David Thompson
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February 03, 2016

Comments

Watcher In The Dark

I have not committed a crime today. Where is my money?

C'mon! If I don't get it soon I may revert to my former lifestyle...

David

Apparently, the “root cause of violent crime” and underclass dysfunction is those violent and dysfunctional individuals not being handed a $9,000 stipend extracted from the law-abiding.

Crime doesn’t pay, allegedly, but the prospect of crime does.

Jonathan

Me, after reading this:

sH2

Bounty hunters would be cheaper.

R. Sherman

I don't know why you people are pissed. According to the Ten Commandments, those "Thou shalt not"s ended with "provided there's a cash payment at the end of the month." I know this. Charlton Heston told me.

old white guy

I have been saying it for many years now the terminally stupid are in control. I wonder what restrictions are on receiving the 9,000 dollars. if no crimes are committed does every citizen in the area, at least a couple of million, will get 9,000 dollars each. idiots.

David

Bounty hunters would be cheaper.

The experiment in Richmond, on which the above is based, involved “sifting through police records to determine the 50 [or so] residents most likely to shoot someone.” And then “approaching them and [offering] a stipend [of up to $1000 a month] to turn their lives around, and a mentor to help.” After four years of being subsidised for not committing any further violent crimes, 65 of the 68 “fellows” enrolled in the programme were “still alive.” Although “one had survived a shooting and three had died.” This was deemed “promising.”

The city’s murder rate did in fact fall while the programme was running, though other, more obvious factors – from parallel crime-prevention programmes and a new police chief’s dramatic overhaul of policing methods to the local housing crisis and the consequent relocation of many known criminals - may have been more relevant.

Comparable experiments in other cities haven’t exactly been conclusive, with many supporters losing their initial interest and withdrawing funding, both private and public. A scheme in Pittsburgh initially coincided with an increase in the murder rate; one in Chicago has been “overshadowed by escalating homicide numbers,” and a similar project in Boston is described as “ending disastrously.

Of course even if bribing the violent and dysfunctional were shown to work, and to work enough to justify the cost and expanding bureaucracy, there’s still the moral aspect. I.e., whether incentives of this kind are how one should deal with violent and predatory individuals, presumably on an ever-larger scale. Is it a policy that would be acceptable as commonplace, perhaps even the norm?

TDK

Who said "Kids Company".

Now own up in the back. You haters

others who visit the charity are given cash allowances to supplement their Jobseekers’ Allowances and to prevent them from stealing or dealing drugs

WTP

would establish an office to identify as many as 200 residents annually who are at risk of committing violent crimes or becoming a victim of such crimes.

It's a scheme to create jobs, see? As for who gets to "identify" which "residents", that's another one of those things that make me go hmmmm...

What would be...uh...awesome...is if this program was open to everyone. Sure, it would simply be robbing Peter to pay Paul, and the "office" established would suck up much more (though I'm sure that in DC such is just pissing in the sea), but can you imagine the howling when certain kinds of people who have no criminal record are getting a stipend of $12K a year and those kinds who do have a record don't get squat? Of course such an expansion is in no danger of happening, but oh what fun it would be. And what if people on the margins of DC with no criminal records were to start moving in and forcing out the criminal element?

Again, of course I understand that this is absurd BS, but if it was just contained to DC, possibly funded by sales taxes, it would be funded by the sort of idiots who are running this country. And it could very well be entertaining watching them twitch. I'm slowly coming around to the idea of enjoying the decline.

Bill

I demand to paid well for every crime I have not committed, and I confess to not having committed hundreds of crimes this day. Tomorrow I will again not commit hundreds more crimes, and expect payment for each of them too.

Send me cheques, excluding a tithe allocated to David Thompson, for all the crimes he has also not committed today, and to allow him to run this crime-free web site.

Bill

We already have such a payment scheme in place: it's called Welfare. People are being paid so that they are not out robbing houses, businesses and people to get enough money to buy food, housing, clothing, smokes, booze, prostitutes, recreational drugs and other such necessities of life for the unemployed and the unemployable.

Ofay Cat

I don't get nearly enough credit for not being a homicidal maniac. That pisses me off!

David

Incidentally, when tried in Boston, the taxpayer-funded outreach staff - called “street workers” – were asked to work in the evenings in order to mingle with the known thugs and sociopaths they were expected to bribe. At which point their union protested, citing fears for workers’ safety. According to the report linked above, “workers now spend many hours in [staff] meetings,” i.e., among more civilised people.

Joe

I live in the DC area. The array of free stuff that indigents get in the District of Columbia is staggering. The parasite class in DC live better than average earners do in my home town in Pennsylvania.

Joe

I have one thing to add:

de facto, this is a benefit given for ones' natal identity, and as to how that expresses itself in DC, to one's politics.

Joan

if they comply and do not commit crimes, the individuals would receive a stipend.

So they only lose the stipend if they get caught. Small odds. And these known criminals are bound to be honest about it, aren't they?

Patrick Brown

Rudyard Kipling, in an extract from a poem tweeted by Richard Dawkins recently in a different context:

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.
Ten

How is this not a "bold and innovative" protection racket?

Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

Yeah, I saw this earlier. I am empty of outrage at this point, but get back to me later. I may have refueled.

Theophrastus

Prison works: it prevents crime. The longer the sentence, the better it works. Recidivism is best prevented by longer sentences. Most crime in the UK is committed by some 100, 000 - 200,000 repeat offenders: lock 'em up for as long as possible.

Ten

Prison works: it prevents crime. The longer the sentence, the better it works. Recidivism is best prevented by longer sentences. Most crime in the UK is committed by some 100, 000 - 200,000 repeat offenders: lock 'em up for as long as possible.

Highly questionable at best; completely out of phase with the purpose of justice at worst, together with being its own unique and deeply onerous injustice. To wit: how can we possibly reconcile this rightist myth with the rampant prison state, the bane of liberty?

We cannot. Rather:

Evidence for what constituted criminal offences, and what was considered the appropriate punishment for them, is mostly lacking for late prehistoric Celtic laws. What little there is to be found, again mostly in Caesar’s account of the Gaulish wars, seems again to fit reasonably well with what we could reconstruct as ‘general principles’ from early medieval Irish and Welsh law. Crimes mentioned in Caesar’s account are murder, theft and robbery, as well as crimes specific to only some Gaulish societies, e.g. usurpation of kingship amongst the Helvetii. The punishment considered most severe amongst the Gauls, according to Caesar, is to ban criminals from religious rites, which probably is better understood as outlawing them. He does, however, also mention the death penalty, presumably of outlaws, not as a regular form of punishment. The common form of punishment, however, seems to have been the imposition of fines. That Caesar mentions both praemia poenasque, "premiums and fines" may indicate that a system with two separate kinds of fines, comparable to the body-fine/restitution and honour-price in early Irish and Welsh law, already existed in late prehistoric Celtic laws. As fines and outlawing are the preferred forms of punishment not only in the early medieval Irish and Welsh laws, but also in the early Germanic laws, it seems quite reasonable to assume that the same applied for most of the late prehistoric Celtic laws.

Bloody noble savages, am I right?

Persons and their families and immediate communities are far more adverse to shunning and inescapable fines than a stay at the graybar. On the other hand, when, because there are practically no ethics, everybody's an outlaw, we have our present system where might makes right and the law is a nearly complete ass.

WTP

Highly questionable at best; completely out of phase with the purpose of justice at worst

Uh...it works. It obviously works at preventing violence and theft. Such people who demonstrate an inability to behave themselves at the most primitive requirement level for social interaction should and must be removed from the general population. If you can't do the time, don't commit the crime. Now in regard to non-violent, non-property offenses and such, prison is probably one of the worst places to put someone. But keeping the violent criminal out of the poorest neighborhoods at least gives the younger ones a chance to grow up and be respectable, productive citizens. These innocents deserve the fruits of the justice dealt out to the violent ones more than anyone. Agree that the idea of reforming people in prison is of dubious value or probability, but secondary to the problem.

Eleven

There is no such thing as justice as far as most of society is concerned. If you put people in jail for committing crime they may -- note may -- not return to crime once free (and perhaps even, having dabbled in crime inside prison, see no reason to give it up ever). Now it may well be that once disadvantaged people find it hard not to return to crime; I can see how that happens. But as the old adage "let the punishment fit the crime" has long since been phased out then a short sentence where a longer sentence might once have been expected gives society little protection at all.

Criminals tend to commit crime because they think they can get away with it, and the people who suffer most from this crime are the ones who can least afford to lose what little they have. In this respect society is not given 'justice' as such. Putting ne'er-do-wells back on the streets a matter of weeks after a crime does not reassure anyone, especially in poorer areas. I know there is the idea of the 'gentleman thief' who like a modern day Robin Hood merely relieves the wealthy of some of their baubles, but most crime happens in places where there is no such romantic tradition. Criminals will steal from and hurt those who are already trapped in the poorer spectrum of life.

The 'rampant prison state' is a cosy illusion for the hard-of-thinking, but it is an illusion because reality will always defeat the whimsical. There are people in prisons dedicated to reform, just as there are recidivists who see all reform efforts as laughable. But for the person who has been robbed or assaulted by someone who has done it again and again, then the question mark has to be on how do you deal with the ones who make life hell from those who are most vulnerable. Jail is the only answer, if only to give the more vulnerable population some relief.

Ten

It obviously works at preventing violence and theft.

A notion from which many like yourself dangle equally opaque reasoning - for the last few decades it's been impossible to miss that rhetoric. Obviously a lot of things prevent violence and theft. Chaining people to trees prevents violence and theft.

Those assertions from the throw-away-the-key brigade of the lower-level right are nothing new. The question within the great cycle of social ebbs and flows is not if they exist - you haven't missed them, obviously - but whether they stand to reason.

