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Post 0

Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 7:51amSanction this postReply
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Over in the quote about the government having "no role" in money, we got sidetracked.  
 http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/Quotes/1820.shtml#3
MEM:  I tossed this poser out a couple of years ago and never got an appropriate reply. 
Rights can only be violated by volitional actors, by other people. 
The police can only act in retaliation to a violation of rights.
So, if the police see a pack of coyotes surrounding a child, are they morally obligated to act?
(As a corollary, if the police know from emergency systems that a tornado is approaching, and if they see picnickers on the public square, are they morally obligated to warn people of the danger?)


Steve Wolfer:  That's not so difficult, Michael.
The police can only take those actions they are legally empowered to take - that is their official scope of duties. It is a legal, not moral constraint. But nothing stops them from taking actions as private citizens that they feel morally obligated to take. Anyone, policeman, garbage collector, housewife, etc., can choose to help a child being threatened by coyotes. It isn't an issue of rights or law enforcement.
The question about whether someone is morally obligated to take an action is a different question.
Is someone morally obligated to take grave risks to their life to help a stranger? No - sacrifice is not rationally justifiable.
Is someone acting rationally and morally to warn the people of the coming tornado when it is at no significant risk or cost to them? Yes.
We should value another human life - even a strangers. But how much is that value? Higher than 10 minutes of a persons's time where there is little to no risk of harm or cost? I'd say that is certainly so.
http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/Quotes/1820.shtml#3

Well, yes, in most places, anyone can intervene (if not legally, then lawfully) to stop any felony they perceive themselves in action.  Similarly, anyone can toss a dollar in the Red Kettle at Christmas time without being an altruist and without being compelled by taxation to be charitable.  Those are not the issues. 

The question is specifically about the role of the police in a so-called "Objectivist society."  What if the police do not act in these cases?  Have they failed a legal mandate?  Under the definitions we seem to accept, it appears not. I believe that those definitions are lacking.  Allow me to suggest that we demand something more of the police in their professional roles as providers of justice.  I offer this below from a criminal justice professor as being close to the mark.  I know that we will object to the concept of "sacrifice" as stated there, but, let me suggest this means only "pay the highest price." 

THE POLICE UNIFORM
    It is sometimes said that police culture has been overstudied.  However, there are probably many aspects of it that are overlooked.  There may be many things to study.  A "tradition" may go unquestioned.  The object of study might be a "taboo" topic; or, it might simply be that some long-standing custom has always been taken for granted. 
 
As an example or illustration, let's take the UNIFORM.  Lots of social groups wear uniforms -- athletes, soldiers, students, teachers, musicians, cheerleaders, religious leaders, hospital staff, bellboys, and policemen, to name a few.  During Hitler's reign in Nazi Germany, all civilian occupational groups were ordered to come up with, and wear, dress uniforms (as part of Hitler's plan to get rid of undesirables).  What is the role of the uniform?  What does it signify?  Fussell (2003) [Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear By Paul Fussell -- MEM] has some answers, and he begins by distinguishing between costumes and uniforms.  A costume is what you put on when you are play-acting or role-playing; and a uniform is what you put on when you are deadly serious and role-filling. 
 
A real uniform brings honor to the person wearing it, and it marks that person as someone who performs important impersonal and demanding tasks for the powerful (the duke, the king, the president, or God).  There is a quasi-religious aspect to uniforms, suggesting that the wearer is one who commonly engages in self-sacrifice and risk-taking. 
 
Uniforms also have some kind of erotic, masculine appeal, since they usually highlight or try to emphasize big, strong shoulders (with epaulettes, shoulder boards, insignia, and braiding).  Uniforms for females have less of a specific eroticism, but are nonetheless erotic to some.  At one time in history (before 1300), it was the length of a man's hair which made him appear dutiful to his lord.  Then, there was an era when wigs signified much the same thing.  Our modern age is the uniform age, and neckties were invented (in the 1890s) to be worn with suits as a "democracizing" influence (every man can wear a tie, and any tie looks good on a man).  With so-called "suits," the number of buttons on the sleeve and whether the shirt is buttoned-down (technically, buttoned-up the neck) has traditionally represented either seniority on the job or a sense of superiority to everyone else (lapel pins probably serve this purpose today). 
 
