More on Kelo



The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development...

The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes to generate tax revenue. Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.

[CNN Story]

It's kinda like the Raich case, where the Supreme Court reamed the commerce clause pinhole into a gaping void which allows the feds to regulate anything (as satirized so well by fafnir here). Now they've interpreted the word public in Amendment V ("nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.") to mean anything which benefits the public in general, *including* private businesses, rather than the more obvious interpretation of direct public use. Since you can argue that pretty much any private business benefits the public, now your local officials, who "know best", get to decide whether or not to bulldoze your fucking home.

I can't help but suddenly see a satiric HGTG vision, but rather than a highway bypass, Arthur's house, and by comedic extension, all of Earth, are facing the Vogon bulldozers because its a good place for a mall.

Aside from my passionate feelings that shit like this is just wrong (I'm a consequentalist only when cool-headed - my anger is all about natural-rights), it seems much harder to justify economically than the previous standard for takings. That is, when you are building a highway, there is a genuine holdout / last-mile problem. Seizure and compensation is one way of dealing with this. Yeah, it bothers my libertarian guts, but it is a decent solution to a real problem.

But the same is not at all true of a random private development. A highway that doesn't succeed in going from point A to point B because it couldn't get a key piece of land is useless. A mall that has to locate in an incrementally worse location is only incrementally harmed. Since the holdout problem is far less dramatic, it seems like a much rawer deal to "solve" this "problem" by bringing in the heavy hand of government, so often used by the unscrupulous, susceptible to specialized interests, and careless of the common folk's welfare.

On the bright side, at least no one is talking about seizure without recompensation. How far we've come! Unless, of course, you're seizing something that might once have vaguely been associated with drugs. Maybe we haven't come that far after all...

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Patri, you say that "when

Patri, you say that "when you are building a highway, there is a genuine holdout / last-mile problem". It seems to me that this is a result of putting all of your eggs in one basket. It's a bad idea, regardless of what you're building. A smart highway builder would seek out alternate routes and sub-routes (so there are always multiple sellers to bid down the price), buy the land, and then build. A dumb mall builder would buy half the land he needs, start building the mall, and then go after the other half of the land, thereby guaranteeing an exorbitant price to pay.

Daniel, Nice example. Not

Daniel,

Nice example. Not to quibble here, but I'm not sure that all that many people think he was justified in shooting cops. Most of the sympathy for him is directed at his opposition to the death penalty. Very few, I think, want him out of jail, though. After all, the sympathy mostly came after he'd been on death row, not while he was shooting people.

Joe, "Can you think of any

Joe,
"Can you think of any examples in the past, say, 50 years in which shooting at cops gained someone widespread sympathy?"

Mumia Abu-Jamal, 1982. Not that I have any sympathy for him or what he did, myself.

Kelo was always fully

Kelo was always fully implicit in the Constitution. That piece of paper asserts nothing if it doesn't assert that everything belongs to the state.

Seize is a proper term, I

Seize is a proper term, I believe.

What's the Dif? Part 2 I

What's the Dif? Part 2
I read the news today oh, boy! Even prepared, though, I expect to become nauseous this weekend when I read Kale. It is another case that Micha can use in his paper equating the mafia and government. Lynn Kiesling quotes this from the AP:As a result, ci...

Aaron and TJ, First, let me

Aaron and TJ,

First, let me say that, although I'm not a libertarian, I share your dismay at the Kelo decision. And maybe you're just blowing off steam with your comments, but I can't seem to resist commenting. Surely you're joking about wondering whether armed resistance would rally public opinion to your cause. Can you think of _any_ examples in the past, say, 50 years in which shooting at cops gained someone widespread sympathy?

You start buying AK-47s for people to shoot at government agents and all that happens is you'll get all your assets frozen for contributing to terrorists (or sent to Gitmo if you're really unlucky), and the people whose homes are being stolen will lose whatever public sympathy they currently have. No one is going to see 70 year olds getting murdered. They're going to see lunatics shooting at cops. Surely you aren't that out of touch with the American zeitgeist, are you?

If the collective didn't own

If the collective didn't own everything the Constitution would be baseless and thus mean nothing. It asserts otherwise.

That's a false dichotomy, I

That's a false dichotomy, I believe.

T.J., I agree with you.

