Friday, September 29, 2006

The Economics of Empires / Medicare vs Reality

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First, a very extensive discussion of the economics of empires, especially concentrating on the United States government's behaviour. This is something worth reading.

Many have criticized Bush for staging the war in Iraq in order to seize Iraqi oil fields. However, those critics can’t explain why Bush would want to seize those fields—he could simply print dollars for nothing and use them to get all the oil in the world that he needs. He must have had some other reason to invade Iraq.

History teaches that an empire should go to war for one of two reasons: (1) to defend itself or (2) benefit from war; if not, as Paul Kennedy illustrates in his magisterial The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, a military overstretch will drain its economic resources and precipitate its collapse. Economically speaking, in order for an empire to initiate and conduct a war, its benefits must outweigh its military and social costs. Benefits from Iraqi oil fields are hardly worth the long-term, multi-year military cost. Instead, Bush must have went into Iraq to defend his Empire. Indeed, this is the case: two months after the United States invaded Iraq, the Oil for Food Program was terminated, the Iraqi Euro accounts were switched back to dollars, and oil was sold once again only for U.S. dollars. No longer could the world buy oil from Iraq with Euro. Global dollar supremacy was once again restored. Bush descended victoriously from a fighter jet and declared the mission accomplished—he had successfully defended the U.S. dollar, and thus the American Empire.



Secondly, a study which may indicate a lot about why the American health care system ended up the way it is now, "The Aggregate Effects of Health Insurance: Evidence from the Introduction of Medicare":

Abstract: This paper investigates the effects of market-wide changes in health insurance by examining the single largest change in health insurance coverage in American history: the introduction of Medicare in 1965. I estimate that the impact of Medicare on hospital spending is over six times larger than what the evidence from individual-level changes in health insurance would have predicted. This disproportionately larger effect may arise if market-wide changes in demand alter the incentives of hospitals to incur the fixed costs of entering the market or of adopting new practice styles. I present some evidence of these types of effects. A back of the envelope calculation based on the estimated impact of Medicare suggests that the overall spread of health insurance between 1950 and 1990 may be able to explain about half of the increase in real per capita health spending over this time period.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Where is the social contract and where is my signature?

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A common myth amongst statists is the belief in the social contract. I have addressed this topic before, but I would like to look at some other arguments they use to justify such a belief.

I won't try to find where such a curious depraved beast might be located, since we already know the answer from the origins of the concept. Hobbes' original argument- that without surrendering our freedom to an almighty state we could have no society and no order- is strictly statist propaganda. Of course, the idea that we need the state to have society is the exact reverse of the truth- the state, as the process of legitimized coercion, is the opposite of society, which is the process of peaceful trade. The more state we have, the less society we have.

The concept of the "social contract" originates in statist propaganda, and ends there.

Now what common arguments are used? One idea is that the social contract is a form of tacit consent. What is tacit consent? It's when you don't object to a point being discussed, consent by silence. The notion of tacit consent implies that the person who is silent is part of the decision-making process, and has simply decided not to intervene in the process in this particular instance. Are we in such a situation? No, definitely not. Most of us are not part of the ruling class and have no place in the decision-making processes of the state. So we do not, and indeed cannot, give "tacit consent" to the existence of the state.

Another brillant idea they have is that being in a "country" means you accept the "social contract" of that "country". Of course, since "countries" are statist fictions enforced by coercion, this is nothing more than a "might makes right" argument. But let's go along with it for a minute. Suppose that this is actually the case- that everyone who enters a country, or decides to stay there, agrees to the exact same contract. Now how likely is it that every single person in a population of 32 million people agrees to follow the exact same contract? Either we are all ignorant of this supposed contract that we all agree on, which is absurd if the contract actually exists, or every single one of us agrees on it, which is improbable to the Nth degree.

And being in a certain area does not make a contract enforcable. One reply I have heard to this is that we have an implicit contact when we enter a store, for example. If this is so, I'd like to know what this contract consists of. I can just as well enter and leave immediately, without breaking any such fictional contract. I have to follow the rules set by the owner (for example, the store closes at such and such hour, and I can't barge in afterwards and demand stuff), but that's not a contract, that's a parameter. We're not exchanging anything- the parameters of the exchange come before the exchange proper. The owner establishes what kind of exchanges he'll do and how they will be done, then we trade, not before. If we lived in a market anarchy, the same principle would apply to land.

How about democracy? By electing someone, do we bind ourselves to him by a "social contract"? Well, that's easily defeated if only by the fact that there are many, many people who vote against an elected official, or do not vote at all. If a vote is consent, then none of those people consented. If we are all bound by the consent of the majority, then it is not a contract at all but rather "might makes right", once again. Or is the law the "social contract"? If that was the case, then no one could change the laws without everyone else's support. Since this never happens, we must assume that this is just yet another version of "might makes right".

