Thursday, February 25, 2016

Batman vs Hitler

Forum thread: Clarifying The Popularity Of Three Economic Rules


Surveys are very useful tools.  They make it really quick and easy to clarify just how popular, or unpopular, something is.  So I thought it would be helpful if we could clarify the popularity of three economic rules.  Which rule is the most popular?  Which rule is the least popular?  Let's find out!

To try and avoid some potential confusion... I should mention that I took the liberty of naming these rules.  It makes it easier to talk about them when they have names.  I'm not very clever though so I simply named them after some of my favorite economists.  James Buchanan was a Nobel Prize libertarian economist,  John Quiggin is a liberal economist and Alex Tabarrok is a libertarian economist.

So here are their rules...

Buchanan's Rule: Using a resource one way means sacrificing the other ways that it could also be used

A nation cannot survive with political institutions that do not face up squarely to the essential fact of scarcity: It is simply impossible to promise more to one person without reducing that which is promised to others. And it is not possible to increase consumption today, at least without an increase in saving, without having less consumption tomorrow. Scarcity is indeed a fact of life, and political institutions that do not confront this fact threaten the existence of a prosperous and free society. - James Buchanan, Richard Wagner, Democracy in Deficit: The Political Legacy of Lord Keynes

Eisenhower probably put it best...

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron...Is there no other way the world may live? - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Quiggin's Rule: Society's limited resources should be put to more, rather than less, valuable uses

Even at the cost of lining up with [Tom] Friedman, I’d be pleased if the idea that war is a mostly futile waste of lives and money became conventional wisdom. Switching to utopian mode, wouldn’t it be amazing if the urge to “do something” could be channeled into, say, ending hunger in the world or universal literacy (both cheaper than even one Iraq-sized war)? - John Quiggin, War and waste

Tabarrok's Rule: Actions speak louder than words

Overall, I am for betting because I am against bullshit. Bullshit is polluting our discourse and drowning the facts. A bet costs the bullshitter more than the non-bullshitter so the willingness to bet signals honest belief. A bet is a tax on bullshit; and it is a just tax, tribute paid by the bullshitters to those with genuine knowledge. - Alex Tabarrok, A Bet is a Tax on Bullshit

In my opinion, these rules are all good rules.  I think it's beneficial when we abide by them and harmful when we don't.

What do you think?  Are these rules worthwhile or worthless?   Do you know of any other economic rules that are more worthwhile?


Reply to reply...


I disagree that you have at all demonstrated that rule 3 will have less clear consequences than voting. - Alvecia

People vote for Batman to rescue a cat from a tree...

X = Batman rescuing a cat from a tree

Is there a Y?  Of course there's a Y.  According to Buchanan's Rule (Rule #1)... there's always a Y.

So what is Y?

Y = Batman sitting at home twiddling his thumbs

In this case...

X > Y

Thanks to voting... society's limited resource, in this case Batman, was put to a more, rather than a less, valuable use.  Therefore... Quiggin's Rule (Rule #2)... was not violated.

But what if Y is different?

Y = Batman rescuing Gotham from imminent destruction

In this case...

X < Y

As a result of voting... society's limited resource, again Batman, was put to a less, rather than a more, valuable use.  Therefore... Quiggin's Rule was violated.

Let's get a little weird now...

X = Batman fighting alcohol traffickers

Y = Batman fighting Hitler

The time periods don't perfectly align... then again... we're talking about Batman here.

Most of us would agree that....

Y > X

Therefore... Quiggin's Rule was violated when people voted for X.  Batman would have fought alcohol traffickers instead of Hitler.

Let's get a little less weird and replace Batman, a fictional character, with Eliot Ness, a nonfictional character.  If people had not voted for prohibition... then Ness would have done something else instead.  What would that something else have been?  What was Y?  Would Y have been more or less valuable than the enforcement of prohibition?

Let's get a little more weird and imagine that Germans had voted for prohibition.  What was Y?  What if it had been the Holocaust?  In this case... given that Y was the least valuable use of society's limited resources... then voting for prohibition would not have been a violation of Quiggin's Rule.  It would have been extremely valuable if the Eliot Nesses had stopped enforcing the Holocaust and started enforcing prohibition.

With voting... you are never the one who gets to decide what Y is.  Therefore, voters never know what Y is.  Not knowing what Y is guarantees that Quiggin's Rule will be thoroughly and regularly violated.  When you spend your money though... you always know what Y is.  This is simply because you're the one who decides what Y is.  Again, Tabarrok's Rule is the only way that we can ensure that Quiggin's Rule is not violated.

That is to say, that other than your own obviously bias opinion, there is no reason to conclude that rule 3 is better than voting. - Alvecia

Sure I'd like to take credit for "my" argument.  But I really can't.  As I thought I made it clear in the OP... these aren't my rules.  I am not James Buchanan or John Quiggin or Alex Tabarrok.  Neither am I Nietzsche...

But have you ever asked yourselves sufficiently how much the erection of every ideal on earth has cost? How much reality has had to be misunderstood and slandered, how many lies have had to be sanctified, how many consciences disturbed, how much "God" sacrificed every time? If a temple is to be erected a temple must be destroyed: that is the law – let anyone who can show me a case in which it is not fulfilled! – Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality

Am I misunderstanding and slandering your reality?  Am I sanctifying lies?  Am I disturbing your conscience?  Am I sacrificing your "God"?  If a temple is to be erected... then a temple must be destroyed.  This is the law.  But it's really not my law!  I'm just the guy pointing it out to you and endeavoring to explain its relevance/importance.

You're really not happy with my attempt to build up my temple (aka tear down your temple).  But are you really sure that your temple is worth defending?  If you're going to defend something... then wouldn't it be a good idea to first establish whether it's truly worth defending?

John Quiggin is a liberal economist.  Here's his entire and only response to "my" argument.  Here's what he did not tweet...

"Xero's a moron who doesn't understand just how effective contingent valuation techniques truly are."

Quiggin did not tweet that.  He could have made that argument.  But he did not.  Instead, you are making this argument.  Except... not once have you used the term "contingent valuation" before.   Which means that you've never even heard the term before.  Do you think that Quiggin has heard the term before?  Do you think he's familiar with the concept?  I'm actually pretty sure that he is quite familiar with the concept... which begs the question of why he didn't even mention it in his tweet.

In case you missed it... Quiggin is your champion.  Watch...

That is, the neoliberal ideology itself has little to say about these questions. Neoliberals may regard democracy and ordinary notions of political liberalism with outright hostility (Lee Kuan Yew, the Mises Institute). Or, they may like Hayek, regard democracy and free speech as second-order goals, desirable only if they don’t get in the way of free markets. - John Quiggin, The ideology that dare not speak its name

There's Quiggin defending his temple (Democracy) against those who would tear it down.  

Obviously it's not hard for Quiggin to defend Democracy.  So why didn't he take the opportunity to do so when I clearly challenged Democracy?  

I'm here because your champion didn't even show up to the fight.  Or... he showed up to the fight... saluted me... and went on his merry way.

Even though I'm an atheist, I really love the story of Elijah versus the prophets of Baal...

24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Right now you're trying to fight a battle that you're clearly not qualified to fight.  But you really don't need to fight this battle yourself!  Seriously!  You have plenty of champions to choose from!  Like Paul Krugman.  Send him an e-mail and let us know what he says.  If he doesn't reply because he's too busy lecturing or traveling or sleeping then send an e-mail to Quiggin.  If he doesn't reply then here's a page that lists UCLA's econ professors.  As you can see... their e-mail addresses are right there.  It's ridiculously easy to send them a link to this thread.

You're right that I'm biased.  I'm biased because I'm really confident that your champions are not going to tell you what you want to hear.  But please, by all means, feel free to prove me wrong.  Let me be crystal clear though... if you fail to prove me wrong... then this will provide even more justification for the erection of my temple (aka the destruction of your temple).

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Clarifying The Demand For Banishment

Reply to thread: Clarifying The Demand For Green Lights


Coincidentally... I finished writing this post before I saw Blakk Metal's post.

If anything we should be clarifying the demand for Clarifying the Demand. I suspect everyone here who disagrees with Xero could quite comfortably outbid him. We could easily prevent him Clarifying Demand once we have clarified our demand to not Clarify the Demand. - Alvecia

A month or two ago I was permanently banned from the Science Forum.  I wasn't voted off the island... some unknown moderator kicked me off the island.  Would I have preferred being voted off the island?  Yes, of course.  Tyranny of the majority is certainly better than tyranny of the minority.  But of course my first choice would have been clarification.

How much would I have been willing to pay to stay?  How much, if anything, would all the members have been willing to pay for me to stay?  How much would all the members have been willing to pay for me to leave?

Now... for perhaps some of you this is all pretty frivolous.  After all... it's just a forum!  Yes, that's true.  Still though... from my perspective it's definitely worth serious consideration.

The reason that I was a member of that forum is the same reason that I'm a member of this forum.  I enjoy trading perspectives with different people.  It's fun, challenging, frustrating and informative/insightful.  It's rewarding to trade perspectives with different people.  But a few members of the Science Forum really didn't enjoy trading with me.  Which is perfectly fine!  And understandable.  But, at the same time, nobody really forced them to trade with me.  Nobody forced them to participate in my threads.  Nobody even forced them to read my threads.  Yet, they consistently did so and made it abundantly clear that they really didn't like my perspective.  Did I mind that they made their opinions known in my threads?  Of course not!  But I did mind it when my threads were locked.  It was much more preferable when they were moved into the Trash Can category.  Then those who were actually interested in trading with me could continue to do so.

So a few people strongly believed that the Science Forum was better off without me.  And evidently one or more moderators decided that this was indeed the case.

Here's the parallel that perhaps a few of you are anticipating.  Just like some members thought that their forum was better off without me... some Germans thought that their country was better off without Jews.  In the only election whose results we can reasonably trust... the majority did not vote for Hitler.  Still though... quite a few people did vote for a "moderator" who strongly agreed that Germany would be better off without the Jews.

Just like I would have preferred if clarification had been used to determine whether I was ejected from the forum... if I had been a Jew in Germany then I also would have preferred if clarification had been used to determine whether I was ejected from the country.

Right now we all more or less accept that moderators should have power to decide whether a forum member is banished.  Because... after all... it is just a forum.  Even if a moderator makes a mistake... it's not that big of a deal.  Yet, I'm pretty sure that most of us would be pretty bummed out if we tried to log in to this forum tomorrow only to learn that we've been permanently banned.  Am I right?  Just like you'd be bummed if your favorite trading partners were permanently banned.

Even though it's far more inconsequential to be banned from a forum than it is to be banned from a country... I'm pretty sure that the hater mentality is exactly the same.   Now I'm not necessarily saying that I was hated on because I am a pragmatarian.  It's entirely possible that I was hated on for being an asshole.  So rather than the haters saying, "our place is better off without pragmatarians"... they would have said, "our place is better off without assholes."  The latter is a lot more acceptable than the former.  Who wants to participate on a forum full of assholes?  Who wants to drive on a highway full of assholes?  Who wants to live in a country full of assholes?

Am I an asshole?  I try not to be... but maybe sometimes I don't try hard enough.  So perhaps for some of you the answer to this question is "YES!!!"  And voting would allow us to quickly determine just how many of you think that I'm an asshole.  Democracy would give you the opportunity to vote me off the island.  But, as I've tried to explain, I really don't trust voting.  It's entirely superficial.  It's super superficial.  From my perspective, voting is infinitely inferior to spending.  Spending requires that you sacrifice the alternative uses of your money.  So I trust clarification infinitely more than I trust democracy.  And it makes me nervous that I'm the exception rather than the rule.

Well... to be clear...I'm not the only exception.  People who've actually studied the topic also recognize the inherent problems with democracy.  For example... here are some relevant snippets from Democracy and Decision by  Loren Lomasky and Geoffrey Brennan...

As was noted in Chapter 3, expressions of malice and/or envy no less than expressions of altruism are cheaper in the voting booth than in the market. A German voter who in 1933 cast a ballot for Hitler was able to indulge his antisemitic sentiments at much less cost than she would have borne by organizing a pogrom.

There are, however, several other considerations that are sometimes mentioned in the context of revealed preference that do suggest a systematic and predictable bias in the divergence between actions and words (and by extrapolation between market and electoral preference), and these considerations are of more interest in the current setting.

The market choice has been the object of extensive study by economists and needs little analysis here.  It is to be emphasized, however, that in the market setting the chooser is decisive:  The opportunity cost of choosing a is b forgone.  It is this latter fact that enables the observer to conclude that the chooser prefers a or b and, equivalently, that allows the economist to speak of the individual's choice as "revealing" her preference.

