Friday, February 5, 2016

The Government as Provider of Security Myth (NYC Edition)

Two cops were shot last night in the South Bronx.

This is the propaganda that New York City mayor Bill deBlasio put out at a press conference in front of the hospital where the 2 coppers were taken (via NYT):
It’s another example of what our officers confront every single day keeping us safe, not only in the streets of New York City, but in the stairwells and hallways of our public housing developments.

From the same NYT article on the true state of "security" provided by NYPD in that neighborhood. My bold:
 On Thursday night, after scores of police officers descended on the complex and cordoned off the area, residents...aid they had grown accustomed to the persistent violence in the neighborhood...

The shooting — coming after four other officers had been killed while on duty across the city in the past 14 months — also highlighted the risky conditions for officers at night in the 40th Precinct, a violent section of the South Bronx where large parties and dimly lit public housing courtyards and hallways can become havens for gunplay...

Symphony Alston, 18, a high school senior, who lives on the 14th floor of the building where the shooting happened, waited outside in the cold for more than an hour, as police kept the area cordoned off. She said she understood the police response, but also found it disquieting.

“When people from the ’hood get shot they never come this quickly,” she said, shaking her head. “This happens all the time. The only thing different is that it’s a cop. They don’t care as much about our lives, I guess. It’s disturbing.”

Parrish Parker, a construction worker who had lived in the complex for six years, had already moved away. “It got too wild there,” Mr. Parker, 52, said. “This is nothing new. People get killed around here for no apparent reason. It’s just going to happen again and again.”
Government security is a myth. You take care of yourself, move away from danger and that is about it. Anyone that thinks government or "governance" would stop what is going on at the Melrose Houses, and places like it, is denying reality.

Go ahead, governance people, go to the Melrose Houses and put "governance"  "community culture," whatever, in place, show me how that works.

 -RW

19 comments:

  1. "You are a man you always likes to have the last word" - Mel Brooks. I am reminded of that hilarious line when I read RW's jibe against "governance people" at the end.

    He just can't help himself! RW, it's ok to admit that you might be misperceiving an issue raised by others, that you hadn't quite accounted for before.

    The governance concept is not difficult. It's been explained in many comments. Bionic Mosquito writes extensively on it.

    I would say you yourself are a "governance" person. Your PPS requires that others subscribe to a belief in private property and original acquisition. That's an aspect of governance.

    And the communities they form will involve voluntary submittal dispute resolution systems, where people bind themselves to certain courts and arbitrators, and therefore can be subject to the coercive results of the decisions. That's also governance.

    In the story at hand, governance could be a developer buying the building complex, installing rules that protect his investment (i.e. the people and property), and kicking out owners that don't respect those rules. The people who stay adopt (or already have) the necessary attitudes to stay and respect the rules.

    That is governance.

    You made a great blog comment yesterday that most people are the ones that really protect their property, not government. Well, in the same way, most/many people hold very rigorously to their moral codes and sense of rightness, which is why most contracts are performed per their terms; it's not just the "hammer" of court enforcement.

    And deadbeats that don't are quickly identified as such, and people won't do business with them. I see this every day in my industry. That's governance.

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    1. So what is your point that yahoos are suddenly going to pay attention to "governance" or they are going to be outside of "governance" which is what an anrcho-capitalist society is about?

      Or are you a limited-government governance person despite the fact that government security is a myth?

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  2. RW: Government security is a myth.

    My complaint with Rothbardian no-state ancapism has never been about "government's got to provide domestic security." It shouldn't. It's a question of JUSTICE after the crime has been committed... not of crime prevention. And of civil dispute resolution as a LAST RESORT.

    And you can't judge the need for a state on the basis of FAILED existing or historical governments. Doing so is committing a basic logical fallacy as in... "if a man commits a murder ALL men are murderers." Oy vey!

    In a free society, the individual is responsible for their own DOMESTIC security. The state is necessary to provide national defense, a system of justice and civil dispute resolution. If that state is based on libertarian law, what's your beef? Can the libertarian state become corrupt and evil? Yeah of course, which is WHY it's essential to understand HOW to prevent that outcome.

    The reason the state is inevitable for libertarians is that it is the only way to ensure a universal, uniform dispensing of libertarian law, justice and dispute resolution. Universal self-ownership, NAP, private property... all that good stuff! A private law society (if such a thing is even possible) cannot ensure a libertarian outcome for everyone or maybe anyone.

    And the state is the best means of reliable defense against invasion from other states. There's no getting around this no matter how much academic hand-flapping Rothbardians do. Rothbardians pin their hopes of national defense on mercenaries. No thanks.

