A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Defense and the State

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A common objection made by statists about anarchy is that the anarchists would quickly be conquered by a neighboring state. Apparently the only way to defend ourselves from criminal gangs is to have a criminal gang of our own. Except, as Robert Higgs points out, such objections are based on two flawed presumptions:

This thinking presumes at least two critical ideas: first, that defense of a population requires a government that rules that population; and, second, that if a government has the power to take over another country, it will do so.

As for the first assumption, it seems clear that a national government may prove an ineffective means of defense in any event, as many governments have demonstrated through the ages. Moreover, it is certainly conceivable that decentralized measures of defense, such as pervasive guerrilla groups operating more or less independently, might prove effective in preventing a foreign takeover.

As for the second assumption, the persistence of many small countries with weak governments, even in today’s world, certainly calls into question the idea that effectively defenseless countries cannot persist. Surely Brazil has the means to conquer Uruguay, but it does not do so. Surely Germany or France has the means to conquer Belgium, but neither does so. And so forth in regard to many other countries. Governments have various good reasons for refraining from such possible conquests.

The apocalyptic scenario predicted by statists should be playing out today since there are many states easily able to conquer their neighbors. Unless, of course, the statists are claiming that colored pieces of cloth hanging from poles have some kind of magical power to repel invaders. But even if that’s the case, each anarchist in an stateless society could fly their own piece of colored cloth to keep neighboring states off of their property.

The threat of military invasion as a justification for having a state may be one of the flimsiest arguments against anarchism. We have very good examples of a militarily inferior force holding a military superior force at bay in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries in the Middle East and Africa. Hell, the North Vietnamese showed the United States how successful guerrilla warfare is against a militarily superior force. Lacking a formal military doesn’t make a particular chunk of dirt more vulnerable to invasion. If anything, it makes that chunk of dirt more dangerous because there’s no centralized force to take out to break the inhabitant’s will to continue fighting.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 30th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Gun Control is Futile

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I know that I’ve beaten this horse to death but people still call for gun control so I have to keep pulverizing the equine’s carcass. Today we’re going to travel to Brazil, where gun control laws are pretty strict.

The reason gun control is futile is because a gun is something that can be easily built with a few modest tools. Police in Brazil recently confiscated a homemade machine gun. Unlike a lot of homemade guns, this one is actually pretty nicely finished and decently designed:

The pistol shown above, chambered to the .380ACP round, has an unusually decent overall finish and came with a very large capacity (30-round +?) box magazine. The tubular receiver extends to a muzzle area extension made of a brass-like material. The magazine housing just ahead of the trigger guard is a box-like structure, the ejection port being vertically-located there. Since no fire-selector or applied safety devices are visible, it would seem that the contrivance is a full-auto-only gun (confirmed in one of the videos), as it’s often the case with such DIYs. Sights? Who needs them?

Truth be told, guns aren’t unique in being impossible to control. Anything that has been created can be copied. But the simple the device is the more easily it can be copied. Trying to control the spread of any technology is futile and it only becomes more futile with simpler technologies.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 30th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Difference Between Criminal Gangs and the State

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What’s the difference between a criminal gang and the State? Scope:

The Drug Enforcement Administration seized more than $4 billion in cash from people suspected of drug activity over the last decade, but $3.2 billion of those seizures were never connected to any criminal charges.

A report by the Justice Department Inspector General released Wednesday found that the DEA’s gargantuan amount of cash seizures often didn’t relate to any ongoing criminal investigations, and 82 percent of seizures it reviewed ended up being settled administratively—that is, without any judicial review—raising civil liberties concerns.

In total, the Inspector General reports the DEA seized $4.15 billion in cash since 2007, accounting for 80 percent of all Justice Department cash seizures. Those figures do not include other property, such as cars and electronics, which are favorite targets for seizure by law enforcement.

All of this is possible through civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to seize property if they suspect it’s connected to criminal activity, without having to file criminal charges against the owner. While law enforcement groups say civil asset forfeiture is a vital tool to disrupt drug traffickers and organized crime, the Inspector General’s findings echo the concerns of many civil liberties groups, which say asset forfeiture creates perverse incentives for law enforcement to seize property.

