Tag: Consent

3 Times Anarcho-Capitalist Private Law Has Worked

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Everything is scarce. Time, space, human bodies, and all resources are limited. For each of them, there is a finite amount. Because of this finite amount, there are bound to be conflicts over who gets to use what. There will be conflict over who gets to use a piece of land or use a resource.

The greatest way to avoid this widespread conflict is a system of norms that aim to reduce conflict. A societally accepted private property norm that ensures that I own my body and my property can help in avoiding conflict. If the people in my community agree that my house is mine and my body is mine, they recognize that they are not allowed to enter without my permission or use my resources without my consent.

A system of widely accepted private property norms is what allows for peace to prevail. But what if the community does not accept these norms? It does not matter that I am the first user of a piece of property if nobody recognizes it as mine. If one is able to trample my property and steal my belongings without society caring, property doesn’t matter and peace it out of the question.

This is the problem that people often see with Anarcho-Capitalism. They believe that because there is no monopolized enforcer of property rights, then there is no chance at peace. Violence will prevail and a Hobbesian hell will ensue. Even libertarians have this problem with Anarcho-Capitalism. They think that property rights and individual freedom are important, but they do not believe that it is a sustainable model without a government minorly infringing on rights so as to provide protection.

The question must be posed, then: could private law work? Could we ensure that there is enforcement for property rights without a state? The theory behind this is well established, but even then it is hard to buy because the layman does not see examples of its success in the real world. We do not have exposure to private law, so we don’t think that it is possible for it to exist. The aim of this article is to establish the theory and then to look at how the theory has manifested in the real world.

The Economics of Private Law

First, we must ask the question of why bother? Why should we care about the private production of law and defense in the first place? Can we not just remain with the status quo? Libertarians, and especially Anarcho-Capitalists, respond with a resounding “no”. The status quo, especially in America, is unacceptable. The United States overtaxes and has a plethora of regulations that hold bad economic freedom and productivity. On top of that, we have various laws in the United States that trample on basic civil liberties, from the War on Drugs to the mass surveillance state. In addition to the economic and social lack of freedom, America has become an empire that reaches its talons across the Earth. We pillage smaller countries under the guise of counter-terrorism so as to satisfy our own interests.

As Lew Rockwell explains:

[T]he reason we focus on these issues in the first place is that we realize the State cannot be reformed. The State is a monopolist of aggressive violence and a massive wealth-transfer mechanism, and it is doing precisely what is in its nature to do. The utopian dream of “limited government” cannot be realized, since government has no interest in remaining limited. A smaller version of what we have now, while preferable, cannot be a stable, long-term solution. So we need to conceive of how we could live without the State or its parasitism at all.

The state cannot exist without monopolizing on violence and using it. To engage in any project, it must first take money from the population at the threat of force. From the very beginning, this is a moral atrocity. Because of this failure to live peacefully from the get-go, humanity needs to look for an alternative to state control. Because of this, we will explore the ideas of some libertarian economists and legal theorists who have explored possible alternatives.

Robert Murphy and Privatizing Law

Robert Murphy, also known as Bob, is a senior fellow at the Mises Institute who has been researching the ins and outs of private law for years. He believes that the market system could provide a system of law and order far better than a government can. Year after year he has given a lecture at the libertarian youth conference, Mises University, titled “The Market for Security.”

Of course, not all of the ins-and-outs of a market system of private law can be covered by a 40-minute lecture, so that is why he wrote his book Chaos Theory, which is a collection of essays that focus on private law and defense.

Within a private law society, contracts would dictate the bounds of a relationship between two people. An employer would make employees sign that they would not steal company assets, and embedded within the contract would be the stipulation that if they did steal, their method of repayment would be determined by a pre-determined arbitrator.

Unfair arbitrators would be discriminated against because firms and individuals that embedded them into their contracts would lose business. The fairest and nonbiased arbitrators would win out in the end due to competition on the free market.

