J Thomas on July 27, 2010, 12:11:14 am
These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists. AnCap for short.
I'm not exactly sure who you are including in "these particular people" , but the anarcho-capitalists that I know (including myself) consider themselves to be libertarians.

As the link explains in section 13, AnCap is a subset of libertarian.

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Some AnCaps ... do not recognise land ownership. Presumably some do not recognise the right to sequester resources.
I find it surprising that any anarcho-capitalist would not recognize land ownership or would not recognize the right to do anything (excluding the initiation of force) with any property that had been legitimately obtained.  Please give a cite (preferably a link).

http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/anarchism/faq.html#part11

Section 11 beginning "A high-profile division among anarcho-capitalists...."

The relevant phrase in your sentence is "legitimately obtained". Here's a quick argument -- should I have all rights to a piece of land on the grounds that my great-great-grandfather was the one who took it from the Indians? Or because my great-great-grandfather was the lawyer who wrote up the deed that took it from the guy who took it from the Indians? Or because my grandfather bought it from the guy whose grandfather stole it from the guy who took it from the Indians? People get rights to land because society grants them those rights, because their neighbors agree. In an AnCap society people have whatever rights the society agrees to, and land ownership is one of the things to be negotiated.

This is one of the things that went bad in Iceland. Everybody recognised land ownership. But there was only so much farmland to go around and the first generation to move there got it all. If you arrived later you had to find somebody who'd let you live on his land under his orders or else get back on the boat. Because they got there first.

I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation, from too many people for the available resources. When there is a limited and limiting resource -- land, uranium,  etc -- should I get to have a monopoly on that resource for no other reason than my grandfather had a monopoly and left it to me? That isn't necessarily fair or good.

On the other hand, what noncoercive institution could regulate the control of scarce resources? One obvious approach would be to set up a market and rent out control of scarce resources to the high bidders. But if I already have a monopoly how are you going to outbid me? You can bid your savings against my monopoly profits. And if we have a nonmarket regulatory system it could get subverted and create the very problems it's supposed to alleviate.

I don't see that it's necessarily right for landlords to get higher rents just by buying enough valuable locations that they can reduce competition for the rent of those lands. But in practice you can lay claim to anything you want, and society decides whether your threat to shoot people who try to use your self-cl;aimed property is a legitimate defense of your rights or a coercive attempt to loot other people's rights.

quadibloc on July 27, 2010, 02:45:20 am
I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation, from too many people for the available resources.
My tendency is to regard it as a flaw in the AnCap argument that there is a lack of discussion of how such a society would deal with overcrowding. I see that kind of a society working well, and perhaps being the only workable society, in an open-ended frontier situation. Unlimited available resources is one of the things that helps, by making labor valuable, and thus leading to emotionally acceptable outcomes from the free market.

My chief concern with the scenario of an overcrowded world comes from the level of expense required for policing, though.

The objection you've raised is a different one, which I don't see as too strong an argument against AnCap. Of course the first people to take the land and resources away from the furry animals own them. Or, as a Libertarian would say, they own as much of those resources as they can effectively convert to use. So they can claim their own farms, but not mineral rights over large idle tracts of land far in advance of their being workable.

Others who come along later will either be their descendants - in which case, things get split up among the new generation - or people who voluntarily came from elsewhere. As long as there are ample resources, even if you don't own them to derive rents from them, you will have plenty of opportunity to convert your labor into wealth on favorable terms.

So the initial settlers owning all the land isn't something I regard as a problem.

A general insufficiency of land and resources, so that labor cannot be converted into wealth effectively, on the other hand, is a serious problem. But that is a problem for any economic system. The solution is advances in technology that let us do more with less. While resources are short, therefore, the ideal economic system is definitely not a socialistic one that spreads the misery around equally, thus ensuring no one lives comfortably enough to get a good education and discover the new technologies that would lead to a way out. Instead, one that allows for a privileged elite to live comfortably, and which leaves the great mass of humanity in such conditions as to depress their fertility sooner rather than later (after their numbers have so increased that they have utterly despoiled the environment's future usefulness)... might, however harsh and ugly it seems, actually be one of the better responses to the situation. And, historically, that's what past state societies were like.

