Rebirth of Reason

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Post 120

Saturday, April 5, 2008 - 3:02pmSanction this postReply
John Armaos suggested in Post #112:
"You confusingly show instances where you think there is no monopoly of government such as pointing out international trade and overlapping jurisdictions. ...   And when there were instances of anarchy, either war broke out or one authority won out over another over which law applies. Which is precisely why anarchy doesn't work, the definition of anarchy, that of competing legal systems, is nothing more than a state of war or conflict."
 That is two issues.  The first is the matter of treaties between governments.  As among the United States, sovereign nations take all the perogatives they can.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding
U.S. Constitution Article. VI.
However, in United States constitutional law, only a treaty that has achieved advice and consent of two-thirds of the United States Senate present is properly designated as a "treaty". If, instead, the President presents a negotiated instrument to the whole Congress for majority approval, the agreement is typically called a "congressional-executive agreement". For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and most other U.S. trade agreements are executive agreements. However, in the United States, treaties that are in fact congressional-executive agreements are equal to legislation. Because of this rule, such treaties and statutes can override each other—whichever is latest in time is controlling. Nevertheless, a treaty in the true constitutional sense overrides all other laws except the constitution.
Wikipedia -- Treaty

Supreme Court: No new hearing for Texas death row inmate

08:46 AM CDT on Wednesday, March 26, 2008
By DIANE JENNINGS / The Dallas Morning News

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that President Bush overstepped his authority when ordering state courts to review the death sentences of dozens of Mexican nationals on death row.
The 6-3 decision in Medellin vs. Texas said the president can't force state courts to adhere to a ruling by the International Court of Justice.
The 1963 Vienna Convention says foreigners should have access to their consulate when arrested, and in 2004 the international court ruled that the death row inmates should get new hearings to see if not having that access affected the outcome of their cases.
After the international court's decision, President Bush directed state courts to review the cases. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals balked, ruling the president did not have the authority to issue such an order.

==> That recent case had some antecedants.  You could see this coming.  ... from 2005 ...

U.S. Quits Pact Used in Capital Cases
Foes of Death Penalty Cite Access to Envoys

By Charles Lane, Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page A01
The Bush administration has decided to pull out of an international agreement that opponents of the death penalty have used to fight the sentences of foreigners on death row in the United States, officials said yesterday.
In a two-paragraph letter dated March 7, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that the United States "hereby withdraws" from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The United States proposed the protocol in 1963 and ratified it -- along with the rest of the Vienna Convention -- in 1969
The United States initially backed the measure as a means to protect its citizens abroad. It was also the first country to invoke the protocol before the ICJ, also known as the World Court, successfully suing Iran for the taking of 52 U.S. hostages in Tehran in 1979.

==> And I note that whatever else has or has not come of this, war has not broken out in the wake of anarchy.
Also... and this is perhaps a fundamental consideration ... in withdrawing from the 1963 Treaty of Vienna, President Bush seems not to have followed the constitutional requirements to consult with the Senate or the combined House and Senate.  So, really, we have a deeper issue, one often raised by anarchists: governments ignore constitutions with impunity.  (I guess that would be by definition, as how do you punish a government?)

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 4/05, 3:22pm)

Post 121

Monday, April 7, 2008 - 9:29amSanction this postReply
MM - Did the successful lawsuit against Iran result in their humbly turning over the hostages to the US?

Post 122

Monday, April 7, 2008 - 11:33amSanction this postReply
Kurt cogently asks: MM - Did the successful lawsuit against Iran result in their humbly turning over the hostages to the US?
It was no more successful than a moral argument against Billy the Kid, and for the same reasons.  People (or governments... or corporations) who lack an internally integrated objective code of ethics are moral risks.  To the extent that most people (and all governments) are hobbled with ethical contradictions derived from mysticisms, they are potential perpetrators.  A good security firm protects its clients from such events. 

I am not sure if there could exist a counterfactual scenario for the U.S. Embassy in Teheran in 1979.  It was a complex chain of events.  Suppose the embassy staff had been armed and prepared to use force.  Where would that ultimately have led? ... and really could a diplomat be prepared to use coercive force?  There is a contradiction in that, is there not?

