This collection is interesting bits from other blogs more than reader comments. I'm really appreciating Google Reader! The ability to look at the "shared items" folders of others is really cool.
According to Google Analytics, someone from Saudi Arabia has been reading OPEC Currency Advice.
I liked this post on The Picket Line about tax resistance.
Economists consider tax compliance to be an irrational behavior. That is, the penalties for tax evasion are not severe or certain enough for it to be an economically rational decision not to try to evade your taxes. And yet, to a great extent, people willingly cough up what the government tells them to. Why?
I've never seen a careful analysis. What exactly *IS* the risk of being caught for tax evasion? I think it depends on how clever you are about making sure you don't generate a paper trail. Depositing cash in your bank account is a tip-off to the bad guys.
If you work in a corporate W-2 job and you're a wannabe tax resister, you're SOL. The corporation is required to report your income to the government, and taxes are automatically withheld.
If you really want to be a tax resister, you have to find trusted off-the-books trading partners.
People pay their taxes because they identify taxpaying with being honest, with being fair, with being a good citizen, with their value system as a whole.
In other words, if people fully realized how the current economic and political system was a fraud, they would be more willing tax resisters.
The idea of a "war tax resister" is a good way to introduce people to the idea of agorism. You can't oppose the Iraq war by voting. Did you like the way the democrats stopped the Iraq war after they took control of Congress? If you don't pay taxes, you can oppose the Iraq war and show a profit at the same time!
Some really foolish tax resisters are paying something like 50% of their actual tax bill. That's like begging the IRS for an audit.
I liked this post on Scholars and Rogues. Summarizing, Thomas Jefferson thought he was an idealist establishing the perfect form of government. In actuality, Thomas Jefferson was designing the most effective oppression tool ever invented.
By providing people with the false impression that they can control the government, they will not resist an oppressive government. In theory, the people can replace their readers anytime. The reality is that the voting system is defective.
Nobody is more hopelessly enslaved than someone who falsely believes he is free. (Goethe)
A democracy or republic is a great system for providing people with the illusion they are free, while they are hopelessly enslaved. People are given the false impression that they can move up the economic chain and become one of the power elite. The reality is that the rare success stories are heavily touted.
In the present, the wealthy elite can pass their power on to their children with nearly 100% reliability. The present is the LEAST RISKY time in history to be a powerful wealthy person, extracting favors from the state for your own enrichment.
Everyone who has a blog should maintain a list of blogs they read regularly. You should also maintain a list of blogs you are considering adding to your regular rotation.
I now manage my blog hitlist exclusively through Google Reader. I keep track of when I added the blog to my hitlist, along with how many times I decided to put a post in my "shared items". If a blog's RSS feed has enough "interesting items", it gets promoted to my regular rotation. (I rename the feed name to keep track of the date added and the # of "interesting items".)
BTW, some blogging services, most notably wordpress, don't come out properly in the RSS feed. The RSS feed is only showing the first paragraph, rather than the entire article. I thought that the RSS feed should carry the entire article. Verifying my own blog's RSS feed, you appear to get the entire article via the RSS feed.
There's one skill I've discovered that's very useful. In the first few seconds of reading a post, you should be able to decide "This is interesting" or "This is nonsense". A lot of stuff falls into the category "This is interesting, but hard to read." Lately, I've been rejecting the "interesting, but hard to read" content unless it was written by Kevin Carson.
I liked this article, forwarded by Kung-Fu Monkey. The subject is "Why Americans Hate the Media".
Here's one interesting quote from that article: "Elite reporters show surprisingly limited curiosity." Obviously, if an elite reporter had intellectual curiosity, he might eventually start asking questions about the Compound Interest Paradox. The very process of becoming an "elite reporter" makes sure that all the people with intellectual curiosity get weeded out. The system is designed that way on purpose!
Here's another interesting quote (paraphrased) "The political pundits are frequently more powerful than the Congressmen. Most pundits are more famous than all but a handful of Congressmen. Congressmen can be voted out, but the pundits have real job security."
It's definitely worth going through Kung-Fu Monkey's blog and reading his older posts.
I liked this post on Kung-Fu Monkey's blog.
Yet Cheney and Gonzales have dropped the Constitution into a hole in the White House basement and are currently dancing naked around the pit, penises tucked between their legs, screaming "It rubs the lotions on its Amendments!" at the shuddering, terrified document, and there's nary a peep.
What happens if the people who control the government have gone completely and utterly insane? I suspect that the Supreme Leader of Humanity is intentionally choosing insane people to run the government, because he's decided that government is a bad invention and he's getting rid of it.
I also liked this post by Kung-fu Monkey.
[There was a gruesome bloody murder in the neighborhood.]