Murphy then continues to explain the utility of insurance companies in the realm of arbitration:

It would be the same way with all torts and crimes under the system I’ve described. An insurance company would act as a guarantor (or co-signer) of a client’s contracts with various firms. Just as a bank uses experts to take depositors’ money and efficiently allocate it to borrowers, so too would the experts at the insurance company determine the risk of a certain client (i.e., the likelihood he or she would violate contracts by stealing or killing) and charge an appropriate premium. Thus, other firms wouldn’t have to keep tabs on all of their customers and employees; the firms’ only responsibility would be to make sure everyone they dealt with carried a policy with a reputable insurance agency.

A system of insurance agencies would ensure that the victims of violations of property rights would be immediately compensated. In the status quo, justice is a matter of placing people in a cage, which does nothing to help the victims. According to libertarians, though, justice is a matter of compensation. A thief should have to return the stolen goods and compensate the victim for lost time and psychological distress. A murderer should be forced to pay an inordinate sum of money to the family of the victim.

People would be far less likely to engage in business dealings with someone who has not paid insurance premiums. They would be skeptical of the fact that this person is not ready to pay for any damages to property that they engage in. Robert then goes into many of the objections and questions that people have about such a system, which I will not cover in this article. The intention of this section was to outline what Murphy’s prediction of a system of private law would look like. The answers to his objections are in Chaos Theory, which is linked for free both above and here. Chances are if you have a disagreement with this system, he has addressed it.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Property Insurance

Hans-Hermann Hoppe, in his book Democracy: The God That Failed, described that he believes that defense of property is the same as insurance. He cites past thinkers such as Rothbard, Molinari, and the Tannehills as evidence that he is not alone in this stance. All of these libertarian theoreticians have posited such a theory, which gives it credibility and a literature base that makes it worth considering.

Economically, it makes the most sense for insurance companies to take charge of protection of property. An individual pays a premium to the insurance agency, and in exchange, the company will protect the individual assets of the customer. The customer is incentivized to be nonaggressive and take their own precautions when it comes to self-defense. The installation of security or a firearms training course could possibly lower the premiums. A track record of harassing defenseless people and inciting conflict would raise one’s rates or possibly have them removed from the system altogether.

Like any other business, the insurance company must serve its consumers. Once a dues-paying consumer’s property is damaged/stolen, the company would be contractually obligated to find the perpetrator and compell them to compensate the victim. The company would want to do this in the most efficient and easy way possible, while still ensuring that they get their job done. Security cameras would become popular because of the possible insurance premium bonus. An insurance company that is slow at its job or did it in a costly manner would lose business to competitors.

Insurance companies seek to turn a profit, so they would incentivize customers to take every precaution possible so as to not have their property stolen, invaded, or damaged. This is because whenever damages occur, the customer costs the company resources in terms of investigation time and the manpower to take back compensation. Because of this, insurance premium bonuses may be procured for anyone who takes various safety precautions.

If a situation arose where the insurance company was attempting to collect damages from a perpetrator who claimed that they are not the violator, and that perpetrator is insured by another agency, what happens? Would a war between two insurance companies occur? Of course not, because war is costly. It is a budgetary black hole that only government wastes its time and resources on. Instead, the insurance agencies would go to a third party – an arbitrator. They would agree to one with a track record of not being biased, thus ensuring a constantly improving quality of arbitration. Arbitration agencies that were found to have secret ties to a certain insurance agency, or even ruled in favor of a certain agency suspiciously often, would go out of business because of suspicion or outright discovery of fraud.

Hoppe goes on to cover a few more of the intricacies of such a system, but above I have detailed the bare bones of the system and shown what would probably happen in a couple of situations based on economic incentives. Hans Hoppe’s system is one that incentivizes responsibility, quick justice, and perfectibility in law.

David Friedman and Private Arbitration Enforcement

In David Friedman’s book The Machinery of Freedom, he describes what he sees as the market solution to the problem of property enforcement. The core problem that he sees with private arbitrators (when compared to government courts) is their lack of ability to enforce a decision if one of the clients decides that they will not abide by the ruling.