The goverment of Iran was prepared for the people of Iran to suffer greatly to achieve the government's goals.  That is always a tough problem.

What would you have done had you been in President Carter's chair?

Post 123

Monday, April 7, 2008 - 1:57pmSanction this postReply
There were US Marine guards there - they were trained and responsible for security but I believe they were forced to surrender rather than fight - so yes I would have told them to defend our territory by any means necessary.  I would have declared formal war on Iran pending immediate release (i.e. - I would have declared war after giving them an ultimatum).

Post 124

Monday, April 7, 2008 - 7:25pmSanction this postReply
The problems begin with the fact that the "student" protestors in the "Revolutionary Guard" were not "really" acting on behalf of the government. 

Suppose a mob of YAF hotheads were to seize the Syrian embassy and spirit them away.  Our government would be nearly powerless to retrieve the diplomats. ... or so it would claim, despite the close ties between YAF and the GOP.  And the GOP is "just" a party, not "really" the government....

You could not declare war on Iran when its government was "doing everything we can to get the hostages back, but, you see..."

Going to war, you jeopardize the hostages, perhaps even kill them yourself in the bombing. 

As it was, the Reagan Administration sold the Iranian government some arms and it all worked out.

Post 125

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 - 7:08amSanction this postReply
I am a member of ASIS International, the new branding of the American Society for Industrial Security.  I get email news from them, and a recent article raised a key point only touched on here: in our world today, governments do contract for police and military services.  (I have cited from academic and DOJ studies on the privatization of police services and military forces.)  This is a specific topic, so there is a specific header for it here in Dissent: Government Forces: Quis Custodiet?

Post 126

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 - 6:45pmSanction this postReply
What I did.

I called Ray Bream three days into the hostage crisis and explained my plan to the million or so listeners he had at the time for his popular ultra-conservative talk show.  Bream became so outraged at me that he began screaming incoherently and threw down the phone handset - you could hear the crash on air.

Then I called Roy Tuchman at KPFK and explained it to him, off the air.  Roy - aka "Roy of Hollywood" - ran - and still runs - the Monday - Thursday Midnight to 6AM slot, called "Somethings Happening."  Roy advised me to call in on the next Thursday, when he would have a special guest.

I called in on that Thursday and got Elliot Mintz, who had virtually invented rap radio in the '60's at KPFK, running the same slot as Roy had inherited from Elliot after Elliot had a nervous breakdown from handling so many other people's troubles - talking down people on bad acid trips, comforting wives and girlfriends whose husband or lover had just been killed in Vietnam, etc.  Elliot took care of Yoko when Lennon was murdered.  This was the first time back on air since 1971 for him.

I pointed out to Elliot that if a whole lot of Americans put themselves on target zero in Teheran and simply turned the whole situation into total chaos, with all three networks following them into harm's way, then there would be NO WAY that Carter could invade.  Elliot thought this to be a good idea, and asked me, "you mean I should call Teheran?"  (Me: "Well, yes.")  Elliot: "And are you willing to pay for the phone charges."  We agreed that I would buy a film club premium membership and Elliot would make the call.

Elliot got through, in spite of State Dept. orders to the phone companies not to allow ANY calls from media to Iran, because he got an operator (who probably lost his job) who remembered him from the '60's, when he was a lifeline in the night for so many.

What followed was 18 minutes of nonsense, with Elliot trying to discuss the moral dimension of what the students who had taken the hostages were doing, while the student in the American Embassy was implacably repeating the radical line.

As in: Elliot: "But what does it make you feel to have put yourself in the position to be responsible for other people's lives?  Are you prepared to accept the consequences, for example, if this leads to a war, in which many innocent people may be killed."  ...  The Student: "BUT!  WE have FOUND  evidence that Embassy was for CIA!"

The result, however, was exactly what I had planned.  The 18 minutes was aired ad infinitum all over the country, and the dam had burst for the media, with everyone who could hitch a ride descending on Teheran, making it politically impossible for Carter to invade.  (Not that it really matters, but it also got the AP Spot News Award for the year for California.)

