Monday, April 14, 2014

Theft in Libertopia

If I remember correctly, April 15 used to be a day to celebrate thieves or something. We don't do that anymore.

It's not that there is no theft in Libertopia- the thieves just no longer have the luxury of calling theft "taxation". And, "taxation" was always the most common excuse for theft back during the "Age of Authority".

How is theft dealt with in Libertopia? Quite handily, thank you.

In fact, there are lots of people who get their inspiration from the Robin Hood of legend. He's the guy who retrieved stolen property and returned it to its rightful owner- even though I have heard that truth was perverted into "he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor" for a time. But not anymore.

Our robinhoods retrieve stolen property and return it to its rightful owner, and only ask for a small percentage of the value of that which is returned. And they only ask for that in cases where the owner can afford it. Although most people are so grateful to get their stuff back that they'd pay the robinhood even if he didn't ask.

The way this usually works is that arbitrators will put out a list of those who have refused to abide by the outcome of arbitration- or have refused arbitration at all. This list is used to inform others of people who they may want to shun, or publicize as untrustworthy. Some, such as the robinhoods, take a more active approach.

Robinhoods will look at the list and decide if any of the cases would be something they'd like to pursue. Most robinhoods limit themselves to stolen property cases, but some will take on other types of damage that resulted in a monetary judgement- that's just up to the individual.

In cases of stolen property, the robinhood will try to get the actual property back. If that's not possible, he will try to get something from the thief of equal value. This is then turned over to an arbitrator- preferably the one who oversaw the original dispute. The arbitrator then contacts the interested parties and facilitates an arrangement between them. The property may be sold and the theft victim paid, with any amount above that going back to the thief. Robinhoods try to be very careful to not go too far, lest they find themselves on the wrong side.

Sometimes the robinhoods will still find themselves called into arbitration on accusations of theft or trespassing, but unless the robinhood was unusually "zealous" in carrying out his job, the case doesn't normally go far.

As you may see, theft doesn't pay here unless you can hide what you have done so well that even people with expertise in solving the case can't find you. And that is extremely rare.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

The fate of the Warlord

Once, years ago, here in Libertopia there was a guy who decided he could use his wealth to his advantage in a way some would once have called becoming a "Warlord".

It didn't turn out well for him.

What happened was that he was a very successful business owner who got a little too ambitious. He hired a large security force and sent them out to intimidate his competitors. He tried to force his will on everyone around him and extort protection fees from everyone he could.

But people who have tasted real liberty aren't so anxious to give it up.

Even though he often got his way, through force, word began to spread. More and more people stopped doing business with him and his profits began to fall. He tried to ramp up his intimidation of his competitors, but that only went so far. Some went out of business, some moved, and other new competition sprung up- started by people not so easily intimidated.

He refused to abide by arbitration, and eventually started ignoring all requests for arbitration at all. He thought he was powerful enough to do whatever he wanted to anyone. He got quite a surprise.

Quietly those he was violating began to pool resources to fund a bounty on him. As word got around, more and more people contributed and pledged their help. After all, this guy wasn't just bluster, but was actually initiating force, fraud, and theft. He was a real and imminent threat to everyone.

It didn't take long until the bounty was large enough that it couldn't be kept secret, and he began to fear his own security forces. He started purging the ranks of anyone he doubted, which backfired and destroyed the loyalty of those who would have otherwise remained loyal. The guy got so paranoid he withdrew to his underground bunker. He wouldn't have contact with anyone, and was trying to check any food, water, and air coming into his bunker for poisons- which consumed his time and energy. His remaining security forces began to feel the pressure of being shunned. What good is money when no one will do business with you? The same went for those who helped keep his bunker running. It was mostly self-contained, but repairs still need to be carried out.

Before long, he didn't have enough supporters to keep going. His life support systems failed and his bunker became uninhabitable. In fact, he couldn't get out and he died there in his secure fortress. No one knows- or cares- if he starved or suffocated. But his life is a warning to all who get the idea to follow in his footsteps.

