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Friday, August 22, 2008

Legalize Murder!

In having an email discussion/argument with Silas, he argued that, if the science behind anthropogenic global warming is correct, then the government capping total emissions would be no more objectionable than the government enforcing laws against murder.

Now, I myself have long thought that sure, the government does some horrible things that would NEVER occur in a free society, but some of its activities are closer than others. It's crazy when cops hunt down a kid for growing a (pot) plant in his backyard, but (I thought) it's not so bad when cops arrest somebody for homicide.

I now believe that this is completely wrong. When the government bans alcohol selling, what happens to the profession of alcohol sellers? Do they become more or less dangerous to society--even from the point of view of their product's effects, i.e. ignoring all the gangland killings?

But that's what happens when government enforces laws against murder: It makes the group of people, "murderers," much more dangerous.

If I told you that the government were going to monopolize the supply of milk, to make sure that everybody got a fair amount and to ensure its quality, wouldn't you poop your pants?

So imagine we're initially in a free society, and then you hear that the government is moving in to town in order to monopolize civil society's possible responses to murderers. Are you going to feel safe to walk the streets now? Are you confident that a serial killer will be stopped as quickly as humanly possible?

Government prisons are awful institutions that on net create more brutal crimes than would occur in their absence.

If you wanted to design a system that created the most awful criminals to date, what would you do? Well, you would want a way to get the most likely candidates for you to train. Maybe you would pick the young people who had been in fights, run from the cops, etc. Violent kids who aren't afraid of authorities, yeah, that's the ticket.

Now that you've got this fresh crop of kids, what you do next is throw them into a confined area with a bunch of career criminals, the worst people your government has ever laid its hands on. And it's fine to let these older guys rape and kill a few of the new recruits; that's great for our ultimate goal, which is to produce a record crop of criminals who are more brutal than any previous crop.

I think you see where I'm going with this...

LEGALIZE MURDER, and all else follows. How could the government continue to prosecute anything else, if people could say, "C'mon, murder is legal, and yet very few people do it. It would wreck your credit score! Who the heck wants that?!"

30 comments:

  1. This is one of your worse ideas, Bob.

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  2. Sidney6:16 AM

    This is one of your best ideas, Bob.

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  3. I agree with Bob.

    Let's also remember that when we speak of the government "enforcing laws against murder", that's not really what we mean. It's not like the government is intercepting murderers as they are about to kill and preventing the crimes. What we are really speaking of is enforcing punishment against murderers (or more cynically, punishment against alleged murderers).

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  4. I'm glad I got you to come out of your shell, John. Can you elaborate?

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  5. Great job there deleting my link to my response, bro.

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  6. Silas said:

    Great job there deleting my link to my response, bro.

    To whom is this addressed?

    ReplyDelete
  7. "If you wanted to design a system that created the most awful criminals to date..."

    If you're going to date criminals, I'd start with racketeers.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "To whom is this addressed?"

    These bleating whines are addressed to the entire, unjust mess that is the universe.

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  9. Son,

    This is an excellent proposal!

    I assume it will apply retroactively?

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  10. Bob, an interesting post, but let me point out that you've screwed up the analogy a bit:

    I now believe that this is completely wrong. When the government bans alcohol selling, what happens to the profession of alcohol sellers? Do they become more or less dangerous to society--even from the point of view of their product's effects, i.e. ignoring all the gangland killings?

    But that's what happens when government enforces laws against murder: It makes the group of people, "murderers," much more dangerous.

    While you have a point, the chief consequence of giving the state monopoly on criminal law enforcement is to make the LAW ENFORCEMENT profession much more dangerous to society (as Radley Balko documents so well).

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  11. Gene and Bob, surely you recognize that Silas' "bleating whines" have a point.

    If (as Bob summarizes Silas) the science behind anthropogenic global warming is correct, then in principle it would seem that Silas is correct - that the government capping total emissions would be no more objectionable than the government enforcing laws against murder.

    But of course the analysis doesn't end there, as there is the small problem of the big problems that often result from the government taking charge of "protecting" us - as well as the complicating factor of the atmosphere as a global commons hardly susceptible to private enforcement.

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  12. While you have a point, the chief consequence of giving the state monopoly on criminal law enforcement is to make the LAW ENFORCEMENT profession much more dangerous to society (as Radley Balko documents so well).

    I don't have a problem with that claim, but I didn't "screw up" the analogy, as you claimed.

