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Some problematic scenarios

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Eugene Posted: Tue, Mar 8 2011 4:38 AM

I've been showering you with questions lately, so here are two more.

 

1.

The anarchical society resembles to some extent the structure of the geopolitical world. So in this parallel each state is akin to an individual in anarchy. However we see significant problems with this model on the international scene. There are rogue states like north Korea and Iran that don't follow the international law, and both have nuclear weapons. In the same way in anarchy, someone could be just keeping nuclear bombs in his basement. Now unlike country leadership which is usually more rational, a single individual can be completely crazy, and he can just as well use his nuclear bombs. In anarchy just as in international affairs, there is no guard against that. You can also see that people want to make money, so they trade with Iran for instance, so boycotts simply don't work, unless you bring government into action, and even then they are very ineffective, as we can all see. So how do anarchists solve this?

 

2.

A derranged person might require hospitalization for his own good. Some people may be under influence of drugs that completely change the psyche, and they also will require hospitalization. In anarchy, we have no way to use force, this is simply impossible. So how can we deal with these cases? You might say that a person should foresee these situations and sign a document that allows others to hospitalize him in case he loses hs mind, but you cannot forsee everything. Besides if law is private, then that document does not necessarily have legal validity, so maybe one person would think its legal, and the other would think its not. They the first person will forcefully hospitalize, and the second will see this as an act of aggression. So how these situations can be resolved?

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1.

Using modern technology it's not realistic for individual crazies to really put massive amounts of people at risk.  The most they can do is blow up a building and even that rarely succeeds.  However, when you have a crazy with the power of a nation behind him he can implement his crazy on a whole lot of people.

This may become more of a problem in the future as costs associated with weapons of mass destruction decrease, but at the moment it's only really an issue with nations.  Also, while anarchy does not condone the use of violence against others, chances are if someone is found out to be building a nuke in their basement a lot of people would give up on the non-aggression principle and kill them first.

2.

People are allowed to be crazy right up until they commit an uninstigated act of aggression.  Then they are still allowed to be crazy, but they will have to be punished.  Pre-emptive aggression goes against the principle of the NAP in my opinion.  Yes, people will get hurt sometimes without utilizing pre-emptive aggression but in my opinion the costs associated with allowing pre-emptive aggression outweigh the gains from it.  Realistically there are *very* few real crazies in the world (the ones that will go on murderous rampages) but there are billions of people that will suffer from pre-emptive aggression.

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Regarding your first issue, I recommend http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/theory_gun_control.pdf

The Voluntaryist Reader - read, comment, post your own.
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Eugene replied on Tue, Mar 8 2011 1:48 PM

Okay thank you.

 

I think my main problem with private law is that once two people disagree about the arbitrator, there is simply no way to resolve the conflict. There is no single supreme court that can resolve conflicts which cannot be resolved otherwise.

 

What is your take on that?

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Eugene:
I think my main problem with private law is that once two people disagree about the arbitrator, there is simply no way to resolve the conflict. There is no single supreme court that can resolve conflicts which cannot be resolved otherwise

An arbirator could simply be made by contract

 

 

 

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If threat of nuclear weapons rises, so rises the demand and supply for nuclear-defence. We must remember too that there's much less private agression compared to public agression(especially when there is incentives to restric that kind of behavior in free markets).

I think my main problem with private law is that once two people disagree about the arbitrator, there is simply no way to resolve the conflict. There is no single supreme court that can resolve conflicts which cannot be resolved otherwise.

Arbitrators would quite likely to be chosen by each companies before conflicts rise, like with insurance contracts. And if victim doesn't want to resolve the conflict, well, then it won't be resolved i guess .cheeky If those two entities don't want to resolve their conflict(example destroyed property) but want still continue some mutual business, I don't see any limitations to that.

My answer for private law problem is quite limited though, I'm not expert in subject.

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Eugene:
Now unlike country leadership which is usually more rational, a single individual can be completely crazy, and he can just as well use his nuclear bombs.