So what is it, in a market anarchy, that links us all together? What weaves the fabric of society? Values. More specifically, the values we do have in common with the people we trade with, the common goals that make us want to trade. Fundamentally, whatever our value system, our common goal is to have more possibilities of value-expression, and for most people that means more resources, more technology, more knowledge, more relationships. In short, progress. That's what holds society together and makes it work. Not a "social contract", not a "common good", and not even natural rights. Just progress.

It's simple, but it works!

Monday, September 25, 2006

US Intelligence Report: Government Causes Chaos

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The US House Intelligence Committee recently released a classified National Intelligence Estimate that says that the Iraq war, among other US Government actions, have fueled terrorist sentiments worldwide and made life more dangerous for US civilians. In short, the US government makes the world a more dangerous place, and therefore causes chaos. The New York Times had this to say:

The estimate concludes that the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups to include a new class of “self-generating” cells inspired by Al Qaeda’s leadership but without any direct connection to Osama bin Laden or his top lieutenants.


Read that carefully. The US Government is creating enough worldwide hatred to spawn totally independent terrorist groups. These terrorist groups are comprised of people who would not otherwise have engaged in terrorist activity.

I do not believe that there exists a more telling indicator of the fueling of hatred, violence, and chaos by a government than the spawning of "self-generating" terrorist cells in response to that government's actions abroad.

So it seems (to no surprise, really) that when Bush said that America was safer because of his administration's actions, he was a liar, a lunatic, or an idiot. I'm guessing a combination of all three.

Another lie that Bush constantly says is "They hate our freedom," but do people across the globe hate the US because of Hollywood gossip, or fast food, or boob jobs? No! People across the globe hate the US because of the actions of the government. People across the globe want to kill US civilians because of the actions of the US government.

Perhaps when Bush says that they hate our freedom, what he really means is that terrorists hate the US because of the pseudo-legitimized "freedom" of coercive force that the government wields so frequently.

Collective concepts, like governments, are the instrument of chaos. There is chaos when the government drops bombs abroad that it bought with stolen money. There is chaos when collectivist religious groups attack the entire US, both military and civilian, because no distinction is made between the two; both civilian population and government are viewed collectively as the "United States of America."

A society based on mutual, free consent, and absent of a government, would not lead to chaos. Governments lead to chaos. Government officials think that they can bring order through coercion, or force. Government officials think that they can bring order through the violation of self-ownership, or consent. When government actions lead to chaos, as they often do, the politicians declare, "We must use more bombs and bullets, and steal more money, in order to stop the chaos. You need us more than ever now."

Since the world does have some degree of stability, and since governments are only effective at creating chaos, where does the stability come from? I know where it comes from: The Free Market. Consent-based social frameworks bring stability and security. Consent-based competition is also cooperative; they are not mutually exclusive terms (see this post). How many have died due to the "battle" between Pepsi and Coke, or between Chevy and Ford? Who last picked up a gun and said they would give their life to protect Sony's market share? When did Nike last issue a call to arms to keep its customers and products safe from the evil aggressions of Reebok?

When parties compete and interact in a free market, they do so in a consensual framework, and bring forth stability through productivity. It becomes a race to see which party can produce the most and win the most customers. Consent-based competition is stability, and private parties in a free market play the consensual competition game.

Coercion, on the other hand, is mutually exclusive from "cooperation." You can't cooperate with someone when you are forcing your will onto them and violating their self-determination. Governments play a game of who can brutalize who the fastest. They play a game of attrition, each one betting that they can leech more money, resources, and cannon fodder from their respective civilian populations than their opponent can. Governments need not compete for their customers; they ban competition, and enforce their customer base artificially through taxation at the barrel of a gun. Chaos is coercion, and governments play the coercion game.

Anarchy in D.C. / Sorin Cucerai's Anarchic Argument

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For those of you who have the misfortune of living in or around Washington D.C.: you're about to be in luck:

The Molinari Society will be holding its third annual Symposium in conjunction with the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in Mordor, I mean Washington DC, December 27-30, 2006.

Session 1, 11:15-12:15:
speaker: Matthew MacKenzie (Muhlenberg College)
title: "Exploitation: A Dialectical Anarchist Perspective"

Session 2, 12:15-1:15:
speaker: Geoffrey Allan Plauché (Louisiana State University)
title: "On the Myth of the Founder-Legislator in Political Philosophy"


From Austro-Athenian Empire


Sorin Cucerai, a Roumanian anarchist thinker, has an elaborate discussion of the standard archic argument, as well as his counter, on his article "Aggression and Anarchy". His conclusion is that the principle "aggression against a non-aggressor is morally unacceptable" is more justifiable than the statist principle that "aggression against a non-aggressor is, at least sometimes, morally acceptable." He also discusses why "just so" argument about how the state came to be cannot be justifications for the existence of the state.

