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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reader Mail #9 - Collected Comments

Sometimes, I feel that the reader comments posts are the best part of my blog. With reader comments, I'm directly answering people's questions. That's more of a dialog rather than a monologue.

I like my decision to answer reader comments in separate posts, because that highlights the comments and the issues people are interested in. Further, this ensures that everyone sees the interesting user comments and responses, even those people who don't revisit the original post.

I feel mostly recovered from my illness now. I've very unsatisfied with the medical care I received against my will. Maybe I'll post about it later. I'm aware that I was out of it for awhile, and I hope to resume my former level of blog quality.

On What's Your Taxation Rate?, redpillguy says:

Regulatory compliance cost to the economy is 14%:

I didn't properly answer this comment the first time, in Reader Mail #8.

This total of 14% lowballs the actual cost of government regulation. For example, what is the cost to me of patent laws? Most of the benefits of patent law go to large corporations, not individual inventors. Even though I'm someone capable of inventing a patentable idea, I probably wouldn't benefit. My employer would benefit, because my employment contract typically assigns all intellectual property to them, even if I develop it in my personal time.

What is the cost of the Federal Reserve's inflation policy? Real interest rates are -2% to -10%, depending on whether you use M2 or the now-suppressed M3 to measure money supply inflation. That wasn't included in the above figure.

What about people and corporations who do special transactions to avoid taxes? Does the above total of 14% include all money spent on lawyers and accountants. Accountants do perform a legitimate service determining the profitability of a business. However, that's only a small fraction of what an accountant does; accountants primarily deal with compliance with government regulations. Most of the "determine your business' profitability" work could be performed with an Excel spreadsheet and a basic knowledge of arithmetic.

What about the fact that each industry is an oligopoly or monopoly? That's a cost of government, but isn't included in the above 14% total. How much of my phone bill, electric bill, or ISP bill is a cost of government? What about my property taxes or my rent (which includes my landlord's taxes)?

Summarizing, the above article had a cost of 14% of the economy for regulation compliance, plus 43% for direct government spending. That article has a total cost of government of 57%. In other words, the average taxation rate for each American is 57% according to that article cited by redpillguy. The actual total is probably far higher, because that 14% cost lowballs the actual total.

On Agorist Toolkit - Tax Avoidance, Zhwazi writes:

It seems a good solution would be to combine as many strategies as possible.

Seen this one yet? From what I can tell it seems to work.

I don't know. A lot of these strategies involve wasting lots of time. I prefer to say "The IRS has no legitimacy at all and I'm ignoring them as much as possible." However, that's hard to do once you're drawn into a dispute with them.

Plus, if you are involved in a dispute with the IRS, you still have to waste time and money defending yourself. Even if you're acquitted, you still don't recover your time and money. In a dispute with the IRS, if you're found guilty, you go to jail. If you're found not guilty, the judge and prosecutor and IRS agents still get to keep their cushy jobs. In a taxation trial, the stakes are high for the defendant, but very low for the judge and prosecution.

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone asked:

The NYSE eliminated its trading curbs! WTF? Isn't this a big deal?

In the context of the new electronic trading system, it's pretty much completely irrelevant.

Any NYSE stock switches into a manual trading mode if it moves more than a certain amount in 30 seconds. After that point, no more trades will occur until the specialist manually selects a price for the next trade, trading from his firm's account if necessary. Trades can occur on other exchanges while the NYSE is in manual mode waiting for the specialist to do something.

Under such a system, trading curbs are redundant and obsolete. There already is a built-in limit to the amount a stock can move in 30 seconds, unless a specialist manually approves the trade.

On Ten Steps to Free a Closed Society, an anonymous reader says:

A few things you don't mention: Wolf played an active role in Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election bid on female issues. Ditto for Al Gore's 2000 campaign. "The end of America" is an odd title for someone who actively participated in its deconstruction. Clinton presided over an unprecedented expansion of the Federal police state, not to mention the incineration of the children Waco compound and the Randy Weaver seige.

Wolf is a controlled opposition shill pretending to be a dissident. Her ilk have no problem with police state tactics so long as the targets are "right wing extremists". She wants us to think, "it's all the Republicans' fault and Hillary will fix it."

The disinfo technique she employs is an analogue of poisoning the well. She can imply by association that Hitlery holds such views without the latter actually having to articulate so that when Hillary the Hun clamps further down on civil liberties, she can say she never promised that she wouldn't.

I really like how you take all that and turn it around. I have some hope for Ron Paul but I see where you're coming from as well because an unfortunate side-effect of Paul is that he makes people think their votes count.

Also, I didn't notice her ranting on the "rule of law". That's something the liberals and conservatives like to ballyhoo. If she were a true dissident, the would have bemoaned the loss of due process rights (from the point of view of the victims of such tyranny) instead of from some lofty impersonal pov. (viz. "governance")

I posted twice above. Please take the first one away. An addendum: I thought of a name for Naomi Wolf's disinfo technique: Since it's an analogue of poising the well, I call it "purifying the swamp."

After writing that post, I read a bunch of people saying that Naomi Wolf is one of the bad guys. You could say that about almost every mainstream author. I doubt she had any personal involvement with Waco or Randy Weaver, but she could have written more critically about them.

It's hard to tell what the effect of Ron Paul's campaign will be. Personally, I think he has zero chance of being elected. However, he is raising awareness of issues like the Federal Reserve, the income tax, the IRS, and big government. I doubt that part of his message has reached more than 1%-2% of the people, but the smartest people are the ones who really count. I am appreciating some of the discussions I see. Unfortunately, I see agorism as the only possible solution. I don't see a Libertarian president as being realistic or effective.

