Thursday, April 3, 2014

L.P.D.: Libertarian Police Department

The New Yorker is out with a tongue-in-cheek article that paints an absolutely absurd picture of what a libertarian society would look like. Even worse, it includes an incorrect link between libertarianism and Bitcoin.

A snippet:
I was shooting heroin and reading “The Fountainhead” in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.

“Bad news, detective. We got a situation.”

“What? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?”

“Worse. Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”...
I put a quarter in the siren. Ten minutes later, I was on the scene. It was a normal office building, strangled on all sides by public sidewalks. I hopped over them and went inside.

“Home Depot™ Presents the Police!®” I said, flashing my badge and my gun and a small picture of Ron Paul. “Nobody move unless you want to!” 
Read the rest here (if you can take it.)


  1. The bitcoin part is accurate, at least.

  2. Nope, can't do it. We're bombarded by this kind of willfully ignorant nonsense. My blood pressure can't take any more.

  3. So even when mocking us, they acknowledge that bad things occur, even in a libertarian society.

    Uh Oh Joe (Jerry Wolfgang)

    I thought the piece was quite stupid. But, some so-called libertarians in the comments seemed to enjoy it. To each their own.

  4. It's funny, but what bothers me is how many people think it has anything to do with libertarianism.

  5. Here's what it might look more like:

  6. As I constantly remind everyone, our opponents do not understand or want to understand even the most basic of our concepts such as the NAP. A private neighborhood with private streetsl and schools would have vetted its residents, non-residents might be banned, and if it were a child-safe neighbor, you'd find no drugs or thugs anywhere in sight. Things would probably be different if you lived in a private and voluntary biker neighborhood, but again, non-residents would not be prowling the private streets.

    1. "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

      We are at stage 2 (esp with Jon Leibowitz's Lincoln worshipping and compulsory unemployment demagoguery piece vs the Judge and Schiff respectively...the Fabian/Progressive/Incremental Socialists are scared to no end.

      We even have JW - a govt. sponsored troll in this blog...think about it, we've come a far and long way!

    2. Even worse Bob, the establishment media is an insider and mouthpiece for the state. See Operation Mockingbird. There is a vested interest in conflating issues, and propagandizing the virtues (sic) of the state over the alternatives.

      This isn't ignorance. As an overall objective, this is purposeful action. The insiders want to stay insiders because otherwise if things change, their livelihood becomes ambiguous.

    3. I've shown this before but one of the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) lunatics made this for me and he's quite serious. There are no words.

  7. No thanks. I live around and see enough non-thinking idiots in real life as it is.

  8. Freedom is un-american
    Bitcoin is un-libertarian.
    and those who deny it are doubleplus-ungood Unpersons

  9. I'd take 25 cent coin operated society over 25% effective payroll tax + inflation tax + property tax society.

    Hilariously, statists get that idea from the state itself, with its toll roads that force you to stop and drop in coins at a booth. Even Jesse Ventura fell for that false dichotomy, as he arrogantly displayed in his recent EPJ interview.

    Bastiat busted this myth over 150 years ago with, "That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen"

    You don't even have to be a libertarian to understand that, so what's everyone else's excuse?

    1. You bring up a good point that never gets put into perspective. People just transpose the worst case scenario of what happens now on to whatever they're trying to make a point against.

      In this case, the $0.25 police dispatch call is a logical fallacy. It would be a backwards step in efficiency that the free market would never allow. How do we know? Because the manipulated market we have today finds it inefficient. When was the last time anyone put a coin in a communication device? Yes, payphones still exist, but even then you have options besides inserting a quarter, like pre-paid calling cards.

