Full of that DRO…

Mike G recently had an IM discussion about the dangers of the State & what an alternative may look like, and posted the transcript on his site.  Read the whole thing.

My thoughts: the concept of free-market dispute resolution taking over in a post-state society where criminal law currently holds sounds reasonable, in as much as it breaks the common modern interpretation of government down to its most basic — dispersal of risk, a.k.a. Insurance* — and removes the centralization problem.  I do have a couple questions though…

-Say, hypothetically, that someone due entirely to no fault of their own is unable to afford the DROs in the area they live in.  I’d personally assume in that case the following: either others in similar position band together & at least fulfill the prevention end of the equation (though obviously not the financial part), or that DROs would exist that essentially operate as charities.  Am I far off?

-Another hypothetical: what if the person that commits an act that’d bring the DROs into play is a child? I’d assume the parents would more than likely be held responsible.  Correct?

Maybe it’s my upbringing or something, but my personal conception of a post-state society has been more along the lines of a radical localism, an organizing by common culture such that the odds of violation are sharply reduced, with self-sufficiency & self-defense filling much of the gap, and harm handled as a regional matter.  To put it VERY short, Mike G connects aggression to torts while I see it as a form of invasion.  That’s not to diss his view, merely simple comparison.

(* – This is basically the only other thing the State does besides overt violence.  Take the current approaches to economic crash, for example: a small section of the population — the financial elite — failed really badly, and the response was to use the income of the masses to cover their spread.  This type of thing is why mainstream liberals propose government administration of health insurance, they see the spreading of risk but don’t realize why it always applies overwhelmingly to corporations in practice.)


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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3 Responses to Full of that DRO…

  1. Thanks for the plug, and for continuing the thinking.

    My own vision is relatively like yours, too. A great deal of dispute mediation/protection/enforcement activity will actually be done entirely informally, with organizations like DROs coming into play only in the event of graver infractions or inter-regional conflicts. But, who knows?

    With regard to DRO services for those who really can’t afford it, I’ve had a number of thoughts that I’ll try to capture, though I’m certain other writers have done a more thorough treatment.

    First (and this goes also to your second question), the services here are separable: insurance of oneself against being a tortfeasor (or invader, to use your terminology) can be a separate product from proactive defense of person and/or property, and likewise separate from the service of going after those who have violated you. Lower coverage rates might arise and be available to those who live in lower-risk areas, higher-security areas, remote areas, etc., or who take pro-active measures toward self-defense of person and property — a DRO might offer lower rates for coverage against being robbed or randomly attacked if, for instance, the client agrees to always go about in public armed.

    Next, absent the economic inefficiencies of state provision of these services, the absolute cost of them ought to be far lower. So goes the theory, anyway. This should tend to make them more accessible on a paid basis to people of small means.

    I would expect that almost no DRO would require that a covered person have their cover paid for by the covered person themselves, just as it is possible in insurance for “the insured” to be a different entity than “the policyholder”. The standard libertarian counter-arguments to “the poor will lose everything!” outcry then apply: churches, community groups, charities, neighborhood associations, families, schools, labor unions, etc., might provide charitable coverage to those who simply can’t afford it for a time, and, absent inefficient state channeling of tax money to “charity” services like social welfare, one might reasonably expect the level of voluntary giving to such causes to increase substantially. Witness, already, the number of donation-supported organizations working to support people in need of protection on human rights matters, victims of domestic violence, and so on.

    The question of children is somewhat tricky. We can break it down into smaller bits, though, some of which lend themselves to rather straightforward solutions.

    First, up until a certain age, children have practically no ability at all to cause injury to other people or to property. If it were even necessary, the cost of providing insurance/DRO services for a child who isn’t yet able to walk should be very near zero.

    As the child gains at least a degree of independence of locomotion and action, which can and does slip beyond parents’ control, there is the possibility of harms arising due to the irresponsible child’s actions. A great many of these, I imagine, would be handled just as they are today, without the involvement of police or any sort of complex legal proceedings. “Billy steals Timmy’s toy” or “Billy socked Joey in the nose” are rather common occurrences which are almost always resolved by the parents of the children involved, privately.

    Certainly there are occasional incidents in which young (pre-pubescent) children commit horrible acts of violence, cruelty, theft, destruction, etc. Due to their relative rarity, those events ought to be insurable fairly cheaply. Additionally, parents of children in such age brackets would likely be subject to findings of vicarious liability for their children’s actions, just as it done in the legal system today. This vicarious liability attaching to parents would continue until the child became emancipated, either by his/her own declaration, parental disownment or abandonment, or by default upon reaching a certain age or level of competency.

    Then there is another class of events entirely. Imagine, for instance, that Junior slips the reins for a moment while walking down a busy street, and darts into traffic. A driver, in an attempt to avoid Junior, swerves, skids and collides with several other vehicles, causing property damage, personal injuries and even death to the parties involved. Assuming the driver exercised reasonable care, the liability for recompense here should lie with the child as actor. Again, a rare type of event, which should be insurable, and in the absence of that, then vicarious liability on the part of the (arguably negligent) supervising parent(s) should apply.

    I would certainly NOT like to live in a society where a child’s errors — even terrible ones — bind him/her to a life of debt slavery ever after, though I can imagine theories which would permit such a thing.

    It’s not very satisfying to say, in response to questions like these, that “the market will decide”. There’s too much of a faith aspect there for my tastes, much like saying “god will provide” when embarking on a desert trek with no water or sunscreen. However, that statement is ultimately true: a free people, acting together voluntarily in the name of such common goals as security, personal defense, civil dispute resolution and insurance against personal liability and the infractions of others ought to be able to come up with ways to manage these types of eventualities. There will always be outlying cases, and it will be the responsibility of the people making actuarial calculations and doing risk analysis for the DROs to figure out how to insure against those.

    No doubt any number of people could provide a better response to this than I. These are just my ideas.

  2. b psycho says:

    I was mainly thinking of severe property damage with the children remark (i.e.: “Tommy was playing with matches at his friends house & burned it down” type stuff), but the extension on that illuminates a lot. Figured that since these type of questions would inevitably be asked, best I ask first before something got misinterpreted.

    W/R/T the 1st question: I will never cease to be amazed at how, despite the obvious status of smaller social units within a workable post-state scenario, anarchists are STILL seen as nihilists randomly smashing civil society. Considering the bonds necessary for maintenance of it, & their roots extending well past that of the modern State, you could say we actually value civil society more than anyone else in practice.

  3. Pingback: Thumbing the Profoundness Scale | The Jefferson Tree

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