A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Not So Crazy Libertarian Ideals’ tag

Arguing the Morality of Taxes

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Depending on the circles you hang out in this may be a common scene for you. Last night I witnessed a not uncommon sight in libertarian circles. A group of libertarians were arguing (surprising, I know) about whether income, property, or sales taxes were more moral. The income tax seemed to fall fairly quickly as it was almost universally perceived as a punishment for doing well but the sales and property taxes held on for quite some time.

As I watched this circus unfold I started to think that they were basically arguing about which weapon was more moral for an armed robber to use. Is an armed robbery more moral when the mugger is armed with a gun rather than a knife? Are they more moral if they merely make you think they have a gun by sticking their hand in their pocket in an attempt to make it appear as a gun?

Personally, I can’t think of a weapon that would make an armed robber more moral nor can I think of a tax that would make government expropriation more moral.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 25th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Cancel the Election, Enjoy Economic Prosperity

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Spain is enjoying a window of economic prosperity. This prosperity coincides with the fact the nation hasn’t had a functioning federal government for 300 days now:

MADRID — Spain is about to pass 300 days without a government. But guess what? Few Spaniards seem bothered by that as the country’s economy roars ahead.

Spanish cities are boasting of packed cafes and restaurants, thriving fashion shops and art galleries, plenty of tourists. The overall impression is of a bustling, vibrant country.

So who needs a government?

“I’m not especially worried about it,” said retiree Goyito de Camacho. “I see it on the TV and in the papers but (politicians) are all the same. They’re all scum who don’t care about the people.”

Two inconclusive elections on Dec. 20 and June 26 have left the conservative Popular Party running a caretaker government for the past nine months _ Saturday will be its 300th day. The party won both elections but lacked a majority and now has until Oct. 31 to muster support to form a minority government or Spain will face a third election.

I’m not saying that the economic prosperity is being caused by almost a year without a federal government but I am saying that not having a federal government is an experiment worth trying, especially in this time of economic turmoil. I believe it would be prudent to cancel this year’s election and put the federal government into caretaker mode for a few years so we could see how its absence impacts the economy.

If Spain’s economic boost is being caused by the lack of a federal government there’s no reason the United States shouldn’t enjoy the same. And even if the United States doesn’t enjoy a similar economic boost, canceling the election would really reduce a lot of people’s stress levels. Since stress is detrimental to health we could consider canceling the election a healthcare initiative as well as an economic one.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 19th, 2016 at 10:00 am

What the Thinker Thinks, the Prover Will Prove

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I’ve started reading Robert Anton Wilson’s Prometheus Rising. It’s a book about consciousness and while I’m only a couple of chapters in I’m already finding great material. One of the early things Wilson mentions is Orr’s Law. Orr’s Law states that what the thinker thinks, the prover will prove. It’s based on the premise that there are thinkers and provers. When a thinker comes up with an idea the prover will perform the most elaborate mental gymnastics to prove it:

As psychiatrists and psychologists have often observed (much to the chagrin of their medical colleagues), the Thinker can think itself sick, and can even think itself well again. The Prover is a much simpler mechanism. It operates on one law only: Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves. To cite a notorious example which unleashed incredible horrors earlier in this century, if the Thinker thinks that all Jews are rich, the Prover will prove it. It will find evidence that the poorest Jew in the most run-down ghetto has hidden money somewhere. Similarly, Feminists are able to believe that all men, including the starving wretches who live and sleep on the streets, are exploiting all women, including the Queen of England.

If the Thinker thinks that the sun moves around the earth, the Prover will obligingly organize all perceptions to fit that thought; if the Thinker changes its mind and decides the earth moves around the sun, the Prover will reorganize the evidence. If the Thinker thinks ‘holy water’ from Lourdes will cure its lumbago, the Prover will skillfully orchestrate all signals from the glands, muscles, organs etc. until they have organized themselves into good health again. Of course, it is fairly easy to see that other people’s minds operate this way; it is comparatively much harder to become aware that one’s own mind is working that way also.

It’s not hard to find examples of this. One example that I’ve been using as of late to illustrate this point (unknowingly, mind you) is the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Has the legislation been successful?