Civil forfeiture is a euphemism for armed robbery. With the exception of a few states, assets stolen via civil forfeiture don’t have to be tied to a crime in order to remain in the State’s possession. This is because civil forfeiture is based on the concept of being guilty until proven innocent. Unless you can prove that the stolen property wasn’t tied to a drug crime, an impossible feat, the State will keep it.

In eight years the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stole $4.15 billion in cash and that figure doesn’t even include all of the other property stolen by the agency. All without having to find anybody guilty of a crime.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 30th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Everything is Stand Your Ground Law Now

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If three armed individuals break into your home and you shoot them does that fall under stand your ground doctrine? According to our friends across the pound it does:

The intruders – who police say were armed with brass knuckles and a knife – were shot by a 23-year-old man in an act of “self-defence”, officers said.

The son may not face charges due to so-called stand your ground laws.

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Two of the teenagers died inside the home and one ran outside before dying in the driveway.

I understand that learning what stand your ground doctrine means takes a whole 30 seconds of Google searching and that’s a lot of time when you’re trying to get your article in front of people who have the attention span of a goldfish. Still, it would benefit everybody if the facts being reported were accurate. In that sprit I will clarify the difference between castle doctrine, what the author was probably thinking of, and stand your ground.

Castle doctrine states that an individual has the right to defend themselves in their home without a duty to retreat. Stand your ground doctrine states that an individual has a right to defend themselves wherever they are, assuming they have a right to be there, without a duty to retreat. This case would fall more under castle doctrine than stand your ground.

But even in the absence of either law, assuming the facts currently being reported are accurate, this case looks like a pretty clear example of regular old self-defense. Three armed individuals wearing masks smashed a sliding glass window to gain entry into the home. That signals intentions that aren’t good for the homeowner.

You don’t find Girl Scouts smashing sliding glass windows to sell homeowners cookies. Even Jehovah Witnesses don’t go that far. So it’s fairly safe to assume that somebody breaking into your home doesn’t have good intentions.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 29th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Incompetency Will Solve Everything

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Computer security has become a hot topic, which I appreciate since it was almost completely ignored for such a long time. Unfortunately, as with any hot topic, politicians are forcing themselves into the conversation. Two members of Congress have come up with the wonderful idea of putting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in charge of regulating computer security:

Two Democrats in Congress are imploring FCC head Ajit Pai to address cybersecurity issues in the United States, arguing vulnerabilities in cellular networks infringe on citizens’ liberties and pose a “serious threat” to national security. Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Ted Lieu penned a letter to Pai laying out known issues in modern communications systems and asking the FCC to step in. However, that’s unlikely to happen.

Putting an agency of one of the single most incompetent organizations, one with networks that are supposedly too old to secure, on Earth in charge of computer security? What could go wrong!

This is the problem with letting people who are clueless about a subject talk seriously about regulating it. I’ll at least give Mr. Lieu some credit for having a degree that involves computers. But a computer science degree alone doesn’t make one an expert in computer security and, as far as I know, Mr. Lieu didn’t work in the industry so his knowledge on the subject, if he has any, is likely entirely theoretical.

But we live in a democracy, which means that whatever the plurality of voters, in this case members of Congress, say is literally law. It doesn’t matter how unqualified the voters are. It doesn’t matter how idiotic the idea being voted on is. The only thing that matters is whether the majority of voters say yay or nay.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 29th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Capitalism Cannot Give Consumers Taste

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It was brought to my attention that an Internet meme managed to nail a multi-million reality television show. This news didn’t surprise me because she became an Internet meme by being trashy and trashy television sells. Some people aren’t happy about this because they think everybody should watch highbrow television (i.e., whatever television show they like). But the market has spoken and while the market can’t give consumers taste, it does at least give them a choice:

According to reports, Danielle Bregoli, the 14-year-old girl who became a popular internet meme this year due to a failed intervention on the Dr. Phil show, has signed a deal for her own reality television show. On a personal level, there is much to find offensive in Bregoli’s fame, in spite of her obvious marketing prowess. She is, after all, internet-famous simply for her improper English, toxic personal behavior, and apparent lack of respect for anyone around her. On an economic level, however, her rise is an interesting example of how capitalism rewards the interests of the masses, regardless of the opinion of the cultural elite.

