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Walter E Williams on What's Rule of Law

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... Voluntary taxes may be an integral part of the Objectivist viewpoint, but it is nevertheless secondary to the question of the role and nature of government. 

... 

 

The role of government is authority and the nature of government is determined by the people who control it.

 

The problem I have with the premise of voluntary taxes as insurance to enforce the rule of law, is that it suggests either you can get something for nothing (as a free rider), or that justice means just us (the policy holders).  Taxes are the means to finance justice for all and that implies one person's payment is pooled for group coverage, not individual coverage.

 

In a free society, are payments for services really a "secondary" consideration?  That strikes me as a curious position for a capitalist to take.

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...

Do you think a voluntarily financed government could afford to subsidize, and thus encourage as many free-riders to climb aboard?

...

 

I don't think it could afford to subsidize period, but I can't imagine any means other than subsidy to provide justice for all.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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...

This is an equivocation between two fundamentally different 'services'. The objectivist argument for a government police force tasked with the protection of individual rights is that force is special in this fundamental sense. The argument can't be extended to education.

 

I dispute that position.  Education is the most efficient means of exercising control over the use of force, and the most potent deterent against aggression.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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I dispute that position.  Education is the most efficient means of exercising control over the use of force, and the most potent deterent against aggression.

 

What do you dispute? I agree with you that education is, in a sense, prior to the use of force. People's ideas shape how they believe force ought to be used. However, that doesn't erase the distinction between what is force and what is not force. A preacher of mystical non-sense ought not be prosecuted as a murderer (nor coerced into shutting up) even though his ideas would ultimately lead to death and destruction.

 

Education is a product of and for the mind. It's in an entirely different realm than physical force. 

 

Going back to your first statement of your question on page one:

 

 

 

You've got me thinking now, and I'll probably run amok, but isn't public education as valuable as public security?  And if so, or nearly so, then it seems to me that the argument for a government role in education follows naturally from the government role to maintain security, not only from aggression but from ignorance; the latter being a real danger to society that left unchecked will exacerbate the former.

 

"Public Security" (which I guess means a police force) isn't argued for on the basis that it's really really valuable but that it's not like other "services". Force needs to be placed under objective control, not competed for.

Edited by CriticalThinker2000

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I don't think it could afford to subsidize period, but I can't imagine any means other than subsidy to provide justice for all.

Is the current involuntary subsidized approach providing justice for all?

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Is the current involuntary subsidized approach providing justice for all?

 

Yes, but the practice of justice doesn't always live up to the theory of justice.  I fault the quality of representation for the accused in that regard.

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... 

 

In your concept of government, will an individual be free to ignore an environmental law, without consequences? 

 

I thought I already addressed this kind of pick and choose question in post #45, but to recap:

 

In a republic the rules is more like guidelines, to paraphrase Captain Barbossa, and only binding to the community that endorses them.  Not being an environmentalist, an individual may choose to follow this law or to challenge it, but he wouldn't be free to act without consequence in any case.

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In a republic the rules is more like guidelines, to paraphrase Captain Barbossa, and only binding to the community that endorses them.  Not being an environmentalist, an individual may choose to follow this law or to challenge it, but he wouldn't be free to act without consequence in any case.

What type of consequence could he face other than being shunned by his neighbors or something like that?

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What type of consequence could he face other than being shunned by his neighbors or something like that?

 

Worst case scenario, fines or imprisonment.  We will see something like this play itself out in California's San Joaquin Valley where the government has recently enacted a law to begin metering water drawn from privately owned wells, setting a amount of usage and fining farmers who overdraw.

 

http://www.breitbart.com/california/2014/09/18/ca-laws-restrict-groundwater-use-on-private-land/

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Yes, but the practice of justice doesn't always live up to the theory of justice.  I fault the quality of representation for the accused in that regard.

I thought I might get a "No", for a response based on your responses to my free-rider contrast.

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I don't see how you can call compliance voluntary if non-compliance would send a person to jail. By that reckoning, every law in every country except ones that receive the death penalty.

 

Referring back to the example, the majority rule is advisory.  Such a rule may be supported by existing laws designed to secure life and liberty, which then makes it more likely that a jury of ones peers would find this law justified and condemn non-compliance.  However a non-environmentalist may also sway a jury of his peers that the recent law violates his property rights and is therefore unconstitutional.

 

The example you keep returning to demonstrates two extreme positions, but neither position allows an individual the freedom to act without legal consequence.  I posted that article to clarify what you supposed was my preference for an absolute democracy which you claim Objectivists don't support.  Now you seem bent on proving an absolute democracy is necessary to enact laws that can be enforced.

 

What's up with that?

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Referring back to the example, the majority rule is advisory.  Such a rule may be supported by existing laws designed to secure life and liberty, which then makes it more likely that a jury of ones peers would find this law justified and condemn non-compliance.  However a non-environmentalist may also sway a jury of his peers that the recent law violates his property rights and is therefore unconstitutional.

 

The example you keep returning to demonstrates two extreme positions, but neither position allows an individual the freedom to act without legal consequence.  I posted that article to clarify what you supposed was my preference for an absolute democracy which you claim Objectivists don't support.  Now you seem bent on proving an absolute democracy is necessary to enact laws that can be enforced.

 

What's up with that?

Firstly, I do not think absolute democracy is required to enact laws that can be enforced.

I'm trying to understand your concept of law. If you think the environment example is too extreme, then let's take a few other examples, assuming that a republican government (according to your concept) is in place. Via these examples, I am trying to understand what you mean by the term "law": I am trying to under its actual nature... not just whether there are some words on paper, but what those words result in, in the real world. So, with that, here are some examples:

1. A law says people cannot steal. Someone decides to ignore it and steals my car, saying it is voluntary to obey the advisory law of the majority. If he is caught and comes before a jury does he go to jail only if everyone in the jury thinks the law is okay [in other words, the jury is not meant to judge the fact in your system, but also the law?]

2. A law says that having sex with a minor is illegal. A teacher has sex with his middle-school 12-year old. He comes before a jury. Again, if a single person on the jury thinks that 12 is old enough to consent, does he go free?

In summary, in your system is the jury the ultimate determiner of the effective law?

Edited by softwareNerd

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My position is influenced primarily by two sources: a business law professor and a rabbi.  The former taught me the law supports what a reasonable person is expected to do with respect for life, liberty and property, and the latter taught me it's the exceptions that sometimes prove the rule.  With that in mind you can suppose the kind of verdict a jury would deliver in your two examples.

 

The ultimate determiner of effective law is the judgement of a reasonable person with respect for justice, and the ultimate arbiter of that is a jury of ones peers.

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I thought I might get a "No", for a response based on your responses to my free-rider contrast.

 

I suspect that the primary difference between my position and defenders of the Objectivist position on voluntary tax as "insurance" has to do with the premise of who's coverage is being funded.  One typically doesn't purchase insurance to cover everyone else, and yet this is what taxes actually do to fund justice for all.  I think we should call a spade a spade, or admit to a different goal.

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"Public Security" (which I guess means a police force) isn't argued for on the basis that it's really really valuable but that it's not like other "services". Force needs to be placed under objective control, not competed for.

 

Yes, but I argue that the objective control you are referring to is of the mind, thus the need for a unique service to secure education as well as property.

 

Force is competed for in the form of private security, and I believe education also follows this pattern such that competition remains a good thing in the market place.  So long as government remains confined to securing objectively defined rules of justice and knowledge, we obtain all the benefit of 3rd party arbitration along with private innovation in delivery of those services.

 

Win-win.

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Yes, but I argue that the objective control you are referring to is of the mind, thus the need for a unique service to secure education as well as property.

 

I've tried my best but I can't understand that sentence at all. What do you mean objective control is of the mind? I'm saying that physical force, because of its nature and relation to man, needs to be placed under objective control. The same is not true of education because education does not deal in force. It's true that there are private security forces, but if a private security force uses force it has to justify it to the government.

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Sorry, that was a bit of a stretch.  I mean the objective control of force begins and ends with knowledge.

 
Yes, private security has to justify their use of force according to rules we sanction via government to enforce.  My point is there's a similar need to settle disputes over knowledge, e.g., 1+1=2;not 3, cat is spelled c-a-t; not f-i-g.  This kind of basic education is essential to knowledge and by extension to knowing what justice is and how it is appropriately enforced.

