Archive for the ‘Collective defense’ Category
Roderick Long has written a spot-on critique of the acceptance speech by the undeserving winner of the Nobel Prize Peace this year. “The Atrocity of Hope” captures the flavor, but the details are well worth reading and remembering. It has frequently been suggested that Obama won the prize merely for not being George W. Bush. Unfortunately, it turns out that he is.
A constantly updated web counter of the number of CONFIRMED Iraqi civilians killed since the invasion by volunteer, paid employees of the United States government began. The actual number is believed to be much, much higher. Sad to say, an Afghani civilian death counter is now needed, as well as one for unarmed Pakistanis killed by drones. Both numbers far exceed the total number of American civilians killed by terrorists, whom we appropriately have not forgotten.
I have no problem with a Memorial Day that remembers those killed by war. Indeed, in a free future, I would hope such an annual remembrance became an important part of avoiding a return to statism. It is disgraceful, though, when those who were unarmed and not trying to kill others at the time they were killed are treated as less worthy of remembrance on Memorial Day. They will be in my thoughts tomorrow, whether they were American or not.
During the recent meeting of the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) in Guatemala, Economist Ed Stringham gave an interview outlining the idea of law enforcement without government. I highly recommend Anarchy And The Law, which Stringham edited, for those who are interested in serious theoretical and historical coverage of law enforcement, dispute resolution, and collective defense in stateless societies.
The whole concept of national defense disappears in an anarchist society: no nation, no nation to defend! But I don’t want to be frivolous about it, so let’s assume that a form of collective defense is essential to protect a large free territory: just because there is no United States of America to defend doesn’t mean there is no America to defend. Since anarchism precludes aggression, and taxes are obtained by aggression, we would seem to be coming up against a serious obstacle to protecting a free society from being conquered by an outside force that has no qualms about aggression. But financing defense voluntarily is not nearly as hard as people think as long as three steps are followed:
(1) Define the problem correctly
A libertarian defense agency would consider the protection of the people in its jurisdiction to be its defense responsibility. That doesn’t require nearly as much money as being the world’s policeman. The US government spends nearly $1 trillion on “national defense” right now, while the second place country, China, spends less than $100 billion, with a population more than 4 times the US.
(2) Reduce the number of enemies
Probably 99% of those people who hate America enough to want to engage in violence against Americans are mad about the US government’s foreign policy (significantly less than 1% only hate us for our freedom). Are there SOME people who will want to engage in massive violence on American soil in the absence of an interventionist government? Maybe, but they will, by and large, be isolated madmen without the sympathy of any large group of foreigners, and as much a threat as common criminals.
We also reduce hatred with free trade: commerce makes two people benefit from each other’s existence (free travel and migration could help as well). In the final analysis, there is no reason for any large group of people to hate Americans who don’t intervene militarily and who exchange goods and services with them.
(3) Use a variety of voluntary methods of financing
It is quite unlikely that a purely defensive agency that covered the entire territory of America would require more than, say, $50 billion for the special forces and intelligence needed to deal with the relatively small number of threats, along with modest repairs, maintenance, and upgrading of military equipment. Although it is impossible to predict how a free society would finance the need, here are a few thoughts:
(a) Charity – Americans already give $300 billion a year to charities. With the enormous prosperity of a society free of regulation and taxes, it would be even more generous. Raising $50 billion from 300 million people for a service most of them believe is protecting their lives and liberty shouldn’t be very hard. Heck, people TIP close to $50 billion a year. Will there be free riders? Sure. There are free riders now.
(b) Advertising – “When you buy a Big Mac, you’re also helping protect America.” Businesses will pony up cash to sponsor activities seen by the public as defending the country.
(c) Insurance – People will insure their own life and property (rich people will pay more than poor people). Insurance companies want to minimize losses, and with sufficient numbers of policies at risk, will finance measures that reduce their risk. Multiple insurers will cooperate with each other to fund activities for mutual benefit. Social norms will ostracize those insurance companies that offer lower prices by not helping defend people.
(d) User fees – “National defense” and “defense from terrorism” are not generic services of one type: there are degrees. Businesses can pay for more security at their establishments. People can pay for background checks.
(e) Volunteers – Citizen militias, made up of retired military and others, can provide the reserves for local defense in the highly unlikely event that any large group is crazy enough to try to invade and rule. We can start challenging the Swiss dominance in the biathlon at the Olympics.
Every legitimate service that benefits large numbers of people can be financed voluntarily with a little imagination. The reason taxes are needed today is that nobody in their right mind would voluntarily finance most of what passes for government services.
On the broad issue of funding public goods without coercion, I strongly recommend Roderick Long’s Funding Public Goods: Six Solutions.