While the market conduces to learning by concentrating the costs of mistakes on those who make them, politics diffuses costs and thereby encourages the perpetuation of ignorance.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Speaking vs Spending

Reply to thread: Clarifying The Demand For Green Lights


In a perfect world... we will be able to know exactly how much our behavior helps/hurts other people. - Xero

In a perfect world, you would answer the goddamn question instead of vomiting some "Hope and Change! Yes we can!" bumper sticker bullshit. - The Two Jerseys

You just went through the McDonald's drive through and your fries smell sooooooo good. You really want to go home and eat them while they are still hot. In order to get home... you first need to make a right on Main street. It just so happens that I'm driving down Main street. I'm late for a hot date. So perhaps I'm driving a bit over the speed limit. I see you in front of me... and I think to myself... "Don't you fucking do it... don't you fucking pull out right in front of me". Because if you do pull out right in front of me... I'm either going to have to slow down or change lanes. I don't want to do either of those things.

In a perfect world.... I would know exactly how much value you would derive from pulling out in front of me and you would know exactly how much value I would derive if you didn't pull out in front of me. And in a perfect world... the most valuable solution would be reached.

The point is that the most valuable solution depends entirely on knowing each other's valuations...

You would derive 40 cents of value if you could pull out right in front of me
I would derive 80 cents of value if you didn't pull out right in front of me

The perfect solution is for me to pay you 80 cents to not pull out in front of me. But we only know that this is the perfect solution because we both know each other's valuations. In other words... the most valuable solution depends entirely on clarifying demand.

Right now we're using words to communicate with each other. And we take it for granted just how awesome it is that we can use words to communicate with each other. Our society is incredibly better off as a direct result of language. Language is awesome. But it's not awesome enough.

Language isn't awesome enough because it cannot accurately communicate exactly how much we want something. Sure... I can say that I really really really really really really want to go to Madagascar. And this will certainly give you the idea that I'd really like to go to Madagascar. But words alone cannot accurately communicate how much I want to go to Madagascar. Only actions can accurately communicate how much I want to go to Madagascar. It's only when I actually pay the money to go to Madagascar that you can truly know just how much I wanted to go to Madagascar.

Just like our society is incredibly better off as a direct result of language... our society will be infinitely better off when we fully appreciate and understand just how immensely valuable it is to use spending as a means of communication.

The fact that I have to make such an effort to defend the idea of clarifying the demand for green lights is proof positive that our society does not truly understand just how immensely valuable it is to use spending as a means of communication. So yeah, again, in a perfect world we would know exactly how much our behavior hurts/helps other people. And this knowledge can only be communicated by spending.

Do we currently have the technology to make it feasible for drivers to frictionlessly use spending to communicate with each other? Well we're certainly getting a lot closer. But the point is to fully understand the value of facilitating spending as a means of communication. This understanding will provide an extremely solid foundation for future technology to be built on. Right now I'm typing on a keyboard that was built on the solid understanding of the value of language as a means of communication. In a much better future... people will use technology that was built on the solid understanding of the value of spending as a means of communication.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Voting vs Spending

Reply to thread: Clarifying The Demand For Green Lights


But how much would you spend for gay marriage to be legal?  You don't know because you'd have to think long and hard about just how important gay marriage is to you.   This is why spending is infinitely more valuable than voting.  It requires infinitely more thought and consideration. - Xero

You know, I don't think that's true at all. Because I was able to vote on gay marriage(marriage equality, actually) for the total cost of a short detour on my walk home from work, I was able to consider the matter purely on its own merits. Do I care more about marriage equality more than I care about the burger and chips I bought after voting? Irrelevant. My decision was better, more valuable, because it didn't cost me anything to make. Voting was infinitely superior to spending. - Ifreann

Batman has one of two options...

1. Rescue a cat from a tree
2. Save Gotham from imminent destruction

Both options are valuable... but they aren't equally valuable.  It should be intuitive that the second option is infinitely more valuable.  Therefore... it should also be intuitive that it truly does matter how much you value something.  If we disregard... or ignore... the "how much"... then society's limited resources will be used for less valuable uses.  Batman rescues the cat rather than Gotham.

The biggest reason that taxes are compulsory rather than voluntary is that people would have an incentive to lie.  Imagine if taxes were entirely voluntary and I asked you [i]how much[/i] you value your public park.  If your stated valuation was $50 dollars... then this is how much you would have to pay.  Clearly your incentive here is to pretend that you value the park [i]less[/i] than you actually do.  But if too many people did this then we can guess that the park would be underfunded.

So we make taxes compulsory.  However, you are not asked how much you value your public park.  Instead... you are simply asked whether you want a public park or not.  Or you are given the option to vote for somebody who promises a bigger better public park.  The smaller your tax obligation is... the larger your incentive is to pretend that you value the park more than you actually do.  But if too many people did this then we can guess that the park would be overfunded.

Basically, if you accept the basic premise of compulsory taxation... then you must acknowledge that people's honest and accurate valuations truly matter.  It actually does matter how much you value gay marriage.  Your honest and accurate valuation of gay marriage truly matters.  If it doesn't matter... then your honest and accurate valuation of public parks do not matter either... and taxation should be entirely voluntary.

Just in case you're under the assumption that my basic premise is free-market propaganda... it really isn't.  It's from the most widely paper on the topic.... which was written by a Nobel Prize liberal economist...

The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure

Libertarians largely want to reduce taxation... so they are loathe to acknowledge that the free-rider problem is actually a real problem.  However... liberals are loathe to acknowledge that, because the tax burden is so unevenly distributed, the free-rider problem is actually a real problem when it comes to democracy.

To put it as accessible as possible... nobody benefits when people are given the chance to cheat.  The fact that you got something you wanted, legalized gay marriage, without having to pay for it... is a perfect example of cheating.  It might sound like a really good deal for you... but that's only because you can't imagine how awesome it would be to live in a society where nobody was allowed to cheat.  If nobody was allowed to cheat... then society's limited resources would be put to their most valuable uses.  There would be no more war... or global warming... or cancer... or poverty.... or traffic congestion.   Instead there would be peace, prosperity and progress.  Everybody would have a ridiculous amount of incredibly valuable opportunities.  Nobody would be underemployed.  Nobody's talent would be kept on the sidelines.

Let's think about this differently.  Have you ever seen a cat smile?  I haven't.  I've smiled at cats before... but they never smile back.  I've smiled at people before... and sometimes they smile back.  I'm pretty sure that our society works better as the result of our ability to use our facial expressions to communicate with each other.  Right?  Can you imagine if our faces were as expressionless as cat faces?  Far less information would be conveyed.   Right now you can't see my expression and I can't see your expression... and, as a result, far less information is conveyed.  It's the same thing with cash.  When spending is removed from the equation... far less information is conveyed.  And society doesn't function as well.  Society functions better with more, rather than less, communication.  Voting is a form of communication... but it doesn't convey nearly as much information as spending does.  Spending, for all intents and purposes, is sacrifice.  And it's extremely important to know what people are willing to sacrifice for the things that they say they want.  I'm an atheist but I really appreciate the bible because sacrifice is a strong and recurring theme.

When I was a little kid I didn't understand why God rejected Cain's sacrifice.  It was only years later when I started appreciating that spending/sacrifice was communication that I understood that Abel's sacrifice spoke a lot louder than Cain's sacrifice.  What Abel was willing to give up, a lamb, was far more valuable than what Cain was willing to give up...fruit.   Abel was willing to pay a lot more than Cain.  Can you imagine if Cain had simply voted for God?  "Here God, I've given it a lot of thought and I've decided that I want you to have my vote!  It costs absolutely nothing but I hope you appreciate it!"  How would  God have responded?  Probably not too well.

Later in the old testament... God tests Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his only son Isaac.  Abraham was willing to do so and at the last minute God intervened and said, "for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."

In the new testament... God communicated how much he loved the world by his willingness to sacrifice his only son to save it.  Imagine if he had simply voted to save the world.  For God so loved the world... that he voted to save it.  How far and wide do you think Christianity would have spread?  Do you think the official motto of the United States would be "In God We Trust"?  Of course not.  It would probably be "In Gods We Trust".   Christianity was only able to spread so far and fast because it was a powerful and universally meaningful story.

Let's say that I made a video.  "Ok world.  I really love you.  I love you so much that I'm willing to sacrifice myself to save you."  And then I killed myself.  I'm guessing that if somebody uploaded the video then it would probably go viral.  And everybody would be wondering why, exactly, I sacrificed myself. Of course people would quickly figure out that I was a pragmatarian... and then they would learn what pragmatarianism was and debate its merits and the rationality, or lack thereof, of my self-sacrifice.  Is my life worth putting pragmatarianism in the national spotlight?  Clearly there wouldn't be a more powerful way to demonstrate my preference for pragmatarianism.

Imagine the outrage if I sacrificed my cat instead.  "Ok world.  I really love you.  I love you so much that I'm willing to sacrifice my cat to save you."  And then I sacrificed my cat and uploaded the video.  Would it help or hurt if I cooked and ate the cat afterwards?   To be clear... the cat wouldn't technically be my cat.  It would be my gf's cat.  And she probably wouldn't be too happy with me if I sacrificed it.  Still though... I do like the cat... even if it never smiles at me.

In any case, it really does matter how much we are willing to sacrifice for the things that we want.  We really shouldn't give things to people if they aren't willing to pay the price for them.  This is true whether we're talking about green lights... gay marriage...legalized abortion... or even pragmatarianism.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Democracy vs Clarity

Reply to thread: Clarifying The Demand For Green Lights


So here we are.  How many people are participating in this thread?  I think that so far... I'm the only one who likes the idea.  Wouldn't be the first time!

Given that this is a forum... we don't have to come to any sort of official decision.  But what if we were the official decision makers?  The OFFICIAL decision makers.  How do you want to picture it?

Are we all jurors?  The idea... "clarifying the demand for green lights"... is on trial?  Maybe there are around 20 jurors who are certain that the idea is guilty of being moronic... and I'm the one juror who thinks the idea might be innocent.  After debating the evidence... then we vote?

Or maybe we're representatives of the world!  This forum is how the world decides whether ideas are good or bad.  Here we are debating the evidence... then we vote?  If we vote then it's going to be 20 to 1.

Well... what if we decide via tug of war?  Uhhhh... would that be fun?  I'm guessing that I'd still lose?

How about if we spend?  How much money would I spend to support the idea?  How much would you all spend to oppose the idea?  I'd LOVE to know.

Now imagine that we're at an intersection.  We're trying to determine who should have the right of way... me.... or all of you!  And I'm like... let's use spending to determine the winner!  And all of you are like... let's use a timer... or sensors... to determine the winner!

Alvecia initially was under the impression that the drivers on both sides would be stopped at the intersection while they engaged in a bidding war.  His incorrect impression was entirely my fault.  But I think his incorrect impression can be quite useful.

So there we are at the intersection... twenty of you in your cars wanting to go North/South... and me wanting to go West.  We're trying to decide who should have the right of way... me... or all of you.  But can we possibly make the correct decision without the necessary information?  No.  So we all get out of our cars and each one of us makes a case for their side.  Through this process of discussion/debate... lots of information is shared... and then we vote?  If I shared evidence that I'm on my way to save the world... then maybe most of you will vote to give me the right of way.  If it helps... pretend that I'm Batman.

This would be a really time consuming process though.  Perhaps we would make a much better decision regarding who should have the right of way... but we were all stuck at the intersection for 40 minutes when, with a timer system, we would have only been stuck there for no more than 2 minutes.  Of course one side wouldn't have been stuck there at all.

The beauty of using spending to make the decision.... is that it's the fastest way to get to the heart of the matter.  There's no details about where you're going... or why you want to go there.  Spending simply reveals how much you're willing to pay to get there in less time.  The "how much" is the most essential information.

When you go to the grocery store... or Home Depot... you don't have to sit there and explain why you want to use all the different items that you put into your shopping cart.  You simply spend your money.  That's how it's decided that you should have the items that you put in your shopping cart.  I'm sure you have your reasons for selecting the items in your shopping cart... but you don't share these reasons and the cashier doesn't ask for your reasons.  The fact that you're willing to pay for the items is all the cashier needs to know.  That's the heart of the matter.  You're willing to pay "enough" for the items.

Does the system work?  Yeah.  Does it work perfectly?  No.  Do we take it for granted?  I sure don't.  I think it's beautiful.  Unfortunately... it's extremely difficult to try and convey the beauty of using spending to decide who should use which resources.  Hence... my sooooo many words.

Let's consider a serious topic... anti-gay laws.  For the most part I think that their existence was determined by voting.  For sure each side of the debate spent money to share their evidence... but the decision itself was determined simply by sheer numbers.  And, until relatively recently, the numbers were on the side that supported anti-gay laws.  It was tyranny of the majority.  Democracy is, by definition, tyranny of the majority.  We kinda naturally accept that tyranny of the minority would be worse.

But imagine if a clarity system had been used instead of voting.  How much money would the anti-gay side have spent?  How much money would the pro-gay side have spent?

Maybe we can guess that, during the 50s and 60s, the anti-gay side would have significantly outspent the pro-gay side.  Except, given that the pro-gay side lost, not only would all of their money have been returned to them.... but they would have received all the money that the pro-gay side spent to win.  The winnings would have been divided up among the losers according to their willingness to pay.  Does that make sense?  Let's imagine that Bob is on the pro-gay side and the amount of money he was willing to spend amounted to .12% of the total amount of money spent (put into escrow) on the pro-gay side.  When their side lost... Bob would have gotten his money back as well as .12% of the money that the anti-gay side spent.