    All you're doing is shifting the goal post. And by engaging in non sequitur, you just come across as a Rothbardian dogmatist...

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    1. "Justice" is adult for "A state of affairs I find emotionally satisfying." The aim of the courts should be victim restitution and conflict mitigation. The pursuit of noble abstracts like "justice" leads to millions of people in prison because there is no non-arbitrary limit to what someone might do is pursuit of an abstraction such as "justice."

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    2. I don't understand. Justice by definition IS "victim restitution and conflict mitigation"... At least that's the meaning it has for me. And something only the state is able to provide... a proper and just state that is.

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    3. @ Spencer Fan

      "The reason the state is inevitable for libertarians is that it is the only way to ensure a universal, uniform dispensing of libertarian law, justice and dispute resolution. Universal self-ownership, NAP, private property... all that good stuff! "

      First, I think there's been several good/reasonable arguments that certain facets of "law"(outside the NAP) need not be uniform(culture!). The concept "natural law" after all has some cultural component and RW has suggested that "rights" themselves are designed(which I agree with).

      Since you brought up the issue of the NAP, the question of how a government would exist without a NAP violation remains. (taxation, etc.) So it seems a bit fallacious to suggest an organization that must exist first via NAP violation would then be charged with enforcing restitution/punishment for...NAP violations...

      "A private law society (if such a thing is even possible) cannot ensure a libertarian outcome for everyone or maybe anyone."

      This seems to be a statement with no proof/reason behind it-

      "And the state is the best means of reliable defense against invasion from other states. There's no getting around this no matter how much academic hand-flapping Rothbardians do."

      lol...I think this is a funny statement, maybe even true for the time being, but I would like to point out that as technology advances so does the individual man's ability to defend himself. Several people on their own have now constructed nuclear reactors and obviously have the skills to build nuclear weapons. As technology continues to advance, these type of events will only become more prevalent. There will be a day when a SWAT team can't enter the house of someone barricaded in because they will have the technology to blow themselves up and everything around them for 5 miles.

      Then your last point will be no more...(pick any future method of defense via technology, I just used one example)

      All that being said, I like many of your points from time to time even though I disagree with the ones I noted above...much like many of RW's points even though I might disagree with some from time to time.

      When taking a large step backward, the esoteric discussions surrounding how libertarian society(ies) might look all remain within the realm of the NAP with disagreements about what constitutions a NAP violation...but it seems most are on board with the NAP itself despite the disagreements over how the concept itself is applied- which is at least heartening.

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    4. I think history and the present state of affairs clearly contradicts your view that "the state....is the only way to ensure a universal, uniform dispensing of libertarian law, justice and dispute resolution. Universal self-ownership, NAP, private property... all that good stuff!"

      Furthermore, the state is a violation of libertarian law.

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    5. @Nick Badalamenti

      NB: First, I think there's been several good/reasonable arguments that certain facets of "law"(outside the NAP) need not be uniform(culture!).

      I make a distinction between public and private law. Public law is libertarian law with universal principles and private law is contracts. Contracts can be anything the signatories want it to be - which can be culturally based. Contracts though should be based in public law on libertarian principles and enforced by the state.

      NB: Since you brought up the issue of the NAP, the question of how a government would exist without a NAP violation remains.

      In the "voluntary state" based on "libertarian law" which embodies the NAP.

      NB: So it seems a bit fallacious to suggest an organization that must exist first via NAP violation would then be charged with enforcing restitution/punishment for...NAP violations...

      Voluntary state. Think "social club" writ-large.

      NB: This seems to be a statement with no proof/reason behind it-

      Stands to reason. If the NAP is a libertarian principle, it should be implemented universally, right? A private law society will enforce arbitrary ad hoc law that likely won't be libertarian. Why should anyone expect otherwise? The state is by definition a sociopolitical universal and the NAP is a universal libertarian principle... You do the math.

      NB: but I would like to point out that as technology advances so does the individual man's ability to defend himself.

      The individual will never be a match for the resources of the state. And the state isn't going to just disappear no matter how many times Rothbardians clench their fists, shut their eyes, and count to three... Why not re-invent the state on libertarian terms?

      NB: Then your last point will be no more...(pick any future method of defense via technology, I just used one example)

      Cue Rothbardianism theme song in the background... ;)

      "When you wish upon a star
      Makes no difference who you are
      Anything your heart desires
      Will come to you"

      @DesertBunny

      DB: I think history and the present state of affairs clearly contradicts your view...