He explains that all arbitration agencies would be forced by the market to remain completely honest. In the status quo of government courts, the incentive for honesty is shaky. A publicly appointed judge may rule in favor of those he likes and against those he does not. Along with the fact that many judges are appointed to life terms, the system insulates him from the consequences of his actions because regardless of what he does taxpayer dollars will flow into his pocket. Private arbitration agencies, on the other hand, are subject to the sovereignty of the consumer. Word of a dishonest arbitrator would spread quickly, and the arbitrator would go out of business.

There are two ways in which Friedman explains that a private arbitrator could ensure that clients would abide by its decision. The first is a contract in which both clients pay a sum that equals the highest possible damages. The arbitration agency holds onto this to ensure that both parties abide by the ruling. Once the ruling is made, the money is paid back to the rightful owners, with any damages paid out in addition. The arbitration agency takes a cut for their services.

The second method is a system of credit ratings. Client firms that enter arbitration would have a credit score. Client firms that fail to abide by the ruling would then be subject to a blacklist, meaning that they do not know how to play fair. Other firms and individuals would be very skeptical of firms with low credit ratings that have ended up on the blacklist. This would cause dishonest and cheating firms to lose clients and customers, ultimately resulting in financial demise.

The Empirics of Private Law

A true market lacks any central planning. It is the culmination of many individual actors seeking to satisfy demand in order to make a profit. This process leads to a plurality of products in each area of the economy, and in a completely free market society, this would also mean that there is a plurality in the types of defense goods produced. This plurality is also indicated by the fact that none of the theoretical standpoints that have been showcased above have been in 100% agreement.

All of the above economists have disclamed at one point or another that the market is unpredictable. The economists cannot predict the future, and they realize that. Because they cannot, they only attempt to draw rough sketches. They have pencil drawings of what Anarcho-Capitalist law and order could look like. The market, though, has given us a few complex paintings, which have shown us that this anarcho-capitalist system of governance is viable.

The Technology Age

The advent of the internet has allowed for an entire space to be carved out independent of the control of the state. This example is not as much of a historical account as the other real-world examples. This means it is more subject to skepticism than the other examples, which are purely historical. That is why this example is first: so that we may save the best for last.

The internet is not a physical place. The act of traveling through the internet is very distinct from traveling in the real world. The digital realm has properties completely alien to our present reality, but that does not mean that it isn’t real. It especially does not mean that it is not important and that there is no value in it. People can own property on the internet (and this is not limited to intellectual property). The site you have that is run by a server is yours, even if it just exists on the internet. Digital payment processes, although they are rooted in real-world offices, take place in the digital space.

Exchanges can be made online. Contracts can be secured. Confidential information can be sent back and forth between individuals or groups. Because of the vast amount of value that can be gained from a digital world, there is a risk that it may go wrong. Malicious individuals may take advantage of the non-physicality of it and violate the rights of others for their own personal gain. Hackers may breach digital walls to get to information or wealth. On top of all of this, the internet itself is independent of any governmental boundaries. This means that it needs to find its own methods to enforce its own property norms.

PayPal’s system of arbitration is one way in which the internet has managed to resolve conflicts between parties in a way that results in the rightful owners ending the day with their money. This is especially important because the internet allows for the possibility of anonymity. Because of this, companies (such as PayPal) will verify identities so as to keep clients honest with one another. In addition, what is to stop a PayPal user from claiming that a legitimate transaction was fraudulent and avoiding payment for a deal?

This is why PayPal has developed its own form of private dispute resolution. First, PayPal lets the clients see if they can resolve the conflict independently. If they prove incapable, PayPal itself will step in and resolve the conflict on behalf of the clients. They will open up their own investigation and make a ruling. This allows for fair payments to prevail and cheaters to be excluded from the system, thus ensuring the rightful owners keep their money.

The development of blockchain technology allows the internet to go even further in its insurance of fairness. Bitcoin’s birth came with a technology that removed the need for trust from the equation altogether, thus removing the need for identity independent of the blockchain. A completely decentralized ledger prohibits anyone from faking a blockchain system. In addition, it prohibits a strongman from climbing to the top and taking advantage of people. Digital systems that run on blockchain are experiencing the anarchy of the online world at its full force. It does not require leaders, coercion of any kind, or even trust.

