Kevin Carson has written an excellent response to Paul Marks’ muddled critique of Kevin’s earlier essay Contract Feudalism.
Also “Lysander’s Ghost” (I know who this is, but don’t know whether they want it made public) has an interesting article on debt here.
With regard to the concerns raised in this latter article, I’ve previously argued for libertarian-based restrictions on the extent of debt here.
The libertariannation link doesn’t work.
After reading Samizdata for several years, it is safe to say that Marks is a bozo. Wading into the river to wrestle Carson on history and economics looks like the Ndebele vs. the Maxim gun.
it is safe to say that Marks is a bozo
I guess you’ve saved me the trouble of reading years of samizdata blog posts to ascertain this.
The libertariannation link doesn’t work.
Works for me.
Thanks for the plug, Roderick. And I love Joshua Holmes’ comparison.
The Lysander’s Ghost article (I also know who the author is, but also ain’t tellin) is excellent. It ties in well with quasibill’s criticisms of Rothbard’s position on debt. The latter makes a good case that debt should be treated like the enforcement of any other promise under Rothbard’s schema. I couldn’t get your link to work either, but I hope to get a look at it.
link doesn’t work for me either
If the anarchist legal system in question didn’t provide a mechanism for redressing contractually-created debts, wouldn’t that just inflate the risk premium attached to alll transactions? I hate to play consequentialist, but abandoning debt enforcement is a cure worse than the disease if it it has the secondary effect of raising transaction costs across the board, just to avoid some admittedly implausible scenarios. It punishes honest people who intend to repay by making contract more awkward and difficult for everyone, all for the benefit deadbeats.
Also, the island debt-prison scenarios become a little less plausible when you acknowledge, as Rothbard did, that the method of repayment can never be compelled. Locking people into perpetual debt slavery would thus require the preemptive and/or coercive elimination every alternative means. Naturally, those conditions do exist in much of the world today. Absent the political appropriation of vacant land and other such interventions, I don’t think any plutocrat could get a tight enough grip on things create those conditions.
I get this error message when I click on the link:
The requested URL /a/f73l2.html was not found on this server.
Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Apache/1.3.37 Server at hirewayne.com Port 80
And unfortunately, that essay is one of the ones that freenation.org doesn’t have in its archives of Formulations.
Kevin, Roderick, anyone:
Could you provide me with a link to quasibill’s post on Rothbard and debt?
I thought this point was interesting:
For example, if a billionaire’s million-dollar vase is broken by a fellow billionaire, the second billionaire may be required to pay full restitution to the first; but if the vase is broken by an indigent laborer, a million-dollar debt constitutes a greater burden (a lifetime of debt)—a burden which, in this case, is arguably out of proportion to the seriousness of the offense—and thus the amount of damages that can be demanded of the offender is far less.
One consequence of this argument is if a billionaire wants to break the million-dollar vase of his fellow billionaire he can simply bribe one of the servants to “accidentally” break it; since a “lifetime of debt” would be too great a burden to that servant, nobody has to pay the million dollars. The extension of this to million-dollar space stations or million-dollar gardens I leave to the reader…
Out of curiosity Roderick, if a teenage mad scientist working on space-time warping accidentally caused most South American infrastructure to vanish into a black hole, causing quadrillions of dollars of damage, would you also let him off since a “lifetime of debt” would be too much of a burden for the poor lad?
The link still works fine for me.
How about the general libertariannation.org site? Can you get to that? If so, click on “Archives” and then search for “Credit Institutions.”
Or if that doesn’t work either, try this or this.
One consequence of this argument is if a billionaire wants to break the million-dollar vase of his fellow billionaire he can simply bribe one of the servants to “accidentally” break it
I don’t see how that follows. Why wouldn’t the briber be liable?
if a teenage mad scientist working on space-time warping accidentally caused most South American infrastructure to vanish into a black hole, causing quadrillions of dollars of damage, would you also let him off since a “lifetime of debt” would be too much of a burden for the poor lad?
I don’t know what I’d say specifically about that case, but again your inference doesn’t seem to follow. The principle I invoked was that the penalty shouldn’t be morally disproportionate to the seriousness of the original damage. That means the strength of the case for a penalty’s being excessively burdensome is proportional to the severity of the burden but inversely proportional to the seriousness of the original damage. So by hiking up the damage in the case you describe, you’ve weakened the case for the penalty’s being disproportionate.
Why wouldn’t the briber be liable?
My intention was to note the impracticality of enforcing the rule. As for the other thing, I think it is unjust to require different amounts of restitution from different people for the same amount of damage; however the alternative of debt slavery and the like for a society with varying amounts of wealth doesn’t seem palatable either.
No, even the main page url doesn’t work for me. It redirects me to http://hirewayne.com/. The Google Cache link works though. Thanks. Do you have a link to the quasibill post on debt that Kevin mentioned?
but note that it is less about “debt” than about contract enforcement, although obviously the two are closely related. But the distinction is important in distinguishing between “voluntary” debt slavery and debts arising from intentional torts or crimes.
I’ll ask Wayne what’s up. (He’s the master of the LNF website.)