There is another thing about uniforms which deserves mention, and that is uniforms were meant to stand straight up in, not to be worn sitting down.  Fatigues or camouflage clothing were designed for that, or when carrying out punishment or demeaning tasks.

http://faculty.ncwc.edu/mstevens/205/205lect02.htm

 

Last modified by mstevens@csufresno.edu on
Copyright ©
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All Rights Reserved

[NOTE Apparently, I found this first in 2005 when Lt. Col. Mark Stevens wrote this while teaching at North Carolina Weslyan College; he now teaches at Cal State Fresno. -- MEM)

A police officer is not an ordinary citizen.  A policewoman is never off-duty.  They always are sworn to a specific court.  (Sometimes, they are sworn to two or more, but, never less than one.)  The policeman has more power than the state.  Michigan is one of a dozen American states (and among 96 world nations) with no death penalty. Yet, on the street, the police officer legally and lawfully can take a life out of necessity.


So, the original problem stands.  I agree with Steve, of course, but beyond that, it is the sworn obligation of the policewoman to risk her life to save the child surrounded by coyotes.  Similarly, the officers who know of the tornado and do nothing are culpable for all the consequences suffered by those whom they chose not to save.

The premises that (a) the police can only act against volitional agents who (b) have violated the rights of other rational creatures are false.  The purpose of the police is to protect people from harm. 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 10/02, 7:57am)




Post 1

Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 8:06amSanction this postReply
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In the restarted topic thread under Objectivism Q&A, "Do Murderers Have a Right to Life?" PMH wrote:
Now, consider a man who refuses to eat, even though he is surrounded by food. ...   Other people, watching him die, can not ethically (or morally) force him to eat. They must allow him to make his own choice, since to do otherwise would be to initiate force against him, and ... 
I disagree.  The purpose of the police - and the broad police powers of the state - include their mandate to prevent your self-destruction.  If you attempt to jump off a roof, you will likely find someone in uniform there attempting to stop you. 

This extends to child welfare, protection of the elderly from their adult children, and a myriad other harms. 

The state has a compelling interest in the welfare of each inhabitant - not merely the citizens, but everyone within its jurisdiction. 




Post 2

Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 9:48amSanction this postReply
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Michael,

I found that extended quote in post #0 somewhat bizzare. Like this sentence: "A real uniform brings honor to the person wearing it, and it marks that person as someone who performs important impersonal and demanding tasks for the powerful (the duke, the king, the president, or God). There is a quasi-religious aspect to uniforms, suggesting that the wearer is one who commonly engages in self-sacrifice and risk-taking. "

And where it began talking about uniforms as erotic.... The entire quote had so little to do with the issue of the proper role of police in an Objectivist society that I was left scratching my head as to what you were thinking.
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You wrote that the policeman is more powerful than the state because in many states there is no death penalty yet a policeman can take a life under certain circumstances. Three points: 1.) When a policeman acts within the stated scope of his duties, he IS the state. 2.) One hopes that the when the policeman shoots someone, within policy, that it is an act of defending against the violation of an individual right and under circumstances that were both serious and where no alternative was available. 3.) In a state based upon individual rights, the state has no powers beyond those granted by the citizens - so it is proper that every citizen have more power (rights) than the state (policeman).
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You said, "The purpose of the police - and the broad police powers of the state - include their mandate to prevent your self-destruction."

You must believe that a person does not own his own life, otherwise he would be allowed to end it without police interference.

You went on to say, "This extends to child welfare, protection of the elderly from their adult children, and a myriad other harms."

Child abuse that involves a childrens' protective agency consists of acts against a child that are initiated by the child's parent or guardian. We assume, that under normal circumstances, it is the parent or guardian that is the protector of the child's rights until they are of age to act in their own defense. Because a child isn't fully competent to defend themselves, the state is ensuring the protection of individual rights by stepping in where it is the parent or guardian that is the violator. That does NOT have anything to do with preventing self-destruction, nor is it in violation of individual rights. Children are not chattel - and there are those few parents that violate their own child's rights. Dependent elders are presumed to still have rights, but to be in need of someone acting as a guardian of those rights (either an adult child, a spouse, or a third party - working under a volitional, contractual arrangement) and the state only steps in to protect the rights of the dependent elder.
-------------------

You said, "The state has a compelling interest in the welfare of each inhabitant - not merely the citizens, but everyone within its jurisdiction."