It depends on what the thinkers think. Thinkers in support of the legislation will, of course, declare it a success. Their provers will then find criteria that can be used to prove their thinkers right. For example, they’ll point out that the number of people who now have health insurance coverage has increased and therefore the ACA is a rousing success. Why is the number of people who have coverage a good metric to decide whether the legislation was successful? Because it proves the thinkers right.

Thinkers who oppose the legislation will, of course, declare it a failure. Their provers will then find criteria that can be used to prove their thinkers right. For example, they’ll point out that the number of health insurance companies providing their services through ACA exchanges has decreased and therefore the ACA is an utter failure. Why is the number of insurance companies providing their service through ACA exchanges a good metric to decide whether the legislation was a failure? Because it proves the thinkers right.

I like to play with Orr’s Law (a concept for which I didn’t even realize had a name) by periodically arguing both sides of a debate. And I’m always successful.

This is one of the reasons I have no faith in politics. When somebody in power issues a decree they’re using the force of the State to inflict their personal bias on a population. They will argue that it’s for the greater good and a lot of provers will prove that it’s for the greater good. But their opponents will then argue that it’s not for the greater good and a lot of provers will prove that it’s not for the greater good. To throw in a bit of Ludwig von Mises, “If a man drinks wine and not water I cannot say he is acting irrationally. At most i can say that in his place I would not do so. But his pursuit of happiness is his own business, not mine.” In other words we each have the unique knowledge of our own life experiences and therefore are more qualified to know what is best for us than anybody else.

Through the performance of mental gymnastics we can prove anything. That being the case, I believe it makes more sense to localize potential damage by limiting the scope of any single individual’s power to themselves (with the understanding that somebody can prove the opposite as being true).

Written by Christopher Burg

October 18th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Security Versus Law Enforcement

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Many (probably most) people don’t think twice when they see an armed police officer patrolling their neighborhood. But if private individuals do the same thing many people will flip out. Words such as vigilante are tossed around and people such as George Zimmerman are brought up. Which is really worse though? Let’s consider the following story about armed individuals patrolling their neighborhood:

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Armed with high-powered rifles, men dressed in fatigues and black T-shirts emblazoned with the word, “Security,” trekked through the streets of a Northwest Bexar County community in the wee hours of one recent morning. Many of their neighbors, meanwhile, slept soundly in their homes.

Members of the group, called the “Armed Volunteer Security Detail,” asked us not to reveal the exact location in which they patrol. However, the neighborhood is located in the area of Loop 1604 and Culebra Road.

The self-appointed keepers of the gated subdivision also were careful to hide their identities, shielding their faces from our camera. What they were not shy about, though, was their purpose—to make their community safer.

“We’re not out here enforcing law. I want to make that real clear,” said one member, who identified himself as Mr. Black. “We’re out here protecting people’s property rights.”

Black and the others formed the group, which is not sanctioned by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, in response to what they believe is an increase in crime.

Two guys decided to grabs their rifles and patrol their neighborhood after a perceived increase in crime. They’re basically doing the job we’re told law enforcers are supposed to do. Why do people think of them differently?

Common arguments brought up against private individuals patrolling neighborhoods are that law enforcers are accountable and receive specialized training. I think the recent string of killings by law enforcers that have lead to nothing more than the officers involved receiving paid vacations invalidates the claim that they’re more accountable. At least when a private individual shoots somebody there’s a thorough investigation and in a vast majority of cases if the shooting appears questionable the shooter will stand trail.

The second argument is also wrong in my opinion. The specialized training that law enforcers receive tends to be unrelated to security. They’re often taught how to identify somebody who is on drugs, kidnap people, confiscate property under civil forfeiture, and enforce traffic citations. Their training also tends to include nonsense such as their job being extremely dangerous and that they can’t trust anybody, which breeds paranoid and discourages rational responses to situations.

The two individuals in the linked story very clearly state that they’re not law enforcement. This is important because security and law enforcement are vastly different things. Security is the act of protecting life and property. Law enforcement is the act of enforcing the law no matter how ridiculous it is. Somebody who is providing security won’t give two shits about the cannabis plants you’re growing. They just want to make sure nobody steals your plants. Somebody who is providing law enforcement will toss a flash bang grenade into your toddler’s bedroom, kick in your door, and shoot your family pet (and maybe even you) because they received a tip that you are in possession of a prohibited plant.