So, socialism, as a reaction to the cruelties of past state societies, really has little moral claim on anarcho-capitalism. Socialism tends to be a demagogic con job, leading to Pharaoh re-appearing in the guise of Stalin. AnCap, on the other hand, doesn't give the poor handouts, but it gives them their freedom, which presumably lets them do the best they can even in a difficult situation.

Myself, I think there's a need for original thinking. No, the world doesn't owe you a living. But it might be argued that your parents do. People ought to have more sense than to inflict overcrowding on the next generation of humans. Margaret Sanger was a radical socialist who adopted reactionary views as protective coloration, apparently. So she never turned family limitation into a full-blown political ideology to rival Locke and Marx.

J Thomas on July 27, 2010, 04:35:44 am
My chief concern with the scenario of an overcrowded world comes from the level of expense required for policing, though.

That's a big concern if you're in the elite who pays for policing. If you're one of the people who can only starve or steal, it looks different. Revolutions tend to come when there are too many people who have nothing left to lose. People who philosophise about what would be fair and what would be an improvement tend not to do that until they have no better choice. Revolutions tend not to have the outcomes their propagandists claimed people should hope for. Mostly everybody knows that. But when you have no hope from the existing system, even a small hope is better. If things get real disorganized maybe you can grab something and hold onto it....

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The objection you've raised is a different one, which I don't see as too strong an argument against AnCap.

I'm not making an argument against AnCap. I'm pointing out a situation that might have to be dealt with. Of course, if places that have too many people never give up their governments then it won't be an AnCap problem.

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Of course the first people to take the land and resources away from the furry animals own them. Or, as a Libertarian would say, they own as much of those resources as they can effectively convert to use. So they can claim their own farms, but not mineral rights over large idle tracts of land far in advance of their being workable.

If you are the first to use something that gives you some sort of right to it. At the least you deserve a fair wage for the work you put into improving it, to the extent your changes are an improvement.

So, if you're a woodchopper does that fact give you the right to as much forest as you can clearcut before your first forest grows itself back? This is all murky to me.

If you have resources to buy land with, why shouldn't you be allowed to corner the market in mineral rights, provided you can persuade the other owners to sell?

Again, I'm not making an argumen it can't work. Anything people can agree on can work out somehow. I just don't see a good argument why any of the proposals I've heard are fair, or will have a good outcome when resources are finite.

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As long as there are ample resources, even if you don't own them to derive rents from them, you will have plenty of opportunity to convert your labor into wealth on favorable terms.

Provided the owners want a lot more than they have, they'll pay you for labor. But if the owners need 10,000 workers to produce all the luxury they want plus a sufficiency of necessities for the laborers, why should they pay 100,000 workers to produce a sufficiency for 100,000 laborers plus something more?

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A general insufficiency of land and resources, so that labor cannot be converted into wealth effectively, on the other hand, is a serious problem. But that is a problem for any economic system.

Yes! Not an argument against AnCap. A problem that needs a solution under any system that encounters it.

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The solution is advances in technology that let us do more with less.

That's the 1945 solution, which worked well from roughly 1945-1965. It might work well again sometimes. The less desirable solution is to go through a period of destruction until the surviving population can live on what's available. It isn't a plan. It's the default that happens when plans fail.

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While resources are short, therefore, the ideal economic system is definitely not a socialistic one that spreads the misery around equally, thus ensuring no one lives comfortably enough to get a good education and discover the new technologies that would lead to a way out.

People make silly parodies of AnCap, like saying it's an anarchy where everybody takes whatever they want. This is a silly parody of socialism. But no matter, there's no reason to discuss socialist ideas here.

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AnCap, on the other hand, doesn't give the poor handouts, but it gives them their freedom, which presumably lets them do the best they can even in a difficult situation.

It could pay some of them to be security guards to protect the elite from the rest. You, as one of the nonelite, could have the freedom to do whatever you want that no security guard tells you not to do.

