jamesd on August 20, 2010, 02:37:56 pm
So let me get this straight, JamesD - our allies, people who are being encouraged with American dollars and manpower, are engaged in these brutal acts against moderate Muslims, and you are suggesting this as a productive method of reducing terrorism?

No.  I suggest that killing our "allies" is a productive method of reducing terrorism.  I have repeatedly urged that Hamid Karzai should be dropped from ten thousand feet on the Pakistani presidential palace as a warning to Pakistan, and that making him president of Afghanistan was an act of betrayal and self hating defeatism similar to the Peace of Vasvár, which "peace" nearly led to the fall of Europe and the destruction of Western civilization.

J Thomas on August 20, 2010, 03:11:21 pm
Several weeks ago, I challenged the statist apologists to find examples of private security forces engaged in similar misconduct. Since there are more private security forces in America than government forces, this request should be trivially easy to meet. What's the problem here? Time enough to troll, but too lazy to back up your imaginative theories?

I don't particularly consider myself a statist apologist, though it might look that way to you.

Once about 25 years ago I left the Food Lion in Birmingham about 1 AM, far later than I usually shopped there. I thought I was the only customer. There was a woman screaming on the sidewalk, the concrete walk all along the front of the grocery store, and a man was beating her. I was surprised. I ran toward them without thinking, I think I yelled 'What the hell' and the man turned to me. He was a rent-a-cop. I can recall what it looked like but when I see it now in the pale blue light I don't see whether he was holding his long flashlight or whether it was a club. He turned and waved it in my direction and I stopped. The woman scrambled off the ground and started half-running, half limping away. I thought she looked homeless from her clothes. There was some blood on them, probably from her face. It looked mostly black in the parking lot lights.

I was still holding my one small bag of groceries. I stood there while he came closer to me. He raised his club and I imagined throwing my groceries in hs face and running. He stopped five feet away and said "You got some problem?" I said, "No sir." "You ready to go right now?" "Yes sir." I went to my car and drove away.

I mentioned it to some of my friends. An old lawyer told me that places like that don't want any soliciting in their parking lots. He said they beat up homeless people on the slightest excuse. I was pretty naive. "I'd sue." "Not if you're homeless. And anyway, no, you wouldn't." "Yes, I'd sue if I had the money." "After you get a real professional beating you don't want anything to do with them at all. You don't want to see them in court or anyplace else." I figured he probably knew what he was talking about.

Since then I've talked with people who had been homeless in Washington DC or San Francisco. There are places they can be and places they can't be. They learn which are which by word-of-mouth and trial-and-error. There are stores which will take their money and stores that will not. Police and rent-a-cops both feel free to beat on them whenever it's reasonably private, and both can force them into private places. The authorities do not consider it a punishment to send them to jail, but a sort of treat. A quick working-over is cheap and easy.

Private citizens in good standing have more clout compared to a private security guard than they do compared to a police officer. When it's your word against theirs or the store security cameras can be subpoenaed, they don't have such a great big advantage. And when you're a customer their boss cares about. But when your status is low enough, the difference between real cops and rent-a-cops isn't so big.

terry_freeman on August 20, 2010, 03:36:45 pm
So government monopoly courts do not give as much credit to homeless as they do to "private citizens in good standing". Was that the point you were trying to make?

<quote>
Private citizens in good standing have more clout compared to a private security guard than they do compared to a police officer. When it's your word against theirs or the store security cameras can be subpoenaed, they don't have such a great big advantage. And when you're a customer their boss cares about. But when your status is low enough, the difference between real cops and rent-a-cops isn't so big.
</quote>

As for the rest of it, I think you have already conceded that rent-a-cops meet higher standards than government cops, when it comes to about 99% of the population. You have also admitted that even the homeless have discovered a way out: competition among providers. They avoid certain places and patronize others.

What happens when the State has a monopoly and you have no choice? Well, you get to accept whatever form of "justice" it chooses to mete out. You get to be tased if the Boys in Blue don't believe your cringing is sufficiently servile.


J Thomas on August 20, 2010, 09:41:35 pm
So government monopoly courts do not give as much credit to homeless as they do to "private citizens in good standing". Was that the point you were trying to make?

