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Today’s guest is David Friedman of Santa Clara University. Our discussion centers around his upcoming book, Legal Systems Very Different From Ours, which you can read in draft form at his website.

David became interested in this topic when he became interested in the decentralized legal system of saga-period Iceland. This interest has since expanded into a full book covering everything from Imperial Chinese Law to the customary legal system of Somaliland in northern Somalia. We discuss some of these chapters, with a focus on Somalian, Jewish, Icelandic, and 18th-century British law. We also discuss some of the major themes of the book, such as feud law and embedded or polylegal systems.

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discussions

  • What role (if any) should the gov’t play in the continued funding of cutting-edge scientific research? According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and  Development), approximately 10% of all R&D conducted globally is directly funded by governments, with approximately 60% done by private industry and 20% by educational institutions. Granted, this number probably doesn’t take into account indirect gov’t funding through tax subsidies and incentives. That 10% goes towards projects on the cutting edge of science, such as NASAs various space ventures and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (funded through the governments of the member states). Proponents of big gov’t science, such as Neil Degrasse Tyson, have stated in the past that projects like these are unlikely to be privately funded due to their high risk, high cost, and lack of return on investment. Gov’t, claims Tyson, is required to make the initial step and take all the risk so that private firms can follow in its wake with a clear picture of the requirements of such endeavours. TAM 2011: Our Future in Space Would such high risk, high cost projects be possible without gov’t backing?

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  • The “Tax Honesty” movement has demonstrated a few things to a lot of people.  To cover a lot with a few words, I’ll put it this way:  The IRS breaks its own rules in order to rob us through deceit. Some people (Irwin Schiff, for example) have suffered because they attempted to protect themselves from the rule-breakers.  There is now a theory popular among liberty-minded people that the government is too corrupt and powerful for anyone to succeed in an effort like Irwin Schiff’s.  There is also some good evidence showing this theory to be wrong.  It’s available at Peter Hendrickson’s website, losthorizons.com. I think that a lot of bureaucrats feel and believe that they are helping society.  This leaves them open to consider fixing situations in which their bureaucracy is breaking its own rules.  And let’s face it, there are some rules that can actually help liberty.  Perhaps the loads of evidence that Hendrickson has on his site can be explained by the presence of such “good-hearted” individuals in the bowels of the IRS. In any case, if you can, please entertain the possibility that the US Income Tax is not being administered honestly.  Consider that maybe, just maybe, in the gargantuan tangle of words called “Title 26,” the legal meaning of the law as it applies to most people is not coercive at all.  Maybe, if it were properly applied, the government would be a nuisance like neighbors who let their dogs poop on your lawn, instead of a nuisance like cancer in your lungs.  It could be true.  I think it is true, and I think that failing to follow all the twists and turns that Hendrickson uncovered to see for yourself that it is true kind of justifies you still being enslaved to a government that steals from you in order to cause havoc all over the planet in a massive deception that justifies its existence. If we want to honor the goodness in all people, including those who have been tricked into serving evil, we can do so by understanding the rules they think they should be following, and using them to protect ourselves from enslavement.

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  • Its completely ok to have an opinion. It actually is pretty important. But teachers shouldn’t teach their opinion as the truth. I have to face this behavior everyday at my school in switzerland. As a proud libertarian, i was very shocked as my teacher showed the anticapitalist, enviromentalist movie called “tomorrow”. There were no discussions about the problematic points the movie made. It was taught as the truth. The only truth. The tides turned, as i got to speak to a journalist, who was interviewing me about a political event, i went to. I described my problem and the whole thing got published. Of course it was shortened and the most important points were cut out, because they were probably to “aggressive” . But then (after the article appeared in the newspaper) the leftist/socialist behavior of my teacher disappeared, meaning we stopped watching “tomorrow” and about all the future controversial subject, we held debates with the whole class.   The main point of my little essay is, that we don’t have to make non-neutral-teaching illegal, but expose them with newspapers and television. In switzerland, this works perfectly.

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  • For the past few years, police departments have been on something of a power trip in the United States. Only citing the lesser-known instances that come to my mind, cops have assaulted autistic teenagers and murdered unarmed civilians, and were subsequently cleared of all charges and let back on the force. A zealous, dogmatic conservative “fanbase,” alongside a legal system that actively defends police from facing charges of murder, manslaughter, or assault, assures that these men and women never see justice for their actions. It’s awful what police are doing in society, but it’s even worse that they can get off scot-free for it. Of course, most of you already know this. So here’s my question: has any United States representative or senator proposed a bill designed to fight against unjust acquittals or introduce charges that are harder to to be overturned? As an agorist, I’m partially convinced that this has never happened and that anyone who gets elected for public office in this day and age is a vapid authoritarian, but a sliver of hope remains for me somewhere. Have any of you heard of such legislation on a federal level? If not, then what about on a state level?

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  • I would argue decentralized direct democracy with administrators of public will (as opposed to politicians) who would outsource the various public projects to the best providers from the free market.

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