To rise above rhetoric a thing has to stand philosophical tests. Frankly, yours doesn't, generally because that splinter of rightism hasn't applied any such tests beyond assumption. The presuming anger is always there, but a careful analysis of the issues always goes wanting (not that the let-em-all-go-free left is any more complete; it isn't.)

Yet somehow, legal reform is a timely topic on both sides of the political divide. Somebody's thinking about pendulums, and that's a good thing. Evidently it just hasn't percolated all the way down.

Classic liberals and constitutionalists and anti-authoritarians do tend to think about things a little more philosophically, however. As did, apparently, not insignificant hunks of the Anglo past, whether in intellect, clarity, or longevity.

We're all advised to reconsider before simply reacting.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

They should pay the legislators not to commit crime.

Dr Cromarty

Prison works: it prevents crime. The longer the sentence, the better it works. Recidivism is best prevented by longer sentences. Most crime in the UK is committed by some 100, 000 - 200,000 repeat offenders: lock 'em up for as long as possible.

As Theodore Dalrymple points out most criminals stop being criminals around 40, so that's about the time to let them out. Crime is a young man's game.

orthodoc

Highly questionable at best; completely out of phase with the purpose of justice at worst, together with being its own unique and deeply onerous injustice. To wit: how can we possibly reconcile this rightist myth with the rampant prison state, the bane of liberty?

Fox Butterfield, call your office.

Ten

The 'rampant prison state' is a cosy illusion for the hard-of-thinking, but it is an illusion because reality will always defeat the whimsical. There are people in prisons dedicated to reform, just as there are recidivists who see all reform efforts as laughable. But for the person who has been robbed or assaulted by someone who has done it again and again, then the question mark has to be on how do you deal with the ones who make life hell from those who are most vulnerable. Jail is the only answer, if only to give the more vulnerable population some relief.

Addressing the last half of that before disassembling the former, life just isn't fair, friend. You want protection?

(And "jail is the only answer"? I'm chucking at the absurdity. You've just been confronted with a concrete, historical, proven, effective refutation of that ongoing myth involving an entire people. Then there's your local traffic court. Your county sanitation department. The public library.

Please, stop making this so easy - I keep pleading for philosophical standpoints and I get back all this protectionist fear gussied up in hoorah. You wear camo with all that mental fatigue?)

Which means that the problem is really this: All such notions of this "relief" you refer to eventually show they're not justice-centric, but a weakness demanding to not feel a certain way anymore. Yes, you want protection.

It doesn't much work that way; at least justice doesn't. Would you like my anecdote? I'm not going to give it to you because it's not relevant, the monumental criminal damages against me notwithstanding. It could all happen again tomorrow. Because life just isn't fair.

Notions about safety are a running fallacy. They're progressive.

As for the former bit, it's a transparent assertion - a badly worded fallacy, really - trying to paint something what it's not: Of course the reform effort is real and of course it's built, in no small part, on the facts and figures on incarceration. On incarceration as a industry, as a policy, as a conflict of interest, as a populist fancy turned institution; and by its damage to what it touches and to the tenets of classic liberalism, they being the apparently entirely now-incidental threads of the social and cultural heritages that form(ed) western enlightenment and civilization.

But the ostensible right is wrong on a solid dozen very major issues. This one isn't surprising.

All this is "reality". It's hardly an illusion, although it is victim to all sorts of those familiar assertions and presumptions from our many latter-day Utopianists begging for safety at any cost.

Microbillionaire

I would like to say a brief elegy for the old meaning of "justice", which was speedy and faithful execution of the law. If the law specified that thieves should spend thirty days in jail, then justice consisted in jailing thieves for thirty days - not 29, not 31, nor five strokes of the whip. Now I find myself short a word for this.

Today, "justice" has seemingly come to mean something more like doing to thieves what one feels is good to do to thieves, regardless of the law, a concept for which we already had a brace of terms such as due, desert, fairness, warranted, comeuppance, you'll get yours.

This I find to be disastrous when combined with the idea I see growing increasingly prevalent that the law should be oriented towards justice - which is to say, under the new meaning of justice, that the law ought at all times to reflect the present mood towards thieves. Taken to its logical conclusion, this would imply that every criminal should receive a personalized sentence determined by public vote, this expression of the public will being the prime material of which the written law is only a crude shadow, necessitated by the tyranny of logistics. Perhaps someday in the digital future, following improvements in public accessibility and the like, "justice" will evolve to merge the courthouse with the reality TV show.

David Gillies

Ten: What are you on about? It would seem to me that absent any notions of rehabilitation, punishment and deterrence (which can be argued about until the cows come home), the chief virtue of imprisoning criminals is prophylactic. You see, if thieves and ruffians are in prison, they are not out nicking things or hitting people. What most people want out of a justice system is to not have their things nicked or to be hit by ruffians. Yes, there's a certain atavistic yen among some for seeing the toerags suffer, but personally I couldn't care less whether prisons are run like CenterParcs or the Chateau d'If. I would favour a relatively benign sentencing regime for first-time offences but a rapidly escalating ladder for subsequent. It should be literally impossible to see things like "X has 47 precious convictions for burglary", unless X was first convicted some time in the Carboniferous Era.

Ten

If justice - as a semantic device and not the philosophy thereof - is a blind execution of the law, then naturally we'd hope law was just. If, however, it's the deployment of leftist tropes to exercise statist force per some meandering, emotional, contemporary "need" - like safety, for example - we should reject it.

But we have a predicament, Microbillionare.

If the execution of law commonly turns it into the proverbial ass - the terribly precise 30 day rule for its own sake, the redistribution of resources, the incarceration nation, racialist preferentialism, the safety myth, reparations nonsense, gay wedding cake penalties, et al - obviously we'd have to define the justness aside from justice, and not mix together the dictionary definition with reactionary, rhetorical, and loosely defined arbitrary pragmatism.

Arbitrary pragmatism of any kind. We can't have it both ways.

Just justice is just, so to put it, and the rest is shite: Either justice is valid as a philosophy, an ideal, a sound theory; or it's a warped travesty. Naturally we define the former to prevent the latter. How we define it and by why standard counts.

Keelhauling people to get 'em off the boat - the safety myth - isn't that thing. For example, the law isn't to create safety anymore than social justice is to create safe zones. Both are recent phenomenon, two sides of the same coin, and neither are just per se.

Rightist absolutists who refuse to examine the philosophy of justice have no right to claim it. They're another statist form of what they reject on the left. Adopting a pragmatic statism the rightist thinks he controls for its effects while ignoring its philosophical basis - an established standard deeply valued by the progressive right of our times - puts him on the wrong side of a good ten very major issues. Crime is one.

The classical liberal knows this. The rightist misses it while it's being pointed out, and that's a barometer of how far "conservatives" have gone off the beam...

Ten

...the chief virtue of imprisoning criminals is prophylactic.

So is the chief virtue of hanging them.

What most people want out of a justice system is to not have their things nicked or to be hit by ruffians...there's a certain atavistic yen among some for seeing the toerags suffer, but personally I couldn't care less whether prisons are run like CenterParcs or the Chateau d'If.

Clockwork orange.

I would favour a relatively benign sentencing regime for first-time offences but a rapidly escalating ladder for subsequent. It should be literally impossible to see things like "X has 47 precious convictions for burglary", unless X was first convicted some time in the Carboniferous Era.

Justice as a tool of populist revenge enacted democratically. Where have we heard that before.

So basically, defeat is conceded. But you feel better about yourself, right?

Civilis

Justice as a tool of populist revenge enacted democratically.

'Justice' is always about populist revenge; since it's a subjective ideal, speaking of justice is sidetracking the issue. The first principle of government must be protection of it's citizens of deprival of rights (including those of property) by theft or fraud; if it can't do that, it has no legitimacy as a government.

If people have no fear of fines (viewed either as 'because they have nothing to take from them' or 'because the state will provide them with enough that they won't starve no matter what') and can't be exiled and insists on returning to crime over and over again, government can't throw up its hands and say 'I can't do anything', it's obligated by the social contract to do something to protect those that support the social contract from those that violate it. Right now, imprisonment is the viable means of doing so.

Short form: I can fine someone, and they can go back to committing crimes right away. I can sentence people to rehabilitation, and they can go back to committing crimes right away. Prison is the most humane option I have where they can't victimize the law-abiding, unless somehow you consider executing them a better option.

pst314

"Either justice is valid as a philosophy, an ideal, a sound theory; or it's a warped travesty."

What is this philosophically based justice?

Ten

'Justice' is always about populist revenge; since it's a subjective ideal, speaking of justice is sidetracking the issue.

It is? Folks upthread don't seem to think so, although like you, they believe in not saying if they could be brought to question the criminal justice status quo, a thoroughly subjective - subjected - point of view they, at least, presumably find to be just anyway.

And this hammer-of-justice subjectivity comes from the same line of reasoning most known for claiming rights are from God; that is, are inherent to absolute principle...

The first principle of government must be protection of it's citizens of deprival of rights (including those of property) by theft or fraud; if it can't do that, it has no legitimacy as a government.

The Safety Progressives speak, and of said principle! But it's a rather severe corruption of the principle of liberty we've taken to get to all this preemptive safety, and that is a well-worn and accepted tenet of any valid conservative ideal on law and justice. Hardly a surprise and certainly not a mystery.

Rather, the first principle of government must be protecting it's citizens from its depriving them of their rights. If it could magically prevent others doing that - which neither it or they can do, literally by design - we wouldn't have a remedial system of justice, would we, with due process, presumptions and protections, jury trials, and especially Blackstone's Formulation, a cornerstone of the west's common law roots and its constitutional trajectory.