And the bounty was never even paid out. Some was returned to the original donors, some was used to help those he had harmed, and some- the majority- was rolled over into a fund to pay a bounty on any future would-be warlord.


Monday, December 10, 2012

"Planet Government"

It started with an idea: "Planet Government".

Someone proposed, a couple of decades ago, that we find a dead world somewhere and let all the rulers and would-be rulers of the world emigrate there, along with all their militaries.  And those who just can't get along with others.

Let them fight it out among themselves as much as they want, but warn them that if they ever return to Earth, they will be expected to abide by the Zero Aggression Principle and the Covenant of Unanimous Consent, and if they don't they will be subject to self-defensive actions.  Just like any other thug.  They will never again have a "position" or any veil of legitimacy to hide behind.

It wasn't an exile, but was completely voluntary.  And, it was shocking how many jumped at the chance to live in a constant Hell of fighting and power struggles, rather than forgo getting what they wanted by coercion.

The authoritarian types were already becoming miserable here.  Too much peace.  Too few controls, and too little "crime".  They had already lost power, and since that was all that gave their lives meaning, they chose to leave rather than adapt to a voluntary life.

It took several years, and a LOT of money, willingly donated, but it did happen.  They launched long ago.  The thing is, no one here knows if the ship ever made it to its destination or not.  Their ship does have the capability to communicate with Earth, but no one was interested enough to monitor their progress.

I hope that whatever happened to them, they are happy.  And I hope they never try to come back.  But if they do, we are ready for them.  Without their lingering influence, society is more "polite" than ever- by which I mean it is the rare individual who goes anywhere unarmed- almost everyone is ready to defend against theft or aggression.  And there are anti-asteroid hobbyists who could deal effectively with the threat of an incoming hostile ship or missile.

Life is better here without them.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting the Mail

I actually had to go pick up some mail today.

Normally the delivery comes to my house, no matter which service brings it. Not that I get anything too often, since almost everything is "delivered" electronically. But a couple of times a week I actually get a physical piece of mail.

But today I got an email notification that I had a bit of mail at the local "post office" that had come in after the delivery had left. I could wait until the next delivery (in a couple of hours) or, if I would be out of the house, I could get it as I went by. This was something I had been anxiously awaiting, so, I went up to the drive-through window, swiped my card, and took the mail. So inconvenient! But no one said Libertopia would be perfect.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hired "representatives"

I touched on this a little in the previous post, but most people in Libertopia hire someone, either an individual or a company, who works as their representative. To handle day-to-day business that could affect their reputation rating.

This representative goes by many different names ("reps", "watchers", "negotiators", etc.), none of which is important.

These "reps" will make arrangements for arbitration if needed, but will usually actually negotiate you out of it.

Obviously, if you are really a jerk who can't stay out of trouble, they will either charge you a very large price for the trouble you cause, or they will refuse to represent you anymore. Representing a known troublemaker could damage their reputation, after all.


Monday, December 12, 2011


So, how exactly does this "arbitration" thing work here in Libertopia?

Suppose you have a dispute with a neighbor. You can't reach an agreement on your own- each of you thinks he is right and refuses to budge. Do you start beating the neighbor with a rake? Well, hopefully not.

The common solution is to seek arbitration.

Now, there is no "only way" this is done, but there are some fairly consistent trends, and this is what I'll describe to you now.

Either you choose a mutually-satisfactory arbitrator, or you allow your respective representatives (you do have one, right?) to get together to hire one for the case. There are many who offer arbitration services full-time, and even more people who have gained a reputation for fairness and wisdom who are sought out even though it is not their "real job". Any fees are paid up front.

If a person simply refuses to enter arbitration, or will not agree to any arbitrator that is suggested, they have already "lost". I'll discuss the "loser" later.

The arbitrator will hear both sides, and do any investigation he deems necessary (either personally or through investigators employed for that specific purpose).

