Friday, December 26, 2008

Children in market anarchy or anarcho-capitalism

I read David Friedman's The Machinery of Freedom last week, and found it very interesting. He discusses politics, law, and order in terms of economics. Most people project values and analysis onto a political system, but Friedman advocates that even laws be bought and sold on a market. I hadn't really ever considered structural political analysis before, so I'm still new to this, but I'm intrigued.

The ideas are certainly potent, but the theory seems a bit rough around the edges. One thing that troubled me was the problem of assuming responsibility for children in the face of abuse or other crime from their own parents, or for that matter, protecting any people who are not capable of acting for themselves, such as the disabled. This problem was what motivated me to inspect The Machinery of Freedom in the first place, and I first read the chapter on youth, which I found to be woefully inadequate. I later came up with what I think is a pretty sound solution, in part from the economic reasoning laid out elsewhere in the book.

Here's the problem. In a state of market anarchy, personal protection is provided by profit-seeking private companies, contracted by individuals voluntarily to protect them, but children can't contract a defense agency for themselves to protect from abuse or other harms from their parents.

One thread on the Internet didn't really provide a solution, but that's probably because idiots tend to pontificate online, except for yours truly of course. From that thread, Murray Rothbard sounds like a sociopath. Apparently he assumes that children would be the property of their parents, and so slavery, abuse, and murder of children by their parents would be legal and children would have no recourse for such harms. I haven't read Rothbard yet, so I can't assess his actual premises or conclusions, but this sounds like a mischaracterization from an opponent of Rothbard. I'm intrigued that this hasn't been addresses adequately, or that I haven't found anything adequate. Like I mentioned before, I came up with a solution. I'm optimistic that I'm adding to the theory of market anarchy.

The chapter in The Machinery of Freedom about the rights of youth is, as I mentioned before, woefully inadequate. Friedman doesn't actually address how the rights of youth could be protected, but instead just assumes that if a particular situation were dire enough for a child, they would run away permanently and would realize self-ownership. This isn't convincing to me, because I think any legal system should provide recourse against any and all violations of rights. I'm also theorizing on the assumption that any child should have their rights protected fully, since they are, of course, humans. If you disagree with that, you're probably a sociopath.

Some libertarians like to promote social ostracism as a panacea. This is good for lots of things, but where rights are actually violated, I find this patently absurd. Walter Block's solution is also unsatisfying to me.

In the current system of government, nothing can be done about abuse or murder that isn't known about, and it would be the same in market anarchy, so I'm not offering an improvement to the current system in this regard, although I don't think anyone actually objects to market anarchy on these grounds.

So what's my answer? Under a state, individuals with state power assume responsibility to administer justice for abused or murdered children, and it would be similar in anarchy, with individuals seeking justice with both the privatized legal system and orphanages. Here is where I draw on Friedman's economic reasoning for allocations of laws on the market. I believe that the court systems would evolve such that people would contract their protection agencies and their courts to enforce laws protecting children from their own parents. Child abuse may or may not be rare, but I'm sure that it's rare enough that either consumers or protection firms would absorb the tiny additional cost necessary to enforce such laws. Government politicians and the police aren't morally different from the people who would live in market anarchy. The impossible, left-wing theories of anarchy assume that human nature is different, and I think such left-wing anarchy would be dystopian. Anyway, in market anarchy, the same vast majority of society that finds crimes against children unacceptable wouldn't be any different, and that majority would still act to deliver justice, only without a state. Firms and courts that sought to protect abusers or murderers of children could not exist because the cost structure of a firm would prohibit it. It would not be possible to organize and unify enough sociopaths to contract with any particular protection firm or court that would find such crime acceptable.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Defense of artificial child pornography

A conviction was upheld for a man possessing materials of cartoon child pornography.

Defense of artificial child pornography may epitomize the libertarian framework. Many are deeply offended at such a position, because they see the production and consumption of such materials as deeply offensive and always immoral.

The libertarian position though, easily enough, recognizes that there is no actual victim in the production or consumption of artificial child pornography. No child is harmed in any way from these materials. Still, lots of people have an instant and visceral revulsion to allowing such materials, even though they cannot articulate that anyone is actually harmed.

Opponents may argue that allowing such materials promotes the production and consumption of actual child pornography, or paves a path to actual sexual predation, but we have laws that exist precisely prohibiting those activities, because there are actual victims associated with those crimes. So, here we have two conflicting camps of jurisprudence as the foundation for the larger disagreement. There are those who believe in a collective responsibility and advocate that government take preemptive action to prevent crime, as against those who believe in individual responsibility, where only people who actually commit crimes against others are held accountable for their actions.

The real, actual crime is the action that harms another person. If preemptive action is accepted as a legitimate tool to protect people, what totalitarian measure could not be justified?

Of course, the possession of artificial child pornography may serve as legitimate probable cause to search for real child pornography. It's plausible that there's a link between artificial child pornography and real child pornography or sexual predation, but Whorley is not being convicted of any such crime. He is being imprisoned for an activity that involved no victim.

I don't think that I need to clarify that any previous conviction should be irrelevant.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Facebook fighting spam with phone numbers?

I went to post on a buddy's wall, and saw this.

Are they seriously trying to protect against spam? I've been on Facebook for years now. Why is this happening to my account, now? If you don't want this to happen of course, you can give Facebook your phone number.

I'm not really sure how this would protect against a spammer, since spammers make a profession out of spamming, and they could easily gain access to a disposable phone.

This seems more like a scheme to gather phone numbers to sell to telemarketers. I don't put much trust in Facebook, since their record on privacy, regarding sharing information with other companies, is pretty abysmal. Selling your information is the only explanation I can think of for why they would do this, because I can't imagine that they actually care about fighting spam preemptively. I am guessing that their system already in place, the one that relies on people flagging messages as spam would be pretty effective, no?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Panel Discussion on Drug Policy

Students for Individual Liberty is cosponsoring a panel discussion tomorrow night.

What's Wrong with the War on Drugs?
Tuesday, December 2nd at 7pm
Cabell 122

"The War on Drugs" was initiated in 1971 with the goal of eliminating the use of illegal drugs in America. Thirty-seven years and over 70 billion dollars per year later, more than one third of Americans over the age of 12 have tried an illegal drug. More disturbingly, our nation's jails are now overflowing with non-violent drug offenders, racial discrimination in the application of drug laws is rampant, chronically ill persons cannot access valuable medicines, and American citizens' basic constitutional rights have been systematically violated—all in the name of fighting the "War on Drugs." Speakers at this event will discuss these significant civil liberties issues, and explain how our policy can change such that those who are addicted to drugs can get the help they need while our rights remain secure.

Speakers include:
• Prof. Richard Bonnie, Esq: Harrison Professor of Mental Health at the Law School, former Secretary of the first National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse

• Mary Lynn Mathre, RN: Co-Founder and President of Patients Out of Time, a medical marijuana patients' rights advocacy group

• Robert Johnson: Executive Director of Region Ten, a branch of Charlottesville's local government which provides services to drugabusers

• David A. Downes Esq.: Virginia- based criminal defense lawyer and member of NORML's Legal Committee


Sponsored by ACLU at UVA, The American Constitution Society, Students for Individual Liberty, and the Virginia Organizing Project

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