No, you issued a challenge asking for examples of private police doing the sort of thing that public police occasionally get in the news for doing. (Note that this sort of thing is not generally considered acceptable for public police either,which is why it is treated as newsworthy. It doesn't get publicised often enough for it to be accepted as completely normal.)

I had something that I thought was an example. I never found out in detail why the rent-a-cop was beating the woman, and he gave me the impression that if I stayed to find out he'd beat me too. Possibly if I knew the details it wouldn't seem like abuse.

Quote
As for the rest of it, I think you have already conceded that rent-a-cops meet higher standards than government cops, when it comes to about 99% of the population. You have also admitted that even the homeless have discovered a way out: competition among providers. They avoid certain places and patronize others.

Sure, but you didn't ask for proof that rent-a-cops are just as bad as cops who are above the law. You asked for a single example and I gave you one.

How does this fit the bigger picture? Do we want professional police? Some societies have had the general public deal with criminals, including violent criminals. There are advantages and disadvantages to that. I tend to think it would be better than what we have now. And what we have now, with a crazy patchwork quilt of official police hired by different levels of government etc, is better than having them all organised by the federal government as it is in Iraq.

What would it be like in an AnCap society if we had private for-profit police forces and nothing else? It could go lots of different ways. What kinds of abuse you might get would depend on a lot of things like the details of the legal system. Private police would have to be ready to use coercion, since that's central to police work. They would have to do it in the ways they are hired to do without breaking the rules of the society which say that coercion must be appropriate coercion and not immoral coercion.

In any system whatsoever, you want to avoid being alone with four guys who're trained in violence and ready to use coercion, where afterward it would be your word against theirs assuming you wound up alive to tell your side.

I want to note that the private police hired by crack houses or by the mafia have a reputation for being tough on middle-class people who in any way are on the outs with their employers. But you can usually avoid the problem by avoiding them -- don't go to the crack house, don't start a small business where they demand protection money, don't get out of line in Vegas, etc. I don't think they'd be representative of private police where there was no government. They are doing things outside of any legal system, and usually things that people already agree are immoral.

In an AnCap society most people would agree on a morality and would have a legal system they approved of. There might still be groups doing things people thought were immoral, who had no access to the generally-approved legal system, who had only their own threats of violence to back up their agreements. But that probably wouldn't be the norm.

jamesd on August 21, 2010, 02:01:24 am
Once about 25 years ago I left the Food Lion in Birmingham about 1 AM, far later than I usually shopped there. I thought I was the only customer. There was a woman screaming on the sidewalk, the concrete walk all along the front of the grocery store, and a man was beating her. I was surprised. I ran toward them without thinking, I think I yelled 'What the hell' and the man turned to me. He was a rent-a-cop. I can recall what it looked like but when I see it now in the pale blue light I don't see whether he was holding his long flashlight or whether it was a club. He turned and waved it in my direction and I stopped. The woman scrambled off the ground and started half-running, half limping away. I thought she looked homeless from her clothes. There was some blood on them, probably from her face. It looked mostly black in the parking lot lights.

I was still holding my one small bag of groceries. I stood there while he came closer to me. He raised his club and I imagined throwing my groceries in hs face and running. He stopped five feet away and said "You got some problem?" I said, "No sir." "You ready to go right now?" "Yes sir." I went to my car and drove away.

If he was a state cop, you would not have dared pay any attention, and had you paid attention, you would find yourself doing time for attacking the cop's boot with your face

Walmart security often scuffle in the parking lot with shoplifters.  The shoplifters usually have it coming to them, and often suffer a bit of damage in the process.  If you see a state cop having a scuffle you will assume the state cop is totally justified - since you fear to act as if he is not justified.  But you see a walmart security having a scuffle with someone, you will assume it unjustified - since it is perfectly safe for you suspect it unjustified.

jamesd on August 21, 2010, 02:42:48 am
Private citizens in good standing have more clout compared to a private security guard than they do compared to a police officer. When it's your word against theirs or the store security cameras can be subpoenaed, they don't have such a great big advantage. And when you're a customer their boss cares about. But when your status is low enough, the difference between real cops and rent-a-cops isn't so big.

