Friday, February 10, 2006



The State of New Jersey is acting like the aggressive bunch of thugs and highwaymen it truly is here.

That's Tom L at Sabre Rattling, coming out of the closet as the 2nd anarcho-capitalist hockey blogger I know (the NHL fantasy team of one of my boys over at the BofO is named the Ancapistan A's).

Anyway, although I'm not as far down the road as Tom or Jay (yet), I agree wholly with the quote above. That said, it looks to me like Tom's disgust with The State is clouding his judgement about what is important and what is not with this whole Tocchet Gambling Fooferaw.

Tom points out correctly that it is wrong to conflate "what is legal" with "what is moral". That is a rather simple distinction that too many stories on this issue have failed to make. However, he then goes on to conflate the interest of The State with the interests of The NHL.

As we were all reminded during the lockout, the NHL is not an arm of the government, nor is it a public service organization. It is a private business, and as such, they are (or should be) permitted to make and enforce whatever rules they damn well please.

The NHL can and does have all sorts of rules that their employees, or the employees of their franchises, must follow. These rules have nothing at all to do with the laws of the land or human rights. They can do this because no employee is forced to submit: they either agree to abide by the rules as a condition of employment (i.e. by contract), or they can find another line of work. Pure freedom.

The NHL could (or maybe does) prohibit their employees from owning a pornographic film company. Or to play off of Tom's shoestore example, they could prohibit their employees from investing in businesses that make hockey skates. (The logic being that sometimes, the NHL and the skate-maker might at times have competing interests, and the NHL wants all their employees on "their side". Not that it matters, because again, it's a private business, and if you think their rules seem arbitrary and stupid, you're free to go coach lacrosse or sell life insurance instead.)

So to focus in on Tocchet here, the important issue is that if he is involved in the things he is alleged to be involved in, he has violated his employment contract, into which he entered freely. An an-capper like Tom, if anyone, should recognize that this is one of the most immoral acts an individual can commit.

Check that - breaking a contract is acceptable if one is willing and able to make and pay reparations. If I cancel my cellphone service, I'm OK as long as I pay Telus $20/mo for every month I'm cancelling. I can divorce my wife (example, dear, example!) as long as I compensate her in accordance with either a pre-nuptial agreement or the common law.

However, Rick Tocchet (if, allegedly, etc..) is quite obviously unable to make reparations to the NHL for the harm he has caused them by violating his contract. Just look at the newspapers. Tocchet doesn't have big enough bank or a loud enough bullhorn to make things right. The fact that the scandal is bigger that it would be if The State kept its tax-funded leeches away from private gambling is immaterial, because the popular reaction (and harm to the NHL's reputation) is not one bit surprising, and should have been known to Tocchet before he chose to violate his contract (or enter into it in the first place). Yeah, it was NJ State troopers that blew the whistle, but it could just have easily been an enterprising magazine reporter.

So to recap:

Gambling is not immoral (if you think it is, then must also believe that lottery- and casino-operating governments are immoral, and I think we're basically on the same side here). If it wasn't illegal, there would be no need for Scarfos or other Moustache Petes to break thumbs, because you could enforce gambling contracts in courts or private arbitration, just like other contracts.

Rick Tocchet has behaved disgracefully not because he's (allegedly, etc. etc.) involved with gambling. It's because he caused harm to the NHL, in a way that went against his contracted word, that he is unable to undo, repair, or even mitigate. If you believe in the freedom (or supremacy) of the individual, a.k.a. the Contractual Society, you simply cannot stick up for Rick Tocchet here. Janet Gretzky, on the other hand, go right ahead and stick up for her.

Not that I'm telling you what to care about. Seriously. Back to hockey.

[Addendum: let me take one step back here, because above, I think I'm overstating the amount of actual harm that the NHL will suffer from Tocchet's alleged actions. If the most likely scenario is true (that Tocchet had an illegal side business and he's mobbed-up a bit, but no insider hockey gambling was going on), I really doubt the NHL will suffer much long-term financial harm. Tocchet will be expunged, and life will go on.

There's only two (worst-case) scenarios that really would impact the league seriously. One is the (say) 1-in-1000 chance that there was a fix on an NHL game. The other is the very unlikely, but slightly-more-likely, chance that Gretzky or his wife was indebted to Rick Tocchet when Tocchet was hired as a Coyotes AC (3-in-1000?). The chance that Wayne Gretzky was betting on NHL games is infinitessimal, I think.]


Meh. Citizenship is just as voluntary as entering into any other contract.

If you don't like the laws of the jurisdiction in which you live, you can move to a place where laws are more to your liking.

Check that - breaking a law is acceptable if one is willing and able to make and pay reparations.

Go Oil.

Dude, the evidence for the fix is already in:

it is clear that Tocchet orchestrated the Oilers "improbable win" over Phoenix with 0.6 seconds left in the game.

C'mon -- that play has never worked before, are you telling me that it just happened to work with a noted gambling degenerate behind the bench? Please.

Speaking of fixes.

What's with Calgary's video replay judge getting sacked?

Regarding the improbable win, boy, he was cutting it pretty close there.

I'll let someone who's rhetorically stronger than me to demolish your first comment. And the replay judge thing is news to me, although if it's at HF, it must be true.

Regarding the improbable win, boy, he was cutting it pretty close there.

Well, when you fix games you don't want to make it obvious. Duh.


First off, thanks so much for the commentary on my rant, it was both greatly appreciated and completely unexpected.

Second, I do, of course, understand the difference between which set of rules Mr. Tocchet et. al. have broken and have absolutely no problem with the actions taken so far by Gary Bettman and the NHL. I mostly just wanted an excuse to piss off on the State of New Jersey and took it.

Third, just to clarify, the NHL, unfortunately is not a wholly private business and does not have a true right to contract with its labor, otherwise they would not have been forced to bargain with the NHLPA. I talked extensively about this very issue during the lockout on both my old blog and on If you're interested let me know and I'll gladly dig those up for you.

Lastly, if you are ever willing to take that last step down the rabbit hole towards Ancapistan, I'll be glad to be your guide on the way down. :)

Thanks again, it was a great post!


I take it we're letting that thing about citizenship being "voluntary" slide on "probably joking" grounds. I never can tell with these Ph.D. types.


What do you mean by the term "citizenship?" The problem with discussion like these is that of definitions. By the same token I use the word "state" or "government" in such a way as to preclude them being 'voluntary.' They are forceful institutions, otherwise their rules are merely guidelines.

The aggressive use of force is not defensible logically, morally or practically. We live in a world that forces us to compromise our principles and act against our best interest in order to stay alive.

Citizenship cannot be voluntary when the inclusion of which into the group of citizens is predicated on guns being pointed at you.

Sorry, the 'social contract' is a null concept, as is 'voluntary government.'

But, what do I know, I don't have a Ph.D either. :)


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