    During Prohibition, the government didn't monopolize the sale of alcohol, it banned it.

    (I suppose you could argue that the government doesn't currently ban homicide, but rather says, "Only we can kill people legally." Yet I don't think that's what you had in mind with your post, though maybe you did.)

    In any event, I think you are not grasping the full significance of my post. I am not saying that the private sector would do a better job locking murderers up in cages for 30 years at a time. I'm saying the private sector WOULD NOT DO THAT to murderers. Other sanctions would take care of the vast majority of the few murders that occurred in a free society.

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  13. Well, Bob, there are a few problems.

    If the government legalized murder today, this would mean a releasing of all those who have been convicted of murder, those who are being processed, etc. Police would stop investigation into murder, etc. Releasing these criminals, many of whom will certainly commit more crimes (a fact I presume statistics would support) is an immediate danger to society. Justice in practice is as much about fairness (which more abstract anarchistic models don't usually bother to weigh appropriately, I think) as it is about separating the criminal class from the civilian population. The criminal population is as a whole easy to restrain without thick walls, airy notions about rehabilitation aside. Healthy societies exist with a fair and measured distribution of justice. Any argument about legalizing murder has to address the legitimacy of any justice that would fill the void of government (though it seems much more likely that the government, or a suitable replacement government, will quickly re-assume the role of keeping peace and distributing justice.

    Cold-blooded killers who consider murder worth the risk of prison and possible death will certainly not think twice about the effect of their action on their credit score. Likewise to crimes of passion, which by their nature preclude considerations of economic effects of murder, etc.

    I think part of your argument rests on a false premise, as well, that government "monopolizes civil society's possible responses to murder". Aside from vigilante justice, which I don't think you are advocating, what does the government not allow civil society to do?

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  14. Gene and Bob, surely you recognize that Silas' "bleating whines" have a point.

    Silas seems to be accusing someone of deleting one of his comments, and I'm wondering if that is indeed what he is claiming. I sure didn't delete anything.

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  15. OJ said:

    Son,

    This is an excellent proposal!

    I assume it will apply retroactively?


    You were a great athlete, Mr. Simpson, but apparently you're not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    Under the present system, you (apparently) literally got away with murder. That wouldn't happen in a free society. There, there would be much more objective procedures to determine guilt or innocence.

    It's true that you got fined but many of the other mechanisms have been hobbled, because you were acquitted in the government's official system of justice.

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  16. "The criminal population is as a whole easy to restrain without thick walls, airy notions about rehabilitation aside."

    Should read: "The criminal population is as a whole NOT easy to restrain without thick walls, airy notions about rehabilitation aside."

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  17. John wrote:

    If the government legalized murder today, this would mean a releasing of all those who have been convicted of murder, those who are being processed, etc.

    Yep, so all the future murderers who are being formed in prison--say, guys in for 5 years for a robbery--won't be nearly as brutal when they are released. Remember, what the government does right now is round up all the violent people, and keep them in confined quarters for years at a time, and then it releases a lot of them back into society. Shutting down that whole system would be a blessing, and would reduce the number of murders in the long-run.

    Releasing these criminals, many of whom will certainly commit more crimes (a fact I presume statistics would support) is an immediate danger to society.

    C'mon John, you're not even trying here. They have statistics on recidivism in the scenario where homicide has been legalized? It's as if I'm calling for drug legalization, and you say, "No, they let a drug dealer out last month, and right away he was shooting rival dealers. I thought you said drug legalization will reduce crime!!"

    Justice in practice is as much about fairness (which more abstract anarchistic models don't usually bother to weigh appropriately, I think) as it is about separating the criminal class from the civilian population.

    Right, and so the incredibly unfair things that happen in our government "justice" system--like Janet Reno and OJ walking free, while maybe the 18-year-old getaway driver gets 20 years even though he didn't know his buddy was going to shoot the homeowner--will go down. More people will respect the law when it is more respectable, in contrast to the current farce of a system.

    The criminal population is as a whole [not] easy to restrain without thick walls, airy notions about rehabilitation aside.

    Have you worked with a lot of ex-cons, John? (I haven't either, but you are acting as if you have worldly wisdom here. Do you, or are you getting your views from watching Cops?)

    Cold-blooded killers who consider murder worth the risk of prison and possible death will certainly not think twice about the effect of their action on their credit score.

