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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reader Mail #22 - What is a Lawyer?

I noticed this post on the Picket Line about war tax resistance.

The tax resistance movement is doing itself a disservice by saying "Resist income taxes in protest of the Iraq war." Does that mean that, once the Iraq war is over, you'll pay income taxes again? Are you saying that you don't mind all the bad things the Federal government does BESIDES the Iraq war?

How about "Tax resistance because I don't like other people stealing from me"? Isn't that sufficient reason?



I noticed this update on the Liberty Dollar website.

This is so shocking that it makes one wonder what is going on. Unfortunately, the draconian raid/seizure/forfeiture by this government is SOP - Standard Operating Procedures! In fact, the more you learn, the worse it is. Once raided, the victim need not be arrested or even charged with a crime before his/her property can be forfeited and auctioned. This is so common that the police often refer to the seized property as "their" property. After all, like any common thief, they stole it… its "theirs"! Or so they would have you think!


The FBI is proceeding to auction off assets seized in the Liberty Dollar raid. The problem is that they didn't get a conviction in a jury trial yet. I thought that the government needs to get a conviction in a jury trial before selling confiscated property.

The article says that police view seized property as "their property". After all, they stole it fair and square! If you don't like it, hire your own police force to protect your property!

This is outright wrong. The government doesn't even need to pretend to have a jury trial anymore?

Ironically, this is the same problem the author on the Picket Line was having with the IRS. The IRS was able to seize money from his bank account without getting a conviction in a jury trial first. That is outright wrong.

Such behavior is outright stealing. Monopolistic government was a bad invention and needs to be eliminated. All the checks and balances placed into the US Constitution have been repealed.

In other words, we're already living in an anarchist society. The problem is that one criminal organization has managed to acquire a monopoly. They've successfully brainwashed people into believe their authority is "legitimate".



I liked this post on Tranarchism. A true anarchist wants the *WORST* possible candidate to be elected. This guarantees the most speedy collapse of the current economic and political system.

Fortunately, if you want to ensure the worst candidate gets elected, you don't even have to vote! The Supreme Leader of Humanity is arranging for the least qualified candidates to be elected to political office.

This makes the issue of "Should an anarchist support Ron Paul?" confusing. Ron Paul is the most promising candidate. On the other hand, Ron Paul might be able to postpone the inevitable collapse of the US government. The Supreme Leader of Humanity is using Ron Paul's campaign to raise awareness. The Supreme Leader of Humanity isn't going to allow Ron Paul to be elected President.

Sometimes, the most dangerous politician is an honest one!



I liked this post on Freedomain. It is very long, but worth reading.

It is about how people's "desire to be good" is used against them. It's about how parents train/brainwash their children to be good slaves, without knowing it. It wouldn't be possible for schools to brainwash children, if their parents weren't complicit in the scam.

I liked this quote.

The priest doesn’t say, “Give me your money because my name is Bob and I want your money.” The priest says, “Give God your money, because God wants you to give him your money, because God says ‘help the poor.’” It’s not, “Obey me,” its, “Obey this abstract entity that I made up – because only I know what it wants!”


The concept of "blindly obey an irrational God" is the same as "blindly obey an irrational State".



I liked this picture from Scholars and Rogues:





I noticed that some people take offense when I write "You're thinking like a brainwashed fool" or "You're trolling". Since this is my hobby, and not my primary source of income, I'll write what I feel like writing.

Some people say "This detracts from your presentation." I don't understand that point out all. People are so used to being intellectually coddled by schools and mainstream media, they can't think correctly.

Why is it considered inappropriate to point out when someone is acting like a fool? I think I'm onto an important brainwashing technique here.

I'm not interested in wasting my time on fools. If the people who aren't interested in thinking stay away from me, I'm probably better off.

If you avoid hanging out with fools and trolls, the quality of your own thinking increases.



Due to the traffic spike from the lewrockwell.com mention, I've already suprassed my November Absolute Unique Visitors total. After that traffic spike, my regular daily readership appears to have increased by about 10/day, or 20%. I get 50-70 Absolute Unique Visitors per day now. Organic growth is working!

In order for a blog post to truly "go viral", everyone who reads the post must get AT LEAST ONE other person to read it. If the growth factor doesn't exceed 1.0, there isn't exponential growth.

