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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reader Mail #14 - Why Am I Feeding Trolls?

My post on How the State Destroys Small Businesses has been incredibly popular. It was merely a response to a question someone had asked me. You should read it if you haven't already. It was visited primarily by people forwarding the link. IMHO, word of mouth is the best way to promote your blog. That post set a new single-day visits record for my blog! The previous single-day visits record was set by The Voting Scam.

Sometimes, my best content is a response to a reader questions.

Brad Spangler has published links to the Market Anarchy Zine. They are worth reading. This post has an HTML-readable version. Brad Spangler linked to PDFs, intended to be printed and compiled as a book.

Here's another interesting Google Analytics statistic. 107 people have visited my blog at least 15 times. 84 people have visited at least 26 times. 3 people have visited over 51 times. That means I have around 200 regular readers.

Someone Google searched and found my blog for "how the federal reserve is fixing the economy". The Federal Reserve "fixes the economy" in the same sense that a veterinarian fixes a dog.

I read an interesting article on ProBlogger. It said that a blog is worth about $30 per regular reader. That seems like a high number to me. Plus, my blog isn't the kind I could sell, because I doubt someone else would be able to write articles in my style.

Some popular bloggers wind up writing a book. If I collected and edited my best posts, I'd have more than enough material for a book. However, selling only 200 copies doesn't make it worthwhile. What would be a good title? How about "The Compound Interest Paradox, the Federal Reserve, the Income Tax, and Other Enslavement Techniques"? That's a bit too long, though.

The Ron Paul campaign is interesting. From my point of view, the only alternatives are that (1) Ron Paul, or someone like him, should be elected president or (2) the current economic and political system will completely collapse. I wonder if enough people are starting to realize that those are the only alternatives? Personally, I think that a complete collapse is fairer, but I would also like to see Ron Paul be elected President. Even if Ron Paul fails to be elected in 2008, there probably still is time for another Ron Paul-like candidate to be elected President in 2012 or 2016.

I found a link to the full testimony of the FBI agent who petitioned for the raid of the Liberty Dollar offices. Apparently, the raid was not organized by the IRS. It was organized by the FBI, Treasury Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. First, the FBI agent was complaining that the Liberty Dollar Corporation was not reporting its seignorage income to the IRS; isn't that the IRS' concern and not the FBI's concern? The Liberty Dollar corporation was buying silver at the spot price ($14.50) and selling Liberty Dollar coins to associates for $16/oz, with a face amount of $20/oz. When the spot price of silver rose above $10/oz, the Liberty Dollar corporation devalued its currency from $10/oz to $20/oz, without reporting all this seignorage income. Liberty Dollars can be sold for multiple prices. The Liberty Dollar corporation can manufacture Liberty Dollar coins for $14.50, sell the them to associates for $16, and they can be redeemed for $20. An associate can buy Liberty Dollar coins for $16/oz, give them to someone else, who redeems them for $20/oz; in this manner, Liberty Dollars could facilitate money laundering. Also, I think that electronic Liberty Dollar transactions need to be reported to the government; I'm not sure if they were doing that.

Another complaint is that, by passing off an ounce of silver as a $20 coin, users of the Liberty Dollar are committing fraud. First, a 1 ounce silver coin is properly valued based on the spot price of silver, not $20. Second, a naive person might think the Liberty Dollar coin was official US money, due to the misleading inscription on the coin; Liberty Dollar coins look sort of like actual US government money.

Some news outlets are carrying the Liberty Dollar story as a Ron Paul related story. The Liberty Dollar and Ron Paul are *COMPLETELY* unrelated. However, they were minting a Ron Paul coin, trying to leech off the popularity of his campaign. Consider this article on Do you notice that they intentionally picked a bad photo of Ron Paul? The angle of the shadows is designed to make him look bad.

I recently discovered Google Reader, after viewing Kevin Carson's shared items. If you're a regular reader of a bunch of blogs, it's a neat way to keep track of new posts on various blogs, without having to visit the blog's homepage each time. You still have to visit the blog itself if you want to view reader comments. You should highlight reader comments in separate posts like I do! It's also useful for blogs that don't update regularly, because you receive a notification when there's a new post.

I have a Google Reader "FSK's shared items" widget on my blog's homepage now. It contains what I think are the best posts from the other blogs I read regularly. It has its own RSS feed, so those of you who read my blog via the RSS feed can also subscribe to that feed.

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone asked:

How about leaving fire departments to the free market?