How did you come to this conclusion?  Aren't most human beings pretty rational?  What makes the leaders of a country more rational than the people who elect them?

Eugene:
So how do anarchists solve this?

How do Anarchists propose to solve the problem you already admitted is unsolvable?

Eugene:
A derranged person might require hospitalization for his own good.

How can anyone know what is good for him?  I think you mean he should be hospitalized for the good of others.

Eugene:
In anarchy, we have no way to use force, this is simply impossible.

This is not entirely correct, but assuming we have a peaceful society, how we deal with problematic people is by exercising our property rights to protect ourselves.  None of us are our brother's keeper, and the very notion of a brother's keeper is the foundation of a welfare state.

Eugene:
So how can we deal with these cases? You might say that a person should foresee these situations and sign a document that allows others to hospitalize him in case he loses hs mind, but you cannot forsee everything.

Again, you say how can we solve it, but we can't forsee everything.  How many of these example scenarios do you want to hypothesize about?  You can do it endlessly.  What a pointless exercise.

How do you get milk in your fridge?  How do you get a fridge?  How do you get electricity?  How do deranged people not totally poison your milk, sabotage the power supply or build a bomb into your fridge?

Eugene:
Besides if law is private, then that document does not necessarily have legal validity, so maybe one person would think its legal, and the other would think its not. They the first person will forcefully hospitalize, and the second will see this as an act of aggression. So how these situations can be resolved?

You're confusing contract with law.  Two different things.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Eugene replied on Tue, Mar 8 2011 3:06 PM

Sure people can sign an agreement specying an arbitrator, but what if one of the sides refuses later to listen to the arbitrator? What if there was no agreement, but simply person A arguably harmed the property of person B? Person A may call an arbitrator who will claim that no harm was done, and person B will call another arbitrator who will claim that harm was done. How can this be resolved without an appeal to a single supreme court?

 

Regarding derranged people. You are simply wrong. Some people must be hospitalized for their own sake because they might have some hallucination at the moment. Later they will thank you for hospitalizing them. But if there is no single justice system, you will never know if forceful hospitalization in that case would be considered an aggression or not.

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Eugene:
Sure people can sign an agreement specying an arbitrator, but what if one of the sides refuses later to listen to the arbitrator? What if there was no agreement, but simply person A arguably harmed the property of person B? Person A may call an arbitrator who will claim that no harm was done, and person B will call another arbitrator who will claim that harm was done. How can this be resolved without an appeal to a single supreme court?

you seriously need to read on this topic before critiquing it.... answering these same old questions is starting to get very annoying...

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In anarchy, we have no way to use force, this is simply impossible.

This is the most absurd thing I have ever read.  Just as socialism would turn the oceans to lemonade and have cooked chickens fly into our mouths, anarchism would render all men pacifist, physically unable to use force either aggressively or defensively. I'll be forgiving though, and assume you meant that agression would not be permissible in an ancap society. 

On another note, you seem to think that letting "derranged" people live their lives is some sort of problem.  They might be doing deranged things like kissing members of the same sex and need electroshock therapy to cure them.  Its for their own good.  Or is that not what you meant?  Maybe just the crazy people who see things that aren't there, like John Nash, he definately needed to be cured for his own good.

I'm sorry, but I'm so disgusted by your line of reasoning.  Libertarians don't have a solution to the problem of how to detain and torture people who don't think the way you want them to.  Sorry.

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Eugene replied on Tue, Mar 8 2011 3:41 PM

you seriously need to read on this topic before critiquing it.... answering these same old questions is starting to get very annoying...

What do you suggest I read about the problems I presented regarding conflict resolution with several law systems?

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What do you suggest I read about the problems I presented regarding conflict resolution with several law systems?

