Jim at Objectionable Content has some comments regarding my piece on the price of civil order. He calculates it per-household and per-adult. He also calculates per-household defense spending as $253/month.

I did not calculate defense spending in the original, even though I thought about doing so, for a good reason. Most of what the justice system produces is private goods. If you don't subscribe to a company A, it doesn't protect you. Most of what we think of as "defense" spending is a public good. Public goods are underproduced, or not produced by for-profit producers. Defense being a very broad-scale public good, in anarchy I expect it will not be produced on the market. Since defense is valuable, it will be produced in other ways - primarily, I think, charity. But the total spent would almost certainly be far less than the USA currently spends. And the cost is likely to be spread much less evenly than that for protection (which everyone needs all the time).

Economics lesson for those confused by "public good" and "private good": a private good is a good which you can exclude others from (and because you can exclude, you can make money!). Most normal goods are like this. If I eat the apple, you can't also eat it. A public good is a good that, once produced, benefits a set of people who cannot be excluded from enjoying it. Think of a NPR radio broadcast: regardless of whether you cough up money at the begathon, you can still listen. Economic theory tells us that private goods will be produced in the correct amount in a market, but that public goods will be underproduced.
I just read Brink Lindsey's blog, as I occasionally do, because he is a libertarian. In this case I was looking to see what he thought about the pledge thing.

I found this, which is wonderful and short enough to quote in its entirety:
Yesterday evening I did a live segment on CNBC on agricultural trade issues. When I got home, my 5 year-old boy was waiting at the door, grinning expectantly and asking: "Did you see me? Did you see me?"

I asked him what he meant, since I had no idea what he was talking about. "I saw you on TV," he explained. "Could you see me?"

I remember, when I was around his age, thinking that if I smashed open the TV all my favorite cartoon people would scamper out into my living room. I never had the guts to try.
Against the Pledge: I crowed over the Pledge decision, earlier. Why?

I always disliked the pledge. Not just because of the God reference, though that was offensive. But because it didn't make any sense and felt creepy to boot. Of course at the age where I was reciting it I was not as critical as I am now. But now I think I can analyze it adequately enough to explain my earlier feelings.

It did not make any sense for me to be standing there showing respect for a piece of cloth. It's a piece of cloth. What does it mean to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth?

Plainly seen, the use of the flag in the pledge of allegiance is idolatry: the worship of a physical object. (One wonders why so few conservative Christians and Jews abjure it for this reason; they are commanded against idolatry many times.) Forget about "under God". The entire ritual is religious, and should not be performed in government schools.

Well, what if we removed the flag and god references and the use of the flag too? I pledge allegiance to the United States of America, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Nope, still wrong. What is allegiance? It is "the fidelity owed by a subject or citizen to a sovereign or government". I'm an American, not a serf. The government exists to serve me; not vice-versa. I owe it no fidelity; if it ceases to serve me I should (and do) call for its abolition. To pledge allegiance even in this attenuated form, is to declare oneself a vassal, to declare oneself owned. I am, or at least should be, a free man. And I want all other Americans to be free, too. I don't want them declaring servility.

And I especially don't want children being brainwashed with servility memes that they are not sophisticated enough to really understand.

OK, that's my blast of negativity. It's easy to be a critic. So what would make me happy? Well, I am happy to declare allegiance to principles. The pledge should state principles that are common to all Americans. Here's a pledge I would recite happily enough: I pledge allegiance to the principles of the United States of America: limited government, private property, life, liberty and justice for all.

Do I want that performed in the government schools? No, it's still too much like brainwashing for my taste. Of course, I don't think there should be any government schools for exactly that reason.
Imagine that as part of the settlement with Microsoft, some of the terms were that Microsoft would get out of the spreadsheet business. But imagine, further, that Microsoft had appealed the decision, and reliable observers thought there was a good chance that the ruling would be reversed in the Supreme Court.

Question: would you start a business to make and sell spreadsheet software?

Answer: no chance. You would be a fool to go up against a 50-50 chance of outright bankruptcy completely out of your own control. No responsible bank would lend you money for such an endeavor. They would tell you: why not wait for a few years to see how it goes in the courts, and then, if the ruling goes against Microsoft, come back and we'll deal?

The preceding is completely hypothetical. I thought it up to help think about the effect of the recent Supreme Court decision on school choice. It's no wonder that 95% or so of the kids choose religious schools - there are many more of them already in the inexpensive education market than there are cheap secular private schools. With the decision, though, I expect more private schools to enter the low-end market. Not because they couldn't make a profit there before, but because they stood to have their entire market killed at the stroke of a pen.
What a great week for liberty in the courts! High court upholds school vouchers!
Her religion requires her not to expose her face to strangers. Florida requires full-face shots for drivers licences. But it also guarantees religious freedom. Lifting Veil for Photo ID Goes Too Far.

Like the pledge in schools, this is yet another instance of the struggle set off by public property. In the case of the pledge, the state owns the schools and by predatory pricing makes it very difficult to compete. People who are not rich can't opt out, and thus they try to have their ideas of what should be taught in school implemented. There can be only one policy, but there are many contradictory ideas, so it is a fight. If the pro-pledge people win, the anti-pledge people lose, and vice versa. Both sides cannot have the imprimateur of the state upon their preferred outcome, because the state is singular.

Similarly, the state runs a monopoly road system, using predatory pricing (and coercive funding) to prevent anyone from competing. So access to the government roads becomes something everyone must have. And so competing interests must fight to set policy.

These two cases are both small things. Principle is involved, so they are well worth fighting over. But the actual effect of the decisions, whichever way they go, is small to nonexistent. Some people seem to think this is a reason not to fight. I disagree totally. If you won't fight for principle, what will you fight for? If you shouldn't fight for principle, what should you fight for?