There is a workable solution. The same people who sell fire insurance should own the fire departments! (Or purchase protection contracts from fire departments.) Presumably, the free market could more efficiently place fire departments than a government bureaucrat who would have concerns such as "one fire department per voting district".

For pretty much any state-provided service, if you really think about, there's a viable free market alternative.

The idea that fire insurance is bundled with fire departments makes perfect sense.

On Reader Mail #12, Aahz wrote a detailed response:

Personally, I think that Aahz and I should just go our separate ways. I don't think I'm contributing to his enlightenment, and I'm just getting frustrated. Other people are free to check out his spam-infested blog if they choose. When he posted his comment, he double-posted. I meant to click on "reject one, approve other", but Blogger rejected both.

If you post advertisements on your blog disguised as content, IMHO you are stealing from me. You aren't stealing money out of my pocket. You are stealing my time, which is just as valuable.

In Google Search, my blog is the #1 result for "oligopoly"! That's kind of cool.

Hate to burst your bubble, but try signing out of Google and doing the search again. You're not even in the first 5 pages. Google tailors your search results to your browsing and searching history.

Whoops! I was looking at "oligiopoly", where I actually am #1 due to a misspelling in my post. Other people made the same typo I did. Those people did appreciate my blog, staying to visit several pages according to Google Analytics.

Personally, I think word of mouth is the best way to promote a blog. There are many ways to "game" Google's search engine, and I'm not looking to waste my time on that. I do make the first page of plenty of searches. My PageRank does appear to be improving over time.

I'm interested in the idea that Somalia is a valid example of a stable anarchistic society. However, I don't think that Somalia could withstand an full-scale invasion by the USA.

Are you trying to say that one of the definitions of a stable anarchist society is that it be able to withstand a US invasion? I'm curious, then what countries you consider to be stable.

Yes, a stable anarchistic society has to be able to withstand invasion. Simple mechanisms, such as ensuring most citizens are armed, is sufficient. An unregulated free market in handguns is sufficient.

What countries do I consider to be stable? None, including the USA.

When you eventually stand up and actually start living as an anarchist your opinion may hold some weight.

If you don't like my opinions, you don't have to read my blog. Similarly, if I don't like advertisements disguised as content, I don't have to read Aahz's blog.

The state/corporate economy offers me a higher salary than the anarchist economy. So far, the best job the anarchist economy has offered me is $0/hr writing my blog, which I willingly do for free. If I could find an free market job that paid equal or better than my corporate job, I would gladly take it. I'd probably even work for slightly less, just to be able to work in the free market. I'm not going to sacrifice myself just for the sake of doing negligible damage to the state.

Besides, if my corporate job is really a complete and utter waste of time, I'm not contributing to the bad guys! I'm only helping the bad guys if I create something productive and useful that the bad guys steal. All state property is, technically, unowned property. I'm claiming my share of this unowned property.

There's nothing wrong with me using an IRA to protect my savings from taxation. There's nothing wrong with me investing in the stock market or options market. When I profit from my stock or option investments, I'm just claiming unowned property. There's nothing wrong with using my knowledge of the structural flaws in the financial system to profit. I'd prefer to work in a free market, but for now, I'll do the best I can given the circumstances.

That's another class of anarchists that I classify as fools. They go around living out of dumpsters, just to avoid supporting the state. There are more productive ways to undermine the state.

I take a normal corporate job, and use the proceeds to find time to work on my blog.

Besides, if your job is accepting payments for advertisements in your blog, I assume you're paying income taxes on that. If you're paying taxes, you're supporting the state.

I've been looking carefully at Aahz's blog, and his post promoting a payday loan service has me really angry.

Hmmm... so, you're really angry that I use payday loan services? I'm not seeing any logic there.

Ever since I decided to stand on principle and no longer spend my daytime hours supporting the economic tyranny that rules the US I've been living in poverty. One of the results is that I need to take out payday loans on occasion.

Are they a "ripoff"? No. I get exactly what I contract for. Are they a poor financial decision? Of course they are, most of the time. I pay $45 to get $255 for two weeks (actually only 10 days this month). However, this month that $255 is going to keep me from racking up over $500 in late fees and penalties in that same 10 day period. So it's actually a wise financial choice for me at this time.

Using your numbers, your paycheck is $300 and you're paying a fee of $45 for a 2 week loan. That's an interest rate of 15% over two weeks. Converting to an annualized rate, (1.15)^26-1 is an interest rate of 3600%. That's a ripoff.