 

Start here:

http://mises.org/store/Anarchy-and-the-Law-P335.aspx

and here:

http://mises.org/store/Enterprise-of-Law-The-Justice-without-the-State-P297.aspx

critique of State Law system (download)

http://mises.org/books/Freedom_and_the_Law_Leoni.pdf

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1. Solve what exactly? You have just described how it is and we cannot imagine how the future will play out. If you look at history governments might have been the primary factor that contributed towards conflict. Regional dictatorships that wanted to expand in size. As you have said there is just as much risk in every type of society, the question is if you think the current way is effective. A lot of incentive might be lost when a region does not have a government ie people have no conflicts with the entire nation, if they have a conflict it will be with a private organisation within the region etc. There might be a case where a region is invaded but then that same risk is with a state society. But even with a state society we have limited actual defense for invasion. Sure we have the military and i am sure they would do a good job. But in an anarchist society the threat of invasion might not worth the insurance cost that could fund a national regional military defense force, so that risk might increase.

2. Well that will depend on the cultural norm and the people around the area of the incident. It will depend on semantics and would be subject to the discretion of the people involved. There is always the risk that people will be locked up as insane when they are not. But that risk exists with the state and some people might argue that the risk increases with the state. Some states have very reasonable approach to mental illness and drug addiction and criminals other are not so kind. But in an anarchist society an element of force is acceptability if it is for the safety of the person and that opinion could end up before arbitration and then they would look at the semantics and decide if the force was reasonable etc.

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1.  Bear in mind that in an anarchist society legal arbitration and enforcement will have to be paid for by the indviduals involved.  As a result there will probably emerge 'legal insurance' firms to help cover the costs of these things(and any potental penelties).  Such insurance firms will(like any other insurance company) pool indviduals according to the risk of them commiting the crime and the potental damages that might result.  So, for example, owning a gun or having a criminal history would result in somebody paying higher premiums, as they represent a higher risk.  I suspect the risk of owning a nuclear weapon(or a batch of T-virus, or any other wmd) would be so high that insurance firms would refuse to cover anybody who did, or the premiums would be so high that only the Bill Gates and Warren Buffets of the world would be able to pay them(and they would be the least likely to want a nuclear weapon).

 

Of corse somebody could build a nuclear weapon and try to live without legal insurance.  But since anybody who goes into business with anybody else would want some assurance that a breech of contract would be repaid, anybody without insurance would have a hard time finding a job, getting a loan, opening a bank account, enrolling in school, or engaging in any other sort of long term business deals with others.  

 

2.  This is an interesting problem.  I think we would be for hte most part better off letting a(very) few crazies run around than risk a lot more people be incarserated for something they havent(and might not ever) actually do.  

 

 

Sure people can sign an agreement specying an arbitrator, but what if one of the sides refuses later to listen to the arbitrator?

 

I suspect arbitrators would hand down contracts specifying what(if any) damages the person at fault must pay, and would include a clause allowing the other party to take the payment by force if the other person refuses.

 

 

Sure people can sign an agreement specying an arbitrator, but what if one of the sides refuses later to listen to the arbitrator? What if there was no agreement, but simply person A arguably harmed the property of person B? Person A may call an arbitrator who will claim that no harm was done, and person B will call another arbitrator who will claim that harm was done. How can this be resolved without an appeal to a single supreme court?

 

People would agree beforehand on a single arbitrator.  So nobody would be 'allowed' to call in a second arbitrator.  I also imagine the contracts arbitrators would hand down would include a clause allowing for a second round of arbitration(that is an 'appeal'), either with the same person or a different one, if certain conditions are met(ex. new evidence comes to light that exonerates the party previously declared guilty)

OBJECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you preface everything you say with the phrase 'studies have shown...' people will believe anything you say no matter how ridiculous. Studies have shown this works 87.64% of the time.
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Eugene replied on Tue, Mar 8 2011 4:52 PM

Okay, thank you for your answers. I've read the chapters of Murphy and Rothbard about private law, and although it looks reasonable when normal people are involved, but I just don't see how violent criminals can be dealt with in this system.

