By Mike Tront

In a continuation of my series on criminal justice in a libertarian world with private police and courts, last week I wrote about how crimes against a poor person could still be solved.  Even if the victim couldn’t afford any upfront costs or crime insurance.  You can check it our here.

This week, I’m going to write about a specific, unfortunate situation and how it could be effectively solved without government.  I’m talking about how could a murder against an absolute friendless, family-less, homeless, penniless, insurance-less, destitute person ever get solved?

In today’s world, we know that solving violent crime falls on the government.  They have a monopoly on police and courts and jails, so we have to use them for better or for worse.  If you’re wealthy, it tends to work out better for you and if you’re poor it tends to work out worse!

The Problem

Without taxes to fund a government police department and court system, the murder of a destitute person seems destined to go unsolved and unpunished.

I imagine most people would have violent crime insurance, so their beneficiary would get paid by the victim’s insurance policy.  The insurance company would then pursue the matter to find out who committed the crime in an attempt to recoup their losses in the form of restitution from the criminal.  Even a victim who didn’t have insurance, but who does have a spouse, child, parent, close friend, etc who could be considered a beneficiary, could have the murder solved without upfront payment.  The potential beneficiary could hire a detective willing to take the case on a contingency basis in the hopes of getting a hefty percentage of the restitution.

But what about the homeless person with no family, friends, or beneficiary?  With no one to pursue the criminal, how can this case get solved and the proper criminal get punished?

The Solution

The best solution to this problem is the homesteading principle.  Traditionally, homesteading is something we think about when we’re talking about previously unowned or abandoned land.  The idea is that if a plot of land is undeveloped and no one owns it, you can become the owner by mixing your labor with the land.  Either by clearing it out and farming it, or building a house on it, or building a road, etc.

So what does this have to do with a homeless guy getting murdered?  The way I see it, if this victim has no beneficiaries available to collect the debt owed to his estate by his murderer, then that estate becomes abandoned property.  At this point, anyone who mixes their labor with his estate can own it.  In this case, successfully finding out who murdered our unfortunate victim, prosecuting the criminal, and collecting the debt would be considered mixing labor.

Competition

One of the most beautiful aspects of this is the idea of a competition among detectives to find the killer.  Since there is only one estate to be had, it will be a race among local detectives to gather the necessary evidence to obtain a conviction.

Gaining a conviction is just a start though.  Multiple detectives may get a conviction.  So who would be the rightful owner of the estate if more than one agency gets a conviction?  At this point, it would go to whichever agency actually tracks down and apprehends the criminal.  With the criminal and conviction in hand, it’s going to be hard for the other detective agencies to claim they have any rightful ownership to the estate and subsequent restitution payments acquired from the criminal.

Acquiring the Restitution

Here we come to the hardest part.  Once the criminal is found and prosecuted, how will restitution be acquired?  Odds are that this criminal has little or no assets.  With this being a murder case, the restitution could and should be somewhere in the millions of dollars.  How do we get this payment?

Today, this criminal would be thrown into a prison at great expense to the taxpayers.  The prisoner is now in a terribly unsafe environment and will acquire no job skills that could help him stay away from crime should he be released one day.  No restitution is paid to the victim’s estate.  It’s a no-win scenario for everyone.

In a private system, prisons like this couldn’t exist.  No one would fund them.  Criminals who commit smaller property crimes, or violent crimes that don’t cause great bodily harm, could probably negotiate a settlement without resorting to going to a heavily monitored work camp to pay their restitution.  Something similar to a work release program or a probation type of program, like we have today, could be used to these smaller crimes.

Murderers, rapists, and other people who do great bodily harm to their victims probably wouldn’t have that kind of luxury.  These types of crimes would require huge restitution payments, and the perpetrators of these crimes are clearly violent people.

This leads me to believe that these criminals would require a 24/7 prison type environment.  But instead of the prison being forcibly paid for by the victims, the prisoners would pay for it through their labor.  There could be farm camps, construction camps, factory camps, etc for people that have little or no job skills.  For people that have more technical skills or computer skills they could have their own camps too.

The goal of these camps would be to make them voluntary.  Someone who is there voluntarily would clearly make a much better worker.  Not to mention the prison would be much more cost effective.  Now why would a convicted criminal voluntarily sign up for a work camp he can’t leave until his restitution is paid?