Your neigbor decides to take precautions. He leaves his doors and windows unlocked. He sits on the roof, armed with a SpongeBob SquarePants air-rifle, just in case the killers return and attack the house by hang-glider this time. And the air rifle doesn't work. And he spent EVERY DIME HE HAD on the air rifle....
Simply put, if you are voting for these guys who call themselves Republicans, then you are voting for crazy air-rifle guy. You just walked up, nodded, and said: "Wow, I gotta get me a ladder."
I would amend this by saying "ALL the candidates are crazy air-rifle guy."
When you pay taxes, the money all goes to crazy air-rifle guy.
I also liked this post, comparing George Bush to Leeroy Jenkins. Leeroy Jenkins is a famous World of Warcraft character who stupidly gets his entire party killed, in a "viral video" that has circulated widely on the Internet.
I liked this post.
Network television is executive welfare.
As usual, this doesn't just apply to television. The ENTIRE ECONOMIC SYSTEM is executive welfare.
The problem is that with broadcast television, the networks have a monopoly enforced by government violence. The networks received the exclusive right to broadcast at a specific frequency, and those rights were sold for a huge discount to their fair value.
Cable television is only marginally better. In each city, the cable network is given a monopoly. The cable company is given the exclusive right to lay cables and connect them to customers. There are 100+ channels, but the cable company has a monopoly over deciding which channels are broadcast.
For example, it doesn't pay for me to develop my own "Anarchists' TV Network", because I couldn't get a cable network to carry it. If Fox wants to release a "Fox Business Network", they already have a relationship with the cable companies and can easily get their channel added to the lineup.
The Internet is leveling the playing field somewhat. That's why eliminating network neutrality is such a high priority for the bad guys. Why hasn't the the Supreme Leader of Humanity allowed network neutrality to be destroyed? It would be a simple matter to tax or regulate the Internet out of existence, although that would just drive the real hackers back to the old BBS systems.
I also liked this bit from the same post:
It's famously said said that one in ten Britons who could read, read Dickens when he was alive.
The most popular writer in the history of the English language ... had a ten share.
Is someone going to be scrounging around on the Internet looking at these posts 20-50 years from now? What message would I have for those people? Let's see. The price of a new computer is around 100-150 ounces of silver. How does that compare to prices you pay?
I like this calculation of the annual death toll in Iraq. Apparently, some people say that living in Iraq is safer than living in Washington D. C. According to that post, those people either are lying, can't do arithmetic, or completely insane.
There's a lot of good bits in Kung-Fu Monkey's blog
I liked this post on Wirearchy. It says that, if you only hang out with people with views similar to yours, your views become more extreme.
Personally, I reinterpret that as "If you don't waste your time hanging out with fools, the quality of your thinking and writing improves." I haven't found any philosophy that's sounder than agorism, so I'm sticking with that for now. Unfortunately, there are VERY FEW good resources for agorism on the Internet, and there are a lot of "phony anarchists" on the Internet.
I don't think that I personally have that problem. I still try to respond to trolls on the Ron Paul forum! Actually, the Ron Paul Forum seems to be declining in quality lately. They made too many subforums, which has fragmented the discussion too much.
I try to answer all non-spam comments. However, there's a selection bias. If you don't agree sort of with my writing, then you won't be wasting your time reading this!
I've been reading all sorts of stories about Taser-wielding, out of control police. There's a presumption that using a Taser is "safe", so it's used much more commonly.
A gunshot always results in serious injury or death. A Taser will not lead to many serious injuries. Suppose a Taser seriously injures someone 1 time in 10,000. If a Taser starts being used 10,000 times per day, then you start having 1 person seriously injured from a Taser per day. The presumption "Tasering is OK" leads to more Taserings than is really appropriate.
The problem is that if you're inappropriately Tasered, you usually have no recourse. The policeman claims "sovereign immunity" and you can't sue him profitably. In cases where someone videotapes the Tasering, the police are now smart enough to confiscate and destroy videotapes and surveillance cameras.
If policemen were subject to true free-market competition, you could hire another police force to investigate and protect you if you were inappropriately Tasered by another police force. Under the current system, you have no choice but to pay taxes to support corrupt police.
What incentive do police have to treat people fairly?
I liked this post on the Liberty Papers. The author understands the unfairness of fiat money, but he doesn't understand the Compound Interest Paradox. I left a comment saying, "It's the Compound Interest Paradox, stupid!"
I liked this post about trying to explain World of Warcraft to someone from 1977. Reading blogs written by professional writers sure is interesting! I wonder if I can convert some of them to agorism?
Some of these blogs attract a TON of comments. I don't bother looking through them to read them all, though. Does it pay for me to read 100 lousy comments to find the 5 that are actually worth reading?
