A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Not So Crazy Libertarian Ideals’ tag

Attacking Sacred Cows

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Those of you who have been reading my blog for even a short time probably realize that I enjoy shitting all over people’s sacred cows. My current favorite sacred cows to shit all over are, in no particular order, democracy, nationalism, and national heroes (groups of people blindly worshiped as heroes such as the police). While I’m not unique in this, I believe that my motivations differ from many of those who also enjoy defecating on people’s sacred objects. I don’t do is for shock value or to piss of people. The reason I go after idols so fervently is because I’m trying to help people become self-aware.

Most of us have a head full of programming that was instilled in us at a young age. I like to refer to behavior that results from this programming as automaton behavior although an equally accurate term is probably unconscious behavior. Regardless of what you want to call it, it’s performed without thinking. A lot of this programming is legitimately useful. For example, programming that makes you automatically look both ways before crossing a street can save your life. But a lot of this programming is unnecessary or even detrimental.

Nationalism is a good example of programming that is certainly unnecessary and oftentimes detrimental. What value does one actually derive from acting on the belief that their nation is better than any other nation on the planet? With the exception of monetary gain derived from appealing to other people who blindly act on their nationalism programming, very little. But the costs of acting on this belief can be very high. For example, people frequently join the military because of their nationalism programming, which often results in them being killed in a far off country. Another example of detrimental automaton behavior is national hero worship. When a police officer kills somebody under questionable circumstances many people’s national hero worship programming causes them to defend the officer’s actions regardless of how egregious they were. When this programming exists on a sufficiently large scale it shields such officers from the consequences of their actions and teaches other officers that they can get away with such behavior. I’m sure you can see how this kind of automaton behavior, when practiced on a large scale, makes any reformation of policing difficult if not impossible.

Overcoming automaton behavior requires one to first identify the programming. This is where attacking sacred cows comes in. While one simple attack against a sacred cow is seldom effective at helping an individual identify the programming that causes their automaton behavior, enough successive attacks often are. Case in point, I’ve seen several people who have long been acting on their national hero worship programming to defend every egregious action taken by a cop finally admit that there might be a problem with modern policing after the recent shooting in Minneapolis. This admission usually comes in the form of advising people not to call 911. While that isn’t a solution likely to result in fix the problem it is the beginning of overcoming the national hero worship programming.

Until an individual begins to act consciously it’s difficult for me to call them self-aware. I want a world full of self-aware individuals. While a self-aware individual is not guaranteed to agree with my views, and most likely will disagree with many if not most of my views, they will at least came to their conclusions by their own actions instead of having their beliefs instilled in them by others. That, in my book as a radical individualist, is a significant victory.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 21st, 2017 at 11:00 am

Radical Individualism

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As I get older I identify myself more as a radical individualist. This is because all of the other terms that might describe my philosophy carry too much baggage. Anarchist is a vast term that can cover a spectrum so wide that is encompasses everything from anarcho-communism to anarcho-capitalism. Anarcho-capitalism has been so thoroughly infested with alt-right loonies that the term has become poison. Libertarianism can mean either minarchists or anarchists. Basically, whenever I look at the people who also fall under a particular label I’m reminded of a line from the leftist song The Ultimate Sectarian, “Yes, you may be a comrade to all of these folks, but you ain’t no Comrade of mine.”

Admittedly, the term radical individualist can also encompasses a lot of trash, such as objectivists, but it at least more narrowly defines my belief that the individual is all and clearly denotes my opposition of collectivism in any form.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 20th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Bypassing Taxes

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One of the most heroic things any company can do is find exploits in the State’s tax code that allow it to provide a product to consumers for less. This both benefits the consumers and is detrimental to the government. I recently came across an article discussing how Converse, the maker of sneakers, bypasses an idiotic tax (a redundant term, I know) to bring its customers a more affordable product:

Have you ever noticed that thin layer of felt on the bottom of a pair of Converse sneakers? It gets torn up almost immediately, of course, as you walk on the shoes. So, why is it there in the first place? It turns out that that felt is there not for functional reasons, but for economic ones—shoes with fuzzy soles are taxed less when imported than those with rubber ones.

Jeff Steck writes on Gazetc that the difference between importing a fuzzy shoe—like a house slipper—and a rubber one—like a sneaker—can be huge. Changing the shoe material can decrease the tariff from 37.5 percent down to just 3 percent. Steck writes:

To benefit from a lower tariff, it isn’t necessary to cover the entire sole with fabric. According to the inventors, “a classification may be based on the type of material that is present on 50% or more of the bottom surface.” (6,471,491) This explains why the “fabric” fuzz extends mostly around the edges of my shoes, where it can take up a lot of area without interfering too much with the traction of the bare-rubber centers.