      Before "democracy" there was no democracy. Before "republic" there was no republic. Before the voluntary libertarian state... you get the idea.

      DB: Furthermore, the state is a violation of libertarian law.

      Not if it's voluntary. But even if it's not, enforcing libertarian law against the unwilling is still more justified than what we have!! Or the PPS that won't result in a libertarian outcome.

      If the NAP means don't aggress against others and the libertarian state punishes someone for doing it without their consent, so what? The outcome's the same... a libertarian outcome.

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    6. "Stands to reason. If the NAP is a libertarian principle, it should be implemented universally, right?"

      I disagree, because there are subjective elements to the NAP. (see property rights debates for example)

      "A private law society will enforce arbitrary ad hoc law that likely won't be libertarian. Why should anyone expect otherwise? The state is by definition a sociopolitical universal and the NAP is a universal libertarian principle... You do the math."

      That's the problem, the NAP is clearly not universal due to subjectivity- that's why there's no "math" and culture is an issue(and hence the debates).

      Your argument mildly reminds me of some economists empirically claiming certainty on human action for central planning purposes.

      So coming back to your initial statement in response:

      "I make a distinction between public and private law. Public law is libertarian law with universal principles and private law is contracts."

      So obviously I take exception with this notion that there can be universally applied NAP with its corollaries.

      In fact, I think it's one of the reasons decentralization is talked about so much within libertarian discussions, as it allows for culture and said differences.(encouraging voluntary community, people of like minds per se)

      I won't address the issue of whether man will be able to defend himself on an individual basis more effectively in the future as there's no definitive "proof" either way as of yet(though I though my argument compelling-lol...obviously you didn't), and it really isn't as important as the issue of the NAP itself. (for now)

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    7. @ Spencer Fan

      One more thought on the whole issue:

      "Voluntary state. Think "social club" writ-large."

      I really have no problem with that concept as long as it didn't subject people to it's "rules" that didn't agree voluntarily at the outset.

      I personally think you should call it something other than the "state" because of the connotations, but running with the idea that what you propose would be comprised of all members with the capacity to reason(not children, etc.)voluntarily fell within the rules of this society you propose I see nothing wrong with the concept.

      But then again, I see nothing wrong with the concept of private courts either. :)

      "Writ-large" is also interesting terminology, as I recall Rothbard's statement "A gang of thieves writ large"...

      This conversation is yet another reason I might start referring to myself as a "voluntaryist".

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    8. @Nick Badalamenti

      NB: I really have no problem with that concept as long as it didn't subject people to it's "rules" that didn't agree voluntarily at the outset.

      That's the idea.

      NB: I personally think you should call it something other than the "state" because of the connotations

      It's a model of state that can exist in the community of states. The connotation is what the Rothbardian ancaps have conjured. But it doesn't have to anything like the historical state.

      NB: But then again, I see nothing wrong with the concept of private courts either. :)

      But how do private courts uniformly and universally judge on the basis of libertarian law? If they can impose their own law, it becomes arbitrary and then inevitably unjust.

      NB: "Writ-large" is also interesting terminology, as I recall Rothbard's statement "A gang of thieves writ large"...

      Suppose you have two companies in the no-state society; Private Dispute Adjudicators, Inc. (PDA) and Private Defense Services, Inc. (PDS). Perfectly consistent with Rothbardianism. Further, suppose PDA and PDS do an excellent job to the extent they achieve a monopoly on their services in a geographic region. Still consistent. Next, PDA and PDS see there is much duplication of their services so decide to merge and form a single company, Consolidated Dispute Adjudication and Defense Services, Inc. (CDADS). Still consistent. The owners then offer their customers the opportunity to buy them out. And their customers do... their customers then call the new enterprise Public Authority Services (PAS) and call the now equal share owners "citizens" and setup a structure of governance over the PAS. All voluntary and all consistent with Rothbardian ancapism yet forming a de facto voluntary state. Why not just start with the voluntary state? And really the only way to attain a libertarian society IMO. A libertarian "something" (ie society with definition) as opposed to the Rothbardian "nothing" (ie society with no definition).

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    9. @Nick Badalamenti

      I missed your first comment. Oops.

      NB: I disagree, because there are subjective elements to the NAP. (see property rights debates for example)

      There doesn't have to be properly understood. If the NAP is restricted to bodily harm, then it becomes a much more objectively doable basis for courts to render judgments. The current law for the most part does this... assault and battery, rape, murder, etc.