T.J., I agree with you. Unfortunately the MSM would likely paint the first few resisters defending their homes as kooks, give them the Koresh treatment and glorify the government making way for progress. Still... I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't turn the tide of public opinion after enough 70 year olds getting murdered (and occasionally taking out a local government thug or two) for wanting to stay in the home they built 30 years ago.

The question is - is there any direct way to help them? Would chipping in money for their defense (and in the extreme case, helping them afford and use better arms) help the cause of people defending their own property, or turn people against it?

I'm with Joe, as I'm also a

I'm with Joe, as I'm also a pussy.

Perhaps Thoreau's Civil Disobedience would be the better route?

The reasoning of the court

The reasoning of the court seems to be that the encouragement of economic growth, or economic development, is a legitimate public purpose within the context of eminent domain law; ergo, this taking was permissible. I'm not a lawyer, but this decision seems to pretty much follow the precedence established in eminent domain law. The railroads and public utilities, for example, were granted eminent domain power pretty much in the name of economic development.

Of course, one is free to argue with the validity of the law that allows a taking, or with the meaning of "public purpose" within the existing law of eminent domain. Perhaps "public purpose" should be much more narrowly defined.

A minor point, perhaps: I notice that even the New York Times reported this story using the verb form "seized." Isn't that a little sensational? The property was taken with just compensation (which in many eminent domain cases turns out to be above current market value). To me, "seizure" connotes a taking without compensation, as by a Leviathan state.

The significance isn't in

The significance isn't in the majority opinion. Local governments have been abusing emminent domain like this at least since the 70s. The significance is we got 4 (and a third - kennedy had reservations) votes against it. www.ij.org has reframed the issue, and focused public attention on the scam.
what can be done next? boycott phizer? (the land isn't going directly to phizer. it's to provide some nice landscaping next to the big new phizer plant.) list the names addresses and phone number sof the city council people responsible, so we can call them with congratualations?
as far as i know, the case isn't over - now it would move into the years of bickering about how much compensation is due. it should be possible to lean on the people in question to revise the plan to allow the old lady's house to stay where it is.
i've had the experience of the government coming along and bulldozing my house on a whim, for which i did not get compensation - didn't have anyone like IJ backing me up at the time.

Yep. An in this case it's

Yep. An in this case it's pretty clear how that utilitarian analysis is going to work out:

1. Wealth transfer from poor, politically unconnected people to rich and/or politically well connected people.

2. Bigger inefficiencies in the real estate market, since now everyone has to figure the "confiscation cost/probablilty" into their pricing.

3. Property gets less valuable, since tasks that require very long term use of property become more risky.

4. More central planning associated with all of the resulting rent-seeking. Resources that could be spent on production get shifted into bribery. Yay.

5. Loss of life due to violent resistance.

etc.

Doesn't look like a net gain to me. Lack of systematic theft is quite utilitarian.

That said, I don't personally give a damn about "society" as such. And it's quite clear that the principle of property is a REAL DAMN IMPORTANT, and possibly ESSENTIAL tool for the achievement of individual human potential.

I almost hope that the poor bastards whose homes are being stolen go postal (or is that go Palestinian?) and take shotguns to the scumbag thieves. You know, To Encourage The Others. [It probably wouldn't help the situation, but it sure would be funny to watch.]

Don't utilitarians need to

Don't utilitarians need to be considering whether there is a net gain to society from such transfers?

Eminent domain abuse

More Reactions to Kelo A

More Reactions to Kelo
A round up of the reactions to Kelo v. New London, today's Supreme Court decision that dramatically extended the powers of government and shredded the 5th Amendment. My own response and my earlier post on the value of Originalism. Brad...

You're probably right about

You're probably right about that, Joe.

After I thought this ruling couldn't make me feel even more sick, I read this quote from Thomas J. Londregan, the lawyer for New London in the NY Times:

"I'm here to tell you that this case was never about the taking of property from one person and giving it to another," Mr. Londregan said. "This case was not some type of land grab. This case was about the City of New London, its six square miles and its economic survival."

A city is not a person! If a city does not economically survive, no widows will mourn. No soul will leave its body. If people have to move elsewhere for economic reasons, that's life. If they have to move for political reasons, that's theft.

Should we be thankful that the homeowners weren't forced to destroy their houses themselves, like in Zimbabwe?!