Is it fair that large corporations can borrow at 6% while you borrow at 3600%? Where do you think that $45 goes anyway? It goes to a bank's profits. Banks have successfully lobbied the state for regulations ensuring that cheap small loans aren't available to poor individuals.

The problem is that there's no true "free market" in loans to poor individuals. Ideally, you should have some friends who could give you a loan at a decent rate so you could build up some savings.

Besides, I though that Aahz lived off his blog income. Are such checks accepted by payday loan services?

Yes, you freely contracted with the payday loan service. The problem is that state violence distorts the market, preventing cheaper loan services from emerging. If A trades with B, it's not a free transaction when C is holding a gun to B's head, or holding a gun against people B would prefer to trade with.

Similarly, you freely contract with your advertisers. That isn't a truly free arrangement, due to state interference in the market. Is it fair that the state distorts the market to the extent that is your best employment offer?

Google and Blogger should provide this directly somewhere. Their UI is pretty good overall, so it's got to be in there somewhere. If not, they should be adding it soon.

They should but they don't. From Google's help page at

Subscriber stats display the number of Google users who have subscribed to your feeds using any Google product (such as Reader, iGoogle, or Orkut). Because users can subscribe to feeds using many different aggregators or RSS readers, the actual number of subscribers to your site may be higher.

Google's own Matt Cutts recommends Feedburner on his blog:

If you just want a nice summary number, or to see the breakdown of feed readers, I recommend FeedBurner. It’s free and gives you useful stats for any day you want.

Since he's frequently the one breaking the news of new Google features (and that post is less than a month old) I wouldn't suggest holding your breath waiting for Google to get you real feed numbers.

I need to learn more about how RSS feeds work. I never realized that someone can subscribe to my feed via another service. Blogger -> Feed A -> Feed B -> Feed C. If someone subscribes to Feed B or Feed C, I'll never know unless I put some kind of cookie or web bug in my blog? Is that how it works?

All I did was click the checkbox "enable RSS feed" in Blogger. Hopefully, most people who get my RSS feed visit my blog itself sometimes. I have some nice links on my blog on the sidebar that aren't visible via the RSS feed.

My Google Analytics stats are interesting. I doubt that as many as 10% block scripts from running in their browser, so my Google Analytics stats are probably accurate. I block Google Analytics myself, partially to avoid corrupting my own statistics when I visit my own blog.

Anyone posting on the Ron Paul Forum who is strongly opposed to the gold standard either doesn't understand Ron Paul's positions or is a troll.

So you don't think it's possible to disagree with someone and not be a troll? Isn't it possible they're simply not Ron Paul supporters? Or that they like Paul for reasons other then his support of the gold standard?

Why would someone who isn't a Ron Paul supporter be on the Ron Paul Forum? It's like having advertisements for corporations on an anti-state blog.

Professional trolls disrupting debate on the Internet is a SERIOUS problem. It could be solved by writing better discussion forum software with a moderation feature. It could also be solved by moving to a forum where you control the content, such as hosting your own forum or blog.

I'm just shocked and disgusted to see professional trolls on a Ron Paul Forum. On the other hand, a popular political forum is expected to attract trolls.

I can tell by analyzing their arguments and tactics that they are professional trolls. I've seen it enough to be convinced. I may be wrong about some of the user's I've classified as disinformation agents, but some of them certainly are there to spread propaganda.

IMHO, Ron Paul's key positions are anti-Federal Reserve, anti-income tax, anti-IRS, and pro-gold standard. Those are more important than anything else.

For example, I think his immigration rhetoric is dead wrong, but I still hope to see him because President.

If you take the attitude that all governments are illegitimate, then free unrestricted immigration is the natural conclusion. That is not Ron Paul's position. In the present, the USA should offer free unrestricted immigration to any country that reciprocates.

I've come to the conclusion that shows like The Daily Show and Colbert Report are actually fake opposition. They really are just shills for the establishment. They'll never have a guest who takes the correct position of "Who needs a government anyway?"

I've never watched either of these shows so can't comment on them directly, but Rom Paul was on The Daily show on June 5th and on The Colbert Report on June 15th. Fact checking is a good thing, but doesn't seem to be one of your strong suits. That's what, 8 glaring errors I've corrected in just a few days?

Just because Ron Paul was on the Daily Show doesn't contradict that they are shills for the establishment. Ron Paul really didn't discuss his anti-Federal Reserve or anti-income tax or pro-gold-standard philosophies on either show. IMHO, a guest like Ron Paul deserves a full half-hour or more, instead of just five minutes. With other political guests, Jon Stewart had them on for longer interviews. Further, when Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert ridicule the debates or candidates, they never mention Ron Paul at all. By failing to ever mention Ron Paul, except when he was a guest, they are effectively censoring him.

