Abolishing Prisons

Column by Jim Davies.

Exclusive to STR

The words "escape" and "prison" fit together like hands in gloves in the mind of every prisoner, but in that of every warden, the two will never meet; or not on his watch, not if he can help it. So prisons don't have fire escapes. Instead, they are built of materials that will not burn; concrete, steel, brick. They look dull, but they work.

Except in Honduras, this week, where a fire began and spread and burned over 300 captives alive, roasted and smoked to death in their cells, hopelessly and horribly trapped.

"Obviously", Honduras must be barbarous. "The degree of a nation’s civilization," said Dostoyevsky, "can be seen in the way it treats its prisoners". That prison was flammable, and there was no quick-release mechanism for all cell doors in the event of emergency (or breakfast) and wardenships may have been contracted out to the lowest form of human life.

Not so fast! - for jails and prisons were often made of wood in America as its frontier moved Westwards, and England on the cusp of its most glorious period of empire housed some prisoners in "hulks", so I'm reminded by a re-read of Dickens' Great Expectations. Hulks were old wooden ships that would no longer float, secured in marshes and filled to overflowing with those who had broken the government's laws... and with rats. That was less than two centuries ago. I wonder how many caught fire.

Government slavers to lock away people in its power, but doesn't rush to house them humanely. When Irwin Schiff was imprisoned for breaking a tax law nobody could find, he was issued boots the wrong size - so a toe got gangrene and had to be amputated. He told me that when prisoners are moved around, it is done on short notice and in conditions just like those portrayed in the movie "Con Air" - prior to the airplane hijacking, that is. They call it "diesel therapy."

The savagery in Comayagua reminds me of that in Waco, TX, in 1993. Eighty four men, women and children were burned alive by FedGov agents out to demonstrate their manhood. None had been convicted or tried or even accused; but they were certainly imprisoned, and very dead. The few who survived the inferno were punished for doing so with forty year sentences. What was that Dostoyevsky wrote?

The Honduran prison was overcrowded, with men accused of running drugs contrary to law. Why do such laws exist? - because the FedGov distributes money (stolen from US taxpayers) and other favors to foreign governments who do its bidding, and it bids them help in its own so-called drug war. Why does it wage its war on drugs? Because (1) it provides employment for its drug warriors, (2) it helps its politicians get re-elected by parents so terminally stupid as to swallow whole the fable that laws can cure their childrens' addiction, and most of all (3) because it has provided a wonderful excuse to spy on all financial transactions everywhere. Why is it so desperate to spy on financial transactions? Because if it didn't, victims of its taxation would rather quickly find a way to avoid it. And why is it so addicted to taxation? Because government does hire some people smart enough to understand that if it merely prints everything it spends, hyperinflation will certainly result and quickly ruin its party. (Robert Mugabe was too stubborn to learn that. He knows it now.) Finally, why is it so determined to keep spending? Because it is intoxicated by power. Power is all that government's for.

Brutality towards prisoners will not be seen in the coming free society. The free-market justice industry will bend itself to the task of restitution, to restoring stolen rights, not to punishment--for punishment is a hopeless, lose-lose proposition that benefits nobody. The only exceptions will be the tiny number who do repeated violence (and who survive defenses by a well-armed series of intended victims) from whom society clearly needs protecting. And even then, the limits on their liberty will be the least and most economical feasible, starting with electronic anklets, progressing to house arrest, and then in extreme cases to a closed workshop in which the serial killer can earn his living (and rent). Vengeance, which is the very fabric of today's caricature of justice, will have no place. Nor will fire-prone (or any other) prisons or wrong-sized boots.

I speculate, but think that as behavioral science progresses and more is understood about why some people are habitually vicious, it may become possible to change sociopaths into normal human beings; if so, the justice industry will certainly offer such treatment to those it finds liable to a victim--at the expense, perhaps, of insurers who will save from it in the long run. It will need great care, for brain-altering surgery must never be imposed on someone against his will, but I suppose nobody actually wishes to continue as a deeply-hated monster in an enclosed workshop. I expect such an option to be welcome.