Why would the United States government put a 37.5 percent tariff on sneakers? Because doing so both enriches it and provides protection to local producers by artificially increasing the price of foreign sneakers. Of course, the tax code is ridiculously complex so any company willing to fund a decent accountant is usually able to find creative ways to either avoid tariffs completely or at least reduce the amount of tariff they have to pay.

While I’ve never had an interest in Converse sneakers, or sneakers in general, I almost want to buy a pair just to support this company’s actions. It’s always nice when a producer is willing to go to bat for consumers living in cesspools of socialist economic policy.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 20th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Your Internet Sucks Because of Government

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When it comes to Internet access parts of the United States often feel like a third world country. If you live in a small town you may be lucky if you can even get digital subscriber line (DSL) service. Those living in larger cities often have access to high speed cable Internet but that is far from the blazing fast fiber connections that people in other parts of the world and a handful of lucky denizens in the United States enjoy. But why does Internet access in the United States suck? Is it due to a failure of capitalism or market forces? No. As it turns out, the reason Internet access sucks in the United States is the same reason so many things suck, government:

Deploying broadband infrastructure isn’t as simple as merely laying wires underground: that’s the easy part. The hard part — and the reason it often doesn’t happen — is the pre-deployment barriers, which local governments and public utilities make unnecessarily expensive and difficult.

Before building out new networks, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must negotiate with local governments for access to publicly owned “rights of way” so they can place their wires above and below both public and private property. ISPs also need “pole attachment” contracts with public utilities so they can rent space on utility poles for above-ground wires, or in ducts and conduits for wires laid underground.

The problem? Local governments and their public utilities charge ISPs far more than these things actually cost. For example, rights of way and pole attachments fees can double the cost of network construction.

So the real bottleneck isn’t incumbent providers of broadband, but incumbent providers of rights-of-way. These incumbents — the real monopolists — also have the final say on whether an ISP can build a network. They determine what hoops an ISP must jump through to get approval.

Starting an Internet service provider (ISP) or expanding an existing one normally wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Digging trenches and laying cable isn’t exactly rocket science nor is it exorbitant expensive. But receiving permission from municipal governments and their utility companies doesn’t come cheap because they have a monopoly.

If a free market existed in utility provision, ISPs would be able to negotiate cheaper right-of-way agreements when they were needed because most companies would be happy to receive a little extra for letting an ISP utilize already existing infrastructure. And if one utility company didn’t want to lease the use of its infrastructure, an ISP could negotiate a contract with one of that company’s competitors. Another possibility under a free market would be utility companies not even bothering to build infrastructure but leasing the use of infrastructure built by companies that specialize in building and leasing it to utility providers, including ISPs.

However, many municipal governments have granted themselves a monopoly on both utilities and the infrastructure. Without any competition these municipal governments can charge ISPs whatever they want for access to their infrastructure. This ends up hurting the people living in the municipality but municipal governments, like all governments, don’t care about the people they claim dominion over.

If Americans want better Internet they need to either take control of their municipal governments’ infrastructure (which was built with money stolen from taxpayers anyways) or bypass it entirely.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 18th, 2017 at 11:00 am

How Every Election Should Turn Out

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On election day I follow the advice of the great philosopher George Carlin:

And I’m not alone. During presidential elections voter turnout usually hovers around 60 percent, which means roughly 40 percent of eligible voters stay home as well (thank them for not trying to force their beliefs on you). Voter burnout during non-presidential national elections is generally lower while municipal elections are usually lower yet. In Wichita, Kansas the turnout for City Council District 1 was even lower than most municipal elections:

Three hours into voting for Wichita City Council District 1, the race was locked in a four-way tie.

Zero, zero, zero to zero.

Advance voting in the Aug. 1 primary election opened at 8 a.m. Monday at the Sedgwick County election office downtown.

But by 11 a.m., “We haven’t had anyone vote yet,” Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman said. “It’s sad.”

By the end of the day a total of seven people showed up to the polls. Everybody else in that district might want to find out who those seven fools were and steer clear of them since they obviously have an interest in forcing their beliefs on their neighbors but I digress. Democratically elected governments derive their “legitimacy” from numbers. The more people who vote for a government the more “legitimate” it claims to be. However, when nobody votes or only a handful of people vote the elected government can’t claim much “legitimacy.” How can an elected official claim to represent the people if only three or four people voted for them?

One of the best ways to strip a democratically elected government of its “legitimacy” is to join the rest of us who stay home on election day. After all, if the president was actually decided by the choice made by the plurality of eligible voters then Donald Trump wouldn’t be in office nor would anybody else because the plurality said that they didn’t want a ruler (See how easy it is to point out that the president doesn’t actually represent the people?).

Written by Christopher Burg

July 18th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Backdoor Gun Confiscation

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Yesterday I was involved in a rather lengthy debate on gun rights. The debate started, as many debates surrounding gun rights currently start, with the shooting of Philando Castile and the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) almost complete lack of comment on the matter until very recently (which was, to put it generously, a very lukewarm comment).