Ron Paul never said "Who needs a government at all?" Ron Paul has said "The government should be a lot smaller than it is now", which is entirely different. The standard Libertarian philosophy is designed as a distraction from the true anarchist philosophy. Ron Paul is a minarchist/Libertarian. That is one step away from being an anarchist. An anarchist is a minarchist or Libertarian who has carefully thought about his philosophy.

Some people say that Ron Paul himself is an establishment shill. He's holding out the false hope to a lot of people that the government can be reformed by voting. Those people are working on Ron Paul's campaign instead of other things, such as directly building a stateless society.

No one ever won a fight by running away.

Actually, that's how you win a fight with the state. You structure your activities so that the state never finds out.

Anyway, debating Aahz makes me feel tired and frustrated rather than enlightened. I'll stop by his blog occasionally, but I don't feel welcome there. I'm not convincing him and his arguments sound like nonsense to me. I'm considering the possibility of starting to ignore him.

Unfortunately, in the development of a true anarchist society, we're still in the raising awareness phase. I don't see why I should feel obligated to sacrifice myself to fight the state. For now, I'll just focus on raising awareness and keep looking out for opportunities.

I feel that I'm helping overall. I see some of my best posts cited on other websites. Based on Google Analytics, I have a decent number of regular readers. Perhaps in a few years, it will be practical for me to take more direct action.

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone asked:

How do libertarians and Libertarians feel about public defense attorneys?

Why does the justice system have to be adversarial? Why are people required to spend a lot of money on an attorney when they are accused of a crime?

In a non-adversarial justice system, the defendant could represent himself and the judge would be expected to sure that things are fair.

In that same thread:

so, this is the libertarian position on the court system? How should we keep our judges from abusing their power? And do you like having to option of trial by jury?

I never said that was the Libertarian position. I said it was my personal position.

What keeps judges from abusing their power in the present? Practically nothing.

Judges should be exposed to free-market competition just like everybody else. Why not have multiple competing courts and multiple competing police forces?

Contrary to popular belief, I think such a system would not degenerate into complete violence and chaos. The current system has pretty much degenerated into complete violence and chaos!

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone asked:

How come people aren't posting threads about the stock market crashing to zero?

Why would the stock market go to zero? If the value of a dollar is going to zero, then the value of tangible assets should go to infinity.

If you're worried about a crash, worry about a hyperinflationary crash of the dollar.

Of course, if the dollar crashes in hyperinflation, I wouldn't exactly call stock investments as "tangible assets" anymore.

The Federal Reserve always has a credible weapon to fight hyperdeflation. It can print more money!

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone asked:

If Ron Paul eliminated the income tax and slashed the Federal bureaucracy, wouldn't state bureaucracies just expand to compensate?

With a smaller Federal government, competition among states will lead to fair policies.

For example, if California has a huge state bureaucracy and Nebraska has no bureaucracy, then businesses will start moving to Nebraska.

Before 1913, states would frequently advertise things like "No state income tax!" or "Low property taxes!" to attract businesses.

Instead of a monopolistic Federal government, you would have 50 competing state governments. That is closer to the original intent of the Constitution.

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone asked:

Isn't Ron Paul's position on abortion inconsistent?

I believe that Ron Paul said that he personally opposes abortion. If he was representing people in a state government, he would work to outlaw abortion in that state.

However, Ron Paul says that abortion is an issue for states and not for the Federal government. Ron Paul is a strict Constitutionalist. The power to regulate abortion is not specifically enumerated as a power granted to the Federal government by the Constitution. Therefore, it is a state issue.

IMHO, abortion is one of those issues that is used to distract people from debating things that are really important, such as the Federal Reserve and the income tax.

In that same thread:

Can we remember, morality aside, that Roe Vs. Wade was a SCOTUS ruling? Since when did SCOTUS make laws?

So, overturning something that is not constititional cannot be unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court, in its Roe vs. Wade decision, effectively passed a law that said "states may not ban abortion". They do this all the time.

Most notably, the Supreme Court once passed a law that said "corporations have the same right to own property and enforce contracts as individuals".

Just because a group of nine people say something, doesn't mean it doesn't contradict the US Constitution.

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone asked:

What is an acceptable and moral tax?

All forms of taxation are theft.

Following that conclusion, there are NO morally acceptable taxes.