But there are many cases where the stakes are not as small. For instance, can they teach evolution in the public schools? Or even larger: can they teach science? The problems are an inevitable result of public property. The solution is private property. Once you see that for the schools (where it is obvious to anyone who understands economics), then you are set to start questioning where else the same solution can be applied.

I apply it everywhere.
Yes! Pledge of Allegiance Declared Unconstitutional.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that requiring teachers to say "under God" endorses religion.
Virginia Postrel on economics: always worth a read.
What Does Protection Cost? I have been talking about "Protection Agencies" that compete in a market for the business of consumers. One question worth considering is: how much does protection cost? If it is a lot of money, then perhaps the poor will not be able to afford it. That may or may not be a problem, per se, but certainly it raises issues of justice.

Well, check out the Statistical Abstract of the United States. In table 424, we find that the total spent by states and localities on "Police protection" in 1998 was $187 per capita. On "Corrections", per capita spending was $157. I infer that costs of running the court system are included in that, since there is nothing else it fits under, other than possibly "Financial administration", $96 per capita. But let's assume courts are under administration. Total: $460 per capita - per year.

The Federal court and prison systems are much smaller than the states, something like 10% or less. So we can ignore them for this.

Keep in mind that a good bit of both the law enforcement costs and the corrections costs are the costs of apprehending and imprisoning victimless "criminals". This is perhaps half of the total. Then we should also decrease the amount one might pay in anarchy based on the near-certain fact that the current system is bloated and inefficient. That will also be perhaps half. So the costs of protection in an anarchic system should be something on the order of $115/year, about $10/month. Anyone can afford that.

Now, I think that anarchy will do even better than that. I have written before about the function of our current prison system as rapist factories. More generally, our current prisons are fantastic places to learn to be a criminal and not very good for anything else. So, reducing their throughput drastically would cut crime disproportionately. Another advantage of anarchy is that prisoners will work to earn their keep and to pay restitution to their victims. This would be a huge gain in financial efficiency, since currently incarceration costs an average of $20000/prisoner/year. Finally, I suspect that given a highly competitive market, protection agencies will not just "cut out fat" and get leaner, but they will invent whole new ways to police that we won't try today. As I said yesterday, liberty is like that - unpredictable. So the price may well come down even further. I can certainly imagine "free" policing that really poor people provide by themselves, for themselves, as a sort of militia system.

In short, currently the State spends surprisingly little on protection, especially given how much they steal in taxes. In anarchy, total spending will be less. It's affordable.
I have suggested thus far a few ways to think at anarchy, and I hope to post another when I have the time. But I wanted to stop off a second to make something clear. I can certainly kick out some ideas of what I think anarchy will be like. My ideas might be accurate. But then, they might not. One of the striking aspects of freedom is that you don't know what people will do with it without actually giving it to them, letting them mess around, and seeing what comes out.

Consider, for a second, the following thought experiment. Say I had come to you, 20 years ago, and told you that the U.S. government was considering privatizing the U.S. postal service. Next I would have asked for your prediction: what will the business of carrying mail be like in 20 years? If you had been up on things at the time, you would have predicted UPS would be big, and FedEx too. You probably would have predicted many other package services would have entered the market. But would you have predicted email would dominate the market? Probably not.

Similarly, when I propose ideas for what I think anarchy will be like, it's just that: ideas. The system itself has a logic that may or may not match what I think; and what will happen is what will happen. That's freedom. With most political ideologies, people do things the other way around. They posit the outcomes they want, then they try to construct a political system such that it will force those outcomes to obtain, or at least make them likely (in the opinion of the ideologue). That's what I meant a couple days ago, when I said that "Libertarians try to take a moral framework and construct politics out of it." You take an idea, say, the idea that people should be able to carry around guns. Then you try to create a system such that it must hold true, i.e. a court system chartered with a bill of rights that has the right to keep and bear arms in it. This sort of construction often runs into problems: what's a "arm"? Do machineguns count? Artillery? Shoulder launched anti air missiles? Thermonuclear ICBMs? What does "keep" mean? What does "bear" mean? Etc. etc.

Now, I am a libertarian from the point of view of most people. I support the libertarian (and Libertarian) agenda pretty much without caveat. I also happen to think that anarchy will have a very libertarian politics supervening over it. But, I could be wrong about that. If push comes to shove (and it will, at least in tiny ways), I will take anarchy. As, for example, the RKBA example: a rights absolutist will have to admit that a thermonuclear weapon is not really different from an assault rifle, from the point of view of being "arms". Both are useful for the militia to deter the state. Now most people, even libertarians, would be uncomfortable with the idea of just anyone with a nuclear device. That's an ideological problem. To an anarchist, it's not, because "rights" as such, while convenient ways to think of what the system will produce, are not reified in the system. The protection companies (if that's what evolves) can easily decide to allow their clients to have guns, but not nukes. They are businesses and they don't have to be ideological.

How can a person espouse a system without knowing exactly what it will produce? Well, it's easy to me. I see that most people are generally good, at least publicly, and will fight at least a bit for justice. Give them freedom, and I think it is enough; over time they will create a system, whatever it may be, that will work pretty well. If they keep the simple axioms of liberty in mind, it will be a great system. If they don't, it will have problems, but it will still probably be OK. In this, I point to the current systems that have evolved around us. Sure, they are statist and ultimately unacceptable. They violate rights all over the place, are inconsistent and even dangerous occasionally. Nonetheless, they more-or-less work most of the time. That's not too bad for systems designed and/or evolved without a modern understanding of economics and human evolution. Knowing so much more, we can do even better. And we will.
A teacher explains why she's quitting the New York public school system.

