[ExI] The Circle of Coercion

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Fri May 8 07:01:00 UTC 2009

2009/5/7 Dan <dan_ust at yahoo.com>:

> But no one is forced to pay insurance companies (save for when governments mandate insurance).  In other words, the other insurance clients are not non-consenting third parties.  The taxpayers are.  This is why insurance companies don't punish people when they don't buy a policy, but government do punish those who don't pay taxes.  (Yeah, not all the time, but the general rule is there are penalties ranging from death to all lesser penalties for non-payment of taxes.)

Sometimes we are forced to pay for insurance. I am forced to pay for
insurance on an apartment I own. I also have to pay for renovations to
the building if the owners vote for it, even though I don't like what
they propose to do or I can't afford it. If I don't pay, I can be sued
or ultimately imprisoned. The argument is, if I don't like the rules I
can sell the apartment or try to change the rules through my vote in
the owners' corporation. Is that still coercion?

> There's a vast literature in libertarian thought that rejects social contract theory.  The whole notion of a social contract -- at least as historically presented -- rests on a flawed analogy between the expressly consented to contracts and tacitly consented ones.  In the former, the parties actually agree to terms; in the latter, it seems, the social contract theorist merely makes up terms and then manufactures consent needed for her or his pet theory.  In fact, while express contracts -- not without problems, but easily understood -- often make it clear who agrees to do what*, tacit ones, like social contracts, make it possible to get anything at all.  For instance, people have used tacit consent to argue that people who don't openly rebel against a murderous regime tacitly support that regime.  In other words, that notion can justify anything, so it justifies nothing and makes a shambles of the notion of contract.  (Ditto for Buchanan's notions on
>  virtual unaminity.  As someone once pointed out, wherever you read "virtual unanimity" one should, to make sense of the passage, replace it with "lack of unanimity.":)

Why is the social contract "tacit"? Would it make it any better if I
signed a piece of paper when I entered a country as a visitor or
migrant explicitly agreeing to abide by its laws, including the
procedures for changing the laws? Admittedly, I don't have a choice
which country I'm born in, but I don't see a way around that problem.

>> No, but I don't have the option not to pay and keep
>> doing whatever I was doing in the case of every
>> commercial transaction.
> That's my point.  Now, were you to be placed in a world where you had the option -- the choice to NOT pay and keep doing whatever it is -- and then chose to make the payment, then you could proclaim you paid for it.
> In the same way, when I take a trip by plane, I know I'm paying several taxes -- i.e., I'm being robbed -- many of which are hidden.  I don't pretend that this is not robbery and know, were I not forced to pay them, I probably would use that money for something else.  (And, no, it wouldn't be to act as a miser; I actually do donate to charities -- though that's beside the point.  I'd rather decide, though, where my money goes -- rather than some political elite and its corporate sponsors deciding.  And, yes, some of my decisions will be stupid in retrospect, but at least they'll be my decisions and I can learn from them.  At best, all one can do if the political elites make a wrong call is whine about it (or leave the country; you know how easy that is for most people and how unlikely it is over, say, a tiny theft here and there).)
> [big snip of material you didn't comment on, but I'd like to know what you thought about it just the same]

Sorry, I'm travelling at the moment and lost the original email.
Perhaps you could resend it.

Stathis Papaioannou

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