Sunday, August 11, 2019

Commentary: 'A Private Property Society Take On Jeffrey Epstein' by Robert Wenzel

Kevin K. emails:
Just wondering what your thoughts are on how the Jeffrey Epstein case should be viewed from a Libertarian perspective if all of the heinous acts (eg sexual exploitation of minors) were done on his private property. Also, assuming the allegations are true, what are your thoughts on the deception (hidden video cameras) followed by blackmail of powerful figures (politicians, CEOs, scientists, etc)?
RW response:

I am going to answer this question from a Private Property Society perspective since I think this is where things start off rather than libertarianism. I see libertarianism as sort of a second derivative. The PPS comes first and it would make sense for most to adopt libertarian rules for their property but not all will.

In the case of Epstein, one key is under what conditions the girls came on to his property and what actually went on once they got on the property.

For example, if he said something like "Come over to my place and swim in my pool and then you can go home" but then didn't let a girl go home when she wanted to, that would be deception relative to what he said the rules of his private property were, and based on the PPS that would be a violation.

A lot is made of the fact that some of the girls may have been as young as 14 years old, but this is a difficult rabbit hole to go down based on an all-encompassing government rule. Just who is anyone to determine an "age of consent" for the entire world?


It may seem obvious to most of us what it roughly "should be" and that the "should be" is a lot higher than 14. But in many parts of the world, it would likely give us a knee jerk repulsive reaction to learn the reality. The age of consent in Sweden, for example, is 15. In Brazil, Italy, Liechtenstein and Germany, it is 14. In Nigeria, it is 12. (Based on data from World Population Review).

According to most reports, Mary likely gave birth to Jesus when she was somewhere between the age of 12 1/2 and 14.

So the exact "age of consent" is not something that is carved out in stone as the 11th commandment or can be worked out by some libertarian theory.

That said, in a PPS, the "age of consent" would be set by property owners. In areas where young girls are likely to congregate, schools, malls, etc, it would likely be set based on the general norms of the day with additional laws against those on these properties that would attempt to recruit "underage" girls.

Thus, in the case of Epstein, in this day and age, he would likely be charged as being the mastermind behind the recruitment of  "underage" girls on various private properties (in addition to any charges of lying about the rules at his property).

Thus, under a PPS, justice would come to Epstein, but it likely would have come years earlier because there wouldn't have been one central point of power that he could influence the way he did to get a light sentence and obstruct other charges 11 years ago in Florida. There would be all kinds of private-sector enforcement all over the guy.

As far as his having hidden cameras on his properties, that wouldn't be a violation unless he expressly said to visitors that he had no hidden cameras or he said he was operating under a set of private property rules that stated hidden cameras were not allowed.

The same goes for blackmail. If he expressly said that he wasn't going to blackmail a visitor on his property then it would be a violation if he did. The same would hold if he said he was operating under a set of private property laws that did not allow blackmail, it would be a violation if he did.

As I outlined in my book, Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person, in a PPS it would likely be the case that on almost all property it would be publicly posted (on the internet?) as to what the rules are on given properties. (And if a property did not designate its rules you would stay away unless you were very adventurous).

As for people such as CEOs and top scientists where hidden cameras and blackmail would be very damaging to them, you can be sure that in a PPS, they would be carrying a cellphone app that would warn them about the lack of protection against such at a given property as they approached.



Editor's note: This article was originally run at Economic Policy Journal and has been republished with permission of its author.