      Here is another point to add to what is unseen. The total cost of a service without state overhead and taxation. L. Neil Smith put this very well here:
      "... Or, just to put it in what may seem like everyday, more practical terms, half of everything we make -- to be precise, 47% or our income -- is taken from us in the form of income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and so forth. To add insult to injury, half of what we spend evaporates the same way, not spent on the quantity or quality of the goods and services we think we're paying for, but wasted on corporate taxes, inventory taxes, and that sort of thing.
      What's even worse, according to economist Arthur Laffer, the burden of complying with socialist regulations doubles the price of everything again, so that we're spending eight times as much as we should need to, to acquire life's necessities and luxuries. Every day, we run on one eighth of our real capacity, while right-wing and left-wing socialists greedily gobble up the remaining seven eighths of our substance, not to mention our opportunities, our futures, and our children's futures."

      To truly represent the cost of communication of a private police force, first take whatever our cost is now and divide it by eight. That $0.25 call becomes $0.03. What makes you believe that whatever communication that goes on in your private or professional life wouldn't have some subscription period in which you would pay for things in the same manner in which you do now?!

      As you just scratch the surface of these fallacious arguments, they literally fall apart before your eyes.

      What really changes in a Libertarian society is that because of taxation and the overhead of the non-value-add state, the actual cost of living drops by 87.5%!! And, the socialist aspect of taxation, where the fruits of your labor is taken at gunpoint and redistributed to inefficient, corrupt, and fraudulent projects is now gone. You have control over what is important to you, not some nanny state stealing your money and potentially using it against you or allocating it to people, places, or services against your desires.

      Lastly, I haven't even touched the unseen impacts of what the Federal Reserve does to the business cycle, moral hazard, and the destruction of capital and wealth. It may very well be that when you consider these aspects, the 7/8 number L. Neil Smith talks about above could be very conservative.

  10. It was funny, if you let yourself see it as an absurd straw-man of libertarian thought, from a liberal view. It's a mistake to get angry at this kind of piece, since it demonstrates 1. lack of real intellectual opposition to libertarian thought and 2. the leftist elite feels enough of a threat to publish this kind of hit piece. Both great things!

    What's pathetic is the "libertarians" in the comments who say it's funny for peer pressure reasons. As in, hey, we're cool, we can laugh at ourselves and our silly ideas! Pathetic.

    1. agree 100%...those that laugh are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome more than peer pressure.

      That piece is a pure appeal to ridicule, it's like Homer Simpson trying to make fun of Lisa Simpson and not realising that others are laughing at him rather than with him. Same can be said about Colbert who is making a fool of himself when he tries to attack supply/demand laws, guns etc.

  11. Proof we're winning.

  12. Oh no, they forgot to mention the environment in this. I guess the writer's productivity didn't qualify him for more than a humor piece on the New Yorker. Certainly I wouldn't want his help to reason about economics.

  13. I've read enough, but I'm always delighted when libertarian ideas can make these guys feel threatened enough to spend their energy attacking them.

    It seems like their best weapon is to inaccurately characterize libertarian positions, lest people say "wait a minute! That IS what I believe!"

    I can rile up statists easily by giving them (after they make some ad absurdum comment about my positions) the Mencken quote about how they prefer the safety of a prison (with the federal government being the warden) to actual living.

  14. “The New Yorker™ presents Dumbass®.”

  15. Progressive Police Department and World.
    A boot on your neck...........forever.
    lol not.

  16. As someone trying to understand Libertarianism, I have a scary question; If someone was poor and could not afford to take part in the privatized vital services I have been told would occur under a libertarianism, does that mean that they don't get assisted by law enforcement and thier house gets burned down to the ground all because they could not afford the fees. If not then who pays.

  17. PJ, your question isn't scary, it's what's called a "straw-man" argument.

    What happens when someone is poor now and they cannot afford homeowner's or renter's insurance and they are burglarized or their property is destroyed via fire or water damage currently? This would be the same in a private property / private law society.

    However, there would be a difference with respect to "public goods" provided now with no choice, nor recourse. Now, there are city services in which there are no service level agreements, no recourse if the city doesn't deliver the "service" it says it provides, no guarantee of anything for the taxes you pay. You don't know what the price would be because the city creates services via central planning and pays for them via taxation (theft) instead of through the market via demand, competition, and continuous innovation.