Which brings us back to...the past. Nobody has yet addressed the Celts and penalties and compensation, for one example, and the effective, stable, reasoned, and quite different system that, in all evidence, worked well on top of being arguably wiser to boot. That we mustn't talk about, there being no noble savages or something, which is a heck of an exclusionary fallacy. And for what are increasingly obvious reasons.

If people have no fear of fines (viewed either as 'because they have nothing to take from them' or 'because the state will provide them with enough that they won't starve no matter what') and can't be exiled and insists on returning to crime over and over again...

If? Now we're interjecting corruptions of reason and practice, and conflating them with inevitability. That's not an argument; it's a conditional preference.

...government can't throw up its hands and say 'I can't do anything'...

It can't? Only government creates order? Only official force counters anarchy and defends these victims so entitled to their safety? Tort and recovery just disappeared forever?

That's an excluded middle, and we've touched on that. Well, I have. Of course it can throw its hands up, and sometimes you and I both hope it does.

...it's obligated by the social contract

It has an obligation to principle, not this arbitrary "democratic" populism we've been failing to wrangle inside some useful parameters. And what "social contract" is this; the one we refuse to even consider the foundations or the workings of? If justice is the effective mob we started out with above, how did we eventually get to a unitary principle of order?

There's a social contract of throwing bricks through shop windows from time to time too and all it takes is "populist revenge, a subjective ideal".

...to do something to protect those that support the social contract from those that violate it.

Because...safety. And at some point we haul off to jail the guys perched on top of those shops with shotguns, protecting the family business. They just violated the prevailing social contract, the one made from populist revenge, a subjective ideal. We'll advise them that justice talk is sidetracking their issues.

Right now, imprisonment is the viable means of doing so.

Because we say so, having first narrowly defined terms, then options, then outcomes, and now presumed benefits? But so does hanging them. Chaining them to trees. Keelhauling them for the social contract.

Which leads us to the fourth iteration today of the same authoritarian pragmatism, with no reason and certainly no further investigation required:

Short form: I can fine someone, and they can go back to committing crimes right away. I can sentence people to rehabilitation, and they can go back to committing crimes right away. Prison is the most humane option I have where they can't victimize the law-abiding, unless somehow you consider executing them a better option.

No, to be literal it's just the most expedient rhetoric the unreasoned habitual view cares to consider. It's an assertion.

Not so incidentally, I didn't get into this to argue for a fines-based justice system. I got into it to see if the right - this is a somewhat rightist place, no? - could remember its intellectual roots and, per the above, prevent its popular view falling back into sloth, but calling it everything from justice to the only tool in the shed.

juliaeryn

I worked with children in a clinical psychology practice. We were forever getting referrals for children who were poorly behaved. One behaviour management technique we always advised was to catch the child being good and provide positive reinforcement - e.g., praise, affection, or in some cases may be even a treat. The idea is that positive reinforcement increases the likelihood of behaviour so you use it when kids are doing something you want to encourage them to do more of. Hopefully, you will then need less negative reinforcement, or punishment as kids have less time to do bad things if they are busy doing good things.

This is a tactic that parents, families, friends and maybe even communities to a certain degree, can use to encourage the development of compassionate, kind and well adjusted adults and keep antisocial behaviour to a minimum (i.e. a guy becomes popular and mates want to hang out with him when he is not acting like a dick and breaking into houses). Unfortunately, it rarely seems to happen that way, especially in certain areas (my suburb).

Nevertheless, it is not the government's role to try to shape the moral compass of individuals - it just doesn't work. It requires a very intimate and close connection with that person, which is not a relationship we want with government in a free society. If we consider governments that do try to take on that role of moral teacher (e.g. Nth korea, soviet russia) people always seem to end up as wan, crunchy husks.

Also, if this program were widespread, whats to stop people purposefully upping the amount of crime they commit until are suffiently 'at risk' and qualify for payment?

wtp

Hmmm...much here but if I may just reply to Ten's reply to my comment..

A notion from which many like yourself dangle equally opaque reasoning - for the last few decades it's been impossible to miss that rhetoric.

Funny you mention rhetoric. Funny ironic. I stated something definitive and substantive, a solid, obvious fact that if you lock people up they will not rape, kill, or steal from you. You disagree? Did you grasp orthodoc's comment? Then you retort "Chaining people to trees prevents violence and theft." What? So does cutting off their hands (or their heads). What sort of argument is that? Hell, it's not even a decent straw man. What follows is mostly of the TL;DR variety with much sound and fury to no end. A Clockwork Orange is not the sum total of justice nor injustice. Nor much of an argument.

I smell a philosophy student. Collections of words arranged in such a manner that allow for an out at every turn. It is a simple fact, as Civilis states, "The first principle of government must be protection of it's citizens of deprival of rights (including those of property) by theft or fraud; if it can't do that, it has no legitimacy as a government." And as David Gillies states, "You see, if thieves and ruffians are in prison, they are not out nicking things or hitting people. What most people want out of a justice system is to not have their things nicked or to be hit by ruffians."

And in regard to To rise above rhetoric a thing has to stand philosophical tests. Frankly, yours doesn't, generally because that splinter of rightism hasn't applied any such tests beyond assumption. The presuming anger is always there, but a careful analysis of the issues always goes wanting (not that the let-em-all-go-free left is any more complete; it isn't.)...Do you not see the arrogance in this statement?
Like most philosophers, you seem to have already made up your mind about the world outside your head and thus those who express a different view of the world, especially those that base their views on real-world experience, must be explained away as "rhetoric" that doesn't stand "philosophical tests". Let me clue you in on a little thing the real world knows that philosopher fail time and time again to understand, THERE ARE NO PHILOSOPHICAL TESTS. There are facts, there are experiences, there are experiments, and then there are wild ass guesses. And way behind all those WAGs are philosophers arguing how many angels fit on the head of a pin. Your mind cannot determine how the world is or will be. Only actions matter. And the action of locking up thugs, thieves, and such prevents such creatures from hurting anyone around them.

And if there is one salient point you allude to, I think...perhaps I'm wrong...it is that the law can be an ass when it grows so big and broad that it cannot be administered (or even understood) in a way a reasonably educated man can follow in his spare time. That is when he isn't slaving away to support the behemoth state, legal system, his community, and every other leech of his time and still be able to care for his children, his parents, his wife, and his friends. We cannot allow the lawyers to legislate us into anarchy.

Civilis

And this hammer-of-justice subjectivity comes from the same line of reasoning most known for claiming rights are from God; that is, are inherent to absolute principle...

Religion postulates the existence of an entity uniquely powerful, all knowing, unbiased, and objective enough to provide justice in the form of God. If God exists (as I believe), he's able to be uniquely just; the same does not apply to states as creations of man.

The Safety Progressives speak, and of said principle! But it's a rather severe corruption of the principle of liberty we've taken to get to all this preemptive safety, and that is a well-worn and accepted tenet of any valid conservative ideal on law and justice. Hardly a surprise and certainly not a mystery.

Conservatives also agree on the role of government in protecting people from threats to rights, and I generally see even Minarchists agree that this is a legitimate role of government. And my phrasing was deliberate: if there is to be a government, it's first goal must be the safety of the rights of its citizens from itself, other citizens, and outsiders; a government that doesn't do that can't claim legitimacy. I said nothing about government being required.

Which brings us back to...the past. Nobody has yet addressed the Celts and penalties and compensation, for one example, and the effective, stable, reasoned, and quite different system that, in all evidence, worked well on top of being arguably wiser to boot. That we mustn't talk about, there being no noble savages or something, which is a heck of an exclusionary fallacy. And for what are increasingly obvious reasons.

Of course I answered that. We can't exile (shun) people (if you're willing to kick people that break the law out of the country (by force) entirely in lieu of prison, I apologize for wasting your time, but most people aren't). Fines don't work if they have nothing to take away and you're promising to feed and house them no matter what they do. Fines also don't work if the people are free to say 'no' when told to surrender their fine, you need something to collect that fine by force; how do you assess and collect fines without something approximating a government with the power to force people to comply?

It can't? Only government creates order? Only official force counters anarchy and defends these victims so entitled to their safety? Tort and recovery just disappeared forever?

Anything that creates order will necessarily have many of the features currently associated with governments, such as the ability to define the law in its boundaries, determine appropriate punishments for transgressions of the law, and the ability to carry those judgments and punishments out. Tort and recovery don't exist without a body willing to back up judgements with force.

Some people are going to insist on depriving others of life and liberty (including property). If you're not willing to stop them, you've generated a society where the strong and willing to break the rules rule at the expense of the weak and law-abiding.

Let's narrow this down to basic principles. We have someone with the desire and ability to violate someone else's rights (rob them, rape them, murder them, doesn't matter) and willing to place that desire over all other considerations. How do we prevent that violation of rights without using force on the person with that desire?

JerryC

{Reads Ten's comments}

{Takes long drag on joint}

....

Far out, maaaannnn.

David Gillies

Ten, I can't tell whether you;re playing devil's advocate or being deliberately obtuse. In my conception of a justice system, people are given increasingly longer periods of incarceration not to punish them but to increase the period when they are not inflicting themselves on the rest of us. You probably could reduce the crime rate for a bit by hanging the fifty most prolific thieves in every town. If instead they got a year for the second offence (we'll let them have the first one suspended) then 18 months for the second, 27 for the third, 41 for the fourth, 61 for the fifth and so on then by the time they'd racked up offence number seven they'd have accumulated fifty years in prison. Fifty years of the rest of us not having to suffer the depredations of someone so degenerate that 32 years of gaol was insufficient to stop them thieving again. It isn't three strikes and you're out. It's just segregating the incorrigible from everyone else. There is absolutely nothing in the libertarian tradition that says violation of rights cannot be condignly countered, and much that says not only can it be, but that it must be. If we assume that criminals have agency then we must assume that they respond to rational risk/reward calculations. Right now, for many, the calculation is that a life of habitual crime is a good bet. But, to repeat, I don't care about that. I just want scumbags cordoned off. If that means they die in prison of old age, then too bad. I suspect you would find few multiple offenders under my system; you'd really have to work at it. But even those that did exist wouldn't indicate a failure. They would be a demonstration it was working exactly as intended.