This is a prescription for a totalitarian nanny state. It implies that the state can act on behalf of some concept of "welfare" against an individual's will. Why did you make a specific distinction between citizens and non-citizens with the jurisdiction? I don't see that as part of this thread's context.

I'm assuming that you no longer refer to yourself as an Objectivist... given the different principles underlying what you've written.
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Post 3

Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 8:05pmSanction this postReply
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An execution has a few very important differences from a self defense killing.  An execution, for example, takes place at the order of a court when there is no immediate threat to the life of any innocent person.  Killing in self defense is only justified when such killing is a response to an emergency leaving no other choice, or at least no choice that any rational person would accept (such as rape or disfigurement). 

I don't think I need to belabor this point though.  It is far easier to simply point out that no state in the United States of America has a law that allows the court to order someone to be struck in the thigh with a maglight, or shocked with a Taser or punched in the face.  However, all police officers are expected to do these things to people in the course of their duties whenever it becomes necessary.  This is not an indication of their power (they have no special powers), but rather an indication of the reality that they often find themselves, or even place themselves, in situations where self-protective force is called for. 

Furthermore, I would argue that a police officer actually has a duty, an obligation, a requirement that he save the child from the coyotes, assuming that he can accomplish this without unreasonable risk to himself.  Here's my reasoning:

First, the "unreasonable risk" part.  An uninterested civilian has no obligation to place himself at any risk whatsoever to save the child.  The child has no claim on the uninterested civilian's life.  The Police Officer is obligated to risk himself.  He has entered into a voluntary agreement to do a job.  In exchange for pay he agrees to do things like give up 40 hours of his time every week, groom himself to a standard that a reasonable employer might expect, dress a certain way, and, yes, take certain risks to his own life and well-being.  Forget the coyotes for a moment.  A Police Officer has also agreed to confront and arrest irrational, dangerous people who are likely to try to harm him. He can't agree to do that job without agreeing to risk his own well being.  There is a limit to the risks he is expected to take, but rather than try to codify the extent of those risks, I'll just rely on the term "reasonable risks" and assume values of "reasonable" that are commensurate with a police officer's job. 

Now, the part about the coyotes.  People form governments because governments are a tool to preserve their rights.  Police Officers, as an extension of government, exist to preserve your rights.  Unlike civilians, they are obligated to take actions to preserve your rights, because they agreed to do so in exchange for pay.  The child in your example has a right to live.  In the absence of evidence to the contrary, any reasonable person would conclude that the child did not make a reasoned decision to get eaten by coyotes, so there are no concerns that the Police Officer will be somehow violating the child's right to reason by saving him.  The child has a right to live.  If the coyotes eat him, that right will not be preserved.  The Police Officer is obligated by the terms of his employment to preserve rights.  Therefore, he is obligated to save the child if possible. 

Let's take the coyotes out of it and just say that the child is about to die by a complete accident of some kind, and the police officer has the ability to save him with no risk whatsoever.  A civilian could still choose to ignore the situation.  Most of us would revile that civilian, but we couldn't justify any kind of official punishment or use of force against him.  However, if the on-duty Police Officer chose to ignore the situation, he could be punished to whatever extent this hypothetical Objectivist society punishes people who don't uphold their end of contracts. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This whole conversation could be condensed if we all just remember what we learned in school as kids:  Government has no Rights.  Government only has Obligations. 
Take that as a premise, then recall that Police Officers are part of government, therefore Police Officers only have Obligations and BAM!  BAMBAMBAM! . . .a dead band of coyotes.   




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Post 4

Monday, October 3, 2011 - 10:25pmSanction this postReply
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Steve, I assure you that I am an Objectivist.  You do not have to recognize me as such.  You are free to disqualify homosexuals, people who like the music Beethoven, the art of Roy Liechtenstein, or to apply any other personal standard. 

The views I quoted from Mark Stevens are accepted, not exceptional, within police culture. They may not be identified explicitly as independent statements in answer to "Why do you wear a uniform?" but most police (militlary in general) would agree with the passage cited.  