The Chieftans of Iceland

Iceland was settled by Norwegians in 870 AD, and in 930 the Icelanders held an assembly to agree on the common law of the land. Their law was the same as Norway’s, with one exception: they did not feel that they needed a king. Instead, the Icelandic system was organized around chieftains.

Originally, these chieftains were entrepreneurs who would establish local temples. These local temples were the rights of the chieftain, and they were also private property. The chieftain had the authority to sell, lend, or inherit this property. It was voluntarily attained and voluntarily maintained.

According to David Friedman, these chieftains, through their estates, would protect the property of those who voluntarily submitted to their authority. Law would be determined through suits between people belonging to different chieftains’ estates. The subjects, known as thingmen, were not citizens, though. Their obligations to the chieftains were only what was mutually agreed upon.

The “government” of Iceland during this time had one government employee – the lawspeaker. This lawspeaker would preside over the law and give legal advice, but did not dictate what the law was and how it should work. He was elected through popular vote.

When one sued another, the defending party, if found guilty, would have to abide by the decision. If they refused, they would be socially ostracized and physically removed. If they further refused to leave after violating the law of the land, the victim could exact revenge without consequences.

One objection to this system would be that a strongman could defend himself properly and avoid having to ever pay damages, but the system had a solution to this too. A claim on damages was property, though. If one was not sufficiently powerful to take down the violator, they could sell the right to the damages. Thus, they are compensated, and a more powerful party now has a profit motive to exact justice.

But how long did it last? Longer than the United States has. As Friedman explains,

These extraordinary institutions survived for over three hundred years, and the society in which they survived appears to have been in many ways an attractive one.

This system was superior to ours for two reasons. The first is that it did not begin with state coercion so as to fund the methods of law enforcement. This meant that the enforcement of property through a sovereign was done in an ethically superior way. The state of affairs in Iceland was better than ours, ethically speaking.

Furthermore, it was decentralized. In the contemporary United States, the law is decided based on the popular vote of those in the House and Senate. The standards set by said law are arbitrary. One can call in as many experts as they want, but the end result will ultimately be detached from real experience. Decentralized law (like that of Iceland) on the other hand is developed as the sum of many cases over time. The judges and jury can decide on what is reasonably justified in the more difficult cases. This provides a solution to the oft-cited criticisms against libertarianism that forces the Non-Aggression Principle into justifying quite awful things (as seen by the previously popular “AnCap Memes”).

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is a very small principality nestled in the mountains of Europe. It neighbors Austria and Switzerland and is only 25 kilometers long. Its population is just under 40 thousand, but it is also the richest per capita country in the world. It seems like a nice little place with nothing too notable. But what sets Liechtenstein really apart from the rest of the world is its governmental style. Prince Hans-Adam, the current monarch, says the following towards the beginning of his book The State in the Third Millenium:

I would like to set out in this book the reasons why the traditional state as a monopoly enterprise not only is an inefficient enterprise with a poor price-performance ratio, but even more importantly, becomes more of a danger for humanity the longer it exists.

Liechtenstein is in anarchy. The reigning government is barely a government at all because it does not fit the minimum standards of what a government actually is. It is not a monopolist on the territory that it owns and it is not a monopolist on the production of defense. Every single town and household in the country has the right to secede. At the same time, it is legal to create a defense company that competes with the government’s production of defense. There is, however, no demand for non-governmental protection because the de-monopolized state does such a great job of it.

The country has a monarchical government, yet it has many democratic elements. There is a parliament with 25 members, yet the prince has the authority to either dissolve the parliament or veto their decisions. At the same time, popular referendums also keep the monarchy in check. The prince has no power to veto a referendum to dissolve completely the princely house.

Liechtenstein is probably the freest place on earth and is also one of the wealthiest. One may object that their system could not be implemented on the scale of the United States, but why keep it on such a scale? The monarchy of Liechtenstein operates in a way analogous to a business. Businesses have to grow and find their right size. They have to push their boundaries amidst competitors doing the same thing. The U.S. doesn’t need to turn into Liechtenstein, it needs to dissolve into many Liechtensteins.