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Capitalism cannot give consumers taste, just as democracy cannot give voters wisdom. What capitalism does do, however, is give consumers choice — and creates the incentives necessary for producers to meet the desires of the people. Democracy simply offers the masses the ability to enforce the whims of the majority against the wishes of the minority. In America no one will be forced to watch a minute of a reality show about Danielle Bregoli, but should it find commercial success, its viewers will have the ability to shape American policy going forward.

A lot of people believe that their preferences should be everybody’s preferences. State socialism is the ultimate expression of their attitude because the State controls all means of production and therefore dictates what will and will not be provided to consumers. Whoever controls the State, in that case, controls what options consumers have.

Markets work the other way. Anybody can possess means of production and therefore bring options to consumers. Whether one wants media that forces a particular viewpoint down consumers’ throats, show epic space battles, or feature annoying teenage girls being jackasses, they can have their show under a market economy. So while I might judge your for your tastes, the market won’t.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 29th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Political Solutions Don’t Work

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A lot of people here in the United States are flipping out because the rulers are voting to allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sell customer usage data:

A US House committee is set to vote today on whether to kill privacy rules that would prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from selling users’ web browsing histories and app usage histories to advertisers. Planned protections, proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would have forced ISPs to get people’s consent before hawking their data – are now at risk. Here’s why it matters.

It amazes me that more people seem to be upset about private companies selling their usage information for profit than providing their usage data to law enforcers so the wrath of the State’s judicial system can be brought upon them. Personally, I’m far more concerned about the latter than the former. But I digress.

This vote demonstrates the futility of political solutions. At one point the privacy laws were put into place by the State. The process of getting those laws put into place probably involved a lot of begging and kowtowing from the serfs. But Congress and the presidency have been shuffled around and the new masters disagree with what the former masters did so all of that begging and kowtowing was for nothing.

The problem with political solutions is that they’re temporary. Even if you can get the current Congress and president to pass laws that will solve your particular problems, it’s only a matter of time until Congress and the presidency changes hands and undoes the laws you begged so hard to have passed.

If you want a problem solved you have to solve it yourself. In the case of Internet privacy, the best defense against snoopy ISPs is to utilize a foreign Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider that respects your privacy and is in a country that is difficult for domestic law enforcement to coerce. Using a VPN will deprive your ISP, and by extent domestic law enforcement, of your usage data.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Facebook Wants You to Be Part of the Problem

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Anybody who was using Facebook during the presidential election probably remembers being encouraged to go to the polls so they could force their will upon their fellow human beings. Facebook wasn’t content with encouraging bad behavior for just the presidential election though. Now it’s planning to harass you about local elections:

Facebook isn’t limiting its get-out-the-vote initiatives to federal elections. The social network is now offering reminders to vote in local US elections, whether they’re at the county, municipal or state level. You’ll see these notices as long as you’re in an area with over 10,000 people, and they’ll include primaries in addition to general elections. It could be crucial to spurring interest in frequently neglected regional elections, especially in tandemn with Facebook’s officially launched Town Hall feature.

Facebook wants you to be part of the problem and that problem is forcing your will upon other people.

Voting is sacred in this country. If you speak ill of it the State’s true believers will descend upon you like starving hyenas. They’ll spout bullshit about voting being the peaceful way to implement change but it’s not peaceful. Voting is very violent. When you vote you are telling the State that you would greatly appreciate it if it used its capacity for violence to enforce your desires. It’s like hiring a thug to beat the shit out of people who aren’t doing what you want them to do except you’re making everybody pay for your thug.

This chunk of land called the United States of America probably wouldn’t be half bad if people weren’t so busy threatening each other with votes. But they are and it has turned this chunk of land into a festering shithole. If you really want to implement change, stop being part of the problem.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Living Under a Criminal Enterprise

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Will you look at that, it’s a day ending in “y.” You know what that means, right? It means another Internet scam is afoot! This time the scam involves a flaw in Mobile Safari that was just patched yesterday:

The flaw involved the way that Safari displayed JavaScript pop-up windows. In a blog post published Monday afternoon, researchers from mobile-security provider Lookout described how exploit code surreptitiously planted on multiple websites caused an endless loop of windows to be displayed in a way that prevented the browser from being used. The attacker websites posed as law-enforcement actions and falsely claimed that the only way users could regain use of their browser was to pay a fine in the form of an iTunes gift card code to be delivered by text message. In fact, recovering from the pop-up loop was as easy as going into the device settings and clearing the browser cache. This simple fix was possibly lost on some uninformed targets who were too uncomfortable to ask for outside help.

