Archive for the ‘Not So Crazy Libertarian Ideals’ tag
You know we’ve all been sucked into a wormhole and dumped out into Bizarro World when statist rags like Time start sounding more like me:
The approximately 65 million Democrats who voted for Hillary Clinton should pledge that in the future if a Republican wins the presidency with fewer votes than a Democrat for the third time in our era, we won’t pay taxes to the federal government. No taxation without representation!
Admittedly, I didn’t really care which of the two crooks was elected president but watching the Democrats suddenly become more anti-state has been filling with me no minor amount of joy. The anti-war left is starting to come back out of the woodwork, Democrats are suddenly outraged by the expansive surveillance powers the State has granted itself, Californians are talking about secession, and Time is urging their readers to stop paying taxes. Of course they will revert to their old selves as soon as their guy gets back in power but for at least four years I’ve got some really good entertainment to watch.
I’m sure all of you have heard the phrase divide and conquer. It’s basic wisdom. If you can divide a large united force into multiple smaller groups (preferably groups at odds with each other) it’s easier to conquer each of them one at a time. I feel as though there needs to be an addendum that says unite and rule.
Several of my friends have been circulating this piece by The Daily Show host Trevor Noah. It’s titled Let’s Not Be Divided. Divided People Are Easier to Rule. As the title promises, Mr. Noah tries to make an argument that we must all unite because united people are harder to rule.
I have to call bullshit on that. While divide people may be easier to conquer initially they tend to be harder to rule. Why? Because you have to appeal to each group in order to successfully rule them. But anybody who manages to appeal to one group is likely to put themselves at odds that group’s enemies. When you’re dealing with a united people then you just have one group to please, which generally means you only need to appeal to whatever tribe identity they share.
This is why rulers work so hard to instill nationalism into their people. We see this every day here in the United States. If you can trigger the part of Americans’ monkey brains that deals with their identity as Americans you can get them to roll over for almost anything. Do you want to invade Iraq? Do you have no pretense for doing so? No problem, just convince the people that Iraq is somehow a threat to the United States. Do you want to pass draconian surveillance powers? No problem, just convince the people that those powers will protect the people of the United States. And less somebody think this is unique to the United States, it’s not. It’s a common tactic used throughout history by rulers. Britain, for example, has probably played the nationalism game even better than the United States currently is.
Instilling strong individualism and a small group mentality into people will make them much harder to rule than instilling collectivism and a large group mentality.
Robert Higgs is one of my favorite anarchist philosophers. He has a knack for pointing out the bloody obvious that many people fail to see. In October he wrote a short post pointing out that nobody who is required to pay taxes is truly free:
In the antebellum South, it was not uncommon for slaves to rent themselves from their masters. As a young man, Frederick Douglass did so, for example. His owner gave him leave to go out on his own, to find employment where he could, and to pocket the pay he received for such work, except that each month he had to pay his master a fixed sum for his freedom. Douglass worked in the shipyards of Baltimore, caulking ships. Aside from his rental payment for his own body, he lived as he wished, subject to his income constraint. He found his own housing, acquired his own food and clothing, and so forth, just as a free wage worker would have done.
It strikes me that this practice has much in common with the situation in which an ordinary private person finds himself in any modern country today. The person is in general at liberty to arrange his own employment, spend his earnings as he pleases, acquire his own food and housing, and so on, except that he must pay a rental for this personal liberty, which takes the form of a portion of his earnings that must be paid to the various governments that collect income and employment taxes in the jurisdiction.
People believe that feudalism and slavery are, for the most part, a thing of the past. We’re living under both of those systems but under different names. Instead of being serfs we’re called citizens. Instead of barons, lords, and other royal titles we have sheriff’s, city councils, and other bureaucratic titles. Much like the slaves of the South, we must rent our freedom. We can’t own land, we can only rent it. If we fail to pay our rent on either our freedom or our land one of the royal slave catchers will find us and kidnap us so that a royal judge can decide how best to punish us.
The United States isn’t the freest country on Earth. In fact, it’s one of the more draconian countries because it not only has ridiculous high rents but also because those rents are enforced by a ruthlessly efficient government.
The once positive aspect of Trump being elected, other than the fact that I can actually still find standard capacity magazines, is that self-identified leftists are learning the value of limited government (don’t worry, I’m sure this will pass when their guys gets in just like last time). They’re finally understanding some of the threats that libertarians have been warning about for decades. Adding insult to injury, their guy that currently occupies the Oval Office is busy paving the way for Trump:
For years now, we’ve written about how the Obama administration has regularly rewritten the dictionary in order to pretend that the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) hastily granted by Congress in the wake of 9/11 enabled him to go to war with basically anyone. If you don’t recall, the AUMF granted the President the power to use “all necessary and appropriate force” to go after those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” That’s already fairly broad, but over the years basically our entire government has pretended that (1) the AUMF included the ability to also target “associated forces” (even though it does not) and (2) it allowed the President to simply lump in anyone he wanted as an “associated force” allowing him to bomb them without any Congressional authorization. This is how you get a war without end, in which the explicit authorization to go after Al Qaeda is now being used on a surprisingly long list of groups that didn’t even exist in 2001.