    What do we know for sure? Nothing the government does is as cheap or as efficient as the market and competition. My quote above has a reference to the rather well-educated guess that when all is said and done about what the government takes via all taxation that we end up with about 1/8 of our incomes. How cheap would life be if you could multiply your income by 8, let alone have competition for all services the government currently provides?

    The reality is that government creates poverty in order to justify its existence. Due to its position as the sole monopoly power of law and force, it creates distortions we cannot even begin to see at face value. It modifies behavior by socializing risk and creating moral hazard. It destroys charity. It diverts resources and research from the private sector to politically connected entities. It kills people without regard and without recourse. How many potential Einsteins, Van Goghs, Edisons, Mozarts, Teslas, etc. have been murdered in war?

    "Who pays" is not asking the right question.

  18. But Who pays is the right question. The assumption that private industry is better than government services doesn't hold up when you look t the charter school debacles, or the high rtes charged by privatized municipal water companies.
    So by your statement, the poor would not have access to police or fire services, in the same way they lose if they are burgled or damaged, if they cannot afford to pay private services.
    Libertarian theory would be great for the upper middle class and the rich but the poor are tossed aside no matter who is in charge.

    1. Don't you think it's funny that as examples of "private" enterprises you have chosen a pair of regulated-to-death crony institutions owing their continuing existence to the government?

      How about comparing a libertarian city to shopping malls of today?.. private security certainly serves both merchants AND visitors, though only merchants pay for it. The reason for that is that merchants want clean and safe environment so their patrons would feel comfortable. Similarly, in a private city landlords will pay most of the costs of security, the rest being paid by insurers of better-off residents.

      In general, all those statist arguments for the public services completely ignore the fact that there are always parties who would see provision of these services for "free" as their business model. I thought in Google era the idea that one can be successful in business by providing free service to community is quite evident to even the most unimaginative people.

    2. "The assumption that private industry is better than government services doesn't hold up when you look t the charter school debacles"

      Charter school aren't private industry. They are publicly funded.(by the tax payer, via wealth confiscation)

      "or the high rtes charged by privatized municipal water companies."

      Just because a private water "municipal" water company may charge more, doesn't mean that it "doesn't hold up". Government run municipal water departments across the US are struggling with decaying infrastructure and poor water quality.

      In that regard, many are getting what they pay for.

      Conversely, when you look at the private water industry you get better quality and lower prices over time, as opposed to a government run/controlled market.

      We understand your concern for the poor, but it is not government that has made most human's life comfortable in first world country's, it is the advancement of technology and money made by private industry.

      We do not need government to take money from those that have a lot of it to take care of our poor. You should have more faith in the common man than government, which attracts the worst in society.

    3. P.J., as I said, "who pays" is a straw-man fallacy argument. Your couching your knowledge of the state-planned socialized welfare state that you've grown up with and accepted as the truth. You're spoiling for a fight, which is why I said what I said. You just mowed right over my post without reading any of it, nor asking for more details, materials, or specifics, and just spouted non-market examples of state manipulated environments and said it all can't work without central planning.

      If you'd like reading material to actually learn instead of argue there are plenty of resources available. If you'd like suggestions, I'm perfectly willing to give them.

      Again, your perception of the poor having access to police currently is a muddy one. Yeah, they have access to be arrested and incarcerated for non-violent non-crimes for months and years. They are harassed on a daily basis. As we have seen in Missouri and New York recently, they are just murdered outright.

      In a private law / private property society, this couldn't happen.

    4. PJ, start reading:

      There is a MOUNTAIN of info located there to all your questions.

  19. Cory, I read all the responses to my question and I am grateful. I have read much of what is out there on Libertarians and while theory is fine I m looking for the practical. Theory looks good on paper but never works that way once humans try implement it.
    The assumption that business will do what is best for society doesn't place out, judging by the behavior of corporations now.