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No, the world doesn't owe you a living. But it might be argued that your parents do. People ought to have more sense than to inflict overcrowding on the next generation of humans.

Traditionally the poor faced a chaotic situation where some or all of their children might die young. In that context it makes sense to have spares. It increases the chance they won't all die young. It makes good sense for individuals who want to have surviving children. But the result is to increase the population when on average more than two of their children do survive.

Telling poor people not to have more children than they can afford is useless. They don't know how many children they will be able to afford. It depends on job markets etc. And there's Thurber and White's advice -- the best time not to have a son is 18 years before the next world war. Poor people are the very worst at planning far in the future to make the society better.

The method which has been extremely successful at reducing birthrate in north america and europe is the salary. Pay people an utterly dependable salary, and don't give them raises just because they have children. They can plan ahead. They can predict how much it will cost to send their children to college and can save for it, or accept that their kids won't go. After making those predictions they tend to have somewhere in the range of 1.5 to 1.8 children. When you aren't poor but every extra child brings you closer to poverty, you tend to stop at 1 or maybe 2. As a result we have lots of jobs for foreigners because it's mostly our poor people who are replacing themselves.

The obvious capitalist solution to overpopulation is to let the market reduce the supply of people to match the job market demand. But this has the problem that if job market demand goes up it will take around 19 years for supply to respond to that demand. So this is not an ideal solution. I don't know any ideal solutions.

quadibloc on July 27, 2010, 08:55:49 am
That's the 1945 solution, which worked well from roughly 1945-1965. It might work well again sometimes.
I think the problem with it isn't that it's an out of date solution, but simply that advances in science arrive on their own schedule - and, unlike microelectronics, agriculture is a mature technology, so it doesn't grow at a Moore's Law rate. Instead, its natural rate of growth is one that is slower than that of population - even in developed countries when they are prosperous and contented.

Nobody has come up with a political system that creates resources out of thin air. So, not only won't I criticize AnCap people for not having one, and I'm not going to ask them to come up with one either. At least they can validly argue that a system that provides maximum freedom won't prohibit technical innovations because they threaten political power structures or entrenched monopolies.

terry_freeman on July 27, 2010, 12:21:33 pm
India could make some claim to being overcrowded. Or perhaps Hong Kong would be better, having one of the highest population densities in the world.

India tried socialism, which did nothing to alleviate terrible poverty; in fact, conditions worsened. Then India realized that socialism is the problem, not the solution. It moved toward free-market solutions, and has since raised millions of people out of poverty.

Hong Kong, on the other hand, started the free market process over thirty years sooner. The result was a steady rise in per capita income, so great that per capita income in HK exceeded that in Great Britain, and people emigrated from the socialist UK to free-market HK in order to improve their chances.

Absent government force, accumulations of wealth seldom persist. A truism among immigrants is "rags to riches in three generations; riches to rags in three generations." Those who inherit great wealth ( in the absence of political protection ) rarely have the skills to maintain or increase it. Within a generation or two, that wealth is inherited by people who fritter it away. This has been known for hundreds of years to everyone except for the devout disciples of Karl Marx.

Today, some young people - especially those of Indian or Chinese ancestry - are leaving the United States to seek better opportunities in India and China. These folks see the US of A becoming more socialistic, less free, while India and China are moving in the opposite direction, away from socialism and toward freedom.

J Thomas on July 27, 2010, 12:44:08 pm
That's the 1945 solution, which worked well from roughly 1945-1965. It might work well again sometimes.
I think the problem with it isn't that it's an out of date solution, but simply that advances in science arrive on their own schedule

Agreed! It worked very well at a time when we had a backlog of science (things that were getting developed during the depression but that didn't get deployed much). It might work well at any time, but it's a gamble. You can't depend on it working when you need it to. Worth doing. Much nicer when you aren't betting your life that it will get great new results when you need them.

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Nobody has come up with a political system that creates resources out of thin air. So, not only won't I criticize AnCap people for not having one, and I'm not going to ask them to come up with one either.

Agreed also! And I want to point out that it's possible for an AnCap society to wind up -- at no fault of their system -- with a whole lot of people, perhaps a majority, who have no prospect for anything worth having if they follow the rules, and who have nothing left but their guns.