How does one keep order without a threat to punish or exclude? You don't. But if the rationale for educating children is equality, how can you exclude them? You don't. So you end up with a system that allows children to threaten teachers. And the teachers, of course, can't be paid enough to take such jobs. The article strongly implies that the only way New York keeps the positions filled is by the ignorance of incoming teachers, who teach a year or two then leave. No wonder we pay so much for public school teachers, and still get so little.

The answer is not raising pay. The answer is effective discipline, which means either real punishment, or real exclusion of kids that won't toe the line. Neither of these things is likely, or perhaps even possible coming from the state. That's a reason that education should be completely private.
Some interesting thoughts of Eric Olsen on "work" vs "play". Is blogging work? Sometimes. Cranking out a screed on anarchism is a certain amount of work. Even crafting this little snippet is a little teeny work, though it is much more play than anything else.

I don't thinking blogging per se is ever gonna make money, but that's fine. Some bloggers will make money, writing longer pieces or selling reprint rights to for-profit publications. For these few bloggers, writing will be work. But meanwhile, most bloggers will never make any money nor even fame outside of a small circle, like kids who play hoops down at the local rec center once a week. For these folks blogging had better be play - or else, they will just stop doing it.
Hey! Something looks odd. Someone bought my ad! Thank you very much, anonymous benefactor! Thank you thank you thank you!
First Principles: Another way to get at anarchy, is to imagine Locke's state of nature then see what evolves. In the state of nature, everyone is perfectly free to do what he wishes, but nonetheless people have their instinctive sense of property, and of justice. Most people will therefore refrain from obviously hurting each other, or taking each other's obvious property. But some people won't - natural "criminals" if you will. People can punish each other if they will; though most normal people will only punish if they feel wronged. But again, there will be a minority who may claim that they are wronged by others and proceed to punish them, even though there is no wrong.

Now, there are several fairly obvious and large problems with the state of nature as thus far described. One is, it seems that the strong can terrorize the weak. A second is that, justice is haphazard even among equally strong peers. A third is that feuds are possible. I am sure you can imagine others. Locke jumped pretty much directly from this point to a social compact to create the state. That's fine as far as it goes, which is exactly to the next generation, or until someone wants to withdraw. At which point you either assert "sovereignty" and tell the non-member to join or die, or you have a state of nature again (at least for that one person; and the problem will grow as others join him).

Can these problems be solved without a state? Fairly easily, yes. People can band together to form mutual aid groups, or protection societies. If one member is attacked or harmed, the others pledge to help, and viceversa. Division of labor always works in capitalism, so these agencies will likely specialize into "cops" and customers, for most day-to-day functions. Adjudication is still a problem, but that can be solved too. People with a good reputation for justice and fairness will be able to sell their services as judges. Again, firms will arise to do judging. So the executive and judicial functions are fairly easy to see arising.

What of legislative? Well, the law is whatever the protection agencies succeed at enforcing. It is possible they will use democracy, internally, to decide on what laws they will enforce amongst their members. Or perhaps they will simply make up their laws, as a corporation. (Perhaps a vice president will do it in powerpoint.) It does not really matter that much how they get laws, because they are not monopolies. There are many such protection agencies, all competing in the market for protection/enforcement services. That means that if your agency decides to enforce a new law which you disagree with, you can exert consumer choice and immediately punish the agency, by taking your business elsewhere. The practical outcome of this is that agencies will be very conservative about changing their laws.

That's what law will be between two customers of the same agency. But what about customers of different agencies? In the long run, all agencies which might have conflicts will have agreements of some sort with each other to determine which one has "venue" for a particular enforcement action. Why? Consider what happens if they don't. I steal your TV. You complain to your agency. It comes to get me (and/or the TV); I call my agency. My agency has no rule against theft for some reason (it's possible, albeit unlikely) and tells yours to buzz off. Now the agencies can either (a) negotiate sometime (b) do nothing (c) have a war. Wars are very costly. Any two agencies engaging in a war have two big problems. One is, that their own profits drop; they may well go bankrupt. Another is, that if they cause any collateral damage, they will either pay for it or they are likely to have other agencies waiting to hit them when they are weak. Their customers, too, are likely to want nothing of the war, and defect to other agencies. In short, war between agencies is likely to be catastrophic to their market position, and so they will not do it for reasons less than deeply vital ones.

How about the "do nothing" option. Well, if my agency won't defend me, I'll get another. If yours won't defend you, you will get another. Do nothing is not really a viable option.

So, the two agencies will negotiate; they are likely to take their conflict to an arbiter. In fact, all agencies are likely to enter into standing agreements with each other to deal with this problem.

What about different laws? What's to stop an agency that allows the murder of non-customers? Well, in that case, there would be a war; all the other agencies would likely band together and wipe out the transgressor agency if it did not change its policy.

There are plenty of other cases to think about, and some serious problems. The most serious problem, by far, is this: what happens if a protective agency manages to get a monopoly? In that case, it is likely to turn oppressive and ban competitors, which will then allow it to rob and enslave its customers - in short to become a state. What's to stop that? Ultimately, it must be an informed citizenry, who start to get very uncomfortable whenever a protection agency gets too large. Is that likely? I don't know, but I do think it is possible.
Glenn Reynolds finds
"the statements made by Hauerwas in this article are so profoundly idiotic -- and worse yet for a philospher, incoherent and contradictory -- that I find it hard to believe that he said them as reported."

I read the article and I have no idea what Reynolds is talking about. There are a few incoherent statements, clearly decontextualized. But most of what Hauerwas is saying grows out of a pacifist philosophy clearly gotten from, yes, the New Testament. When you go around saying stuff like "love your enemies", and "turn the other cheek", there is a very real danger that someone might understand you.
Efficiency: Here's another way to get to anarchy. Efficiency. We live in a world of physical things (including ourselves). Control of these things can be looked at a lot of ways, but the simplest is a binary division. All things are either private property, or public property. It is a striking fact about the world that where there are similar goods or services provided publicly and privately, the privately provided ones are better.