* * *

Anarcho-capitalism is usually not taken seriously because of the supposed lack of solutions to the question of defense. This is what makes the difference between an anarchist and a statist. This article hopes to serve as both a theoretical first step and a proof of concept for the private production of defense. The first half discusses competing theories, each of which the reader can look deeper into, while the second half looks at the real world manifestations. Using the information that has been supplied here, the reader should be primed to engage in extensive research down the right avenues.


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The Difference Between Implied and Explicit Consent

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Conflicts between ‘implied’ and ‘explicit’ consent are numerous and ongoing in the legal world, ordinary life scenarios, and the academic world. At times, the two ideas are seemingly conjoined in the contracts, words, and philosophy of various people, we even sometimes find both ideas residing within our own thoughts and speech as it pertains the very same subject or topic. It is first important to discern the differences between ‘implied’ and ‘explicit,’ and to find out where we stand on certain issues as explicitly as possible. Some of the reasons for finding our explicit thoughts is so that we can better understand our own views, possibly have our views changed for the better, or to have a firm understanding when discussing the particular topic with others so they do not get confused with our own stance.

What does ‘implied’ mean?

For something to be implied is to be implicit; that is to say, the topic, subject, or circumstance is capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed. It can also be a form of potential, where the ‘implied’ standing is involved in the nature or essence of something though not specifically revealed, expressed, or developed. This suggests that not every specification is listed, but there are some cues to indicate the establishment of the consent between two parties.

Some people will naturally confuse the subtle differences between ‘implied’ and ‘tacit.’ The difference is that to be ‘tacit’ it is expressed or carried on without words or speech, or implied or indicated as by an act or by silence but not actually expressed. A ‘tacit’ contract, for example, would be a contract established from non-verbal cues and exchanges, where ‘implied’ could have had some words of exchange.

What are some examples of ‘implied’ consent?

Examples of ‘implied’ in the legal world run amok, but a specific example is found within the US Constitution, (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18), where there are not enough examples to provide for unknown situations where Congress, according to the Constitution, may require extra powers beyond that which are specifically, i.e. explicitly, spelled out within the legal document. These are known as the “implied powers,” found under the “necessary and proper” clause of the US Constitution. This, by no means, of course, indicates that I support such a clause, rather I am merely pointing out its place within current legal context; and, of course, there are difficulties in comparing this “contract” with private contracts between two tangible, voluntary, free, parties, as opposed to a “contract” set long before our birth without our ability to explicitly consent or negotiate, etc. By merely being a citizen of the US, or arguably even within the US, people are said to be implicitly empowering Congress to act accordingly to fulfill both their explicitly stated powers and their implied, “necessary and proper,” powers.

In the ordinary world of daily life, implied consent can be seen in our ordinary interactions with our friends and loved ones. Such an example may be our exclusivity to joke about certain things, kiss or touch, or being a friend that is able to talk about anything under the sun with, depending on your various relationships with these people. Of course, it would also depend on whether explicit statements have been made to determine certain circumstances or behaviors. Nevertheless, our ordinary and ongoing interactions continue to perpetuate the implied understanding of that relationship between you and the other person.

In the academic world, such as that of political science or philosophy, there are certain implied thoughts and viewpoints that every author and speaker will provide throughout their particular or general work. An example of implied “consent” may be more difficult to find as a general statement, but ‘implied’ thoughts are normal. Some writers in politics or philosophy will align their views with other well-known figures, and the author will continuously hone in on the particular characteristics of that other writer or philosopher and their respective ideas.

 

What does ‘explicit’ mean?

To be ‘explicit’ means to be fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity, leaving no question as to meaning or intent. ‘Explicit’ is to also be fully developed or formulated, which is why we should continuously push our ideas in order to have them fully developed while ridding ourselves of contradictions, doubts, or inconsistencies.

What are some examples of ‘explicit’ consent?

It is much easier to find examples of ‘explicit’ consent in the world, as they are clearly stated and specified. For example, when people get married, they specify their conditions and with whom. In law, ‘explicit’ consent is found in contract law (K) when terms are specified in the mutual agreement. In politics, much like that of contract law, there are specified conditions. Although, the political world can also be much murkier and fogged by other circumstances making it easier to change later for the good, but mostly for the worse, as history has shown over and over.