This is a situation which would be good to avoid.

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At least they can validly argue that a system that provides maximum freedom won't prohibit technical innovations because they threaten political power structures or entrenched monopolies.

If some people have more power or influence than others, they can use that influence to block innovations if they choose to. Presumably they would do that by providing rewards to people who cooperate with them in blocking the innovation, and threatening to stop cooperation generally with people who fail to assist them in blocking it. I can't provide details about how that might work without knowing lots of details about the society. But the general pattern might often be observed unless there are cultural mechanisms to stop it.

Brugle on July 27, 2010, 01:20:23 pm
These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists. AnCap for short.
I'm not exactly sure who you are including in "these particular people" , but the anarcho-capitalists that I know (including myself) consider themselves to be libertarians.

As the link explains in section 13, AnCap is a subset of libertarian.
Which is what I said.  All the anarcho-capitalists that I have had political discussions with (admittedly, not a representative sample) called themselves libertarians.   Why do you think that some anarcho-capitalists would not call themselves libertarians?

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Some AnCaps ... do not recognise land ownership. Presumably some do not recognise the right to sequester resources.
I find it surprising that any anarcho-capitalist would not recognize land ownership or would not recognize the right to do anything (excluding the initiation of force) with any property that had been legitimately obtained.  Please give a cite (preferably a link).

http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/anarchism/faq.html#part11

Section 11 beginning "A high-profile division among anarcho-capitalists...."

My face is red.  I apologize.  I didn't read all of that FAQ this time around, since I have read it before.  I thought that I had reread the relevant passages, but I was wrong.

However, I have some doubts whether Georgists would call themselves anarcho-capitalists.

I also wonder if Georgists should be considered anarchists.  How would a Georgist decide on the proper tax?  How would a Georgist compel payment?  How would a Georgist distribute the proceeds?  I suspect that the mechanisms implemented would be a state (even if not called a state).

One reason I have for doubting section 11 is that some of the divisions in section 12 are superficial.  For example, the individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker called himself a socialist and an anti-capitalist, and he opposed usury (actually, the payment of any interest), which sounds anti-capitalist.  But he used capitalism to mean the system of government privileges (tariffs, monopoly grants, etc.) that today would be called corporatism or state socialism or mercantilism or fascism or interventionism or a mixed economy.   By socialism, he meant anti-capitalism in that sense, not communal ownership or any other sort of shared property.  He thought that once governments stopped giving privileges to the politically powerful, interest would disappear, but agreed with modern anarcho-capitalists that the payment of interest would be OK (although perhaps stupid) when agreed to by the contracting parties.

So, given that the political program of individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker is essentially the same as that of modern anarcho-capitalists, the basis for that FAQ's putting those ideas on different sides of the chart must be either superficial differences in terminology or minor differences in expectations for the future.  In either case, I think the division is more confusing than helpful.  (The network of arrows, denoting influences, could be helpful as long as the reader realizes that it is grossly simplified.)

terry_freeman on July 27, 2010, 06:42:22 pm
I do not pretend to understand, but I have met Georgists who claim to be anarchists. I'm just sayin'.

Me, I think Georgists beat up landlords with one hand and install an uber-landlord to collect and redistribute the so-called land rents. That uber-landlord looks like a government to me, and if smaller landlords can be accused of evil, then the same charges may be laid against any uber-landlord government.

terry_freeman on July 27, 2010, 06:46:15 pm
Hah! It looks like the brothers are trending in the direction which came to my mind earlier:

"Is there any reason the mass driver cannot be used as a rocket engine? It's portable, for some definition of portable, can be cut loose from the asteroid, turned appropriately, and go wherever it is pointed, given fuel and propellant.  A little bit of handwaving, some creative engineering, and that magic Ock computer, and I'm ready to believe. "

As Sandy said, it is not hard to compute a trajectory; achieving it is another thing.