Note that I was not a friend of Khoumani, nor especially sympathetic to the revolution there.  However, the spectre that kept haunting me was of the U.S. invading a major nation on the border with the Soviet Union.  I imagined 7,000-mile supply lines.  I imagined the entire U.S. military getting bogged down in a war with millions of fanatics.  I imagined the hard liners in Moscow, crowing in delight at the U.S. having given them both a free hand in every 3rd World country on the planet, as the U.S. military was completely engaged in Iran, while the U.S. simultaneously played directly into their propaganda hands as the ultimate imperialist, invading a country to put a puppet dictator back in power for the oil.

It would have been a total disaster.  And, I think that Carter knew it would.  But, the word that leaked out was that Carter was being blackmailed by the Savak, the Shah's Iranian secret police who were known to have commited assasinations of Iranian dissidents here in the U.S.  They were reportedly threatening to turn over to the Russians their files of American agents who had for decades used Iran as the primary conduit into the USSR, if Carter did not act to reinstate the Shah and prevent the Iranians from getting access to the $17 billion dollars that the Shah had socked away in American banks.

I was predicting in the late '70's that the information revolution would doom the USSR by the turn of the century.  I assumed that the Russian intellgencia was not so stupid not to realize this themselves.  If the hardliners had taken over, however, they would have realized that they had a limited window of opportunity to act, and we might well have had a real nuclear war.  And that could well have resulted from the hostage crisis, had Carter chosen the military option.  Fortunately, with half the American media and every crazy fringe group turning the scene in Teheran into total chaos, Carter had the excuse to retire into the Rose Garden, and we dodged the bullet.

And of course the U.S. WAS using the Embassy for CIA ops, just as virtually every embassy is used for spying, and the hostages would not have been killed, regardless, and, ultimately, they were returned safe and sound.  Too bad that the Savak put so much pressure on Carter that he was unable to negotiate with the Iranians, as a peaceful settlement that made the U.S. look less like the "Great Satan" would have prevented the Iran/Iraq war, and a host of regional disasters, and we probably could have avoided 9/11 and all the mess that followed. 

Post 127

Thursday, June 12, 2008 - 6:54amSanction this postReply
To what extent should an objectively constituted government regulate private security?

I think we here all allow that private security is always your option.  It is a business, of course, like any other.  Yet, the potential to intrude on the government's legal monopoly on relatiatory force cannot be denied.  (I stipulate to that for the sake of discussion.)

I am a member of ASIS International -- formerly the American Society for Industrial Security -- and I get email alerts daily.  This one raised the question. 
"Ontario Raises the Bar"
Ottawa Citizen (06/08/08) ; Butler, Don
Under Ontario's Private Security and Investigative Services Act, bouncers and other in-house security personnel must be licensed by Aug. 23 of this year. The new legislation further requires companies that hire bouncers and other in-house security staff to register with the province. The new requirements were designed to make the security industry more professional, boost public safety, and guarantee that all security workers are treated the same. The licenses cost $80-a-year and only those with clean criminal records will be issued them. Before obtaining a license, applicants must pass a test, undergo training, and submit to 40 hours of classroom instruction in a wide range of topics, including basic security procedures and sensitivity training. The law also forces security employees to follow a code of conduct, which requires that they behave with honesty and integrity, treat everyone in a non-discriminatory matter, and not use any unnecessary force or "profane, abusive, or insulting language or actions." Beginning in 2009, even the attire security personnel are permitted to wear and the markings on their automobiles will be controlled.
go to web site)

Post 128

Friday, June 13, 2008 - 6:12amSanction this postReply
Utterly ridiculous - sensitivity training, great!  A background check is not a bad idea but even then it can be done by the employer, and frankly sometimes it does not even matter.  I mean, someone who is tough enough to be a bouncer might have a few marks against them and you may find that useful, in some cases!

Post 129

Friday, June 13, 2008 - 6:22amSanction this postReply
"To what extent should an objectively constituted government regulate private security?

I think we here all allow that private security is always your option. It is a business, of course, like any other. Yet, the potential to intrude on the government's legal monopoly on relatiatory force cannot be denied. (I stipulate to that for the sake of discussion.)"