Since these camps would be voluntary, there would be competition.  They’d compete on how quickly they could get restitution back to the victim, and thus how quickly the criminal could become free again.  They’d compete on their safety record.  They’d compete on their education programs that would make it easier for the criminal to re-enter society and get a job.  Or, in the case of a person who would likely never see freedom again due to their crimes, they could compete on keeping them at least safe and somewhat comfortable.

For those unwilling to go to a work camp, perhaps there would be more of a traditional, forced prison option like we see today.  Since it couldn’t be funded with taxes, perhaps it would be funded through donations.  Maybe they could make it a tourist attraction where people can pay to visit “Violent Prison World” and see these criminals through two-way mirrors.  Maybe they’d film it all and make it a reality TV show.  Either way, there would still be ways to house these violent, terrible people and possibly still get some restitution payments to their victims.

No system is perfect.  Just like today, some crimes will go unsolved.  Victims will go without restitution.  Not everyone is going to be walking away from these interactions satisfied.  However, a private system would allow for many victims, even the poorest and most downtrodden, to receive some kind of restitution.  It would also incentivize people and companies to actually compete with each other to solve crimes.  Even crimes committed against society’s most downtrodden people.

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Related Posts:

7/20/16 – A Private Criminal Justice System

7/29/16 – Capital Punishment in a Libertarian Justice System

8/11/16 – Crime Solving, Libertarian Style

1/27/17 – But Without Government, Who Will Prosecute Criminals That Hurt The Poor?

By Mike Tront

In the past I’ve written about how a completely privatized, free market criminal justice system could look.  One basic theory I’ve proposed is that it would largely be based on insurance and restitution.  You’d have an insurance company that covered you for any losses you’d incur from violent crime, fraud, and even murder.  The insurance company would pay you whatever it’d take to make you whole.  They would then have the responsibility to find out who committed this crime against their client, prosecute them, and hopefully collect what they are due.  Everything from the restitution paid to their client, to the costs of capture and trial, and the costs associated with collection/imprisonment.  You can read about it here.

In theory, if you have the proper insurance, this should work out pretty well.  Whether or not your insurance company actually catches the criminal, you are at least given a settlement from your company to cover your losses.  However, something has been sticking in my craw.  What about a person that is too poor to afford this insurance?  Or what about someone who could probably afford insurance, but just doesn’t bother with it.  What happens if they are a victim of a violent crime?

How Will They Pay For A 911 Service?

The idea of a violent crime or home invasion taking place, and a private policeman refusing to render service unless he’s paid on the spot by the victim, is an image used to scare people away from a world without government police.  To me, I see this as one of the easiest problems to solve.  Unless you live out in the middle of nowhere, or you like the idea of fending for yourself, I imagine most neighborhoods would have some kind of association that would keep up with the basics like security, fire protection, roads, sidewalks, parks etc.  Instead of paying a government property tax, you or your landlord would pay a monthly homeowners association fee to cover the basics.  This isn’t perfect of course, because just like today a wealthier neighborhood would have better security and services and a poorer neighborhood would have lower quality services.  But the big difference is that the neighborhood could at least choose their provider.  Today, they are stuck with the local police department whether they are effective or not.  Not to mention the competition among providers would drive the costs down and the quality of the service up.

Solving Crimes Against The Poor In A Libertarian World Without Government

Every libertarian that’s talked to a normal person has also heard that without a strong, centralized government, poor people will have no access to courts.  We need a government, they say, so that poor people will have access to court services and so that criminals that wrong them can be prosecuted.

I could argue that under the government monopolized police and court system of today’s world, the poor actually fear the police and courts more than they fear the average criminal!  Police are constantly locking up poor people in prison for non-violent activities, police rough up and even shoot unarmed people, courts lock them in prison if they can’t pay a traffic fine, and police can even seize what little assets they may have even if they aren’t charged with a crime.  But I’m not going to argue any of this.  Even if the current police and court system worked well for the poor and downtrodden, a private system would still work much better for them.

The main reason is competition.  Instead of having just one local police department to rely on for crime solving, a free market could have countless individuals and businesses solving crime.  With a monopoly, a government justice system doesn’t have to produce results to get paid.  They get their pay check whether they solve a crime or not.  In fact, often times the more crime there is in a particular area, the more money they get!  It could then be argued that they are incentivized not to solve crimes!

Without government taxes to rely on, any private crime solver would have to produce results to get paid.  But how would they get paid if the victim is poor and/or doesn’t have insurance, you ask?

