Unfunded liabilities will only get worse.  The debt will continue ballooning.  The War on Drugs will continue to rage, thus creating more problems and distrust with police in our inner cities. Trump has no plans to tackle these problems with small government solutions.

In other words, a Trump presidency will be looked at as a failure.  This is particularly bad because Trump is seen as a true “outsider.”  So instead of blaming the system for the inevitable decline, the country will collectively blame Trump himself.  This will lead to a resurgence of the establishment candidates.  This will also lead to people generally being gun shy about supporting newcomers and outsiders.  The Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders types will have an even harder time after a Trump presidency.

A Trump presidency will not only make things worse during his four years in power, but it will also make it harder to bring support behind an actual candidate friendly to human liberty in 2020.

If Hillary Wins

We all know that Hillary is doing her victory lap right now.  The media, and the general public, don’t care about her “pay to play” allegations.  And Trump is an increasingly unlikable man for larger parts of the public with each passing day.

So, as my title suggests, how will Hillary bring an even larger freedom movement in 2020?  First, she will have the same failures that Trump will have.  Increasing war, debt, unfunded liabilities, inflation, police violence, etc will lead to the U.S. being worse off leading into the 2020 election.  But with one important distinction.  Hillary is the ultimate establishment candidate.  Her failures might just be the straw that breaks the camels back.

The big government policies of Bush II led to the Ron Paul movement.  Now we actually have a few libertarian republicans in Congress.  The big government policies of Obama has led to the Bernie Sanders movement.  Even though Bernie is a big government type as well, some of his supporters seem to be friendly to many aspects of libertariansism.  In fact, Hillary is so scared of these democratic voters leaving her for Gary Johnson that she’s actually running attack ads against Johnson.  Who would have ever thought that libertarians would be relevant enough in politics to run attack ads against?  This is great news for our movement.

So what would happen after we have another four years of establishment, big government policies and people running the show?  Especially from a president as widely disliked as Clinton?  We can only hope this will be enough to push people from both sides of the isle to really look at smaller government solutions.  Rand Paul has already shown his desire to become president.  In 2020 he won’t have his Senate race to worry about, and hopefully he’s learned that embracing liberty is a much better selling point than his strategy of courting the republican establishment.  Justin Amash has also hinted at his desire to run for president at some point in the future.  There’s no one more consistent than him in Congress when it comes to defending liberty.

Then of course we have the rise of the Libertarian Party.  Gary Johnson, for all his faults, has propelled the Libertarian Party into the mainstream media.  There’s a very real chance that he could get 5% of the vote this year, which would be five times more votes than they’ve ever received.  This would also mean the Libertarian Party would become eligible for federal matching funds.  The combination of more press and more money to campaign with could lead to more libertarian ideas entering the news cycles, thus leading to more liberty friendly candidates getting a shot at the presidency.

Either way, we’re in for another four years of big government.  I’m not ready to start a Libertarians for Hillary movement, but there’s no doubt that she’ll create more dissatisfaction with big government, and thus more people seeking out libertarian solutions in 2020.

mike

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Darrell Castle is No Libertarian

By Mike Tront

Understandably, many libertarians are not enthused about Gary Johnson being the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president this year.  He has many good libertarian views, but he just doesn’t seem to apply these principals across the board.  To make matters worse, his running mate, Bill Weld, is on record supporting many anti-libertarian policies over the years.  For these reasons, it is becoming trendier in libertarian circles to throw their support behind other candidates.  Darrell Castle, the Constitution Party nominee, is one of them.

I can respect someone who isn’t supporting the Johnson/Weld ticket on the account of their flaws.  What doesn’t make sense is to say Johnson isn’t a good enough libertarian, but then support someone like Castle!

To be fair, Castle says many good things in his platform.  Right away he talks about ending the federal reserve system as well as ending overseas interventions.  However, just like Johnson, he has many core beliefs that are directly opposed to libertarianism.

Immigration:

Darrell Castle’s immigration policy looks like it was stolen from Donald Trump!  In an interview with LibertyHangout.org, when asked about immigration, Castle said this:

I believe that securing the border, i.e. protecting it so that no one enters without consent and halting immigration completely until that is accomplished is one of the most important issues America faces. The halt to immigration would last until we could be sure who is coming in and with what intent.

Castle doesn’t say build a wall, but I’m not sure how else he’s planning on “halting immigration completely.”  For a guy who’s interested in smaller government, this immigration policy would amount to a massive federal bureaucracy.  To be effective it would need powers beyond our imagination.

Even when asked this: “Should the government increase or decrease the amount of temporary work visas given to high-skilled immigrant workers?” he replied with “decrease.”  What is libertarian about using force to stop American companies from hiring much needed engineers, doctors, designers, and scientists?

LGBT Issues:

His party, the Constitution Party, holds this view:

The law of our Creator defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The marriage covenant is the foundation of the family, and the family is fundamental in the maintenance of a stable, healthy and prosperous social order. No government may legitimately authorize or define marriage or family relations contrary to what God has instituted. We are opposed to any judicial ruling or amending the U.S. Constitution or any state constitution re-defining marriage with any definition other than the Biblical standard.

Sounds like same sex marriage is off the table!  Castle himself said this: “Take the government out of marriage and instead make it a religious decision.”  Libertarians can agree that government shouldn’t have any role in defining marriage, but religion has nothing to do with it.  It is simply a contract made between two people, one that can’t be stopped by any government or church.

His stance, then, seems a bit murky.  He seems to want government out of the way, but he stops short of saying same sex couple should have the right to get married if they wish.

When it comes to same sex couples adopting children, however, he is not murky at all!  He flat out says “gay couples should not be able to adopt children

Whatever you personally believe, I can’t imagine any libertarian worth their salt that would say we need government to flat out ban adopting children to same sex couples.

Eminent Domain:

Another big issue is eminent domain.  Self-ownership and private property are the two basic principles we libertarians adhere to.  Eminent domain, the ability for the government to take private property without consent, is the opposite of libertarian.  Castle supports eminent domain as long as “fair market value is paid to the property owner.”  Value is subjective, however, and if someone is not willing to voluntarily sell you something, that means they personally value it more than what you’re offering.  Just because you take something by force, and give the victim what you feel is “fair value,” it doesn’t make it right.

Marijuana:

Although Castle supports ending the drug war, he apparently doesn’t want marijuana legalized.  In his own words when asked “Do you support the legalization of Marijuana?his response was “i support decriminalization not legalization

This is a pretty big distinction.  Decriminalization means the government can, and most certainly will, fine people for consuming marijuana.  This will also keep it on the black market, as legitimate companies wouldn’t be able to sell marijuana.  Thus the crime and violence associated with prohibition will continue, just with fewer prisoners.  This is hardly a libertarian position.

Death Penalty:

Whether or not you think capital punishment is moral, I think we can at least agree that government shouldn’t ever administer it.  I myself wrote that in a completely private criminal justice system, capital punishment may be used from time to time for certain heinous acts.

Castle, however, fully supports government use of the death penalty.

Women in Combat:

This is a bit off the wall, but apparently he was asked “Should the military allow women to serve in combat roles?” and he said “No”!  

If the U.S. is ever attacked, I don’t see any reason why anyone should forcibly stop a woman from defending herself, her family, her property, and her community.

Castle vs. Johnson

Clearly if we pick and choose there’s plenty to like and dislike about both of these candidates.  If you just happen to like one more than the other based on your personal ranking of importance on their different issues, I can respect that.  But if you’re in the “We need a true libertarian candidate and Gary Johnson isn’t it!” camp than there’s no way you can support Castle either.  He is far from a libertarian.

 

mike

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