Do you think that the anti-gay side would have liked the fact that all the money that they had spent to win the right of way, so to speak, was then given to the pro-gay side?   It would still be tyranny of the majority... but not quite so tyrannical.  They wouldn't simply take the right of way as a result of superior numbers... they would pay the other side for the right of way.

Let's pretend that we applied this system right here right now in this thread.  Each participant in this thread will give, via paypal, some money to Max Barry.  The amount you give will reflect how much you oppose, or support, the idea of clarifying the demand for green lights.  When you make the payment... be sure to note whether you oppose or support the idea.  Then Max Barry can report the totals... we can guess that your side would be the winning side... but then Barry would give me all the money that you spent to oppose the idea (minus his very reasonable escrow fees)!  Sure... your side would win... but I received nearly all the money that you spent in order to win.  I'm going to put all the money into an account that I'm not going to touch.  And then next year, when we repeat this process, I'm going to spend all that money to try and win.  Will I win?  Well... I'll be spending around as much money as the total amount that all of you spent the last time!  So it's a lot more likely that I'll win.  And even if I don't win.... then maybe I'll have twice as much money in my account that's dedicated to this idea.  So the third time around... unless something drastic changes... I would be sure to win.  Which would of course mean that I'd be essentially returning all your money to you.  But at least for one year... I would have the right of way.  And everybody would bid for green lights.  And it would be a disaster?

With the anti-gay laws... when the anti-gay side won... and all the money that they spent to win was given to the pro-gay side... would each recipient put the money into an account that they wouldn't touch until the process was repeated the next year?  That's the question.  Let's say that Bob spent $700 dollars to oppose the anti-gay laws.  He was able to pay a lot more... but this is how much he was willing to pay.  Since his side lost, which of course was a huge disappointment to Bob, he received his $700 dollars back plus... how much more?  Maybe $1000 dollars more?  Bob would certainly love to marry his partner Frank... but at the same time... their roof really does need to be repaired.... and a vacation would be really nice... and so on.  So it's kind of hard to predict how much more the pro-gay side would spend the next time around.

Here's something that I love... I am nourished by your hatred!  I love it for two main reasons.  First, it's Rafi (1000% INAPPROPRIATE!!!...  you've been warned).  Second... it's entirely applicable to the clarity concept in certain circumstances.  Bob could literally be nourished by some people's hatred.  If he wanted to, he could take some of that $1000 dollars and spend it on really nice food.   I'm not sure if "literally" is the perfect word but close enough.

If democracy is tyranny of the majority... then clarity is nourishment of the minority.  What's your objection?  Don't feed the trolls?  One person's troll is another person's Socrates.  He was the original troller.

If you're gonna screw me... then at least buy me dinner first.  Is that really too much to ask?

Ronald Coase vs Red Lights?

Forum thread: Clarifying The Demand For Green Lights


In the comment section of this Youtube video... AntiBullshitMan wrote the following...

I often drive at night & catch myself impulsively yearning to run the red light in the interest of time, because the street is vacant and "obviously no harm will be done". My psyche then launches into "Why do they even keep these things on at 3am anyway? Every street is deserted!".

I'm pretty sure that most of us can appreciate the sentiment.  When you're really tired and just want to get home... it sucks to have to sit at a red light for no good reason.

I definitely perceive it as a problem.  Maybe it's not a huge problem... but it's definitely a problem to force people to wait for no good reason.  As you might have guessed from the title... my solution is to clarify the demand for green lights!  

Abraham Maslow said, "If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."  This definitely applies to me!  I only have a floodlight, so I see every problem as darkness.  For example... I've also argued that we should 1. clarify the demand for defense and 2. clarify the demand for justice.  And now I'd like to argue that we should clarify the demand for green lights.  Admittedly, green lights do seem like small fries in comparison to defense and justice.

Just because it's true that not every problem is a nail... it's also true that some problems are nails.  Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to explain to me why it wouldn't be a good idea to clarify the demand for green lights.  Eventually I'll figure out why it's important to clarify the demand for some things... but it's not important to clarify the demand for other things.

Let's consider the simplest scenario.  It's 3am... you're driving home... and the streets are deserted.  Up ahead you spot a red light.  Of course you'd prefer it if the light was green.  In fact, you'd be willing to pay a penny for the light to turn green.  And that's exactly what you do.  How do you pay a penny for the light to turn green?  That's a good question.  I really don't know.  Figuring out the answer is pointless if none of you agree that we should clarify the demand for green lights.

Same scenario as above... except this time the streets aren't entirely deserted.  Bob is also driving home and you're both approaching the same intersection.  Your light is red and his light is green.  The question is... who wants a green light the most?  I think this is a really good question.  In order to answer it... you could bid for a green light.  Bob's light would turn yellow... and he could try and outbid you.  Whoever bids the highest amount... would get the green light.  The loser would get a red light.

Let's say that your max bid was $1 dollar and Bob's max bid was $2 dollars.  Are these realistic amounts?  You tell me!  Clearly, given that you didn't win the auction... you wouldn't have to pay the one dollar.  Since Bob won the auction he would have to pay the $2 dollars.  The question is... who gets the money?  Should the city get the money... or should you get the money?  Or should you split the money with the city?  I think you should get all, or most, of the money.  Bob would essentially be  paying you for the right of way.  He would be paying you so that he could use a limited resource... a green light.  I think the most relevant economist in this situation is Ronald Coase... The Problem of Social Cost.

Now let's imagine rush hour.  There are a lot of people on the road.  If it's morning rush hour... then people are trying not to be late for work or school.  If it's evening rush hour... then people are tired and eager to get back home.  Except... some people are more eager to quickly reach their destination than other people.  We can imagine a bull curve.   The people two or more standard deviations on the left side of the curve really want to get to their destination in the shortest amount of time possible.  The people on the other extreme have all the time in the world.

Of course we all see some evidence of the differences in demand.  Some people drive super slow... others drive super fast... some people honk... some people even intentionally run red lights.  But would less people run red lights if they could pay for green lights?

So there you are at rush hour stuck at a red light.  But this time you aren't alone!  There are other people in the same boat.  And the longer the light stays red... the more people that are in your boat.  Everybody in your boat wants the same thing... they want the light to turn green... but they probably aren't all willing to pay the same amount for the light to turn green.  However, as more and more people are stuck at your red light... the aggregate (total) demand for a green light increases.  As your street's demand for the green light increases... the other street's demand for the green light has decreased.  When your street is close to winning the auction... the other street's light turns yellow.  We can imagine that is the equivalent of saying "Going once, going twice, going three times... ".   If the aggregate demand on the other street doesn't increase enough... then their light will turn red and your light will turn green.

How much did your side pay for the green light?  What was the aggregate demand?  Man, that's a really good question!  Let's say that it was $200 dollars.  This money will be used to compensate the people whose light just turned red.  But how should the money be divided up between them?  I guess it would be determined by the amount of money that the people were willing to pay for the light to turn green.

With the current system... a yellow light indicates that you should slow down because the light is going to turn red.  But with a clarity system (demand is clarified)... a yellow light indicates that you should slow down because, unless you outbid your opponents, the light is going to turn red.  If your side does happen to outbid your opponents... then the yellow light would turn into a green light.

One easy argument against a clarity system is that you don't want drivers to be distracted by trying to figure out how much they are willing to pay for a green light.  I suppose it's not a bad argument... but it disappears of course once cars can drive themselves.  Do traffic lights go away once cars can drive themselves?  I'm imagining an intersection without any light signals and cars are flying through the intersection in every direction.  Collisions are avoided by proximity detectors?

Are drivers distracted by turn signals though?  Turn signals facilitate communication.  And generally it's a good idea to facilitate communication.  Sirens and flashing lights on ambulances, police cars and firetrucks help to facilitate communication.  When we hear the sirens and/or see the flashing lights... we know to slow down and pull over to the side of the road when possible.  If we're stuck at a red light.. and we hear approaching sirens... then we know not to drive through the intersection even if the light turns green.

Imagine some guy driving his wife to the hospital because she's about to have a baby.  I really like the idea of him being able to bid on green lights.  Same thing if you're running late for a really important meeting.

What comes to mind is when you're at a supermarket waiting to pay for a ton of groceries.  The person behind you only has a few items.  What do you do?  If you're a nice person you'll let them go ahead of you.

Of course nobody likes it when somebody cuts in line.  But we wouldn't complain if the cutter paid everybody behind him enough money.

I live right next to Los Angeles and it blows my mind to try and imagine all the people driving to some destination during rush hour.  Los Angeles has nearly 20 million people in it... and it sure seems like all of them are driving during rush hour.  If Los Angeles implemented a clarity system... then maybe during rush hour there would be around a million people communicating with each other by bidding on green lights.  For me it seems like a given that facilitating greater communication between a million drivers would be immensely beneficial.  Imagine all the people who wouldn't miss their important meetings... and all the people who wouldn't miss their flights... as a direct result of their ability to better communicate their urgency to other drivers.

It might not seem like a very big problem to have to needlessly wait at a red light at 3am.  But if you can really really really zoom out and add up all these "hidden demand" type problems that occur in a city as large as Los Angeles... then perhaps you might begin to appreciate the value of clarifying the demand for green lights.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Clarifying The Demand For Green Lights

Reply to AntiBullshitManYou Are What You Tax: Pragmatarianism & 'The Left'


Regarding subsidies... the relevant technical term is "concentrated benefits and dispersed costs". Right now a small percentage of all our tax dollars go into the pockets of the producers of meat and dairy. It really adds up to take a little money from a lot of people... which makes it worthwhile for the producers to lobby for subsidies... but not worthwhile for consumers to lobby against subsidies. Pragmatarianism would eliminate the problem of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs. The only way that any of my tax dollars could end up in the pockets of the producers of farm/dairy products would be if I chose to give them my tax dollars.

You're arguing that you would pull the plug on pragmatarianism if, thanks to the choices of taxpayers, the meat/dairy industry received more funding than it currently does... which would result in more animal cruelty. You would withdraw your support for pragmatarianism if it resulted in more animals being tortured. I'm not exactly sure what would motivate a significant amount of taxpayers to choose to put their tax dollars into the pockets of dairy/meat producers. Is increasing the supply of meat/dairy truly a priority for them? In any case, even though I'm opposed to animals being treated cruelly.... I don't think that I would pull the plug on pragmatarianism if it did actually result in more animal cruelty.

Pragmatarianism isn't about sweeping problems under the rug. It's not about burying our heads in the sand. Pragmatarianism is all about taking an honest, and perhaps quite painful, look at the reality of humanity. This will allow us to see where, exactly, is the most room for improvement. Once we have this knowledge... then we can put our heads together and figure out the best solutions to our most pressing problems.

Hiding the size and symptoms of cancer might make sense... if, and only if, doing so is somehow making the cancer shrink. But if you can't see the true size of the cancer... and you can't feel its effects... then you can't be 100% sure that it isn't growing.

Right now we're in the dark. We can't see the demand for public goods. Pragmatarianism would turn the lights on. Pragmatarianism is enlightenment. We would clearly see the demand for public goods. Are we going to like what we see? I don't know. Maybe not. But I know that turning off the lights wouldn't truly solve anything.

If we turned on the lights and discovered that there was a significant indirect demand for animal cruelty... then I think that animal rights activists would be motivated to allocate a huge amount of their taxes to whichever country is making the greatest strides in the production of cultured meat. The freedom of animal rights activists to shop around for better results... is the only thing that would ensure far better results in far less time.

Why do they even keep these things on at 3am anyway? Every street is deserted!

It doesn't make sense for you to be stuck at a red light when there's no oncoming traffic. It's a waste of your time. But what's the demand for smarter lights? We don't know because we don't know the demand for public goods. If you're stuck behind an unnecessary red light... then you should definitely have the freedom to say, "Hey smart car! Allocate $25 tax dollars to whichever country is making the most progress with smart lights!" Well... yeah... you'd figure that by the time that cars were that smart.... lights would be as well.

Actually... in a pragmatarian system... lights would change according to demand! Clearly... if every street is deserted... then your demand for green lights would be the greatest. You'd be willing to pay one penny for 100 green lights... and nobody would be around to bid against you. So all your lights would be green. Now imagine it's rush hour. As more and more people are stuck behind a red light... the greater the aggregate demand for the light to turn green. The light would turn green once the demand for it doing so was the greatest. And it would stay green until it was outbid.

Although I'm not sure who gets the money? The city? A poor person and a rich person are both approaching the same intersection... assuming equal urgency... the rich person will outbid the poor person for the green light. So should the money that the rich person spent on the green light be given to the poor person who had to wait at the red light? Yeah... right?

But at which point would lights turn yellow? A yellow light would say, "You're about to be outbid! Better dig deep into your pockets if you don't want to be stuck at a red light!"