I liked this article about free market behavior in ants. Each ant is individually stupid. However, by acting according to predetermined rules, an ant is smart. An ant will go foraging for food if it detects returning foragers at a certain rate. Are foragers returning with food rapidly? That means there's food nearby. Are foragers being eaten by predators by the nest entrance? Is there no food nearby? In either case, it isn't a good idea to go out, because you aren't encountering returning foragers.
The model for humans is that people can individually act intelligently, and reach the correct conclusions. Unfortunately, there's a huge predator (the State) eating all the returning foragers.
The state prevents individual human intelligence from aggregating and forming the optimal global solution. That's the reason a hierarchical structure is so inefficient. The individual decision-making abilities of everyone but the leader are wasted.
I didn't realize that the US Post Office has a government-mandated monopoly. They have *EXCLUSIVE* right to deliver mail to citizen mailboxes. Any competing mail service that delivers to mailboxes is committing a crime! Apparently, that's the reason that FedEx and UPS always demand a signature, rather than just putting the letter in your mailbox.
That's hard to enforce, though. This sounds like a decent agorist business opportunity. However, it would only be practical for delivering things of high value you don't want the red market to know about. For example, if I opened an agorist coin and silver dealership, I probably would have to hire an agorist courier to make deliveries in other cities. The USPS, UPS, and FedEx are probably obligated to report anyone shipping gold or silver to the government.
I liked this post on Bored Zhwazi. It actually was quite encouraging. Suppose there already are a handful of people who have tremendous wealth and power. After a certain point, it doesn't pay for them to go after the middle class anymore; they don't have enough power to be worth stealing from. If you're the 5th most powerful person in the world, your ideal theft target is the 6th through 10th most powerful people in the world. The 5th most powerful person in the world probably won't be able to touch the 4th most powerful person in the world.
In other words, it's practically already certain that there already is a Supreme Leader of Humanity. Somewhere, someone has already seized complete and absolute control of practically the whole world's resources. My question is not "How do we prevent someone from seizing absolute control of the entire world?" From my point of view, that has already happened. My question is "What does the Supreme Leader of Humanity want to do next?"
I've been wondering if making T-shirts is a good agorist business opportunity. I wonder how much it costs to buy a printer that prints T-shirts? I have some clever design ideas. If you can buy raw materials for $5 each and sell them for $10-$15 each, that could be worth it.
On the Ron Paul Forum, someone asks:
Isn't it dangerous to expose the evils of the Federal Reserve? Look at what happened to Kennedy.
Actually, you've got it half right.
Any President who has tried to expose the evils of the Federal Reserve or banking cartel has died in office. Most members of Congress who have tried to expose the evils of the Federal Reserve have had nasty things happen to them, with Ron Paul the only current exception.
Private citizens have written negative stories on the Federal Reserve without adverse effects, although you might have trouble getting a mainstream news source to acknowledge your work.
Someone responded that the founding fathers successfully fought a central bank. That doesn't really count; I'm referring to recent history.
On the Ron Paul Forum, a troll is aggressively defending the Federal Reserve again:
It is the massive trading on debt derivatives that is directly responsible for what's going on, NOT Fed interest rate policies.
No. Under the Federal Reserve, real interest rates are negative.
Bond derivative speculators KNOW that the Federal Reserve will bail them out in the form of an interest rate cut during a credit crunch. The Federal Reserve's interest rate policy eliminates most of the risk from derivative speculation.
The explosion in derivatives didn't occur until AFTER the US abandoned the gold standard. You can't have a derivatives market under a gold standard. Under a gold standard, exchange rate arbitrage occurs naturally due to the shipment of physical gold.
Why does any discussion of the Federal Reserve on the Ron Paul Forum bring out the "aggressively defend the Federal Reserve" trolls?
On that same thread, and the same troll:
I'm not talking about forex derivatives, I'm talking about repackaging and reselling debt.
Repackaging and reselling debt is much less risky than it should be due to the Federal Reserve. If the Fed Funds Rate is 4.5%, the "repackaged debt" is 6%, and inflation is 15%, then banks and hedge funds can profitably buy the repackaged debt. A hedge fund will borrow at 4.5%, use a leverage ratio of 20x-50x and buy debt yielding 6%, making a tidy profit. During a credit crunch (like the present), the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, which makes this trade continue to be attractive.
Due to increased default risk, the repackaged debt yields only 5% instead of 6%. However, when the Fed Funds Rate is cut, the profit equation leads to the same level of profit.
The Federal Reserve provides people with the illusion that bonds are fairly priced, while real interest rates are negative.
The fact that people on both sides of the fence are screaming bloody murder and seem to be unhappy, makes it seem to me that the Fed is probably doing the right thing.
Just because two groups of people are simultaneously claiming they are being robbed does not mean that no theft is occurring.