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Jim Davies's picture
Columns on STR: 243

Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched http://TinyURL.com/QuitGov , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?" and in 2016, an unraveling of the great paradox of "income tax law" with "How Government Silenced Irwin Schiff."


KenK's picture

Very eloquent Jim. Now let us revert to reality.

What would you (not your ideological proclivity) suggest be done with a paranoid schizophrenic substance abuser that pees in the street, robs, steals, vandalizes, trespasses, aggressively begs, and threatens to assault passersby? What would you actually do? And please don't tell me what Rothbard, Mises, Hayek, Rand, or the rest of the pantheon write about it but provide a real world based solution or mitigation for the lumpen problem. One that does not assume rationality on the part of the malefactor. Not so easy is it? Now advance a humane solution that doesn't involve violence and involuntary confinement as well.

Like with a hornet's nest there are really only two modes of adaptation behavior available that I can see. Leave it alone or utterly destroy it. No in between works AFAICS. You can choose to ignore the hornets but they may not choose to ignore you.

NB: I am trying to use this commenting space to further a discussion of ideas. I'm am not trying to do a "White Indian" style trolling instigated flame war.

Please don't think this is meant to be a personal attack on you or your writings and other work. I admire both.

Jim Davies's picture

Thank you, Kenk, for your first three words. I'm hung up, though, on the next six.

"Reality"? - you describe a behavior pattern encountered today, and call that "real"? Presumably, that's what you mean by "reality" - something that happens right now, today; and if that guess is correct, I fear you have fallen headlong into a trap. That trap is to suppose without a shred of evidence that what is now must forever be; that today's actual experience is the permanent state of humankind.

Do be sure of that, please, before we continue; for if you do, it means you accept no possibility of change, of improvement or rectification. You'd be saying that any and all attempts to better our race are doomed, that there will for ever be some who are "paranoid schizophrenic substance abusers that pees in the street, robs, steals, vandalizes, trespasses, aggressively begs, and threatens to assault passersby" - that this is normal human behavior, inscribed in our genes. If you really believe that, I'd like to see the argument laid out plainly, ready for me to demolish.

Meanwhile, my reply to Suverans2 may suggest a fresh line of thought.

Suverans2's picture

Evan and Samarami,

See how "dissension" can be put forth without violating the NAP?

Well, said, KenK!

Suverans2's picture

G'day Jim Davies,

Let us start with this. You wrote: "The only exceptions will be the tiny number who do repeated violence..."

"Repeated violence?" Just wondering, how many violent repeats, such as rape, robbery and murder, would you envision before these monsters would be taken out of circulation?

Jim Davies's picture

Fair question, S2.

First, anyone posing a proximate threat to the life of a human being is placing himself at risk of immediate execution, as an act of self-defense by the intended victim. My article did mention that. In the free society I visualize, everyone will of course be free to own can carry such weapons as he sees fit, so that risk is non trivial. We are therefore considering only the survivors - those who repeatedly engage in violence and fall into the hands of the justice industry. They'll be few.

Have you read my article on "Justice", to which a link is provided in the piece? - if not please do so, it's a courtesy I would appreciate. That in turn is excerpted from a longer work, _A Vision of Liberty_, and a link to that is shown in my bio at the foot of the article.

I am really quite tired of hearing people moan and bleat about the way things are, yet who have miserably failed to sit down for a single hour and figure out a rational way to change them. That Trilogy describes a detailed method, operating now. The abolition of prisons is one of the many benefits having a zero government society.

So, how would that free-market court decide how much violence was "enough" and shackle the monster so he can do no more? Answer: fairly, so as to as to maximize its reputation and profits in the justice marketplace. For me to quantify that would be premature; but a raw guess would in my mind be in the low single digits of murders. Where would you draw the line, if you were a judge in that environment?

You mention this question is a "start". Again, please do the homework above before posing any others. I've done mine; now it's your turn.

