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Common Argument Topics

by Ethan Glover, Sat, Aug 10, 2013

Common Argument Topics to Anarcho-Capitalism

A survey posted by AnCapAnon brought up some of the most common argument topics when it comes to anarcho-capitalism. These are questions anarcho-capitalists have to answer quite often and sometimes don't make a lot of headway. Sometimes it's hard to answer them without references, on top of that most people don't even pay attention to proper resources. This is my attempt at answering these questions in the simplest and natural form.


Who will build the roads?

It is not unheard of that private companies could build roads and do it better than the government. One fear is that if every road were private they would all have intrusive and annoying tolls. Except one must remember that this is not in a companies best interest. Companies are always looking for ways to make things more efficient and easier for their customers because down the line this means more money for them. In urban areas a road company may talk to business owners and strike a deal. If the road company can provide clean, smooth and well kept roads the business on that street is more likely to get traffic and thus more business. Many companies already pay for parking lots and roads that run through them and these privately run areas are much more likely to be free of potholes, trash and damages despite sometimes having more traffic and people moving through them throughout the day.

As for suburban areas and homes, neighbors could do the exact same thing. Work out what kind of road they want, be it cheap dirt or gravel; or nice pavement. Road companies may even manage these kinds of things by reminding customers that if you contribute X more amount of dollars we will have enough to put in a nicer road. One could think of this as similar to an insurance business model. The more you pay, the better your coverage. The biggest thing to remember is, "Where there is a will there is a way." If people want something there always seems to be a free market solution. The free market also tends to work more efficiently, more morally, and cheaper than the government does.

Finally, you have to think about car alternatives such as taxis, trains, shuttles, things like that. With roads and highways being subsidized by the government more alternatives would exist. When people have to pay for roads no matter what through taxes it is tough for private transportation companies to emerge. For example, a bus company might be able to contribute to the building of roads through money made from its customers. Instead of the individual paying the road company for using his/her one car, he can pay a much cheaper price to ride the bus. When the bus collects money from all it's passengers it all adds up and  the bus company can pay for that one bus and still take in profits.

The most important thing to remember here is that there are an infinite amount of solutions in the free market and when we limit ourselves to the one solution brought on by bureaucrats and politicians we are seriously limiting our capabilities in transportation in general.

Who will stop polluters?

Pollution often comes down to property issues. Many people often bring up the tragedy of the commons here but in truth that only applies to public land. If a cow farmer for instance owns the land his cows graze on, he is not going to allow other farmers to exploit the land. This allows the farmer to manage his land properly and keep it in good shape, because that is in the best interest of his business and income.

Let's take another example for the case of water pollution. If a farmer uses pesticides on his crops and it gets into the river stream, it may float down stream and kill fish, or it may damage another persons water supply. If the river is not owned there is a major problem here, and this is where the tragedy of the commons kicks in, making it almost impossible to find a good and consistent solution. If the farmer owns the river where it runs along his land, it is fine for him to "pollute" that, but when it floats down stream he is now facing possible property damage and trespassing. To avoid this the farmer must manage his pesticide spraying in order to avoid damage. The same goes for if the farmer did not own the river at all, except now he must manage his crops in such a way that no pesticides get into the water at all. In order to further explain this, take a look at the video below:

Now we are down the much more complicated issue of air pollution. The first thing that we must establish is that no person has a "right" to clean air. They do however have the right to their own body and the right to not be aggressed against. This is similar to how there is no "right" to happiness but there is a right to pursue happiness without intervention from others. That being said, if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a factory is damaging your body or your land, you would have a right to seek arbitration. To have that stopped or be compensated for it.

But what about areas in which there is a lot of traffic and therefore impossible to track down one aggressor? For instance, what if you believe some harm has come to you because of pollution coming off of a popular road that you are often near? It is not plausible to seek justice from every single car owner. Instead, you would have to sue or seek some sort of arbitration from the road owner. In order to avoid such actions, the road owner would have an economic incentive to create rules and regulations for his own road as far as emissions go. The  owner would have to find a balance between making his customers happy while not damaging other people or their property. This may seem like the same as passing laws that apply to the whole country, but there is no one law that could possibly do this. Every situation is different and certain roads, in urban areas for example, may require stricter rules and higher fees for commercial trucks and machines. In suburban areas, on the other hand the rules may tend to be a little more lax and allow for tractor and machine movement. Getting the government out of the issue allows individuals in each situation to find the balance that is right for them.

Overall, the issue of the tragedy of the commons and pollution is solved by the sound recognition of private property. When it comes to "publicly owned" land it is nearly impossible to come to any one agreement because everybody has a different standard or perspective.