As the debate went on the fact that Castile had tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in his system, which indicates that he had used cannabis prior to being pulled over, came up. A few individuals were saying that Castile’s permit was invalid because he was illegally using cannabis while the other side was pointing out that the NRA should have been raising Cain over the fact that a carry permit can be revoked over using cannabis. That sparked a debate over whether or not the NRA should stick strictly to guns or venture into areas that intersect with guns as well.

This probably won’t surprise anybody but I’m of the opinion that the battle for gun rights cannot be won by focusing strictly on gun issues alone. Whenever the gun issue intersects with another issue gun rights advocates should get involved. I believe this because the issues that intersect with gun rights but are necessarily strictly related to gun rights are currently being used to expand an already massive backdoor confiscation system.

Outside of a few states like California and New York there isn’t a lot of push for legal firearm confiscation programs. There are pushes for prohibitions against purchasing firearms with certain features but, with the exception of California, these pushes have all grandfathered in currently owned firearms. However, there is a mechanism already in place that allows the State to both confiscate currently owned firearms and prohibit individuals from owning firearms again. That mechanism is expanding the number of laws otherwise unrelated to guns that prohibit gun ownership.

For example, users of prohibited drugs cannot own firearms. Felons, including nonviolent felons, cannot own firearms. The latter is especially concerning when you consider that the average working professional commits three felonies a day. If you’re a working professional you’re likely committing a few felony crimes unknowingly. Confiscating your firearms would only require a prosecutor to bring charges against you and prove your guilt in a court. On the surface most of those felony crimes are entirely unrelated to guns yet they can be used as a backdoor confiscation mechanism.

Therein lies the problem with sticking strictly to the gun issue. So long as gun rights advocates and organizations are unwilling to involve themselves in issues that intersect with firearm ownership they will leave the biggest gun confiscation mechanism untouched and gun control advocates will continue to expand the number of crimes that revoke gun ownership privileges.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 14th, 2017 at 11:00 am

What the NAP Is, What the NAP Isn’t

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The non-aggression principle (NAP) is a pretty straight forward ethical guideline that states that the initiation of force is unethical. It’s basically a rewording of the Golden Rule and forms the foundation of libertarianism. However, there seems to be some confusion regarding what the NAP is and isn’t. Most of this confusion originates from the “libertarian” nationalists who, for whatever reason, want to associate themselves with libertarianism but don’t want to actually abide by libertarian principles.

“Libertarian” nationalists have been saying that the NAP doesn’t apply to non-libertarians. If somebody, for example, espouses communist ideals then, according to these individuals, you can initiate as much aggression against them as possible. Leave it to nationalists to espouse collectivist ideals while simultaneously claiming that they oppose collectivism.

The NAP, like all ethical systems, applies only to the individuals practicing it. If you practice the NAP then it applies to you. If you don’t practice the NAP then it doesn’t apply to you. While there is some disagreement about what exactly constitutes aggression, in general libertarians tend to believe that if everybody abided by the NAP then the world would be a better place. To that end many libertarians have formed relationships with others who abide by the NAP. In such cases the NAP applies to each individual in those relationships because they all choose to abide by it.

In addition to being simple, the NAP is also philosophically neutral. Libertarians aren’t the only individuals who can abide by the NAP. Anybody who practices voluntary association can abide by the NAP. That means somebody who doesn’t believe in private property but believes in voluntary association, such as voluntary socialists, can abide by the NAP. If they do, then the NAP applies to them. If a libertarian chooses to aggress against them then it is the libertarian who the NAP cease to apply to since through their act of initiating aggression they demonstrated that they do not abide by it (moreover, the voluntary socialist being aggressed against is well within their rights under the NAP to defend themselves aggressively).

“Libertarian” nationalism is an oxymoronic philosophy because it claims to be both individualist and collectivist in nature. This nonsensical combination of philosophies leads its proponents to make rather absurd statements such as claiming that the NAP applies to collectives instead of individuals who choose practice it.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 13th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Violence is the Result of Prohibition

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Supporters of the war on drugs love to talk about the violence inherent in the drug trade. However, as this article posted by the Cato Institute points out, the violence we see in the drug trade today is the result of prohibition, not the drug trade itself:

Violence isn’t any more inherent to the distribution of marijuana or cocaine than it was to the distribution of alcohol in the 1920s. A resident of Chicago in 1929 could be forgiven for wondering whether all the violence on the front page of the Chicago Tribune represented something inherently dangerous in alcohol distribution, but we now know that it didn’t. Prohibition-era alcohol distribution was violent because it was illegal, not the other way around.

