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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

This is what I'm talking about

Libertarian obtuseness.
Both Rothbard and Hoppe discuss an “insurance” model for preventing crime and aggression, which makes sense from a market perspective. Rothbard posits that private police services likely would be provided by insurance companies which already insure lives and property, for the commonsense reason that “... it would be to their direct advantage to reduce the amount of crime as much as possible.”
Rothbard of course never worked in the insurance business. He was a tenured academic economist at UNLV.

Insurers are not risk managers; that's the customer's exposure. They tried this once with fleet managment services for their trucking company-insureds, and promptly got added to their own customers' lawsuits. Insurers compete for good risks, they don't rehabilitate bad risks.

"Peace officers" are for close-knit, homogenous societies with strong institutions. "Law enforcement" is for diversity. This is another libertarian blind spot.

Crime and punishment from top to bottom would be very different in a libertarian society. For starters, most crimes would be assuaged by restitution. Violent criminals would be executed or exiled, or sold into slavery to work off their blood debt. Nobody in a market-based society is going to pay to keep violent felons fed, housed and protected behind concrete walls and concertina wire from their victims' retribution.

A private police service that cannot provide executive enforcement of its subscribers' covenants to the exclusion of others does not have a marketable product. Commerce wants predictability. That's why businesses cartelize in forms like the Hanseatic League or Uniform Commercial Code.

Hoppe's idea of numerous "mini-states" is closer to reality. Future libertarian societies will not have the Non-Aggression Principle chiseled into stone tablets; they'll just be based on ownership, that is, private property. Somebody--a person, family or corporation--will own the territory and set the rules and you will pay rent to live there. These fees will negotiate sojourners' rights and compete with each other for human and financial capital. If you want to see how anarcho-capitalism plays out, don't bother with some academic's thought experiment on mises.org. Just read up on the Arab Emirates instead.

12 comments:

Scotsman said...

"Nobody in a market-based society is going to pay to keep violent felons fed, housed and protected behind concrete walls and concertina wire from their victims' retribution."

This is what changed my formerly anti-capital punishment stance to a pro one (all the while I was still an ancap then). Things like life sentences are a luxury afforded to criminals thanks to liberal do-gooderism, in a market based world no sane group would bother. Those that have shown they are incapable of living in a lawful society would have to leave it - by dying.

Contemplationist said...

I think Neal Stephenson in The Diamond Age and Snow Crash plots pretty plausible workings for anarcho-capitalist communities as well. Worth checking out. Especially my favorite group - the Neo Victorians in The Diamond Age.

Bert said...

Anti-Gnostic, what is your opinion of Sean Scallon?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I'm not terribly impressed with anybody at TAC.

David Sager said...

I second Contemplationist re: The Diamond Age. A phylistic development of Human Organization overlaying neutered nation states is probably the closest thing we will see to a realization of anarcho-capitalism. Of course, anarcho-capitalists would find Neo-Victorians somewhat appealing out of the available choices, as would neo-reactionaries.

I disagree with the attack on Rothbard and insurance against crime. The weak point in this attack is assuming that there will be no measures taken by individuals and voluntary community associations against crime. Insurance merely provides restitution when the criminal cannot. I wrote an article a couple of years ago for a now defunct blogging friend laying out very roughly why it was much more efficient to have no legal/enforcement system, when replaced with expenditure towards actual protection measures. Law enforcement does not provide any significant measure of personal protection, merely an expensive cleanup crew and highway hassle, with illogical psychological comfort.

Gyan said...

The libertarian plans exclude retribution which is an essential component to justice.

The libertarian theory can deal with crime but not with justice since justice is meted out by an authority superior to the individual. And this contradicts the libertarian assumptions that the just powers of the Govt are those delegated to it by the individuals.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The libertarian plans exclude retribution which is an essential component to justice.

Yes, I know you have this vision of the State clothing the naked, feeding the hungry and prudently administering "justice" under the wise counsel of the Church. This isn't going to happen for a lot of reasons, mainly because the Christian faith has been evicted from the public sphere.

Anonymous said...

Just read up on the Arab Emirates instead.

Or about how the Mafia operates. A Mafia clan will control a street and force all the businesses on it to pay a regular cut as "protection money" - protection from other Mafia clans, criminals, and from the controlling Mafia clan itself, which will employ force and violence if it doesn't get its protection money. This is called a "protection racket" and it's no different from what formal governments do with taxation.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Or about how the local good ol' boys will operate after The Big One hits and we all have to figure things out from scratch again. This is the point where libertarians frustrate me: they can't acknowledge that the Mafia don, the Pashtun chieftain, the Bible-thumping patriarch in the American frontier, are all equally libertarian.

It's about property, not the NAP.

Julian O'Dea said...

"Rothbard of course never worked in the insurance business. He was a tenured academic economist at UNLV."

I note the irony. I suppose it would be kind of OK If that university is private. But we have a number of libertarian economists in Australia who have positions at public universities from which they abuse public sector employees.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

We all gotta do what we gotta do. I'm a member of a government-enforced cartel myself. But you still raise a good point: if you're a smart, liberty-minded economist, wouldn't you have more influence in the federal bureaucracy?

Way back when, one of Lew Rockwell's crew wrote that he had been invited by the USG to consult in Iraq and teach them about property rights and transparent markets. Opportunity of a lifetime, right? Nope. He proudly wrote that he never considered sullying his hands with such work.

Julian O'Dea said...

Well, I see a role for government especially in areas of market failure, such as management of a common property resource like high seas fisheries.

The thing is that many people are public employees but do not attract opprobium. Firemen, police, nurses ...

You are correct about free market thinkers in the civil service. The Australian Treasury department is full of them. Nor do civil servants always vote Left.