Concealed Carry

I wonder if concealed carry laws (that stipulate objective criteria that, if met, must result in the issuance of a permit state-wide) can deter not only private criminals but bad cops, as well, from arbitrary aggression or cop-initiated escalation?

If a cop does not know who among those he plans on assaulting on any given day is packing heat, he will have an incentive to be extra "gentle" with everybody.

On the other hand, it is possible that the police will respond to this uncertainty by ratcheting up their shows of force, with SWAT raids and suchlike ultra-violence, to overwhelm a person "just in case" he is carrying a concealed weapon.

Not sure which effect is stronger here.

A “Gentle Giant” vs. a “Nice, Respectable, Well-Mannered Gentleman”

That is, this guy vs. this one.

I want to know who'll win, but I need more information on who was more gentle.

Honigman the Rapist

Brian Honigman pens an article in Huffington Post entitled "Encourage Women's Involvement in Tech at an Early Age":

As the future of work moves inexorably towards tech, it is shocking and troubling to see just how underrepresented women are in the tech world. Mirroring trends present pretty much industry-wide, Apple's recently released diversity report shows that women represent just 30 percent of its employees. This is (depressingly) 10 percent better than the tech sector as a whole.

Why is this depressing? Doesn't Honigman understand that if women are underrepresented in tech, they are by that very fact overrepresented in other professions?

And what does "underrepresented" mean in this context, anyway? Is the tech world like the US Congress into which people get elected to represent their constituents? Even if it were so, why can't male programmers adequately "represent" the consumers of their labor and work?

Is it that Honigman is enamored with a particularly farcical notion of equality which states that men and women are so interchangeable that every profession should have an equal number of men and women in it? Are there too many women nurses in hospitals? Why, the inevitable conclusion is that this, too, must be "depressing" for Honigman! Or is it that programming pays well, and has an aspect of programmers having a certain power over nature, as they command computers what to do? Then the fact that women fail to find this power exciting and prefer, indeed, nursing vexes Honigman.

Suppose that through Herculean effort society indeed starts encouraging girls to go into tech. Yet despite the pestering, they still choose -- entirely of their own volition -- not to. Would that still be depressing? If so, then to lift Honigman out of his depression, girls must be forced to go into tech jobs, whether they like it or not. Here the lack of conscience of a liberal becomes manifest. Honigman is a coercive authoritarian. He likes to push people around to realize his vision of an "equal" world. In short, he hates womenfolk for what they are and wants to remake women according to his own (crazy) design. This casual alacrity to use force makes Honigman, indeed, a rapist of women. For shame.

Police’s Functions, 2

The regressives, David Weigel says, "still reject, as insane, the idea that a heavily armed citizenry might be safer than a country where the cops have the guns." He means, "where only the cops have the guns."

We have seen, as described in the previous post, the nature of the function of government police. I admit that this function sometimes necessitates that the cops be armed.

However, we must also admit that the areas of life where individual effort and private enterprise are superior often also require people to use guns.

Employees of private security firms, private detectives, bounty hunters, and most important, all private citizens whose moral duty it is to defend themselves and neighbors, too, need weapons.

Therefore, the jobs of the cops and those of the citizens, though forming their "non-overlapping magisteria," nevertheless both require that both groups be armed, even "heavily."

What the Police Are Good For

We do not need public police for any of the following functions:

  • Patrolling private properties and providing on-the-spot deterrence.
  • Investigation of crimes.
  • Finding criminals on the lam.
  • Personal protection, security guarding, or bodyguarding services.

All these are much better performed by the market.

Patrolling public properties such as roads by highway patrol and parks by rangers is not really "policing" as we tend to use this term. These areas are government property, at least for now, and the government simply enforces the rules it has previously set for their use, just as private property owners enforce the rules for their own properties.

The spectacularly narrow function of the public police is to enforce judicial verdicts by forcing a person to pay restitution or damages or simply by transporting him to prison.

(Just as God the Father and the Son love each other through the Holy Spirit, so the legislature and the executive branch communicate via the mediation of the judiciary.)

Regarding the latter function, the cops are glorified delivery boys, grabbing condemned criminals (or taking custody of them when they are caught by private bounty hunters) and driving them to jail.

That's it! There is absolutely nothing else that the city police force is useful for.

Militarization of the Police

It has at least three problems associated with it.

First, it's a "waste of taxpayer money." To be sure, the military toys have already been produced by the feds before they are sent to local governments, and the money therefore spent; but if this practice (i.e., of the feds' subsidizing cities) were forbidden in the first place, then perhaps spending on the federal military might decrease overall.