There are free-market

There are free-market non-coercive solutions to the holdout problem, and they apply equally well to traditional public uses like roads as they do to the new post-Kelo public uses ("we have a really impressive power-point presentation that says our shopping mall is a better use of your land than your house is").

Don Boudreaux mentioned them this debate on the Wall Street Journal about Kelo. You can use a conditional contract to ensure that no single property owner is able to extract all the surplus value of the project. Everyone has an incentive to sell their land for what they actually value it at rather than what they think they can extort from the developer by being the sole hold-out.

The incentives work out such that if the project is worth less to the developer than the land is worth to the owners, nobody sells, the project doesn't go forward, the land is put to the use with maximal utility, and everyone is happy. If the project is worth more to the developer than the land is worth to the owners, everybody sells, the difference between the value to the landowners and the value to the developer is divided between all parties to each one's satisfaction, the land is put to the use with the maximal utility, and everyone is happy.

Alex Tabarrok's "dominant assurance contract" mechanism could probably be adapted to apply here. In some corner cases, parties would rationally refuse to cooperate even though cooperation would produce a better result; Alex's mechanism ensures that cooperation is always the winning strategy when cooperation would produce the best result.

Scott, If the meteor is a

Scott,

If the meteor is a direct threat to me and mine, then it has initiated force (as much as an inanimate object can initiate anything), I'm completely justified in destroying it, or swatting it aside. Now if you owned said meteor, then I'd still be justified as long as I gave you a chance to do something about it first (for all I know your just bring it in towards earth to park it in a close orbit for mining). If you are unable, unwilling, or there simply isn't time, then I'm justified again, I also probably have a good tort against you for the cost.

Matt,

Stepping on my property is not an initiation of force, nor is my asking you to get off. Once you refuse however, then you are actively depriving me of the use, and security of my property. I then become very much in the right to use force in it's defense as is appropriate to the situation. Thus if your refusal is based on your retrieving an errant Frisbee, I can make a just claim in pushing you off my land, and then throwing the Frisbee to you. I probably can't justify shooting you where you stand. OTOH if your refusal is that you are there to pitch tent, and are going to wait till I fall asleep, and then knife me in the back.... well then I don't think the jury should to be too concerned about me giving you a bad case of lead poisoning.

I'd love to hear how you think taxation of any sort can be justified, and how it could be seen as anything other than an initiation of force?
I don't say that in sarcasm, but in genuine interest to see if you can do it.

The issue as I see it is not about the implement of force ('from a Gun' as you put it), but the initiation of the force. I personally haven't ever seen a reason to initiate force that I could reasonably justify.

"ok to use coercion in some

"ok to use coercion in some cases"

am I to assume that you don't believe in coercion at all? How would you enforce infringement on people's "legitimate" property then, praytell?

I think the claim is that

I think the claim is that the baseline is something along the lines of: I own A, derived from some homesteading principle or mixing labor or whatnot. Attempts to take A from me are defined as the initiation of force, thus entitling one to using counterforce. This may be somewhat tautologous, but I think it a more formal framing of the stance. The libertarian position, at least the vulgar one, is that the initiation of force is never (or seldom) justified.

but look- it's a huge strecth to claim that standing on someone's property is "force", and so what we're really talking about it justfiable intitiation of force. Even if you don't accept that argument, it should be clear that everyone in the world rejects coercion as it's defined here- rendering the term meaningless. For instance- was it coercive to force Jews into concentration camps? Of course it was! A Nazi who argued that it wasn't coercion is trying to obfuscate the argument. They might claim that Jews don't have human rights and as a result can't be "coerced" any more than a machine is coerced into making coffee- but an argument about "coercion" does us no favors at all. It's an argument about rights, and if the Nazi kept going back and saying "but it's not coercive- Nazism is a non-coercion principle taken to it's logical extreme" you'd rightly accuse him of begging the question.

All the "with a gun" argument does is distract from what we should really be talking about.

-Matt

I’ve read about Nozick

I’ve read about Nozick plenty and I’m happy to have the deep conversation when you’re ready.

I've read little, and I have no interest in deeper conversations at the moment.

It means nothing to claim that you’re opposed to the use force in situations in which you oppose the use of force (which is essentially what you’re admitting the argument is.)