Hal

Prison is the most humane option I have where they can't victimize the law-abiding, unless somehow you consider executing them a better option.

I've always been rather fond of John Carpenter's well known documentary on this subject.

Chester Draws

If prison worked prophylactively, the US would have low crime.

Instead they have enormous prison populations and high crime.

They are "harder" on crime yet have to spend more on police.

As a solution -- just jail them for longer -- clearly doesn't work.

David

Morning, all.

[ Scans thread. ]

I’m going to need a bigger cup of coffee.

Darleen

If prison worked prophylactively, the US would have low crime.

Instead they have enormous prison populations and high crime.

They are "harder" on crime yet have to spend more on police.

As a solution -- just jail them for longer -- clearly doesn't work.

Well, Chester, you started out with the wrong assumptions, therefore reached and invalid conclusion.

In general, crime rates in the US have gone down significantly over the last 25 years, pretty much in line with programs such as California's 3-strikes law (enacted 1994) and many major cities and states basing their policing on the Broken Windows theory (also early 90s).

Now, over the past year, California has seen a rise of 20-21% in crime - both property and violent crime. How ever can this be? Because Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown decided that letting 10,000 state prisoners out under his prison realignment program was just peachy-keen AND last year's Proposition 47, which moved a lot of felonies into misdemeanor land plus, in essence, incentivized commercial burglary*

*e.g. grab your boosterbag & go to your local mall .. steal all day long, just make sure you hit different stores & take no more than $949 dollars worth at each store. Result? If caught, you'll get a citation. And no matter how many times you do it, you'll never have it advanced to felony status.

Please spare me the poor-criminals-as-victims schtick.

Joan

at risk of committing violent crimes

Because they have *already* committed violent crimes more than once.

David

Still trying to make my way through this thread.

Klaus D. Muller

Americans do believe in the MONEY. This is crazy and funny and idiotic and dangerous and absurd, ...but it fits.

Ten

wtp's high points:

Funny you mention rhetoric. Funny ironic. I stated something definitive and substantive, a solid, obvious fact that if you lock people up they will not rape, kill, or steal from you. You disagree?

Given that we defend this consistent but deeply pragmatic, ends-justified lack of context - that locking people up is the primary goal of a government charged with Keeping the Public Safety, apparently at any cost that being the missing context in probably ten comments - with incredulity at any tacit demand we add that context - because we can't assess and rank "chaining people to trees prevents violence and theft [too]" in some concrete matrix of thought and function that apparently may involve instead only wholesale incarceration for safety's sake - yeah, I find the point rhetorical and ironic.

It's not a point, as I keep recording. It's a preference. It's a point when it has relevant context and stands to broad reason. It doesn't do that either.

What? So does cutting off their hands (or their heads).

What seems obvious: We don't do capital punishment and there has to be a reason for that.

Because we reason it's not acceptable, and because we, apparently, reason instead that industrialized incarceration is our utopian panacea - a panacea none of us can justify beyond an appeal to safety, it being govt's highest ideal - followed by an appeal to the humanity thereof coupled to a happy stated apathy for the consequences.

I'm really tempted to ask:

What sort of argument is that? Hell, it's not even a decent straw man.

Actually, it's one of the foundational assumptions of a civilization: That a people be able to reason its justice formulation among itself without resorting to a sort of offended, dazed bewilderment, looking at the guy asking the question like a leper, and going back to eating itself alive behind its securely locked doors.

What follows is mostly of the TL;DR variety with much sound and fury to no end. A Clockwork Orange is not the sum total of justice nor injustice. Nor much of an argument.

He said, in the ringing vacuum of any argument beyond a presuming pragmatism. But I'm obtuse.

I smell a philosophy student.

No, you hear a constitutionalist. Rather stunning that we all need a trigger warning instead.

Collections of words arranged in such a manner that allow for an out at every turn..

At every turn. And I'm an arrogant SOB too, it's said.

It is a simple fact, as Civilis states, "The first principle of government must be protection of it's citizens of deprival of rights (including those of property) by theft or fraud; if it can't do that, it has no legitimacy as a government."

That again? Find me that in the American founding documents, among others.

Govt's role is a system of remedial justice, not a foregone conclusion presumed only by safety nannies unable and unwilling to construct its justification. Of course, we won't answer the more literal questions regarding safety and justice, but my asking them and for a conscious formulation about them is strawmanish. Obtuse. Diversionary. Hardly an argument.

And then we go right back to that contextless nonsense, as if, somehow, your Phil 101 target can't possibly have heard of - and challenged four times to empty vacuum - the preposterously open-ended notion that:

as David Gillies states, "You see, if thieves and ruffians are in prison, they are not out nicking things or hitting people. What most people want out of a justice system is to not have their things nicked or to be hit by ruffians."

The brisk, foundational novelty of that original thought has me speechless.

And in regard to ["]to rise above rhetoric a thing has to stand philosophical tests. Frankly, yours doesn't, generally because that splinter of rightism hasn't applied any such tests beyond assumption. The presuming anger is always there, but a careful analysis of the issues always goes wanting (not that the let-em-all-go-free left is any more complete; it isn't.)["]...Do you not see the arrogance in this statement?

Yes, I see the arrogance in my presuming liberty types on the right haven't the means to define that liberty philosophically. Safety they get, however. Being progressives instead.

Like most philosophers, you seem to have already made up your mind about the world outside your head and thus those who express a different view of the world, especially those that base their views on real-world experience, must be explained away as "rhetoric" that doesn't stand "philosophical tests".

My goodness, but that is ironic.

Let me clue you in...

With bated breath.

...on a little thing the real world knows that philosopher fail time and time again to understand, THERE ARE NO PHILOSOPHICAL TESTS. There are facts, there are experiences, there are experiments, and then there are wild ass guesses.

Yeah. I get that. There are wild ass guesses. And safety.

Ten

Please spare me the poor-criminals-as-victims schtick.

Nobody raised a schtick. What's raised is ham sandwich nation. And this issue, summed up well in this analysis.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

"How Wall Street Turned America Into Incarceration Nation"

Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha

[takes deep breath]

Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Liz

Still trying to make my way through this thread.

LOL. Is Riker making sweet love to his chair?

David

Is Riker making sweet love to his chair?

I think he’s softening the leather.

Fen Tiger

Some of the emissions above remind me of Pointman's splendid Prat Principle.

Microbillionaire

Enjoying your coffee, David?

In the spirit of Friday Ephemera, also in the spirit of not wading right into the depths an apparently quite acrimonious debate, I will continue, as with the elegy for "justice", offering semi-tangential remarks and links only somewhat related to the topic at hand. I hope you will forgive me being a day early about this.

Social Technology and Anarcho-Tyranny. Long story short, policing involves a tradeoff, but sometimes the "total amount" to be traded off can increase or decrease. One might think of it in terms of stable equilibria:

- There are places with unmanned self-service stores working on the honor system: customer enters, customer takes goods, customer inspects price tags and calculates bill, customer places money, customer departs. Occasionally the storeowner shows up to restock goods and collect money.

- Then there are places where the above idea is overly optimistic, and would result in the store being a money-losing proposition due to far too many people taking goods and severely underpaying or not paying at all.

- And then there are places where the above idea is complete nonsense, as even the relatively law-abiding people in those places would steal the money and the goods, and think they'd done a good deed to boot, on the grounds that the goods were absolutely inevitably going going to be stolen anyway and this way they're not in the hands of murderous raping drugrunning gutter scum.

- Finally there are places where such stores would get burned down, because fuck you, that's why.

Steven Kaas once said: "The cost of antisocial behavior includes the value of all institutions that we don't have because they would be ruined by such behavior; this quantity has no obvious upper bound." But a lower bound can at least be estimated by those not so lucky as to live in places where market-bazaars of twenty-thirty unmanned stalls proffer a profusion of goods.

I have also encountered an interesting proposal that many prisons should be replaced with something more like monasteries: places of rigidly ordered lifestyle that can simultaneously impose penance, segregate an offender, and give practice at useful skills for non-criminal life such as keeping schedules and work ethic.

This assumes some degree of malleability of human nature, though, which may cause it to be a stillborn proposal.

David

Enjoying your coffee, David?

Oh yes, muchly.

David

The cost of antisocial behaviour includes the value of all institutions that we don’t have because they would be ruined by such behaviour; this quantity has no obvious upper bound.

Until I feel inspired and sufficiently wise, I’m happy to eavesdrop as you lot thrash this one out. I will, though, add that the indifference that’s often shown towards victims of supposedly unimportant crime, say, car crime and burglary - and the excuses made for the perpetrators in, for instance, the pages of the Guardian, where commentators fret about the poor quality of toothbrushes available in prison - is corrosive and demoralising. It seems to encourage the idea that insurance is a close-to-adequate solution and one should simply get used to being preyed upon, often repeatedly, and often by the same people.

A point illustrated some years ago by the now sadly defunct Inspector Gadget blog:

In the last two weeks in Ruraltown, we have seen three men with a total of 78 previous convictions, convicted again for theft, domestic violence and vehicle crime… All three had previous records for “offences against the courts and police.” All three had breached community sentences, been recalled whilst on licence or breached bail in the last two years. This kind of behaviour is now entirely normal for most of the criminal underclass in every town in Britain. None of these men received a single day’s custodial sentence. All three were dealt with by way of “community sentence.” All three were happy to keep their freedom. One was arrested again within 24 hours for stealing cars. He didn’t even attempt to run away when patrols arrived.

