Chapter 6: Winners and losers
Winners – the honest
Honest countries tend to have a reputation for good government. If you are going to pay for government, privately, the people you will turn to will be the people with a reputation for doing it cleanly.
Birds of a feather flock together, and residents of a neighbourhood will likely sign up to the same Pact for convenience and familiarity.
A Pact with a reputation for the honesty of its members will prosper.
Plus, there will be no state authority for rent seekers to corrupt.
Winners – the productive
Anyone who produces things that people want will benefit. You will no longer be subject to venal rulers or confiscatory taxation.
Free societies tend to be more prosperous. They attract productive people. Doing away with taxation increases the number of things that have to be paid for, but reduces their overall cost.
The lack of a central bank will probably mean a reversion to gold and its anti-inflationary effects.
The problem is more likely to be excessive economic activity, and its effect on character. A nicer problem to have.
Winners – the very poor
A free, mutual society would be kinder to the poor. I leave it to other writers to describe the harmful effects of the welfare state on poor people’s lives.
Entitlement as of right, with nothing expected in return, corrodes the two most precious things you have – character and your ability to be your own best friend.
A Pact system will be a godsend to the poorest nations on earth. They are not poor because they lack intelligence or energy, but because they have no easy access to property rights. In countries where the uncorrupted state has never taken root, there is no protection for what you own. Why produce something when a corrupt ruler can take it away from you?
All societies understand private property, and a system based on that can thrive anywhere.
Aid programs fail. What we need is freedom and law, and the property rights they establish. The biggest obstacle to effective property rights is corrupt states, abetted by liberal hostility to the concept of property.
Winners – the needy
The genuinely needy are better off relying on the charity of a prosperous society than on a universalist welfare state.
Welfare abuse stigmatises all welfare recipients, and this is hardening our hearts towards those in need.
The voluntary nature of charitable giving weeds out the undeserving, and thus:
– reduces the size of need;
– encourages sympathy for the poor;
– maintains the overall ethic of compassion;
– protects the productive drive of the provider.
Winners – the English speaking world
Given the opportunity, who would not prefer the even-handed transparency that English law is famed for?
Countries have prospered that have had parliamentary systems installed in them. And countries will do well that join English Pacts and court systems.
We may see the embarrassing rise of a new English speaking empire, rising from below rather than imposed from above.
Is this a role that English speakers want?
Winners – the ethical
Free, self-reliant, trading societies tend to put a heavy emphasis on personal morality. Because survival requires people to see you as ethical and trustworthy. Morality then becomes something to live by, rather than something to talk about and vote for.
‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’
Martin Luther King
And traditional morality – which emphasise actions, effects, and motives – will reassert themselves if collectivist morality – which underpins welfare democracy – disappears.
But meritocracy is unforgiving, and a focus on personal morality might bring hypocrisy with it.
Winners – democracy
[From Greek dēmokratia, from dēmos ‘the people’ + -kratia ‘power, rule’ – Oxford Dictionary]
It is a mistake to think that politicians or the coercive state are necessary for democracy. They have become a drain on it, and will only become more so.
Democracy exists where we join together by individual choice to preserve freedom.
Losers – politicians
A system based on consent and choice has little room for coercion. Seekers after political power for its own sake will find few opportunities. The huge class of political rent seekers will dwindle.
Would-be statesmen will be very hostile to a Pact system, because a society without a state doesn’t need them. They will call it ‘the end of democracy’, not because they want to preserve democracy, but because they want to ride it.
Losers – the unproductive
Such a system is unlikely to have a taxman, because most people prefer to give voluntarily rather than be forced to do so. A Pact which contains a taxman is unlikely to attract many members. You can give privately, to causes you choose.
A society without a taxman provides fewer opportunities to ride the system (outside of big, badly run businesses).
On balance, people will prefer life without the taxman.
But charitable giving will probably grow: need still arises and there is good reason to give, other than coercion.
But charity discriminates: Victorian concepts like ‘the undeserving poor’ will probably reassert themselves.
Losers – the socially undesirable
This might be the most obvious day to day effect.
The amoral will be frozen out, through a moral feedback loop that enhances public safety and morality, perhaps at the expense of intolerance.
Take heroin use. Heroin users benefit from living amongst non-users, but non-users don’t benefit from living amongst users.
The link between heroin use and crime would persuade non-users to join a Pact that prohibits heroin use. And those who didn’t would then find themselves living among a higher concentration of users, causing them to follow suit. As would other drug users who found they disliked living in a drug ghetto.
Areas that permitted drug use would end up with a minority of hard core users.
Such a spiral might apply to any number of socially undesirable activities.
Will such spiralling moral feedback be entirely attractive? Maybe, maybe not. But it will probably be an improvement.
Losers – criminals
Criminals will probably lose out drastically, perhaps pitilessly, finding themselves excluded from any Pact areas, perhaps restricted to ‘Badlands’.
People with no criminal record will have little incentive to allow criminals amongst them, and may well join Pacts that exclude people above a criminal threshold. There are some people you just don’t want around.
Allowing recidivists to join your Pact increases policing costs. Why pay when you can just exclude them?
Such criminals may well find themselves restricted to badlands, populated by people like themselves, subject to the generosity of the law abiding.
Is this poetic justice or medieval banishment? Ordinary law abiders will probably prefer it, and choose it.