Second, the police should be powerful enough to crush any individual or subgroup with a community but no more than that. (By "subgroup" I mean chiefly organized crime.) The military hardware and weapons encourage excessive and sometimes lethal use of force against an individual where softer and safer methods would entirely suffice.

The police might "search for an excuse" to use the overpowered weaponry and hurt people if they find one, however specious.

Third, despite its strength, the police should be weak enough to be subordinated to (1) the people as a whole or their representatives and to (2) the judicial branch. Commonplace military-style weapons and tactics threaten to make the police tyrannical, such that not even the city council or judges can command them. For example, the police chiefs may refuse to let a cop in their department be investigated or punished, if he is accused or convicted of a crime. And "what are you going to do about that?"

In short, it's dangerous and ugly stuff.

Wilson, Cont.

In reply to Kibbitzer: You've convinced me to give your post another read.

Best I can tell, you are saying that presumption of innocence (PoI) does not kick in until an actual trial.

Next, however, you add another function to PoI which is to prevent "random" arrests, that is, arrests where the arrester cannot demonstrate probable cause. There is no point of making an arrest if the judge, as per habeas, will order the arrestee released the next day.

So, PoI requires (1) probable cause in the initial arrest and (2) a high standard of proof in a subsequent trial.

Now we need to switch hats from lawyer to political philosopher.

Why presume people innocent? That is the puzzle I am trying to solve. My answer is that in a free society, the scope of permitted individual actions is vast, and the prohibited things are few. If this were otherwise, arresting people randomly would net a huge number of actually guilty individuals and only a small number of innocents, making such arrests an exceedingly efficient from the social point of view practice.

Thus, sometimes libertarians say that these days there are so many minute rules and regulations of every aspect of life that everyone is perpetually guilty of something. If all these rules were just or efficient or both, then perhaps I'd be forced to advocate an end to the presumption is innocence. Such a presumption would impede justice.

For government agents the situation is reversed. Hence, the different approach to allegations of official misconduct that I suggest.

Look, a cop is essentially a robot, an automaton, allowed to behave according to a limited and precise set of laws.

It is for that reason that government work is basically unnatural to a human being. Only a special kind of person can be a police officer.

That is the essence of the idea of "rule of law": the law is made by the legislature (if positive) or judges (if natural) and is addressed to the police, strictly governing their behavior.

Rule of law is about subordination of the executive branch of government to the other two branches and how such subordination is to be achieved.

Our robot-cop is always and forever -- very properly -- under suspicion that he is indulging in something that is not compulsory and that therefore is forbidden. If such suspicion becomes too serious, as I expect would happen frequently in a free society, then the cop must be relieved from duty and thoroughly investigated. There would be no presumption of innocence for him for reasons already stated.

As a result, (1) the probable cause for relief from duty would be a simple accusation of wrongdoing. And (2) a trial under a tribunal would be much harsher on a cop than a normal trial is presently on a private citizen.

These are yet another part of what I call the "sorrow of authority." They're the price of power.

Brown and Wilson: Guilt and Innocence

William Norman Grigg has proposed a "Tom Joad Test" for one's political sensibilities: "When you see a police officer beating or shooting a citizen, is your first impulse to sympathize with the uniformed assailant, or the victim? If the former is the case, you're a natural authoritarian; it the latter is true, you're an instinctive libertarian."

Let us first dispose of one argument in favor of "authoritarianism": the officer is punishing the criminal who richly deserves the beating or death.

A person who thinks that does not fully appreciate our system of government. For the main duty of cops is to enforce judicial verdicts. Therefore,

  1. The "punishment" is inflicted before a person is found guilty by the jury;
  2. It's extrajudicial, going beyond the punishment authorized by the judge; and
  3. It is cruel and unusual and hence, unconstitutional.

Now let's put together a couple of strands of thought. As I have written,

For the citizen, the law books aver: Whatever is not explicitly forbidden (and very few things are forbidden), is permitted.

For the state and its officials and bureaucrats, the law looks very differently. It says rather: Whatever is not compulsory, is implicitly forbidden (and almost everything is forbidden).

and

If the cop enjoyed presumption of innocence, then the person he arrested or hurt would precisely lack such a presumption, contrary to our understanding. An individual is presumed innocent before the people and must be proven guilty by them beyond a reasonable doubt; a cop is presumed guilty before any individual and must prove himself innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. He does so by scrupulously adhering to the "book," the police procedures.