The beauty of a free and open market is that we can’t possibly imagine what entrepreneurs will come up with to solve problems.  But this is a problem that has a solution that is already in use for civil cases today.  That’s contingency lawyers.  When you’re wronged, and you’re due for a payday from the person or company that wronged you, lawyers will line up to take your case for free and will only charge you if the win.

Problems With Crime Solving Contingency Lawyers

The first problem is that this probably won’t work for small crimes.  If someone keys your car, there’s not a huge payday coming.  Especially if you’re car isn’t worth much to begin with!  However, with the ubiquity of security cameras everywhere, and with the cost of surveillance cameras going down every year, it’s becoming cheaper and cheaper to solve even small property crimes.  With small crimes, if the victim deems it’s worth pursuing, he’d probably gather the evidence himself and hand it off to an attorney to do the prosecuting in a local court for a percentage of the recovered funds.

For grievous crimes, crimes that involve great bodily harm where there would be the possibility of a large restitution payment, a free market would be much more preferable even for an income challenged person.  We can imagine a scenario where word gets out that someone got shot who was uninsured, so it would be a race among local detectives and attorneys to be the first to gather evidence and find out who committed this crime.  The victim could get shot on Friday, and by Monday he could have multiple people soliciting his business with evidence to show that they would be able to get a quick conviction.

Of course, there is one other huge hurdle to overcome.  Let’s say we’re able to convict someone of this grievous crime, and the judge rules that the crime is worth a $150,000 restitution, how do we collect?  I’d image most violent criminals aren’t exactly wealthy!

I touched on this briefly in my above linked article.  Since we couldn’t have government funded prisons for criminals to rot away in at great cost to society, a new business model would have to spring up.  Something like a voluntary work camp where the criminal could work off his debt, have room and board taken care of, and possibly learn new skills so he can re-enter society as a better person when his debt is paid.  I say voluntary because once found guilty of a grievous crime, if the criminal is unable to pay restitution, he is at the mercy of his victim.  It would be in his best interest to work with his victim on a settlement arrangement.  The two sides could come together to find the best possible scenario to find the optimal work camp for the criminal.  One where his skills could be utilized to make the most money in the quickest time.

These camps would compete with each other to provide the safest, most profitable camp to get restitution payments flowing quickly.  It’d be in the best interest of everyone to make sure it’s a safe camp.  Having a situation like today where prisoners are involved in gangs, where they’re constantly afraid of getting stabbed, beaten, and raped wouldn’t make for a profitable business model.  A prisoner can’t make money if he’s recovering from a stab wound.

Plus it’d be in the best interest of the camps to teach their inmates new and valuable skills.  This would ensure higher and quicker payments, but it would also attract more customers to use their camps.  The victims would want to get their money quicker, and the criminal would want to be free quicker and have a new skill to use to get legitimate work once his debt is paid.

Government prisons as we know them today offer none of this.  They are violent places where people sit and rot their lives away.  They learn no new skills, other than skills associated with being a better criminal once they get out.  They are often forced to join gangs for their own safety and are constantly exposed to illicit drugs.

If someone should find themselves victim to a violent crime, even if they are without any kind of insurance coverage, a completely private, libertarian system would be far superior to the government monopoly system we see today.

Next week, in a companion article on this topic, I will go over how the murder of a homeless person with no friends, no assets, no estate, and no insurance would get prosecuted and solved in a libertarian world without government.

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By Mike Tront

Amidst the jubilant celebration of Cuban Americans upon hearing of Fidel Castro’s death, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a very different take.  Here is the full eulogy from the head of the Canadian government:

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.

“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

“I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”

No mention of Castro’s firing squads, the extreme poverty he’s forced upon the Cuban people, or the fact that he’s brutally done everything he can to stop people from freely leaving his giant prison camp of an island he’s developed.

Thankfully, the people of Twitter have made Trudeau pay with countless hypothetical eulogies Mr Trudeau might have given for histories most brutal people.  I’ve pulled some of the best and put them here for your enjoyment, including one of my own:

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For more head to Twitter and follow the hashtag #TrudeauEulogies


mike

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By Mike Tront

Being a libertarian around election time has its ups and downs.  On the positive side, election time is the only time when people actually care about what libertarians have to say!  On the other hand, being a third party means we have to listen to cries of “supporting your team means the bad team will win!”  The “bad team” being the Democrats or Republicans, depending on who we’re talking to.