In conclusion, any moral principle of aggression is [less justifiable] than the principle of non-aggression against a non-aggressor. Which means that any moral justification of the state based on a principle of aggression is weaker than the moral justification of individualist anarchy. Yet any moral principle can be reformulated in terms of aggression, and/or non-aggression. And if this is so, then the principle of non-aggression against a non-aggressor is the [most justifiable] moral principle. But this principle cannot justify the state. Therefore, any moral justification of the state is weaker than the moral justification of individualist anarchy. As a consequence, the libertarian's right to deny the necessity of the state is - at least in theory - an absolutely undeniable one.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

"Cooperation" and "Competition"

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Statists like to crow about how they favour "cooperation" over "competition", and that their opponents want everyone to be at each other's throats. By comparison, statism is supposed to be a "cooperative" system, where people don't have to fight each other to have a place in the sun.

This, of course, is complete propaganda. The state does nothing but make people fight each other, to determine whose values will be enforced by the state's guns. The state does nothing but create social warfare and oppression. It is not "cooperative" in any sense.

But we should go further than this. Are these distinct concepts, "cooperation" and "competition"? When hearing such words, always look at where they are supposed to be in reality. They are supposed to be properties of processes and systems. People will say things such as "the free market is competition" and that their favourite system is cooperative, not competitive.

Now suppose I go to the convenience store closest to here and buy some chips. I grab the bag, go to the counter, and pay for it. What is that? Most would say "cooperative". But inherent to my actions is the choice of that particular store. I could have gone to any other store around and buy the same brand of chips. The fact that I give this amount of money to this guy at the counter implies both a successful "cooperation" and a successful "competition". Both are aspects of trade, or shall we say, social freedom- for they are one and the same. For when we do anything at all with other people, "cooperation" and "competition" are present in equal parts.

So what we have is basically a false dichotomy. Where does it come from? From statism. Statism thrives on this false dichotomy because they use it to justify state control and portray state violence as a peaceful process. The stereotype is, you've got your "competitive", "dog-eat-dog" people who only want to hurt each other until they are at the top of the heap, creating "progress" but not "compassion" (the conservative paradigm), and you've got your "cooperative" people who are "altruistic" and only wish to be "compassionate" (the liberal paradigm). And of course they want you to believe that those are your only options. Otherwise you might realize that you don't have to have either.

You can have a society where people both work together and support progress- if there is no state that forces them to fight each other to make sure the other fellow doesn't get to impose his values first. The only instance where "cooperation" and "competition" are eliminated is in criminal actions- and by extension the state. Force crowds away trade. The more you force people to follow your values, the less trade that exists in the same system. So, by the use of force, one can defraud, threaten, hurt or kill another human being, and eliminate "cooperation" and "competition" completely.

The end result of such a statist policy is nihilism and "might makes right". This is what we have today.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Show Trials / Rebuttal to the Greenies

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No such thing as show trials in the United States you say? Think again. According to Cato-at-liberty:

Between 2000 and 2005, 99 percent of the 435,000 federal criminal defendants prosecuted nationwide were convicted.



A forested area called Clayoquet, in British Columbia, was opened to commercial use last month. Amidst the rain of eco-fascist handwringing, it was nice to see this opinion letter by one Dan Weagle, from Halifax:

To all the pseudo-environmentalists that will inevitably comment here, stop trying to hold society hostage to appease your morals, most don't share them. Would it be nice if there were a glade in everyone's back yard? Absolutely, but that's not your call to make. They are undoubtedly logging area that few humans ever visit, so forgoing the revenue of the land so that you might feel better is ridiculous. The trees will be replanted and will grow again...so they'll be younger than the preceeding ones....and? If you were serious about your distress over the situation set up a fund that purchases the endangered lands from the people of Canada. With all the people that you believe fervently support your cause you shouldn't have any trouble raising the funds. If you aren't willing to do that then your stand is simply hypocritical.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Another "Road Safety" myth down / One Happy (and Free) Island

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I already mentioned that scientific studies have found that seat belts are less safe as a whole because they make drivers more confident, killing more pedestrians.

Now a new study puts the nail into another "road safety" statist myth- the myth that helmets help bicyclists.

Researcher Ian Walker from the Department of Psychology of Britain's University of Bath found drivers were up to two times more likely to get close when passing cyclists wearing helmets than when overtaking bare-headed pedalers.



Ken Bank went to Aruba and really appreciated all the freedom they have over there. He wrote about it in an inspiring article called "One Happy (and Free) Island":

At home, I can't drive more than a few blocks without seeing a cop car; it's nice to see how my tax dollars are being wasted. In Aruba, I did not see one government thug (aside from the two smiling customs inspectors who waved us through the airport). However, there were plenty of uniforms which belong to private guards, usually designated "Loss Prevention" or "Security." With so much dependent on the tourist trade, businesses in Aruba make sure to provide a reasonable amount of protection to persons and property without becoming intrusive.
(...)
As we went through US customs and immigration pre-clearance while still in Aruba, I began to feel uneasy, as if I was entering a prison. That feeling remained when we landed at Newark Airport, even though we had already been "cleared." After spending one week in Aruba, I appreciate the advantages of being in a country that is not at war with anybody, that minds its own business, and whose government does not promote an environment of mistrust and fear of other people. I also enjoy being in a place where I can pretty much do what I want (like smoking Cuban cigars), where I want so long as I don't interfere with someone else's enjoyment.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Statist Currency Scam