You may be happy that employees of the state get to treat you equally with a homeless racial minority, but I lack enthusiasm for that kind of equality.

Yes, in anarcho capitalism, homeless bums will have problems - how are they doing under the benevolent state?

jamesd on August 21, 2010, 02:54:50 am
No, you issued a challenge asking for examples of private police doing the sort of thing that public police occasionally get in the news for doing. (Note that this sort of thing is not generally considered acceptable for public police either,which is why it is treated as newsworthy. It doesn't get publicised often enough for it to be accepted as completely normal.)
Google photographing police.   http://www.google.com/search?q=photographing+police

Police have a de-facto privilege to act illegal towards ordinary people.  What are you going to do?  Call a cop?  Rentacops do not have such a privilege.  If you are a customer, and talk to a mall rentacop, he will treat you respectfully.  Indeed, the same is true of mafiosi - who are often rentacops whose job is protecting illegal activities such as drug trafficking.  Police, however, expect you to treat them respectfully, and do not expect to treat you respectfully.  If a rentacop behaves rudely, speaking to his employer is going to get you a lot better satisfaction than speaking to the cop's employer.

terry_freeman on August 21, 2010, 08:13:24 am
JThomas, if you read further back, you'll find the original unanswered challenge: evidence that private security is as bad or worse than government monopoly security, given that there are as many private security forces as there are government security forces.

You had to reach back 25 years for a single solitary example, and had to admit that homeless people are shafted by the monopoly government "justice" system, and that the same homeless people have developed ways to locate competitors who will treat them better.

That hardly counts as an unqualified success for the state apologia side of the debate. Frankly, you are making more arguments for the AnCap side than not.

Meanwhile, you can google up dozens or hundreds of instances of unwarranted police brutality; there are at least two current cases raging in Denver even as I type these words. Where is our Texas-basher? Isn't Denver supposed to be full of nice, liberal, earth-hugging types? What is it with these redneck government monopoly cops in Denver? Can we demand that they be replaced by Acme Security or somebody else with better customer service ratings? Weren't you raging against corporate monopolies? Why are corporate monopolies bad, but government monopolies good?



J Thomas on August 21, 2010, 10:32:41 pm
JThomas, if you read further back, you'll find the original unanswered challenge: evidence that private security is as bad or worse than government monopoly security, given that there are as many private security forces as there are government security forces.

I certainly wouldn't say that under the current system private security has as much freedom as government police. Why would they? If they had all the perqs that police do, they would be police and would act like police.

Quote
You had to reach back 25 years for a single solitary example, and had to admit that homeless people are shafted by the monopoly government "justice" system, and that the same homeless people have developed ways to locate competitors who will treat them better.

Well, their methods to find places they are tolerated are a bit hit-or-miss, and they can get badly hurt by missing, but yes. I could give other examples but the first one I saw was particularly vivid for me.

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That hardly counts as an unqualified success for the state apologia side of the debate. Frankly, you are making more arguments for the AnCap side than not.

Why wouldn't I? What we have is not very good. AnCap enthusiasts might quite likely develop something much better.

I don't see that our current rent-a-cops compared to police tells us much about what to expect in an AnCap society. It would be different.

What kind of legal system would it have? Would there develop a few businesses doing arbitration that everybody used? Hard to get an agreement to use your own arbitrator if he doesn't have a leading reputation. Would some arbitrating businesses develop a strong tendency to side with particular private police?

In any system, you're in trouble if violent people get you alone and afterward it's your word against theirs, unless their word is considered particularly bad.

Very hard to get a perfect justice system. If an AnCap justice system is something most people can live with most of the time, it could be a great big improvement over what we have now even if it has some big flaws.

Quote
Meanwhile, you can google up dozens or hundreds of instances of unwarranted police brutality; there are at least two current cases raging in Denver even as I type these words.

When I thought about it, a collection of ideas came together. Bear with me -- we get these cases publicised mostly when middle-class white americans get mistreated. There are thousands and thousands of cases where it's poor people or blacks and it isn't news then -- nobody really expects anything different. Except for a tiny handful of cases where it's somebody who's underprivileged getting hurt and they get clear documentary evidence that all gets dismissed, like Rodney King.