Michael, you appear to be assuming that there should be a legal monopoly on retaliatory force. I would contest that assumption, if that is what you're doing. A workable governance could include competing providers of retaliatory force in a given geographic area. You could, for example, have a Republican code of law and a Democratic code of law, with citizens choosing which code of law to subscribe to and which personal protection agency enforcing that code of law to subscribe to.

To allow these competing codes of law to coexist would require that the various governances agree on how to handle violations of these codes of law by nonsubscribers. For example, both codes of law might agree that murder is wrong, and stipulate to an identical penalty to be applied to those who murder their own subscribers for a given circumstance. For example, both the Democratic and Republican codes of law might impose the same penalty for intentional murder of an adult, while the Republican code of law might define murder to include killing a fetus, and the Democratic code of law might define murder to exclude killing a fetus. If a female subscriber to the Democratic code of law killed her own fetus, that would not be prosecuted by either code of law, since the Republican code of law might stipulate that, for the sake of preserving the peace, they would only enforce the murder charge when applied to their own subscribers killing their fetus, in exchange for the Democratic code of law allowing the Republican code of law to impose the death penalty only upon their own subscribers. So long as the competing codes of law agreed to an uneasy compromise with the other legal systems regarding how to handle the few points of difference between their systems, they could coexist.

Now, if yet another competing code of law sprung up, the Piratical Thug code of law, which said killing adults who dissed you was OK, then the Democratic and Republican codes of law would likely not agree to this competing legal system, and would band together to eradicate it. So, instead of a monopoly of force, you would have a duopoly of force, with the potential of additional codes of law springing up and being accepted by the duopoly if a suitable compromise on the points of differences could be worked out.

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Post 130

Friday, June 13, 2008 - 8:55amSanction this postReply
Jim, you should really start at post 1 of this thread if you have the time.

Post 131

Friday, June 13, 2008 - 3:50pmSanction this postReply
Thanks, Jonathan...

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Post 132

Saturday, June 14, 2008 - 4:13pmSanction this postReply
Reading 126 prior posts may not be a very good option for may people.

It strikes me that the linear nature of this and all the other message boards I've seen becomes a real problem when discussions extend through dozens of posts.

Yet, the nature of the subject matter frequently requires extensive discussion.

There are many better ways to organize data.  Some of the really good ones that I've sat on since the early '80's are patentable and would improve Google by several hundred percent, and so I won't talk about them.  However, it would be nice to be able to specify exactly which post(s) one is responding to, and to then be able to follow a sub-thread of such responses.  Then each post could have a menu listing just the direct responses to that post. 

As a response to Jim's original post, one of the problems that was dealt with rather conclusively in the Tannehill's "The Market for Liberty," was this whole complex revolving around "retaliation" and "punishment."  As I recall, they argued persuasively that both of these concepts came out of the dark ages of jurisprudence.  Note that the common law which served pre-Norman-Conquest England and much of Northern Europe does not include either of them. 

If you have equity, then where does retaliation or punishment fit in?  I.e., if you are in fact compensated totally for whatever damage someone else caused you, then haven't you simply created a debt upon yourself if you, in addition, retaliate or punish someone?  Aren't you then completely out of the business of justice and actually engaged in the business of enforcing a punitive version of morality?

The socialist argument is that the state must enforce the law, by making it too expensive for criminals to operate.  Thus, you cut off the hand of the thief and execute the adulterer and confine the user of non-sanctioned drugs for years like an animal, all as an example to other potential thieves, adulterers, drug users, etc.  This is also the position taken by necessity by conquerors like the Normans.  After all, you can't have the victims of your conquest sueing you in a common law court. 

Under the Common Law, the thief has to pay back all his ill-gotten gains and compensate everyone for all the trouble of catching and convicting him.  If he refuses, he will be declared an outlaw and the courts will not protect him against attack.  The adulterer as such would not even come under the common law, although I'm sure that a spouse could sue for breach of contract.  And drug users would be free to indulge as they chose, but not to drive under the influence or otherwise place other people in uncompensated danger.

Of course, when the system of justice breaks down, or is unworkable from the get-go, then we see the degeneration of conflict into punishment, threat and retaliation.

If you stick to the principle of equity, however, then the issues are generally those of fact and evidence.  What were the victim's rights of ownership?  How and to what extent were they violated?  How can the violator put things back to where they originally were?