Suverans2's picture

Murder, if defined as the intentional taking of an innocent human's life, usually for profit or for pleasure, I would draw the line in the low single digits, as well -- ONE!

Fair enough, Jim Davies, I will do some more homework before commenting again.

Paul's picture

Jim's right. Even if you restrict yourself to utilitarian arguments, there is a very low bar here. It just has to be better than the current situation, which would be exceedingly easy.

A free or natural society will still have the occasional ugly or nasty person. Interaction of that person with society will either straighten him out or kill him. No big deal either way. Hard cases make poor law, as they say, and they also make for poor ways to design societies. Let's not let our irrational fears about exceedingly rare events get the better of us. Society is something we have to put up with every single day.

KenK's picture

Okay Jim, here goes.

"Reality" is a condition that exists independently of ideas concerning it. That's my working definition.

As to Bonneau's point of the lumpen being killed off pretty quickly: I have to respond that I doubt that would happen either unless the community is or devolves into a Hobbesian condition to where people will shoot other people for digging through garbage cans, trespassing, squatting, engaging in vandalism, petty theft, aggressive begging, or puking on the sidewalk and such. 90 percent of these lot don't do anything "bad enough" to warrant getting shot. That does not mean the lumpen don't harm a community in major ways. My experience is that just a few of them can make a community very unpleasant to live or work in.

In any event I appreciate the responses to my points and again I commend all efforts toward a freer and more humane society.

Jim Davies's picture

Thanks for the come-back, KenK. So you say "reality" is not determined by ideas we may have about it.

Doesn't that contradict, however, the thrust of your earlier post here? - for you did appear to say that the situation prevailing today (a government-infested, crime-ridden society) consists of "reality" - and you did contrast it with what I'd written about the nature of a free society, some years in the future. You did seem to me to be implying that my description could never constitute reality, that it could never work. Your opener was "Now let us revert to reality."

We are in sync well enough if what you meant to say was something like "looks wonderful, but how do we get from today's reality to tomorrow's possible reality?" - and I have a few answers available for that.

But I hope we agree now on the difference - between scorning an ideal as impossible of realization, on the one hand, and questioning or even doubting how it can be achieved - and, perhaps, whether it would be stable if it _was_ achieved, or unstable and therefore Utopian.

Your post did prompt me, though, to search for crime statistics, and I found something interesting at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States. There is a _huge variation_ over time, within the US - and between different countries, an even more massive difference! Typically the US has _three times_ the violent crime rate found in Canada, France, or Britain - societies very comparable in other ways. I suspect the numbers for Russia and central America because they are so wildly out of line, but it says Russia is thirteen times more violent even than the USA!

From this I see that the prevalence of violence varies enormously _even within government-run societies_. When government has been abolished, with all the violence it fosters, these numbers suggest we shall see reductions counted in orders of magnitude. Yes there will be a problem still (and I found no stats for pissers on the street, so must rely on your own expertese there:-) but as Paul confirms, it won't be very big.

Chris Dates's picture

I also have a problem with KenK's comment of... "Now let us revert to reality."

Philosophy moves the world; it shapes the reality we see around us. Of course, schizophrenics, murderers, and rapists will always be a reality no matter what philosophy is wearing the crown at the moment, but does this mean rational humans should construct their "systems" around the irrational? How many are actually out there? How many actual hard-core criminals, insane or not, actaully exist? It's rather hard to see, because the State has been so successful in selling the Big Lie, and that is this: We /are all/ criminals. We are scared of our own neighbors, and the State is the only thing keeping us safe.

If the tyranny of democracy; the tryanny of the majority is wrong, then how is the tyranny of the criminal a just cause to build society around? Is this what you would consider the "rule of law"?

KenK, should rational human beings construct their societies around the criminal? Is that a rational thing to do?

Suverans2's picture

So, KenK, your "reality" is, that with government firmly in control you no longer have "people for digging through garbage cans, trespassing, squatting, engaging in vandalism, petty theft, aggressive begging, or puking on the sidewalk and such"...is that correct?

