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With Points of Dispute in Society: Who Decides the Resolution?

With Points of Dispute in Society: Who Decides the Resolution?

Posted by Ed Straka on 05/13/2024

If one generation fails to preserve liberty, subsequent generations will find themselves faced with a formidable struggle on two fronts. First, it will be difficult to restore liberty in and through political institutions, and, second, it will be challenging to combat the malaise of a society that has come to accept an impoverished understanding of it.[i]

     For many people, the whole idea of having any socio-political system outside of the current modern American legal system sounds like either bad fiction or science fiction. But is it?

     We all pay our taxes with the hopes that the system will work, and roads will be fixed (and bridges!), the police will come when we call, and bad people will not only go to jail but actually stay there. But is this the case?

     Sadly, no! We cannot even keep the garbage off the streets in big cities much less criminals.

     We all pay our taxes with the hopes that the men and women we have elected as so-called “representatives” in government will actually represent the “we the people” of American citizenry and actually do things in government that actually benefits the common American. That, rather than submit to the whims of special interest groups. These “groups” use the Federal Government to either tax and spend via the IRS or tax and spend via the Federal Reserve Board all the while weakening the dollar that they have hyper inflated not to mention given away to far away people, places and wars that ultimately have nothing to do with us.

     Regardless of one’s political persuasion, the above two issues: law & order and foreign spending on war while ignoring our own border problems should give pause for thought. Are our politicians really worth their salt?[ii]

     Consider the reality that law sets the relationship between people, places, and things. Until people begin to revisit this “reality” and ask IF they are happy with the current judicial status quo in America, nothing will change. Equally, the so-called “rights” that we have all taken for granted will have been long gone[iii] because that is what bureaucrats in government do – they take away money, rights, and thus freedom and all in the name of some greater good that they insist is good for us on the nightly news regardless of who is in the White House or Congress.

     Are we happy? Or any freer?


     What needs to be done is the willingness to rethink what we want from our government authorities at the town or city level rather than the state or Federal level.


     Because people who know their neighbors and their common life understand the concerns and needs at the local level rather than depend upon faceless bureaucrats over 1000 miles away that have never been to the states, much less the local neighborhoods that they currently govern. To suggest that these far away bureaucrats and technocrats do understand the wants and needs at the community level is as fallacious as it is hubristic. The current crime rates and collapse of city services as basic as garbage removal and street repair are merely the tip of the iceberg. Yet where can people go to for resolution of these problems not to mention and plethora of other concerns from non-responsive school boards to meaningless litigation over pronoun usage?

     Perhaps it is time to consider Private, Voluntary, Dispute Resolution and what it might look like in terms of conflict resolution that the local citizenry decide upon rather than what is currently the norm in society. The solution would be local courts of arbitration wherein people have a choice as to who they have to hear their grievances with one another, not to mention if it is actually something that needs to be brought to a judgment (more on that in a moment).

     Briefly, it would work like this:

  • Both parties agree to an arbitrator or judge (obviously, because the judge whether male of female is “fair”).
  • Judges only stay in business if fair.
  • The function of judges is to render an opinion on how the law is applied to a set of facts in a case.
  • Rule of law upheld in this system.

     What about the rule of law? What will the law be? Isn’t it too complicated an institution to deal with if we do not have the so-called experts? Who will decide?

     Ultimately the people living in a local area, let us say a county wide domicile, agree that the local people should determine in a democratic fashion what legal system they want to live under. That, and what said “local people” want to have enforced for their own good and protection as opposed to the current legal system which is not only arbitrary but varies according to the state one lives within. This can be applied to conflicts over car accidents, property rights issues or large-scale school board issues that move all the way up to the splitting off of one part of a city from another.

     We saw this happen recently in the Baton Rouge Louisianna area when a majority of people voted to secede from the city of Baton Rouge and form the “City of St. George.” A move upheld by the courts to the surprise of many as shown here:

     Back to the main point of this article, however, currently in America, we have what is known as boards of arbitration that are set up to bring peace thus closure to parties that are in conflict.[iv] These “boards” exist independently of government and keep people from the conflict, stress, and expense of bringing cases to trial in a government court of law. They exist now. This is why lawyers are trained in Arbitration in law schools all across the country.