So it looks to me like what's going on here is that people are making a great big fuss because increasingly the police are deciding that they can treat middle-class white people like niggers. And the middle-class white people hate that.

And as we increasingly separate between an upper class that gets richer and a middle class that's sinking, it gets safer for the police to treat middle class people like niggers. We don't like it, but the poorer we get the less we can do about it.

And when I think of it that way, it occurs to me that there would be a very big difference between an AnCap society where most people were pretty well off, versus an AnCap society with a small upper class and a large lower class.

If you can't get work unless some rich person will hire you, and you're homeless unless a rich person will rent to you, you're pretty much living on their sufferance and you don't have a lot of rights. And if pretty much everybody is in that position.... If the rich people and their police all strongly believe in AnCap ideals that would make some sort of difference. An AnCap society that started out great could gradually slip into control by a rich minority, and pay lip-service to the ideals.

It makes sense to try for a good AnCap society, even though there's a chance things could turn bad after you make them good at first.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 07:10:18 am by J Thomas »

jamesd on August 21, 2010, 11:59:48 pm
If you can't get work unless some rich person will hire you, and you're homeless unless a rich person will rent to you, you're pretty much living on their sufferance and you don't have a lot of rights. And if pretty much everybody is in that position.
That is not an argument against anarcho capitalism, but an argument against capitalism and for socialism. 

So let us debate, not anarchism and government, but capitalism and socialism:

Observe what happens under socialism.  By and large, people starve and are homeless in proportion to the extent the government intervenes in the economy with the supposed objective of preventing starvation and homelessness.

In America, the government intervenes massively in the housing market, making it semi socialist, but this intervention varies from one city to another, giving us a natural laboratory:  Compare the homeless in San Francisco, with the homeless in Dallas.

Similarly, compare how many people starved in China when it had an "iron ricebowl", with the number that stave now that it does not.

Back in the days of communism, compare China with Taiwan, East Germany with West Germany.  Not only did communism need guards and barbed wire to keep people in, but within Europe, poor people move from the more social democratic parts of Europe to the less social democratic parts of Europe, leading to much outrage about "harmful tax competition".  Within the US, from the higher tax states to the lower tax states,

quadibloc on August 22, 2010, 06:28:49 am
And when I think of it that way, it occurs to me that there would be a very big difference between an AnCap society where most people were pretty well off, versus an AnCap society with a small upper class and a large lower class.

If you can't get work unless some rich person will hire you, and you're homeless unless a rich person will rent to you, you're pretty much living on their sufferance and you don't have a lot of rights. And if pretty much everybody is in that position.... If the rich people and their police all strongly believe in AnCap ideals that would make some sort of difference. An AnCap society that started out great could gradually slip into control by a rich minority, and pay lip-service to the ideals.
Basically, I think that if you have a society with a small upper class and a large lower class - presumably because of the bad actions of government - it won't directly become AnCap.

Presumably, such a society will be mostly oppressive government-assisted capitalism, but with a few concessions to socialism. The lower-class masses will not see any benefit in switching to AnCap, because what will be apparent is the immediate loss of the few socialist crumbs they're getting, and the possible improvement in their opportunities to better their position will be much less apparent, and thus less reliable.

Better a bird in the hand than two in the bush.

Instead, if there is a political change, it will be towards greater socialism. Or to a broadening of political representation: thus, the Second Reform Bill in England is an example of more freedom, not less, through mere political change. That England had a strong middle class, though, helped a great deal.

The great increase in freedom that came about between Europe and America was because of the expansion of physical resources that meant that those who settled in America, and their descendants for some time thereafter, weren't in the condition of a proletariat. They could always settle new lands on the frontier.

So in the South, they had the problem that they couldn't hire anyone to pick cotton at a wage low enough to remain competitive with India... hence, the expansion of slavery. The need to have slaves shows how well America had succeeded in making everyone else free.

Political forms don't increase the available resources - but some directly-related political decisions, like getting out of the way of lower-cost access to space, or getting out of the way of nuclear power, can help. Individual discoverers and inventors - like Norman Borlaug, noted here - can do so as well.