Of course, that begs the question of what constitutes valid claims of ownership, and I have been arguing that a public auction should be the basis of property rights, as it satisfies the claims of the public as to prior or potential use much better than the models derived from the Divine Right of Kings, from which our present concept of private property is a lineal descendent.

As to the incentive for private defense agencies to cooperate, I draw upon the model from the world of trade of the Letter of Credit, wherein a 3rd party guarantees a contract.  The third party, typically a commercial bank, only releases the money for the goods upon proof of satisfactory delivery.  They only refund the moneys upon the contractually agreed upon terms of default.  The bank itself will typically have publically verifiable certification, insurance and/or bonding to prove its own level of risk.  And so on for the bank insurers, etc., in a widening gyre of involvement.

Similarly, the defense agency would not last long unless it was very careful about ensuring that it acted completely within the constraints of its own contractual authority and was covered by its own insurance, which would generally be provided by a third party, also in business to make money, and with its own methods and procedures to verify that it could meet its obligations.  In any forceable intervention, risk control would be paramount.  Eg., it would require that the victims who called it in had signed off on the proper waivers.  The people who "called the cops" would be liable for any false charges, of course, and would thus carry their own insurance, which would base its premiums on the risk that the individuals created.  But, the argument from complexity would enter the picture about now, typically.

There is an example often cited in elementary economics textbooks of all the people in the world economy who are involved in the production of a book of matches.  The lesson is that ultimately the production of that book of matches involves everyone on the globe.  Of course, any single person or even a majority of people could disappear (as they do, every 70+ years or so), and the matches would still get produced.

However, if you tried to defend the market economy on the basis of that book of matches to some Marxist alien who had never participated in a market, then you would inevitably get bogged down trying to explain the relationship of the pricing of each stage of production versus the supply and demand.  At each point, the Marxist would proclaim, "AHA!  You didn't explain where the lubricating oil for the sulfur mining equipment came from!  Thus, your "market" cannot possibly work."

Or imagine trying to explain a living cell to an intelligent robot that had never seen a biological life form.  Such a ridiculous Rube Goldberg thing could not possibly work!  The robots would likely laugh their collective heads off and then exterminate us for trying to perpetrate such a massive fraud.

Post 133

Saturday, June 14, 2008 - 6:34pmSanction this postReply
Phil Osborn noted: At each point, the Marxist would proclaim, "AHA!  You didn't explain where the lubricating oil for the sulfur mining equipment came from!  Thus, your "market" cannot possibly work."
The paradigmatic example was Leonard Read's "I Pencil." originally published in The Freeman and often reprinted.

Jim Henshaw's theorizing via TMFL ignores the real world.  In this Topic (and in other discussions), I have kept to the real world of actual private security and adjudication.  Whenever possible, I have cited materials from the U.S. Department of Justice, rather than the Von Mises Institute.  I prefer to quote professors of criminology, not professors of economics.

"A protecton agency would want to protect its good name..."  or other similar claim sounds nice... but does the United States of America not want the same thing?  Did we not all learn songs about the land of the free and our father's pride and the good crowned with brotherhood?  The problem is that the USA is not an entity -- and neither is a corporation, or Enron would still be among the living.  As Teresa Summerlee Isenhart pointed out, hiring and keeping the best people admits that often, companies do not.  A bad cop or dishonest security guard is just a customer service representative who hates her clients. The question is: What social contexts best reward the objectively good and diminish the objectively bad.

So, I look at the real work of actually operating private security firms and adjudication agencies.  And, yes, it is a lot like "I, Pencil."

Jim Henshaw erred: "Michael, you appear to be assuming that there should be a legal monopoly on retaliatory force."
Jonathan Fauth suggested hacking your way through 120 posts because I certainly do not assume that.  I tossed out Ontario's licensing as a point of discussion.  The assumption of a legal monopoly is not mine, but, okay, if that is the case, then how do you regulate private security firms? 