I don't think so. I think the claim is that the baseline is something along the lines of: I own A, derived from some homesteading principle or mixing labor or whatnot. Attempts to take A from me are defined as the initiation of force, thus entitling one to using counterforce. This may be somewhat tautologous, but I think it a more formal framing of the stance. The libertarian position, at least the vulgar one, is that the initiation of force is never (or seldom) justified.

I've read about Nozick

I've read about Nozick plenty and I'm happy to have the deep conversation when you're ready. Nevertheless, it renders the "with a gun" argument meaningless no matter what. It means nothing to claim that you're opposed to the use force in situations in which you oppose the use of force (which is essentially what you're admitting the argument is.) Anyone who brings up "with a gun" is really just trying to hijack the argument, because in every situation in which I've seen in brought up the issue under discussion is a question about whether force is justified. "With a gun" then is neccesarily tendentious.

-Matt

Patri, "A mall that has to

Patri,

"A mall that has to locate in an incrementally worse location is only incrementally harmed."

Same goes for the displaced homeowner. I don't see why a utilitarian should have difficulty weighing the costs to one party against the benefits to another. Isn't that's what utilitarians do?

Men in Black Draw Blank With

Men in Black Draw Blank With Reality
The Supreme Court's liberal (yes, I did say liberal) wing plus Reagan appointee Justice Kennedy - voted in bloc to ruled to redefine the 5th amendment - and the blogosphere has gone nuts over it.

Gli uomini in nero La Corte

Gli uomini in nero
La Corte Suprema degli Stati Uniti, con una controversa decisione a maggioranza (5 giudici contro 4), ha "stabilito che le amministrazioni cittadine hanno il diritto di confiscare case e terreni anche per progetti privati di sviluppo". Se, per esempi...

That is, when you are

That is, when you are building a highway, there is a genuine holdout / last-mile problem. Seizure and compensation is one way of dealing with this. Yeah, it bothers my libertarian guts, but it is a decent solution to a real problem.

No Patri, it isn't a decent solution. Wrong is Wrong. We are seeing the end result of allowing the intellectually lazy have that inch, and as anyone of reason could have predicted they have now taken a mile (literally).

Really your argument translates down to that it is ok to use coercion in some cases. Does that mean then that it is ok to use taxation in some cases? If so what are they, how do you stop it from, just like this from expanding? Does it mean that the draft is ok to use in some cases (maybe it's ok to draft criminals, or draft hard to find specialists (rocket scientists))? If so again, where do you draw the line?

I'm sorry but if you call yourself a libertarian, then the two things you really should have to beat out of your system is "it is ok to initiate force in some cases", and "there should be a law". It is never OK to use coercion, EVER! I know that may not get you what you want in some cases, but the bottom line is libertarianism isn't about you, or what you want, it is about doing as individuals what is right via voluntary means. As to the later, well the Law is the noose that the State has thrown around our necks, and the courts are tightening. Contrary to popular belief the job of the courts shouldn't be to deal with the Law, but to deal with Justice. What we have witnessed with this decision, is that Justice in the USA hasn't just been blinded, but bent over and raped by the 'Supreme Court'.

Yes, but you're speaking

Yes, but you're speaking with libertarians, Matt, who have a preconceived notion of what is and is not justified.

From that base they form their opinion of what is the initiation of force, and what is not. They then build a latticework of actions that are permissible or impermissible.

If you want to know where they get that base, see Nozick, or Epstein.

If you want to dispute that base, that is a deeper conversation, and a far more difficult one. It is one I doubt either side will succeed in winning.

Pham, it's also worth

Pham, it's also worth considering that defending private property is the initiation of force. To claim that's it's not is to truly beg the question and render your point meaningless. If I step on you property, I'm sure that you claim you're justified in "initiating force" to get me off. And no fair claiming that stepping on your property without your permission is unjust and therefore you force is defensive. That practically defines question begging, since you could just as easily claim that taxation in just and the (usually implied) force used to get you to pay taxes is "defensive" as well.

If that's the case, then there's no point in talking about corecion and force, because what we're really talking about is what's justified. The whole JT Kennedy "which one PUTS A GUN TO PEOPLES' HEADS?" argument is really a convenient way of sidestepping the actual argument.