Our public schools, for instance, range from very good to abysmal daycare prisons. Spending is tremendous. Private schools, by contrast, don't have any bad examples (or very few), and they are cheaper to boot.

Another example? The provision of protection. In the inner cities, protection is mostly public, being provided by the police. People are generally forbidden to effectively defend themselves. In suburbia, there are many things guarded by private guards, who do a much better job of protecting them. In our more rural states, people are allowed to bear arms to protect themselves, another private means of protection that works.

How about another? Adjudication. The government court system is woefully overwhelmed with cases. Minor cases get almost zero attention; major ones can spend years in the system. A trial by a jury who know nothing special is a bad way to settle many specialized disputes. In contrast, arbitration offers speed and informed judges.

How about news and reporting? The State gives us NPR. The private market gives us a thousand sources, many of which are pro freedom.

Mail? The State gives us the USPS. The private market, FedEx, UPS, Airborne Express, etc.

Retirement? The State: ponzi scheme. Private market: stocks and bonds.

In fact, looking at the many things the government does it is hard to avoid the notion that the State has a sort of reverse Midas touch. Whatever it does turns to shit. There are good reasons for this, to be found in economics: competition; the problem of agency and control; etc. But we don't necessarily need the reasons to notice the problems with government services. Now, generally efficiency is a good thing. Efficient provision of goods and services means we are not wasting money, meaning we are richer. We have more money to spend on other things. Efficiency is a good thing, and the government is inefficient. It is reasonable, then to start wondering: how much of this stuff can we privatize?

A libertarian would say, we should privatize everything but the core functions of government: judicial, legislative, and executive. These things, of course, must be public.

Anarchists say, of course? Nope - let's privatize all of it.
On Anarchy: There are lots of ways to think about anarchy. I hope to suggest a few in the next few days. This is one: a moralist approach.

Is secession a right? I think so. It's what I think of when I hear the phrase "self-determination of peoples", and the phrase "consent of the governed". If people want their own government, they should have it. Given that the world is fully divided and ruled by existing states, that means that any new state must be created out of part of one of the existing ones. Many people would vaguely agree thus far, though holding out caveats that of course the Confederacy did not deserve its own government ('cause they were evil).

But now let us ask: what sort of right is the right of secession? I would say, it is a natural, individual right. States have it only because they proxy for their citizens. It springs from the fundamental moral equality of all human beings: to rule another, you must either have their consent, or else you initiate force. Yet nobody has the right to initiate force against another; in this we are equal. So Maryland can secede from the Union, if it wants to, and (morally speaking) the Union must let her go. People believe that this issue was settled in 1865, but it was not. Anyway, it was not settled morally. Rather the Union immorally aggressed and conquered the South. The test of arms tends to be decisive, but it only shows which side is stronger and more willing to commit war crimes, not which side is right.

This nation is a different place now than it was in 1865. One interesting thought experiment is to consider: what would happen if a state seceded today? Let's say, Alaska votes to pull out of the Union. Would Bush move in an army and conquer? Would he be willing to order the army to replace the judges, governor and legislature? Would this stand in federal court? Would he be able to allow free elections, and if not, what would happen? Would guerillas start sniping at federal troops, and if so, would the American people be willing to have their boys and girls dying to oppress Alaska? Would the American people be willing to require their boys and girls to kill children in Alaska to terrorize the Alaskans into accepting federal rule?

But now an anarchist thought experiment. Earlier I said it is the right of Maryland to leave the Union if she wishes. That's because Maryland as a corporation proxies the rights of her citizens. By the same logic, Baltimore city can secede from Maryland. And by the same logic, Charles Village (my neighborhood) can secede from Baltimore city. And by the same logic, my block can secede from Charles Village. And by the same logic, I, personally, can secede from my block. None of these entities has any "right to rule" its citizens outside of their individual consent.

We can skip the intermediaries. It is my right, as a human being, to pull out of all of the corporations that would rule me without my consent. Federal, State, County, City. Of course, that will not happen - in the test of arms, they would conquer me. Therefore I don't try, which is prudent. But again, the test of arms proves nothing other than who is stronger and/or more immoral.

Try to imagine a society where rules are imposed on peaceful citizens only with their consent. That is anarchy.

When they get this far, most people quit. They think: it's a warzone, criminals running free, somalia, mafia, war of all against all. Therefore something must be wrong. Maybe people are really not equal in authority; maybe the State really does have a right to rule that does not spring from the governed. Maybe self-determination is a crock. But some of us see anarchy, and see the problems that one would naively expect, and wonder: how could you solve those sorts of problems within anarchy? And having given the matter some thought, we conclude that while the world is never going to be perfect, anarchy would be able to provide good solutions to most problems. The society would not resemble the naive version of war of all against all. Rather, it would be an extremely moral, peaceful and profitable place: a place that is inspiring.
Why the Blog? When I started this blog, my idea was to gradually write up a body of essays about anarchy and freedom, as I see it. This, I thought (and still think), will be useful in the sorts of arguments I occasionally get into with family or friends. If they read this blog, they know what I think and we can skip past the simple stuff. If they haven't read the blog, I can demur gracefully. "But what about X? Doesn't that mean Y in anarchy, which is Bad?" "Have you read my blog on that?" "No." "Well, I'd like to discuss this but I think I said it best there. Can we talk about it some other time?"

Another reason for unruled is meme imperialism. I think I am right, and I am out to spread memes.