Given continuous observation and re-targeting, the mass driver can be driven to its destination. I think I read something somewhere about an unmanned probe which was pointed in the wrong direction over 90% of the time. Of course it was only a little bit wrong, and it continuously corrected its course.
 

Brugle on July 27, 2010, 07:30:13 pm
Sorry to keep yanking this thread off-topic, but J Thomas responded to me and I felt that I owed a reply.  (I probably won't respond to replies to this reply.)

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I find it surprising that any anarcho-capitalist ... would not recognize the right to do anything (excluding the initiation of force) with any property that had been legitimately obtained.
...
The relevant phrase in your sentence is "legitimately obtained".
If you think that that is the relevant part of my response, then why have you ignored it in the remainder of your posts in this thread?  I don't see many complaints like "people might not legitimately own their property", but I do see many complaints like "people might do something with their property when I would prefer that they do something else".  Which is it: do you grant people the right to do whatever they please (other than initiate force) with their legitimately-owned property, or do you deny them that right regardless of how the property was obtained?

This is one of the things that went bad in Iceland. Everybody recognised land ownership. But there was only so much farmland to go around and the first generation to move there got it all. If you arrived later you had to find somebody who'd let you live on his land under his orders or else get back on the boat. Because they got there first.
Obviously, Iceland was and is rather poor in resources.  But they did very well with what they had (at least until the conversion to Christianity, which (for the first time) guaranteed some people tax income.  It's been several years since I read Njals Saga and various monographs on Iceland, but back then it seemed to me that if there had been a less competitive or stronger (say, with an executive branch) government, things probably would have been much worse.

I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation,
You still don't get it.  An anarcho-capitalist society isn't "run".  People are free to make whatever arrangements they think are best.  There is no master plan.  There is no ultimate boss with thugs to control people's lives.  (There would be crime, but criminals would be recognized as such, not simply given names such as "tax collector" or "state policeman" or "prohibition agent".)

I get to have a monopoly on that resource for no other reason than my grandfather had a monopoly and left it to me? That isn't necessarily fair or good.
It certainly is fair, and almost certainly is good.

Management of a resource by those who legitimately own it may not be perfect, but it is likely to be better than management by those whose only qualification is the ruthlessness and unscrupulousness necessary to obtain political power.

And what happens when you establish the principle that whenever someone develops a resource that is valuable to the community, the community steals it?  No more resources are developed, and those who want to develop resources try to escape.

One obvious approach would be to set up a market and ...
Markets are not "set up".  Markets develop when people voluntarily cooperate.

I don't see that it's necessarily right for landlords to get higher rents just by buying enough valuable locations that they can reduce competition for the rent of those lands.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to collect monopoly profits on a free market?  Many have tried, but I don't know of any who succeeded without direct government help.

Were you around when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market?  I remember the cries of outrage by various whiners, but it was obvious (to those of us who knew some economics) that the attempt would fail.  Sure enough, within weeks the Hunt brothers failed, losing about a billion dollars (back when that was real money).  And that was in the US, where brokers/lenders knew that they could be bailed out if the Hunt brothers didn't pay their debts--it would have been even more difficult in a free market.


SandySandfort on July 27, 2010, 09:22:36 pm
I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation,
You still don't get it.  An anarcho-capitalist society isn't "run".  People are free to make whatever arrangements they think are best.  There is no master plan.  There is no ultimate boss with thugs to control people's lives.  (There would be crime, but criminals would be recognized as such, not simply given names such as "tax collector" or "state policeman" or "prohibition agent".)

In addition, this is just another example of predicating "questions" on baseless assumptions. You spotted the first ("run an AnCap society"). The other is that AnCap societies would suffer disproportionately from "overpopulation." If overpopulation is a problem (another baseless assumption), then it is a human problem. I cannot imagine how it would be less of a problem in a socialist state than in a free society. In fact, the trend of history is that the richer the society, the fewer the children, and the later in life, they are conceived. Compare two countries with vast natural resources. On a per capita or per square mile, basis, Mexico is richer in natural resources than the US. Yet, the Mexican government's heavy hand keeps the people poor and they breed like conejos. I'll take AnCap any day over that.

