The Letter Test (of consent in an interaction)

Let’s pose a hypothetical: You receive three letters in the mail. What letter are you physically afraid not to open. What letter truly inspires fear and dread in you?

Is it the letter from a company advertising its products?

Of course not. You know that even if you ignore them completely and throw their letter straight into the trash, there will be no repercussions. They won’t come to your house asking for money, and they will never use any force to extract payment from you – after all, you have consented to nothing.

Is it the bill from a company to whose services you have willingly subscribed?

Not really. In this example let it be an electrical company. Sure – you owe them money for a service you asked for (so there was consent), but let’s say you don’t pay. What’s the worst that’ll happen? They’ll turn your electricity off. Makes sense – no payment, no service. You can just go and buy a generator, set up some solar panels, or find a competing electrical company that charges less.

If you owe them arrears, they might use court action to get those paid, but since you consented to this in your contract with them in the first place, it’s entirely legitimate.

Or perhaps it’s the letter of taxation from the government treasury?

An organization with which you have no contract, and nobody cares about your signature or the consent it represents. An organization to whose “services” you have neither subscribed nor consented, but who you know will not merely cease its “service” to you – but will come in and force you to pay, even if you don’t want to consume it.

What’s that – you protest on moral grounds the use of drones to bomb innocent children in Pakistan and will no longer pay your taxes (which is the only protest anyone cares about) until this madness ends? Jail for you!

You know that if you resist, you will be thrown in jail and your property stolen from you. And if you really resist and try to protect the property you have justly acquired through production and mutually consensual trades with others, you will be shot.

Think of this letter test as a litmus test of consent. Which organization works within a peaceful market framework, and which uses an engine of coercion to threaten and force people to submit to its will. Who wants your consent, and who is just a gang of criminals forcing people to pay protection money.

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