For instance, if a muderer refuses to listen to arbitrators, so the heir of the victim will have a legal right to kill him. But can other people legally kill him as well? For example if the victim hires a security firm, can the security firm kill him?

Another question, I don't see why would the arbitrator have an incentive to punish criminals or send them to jail? A restitution makes much more sense for the arbitrator, because the victim of the crime will usually prefer monetary restitution rather than punishment. But in this case, we let a violent man go free as long as he or his insurance company has money. If that's a serial killer for instance, or an exrtemely violent individual, in the state court systems, that individual will be punished for the first murder and rot in jail for the rest of his life. In anarchy he would probably offer heavy restitution, and that's it.

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1. Take out the guy with a nuclear bomb in his basement. Doesn't seem so difficult.

2. Norms develop (have developed) to take care of these issues. Given reasonable circumstances, I imagine that courts would not rule against those who forcibly restrain the mentally deranged or a person hallucinating, just as helping a lost child would not be considered child abduction. This is even less of a problem if, as you allege, such people are grateful for being hospitalized; in that case, they would not take the hospital to court anyway and there is no conflict. Now, if the person is harmed because the captors used unnecessary brutality in restraining him (unnecessary again determined by evolved custom), the captors may be liable for damages. And if it is proved that the captors had information that the man did not want help, they may be found in the wrong. It is impossible to predict just what the prevailing legal norms and procedures would be, but we can be fairly confident that a customary law would exist, with which most courts would be induced to comply. It seems to be a common misunderstanding that all "law" in a free society would be specified in contracts, with the only tacit law being that all contracts must be respected to the letter. Contracts are one mechanism to prevent/resolve conflicts, but they are insufficient and too costly to cover everything.

 

Also:

David Friedman:
The most serious objection to free-market law is that plaintiff and defendant may not be able to agree on a common court. Obviously, a murderer would prefer a lenient judge. If the court were actually chosen by the disputants after the crime occurred, this might be an insuperable difficulty. Under the arrangements I have described, the court is chosen in advance by the protection agencies. There would hardly be enough murderers at any one time to support their own protective agency, one with a policy of patronizing courts that did not regard murder as a crime. Even if there were, no other protective agency would accept such courts. The murderers' agency would either accept a reasonable court or fight a hopeless war against the rest of society.

Until he is actually accused of a crime, everyone wants laws that protect him from crime and let him interact peacefully and productively with others. Even criminals. Not many murderers would wish to live under laws that permitted them to kill--and be killed.

(EDIT: Still David Friedman writing here; not sure why this line won't go in the quote box)

There is also the traditional threat of declaring recalcitrant thieves and murderers to be outlaws, in which they are fair game.

EDIT:

Eugene:
For instance, if a muderer refuses to listen to arbitrators, so the heir of the victim will have a legal right to kill him. But can other people legally kill him as well? For example if the victim hires a security firm, can the security firm kill him?

Yes. There are literally whole books dealing with these issues (including your question about serial killers; simply put, there could emerge "prison" industries which quarantine anti-social people and provide them with opportunities to labor and improve their standard of living in prison). I know you want quick answers, but you only get a small part of the picture, which only inspire more questions. Things will probably only click if you sit down and read one of the great books.

"People kill each other for prophetic certainties, hardly for falsifiable hypotheses." - Peter Berger
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For instance, if a muderer refuses to listen to arbitrators, so the heir of the victim will have a legal right to kill him. But can other people legally kill him as well? For example if the victim hires a security firm, can the security firm kill him?

 

I would say yes, in fact I imagine that any contract an arbitrator would make sure their contracts have a clause that allows just that. 

Another question, I don't see why would the arbitrator have an incentive to punish criminals or send them to jail? A restitution makes much more sense for the arbitrator, because the victim of the crime will usually prefer monetary restitution rather than punishment.

It makes more sense period.  Frankly I find the knowldge that somebody who wrongs me will actually have to repay me much more satisifying than simply that they will be sitting in prison. 