It comes from the Guardian mode of survival.
  • Be loyal
  • Be obedient and disciplined
  • Treasure honor
  • Adhere to tradition
  • Respect hierarchy
  • Show fortitude
  • Exert prowess
  • Be exclusive
  • Take vengeance
  • Make rich use of leisure
  • Be ostentatious
  • Dispense largess
  • Deceive for the sake of the task
  • Shun trading
  • Be fatalistic
 In pulling the would-be suicide down from the roof, they show fortitude.  The reward for that comes in honor they receive from others in same tradition who are likewise fatalistic

The police uniform is recognized everywhere in the world.  No matter what place you go to, you know a police officer when you see one.  And, yes, private guards wear them, too, with the same meaning.  We call them the "hard uniform" or "class A."  The last two times I worked as a guard, however, I wore a business suit: different role. Based on my experience in the profession, I have suggested here on RoR that the Guardian virtues would not apply to the private defense guard, who follows the Trader principle.  And you objected to that.  You cannot have it both ways: A or non-A. 

There are many ways to take your own life and rational reasons for doing so.  None of us is getting younger and it is better to face the end under your own control, just for instance.  But when someone goes to a roof to commit suicide, they are being publicly dramatic. By definition, a person in an irrational state is not capable of making a rational choice.  Anyone who behaves so irrationally is in the same legal status as child.  They get protection they have not asked for.

I understand the problem of determining how irrational is irrational.  That is why courts hold competency hearings to determine if someone needs help they are not asking for but will be ordered to have nonetheless. And that is why in trials at court the law includes the "reasonable man" standard. Do 12 people think this is reasonable?  This is not totalitarianism.  It is part of the social contract upon which government is based.

When we say that police officers are "conservative" it is not just that they read National Review.   They believe in God and attend religious services.  Reliance on, and citation to, authority is a mode of cognition for them.  They accept the morality of self-sacrifice.  In an "Objectivist society" that same willingness would only be couched in quotations from Ragnar Danneskjold and Judge Narragansett about holding Justice as a Virtue worth defending with one's life and not being willing to live in a world without Justice.  The words are not important.  The role is. 




Post 5

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 12:03amSanction this postReply
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SW: You wrote that the policeman is more powerful than the state because in many states there is no death penalty yet a policeman can take a life under certain circumstances. Three points: 1.) When a policeman acts within the stated scope of his duties, he IS the state. 2.) One hopes that the when the policeman shoots someone, within policy, that it is an act of defending against the violation of an individual right and under circumstances that were both serious and where no alternative was available. 3.) In a state based upon individual rights, the state has no powers beyond those granted by the citizens - so it is proper that every citizen have more power (rights) than the state (policeman).

 

We have some ambiguities to resolve. 

1.  "The state" in the abstract is the government in all of its institutions.  Also, "the state" refers specifically to the organization of a level of government: each of the 50 United States is a state.  But they do not have the powers of a national government.  They cannot declare war, for instance.  In the concrete sense the State of Michigan gives the police of Van Buren Township or the City of Pontiac or the University of Michigan the power to take a life in the line of duty, though it denies that power to its own courts. So, the local police have more power than the state government because the state government denies itself that right. 

2.  You note also that the power of the police to take a life derives from everyone's right to defend themself.  In other words, the police will take a life to defend yours. The fleeing felon doctrine upholds their power, even though flight from a private citizen denies the private citizen the right to use force at all. 

3.  New Mexico is an open carry state.  (So is Michigan, oddly enough.)  But at least in 2002-2003 when I worked there, New Mexico law denies the right to carry a weapon to any security guard not licensed to carry a weapon while on duty.  They are specially constrained moreso than a private citizen.  The London Metropolitan Police historically did not carry weapons.  (That has changed.)   So, it is not necessary for the police to be armed to carry out their duties. 

4.  It sounds nice and patriotic to say that "We the people" have more power than the government, because government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.  But you know that you have no right to declare war or a dozen other enumerated powers that only the government can be allowed to have.  But, I agree that we have rights (powers) that the government does not. 




Post 6

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 12:21amSanction this postReply
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Michael,

I wouldn't care in the least if you are homosexual or like the music Beethoven, or like the art of Roy Liechtenstein, or any other irrelevant strawman you bring up.

I don't recognize you as an Objectivist primarily because you are an anarchist.
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You said, "The state has a compelling interest in the welfare of each inhabitant - not merely the citizens, but everyone within its jurisdiction."