      There's a tendency among many libertarians to try to reduce all of libertarianism to the NAP and that I say can't be done.

      NB: That's the problem, the NAP is clearly not universal due to subjectivity- that's why there's no "math" and culture is an issue(and hence the debates).

      The NAP is almost entirely objective based on physical evidence. If man A sticks knife into man B, that's an objective violation of the NAP. If A shoots B in the face, objective violation. If A threatens B with a gun and B shoots A, that's objectively not a violation of the NAP. And so on.

      NB: In fact, I think it's one of the reasons decentralization is talked about so much within libertarian discussions, as it allows for culture and said differences.(encouraging voluntary community, people of like minds per se)

      Then you're saying it's better if society X interprets someone shooting you in the face as not a violation of the NAP or that in society Y shooting a child for stealing an apple is okay in the name of decentralization? I don't. The NAP for the most part is objectively understood. Even under current law with respect individual injury.

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    10. @Nick Badalamenti

      Correction: "The NAP for the most part [can be] objectively understood." I think most libertarians diverge from me. But the NAP can be pretty objective if defined as "explicitly doing bodily harm to a person with intent or by gross negligence." And violating it would be by definition a violation of libertarian law.

      But the matter of crime is ultimately... subjective. And that's true with any society and any law. To cause bodily harm requiring proof and a determination of intent or gross negligence is unavoidably judged subjectively as is the proper punishment. However as a matter of course, libertarian law can be developed with reasonable criteria regarding the NAP for a panel of neutral judges to apply in the courtroom...

      B accuses A of hitting him. Court logic:

      "Is there evidence A hit B?" "No." "Not guilty." or "Yes."
      "Did A intend to hit B?" "Yes." "Guilty." or "No."
      "Did A act with gross negligence?" "Yes." "Guilty." or "No."
      "Not guilty."

      Developing such legal schema is one of the tasks for libertarian thinkers who are serious about future freedom to take on. A project I'm working on. Attaining the "ideal" or "perfect" arrangement though is not an option and unattainable. "Good enough" will have to be, well... good enough.

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    11. "But how do private courts uniformly and universally judge on the basis of libertarian law? If they can impose their own law, it becomes arbitrary and then inevitably unjust."

      One assumes that a voluntary society is functioning culturally within the same understanding/application of the NAP-

      Under that scenario, any private court acting out of those bounds would surely go out of business over time for a variety of reasons(war is expensive, goodwill within the community diminished/less customers, etc.).

      The thing is though, I can't understand why you wouldn't see an opportunity for corruption in the monopoly court system you suggest. I don't understand why the "check" would be if there aren't competitors.

      Anyway, really...none of it matters to me in the big picture as long as you are pushing for a voluntary society, it can be shaped a myriad of ways; especially with decentralization via many voluntary communities, etc.

      "Correction: "The NAP for the most part [can be] objectively understood." I think most libertarians diverge from me. "

      "But the matter of crime is ultimately... subjective."

      Good to know you and I agree that there's subjective elements to the NAP.

      I prefer to simply stick with the words for it's meaning, "non aggression principle"-

      I find many people upset/disturbed by the notion that there's subjective elements to the NAP- I understand this frustration.

      It would be much easier if everyone could see all NAP cases/situations objectively the same, but alas that doesn't seem to be the human experience.

      The best answer I've seen to this issue is this notion of "culture", where there's some commonality in perception among members.

      The NAP is the a great concept, I'm still a 100% believer despite the challenges surrounding understanding it's applications at times.


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    12. @Nick Badalamenti [part 1]

      NB: One assumes that a voluntary society is functioning culturally within the same understanding/application of the NAP-

      I'm confused on the idea of "cultural governance" if that's an accurate term. Sharia law is cultural but not particularly libertarian or voluntary. I simply can't envision what you're describing. Are you talking about a commune with a few hundred maybe thousand people or a viable society with millions?

      There's 7+ billion people on the planet with extremely diverse cultures. You probably have people living on your street who are of different religions, ethnicities, moralities...

      I don't see how cultural governance produces a result any different than RW's PPS. Nor do I see such societies being "voluntary." Again, sharia law is culturally based...

      The inescapable reality is that the guy with the biggest stick ultimately wins out. You hope he's liberal-minded and not malevolent. For libertarians to live in a libertarian society, it requires a libertarian state. I think it can still be voluntary but a state nonetheless with the firepower to maintain itself until humans evolve into the Rothbardian Homo economicus.