At a time when “we need to send a message” is a common political phrase, the above – and any number of similar incidents I could quote - seems an odd choice of message. As I’ve said before, it would be preferable if the perpetrators, who are generally serial perpetrators, were the ones who lived in fear, rather than their victims. Many of whom might be deemed as “disadvantaged” as those who prey on them, and who may struggle to pay for the insurance that’s supposed to offer comfort, and who may find the theft and destruction of what little they have particularly distressing, a particular violation.

Civilis

Long story short, policing involves a tradeoff, but sometimes the "total amount" to be traded off can increase or decrease. One might think of it in terms of stable equilibria:

I want to reiterate what you said, because the idea that different conditions for a society might produce different stable social equilibria seems foreign to a lot of people on all sides in the political debate. Social rules that work in a primitive predominantly rural agrarian society may fail spectacularly when applied to a modern highly mobile post-industrial society. Then again, when dealing with a romanticized view of history, such one that sees Celtic society (largely dominated by a feudal warrior aristocracy, practicing slavery of debtors and war captives, subject to frequent tribal warfare and ultimately subdued by the more organized Romans) as one not based on force, it's kind of understandable.

The goal then is to both maximize the amount of liberty feasible under the social conditions, and change the social conditions to those more conductive of liberty, something which we've largely succeeded on at the international level since the end of World War II. When you're offering to pay Danegeld to those likely to commit crimes, you're changing dramatically the social conditions of society, and people will move from both the 'actually committing crimes' portion of society AND the 'unlikely to commit crimes' portion of society to the 'likely to commit crimes' portion.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Four of the six of those outline the role of the United States in the "protection of it's citizens of deprival of rights (including those of property) by theft or fraud". There are other interesting bits as to the ideals defined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights that relate to this discussion, such as "The Congress shall have power to [...] grant letters of marque and reprisal [...and...] To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;".

WTP

Ten,

I read through most of your response. More than enough to come to the conclusion that I, and I presume others here, could argue with you until the cows come home and it would just be a tremendous waste of everyone's time. You blather on and on with wordy BS in such an arrogant manner and when called on it simply project it back, re:

I smell a philosophy student.

No, you hear a constitutionalist. Rather stunning that we all need a trigger warning instead.

Collections of words arranged in such a manner that allow for an out at every turn..

At every turn. And I'm an arrogant SOB too, it's said.

Of course this was quite apparent even before this thread, back on the Friday Ephemera in your "discussion" with Theophrastus regarding ancient monuments. Arrogance is pretty much all you've displayed here. Practically zero substance on the reality that people who commit violent and property crimes make the lives of those around them a living hell and thus must be dealt with in some practical and effective manner.

If you are interested in continuing this discussion, please limit your response to concrete points. I have a job and a life and lack the time to parse paragraphs and paragraphs of BS to find a tiny nugget of a point. The law is an ass. I agree. But not all of it. And justice is something that should not apply to just the perpetrator or the victim but to the community, i.e. potential future victims, as well. Not all implementations of justice are some knee jerk reaction or orgasm of schadenfreude.

Oh, and one other thing in general, more to others here...I first noticed this about 10 years ago and it's increasing in prominence...wtf is with this convoluted line of reasoning that puts so many issues in the context of "fear"? It's like the lefties need to dress themselves up in some false image of being strong by twisting every action taken to address real problems as a sign of "fear". I actually worked with a delusional extreme vegan wisp of a man/boy who would argue that military people are really "fearful" underneath and thus it drives them to "project" being so macho. It was a never ending, tiresome thing with the guy. Trim your shrubs? Oh, you "fear" nature. Get a flu shot? Oh, you fear dying. I see this sh*t spreading, but perhaps I've just been sensitized to it from working with a loony for a couple years.

Civilis

Until I feel inspired and sufficiently wise, I’m happy to eavesdrop as you lot thrash this one out. I will, though, add that the indifference that’s often shown towards victims of supposedly unimportant crime, say, car crime and burglary - and the excuses made for the perpetrators in, for instance, the pages of the Guardian, where commentators fret about the poor quality of toothbrushes available in prison - is corrosive and demoralising. It seems to encourage the idea that insurance is a close-to-adequate solution and one should simply get used to being preyed upon, often repeatedly, and often by the same people.

One of the reasons objective justice is impossible without relying on the existence of a higher power (be it God or karma) is that it is impossible to objectively value things, be they physical or intangible. Insurance can get you a new car with a similar market value, but can't price in the possible sentimental value (it's the car I took on my honeymoon or lost my virginity in, etc.), the inconvenience of not having a car, the fear of crime from being the victim, etc., because those vary from person to person. When we talk about mortal justice, it's an approximation; the mutually agreed upon rules were followed, predetermined restitution to the victim has been provided and predetermined punishment has been assigned, therefore the system has worked and justice has been approximated.

It's especially the case when what is lost is irreplaceable. How do you provide proper restitution to those that have permanently lost a loved one, much less the person who's life has been lost?

David

Insurance… can’t price in… the fear of crime from being the victim,

It’s difficult to quantify the social and personal degradation caused by such people, whose numbers are small relative to their effect. Though that’s no excuse for Guardian columnists waving aside burglary – the violation of someone’s home – as “really quite inconsequential” and dismissing anger at that violation as plebeian and unsophisticated.

And sadly, I don’t have a Grand Unified Theory of Crime and Punishment. But it seems to me that for many crimes, and in particular for repeat offenders, we aren’t nearly punitive enough. And almost every poll taken suggests that a majority of the public shares this view. A three-strikes-and-we-put-you-out-to-sea-on-a-fucking-raft law would, I suspect, be very popular.

Ten

WTP, as alien as this probably is, if arrogance is what anyone wants, I propose your comments. It's really kinda remarkable how you continually skate right by the very subject you keep demanding be addressed with so narrow a point of view that when it's not used, you literally can't accept the result except to edit it.

Strawmanning? Surely. Entrenched cognitive dissonance? Sounds like a predictable charge to make, but I can't see what else to call it. And that's before the personal remarks.

I can't remember a more condescending, self-satisfied, and close-minded set of diversions in the last six months than yours. The fact someone doesn't take well to the statist progressive rightist notion that they're owed safety, and that questioning the justice system is wrong is silly. Try not to be a dick.

Ten

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Four of the six of those outline the role of the United States in the "protection of it's citizens of deprival of rights (including those of property) by theft or fraud". There are other interesting bits as to the ideals defined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights that relate to this discussion, such as "The Congress shall have power to [...] grant letters of marque and reprisal [...and...] To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;".

Oh for crying out loud; so now in and among all its safeguards of state's rights and enumerated powers and the local enforcement that's been operating independently of it until recently, federal constitutional govt really is a nanny. Next up: National prisons running convoyed SWAT into the surrounding streets to keep the order. The justice. The domestic tranquility.

No, obviously. Govt owes the populace protections from its own deprivations of life, liberty, and property, which is precisely why a national police mayn't exist. For the rest - the rest being you and I - it is established to protect the enactment of just law, meaning remedial justice, not an Orwellian protection scheme. In fact, expressly opposed to protection schemes.

Let's kindly not bend the founding principle into a pretzel.

Not surprisingly, true constitutional justice on your street starts with not infringing the Second, and, as is only now becoming vestigially trendy again, stand-your-ground rights under that prior, functional framework of justice.

Those principles, of course, incur some controversy from the leftist progressive statists who, like their rightist brothers - may see govt as a protection agency, soon with enormous industrialized farms inhabited by millions of wards of some Phillip K. Dick dystopia, one step from the protections of some pre-cognitive agency.

Correction: The left is significantly less inclined to this preposterous fallacy.

Ten

As I’ve said before, it would be preferable if the perpetrators, who are generally serial perpetrators, were the ones who lived in fear, rather than their victims.

The missing ingredient? The right to self-protection. That gone, onerousness - and even presumptions of guilt - become more palatable. Safer.

...it seems to me that for many crimes, and in particular for repeat offenders, we aren’t nearly punitive enough. And almost every poll taken suggests that a majority of the public shares this view. A three-strikes-and-we-put-you-out-to-sea-on-a-fucking-raft law would, I suspect, be very popular.

At some point we're not discussing a functional justice system anymore, but in the growing vacuum of prior social responsibility, how to survive without either.

The prison island has, from time to time, been quite popular. It's shame folks can't configure a saner alternative before the fact, literally reforming social behavior individually before everybody's a collective criminal.

Civilis

I can't remember a more condescending, self-satisfied, and close-minded set of diversions in the last six months than yours. The fact someone doesn't take well to the statist progressive rightist notion that they're owed safety, and that questioning the justice system is wrong is silly. Try not to be a dick.

The fact that we, despite our differences, aren't seeing each others arguments as being close-minded, is indicative that your opinions may not be representative of the general tone of the discussion. Nobody has said that questioning the justice system is wrong, we argue that advocating throwing out the justice system entirely, as you have done, requires a lot of evidence in support to overcome Chesterton's fence. I wonder if, in part, you're operating from a different set of definitions from the rest of us?

Progressive can be defined neutrally as "favoring or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas." Nowhere in there is 'safety' a progressive term. To take a more political definition, progressives are (according to the right) "envisioned an expansive government, a “living” and evolving Constitution, and the rule of “experts” in nationally centralized administrative agencies" or (according to the left) those who "focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules".

Statist is usually defined as an advocate of statism, which gets defined as "the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty". Nobody here is talking about economic or political controls. If you stretch the definition, it might apply, but let's look at a related term: minarchist.