Both of these reasons are well described by David Friedman in the preface to the second edition of the anarchocapitalist classic, The Machinery of Freedom:
One reason for writing a book like this is to avoid having to explain the same set of ideas a hundred times to a hundred different people. One of the associated rewards is discovering, years later, people who have incorporated my ideas into their own intellectual framework. This second edition is dedicated to one such person... someone who starts out already knowing and understanding everything I had to say on the subjects of this book as of 1973, which makes the ensuing argument very much more interesting.
I still hope, in time, to be able to do in this blog what Friedman does in 250 pages in this book.

On the other hand, the blog is also a handy forum for less focused commentary, and I find myself doing that, too. The medium is message? No, but the medium does have at least a bit of influence on how it is used.
Discussing "brave" with Eric Olsen.
Eugene Volokh raises an interesting question: Can the cops drive a Geiger counter down your street? Though almost everyone would agree that the answer is yes, how you get there can be complicated by existing constitutional jurisprudence. Also read the followups at the Volokh blog, here.

My thoughts on the matter: this sort of case is an example of one reason I am an anarchist, not a libertarian. Libertarians try to take a moral framework and construct politics out of it. Most people don't think it is OK to use high-powered microphones to record their neighbors' conversations. The same principle extends to warrantless examination of people's homes for heat (as in Kyllo). But then the same principle extends to warrantless searches for gamma rays. There is no simple dividing line between any of these: each involves energy of some sort that is radiating off of private property. Can you look, or not? From a moral absolutist point of view, looking at such radiation is either OK in all cases, or none.

As a constitutionalist, you (often) don't have to make such hard choices. In this case, the word "unreasonable" in the 4th amendment saves the day. Heat searches: unreasonable. Radiation: reasonable. No problem. Note, though, that it makes a loophole you can drive a truck through. (That's the downside of constitutionalism.)

As an anarchist, you also don't have to make such choices. The law for an anarchist ultimately comes back to consumer choice. If the consumers choose laws which are not morally consistent, that's just fine.
NPR: weenies. Gonna sue me for this link? Request Permission to Link to NPR.org
Eugene Volokh has been posting a lot about torture. Recently here, and a previous post here. He reviews some pro and con arguments, but ultimately does not (cannot?) decide.

Some comments on his arguments, first. Volokh writes: "constitutionalism and the rule of law, I think, are generally good ideologies". Yes. Given that torture is cruel almost by definition, how can it possibly be justified while the eighth amendment stands? I don't think it can. But then I am one of those people capable of reading the second amendment as guaranteeing a right to possess and carry around guns.

Of course, original intent is not an argument against torture per se. It's just an argument that torture is not compatible with the words on a particular piece of paper. If torture is really worthwhile, then we should amend the constitution to allow it. So the other arguments Volokh makes must be pondered seriously.

On risks, I agree with Volokh that the slippery slope applies to torture in a big way. But Volokh is willing to consider playing around at the top of that slope; I'm not. Even 100000 lives saved when a nuke is revealed pale in comparison to the lives at risk if this society turns repressive.

Alternatively, we might keep torture illegal but sometimes do it anyway. Volokh is unsatisfied with that line of argument: won't it result in contempt for constitutionalism? No, I don't think so. For one thing, in any instance of torture it is unlikely to be clear whether or not it actually proved useful. Might the bomb have been found some other way? Was the bomb actually constructed properly? When would it actually have gone off, and how many might have been killed? Etc. Second, even given clear evidence that lives were saved, it will be unclear that torture is something anyone should do. Even people that believe that in some particular instance torture paid off, should be uncomfortable with the torture itself. There will never be a push to "rationalize" it with the 5th amendment. And therefore I don't think the damage to constitutionalism will be more than trivial. (Certainly, the recent Supreme Court selection of the president caused much greater damage.)

Now, the arguments above are but responses to Volokh. But here's a new question: why torture at all? Why now? The answer is, of course, "terrorism". But why can't we just live in peace? The answer lies in part with the terrorists -- they don't like our culture for reasons we won't control, like say Britney's belly. But it lies in part with us -- we are trying to run the world, including most particularly helping despots rule Islam. Ideologically, America holds out hope of a better world -- self determination of peoples; rule by consent of the governed. But we give the lie to our own words, supporting dictators like the Shah, Saddam Hussein, the Saudis, Arafat, Musharraf. This has gone on for 50 years, and the people there are not blind. They know that the USA is their enemy, when it should be their friend. That's why some of their anger gets directed at Americans.

The solution is simple. America should stop supporting dictators, and stop using power to push other people around. We should pull out of Saudi controlled Arabia - let Saddam attack 'em; I don't care. We should stop the embargo against Iraq. We should cease all military sales to Israel, and convert our $4b/year to Israel into a program to buy out West Bank settlers. We should arm-twist Israel into unilateral separation from Palestine, guaranteeing their survival during the transition with our military but no longer supplying them anything for day to day use against Palestinians. (Israel is beginning to do this anyway, no thanks to the USA.)

If we were to do these things in the Middle East (and similarly stop pushing around people elsewhere), a wonderful thing would happen. Instead of being looked with a mixture of love, hate, envy, and annoyance by the world, we would be ignored. Over time even the radical islamicists would stop worrying about us, and turn their anger instead where it belongs -- against their own oppressive governments. Then, as in Iran, they will have revolutions, and turn into even worse theocratic nightmares for a while. And then, as revolutions do, they will moderate. And finally Islamic democracy will result.