J Thomas on August 22, 2010, 07:09:08 am
If you can't get work unless some rich person will hire you, and you're homeless unless a rich person will rent to you, you're pretty much living on their sufferance and you don't have a lot of rights. And if pretty much everybody is in that position.
That is not an argument against anarcho capitalism, but an argument against capitalism and for socialism.

Well, no. I'm not arguing for anything with this. I'm saying that it looks to me like an undesirable situation, when there are a few rich people who own everything and a lot of poor people who don't.

I think it's undesirable. I have no idea how to avoid it when it happens. It would be nice if we had a robust workable way to make sure that people get appropriate rewards for their contributions, and still have enough for everybody that people who don't have much can still get their chance to make big contributions they can get rewarded for.

But having a government that owns most things and doles them out to people does not look like a good way to do that. If it's a few people who have government connections who decide everything, they might as well be a few rich people for all the good it does. It's no improvement.

I see a possible undesirable situation. There may be no way to avoid it, and it's worth looking for ways to avoid it. The AnCap ideas I've seen look incomplete because they don't seem to imagine any way to avoid this potential problem.  But I don't have a great suggestion how to do it, and I don't consider it a fatal flaw or anything -- you can't expect to solve every possible problem before you actually start doing anything. Better to start an AnCap society that might someday fall into this trap, than not start at all.

Quote
So let us debate, not anarchism and government, but capitalism and socialism:

Let's not. There have been a variety of capitalist societies, all of which have evolved into something with a degree of socialism. There have been a variety of socialist societies, many of which people could live with, and the ones that people have found acceptable have evolved to include a degree of capitalism.

Our inability (so far) to create a capitalist society that can maintain itself without adopting elements of socialism says to me that the ideal may be lacking something. People try it out and then vote with their votes for a degree of socialism. The socialist extreme also is lacking and people who can't find a better choice vote with their feet.

It does me no good to debate which extreme position is worse. So far, neither has been acceptable. And the combinations haven't been that great either. It's like our economies are badly-tuned engines that stutter and lurch, and we have lots of self-styled mechanics with no tools who argue about how to fix it. "This engine would run better without that muffler, throw it away!"

J Thomas on August 22, 2010, 07:45:46 am
And when I think of it that way, it occurs to me that there would be a very big difference between an AnCap society where most people were pretty well off, versus an AnCap society with a small upper class and a large lower class.

If you can't get work unless some rich person will hire you, and you're homeless unless a rich person will rent to you, you're pretty much living on their sufferance and you don't have a lot of rights.
Basically, I think that if you have a society with a small upper class and a large lower class - presumably because of the bad actions of government - it won't directly become AnCap.

I tend to think you're right. And if they do, it probably won't be the AnCap society I'd want to live in. However, Marx made predictions about which societies would turn communist, and he was wrong -- the big communist wins came in societies that were primarily agricultural and had lots of peasants. For a variety of reasons it was easier to organize against landlords than capitalists. You can't be sure ahead of time where a political philosophy will get its support.

But -- is there something about an AnCap society that would prevent it from turning into a rich minority and a poor majority? I haven't noticed anything to reduce the chance of that.

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Presumably, such a society will be mostly oppressive government-assisted capitalism, but with a few concessions to socialism. The lower-class masses will not see any benefit in switching to AnCap, because what will be apparent is the immediate loss of the few socialist crumbs they're getting, and the possible improvement in their opportunities to better their position will be much less apparent, and thus less reliable.

That makes sense. And it looks that way in the USA. A whole lot of people talk like they want less government, and they tend to elect politicians who talk that way. Then they re-elect politicians who bring lucrative government contracts to their districts while still talking up less government.

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The great increase in freedom that came about between Europe and America was because of the expansion of physical resources that meant that those who settled in America, and their descendants for some time thereafter, weren't in the condition of a proletariat. They could always settle new lands on the frontier.

Agreed. And guns were a tool-of-the-trade to frontiersmen, not a luxury.

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So in the South, they had the problem that they couldn't hire anyone to pick cotton at a wage low enough to remain competitive with India... hence, the expansion of slavery. The need to have slaves shows how well America had succeeded in making everyone else free.