How can there be conflicts between ‘implied’ and ‘explicit’ consent, or other variants of the two terms?

One of the most common ways that ‘implied’ and ‘explicit’ get convoluted is when they are in direct conflict with one another. For example, a philosopher may explicitly state that they do not believe in one thing, but their entire work reflects that they, indeed, do ‘implicitly’ support what they are explicitly saying they are against. For example, a philosopher, such as Kant, has stated that his ideas are not subjective, and yet much of what he stated throughout his work was, in fact, subjective to the person living their life (Metaphysics of Morals). Another example is that of French Socialist economist, Thomas Piketty, who specified that he was not a Marxist and in no way supporting Communist rhetoric, yet throughout his work, even in his title, he is espousing Marxist ideology and economic philosophy (Capital in the Twenty-First Century).

Throughout history, this has also occurred, especially under the guise of government. For example, when a politician will ‘explicitly’ say they are not attempting to remove Civil Liberties, but every policy they sign ‘implicitly’ removes Civil Liberties. This has been an ongoing issue throughout politics and history around the world, and specifically throughout US history from its very inception.

What can we do?

The best solution is to first start with our own core beliefs while assessing what is valuable to our standing in the world. If you are truly against theft, murder, rape, molestation, coercion, etc. as I am, analyze all aspects of your beliefs and understanding of the world to purge any contradictory beliefs to those core values. This is all subjective to the person, yes. However, I solemnly believe most people believe these things to be wrong and the antithesis to Liberty and to a purely prosperous life filled with genuine love for fellow humans. Perhaps I am still putting more faith in humanity than I should, but I am confident that putting total control into the hands of a few so-called “elite” is much more dangerous.

Do more to read and think critically about the world around you, the philosophy you read, the statistics presented to you, and be critical of the continued destructive path of more laws. Find ways to solve social and political issues through free and voluntary means, as opposed to force and coercion. Once we have sought our own non-contradictory understanding of how the world is and how it ought to be, we can move forward in our own lives and hope to provide a positive influence on those around us as we continue to help one another.


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Morality Should Not Determine Legality

By Ian Brzeski | United States

For many people, morality is relatively subjective. To some, sex before marriage is a sin, and to others, it is perfectly reasonable. Some people love taking drugs, and others are appalled by them. People of all kinds differ in their values on these issues and on many others such as access to guns, homosexuality, and prostitution. Whether or not committing a particular act falls under someone’s values, everyone should realize that committing victimless “crimes” should not be punished by the state.

What are Victimless Crimes?

In essence, a victimless crime is a “crime” under the law where there is no identifiable victim. It is performed when no other person or party is involved in the action taking place beside the perpetrator or consenting adults. Consuming drugs is a prime example of a victimless crime. The only party that person would potentially be harming in that act alone would be himself. He or she willingly chose to engage in this act; thus, there is no victim. The same goes for that person when they engage in obtaining the drugs through consensual means. These means include joining into a contract with his “dealer.” The two adults here both agree on terms in this exchange. The dealer provides the drugs, and the consumer provides a means of exchange for his desired goods, presumably money.

Freedom of Choice

Locking people up like caged animals for committing victimless, nonviolent crime is complete nonsense. It does not matter what a person’s morality says about drugs. One could think that they are awful and downright immoral, but that does not change the fact people can do as they please as long as no other person is harmed or brought into unwanted affairs. Those people, out of their own free will, chose to engage in that exchange and then go on with their lives as they please. Nobody was hurt, and everything was purely consensual. Fundamentally, it is not that much different than going out and buying groceries.

If you do not like drugs, don’t do them. Nobody forces you to take them, and if somebody does force you, then that is a crime in itself as it takes away your freedom to make those decisions for yourself. Just as people want the freedom to decide to say no to drugs, others should also have the freedom to take drugs without fear of being imprisoned by the state. It is inconceivable to think that drug abusers belong in a prison cell. Drug abusers need help, not prison time.