Karadan on July 27, 2010, 09:22:42 pm
So, it looks like they'll use the rocks to slow their decent?  Couldn't they have done that with their rocket packs in the first place?  Maybe it's something more elaborate than that.

J Thomas on July 28, 2010, 05:46:08 am
I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation,
You still don't get it.  An anarcho-capitalist society isn't "run".  People are free to make whatever arrangements they think are best.  There is no master plan.  There is no ultimate boss with thugs to control people's lives.  (There would be crime, but criminals would be recognized as such, not simply given names such as "tax collector" or "state policeman" or "prohibition agent".)

In addition, this is just another example of predicating "questions" on baseless assumptions. You spotted the first ("run an AnCap society"). The other is that AnCap societies would suffer disproportionately from "overpopulation."

It looks to me like you have postulated that many things which today are run by a coercive government would instead be run by social consensus. People who value AnCap ideals would just know what to do to get a good result. If nobody ever knows what to expect from anybody else you don't have an AnCap society. You don't have a society at all. So to me "running an AnCap society" means "creating social consensus and shared habits". Somebody has to do that, and they have to do it in a way that people approve or they fail at it.

I didn't intend to claim that AnCap societies would have more overpopulation than others. And I certainly didn't intend to claim that other societies have good solutions to overpopulation.

What I said was that I have not seen any discussion about how an AnCap society could deal with this.

What looks like the worst case to me is an AnCap society where at some point the majority of the population has no resources available to them except their guns. That could get ugly. I don't say that the worst case for -- for example -- socialism would be better than this worst case.

This is not an argument against AnCap. I've seen no discussion about what would happen in this bad situation, which is not a flaw in AnCap and not necessarily even a flaw in the thinking of AnCap supporters. (Two different things. There's the society which would evolve to meet the challenges it faces, and there's the philosophy of people advocating the society. Any weakness in the latter does not prove that there would be a weakness in the former.)

I'm interested in that topic and in similar not-so-bad situations, but there's no necessity that you be interested in them. There are no existing AnCap societies, and ideally the first test case would happen in a best-case situation and would then handle new challenges using a tested system that's known to function at least sometimes.

Again, I agree that it certainly is not an effective attack on AnCap ideas.

Kind of analogously, someone could ask "What would an AnCap society do if somebody nuked them and practically all of them died? How would you handle that one, huh?" Well, they'd die. Like anybody else who didn't have a working quadrillion-dollar Star Wars system. Arguing that they could be killed off like anybody else is not an effective attack on the concept. (Although killing them off would be an effective attack on the actual society.)

J Thomas on July 28, 2010, 06:14:33 am
These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists. AnCap for short.
I'm not exactly sure who you are including in "these particular people" , but the anarcho-capitalists that I know (including myself) consider themselves to be libertarians.

As the link explains in section 13, AnCap is a subset of libertarian.
Which is what I said.  All the anarcho-capitalists that I have had political discussions with (admittedly, not a representative sample) called themselves libertarians.   Why do you think that some anarcho-capitalists would not call themselves libertarians?

I said it badly. "These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists." That makes it look like AnCap would not be a subset of libertarians. The person I was responding to was making a general argument against libertarian ideas, and I meant to say that he could be more specific, that he was dealing with a particular subset that had more specific beliefs.

Why troll about Christianity in general when you're talking to Baptists and you can tailor your troll to them? ;)

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I have some doubts whether Georgists would call themselves anarcho-capitalists.

I also wonder if Georgists should be considered anarchists.  How would a Georgist decide on the proper tax?  How would a Georgist compel payment?  How would a Georgist distribute the proceeds?  I suspect that the mechanisms implemented would be a state (even if not called a state).

I am not a Georgist so I'm not sure of the answers which I'm sure could vary. But I can imagine it. Here's an example: Imagine that the society agrees that this land tax should be paid. So every year you pay a set fraction of what you say your land is worth. And anybody else can buy it from you at that price, if they want to. They hand you the money and tell you to clear off. If you refuse, if you commit violence to stay on their property, then you are a violent cirminal and you get dealt with however the society deals with people who initiate illicit violence.