Don't like it here? Move to Somalia!

If the mafia started coming to your house and demanding money would you pay? What if they threatened to beat you up or even kill you? Is the solution to simply pack up and leave to another country where they speak another language and live a different culture? Is the solution to allow a common thief the destroy your entire life? Or is it smarter to defend yourself? There is no reason anyone should "leave" because they don't like the government. There is reason for them to do everything in their power to remove themselves from the power of that government in order to defend themselves and live freely.

As far as Somalia goes, it is not a perfect representation of anarchy. Like Detroit it was destroyed by government policy. That being said it is better off now than when it did have government, but it has a long way to go before it is an attractive destination for expatriates. It may never be so because as soon as the local entrepreneurs start creating revenue in Somalia some form of government will take over and start extracting money from the people under the lie that they will somehow make life better for them.

The mafia would take over!

If can easily be argued that the government is the exact same thing as the mafia. It extracts "protection money" from people in exchange for they (the mafia) not attacking those very people. The only real difference between the mafia and the government is that the government doesn't admit it is criminal and many people do not see it as criminal. In a sense the mafia has already taken over.

For the sake of argument, let's assume an anarcho-capitalist society that is protected by private protection/insurance companies. What is to stop one of these companies gaining all the power and start acting tyrannical? The simple answer is that people will stop voluntarily giving up their money and instead giving it to other companies who will properly protect them. In a world of competition the checks and balances take place in other companies rather than different government organizations who are all a part of the same group in the end. There is also no incentive for a company to attempt to become tyrannical in the first place, not only would they risk losing mass amounts of customers but they would risk other companies coming after them. Those other companies may be perfectly aware of such an event and may have prepared for it already. Here, in this very extreme and unlikely case we have created, is the issue of domestic wars.

If you have this world that is so volatile you have to consider that it would probably be no better under government. If so many people disagree on the law so much that it comes down to constant violent war there is probably something wrong with the society to begin with. However, this situation probably wouldn't happen, how many people do you know that would be willing to risk their lives for the sake of a dividing issue like abortion? Would that feeling change in the absence of government and the presence of private security firms that would be watching for such violence? How many companies would be willing to risk life, limb and profit for the sake of such a thing? Most people are going to agree on most common laws, any disagreements probably won't come down to war.

BUT, just because we can, let's go over that anyways. In the case of war, companies would find funding such wars to be very expensive and would find little voluntary support to keep it going. These warring companies would quickly run out of steam if they were ever stupid enough to start the thing in the first place.

Remember these are not gangs fighting over land they don't own because instead of producing wealth they find it necessary to steal to survive. These are companies looking to make a profit on a business. This is something the government does not do, which is why it is more related to those gangs or the mafia.

The free market doesn't work!

What is free market? This is a commonly misunderstood term, much like capitalism. Free market is simply the process of trade. When you trade item A for item B with person X, you obviously value item B more than you do item A. On the other hand, person X values item A more than item B. It's a win-win situation. If people are allowed to trade freely without government intervention, this is really the only thing taking place, mutual benefit.

On the other hand, when government intervenes with regulation or taxes they change the dynamics. This may result in higher prices, creating a monopoly on certain services (schools, mail, military, police, etc.) or simply creating a nuisance by requiring people to fight through extra paperwork.

When companies are allowed to compete with one another for your business without having to worry about certain companies getting special treatment over others (whoever hires the lobbyists and donates the most money), it simply comes down to what the customer wants rather than what the government wants.

Examples of the free market working are everywhere. For example, trading money (your labor) for food at the grocery store. Or on a larger scale one can see places like Hong Kong which is an economic powerhouse due to a high level of entrepreneurship. It is the free market that attracts business owners to want to do business there.

How could all-private roads work?

This was already explained under "who will build the roads?" but just as a reminder in urban areas it may be that businesses invest in roads for more traffic and more customers, much like they do with parking lots now. And in suburban areas people may get together and create an agreement or do so through an independent "road insurance" company that can keep people informed and help create conversation between neighbors.

Ultimately it comes down to the individual, the community and what is needed. If there is a will there is a way. Every situation is different and so every solution as to how the roads would work would be different.

How is taxation theft?

People don't have a choice in whether they pay taxes or not. If they do not, it is taken from them by force and if they still resist they are sent to jail and if they resist even that they can be shot and even killed.

Is it right to take money from someone by force, even it you think that money is for their own good? Is it right to steal cash from a persons wallet to buy them an apple if you think they need it for their health? Of course not, so why is it OK to do so under the umbrella of the government? Hiring a group of people to do your stealing for you is still stealing on you part.

