Monday, August 31, 2020

The penalty is always death

There used to be a really good essay (on a site I can no longer access) called "The penalty is always death". I searched the internet archives, found it, and have now saved the text. For your edification, here is the link to the archived post: The penalty is always death (I also updated the link on my "Important Readings" page).

It seems to have vanished from current availability. That's a shame because I think it is a very important concept to understand. That, no matter how small and seemingly unimportant some legislation or policy is, the end result of enforcing it is always a death penalty.

The argument I see most often against this concept is that government rarely kills anyone over "small laws" because almost everyone gives up and complies before they get killed. As if that disproves the point. It doesn't.

It goes like this: You "break" a rule. Enforcers come to enforce it. You don't comply. They either escalate the violence or they go away. If they go away, then there's no more enforcing and you're OK. That makes the state look weak, so they don't usually do that. Instead, they continue to escalate the situation as long as you keep refusing to comply with their latest demand. This ends up with one of you dead (and they have hundreds or thousands more people and robots to keep sending at you even if you manage to kill every one of them for month after month) if it goes on long enough, unless they are able to overpower you to the point where you can't defend yourself from them anymore. If you continue to struggle, you'll probably still die one way or the other, especially if you've had to kill one or more of them to avoid being kidnapped up to that point.

A government that won't murder you as long as you comply quickly enough is a very low bar. And yet this is the most common argument I get for why government isn't a murderous gang: as long as you comply fast enough they'll let you live (in a cage...). 

Most thugs who don't have murder as their main objective will do the same for their victims. Yay. What angels they must be. We must support and praise them and protect them from too much criticism.

Writing to promote liberty is my job.
YOU get to decide if I get paid.
I hope I add something you find valuable enough to support.