Patch your shit, folks.

I had a friend comment that he couldn’t believe that anybody would be stupid enough to fall for this since law enforcement would never highjack a phone and demand payment in iTunes gift cards. Although demanding payment in iTunes gift cards would be unusual for law enforcement, the actions being taken by the scammers aren’t that different than many actions taken by law enforcement. The scammers used a threat in order to extort wealth from their victim just as law enforcement agents do. When people have lived their entire life worrying about being pulled over and threatened with violence if they don’t pay a fine for driving too fast or, worse yet, having their vehicle and cash confiscated under civil forfeiture laws, the idea that police officers would highjack your browser and demand payment probably doesn’t seem that odd.

We all live under a massive criminal enterprise known as the State. It has taught us that being extorted is just a way of life. With that in mind, it’s not too surprising to me that there are people who fall for these kinds of scams.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Getting What You Want Good and Hard

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Stories of genies often involve a poor sap coming across a genie’s lantern, being granted three wishes, and receiving exactly what they wished for. The twist is that their wishes are usually poorly thought out and therefore the fulfillment of their wishes brings despair instead of joy. This is why when somebody expresses a poorly thought out desire I often tell them that I hope that they get everything wish for and that they get it good and hard.

At one point in time the United States government had virtually no involvement in marriage. The lack of government involvement meant practices such as polygamy were legal. This didn’t sit well with many Christians of the time. Relying on the fact that most of the people in the government were also Christians, they made a wish for the government to get involved in the institute of marriage and that wish was granted:

The idea that the Constitution protects only what happens between a person’s ears isn’t novel. It has roots in a series of laws, and the Supreme Court decisions that upheld them, from 1862 through 1890. The goal at the time was to rein in a new and dangerous-seeming religious movement called Mormonism by criminalizing its most eccentric practice: polygamy. But by claiming the right to regulate the behavior of people of faith, mainstream believers set the stage for the modern political left to step in and regulate them—and to have 150 years’ worth of precedents on their side when they did it.

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In 1852, the LDS Church began openly defending plural marriage. This is what elevated the “Mormon problem” to the national stage. Beginning in the 1850s, Eastern newspapers were rife with references to polygamy as “evil,” “licentious,” a “brutalizing practice,” “repugnant to our sentiments of morality and social order,” and “shocking to the moral sense of the world.” The New York Times editorialized repeatedly for taking direct action against the Latter-day Saints. “The fact, if it be a fact, that the women are willing to live in polygamy, is no reason for our allowing them to do so,” the editors of the paper wrote in March 1860. What had begun as rival groups skirmishing over frontier resources came to be seen as an existential conflict: The soul of the whole country seemed to be at stake if the federal government allowed such behavior to continue.

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In December 1881, Sen. George F. Edmunds of Vermont introduced a law to make anyone who accepted the Church’s teachings on polygamy ineligible to vote, hold public office, or serve on a jury. Again, the editors of the Times endorsed the act’s passage: “It must be admitted that the Edmunds bill is a harsh remedy for polygamy. But then the disease in Utah has gone beyond remedies that are not more or less heroic.”

It passed, as did another law five years later disincorporating the Church and declaring that all Church property and assets above $50,000 would be confiscated by the government.

The Christians of the day got what they wanted but they didn’t think their wish through very well. When you grant government power over something that power is almost always permanent. What happens when your group is no longer the primary influencer of the government? You suddenly find those powers you granted it being used against your wishes.

Today hardcore Christians find themselves at odds with the government when it comes to marriage. The government has become more liberal and has begun allowing same-sex marriages. This hasn’t sat well with many Christians who not only believe that marriage can only be between one man and one woman but also believe the governments should enforce their belief.

Marriage isn’t unique in this regard. Whenever a government gets involved in something the advocates of it doing so cheer… until that government no longer sides with their beliefs. Suddenly they find the power they granted to the government being used against their beliefs but are powerless to do anything about it.

Always keep in mind that granting government more power will turn out poorly in the long run.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 27th, 2017 at 10:30 am