No Sparrows

by Don Boudreaux on November 26, 2008

in Terrorism

Stationary bandits and floating ones.

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{ 33 comments }

Anonymous November 26, 2008 at 12:55 am

There's actually a mock schoolhouse rock of this issue. Apologies ahead of time if I don't post the link properly. Here it is.

vikingvista November 26, 2008 at 1:12 am

That argument is fallacious because it is way out of proportion. Costs of ocean piracy are nowhere near as high as costs of government. ;)

vidyohs November 26, 2008 at 7:54 am

Don,

There was no need to distinguish between pirates and……um, pirates.

A pursuit of of the facts, little known facts, is that in the eyes of the corporate government you are considered a vessel, all of your transactions are in the arena of commerece, and all governments actions against you are done under admiralty law.

It took some convoluted doings but back in the day they figured out how to bring admiralty law ashore to deal with those pesky issues that crop up in common law. Then they quitely moved common law aside, hey, as long as you don't know, they figure you aren't ever going to catch on. Don't turn to your lawyer for answers either because only a rare few ever get closer to the constitution than a pre-schooler.

A pirate is a pirate is a pirate.

LowcountryJoe November 26, 2008 at 8:45 am

Looking at the title of this blog post — No Sparrows — reminds me of something cultural that I've been trying to put my finger on. For as long as I remember, many wealthy folk in the United States have tried to emulate royalty and even make a huge deal of the royal family and the pomp that that entails; we use red carpets, thrones, symbolic crowns, etc. We watched enough of the friendly pirate Jack Sparrow in the first movie that the demand for pirates stayed strong enough to do a whole series of movies, a Disney attraction, and renewed interest in piracy in the entertainment world. The entertainment world has always been impressed with organized crime and organized crime has always been a big draw in the movies and on television.

I don't consider myself a culture-warrior but perhaps they're on to something with some of their criticisms.

Unbathed November 26, 2008 at 9:32 am

The Somali pirate organization is successfully claiming a monopoly of the use of the legitimate use of force over their geographic region. The individual members of the organization are making voluntary payments in lieu of taxes. There is no government meddling. Brigham Young's Mormons assessed a tithe from every wagon that crossed the Utah territory on the way to California and used the proceeds to build Utah infrastructure; the Somali pirate organization is doing something similar.

The Somali pirate organization has not yet made the claim that it may strike pre-emptively against any other organization that it deems a threat, nor are there any reports that it has tortured its captives in order to compel them to reveal information that might prevent an attack. Those who support the policies of the Bush administration should have the decency to acknowledge the Somali pirate's ethical superiority in this regard.

muirgeo November 26, 2008 at 10:39 am

Silly, with out the government there'd be no millionaires, no billionaires, no middle class and likely not even a GMU. This degree simplicity consistently astonsihes me. Pirates don't give you internets in exchange for the booty. Taxes which you voluntarily give to the governent by consenting and not leaving for other shores have much to do with our societies success.

Randy November 26, 2008 at 11:49 am

Muirgeo,

If the government's "services" had value it would not have to force people to pay for them. Your incessant claims that these "services" have infinite value is just parroted propaganda.

And I stay here because this is my home – a fact that preceeds government – and which in no way indicates my consent or approval of government activities.

Unbathed November 26, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Randy,

It is "your" home because your predecessors-in-title took it by force of arms from someone weaker.

scott clark November 26, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Not necessarily unbathed, homesteading, being the first to build and sustain improvements on the land is a valid way to establish property rights. Randy's home could have been legitametely homesteaded, and that homestead seized by force of arms, then passed down in an orderly fashion, but the land could very well have been left in a state of nature, with only transient uses from time to time, until someone came along and built substantial improvements on the land, and then passed the title in a orderly fashion.

kurt November 26, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Muirgeo,

Where do I go if I don't want to pay taxes?

Nathan Benedict November 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Muirgeo–if you think that I consent to taxes by not leaving, you must accept that ships consent to piracy by not taking other routes.

Anonymous November 26, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Unbathed,

It was your predecessors who took it by force of arms. I just got it back through voluntary exchange.

Now, how many generations do you want to go back?

Anonymous November 26, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Where do I go if I don't want to pay taxes?

You go to a lower life form and become a parasite. Not only do you get to avoid taxes, but also get to fleece the higher life forms.

kurt November 26, 2008 at 1:52 pm

"You go to a lower life form and become a parasite. Not only do you get to avoid taxes, but also get to fleece the higher life forms."

I was looking for more of a geographic location, not a figment of your imagination.

Randy November 26, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Unbathed,

"It is "your" home because your predecessors-in-title took it by force of arms from someone weaker."

It is my home by definition. A sequence of cause and effect can be drawn from the actions of political actors past and present, but not a sequence of responsibility or debt – no matter how frequently and loudly the current political class proclaims otherwise.

MnM November 26, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Dr. B, there are more parallels here than I really want to think about.

sethstorm November 26, 2008 at 6:05 pm


Those who support the policies of the Bush administration should have the decency to acknowledge the Somali pirate's ethical superiority in this regard.

No such superiority exists in the land and vessels illegitimately claimed by the pirates in Somalia.

They only operate on the idea of Danegeld, and will do so until military action removes them from power and/or existence.