Voting isn't a farce!

That depends entirely on your perspective. If politicians are doing what you want them to be doing than I suppose you wouldn't think it is. If year after year you vote for a certain person or for certain reasons and nothing ever goes your way it is.

This is the nature of democracies, the majority vote always wins out and the minority loses out, they are forced to live under a system that does not fit them. Politicians work for the ballot box, for popularity. It is impossible for them to make everyone happy, it is rare that they even make the majority happy.

This is the reason someone may say voting is a "farce". It does not truly represent people in the way that is is meant to. It is simply mob rule.

Some drugs should be illegal!

If all drugs were made legal tomorrow it's not like everyone would go out and overdose on cocaine. The people who want drugs can get them fairly easily now. In fact because drugs are now illegal they only exist in underground markets where the legal system can not protect the consumer. The drug market is a criminal market protected by criminals, this is what leads to high amounts of violence in their dealings. The underground market also means high prices and lower quality drugs which may result in unpredictable and dangerous results. Without a true free market it is almost impossible to seek arbitration when unexpected results come from poorly made drugs.

With all that being said there is still one core tenant I have left out. That is, everybody has the right to their own body. It is morally wrong to tell grown adults what they can and can't do. Every person holds absolute responsibility over his/her own body and therefore bears all the consequences of his/her own actions.

How are Governments not real?

This is more semantics than anything else. The government is just a made up entity. People create organizations with the intent being to control certain actions made by others and they call it government. The government is not some sort of omniscient being, it's just an umbrella term to cover what many consider to be rightful plunder and theft, or "wealth redistribution".

We need Intellectual Property laws!

This is a major dividing issue and opinions in anarcho-capitalism can certainly vary. As for whether they are needed, that is simply not true. If you were to build you own chair is it only right that you pay or give credit to the estate of the inventor of the chair? Where do you draw the line? Can artists make money without intellectual property laws? They are in fact doing it now. IP laws may exist but the maker of a big movie knows his movie will be pirated, in fact may count on it because it drives up popularity and sales, but that's another story.

Many people prefer the theater experience over watching movies at home. They prefer the original performance in its intended form like is mentioned in the video below. Movies usually make their profits in the theatre, ticket sales is the measurement of how well a movie does and how much money the creators have for the next. DVD sales are just extra and are not expected to make a large impact.

Then we must consider internal actions being taken by movie producers. DVDs and Blu-Rays are harder to rip onto a computer and because of this pirated movies are often very low quality. Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are able to provide superior service because they work with the production companies rather than against them. This kind of spontaneous cooperation is natural in humans (and many other species). It is what makes anarcho-capitalisitc societies thrive.

How can we trust we'll get paid for a service?

How can an employer trust you will provide labor? If a company is known to not pay out, most will refuse to work for them, except for the extreme example of people who are desperate to find any job at all. This usually means low quality labor for the employer which means low quality product which means low profit, if any, for the company.

The government doesn't have to remind your employer to pay you every month, the employer does it because of a legally binding contract (not created by government) and the fact that if they don't, they will not get YOUR service.

In short if you want to get paid for your service, you must provide your service. If your employer wants your service, they must provide your pay. It is simply a mutual, self-sustaining system.

We need the smallest government possible!

For what? Police? Court? Military? It's pretty well established that these things can be better provided by the free market, just like everything else. So what's left? Just in case? It doesn't matter how small or limited a government is, you give any central authority a monopoly on force and law and it inevitably grows. That is a natural process that has always and will always happen. Small government is only possible on a temporary basis.

What will stop low-quality service?

What stops you from buying low-quality products now? Personal preference and wanting to find a balance between price and quality. Expensive products cost more because of a higher demand which is usually due to higher quality.

If this question is meant to be more like, "What will stop damaging products?" Then the answer is similar to pollution. If a product damages your body or property you may seek legal recourse and in doing so you have the burden of proof.

Companies that are known to sell products like this lose reputation and lose customers. It is always in a companies best interest to provide a service that their customers enjoy. When governments protect certain companies (back to lobbyists and donations) they lose their accountability to the people.

You can't have anarchy without a violent revolution!

Maybe, but not necessarily. There are varying opinions about what could bring about anarchy, but most anarcho-capitalists are decisively peaceful. Instead they often find it better to do what they can to remove themselves from the system and allow it to collapse on itself. Governments operate on ponzi schemes and will always fall apart.

As for permanent anarchy, it's hard to tell what can create it, it's never been done before so only the future can tell.