 

 But in this case, we let a violent man go free as long as he or his insurance company has money.

If that's a serial killer for instance, or an exrtemely violent individual, in the state court systems, that individual will be punished for the first murder and rot in jail for the rest of his life. In anarchy he would probably offer heavy restitution, and that's it.  

 

He'll also have to pay considerably higher premiums and may even become uninsurable.  In fact I imagine that there will develop privitie 'prisons' for indviduals who are so violent/dangerous they become unisurable. 

 

 

OBJECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you preface everything you say with the phrase 'studies have shown...' people will believe anything you say no matter how ridiculous. Studies have shown this works 87.64% of the time.
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Eugene:

For instance, if a muderer refuses to listen to arbitrators, so the heir of the victim will have a legal right to kill him. But can other people legally kill him as well? For example if the victim hires a security firm, can the security firm kill him?

Another question, I don't see why would the arbitrator have an incentive to punish criminals or send them to jail? A restitution makes much more sense for the arbitrator, because the victim of the crime will usually prefer monetary restitution rather than punishment. But in this case, we let a violent man go free as long as he or his insurance company has money. If that's a serial killer for instance, or an exrtemely violent individual, in the state court systems, that individual will be punished for the first murder and rot in jail for the rest of his life. In anarchy he would probably offer heavy restitution, and that's it.

I believe in restitution, not punishment.  Killing a murderer is pointless.  Getting him to cover the costs (or part of them) of a multi-million dollar insurance claim on the victim makes more sense.  Most likely they won't be able to cover this even if they sell all their belongings at which point they will have to earn the money.  Since there is a likelyhood the murderer will run if freed, this gives incentives for private 'prison factories' and such.  What will likely happen is the insurance agency will post the criminal's resume (crime, job skills, etc.) up for auction and then competing companies can bid for the criminal (like a slave auction).  They have the right to force them to do the work until the debt is paid (probably life in the case of a murderer, maybe weeks for a burgler).

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Micah71381:
I believe in restitution, not punishment.  Killing a murderer is pointless.  Getting him to cover the costs (or part of them) of a multi-million dollar insurance claim on the victim makes more sense.

Finally something we can agree upon.

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mahall replied on Wed, Mar 9 2011 1:30 AM

liberty student:
You're confusing contract with law.  Two different things.

I followed you up until this point. What do you mean by this? How are they separated?

You can't hurry up good times by waiting for them.

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Eugene replied on Wed, Mar 9 2011 1:33 AM

Let's assume a billionaire who is a serial killer. He will kill people and restitute them with his money. His budget would allow him to kill about 100 people to satisfy his sick perversion. It just doesn't make sense.

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People don't become billionaires by frivolously spending their money.  And even when they are billionaires they still rarely spend frivolously.  While owning a jet and a giant house sure sounds like spending money frivolously, these things bring them more than 5 minutes of happiness unlike a murder would.

What you are proposing is that an individual becomes a shrewd business man, makes billions not killing anyone along the way, then all of a sudden decides to go on a murderous rampage to blow all his money in an evening.  While technically he could do this, the chances of it actually happening are low enough that it's an acceptable risk.  You can put all the billionaires in the world on a short list.  That's out of 6B+ people on the planet.  Murderer's tend to fit a certain demographic and that demographic does not overlap the demographic of billionaires.  This makes it statistically improbable that a billionaire will become a serial killer which means that you are more at risk of dying to lightning strikes, shark attacks or a meteorite than dying to a murderous billionaire.

Top that off with no gun laws meaning any of his victims may be able to defend themselves and kill him, the risk to reward ratio (a concept every good business man is familiar with) just aren't in his favor.  There are more efficient ways to get your jollies like sex and drugs.

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It just doesn't make sense.

So why are you worried?

"People kill each other for prophetic certainties, hardly for falsifiable hypotheses." - Peter Berger
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The state kills 10s of millions, and we worry about some hypothetical evil businessman, as they are portrayed in movies.