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Democratic states corrupt all vital aspects of society and subvert them for their own ends. In few places is this more true than the monetary system. The statist have a tremendous fear of deflation and do their best to spread that scare into the general population, even though any unbiased economist (i.e. one who doesn't work for the state and does not study how to best support statist goals) will tell you that deflation is the natural state of any currency and was the state of the US dollar before the Fed began mucking around with the economy. Here is a chart that proves it:



You've got your natural process of deflation accompanied by spikes of inflation during wars (1860-1870, 1910-1920 and 1940-1950), which is how it has always been. But then, you get a suspension of the laws of nature- after WW2, the money does not take back value. It keeps losing value! Why? Because of the Federal Reserve's printing presses, colluding with the state and the banks to create booms and busts,

Inflation and deflation are very simple to understand. In a free market without state intervention, productivity goes up continually, and the money supply remains constant. This means that the same amount of money covers a great and greater amount of goods as time goes by. This is the natural deflationary process.

When the state takes over the currency and manipulates it through a central bank, it gains the power to print money for its own purposes (financing war, paying its own debts, whatever). This inflation of the money supply causes a corresponding inflation of prices, but the average citizen still has the same amount of money they had before. So the state, in fact, stole part of every citizen's savings through inflation. It is indirect theft, nothing more- anywhere from 2 to 10% of your money every year is stolen in this way.

In a real free market, this kind of thieving behaviour would be punished by bankrupcy for anyone who issued such a bad currency! They would be decried as incompetent, thieves, crooks on the scale of the Enron scandal. For a currency provider to be unable to control inflation is ridiculous- when all you need to do is stop printing so much money. But of course that wouldn't fulfill the role that the state desires for currency, and therefore simply cannot happen.

That is why we need to replace the current corrupt system with private currencies. The state has zero incentive to give us a sound currency- it already enforces the one it has by force, and has no need for customer satisfaction. A sound currency would not inflate at an obscene pace and make one's savings degrade year after year, which destroys long-term investing. A sound currency would not have interest rates artificially set by an arbitrary authority, creating booms and depressions which are destructive to everyone. The only thing they do right about the currency is making it as hard to counterfeit as possible- after all, they only want their own presses to churn out the Monopoly money, not anyone else's presses, because then it doesn't go in the "right" hands.

The fact is, local currencies already exist. Of course, socialists have distorted the concept and use the concept to force people to buy locally (cultural supremacism rears its ugly head again). It is not the localized nature that concerns us, of course, but rather the potential for competition, and the elimination of unsound currencies- starting with the state's. Local currencies, minus the socialist propaganda, are a sound foundation, but we also need wider currencies for use in large-scale trade.

I mentioned booms and busts as another grave consequence of state control. Through the Central Bank, the state controls more than how much currency it prints, but has a lot of other methods to achieve its goals. Another one is to collude with the banks to offer fractional-reserve banking. Basically, FRB permits banks to loan non-existing money, or more exactly, money counted twice.

Let's assume that the reserve ratio is 5%. This means that 95% of what you put in the bank, believing falsely that it is secure, is in fact being loaned to other people, corporations, or the state- but your bank account will never change. You put a hundred dollars in, and a few days later all the bank has is five dollars, ninety-five of them having been loaned to someone else and appearing on their bank account, but your account still says you have a hundred dollars! So the total amount of money circulating is 195$ - almost half of which is a fiction. And this fictional money is subdivided again, and again, and again... until you get 9 parts of fictional money to 1 part of real money.

Who profits? Certainly not you- you won't see one cent of revenue from those loans made with YOUR money. The big, state-protected banks profit. Public currencies and public central banks are agents of destruction of the economy for the profit of the state and the banks. Abolishing them would be a great step towards having a sound economy.

The main objection to multiple currencies- that it would only create confusion- can equally be applied to the currencies we have around the world today. Shouldn't we, for the sake of simplicity, merge all currencies into one world currency? Anyone with two brain cells would answer that it's a horrible idea, and that if we can't trust politicians to give us sound currency even in the limited competitive market we have today, we can trust them even less to provide a sound world currency. It would be nothing short of economic ruin. And so it is, to a lesser extent, in the countries of the world today.

Also see this Mises.org article: "What If Governments Had Not Destroyed Money?"

Monday, September 18, 2006

Test weapons on your own citizens! / Smoking ban hurts charities

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What else is there to say? Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs

Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.



The Western Standard had an article recently on how charities were heavily affected by the smoking ban, yet again proving that corporate wars fought by the state always hurt the smallest and least powerful. More state intervention, more suffering. Less state intervention, less suffering.

More plainly observed is the hit to the bottom line of non-profit groups after smoking bans are implemented. Many schools, charities and sports clubs raise money by providing volunteers to bingo halls and casinos--where the clientele is heavily weighted toward smokers--and splitting the take with the owners and the province. When Saskatoon banned smoking in that city in 2004, bingo halls reported losing $1.2 million in the first three months, leaving 300 charities and sports clubs facing a $726,000 shortfall. In Ottawa alone, the number of bingo halls has dropped by two thirds, to 4 from 12, since the smoking ban was implemented.