The difference may also be understood as follows. Consider an arbitrary or randomly selected action of a citizen. In a free society, it's almost certain that it will be permissible and lawful. Therefore, the citizen is presumed innocent. Now consider an arbitrary action of an agent of the state (acting in an official capacity). Again, there is a high probability that it will be forbidden and unlawful. Hence, it is convenient to presume the agent guilty.

Regarding the Brown case, Grigg goes on: "Because the Ferguson PD didn’t install a dashcam aboard Wilson's patrol vehicle (officer accountability is not a priority for that department), no objective record of the encounter exists." This is most unwise for Wilson, the cop who shot Brown, because he can't use the recording in order to exonerate himself in the eyes of citizens who presume Wilson guilty or ought to.

Recording devices in police cars are in the interest of the police, unless a department is full of self-consciously out-of-control crooks.

What should then happen to Wilson? For one, if he cannot demonstrate that he is innocent, then he must be considered to have violated the terms of his employment with the government and possibly be fired from his job.

Secondly, he should be tried, though not in a regular court but by a some kind of tribunal where the standard of proof of guilt is lower that normal.

The Relation Between Positive and Natural Law

Out of the three branches of government, the legislature is often considered to be "first among equals." What does this mean?

If it means that any positive law overrides any natural law, then clearly, the legislature would by that very fact neuter the judicial branch. No judge would have the power to disqualify as unjust even the most atrocious bill, such as one that commands all Jews to report to gas ovens.

And of course, if vice versa, then it is judges who would be made into tyrants.

What is to be done?

One attempted solution is the American system of federal government. The Constitution defines a government by enumerating its powers and promulgates an elite-made natural-law system.

It codifies, as the best minds of the time figured it, several fundamental principles of justice that serve as law of the land.

Within that system, the legislature is made supreme, and judges are not allowed to override Congressional statutes, however immoral. At the same time, no bill may contradict the Constitution. As long as that happens, a Congressional action is allowed to prevail over any judicial tradition. So, the Congress works under the Constitution but over judges.

Another solution may be discerned by studying the British system. The House of Lords is -- or was until recently -- an equivalent of the Supreme Court. A working system would then be to prevent any bill from passing until it is approved both by the legislature proper -- the House of Commons -- and by the chief judges -- the members of the House of Lords.

In this case, a law that clears both Houses acquires the dual status of both efficient (from Commons) and just (from Lords). Here the two branches are fully equal.

Under a functioning monarchy, the king would also have to consent to a law if it is to be passed, though on what grounds this power would belong to him I do not understand at this moment.

The Absurdity of Judicial Pragmatism

This post continues live blogging Dworkin's Law's Empire, picking up after the latest post.

Let's begin with two quotes. First is from David Friedman's Law's Order:

You live in a state where the most severe criminal punishment is life imprisonment. Someone proposes that since armed robbery is a very serious crime, armed robbers should get a life sentence.

A constitutional lawyer asks whether that is consistent with the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. A legal philosopher asks whether this is just.

An economist points out that if the punishments for armed robbery and for armed robbery plus murder are the same, the additional punishment for the murder is zero -- and asks whether you really want to make it in the interest of robbers to murder their victims. (8)

Second, a point made by Mises I already blogged on, namely that any unified and coherent "government policy" under our massively interventionist system long ago disintegrated.

Now positive law made by the legislature (as opposed to natural law) will apply to at least two areas: (1) rules governing the use by the public of government properties and (2) punishments for crimes. If we admit that government should also set economic policy, however limited its power there we as libertarians want to see, then this will be the third aspect of human affairs where positive laws will be in force.

Whatever area we pick, however, as Friedman and Mises make profoundly clear, positive laws constitute a coherent and complex system in which every part depends on, conditions, and influences every other part -- or at least are supposed to do just that. It's a system that is ideally balanced so as to promote human happiness most efficiently.

This system is made via a deliberative process, perhaps even by the entire citizen body in a town meeting. The lawmakers have the entire system in view and seek to fine-tune it appropriately.

A judge, quite on the contrary, has only a single case before him on which he is supposed to rule. He has no vision of the entire legal system, however high his personal IQ is. This focus on one case makes the judge narrow-minded, unable to determine how his decision will affect the entirety of the legal system. If he by his own fiat proclaims what is best (e.g., "least inefficient practice or the fewest occasions of injustice in the future" (163)), he risks ignorantly upsetting and unbalancing the legal code as a whole.

A judge is uniquely qualified to decide on natural law, i.e., basic morality made difficult in hard cases yet matched and able to be discerned by the judge's wisdom.

