[part 5]

In the previous four notes on the subject of Digitaliberty, I've suggested that this concept (collecting anonymous donations to, in effect, "purchase" the death of an un-favorite government employee) would force a dramatic reduction of the size of government at all levels, as well as achieving what will probably be a "minarchist" (minimal government) state at a very rapid rate. Furthermore, I pointed out that I thought that this effect would not merely affect a single country or continent, but might in fact spread through all countries essentially simultaneously.

But in addition to such (apparently) grandiose claims, it occurs to me that there must be other changes to society that would simultaneously occur with the adoption of such a system. After all, a simplistic view of my idea might lead one to the conclusion that there would be almost no governmental structure left after society had been transformed. Since our current "criminal justice system" today is based totally on the concept of "big government," this would lead a naive person to wonder how concepts such as "justice," "fairness," "order," and for that matter protection of individual rights can be accomplished in such a society.

Indeed, one common theme I've seen in criticisms of my idea is the fear that this system would lead to "anarchy." The funny thing about this objection is that, technically, this could easily be true. But "anarchy" in real life may not resemble anything like the "anarchy" these people claim to fear, which leads me to respond with a quote whose origin I don't quite remember:

"Anarchy is not lack of order. Anarchy is lack of ORDERS."

People presumably will continue to live their lives in a calm, ordered manner. Or, at least as calm and ordered as they WANT to. It won't be "wild in the streets," and they won't bring cannibalism back as a national sport, or anything like that.

It occurs to me that probably one of the best ways to demonstrate that my idea, "assassination politics" (perhaps inaptly named, in view of the fact that its application is far greater than mere politics), would not result in "lack of order" is to show that most if not all of the DESIRABLE functions of the current so-called "criminal justice system" will be performed after its adoption. This is true even if they will be accomplished through wholly different methods and, conceivably, in entirely different ways than the current system does.

I should probably first point out that it is not my intention to re-write the book of minarchist theory. I would imagine that over the years, there has been much written about how individuals and societies would function absent a strong central government, and much of that writing is probably far more detailed and well-thought-out than anything I'll describe here.

One reason that ALMOST ANY "criminal justice system" would be better and more effective than the one we currently possess is that, contrary to the image that officialdom would try to push, anyone whose job depends on "crime" has a strong vested interest in _maintaining_ a high level of crime, not eliminating it. After all, a terrorized society is one that is willing to hire many cops and jailers and judges and lawyers, and to pay them high salaries. A safe, secure society is not willing to put up with that. The "ideal" situation, from the limited and self-interested standpoint of the police and jailers, is one that maximizes the number of people in prison, yet leaves most of the really dangerous criminals out in the streets, in order to maintain justification for the system. That seems to be exactly the situation we have today, which is not surprising when you consider that the police have had an unusually high level of input into the "system" for many decades.

The first effect of my idea would be, I think, to generally eliminate prohibitions against acts which have no victims, or "victimless crimes." Classic examples are laws against drug sales and use, gambling, prostitution, pornography, etc. That's because the average (unpropagandized) individual will have very little concern or sympathy for punishing an act which does not have a clear victim. Without a large, central government to push the propaganda, the public will view these acts as certainly not "criminal," even if still generally undesirable by a substantial minority for a few years. Once you get rid of such laws, the price of currently-illegal drugs would drop dramatically, probably by a factor of 100. Crime caused by the need to get money to pay for these drugs would drop drastically, even if you assume that drug usage increased due to the lowering of the price.

Despite this massive reduction in crime, perhaps as much as 90%, the average person is still going to want to know what "my system" would do about the residual, "real" crime rate. You know, murder, rape, robbery, burglary, and all that. Well, in the spirit of the idea, a simplistic interpretation would suggest that an individual could target the criminal who victimizes him, which would put an end to that criminal career.

Some might object, pointing out that the criminal is only identified in a minority of crimes. That objection is technically correct, but it's also a bit misleading. The truth is that the vast majority of "victim"-type crime is committed by a relatively tiny fraction of the population who are repeat criminals. It isn't necessary to identify them in a vast majority of their crimes; statistically you'll eventually find out who they are.

For example, even if the probability of a car thief getting caught, per theft, is only 5%, there is at least a 40% probability of getting caught after 10 thefts, and a 65% chance after 20 thefts. A smart car-theft victim would be happy to donate money targeting ANY discovered car-thief, not necessarily just the one who victimized him.

The average car-owner would be wise to offer such donations occasionally, as "insurance" against the possibility of his being victimized some day: An average donation of 1 cent per day per car would constitute $10,000 per day for a typical city of 1 million cars. Assuming that amount is far more than enough to get a typical car thief's "friends" to "off" him, there is simply no way that a substantial car-theft subculture could possibly be maintained.

Another alternative is that insurance companies would probably get into the act: Since they are going to be the financial victims of thefts of their insured's property, it is reasonable to suppose that they would be particularly inclined to deter such theft. It is conceivable that current-day insurance companies would transmogrify themselves into investigation/deterrence agencies, while maintaining their insurance role, in view of the fact that they have the most to lose. This is particularly true because if "assassination politics" (as applied to criminals and crime) comes about, they could then actually DO SOMETHING about the problem, rather than merely reporting on the statistics to their customers and stockholders.

Such companies would also have a strong motivation to provide a workable system of rewards for solving crimes and identifying criminals, rewards that (naturally enough!) can be given out totally anonymously.

While I would like to talk about the other advantage of this new kind of justice, the fact that politicians and other government employees would no longer have de-facto immunity in most cases, the reality is that since we would no longer HAVE "politicians and other government employees," to mention that advantage would be redundant.

The principle is valid, however: In today's system, you can have people known to be guilty of crimes, but not prosecuted because they are part of "the system." Classic examples would be heroes of the right (Oliver North) and heroes of the left (Jim Wright) who either escape prosecution or conviction for "political" or "bureaucratic" reasons. With "assassination politics" that would simply never happen.

[end part 5]

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