You haven't read Deng Xiaoping? Well... neither have I. He was China's leader right after Mao was given the boot. In 1978 Deng Xiaoping began to gradually implement free-market reforms. This allowed China to trade with each other and the rest of the world... which resulted in millions of people being lifted out of poverty. It had nothing to do with Keynes or increased regulations. It had everything to do with reducing unnecessary government restrictions on trade. Restrictions/regulations are like red lights. We need red lights... but if you assume that government planners can know which lights should be red and for how long... if you assume that government planners can correctly calculate everybody's costs and benefits... then I'm not sure why you'd want to take any control from government planners and give it to taxpayers.

If you're assuming that government planners have night vision goggles... and you assume that they are going to make correct decisions based on what they see... then there's little point in turning on the lights.

So to clarify; I'm endorsing pragmatarianism (persuasionism) precisely because I have my finger on the taxpayers' pulse & know that they don't want bonkers changes leading to Anarcho-Capitalism or any type of stateless society.

Well... I really can't claim to have my finger on the pulse of taxpayers. I can't know that, in a pragmatarian system, taxpayers would not boycott the IRS out of existence. I do think it's a pretty reasonable assumption though... because... nobody wants to be cheated. But I fully appreciate that many anarcho-capitalists oppose compulsory taxation just like you oppose animal cruelty. Few, if any, anarcho-capitalists are interested in becoming pragmatarians. They have absolutely no interest in turning on the lights and seeing the true demand for coercion (the IRS). For them... ignorance is bliss. You, on the other hand, are willing to turn the lights on a little bit... but you're also willing to turn them completely off if you don't like what you see. I'm not sure that turning off the lights will really erase the disturbing image from your mind. I don't think that you can truly return to blissful ignorance.

I'd like to see pragmatarianism go global too, but I fear the average taxpayer might get overwhelmed at the catalog of options across all countries.

Are consumers overwhelmed at the catalog of private goods across all countries? I'm pretty sure that when I'm on Netflix... I'm not overwhelmed by the catalog of foreign movies. I love foreign movies. No country has a monopoly on awesome movies, music, books or food.... just like no country has a monopoly on awesome public goods.

Never thought of my uploads as public goods, but I gotta say, having your part-time hobby called a 'public good' is quite flattering.

The free-rider problem is certainly applicable to your work here on Youtube. Not knowing the true demand for your work increases the chances that you'll make the wrong decisions regarding your work. Being in the dark increases the chances that you'll trip on something. Youtube could turn on the lights by 1. charging every user $10 dollars a year and 2. allowing users to choose which videos they allocate their money to. This would help clarify the demand for videos. It would facilitate more accurate communication between consumers and producers. I would definitely allocate some portion of my $10 dollars to this video of yours. What's the total amount of money that would be allocated to this video? We don't know. And it's a problem that we don't know. There are millions of people who really should give up their day jobs... but they don't do so because they can't clearly see the demand for whatever it is that they are passionate about.

There are a gazillion "rooms" where the lights need to be turned on. But the largest dark room by far is the public sector. I can't guarantee that you're going to like what you see if we turn the lights on in the public sector. But I can guarantee that it's far more harmful to remain in the dark (ages).

AntiBullshitMan Partially Endorses Pragmatarianism!

I just found a really nice Easter Egg!  A couple months ago AntiBullshitMan posted a great video about pragmatarianism...

Here's my response...


Audacious author here! heh. Not sure why it took me so long to discover this video!

I'd actually be THRILLED if we were given the freedom to allocate even as little as 1% of our taxes. I've mentioned this elsewhere... but not in the FAQ. The word "pragmatarianism" was in fact largely inspired by the pragmatic consequentialist Deng Xiaoping. He was all about gradualism. Millions of people were lifted out of poverty as a result of his gradual free-market reforms.

About the magic wand... noooooooo I wouldn't wave it! Watch "Milton Friedman on Libertarianism (Part 4 of 4)". The interviewer starts to ask him a hypothetical..."if you were dictator for a day" question and Friedman quickly interrupts him and says with great emphasis, "If we can't persuade the public that it's desirable to do these things, then we have no right to impose them even if we had the power to do it!" Friedman's response is priceless!

On the opposite spectrum is Murray Rothbard... "The abolitionist is a "button pusher" who would blister his thumb pushing a button that would abolish the State immediately, if such a button existed." Although, to be fair... unlike Friedman, Rothbard truly grasped the fundamental problem with government: a lack of consumer choice (individual valuation). Unfortunately, for some reason, he never publicly considered the idea of people choosing where their taxes go. His solution was to simply abolish the state. I decided that it was much safer to test the necessity of the state by allowing taxpayers to fund whichever parts of the state they felt were most necessary. Any parts of the state that were truly unnecessary would be defunded. Millions and millions of people spending their own money (aka a market) in the public sector, rather than one individual (ie Rothbard) or 500 individuals (ie congress), would determine the proper scope of the government.

Waving a wand or pushing a button to implement pragmatarianism would go against the very premise of pragmatarianism. Pragmatarianism is all about persuasion. As in, "if you want me to give more of my taxes to the DoD... then you're going to have to persuade me to do so." Solely relying on persuasion forces us to share our information... and this logically results in more information being processed. So maybe "persuasionism" would have been a better word? I suck at words.

Even though I'd be thrilled with 1% tax choice... I'm not quite sure how you'd determine whether the results were superior to the status quo. For example... even though we Americans have had the option to allocate $3 of our tax dollars to the presidential campaign fund... very few people choose to do so. How do we interpret these results?

Congress allocates $Y tax dollars to the presidential campaign fund
Consumers allocate $X tax dollars to the presidential campaign fund

Which answer is superior? Whose answer is more valuable?

In economics... the "optimal" answer is pretty straightforward. The optimal supply will perfectly match the demand. The conclusion (supply) follows from the premise (demand). Serving veggies to a vegetarian is optimal because the supply matches the demand. Serving meat to a vegetarian isn't optimal because there's a significant disparity between supply and demand.

So if we borrow from basic economics... then it would be pretty easy to determine whether the results are superior. By definition they would be superior! Except... if we already accept this definition... then gradualism isn't needed as a way to evaluate the results. We already know that the results would be superior. Of course... gradualism could be justified for plenty of other reasons!

Just like I didn't mention my support for even 1% tax choice in the FAQ... I also didn't mention my support for a global market for public goods. As in, taxpayers could shop in any country's public sector. As an American taxpayer... I would be free to shop in Canada's public sector. Would I even want to? Well... if the argument is that nobody would want to... then there's no reason to oppose it. If the argument is that every American is going to want to spend all their taxes in Canada's public sector... then I'd sure like to hear the reasoning! Maybe your Canadian public education is so good that it even made us Americans 500% smarter? Maybe your military is so powerful and wise that all the terrorists became florists? Maybe your healthcare is so good that it cured cancer and everything else? Maybe your environmental protection is so good that it cured global warming and brought back the Dodo bird from extinction? Maybe your space exploration is so good that we were able to visit other inhabited planets? Maybe your robotics research is so good that my best friend is a robot? I'm pretty sure that larger markets are better than smaller markets.

If we didn't have a global market for private goods... then you and I wouldn't be here trading with each other! Except... your video is actually a public good. So we do already sort of have a global market for public goods.... it's just not a very good one because taxpayers aren't free to spend their tax dollars on any of the public goods. We can't use our tax dollars to help bring valuable public goods to the attention of other taxpayers.

Thanks for the video! I really enjoyed it! I'd spend some tax dollars on it if I could! I'm going to share your video on my blog along with this response.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Responding To My Jury Summons

Alt title: The Economics of Law and Order

Two weeks ago, on Jan 25, I got a postcard from the government...

Here's the text...


Our records indicate that you


Please call the 1800 SRV-JURY number (1 800 778-5879) or log onto to handle your failure to respond.  We expect your call as soon as you receive this notice.  You will need your JID & PIN numbers from the reverse side to call or log-in successfully.

Not responding or appearing when summoned may subject you to a fine of up to $1,500.00.  

Jury service is mandatory and is a vital aspect of citizenship.  The right to trial by jury is protected by our state and federal constitutions.

Please give this matter your immediate attention.

Darrell Mahood
Director, Juror Services Division


For the life of me I couldn't make out the name that was signed on the card.  Why didn't they also include his printed name?  I searched their website but I couldn't find his name there.  So on Jan 26 I called the number on the card in order to figure out the director's name.  The representative who I spoke to was a little confused as to why I wanted to know the director's name.  Well... they are the ones who decided to kinda include it on a card that threatened me with a substantial fine.

I'm glad that I figured out the director's name because when I googled it... here was the very first result...  I AM NOT A SHEEP.  Lots of good info.

Usually I allocate my spare time to pointing out and explaining the problem with allowing representatives to spend all our tax dollars for us.   But evidently Mr. Mahood really wants me to give my immediate attention to my jury summons.  In fact, he's threatening to take $1,500 dollars from me if I fail to comply with his demand.  Evidently he grasps, to some extent, that incentives matter.

So here I am... giving my immediate (more or less) attention to my summons.

Just in case it's not already quite clear... I'm a pragmatarian.  I firmly believe that people should have the freedom to choose where their taxes go.  For some specific info please check out the pragmatarianism FAQ.

After receiving the card from the government, I took a look at their website... which is where I found this video...

Here are four key quotes from the video...

1. I tell prospective jurors that twelve of you will always be wiser than one of me.  And I firmly believe that.  -  Daniel J. Buckley

2. You must decide what the facts are in this case only from the evidence you have seen or heard during the trial.

3. Your job as the juror is the most important one in the court room.  You, and eleven others, will be the only ones who determine the truth.

4. Because without juries there's no justice, and there's no justice without you.

These quotes, as a group, are incredibly incoherent.  Like, ridiculously incoherent.

The first quote is the idea that two heads are better than one.  If two heads are better than one... then twelve heads are a lot better than one.  But if this is true... then why stop at twelve heads?  Diminishing returns?

When I called the jury division to figure out the director's name... I also asked the lady who I spoke to for Buckley's e-mail address or phone number.  She said that this information wasn't publicly available.  It turns out that she was partly wrong because a little while afterwards I accidentally stumbled upon his phone number on this webpage.

Why should we trust a system that lies to us?

On Jan 27 I called Buckley's number and asked the lady who answered if I could speak to the judge.  She said that he wasn't available and offered to give him a message.  I explained to her that I was very interested in learning why, exactly, the judge firmly believes that twelve people are wiser than he is.  I asked her for his e-mail address but she informed me that I could only contact him by fax or regular mail.  Here's the address that she gave me...

Daniel J. Buckley
Attn Room 204
111 North Hill Street
Los Angeles 90012

Why should we trust a system that still hasn't figured out that e-mail is better than regular mail?

Here's the letter that I mailed to Judge Buckley...


28 Jan 2016

Dear Judge Buckley

I recently received my very first jury summons.  When I went to the jury website I found a short Youtube video starring… you!   Here’s what you said…

“I tell prospective jurors that twelve of you will always be wiser than one of me.  And I firmly believe that.”

This grabbed my attention because I really love the idea that two heads are better than one.  So I also firmly believe that twelve heads are better than one.

The thing is though… everything that leads me to believe that twelve heads are better than one… also leads me to believe that stopping at twelve heads is a horrible idea.

To put my perspective as accessibly as possible… we can think of an Easter Egg hunt in Central Park.  Central Park is huge… it’s 843 acres.  That’s a lot of ground to cover.  If the Easter Bunny only hides one Easter Egg in the entire park… and does a really excellent job of hiding it… then the hunt for this hidden treasure would be the equivalent of searching for a very small needle in a very huge haystack.  While it’s certainly true that twelve children would be a lot more likely to find the Easter Egg than one child… if we genuinely care about the Easter Egg being found… then it would be a really good idea to not limit the number of children allowed to participate in the hunt.

My area of expertise really isn’t the law… it’s economics.  But I’m pretty sure that the truth is just as easy to overlook as a really well-hidden Easter Egg.

So given that you firmly believe that twelve heads are better than one… I’m really interested to know why, when people’s lives are at stake, you don’t think that it’s a horrible idea to limit the number of heads to twelve.


A Potential Juror


One type of Easter Egg hunt for adults is trying to find orchids in nature.  My friend in Japan loves trying to find orchids in nature.  Here's a relevant snippet from one of his blog entries...

What is even more funny to me is that my wife, who despite enjoying trips to the outdoors, spends a mere fraction of the time I do outside, and yet she found all the interesting things at this place – both the orchid and the fungus! Ah well, it just goes to show, you can’t know or see everything, not even if it is under your nose. 
It is comforting to know that this colony exists and rouses my interest in searching for more colonies up the valley. It also makes me wonder if I should bring my wife to other potential orchid habitats for another pair of eyes to see with. - Tom Velardi, Neofinetia falcata, the wind orchid, in the “wilds” of Japan

In 2011, a fellow in Guatemala posted this thread... Brassavola? NoID... asking for the identification of some orchid he found in nature.  Three years after he posted the thread, I stumbled upon it and was able to provide an identification.  I didn't immediately recognize the species... but...unlike everybody else who saw the thread... I knew where to look for the answer and was willing to look for it.