"When we first heard of this legislation, we went to our city council with our concerns about what would happen and started warning," says Ken Coulter, vice-president of the Windsor-Essex Non-Profit Support Network in Ontario. His organization, along with others, appealed to politicians to opt for separate smoking rooms with machine ventilation. In 2002, B.C.'s government rescinded a complete public smoking ban and reverted to allowing properly ventilated smoking rooms following appeals by the hospitality industry to the labour minister. "We have been as vocal as we can be," says Coulter. "It appears our provincial politicians have no interest." He's been working in the non-profit sector for 15 years, he says. "I've never seen it decimated to this degree where I have tenants coming every day now very worried and not paying their rent." Windsor's smoking ban has been in place for only a few months.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The On Line Freedom Academy

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Although it is on my blogroll, the On Line Freedom Academy (TOFLA) is not a blog at all: it is a resource for people who seek to deconvert people from statism specifically (I don't think it addresses religion). More specifically, the general idea is to send a person there and to hope that he or she will be interested enough to go through the process. Furthermore, you will be expected to mentor that person whenever needed.

The TOFLA program is composed of 18 sections, with a short preliminary test for you to get some idea of where you are in terms of understanding the deconstruction involved. From what I have seen so far, the sections are not too ponderous, they are easy to understand for the average person, and they impart a lot of information. It should be an excellent tool of deconversion.

Please note that I am available to mentor anyone who is going through the On Line Freedom Academy program. I'm not going to indulge trolls, of course, but if you are honestly studying it, I'll help you.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Electronic or Black Metal?

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Which musical genre should be the market anarchist music? Some people I know advocate electronic music, and their arguments are cogent. However, someone pointed me to Black Metal musicians who, according to Wikipedia, are "strongly anti-collectivist, critics of religion and are advocates of individualism and rational egoism." Andrew Kemp also thinks that Black Metal has its roots in individualism.

Friday, September 15, 2006

What makes the state?

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To understand the statist mentality and what it worships, we must examine the most fundamental, and yet overlooked, question: what makes the state? Let's examine this question and try to find where the answer might be.

Is the state health care? Many people say that we need the state to give us a "right to health care". This, of course, does not exist- if we have a right of health care, then doctors are inferior to their patients and must be forced to serve them, which is a contradiction. Nevertheless, is health care what the state is about? No. A hospital provides health care, and yet it is not a state. It can be financed by the state, staffed by the state, but even then it is not a state in and of itself. It is just a hospital.

Is the state education? Once again, people believe in the "right to education". They believe that schools should be subject to ruling class values, teaching what the ruling class wants their children to learn, and learning it in the way they want, in order to help society progress. It's completely absurd and contradictory. But is education the state? A school performs the task of education, but a school is not a state. It's just a school.

Is the state roads? People obsess over the roads as a "public good". Yet paving and repairing roads is a job that theoretically anyone can do, with the proper equipment, and anyone can own a road and make use of it. There is nothing particularly public about it compared to, say, a school or a hospital. And private roads are proven to be a superior alternative to tax-funded inefficiency. Nevertheless, people think the roads must be furnished at the point of a gun. So is a road a state? Certainly not.

Is the state military force? States sure seem to be very good at war- it has been their primary activities for most of their history. Killing foreigners is one of their few points of national pride. But a militia or a squadron is not a state. It's just a group of people with big weapons.

Is the state all of these things together? All the hospitals, all the schools, all the roads and all the military forces? Well, no. You can have all of these things in a society and they won't necessarily talk to each other, let alone coordinate an entire state (besides, why those specific areas? Why not chips production and gyms?).

So, is the state not a productive entity, but rather an organization that coordinates them all? We're getting closer, but still no. No one would claim that a B2B company, however big it is, is a state.

So what makes the state? Is it the acts of coercion, for example, taxes imposed by force? No. Someone can stand on a street corner with a gun and demand that people give him money. He may get some, but he will not be called a state.

And yet what do the people composing the state do? They kill, kidnap, extort, enslave, steal, defraud and lie. They do things that ordinary people do, and yet we don't call those ordinary people politicians. So what is the difference?

The difference is: legitimacy. This group of thugs, which controls education, the media, and every other vital area of society, has hookwinded everyone into believing that the state is necessary for a peaceful, equal, ordered and prosperous society- even though they themselves only plunge their own societies into more poverty, inequality, chaos and violence.

What do statists worship? They worship the art of deception. It's as simple as that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What kind of Anarchist are you?

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You scored as Anarcho-Capitalist. Anarcho-capitalism is perhaps more closely linked the libertarian tradition than anarchism as it favours a free market and a stateless society. Private businesses would replace the functions of the state. This form of anarchism is largely an American phenomenon and first emerged in the 1950s (although it arguably has its roots in 19th century individualist anarchism and classical liberalism). Key thinkers include Murray Rothbard.

