Editorial: But without taxation…

Submitted by Freedomman on Wed, 11/22/2017 - 19:43

November 11, 2017 - The inescapable conclusion that taxation is theft has led to countless people asking for alternative forms of funding. Meeting this challenge is essential for libertarians, since our message requires a radical shift in thinking for many people. In this article, we visit the fictional city of Logan to demonstrate how a public security system could operate without taxes.

Let’s imagine the city of Logan has a population of 100,000 people. Without a tax structure, they have patrolmen, a court system, and jails.

The operation is very simple. All citizens voluntarily contribute $10 per week to the Basic Services Group (BSG), which renders  $52,000,000 per year to provide security. The budget is small, but the group has found ways to minimize costs. They operate out of a small building with only a few rooms; a couple of interview rooms, a dispatcher room, sleeping bay, office space, break room, bathrooms, and a conference room.

Patrolmen are owner/operators of their vehicles in the same manner truck drivers are today. Once hired, they receive special painting and lights to mark their cars. Rather than meeting at HQ at the start of a shift, they begin patrols right away. Any necessary information is distributed by the dispatcher prior to the shift. Their focus is restricted to stopping violent crimes and responding to emergencies; what we expect from private security.

Injured parties can request investigations by the BSG or another investigative body, but the evidence still has to satisfy a BSG group/jury. Juries are randomly selected from the BSG database, barring those who have a conflict of interest.

If a suspect is cleared of wrongdoing, no further action is needed. However, those found guilty have to choose between appealing the decision with another arbitrator or judge, abiding by the punishment (oriented around making victims whole), or being kept out of restaurants, stores, and other places of quality, as a result of refusing to comply.

This framework operates on a voluntary basis and is made possible with the status card.

The status card is very much the same as a state issued ID. It was originally started by a neighborhood watch group as a way to purchase equipment, such as radios, bulletproof vests, and a dispatcher desk. The incentives for security, i.e. personal safety, an economically beneficial environment, and a sense of justice allowed the idea to spread to the rest of the city. The group eventually formed the BSG and has contracts with virtually everyone in Logan.

Using RFID technology, each card has a chip that is scanned upon entering buildings. It provides information as to whether the owner is a suspect or convicted of a crime, under a sentence, owes money to the BSG, etc. This makes it possible for society to effectively ostracize people who engage in all manner of antisocial behavior.

Since most people want to feel secure and safe, the places with the most customers are the ones that participate in the program. Only low budget, and hence low quality establishments, don’t take part in the status card. The result is people without cards or who have committed crimes only have access to the lowest quality areas of society.

Cardholders are given special stickers, analogous to our license plate registration stickers, which are put in their home windows. This will let everyone know who is contributing and who is not. Both the stickers and the card scans serve as a means to socially pressure or ostracize free riders. Though security services are not withheld from anyone, those without membership cards can pay fees for one-time services, such as an investigation. The exact amount depends on the type and projected manpower needed for the job.

Homeowners have a strong incentive to equip their entrances with scanners. Applying the system to houses makes for a safer environment, increases property values, lowers interest rates, and reduces insurance costs. It is common practice, but not mandatory, for entire blocks to unanimously decide to utilize home-scanners. Whether or not the status card requirements remain in place when a homeowner moves is dealt with in the sale contract.

Prisoners in Logan live inside the equivalent of a halfway house. They are not allowed to take contraband, such as weapons, into the building. They are free to be amongst society, though as indicated above, they remain locked out of most places. Most of their time is spent doing community service, in order to pay for their rooms and food. Living this lifestyle for the specified amount of time is how they regain full status and earn their way back into society.

For the sake of simplicity, I presented the City of Logan as operating under a single security network. The reality is when we’re not using a coercive monopoly to provide services, we invite competition. If politics is any indication, it is safe to say we have a variety of views pertaining to justice.

Those who find that the BSG does not reflect their individual sense of justice would be free to either join a different network that does or start their own. All that’s needed is a shared value system and a means to fund, which the status card shows can be done. Rather than a single group of establishments and security forces operating within the city, it’s much more realistic to imagine a multitude of networks, each satisfying security concerns of its members.

When we extend the idea of various security providers operating over the entire nation, we can see the same framework work towards building a national defense apparatus. In the same way members pool their money to fund their own system’s operations, the security nets themselves would have strong incentives to combine resources and defend against foreign forces.

You may have noticed Logan does not have written laws. Written laws are only needed for governments that want to do more than defend people against acts of coercion. In our fictional city here, all complaints are resolved based on the plaintiff’s ability to convince an arbitrator, judge, or jury that someone has committed an injustice against him or her. A written legal system is not necessary for such cases.

The central issue with taxation and statism is interactions are not based on consent. As long as private property is respected and coercion eschewed, there are very few limitations on the way we can organize society. The purpose of securing ourselves is defeated the moment we accept coercion as an acceptable tool. Before long there will be no excuses for it, and the sooner the better.