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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

From My Upcoming Presentation This Weekend

Out on Staten Island, at the New York Political Science Association annual meeting:

UPDATE: Murphy wins: I've have removed the photo from my presentation!

Yes, the picture is very disturbing... but then, so is the text.

And another:

31 comments:

  1. As I have told you before, I am primarily a Rothbardian, but that does not mean that I agree with the entirety of his output. On the first quote, I do agree that there is no legal justification, but that there certainly is a moral justification (obviously, it's far more complicated, so I'll just leave it at that for now). However, I totally disagree with Rothbard on that second quote.

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  2. At least Rothbard wasn't afraid to state his opinion!

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  3. Gene, I really doubt this would be legal in anarcho capitalism either, but don’t you think it is a bit ironic to present pictures of tragic cases to warn about the horrors of anarcho capitalism, if those pictures in fact stem from societies who are organized under the very set of institutions you favor?

    Especially the second part is a problem of monopoly on force. To the victim it really is secondary if it was technically "illegal".

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    1. "I really doubt this would be legal in anarcho capitalism"

      Anarcho-capitalism is a fantasy. Nothing will ever be legal or illegal in it, because it is make-believe.

      "but don’t you think it is a bit ironic to present pictures of tragic cases to warn about the horrors of anarcho capitalism, if those pictures in fact stem from societies who are organized under the very set of institutions you favor?"

      So, I am supposed to go find pictures of things that happened in a sort of society that has never existed anytime, anywhere, and never will?! Who says I "favor" current social arrangements?

      The point is, ROTHBARD would make these things legal. Which would certainly make them more common.

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    2. "So, I am supposed to go find pictures of things that happened in a sort of society that has never existed anytime, anywhere, and never will?! Who says I "favor" current social arrangements?"

      No, you are supposed not to show a picture if you do not have one at all! Or at least clearly state that it is only for illustration and that they are from the society we currently live in with at least the rough form of the institutions you favor. Of course the shocking effect this post would make would go down of course. I was merely saying you favor current social arrangement over anarcho capitalism. I nowhere said you are perfectly fine with it.

      To argue that you would still have both in both societies is an entirely different matter. Sorry, laws against starving of your babies are absolutely powerless. You really have to be insane to do such a thing, people who are that crazy don’t care about such a law. And further you cannot control that except we introduce some kind of Stasi for mothers. So I see no reason why the legal status of this kind of thing has any direct effect on the magnitude of this happening. On the other hand I am absolutely sure that with higher living standards this phenomenon would be lower because there would be less people that are over-strained with life, job, debts, parenthood…

      In regard to torture I really would like to see a good argument, why it would increase in an environment as described by Rothbard. At the moment the incentives not to torture a supposed criminal are only written on paper if at all (see “enhanced interrogation technique” discussions), but the only people who can reveal this practices are the same people who do that stuff, and they nearly have no consequences to fear… How can you be so sure that in Rothbard’s scenario in which the torturer might himself be subjected to such treatment if he makes a mistake, and the competing PDAs that are only waiting for such mistakes to exploit it is clear that this would increase?

      Sorry but these issues cannot be dealt with by only showing two pictures that cannot be even traced to where you point with your post!

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    3. "No, you are supposed not to show a picture if you do not have one at all!"

      But I do have pictures, of exactly what I am quoting: intentionally starving children and beating criminal suspects.

      " Sorry, laws against starving of your babies are absolutely powerless. "

      BS. People are arrested for this all the time. Are you saying incentives DON'T matter? Rather surprising stance for a free marketer to take.

      "Sorry but these issues cannot be dealt with by only showing two pictures..."

      Of course not. It is a PowerPoint presentation that will be accompanied by a talk, and is about a paper, a paper that references dozens of other books and papers.

      Your complaint is somewhat like saying "The swastika on the cover of _The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich_ was in no way a complete treatment of Nazi Germany."

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    4. So you have actually numbers on how the crime rate of merely starving your child to death responses to increased/decreased legal penalties for it?

      I am not saying incentives don't matter generally, but a precondition that a negative incentive like a prison penalty has an effect presupposes that the person is weighing costs and benefits in the first place. But what are the benefits of letting your baby die by just not feeding it? Why not giving it to someone else or only put it on a doorstep of someone else or into the baby hatch? How can you even watch a baby suffer from starving slowly? For me it seems there is no cost/benefit analysis at all.

      Compare this to a thief; the thief thinks does it pay to steal this? He really is out to benefit from his action. There a prison penalty might work to discourage him from doing this. But I ask again where is the gain in not feeding your child until it dies?

      For me this shows mental illness/disorder. Mentally ill people do not react to punishment through law as sane people do. In short I am playing the mental illness card here, or that is why I believe the legal status on this cannot have much of an effect if at all on such extreme cases.

      The only exception was if most people who do this just enjoy starving their children to death, that seems to be very unlikely though to me.

      Maybe you have some information about this?

      "Your complaint is somewhat like saying "The swastika on the cover of _The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich_ was in no way a complete treatment of Nazi Germany.""

      This is right though. This post is only the "appetizer" for your presentation not post on the issue in depth.. Sorry.

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  4. It's okay to torture someone, provided he turns out to be guilty? So the guilt must be established in advance?

    As if the police have difficulty pinning guilt where they so feel like it!

    Either way, it's surprising that Rothbardianism justifies Guantanamo.

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    1. Prateek wrote:

      It's okay to torture someone, provided he turns out to be guilty? So the guilt must be established in advance?