As for what happens to the tax money, that could be whatever the society chooses. They could have a widows-and-orphans fund with completely open books, and anybody can read the sob stories that jusify the expenditures and argue about it. Etc. The point of the tax could be not so much to collect usable revenue but to establish a baseline for the required selling price. You have to say how much you will voluntarily sell your land for. If you set the price ridiculously high then you have to pay ridiculously more tax.

quadibloc on July 28, 2010, 06:22:35 am
Were you around when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market?  I remember the cries of outrage by various whiners, but it was obvious (to those of us who knew some economics) that the attempt would fail.  Sure enough, within weeks the Hunt brothers failed, losing about a billion dollars (back when that was real money).  And that was in the US, where brokers/lenders knew that they could be bailed out if the Hunt brothers didn't pay their debts--it would have been even more difficult in a free market.
Odd, the way I remember it is that the Hunt brothers failed because force was initiated against them: specifically, market regulators suddenly changed the rules so that the Hunt brothers had to quickly sell a lot of their equity in silver rather than holding on to it.

And I want to point out that it's possible for an AnCap society to wind up -- at no fault of their system -- with a whole lot of people, perhaps a majority, who have no prospect for anything worth having if they follow the rules, and who have nothing left but their guns.

This is a situation which would be good to avoid.
It's true that an AnCap society could wind up in that situation without the system being the cause of that.

But failing to have a plan for that kind of situation is a fault in a system. Thus, if a free-enterprise democracy decides to tilt a bit more towards socialism so that everyone has a stake in the system, and crime is down and the society is stable - it's hard for me to fault them for that. Given the amount of money modern democracies spend on their militaries, spending a little more on feeding poor kids seems to be a poor thing to object to.

But the whole socialism versus capitalism debate looks like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic when the real problem is available resources and economic output.

Except, of course, that the dangers of more than a very little socialism are summed up quite nicely here:

And what happens when you establish the principle that whenever someone develops a resource that is valuable to the community, the community steals it?  No more resources are developed, and those who want to develop resources try to escape.
One can take the implosion of Zimbabwe as a recent extreme case in point.

You still don't get it.  An anarcho-capitalist society isn't "run".  People are free to make whatever arrangements they think are best.  There is no master plan.  There is no ultimate boss with thugs to control people's lives.  (There would be crime, but criminals would be recognized as such, not simply given names such as "tax collector" or "state policeman" or "prohibition agent".)
This is a mistake I keep making, although in a subtle way.

I imagine an AnCap society as still functioning a lot like the present-day USA. A vestigial legislative body enacts laws which basically provide specifics on how the Zero-Agression Principle applies in particular situations. And an all-powerful Supreme Court ensures that, no matter how badly the majority may want the politicians to do it, no taxation or conscription can be enacted, because those things are initiations of force.

Individuals have guns, but no small group of individuals has enough guns to overthrow the social order. That is, an armed revolution to something that isn't AnCap could only take place if a majority of the people took part in it. Either people setting up private armies of unusually well-trained and unusually well-armed individuals are an exception to the initiation of force rule, or they're nullified non-violently by imitation (i.e. the citizen militia steps up its activities).

And people generally don't want to be taxed or conscripted.

Thus, I imagine the United States being under AnCap in 1932. No taxation, no conscription, and no prospect of either. No Lend-Lease. No D-Day. No Manhattan Project. By the time the threat is seen, and people shift from isolationism to voluntarily banding together to do something about it, it's too late.

Oh, yes: also no Pearl Harbor. No taxation - hence no ships stationed there to bomb. So one doesn't even have to assume greater intelligence on the part of the Japanese militarists.

Assume that an AnCap United States is such a fat and undefended target that Hitler forbears to invade Russia, and instead keeps Stalin as an ally, and the scenario for disaster is complete.

To people like myself, who view World War II as the defining moment of human history, and Vietnam as only an extremely minor footnote in the Cold War, any social organization other than a state society with apparently paranoid levels of military preparedness, therefore, seems suicidal on its face.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 06:52:08 am by quadibloc »