Again, agreed! Of course, the south didn't absolutely need cotton. But it was the obvious way to get rich. Buy some slaves, grow cotton on some empty land that nobody's using, sell it and use the money for more slaves and also buy some on credit -- a few good years when prices are high and you're set. A few bad years when prices are low and you're bankrupt, but that's the risk you take.

As a side effect we got slaves, and slave revolts, and problems that have continued a good long time. What looked like a simple voluntary agreement between a plantation owner and a slave dealer, good for both of them, affects me 200 years later.

Quote
Political forms don't increase the available resources - but some directly-related political decisions, like getting out of the way of lower-cost access to space, or getting out of the way of nuclear power, can help.

And agreed! Although I definitely don't want a poorly-run nuclear reactor. Not in my back yard. I'm not putting up with that unless I'm convinced it's safe. The US government did a very bad job of regulating reactor safety. They buried it in paperwork and second-guessing, and as a result we got expensive obsolete unsafe reactors. I don't know how to make reactors safe. That method didn't work, and I sure don't want unsafe ones.

Brugle on August 22, 2010, 06:41:13 pm
I certainly wouldn't say that under the current system private security has as much freedom as government police. Why would they? If they had all the perqs that police do, they would be police and would act like police.
Exactly.  In a free society, nobody would have the perqs that police now have.

Would some arbitrating businesses develop a strong tendency to side with particular private police?
If it did, nobody would use it in any dispute involving that "particular private police", and probably very few people would use it at all.  Would you agree to arbitration with any agency that had less than a sterling reputation?  I wouldn't.

mistreated. There are thousands and thousands of cases where it's poor people or blacks and it isn't news then -- nobody really expects anything different.
Exactly.  With government police, that's expected.  Repeat: with government police, that's expected.  Even people who (like libertarians) are outraged accept it as normal.

So it looks to me like what's going on here is that people are making a great big fuss because increasingly the police are deciding that they can treat middle-class white people like niggers. And the middle-class white people hate that.
Libertarians have protested police brutality for a long time (at least during my lifetime), but the recent more widespread interest has several causes.  It may be that police are, as you suggest, mistreating many more people who used to consider themselves safe from police brutality.  But there is at least one more significant factor at work: cameras (including in phones) are much more common, and the videos of police brutality can be seen by millions of people in a short time.  And (for some reason that I don't really understand) video evidence seems to affect most people more powerfully than even the most extensive written evidence.  So, more and more people are realizing what government power is all about, up close and personal.

The third major reason I have to think that people are becoming more aware of government police brutality, is that such brutality is becoming a lot more common.  I don't have any hard evidence, but it stands to reason.  Government is becoming much more intrusive into all aspects of people's lives.  Government police are becoming more militarized.  (SWAT teams are routinely used to arrest non-violent offenders in violent middle-of-the-night surprise raids.)  Courts and legislators are rapidly eliminating legal recognition of civil liberties and other protections of "civilians".

I don't know why I start writing this.  Why does it matter why more people recognize government police brutality?  It's a good thing, for whatever reason.

it occurs to me that there would be a very big difference between an AnCap society where most people were pretty well off, versus an AnCap society with a small upper class and a large lower class.
There's no reason for that.  In an AnCap society, there won't be a government that politically powerful people (who are usually rich) control.

Of course, in a AnCap society, people could avoid being poor easily.  Governments wouldn't take a large fraction of what is produced.  Governments wouldn't put major obstacles in the way of earning wealth.  Also, being poor wouldn't be so bad, since most goods and services would be much cheaper.  (Some labor-intensive personal services, such as maid service, would probably be more expensive, but those services tend to be consumed by the rich.)

the rich people and their police
Government police work for the politically powerful (who are usually rich).  In an AnCap society, there wouldn't be any government police.  Anyone who tried acting like a government police officer would be considered a criminal by everyone.

wdg3rd on August 22, 2010, 07:42:04 pm

There are at least three well-known branches of Islam - the Sunni, Sufi, and Shia - and from this wikipedia page, it appears to be at least as complicated at the many branches of Christianity.


Terry, Sufi is much older than Islam.  Not related, just adjusted to survive in the same area.

As we also survive in nominally Christian countries.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

 

anything