Re: Justice and Punishment

Dan Fabulich (
Mon, 06 Apr 1998 03:22:54 -0400


Alejandro Dubrovsky wrote:
>On Fri, 3 Apr 1998, Dan Fabulich wrote:

>no, your first conclusion was right, they won't be in business for long.
>Which just means that they'll go PPAless, which just means they are easy
>pickings. They are worth very little by definition, since we are assuming
>an open free market and their incomes are almost nonexistant.

You think they're not easy pickings now? (Of course they're easy pickings
now, Dan, but right at least for now they generally have the support of the
government.) Oh, so you're trusting the powerful to be benevolent to the

Alternately, you think they wouldn't be easy pickings under anarcho-socialism?

>so??? it's still not declining with respect to the targeted people and
>that's the only relation that counts.

No, the other relation that counts is with another alternative PPA. See

>no, enslavement was not the purpose since their human capital is not
>worthe the trouble. so i would say that this affects your second last
>statement: you ARE trusting the powerful to be wise, etc.

Whenever someone, anyone, has a gun, there's no way to PREVENT them from
using it. The only thing you can do is assure them that if it is used,
retribution will be swift and deadly. This is all we can EVER do to
prevent the misuse of guns. Getting them out of the hands of the people
and putting them in the hands of the government only makes this worse, for
reasons of which you're already aware.

Bill Gates has a big gun. We can't stop him from using his big gun; we can
only point a big gun back at him and say "OK. You COULD fire your big gun
at us; but if you do, we'll fire our big gun back." Would you call this
"trusting the powerful to be wise?" I wouldn't. But if you would, then I
cede this point to you, and argue that in some cases, there's nothing else
you ever CAN do.

>i am not saying that he could not do it now, although i think he would
>have much more trouble in getting through it, personal ownership of attack
>helicopters is forbidden i think, so he would have to bribe people in the
>US, buy some kind of transport method, bribe every country he goes through
>with that transport, and then bribe the indian government, and i don't
>think that last one is going to be an easy bribe. i would say it would be
>a much more expensive exercise.

More expensive than taking the Indian government head-on?

>i would say the anarcho-capitalist system is the only one where they don't
>have any chance at all. in the current system those 10000000 have a much
>greater leverage on india's army than in the PPA based one.

If the Indian government is bribed, they would have exactly no leverage,
and no where to turn. If one PPA is bribed, people could go get leverage
from other PPAs.

>you didn't disprove anything, you just seem to assume a huge package is
>attached to the words "freedom" and "tyrannical" (which i never used in my
>description of the PPA's action, BTW). In this context, tyrannical just
>means they make you pay more than you want to pay, which, if you switch
>some other "more liberal" PPA which makes you pay more, it still fulfills
>this definition of "tyranical". so please, don't use words that have
>everyday meanings attached to them which do not fit in this scenario.

You're right, I misunderstood what you meant by tyrannical. I had presumed
that you had just meant that the tyrannized subjects couldn't leave;
clearly, you mean that the tyrannized subjects couldn't leave AND they were
being overtaxed. So allow me to adjust my argument.

My taxes to the state are greater than my payment to the PPA; if their
costs were equal, then the state would indeed be at an advantage. However,
you have to force me to pay my taxes, and I volunteer to give money to the
PPA. Forcing me to pay costs a certain amount of money. (I'll define this
cost, for the time being, as "the window of freedom." :) ) If the window
of freedom is greater than the difference between the state's taxes and the
price of the PPA, then I am worth more to the PPA than I am to the state.

Clearly, the PPA benefits by increasing the window of freedom, because it
allows the PPA to charge less and still remain competitive with the state.
How can the window of freedom be increased? Threatening war with the
state. War, too, has a cost to both the state and PPAs; by avoiding war,
they save its cost.

A powerful PPA could potentially cost the government a lot of money in war;
this creates a large window of freedom. However, if alternative PPAs are
weak relative to the state, the window of freedom will be smaller.
Nonetheless, the existence of a window of freedom provides PPAs with a
competitive advantage over the state, ceteris paribus.

To be fair, war is not free for a PPA either. How much war could we
reasonably expect a PPA to be willing to wage? The profit maximization
rule states that a PPA should be prepared to wage war up until the point
where spending more money on war would outweigh the revenue they would gain
by doing so. (ie that war's marginal revenue should equal its marginal cost.)

Let's bring this back to your original point. The state, we note, will be
charging the full price of its taxes while the PPA will only be earning
that amount minus some fraction of the window of freedom. Therefore, the
state's marginal revenue will be higher than the PPA's. However, the
difference between the state's marginal revenue and the PPA's marginal
revenue is only a fraction of the window of freedom, while the difference
in cost is the entire window. Thus, by setting their prices equal to the
amount currently charged in taxes minus (for example) half the window of
freedom, PPAs create an environment under which it is more profitable for
the state to relinquish its citizens than it would be for it to wage war
with the PPA.

And that is why it is profitable for a PPA to compete with a state.

(As a side note, anonymous digital cash and other forms of exchange over
the Internet make it expensive to force people to pay taxes for goods and
services, thus increasing the window of freedom. So does having a lot of
guns in decentralized places. So does anarchist propaganda. Keep up the
good work!)

>"There's no question" and "DEFINITELY". brilliantly supported argument.
>the first one is simply false, since i questioned it in the paragraph you
>were answering to, and "definitely" doesn't do much better. so, i have to
>ask, how do you know? and how are you so sure?

<sigh> The DEFINITELY and "no question" were emphasis. I'll back it up
with numbers.

How do I know that the military could be paid more than it is right now?
Well, let's see. Bill Gates makes more than $500K every month. No
military general does. (At least, not over the table.) I reason that they
could acquire this much, and more, using their weapons. Do you mean to
tell me that this increase in income would not be worth the effort of
taking over the country? Or is it simply that they refuse to do so because
they think it's immoral to do that sort of thing? And if the latter,
wouldn't you feel a little more comfortable if you had at least SOME kind
of backup system in case the current one decided to take what it could get
from the rest of the nation?

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