Perhaps if we called the society "we" envision, a "self-governing society", it would be more palatable. Imagine if we could teach people, by example, that to be self-governing, responsible, respectful, considerate individuals, was the highest goal of mankind? Would we achieve utopia? Probably not. But, would we be closer to it than we now are? In my opinion, yes.

KenK's picture

I'm am not trying to dodge here but I don't want to be drawn into a lengthy debate more suited to a philosophy grad student seminar. I would just like for Jim or anyone who agrees with him to tell me in plain simple English sentences how people in an utterly stateless condition could deal with problems like street gangs, lumpen antics, and the rare but seriously violent actors without using police, prisons, or involuntary exile which was the thrust of the article. If Jim can and does then great! I will admit that I am or could be wrong and will consider it further. I have no ego invested in this question.

(Side note to Jim. I now regret my opening sentence. I provided no context for "revert to reality" and now see that it has been misunderstood. My bad.)

Chris Dates
People will build their living situations to deal with the condition they find themselves in. No more no less. If the lumpen prove to be a serious issue, then that issue will likely be resolved with brute force just as it is now; the only difference will be that the "brutes" will be private security employees instead of government police. As to seriously dangerous sorts, I don't know. It took government police more than a decade and millions of dollars to find Unabomber, or the Grim Reaper suspect just to name but two. How a stateless society will address these types (esp. without forced exile and prisons) I will leave to the advocates for complete statelessness. I don't think it can myself.

Rational people will construct their lives around being safe. Those that don't or whose efforts are inadequate or are just plain unlucky will suffer for it. Some people don't buy insurance for their homes because rationally they think the odds are on their side.

Suverans2's picture

Out of respect for KenK, and so he doesn't feel "ganged up on", I will bow out of this conversation. I shall sit on the sidelines and enjoy.

Chris Dates's picture


You asked Jim to not bring the ideas of Rothbard and the like into the fray, but then you do the very thing you asked him to refrain from by saying...

"If the lumpen prove to be a serious issue, then that issue will likely be resolved with brute force just as it is now; the only difference will be that the "brutes" will be private security employees instead of government police."

Please explain why you make the jump from the government police being the "brutes" to the private security employees filling that role. I'm interested in knowing how you arrived at that conclusion, because I don't think it necessarily follows from that premise. It is wrong to think that every anarchist or stateless society advocate automatically believes in some sort of "private police" force. This is not always the case, because I don't believe it.

I can't tell you what YOU will do, because I don't run your life, nor do I have the desire to. I can only tell you what I would do in desperate situations; the thing I think is the right thing to do at the moment. If I think a situation warrants gathering up a group of individuals to terminate a threat then so be it, but the thing about it KenK, is this: I would never force you to pay for it, because there is a special kind of injustice inherent in a system that is based on that principle. I would never let the things I fear in my own life become so overpowering that it turns me into a thug.

I am not concerned with what happens to criminals; I do not let it consume my thoughts. The focus must be shifted from destruction to creation if we are ever to have a stateless society, and a focus on the criminal is a focus on destruction. So, not only is society constucted around the criminal, the "rule of law", but the criminal now lives in your head.

I am guessing that there aren't any more than 2% of humans in this world that are actually evil. I'm talking about people who would cause some real terror. These are the ticks that the dog just can't seem to shake off, but the rational thing to do here is not to invite anymore bloodsuckers to join the party! Evil is a part of life, and we will never rid the planet of cannibals by eating them.

We will have a stateless society when humans correctly identify evil, and they no longer have to be persuaded away from it. Your comments give me hope, because you are asking for persuasion. Only one more step left.

voluntaryist's picture

KenK: Since we don't have a "self-governing" society yet, all your doubts, and all our hopes, based on that society, are speculation. But we can look at some sub cultures where there is no violence and see the humanitarian progress. This strongly suggests that your concerns are misplaced. The choice is simple. Either we trust brute force (the state) or individuals choosing (self governing). The second way will contain irrationality but as time goes by it will diminish. What works will win out. This has not been the case when society accepts and bases it's social interactions on a fundamental falsehood, i.e., initiation of force works.