    "Certainly"? What if they are drug dealers who pay off the cops. They know as long as they don't hit the mayor's cousin with a stray bullet, their gangland killings don't really bother the public and so (let's say) there is a 1% chance they will do jail time for killing a rival. And by doing that, they increase their cocaine revenues by $1 million over a year.

    In contrast, if the government legalizes murder and so the market has to come up with responses, maybe in the new arrangement the drug dealer (we can even assume the DEA still operates) knows that if he shoots ANYbody, even in a ghetto, then the private sector investigators will discover he did it with a 95% probability. In that case, he has to pay the $50,000 deductible on his insurance plan (without which nobody would rent him an apartment, sell him electricity or phone service, etc.), and his premiums go way up.

    On the benefit side, because there are so many more drug dealers (since there is less chance of being gunned down), on the margin taking one of his competitors out will only boost his profits by $25,000 per year.

    I'm not saying every last killer reasons in this way, but you are taking an outcome of the present system--namely, there is a lot of murder when its expected costs are actually quite low--and using it to speculate on what would happen in a totally different environment.

    Likewise to crimes of passion, which by their nature preclude considerations of economic effects of murder, etc.

    Well by your reasoning the number of passionate murders should be unaffected, except for repeat offenders. And presumably people would know not to date somebody who blew away his last girlfriend when he caught her in bed with the mailman.

    I think part of your argument rests on a false premise, as well, that government "monopolizes civil society's possible responses to murder". Aside from vigilante justice, which I don't think you are advocating, what does the government not allow civil society to do?

    This is your best objection, I think. I have wondered about this myself.

    I think the government's laws against discrimination are at fault here. E.g. if an apartment owner didn't want to rent to someone because he thought the guy would be violent, I'm not sure that is allowed. For sure the owner couldn't say, "Because of his demographics I won't rent to him."

    So the sanctions I envision might not be legal, currently.

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  18. Sorry I haven't kept up.

    Bob, yes, right after blogging my response, I put a link to it here in the comments. The anchor text was "blogged and flogged". Then I came back and it was gone. Yes, I checked that it went through and appeared in the comments the first time around.

    Whoever deleted it: real mature of you. (Yeah, yeah, "blogged and flogged" isn't high class either, but at least it's clever, and a reference to the anchor text I used in the whole Hanson/McCluskey/Finney screwup on OvercomingBias.com.)

    Anyway, I still think my point stands. So you can list things you don't like about murder enforcement. Okay, pick a different example, and see if you can imagine libertarians whining about how enforcement of X is so unjust, just because the government happens to be involved today.

    Say someone signs a contract saying they will pay the loan, and if they get too late, they must return the collateral -- say, a home -- to the bank. You know, like happens all the goshdurn time.

    Then, they're late. Then, the bank forecloses. Then, the court awards them the house. Then, they try to repo it. Then, the borrowers don't want to leave. Then, the sheriff carts them out.

    Where are the libertarians objecting to the sheriff? Where are the (sloppy) libertarian op-eds denouncing such eviction? There aren't any, because libertarians see it as enforcment of a contract. Sure, it would be great if we had a governmnet-sheriff-less world. But, contracts should be enforced. (modulo pacifists libertarians who either object on principle, or would rationalize how pushing someone out isn't violence).

    Yet, the moment we see punishment for the tort of permanently submerging millions of homes, whoaaaaa Nelly, we can't have that thur government enforcing a FAKE economic scarcity!

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  19. Silas, no one deleted your response, you paranoid twit.

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  20. Yep, so all the future murderers who are being formed in prison--say, guys in for 5 years for a robbery--won't be nearly as brutal when they are released. Remember, what the government does right now is round up all the violent people, and keep them in confined quarters for years at a time, and then it releases a lot of them back into society. Shutting down that whole system would be a blessing, and would reduce the number of murders in the long-run.

    Bob, I would love to see some sources for this.

    C'mon John, you're not even trying here. They have statistics on recidivism in the scenario where homicide has been legalized? It's as if I'm calling for drug legalization, and you say, "No, they let a drug dealer out last month, and right away he was shooting rival dealers. I thought you said drug legalization will reduce crime!!"


    Even drug legalization is sure to increase the immediate danger to society, since very dangerous criminals (who may have been put away because a drug charge was the only one that would stick) would be released. You can't ignore that. The release of convicted murders is sure to be even more dangerous, for reasons that I should think would be obvious.