This election is unique, though.  Never have there been two more hated people running for president.  This hatred, coupled with the normal derisiveness of politics, pretty much ensures that whomever wins in 2016 will lose in 2020.  The cruel fact is that the only person who can lose to Hillary Clinton is Donald Trump, and vice versa!  So unless we have a repeat of Trump vs. Hillary in 2020, we’re going to have a new president in 2020.

If Trump Wins

Although it seems like a long shot for him to win now, Trump has come back many times before after being counted out.  So what if he does win?  What would four years of Trump really look like?  Well, if you’re thinking that he will change Washington in any way, shape, or form, you will be disappointed.  Just like Obama had every intention of putting his mark of “change” on the country, while failing miserably, so too will Trump.  Whether it’s the entrenched bureaucracy, enemies on both sides of the isle, or just simply his own unwillingness to give up the power he just won, government will only get bigger.  Not smaller.

Troops will continue to be engaged abroad, thus creating more enemies and more attacks on the U.S.  The currency will continue its inflation and inevitable march toward disaster.  Unfunded liabilities will only get worse.  The debt will continue ballooning.  The War on Drugs will continue to rage, thus creating more problems and distrust with police in our inner cities. Trump has no plans to tackle these problems with small government solutions.

In other words, a Trump presidency will be looked at as a failure.  This is particularly bad because Trump is seen as a true “outsider.”  So instead of blaming the system for the inevitable decline, the country will collectively blame Trump himself.  This will lead to a resurgence of the establishment candidates.  This will also lead to people generally being gun shy about supporting newcomers and outsiders.  The Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders types will have an even harder time after a Trump presidency.

A Trump presidency will not only make things worse during his four years in power, but it will also make it harder to bring support behind an actual candidate friendly to human liberty in 2020.

If Hillary Wins

We all know that Hillary is doing her victory lap right now.  The media, and the general public, don’t care about her “pay to play” allegations.  And Trump is an increasingly unlikable man for larger parts of the public with each passing day.

So, as my title suggests, how will Hillary bring an even larger freedom movement in 2020?  First, she will have the same failures that Trump will have.  Increasing war, debt, unfunded liabilities, inflation, police violence, etc will lead to the U.S. being worse off leading into the 2020 election.  But with one important distinction.  Hillary is the ultimate establishment candidate.  Her failures might just be the straw that breaks the camels back.

The big government policies of Bush II led to the Ron Paul movement.  Now we actually have a few libertarian republicans in Congress.  The big government policies of Obama has led to the Bernie Sanders movement.  Even though Bernie is a big government type as well, some of his supporters seem to be friendly to many aspects of libertariansism.  In fact, Hillary is so scared of these democratic voters leaving her for Gary Johnson that she’s actually running attack ads against Johnson.  Who would have ever thought that libertarians would be relevant enough in politics to run attack ads against?  This is great news for our movement.

So what would happen after we have another four years of establishment, big government policies and people running the show?  Especially from a president as widely disliked as Clinton?  We can only hope this will be enough to push people from both sides of the isle to really look at smaller government solutions.  Rand Paul has already shown his desire to become president.  In 2020 he won’t have his Senate race to worry about, and hopefully he’s learned that embracing liberty is a much better selling point than his strategy of courting the republican establishment.  Justin Amash has also hinted at his desire to run for president at some point in the future.  There’s no one more consistent than him in Congress when it comes to defending liberty.

Then of course we have the rise of the Libertarian Party.  Gary Johnson, for all his faults, has propelled the Libertarian Party into the mainstream media.  There’s a very real chance that he could get 5% of the vote this year, which would be five times more votes than they’ve ever received.  This would also mean the Libertarian Party would become eligible for federal matching funds.  The combination of more press and more money to campaign with could lead to more libertarian ideas entering the news cycles, thus leading to more liberty friendly candidates getting a shot at the presidency.

Either way, we’re in for another four years of big government.  I’m not ready to start a Libertarians for Hillary movement, but there’s no doubt that she’ll create more dissatisfaction with big government, and thus more people seeking out libertarian solutions in 2020.

mike

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By Mike Tront

Understandably, many libertarians are not enthused about Gary Johnson being the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president this year.  He has many good libertarian views, but he just doesn’t seem to apply these principals across the board.  To make matters worse, his running mate, Bill Weld, is on record supporting many anti-libertarian policies over the years.  For these reasons, it is becoming trendier in libertarian circles to throw their support behind other candidates.  Darrell Castle, the Constitution Party nominee, is one of them.