Does anyone actually know of ONE evil businessman who plotted to kill millions in the 20th century?  Not killed obviously, but even plotted?

I ask of course, because Mao, Stalin, Hitler among other tyrants sent a great many millions to their death.  And none of those jerks were billionaire businessmen.

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mahall:
liberty student:
You're confusing contract with law.  Two different things.

I followed you up until this point. What do you mean by this? How are they separated?

This is a complicated topic.  Without getting the thread too far off track, I'll give you this to consider.

Men can make contracts, which involve a meeting of the minds, but men can't make laws, because laws (properly applied) are iron, and no one has the moral authority to make rules for other people.

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People don't become billionaires by frivolously spending their money. And even when they are billionaires they still rarely spend frivolously. While owning a jet and a giant house sure sounds like spending money frivolously, these things bring them more than 5 minutes of happiness unlike a murder would. What you are proposing is that an individual becomes a shrewd business man, makes billions not killing anyone along the way, then all of a sudden decides to go on a murderous rampage to blow all his money in an evening. While technically he could do this, the chances of it actually happening are low enough that it's an acceptable risk. You can put all the billionaires in the world on a short list. That's out of 6B+ people on the planet. Murderer's tend to fit a certain demographic and that demographic does not overlap the demographic of billionaires. This makes it statistically improbable that a billionaire will become a serial killer which means that you are more at risk of dying to lightning strikes, shark attacks or a meteorite than dying to a murderous billionaire. Top that off with no gun laws meaning any of his victims may be able to defend themselves and kill him, the risk to reward ratio (a concept every good business man is familiar with) just aren't in his favor. There are more efficient ways to get your jollies like sex and drugs.

 

Add to that the fact that after the first couple of murders, nobody would want to do business with our hypothetical billionare anymore....

OBJECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you preface everything you say with the phrase 'studies have shown...' people will believe anything you say no matter how ridiculous. Studies have shown this works 87.64% of the time.
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Chyd3nius replied on Wed, Mar 9 2011 10:37 AM

Let's assume a billionaire who is a serial killer. He will kill people and restitute them with his money. His budget would allow him to kill about 100 people to satisfy his sick perversion. It just doesn't make sense.

People don't like serial killers. If he kills someone and just pays restitutes, people will get suspicious. If he continues his perversions, I'm quite sure that other people won't like that. Allying with this killer would be huge loss to private police etc. so billionaire would have to be at least as profitable as the lost customers. He had to basicly buy all police force to be with him, and this would result to a rising demand for all else people(they don't have protectors now) so new private police will emerge. Billionaire had to buy these too, etc. etc. It's just impossible because it's billionaire vs. 6 billion people.

And think about this - if some internet-philosophers can invent answers to these problems, what could full time private arbitators with monetary gains as their motivators be able to make?

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Since there is a likelyhood the murderer will run if freed, this gives incentives for private 'prison factories' and such. What will likely happen is the insurance agency will post the criminal's resume (crime, job skills, etc.) up for auction and then competing companies can bid for the criminal (like a slave auction). They have the right to force them to do the work until the debt is paid (probably life in the case of a murderer, maybe weeks for a burgler).

 

I was think more that 'prisons' would be places criminals would voluntarilly go because they have no job, are unisurable and are considered a pariah among the community...that is to say, they have nowhere else to go(similar to how somebody might willingly have themselves commited to a mental instution) 

 

These prisons would help criminals find jobs, get them any help they need to be rehabilitated, and when/if they deem them fully 'cured' will vouch for the criminals allowing them to re-enter society with a 'clean' record. 

 

Although theres no reason there wont be room for both sorts of 'prisons' in an anarcho-capitilist society...

OBJECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Autolykos replied on Fri, Mar 11 2011 10:16 AM

I was going to answer your questions in the OP, but I will defer to Liberty Student's response to them. He says essentially the same things there that I would've said.