"Minarchism (also known as minimal statism) is a political philosophy and a form of libertarianism. It is variously defined by sources. In the strictest sense, it holds that states ought to exist (as opposed to anarchy), that their only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and that the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts. In the broadest sense, it also includes fire departments, prisons, the executive, and legislatures as legitimate government functions. Such states are generally called night-watchman states."

If you're going to define a minarchist as a statist, your definition may make sense to you, but you need to realize that your definition isn't accepted by most people and that rational people can conclude that minarchists aren't statists by any usable definition. Insisting your opponents are rightist, progressivist, and statist against the definitions held by most on this site requires you to state and defend your definitions as superior to the definitions held by the people here.

David

The missing ingredient? The right to self-protection.

Homeowners shooting burglars would be cheaper than housing and feeding them in our dungeons, assuming they were caught. Of course, in the name of savings, you’d have to shoot to kill.

The prison island has, from time to time, been quite popular.

Pity we don’t have Australia anymore. It’s time someone invented Phantom Zone technology.

JerryC

All very fascinating, but I'm still left wondering about the practical effects of implementing Ten's ideal system of non-incarcerative justice.

If I kick down Ten's door, beat the shit out of him and take his iPad and The Wire DVD box set, what happens to me? Lawsuit? 50 hours of community service? Sternly worded letter from Loretta Lynch? Vendetta killing by Ten's extended family?

How is a situation like that dealt with in Ten's non-incarcerative utopia?

JerryC

Shoot. HTML closure tag failure. :-(

David

Shoot. HTML closure tag failure. :-(

A hanging offence round these parts.

JerryC

{Tugs forelock remorsefully}

Microbillionaire
The goal then is to both maximize the amount of liberty feasible under the social conditions, and change the social conditions to those more conductive of liberty, something which we've largely succeeded on at the international level since the end of World War II

While I very much like liberty, I have in recent years seen too many dropouts and too much anomie to remain convinced that liberty should be maximized. I think the ambition to maximize liberty came about under certain unspoken assumed cultural constraints, and as those drop off, you start to see welfare addicts, broken families, drifters, NEET, hikikomori, and numerous other failure modes in the style of being "liberated" from one's brother and one's neighbor. When a man only discovers five years on that his mother died five years ago ("so that's why she stopped calling") and his means of discovering this is a letter informing him that her body will be cremated for reuse of her burial plot unless he takes action to... something seems to me to have gone wrong.

I know there are abusive mothers, and sometimes it's good to be able to cut ties even with what ought otherwise to be close family members. But I also hold that there's nontrivial force to that "ought", that certain kin should be kept close unless there is pressing reason otherwise, and liberty-maximization is raising the cost of doing so.

This isn't really an argument. If your goal is just to maximize liberty, I can't expect to persuade you otherwise. It's more of a sigh at the side effects that I don't like. I don't have a plan to fix this. I don't want to reorder people's lives. But I have seen so many lives "derailed", so to speak, usually after rejecting the concept of rails, that even without having a conception of specifically what's right, I get a strong sense that something has gone avoidably wrong in those lives.

And on the societal rather than individual level, regardless of whether there is anything "wrong" about a culture that's seen its TFR fall below replacement and continue downwards with no sign of stopping, it's certain that such a culture is likely to be *replaced*, which is usually a good sign that something is wrong - or at least will be regarded as wrong by the replacers. Maximal liberty may be self-extinguishing. Apres moi, la deluge? Fiat libertatem, ruat coelum?

Civilis

Not surprisingly, true constitutional justice on your street starts with not infringing the Second, and, as is only now becoming vestigially trendy again, stand-your-ground rights under that prior, functional framework of justice.

And here's where being more precise in your definitions and being more open to charitable interpretations of your opponent's arguments would have helped you in this debate. I can say the same for myself; I still find hard to believe a logical chain that spent so much time arguing prison was unconscionably cruel is in favor of self-defense against deprival of rights via second amendment; it's internally logically valid, though so unexpected as to be almost unbelievable.

Let me get this straight: if someone steals my stuff, it's preferable to have a society where it's acceptable to recover it by personal force of arms (at the risk of killing the perpetrator) rather than one where a neutral third party trained in both investigation and dispute resolution look into the issue and perform the recovery?

You might want to look up the term 'blood feud' and the history of the Balkans for the likely consequences of leaving justice up to the individual (and more likely, watch the functional level of social organization become the clan/tribe/gang). You might want to spend time looking at ways in which your system can fail, and more specifically, how someone looking to abuse your system can do so, rather than trying to stretch examples of something that kinda fits without considering it may be an exception and by stretching it to fit you're throwing out the ways in which it doesn't fit.

Anna

A three-strikes-and-we-put-you-out-to-sea-on-a-fucking-raft law would, I suspect, be very popular.

:-D

Civilis

This isn't really an argument. If your goal is just to maximize liberty, I can't expect to persuade you otherwise. It's more of a sigh at the side effects that I don't like. I don't have a plan to fix this. I don't want to reorder people's lives. But I have seen so many lives "derailed", so to speak, usually after rejecting the concept of rails, that even without having a conception of specifically what's right, I get a strong sense that something has gone avoidably wrong in those lives.

I'm using liberty in a sense of negative rights; positive rights aren't rights, they can't be (if there's a right to food and not enough food to go around, it's physically impossible to guarantee the right, therefore it can't be one). I guess I would agree with you in the sense that I'm assuming a right to fail and to drop out of society as a cultural norm. Somebody is always going to get the short end of the stick, and though I don't like it there's nothing that can be done given current constraints.

And on the societal rather than individual level, regardless of whether there is anything "wrong" about a culture that's seen its TFR fall below replacement and continue downwards with no sign of stopping, it's certain that such a culture is likely to be *replaced*, which is usually a good sign that something is wrong - or at least will be regarded as wrong by the replacers. Maximal liberty may be self-extinguishing. Apres moi, la deluge? Fiat libertatem, ruat coelum?

I was careful to say 'international level', peacetime has left those looking to force their values on others because they are 'better' with a lot of internal power. We've gotten to a situation where large scale theft (war) is so costly as to be essentially impossible. While I tend to favor libertarian societies as better for all involved in the long run, my problem with theoretical libertarian arguments tends to be that they can't handle the problems of neighboring societies with panzer divisions in the short runs.

Darleen

Nobody raised a schtick.

Oh really? I note your only response to me was that, never mind the facts I put out.

I repeat - over the past year California has experienced a 20% rise in crime both property & violent. 20%

I don't stand for people being jailed over stuff that should never be criminalized or under regulations that come from bureaucrats NOT from legislatures...

I'm specifically talking about crimes against property & people -- burglary, assault, rape, murder, auto theft, et al.

There ARE plenty of career criminals out there (with rap sheets that cover years) and they are the ones that need to be separated from citizens. They see themselves as predators and see other people as prey.

Civilis

I have learned something from the discussion here. Traditionally, when discussing theoretical politics, I've asked people that have proposed wholesale changes to the system to answer two questions: 'how does your proposed society handle the problem of insufficient scarce resources such as food' and 'how does your proposed society handle outside threats such as neighbors with panzer divisions'. Libertarian societies do incredibly well at one, then tend to have more problems with two. I've needed to add a third question: 'how does your proposed society handle internal disputes, such as 'A said B stole something from him, but B says it's rightfully his'?

Darleen

I have also encountered an interesting proposal that many prisons should be replaced with something more like monasteries:

Actually, that's why when the modern prison system was instituted in the US, they were/are called penitentiaries.

David

There ARE plenty of career criminals out there (with rap sheets that cover years) and they are the ones that need to be separated from citizens. They see themselves as predators and see other people as prey.

A few years ago, I caught someone breaking into my neighbour’s back yard via a passageway that runs behind the houses where I used to live. The youth was obviously ‘casing the joint’ and looking for opportunities. When the intruder looked up and realised he’d been spotted, his expression was priceless. I think I’d have to call it a mix of outrage and hatred. The youth turned and walked away and I assumed he’d be keen to flee pretty sharpish.

But our friend took the time to return to my neighbour’s yard armed with a large branch ripped from a nearby tree, and which was then thrown at my window. There was no damage, but his gesture of contempt – and apparent fearlessness – was remarkable. Evidently, he felt in no immediate danger of being apprehended and thus felt free to assert his position in some predatory food chain. Had I been an old dear and easily cowed by such efforts to intimidate, perhaps I’d have agreed with his presumption.

And this is the thing. The kinds of people who indulge in such behaviour, repeatedly, are hardly worthy of the disingenuous sympathy expressed by Guardianistas, generally to elevate themselves in the eyes of their equally pretentious peers. The people who do these things - again and again, until forcibly stopped – don’t regard their neighbours, the people around them, as deserving of anything. They - we – are little more than furniture or scenery, props in their psychodrama. At best, we’re people from whom things can be taken. A kind of foodstuff.

Darleen

, literally reforming social behavior individually

And if the individual refuses to be reformed because they value their criminal behavior more than being a 'productive member of society'?

And do not try to say such people don't exist.

Civilis

And this is the thing. The kinds of people who indulge in such behaviour, repeatedly, are hardly worthy of the disingenuous sympathy expressed by Guardianistas, generally to elevate themselves in the eyes of their equally pretentious peers. The people who do these things - again and again, until forcibly stopped – don’t regard their neighbours, the people around them, as deserving of anything. They - we – are little more than furniture or scenery, props in their psychodrama. At best, we’re people from whom things can be taken. A kind of foodstuff.

Ten does have a point that shooting this kind of people would discourage this sort of behavior. However, rationally, we're human, and the chance of mistakes makes encouraging that a risky business in and of itself (much less the opportunity for villainy of the sort "he was coming right for me with the hedge clippers, so I shot him six times in the back in self-defense").