    "Certainly"? What if they are drug dealers who pay off the cops. They know as long as they don't hit the mayor's cousin with a stray bullet, their gangland killings don't really bother the public and so (let's say) there is a 1% chance they will do jail time for killing a rival. And by doing that, they increase their cocaine revenues by $1 million over a year.

    In contrast, if the government legalizes murder and so the market has to come up with responses, maybe in the new arrangement the drug dealer (we can even assume the DEA still operates) knows that if he shoots ANYbody, even in a ghetto, then the private sector investigators will discover he did it with a 95% probability. In that case, he has to pay the $50,000 deductible on his insurance plan (without which nobody would rent him an apartment, sell him electricity or phone service, etc.), and his premiums go way up.


    Sure, if you are talking gangland murders you might have some sort of an argument. But gang murders are not by far the only type of murder, and there is also the consideration that much inner city gang violence is not run as a corporation might be run. There is a certain element of "clan vendetta", which brings pride and ego into the picture. And all of this playing along with your point generously assumes that gangs are part of this insurance network you allude to. As of today, there is no such network. Remember, you are not arguing for "anarchy now", but legalizing murder.

    I'm not saying every last killer reasons in this way, but you are taking an outcome of the present system--namely, there is a lot of murder when its expected costs are actually quite low--and using it to speculate on what would happen in a totally different environment.

    You think the expected costs of murder are low right now?

    As to your following comments on crimes of passion, are you seriously suggesting that society's response to someone's "blowing away his girlfriend" is to advise people not to date him? Seriously?

    And all of this goes back to what you admitted was your weak spot (and at the base of your argument!), that civilians have not apparently been hindered from responding to murder. Neighborhood watch programs aside (which, btw, function closely with police normally), what significant thing has been done? What can be done, if murder were legalized tomorrow and serial killers, child killers and violent criminals were released en masse? Do you doubt that most people (and I include myself) would quickly demand the protection of the biggest gang in town, whether it be the current regime or the mafia?

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  21. OK guys, I have "real work" to do, so I have to be brief:

    Silas, I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm not saying you're nuts, but I know I didn't delete anything, and I would be stunned if Gene (or someone else?) would do that on one of my threads w/o checking with me first.

    John:

    What can be done, if murder were legalized tomorrow and serial killers, child killers and violent criminals were released en masse? Do you doubt that most people (and I include myself) would quickly demand the protection of the biggest gang in town, whether it be the current regime or the mafia?

    Rather than go through point by point why I think you are missing my argument, I can simply point out that it would be legal for private groups to take out serial killers. Right? If the government steps penalizing murder, then you are free to take up a collection and then put a price tag on the head of the guy who killed your relative.

    Now it's true, I think the market would quickly move away from that type of thing (if it ever went there in the first place), but maybe in some rough neighborhoods that's what would happen in the first 3 months after the new policy.

    And yes, I think the number of murders would be far lower in that world, compared to the present system.

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  22. Okay, I tried checking the records on my home computer, but ... don't quite know how to find what websites used to look like at the time Firefox downloaded them.

    Anyway, why would I post a response on my blog and not point to it here, as I have done every time my reply has gotten big enough not to post as a comment?

    And before I forget:

    @jacob: Actually, we mean keeping murderers from interacting with the general population, but great grandstanding there, real fruitful for discourse.

    @everyone: For those of you new to the site, you might not be accustomed to the terminology here. When Gene calls me a "paranoid twit", that is NOT a personal attack. However, when I claim that a specific event happened here, which is the simplest explanation for my observations, that IS a personal attack.

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  23. Anonymous2:44 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  24. Silas, we don't know why you didn't post a link here, but you know how we can tell you didn't? See the comment above this one. That's what happens when Bob or myself deletes a comment. Now look up above where you supposedly posted a link. Do you seen one of those "Deleted by administrator messages"? No, Silas, you don't. Because no one is deleting comments you make. Yet. When we start doing so, you will know about it.

    And, no, calling you a paranoid twit is definitely a personal attack. And an on target personal attack, at that.

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  25. Well there you go, deleting comments again.

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  26. Silas, that last comment is actually pretty friggin' funny -- I encourage your mood of gay frivolity to endure through future postings.

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  27. Bob, I understand your point about people being able to kill ex-cons without penalty. The point is that this would clearly lead to a chaos, a vacuum of power that will quickly be filled, probably putting us in an even greater state of state tyranny.

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