I have no problem with security. I do have a problem with law enforcement. The two individuals in the story are doing nothing wrong in my opinion and I’d much rather have them patrolling my neighborhood than police officers. At least I know that they will be held to some level of accountability if they do something wrong and won’t gun down my dog because they heard I was in possession of a cannabis plant.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 14th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Expanding the Scope of the TSA

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Government agencies only expand, they never contract. Although the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has failed 95 percent of red team exercises the agency hasn’t been abolished. Instead Congress wants to reward the agency by expanding its scope to guard the trains that practically nobody uses:

Several U.S. senators want the TSA to focus more attention and resources on rail, highway, and marine transportation, which would mean greater security oversight at such places as Amtrak stations and Megabus coach stops. A bipartisan bill introduced Thursday by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) would require the TSA to use a risk-based security model for these transport modes and to budget money based on those risks. It would require a wider use of the agency’s terrorist watch list by train operators and more detailed passenger manifests along with tighter screening of marine employees. The legislation also would increase the TSA’s canine use by as many as 70 dog-handler teams for surface transportation.

Why bother? No terrorist attack has been performed on an Amtrak train. Compared to airliners Amtrak trains are practically ghost towns. They’re low value targets to an attacker looking to rack up as high of a body count as possible. Obviously this isn’t about security so what is it about? My guess is that it’s about police state bullshit.

Remember all those movie scenes where the Nazi or Soviet officer asks passengers boarding a train for their papers? It used to be the thing were we told to fear for obvious reasons. But those scenes are pornography for statists. They show everything statists desire: control, order, and obedience. And they swooped in the second they had an excuse to implement the exact same system for air travelers. When you line up in the security theater line at an airport you hand your papers to a TSA agent who looks them over and decides whether or not your can move forward. If you’re a Jew or a kulak on the terrorist watch lists your trip ends there and you’ll be escorted away but a thug in a uniform. Now that every is used to kowtowing to government agents demanding to see our papers Congress is ready to expand the TSA’s scope. It won’t surprise me if the nation’s highways are someday littered with surprise TSA checkpoints.

Never ending expansion such as this is why I have a zero tolerance policy towards government. If you give government an inch it will slowly take a mile. The only sane solution is to not have a government at all.

Moral Hypocrisy

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Whenever discrimination appears to rear its ugly head a large number of people demand that the State fix it. Never letting an opportunity to expand its power to go waste the State has heeded these demands and appointed itself as the ultimate authority in dealing with discrimination.

Case in point, the United States Department of Labor (DoL) is filed a lawsuit against Palantir because the organization appears to be discriminating against Asians. The funniest part is the threat the DoL is making:

Should the suit succeed, the Labor Department has asked for an order canceling all of Palantir’s current and future government contracts, which would include those with the F.B.I. and the United States Army.

“Federal contractors have an obligation to ensure that their hiring practices and policies are free of all forms of discrimination,” said Patricia A. Shiu, who is director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

That’s rich!

An organization that literally uses slave labor is threatening to cancel its contracts with an organization that may be discriminating against Asians in its hiring practices. How much more hypocritical can an organization get?

People turn to the State and demand that it enforce morality. But the State is an immoral creature that lies, cheats, steals, and kills. It is like hiring a fox to guard a hen house. Sure, on the surface it may appear to be doing exactly what you want it to do but if you have the guts to take a look under the surface you’ll see that it’s doing far more horrific shit than the entities it’s going after.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 28th, 2016 at 10:00 am

I Will Not Be Pushed, Filed, Stamped, Indexed, Briefed, Debriefed, or Numbered

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What term should be used to describe people who cross the imaginary line that separates the United States of American from the rest of the world without first receiving permission from the State? Some refer to them as illegal immigrants. Others refer to them as undocumented workers. Truthfully, both of these labels are stupid. Somebody crossing an imaginary line isn’t doing anything illegal because the entity that has decreed itself the owner of the entire country isn’t a legitimate entity. Likewise, calling them undocumented words is dumb because human beings shouldn’t have to be documented:

It is the promotion of the term “undocumented” term that concerns me. Just as no human is illegal, I see no reason why we should promote the idea that humans should be documented. To me being “documented” conjures up the image of a dystopian future where we are branded with identification numbers that are needed for every little transaction. Indeed, I consider the term undocumented to be worse than illegal since it implies that all individuals, including natural born citizens, should be documented in this manner. At minimum the term implicitly justifies a program like e-verify, a de facto form of national ID in the United States, which makes one’s right to work dependent on government approval.