My reply was, "This is a prescription for a totalitarian nanny state. It implies that the state can act on behalf of some concept of 'welfare' against an individual's will."
--------------

You said, "The purpose of the police - and the broad police powers of the state - include their mandate to prevent your self-destruction."

I replied, "You must believe that a person does not own his own life, otherwise he would be allowed to end it without police interference."
-----------

Anyone who doesn't believe in minarchy, doesn't believe we own our own lives, and 'believes the state has a compelling interest in the welfare of each inhabitant' isn't an Objectivist.



Post 7

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 12:21amSanction this postReply
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PMH,  I agree with most of what you wrote.  I agree that the police take reasonable risks.  Otherwise, they call for backup.  At the same time, note, above, that the Guardian Mode brings fatalism, honor, obedience, and other virtues to the context.
PMH: ...   no state in the United States of America has a law that allows the court to order someone to be struck in the thigh with a maglight, or shocked with a Taser or punched in the face.  However, all police officers are expected to do these things .... The Police Officer is obligated to risk himself.  He has entered into a voluntary agreement to do a job.  In exchange for pay he agrees to do things like give up 40 hours of his time every week,
 There is no 40-hour week. The phrase "off duty policeman" is meaningless.  We repeat these things, but they are baseless.  A police officer is always on duty.  Period.

While we no longer have overt corporal punishment, incarceration is pain.  It is mean to be painful.  Jail and prison are only less overt examples of corporal punishment. 

It is also wrong to think that punching people and hitting them with a flashlight or even using a taser or gun is part of the normal work of a police officer.  First and foremost, while the taser and firearm have specific uses, the flashlight is not a weapon.  If required to use defensive force, a dozen physical moves are possible, none of which involves punching people in the face. Such actions come from a loss of control.  What you described are failure modes. 

It is not necessary for the police to be armed at all, certainly not routinely, even if special circumstances might require it.  The technologies of non-lethal weaponry are not well-developed.  There are many ways to subdue a dangerous person.  We just don't pay well to invent and develop them. 

That is one of many consequences to a "Soviet agriculture" approach to public safety and the protection of individual rights.  (We all pay for police according to our ability and you can take as policing much as you need.  Any chief will tell you that 80% of the problems come from 20% of the addresses in any neighborhood.) 




Post 8

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 12:52amSanction this postReply
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 SW:  I don't recognize you as an Objectivist primarily because you are an anarchist.
  
I am not an anarchist and I am tired of your claiming that I am.  Maybe you have some personal definition of that, as well.

  I do not advocate the abolition of all government.  In fact, I recognize that government serves a fundamental purpose in society.  I am not opposed to capitalism, the free market, global trade, multinational corporations, or the profit motive.  In fact, I endorse all of those.  

You have built up a totally false construct of me because you cannot separate a discussion of ideas from actions in life. This message board is dedicated to philosophical inquiry.  Over the last five or six years, I have seen you take statements literally and disagreements personally. 

You have the ability to understand and communicate complex ideas.  Some of them interest me.  Based on your posts, I post. Just as often, I post something original and you see fit to reply.  That is what the message board is for. But beyond that, sooner or later, when you are wrong about a fact or conclusion, or when the discussion is over your head, or beyond your interests, you fall into name-calling.  

If you have any insight, information, facts, or conclusions to offer about how law enforcement would be carried out in a society where Objectivism is the dominant philosophy, please share them.  We would probably benefit.  Otherwise, I am going to ignore any further flaming from you.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 10/04, 12:55am)




Post 9

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 2:39amSanction this postReply
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Michael I've read your posts advocating for competing defense agencies, competing legal systems and private adjudication services rather than government - again and again and over many years.

"In my perfect world, there would be no government. Like shoes and bread, protection and adjudication would be privately produced and consumed." Michael Marotta
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In post #6 in the same thread you advocate for competing legal systems.