Let's consider the second quote from the video...

2. You must decide what the facts are in this case only from the evidence you have seen or heard during the trial.

The very point of having twelve jurors rather than only one judge is that twelve people are going to look in different directions... which increases the chances that the truth will be discovered.  Forcing jurors to only consider the evidence that they've seen or heard during the trial largely negates the very point of having twelve jurors in the first place.

Limiting where jurors can look is just as moronic as limiting the number of people who are permitted to look.  Both restrictions take a shit on the very premise of having twelve jurors rather than only having one judge.

Now let's consider the third quote...

3. Your job as the juror is the most important one in the court room.  You, and eleven others, will be the only ones who determine the truth.

Why the fuck would we want only twelve people determining the truth?  Again, this takes a shit on the very premise of having twelve jurors.

Now let's consider the fourth quote...

4. Because without juries there's no justice, and there's no justice without you.

This is the premise of the first quote... so it also contradicts the idea of having only twelve jurors.  I've never served on a jury before... so if there's no justice without me... then there's never been any justice.

How can I in good conscience possibly participate in a system that has its head so far up its own ass that it is incapable of realizing the incredible extent to which these four statements contradict each other?

Right now I'm damning the jury system solely on the basis of the evidence that they've shared on their own website.  Is this a good idea?  Should I simply assume that the jury website has a monopoly on the relevant evidence?  Should I assume that the evidence that they've presented to me is all I need to know to discern the truth?  Should I limit my search for the truth solely to the jury website?  Of course not... that would be as counterproductive as limiting 1. the number of jurors and 2. the number of places that the jurors can search for the truth.

So I expanded my search for the truth.

Here's one explanation as to why the size of the jury is limited to twelve....

In a very provocative 1992 paper, George Thomas, a law professor at Rutgers University, and his student Barry Pollack, now a partner at Pollack Solomon Duffy LLP in Boston, argued that the function of a jury is to serve as a proxy for society. In ancient Greece every citizen of the polis served on the jury. In the modern world this is impractical, so we settle for juries of 12. - Dana Mackenzie, What’s the Best Jury Size?

It's impractical to unlimit the number of people searching for the truth?  The ancient Greeks managed to have a multitude of jurors... but we... with all our advanced technology aren't capable of having unlimited jurors?  It's harder now to have more participation than it used to be?  It's harder now to search for the truth than it used to be?  We have less information at our fingertips than the ancient Greeks did?

Here's some info that was easy enough to find...

Of the judicatures for hearing civil causes among the Athenians, the court called Heliaia was the greatest. All the Athenians who were free citizens were allowed by law to sit in this court; but before they took their seats, were sworn by Apollo Patris, Ceres, and Jupiter, the king, that they would decide all things righteously and according to law, where there was any law to guide them, and by the rules of natural equity, where there was none. This court consisted at least of fifty, but its usual number was five hundred judges. When causes of very great consequence were to be tried, one thousand sat therein; and now and then the judges were increased to fifteen hundred, and even to two thousand. It will be perceived that these courts were in reality composed of jurymen, every free citizen being allowed to sit in them. -  George Overend, An Essay On the Importance of the Preservation and Amendment of Trial by Jury

That essay was published 150 years ago.  Yet, thanks to Google, it was right at my fingertips.

The legal system of the ancient Greeks was hardly perfect...

Mankind can hardly be too often reminded, that there was once a man named Socrates, between whom and the legal authorities and public opinion of his time, there took place a memorable collision. Born in an age and country abounding in individual greatness, this man has been handed down to us by those who best knew both him and the age, as the most virtuous man in it; while we know him as the head and prototype of all subsequent teachers of virtue, the source equally of the lofty inspiration of Plato and the judicious utilitarianism of Aristotle, "i maëstri di color che sanno," the two headsprings of ethical as of all other philosophy. This acknowledged master of all the eminent thinkers who have since lived—whose fame, still growing after more than two thousand years, all but outweighs the whole remainder of the names which make his native city illustrious—was put to death by his countrymen, after a judicial conviction, for impiety and immorality. Impiety, in denying the gods recognised by the State; indeed his accuser asserted (see the Apologia) that he believed in no gods at all. Immorality, in being, by his doctrines and instructions, a "corrupter of youth." Of these charges the tribunal, there is every ground for believing, honestly found him guilty, and condemned the man who probably of all then born had deserved best of mankind, to be put to death as a criminal. - J.S. Mill, On Liberty

According to Wikipedia...  280 jurors voted that Socrates was guilty... while 220 jurors voted that he was innocent.  There was a second vote to determine the punishment.  According to this source... 360 jurors voted that Socrates be put to death... while 140 jurors voted that he be fined.

What went wrong?  The same thing that always goes wrong with democracy: there wasn't a tax on bullshit...

Overall, I am for betting because I am against bullshit. Bullshit is polluting our discourse and drowning the facts. A bet costs the bullshitter more than the non-bullshitter so the willingness to bet signals honest belief. A bet is a tax on bullshit; and it is a just tax, tribute paid by the bullshitters to those with genuine knowledge. - Alex Tabarrok, A Bet is a Tax on Bullshit

Tabarrok's Stated Rule of Economics (TSRE): A bet is a tax on bullshit

None of the jurors in the trial of Socrates were required to put their money where their beliefs were.   Every juror was given one vote to cast regardless of how strong or weak they perceived the evidence to be.  This is always the case with democracy...

As was noted in Chapter 3, expressions of malice and/or envy no less than expressions of altruism are cheaper in the voting booth than in the market. A German voter who in 1933 cast a ballot for Hitler was able to indulge his antisemitic sentiments at much less cost than she would have borne by organizing a pogrom. — Loren Lomasky, Geoffrey Brennan,  Democracy and Decision

Voting is extremely shallow.  It shows us people's preferences... but it does not show us the depth or intensity of their preferences.  The intensity of people's preferences can only be revealed when they are given the chance to sacrifice the alternative uses of their own limited time/money.  Whenever there's a shortage of betting there's guaranteed to be a surplus of bullshit...

In other words, the Federal government spends more on preventing trade than on preventing murder, rape and theft. I call it the anti-nanny state. It’s hard to believe that this truly reflects the American public’s priorities. - Alex Tabarrok, The Anti-Nanny State

Let's review...

Two heads are better than one because it's less likely that the truth will be overlooked.  Why is it less likely?  Because people look in different places.  Why do people look in different places?  Because people are different.  So the more people that are looking for the truth... the more likely it is that the truth will be discovered.

However, because people are all different, sometimes there can be considerable disagreement regarding whether the truth has actually been found.  Our willingness to spend our own time and money helps to accurately communicate the strength of our belief to the rest of society.  This is why markets minimize bullshit.  Wherever markets are missing... such as in our public sector.... there's guaranteed to be a maximum of bullshit.   Therefore... our justice system, just like the rest of the public sector, is full of bullshit.

So here are the two key factors...

1. The chance of discovering the truth (depends on number of searchers)
2. Society's valuation of the truth (depends on willingness to spend)

Let's consider these two factors in a hypothetical case involving Henry Moseley...

***********************  HENRY MOSELEY  ***********************

On June 13, 1915, Moseley shipped out to Turkey and two months later he was killed at Gallipoli as part of a thoroughly useless and badly bungled campaign, his death having brought Great Britain and the world no good (except for what cold comfort could be obtained out of the fact that he had willed his money to the Royal Society). In view of what he might still have accomplished (he was only twenty-seven when he died), his death might well have been the most costly single death of the war to mankind generally. - Isaac Asimov

We'll imagine that Moseley survived the war and was well on his way to exceeding Asimov's expectations.  One day Moseley's wife goes missing.  Of course Moseley is a suspect.  After some digging... the detectives on the case discover that he had the means, motive and opportunity to kill his wife and get rid of her body.  They find enough evidence to arrest Moseley.

With the current legal system...  some random English people receive jury summons.  The potential jurors show up and the prosecutor and the defense attorney (both of whom are impartial) whittle down all the potential jurors down to the twelve best (most impartial) candidates.  We can imagine that all the jurors would have been white men.

The jurors are instructed that they can only determine the facts based on the evidence that is presented during the trial.  After a lengthy trial... the jurors consider and debate the evidence that they've been given.... and then they decide that Moseley is guilty.  The impartial judge sentences Moseley to spend the rest of his life in prison.

How would the trial have worked if taxpayers had been free to directly allocate their taxes?

In order for Moseley to have been investigated and then arrested in the first place... enough taxpayers would have already given enough of their taxes to the police department and to the district attorney.  Specifically... to enforcing the law against murder.  This would be the first tax on bullshit.

Moseley's arrest certainly would have made the local news... and it definitely would have made the national news... and most likely it would have become international news.  So people around the world would have heard of Moseley's arrest.  The question is... what would they have done about it?  In a global market for justice... anybody in the world would have been able to allocate their taxes to Moseley's case.  This is the second tax on bullshit.  The more money the case received... the less bullshit it was... and the more resources that would be available for the trial and everything associated with it.  We can imagine millions of dollars flowing into the case from around the world... which would allow the trial to be held in England's largest venue... or maybe even Europe's largest venue.

Anybody with any interest in the case would be free to be a juror.  Free... not forced.  People choosing to spend their time on the case is the third tax on bullshit.

Taxpayers around the world would also have the option to allocate their taxes to Moseley's defense fund and/or his prosecution fund.  This is the fourth tax on bullshit.  It's likely that both the prosecutor and defense attorney would have been superstars.

Taxpayers would also be able to allocate their taxes to whichever judge they most preferred for the case.  This is the fifth tax on bullshit.  The case would be assigned to whichever judge received the most funding for the case.  It is most likely that the judge would also be a superstar.

Jurors, after considering the evidence, would not vote on Moseley's innocence or guilt... they would actually spend their own tax dollars accordingly.  This is the sixth tax on bullshit.  If, after thoroughly considering a huge amount of evidence, an American scientist was absolutely certain that Moseley was innocent... then he'd spend a lot of his own tax dollars to communicate this.  If, after briefly reviewing a small amount of evidence, an Australian teacher was somewhat certain that Moseley was guilty... then she'd spend a small amount of her own tax dollars to communicate this.

If the world found Moseley guilty... then the superstar judge would determine Moseley's punishment.   Maybe the superstar judge would sentence Moseley to five years in prison.  Anybody who agreed with the sentence could allocate their tax dollars to the judge.  Anybody who disagreed with the sentence could boycott the judge.  This is the seventh tax on bullshit.

It's important to understand that the judge is a superstar for a reason.  The judge is a superstar because the world highly values his judgement.

Compared to the current system... we can expect an infinitely more valuable outcome with the pragmatarian system for the following main reasons...

1. The premise of two heads being better than one is upheld rather than shat on
2. The inherent problem with democracy is eliminated... people spend rather than vote
3. The pay of the judges and attorneys depends on their performance
4. Jurors are free, rather than forced, to participate

A pragmatarian justice system would have at least 7 different taxes on bullshit.  The current justice system doesn't even have a single tax on bullshit.  Therefore, the current justice system is full of bullshit.

Why should we trust a system that's full of bullshit?

Just in case it isn't immediately apparent why I chose Moseley for my example... with the current system... I'm pretty sure that his value to the world as a scientist wouldn't be allowed to factor into the equation.  Of course it would be impossible for the judge, attorneys or jurors to forget the fact that the accused was an extremely prominent scientist.  But the goal of the current system is to try and minimize it as a factor.  This is intensely stupid.  

Why in the world would we want lady justice to be blind to the fact that Moseley's potential contribution to humanity is priceless?  What's the point of lady justice if she's going to strap on a massive dildo and fuck the world in the ass with it?

A superstar judge will be a superstar because he'll be wise enough to punish Moseley without punishing the world.  A superstar judge won't throw the baby out with the bath water.  I'm not a superstar judge but... maybe rather than sending Moseley to prison for the rest of his life... the prison would be sent to Moseley.  He'd always have one or two guards right next to him wherever he goes in order to ensure that he didn't murder any more people.  Losing privacy as a punishment/precaution isn't without some sort of precedent.

In any case, there's always a better solution.  There's always a solution that creates more value.

Our legal system, just like everything else, should adhere to Quiggin's Implied Rule of Economics (QIRE)...

Society's limited resources should be used to create more, rather than less, value for society

Our current justice system thoroughly, regularly and deeply violates QIRE.  Nobody knows the actual demand for any of our existing laws.  We can easily guess that some people would be happy to pay at least a penny to enforce anti-gay laws... but would they be willing to pay $100 dollars.... or $10,000 dollars... or $100,000 dollars?  We don't know because we have absolutely no idea what the actual demand is for anti-gay laws.  Same thing with laws against certain drugs.  Same thing with laws against assisted suicide.  Same thing with laws against prostitution.  Same thing with laws against speeding or jaywalking or littering.  We don't know the actual demand for any of our laws because people do not have the freedom to shop for themselves in the public sector.  We don't have this freedom because so few people truly understand that Tabarrok's Stated Rule of Economics can't be violated without also violating Quiggin's Implied Rule of Economics.  As a result, massive amounts of society's limited resources are wasted on the enforcement of bullshit laws.

