Government, Economy and Private Rights (was: RE: When it is OK to strike first.)

Karsten Bander (
Mon, 18 Jan 1999 16:52:59 +0100

A long time ago (I has my winter vacation and am now drowning in nearly 2000 mails), Mike Lorrey wrote:

> A mugger is no different than a government, they are both interested in
> redistributing my money. Both have social goals, one is just a bit more
> immediate and personal than the other.

A government has no "interest" in redistributing your money. A government is not some evil villain trying to rob you. It is an institution based on the common will of those assembled under it's power, intended to promote such social and political goals as "justice", "peace" and to balance the forces of the socalled "free market". A government is someone elected by you to provide you with certain services you select to vote for. This is why you have to pay taxes, cause the government won't be able to provide this for nothing.

In an ideal world such as defined by Adam Smith in "The Wealth of Nations", a free market would be a place where all people have approxiamtely the same power, and there do exist neither monopolies (discriminating or ordinary) nor competitors, which have an overwhelming market share in one special commodity. In this world the "invisible hand" would promote the best for all by everyone pursuing his own private goal, the market equilibrum will always be achieved. But because we do not live in an ideal world, believing in this means believing in fairy tales. Modern economics have proven that this is mere illusion, a theoretical state which cannot be achieved. It is a "perfect" state which cannot be acieved as you cannot achieve "perfect" conditions in a physics experiment because you cannot turn off friction or gravity. In the same way you cannot turn off predominant market positions like perhaps that of Microsoft. You can only achive the market equilibrum by having some superior force counter such destabilizing effects.

If you think that in an ideal state we'll somehow all become "ideal" humans means commiting the same faults as Marx when he thought of man as a social being before invention of "Capitalism", living in an Eden where everyone did as he pleased and "property" did not exist. Altough I hope that sometimes we'll be able to transcend our physical and psychical limits and become Transhumans, I doubt that even then we'll eliminate this problem. Maybe it will be the other way round: A market exists only if commodities are scarce. If they are available in any amount, they'd have no value, thus eliminating the need for a market or an economy. We can only eliminate greed if we get to the point where everyone has so much of everything he wants that these commodites do no longer function as symbols of power and wealth. Perhaps then, people will recognize that the only factor which truly shows the difference between men is intellect, not wealth. On the other hand ... history shows us that evolution was promoted mostly by external effects. Maybe we'll all become decadent and lethargic if we'll achieve the post-economical society?

> I agree that a police force, or its equivalent on a free market, is
> necessary.

Police force is necessarry, as you will never be able to distinguish between a bad guy and a goog guy carrying a gun. If you carry a gun and someone points one at you, he'll probably be a bad guy, but then again he won't wait till you've drawn your gun and shoot him. He'll probably blast your head of with a grin. So all that you said does not advocate any advantage of carrying guns, open or concealed. If instead, carrying of wepons is prohibited, anyone carrying one is a bad guy, and the police could arrst him without having to wait till he actually uses it.

There can be no equivalent for this on the market. Security should not be considered a commodity. It should be available to everyone regardless of his or her income, socail standing or other differences. Thus it is no commodity. Instead of spending billions of dollars for corporate and private security services, it would perhaps be more effective to use this money for the improvement of police service. If the police force is not effective because of lack of personnel, infrastructure or equipment, then this deficit can be compensated by using additional credit for improving the police force. This leads to better overall security, benefitting not only those capable of "buying" it but everyone.

Security is one of the basic ideas behind the idea of a democratic state. Libertarian might include a lot, but if you don't want the state to take money from you to finance it's organization, you don't want public police, well, then you'll probably won't want a state, preferring Anarchy instead?

Still, I cannot understand why U.S. citizens still need to carry guns. Is it this cowboy feeling?

>> Carrying a weapon is an implied threat. If not, how else could you see a >> mugger/carjacker ... as a threat when they havn't touched you yet? I don't
>> see much difference in the threat of using force and actually using it. Se
>> my example above of the gun carrying mugger.

> There is a significant difference. If we look at the national scene, what
do you
> consider a worse act: a) allowing an agressor to wipe out its enemies
> nuclear weapons, or b) maintaining a nuclear arsenal with a policy of
> Assured Destruction. Similarly, an implied threat signified by my
> firearm is significantly different than someone actually pointing one at
you and
> demanding your wallet. If it happened to you, you'd lose your wallet, and
> possibly your life, while I at least have the chance to put my hand in my
> and shoot the assailant through the fabric of my jacket. If I carry my
> openly, then criminals not only know that I have the gun and can avoid me
> (giving me near 100% protection from crime), unless they are really
stupid, but
> the criminals will prefer to go after those not obviously armed. The only
> problem is a) how good guys can tell other good guys from bad guys, and
b) how
> unarmed individuals can do the same when confronted by the same. Now, I
> say that an unarmed individual faced with an armed individual in any sort
> transaction, even just buying apples, for instance, may feel like they
> compromise due to a feeling of implied force, however it is all a matter
> trust in both directions.