Do you have the right to steal from me? I assume you answer no.

If you don't have the right to steal from me, then how can you, by voting, authorize other people to steal from me on your behalf?

On that same thread:

I work for a living. I change hours of my life into dollars. If I don't have control over those dollars I don't have control over my life and I am not free. Taxes don't have to hit 100% to become a form of slavery.

Tax freedom day is now April 30th or 32.69% of the year. This is the amount of time we spend working every year to pay taxes. The argument is we're only partially enslaved by our government. They've moved freedom into a continuum and freedom is now measured relative to how free people are in other countries.

We have the most freedom of all the people on earth...but thats not the same thing as being free people, it just means we aren't enslaved as much as in other countries.

I don't see freedom this way; being a 1/3 enslaved is like being a 1/3 dead. Freedom is a very black and white issue and should be spoken of in absolutes.

And a response to the above:

I love this argument! You should publish it!

I'm publishing it. (I always wonder: Do people on Internet discussion forums claim copyright to their posts? I'm citing the source, so it's morally acceptable.)

On that same thread:

But without taxes, how would [fill in the blank] get accomplished?

In a truly free market, if people want something badly enough, they will voluntarily pay for it. It only takes a little bit of thinking to realize how government service XXX would be provided in a free market. Free from a crushing tax burden, people would be free to spend money on all sorts of things that the government does now.

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone said:

If Ron Paul eliminates the IRS, then what are all the former IRS employees going to do? If Ron Paul eliminates big government, then what are all the former government employees going to do?

This is almost like asking, "If people are prevented from stealing, what are all the former criminals going to do for a living?"

The people who currently work for the government would find useful, productive jobs in the private sector. This is the whole Bastiat "seen vs. unseen" argument. In the present, you see a lot of people working for the government and getting paid. Without government, those people would have other productive and useful jobs, and people would collectively be better off. The productive work those people would have been doing in a stateless society is "unseen", and therefore not missed.

Unfortunately, the people who work for the IRS do so "voluntarily". This means that their IRS-paid job is higher than what they could get in the private sector. They probably could not earn as much in a non-government job. Without the IRS, they would be earning less, but society as a whole would be better off.

Without government, the people who currently work for the government would be worse off. Society as a whole would be in much better shape. For low-ranking government employees, they probably would experience an increase in their standard of living. Politicians, judges, and lawyers, will probably not get paid as much after the red market collapses.

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone said:

Ron Paul said that, if elected President, he would stop prosecuting nonviolent drug offenders.

Then, that same person said:

Why isn't anyone responding?

People are brainwashed. "Drugs are bad! Drug users and dealers must be in jail!"

Ron Paul's attitude is "I support common law". That means, "If you don't injure anyone, it's not a crime." By that standard, drug users and drug dealers are not criminals, provided the drug dealer is actually selling what he claims to be selling. It's a private transaction between two individuals, and none of the government's business.

Ron Paul also says "The Constitution does not specifically delegate to the Federal Government the right to regulate drugs. Therefore, this is none of the Federal Government's business. If a state wants to decriminalize marijuana, that is within the rights of that state."

This goes against the mainstream media bias.

There are too many people who benefit financially from the "War on Drugs".

Some Ron Paul supporters are saying "Ron Paul should avoid contradicting mainstream media bias as often as possible. Whenever Ron Paul contradicts a mainstream hotbutton brainwashing issue, he risks losing support."

Therefore, Ron Paul supporters will not emphasize Ron Paul's desire to decriminalize drug use.

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone said:

Without Social Security, look at how many elderly homeless people there would be!

Look at it this way: If I didn't have to pay the 15% Social Security Tax, plus other income taxes, then I could afford to directly take care of my parents instead of forcing them to rely on the government.

If you want to look "pre-Social Security", you really need to go back before 1913. You can't consider homeless people during the Federal Reserve caused Great Depression to be homeless due to "market forces".

Suppose I didn't have to pay most of my income in taxes, and suppose state violence didn't prevent me from negotiating top value for my labor. In that case, I would easily be able to fund my own retirement, take care of older relatives, and donate to charity.

On the Ron Paul Forum, someone said:

If we go back to a gold standard, how will we pay for wars?

Who needs war? War is the health of the state.

War benefits the bad guys. War doesn't benefit the average person.

[Seriously, some people are so clueless. I can't believe that poster WANTED wars. I find it really disturbing that practically nobody else on that thread said "Who needs war?"]

Ineffabelle posted several comments that I will answer in a later post.

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