      NB: Under that scenario, any private court acting out of those bounds would surely go out of business over time for a variety of reasons(war is expensive, goodwill within the community diminished/less customers, etc.).

      You presuppose so much with that statement. There can be no such thing as a court without laws it needs to make judgments. And those judgments have to be backed-up with force or they carry no weight. They become just "suggestions." And because courts and their enforcers exist on the premise of force, they don't just simply "go out of business"... they are conquered.

      "War is expensive" and yet they happen all the time, have throughout history and are ongoing. It's a basic fallacy that simply disappearing the state makes war go away. You have fallen into the Rothbardian mind-trap by thinking humans are Homo economicus and not the Homo sapiens we are. Humans even under the most controlled and optimal conditions are not rational actors. And when you mix in high-stakes wealth and power, how long is it before a political hierarchy emerges with the demons at the top?

      NB: The thing is though, I can't understand why you wouldn't see an opportunity for corruption in the monopoly court system you suggest.

      I do absolutely. It's difficult for me to explain here. All I can say is that there must be effective institutional counter-measures to corruption. Radically different than what we have (basically none at all). For instance, no elections. Use sortition (or lottery) to select judges. We can learn a lot from ancient Athens on how to protect against corruption in the political authority.

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    13. @Nick Badalamenti [part 2]

      NB: I don't understand why the "check" would be if there aren't competitors.

      We are talking about a political society (ie polity) here (courts, enforcers, military, etc.). Try to understand that competition between polities is called "war." There can be no peaceful competition between them. This is a fundamental mistake made by Rothbardians who are economists first and political theorists a distant last it seems.

      NB: Anyway, really...none of it matters to me in the big picture as long as you are pushing for a voluntary society,

      Yep.

      NB: Good to know you and I agree that there's subjective elements to the NAP.

      Of course. As there has to be with any matter we deal with that isn't an object in nature. Property, culture, religion, ethics... all subjective by definition. All unmeasurable.

      NB: I prefer to simply stick with the words for it's meaning, "non aggression principle"-

      But don't get me wrong. Recognizing subjectivity doesn't mean then 100% useless. We have to use logic to translate the NAP into useful rules for society. It's the NAP that we use to measure laws against. So there does need to be a common understanding of the NAP and a rational method of interpretation and application. So even though it's subjective, if we are to have a peaceful libertarian society we are required to put "meat on the bones" as it were. To that end, we need to come to a proper understanding of the NAP and then draft the laws that substantiate it. This is an intellectual exercise.

      NB: I find many people upset/disturbed by the notion that there's subjective elements to the NAP- I understand this frustration.

      Only because we fail to have a clear understanding of NAP. That's our fault as libertarians. If we restrict NAP to bodily harm only (which I do), it does become a much more simple proposition to enact into law.

      NB: It would be much easier if everyone could see all NAP cases/situations objectively the same, but alas that doesn't seem to be the human experience.

      We can. We're just not taking it seriously and misapply it.

      NB: The best answer I've seen to this issue is this notion of "culture", where there's some commonality in perception among members.

      I don't think that's a very good answer though. Culture is nebulous, diverse, inconstant, empassioned... not a good basis for a society to base laws on with more than a few hundred people if that. Works in families.

      NB: The NAP is the a great concept, I'm still a 100% believer despite the challenges surrounding understanding it's applications at times.

      Not that challenging properly understood. Again... murder, rape, assault, etc and credible threats of same all violate the NAP and laws have largely already been written.

      Theft, fraud, breach of contract, trespassing... not violations of the NAP and must be dealt with separately.

      Libertarians over-think everything. That's because it's more fun, less work, and less risky to fantasize than to realize. Philosophers (I include economists) never can be wrong and don't have to worry about what will actually work. I'm an engineer and operate in the real world. That means thinking about actuality not indulge in wishful dreaming.

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  3. Donxon, that isn't true at all. Maybe a ill defined or current definition of "justice " would result in that, but victim restitution is absolutely Justice.
    Kinsella has many talks/articles about Justice, I highly recommend them.

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  4. I am waiting for someone to define what they mean by "governance". Surely this word on it's own isn't evil. It does not advocate a government in of itself.

    I would like the Mosquito and RW to give a definition to the word, as they see it. Maybe this would clear a few things up? Maybe not as far as their argument between them is concerned,(and now Dr. Block?) but I think it would be a good thing for us readers to understand what each individual means by the term.

    What the heck do you guys mean when you use the word governance?


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  5. Not to mention since this is NYC we are talking about here, the government enforcers would also put you in jail if you decide to arm yourself in order to defend yourself

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