While incredible amounts of funding have gone towards decreasing drug use, the drug addiction rate is the same as it was about 40-50 years ago. Instead of spending over a trillion dollars in incarcerating these people, spending should be focused on helping these addicts. Portugal decided to do this about 17 years ago, decriminalizing all drug use and focused their spending on rehabilitation for drug users. At one point, about 1% of Portugal’s population were drug abusers, and now that number has been halved.

The same decriminalization practices should be used for prostitution, pornography, owning guns, and any other victimless crime. If you do not like any of these things, then don’t partake in them- it’s as simple as that. Not to mention that decriminalizing and accepting all of these would make them safer. No more back alley pimps who abuse and drug their prostitutes to make a quick buck. No more sketchy and untrusting drug dealers who may lace their products. No more massive cartels as the majority of their products would be legally imported in the country; thus, losing the majority of their funding. Everything listed here would run as a legitimate business which would then promote competition, naturally making these businesses safer. Interdiction on all of these things is no different from the prohibition of alcohol, and we all know how well that went.

Legalization in Amsterdam

I recently went to Amsterdam where marijuana, certain psychedelic drugs, and prostitution are all legal. The prostitution is all kept in one sector of the city, known as the Red Light District. The Red Light District was bustling with people and seemed as if it were just another business center. These businesses are basically “forced” to care for the health of their laborers as they would have an incentive to because it would be horrible for business if one of their workers had some disease such as an STD. One could find drugs anywhere, but nobody is forcing others to take them. If you want to smoke a blunt, then you can, and if you do not want to, then you do not have to.

The overall cleanliness of the city was surprising. One would think that by allowing drug use and prostitution, the city would be pretty dirty, but that is not true in the slightest. Homeless people and garbage on the streets were not to be found, at least from my experience. Amsterdam has experimented with decriminalizing some of these victimless crimes, and it seems to be going pretty well for them.

Victimless crimes are not real crimes. People should not be punished for doing things that do not harm others or their property, and we must put an end to decades of government control over people’s choice of how they treat their bodies.


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It’s Time to Ensure Equal Standards for Government and the People

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In today’s political landscape, government and the people do not have an equal amount of power. Such a notion really is indisputable, considering the fact that our military just aided Saudi forces by supplying weapons and mid-air support to their air strikes, which bombed and killed a bus full of schoolchildren in Yemen Thursday. However, not one of them will face a prison sentence, or any real punishment at all. In fact, most of this, like the planes, flew under the radar of the people entirely.

Clearly, if an individual did this, he or she would be looking at a nasty punishment, likely involving the electric chair. But ironically, the death penalty is also an example of government carrying more rights than the people. As the average time spent on death row exceeds 15 years, it is safe to say that this is no act of self defense. Thus, it is yet another legal ability government has, but the people do not. It’s darkly and bitterly funny how the state sees killing. They kill people who kill people, because killing people is wrong, right? Got it. How else would you deal with someone who does something so morally reprehensible as killing someone?

Now, the list of government privileges that the people do not have goes far beyond these two. For example, the government may confiscate your land through eminent domain, then take and sell back your right to fish on that land. Imagining the consequences of an individual trying to do the same to his neighbor leads down a wicked path to the end of a shotgun barrel, not to mention a potential for some more government-approved killing as well.

Despite this clear power imbalance, the most crucial part of the Declaration of Independence directly warns against such an atrocity.

To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. 

The Consent of the Governed clause is a tremendously important segment of the document. Though not legally binding, it establishes an important precedent for the types of government that may exist.

Essentially, this clause states that the people may choose what powers they give to the state. Power begins with the people, and then, they may delegate them to the state at will. But how can the people delegate powers that they don’t have in the first place?

The question stumped Vermont’s very own Senator Bernie Sanders, in a 2008 interview. The independent, on a YouTube show with Jan Helfeld, agreed that all just powers of the government are derived from the people. But then, after some back and forth questioning, Sanders admits that people do not have the right to initiate force against others (sans self defense).

As Helfeld excellently questions after this, how can the people delegate this right, if they do not have it? If the people give their rights to the government, and that is the only form of just government, how does a just government obtain rights that the people did not have, and thus, were entirely unable to give away? This sends Sanders, and likely many others, into a tailspin.

