By Robert Wenzel
During a Donald Trump campaign event last week in Burlington, Vermont, a protester emerged from the massive crowd to heckle Trump, as the protester was being escorted out by security, Trump shouted orders to security, "Confiscate his coat." (SEE: Trump Demands Guards Confiscate Coat from Vermont Heckler).
On FOX News a criminal defense attorney, Remi Spencer, who was commenting on the incident, said that Trump was urging a crime of theft be committed, but would be such from a libertarian perspective? I would argue no.
In a libertarian society, the default rules of the owner of the property where an event took place would be supreme, in a contract the owner could grant overruling sub-authority to the event organizer with regard to some situations, which likely would include how to deal with attendees who violate an organizers rules--such as a "no heckling."
If this rule is violated, from my perspective, it is the victim (with authority), in this case Trump, who stipulates the penalty.
I have seen some libertarians suggest that the penalty in a libertarian society should be an eye for an eye, while others suggest it should be two eyes for an eye. But, these suggestions violate subjective value theory. An outsider can't possibly know what will satisfy a victim of a non-aggression principle violation. Only a victim can judge what he values as sufficient penalty in terms of compensation and deterrence for further NAP violations against him.
If Trump demands an individuals coat for a NAP violation, then that is fine. If Trump wanted to shoot the guy that would be fine. Neither would necessarily be a crime from my perspective of what a libertarian society would be like.
I hasten to add that I suspect what would occur in a libertarian society is that property owners would stipulate that they operate under an XYZ penalty code. That is, different penalty codes would develop and an owner could choose to recognize a certain set.
Few would dare enter a wild west area, where no penalty codes were stipulated in advance.
No one is going to go into a Macy's if the penalty for farting in one of their stores is death by beheading.
Thus, each owner would likely have his own penalty codes, either a generally recognized set of penalty codes, or his own independent code. There would be no fear of outrageous penalties under these situations because if people wanted to interact with others, they would have to have "reasonable" penalty codes, but they would still be in line with their won subjective values. Of course, in these situations, it would also be to the benefit of most property owners to post and otherwise let know what penalty codes they operate under.
There could still be wild west areas, but most would stay away from these areas, just like most women wearing short skirts and expensive jewelry would stay off the streets of San Francisco's Tenderloin or Cologne, Germany at 3:00 in the morning.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at EconomicPolicyJournal.com and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics