Monday, November 30, 2009

The free loader problem

The biggest problem that neither anarcho-socialists (what we traditionally mean by the word "anarchists") or anarcho-capitalists (a.k.a. "Libertarians", "glibertarians", "libertards") have an answer to is the free loader problem. And without an answer to the freeloader problem, they are condemning their white pasty flabby asses to become some sociopath's bitch if they ever got their anarchist's paradise that they wish for.

So how does this happen? Well, consider the problem of sociopaths in general. There are two kinds of people -- regular people, who hesitate at the taking of life, and sociopaths, who enjoy taking lives. In a gunfight between a sociopath and a regular person, the sociopath wins, because he who hesitates loses in a gunfight. So in a no-government Libertopia, sociopaths will swiftly kill the most courageous of the regular people, those who try to take them on, and the rest of the regular people will get the message that they're the sociopath's bitches and quit trying. See: Somalia, Afghanistan, the inner city of most U.S. cities, the state prison system of most U.S. states...

Now I hear you saying, but in Libertopia we'll have private cops to take the sociopaths off and put them away! But: Who is going to pay for these private cops? If Bill Gates pays for the private cops, everybody else is freeloading off of Bill Gates! Unless *everybody* pays for getting Jeffrey Dahmer off the streets, the end result is that NOBODY pays, because Bill Gates isn't going to pay when it's just going to benefit the families of the people actually killed by Jeffrey Dahmer! Instead, he's going to retreat behind his own fences and go out with his own armed guards, and leave Jeffrey Dahmer out there to meet other Jeffrey Dahmers at which point you now have an army of Jeffrey Dahmers who are raping, pillaging, and cannibalizing at will because ordinary people who dare try to take a shot at them get killed because, well, they hesitate.

The reality is that the only way to keep this army of Jeffrey Dahmers from forming is for everybody to pay for the trained cops and prison system to keep them off the streets (or at least on the payroll so that they're going after other Jeffrey Dahmers rather than cannibalizing the people as a whole). I.e., taxes, enforced by government. Which the glibertarians and anarchists don't believe in, in their heart of hearts, chanting "taxation is theft!" and shit like that.

But for some reason the glibertarians and anarchists don't see it that way, the glibertarians claiming that ordinary people with ordinary weapons have any chance at all against sociopaths (they don't, he who hesitates loses in a gunfight and ordinary people simply do not like violence and killing and thus aren't good at it unless they get a lot of training paid for by, err, government), and the anarchists simply handwaving the problem away and claiming that their voluntary syndics will work sufficiently well for self defense and sociopaths won't be able to take them over and force the members to their bitches (hah!). It is to laugh, really, at just how divorced from reality these people are. Mao had it right: Power flows from the barrel of a gun. And sociopaths are damned good at using guns due to their complete lack of morals and scruples... giving them much more power than their numbers would indicate they should have. Without a solution to the freeloader problem, there's simply no way to pay for the large number of ordinary people needed to keep sociopaths down -- and the glibertarians and anarchists (and the rest of us, alas) end up as the sociopaths' bitches.

-- Badtux the non-freeloader Penguin


  1. I have noticed that the McCarthyists are always willing to point out that the liberals want something for nothing. The truth be told they are exactly the same. They want the benefits of living in the world's best economy with the world's best military but they will be damned if they are going to pay for it.

  2. Thing is, liberals *don't* want something for nothing. We're quite willing to raise our own taxes to pay for the stuff that we get thanks to government. It's the borrow-and-spend conservatards who want something for nothing -- they want the stuff government buys, but they don't want to pay taxes for it.

    - Badtux the "Hypocrisy, anyone?" Penguin

  3. If pressed, I'd probably say that the glibertarians and anarchists are Dahmer than s#1t...

    (Sorry; it's been that kind of day.)

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  6. Hi BT,
    Good points, all. You correctly pointed out that our government is good at teaching violence and killing, but why couldn't free enterprise do a more efficient job of training good people into the ways of violence and killing? Also, were the pre-police days of the U.S. like Somalia today? It must have been a horrible existence.
    Keep rockin' the Snark.


  7. UC, I mentioned why. It's the freeloader problem. Who is going to pay? If I pay to have someone train these guys, their work benefits *you*, you would be freeloading off of me! Why would I let you do that? Reality is, I wouldn't pay for it unless you have to pay too, which is only fair because everybody benefits, not just me. If everybody doesn't pay, then I simply won't do it. In short, the freeloader problem says that the only way this will happen is if *everyone* pays, i.e., taxes. The actual identity of the entity doing the training is irrelevant to this discussion, the necessity of mandatory taxes to pay for it, on the other hand, is exactly what I was talking about. Whether you call this entity a "home owner's association", "community association", "town council", or whatever, is irrelevant. The fact that the taxes to maintain the common infrastructure are mandatory in order to have that common infrastructure is quite relevant.

    As for the time before professional police forces, even the smallest town hired a town constable, paid for via taxes or via an assessment of the merchant district, if only to deal with shoplifters. And even the tiniest town had a jail. Usually that was enough, because there was no critical mass to allow large numbers of sociopaths together together. You have to remember just how sparsely populated the colonies were. Boston's population in 1775 was approximately 15,000 people. Philadelphia may have had a whole 40,000 people. These were basically small towns where everybody knew everybody, not the large impersonal cosmopolitan cities of today. Sociopaths existed then as they exist now, but were identified early on and kept under close watch, and dealt with via vigilante justice before they learned the skills to be dangerous. But that simply does not work in a nation of 300 million people where the majority live in large cities as vs. a mostly rural nation of 1.5 million people.

    And of course the Continental Army and even the militias existed because of tax levies. The militia did *NOT* own their own weapons by and large, gun ownership was rare in the colonies outside of the frontier areas where people might want to hunt or use weapons for defense against animals or Indians, and even there fowling pieces were as common as rifles. The majority of the militia were armed with ordinary military weapons, not with Pennsylvania rifles, and the majority of the weapons were stored in town arsenals, not at home. Remember that the whole purpose of the British expedition in 1775 that turned into violence was to destroy a couple of these militia arsenals. These arsenals were paid for with tax levies, not via private enterprise...

    - Badtux the Numbers Penguin

  8. That reminds me of an Army study showing that combat causes psychological problems in 98% of soldiers. The other 2% were already sociopathic when they deployed.

  9. Another problem with privatized security forces is that you might see something like "turf wars" arising between private law enforcement agencies that see each other as rivals. It might actually lead to violence as competing private security forces struggle to determine who is the dominant peacekeeping force. Granted, this is all speculation on my part, but I do not think privatizing emergency services or legal agencies would be a good idea, as you would get something akin to Lord of the Flies.

  10. You must be thinking of ancient Republican Rome. Various Roman senators owned fire protection services. They had a bad tendency to go out and start fires in order to create customers for their services, "you want us to put out your fire? Fine, pay us!" Did wonders for urban renewal, not so much for actually limiting fire damage to the city.

    - Badtux the History Penguin

  11. In either case, it is a libertopian fantasy destined for failure. Oddly enough, I see many disturbing similarities between the end days of the Roman empire and what is currently happening in the US.

  12. The fall of the Roman Republic is more like it. Julius Caesar didn't seize power because he was power hungry. He seized power because the Senate had become dysfunctional and no longer capable of adequately governing the burgeoning empire that had recently conquered vast territories in North Africa, Spain, and France. The private fire protection scam was just one example of how the Senatorial class had screwed things up.


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