And, just a few days ago, President Obama expanded the list yet again, allowing himself to go after yet another group: Shabab. Now, no one is trying to claim that Shabab, or ISIS or any other group that has been added to the list aren’t out to do serious harm to the US. But, this seems to go way beyond the basic functions of the office of the President and the simple Constitutional requirement for Congress to declare war.
If you mistakenly believe that the Democratic and Republican parties are opponents then you may find Obama’s actions a bit confusing. After all, why would he further expand presidential powers if he knew somebody like Trump was going to take the office in a month? The fact is that both parties are on the same side, which is a fact missed by self-identified leftists.
Remember when George Bush Jr. was in office? As he declared war on Iraq, signed the PATRIOT Act, and otherwise expanded the State’s power the anti-war left was having fits. They were actively out protesting. In fact public opinion was enough against Bush’s actions that Obama was able to openly campaign against those powers. During his first presidential run Obama promised to end the wars, curtail the State’s war powers, close Guantanamo Bay, and much more. Then he was elected. He followed through with none of his promises. In fact, he expanded the number of countries that the United States was bombing and further expanded the powers that Bush’s started implementing. Unfortunately, because their guy was in office, the anti-war left vanished. And now their guy is further expanding the powers of his office even though it will soon be occupied by somebody from the other team.
The anti-war left starting to come out of the woodwork again because their guy won’t be in power for much longer. But they’ll vanish again when their guy gets back in the White House. So long as you allow yourself to believe that the Democratic and Republican parties are opponents you’ll be suckered into a vicious cycle that requires willfully ignoring horrendous acts when somebody you side with is performing them and strongly protesting the very same acts when somebody you don’t side with is in power. If you have any principles at all you need to abandon this infantile notion that there are two major political parties in this country and accept the fact that both parties are working together to solidify their power.
Today is Cyber Monday, which may have been the first in a long list of regular words to get the word “cyber” needlessly tacked onto it. While people do their cyber shopping on Cyber Monday for cyber deals they may ask themselves, why the fuck can I order a big screen television for a few hundred bucks but can’t even get a simple medical diagnosis without blowing through my deductible? The answer to that, as with the answer to most economic questions along those lines, has to do with government granted monopolies:
Take a look at this chart assembled by AEI. It reveals two important points. First, there is no such thing as an aggregate price level, or, rather what we call the price level is a statistical fiction. Second, it shows that competitive industries offer goods and services that are falling in price due to market pressure. In contrast monopolized industries can extract ever higher rents from people based on restriction.
There’s no such thing as an aggregate price level? Next you’ll tell me that gross domestic product is a made up number as well!
If you click on the link and look at the chart you’ll see that prices for college tuition, textbooks, childcare, and medical care have been increasing rapidly whereas the prices for television, toys, software, and wireless services have been decreasing rapidly. The difference? The goods and services that have been increasing in price are all monopolized or otherwise heavily restricted by the State whereas the goods and services that have been decreasing in price all exist in markets with an extremely high level of competition.
The takeaway from this is that there is a vicious cycle when it comes to prices and the State. When prices go up people demand that the State intervene to bring prices down. Usually it was the State’s involvement that caused the prices to go up in the first place and if people get what they want the prices will go up even further as the State gets further involved. With the ramifications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes apparent many people are demanding the State step in to fix its mess. But most people aren’t demanding that the State decrease its involvement in the healthcare market. Instead they’re demanding that it further increase its involvement by implementing a single payer system. In other words, people are demanding that the vicious cycle be continued and if it is (which it almost certainly will be) we’ll see healthcare prices jump even higher (but those increases will probably be hidden in payroll taxes so most people remain ignorant of them and thus believe that the problem was solved).
One of the most fascinating results of the election is how the two political camps in this country have switched roles. Opposing the president, the need to restrain the State’s power, and secession were the topics of the Republicans for eight years. Now the Republicans are happy as can be because their guys are in office and the Democrats are talking about opposing the president, the need to restrain the State’s power, and secession:
In 2018, the issue of whether California should secede from the union could come to a head.
Yes California Independence Campaign, a fringe political group that calls for the state to become an independent nation, filed a proposed ballot measure with the Attorney General’s Office on November 21, The Sacramento Bee reports.