In post 20 you refer to those you are arguing with as "statists" and "govern-mentalists"

In post 68 you say, "...the quest for one true system of laws reflects an authoritarian mindset. Some people are attracted to Objectivism because it promises a complete set of answers. To me, the best thing about a free society is not knowing what it will be like. Many political activists -- many people in general, actually; and many "Objectivists" -- find that scary. They want to know the rules and they want to be the ones to make the rules."
------------------

It has been obvious to me for a long time that your writing frequently makes negative remarks about Objectivists, and at the same time that you separate yourself from Objectivism, you advocate for key anarchy concepts like competing legal systems. You snipe on occasion at Rand, at Objectivism, argue for anarchy, but claim you aren't an anarchist, but that you are an Objectivist. The best thing I can say is that you're seriously confused.
-------------------




Post 10

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 8:24pmSanction this postReply
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There is no 40-hour week. The phrase "off duty policeman" is meaningless. We repeat these things, but they are baseless. A police officer is always on duty. Period.
"Off duty" is far from meaningless.  Sure, cops tend to feel like cops even in their off time, but that is far from saying there is no distinction.  You mentioned something about "Make rich use of leisure" in your Guardian Code.  Let me tell you, I've seen some cops doing just that to an extreme degree from time to time.  Good cops wouldn't take a sip of booze while on duty, but once off duty they "make rich use of leisure" with the best of 'em.  That right there is distinction enough. 

 
It is also wrong to think that punching people and hitting them with a flashlight or even using a taser or gun is part of the normal work of a police officer. First and foremost, while the taser and firearm have specific uses, the flashlight is not a weapon. If required to use defensive force, a dozen physical moves are possible, none of which involves punching people in the face. Such actions come from a loss of control. What you described are failure modes.
I'm a bit shocked at some of these claims.  Ok, I will admit that you properly corrected me on the "punching in the face" issue.  A smart cop would know that punching someone in the face would be more likely to break his own hand than the bad guy's face.  A palm strike or elbow to your opponent's face would be more appropriate. As for all of these other uses of force indicating a failure on the part of a police officer - that conclusion doesn't seem to be based on reality.  I think any good police officer would try reason first; that only makes sense.  Even his mere presence in his shiny police car and sexy uniform are somewhat coercive.  However, after he explains  that I really really need to cooperate and go to jail with him because stealing those little old ladies' purses was wrong, what his he supposed to do when I physically resist him or even attack him?  There are a few tricks that can be used to subdue an aggressor fairly painlessly, but they are risky because they won't work against a good fighter, and once they fail, the cop is toast.   No, he is the instrument of the government which is charged with preserving our rights, even if doing so involves retaliatory force. 

If we didn't expect force to be needed, we would have no use for a cop in the first place! 

By the way, a heavy, metal flashlight, a bar stool, a pool cue, a garbage can, a rock, a rusty hubcap, and your partner's severed arm are all appropriate impact weapons.  There is no legal or moral difference between any of them, and the appropriateness of their use is only determined by the circumstances and the ways in which they are employed. 


 
It is not necessary for the police to be armed at all, certainly not routinely, even if special circumstances might require it. The technologies of non-lethal weaponry are not well-developed. There are many ways to subdue a dangerous person. We just don't pay well to invent and develop them.
Are you saying that guns wouldn't be needed in a future reality where non-lethals have been perfected, or are you saying that they aren't needed in our current reality where no non-lethal or less-lethal solution comes close to matching the effectiveness of a pistol?  Whether you're a police officer or not, you have a right, even a moral obligation, to defend yourself from people intent upon violating your rights if you are able to do so.  Carrying a pistol increases your odds of being able to do so.  My reasoned opinion is that choosing not to carry a pistol is an immoral decision for anyone capable of using a pistol, whether he is a cop or not.  There are exceptions to this of course, like when the state forbids you the option of carrying one by threatening you with overwhelming force. 




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Post 11

Saturday, October 8, 2011 - 2:57amSanction this postReply
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re Steve in Post 9. (Again from the Mac, not the PC, so no quotes.)

First, I never called for the overthrow of governments. I only said that this is my ideal world, a hypothetical construct I built as a test.

Second, my views have changed over time. After reading Wolf DeVoon's posts on MSK's Objectivist Living, and after reading his novella, The Good Walk Alone, I came to see government as one way to instantiate law. Law comes first. Other institutions can discover and deliver law.

Third, Tibor Machan's analogy to pizza really gave me something to chew on. Minarchy is going to the restaurant. Anarchy is delivery.

