And People Wonder Why Libertarianism Isn't More Popular?!

Benjamin Friedman over at Cato writes, with his head a foot up his arse:

"As Peter Van Doren pointed out to me the other day, the right way to think about this problem is that pirates are imposing a tax on shipping in their area."

Right, Benjamin and Peter -- and "the right way" -- and notice, this is THE right way, and any other view is sentimental claptrap! -- to look at rape is that rapists are just "imposing a tax" on women walking through the park at night.

And then there's this revelation"

"The reason ships are being hijacked along the Somali coast is because there are still ships sailing down the Somali coast."

I think I'm getting the hang of this! The reason women are raped in parks at night is that those durned broads keep on a' walkin' through 'em! They must be asking for it, or something!


  1. Very nice. Unless you can put things into economic terminology, they are invalidated!

    Murder is just imposing a cost! The only reason they can impose it on you at all is because you are alive!

  2. I don't see anything wrong with the first quote. Of course I think it works fine in reverse, too:

    "The right way to think about the problem is that tax collectors are engaging in piracy in the area."

    No idea if that Friedman guy would agree. Also no idea if that'd make me more popular. And no idea why in the world I should care, in either case.

  3. Ben Friedman2:34 PM

    I don't tell people how to run their blogs often, but I'd say as a general rule that when you say someone has their head up their ass, you should provide reasons why it is so. A bad analogy to other crimes (especially ones without economic motive) is not that.

    As this article ( discusses, pirates are revenue raising parts of warlord networks in Somalia. The warlords are like little governments, the ransoms like their tax used to fund the protection racket they set up. This is consistent with Charles Tilly's argument about how states form.

    I did not, and would not, make the point that pirates enjoy the same legitimacy as democratic governments.

    The point about how ships are hijacked becasuse they sail down the coast is obvious - I'm pointing out that if the costs were so great they would not use that shipping route. What's the trouble with that?

    It is true that taxation is the only way to look at this situation, and so I guess I should have said, "a way," or something.

  4. Mr. Friedman,

    Gene is just sensitive because he got his butt whupped in a park one time.

  5. Gene, the proximate reason why pirates attack ships is that they are largely NOT self-defended (for various reasons, including restrictions by ports of call on ships carrying weapons).

    The bigger reason has its roots in the theft of Somali resource by foreign fishing fleets: "Somali piracy flows from the greater and continuing Western theft and abuse of Somali marine resources",

    But shall we let nuance and reason stand in the way of easy posturing?

  6. scineram6:10 PM

    So how did random somalis come to own marine resources?


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