KenK's picture


Yep. It's all speculation. On Davies' part, and mine as well. I admit that. These facts are documented though.
1) The "New Soviet Man" and other ideological/social/religious constructs that were supposed to occur after a changed political system never happened.

2) The French Revolutionaries, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot among others all tried to create their just societies by razing the former social structures and killing off their dissenters, counter-revolutionaries, reactionaries, traitors, malcontents, lumpen, ownership classes, bureaucrats, kulaks, and all the rest. Yet the productive happy free society that was to be the refined remnant just was no where to be seen when all the smoke cleared away.

And which brings me back to my original criticism of Mr. Davies' article. Which to restate was "...tell me in plain simple English sentences how people in an utterly stateless condition could deal with problems like street gangs, lumpen antics, and the rare but seriously violent actors without using police, prisons, or involuntary exile..".

I think Davies' model would reduce and mitigate the problems we have now perhaps and maybe that's the best we can do. And I again want to thank him for even bothering to take the time to write it.

Jim Davies's picture

This has been so far an interesting exchange; thanks to all participants.

I dare say we agree that in a zero-government society objectionable and violent behavior will occur much less often than today, for several reasons named above. But KenK has a valid question; however small the residue, how will it be handled?

Those still asking it do need to study http://www.strike-the-root.com/81/davies/davies4.html under the title "Justice" - and for further reading, try Bruce Benson's "The Enterprise of Law" which details the extent to which private courts are _already_ operating. Also the shorter "The Market for Liberty" by the Tannehills has a good treatment in its chapters 7 thru 10, and page 225 ff in Rothbard's classic "For a New Liberty" is a must-read which has been around since 1973. Details differ among authors of the vision, but there is no doubt in my mind that a for-profit industry will evolve to serve a demand for restoration of stolen rights, which is what justice is actually all about.

That's if an act of aggression ever needs it. A free society will be armed, as noted above, to the degree each individual member wishes; and street hooligans will live lives that are dangerous and probably short. The NAP which every member will have learned and understood will prevent the use of excessive force (otherwise the original aggressor could turn around and sue the original defender) but not too many disputes will require third party intervention.

And yes of course, before any of this can take place everyone must learn and understand the nature of a free society. That's what TOLFA is for. Nobody here should neglect to participate.

KenK's picture

@Jim Davies
Yeh. It's been interesting. But to my mind sadly predictable in its outcome though. Let me start what will very likely be my last post on this thread to say that what I am about to relate isn't meant as a taunt, flame, or trolling bait directed at any person, esp. not Mr. Davies.

In my 42 years I have been held up at gunpoint, had my apartment broken into, as well as my house, my car, and had my then wife's car stolen right out of our driveway. I won't mention all the minor stuff like items pilfered from my garage, or acts of vandalism, littering, trespassing and such because over the years there have been too many to count. Nor the disturbance of my peace and privacy individually b/c they are too many to count as well.

The at-gunpoint robbery was the most scary, but one of my smaller losses. About $50. The break-ins to residences were horrible and scary too, but not because of the losses. The insurance companies I had policies with ate most of that. It was smoldering anger and sense of humiliation that lumpen low-lifes can and did just enter our family's home take what they fancied and then trashed the rest. Stomped my daughter's cat to death too.

And lest you think that all this is because I lived in some urban ghetto hell-hole let me say that this was not the case at all. These major offenses listed above all happened in nice neighborhoods in good cities like Ann Arbor, MI, Renton, WA, Copperas Cove TX ( a not so upscale place, but decent), and Fayette, OH a tiny rural community. The Ohio Highway Patrol did recover the wife's car in Toledo, OH but it was a total write-off and I had to pay what was still owed and only recovered the "Blue Book" value minus 20 percent from the insurance coverage and which left us with one less car that we still had to make payments on. So I know both personally and financially what the cost of anti-social acts (i.e., "crime") is on people. Writing a check every month to pay for a car you need but don't have can put you in a mindset to support a call to bring back the Gestapo. Truly. Some people say that "a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged." I can see the hidden wisdom of that crack, too.

