Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blunt Object Smashes Mayor Dilemma

Clever titles aren't good for search optimization, but this one is just too juicy.

Attempting to strategize for bluntobject, (via) I was inspired to realize what consent of the governed actually means, which solved an ethical dilemma I was having about the rights of anarcho-capitalist mayors. (Summary: can he change the [by-]law? Not without changing your residency contract, which means not without your consent, unless you're an idiot. Addenda: I reconstruct democracy and solve a problem regarding children.)

In anarchotopia, mayors would basically be barons. They would own cities - they would decide which water firm to patronize, who handles law enforcement and how, directly own all the roads, and so on.

Property tax would essentially be replaced by a land rental contract - unless for some reason the mayors see fit to outright sell you a postage stamp of land. You may own the house, but you'd rent the land under it in perpetuity or thereabouts. When you sign that rental contract, you'd explicitly agree to all the laws of the city and customs of the neighbourhood it is in.

But, er, what if the mayor needs to change the contract? He's imperfect; he will screw it up the first time. And it is his land, he has the right to use it as he sees fit. Okay, so there will be some provision for revision.

But, er again, what if he tried to use that provision to dictate primae noctis? Until today, I had no answer to this.

Approximating anarchotopia for the present time gave me the idea to make universal healthcare only apply to those who sign up for it. (This is a hilarious and instructive image: proggies would piously sign first.) This brought me to realizing that consent of the governed actually means that every act of parliament is ratified by every individual it affects - and conversely, it affects only those who ratify it. And there's my solution to the mayor dilemma.

Your rental contract for the land will (if you're not an idiot) require your permission to make most amendments. The mayor will have to re-negotiate with you if he wants to introduce a new law. If he tries for primae noctis, you just say no.

This principle has other salutary effects. If he tries to raise your property taxes without also sweetening the deal with services, you say no, and ditto if he wants to cut services but not taxes. (Though this brings the amusing spectre of whole cities going bankrupt because service costs outstrip taxes and the populace childishly refuse to pay more. Err...what are the citizens going to do when the city actually runs out of money, hmm?)

Another failure mode is not renting in perpetuity, in which case the mayor can simply refuse to renew if you don't agree to their doltish demands. In this case, as a matter of empirical fact the citizen expected the mayor to be constant and linear, and he wasn't. As a matter of empirical fact, everything that happens is predictable as a possibility, and so this is an epistemic failure on the part of the citizen.

Look, if you guess the mayor isn't going to put in any new laws and therefore buy only a one-year renewable land rental, and it turns out you're wrong, it's all on you. If you were really going to be that badly affected by him changing the law, then save up for a perpetual lease. As another matter of empirical fact, humans aren't unpredictable. They don't go cartoon insane all of a sudden. You don't trust people without track records, and people with track records will almost always adhere to that record.

Which means even if perpetual land leases are not available, you can approximate them by patronizing a city with a solid track record.
Similarly, the mayor has a responsibility to only accept citizens that will agree to reasonable changes. If he promises the moon for the price of a doughnut hole, you agree to it and then the city goes bankrupt, it is on him. This may mean they have the right to restrict sale of the perpetual lease - though of course they should always accept selling it back to them; I would demand that put explicitly in my contract.

For my next trick, I work out whether anarchotopia needs idiot-patron firms to stop idiots from doing idiotic things. The requirement that idiots consciously accept their idiocy may make it impossible, or perhaps idiocy won't be nearly as dangerous as generally assumed. It might take a while, so stay tuned. :P

Well tiff on a biscuit, I reconstructed democracy in contract law. (This is why these things enrage me - they could have asked my consent, they just didn't.) Ahem.
"The signee agrees to amend the contract regarding issues that affect all signees alike, (e.g. acceptable road maintenance noise levels) if the signee is presented with a petition signed by no less than every 6 in 10 fellow signees; amendments to be in accordance with procedures outlined above."
The point of anarchy isn't to destroy democracy. The point of anarchy is that some people don't want democracy, and everyone should be allowed to move to that place if they end up freer and more prosperous. (Hint: they would.)

Thinking about this itself re-confirmed that thinking about contract law is worthwhile. (I suspect that's why I like doing it.) Moreover I've now solved a dilemma about the contract relationship between parents and children.

In a state of nature, parents have no obligations toward their children. Neither implantation nor giving birth can consistently imply an agreement to do anything. This can easily be verified as children have no obligations to their parents; they cannot possibly agree to be conceived as they don't exist yet, and therefore their conception and birth cannot imply any obligations. They have zero moral responsibility because they have zero physical responsibility. (Best you can do is say giving birth to someone you don't intend to feed is very, very cruel. But also, equally unlikely; this cruelty has little factual implications.)

However, aside from the obvious objection that parents hardly need laws to make them feed and clothe their children, it is also true that cities would not allow the state of nature to stand. Aherm. Ahem.
"All dependants found 'wild,' independently of their guardians, will be genetically or legally traced to their guardians. If guardian or dependent does not consent to returning the dependent to the care of the guardian, The City will take the dependent as a ward, and the former guardian will be found liable for the care and feeding of the dependent until such time as the dependent applies for and passes the emancipation exam."

This clause has at least two salutory effects.
First, the city will not particularly mind vagrants, as they automatically become wards and the wards will be paid for by someone else, even if the vagrant is seven years old. It also constitutes fair warning of same.
Second, children of irredeemably abusive parents will have no less than two escape hatches. They can run away and intentionally get into a city orphanage. Similarly, they can apply for the emancipation exam. Do I trust children not to abuse this freedom? Absolutely I do; if anything they're biased in the opposite direction. And regardless, to first order, even if they do run away from satisfactory parents, the parents won't feel any extra, undeserved financial burden.
Giving exit to children; anarchy at its finest.

As a loaded aside, I'd really like it if people stopped pretending to care about what happens other people's kids. If it isn't affecting you personally, I don't buy it. 

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