Eugene:
Let's assume a billionaire who is a serial killer. He will kill people and restitute them with his money. His budget would allow him to kill about 100 people to satisfy his sick perversion. It just doesn't make sense.

I fear that you're dropping the wider context. In all likelihood, a billionaire won't have all or even most of his wealth in the form of money - not in today's society and not in a free-market society. Most of his weatlh will be tied up in (far) less liquid assets. The estimated market values of those assets are subject to change at any time. He's not entitled to sell any of his assets for a particular price or exchange it for something else in particular.

Should a man be successfully convicted of "murdering someone in cold blood", the estimated market values of his assets will (again in all likelihood) sink like a stone in water. In fact, they may plummet so much that, even after he liquidates all of them, he cannot subsequently afford the restitution payments for a single victim. He still owns a lot of assets, but they're all considered next to worthless now.

The point is that wealth is fleeting. There's no guarantee that it will last.

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Micah71381 replied on Fri, Mar 11 2011 10:42 AM

Autolykos:

I fear that you're dropping the wider context. In all likelihood, a billionaire won't have all or even most of his wealth in the form of money - not in today's society and not in a free-market society. Most of his weatlh will be tied up in (far) less liquid assets. The estimated market values of those assets are subject to change at any time. He's not entitled to sell any of his assets for a particular price or exchange it for something else in particular.

Should a man be successfully convicted of "murdering someone in cold blood", the estimated market values of his assets will (again in all likelihood) sink like a stone in water. In fact, they may plummet so much that, even after he liquidates all of them, he cannot subsequently afford the restitution payments for a single victim. He still owns a lot of assets, but they're all considered next to worthless now.

The point is that wealth is fleeting. There's no guarantee that it will last.

While a billionaire's assets are not liquid, they are generally priced according to market value and unless all of his assets are tied up in a single resource that suddenly becomes worthless due to technological advancement or a sudden new source of the resource it's unlikely you will see much of a change in their actual value once liquidated.  The only exception I can think of would be if the majority of the person's assets were tied up in stocks  in a company he runs in which case negative public opinion could hurt the company, though that is easily remidied by stepping down (and retaining ownership shares).

Regardless, a billionaire even with devalued assets can still afford to kill quite a few people at a normal life insurance rate ($1M).

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Autolykos replied on Fri, Mar 11 2011 11:09 AM

Micah71381:
While a billionaire's assets are not liquid, they are generally priced according to market value and unless all of his assets are tied up in a single resource that suddenly becomes worthless due to technological advancement or a sudden new source of the resource it's unlikely you will see much of a change in their actual value once liquidated.  The only exception I can think of would be if the majority of the person's assets were tied up in stocks  in a company he runs in which case negative public opinion could hurt the company, though that is easily remidied by stepping down (and retaining ownership shares).

Regardless, a billionaire even with devalued assets can still afford to kill quite a few people at a normal life insurance rate ($1M).

What's the market value of an asset owned by a mass-murdering billionaire? My point is, why should prospective buyers ignore the actions of the asset's owner?

As I write this post, the house across the street from mine stands vacant. Before I bought my house, the other house's owner (who had a wife and children) killed himself inside. While he didn't harm anyone but himself, no one seems to want to buy the house - at least not at the current asking price. So what's the market value of the house?

Regardless, there are a couple of other ways of looking at this. First off, even if he can afford the restitution payment for murdering someone right off the bat, he'll likely be shunned by everyone who knows about what he did. And probably most people will know about it, because he's probably a high-profile individual already (due to being a billionaire) and because there will probably be organizations with vested interests in making his crime publicly known. That alone could well depreciate his assets considerably.

Second, I think people in a free-market society will either be armed most/all of the time or they'll have contracts with security companies who (unlike the police) would be obligated to arrive if/when called. On the first point, even in today's world, the fact that many serial killers have targeted young, single women has led to a proliferation of self-defense classes and non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray. On the second point, today's police officers aren't obligated to protect specific individuals - they're there to "enforce the law" and provide a "general deterrent" to committing crimes.

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