I have said before, and I say here and now, that I regard what we call "anarcho-capitalism" as a way to understand how the world actually works. We have private companies providing police services, and providing armies, and providing adjudication, negotiation, and arbitration, and doing so in competition and cooperation with each other and in competition and cooperation with traditional nation-state governments. These market entities create their own laws, such as the Uniform Commercial Code. They also choose among governments, shopping for laws. Read your mortgage, the bank loan for your car, the terms of you credit cards. It is how the world actually works. It is how a Japanese company, buys parts made in Ireland, by a company headquartered in Germany for installation in cars made in Ohio, to be sold by a dealer in Indiana to a customer from Kentucky. (And if pirates hijack the cargo, the owners will call on a private company to retrieve their property.) Drop the "anarcho" because it is just capitalism.

I know that you believe that capitalism requires geographic monopolies of law. You are free to believe that, but it simply is not true. Capitalism only requires (1) a basic understanding of rights and (2) a willingness to adhere to voluntary agreements.
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 10/08, 3:00am)




Post 12

Saturday, October 8, 2011 - 3:24amSanction this postReply
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re: P M H in 10 above

As your profile shows your email address to be gunslinger233d@yahoo.com, we are going to be pretty far apart in these discussions.

Have you ever heard the expression "... a bolt out of the blue"? When air masses move, they create electro-static charges. On a cloudless day, you can get struck by lightening. For a table of incidents see here.
http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/fatalities.htm
About ten years ago, I attended a public presentation at the Energy Museum at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. They regard death by lightening as preventable; and they sell umbrellas with wooden frames.

We know from actual statistics of police work that men rely on force more often than women, and that male and female officers with only high school diplomas rely on force more often than those with college educations. We also know from actual statistics that those with more education make more arrests.




Post 13

Saturday, October 8, 2011 - 11:50amSanction this postReply
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Michael,

You are an anarchist... sorry to break that news to you. I freely admit that you an anarchist-lite, rather than a full-on, rabid anarchist. That is, you are not advocating for abolishing government, but rather just dont see that it is necessary.

You state that anarcho-capitalism is the way the world works. Well, that isn't the understood usage of anarcho-capitalism.

From Wikipedia: "Anarcho-capitalism (also referred to as “libertarian anarchy” by anarcho-capitalists,[1] “market anarchism,”[2] “free market anarchism”[3] or “private-property anarchism”[4]) is a libertarian[5][6] and individualist anarchist[7] political philosophy that advocates the elimination of the state in favour of individual sovereignty in a free market."
---------------------------

You state that a geographic monopoly of law is not necessary to have free market capitalism. That, by itself, makes you an anarchist (one who holds that a state is neither necessary nor desireable).

You are wrong that it is possible to have free market capitalism without that geographic monopoly of the proper laws. The market will not be free of the initiation of violence as a means of competition until there is a government with a monopoly of objective laws for a geographic area, laws that are based upon individual rights.

It is pure fantasy to think that in the absence of those laws that there will arise some magical force that will cause all peoples to have a basic understanding of rights and a willingness to adhere to voluntary agreements.

You point at the complex universe of economic activities that cross borders, that involve private security forces, private armies, mediation, arbitration, etc. - each transaction identifiable as within one or more specific geographical boundaries and therefore under specific laws of specific states... but you ignore that last part, that this is all happening because of the governments monopoly of laws in each geographic area that provide the umbrella of restrictions against initiated force that creates the 'free' in free market - you not only ignore that, but you imply that somehow this private activity is proof that no government is needed. How absurd is that?!?

You attempt to conflate government laws, one set of laws with the force of government that have the status of a monopoly for a given geographic area, with private customs, company policies, agreements between individuals, etc. There is a giant difference. Objective government laws based upon individual rights work to eliminate the use force, fraud or theft from the market place as a means of competing and provide everyone, in advance, for an understanding for what will not be tolerated. They make the market free - free of initiation of force. Free for voluntary agreements.

If your bizarre way of seeing the world were accurate, that government didn't matter, then there would be energetic market activity (including private police, private armies, arbitration, etc.) going on in N. Korea. If the government laws didn't matter then the laws of Burma would work as well to support voluntary agreements as the laws in Singapore. And I assure you that there are a great number of people in Cuba that have a basic understanding of rights and are willing to abide by voluntary agreements - but contrary to what you said, that has not been enough to make capitalism.

Free market capitalism, human freedom, requires minarchy. If you believe in free market capitalism and human freedom in general then you should be an enemy of anarchy.



Post 14

Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 1:05pmSanction this postReply
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Michael:

"They also choose among governments, shopping for laws."