But the overall legal system cannot lie within his purview by virtue of the limitations on any one man's intellect and absence of essential-for-positive-lawmaking data presented to him, such as people's ideologies and interests.

Phosphorous, 2

To belabor the point, Krugman seems to think that it is self-evidently "bad" that the lake is polluted. In fact, we just don't know!

From the economic point of view, the lake is a resource that different people want to use differently. There are conflicting claims to it.

The farmers want to use it as a convenient dumping ground for waste. Those who drink or cook with tap water prefer the water cleaner than it is. Whose interests shall triumph?

As long as the water supply and the lake are socialized, there is no rational way to adjudicate between these demands.

Politicians will make flowery speeches about the "environment" (while at the same time accepting campaign contributions from farmers), and madmen like Krugman will attack libertarianism, but none of them will tell us the optimal employment of the water resources.

Privatize the lake (if possible), however, and the problem will be speedily resolved.

"Phosphorous" as such is beside the point.

Krugman the Mad on Phosphorous

Phosphorous runoff into Lake Erie from farming has poisoned the water supply, says Krugman.

Therefore, the government acquires a needed function: to clean up and protect the lake.

Lew Rockwell interprets this matter differently: "a socialist water supply is poisoned by a socialist lake," he argues.

Of course, Lew is right: as long as the lake remains a commons, i.e., government property, owned and managed by the government, it will be the government that will be responsible for pollution control (if any). The implication is exactly the same as that the fact that the government owns roads entails that it must maintain the roads.

This is both obvious and irrelevant as to the value of libertarianism.

But why should Lake Erie remain socialist? Privatize it, and the problems of allocation of this resource (for drinking or as phosphorus receptacle or whatever) will be resolved.

It's a technological problem how best to privatize it. If privatization proves inexpedient, the government should continue to own the lake. Again, even that would fail to impinge on libertarianism, because it cannot be helped and is inevitable that the means of production owned by the state must also be managed by the same state.

No libertarian would argue otherwise. But Krugman has offered no argument that the assumption of the goodness of water socialism is true.

Finally, socialism is categorically different from interventionism; hence, even if we admit that "road socialism" (say) is fine, this does not entail that the government can regulate properties that it does not own or interfere with business owned privately however it pleases.

“Civil Associations”

I have noted that the judiciary should be entirely private; the legislature is semi-public, insofar as it makes positive law but is unable to alter natural law; and the executive branch (E) is fully public, enforcing both natural and positive law.

By fully public I mean that the police are a manifestation of the collective power of a community, ready to crush any single lawbreaker within it, yet is still obedient to the city council and judges' verdicts and sentences. It unites all for the sake of deterring each from committing violent crimes. This unity is a means to survival.

But why must E maintain a monopoly of force over some territory?

Say, I own a house. As such, I set the rules for its use, such as by my guests. The city owns roads and parks and is also authorized to administer these resources held in common.

But the city does not own my house and cannot therefore override my own sovereignty.

Why is it that if I am on the territory of city A, I must obey A's laws; however, should I move to the territory of city B, it is B's laws that start applying to me, even if I do not visit any of A's or B's public properties?

Why can't I take my law with me wherever I go?

Why the confusion between government-as-commons-manager and government-as-crime-deterrer?

There is a definite problem when people living by different laws interact. Let Smith punch Jones in the nose. Jones' law says that this act is illegal; Smith does not regard it as a crime at all. What to do?

The usual solution is simple: interaction between Smith and Jones suggests that both are in close physical proximity to each other, and they must obey the law of the land of whatever jurisdiction they find themselves "on."

But aside from this dubious convenience factor, there is no reason why Smith and Jones cannot, for example, set up a legal system governing their dealings with each other wherever they are or go. Why tie law to land rather than individuals?

If territorial monopoly is a bizarre aberration, then people should be able to enter and leave what Gene Callahan calls "civil associations" or communities bound by the same law while remaining on the same territory. There may still be "taxes" to finance the police, but we'll have plenty of healthy competition between the associations.

The federal government dominates the territory of the United States. Wherever I go in it, I am subject to the same federal law. But this seems to be a mere simulacrum of the desired state of affairs: I am bound by the law I choose anywhere in the world.

Why have it: in city A there is law X; in B, Y, ...; as opposed to: in civil association Q there is law X; in P, Y, etc.?

Re: Renewed Rioting After Killing of Black Missouri Teen

In other words, blacks are using the tragedy as an excuse to do what they always wanted to do anyway, namely, kill and destroy.