-Matt

Now, Now, I misspoke a teeny

Now, Now,

I misspoke a teeny tiny bit. By coercion I meant the initation of force. I'm not a pacifist by any streach of the imagination. I'm all for kicking and biting as they try to haul you down.

Still my point stands. It is NEVER ok to initiate force.

Yes, that may lead to things that suck in many, many hypothetical, and even some real circumstances. While I can't say for sure I wouldn't kill a crying baby to save 20 people from being slaughtered at the hands of Nazi Soldiers, I do know I'd never hide behind those 20 people for what I had done. I would pay the full price for what I had done, in any way I could. For if I did do something like that, it isn't OK, it isn't ACCEPTABLE, it is quite simply wrong.

The ends don't justify the means lads, if we are ever going to get anywhere that is what we have to not only live by, but convince others of. Afterall damn near everything (if not everything) the government does is with the initiation of force.

Yes, that may lead to things

Yes, that may lead to things that suck in many, many hypothetical, and even some real circumstances.

So suppose there was a meteor heading for earth, destined to destroy the planet, and the only way you could stop it was by initiating force. Would you do it?

If so, was it the right thing to do?

Pham, if you want we could

Pham, if you want we could test the endpoints of those principles you so proudly enunciate (admirable principles incidentally).

The typical hypothetical is something along the lines of: suppose you had to use coercion in order to save the entire earth from being destroyed. Would you?

But those discussions are seldom pleasant, and have been held ad nauseam elsewhere.

So I'll simply point you to:

http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/Complications.html

http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/Machinery_of_Freedom/MofF_Chapter_41.html

I'm willing to accept that coercion is typically a bad solution to problems - I believe it is. But it is perfectly acceptable in some situations.

Scott, As I said, I can't

Scott,

As I said, I can't say I wouldn't jump in the farmers field and use his missiles to save earth. What I can say is I wouldn't hide behind the end result, as some way of avoiding the very justifiable charges he can rightly lay against me. Granted I'm sure I'd have many supporters to help me pay him the cost of those missiles, and any other costs involved, but that isn't the point. The point simply is I did trespass, and I did steal from him, and in a just society, I need to do what is necessary to as much as is possible right that wrong. Which is a damn sight more than what you see our current court/legal (not justice) system trying to do.

Matt,

1) I know you don't see it, but a discussion of 'justifiable force' as far as I've ever seen is a discussion of 'initiated force'. For anytime you can justify the use of force in a reasonable manor it is because it is a reasonable response to an initiation of force. Thus a dicussion of the initiation of force often is a discussion of the justifications of the underlying premise.

2) The 'free rider' argument isn't a reasonable justification for taxation, quite simply because, while inconvenient, it is possible to deal with the 'free rider' problem without resorting to taxation, or other forms of coercion. The State taxes simply because it can, and it's easy.

I'd comment on some other things you have said, but I think you and Scott are doing well covering those. Besides I'd like to focus on one thing here, and that is exactly what you wanted to do. Talk about justifications. All too often I see people say things are justified, without presenting exactly what that justification is. If you'd like, I'd like to see how far you can go towards justifying taxation. If you'd like to pick something else, like the draft, or even go back to where we started and do emminent domain, I'm fine with that. I freely admit it is easy for me to say any of those are unjustified because of the use of force (real or threatened) that stands behind them. What I'd like to see is a soild real arguement as to exactly why they are justified, that doesn't amount to simplicity, laziness, or bafflegab.

i.e.

We need taxation.
-why?
so government can provide services.
-does the government have to provide the service?
yes.
-ok what service can only the government provide?
police.
... etc...

Go on convince me that taxation is justified and along with it the force that is required to enforce it.

Er, no it doesn’t. Look,

Er, no it doesn’t. Look, this is just a comfort blanket and one which, contrary to your assertion, is not shared by all libertarians. It makes no sense to just state that trespassing is an initiation of force and assume this to be an incontrovertible axiom

I believe it does. And while I'll readily admit it's not shared by all libertarians, it is shared by fair number of them, and just as when one communicates with an English speaker it makes sense to use English, when one communicates with a certain type of libertarian or a person with libertarian-type intuitions, it makes sense to use a certain axiom as a shared assumption. Note how I speak to you in English and not Icelandic.