The senator admits that the people give the state the power to make war and roads. Then, he goes so far as to say yes, people can give government rights they do not have. However, this is entirely contradictory to his previous statement.

In no way is Bernie Sanders alone in his clearly contradictory beliefs in this manner. He just happened to be unlucky enough to get caught under the net of Helfeld’s tough questioning. When it comes down to it, all 100 senators have the same ideals as Sanders, in this way. All claim a desire for a just and representative government, as outlined by the founding documents of our country. Yet, all support a government with rights that the people do not have.

Last March, the Senate voted, 55-44, against a treaty that would have made it more difficult for the president to place troops in Yemen without congressional oversight. In fact, Sanders, along with Senators Mike Lee and Chris Murphy, were on the right side of this one. Had the bill passed, Congress would have needed to approve any further military action. But in this case, even the right side ignores the real issues.

Regardless of whether or not the president or Congress is stationing troops in Yemen, there is a body forcing troops to go to Yemen. Yes, it is true that the draft is not currently active, and those in Yemen are volunteers. But the Senate made sure in 2016 that they had the power to round up the troops if necessary. When the civilians do that one, it’s called kidnapping.

Ultimately, it matters little whether the men (and women now) in Yemen are volunteer or recruit. Likewise, it matters little in the 39% of the world’s countries the United States is fighting terror in. Spoiler alert, terror is winning. With each civilian casualty, terror spreads. And as it all happens, the government approves it, clearly without a justification.

Thomas Jefferson was an imperfect man, owning slaves and having an affair with at least one of them. His public policy was also, in many cases, hypocritical, as his distaste for noble blood matched his equal belief that white blood was superior. But, when it comes to the Declaration of Independence, the third president is spot on.

A government, if it is to exist at all, must derive its rights from the consent of the governed (not from 51% of them, either). Today’s state entirely ignores this principle. In many cases such as with Senator Sanders, our elected officials do not even realize their own hypocrisy. It is time to take the government back, end the wars, bring the rights back to the people, and eliminate those rights which do not exist at all. It is time to ensure equal standards exist between government and the people. The future of our country and the lives of those abroad depend on it.


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The US Government Violates Every Basic Rule of Consent

By Austin Anderholt| United States

In my health class, my school recently taught us about consent, and the 5 factors that MUST go into consent. Interestingly enough, the government violates every one of them. The school taught an acronym called F.R.I.E.S. :

F – Freely given. “Doing something sexual with someone is a decision that should be made without pressure, force, manipulation, or while drunk or high.”

Clearly, the government violates this one. Everyone can agree that taxes and other government laws are only followed because of force. I personally do not consent to taxation. When I pay taxes, it will only be because government otherwise threatens to lock me in a cage.

R – Reversible. “Anyone can change their mind about what they want to do, at any time. Even if you’ve done it before or are in the middle of engaging in intercourse.”

Government does us one better. Not only can we not reverse our choice to submit to the rule and tax of the state, but we are not given the option in the first place. Government simply tells us that a piece of paper that we never signed lets them do whatever they want to us on our property.

I – Informed. “Be honest. For example, if someone says they’ll do X and then they don’t, that’s not consent.”

If a politician says, “We won’t raise your taxes!” and then they do, that’s not consent.

Or, if they promise to end civilian casualties of war, yet don’t do so, that’s not consent.

If they claim, “The founders created America in the name of freedom!”, and then lock someone in a cage for smoking more than the regulation amount of a plant, that’s not consent.

E – Enthusiastic. “If someone isn’t excited, or really into it, that’s not consent.”

I don’t know about my audience, but I personally am not enthusiastic about armed robbers stealing 30% of my income.

S – Specific. “Saying yes to one thing doesn’t mean they’ve said yes to others.”

I haven’t even said yes to one thing. All government tells us is that we all signed a social contract at birth that lets them do whatever they want. It doesn’t specify anything at all. There’s no document that I’ve signed, there are no agreements I’ve ever made to the government.

Government’s standards for taxation and lawmaking are incompatible with proper and consensual behavior.

I seriously cannot believe that our society can have such great standards for consent in the bedroom, yet turn its back when government violates these standards.