Look at how systems get abused. If I get paid for being likely to not commit crimes but not likely to commit them, it may be a viable strategy for me to put myself in a position where it looks like a crime. Also, if I'm someone committing crimes and since I don't want to get caught anyways, it pays to take the money for not committing crimes and commit crimes anyways.

Darleen

At best, we’re people from whom things can be taken. A kind of foodstuff.

I'm reminded of the Grade B (and sometimes lower) Horror films of the 50s that played as Saturday afternoon Creature Features on tv when I was a kid. Many variations on a plot where there was the Man of Science who, in the course of helping others to rid themselves of The Monster, soon started protecting The Monster, trying to convince others that The Monster was really cool but misunderstood...

Then The Monster ate him.

Ten

Civilis at 15:17, five paragraphs:

I didn't purport to represent the general tone of the discussion, Civilis. I felt it relevant to propose that the incarceration state was incompatible with founding western principles, and I illustrated that prior functional civilizations - our own included, actually - didn't operate them.

Obviously I also didn't "throw out the entire justice system". See above.

Chesterton's fence can justify any majority force if it's used against Chesterton's broader general tone and substance, which as I recall, hadn't any mob populism and fear for safety in it. I suspect the man might just have known human nature and the nature of existence as well as most, and that that awareness prevented him descending into experiments in preventative populism, basically calling it structural democratic liberalism.

Likewise at least the American constitutional notion of order: Hasn't any provisions for restraint of the individual prior to any presumed action in it, yet apparently today it's capable of protecting its dependents from the guy next door by throwing away the key on him because of what he might do a second time. The Minority Report-like conditionality and industrialized, statist, penetentialism of that could just conflict with GK's - and Washington's - aim because surely it conflicts their philosophies.

Progressivism absolutely has as one of its central pillars - I know, but bear with me - safety. (This blog deconstructs that myth daily.) I appreciate your bringing a dictionary, but a minor linguistic pause here is about as useful as other folks editing the proper contextual use of the word in this conversation: Yes, rightists are frequently quite progressive. Like Communism, Progressivism is a perfectly lovely thing until you use it. Here the right is these days ostensible at best, and progressive at the worst. In a lot of ways.

Per statism and its economic and political controls, that is the direct effect of systemic overreach by Justice. They and it are statist. That risk has ever been thus, which is where common law and its structuralism come in, as a contract and as, hopefully, a durable policy. You can walk back an intent, but you cannot then rationally - or honestly - defend the outcome, which many Safety Progressives are.

Minarchism. (And with it Anarcho-Capitalism.) There's certainly no central and unique provider of preventative safety here either. Here we also find the core component of a functional system of democratic classical liberalism: The right to self-defense. In other words, finally burying the idiotic notion that law enforcement is just for the hired professionals from which to dispense safety in a violent world. Actually, it's for the individual, including to reform civilizations that have given up on both individualism and responsibility. Hired professionals mostly don't exist in 99% of any criminal intent, adding another conundrum for protectionists. As I've been saying, protectionist silliness is how you end up having to criminalize everything, sometimes preemptively.

I don't associate minarchism with statism. Haven't. I associate statism with the inevitable condition of a people that cannot or will not be free. Because liberty has responsible, difficult conditions for individuals who demand the right to continue to exercise them.

Ten

Ten's ideal system

Non-starter, Jerry. I didn't propose one, although I've used the word reform.

Note too, however, that the first defense - well, second, really - of establishmentarians confronted with the inevitable problems of their excesses almost universally resort to that argument. The argument that all other evils are worse.

Ten

I'm reminded of the Grade B (and sometimes lower) Horror films of the 50s that played as Saturday afternoon Creature Features on tv when I was a kid. Many variations on a plot where there was the Man of Science who, in the course of helping others to rid themselves of The Monster, soon started protecting The Monster, trying to convince others that The Monster was really cool but misunderstood...

Then The Monster ate him.

Thank you for that apt description of runaway systems and the folks who believe in them.

And for powerful closing lines.

Ten

And if the individual refuses to be reformed because they value their criminal behavior more than being a 'productive member of society'?

And do not try to say such people don't exist.

Had I?

Try not to say systems don't condition dependents toward dysfunction. Or that once the thing inevitably falls apart, individuals don't return with radically higher views on survival and civilization they then codify. It's almost like it's a historically reoccurring theme...

JerryC

I notice you did not answer the question. What happens to me after your reforms are enacted?

Darleen

Try not to say systems don't condition dependents toward dysfunction

Which systems? What dependents?

All crime (again, I'm specifically addressing criminal behavior against property & people) begins with the individual who has chosen to commit it. Intent, regardless of motivation, to deprive another person of their property, or physical well-being, or life, by force or fraud.

No 'system' forces one person to murder another. No 'system' forces one person to smash a window and burglarize a house.

If I am understanding, you are not talking about reforming prison systems, but getting rid of them entirely. Such a 'system' incentivizes predators because they will always be amidst their prey.

First priority is to separate these people out of society.

Then, and only then, can you start addressing the best methods of rehabilitation and how to handle those who are beyond any rehabilitation.

Ten

Civilis at 15:43, a few paragraphs, still somewhat condescendingly:

I don't need to be more precise in my definitions, Civilis. Protectionists need to be more articulate framing their relativistic fallacies about order. The refrain but there are crimes out there! isn't that thing. Kindly reconsider appealing to a projected convention - nobody should rise to proofs by subjective whim.

Let me get this straight: if someone steals my stuff, it's preferable to have a society where it's acceptable to recover it by personal force of arms (at the risk of killing the perpetrator) rather than one where a neutral third party trained in both investigation and dispute resolution look into the issue and perform the recovery?

What happened to preventing it?

If someone steals our stuff so commonly that we need to imprison millions of them because we fear taking responsibility for our own safety and property, and because we insist that an officialized, professional industry do it for us instead, we've probably misallocated our principles. We've probably inverted cause and effect.

We've given up on positive human nature. We dislike messy responsibility. We've forgotten to reconsider.

Yet gun carry is skyrocketing and defensive rights, including by terminal force, are being renewed. This is why crime is off, immediately, significantly, and directly in response to individualism and local order.

All the appeals to failing contemporary practices don't rise to the level of proofing a newly viable, fair, just, and especially durable society. I mean, here we are complaining about order and defending its conflict with our first principles.

It has nothing to do with Balkan blood feuds - just like it has nothing to do with diverting into the dictionary - although very many Americans at least don't look back on our west's settlement justice negatively. It has to do with a lost structure and with it, a lost ideal. If you have to resort first to linguistic revisionism and then rhetorical extremism, I suspect you're not terribly interested in real alternatives out in the real world.

And yes, apparently an armed society is a polite - and just - society. Ask Darleen, her Republican sensibilities notwithstanding.

Life is hard. Making it "safe" makes it harder.

Civilis

I didn't purport to represent the general tone of the discussion, Civilis. I felt it relevant to propose that the incarceration state was incompatible with founding western principles, and I illustrated that prior functional civilizations - our own included, actually - didn't operate them.

Which founding Western Principles would those be? The Greeks and Romans (and Celts) practiced slavery, including for prisoners of war (and if slavery isn't of a kind with imprisonment, it has no meaning). The Tower of London dates as a prison back nearly a millennia. The Magna Carta does remove prison for trivial offenses and debts, but leaves it obvious though unstated that it's still on the table for more serious crimes. Certainly nobody since the founding of the US has taken imprisonment as a violation of the 8th Amendment. Unless these somehow don't fit your definition of 'incarceration' (the state of being confined in prison; imprisonment), I see your statement as being contradictory to basic facts and definitions.

Obviously I also didn't "throw out the entire justice system". See above.

Thinking that throwing out the government's ability to use force to compel people not to commit crime is a radical overhaul of the entire justice system should be recognized as a rational view even if you don't agree.

Chesterton's fence can justify any majority force if it's used against Chesterton's broader general tone and substance, which as I recall, hadn't any mob populism and fear for safety in it. I suspect the man might just have known human nature and the nature of existence as well as most, and that that awareness prevented him descending into experiments in preventative populism, basically calling it structural democratic liberalism.

Chesterton's Fence is the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood, and is often taken as a root of traditional conservatism (as opposed to progressive thought). There's a reason governments of all types (and groups acting in place of governments, such as clans and tribes) use force to enforce laws, because voluntary compliance is not possible in all cases. You've given nothing which has called this into question, and dodge the question every time it has been asked. Darleen asked a simple question much better than I could, "And if the individual refuses to be reformed because they value their criminal behavior more than being a 'productive member of society'?", which you have not provided an answer we can comprehend.

Likewise at least the American constitutional notion of order: Hasn't any provisions for restraint of the individual prior to any presumed action in it, yet apparently today it's capable of protecting its dependents from the guy next door by throwing away the key on him because of what he might do a second time. The Minority Report-like conditionality and industrialized, statist, penetentialism of that could just conflict with GK's - and Washington's - aim because surely it conflicts their philosophies.

Where did that part in bold come from? Again, I can't keep your arguments straight, possibly because your argument keeps evolving. I know I sometimes type faster than I think. It seems to be that you are arguing against a package deal of things, without seeing if the ideas can be separated and addressed individually. That sentence without the bold part seems to fit your prior arguments, yet doesn't fit your citing of Minority Report. My opinion on the subject changes depending on whether or not that clause is included.

Progressivism absolutely has as one of its central pillars - I know, but bear with me - safety. (This blog deconstructs that myth daily.) I appreciate your bringing a dictionary, but a minor linguistic pause here is about as useful as other folks editing the proper contextual use of the word in this conversation: Yes, rightists are frequently quite progressive. Like Communism, Progressivism is a perfectly lovely thing until you use it. Here the right is these days ostensible at best, and progressive at the worst. In a lot of ways.