     The only change is that they would become more common at the local level and by both their wisdom and impartiality they would gain a reputation as someone “trusted to rule justly” on the cases presented to them. If they do so, people will continue to use them. If not, these questionable arbitrators would lose their standing in the local community just as other businesses do for lack of contractual fulfillment.

     But what legal system would be the benchmark for these arbitrators to use?

Legal System

     Equally in existence in America, both past and present are principles of natural law that can easily and commonsensically be applied as they once were in the past. Consider: Any legislation passed would have to be tied to the overall purpose of the law which is to protect life, liberty and property from harm or confiscation by another.[v] The term commonly used in such situations when a “loss” has occurred is known as a “Tort” which is simply defined by Oxford English Dictionaries as: “a wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) leading to civil legal action.”[vi]

     Essentially, and according to Common Law jurisdictions, a “Tort” is a civil wrong committed intentionally or unintentionally by someone that causes a loss or harm to someone else thus resulting in legal action. The tort may or may not be a criminal act but might in fact be due to negligence. The victim of the harm can recover their loss as damages in a lawsuit. The plaintiff, however, must show that either the actions or lack of actions was the legally recognizable cause of the harm (in civil law jurisdictions this is called “delict”). This would be determined by the arbitrators noted in the preceding paragraph.

     In his groundbreaking book, Simple Rules for a Complex World, University of Chicago law professor Richard A. Epstein, wrote the following in explanation of the Tort concept:

This rule forms the basis of the law of tort. In its crudest and simplest form, the irreducible core of this body of law can be succinctly expressed: “keep off.” This two-word rule accurately describes the historical and intellectual thrust of much of the common law: to prevent trespass to land, larceny, murder, rape, and (by extension) infringement of patents – and indeed interference with the exchange relationships between parties. It is amazing how much, even in this age of heightened sensitivity to sexual harassment, you can learn about interactions between strangers by remembering to keep your hands to yourself. That precept was drummed into us as little children as one of those homespun homilies that make the world go round. But that rule also turns out to track the deep philosophical principle of respect for the autonomy of other individuals. This rule allows people to use, and use productively, the things they own without your being able to impose your will on them. And you will have the same freedom relative to them.[vii]

     The above will cause accusations of everything from “simplistic medievalism” to a “Quixotic foolishness.” Yet what is the alternative? More of the same legal overreach that exists now with people not only being subject to an ever-growing intrusive legal system but equally having no real hope of legal redress in the face of both a lawless population and brutal police force?

     Another example of “homespun homilies,” to quote Epstein, is the old adage, “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you always have gotten.” In context of our current legal chaos that infests the country, as well as those that make no plans at the local level as to what to do about local problems besides the usual cry for more money – we will sadly get what we deserve (Galatians 6:7).


     Because that is how the world works when a populace is foolish enough to trust the government to do right for them. Similar to boiled frogs that wandered into a pan of tepid water that slowly began to heat up, the American populace may soon find itself unable to get out when the water begins to boil.

     “Good things,” wrote Sir Roger Scruton, “are easily destroyed, but not easily created.”

     At Christian Liberty Homeschools we offer the “good things” that Scruton noted above, but in an educational form to help your children recognize why freedom is not free. Find us at:





[iv] Making the Case for Private Law and Defense From Scratch | Mises Institute

[v] John Locke echoes the concept stated in the text above with his belief in the right of first possession based upon labor:

“As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of, so much is his property. He by his labor does, as it were, enclose it from the common. Nor will it invalidate his right to say, everybody else has an equal title to it; and therefore he cannot appropriate, he cannot enclose, without the consent of all his fellow commoners [in other words, man can, if he chooses, redistribute his land away or share it all if he chooses because it is his – author’s note], all mankind. God, when he gave the world in common to all mankind, commanded man also to labor, and the penury of his condition required it of him. God and his reason commanded him to subdue the Earth, i.e. improve it for the benefit of life, and therein lay out something upon it that was his own, his labor. He that in obedience to this command of God, subdued, tilled and sowed any part of it, thereby annexed to it something that was his property, which another had no title to, nor could without injury take from him.” See: John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government, Ch. 5:32. See: John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government, Ch. 5:32.


[vii] Richard A. Epstein, Simple Rules for a Complex World, (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, M.A., 1995; 1997), p. 91.