The logic of repression is gradualist. You oppress a little; a reaction happens; you oppress a little more. You send in troops, force a boycott, get more police, build more prisons. People are hurt by it; the oppression is obvious and fringe lunatics take up arms. That's when you end up talking about torture. It's yet another control oriented fix for deeper social problems, all originating in the actions of the state. The solution is not more and more harshness, but to stop the state from doing what it should not have been doing in the first place.
Here's a rather standard pro-gun rights editorial. No need to read it for a guy like me... but for one thing. Down at the end: a new meme!
it is argued that the right should not apply to modern small arms, which are supposedly so much deadlier than 18th-century guns. But the fact is that 18th-century firearms were far more deadly, given the difference in medical care.

Imagine that in 1789 someone fired a double-barreled shotgun into a crowded area. Fifty to 60 people would have been struck and at least 90 percent would have died. Now imagine that a modern crowd just stands there while someone fires four magazines from a 15-shot semiautomatic pistol into them. Assuming the same number of people are hit, fewer than 10 would die while the rest would recover.

I am not sure I buy the comparison, but it is worth thinking about. Certainly the difference in medical care is tremendous. I am less inclined to think that shotguns of the time were likely to hit most of the people in a crowd, though.

In any case, what's really remarkable about this is that I have watched and occasionally added to the victim disarmament debate for years without seeing this meme. Is it just me?
Gosh, I thought guns were illegal in NYC! So how is this possible: Armed Man Shoots Three in Manhattan.

The bad news is, the crowd he held hostage allowed themselves to be handcuffed, even while this guy sprayed kerosene on them. Um... when to fight, people?

The good news is two heros jumped the freak (one of them taking a bullet for her trouble) and prevented him setting everyone on fire.

If New York had a must-issue regime for concealed carry, odds are one of the 40+ people this nut had contact with in his rampage would have been armed, and the rampage would have been over before it started. And we would not be reading about it.
I drove up to NYC yesterday to attend blogapalooza NYC. It was a lot of fun to meet other bloggers and see if they are like normal people. Mostly, they are. But they tend to talk a lot. I felt like the only introvert there. There were a lot of smart people there. I talked to lots of them -- forgive me on the names (or lack thereof) for what follows.

I talked to Edie about dating and daring (hers). I got into lots of conversations I could only hear part of. Loud bar. I talked with Megan about the Times (she's a critic). I had an actual conversation about anarchocapitalism not of my instigation with Jim from objectionable content. That was cool. Anyone wants to charm me, just ask me about David Friedman.

Right now I can't figure out how to get back to the RSVP list, so my names are purely from memory. Unk. Once I get the list I can hopefully dress this up. UPDATE -- got it, thanks Jane. Names and pix added.

I talked to Mindless Dreck for a while before I put 2 (more than zero sum) and 2 (him) together. That was a cool lightbulb moment. There was some discussion of anonymity/exposure and blogging.

Then, let's see. Dr. Weevil was expansive and charming. Then I met Ravenwolf and had to admire her from near for a bit. Lots of other people met who I have not mentioned. Y'all probably know better than I who you are.

After hanging around in the bar for a few hours shouting at each other, eventually hunger won out and we all went out for pizza. Pizza! NYC! These things are made for each other, and it always amazes me in the City how you just sort of walk around a corner, and there is pizza, and it is good pizza.

Anyway, I am sure you are just here for the pictures. Let's get to 'em. Those pictured: if you don't want to be shown, let me know and I will remove you. If you have more information (like, name of blog), I hope to suck all that off the RSVP list once Jane tells me where it is again. But feel free to mail me if you want.

First, the mysterious Jane Galt, pictured on the web for the first time! Jane's site I really need to stick over there on the left since I read it all the time. But I am lazy. Kudos to Jane for organizing.

Clay and Sasha. Clay's site.

Elizabeth Spiers, of Capital Influx.

Jim, of Objectionable Content.

Max Jacobs, of Common Sense.

Ken Goldstein of The Illuminated Donkey.

Nick and Dr. Weevil. Nick Marsala (not a very good shot of him, oh well), on the left, from arrogant rants. His vile reputation is spoiled by his demeanor in person. He's a low maintenance loving guy! That's Dr W on the right; I just read his blog for the first time, and I am impressed. Go doc go!

Liz, from nycbloggers.com. Her co-author/programmer Matt was also there, but he escaped photography. A lot of people did, actually. But I actually learned his name and site, so what the heck.

Paul Frankenstein and Ravenwolf. Paul's blog. Raven likes the camera, and it likes her right back. I suppose she has a name other than that, but I never learned it.

More Raven. Right: the linkup.

Sasha Castel, la blogatrice.

Me, caught talking (rather untypical).

Another update: ravenwolf has more text and pictures.

Yet another update: Dr. Weevil has a comment, and a link to pictures.
Gummi is back! Hurrah! ... extremely hostile though.
Ordinarily, there few laws I can imagine the US Congress passing that are worthwhile. Practically all the stuff that ought be illegal already is, and has been so for hundreds of years. Almost all of the rest is bad law.

That said, the Congress can still pass good laws. Namely, laws repealing other laws, or laws to address or undo problems they have created, or which have been created by the states, or more generally any government level.

Case in point: prisoner rape. Looks like congress is going to address it, though I am not sure how effective the new law will be. Still, it is a start.

Let's look at the problem of imprisonment, from the point of view of the state. Concentrate a bunch of violent men with no effective way to punish them. (How do you punish a life-without-parole prisoner? Slap his wrist?) Deny the men anything constructive whatsoever to do, other than lift weights. Now, apply financial constraint: try to keep them more-or-less from killing each other, at the absolute minimum price in guards' salaries, physical infrastructure, etc.

How to minimize price? You could hire enough guards to keep order physically, but that's expensive -- you would need something on the order of a guard per prisoner. So you want to use the prisoners against each other. How? Get the more physically powerful ones to accept your rule, by allowing them sex slaves -- if they are good.