Assertion without evidence. I suspect you are much more Progressive (under the 'favoring or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas' definition) than any of us, in that you believe you can enact wholesale social change without respect for human nature. One of the reasons it took so long to understand what your arguments were is that you've wholesale signed on to the Progressive logic that crime is the fault of society, and society needs to be punished, not the person that chose to violate the law. The fact that you otherwise mimic anarcho-capitalist logic is what makes it very hard to understand what you want.

I don't associate minarchism with statism. Haven't. I associate statism with the inevitable condition of a people that cannot or will not be free. Because liberty has responsible, difficult conditions for individuals who demand the right to continue to exercise them.

You can resolve this by providing an alternate definition of minarchism. Considering that the definition I provided explicitly references military, police, and courts (and, optionally, prisons), you're going to be hard pressed to convince us that your definition meets both current usage and supports your version of society.

Ten

I notice you did not answer the question.

You didn't notice that you'd posed a fallacy.

What happens to me after your reforms are enacted?

You're freer and safer.

But are we that conditional? That subjectively, progressively, relativistic? Because what happens to us, for example, after we progress to configuring a means to paid by our fellows, via govt, to relocate to the much safer south seas with a nice retirement and a yacht and an island?

Would that alter our principles on rights and liberty?

Ten

Darleen at 17:17 explains criminality.

No, I'm not talking about eliminating prison. Never have. I'm asking about dysfunctional systems, their conflict with first and founding principles, why ostensible conservatives defend them, and now apparently, how any of this could be so damn hard to explain after being written probably half a dozen times. (I'm sure Civilis won't fail to pounce on that last bit, but s/he's been shown to not have much interest in the core issue when there's a good argument to deflect us away from our shared reality.)

First principle is not to separate these people out of society, quite obviously. First principle is just law, then due process, and then - and quite distinct from those - to recreate a society that de-incentivizes crime wisely and reliably.

Only then do we remove people from society. For those reasons and because by the tacit admission of protectionists, ceaseless incarceration hasn't been that thing.

You don't get to demand that anyone address only rehabilitation. We all must address society, and with it, how it's corrupted its systems out of our own arrogance and sloth.

WTP

I can't remember a more condescending, self-satisfied, and close-minded set of diversions in the last six months than yours.

Under the circumstances, I'll just say thank you and leave it at that.

Ten

Handwaving and irrelevancy from Civilis at 17:25, all of which was challenged, addressed, and explained.

When we normalize thought to only include the present time, in and on its permutations, levels, manifestations, and standards, then obviously we can't grasp the alternative. Don't see how or where an alternative could arise? How it could be principled? What its philosophy comprised? What reforms it would entail? Go look again, because when it has to be spelled out more than half a dozen times obviously it's only relevant to an ulterior motive.

The system is broken. Rightists are therein statists. There's no neo-principled, legitimate defense of this statism in original structuralism. History is a guide. Philosophy matters. And appeals to the lesser of evils as an opponents sole alternative are naturally moot.

Civilis

I don't need to be more precise in my definitions, Civilis. Protectionists need to be more articulate framing their relativistic fallacies about order. The refrain but there are crimes out there! isn't that thing. Kindly reconsider appealing to a projected convention - nobody should rise to proofs by subjective whim.

I assume you are here to persuade us that your point of view is correct.

You're speaking a foreign language. The rest of us can all understand each other, so we have a tongue in common. If you can't speak our language, perhaps you can meet us halfway by defining words and terms you use in simpler language so we can understand what you are saying. You'll note that I have taken the effort to define the important terms I have used. If you disagree with my definitions, you need to provide me with an objective definition I can use in it's place before I can speak your language. Yes, I'm increasingly condescending, because I've attempted to meet in the middle and have not seen any reciprocity.

I hate to mess up David's excellent blog anymore than I already have, but let's start at the new beginning:
You say 'the system is broken'. I presume the system is the modern American / Western justice system; is this assumption correct? What is the prime piece of evidence that the system is not functioning? What differences would we see in a properly functioning justice system?

JerryC

You didn't notice that you'd posed a fallacy.

Not a fallacy, a hypothetical. One that occurs hundreds if not thousands of times every day, by the way.

In the current system, if Person A breaks into Person B's house, beats up Person B and steals Person B's stuff, men with guns will come and put Person A in prison.

Under your reformed justice system, what happens to Person A in this scenario?

If your more enlightened criminal justice philosophy can't answer this simple and commonplace hypothetical, it isn't worth a damn. No amount of hyper-intellectual theorizing can change that.

Ten

I assume you are here to persuade us that your point of view is correct.

I'm here to do what I said I was here to do: See where the common right limits itself.

Time for a do-over? Civilis, few resurface to incur another broadside - the nearly wholesale editing of other's remarks - like revising their stated intent - tends to put them off.

Condescension about definitions doesn't help. It's a ploy to demean opposing terms by undermining them without good cause. It aims to deflect intent and smear points, also revising what was said. Who expects joint definitions when they became so narrow and exclusive to one ideology? Appeals to the crowd can't help.

The question isn't what I want. It's what are you protecting and why.

Darleen

First principle is not to separate these people out of society, quite obviously. [...] create a society that de-incentivizes crime wisely and reliably.

Of course! We should allow the Ted Bundys, Nidal Hasans, and John Wayne Gacys to live their quiet lives as they see fit until bad old society changes to accomodate their chosen peccadillos ...

wisely ..

Civilis

Time for a do-over? Civilis, few resurface to incur another broadside - the nearly wholesale editing of other's remarks - like revising their stated intent - tends to put them off.

I don't hold your editing of my remarks against you.

I'm really trying to understand what your argument is; if you don't care that I understand it (because your goal is to understand my arguments), that's fine, but criticizing my clumsy attempts to parse your argument when you didn't care whether or not I understood it is uncalled for. I took a restart, by asking you a few open and simple questions which I put as few preconceived ideas into as possible, as being the best way I could get your argument in good faith. If you don't care that I don't understand you, don't waste your time answering them.

Condescension about definitions doesn't help. It's a ploy to demean opposing terms by undermining them without good cause. It aims to deflect intent and smear points, also revising what was said. Who expects joint definitions when they became so narrow and exclusive to one ideology? Appeals to the crowd can't help.

I've tried multiple methods to understand what you want. Since I now know you don't want to be understood, I'll stop asking.

The question isn't what I want. It's what are you protecting and why.

You've answered what you want: to See where the common right limits itself.

I can't speak for the right, but I have conservative tendencies. The system is obviously not perfect, in that people that should not be in prison are in prison and people that should be removed from society in some way (and I really see no better feasible option than imprisonment) are still able to prey on society. I don't know which numbers are greater. There is no easy fix (there never is), so I'm skeptical of people that claim there is one, and I'm unable to commit to change without knowing that the outcome has a good chance of being better (Chesterton's Fence).

I also have libertarian tendencies. I had never googled the definition of 'minarchist' before I posted it, but it's a pretty good starting place for dealing with my views on economics. While it's possible to visualize a stable anarcho-capitalist system, I see no reliable way of setting one up given current social and technological conditions, so I'm content with 'as close to minarchist as possible to maximize economic goods' as a starting point for society (dealing with the scarcity problem), yet recognize that I have to sacrifice some of that freedom to deal with outside threats (the neighbors with panzers problem); the goal is to move the social and technological conditions to maximize the amount of liberty. Industrial era warfare society required a large degree of coercion for society to survive, we've moved past that, and in fact, we've moved up the slippery slope in many respects from the era of industrial warfare, so I'm not convinced the ratchet only goes one direction as long as we keep pushing up the slope.

Society isn't perfect, but perfection is a process, not an endpoint.

pst314

"Condescension about definitions doesn't help."

Seen elsewhere: "I will not enact the labor to explain".

pst314

"if you don't care that I understand it (because your goal is to understand my arguments)"

A person who makes only vague and confusing statements about his own positions, which naturally hampers those he is arguing with, is not actually interested in understanding their arguments but rather is engaged in a particularly slimy kind of trolling.

Ten

Not a fallacy, a hypothetical.

No, a fallacy: you edited in an intent and then demanded its new model of reality. None was offered. Do you know why?

What occurs "hundreds if not thousands of times every day, by the way," is that folks make demands on systems. When those systems eventually collapse, together with their inevitable effects on their supporting societies, people expect protection.

I'm no more here to guarantee your protection, Jerry, then any regime is here to solve all your problems for you because you left your comfy flat to venture to the polls. I'm here to see how far you'll go looking for one, and how long you'll endure a dystopian London or a Gotham, or even a frontier Detroit before you realize the answer is going to have to be you and people like you.

Under your reformed justice system, what happens to [criminals]?

Wrong question, and another fallacy. What happens when society has no choice but to reform so that exponentially fewer and not more are created to be walled up by socially normalizing criminality and justice as a self-interested industry, calling it civil safety, the State's sacred role? Then, obviously, criminals as you use the term has a whole new context. You tell me how that society deals with its criminals.

You can't? Precisely.

But with the dim acceptance of our dismal present failure, what happens to me, Jerry? How is presumptive apathy not aggressing by force against a bunch of levels of civil society, my guaranteed lawful pursuits among them? How is it not another failure of scope projected onto all possible alternatives by the tyranny of a foolish majority?

If your more enlightened criminal justice philosophy can't answer this simple and commonplace hypothetical, it isn't worth a damn. No amount of hyper-intellectual theorizing can change that.

If your enlightened progressive welfare state can't answer how I'm gonna get me a 65" plasma teevee, it's not worth a damn either.

And around we go. With conservatives.

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