Anarcho-Capitalist

100%

Anarcho-Syndicalist

45%

Anarcho-Primitivist

20%

Christian Anarchist

20%

Anarcho-Communist

10%

Anarcha-Feminist

10%

What kind of Anarchist are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Union Work / Solution for the Middle East

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Scott Adams has a solution to Middle East conflicts. As far as they go, it's one of the best one:

During the several days that it was 112 degrees and I had no AC, all I wanted to do was build an IED and kill the AC guy who kept driving right past my office and helping other people. In fact, I wanted to kill everyone who didn’t agree with me on just about any point whatsoever.

And I realized that the problem with the Middle East is insufficient AC. If you think about it, virtually all of the organized violence in the world is originating from places where they have poor air conditioning. And in the desert, 112 degrees is considered a pleasant day. Imagine how grumpy you would be at 125 degrees. And guess what I never see on TV when they show footage of the Middle East?

Shade.
Every frickin’ person they interview in the Middle East is standing directly in the sun. Some shade would be a good step toward world peace.


Courtest of Catallarchy.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What is Government?

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Given that market anarchists have a specific political framework, it therefore follows that they also must have a specific way of looking at government. Government is, after all, nothing more than another name for the vast organization from which most of the force in any statist society originates. Government is what all anarchists reject. So what is it exactly that we reject?

The standard definition of government is "a monopoly of force on a given territory". This definition, while quite useful, is incomplete. After all, other individuals in a statist society do use force- criminals, for example. A given person, granted reasonable physical abilities, can murder pretty much anyone. What he cannot do is unilaterally decide to get away with it. He can only get away with it if he doesn't get caught by the state's police. And if he is caught, the government has the legitimacy needed to punish him as a criminal.

Based on this observation, here is the definition I propose for "government":
A government is a monopoly of order on a given territory.

What is the difference? Not that much, and yet still a lot. Our murderer may be an agent of force, but he is not an agent of order. I define order as the social result of an apparatus by which actions are evaluated and judged. Order necessarily implies legitimacy. I can claim that your actions are criminal and that you should be in jail, but that will probably have no effect in the society at large, because my power to praise or condemn is not recognized as legitimate.

In a statist society, the apparatus of order consists of the government, more specifically the police, courts and law-makers. The police arrests individuals, and the courts judge them, based on the monopolous system of law created by the law-makers. The role of the law, therefore, is to codify government exploitation in a legitimate manner.

But this is not the sole possibility by far. As any market anarchist understands, private agencies and courts can fulfill the same role. Public law and monopolous public courts are actually a fairly recent invention- for the large majority of mankind's history, the law was developed by private individuals solving conflicts and exchanging their solutions. There would be no law as we know it today without the innovations of private individuals.

In a market anarchy, therefore, the law would not be one document but rather a great number of documents, which would be supported and changed by consumer demand, and arbitrated by private courts. This dynamic set of documents would only resemble the law as we know it insofar as they are both order-bearing documents, but this is a rather superficial resemblance.

To take a rather trivial example, I could start my own court with this simple rule : "Anyone whose first name comes first on alphabetical order is in the wrong, and must be executed". It's an extremely stupid rule, but it's order-bearing (i.e. it permits me to evaluate and judge social agency). Of course, no one would agree to use my services, since it would place them at the mercy of a simplistic, irrational and easily manipulated rule.

A government or its law, therefore, is not needed at all for order to exist in a society. All we need is a legitimate agreement on what is permitted and what is not permitted, and an enforcment of said agreement. In a statist society, this agreement is the result of legislative struggle. In a market anarchy, this agreement is the result of consumer demand.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Government is Inefficient, Evidence #347139 / Deep Anarchy

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Marginal Revolution reports on yet another piece of evidence on how the government is more inefficient than markets:

Guess how much would it cost a farmer to get telephone service in a small rural county far from a major city? Let's say $800 for satellite service.

Now guess how much the government subsidizes rural phone carriers to provide this service. The answer? As much as $13,000 per line per year.



Max T. O'Connor writes on "Deep Anarchy" in "Report #TL07D: Deep Anarchy -- An Eliminativist View of 'The State'":

Political office holders, who make laws and oversee and coordinate a wide range of statist behaviors, are clearly guilty of statism much of the time, as are the physical enforcers of unjust laws. Obviously they can be more or less statist depending on what they do and say. Bureaucrats who organize and execute statist activities, lowly office workers in the FDA, DEA, IRS, and INS, and those who support their activities are all sources of statism. Business people who gladly accept and encourage subsidies, tariffs, and "government" licenses are not excused from charges of statism simply because they are supposedly not part of "the State." Workers in state-run and monopolized businesses - such as the post office and state schools, are also contributing to statism. Voters are statist because they legitimize the system. The person who uses the power of a "State" agency unjustly against someone (rent control, for example) is being statist. Anyone voting for, verbally supporting, or turning a blind eye to statism is thereby statist.