Of course this "contract" is not explicit. But nonetheless, it is there. And the staff really has no choice, in the sense that if they seriously tried to crack down on rape, they would face the ugly reality of their tiny numbers trying to control tens of violent criminals, each.

The prisons are rape factories. They are also rapist factories.

And lest the heartless reader think, "well they earned it" -- no, they did not. Some of them did, perhaps, if you are the eye-for-eye type. But a good number are there for victimless "crimes" like selling drugs. A good many others are drug entrepreneurs that did something bad (like shooting someone), but consequent to the business they are in. And a lot of others are just dumb kids that made a mistake.

If rape is a just punishment, it should be assigned by judges. Not by happenstance.

And in any case, heartless reader (if I have any), consider this. Rapists, and the raped, in prisons don't stay there. Almost all of them get out. These men are thrown out in the street, many boiling with rage over the way the prison system stood idle, or laughed, at their violation and degradation. These men have been indoctrinated into a hypermasculine rape culture where women are bitches and whores, and where men must literally fight off slavery, to keep other men out of their mouths and anus. If you have listened to gansta rap, you have heard the ugliness. Gansta rap is prisoner culture, leaking out into the mainstream.

The best thing I have read on prison culture, is A Million Jockers, Punks, and Queens by Stephen Donaldson. Donaldson was a kid who got unlucky and made some bad choices early on. He was raped and enslaved, and spent a number of years in prisons observing the culture from the inside. (You can find his story at the SPR site.)

One thing that is clear from an understanding of prison culture: stopping rape will not be easy. I think the valuable part of the new bill, is simply putting funds into studying the problem. What is not valuable, is threatening prisons with loss of federal funds. Does anyone think that federal or state authorities will close a prison because of too much rape? Not likely. Where will the prisoners go? Furthermore, rape must be reported effectively to even show up in statistics. I fear the new bill will create the wrong incentives for prison administrators. The new incentive will be to minimize reported rape; and when you control the reporting, there are two ways to do that.

To really reduce prisoner rape effectively, here are my quick recommendations.

First, allow prisoners to work if they wish, and to contract their labor freely. Then invite businesses into prisons to employ. This gives men something to do other than plot booty-banditry. It also gives the men a means of self respect currently denied them, and hopefully a trade or skill other than crime that they can use when they get out. (I realize this idea is impractical politically because of unions.)

Second, make there be "somewhere worse" to put rapists, in order to have a reasonable threat to hold over prisoners. Divide prisons into two classes: prisons where we do tolerate rape, and prisons where we don't. Men who rape currently locked up in a "don't rape" prison should be assigned to the other class of prison. This, at least, concentrates the rapists together and will serve to hold down rape elsewhere.

Finally, and probably most importantly: surrender the drug war. The creation of a huge class of prisoners for no good reason at all, and exposing them to rape culture, is about the dumbest thing the USA ever did. (I realize this one too is completely impractical politically.)

Catholics seem to have a great tradition of rationalism. Case in point:
Scalia on the death penalty. How about this for a crystal clear line of reason:

If I subscribed to the proposition that I am authorized (indeed, I suppose compelled) to intuit and impose our "maturing" society's "evolving standards of decency," this essay would be a preview of my next vote in a death penalty case. As it is, however, the Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead - or, as I prefer to put it, enduring. It means today not what current society (much less the Court) thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted. For me, therefore, the constitutionality of the death penalty is not a difficult, soul-wrenching question. It was clearly permitted when the Eighth Amendment was adopted ... And so it is clearly permitted today.

(python:) 'E's not dead! 'E's enduring!

Nonetheless, Scalia is no anarchist. He's not even a democrat (which is a bit surprising to me). Check this out:

The mistaken tendency to believe that a democratic government, being nothing more than the composite will of its individual citizens, has no more moral power or authority than they do as individuals has adverse effects in other areas as well. It fosters civil disobedience, for example, which proceeds on the assumption that what the individual citizen considers an unjust law - even if it does not compel him to act unjustly - need not be obeyed.

Whoa. Well, it is a well-argued piece in any case, even if proceeding from some rather weird bases.
The history of beer in America. A great read. I didn't know that lager beers were invented in 1842!
The New York Times in the mid-1850s sniffed that lager was "getting a good deal too fashionable." And soon the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce noticed a growth in beer drinking due "in no little degree to the taste which has been acquired for `lager' as a beverage, not only among the native German population, but all classes."

A new cultural institution arose to feed the new frenzy: the beer garden. Distant but recognizable ancestors to the amusement park, the gardens, which could be either open to the air or enclosed "winter" gardens, welcomed families on Sunday outings and featured live music. They had tables and chairs instead of bars, and they were known for their food.
The news generally being doom and gloom, it is always refreshing to read a piece that looks at the other side: David Brooks on Why the U.S. Will Always Be Rich.

In fact, we won't necessarily always be rich. Richness is a result of laissez faire (you will note almost nothing in the piece about the government). We are rich because we had no government until 150 years after the founding. (Well, we had none to the first approximation, if we compare to the average sizes of government now.) By the time FDR et al created the welfare state, we were rich enough that even with that deadweight drag, we kept getting richer.

By now, the process of democratization feared by the founders (read the piece) is well under way. To someone like me, it presents a conundrum. On one hand, the government never shrinks. People say that's what the Republicans want, and maybe some do. But what Republicans do, given power, is simply to grow the government less fast than the Democrats might have. Government has not shrunk in absolute size since I don't know when. Probably a small reduction after WWII was the last. On the other hand, productivity keeps growing. Is it possible in the future that only 1% of the people will create enough wealth to keep the other 99% on the dole (or in government jobs)? And can we keep growing the economy even with only 1% doing anything productive? Given robotization and artificial intelligence, a future is imaginable with nobody working at all -- at least, nobody who is human.