    1. PJ, The problem is again you're making a straw-man logical fallacy. Firstly, with your statement, "who pays," and now again with "The assumption that business will do what is best for society doesn't place out."

      First, let's look at "who pays?" You have the connotation with that statement that the social-welfare coercively planned state is preferable to a private property / private law society. The individual always pays in both societies. In the former, it is under direct or implied force with no accountability and no recourse. This is akin to slavery, however your implication is that there is some sense of superiority about it compared to alternatives. In the latter society, it is voluntary and you pay only for what you desire, not for political whims and preferences. I've explained the fallacy, and even provided examples that under the current environment the poor are always victims and always lose out. In a private law / private property society, not only would the poor most likely be able to afford at least 8 times what they have now, they would have accountability for how they are treated.

      The pre-eminent research out there that is a bit dated but still shows that the welfare state has not done anything to improve the lives of poor people is Charles Murray's, "Losing Ground." I suggest you take a look at it. Any time you create perverse incentives for people to act a certain way, you create unseen impacts. That has been exactly what has happened and "Losing Ground" does a great job showing it.

      However, you still come back with straw-man fallacy #2 that using the behavior or corporations now, they don't do what is best for society. First, how do you know what is best for society? Where is the list of those best things and who makes them? Second, corporations by and large are profit seeking and need to create a product and service that customers (you and I) have to purchase in order for them to survive. Again, this is much different than the state, which takes your money under force or the threat of force. So which corporations are running around with nuclear weapons, tanks, rockets, armies, land mines, etc. again that allows for the mass killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip? Or creates groups like ISIS in order to overthrow sovereign nations like Syria? Or when it cannot do that, creates a coup d'etat
      in the Ukraine to further its strategic, political, and natural resource objectives? Which corporation was that again?

      It's really funny how you have this perception of what is best for society that apparently government has an awesome track record on, but business can't get right to save itself. That is irony at its best given all the advances that have happened in the past century that have allowed for our species to live longer, richer, more nourished and leisurely lives have come from those very corporations providing products that people desire to pay for.

      Tom Woods has an excellent daily podcast with heaps and loads of accredited researchers and authors who dispel every single fallacy you can bring up. Please go and listen and read. Yes, we're all looking for practical. Supporting the coercive murdering centrally planned socialist welfare state at the expensive of the non-violent, voluntary corporations who wither away and die if they don't make something you want to purchase, who have made the communication and research we are doing right at this moment possible, is practically insane.

    2. "The assumption that business will do what is best for society doesn't place out, judging by the behavior of corporations now. "


      The problem is that you've conflated the intention of business with what's best for society.

      The goal of business is to make profit. It does so by benefiting "society", but that is not necessarily its intention(but it might be for some, it's up to the owners).

      Why society benefits from business is because of competition...not necessarily out of some altruistic desire by stakeholders to do so. In other words, when you go into Walmart, Best Buy, shop Amazon, etc., and see a hundred TV's to choose wasn't because these businesses set out solely to make society a better's because they want to make a profit and the benefit to society is a byproduct of that. (if there wasn't gov't taxation, there probably would be no need for "non-profit" corporations)

      Inevitably, most of the "bad behavior" you speak of is from businesses that are crony related and/or have some type of other gov't protected monopoly(instead of a voluntary monopoly, like market dominance or social norm, like contract/property enforcement via a private entity) and they can afford to crap on people. (like a TBTF bank for example, or car/health insurance companies in gov't limited markets)

      It's harder to witness how free markets operate today, because so much of our economy is fascist...but under a true & rampant free market bad actors wouldn't be around very long because good acting competitors would drive them out of business fairly quickly. You can see example of this still here and there, like in electronics and other high competition/low regulation/gov't interference markets.

      Best Regards.