Money Changes Everything

I just saw Michael Sandel on The Colbert Report expressing outrage at the idea of allowing votes, citizenship, and improved prison cells to be marketable commodities.

I don’t have much of a dog on either side of this fight, since the three institutions he mentions (at least in anything like their present form) are all ones I think should be abolished. So Sandel’s question moves me about as much as the question “should the right to beat one’s slaves be a marketable commodity”?

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6 Responses to Money Changes Everything

  1. Anon73 April 26, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    Along similar lines, I still remember from a Marxist critique of seasteading a passage where the concept of paying for citizenship was mocked. It was like “These people expect you to PAY for the right to vote and for citizenship.” When the Obama admin was negotiating to free the Iranian hikers, I’m sure glad all that effort was gratis!

  2. Uncle Sam April 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    I guess I would imagine a “free society” would still have prisons of some sort. Perhaps they would be forced labor camps for those who owed compensation to a victim, or perhaps they would be to lock up the worst repeat offenders (rather than simply execute them) but I imagine they would still exist. But I think I would agree with you that they would be nothing like their current form.

    My ardent anarcho-capitalist friend has recommended the book “Resist Not Evil” to me and I have started reading it. Written by Clarence Darrow (of the Scopes Monkey Trial fame) it touches heavily on the topic of justice, compensation and how to deal with crime.

  3. Anon73 April 29, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    I think I will read that book as well, it sounds interesting.

    The key with anarcho-capitalism and crime is the assumption that laws of economics and human action drive both sides of the equation, i.e. crime is about people responding to incentives and the best justice will be about imposing the right incentives. For example, in the first case one could argue poverty makes people more likely to commit crimes, but a free economy = more wealth = less crime. In the second case one could argue as RL does that restitution will result in more justice and less recidivism than the current regime of “lock ’em up til they’re old and grey”. For property crimes this is definitely true – in Spain a study showed that out of 3 classes of crime the property criminals had the most rapid rehabilitation into society.

    Lately though I’ve been thinking the economic analysis doesn’t cover everything. There are always the “cultural” factors at work like bad homes, drug addiction, human vice, and the fact that some people will be evil no matter what social system you’re in. Ultimately it may be a matter of minimizing the harm that people do rather than eliminating it outright. Reading through some of the entries on a typical crime bulletin makes for heartbreaking reading, but I still wonder how many of them would happen under different systems like ancap, etc.

  4. dL May 5, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    ah, Sandel the communitarian. To me, they are the spawn of intellectual Satan(Satan being Hegel).

    How to characterize them, particularly Sandel. A rejection of the liberal conception of the artificiality of the State and Politics. Instead the State is an organic extension of civil society, the fullest realization of civil society. Sandel, in a usual context, would say something like: I abhor the idea of liberal rights in terms of moral constraints. The “good life” must be oriented toward the “common good.” The common good is the fullest expression of “the Polis.” The aim of the Polis is not consensus per se, but rather as an end in itself, that is, the necessary sphere where we accept that we must have a debate over “the common good.” The result of the debate is not the ends, but rather the debate itself is the ends.

    I found it humorous then that he is going around peddling the problem of artificial competition in political life. Communitarianism has no foundation/explanation for it. Libertarianism, of course, does in that it is, in terms of political theory, a critique of artificial political economy.

    But communitarianism, by far, is the dominant ideological framework in terms of American political discourse. By far…

    • JOR May 5, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

      Of course the state is merely an extension of civil society. It’s not like it’s beamed down to earth from some celestial bureaucracy.

      It’s artificial, of course, but so is civil society. Conflict is inherent in the state; it’s also inherent in civil society. Any notion of a common good is of course illusory, since in any possible world there’s another possible world where some given person is better off. It all comes down to who gets oppressed or deprived for whose benefit, and this is unavoidable.

      • dL May 6, 2012 at 1:35 am #

        I consider what typically arises from the State to be as alien as something that originated from “some celestial bureaucracy.”

        While I agree that government is inevitable(given scarcity), I do not rank all models of governance to be equivalent in terms of the treatment of “conflict.” The rationale for governance is “conflict resolution,” but i would contend some models of government are particularly adept at manufacturing conflict.

        And as a programmer, I will say that–at least in the intellectual world I work in–there is a world of difference between the concepts of “extension/inheritance” and “implementation.”

        More here:

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