DEALING WITH FREELOADERS & CRIMINALS

[Also related, "Egalitarian Bill of Rights"]

How would people in an egalitarian society deal with freeloaders and criminals? Like other such questions, the answer would be decided by the Local Assembly of egalitarians in each local community. Here are thoughts about some of the options that would be available in an egalitarian society that is not based on money and in which some (but not necessarily all) people are in a sharing economy.

 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

 

Some people say that the whole idea of punishment is wrong. They say that a good society will do things to solve the problem of why individuals act anti-socially, rather than punishing such individuals. They say that punishment doesn't do any good, and it doesn't solve the problem at its root.

Some people also say that it is wrong to imprison anybody.

The people with the above views may or may not succeed in persuading their Local Assembly of Egalitarians to agree with them. And different local communities, by their Local Assembly of Egalitarians, may make different decisions about such matters.  Presumably those who oppose punishment or imprisonment would have ideas about how to respond to the problem (if it exists) of anti-social people doing very anti-egalitarian things.

But in case a Local Assembly of Egalitarians does decide to use punishment, it is of interest to think about how that might be possible in an egalitarian, money-less, society. Here are some thoughts on this.

 

Because an egalitarian society is not based on money, it is not possible for monetary fines to be used as a punishment for a crime or infraction, as is the case today. What can substitute for such a type of punishment? 

 

Here are some possibilities, ranging (more or less) from the least to the most punishing.

 

1. Public shame (such as having one's name published as being an offender.)

 

2. Community service for a certain amount (depending on the offense) of time. This would be work in addition to any work the person may or may not do in order to be a member in good standing of the sharing economy.

3. Deprivation of personal freedom. This could range from a curfew to full incarceration for a period of time depending on the offense.

Note #1: Denial of membership in good standing of the sharing economy for a period of time would NOT be a good kind of punishment. Why not? Because this would stigmatize non-membership in the sharing economy as a punishment for criminality. This would be a bad idea because perfectly good law-abiding egalitarian people are free to decline membership in the sharing economy, as discussed below.

Note #2: Expulsion from the local community would NOT be a good kind of punishment. Why not? Because it would be a violation of the principle of mutual aid to solve one's problem (of having an anti-social person in one's community) by foisting that problem on another local community to deal with.

WHAT TO DO WITH A NON-MEMBER OF THE SHARING ECONOMY (FREELOADER OR NOT) WHO IS RAISING CHILDREN

Here are my thoughts on this.

 

A freeloader, by definition, is a person who refuses to contribute reasonably according to ability (and therefore is not allowed to be a member in good standing of the sharing economy) and who, instead of relying exclusively on bartering to obtain what he/she needs or desires, expects (or demands) to enjoy for free the fruits of the labor of those who do contribute reasonably. Freeloaders are discussed in the context of health care here and here. The point made in these linked pages is that an egalitarian society has no moral obligation to provide health care to a freeloader, but it may choose to do so for other quite reasonable reasons. The same reasoning applies to food and shelter and similar things that an egalitarian society may choose to provide to a freeloader.

Not everybody who is not a member in good standing of the sharing economy is a freeloader. The Local Assembly of Egalitarians provides anybody (or family or group of people) who declines to be in the sharing economy (it is voluntary!) the amount of appropriate means of production (land, equipment, etc.) that can be put to good use with only their own labor (no hired employees or slaves!) so they can be productive in some way if they wish; they may barter what they produce (or services they perform) with whomever they wish or not barter at all if they so desire. Such people, as long as they don't expect (or demand) to be given things or services produced by others for free, are not freeloaders and are, absent evidence to the contrary, considered to be good egalitarians.

The problem is this. What if a person who is not a member in good standing of the sharing economy, whether a freeloader or not, is a parent of young dependent children? Worse yet, what if both the parents of such children are not members of the sharing economy and they fail to work hard enough outside of the sharing economy to provide (on their own or by bartering) the material products and services that the children need or reasonably desire? (This failure amounts to freeloading if such parents expect (or demand) others to provide for their children.)

The children are, by definition, members in good standing of the sharing economy (since the reasonable contribution required of children is zero.) The children thus are entitled to take from the sharing economy what they need or reasonably desire and to have equal status with others to receive scarce things that are equitably rationed according to need. So, how do the children obtain these things when they require an adult to obtain them for them, but their parents are unable to do so because they are not members in good standing of the sharing economy?

One solution in this case is for the Local Assembly to appoint somebody to be a guardian of the children. The guardian could be (possibly ideally) a close relative or friend of the family who knows the children personally. But the guardian could also be a professional guardian whose job in the sharing economy is to be a guardian of some children.

The guardian would be responsible for ensuring that the children have the products and services that they need or reasonably desire from the sharing economy.

 

The guardian would likely find that the children need or reasonably desire to have their parents be part of their lives the same as if the parents were members of the sharing economy and were raising the children on their own without the intervention of a guardian. For example, the children would likely benefit if their parents shared meals and shelter with them. This would possibly require (depending on how much the parents provided by their own efforts) providing the parents with meals and shelter for free despite the fact that the parents are not members in good standing of the sharing economy.

 

The principle that seems to make sense here is this. Parents, if they are not members of the sharing economy (whether freeloaders or not), should be provided products and services from the sharing economy to the extent that, and only to the extent that, it is required to ensure that the children enjoy the products and services and quality of life to which they are entitled (for free) as members in good standing of the sharing economy. Egalitarians may provide more than this to such parents if they wish (and there may indeed be some good reasons for doing so), but egalitarians are not morally obliged to do so.

 

 

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