In so far as there is any sense to talk of "the State" then, it is talk of statist behavior. And this is not confined to easily specifiable individuals.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The Argument from the State of Nature

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There is no justification for the state. This is a relatively simple proposition, and obviously true, but may not seem obvious to prove. After all, it requires one to show that a universal is true. While it is very easy to show that a universal is false (by presenting a counter-example), there are very few recourses to show that a universal is true.

The usual avenue is to prove it using scientific means. The scientific methods involve trying to falsify a hypothesis, going over all the possible falsifications as much as we can, and to constantly keep testing it against new knowledge. This constant vigilance ensures that we are always on solid ground, and not blindly accepting something false, making us build systems in the wrong direction. This would indeed be disastrous, and we naturally prefer to eliminate falsities earlier than later.

So one way we have to prove that states are unjustified is to show the economic facts about free markets, and to show the practical, superior results of anarchy in the real world, as opposed to statism and government intervention. That is, at least, one way of doing it.

Another method is to use deductive means. This is perhaps more abstract and less convincing as a general rule, but it can be just as useful to find truth. In areas where science does not tread, such as supernaturalism or the "paranormal", deductive methods are the only way we have to prove existence or non-existence. If materialism is justified, for example, then we are justified in rejecting supernatural claims (I am not saying that materialism is justified - I do think it is, but the whole issue is beyond the scope of this entry). Likewise, we can reject the belief in a transcendent form of social organization by affirming the truth of ontological individualism.

But this refutation by individualism is not quite sufficient to deductively prove that the state cannot be justified. After all, there are people who believe in the state without believing in collectivism. But there are other ways to look at the situation logically.

Take individual moral status, for example. There are only three complementary possibilities : either people are mostly good, mostly evil, or a mixture of good and evil. If people are mostly good, then there is no need for the state, as people will act morally regardless. If people are mostly evil, then the state is useless, as there would be no good person to enable good governance. But if people are a mixture of good and evil, then a democratic state is the last thing you want, as it selects for exploitative attributes, thus ensuring that only evil people will be in power. So in no case is the state desirable.

Indeed, it is a typical uninformed argument against market anarchy that people are inherently evil and must be ruled. But this, on the contrary, only proves that market anarchy is the only proper form of social organization. If evil is our concern, then eliminating the biggest source of violence and exploitation, the state, should be our first priority.

Instead, if one follows the Lockean and Hobbesian tradition in recognizing man as a fundamentally irrational, egotistical being, one can easily come to the conclusion there is need for a neutral guarantee (a state) upholding peace, individual rights and justice. (...)

However, if man is inherently evil, i.e. egotistical in a short-sighted, irrational and immoral way, how can he set up a neutral, so-called “proper,” government? It would be in his “irrational self-interest” to set up a government safeguarding his personal interests, oppressing others. (...)

Since it is in everybody’s interest in the Hobbesian state of nature to form a personal government oppressing others for ones own well-being, any society would still degenerate into warfare and chaos. Thus, the Hobbesian theory of the formation of government in the state of nature leads only back to the chaotic state of nature. It forms an eternal circle of oppression and war.
"Legitimacy of the State", Per Bylund


Now look at social moral status. Either a society is composed of good people, evil people, or a mixture of both. In the first two cases, we have already seen that the state is undesirable. In the last case, the existence of a state only compounds the problem, as it gives some evil people the opportunity to inflict even more evil on others. In all cases, any given society would be better off without the state than with the state.

Now look at value systems. Either everyone shares the same values, or they don't. If they don't, then they might be dispersed amongst the population, or arranged in some cultural lines (be it race, religion, class, whatever). If everyone shares the same values, then there is obviously no need for the state to impose them. If people differ in values in a scattered way, then it cannot be justified to impose a singular value system on them. If people differ in values because of the cultural groups they belong to, then having a state impose a singular value system on everyone will only cultivate the animosity between these groups, and create social warfare.

Now look at dependence. If everyone needs to be dictated morality in order to be moral, then the state cannot be moral. If no one needs to be dictated morality, then the state is again useless. If some people need to be dictated morality and some do not need such, then we need to safeguard the first category against predators in the second, and the state is the worst possible avenue in that regard, as it is purely predatory.

In all cases where states of society are examined logically, it will be found that the state can never be justified. This is, therefore, an extremely strong intuitive argument for the proposition that the state is never justified.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Botched Paramilitary Police Raids / The Acts of the Democracies

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I have two great links for you today. First, from CATO Institute: Botched Paramilitary Police Raids. "An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko." Second, "The Acts of the Democracies", by "Krysstal", seeks to answer the question: "How have the democratic countries and nations treated peoples, countries and institutions around the world since the end of World War II ?"

Monday, September 4, 2006

The Best of Me Carnival

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The Best of Me Carnival is a carnival hosted by Gary Cruse, of the blog The Owner's Manual. It is a weekly carnival highlighting one's best posts, that are at least two months old. Gary puts these links together with quotes from a theme: the latest one is comedian Mitch Hedberg. I encourage everyone to submit to this excellent carnival.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Politics and morality : hashing it out

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There is no question that market anarchy is correlated with a certain moral outlook on the world. More specifically, market anarchists, and libertarians in general, are people who do not abandon morality in the name of collectivist ideals which really have nothing to do with anyone's values or with any kind of happiness. They are painfully conscious that the end goal of social organization should not be to subject the majority of the population to the value system of a ruling class, whatever that ruling class is.

