Justice and Punishment

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Fri, 3 Apr 1998 10:14:39 -0800 (PST)


"den Otter" <otter@globalxs.nl> On Fri, 3 Apr 1998 Wrote:

>Centralized systems are not inherently bad

Tell that to the impoverished people of the former USSR.

>A centralized system can be benevolent in its intentions, anarchy,
>like nature itself, doesn't give a crap about fairness or individual

I'm interested in results, I don't give a damn about intentions. I hope I
don't come across sounding too cynical but any system that must rely on
people loving each other is not going to work. The farmer grows my food, the
trucker moves my food and the grocer sells my food, none of these people love
me, yet the free market plunges them into a conspiracy to put food on my

>Anarchy is inherently unstable

The Internet is an anarchy, it seems to work.

>>In other words we want our judges to have a highly developed sense
>>of justice, well it's hard to disagree with that, but the question
>>is how do we obtain it.

>By selection on the desired criteria, continous training in the most
>difficult cases, continous surveillance

Continuos surveillance would be enough to stop most from going into that line
of work, it would certainly stop me.

>(to prevent corruption), excellent pay,

High pay won't stop corruption, regardless of how much money you have it's
never enough. In my world you don't need to tack on anti corruption measures,
it's intrinsic to the system. The better job a PPA does, the more it can
charge. If 10$ more is stolen from me if I stay with PPA #1 rather than
switch to PPA #2 then I will stay with #1 ONLY if they charge 10$ less.
Each dollar stolen from me is equivalent to a dollar stolen directly from the
PPA. For this reason it is in the financial interest of the heads of the PPA
to keep bribery of employees as low as possible. Contrast that to the
situation today, it doesn't cost the police a dime, regardless of how much is
stolen from me, and they may even make money off my misfortune by receiving
payoff money from the thief.

>Good surveillance brings out the saint in anyone

I'd rather be a sinner.

>and all judicial candidates are subject to intensive psychological
>profiling, not just one but continously.

1) Psychological profiling is crap.
2) Who profiles the psychological profiler?

>The free market is no magic bullet, not by far. Many a good product
>has failed for trivial and/or incomprehensible reasons.

The reasons they failed are often comprehensible and never trivial. For
example, consider the computer you're probably using right now, the one
you're unhappy with. It's true that if you were starting from scratch lots of
people could make a more consistent, more elegant, system than Wintel, but
Microsoft and Intel didn't have that luxury. Everything they made had to be
compatible with everything they made before, this imposes a severe burden,
but a burden the most popular operating system in the world MUST bear.
If the Many Worlds Interpretation is correct, I predict that on nearly all
those worlds people are complaining that the most popular operating system is
an ugly mess, a inelegant hodgepodge of kludges. Such is the fate of things
that are not designed all at once but evolve and grow, things like English
with it's weird spelling, or biological organisms for that matter.

It's in the nature of things that standards are resistant to change, but
that's OK because that is exactly the way a standards should be. The lack of
popularity of the Apple or Next or Bee or whatever operating system is not an
example of market failure because in the context of the real world they are
in fact inferior system. If everything else was equal they would be better
than Wintel but everything else is not equal. These systems have some small
technical advantages but that is countered by enormous practical
disadvantages, they will not operate on the type of computer most people have
and it will not run billions of dollars worth of popular software that took
millions of man years to write. It's perfectly valid to take such things into
account when deciding what system is really superior. When a standard is set
it's just not worth going to a new one unless you get an astronomical
improvement. The market has decided that the Apple or Next or Bee is not a
huge advance of that type. Maybe the market is wrong but I know it has a
better understanding of such things than a bunch of hack politicians.

>The free market is basically commercial democracy: you let the
>people vote for products.

No, there is a fundamental difference. Elections are dumb, an idiotic way of
communicating your wishes, there are much better ways. Every day I send
hundreds of exquisitely precise messages to the Free Market telling it what I
want it to do. I also get to compare brands, I can't do that In a democracy
because I'm not voting for goods or services or even policies, I just get to
choose between two grab bags of promises every 4 years, and democracy is the
best form of government, the best of a bad lot.