Moral Absolutes, 2

Case in point: "I tell you, somebody's values are going to get legislated -- the question is whose values are going to get legislated," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a speech to conservative Christians.

Nice touch with "I tell you." Is Perry pretending to be our Lord? Possibly; a desire for a cult of one's own personality is an occupational hazard of being a politician.

The rest of the sentence is monstrous. A free society is one in which each person chooses by himself which values, lifestyle, and character to pursue. Perry is feeding these guys yet another culture war, yet cultures are products of free individuals engaging in creative work. "Legislating values," regardless of whose, stifles such work and impoverishes society.

"The first thing a genius needs is to breathe free air," Mises points out. And it is the essence of a genius to be an innovator who defies the prevailing "values." If valuing something other than what is legislated is prohibited, all progress stops in its tracks.

Of course, deviation from the routine can be vicious. Innovators can produce ugly cultures and in fact do so all the time.

However, this is the price we all must pay to allow a small minority to create beautiful cultures. For the sake of future beauty, do not tie people up in the straightjacket of laws.

And if you don't like a particular culture or sub-culture, tune out. It's exceedingly easy.

Conservatives and Moral Absolutes

The only link between these two is that conservatives consider anyone who disagrees with them (on anything) to be absolutely wrong and deserving of repression or even death.

Anti-conservative = anti-American or worse, conservatives think.

Stupid and Evil, 2

Case in point: the sentiments of a few "common men" as picked up by an article "As bombs fall over Iraq, old emotions rise in US."

Attend to the following fascinating quote:

Tom Lord, a 60-year-old retired firefighter from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who was visiting Manhattan's 9/11 memorial Friday, said he supports the new bombing, even though he disagrees with most of Obama's other decisions.

"I would hope they send troops, but I don't believe Obama will. We need to go over there and establish peace again, or at least try to," he said.

I would hope that they send troops. Who are these "they"? Well, the powers that be, the good people who are in charge, who run this country. I don't really know who they are or what they are doing, but I trust that they are perfectly competent and wise. However, if they were to ask me, I'd advise them to send troops.

I could, of course, be mistaken, but at any rate, I am confident that these philosopher-kings who act in my own best interest will, in the end, do the right thing.

Why is that?

Ah, that is because we "need to go over there and establish peace again." We, as in, the people. All of us, you, me, my friends and relations, in fact, all good citizens, must, as one, unite and establish peace in that poor country. Since good intentions trump any unhappy consequences, and there is no limit to our benevolent power, where there is a will, there is a way. We will that peace come, and peace will arrive with the inexorability of the law of nature.

But why bombing? Well,

"These are bad guys, there's no question about that. The only question is where do we use force and how much, I guess," said McCanon, who now is co-owner of the Virginia Beach-based Young Veterans Brewing Company.

It's settled then. We (the good and holy people of America) will use force, and they (the fine folks who run the country) will determine where and how much. There is perfect harmony and trust between us and them and between America and the rest of the world.

Peace in Iraq through more bombing the "bad guys," what can be simpler?

To state the obvious, these are the Republican masses, dumb as doorknobs.

Stupid and Evil

I finally figured out the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.

The Republican party has its masses stupid and its elites evil.

The Democratic party on the contrary has its masses evil and its elites stupid.

Reflect on this.

Semi-Feudal, 2

What I mean is that "end feudalism now" should be the libertarian rallying cry, just as "end slavery now" was the cry of the abolitionists of old.

Mixed Economy as Semi-Feudal

We have enabled private enterprise to create a truly epic amount of wealth.

Yet we have forgotten to get rid of our natural parasite: the state. The more wealth is out there, the more there is to (1) steal and (2) convert the stolen goods into poison for society.

With the rise of creative prosperity came the vast increase of the destructive powers of the state, as well. As the economy has grown, so has the parasite feeding off of it.

The state still thinks of society as a collection of miserable peasants and serfs to be taxed and herded. But capitalism is a fundamentally different system from the feudal regime.

In this former, each person is a free man, bound to do nothing to which he did not contractually agree.

There is thus a perpetual thorn in our flesh, a war between the demands of a free capitalist society and the worldview of the feudal-minded state. Our ideological orientation is torn between these. It is inconsistent, self-contradictory.

As no one is a thoroughgoing socialist anymore, this conflict is the essence of modern statism. "I am in favor of liberty, but...," and everyone has their own pet "but."

Our task is to tear the bloodsucking cancerous state off of the social body and burn it into ashes. Only then will there be peace on earth and good will toward men.

But before this can happen, our minds and hearts will need to be purified.