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

FAILED TO RESPOND TO YOUR JURY SUMMONS

Please call the 1800 SRV-JURY number (1 800 778-5879) or log onto www.lasuperiorcourt.org/jury 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.

Sincerely,

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.

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