When I "vote" in the economy by making a purchase I am sure to get it, I
always win. When I vote for the grab bag I may or may not get it. At any rate,
the chances that my vote will influence things is so small that it's not
worth my time to study the issues very deeply, the result is that the
politician with the best hairdo gets to make the decisions.

>First of all, how do you want to achieve a state of anarchy? After
>all, the nation states aren't going to roll over and die just like

I don't need to achieve it, like it or not I see no way to stop it. I think
we'll soon find out if my optimistic assessment of a world without government
is correct, because I don't see how the traditional nation state can continue
much longer, they will go the way of the city state.

Nations will die not with a bang but with a whimper because modern worldwide
communication, cryptography and untraceable digital cash and signatures will
make it increasingly difficult to collect taxes, the balance is tipping away
from the tax collector and in favor of the tax evader.

Governments will undoubtedly draft many new laws to try to protect themselves
in this brave new world, but making rules is easy, enforcing them is not.
Short of dismantling the Internet and confiscating all home computers it's
impossible to dictate what form of encryption or digital cash you must use
in your home. Regardless of the rules, you can't collect the tax if you can't
find the money. Even the traditional standby of "tax by inflation" would
not work as people would just switch to a competing currency (untraceable of
course) that suited their needs better. The tribute that could still be
extracted, like property taxes and building permits, would have to be
increased to astronomic levels and collected with a heavy hand, I think a
tax revolt would follow. Without money government will grind to a halt.

>>When companies sign complicated contracts they sometimes also agree
>>on who will arbitrate it if differences in interpretation happen.
>>Nobody wants to get caught up in the slow, expensive court system
>>run by governments.

>Yet the only reason these contracts have any value is because there
>is a big government to keep an eye on things, to provide a civilized

Except in binding arbitration, when 2 companies go to an arbiter it's like
going to a marriage councilor, they are not legally required to do what the
arbiter says, yet companies almost always do. If it does not then nobody
would be willing to engage in arbitration with it in the future and that
would put the company in a severe disadvantage.

>Centralized governments don't *have* to be bureaucratic.

I think they do, certainly they always have been. If you're a bureaucrat it's
to your interest to increase the bureaucracy, the same is true of your boss.

>"Anarchy" in any form is unstable (it's simply a power vacuum),

Anarchy means no government, your statement would be true only if government
was the only form of power, fortunately it's not.

>As far as I know, no serious democracy has ever decided to kill of
>half (or any substantial portion) of its own people.

I have a hunch that tell you nothing about the virtuous nature of democracy
because the sample size is too small. Democracy is a very rare form of

>Since there's only your PPA to deal with instead of a huge government
>that's all over I might try to take you out either myself or I may
>hire as many destitute souls as my budged allows to do it for me.

I would not have dreamed of slandering you, or even set foot outside of my
house if I didn't think my PPA was strong enough to deter you or anybody else
from killing me. A member being murdered is bad business for a PPA, the
murderer remaining unpunished is VERY bad business for a PPA. If I though
that my PPA wasn't pulling out all the stops in its investigation of a
murdered member I'd change my PPA so fast it'd make your head spin.
Incidentally, my PPA forbids torture but not the death penalty.

>>I don't understand. Does everybody get 3 trials, even those found
>>guilty the first time?

>No. Unless new hard evidence comes up (before the execution in
>capital cases).

So I must go to trial 3 times and receive 3 innocent verdicts before I can go
home but if I receive only one guilty verdict I'm dead meat. Doesn't seem
quite right.

>>Which decision of the 3 trials do we accept?

>The one that is best argued and supported by the most/hardest facts.

That immediately brings to mind an obvious question, a question I have asked
of you before but received no answer, a question so obvious I won't repeat it.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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