The idea that human being should be documented by the State can best be summed up, in a German accent, by the phrase, “Papers please.” We’ve seen what happens when the State maintains documentation on people. When it decides to target a subset of those people the State has all the information it needs to do so. The Nazis used its documentation to target Jews. The Soviet Union used its documentation to target counterrevolutions. Here in the United States the government routinely uses its documentation to target those with even the most benign criminal record.

Few things are more dangerous than documentation on people in the hands of the State. The idea that people should be documented by the State should go the way of the dodo.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 14th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Obedience Won’t Save You

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People pay taxes because the alternative is ultimately death. Yes, the State will go so far as to murder you if you don’t fork over the “protection” money it demands. The threat of death convinces most people to pay their taxes. Furthermore, as if hoping to curry favor with the State, many people perform a great deal of virtue signaling by proclaiming how much they enjoy paying taxes. But obeying the State’s expropriation tax laws and virtue signaling won’t save you. Even if you obey and pay the State will try to steal more of your wealth if it thinks it can get away with it:

Over the years, we received guidance from Irish tax authorities on how to comply correctly with Irish tax law — the same kind of guidance available to any company doing business there. In Ireland and in every country where we operate, Apple follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe.

The European Commission has launched an effort to rewrite Apple’s history in Europe, ignore Ireland’s tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process. The opinion issued on August 30th alleges that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on our taxes. This claim has no basis in fact or in law. We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals. We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don’t owe them any more than we’ve already paid.

Apple has a massive team of lawyers whose job is to ensure it complies with the laws of the regions it operates in so it can avoid the State’s wrath. The European Union decided that this dedication to obedience wasn’t enough and chose to demand billions of dollars more from the largest tax victim in its territory. In the eyes of the European Union Apple and every other organization and individual are little more than giant Automated Teller Machines. When it decides it wants more cash it claims the wealthy didn’t pay enough taxes and demands they either pay more or else.

This should be a lesson to all the people hoping to avoid the State’s wrath by publicly proclaiming how much they enjoy paying taxes. Apple has a long history of touting its efforts to be a “responsible citizen”, which includes publicly stating its desire to pay its “fair share”. But the European Union still went after Apple for more. Don’t fool yourself into believing the State will let you live your life so long as you kowtow to it.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 31st, 2016 at 10:30 am

Who Will Build the Roads

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“Muh roads!” is a libertarian meme started because anytime you discuss eliminating government with a statists they eventually break down and say, “But who will build the roads?” As it turns out, the people who need the roads will build them:

Gangs smuggling goods into Russia have secretly repaired a road on the Belarussian border in order to boost business, the TASS news agency reported Monday.

Smugglers have transformed the gravel track in the Smolensk region in order to help their heavy goods vehicles traveling on the route, said Alexander Laznenko from the Smolensk region border agency. The criminal groups have widened and raised the road and added additional turning points, he said.

The market in action. Having a great product doesn’t do any good if you can’t get it to buyers. That means producers will either build the infrastructure necessary to get their products to consumers or will partner with another producer who is willing to build the infrastructure.

Transportation infrastructure isn’t some magical good that can only be brought into being by the wave of a government wand. Individuals and non-governmental organizations have been building and maintaining roads for a very long time. And they’re still doing it whenever they need a road that isn’t expressly approved of by the State.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 25th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Who’s a Good Politician

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Who’s a good politician? You are! Yes you are!

CORMORANT, Minn. —Nine-year-old Duke, a Great Pyrenees, handily won another one-year term as mayor of the small northwestern Minnesota town of Cormorant, Detroit Lakes Online reports.

“I don’t know who would run against him because he’s done such great things for the community,” Cormorant resident Karen Nelson told Detroit Lakes Online.

The locals say Duke has one of the highest approval ratings in the country.

The people of Cormorant have their heads screwed on right. They’ve corrected one of the biggest mistakes more people make, which is electing humans to political office. Not only are dogs generally loyal but they’re also unable to speak any human language so they can’t make decrees. Furthermore, their scheming consists almost entirely of getting treats, being pet, and playing fetch. If everybody political office was occupied by a dog instead of a human politician the world would be a much better place.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 25th, 2016 at 10:00 am