Ray G November 26, 2008 at 7:47 pm

Muir's argument is the overly simplistic all or nothing variant.

We don't trust governments, therefore we prefer no government at all.

My usual take on government isn't pirates, but their more subtle cousins, the mafia.

The mafia collects protection money, the government taxes. And so on, the analogy is obvious enough.

But no rational people claim that we would be better off with no frame work or legal infrastructure by which to conduct our daily lives.

Unbathed November 26, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Kurt asked:

Where do I go if I don't want to pay taxes?

You go to Somalia, or elsewhere in East Africa. There is no government. It is a libertarian paradise.

You do not need a passport.

You will need to have a plan for getting there, and you might want to think twice about getting there by ship.

You can take your native talents and any portable wealth, and whatever you can defend is yours.

Somalia is calling. Answer the call.

You are not a prisoner of Demoktesis and should not pretend to be.

Unbathed November 26, 2008 at 9:38 pm

sethstorm,

The vessels' flag nations have signed no treaty with the Somali pirate entity, so by definition the seizures cannot be illegitimate. If the vessels enter territory over which the Somali pirate entity successfully claims a monopoly on the use of violence, they are subject to the Somali pirate entity's conditions.

tarran November 27, 2008 at 2:28 am

Thgose of you who are citing Somalia as an example of the hell of libertarianism in action would do well to consider one thing:

By most measures of wellness (life expectancy, infant mortality, GDP per capita etc), things have improved in Somalia since the central government was overthrown.

This study compares the state of 18 key development indicators in Somalia before and after its government collapsed. These indicators are comprehensive in covering all angles of development for which data are available pre- and post-statelessness. While it is important to avoid romanticizing Somalia, the results suggest that statelessness has substantially improved Somali development. I find that on nearly all indicators Somalia is doing significantly better under anarchy than it was under government. This improvement has been made possible by renewed
vibrancy in key sectors of the economy and public goods in the absence of state predation.

Peter Leeson

Gil November 27, 2008 at 2:54 am

Well if certain someones equate Guvmints and Somali pirates and if they also agree they'd shoot pirates who'd try to board their ship then they can have fun shooting tax collectors and make the evening news more fun to watch for me. :)

euraussian November 27, 2008 at 7:26 am

What a load of rubbish!

Randy November 27, 2008 at 7:46 am

JFK said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country". When I replace the word country with any of my favorite businesses I find that the true nature of the political class is revealed. E.g., "Ask not what Walmart can do for you, ask what you can do for Walmart." Does that sentiment work for you? 'Cause it sure doesn't work for me. I think the correct question for my country (assuming just for the sake of argument that it really is "my" country) is, "What have you done for me lately?"

/cynicism (temporarily)

Happy Thanksgiving to the bloggers and commenters of Cafe Hayek. A big Thank You to all of you. And there is much to be thankful for, of course. I just figure that who I choose to thank is my call.

brotio November 27, 2008 at 3:26 pm

"What a load of rubbish!"

euraussian,

Just in case you have developed rhetorical skills beyond the Cafe's most famous doctor's argument that, "This is what His Holiness: The Divine Prophet Algore I believes, so this is what I believe", would you like to elaborate on why it's rubbish? You merely asserting so doesn't make it so.

Anonymous November 27, 2008 at 4:24 pm

"You go to Somalia, or elsewhere in East Africa. There is no government. It is a libertarian paradise.

Posted by: Unbathed | Nov 26, 2008 9:32:03 PM"

Strawman. You confuse libertarians with anarchists.

MnM November 27, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Sorry, the above post is mine. I was used to it sending me to the preview page.

muirgeo November 28, 2008 at 11:02 am

Strawman. You confuse libertarians with anarchists.

Posted by: | Nov 27, 2008 4:24:02 PM

And you confuse our democracy with your ideas of liberty or libertarianism. This is supposed to be a government of by and for the people. A country of laws not of men. That may not coincide with your ideas of liberty but that´s not a crime against you. You are the equivalent of anarchist living in a libertarian society and complaining about it… non stop at that.

MnM November 28, 2008 at 11:39 am

"And you confuse our democracy with your ideas of liberty or libertarianism. This is supposed to be a government of by and for the people. A country of laws not of men. That may not coincide with your ideas of liberty but that´s not a crime against you. You are the equivalent of anarchist living in a libertarian society and complaining about it… non stop at that."

Posted by: muirgeo | Nov 28, 2008 11:02:46 AM

I've done no such thing. Please don't condescend to me, Muirgeo.

If I've confused libertarianism with "our democracy," please provide me with an illustration. Define "our democracy", libertariansim, and anarachism.

That someone advocates less government than you deem necessary does mean that they advocate no government. That's a non sequitur and a strawman.

brotio November 28, 2008 at 3:29 pm

The California Supreme Court appears primed to overturn Prop 8. I wonder how the good Ducktor feels about that?

Randy November 28, 2008 at 3:34 pm

"A country of laws not of men."

There is no such thing. The "rule of law" is shorthand for "the rule of those who make the law".

LowcountryJoe November 29, 2008 at 6:24 pm

And you confuse our democracy with your ideas of liberty or libertarianism.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Funny, I do not see the word democracy here.

Sam Grove November 30, 2008 at 6:21 pm

Is there a requirement to conflate "government" and "country"?

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