So it would seem. Look: if you accept that hitting on the head and walking across the lawn are not equivalent “forces” then you can’t simply wish away hitting-on-the-head as a reaction to walking across the lawn as “non-initiaton of force". You are “forced” to accept that hitting-on-the-head is an initiation of force which may or may not be justified.

Who's wishing away anything? Simply because two forces may be inequivalent doesn't show that the principle of non-initiation of force isn't sound. It shows, if anything, that a force warrants a specific degree of force in response and some degrees may be inappropriately egregious -- how that defeats the non-agression principle or renders it meaningless or a definitional dodge is not apparent.

I think it had meaning, but

I think it had meaning, but an absurd meaning.

As to our intuitions, my guess is different. In fact, I believe very strong property rights -- even if not absolute -- are morally correct. And though additional facts could sway me in different directions, my guess is nothing would change that basic intuition.

I thought Brandon was saying

I thought Brandon was saying tha it was nasty, not that it was meaningless. Do you think the syntax of the sentence renders it without meaning?

I don't think things are as simple as "our intuitions diverge." My guess is that if we argued through to the principle of the matter we'd find that our diagreements are mostly of the rational sort. My intuition is primarily "all forms of authority must justify themselves" on these matters. The question of whether absolute property rights are justifiable is a question of fact, not of intuition (the way I see it.)

-Matt

My guess is Brandon agrees

My guess is Brandon agrees with me -- but I'm obviously not sure.

But as to our intuitions, my guess was they diverged rather widely. Why do you disagree?

I don't think my intuitions

I don't think my intuitions are much different from yours when it comes right down to it Scott, honestly. I also, of course, don't think that my comment was "nonsensical"- Brandon certainly got it.

-Matt

Strong Hayek Wins a

Strong Hayek Wins a Point
Blech. I get back from a highly enjoyable, relaxing two-day getaway and find the loss of Kelo staring at me on every Page One. Welcome back to the real world, I suppose.

Among many nice posts on the topic, Jim Henley's unsurprisingly stands out and...

It wasn't mean; I'm not

It wasn't mean; I'm not crying over it, at least. But it was, so far as I can tell, nonsensical.

Joe:

Maybe I’m off base here, or misremembering something, but I thought that I remembered reading that Jonathan started Catallarchy in the hopes of maybe converting a few open-minded non-libertarians to your position. You’re right that there aren’t many such here; that is, while there are plenty of open-minded people, there aren’t many non-libertarians around. But to the extent that there are a few of us (I know that I fit at least one of the two criteria–maybe both?), wouldn’t it make some sense to have this sort of debate about core principles.

Sure, but my guess it that no matter who we try to convert, we are certainly not going to convert the Proudhon-style anarchists -- at least not with debates about core principles -- with consequentialist arguments, perhaps, but not core principles. If we're going to start arguing principles, then we will convince, I imagine, only those who have intuitions somewhat libertarian in nature. In other words the set of a "few open-minded non-libertarians" is not coterminous with people who are "Proudhon-style anarchists."

As to whether or not trespass is an initiation of force, it seems to me it is. But I don't expect you to share that definition, and I have no problem with you not doing so. Were I trying to convince you, I would of course have to take an alternative tact.

Careful where you throw

Careful where you throw those things. You might break a wall or something.

in retrospect it was a little mean. I had images of Scott collecting on multiple double-or-nothing bets though- "let's see if I can get him to say it one more time."

Also, in my defense, Scott's prior post had forced me to uncover some childhood trauma regarding my time with Socrates. See, socrates taught me an entirely different "Parable of the Cave" than the one Plato later wrote about, one that was much more confusing in many different ways.

Was that bad?

Matt

ps- thanks for summing that up Joe- you did a better job than I could.

Why are monopolies under

Why are monopolies under public control different? They’re still susceptible to rent seeking and corruption, and being public doesn’t make a monopoly any more efficient.

monopolies aren't any less efficient than competitive industries. The economic argument which "proves" this is dubious- it makes a the error of equating infintesimals with zero.

What makes them different is that you have a "say" in the functioning sof a "public" monopoly via political organization. You can control what they do. Private monopolies are impenetrable and uncontrollable by non-major-stockholders. As a result, the latter will behave like a money hungry psychopath.

That wouldn’t surprise me at all. It’s not just that you don’t have to pay a toll to use a public road, but when you use the private road, you’re still paying for the public road.

you're right- that is a problem. I don't know that it lends any creedence to the argument about private roads though.