Today, the executives of Anheuser-Busch might laugh at the suggestion that alcohol distributors can’t settle disputes without resort to gunfire massacres. So might the members of America’s pharmaceutical industry, who manage to distribute billions of dollars in legal drugs without cutting anyone’s throat.

Unfortunately, Sessions’ logic seems to be seeping into other areas of the administration as well. President Trump, who once favored the legalization of all drugs, recently tweeted that drug violence in Mexico is a reason to further separate our two countries rather than acknowledging the immense role that U.S. drug policy has in stimulating Mexican violence.

Drug prohibition, not a porous border or anything inherent in Mexican society, is what has turned the Mexican drug war into an actual war.

Markets, the voluntary trade amongst consenting individuals, is the opposite of violence. Were it not for the prohibition against certain drugs the market for those drugs would be no more violent than the markets for alcohol and over the counter medication. We’re seeing this today in states like Colorado and Washington that have legalized cannabis. Violence in Colorado and Washington has actually decreased since the violence wrought against otherwise peaceful actors in the cannabis market are no longer being kidnapped by law enforcers.

Every law passed that creates a victimless crime also initiates violence. If, for example, a law was passed against gun ownership there would be a major increase in violence, not from gun owners, but from law enforcers brining violence against peaceful gun owners.

If people like Jeff Sessions actually want to address this issue of violence in the drug market then they need to start demanding the complete appeal of the laws that prohibit that market. Advocating for more stringent enforcement of those laws will only lead to more violence.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 12th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Libertarians Versus Pragmatists

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Since Trump received the Republican Party presidential nomination a lot of so-called libertarians started shifting away from libertarianism towards national socialism. When he won the election these many of these former libertarians turned into full on national socialists. Of course they don’t call themselves national socialists of fascists. They have a bunch of friendlier sounding terms such as alt-righters and pragmatists. But when you press them about their beliefs it’s almost impossible to distinguish them from national socialists.

Why did people who formerly identified as libertarians, or at least libertarian leaning, make a 180 degree turn? If you ask them what their pet issue is they almost always say that it’s fighting socialists at all costs. While I’m unclear as to how becoming socialists will defeat socialists I do know how these individuals descended into national socialism. They became obsessed with enemies instead of principles.

There is a schism between principled libertarians and pragmatists (who often call themselves pragmatic libertarians but, as I’ll show, aren’t libertarians in any meaningful way). Principled libertarians follow the strategy of leading by example. They believe that by acting on libertarian principles they can be an example of how practical those principles are and hopefully get other people to follow them. Pragmatists follow the strategy of using any means necessary to defeat socialists.

If the principled libertarians succeed they will have carved out a section of the planet where libertarian values are the norm. If the pragmatists succeed they will have replaced one set of socialist rulers with another set. Therein lies the fallacy of pragmatism. Following principles may not succeed but if it does succeed it results in the implementation of libertarianism. Being pragmatic may not succeed either but even if it does succeed it results in more of the status quo.

If an individual isn’t pursuing a strategy to expand libertarianism can they really be called libertarians? I don’t believe so. That is why I don’t believe pragmatic “libertarians” are libertarians. They’re simply individuals who are pursuing an enemy and don’t care about the outcome beyond removing that enemy from power. Libertarians, on the other hand, very much care about the outcome leading to a more libertarian world, which is why they pursue principles.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 11th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Freest Country on Earth

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A lot of people in the United States mistakenly believe that peacekeeper and law enforcer are interchangeable terms. In a nation where the only laws on the books were laws against harming others that could be true. But a vast majority of the laws in the United States have nothing to do with harming others, which is what a vast majority of prisoners are being held for victimless crimes:

In light of that, let us review some statistics which demonstrate just how destructive the mass incarceration of victimless criminals has become to our society. The 2009 federal prison population consisted of criminals who committed these crimes:

Drugs 50.7%

Public-order 35.0%,

Violent 7.9%

Property 5.8%

Other .7%

Drug offenses are self-explanatory as being victimless, but so too are public-order offenses, which also fall under the victimless crimes category. Public order offenses include such things as immigration, weapons charges, public drunkenness, selling lemonade without a license, dancing in public, feeding the homeless without a permit. etc….

86 percent of prisoners in the United States are incarcerated even though they didn’t harm anybody. In other words, the officers who arrested them weren’t keeping the peace but were disrupting it.

Cop apologists are quick to claim that without police officers society would deteriorate into Mad Max. Again, this argument might carry some weight if police officers were peacekeepers but they’re not. The job of a police officer is to enforce the law as it is written. Since a majority of laws create victimless crimes that means the majority of police interactions involve individuals who haven’t disrupted the peace in any way. In order to do their jobs police officers necessarily have to be the initiators of aggression in the majority of interactions.

Without law enforcers the United States would actually be more peaceful since less people would be aggressed against for perpetrating victimless crimes.