Ok, so I've shared a broad overview of the problem and the solution.  Now let's take a closer look...

***********************  RENEE LETTOW LERNER  ***********************

Check out this video.... America and the Magna Carta.  Renée Lettow Lerner provides some way-back-ground on juries.  And then here... The Collapse of Civil Jury Trial and What To Do About It... she argues that we should replace civil juries with panels of judges.

An argument one frequently hears from proponents of juries is that “many heads are better than one.” Precisely, which is why a panel of three or five judges should be used in important cases in the first instance. A single judge is not the only alternative to a jury, as many proponents of juries assume.

Susan Macpherson responded...

We need to work on increasing the level of diversity in the jury pool as well as in the panels of jurors seated for trial, but even with the current limitations, it is safe to assume that the typical three judge panel will be far less diverse than the typical jury panel. While the judiciary in many jurisdictions has become more diverse in regard to gender, race, and ethnicity, the uniform education and training of judges and their shared experience in the legal profession stands in sharp contrast to the wide range of occupations, educational backgrounds, and life experiences found in the typical jury panel. Professor Lerner seems to recognize the value and importance of a more diverse group of decision makers in criminal trials when she cites the need for community representation in the latter. Community participation also maintains public confidence in the legal system, and that requires giving the public the right to make decisions that limit the government’s reach in criminal cases as well as those decisions that set community standards in civil cases.

... also...

Research on decision making does support Professor Lerner’s contention that “several heads are better than one,” but does not support her assumption that increased accuracy in fact finding will result from the “heads” belonging to judges. Using the term “accuracy” in connection with judicial decisions implies that jurors often make the wrong decisions due to confusion and/or complexity. There is a debate to be had about using the term “accuracy” in regard to deciding the subjective issues described above, but we can agree that having the ability to understand and critically evaluate the evidence and competing arguments is the basic requirement for making a well-informed decision. Almost 40 years of conducting trial simulations and post-trial jury debriefings leads me to believe that most jurors can easily identify the statements, issues or concepts in the evidence that they don’t fully understand. Jurors know when they need more information or additional clarification, what they often lack is a procedure that allows them to get it. Even when they have a question that could be answered by simply reviewing a portion of the transcript, their requests are often discouraged or denied. Judges, unlike juries, can always get their questions answered. Juries who can’t ask questions may be more often confused about the facts than judges, but the appropriate remedy is to level the playing field rather than booting the jury off the field. 

Tom Melsheimer also responded to Lerner...

In all the various discussions of the decline of the civil jury trial I have seen, there have been many suggestions to remedy its decline and improve its operation. Rarely, if ever, have I seen someone advocate for the complete abolition of the jury trial in civil cases. It is a terrible idea that is not saved by the author’s allowance of jury trials in criminal cases. 
... also..

The wisdom of juries in separating fact from fiction, truth from spin, and actual damage from greed is second to none. When juries fail to understand something, it is usually the fault of the lawyers or, in some instances, the judge. I have tried cases to juries involving complex technology and sophisticated financial transactions. I have argued on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants. My clients have won in most instances and lost in a few, but in no instance did I come away thinking the jury did not understand the issues. Of course, I might disagree with their conclusions, and I have argued legal error. But that is not grounds for an attack on the jury system, which comes with long-established legal checks and balances in the trial court and the appellate courts.

... and...

Moreover, there is no reason to believe that judges are any better than ordinary citizens at deciding the key elements of a typical civil dispute ─ for example, who is telling the truth or how much personal or economic harm has occurred ─ than a schoolteacher, a warehouse foreman, or a nurse. Similarly, why should we believe that a judge is better able to understand a complex or sophisticated issue than an ordinary citizen? Because they have a degree and more education? That strikes me as either elitism or intellectual snobbery. It is also anti-democratic.

Lerner responded...

Even if one were to agree that application of “community standards” is desirable in civil cases, how is one to achieve that? There may be sharp divides within the “community” on standards, a situation that becomes more likely the more diverse a community is. Who is going to determine community standards? Juries today are not representative of persons living in a certain geographic area, if that is how we are going to define community. There is a considerable problem with no-shows and persons who otherwise seek to avoid jury service. Both responses argue that most persons who actually serve on a jury appreciate it and learn from it. That may be true, but it does not address the problem of the many persons who succeed in avoiding jury service altogether. 
More fundamentally, by its nature, the party-driven process of jury selection in the United States weeds out potential jurors with certain experiences and views. This process distorts any representative function of the jury. Cutting back or eliminating jury selection is an important way the jury can be made more representative so that it has a more plausible claim to apply “community standards.” There is a tension between juries serving a representative function and applying the law in unbiased fashion. 
Furthermore, it is unlikely that the sole purpose of jury selection as practiced by trial consultants or trial lawyers is to eliminate biased jurors. Presumably these persons are trying to select jurors who will be as favorable as possible to their client. The classic argument of proponents of the adversarial system is that the partisan efforts of each side will cancel each other out and the resulting jury will be impartial. This argument assumes that each side has equally skillful lawyers and trial consultants and equal bias among the venire, a set of conditions that must often fail. Thus the civil jury today neither represents the community nor is it selected for impartiality.

First, I should point out that, unlike Judge Buckley, their e-mail addresses are available on their webpages.  Why should Judge Buckley, arguably a public servant, be less accessible than private citizens?

Second, it's a pretty wonderful discussion.   Just like with Judge Buckley... it really begs the question of whether the proponents of twelve person juries truly grasp the concept of many heads being better than one.  Lerner's response to their responses is pretty priceless.  She does an excellent job of highlighting some of the inherent contradictions in their arguments.  Unfortunately, she wants to throw the baby out with the bath water.

In a previous blog entry... I argued, or implied, that it's a really good idea for gentle, softening, and elevating intercourse to habitually take place between biologists and economists.*  Evidently it's also a good idea for lawyers and economists.

* Hebert Spencer's wording

***********************  WISDOM OF THE MARKET  ***********************

But 12,000 humans is much better than 12. Two days after Lehman failed the FOMC met and refused to cut rates from 2%, seeing a roughly equal risk of recession and inflation. The markets were already seeing the oncoming disaster, and indeed the 5 year TIPS spread was only 1.23% on the day of the meeting. The markets aren't always right, but when events are moving very rapidly they will tend to outperform a committee of 12. In fairness, this "recognition lag" was not the biggest problem; two far bigger problems included a failure to "do whatever it takes" to "target the forecast." That is, the Fed should move aggressively enough so that their own internal forecast remained at the policy goal. And the second failure was not engaging in "level targeting", which would have helped stabilize asset prices in late 2008, and made the crisis less severe. 
Bernanke once said there is nothing magical about 2% inflation. Nor is there anything magical about 12 members on the FOMC. The wisdom of crowds literature suggests you want a large number of voters, with monetary incentives to "vote" wisely. So there are actually three approaches. The Friedman/Taylor "robot" approach. The Bernanke "wise bureaucrats" approach. And the market monetarist "wisdom of the crowds" approach. - Scott Sumner, Robots, committees, or markets?

Of course 12,000 humans are better than 12 humans!  Yet modern juries consist of only 12 humans!!!

Does this mean that we'd need to have 12,000 jurors participating in every single trial?  Of course not.  Once any person in the world can participate in any trial in the world... then the number of people participating in any given trial will tell us just how important that trial is to the world.   And by "participating" I most certainly also mean spending.  Sumner hits both factors in this passage... the quantity (how many people are participating) and the quality (how much they are spending).

Regarding quantity....

Third, keeping citizens off the street meant that 99% of the eyes and brains that might solve a crime were being wasted. Eric S Raymond famously said that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow". It was thousands of citizen photographs that helped break this case, and it was a citizen who found the second bomber. Yes, that's right – it wasn't until the stupid lock-down was ended that a citizen found the second murderer. - ClarkHatsecurity theater, martial law, and a tale that trumps every cop-and-donut joke you've ever heard

We really don't need a nationwide amber alert whenever somebody steals a candy bar.  Just like we don't need 12,000 jurors for every single trial.  So how would we determine the optimal amount of jurors for each and every trial?

"Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow".  This is Linus's Law.  Is it exactly the same thing as many heads are better than one?  Eh.  Close enough.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. - Marcel Proust

When anybody in the world can participate in any case... then that's a lot of eyes/discovery.  This greatly decreases that chances that any important cases will be overlooked.  We can think of this as "case spotting".  That's what eyes are good for... spotting things.  If you spot a case that you think is important... then you can communicate the importance of the case to the rest of society by spending your time/money on that case.

Here's the briefest breakdown...

market = spotting + spending
democracy = spotting + voting

A website like Reddit is an unlimited democracy.  Anybody can spot an important link and submit it... and then anybody can vote the link up or down.  The spotting part is of course excellent... it's the voting part that is bullshit.  The outcome (sorting) would be infinitely more valuable if people could spend the link up or down.

We can imagine a website like Reddit where people could submit cases... but with spending rather than voting being used to determine importance.  If you spend a case up... then you would be communicating to the world that the case should have more jurors.  If you spend a case down... then you would be communicating the opposite.

Here's some more about Linus's Law...

The history of Unix should have prepared us for what we're learning from Linux (and what I've verified experimentally on a smaller scale by deliberately copying Linus's methods [EGCS]). That is, while coding remains an essentially solitary activity, the really great hacks come from harnessing the attention and brainpower of entire communities. The developer who uses only his or her own brain in a closed project is going to fall behind the developer who knows how to create an open, evolutionary context in which feedback exploring the design space, code contributions, bug-spotting, and other improvements come from hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people. - Eric Steven Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Sumner said that 12,000 humans are better than 12 humans... and here's Raymond talking about "harnessing the attention and brainpower of entire communities".... "hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people".

For Sumner and Raymond... larger crowds are obviously beneficial.  Yet, juries only have twelve people.  So... for whoever is in charge of deciding jury sizes... the benefit of having many more jurors isn't obvious.

In these settings, a familiar thought is that many heads are better than one, or a few. The thought goes back at least as far as Homer, who said that “two heads together grasp advantages which one would miss” (Iliad 10.234). Unfortunately, it turns out that things are not so simple. The thought that more heads are better than one is much too simple and sometimes wrong. A large contribution of modern social science is to show the weakness of the idea, and to help state the conditions under which it is right or wrong. 
The most important reason why more heads might not be better than fewer is that, in a larger group, some will free-ride on the cognitive efforts of others. (Different social scientists use different terms to denote this problem. Mark Seidenfeld calls it “cognitive loafing,” while Christian List and Philip Pettit call it “epistemic free-riding.”) In a large jury, for example, some jurors will predictably daydream while others pay close attention to the evidence and arguments. In the limiting case, all jurors might daydream – expecting others to pay attention, or because each reasons that if others are defecting from their duties, only a chump would perform his duty unilaterally, or because each reasons that whatever others do, it is selfishly best to daydream. In an illuminating treatment of this problem, Kaushik Mukhopadhaya of Emory University shows that under highly plausible conditions, a twelve-person jury panel will indeed make worse decisions than a six-person jury, and a one-person jury can plausibly be best of all. (“Jury Size and the Free Rider Problem,” J. Law, Econ. & Org. 19(1), 2003, at p. 24, 38). Of course this is not necessarily the case; it depends upon whether the extra information and multiple perspectives that many heads can produce outweigh the incentives for cognitive free-riding that arise in groups. But at a minimum, it is not obvious that many heads are better than one, even if all we care about is the accuracy of decisions. - Adrian VermeuleAre More Heads Better Than One, or a Few?

For Vermeule... it's not obvious that many heads are better than one.  His logic of "cognitive loafing" sure sounds reasonable.  If I was a juror in a boring trial... then I'd definitely be daydreaming.  But why the fuck would I want to be a juror in a boring trial?  The only way that I'd be a juror in a boring trial was if somebody forced me to be.  Which is exactly how our moronic system works.

What do we want with a Socialist then, who, under pretence of organizing for us, comes despotically to break up our voluntary arrangements, to check the division of labour, to substitute isolated efforts for combined ones, and to send civilization back? Is association, as I describe it here, in itself less association, because every one enters and leaves it freely, chooses his place in it, judges and bargains for himself on his own responsibility, and brings with him the spring and warrant of personal interest? That it may deserve this name, is it necessary that a pretended reformer should come and impose upon us his plan and his will, and as it were, to concentrate mankind in himself? - Frédéric Bastiat, What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen

The "spring and warrant of personal interest"!!!   Vermeule perceives the potential absence of this and thinks that it has to do with the jury being too large!  If Vermeule forced me to attend any major sporting event then he would say, "Oh, you're daydreaming because the crowd is so huge!"  And I would reply, "No you fucking moron!  I'm daydreaming because I can't fucking stand sports!  The only reason that I'm here is because you fucking forced me to be here!"