Some Objectivists here have said that it does not matter if you hire private firms for adjudication and security, as long as they adhere to the legal framework of the constitutional government. Well, OK, what are the objective limits of that framework?  Where is trial by jury written in the stars?  What natural law compels a speedy trial versus a deliberative one?  The Bill of Rights actually allows the government to quarter troops in your home in times of war.  Is that objective justice?  Is that a natural law right of the state to engage in "defensive force" against its own people?  To me, Ontario's licensing opens the door to those kinds of questions.

I have said that it seems -- being purposely extreme in my interpretation here -- that Objectivists demand that firms shoot it out, rather than reach a just and peaceful resolution.  Ayn Rand experienced the Russian Civil War firsthand.  To her, that was, indeed, an example of "competing governments."  That is what civil war -- or any war -- is all about.  But I have worked for competing defense agencies and cooperation at all levels is the mode of operations, not just because we are human beings -- though there is that -- but because there is no profit in war. 
Kurt Eichert was practical: Utterly ridiculous - sensitivity training, great!  ... a bouncer might have a few marks against them and you may find that useful, in some cases!
Well, as much as I agree with the intent of Eichert's ire, I have to point out that sensitivity training is, in point of fact, one of the existing modes of private security.  We seek to avoid problems by listening.
It is sort of like the government requirement that civil engineers have classes in strength of materials.  How could you not?  I agree also that the industry standard requirement -- not just some government unicorn -- that guard be felony free is likewise an easy out to avoid personal judgements.  "A bouncer might have a few marks against them and you might find that useful in some cases!"  Exactly.  In some cases.  Which?  Who decides?  That is the point of asking about how the objectively constituted government objectively regulates private security firms.  I mean does it not seem like an objective requirement of an objectively constituted government that private security firms not employ criminals, otherwise, they would be -- by definition -- criminal gangs.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 6/14, 7:14pm)

Post 134

Thursday, June 26, 2008 - 9:33pmSanction this postReply
From The Book of Fairs by Helen Augur, with an introduction by Hendrik Willem van Loon, Harcourt Brace and Company,New York, 1939.  (Note, this book is not an academic work: it has no citations.  I consider it a pointer to facts to be attributed.)  In this Topic, I point to real world examples, not to idealist theories.  What follows is a historical example of how agoric alternatives functioned in a time of "competing governments" the Middle Ages when Europe was fragmented to hundreds of baronies, duchies and principalities, many of which were loosely subsumed by a thin Holy Roman Empire with little local power.   Some of what follows is arguable.  Augur claims that lawe merchaunt was "universal."  Other historians have taken that to task.  With that caveat, consider:
"The Fair Law (jus nundinarum), the first international merchant law, was a blend of the Roman code, the old trade customs of the Franks, and a general tradition of commecial practice which had been worked out around the Mediterranean.  Rome had done badly when it substituted state authority for fair authority, but Champagne, having to act as a neutral center, based its law on the peace of the fair.  This made it possible for the Fair Guards to deal with offenders on the spot, and if they escaped before they were punished, to cross national bounderies to enforce their decrees.  If a merchant fled Champagne without paying his debts, then the Fair Guards would compel his city to collect from him.  If a city defied this order, it was forbidden to trade in Champagne until the matter was settled.  The great cities of Lucca, Florence and Cologne had all be suspended at various times, and their repentence was speedy....  The fairs of Champagne, Flanders, of Europe in general, were all asylums for merchants, who could not suffer arrest or seizure of good for any crime committed elsewhere.  As long as the fair peace lasted other laws were suspended. " (pp 124-126)
When the Tannehills, David Friedman or Jarret Wollstein theorized idealistically on what might be, those hypotheses were valid to the extent that they repeated actual historical examples of how things really worked.  As there is no analytic-synthetic dichotomy, it could only be this way. 

For a more modern example of justice without government, in the late 19th and early 20th century in America, if a buyer failed to pay, it was common business practice to take the matter to your banker.  He would write a draft against the buyer and submit it to a bank in the buyer's town. That bank would collect.  Most often, this worked as intended.

The point is that embargo and boycott are powerful sanctions in a society based on trade. 