 
Just as we need force regulated to secure the marketplace, we need knowledge regulated to enable the participation of the greatest amount of traders.  Or to put it another way, protecting traders against swindlers is less efficient than educating traders how to know when they've been swindled.  We're not talking rocket science here, just ensuring that basic education is made available by the same means, and for the same reason basic security is made available.

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There's a great scene in the movie Serenity that captures some of the apprehension vibe I'm getting here about government’s educational role:

 

"People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run don't walk we're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome." ~ River

 

"River, we're not telling people what to think. We're just trying to show them how." ~ Teacher

 

Until recently, I would have used something like this to support the view many of you are expressing here, and I still admit to some sympathetic concern with this line of reasoning.  However my problem now is being unable to differentiate the benefits of subsidized security from those of education.

 

Enough for now…  Thanks for your feedback, and enjoy the holidays.

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There's a great scene in the movie Serenity that captures some of the apprehension vibe I'm getting here about government’s educational role:

"People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run don't walk we're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome." ~ River

"River, we're not telling people what to think. We're just trying to show them how." ~ Teacher

 

Until recently, I would have used something like this to support the view many of you are expressing here, and I still admit to some sympathetic concern with this line of reasoning. However my problem now is being unable to differentiate the benefits of subsidized security from those of education.

Apprehension vibe. Tactfully put.

Were that the teachers just trying to teach their pupils how to think. Peikoff could have saved himself the trouble of writing "Why Johnny Can't Think", essay 20 of The Voice of Reason.

Enough for now… Thanks for your feedback, and enjoy the holidays.

Merry Christmas.

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Sorry, that was a bit of a stretch.  I mean the objective control of force begins and ends with knowledge.

 

Yes, private security has to justify their use of force according to rules we sanction via government to enforce.  My point is there's a similar need to settle disputes over knowledge, e.g., 1+1=2;not 3, cat is spelled c-a-t; not f-i-g.  This kind of basic education is essential to knowledge and by extension to knowing what justice is and how it is appropriately enforced.

 

Just as we need force regulated to secure the marketplace, we need knowledge regulated to enable the participation of the greatest amount of traders.  Or to put it another way, protecting traders against swindlers is less efficient than educating traders how to know when they've been swindled.  We're not talking rocket science here, just ensuring that basic education is made available by the same means, and for the same reason basic security is made available.

 

Just to be clear, you're saying that we need to government to "regulate knowledge" because otherwise we will be unable to settle disputes regarding what is true? If so, that is a really evil idea.

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Just to be clear, you're saying that we need to government to "regulate knowledge" because otherwise we will be unable to settle disputes regarding what is true? If so, that is a really evil idea.

 

I'm saying the argument for a monopoly on force to provide security holds true for knowledge as well.  If the latter is evil then the former also is for the same reason, i.e., that monopoly is evil.  But in fact we sanction a monopoly on force while allowing for a right to bear arms, so in the same manner a monopoly on knowledge allows a similar right to self education.

 

We need government to act as policeman and librarian or we need neither service, for the greater social danger would be to regulate force but not literacy.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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I'm saying the argument for a monopoly on force to provide security holds true for knowledge as well.  If the latter is evil then the former also is for the same reason, i.e., that monopoly is evil.  But in fact we sanction a monopoly on force while allowing for a right to bear arms, so in the same manner a monopoly on knowledge allows a similar right to self education.

 

We need government to act as policeman and librarian or we need neither service, for the greater social danger would be to regulate force but not literacy.

 

So the government needs to initiate force (the only way to hold a monopoly on knowledge) against innocent citizens in order to secure a system whereby the initation of force is extracted from society. This is silly on its face, if one bothers to think about it for a couple of minutes. An Objectivism sympathizer arguing for government control in the realm of ideas... I've seen it all. This 'argument' isn't worth pursuing any longer.

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I'm saying the argument for a monopoly on force to provide security holds true for knowledge as well.  If the latter is evil then the former also is for the same reason, i.e., that monopoly is evil.  But in fact we sanction a monopoly on force while allowing for a right to bear arms, so in the same manner a monopoly on knowledge allows a similar right to self education.

 

We need government to act as policeman and librarian or we need neither service, for the greater social danger would be to regulate force but not literacy.

False alternative, albeit I do not have an explicit alternative to offer as a foil at the moment.

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