Anyways, I'm probably going to deal with the issue of force later on.  For now... let's get back to the wisdom of the market...

When there is a defect in the law, who shall decide, the expert or the multitude? Our conclusion is that the collective wisdom of the many is to be preferred to the one wise man. They will not all go wrong together, and by reason of their numbers they are less corruptible, less liable to passion, and not more subject to faction than the individual. - Aristotle, The Politics

I tricked you... that's Aristotle talking about the wisdom of the crowd.  If Aristotle mentioned anything about the crowd pulling out their wallets and spending their own money on worthwhile laws... then, and only then, would it be wisdom of the market.

More on harnessing the brainpower of entire communities...

Whilst critics of open peer review might see public commenting, discussing and reviewing research as a luxury or waste of time it does have potential benefits. It can help identify flaws in published and ongoing research, as you may believe that you are the only person conducting research like this, but there is always a chance someone has carried out similar work and can contribute their knowledge. It aids forming potential collaborations and help identify peers who can help build a personal learning network. Communicating, collaborating, problem-solving are all things we teach students at university. Academics have the potential to tap into an organic, intelligent community on the web for similar benefits. Yet it still feels like the exception to the rule. In time I am certain we will see a lot more open peer review, post publication comment and review, and the continued growth in useful communication using social media platforms, in particular academic-inclusive ones. - Andy Tattersall, How can scholarly communication avoid becoming just a cacophony of noise? 

Tattersall wonders how communication can avoid becoming just a cacophony of noise.  Hmm... I wonder...

Google and IBM’s Watson can discover patterns in the big data they vacuum up, as can NSA surveillance programs. But compare the viewpoint of a GoogleMaps car that indiscriminately records everything as it drives down the street to how two people can walk down the same street and notice entirely different things with respect to shops, restaurants, and passersby. People have different perspectives. Individuals are curious about different things. They assign different values to what they encounter. - Richard E. Cytowic, Your Brain on Screens

People spot different things and they assign different values to what they spot.   When people are free to put their money/time where their values are... then we have the wisdom of the market.  The more money/time people spend on the same thing... the more likely it is that other people will also spot it.  Spending allows us to bring valuable things to the attention of more people.

As soon as a general problem enjoys a sufficiently wide interest, the means and the methods of its solution will not be lacking. - Knut Wicksell

Solutions to complex social problems require as many creative minds as possible — and this is precisely what the market delivers. - Don Boudreaux, A Simple Rule for a Complex World 

More heads are occupied in inventing the most proper machinery for executing the work of each, and it is, therefore, more likely to be invented.  - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

James Surowiecki wrote a book about the wisdom of crowds...

...there's no real evidence that one can become expert in something as broad as "decision making" or "policy" or "strategy." Auto repair, piloting, skiing, perhaps even management: these are skills that yield to application, hard work, and native talent. But forecasting an uncertain future and deciding the best course of action in the face of that future are much less likely to do so. And much of what we've seen so far suggests that a large group of diverse individuals will come up with better and more robust forecasts and make more intelligent decisions than even the most skilled "decision maker." - James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds

Kinda similar to Melsheimer's point...

Moreover, there is no reason to believe that judges are any better than ordinary citizens at deciding the key elements of a typical civil dispute ─ for example, who is telling the truth or how much personal or economic harm has occurred ─ than a schoolteacher, a warehouse foreman, or a nurse. Similarly, why should we believe that a judge is better able to understand a complex or sophisticated issue than an ordinary citizen? Because they have a degree and more education? That strikes me as either elitism or intellectual snobbery. It is also anti-democratic. - Tom Melsheimer

And just like Melsheimer, Surowiecki really doesn't argue for unlimited juries.  Surowiecki points out the problems with small groups but he ends the relevant chapter with...

One of the more frustrating aspects of the Columbia story is the fact that the MMT never voted on anything. The different members of the team would report on different aspects of the mission, but their real opinions were never aggregated. This was a mistake, and it would have been a mistake even had the Columbia made it home safely. 

For Surowiecki it's frustrating that the MMT didn't vote on anything... for me it's frustrating that they didn't spend on anything.  Democracies aggregate opinions... markets aggregate values.  And larger markets are more trustworthy than smaller markets.

Here's a criticism of prediction markets...

Real markets are deep and diverse, and they trade in dollar volumes measured in trillions. Prediction or betting markets do not. They are thinly traded, by number of shares and by dollar amounts at risk, and they rely on a relatively small number of traders, with limited diversity. These markets lack the necessary elements for success. - Barry Ritholtz, The 'Wisdom of Crowds' Is Not That Wise

Prediction markets are vastly better than juries... so if prediction markets lack the necessary elements for success... then what does that say about juries?

Here's what my favorite living economist has to say about larger markets...

In my TED talk I said that if India and China were as rich as the United States is today then the market for cancer drugs would be eight times larger than it is now. Larger markets, both in size and wealth, increase the incentive to invest in R&D. Larger markets save lives. As India and China become richer, they are investing more in R&D and investing more in educating the scientists and engineers who produce new ideas, new ideas that benefit everyone. - Alex Tabarrok, The Demand for R&D is Increasing

Juries are really small and shitty markets.  They only consist of 12 people who aren't free to spend their money.  Imagine being stranded on an island with 11 other people... and none of you are free to trade.  All the decisions would be made by voting.  Could it be worse?  Of course it could be worse.

More on the wisdom of crowds...

None of the modes by which a magistrate is appointed, popular election, the accident of the lot, or the accident of birth, affords, as far as we can perceive, much security for his being wiser than any of his neighbours. The chance of his being wiser than all his neighbours together is still smaller. - Thomas Macaulay, Southey's Colloquies on Society

On the other hand, it is also a maxim of experience that in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom; and that a man seldom judges right, even in his own concerns, still less in those of the public, when he makes habitual use of no knowledge but his own, or that of some single adviser. - J. S. Mill, Considerations on Representative Government

It must be remembered, besides, that even if a government were superior in intelligence and knowledge to any single individual in the nation, it must be inferior to all the individuals of the nation taken together. It can neither possess in itself, nor enlist in its service, more than a portion of the acquirements and capacities which the country contains, applicable to any given purpose. - J.S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy with some of their Applications to Social Philosophy 

Here's Churchill on the wisdom of the crowd...

There is another more obvious difference from 1914. The whole of the warring nations are engaged, not only soldiers, but the entire population, men, women and children. The fronts are everywhere. The trenches are dug in the towns and streets. Every village is fortified. Every road is barred. The front line runs through the factories. The workmen are soldiers with different weapons but the same courage. These are great and distinctive changes from what many of us saw in the struggle of a quarter of a century ago. There seems to be every reason to believe that this new kind of war is well suited to the genius and the resources of the British nation and the British Empire; and that, once we get properly equipped and properly started, a war of this kind will be more favorable to us than the somber mass slaughters of the Somme and Passchendaele. If it is a case of the whole nation fighting and suffering together, that ought to suit us, because we are the most united of all the nations, because we entered the war upon the national will and with our eyes open, and because we have been nurtured in freedom and individual responsibility and are the products, not of totalitarian uniformity, but of tolerance and variety. If all these qualities are turned, as they are being turned, to the arts of war, we may be able to show the enemy quite a lot of things that they have not thought of yet. Since the Germans drove the Jews out and lowered their technical standards, our science is definitely ahead of theirs. Our geographical position, the command of the sea, and the friendship of the United States enable us to draw resources from the whole world and to manufacture weapons of war of every kind, but especially of the superfine kinds, on a scale hitherto practiced only by Nazi Germany. - Winston Churchill, The Few 

 "... the Germans drove the Jews out and lowered their technical standards"... aka "brain drain".  Juries are currently the epitome of brain drain.  Maybe more like brain blocking.  Or something.

We are in a global competition, as I’m sure you have noticed, and we can’t afford to leave talent on the sidelines, but that’s exactly what we’re doing today. When we leave people out, or write them off, we not only shortchange them and their dreams — we shortchange our country and our future.  - Hillary Clinton, We need to raise incomes for hard-working Americans

Hillary Clinton.  Am I really citing Hillary Clinton?  I guess.  She says that we can't afford to leave talent on the sidelines.  Therefore, she supports unlimiting juries?  I'm pretty sure that the she doesn't support allowing Jews to choose where their taxes go.  Hitler would have agreed with Clinton that it's a bad idea to allow Jews to choose where their taxes go.

Let us in conclusion consider the impropriety of Mr. Peel's proposed alteration. The truth of the vulgar adage—" two heads are better than one," —no one will presume to deny; and I think most persons will be disposed to admit that a Jury consisting of twelve individuals is more likely to arrive at a correct conclusion than one composed of only five. When men decide erroneously, it is owing, generally, to the absence of sufficient data; now there can be no question but that twelve persons can furnish more data, and suggest more ideas, and consequently arrive at a more just conclusion than five persons: and a Jury of twelve is not so numerous as to be incapable of conveniently conferring together. Hence a Jury of five ought not to be preferred to a Jury of twelve. The trilling additional inconvenience sustained by the public from the attendance of twelve instead of five Jurors, for about half a day at remote intervals, is not to be regarded in comparison with the greater justice which is thereby administered. Besides, when the bare majority of a Jury is to decide, the Jury ought to consist not of an odd, but of an even number, for unless the Plaintiff's case be so clear as to obtain the majority of an even number in his favor, he ought not to have troubled the Court with his action. - Trial by Jury

Who wrote that?  I don't know.  Marc Andreessen wrote the following...

What never gets discussed in all of this robot fear-mongering is that the current technology revolution has put the  means of production within everyone’s grasp. It comes in the form of the smartphone (and tablet and PC) with a  mobile broadband connection to the Internet. Practically everyone on the planet will be equipped with that minimum spec by 2020. 
What that means is that everyone gets access to unlimited information, communication, and education. At the same time, everyone has access to markets, and everyone has the tools to participate in the global market economy. This is not a world we have ever lived in. 
Historically, most people — in most places – have been cut off from all these things, and usually to a high degree. But with that access, with those tools in the hands of billions, it is hard to believe that the result will not be a widespread global unleashing of creativity, productivity, and human potential. It is hard to believe that people will get these capabilities and then come up with … absolutely nothing useful to do with them? 
And yet that is the subtext to the “this time is different” argument that there won’t be new ideas, fields, industries, businesses, and jobs. In arguing this with an economist friend, his response was, “But most people are like horses; they have only their manual labor to offer…” I don’t believe that, and I don’t want to live in a world in which that’s the case. I think people everywhere have far more potential. - Marc Andreessen, This is Probably a Good Time to Say That I Don’t Believe Robots Will Eat All the Jobs …

Clinton says that she doesn't want to keep American talent on the sidelines.  What's so special about American talent?  Andreessen, on the other hand, dreams of a world where nobody's talent is kept on the sidelines.  But does he also dream of a world where Jews can choose where their taxes go?  If he does... then he has kept those dreams to himself.  Unless I've missed them... which is entirely possible.

Here's what a preeminent jurist and economist has to say about juries...

Although the average juror may be less bright, and will certainly be less experienced in adjudication, than the average judge, "two heads are better than one" - and six, eight, or twelve inexperienced heads may be better than the one experienced head when they pool their recollections and deliberate to an outcome. - Richard A. Posner, Frontiers of Legal Theory

We can compare it to what a preeminent economist wrote about facts...

The problem is thus in no way solved if we can show that all the facts, if they were known to a single mind (as we hypothetically assume them to be given to the observing economist), would uniquely determine the solution; instead we must show how a solution is produced by the interactions of people each of whom possesses only partial knowledge. To assume all the knowledge to be given to a single mind in the same manner in which we assume it to be given to us as the explaining economists is to assume the problem away and to disregard everything that is important and significant in the real world. - Friedrich Hayek, The Use of Knowledge in Society 

As far as I know... Hayek never argued for unlimiting juries.  Would I have argued for unlimited juries if I hadn't received a jury summons?  We'll never know.

Gary Becker was the preeminent economic imperialist... and he did apply economics to law... but, as far as I know, he never argued for unlimiting juries.  Well... maybe he did in a roundabout way...

First and foremost, the primary aim of all legal proceedings would become the same: not punishment or deterrence, but simply the assessment of the ‘harm’ done by defendants. Much of traditional criminal law would become a branch of the law of torts, say ‘social torts,’ in which the public would collectively sue for ‘public’ harm. A ‘criminal’ action would be defined fundamentally not by the nature of the action but by the inability of a person to compensate for the “harm” that he caused. Thus an action would be ‘criminal’ precisely because it results in uncompensated ‘harm’ to others.

The true assessment of a 'harm'... just like the true assessment of a 'benefit'... can only be accurately determined by an unlimited jury.  And by "unlimited jury" I mean the kind that could only exist with a global market for public goods.

The benefit of Harry Potter would not have been accurately assessed if only people in London had been permitted to participate in the valuation of J.K. Rowling's books.  Well... actually, even the global market for private goods doesn't accurately assess the benefit of Harry Potter.  This is because books aren't really private goods.