So, in the case of defense agencies working in the absence of government, the case of a renegade would be rare.  "Would be" because in historical fact, it was.  Pinkerton, Burns, and the other agencies co-operated to their mutual benefit.  There is no historical example of private detectives shooting it out to defend a client accused of stealing a wallet, as suggested by Ayn Rand.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 6/26, 9:35pm)

Post 135

Monday, October 13, 2008 - 5:28amSanction this postReply
"Hire mercenaries," says UK naval chief.

The Telegraph

UK: Civilian ships must be armed against pirates

Britain's senior Royal Navy commander in the Gulf has called for merchant shipping to hire mercenaries to fight off the increasing danger of piracy.

At a time when there is a record number of ships being hijacked off the coast of Somalia, Commodore Keith Winstanley said he believed that the situation has become so serious that civilian vessels should be armed.

(Read the entire story here.)

Post 136

Monday, October 13, 2008 - 8:40amSanction this postReply
Pirates only flourish where there is a rogue government, an incompetent government or a state of anarchy.

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Post 137

Monday, October 13, 2008 - 8:22pmSanction this postReply
It's a little more complicated than that, Steve. 

First, you have to define your terms.  Is a "rogue govrenment" one that issues letters of marque and reprisal to empower pirates to steal the cargoes of merchants from other nations?  (That's in the U.S. Constitution, right?) 

When the English pirates looted the Spanish galleons coming form the New World, was that piracy or roguery or anarchy or warfate or what?  

You ought to read about ancient Rhodes.  They had no legal mandate to do so, but it was in their self interest to keep the Eastern Mediterranean free from pirates, so they did. 

It has been said that what really put an end to piracy in the 19th century was free trade -- the lowering of trade barriers made smuggling unprofitable.

... of course the British Navy had something to do with it ... once the Napoleonic Wars were over and piracy (oops! ahem "privateering") was no longer the official policy of a -- wait for it -- "rogue nation."

Then there was the British East India Company with its own army, its own navy, even its own coinage, all until the Sepoy Rebellion provided an excuse for the crown to seize perogatives of this private government.  (Unless you buy the Pirates of the Movie Theater Theory that the BEI was inherently evil because it was capitalist = imperialist.)

How do you explain piracy in the modern world?  It is not just Somalia.  There are pirates all over the eastern Pacific and few government actions, if any.  Care to cite some?  However, there are private companies who market the service of "asset recovery."  They don't advertise much now, but a few years ago, the website of Securitas, the world's largest private guard company, included "asset recovery" as one of its services. (Will your government do that for you, get your cargo back when it is hijacked in the South China Sea?)

Myself, yeah, we all like rogues because they are so dashing, but really, no, I have no use for pirates and I agree with you that they are anomolous entities to be eradicated.  The only question is how.  One British naval commander suggested mercenaries.  You gotta go with the experts on this.

Post 138

Monday, October 13, 2008 - 10:59pmSanction this postReply
Michael, the only thing that I found to be complicated was your reply. I said, "Pirates only flourish where there is a rogue government, an incompetent government or a state of anarchy.

What's not to understand? Rogue government in this context clearly means a government that turns a blind eye to piracy, or participated in it. And piracy is any act that involves initiation of violence at sea for the purpose of plunder. Any country that went along with piracy was wrong to do so. It wouldn't include situations where a country was in a moral war and uses letters of marque to encourage privateers to prey on ships flying the flag of their opponents.

I'm familiar with piracy. As someone who likes sailing, I've paid attention to it for decades. It has been going on in the straits of Malacca (mostly targeting larger commercial shipping, but small boat sailors have taken to passing through the area in convoys), off Eastern Malaysia (mostly a second career for fisherman), Northern Indonesia (long tradition of some sea-going gypsies), Southern Philippines (Muslim fundamentalists with fishing boats), Somalia, and off the coasts of parts of Columbia and Venezuela (off-duty patrol boats).

Post 139

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - 6:09amSanction this postReply

SW: As someone who likes sailing, I've paid attention to it for decades.

I forgot that.  I knew that you were an avid sailor, but I did not connect the two thoughts.  My oversight.  I'll get that fixed soon.  (See the posts about Durk & Sandy products.)

We agree that piracy is wrong. It does not matter if you are on Shady Lane or a shipping lane, theft is theft and murder is murder. 

We just disagree on the best way to solve the problem.

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