That discipline gives me great hope for freedom. If only it were widely true inside of our nation, instead of just globally.

50 states, experiments in law, running in parallel, with open borders. The ability to vote with our feet and punish failed experiments by rewarding successful experiments, and in so doing, forming a more perfect union.

Not possible since federalism was largely replaced by an increasingly muscular national government looking inward more than outward. Abusing the Commerce clause for the implementation of pet Soc. grad school theories masked as the latest really good idea, imposed in a monopolistic, single point of failure nature on the entire nation.

I cannot wrap my head around the hypocrisy of those who claim to eschew monopolistic thinking embracing that bad idea so readily when it comes to models of regulation.

We discipline the concept of government precisely by making it compete, as in, one of 50 alternatives.

What is the alternative to our singular national 'federal' government? And so, because of that inherent danger, as an organizing principle, it should be as small as we can make it and still serve its role as an outward facing instrument of dealing with other nations.

regards,
Fred

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 10/22, 1:07pm)




Post 15

Sunday, October 23, 2011 - 6:44amSanction this postReply
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This thread has been a great read, and a bit over my head, but thanks just the same. My familiarity with 'objectivism' grows leaps and bounds with each visit.

I may not be well versed in AR's philosophy but I know sensible when I hear it: this thread, particularly STEVE's words, is like a shot of vitamin B12 for the brain.

Cheers



Post 16

Sunday, October 23, 2011 - 12:54pmSanction this postReply
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Thank you for the kind words,
Steve



Post 17

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 9:42amSanction this postReply
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In Systems of Survival, Jane Jacobs delineated the "political syndrome" and the "commercial syndrome." The political mode applies to charities, the Mafia, the police and army, to any warrior/guardian group.  On the other hand, scientists, farmers, and merchants adhere to an ethic based on co-operating with strangers, dissenting for the sake of the task, innovation, thrift, and optimism. 


I believe that it is possible to have a guardian service that does not have all the attributes of the classical political syndrome.

As businesses whose profits come from the difference between the cost of production and the market price of our services, the commercial virtues of thrift, efficiency, and productive investment speak against the rich use of leisure, distribution of largess, and ostentatious displays.

Vengeance is not appropriate to private guard companies. Although warriors and guardians engage in it, the ultimate value is putative, at best. Vengeance is not justice; it is not even retribution. It certainly has no place in the business world where competitors become partners.
 
The guardian virtues of obedience, hierarchy, and tradition are less salient in business.
 




Post 18

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 7:29pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

We are both very fond of Jane Jacob's work, and Systems of Survival in particular. But sometimes we disagree on the application of some of her concepts. For example, a private security business would primarily be under the Commerical (Trader) moral syndrome.

First and foremost it is a business and those who are the customers - those who pay the revenues that keep it in business - are never treated with force, always join via voluntary agreements, etc., etc. Look at the thing from the perspective of the business and its customers.

The fact that the front line employees - the security guards - show some of the warrior traits is beside the point. They will always have to adhere to company policies and those policies will always flow from the primary need of a business to court customers in a free and competitive market - totally voluntary and commercial.

You would never say that Acme Security Company "Shuns trading," because it actively seeks customers. You would never say it "Takes vengence," because that makes no sense. And it doesn't "Dispense largess," or "Be ostentatious."

The other thing is that what she identified were NOT moral CODES, but syndromes. These were natually evolved patterns as opposed to devised codes of ethics or values.



Post 19

Friday, November 30, 2012 - 12:14pmSanction this postReply
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Well, Steve, I agree with what you say, because you agreed with what I said.  Did you actually goto my blog and read the full essay? 

The problem I face is that my audience for these ideas is not other Objectivists - though I post the ideas here for open discussion.  I take these alternatives to my own peers in security where I work with cop-wannabes.  They might be emotionally open to "free enterprise" as an element of "the American way" but they do not think it through at our level.  To them, it is obvious that private security is policing, but with a different paycheck.  They want to be warriors and guardians, not merchants and traders.
 
If you read my blog, you will see that the essential duty of the guardian cannot be abandoned without losing the definition entirely. My goal here (and there) was to establish that sine qua non.  We do not need to be ostentatious, but some aspect of fatalism comes with the job.  Would you take a bullet for your client?




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