I can respect someone who isn’t supporting the Johnson/Weld ticket on the account of their flaws.  What doesn’t make sense is to say Johnson isn’t a good enough libertarian, but then support someone like Castle!

To be fair, Castle says many good things in his platform.  Right away he talks about ending the federal reserve system as well as ending overseas interventions.  However, just like Johnson, he has many core beliefs that are directly opposed to libertarianism.

Immigration:

Darrell Castle’s immigration policy looks like it was stolen from Donald Trump!  In an interview with LibertyHangout.org, when asked about immigration, Castle said this:

I believe that securing the border, i.e. protecting it so that no one enters without consent and halting immigration completely until that is accomplished is one of the most important issues America faces. The halt to immigration would last until we could be sure who is coming in and with what intent.

Castle doesn’t say build a wall, but I’m not sure how else he’s planning on “halting immigration completely.”  For a guy who’s interested in smaller government, this immigration policy would amount to a massive federal bureaucracy.  To be effective it would need powers beyond our imagination.

Even when asked this: “Should the government increase or decrease the amount of temporary work visas given to high-skilled immigrant workers?” he replied with “decrease.”  What is libertarian about using force to stop American companies from hiring much needed engineers, doctors, designers, and scientists?

LGBT Issues:

His party, the Constitution Party, holds this view:

The law of our Creator defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The marriage covenant is the foundation of the family, and the family is fundamental in the maintenance of a stable, healthy and prosperous social order. No government may legitimately authorize or define marriage or family relations contrary to what God has instituted. We are opposed to any judicial ruling or amending the U.S. Constitution or any state constitution re-defining marriage with any definition other than the Biblical standard.

Sounds like same sex marriage is off the table!  Castle himself said this: “Take the government out of marriage and instead make it a religious decision.”  Libertarians can agree that government shouldn’t have any role in defining marriage, but religion has nothing to do with it.  It is simply a contract made between two people, one that can’t be stopped by any government or church.

His stance, then, seems a bit murky.  He seems to want government out of the way, but he stops short of saying same sex couple should have the right to get married if they wish.

When it comes to same sex couples adopting children, however, he is not murky at all!  He flat out says “gay couples should not be able to adopt children

Whatever you personally believe, I can’t imagine any libertarian worth their salt that would say we need government to flat out ban adopting children to same sex couples.

Eminent Domain:

Another big issue is eminent domain.  Self-ownership and private property are the two basic principles we libertarians adhere to.  Eminent domain, the ability for the government to take private property without consent, is the opposite of libertarian.  Castle supports eminent domain as long as “fair market value is paid to the property owner.”  Value is subjective, however, and if someone is not willing to voluntarily sell you something, that means they personally value it more than what you’re offering.  Just because you take something by force, and give the victim what you feel is “fair value,” it doesn’t make it right.

Marijuana:

Although Castle supports ending the drug war, he apparently doesn’t want marijuana legalized.  In his own words when asked “Do you support the legalization of Marijuana?his response was “i support decriminalization not legalization

This is a pretty big distinction.  Decriminalization means the government can, and most certainly will, fine people for consuming marijuana.  This will also keep it on the black market, as legitimate companies wouldn’t be able to sell marijuana.  Thus the crime and violence associated with prohibition will continue, just with fewer prisoners.  This is hardly a libertarian position.

Death Penalty:

Whether or not you think capital punishment is moral, I think we can at least agree that government shouldn’t ever administer it.  I myself wrote that in a completely private criminal justice system, capital punishment may be used from time to time for certain heinous acts.

Castle, however, fully supports government use of the death penalty.

Women in Combat:

This is a bit off the wall, but apparently he was asked “Should the military allow women to serve in combat roles?” and he said “No”!  

If the U.S. is ever attacked, I don’t see any reason why anyone should forcibly stop a woman from defending herself, her family, her property, and her community.

Castle vs. Johnson

Clearly if we pick and choose there’s plenty to like and dislike about both of these candidates.  If you just happen to like one more than the other based on your personal ranking of importance on their different issues, I can respect that.  But if you’re in the “We need a true libertarian candidate and Gary Johnson isn’t it!” camp than there’s no way you can support Castle either.  He is far from a libertarian.

 

mike

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