      Huh? What does "he turns out to be" mean in your language?

      This whole post is hilarious. You guys are looking at "an eye for an eye" and saying, "Whoa! God says it's cool to go around poking out babies' eyes!"

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  5. Your first picture is (in my opinion) fair with respect to the passage but horribly in bad taste, while the second is unfair to Rothbard. Or is that black guy a cop who beat up somebody who turned out to be innocent, and now you're showing us the punishment Rothbard wants to mete out to aggressive cops?

    Or, is that guy a murderer whom the Rothbardian police force got to confess by beating him up?

    Anyway, I hope somebody at that conference shows a picture of you eating a chicken, next to photos of slaughterhouses.

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    1. Bob:

      1) The first photo is very disturbing, yes... but why is it in bad taste? (I'm being sincere in asking.) Is showing the skeletal corpses of Holocaust victims in bad taste?

      2) If Rothbard's rule is applied, many, many more people will be beat up by cops. And if they are not guilty, the cops will work very, very hard to frame them.

      So why is showing a picture of someone beat up by the cops unfair?

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  6. Will the full presentation be available?

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  7. Gene wrote:

    2) If Rothbard's rule is applied, many, many more people will be beat up by cops. And if they are not guilty, the cops will work very, very hard to frame them.

    Wow, that's not obvious at all. What are we comparing his world to, the present status quo? If so, I find your prediction absurd. (Insert a picture of an Escher painting to make my point here.)

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    1. "Wow, that's not obvious at all."

      Go do a survey. Ask 100 of your neighbors if legalizing police torture (so long as the suspect turns out to be guilty) will result in more or less police torture.

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    2. Why not ask 100 of your neighbours if higher minimum wage will help the poor...

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    3. Or, fellows, ask yourselves this: When the Bush administration legalized torture after 9/11, did we get more of it or less of it?

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    4. Why do you completely ignore the fact that it makes a huge difference to legalize something on a competitive market compared to a state granted monopoly market?

      If you give me the monopoly on producing all stationery and do not prescribe what I am allowed to charge, what do you think will happen with prices for stationery? Go down? No without competition the logical consequence is clearly higher prices. The same is true for legalizing torture to the institutions who hold the state granted monopoly on force and final arbitration.

      Just to illustrate where I am getting at: Would you also think that legalizing torture of French citizens in the US would have the same effect, don’t you think that the French government might have something against it? How many French citizens have been legally tortured under Bush?

      Listen I am not claiming it has to be less in Rothbards scenario, but you really make it too easy for yourself at least in this case.

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  8. By the way, does anyone else imagine a world where fractional reserve bankers are rounded up for the crime of engaging in banking activities, and then tortured until they confess to their fractional reserve banking activities?

    After which, the fractional reserve banking employees will be sent to slave off in debtor's prison in order to work off their debts to the very people who consented to put their money with them?

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    1. By the way, does anyone else imagine a world where fractional reserve bankers are rounded up for the crime of engaging in banking activities, and then tortured until they confess to their fractional reserve banking activities?

      You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

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  9. What's the story behind the first picture?

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    1. I googled "child abuse" and "starvation," and found that.

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  10. I'm posting one last thing on this topic, since Gene has capitulated and I don't want to seem petty:

    Gene, I think you are grossly misrepresenting Rothbard's position by calling it "legalizing torture." You're leaving out the part where *if the cops are wrong*, then they get the same thing done to them. (This follows from Rothbard's other views.)

    So you want to ask neighbors about this? OK, go around and say, "Suppose the NYPD who got caught sticking the broomhandle up that guy's butt, had the same thing done to them twice. Other cops saw that happen. Now, do you think more or fewer suspects would be tortured at the hands of the police, going forward?"

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  11. "Suppose the NYPD who got caught sticking the broomhandle up that guy's butt, had the same thing done to them twice."

    Then I would suppose the cops would close ranks and make sure not one of them ever got caught torturing someone who "isn't guilty" again, by framing anyone who isn't.

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  12. Argh Gene you have forced me to be a liar: I can't resist a follow-up point.

    It seems that when Gene Callahan wants police torture of anyone, guilty or innocent, to be illegal, the cops are bound by the law.

    When Murray Rothbard says that he wants to lower the penalties on police torture of guilty people, while raising the penalties on police torture of innocent people, all of a sudden the cops can do whatever they want; the law is helpless to influence their behavior.

    So I am making two claims here:

    (A) The tradeoff is not at all obvious; you seem to be shooting from the hip and not applying a marginal analysis. (Another way of stating it: Police *right now* coerce confessions all the time, even though it's technically illegal. So you haven't explained why Rothbard would make it worse.)

    (B) Whatever we think about this tradeoff, and how to frame the issue, putting up a picture of a guy who was beaten up under your system, hardly clarifies our thinking.

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    1. Well, I think giving them a new way to get away with torture (But he was guilty!) is unlikely to reduce its incidence.

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    2. "Whatever we think about this tradeoff, and how to frame the issue, putting up a picture of a guy who was beaten up under your system, hardly clarifies our thinking."

      Yeah, the images are not arguments, they are an attempt to make a PowerPoint presentation more memorable and interesting!

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  13. Hey, RPN, notice how Bob and I had a nice civil discussion here? And then notice how you decided to come and act like a jerk?

    Next, notice how all Bob's comments have been posted? And you're hasn't?

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    1. RPN, this blog is my property. You are a trespasser. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

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    2. You are a sad, sad man.

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    3. No, RPN, I found that keeping jerks away from my blog has made me a happy, happy man!

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