One group of people is pressuring the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates (banks and hedge funds). Another group of people is pressuring the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates high. (Foreign central banks holding unleveraged long positions in Treasury Bonds. It's not Ben Bernanke's fault that foreign central banks are run by fools.) Both groups are claiming they are being unfairly treated. You cannot draw from this the conclusion that the current economic system is fair.
This sounds like the name of a new fallacy. How about the "If Everyone Is Screwed, It's Fair" Fallacy.
The people who aggressively defend the Federal Reserve seem to fall into several categories:
- People who are professional economists, who can't admit that everything they've been taught is a lie.
- People who are professional journalists, who can't admit that mainstream media's presentation of the Federal Reserve is completely and utterly false and misleading.
- People who work at large banks, who benefit greatly from the current corrupt system.
- People hired to spread disinformation about the Federal Reserve.
I suspect the above troll is a paid disinformation agent, but he may merely be a clueless fool.
I'm extremely offended by people on the Ron Paul forum aggressively defending the Federal Reserve. One person said it was like going to a Orthodox Jewish wedding and throwing a roasted pig on the table.
The problem is that the trolls aren't really debating. They repeat the same false counter-arguments over and over again, and it's like they're not listening to the detailed examples I give. A naive person can see the trolls and falsely come to the conclusion that maybe the Federal Reserve isn't so bad after all.
That troll also uses the Strawman Fallacy aggressively. He said in another thread "If you advocate for a return to a gold standard, you undermine your credibility." If you can't recognize that as troll-speak, I can't really help you.
On the Ron Paul Forum, the exact same troll says:
In fact, one of the primary reasons given for the Fed not being fully under government control is precisely due to concerns that money creation power will otherwise be under undue influence of the political process.
Anyway to go back to Rothbard, if we are to follow what he prescribes, what we should actually have is 'privately minted' money. But if you look at the Fed, it IS actually quasi-private money created by a cartel of bankers! It is actually a balance between money controlled by 'private' interests versus money controlled by the supposedly public interest.
The problem with having the Federal Reserve under the control of bankers instead of the government is that the bankers will manipulate policy for their own benefit.
Let's try this in other industries.
A handful of oil executives should get together and decide what the price of oil is.
A handful of doctors should get together and decide how much health care should cost. (The AMA already does this, by restricting the supply of doctors.)
A handful of auto executives should get together and decide how much a car should cost.
A handful of telecom executives should get together and decide how much phone and Internet service should cost.
All of the above would be decried as an outrage, but when you say:
A group of bankers should get together and decide how much money should cost. (interest and inflation are the price of money)
For some reason, putting control of money in the hands of bankers is considered to be sound policy.
On Reader Mail #15, jeff says:
Whenever I run across someone that labels themselves as an anarchist, I comment that they must get a lot of speeding tickets.
There's a lot of media bias about anarchists. There are a lot of phony anarchists out there. That's why I prefer to call myself an "agorist", which has a much clearly defined meaning. I haven't identified many people identifying themselves as "agorists" that are faking it, but that may change if the philosophy becomes more popular.
The problem with speeding tickets is that the government tends to view them as a revenue tool rather than an enforcement tool. There is nothing intrinsically evil with stopping people who are driving at an unsafe speed. If you are driving at an unsafe speed, you are increasing the risk that someone else will get in an accident. In fact, even in a free market, I would expect police to continue to stop and fine people who are driving too fast. The fine would be based on the risk of an accident, rather than some arbitrary punishment scale. Further, the police might be hired by insurance associations! If you speed, you might see your insurance rates rise.
On many highways, the actual optimal safe speed is typically higher than the posted speed limit. Federal government regulations require states to keep speed limits at a certain level, or they lose Federal highway money. Some states workaround this requirement by being lax in their enforcement. That's just one example of the Federal government usurping states' rights.
On Reader Mail #15, Ineffabelle says:
Hehehe. Actually I don't pay income taxes. My job is totally off the books. But none-the-less, by providing actual economic value to others, I am helping to build civil society.
Good for you if your job is off the books. That does raise difficulties. For example, you can't deposit that money in your checking account without raising government red flags. Does your landlord accept rent payment in cash? How do you convert your Federal Reserve Points into tangible assets? Do you take your surplus savings and buy gold and silver coins?
You still pay sales taxes when you buy stuff in a store. You still pay property tax for where you live (or your landlord pays property tax and adds the cost to your rent). You still aren't living a totally tax-free life. Those taxes go to the local government instead of the Federal government, which is less evil.
If your job is on the books, you are helping the state more than you are helping civil society. Due to taxes, the state gets paid more for your labor than you do!
Unfortunately, I still work on-the-books, which may classify me as a wimp. I'm on the lookout for opportunities that pay a better rate than my regular slave job.
On the Ron Paul Forum, someone asked:
Do you know how long it takes salaries to adjust to inflation?
(More accurately, until the US government collapses. At that point, people will return to a sound monetary system.)