Ron Paul is holding out false hope that it is possible to reform the current system. I'm convinced that it is necessary to completely abandon the current economic and political system. Ron Paul is giving people who are disgruntled a superficial protest action; they can vote for Ron Paul. This distracts people from meaningful reform, such as performing counter-economic agorist market activity. It seems that Ron Paul is simultaneously helping, by spreading his message, and hurting, by providing people with the illusion that their vote matters.

On some online betting sites, Ron Paul is something like 7:1 to win the Republican nomination and 14:1 to win the general election. I see an arbitrage opportunity here. If Ron Paul wins the Republican nomination, the mainstream media wouldn't be able to ignore him. After getting the nomination, Ron Paul would get enough media coverage to have a legitimate chance of winning the general election. This could even start happening if Ron Paul wins a few early primaries, such as the heavily Libertarian New Hampshire. The mainstream media couldn't ignore someone who had the Republican nomination or someone who had won several primaries. As an arbitrage, I would bet on Ron Paul to win the general election and lose the Republican nomination. I consider Ron Paul to be a lock in the general election, if he wins the Republican nomination. After all, Ron Paul has stronger anti-Iraq-war credentials than Hillary, who voted for the war, or Obama, who wasn't in the Senate in 2003.

However, if Ron Paul does win the Republican nomination, you may see a 3rd Party libertarian candidate emerge and be heavily promoted. That could split Ron Paul's support and guarantee a win for the Democrats. This scenario is unlikely, because I don't think that Ron Paul will win the Republican nomination.

Barring the miracle of Ron Paul winning the Republican nomination, I think that it's a near-lock that there will be a Democratic president elected in 2008. There are too many people who are angry with the Republicans. Switching from one party to the other provides the illusion of change without any meaningful reform occurring. After years of Republican tax breaks for the wealthy and military aggression, now it's time for Democrats to loot and pillage with liberal spending and national health care.

I think I see what you mean by "purifying the swamp". You take something that's really bad and turn it around so it sounds reasonable. By having writers like Wolf around, you can have bad things occur and people not complain. Because Naomi Wolf is writing this article, things can't actually be that bad!

I'm usually pretty good at removing duplicate comments, but I'm still recovering from my illness. I'll probably post about that later. That's one of the benefits of posting anonymously or under a pseudonym. I don't have to worry about my employer discriminating against me based on my political views or any personal details I disclose.

On Ten Steps to Free a Closed Society, a redpillguy says:

I also posted about Naomi Wolf's article here:

The answer to the question posted anonymously in your blog is simple. The question was: How do people escape from the current mess? The answer is an agorist revolution. A nonviolent economic revolt is the only solution that can work.

It's very hard to tell if someone is working off the books if they're working from their basement. Even though the government's spying capability is high, it's still hard to enforce and convict people of working off the books. Is working going to be a crime?

On Is the Stock Market Worth Anything, an anonymous reader writes:

I think the aim of the globalizers is world government (State). For bringing this about they destroy the nation-states which were a step on the ladder towards One World State.

Hyperinflation and others such things are just tools to do the job. They are also creating 'a level playing field' where all the nation-states and their peoples are brought under the similar socio-economic conditions. The US moves down in its socio-economic conditions to become similar to Mexico and so on. A small elite rules and benefits and the rest just toil, pay their debts and serve the elites who only manage and deploy their system, they do not do any productive work.

I think that some people are aiming for a global world government. They want to carve up each industry in a few megacorporations.

Hyperinflation is a two-sided coin. Hyperinflation could drive people back to sound money such as gold and silver. Hyperinflation mitigates the confiscatory effect of taxes. Hyperinflation encourages a return to barter or sound money, which is harder to tax and confiscate.

However, the scenario they want, where a handful of people rule the world, is the effective extinction of humanity. It is literally the end of all progress and the end of history. Is that really what happens on every world where intelligent life develops? That is so depressing, to live in a universe where intelligent life is created and always exterminates itself.

On Ron Paul Forum and Paid Disinformation Agents, Bill says:

I suspect that people may be that clueless, and that you may be just a little paranoid. However, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you! I like the blog ...

This post reminds me of an old joke, in a good way.

Question: How do you spot the Fed in your group?

Answer: He's the guy saying you should blow stuff up!

Both are probably true at the same time. There are plenty of clueless people who just repeat the brainwashing they learned elsewhere. Whenever someone suggests that they have been brainwashed, they desperately try to discredit them.

There also are a lot of bad people trying to manipulate others for their own benefit. I have lots of evidence of this, both direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.

I am probably on the overly paranoid side. On the other hand, I've seen a lot of bad things and have a high level of awareness. After attaining partial enlightenment, I can't just turn my back on what I've seen. I wouldn't willingly take the blue pill. There are many bad things such as the Federal Reserve, the income tax, and "big government" that can't be explained purely by chance.

The idea that government spies manipulate citizen activist groups into doing bad things is, unfortunately, a time-tested technique. That's the reason lobbying and protesting don't work. It's too easy to infiltrate and subvert such groups. Dictatorships are inefficient. A citizen activist group that organizes itself as a dictatorship is just asking for infiltration by red market spies.

That's the reason I like the agorist solution. You need a very high level of trust in such a community. There are many practical obstacles to me personally trading agorist-style, but hopefully I can raise awareness in others and eventually, there will be enough opportunities for me to be able to participate.

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