So when I hear about needing to make a leap of faith about how "it'll all be better when 'we' (Democrats, Republicans, Communists, Greens, Surf Nazis for Christ, OWS, or fill-in-the-blank) are in charge" I feel a lot of doubt remembering how people really are and at the facts of history. So for me, this is not a leap of faith I'm willing to make.

The Tannenhauses (sp?), Robert Murphy, David Friedman, Murray Rothbard and all the others in the canon of libertarian big-brains are just that not convincing, at least to me. Their theories and predictions don't square up with what I know via the written history of the world and my personal experience of being a crime victim.

Sorry for the long rant but there it is; my conclusions and the reasoning behind them. No hyperlinks to the canon though just my plain words. Make of it what you will.

Chris Dates's picture


What's sad is your inability to understand the principle of the argument. No one is trying to sell you some libertarian utopia here, we are simply explaining the natural conclusion of self-ownership. You are basically saying, "yeah, well, I've examined all your big-brained arguments, and I am still not convinced you own yourself." You seem to think you have some higher claim on my own life, because it's scary out there. Yeah, reality is scary, but it should not cause you to think and act irrationaly. And that is exactly what you are doing.

You are basically denying that others own themselves because you have been a victim of crime. Your argument is a pragmatic one, and the libertarian position is one of principle. Tell me, how scared do YOU have to be to vote or advocate for my complete enslavement? That's what your argument is; you think you have the right to usurp my self-ownership because there are bad guys out there without realizing that you yourself have just become the bad guy. You have let the thug force your hand, and now you have become the thug. Like I said before, you can't rid the world of cannibals by eating them.

What you are failing to realize is that you were still a victim of crime in a society that is dominated by laws. Go ahead and explain that one. No libertarian ever said that real evil would be erased in a libertarian society; we just want to stop adding to the evil. You would have been robbed in any society, sorry buddy, that's life. Now, how much crime does it take before you start spouting your pragmatism? What level of thuggery will it take to turn KenK into a thug?

"In my 42 years I have been held up at gunpoint, had my apartment broken into, as well as my house, my car, and had my then wife's car stolen right out of our driveway. I won't mention all the minor stuff like items pilfered from my garage, or acts of vandalism, littering, trespassing and such because over the years there have been too many to count. Nor the disturbance of my peace and privacy individually b/c they are too many to count as well."

Of all the crimes listed here, please pinpoint for me exactly when I lose ownership of myself. Since you are not arguing on principle, I would like to know what level of thuggery it takes to turn you into a thug. I know you said that you were done with this chat, but if you could just clear that up for me it would be nice. Thanks in advance.

If you don't want to bother with such things, please formulate a principled argument as to why you think you have a higher claim to my life than I do, and then we can discuss that "reasoning" you were talking about.

Samarami's picture


    "...So I know both personally and financially what the cost of anti-social acts (i.e., "crime") is on people..."

I know you're sincere in trying to see through this, Ken. But I believe it's important to identify the REAL perpetrators of "...anti-social acts...". For example, the thread looks at Mr. Davies' article regarding "prisons" and the hopeful abolishment thereof:

    Who locks up more individuals per 100m population than anyone else on the entire earth???

    Who is now arming their police squads with serpentine military weaponry and tanks and drones at prodigious costs to "taxpayers" (what troublesome terms the white man uses to identify his serfs)???

    What are your chances of getting "help" from local and/or state and/or federal police as opposed to having your door kicked in, you daughter's cat (and perhaps your daughter as well) shot by predators of state based upon erroneous tips from hired street snitches???