In other words, IF YOU REALLY LIKE MY BLOG, TELL OTHER PEOPLE ABOUT IT! I may already at the point where "growth due to other people mentioning my blog" exceeds "growth due to promoting my blog directly myself".

If some % of the people who visit my blog become regular readers, then my readership totals should be monotone increasing over time. I'm pretty sure that all the "potentially interested" readers haven't seen my blog yet!



I liked this post on RadGeek. It's about Alexander Hamilton and the US government's first taxes.

The US government was in substantial debt after the Revolution. The war bonds were bought up at a sharp discounted by politically connected wealthy people. A strong central government with taxation power meant these bonds could be paid off at the face amount. The politically connected made a fortune from the US government, before the ink on the Constitution was dry!

The tax on whiskey was used to pay down these bonds. The language in the tax meant that the tax burden fell higher on small distillers than large distillers. Taxation simultaneously caused cartelization of industry and enabled bondholders to profit!



The writers' union is trying an interesting tactic. Instead of negotiating with the AMPTP, they are instead directly negotiating with individual studios. It's unclear if the cartel members will stick together or each negotiate separate agreements.

That is the most offensive issue of the writers' strike. Why does the industry negotiate as a cartel? Why does the same contract apply to all writers?

By negotiating as a bloc, the writers are legitimizing the cartel practice of the industry. Why doesn't the AMPTP contract say "Each writer can individually negotiate what % of residual income he gets?" An experienced writer should be able to demand a premium of residuals.



My post on Gold and Silver Buyer's Guide generated a lot of interesting comments. Should I make an updated version based on the feedback? I'm planning to make an updated version of my "classic" posts.



On "Reader Mail #21 - Woodrow Wilson Was a Tool", David_Z says

So, in our Anarchotopia or Agorotopia, am I to presume that nobody will ever have a need for the arbitration, mediation, contract dispute resolution services, etc., offered by "lawyers" (or whatever one may choose to call them)? Even without a monopoly on the legal system, assuming a pure common law approach, won't people need some of these services? If they will not, I'd appreciate an explanation.

In my defense of lawyers, I certainly did not mean to imply that they earn no economic rent at the present. To be sure, their current level of compensation is in extreme excess of what their services rendered would likely be worth in the absence of government manipulation. But I don't believe that their value would fall to zero any more than I believe the value of the UAW labor would fall to zero if government stopped meddling in their marketplace. Both wages would fall, and probably substantially.

But not to zero.

If David_Z wants me to read his blog, he'd better enable the full RSS feed. I track blogs via Google Reader now. If you don't have an RSS feed, I'm not reading your blog (unless it's super-awesome).

First, let's agree on a definition of lawyer. It's my blog, so I'm going to define lawyer. If you don't like my definition of lawyer, read someone else's blog.

A lawyer is someone who has a license from the government to practice law. Only a lawyer may accept payment in exchange for representing someone else in a government court. A lawyer is expected to ruthlessly exploit all the defects in the legal system for his client's advantage.

The important point is "LICENSE FROM THE GOVERNMENT". In a stateless society, there is no government-granted monopoly for lawyers. In the current economic system, a lawyer's income is PURE ECONOMIC RENT. (Economic rent is when you profit from structural defects in the economic or political system, rather than doing productive and useful work.) The rules and procedures for a government court are sufficiently complicated that someone attempting to represent themselves is at a disadvantage. Practicing law without a license is a crime.

My definition of lawyer ASSUMES THE EXISTENCE OF A GOVERNMENT. You can't define "lawyer" without using the word "government". There are no lawyers, according to my definition, in a stateless society.

In a stateless society, could you hire someone else to help you settle a dispute? Yes. Would that be necessary? That's unclear. However, these advocates would function so much differently than lawyers in today's society, they would be insulted if you called them lawyers.

A good lawyer is skilled at manipulating court procedure for his client's benefit. A good lawyer can arrange for a jury to make the "right" decision, by exploiting jury selection rules or tricking them. A good lawyer can make sure the right sort of evidence is excluded and the right sort of evidence is included. THESE SKILLS WILL BE COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY USELESS IN A STATELESS JUSTICE SYSTEM.

