This article was published in the Autumn 1996 issue of Formulations
by the Free Nation Foundation
Everyone at Risk
by Dennis Riness
Copyright © 1996 by Dennis Riness
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So what do things look like in freedom?

GOOD question.

But first: What IS freedom? May I offer a definition? Freedom is the societal condition that exists when all interactions are voluntary. Place your emphasis, please, on "all." This means no coercion, ever, for any reason.

But what, exactly, is coercion? Coercion is the initiation of physical force or fraud. Physical force used in defense against the initiation of physical force is not coercion. The threat of physical force in the employ of contract enforcement is also not coercion. The threat of physical force, voluntarily subscribed to, is the administration of physical force.

The political state practices coercion. Free market governments practice the administration of physical force; done, of course, on a voluntary, subscriptive, fee-for-service basis. We have the political state, we need government. (Those of you calling yourselves anarchist, implying, I assume, no need for third-party contract enforcement, have obviously never been in a production contract and been at risk. Come back when you have been financially cleaned out and we will discuss the virtues of no government.)

The FNF Agenda for October 1996 raised five specific questions: What about (1) bankruptcy, (2) corporate structure, (3) liability protection for investors, (4) financial privacy vs. creditors' need to collect and 5) without coercion, what forms will insurance take?

In all cases, the solution is to have individuals enter into contractual agreements on whatever terms are suitable to both parties. The terms and conditions of any particular contract are limited only by the imagination of the two parties involved. In freedom, there will be a wide spectrum of contracts covering all conceivable situations. The common denominator is the need for contract enforcement. Given human nature, this means the administration of physical force if need be.

The best mechanism for voluntary, subscriptive, fee-for-service government is that discovered in 1976 by Gordon W. Smith Jr., a close friend of mine. Smith proposed the insurance mechanism but in a new way. Rather than a policy that compensates for a loss sustained when the other party reneges on a contract, Smith proposed that the threat of physical force was really the only true means of enforcing a contract and a policy should be used to fund the bounty that would be placed on a con man. The bounty money is paid out to fund the capture, trial (proof package) and punishment of the con man. The exact terms of capture, trial and punishment will be worked out in the marketplace; it is whatever the two parties agree to when entering into the contract. The highest probability of removing all fraud is when all parties are at the highest degree of risk, namely the death penalty.

The exquisite balance of this mechanism of contract enforcement (and coercion prevention) will bring about a stable, durable civilization. I have had the intellectual pleasure of working through all its ramifications these last 20 years and can attest that it is what we have all been looking for: the control of physical force through the market (voluntary) process, not the age-old attempt to control coercion by coercing. D

Dennis Riness, of Seal Beach, California, has worked 26 years in sales and marketing. Before that he worked six years as an engineer.

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