A concealed firearm is not an implied threat because no one knows you have it. If criminals know you carry a weapon, they'll see to it that you won't use it. You don't draw a gun if someone points one at your nose. This gives you a near-nil protection from anyone. If someone wants to pickpocket you, you won't draw a gun and kill him right away.On the other hand, if you live in Texas, maybe you will, but I consider this excessive force. In Germany, you'd be in jail for this very quickly. So, the least problems arise when no one carries a gun, as you stated in the last few sentences. It is always a matter of trust. I am not impressed by anyone pointing a gun at my head if I do not trust him to be willing to pull the trigger. If he's a wimp, he won't. If the victim is a wimp, the victim would not use a gun if he had one, even in self-defense. This happens quite often, as some nerds do actually think they would only have to show the gun to have all people act frightened. Some of them would not shoot, hoping that the weapon alone intimidates their opponents. So, if you go ahead and carry a gun, be prepared for others carrying a gun. And the bad boys will use their guns. So you'd better let your gun at home if you do not intend to kill if threatened.
By the way, do guns protect from being shot in the back?

> I will not travel into an area I don't trust without a weapon somewhere
on my
> person. I generally don't go armed in my local environment due to the
high trust
> factor I have from living there. In my view, anyone who does not do
> deserves whatever capital punishment they get for their stupidity.

It is even more simple. I will not travel into an area which is not secure. If some area is not secure, I will ask my government to resolve this problem, normally, by calling for police force. Going into insecure areas means danger, possible loss of property, health or life.

> [on Thermonuclear Boms]
> Don't you get it? It will never be 'over' so long as anyone thinks that
it is a
> useful technology to force peaceful people into doing something they
don't want.
> The fact that we are not all radioactive cinders yet after 50 years is
> enough that it works sufficiently well for our purposes.

This is okay for the past case of two rational enemies. But what if some lunatic like Hussein or Gaddafi gets his hands on Nukes and the capability to throw them anywhere on this planet (read: ICBM)? It will never be over as long as it is just an unspecific implied threat. The greater problem with nukes is that no rational man will ever use it, cause it's effects backlash very soon. In the hands of terrorists or fanatics, they become real dangers, as well as any other holocaustic weapon. What if I were a terrorist seeking to blackmail the US government? I would purchase 10g of pure Plutonium. Less than enough to build a bomb. But why should I? Pouring 1g of it into the water of any large US city would cause mass death of thousands of people. What effect would the US nuclear, chemical and biological strike force have ... nil. So why should anyone need any of these weapons.
The real cause the Cold War never became hot was the insight of both parties that a war would not have any winners. A modern war cannot be won because no city can be conquered. You'd have to destroy it completely to really conquer it, and then, well, you won't have any use for it. The second cause is: The NATO would never have attacked. Why should they? Their people would never have approved such a war. The Warsaw Pact needed the threat from the NATO to uphold it's dictatorships. Without an enemy, they'd have no one left to blame for their own faults.

> Depends on the losses. Here we deal with abstract concepts like commiting
> lesser evil: sitting by an watching millions die, or initiating a
> strike and only thousands of the other guys people die.

With such matters you'll always walk thin ice. I read of aconcept not so far away: If a ship is sinking, and you're on the only boat that survives, and you'll have one hunderd hands stretching out to be rescued with only the ability to save ten, would you allow them to drown your boat by tearing them onboard or would you rather chop of their hands with an axe? This draws off into a discussion about ethics, which, in return, is nothing rational. Like Sun Tzu said: The best way to win a conflict is to avoid it. If the enemy is rational, he will back down faced with overwhelming odds. If he's not rational, he would not even back down if attacked. He'd see to it that your losses are as big as possible, even if he kills his own population. Luckily we will soon have means to avert such wars by "non-lethal weapons", which destroy the (military) infrastructure without harming the population. EMP to destroy enemy communications, bombing to destroy factories, bridges, streets, railways, ports and airfields. You can't conduct war without this. The Second World War was won because of this. Terror bombing of civilans only increased the hatred and thus prolonged the war.

> Its all a matter of semantics. Try this:
Indeed, it is ... so, try THIS:

"I oppose the initiation of force for the promotion of social, _personal_ or political

Well, the use of force should be avoided whenever possible. To my oppinion the carrying of weapons always implies a threat to others. I cannot see the advantage of carrying a gun "only in self defense", because a weapon always works the both ways. If you have the possibility to use force, you'll be willing to use it whenever you might feel threatened. This might be objective, but it is very probable that you'll judge on a very subjective basis, your own perception. If humans where truly rational beings, I would judge this different, but in most cases weapons are used senseless and irrational. Not to mention all those killed by accidents in wepaons usage. Some kids would not have shot othersart school if they had no weapons. The problem with any technological advance is that some creative weirdo will always see to it that it is used in the worst way possible. this is not an argument against technology. It is simply the truth. Man is his own greatest enemy. In this, evolution has separated us from the animals.

"Judge a man by what he does , not by what he says."