That wouldn't surprise me at

That wouldn't surprise me at all. It's not just that you don't have to pay a toll to use a public road, but when you use the private road, you're still paying for the public road.

Why are monopolies under

Why are monopolies under public control different? They're still susceptible to rent seeking and corruption, and being public doesn't make a monopoly any more efficient.

hmmm... I don't know about

hmmm... I don't know about the roads in Florida, but the modern "private roads" I've seen have been heavily Government supported (tax breaks, etc.) so as to render them profitable. You're right that there is currently a monopoly, but monopolies are different when they're actually under the public control (not a private entitity.) Nevertheless, there aren't any good economic arguments against monopolies, only ones about principle and opportunity, so hey who knows what's right?

-Matt

it was in the 18th century.

it was in the 18th century. Our current road system sucks as well, but you can imagine what competition would do- you’d either get a monopoly or you’d see waste (tons of roads running paralell.) You’d also be faced with a problem of paying a toldd before you drive and then having to sue if the road wasn’t kept up very well or something.

I think you're describing the current situation more than a market situation. There's currently a monopoly, but there are plenty of 4 lane highways where there need not be as well as 4 lane highways where there ought to be 10 lanes.

There may well be a monopoly, but even a monopoly must face the threat of pricing themselves too high such that the profits for a competitor would overcome a barrier to entry. Further there probably wouldn't be waste since tolls can provide atequate information of road usage, and road owners would likely value their land by the perpetuity formula of tolls. If that ever droped below the market price they could get for that land, then they'd sell it.

Further, there are private roads all over Florida that are profitable in spite of the abundance of public roads.

I'm glad to here it,

I'm glad to here it, Jonathan. I belive I'm actually quoting Micha (though it could be the old, pre-consequentialist micha.) Thanks for clarifying.

-Matt

Dave-
it was in the 18th century. Our current road system sucks as well, but you can imagine what competition would do- you'd either get a monopoly or you'd see waste (tons of roads running paralell.) You'd also be faced with a problem of paying a toldd before you drive and then having to sue if the road wasn't kept up very well or something.

-Matt

The same criticism applies

The same criticism applies to the English language as a whole, so far as I can tell.

Er, no it doesn't. Look, this is just a comfort blanket and one which, contrary to your assertion, is not shared by all libertarians. It makes no sense to just state that trespassing is an initiation of force and assume this to be an incontrovertible axiom

I don’t see how showing that there are different types of force, or different degrees of force, reveals the non-agression principle to be a definitional dodge

So it would seem. Look: if you accept that hitting on the head and walking across the lawn are not equivalent "forces" then you can't simply wish away hitting-on-the-head as a reaction to walking across the lawn as "non-initiaton of force". You are "forced" to accept that hitting-on-the-head is an initiation of force which may or may not be justified.

If initiation of force is ever justified , even if it is generally the exception, then the "principle" of non-initiation of force reveals itself to be a chimera and it is a waste of time pursuing or defending this, especially so with grevious abuse of the English language to redefine "force" as whatever-you-think-justifies force in response.

I think Frank's handling

I think Frank's handling himself pretty well on most of this stuff, but I'd like to add something:

Beyond just reinforcing the Coccoon(which it clearly does)- it's simply inaccurate. It's comletely opaque to define "justified force" as "lack of force" because the two don't mean the same thing, and it misdirects the argument from talking about the justification itself (which is ALWAYS the issue.) I've seen alot of you Catallarchy guys convinced that Libertarianism is all about the noncoercion principle taken to it's extreme, which is complete lunacy. It's also the sort of lunacy that'll get you positively trounced in arguments once the opposition figures out that it's simply false.

When someone says "it puts a gun to peple's heads" or "taxation is force!"
it's the end of the argument either because

a. they're about to be completely steamroled by someone who understands that phrases like that are the simple-minded last defense of a Libertarian scoundrel

or
b. The person using the phrases will have directed the argument from it's intended course by pretending that their philosophy is to be preferred because because it requires no coercion at all (which is very appealing, though completely untrue.)

Either of those cases preclude any serious meeting of the minds, and as such always produces a negative result. In conclusion- Libertarian's should completely drop the "non-coercive" line of argumentation if they're serious about discussing their philosophy.

-Matt