Rights, and respect for liberty are the top considerations. Contracts and other agreements fall only slightly below those- and it will be considered whether those agreements violate natural rights in any way. That isn't always a deal-breaker, though.

The decision is then rendered, and the parties will have already agreed to abide by the decision as a part of signing on for the arbitration.

Now, there is no "enforcement" of a decision. So how do you make the "loser" follow through? You don't. However, failing to abide by the decision is a huge strike against an individual's reputation, and reputation is very important in Libertopia.

The "winner" who is left holding the bag is perfectly free to spread the word about the failure of the "loser" to live up to his obligation. Most people will choose to avoid entering into deals with people who are known to not be trustworthy. Or, they will charge more due to perceived risk.

And if you think it is getting hard to hide from your past in the early days of the internet, wait til you get here! Sure, it can be done, but it is complicated and inconvenient enough that it will still usually remove the uncooperative fellow from your life so that at least he won't be bothering you anymore. And even if he runs far away, his past will probably still come back to haunt him since a man without an established reputation will find it hard to do business with anyone (without, once again, paying a premium).

Is this perfect? No. Fallible human beings are involved. Is it the best system yet devised? I certainly think so, and so do a lot of others apparently, since it is all completely voluntary and very few choose to opt out.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Child Abuse resolution in Libertopia

My suggestion that readers ask about specific concerns has brought forth fruit.

Christopher asks: "How does the free society of the future deal with the very complex problem of parents who willfully do harm to their children?"

Good question. One such possible case, with tragic results, has been discussed before. But, what about "in general"?

First of all, a few explanations.

  • Society doesn't deal with anything in Libertopia (or anywhere else); individuals do.

  • And, lastly, "their children" is only an expression of relationship when other humans are being referred to; never ownership.

Yes, child abuse still happens in Libertopia. So does murder and theft. The difference is that there is no "legal" haven for the abusers anymore. Anyone can step in.

If a child is being abused there are plenty of people who will advocate or intercede for that child if he doesn't feel confident to take matters into his own hands.

However, if, in spite of being informed that he does not have an obligation to submit to any abuse, the child still wants to remain in the abusive relationship, no one has the right to save him. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen (especially when imprisonment/isolation prevents informing him of his choices), just that when it does happen, arbitration is a possibility. Remember, sometimes you just do what you feel you must, whether you have a right to do it or not, and accept the consequences of your actions.

In arbitration all the details of the situation are probably going to come out. If the parent feels confident that he can prove his innocence, then he will probably go ahead and insist on arbitration. If not, he may quietly stand down.

Also, remember that just about everyone here relies on a good reputation, and on good character underwriters* and insurers*, for just about everything. From arbitration insurance to business dealings. Refuse arbitration, or refuse to abide by its outcome, and you may be dropped like a hot coal by those you were previously involved with.

Remember that if you see someone being attacked in public in Libertopia, it would be a very strange thing indeed for no one to step in and rescue the person being attacked; to defuse the situation no matter what. Libertopians are almost universally armed and ready to come to the defense of anyone.

Hidden abuse is a little different, but someone will have a strong suspicion if it is happening, and there isn't much reason to look the other way. As long as certain steps are taken to make sure you don't go too far in your accusation, arbitration usually goes fairly easy on people who made honest mistakes when accusing someone of abuse, and restitution is normally not too high- plus concerned people often chip in to help. Plus, since there is no State to take away children on the basis of an unfounded accusation, parents who are exonerated usually don't feel too much resentment, since they would also have the best interests of the child at heart. (I've known of one case where an accused child abuser become a model parent after the accusation was dismissed- I suppose simply to avoid the appearance of problems in the future.)

I'm sure mistakes are probably made on occasion. But in just about everything, the child has the final say in where she wants to be, if he or she can speak or show a preference. As human beings, that is their right, even if you or I would disagree. It is the right of association.

I hope that answers your questions, Christopher.

(*I will have to go into all of this in more detail sometime.)