We've never experienced a stateless society. It's impossible for many to even imagine self governance, self ownership -- the ability ("permission"???) to keep all we earn and the freedom to choose which services (police, fire, burglar protection) we would like to purchase -- with at least twice the revenue at our disposal with which to do so (if parasites of states were not pilfering over 50% "at source").

Free market products and services are always much, much more competitive and less costly than those forced upon us by monopoly government. But if one has never experienced the absence of monopolistic central government s/he will have difficulty agreeing with that premise -- it is like a completely foreign concept.

Freedom is hard to sell to lifelong serfs.

At the rate this society is deteriorating we may be the last generation to even remember what free-market insurance of any kind was, because that industry is rapidly being nationalized if the Obama's have their way. Soon you will be "allowed" to choose between "approved providers" (the collectivist terms go on and on and many of us, like frogs in slowly heated h2o, simply adjust to the new global/socialistic vernacular).

The real sociopaths, Ken, are NOT the non-government brand. Yesterday Jeff Tucker had an article here on STR regarding "voluntary compliance" (an oxymoron if there ever was one) in which he quoted Lysander Spooner's 1850 assessment of non-government robbers:

    “The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a ‘protector,’ and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to ‘protect’ those infatuated travelers who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road against your will, assuming to be your rightful ‘sovereign’ on account of the ‘protection’ he affords you. He does not keep ‘protecting’ you by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy if you dispute his authority or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures and insults and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.”

    ~Lysander Spooner (1808 – 1887)


Abstain from Beans


Jim Davies's picture

KenK, you wrote "In my 42 years I have been held up at gunpoint, had my apartment broken into, as well as my house, my car, and had my then wife's car stolen right out of our driveway..." Wow. Five robberies in, what, 20 years since you came of age? That's one every four years.

The crime stats to which I linked you a few days ago say there are 150 robberies a year per per 100K in the population, on average; so 600 over four years. So you are one person in (100K/600 =) 167.

Obviously, your story proves that government "protection" doesn't work. In fact, you may have come across _Warren vs D.C._, a case that decided government even denies having a _duty_ to protect you; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Columbia

I'd supposed government claims to exist to provide protection, but that case showed it doesn't even make such a claim.

Perhaps you've wondered what more you could do to protect yourself. That might well involve carrying a suitable weapon. But you'll know how many obstacles government puts in the way of that reasonable precaution. So government doesn't protect, and it inhibits self-help. Who needs it?

When it has dissolved, all alternatives are back on the table. In this thread you asked first what I would do, regarding the low-life people who may attack me in some way; I'd explore two options. First, I'd get armed and know how to use the gun, get training. Then second, I'd get insured.

Insurance will be a useful option in the coming zero-government society. Policies might offer (for a fee) to respond to emergency calls within a stated number of minutes - and that will then be a _contractual obligation_ of the insurer or defense company. They fail, they must compensate. Other policies would pay for whatever you lost in a robbery, leaving you free of the hassle of having to track down and sue the perp - the insurer would handle all that, and take what restitution they could get via the courts. (Mind you, insurers are risk-averse. If crime sought me out as eagerly as it seems to have found you, I might not get the best rate!)

Again, _please read._ If I may say so, it was a mistake to shut out the "pantheon" of libertarian writers; they have good answers for your questions but if you won't read, you won't find. I listed a few, above.

rita's picture

@ KenK: Most schizophrenics are neither violent nor dangerous, except to themselves, and very few of them are "substance abusers," whether you use that term in the medical sense of actual addiciton or the legal sense of being caught in possession of a substance that Washington politicians disapprove of. Your comment shows a rather disturbing level of either ignorance or prejudice, or more likely, a dangerous combination of both.

rita's picture

Oh, and good article, Jim.

Jim Davies's picture

Thank you, Rita!

Meanwhile I think I may have understated how unusual it is for KenK to have suffered five robberies in about 20 years; I suggested it was 1:167.

If anyone is handy with probability math, please take a look at http://www.theanarchistalternative.info/zgb/probrob.htm and let us know. He could turn out to be a very rare person indeed.