***********************  REPRESENTING ***********************

We are unwilling to make the assumption that the exclusion of Negroes has relevance only for issues involving race.  When any large and identifiable segment of the community is excluded from jury service, the effect is to remove from the jury room qualities of human nature and varieties of human experience, the range of which is unknown and perhaps unknowable.  It is unnecessary to assume that the excluded group will consistently vote as a class in order to conclude, as we do, that its exclusion deprives the jury of a perspective on human events that may have unsuspected importance in any case that may be presented. - Thurgood Marshall

This is crazy frustrating.  It really sounds like Marshall grasped the importance of diversity... but how in the world could anybody who truly grasps the importance of diversity condone limited juries?  It's a non-sequitur... the conclusion (limited juries) really doesn't follow from the premise (the value of diversity).

In the United States today, it is common to describe the ideal jury as a "body truly representative of the community."  - J. Abramsson, Jury Selection and the Cross-Sectional Ideal

Can diversity ever be represented?  Fuck no!  With one exception...

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman contained multitudes.  He was an incredibly fabulous outlier.  Anybody else who is certain that they contain multitudes is a socialist...

What do we want with a Socialist then, who, under pretence of organizing for us, comes despotically to break up our voluntary arrangements, to check the division of labour, to substitute isolated efforts for combined ones, and to send civilization back? Is association, as I describe it here, in itself less association, because every one enters and leaves it freely, chooses his place in it, judges and bargains for himself on his own responsibility, and brings with him the spring and warrant of personal interest? That it may deserve this name, is it necessary that a pretended reformer should come and impose upon us his plan and his will, and as it were, to concentrate mankind in himself? - Frédéric Bastiat, What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen

Socialists believe that they can concentrate mankind in themselves.  Again, Whitman was the only person ever who could truly concentrate mankind in himself.

A population of 500 people would not be sufficient either, Smith says. "Five hundred people picked at random today from the human population would not probably represent all of human genetic diversity . . . If you're going to seed a planet for its entire future, you want to have as much genetic diversity as possible, because that diversity is your insurance policy for adaptation to new conditions." - Sarah Fecht, How Many People Does It Take to Colonize Another Star System?

Whitman would have been entirely sufficient to seed a planet for its entire future.  Nobody else could represent diversity of any kind.  Nobody else can function as a proxy for humanity.

The people are not ready to accept a doubtful decision made by a professional, by a panel of experts, or by a dictator. They are ready to accept that decision which came from their own group. And the jury is a means of bringing the whole power of the citizenry to bear upon the daily administration of justice. - Bertel Sparks, Trial by Jury vs. Trial by Judge

Whitman was the only person ever who had the whole power of the citizenry.  Twelve jurors really do not have the whole power of the citizenry... and neither do 500 congresspeople.

As a pragmatarian, the idea of representing citizens, whether in the form of congress or limited juries, is anathema to me.  I'm sickened by the idea that any type of sample can adequately represent the diversity of the entire group.  I abhor socialism for all its hubris.  I've dedicated countless hours to critiquing this fatal conceit.  So from my perspective, forcing me serve on a jury is the equivalent of forcing me to become a congressperson.

***********************  FORCE  ***********************

Slaves don't make the best workers...

Slaves, however, are very seldom inventive; and all the most important improvements, either in machinery, or in the arrangement and distribution of work which facilitate and abridge labour, have been the discoveries of freemen. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Draftees don't make the best soldiers...

...whoever has commanded an army in the field knows the difference between a willing, contented mass of men, and one that feels a cause of grievance. There is a soul to an army as well as to the individual man, and no general can accomplish the full work of his army unless he commands the soul of his men, as well as their bodies and legs. - Memoir of General William T. Sherman

Pacifists don't make the best taxpayers...

If only each King, Emperor, and President understood that his work of directing armies is not an honourable and important duty, as his flatterers persuade him it is, but a bad and shameful act of preparation for murder — and if each private individual understood that the payment of taxes wherewith to hire and equip soldiers, and, above all, army-service itself, are not matters of indifference, but are bad and shameful actions by which he not only permits but participates in murder — then this power of Emperors, Kings, and Presidents, which now arouses our indignation, and which causes them to be murdered, would disappear of itself. - Leo Tolstoy

Yet... somehow we are to believe that conscripted jurors make the best jurors?

What do we want with a Socialist then, who, under pretence of organizing for us, comes despotically to break up our voluntary arrangements, to check the division of labour, to substitute isolated efforts for combined ones, and to send civilization back? Is association, as I describe it here, in itself less association, because every one enters and leaves it freely, chooses his place in it, judges and bargains for himself on his own responsibility, and brings with him the spring and warrant of personal interest? That it may deserve this name, is it necessary that a pretended reformer should come and impose upon us his plan and his will, and as it were, to concentrate mankind in himself? - Frédéric Bastiat, What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen

Again... "... the spring and warrant of personal interest..." is extremely important and valuable to each and every human endeavor.  So it's extremely stupid to force people to be jurors.

It's also stupid to force people to stand when the judge enters the court.  Why not also require people to clap when they stand?  Wouldn't a standing ovation be even better than simply standing?

Nobody who demands my respect deserves to have it.

In a pragmatarian system... if judges want respect... then they would have to earn it.

***********************  DAVID FRIEDMAN ***********************

David Friedman is my favorite anarcho-capitalist.  Just like how I've sat down and fleshed out how a pragmatarian justice system would work... he's sat down and fleshed out how an anarcho-capitalist justice system would work.... The Machinery of Freedom.

Friedman is an anarcho-capitalist because he believes that the only, or best, way to subject the legal system to market forces is to move all the public goods over to the private sector.   Personally, as a pragmatarian, I think a much better idea is to create a market in the public sector simply by allowing people to choose where their taxes go.  This would also subject the legal system to market forces.

Friedman and I both strongly perceive the benefits of subjecting the legal system to market forces... but our approaches are quite different.  In order to compare and contrast our respective systems... let's consider some of his responses to some objections to his system of free-market courts...

The first [objection] is that they would sell justice by deciding in favor of the highest bidder. That would be suicidal; unless they maintained a reputation for honesty, they would have no customers—unlike our present judges. 

This objection and Friedman's response to it are both also applicable to a pragmatarian justice system.  I'm pretty sure that the demand for justice is always far greater than the demand for injustice.  Just like I'm pretty sure that the demand for defense is always far greater than the demand for offense.  And, to be clear, I'm referring to aggregate demand.

Another objection is that it is the business of courts and legislatures to discover laws, not create them; there cannot be two competing laws of gravity, so why should there be two competing laws of property? But there can be two competing theories about the law of gravity or the proper definition of property rights. Discovery is as much a productive activity as creation. If it is obvious what the correct law is, what rules of human interaction follow from the nature of man, then all courts will agree, just as all architects agree about the laws of physics. If it is not obvious, the market will generate research intended to discover correct laws.

This objection isn't applicable to pragmatarianism.  At least I don't think it is.  Or maybe it is?  With the current system... in some states marijuana is more or less legal... but in other states it isn't.  And neither is it legal according to the federal government.  What would happen if we created a global market in the public sector?  You tell me!  Wikipedia lists the legality of cannabis by country.   At first glance it looks like marijuana is illegal in most countries.  But the most important thing to thoroughly understand is that there isn't a single country in a world with any taxes on public bullshit.  This means that every country in the world has numerous laws that people wouldn't voluntarily spend many, if any, of their own tax dollars on.  Is the law against marijuana one such law?  Is the law against marijuana bullshit?  I'm guessing it is.  And so does Friedman...

But market demands are in dollars, not votes. The legality of heroin will be determined, not by how many are for or against but by how high a cost each side is willing to bear in order to get its way. People who want to control other people's lives are rarely eager to pay for the privilege; they usually expect to be paid for the 'services' they provide for their victims. And those on the receiving end— whether of laws against drugs, laws against pornography, or laws against sex—get a lot more pain out of the oppression than their oppressors get pleasure. They are willing to pay a much higher price to be left alone than anyone is willing to pay to push them around. For that reason the laws of an
anarcho-capitalist society should be heavily biased toward freedom.

Friedman clearly would be willing to pay to prevent himself from being pushed around... and he certainly would not be willing to pay to push somebody else around... but would he be willing to pay to try and prevent somebody else from being pushed around?  I think he'd be a lot more inclined to do so in a pragmatarian system rather than in an anarcho-capitalist system.  In a pragmatarian system... what else is he going to spend his tax dollars on?  But in an anarcho-capitalist system... Friedman would have the option... and the temptation... to spend those same dollars on private goods rather than on public goods.  Aka the free-rider problem.

To help wrap our minds around a global market for justice... let's consider the issue of women's rights... Women Around the World Are Being Stoned to Death. Do You Know the Facts?   How long would women continue to be stoned to death if we created a global market for public goods?  It's pretty easy to imagine money from around the world flowing into the relevant countries and quickly changing their laws and their enforcement.  It would be extremely profitable for public entrepreneurs in the relevant countries to cater to the global demand for justice.  Once the greater injustices were quickly eliminated... then the lesser injustices, such as prosecuting/punishing drug users, would be eliminated.

Moving on...

Another objection is that a society of many different legal systems would be confusing. If this is found to be a serious problem, courts will have an economic incentive to adopt uniform law, just as paper companies have an incentive to produce standardized sizes of paper. New law will be introduced only when the innovator believes that its advantages outweigh the advantages of uniformity.

J.K. Rowling became a superstar because the world valued her innovative private good.  In a global market for public goods... public entrepreneurs could become superstars by creating laws, and other public goods, that are valuable to the world.  

Next objection...

The most serious objection to free-market law is that plaintiff and defendant may not be able to agree on a common court. Obviously, a murderer would prefer a lenient judge. If the court were actually chosen by the disputants after the crime occurred, this might be an insuperable difficulty. Under the arrangements I have described, the court is chosen in advance by the protection agencies. There would hardly be enough murderers at any one time to support their own protective agency, one with a policy of patronizing courts that did not regard murder as a crime. Even if there were, no other protective agency would accept such courts. The murderers' agency would either accept a reasonable court or fight a hopeless war against the rest of society.

This brings us back to my example of Moseley.  If he was guilty... then yeah... he would prefer a lenient judge.  But, like I explained, his own demand for a lenient judge would be quite small in comparison to the global demand for a wise judge.  This is the difference between individual demand and aggregate demand.  So the most serious objection to Friedman's free-market courts isn't applicable to the free-market courts in a pragmatarian system.  In a pragmatarian system... the valuation of justice is far more inclusive.

With anarcho-capitalism... justice is treated like it's a private good.  If Moseley is accused of murder... then the public's participation is extremely limited.  To be clear... the public's participation in Friedman's free-market court would be far greater than with the current system.  With Friedman's system... if consumers weren't happy with the outcome of Moseley's "trial"... then they could certainly boycott the relevant parties.  But as I described earlier, there would be a heck of a lot more participation in a pragmatarian system.  As a result... the outcomes would be incredibly more valuable.

To put this more concretely... I haven't found any evidence of Friedman arguing for unlimited juries.  He wants market forces to substantially permeate the legal system... but I want market forces to deeply permeate the legal system.

Here is Friedman's entire critique of pragmatarianism...

I don't think that letting taxpayers allocate their taxes among options provided by the government solves the fundamental problems of government.

The options provided by government reflect the absence of consumer choice in the public sector.  So the fundamental problem with government is the absence of consumer choice.  By definition, pragmatarianism would solve this problem.

***********************  CIVIC DUTY ***********************

Right out of high school I joined the Army infantry and was stationed in Panama for three years.  I switched over to the active reserves, changed my military specialty and started attending a community college.  Eventually I transferred to UCLA.  In between my junior and senior year, just before my contract was up, I was sent to Afghanistan for a year.  So... for all intents and purposes, thanks to "stop loss"... I was conscripted.

And now I'm being conscripted again.  This time to serve on a jury.

Haven't I served my country enough?

According to the jury website... people are only required to serve on a jury once every 12 months.  Also according to the jury website... the average trial is 7 days.  Given that I've served my country for more than 4 years.... the math really seems to indicate that any additional service on my part should be entirely voluntary rather than mandatory.

Veterans should have the option to serve on a jury.   Hopefully I've made it crystal clear why I wouldn't personally choose this option.

It's not that I don't want to continue serving my country.  I just want to serve my country in a way that helps, rather than hurts, my country.  Hopefully that's exactly what I'm doing with my blog that I've spent countless hours writing.  If it is... then everybody in the world is welcome to chip in.  If it isn't... then everybody in the world is welcome to chime in.  That's fucking teamwork.  Well... except for the free-rider problem.

***********************  CONCLUSION  ***********************

After a rigorous review of a mountain of evidence... I've found our current legal system to be extremely guilty.  It would be criminal of me to participate in such a gross miscarriage of justice.

Thomas Edison once said, “There is a better way to do everything—go find it”.

I've found an infinitely better way for our legal system to work.  Taxpayers would simply choose where their taxes go.  Creating a global market for public goods would provide the maximum amount of justice at the lowest possible opportunity cost.