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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Setting All Pollution Fines To Zero Institutionalizes Aggression

Brad Spangler, I smell a false dichotomy here, between the ideas that 1)
one can always measure, with arbitrary precision and 2) one can never
measure. I don't need to believe (1) for my argument to work, and (2)
is not my only alternative.

Let's get more concrete. Pick any of the kinds of pollution I list at
In each of our Libertopias, those pollutions will have a schedule of
default contestable fines imposed by the legal system. As I understand
it, you anarcholibertarians say that the fines should be zero in all
cases that haven't been adjudicated between a plaintiff and a
defendant. (If you try to introduce a mechanism for setting the
default contestable fine to non-zero for some defendant who hasn't had
his day in court, then you're doing pretty much the same thing I'm
doing, and I can adapt/adopt your mechanism.) I contend that we can
measure well enough to know that setting these default contestable fines
to zero institutionalizes aggression. I contend that it's possible in
practice to set an admittedly imperfect schedule of non-zero default
contestable fines that can have the clearly observable effect of
reducing aggregate aggression. The price of this clear decrease in
aggression is that some transactor may (for example) be committing
aggression that a jury would fine him 10 cents for, but that the
schedule fines him 20 cents for. The ZAPstentionist objection, as I
understand it, is that it's a slippery slope between that 10 cent
overcharge and marching people into gas chambers, and that we are
morally obligated to never risk participating in such institutionalized
aggression. I contend that the ZAPstentionist objection is clearly absurd.