If it garners the half a million signatures required to appear on the 2018 gubernatorial ballot, the measure would strike language from the state constitution that would help clear a path to secession.
I know this won’t go anywhere but I’m going to allow myself to dream a little here.
I’ve often said that if any state started to become serious about secession I’d probably move there and help out. California is an exception to that sentiment though. Of all the states in the nation California is probably my least favorite. Freedom is all but illegal there. However, I still fully support California’s secession. Removing the most statist state from the United States can only be beneficial for those of us living here. So I’m willing to help move efforts along in any way I can outside of moving there.
If something sounds like it’s too good to be true it probably is. For example, if you come across a decently specced Android phone that costs $50 chances are the manufacturer is making money on it in some other way, such as surveilling the user to sell their information:
WASHINGTON — For about $50, you can get a smartphone with a high-definition display, fast data service and, according to security contractors, a secret feature: a backdoor that sends all your text messages to China every 72 hours.
Security contractors recently discovered preinstalled software in some Android phones that monitors where users go, whom they talk to and what they write in text messages. The American authorities say it is not clear whether this represents secretive data mining for advertising purposes or a Chinese government effort to collect intelligence.
Is the data being used for advertising or for the Chinese government? Why not both? If the Chinese government is anything like the United States government it’s willing to pay a pretty penny to coax companies into spying on users. I doubt this scam is solely for intelligence gathering since it’s a high cost (manufacturing lots of handsets) strategy with no guarantee of return (how do you convince people with intelligence worth harvesting to use one of these unknown Android phones over an iPhone) but the collected data very well may be sent off to the Chinese government.
This story goes along with the There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL) principle. If you’re using a product or service for free then chances are that you’re the product. Likewise, if you’re using a product or service that appears to be subsidized then the provider is making money back some other way. In the case of cellular network providers subsidized phones were a convenient way to lock customers into two year contracts. In the case of handset manufacturers phones can be subsidized by collecting user data to sell to advertisers.
Speaking of townships that have their heads screwed on right, a town in Kentucky also elected a dog as mayor:
On Nov. 8, the small town of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, elected a leader everybody can get behind: a dog named, wait for it, Brynneth Pawltro.
The pit bull was declared mayor in a landslide victory, receiving 3,367 total votes and beating out a unique group of furry and feathery candidates, including a cat, a chicken and a jackass.
And this isn’t the first time the town has elected a dog for mayor:
This is the town’s fourth canine mayor, with the first, a mutt named Goofy, taking office in 1998. A black Lab named Junior followed a few years later. In 2008, the same year Obama was elected, a border collie named Lucy Lou, belonging to Kayser, earned the title.
Many people claim political offices, such as mayorships, should be respected. But the position of mayor, like all political positions, is a joke and should be treated accordingly.
There are also benefits to having dogs, cats, and other nonhuman animals in political office. While human schemes tend to be very grand animal schemes tend to be very peaceable. Their schemes tend to be sneaking some of the food from your table when you’re not looking, getting a treat, and convincing you to play with them. Those schemes are benign compared to human schemes such as forcefully transferring other people’s wealth to themselves, coercing everybody else to follow whatever plan they deem best, and either kidnapping or killing everybody who doesn’t do as they’re told.
I’m seldom pleased with the outcome of an election. Once in a while a township has its head screwed on right and elects a dog to fill a political office and sometimes a human is elected and then immediately jailed:
A state representative from Hooksett, Dick Marple, was arrested and re-elected on the same day.
Republican State Rep Dick Marple was sitting outside the Hooksett polling place with his own campaign signs Tuesday morning when a Hooksett police officer recognized him. Marple had an outstanding bench warrant for his arrest because he had not shown up at an October court date.
When a politician runs for office they’re actively trying to become a member in a criminal gang. That being the case, it’s only fitting that politicians who win should be arrested.
One of the most amazing things to happen because of this election is the significant shift in paradigm. Suddenly a great many of the people who were once advocates of big government are seeing the dangers of a big government. Many of the people who were against guns now want to purchase a gun and learn how to use it (I’ve even had a few formerly anti-gun friends contact me for lessons, which I’m happily willing to provide). And many of the people who were angry at Texans who wanted to secede are now advocating for California to secede.
Personally, I’m pleased as can be with this paradigm shift. I’ve often said that if a state ever became serious about secession I’d probably move there to help. California is an exception to that though. California represents everything I hate about government, which is also why I still fully support its secession even if I’m not willing to help directly.
Perhaps some good will come of this election. If Trump’s opposition suddenly find wisdom in learning both online and offline self-defense, opposing government power grabs, and supporting secession the entire nation could become a better place.