However, we should not conclude from that the existence of a "libertarian morality" or "market anarchist morality". This is an inversion of the process. Because politics is nothing but an extension of individual values, we have to acknowledge that politics is not subservient to morality, but rather vice-versa. We must speak properly of politics as being a category of value, political values, and not of values being an extension of politics.

The difference is pretty important, in that putting morality as a category of politics completely buys into the collectivist "morality is about how to get along" mentality. Yes, morality does help us get along with each other, but that is a consequence, not a definition. Morality is a study of the laws of reality as they apply to human action, nothing more, nothing less. It applies to a person on a desert island just as much as someone living in a society.

In fact, it applies much more urgently to a person in a desert island, since ignorance of the laws of reality in that case means death. The whole point of living in society is to relieve the urgency of survival, to heighten our standard of living. If it wasn't doing anything for anyone, then we would just disband, go back to the family farm system, and break our backs 365 days a year. But that's obviously a stupid outlook.

Society is the whole of interactions between individuals, and by extension their property and value systems. Society is essential but also presents the opportunity for some individuals to oppress others and completely close their chances to fulfill value. So it presents the inherent liability of slavery. Therefore, we need freedom, we value freedom, because without it we cannot express any other value.

Because of the truth of ontological individualism, the hierarchy of values is the ONLY valid basis for political theory. All others collapse into some form of collectivism (I am, however, willing to be proven wrong on that point).

The fact that politics is a species of morality should not lead us into believing that government is needed to enforce "absolute moral truths". Morality is inherently individualistic, as only individuals can act, benefit and suffer. We must therefore keep in mind that the only legitimate goal of social organization is to support the value expression of individuals. To establish a ruling class to enforce "absolute moral truths" is not only impossible (because of private choice theory), but also immoral (in that it limits the value expression of most individuals).

If there is such a thing as a market anarchist morality, then it is redundant, and should only be called "morality". Non-coercion is virtuous. Rationality is virtuous. Honesty is virtuous. All that market anarchists do is take these principles to their logical extent, and apply them to the ruling class. If murder is a crime, then war, the death penalty, medication regulations, are highly criminal institutions and acts. If theft is a crime, then taxation is criminal. If controlling another person's body is a crime - as in rape and kidnapping - then the War on Drugs and anti-abortion laws are criminal.

From this universal perspective, it is obvious that market anarchy is the only moral political position in existence. But does that mean that immorality would not exist in market anarchy ? Of course not. There will always be criminals. The main difference is that market anarchy deligitimizes and eliminates the crimes of the ruling class, which are by a long shot the most important category of crime. The amount of death, destruction, "victimless criminals" and suppression of value brought about by governments is many orders of magnitude greater than anything private individuals are able to inflict.

There are approximately 25 000 homicides a year in the United States, but the DDT ban alone kills more than 2 million people a year, mostly babies and small children. And that's just ONE government atrocity ! Add up gun control, the Drug War, the FDA, the income tax, immigration laws... there is just no comparison. The state of the world is such that the ruling class is so omnipresent and criminal that it makes living with an apartment with Jeffrey Dahmer and Osama Bin Laden in a free society seem like a happy alternative.

Friday, September 1, 2006

I Finally Took the Politics Test

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I Finally took the OkCupid politics test. I only answered "strongly disagree" or "strongly agree" on all the answers, and most of them I answered with the former. The reason I did that is because I really did have strong beliefs on each question one way or the other. Here are my results.

You are a

Social Liberal
(91% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(95% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Anarchist




Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test


I invite everyone else to take the test and tell us what you got!

Vanuatu: Happiness Heaven or Fraud? / Innocent People Placed On 'Watch List'

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The New Economics Foundation published a recent study where Vanuatu was declared the happiest country on Earth. Later this result was found to be an extrapolation- basically just an assumption they used as gospel. Cato-at-liberty had some choice words to say about this study:

But really! Multiply life expectancy by life satisfaction and divide it by environmental impact? That is, to be over-charitable, completely arbitrary. This is an index of, at best, the New Economic Foundation’s ideological preferences. It is a totally intellectually vacuous product meant to garner headlines, and it worked, to the shame of the Bloombergs and UPIs of the world.

Furthermore, it cheapens the work of real social scientists attempting to measure happiness and well-being. I worry that much of the happiness work is ideologically loaded, but most of it is at least an honest attempt study human welfare empirically. Too much of it, however, is stuff like the NEF’s index, basically an attempt to persuasively define something like “happiness” so that it comports with a statist, anti-growth agenda. This is sheer politics brazenly posturing as social science.



According to TheDenverChannel.com, innocent people are being put on the US government's black list every month:

You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they're reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it.

The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

"Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal.