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Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.”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

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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!