But that's for the future. In the present, Americans still have retained much of the entrepreneurial attitudes and healthy, accepting attitudes towards wealth that were created by and reinforced this country's anarchic origins. Read Brook's piece and think on that.
I went to the emissions testing place a couple days ago, to get my car tested. Passed, by the way. While I was standing in the waiting area, they completed the test of the person before me. She mutters, "what a joke" on the way out, past me. Anyway, that's what it sounded like. And, it probably is a joke. There are many exemptions to the testing, and the limits don't seem particularly stringent. Every month I see some car on the road visibly belching smoke.

Nonetheless, I did it reasonably cheerfully.

But wait, you say. Aren't anarchists are supposed to hate that sort of thing? Which reminds me of the last time I was in Boston, my brother asking me "what about traffic lights"? In anarchy, don't you get to disobey any and all laws?

Anarchy, at least for those who can think rationally, is not about "no law". It's about no state. No sovereignty principle. Oh, I know there are plenty of left-wing "anarchists" who think that all authority should be abolished. At least, there exist people who ideologize that way. But they obviously have little contact with the real world. In the real world, there are rules surrounding almost anything people do. Some of the rules are imposed; you have to get the car inspected or else you can't drive. Some are imposed by social pressure: you don't cut in line. We must have rules to live together; that's part of what is implied by scarcity.

Anarchocapitalists believe that private property is the means to implement rules. Well, everyone believes that; what we believe is that private property is both necessary and sufficient to get enough rules for social harmony, peace, prosperity, and justice.

Getting back to car inspections and traffic lights: the roads belong to the state. They own 'em. So, they dictate the rules upon their use. And by "dictate" I do mean both senses of the word. Their rules don't have to be nice; they might put a $5000/year price on the driver's license. It's their right to do so.

Practically speaking, democracy does strongly limit what the state will actually do with its property. So I don't worry about flagrant abuse. (Nonetheless, private ownership would be better.)

So if they can dictate the rules on roads, what about other things? What is there to complain about for an anarchist? Well, mainly that they do, in practice, also dictate the rules for me. They take my property; they threaten me if I possess certain things, perform certain actions that hurt nobody. If they owned me, owned my body, that would be their right. But people are not roads; they should not be owned. Yet - they are. I am owned. You are owned.

The state should not own me. You shouldn't own me. Please, stop it.
Wow, the Onion really is America's finest news source! Heh heh.
Steven Landsburg has a good analysis of the recent Tahoe decision in the Supreme Court.
In his decision, Justice Stevens expresses quite explicitly the belief that if governments had to pay for the costs they impose on landowners, then in almost every case, a sufficiently reflective policy-maker would opt for almost zero government. I'm not sure whether that's true or false, but if it's true, then it follows that we should have almost no government. So the court's position comes down to this: We should exempt governments from compensating landowners because that's the only way we can continue having more government than we ought to.
How do you write about soccer in a way that might interest an American readership? Well, you write about soccer about basketball.

Before I got the DSL, the telephone never rang, because the computer needed the line for constant Internet access. No longer. Now the phone is like a car alarm in the ghetto - relentless, unstoppable, full of hate.
Eugene Volokh has an interesting analysis of the idea of allowing concealed carry on airplanes. He is against it, but on reasonably argued pragmatic grounds:

If good guys can get on board with guns, why then the bad guys can do the same. Ten terrorists can board the plane with their guns, and highjack it pretty effectively; or one loony or suicidal fanatic can board the plane with his gun, and kill a lot of people and perhaps even bring down the entire plane.

Ah, but won't armed passengers stop them? Maybe, but it's quite unlikely. First, few law-abiding passengers will go armed; in states that allow law-abiding adults to carry concealed, only 1 to 4% of all people get licenses, and I suspect that even fewer people actually are carrying lawfully at any particular time.

This analysis is right, under the assumption that the boarding regime is rather like today, but with no metal detectors. On a plane with 200 people, perhaps only one or two would be armed. If hijackers can get on armed without trouble, then they can just bring four guns and they can win (see Eugene's piece for more on that).

But I would not assume only one thing changes. In fact I would not even assume that metal detection goes away.

Here are some strategic reactions the airlines could use to minimize the number of hijacker guns on board, while increasing the number of concealed carries:

(1) keep screening for metal. If you have a gun, you must have a license and/or you must appear in a database of faces of people thought to be reliable. Big brother? Yes - but it should be the airline's right to carry who they want.

Incidentally, the scattering of a substantial number of positives in with the stream of negatives should help the alertness of the screeners a lot.

(2) If not enough passengers are carrying guns, offer incentives. Half price tickets, but only if you agree to carry a gun onboard using airline-approved frangible ammo.

(3) Few passengers will want to take a gun somewhere if they expect not to be able to use it there, which will depress the number brought on. So, set up a system to provide a handgun and concealed holster, just for the flight. The passenger must, of course, turn it in at the endpoint, where it will get reused (or just sit until his/her return trip happens).

The point here is, that what the airlines want is obvious: lots of cheap air marshalls, and minimal gun-armed hijackers. They can, and should, act to get them, if they are free to do so.

Of course, the ideas just discussed may not be the best, most cost-effective way to guarantee security. They are just what I thought up in 10 minutes. The only way to find a high quality solution is to let the market search for it. But this market is not free at all, and not likely to get that way. And that's the problem with one-size-fits-all government monopolies, like airport and airline security.
Via rabbit blog, I found gummi. This chick is cool, off the wall, wacky. And funny. But most definitely weird.

I wish I could write like that. But to write like that I would probably have to think different. All I have is spelling, grammar, syntax, and ideas. Rebecca has style.