The concept of "adversarial justice" is flawed and defective. Both sides trying to twist the situation for their own benefit IS NOT THE SAME as trying to achieve a fair outcome. You probably would not need to hire an advocate in a stateless justice system. The judge will make sure the trial is conducted fairly. If a judge got a reputation for being unfair or expensive, he will find himself with competition. If you started acting like a lawyer in a stateless court, the judge would probably kick you out!

It's hard to say exactly what a stateless court would look like. It would eliminate all of the excess and waste of the current system. I can guess, but the only way to be sure is to conduct an experiment.

Your thinking has been polluted so much by the concept of government-provided justice that you can't really imagine what free market justice would look like.

Would the average UAW worker be better off in a stateless society? Probably yes. They would lose their union perks and security, but so would everyone else! The extra productivity in the economy should more than offset the lost perks.

I just realized that the same definition applies to doctors.

A doctor is someone who has a license from the government to practice medicine. Only a doctor may accept payment in exchange for treating someone for an illness or injury. A doctor treats his patients in accordance with mainstream medical practices (i.e., those chosen by large corporations).

I thought about it. Free market health care will look A LOT DIFFERENT than the current health care system. Government licensing requirements TOTALLY DISTORT the market for doctors. It would probably confuse people to describe both types of health care workers as "doctors". On the other hand, "doctor" doesn't have the negative connotation that "lawyer" does. Doctors are pink market, while lawyers are pure red market.

For example, doctors are pressured by pharmaceutical companies to treat most illnesses with drugs. This is the strategy that maximizes corporate profit, although it isn't necessarily what is best for the patients. Many drugs that have been recently patented are of marginal benefit or actually harmful.

It is possible to define "doctor" without using government.

A doctor is someone who accepts payment in exchange for treating an illness or injury.

Government licensing is not needed to insure a high quality of medical care. Free market consumer protection groups and insurance associations will ensure that doctors perform their job properly. In the present, there aren't many free market consumer protection groups, because the government squeezes them out of the market.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to define "lawyer" without using "government". You are so used to corrupt government courts that you can't imagine what a free market court would look like.

On Reader Mail #21 - Woodrow Wilson Was a Tool, Francois Tremblay says:

Well FSK, on this particular issue we're gonna have to agree to disagree, because I just don't agree at all.

Are you referring to the Labor Theory of Value? So far, all the counter-arguments I've heard had no substance at all. To me, they sound like "I've been brainwashed to believe that the Labor Theory of Value is false. I'm not comfortable giving up that aspect of state mind control."

In a true stateless society, what force is going to prevent people from being paid the same as the true economic value of their work?

Are you sure you're really a "market anarchist"? Just because you organize the "market anarchist blog carnival" doesn't mean you're really a "market anarchist"!

I've received a huge amount of troll mail and hate mail regarding the Labor Theory of Value. My conclusion is that the Labor Theory of Value is TRUE and REALLY IMPORTANT. The Supreme Leader of Humanity has invested a lot of resources into brainwashing people on this issue. All of the counter-arguments people have given me sound like incoherent gibberish.

Here's another rule that works for me now. Suppose I suggest something, and the response is mostly loud and uniform disgust and gibberish. From now on, whenever that happens, I know that the thing I suggested was true and important.

On Government Subsidized Roads, Zhwazi says:

Or they'd use trains. Roads are overbuilt and trains are underused.

Railroads also received massive government subsidies.

When the railroads were built, they got the land rights artificially cheaply. The government exercised its "eminent domain" privilege to make sure that railroads got good land to lay their track. If I want to set up a competing railroad, I can't use force to get land rights. This effectively gave the railroads a monopoly.

Shipping things by train is more efficient than shipping by truck. Corporations do ship things by train when it's convenient. I'm not sure how railroad subsidies work in the present. I'm not familiar with the details. I know that railroads received massive government subsidies in the past. A government-subsidized railroad network helps large corporations at the expense of small businesses and individuals.

On Gold and Silver Buyer's Guide, Kimochi says:

Before you buy, make sure your seller has good reviews on the Gold is Money forums. Northwest Territories does not have good reviews, and it is common knowledge in the business that they sit on your dollars and often delay delivery.

I recommend Colorado Gold. It's a two-man shop with a great reputation, and my metal was delivered within a week. We can talk about this in private if you want, but in my experience there is no need to worry about taxes and government reporting.

Great blog, it's at the top of my list! :) I thought you would appreciate this piece of legislation recently introduced by Dr. Paul. I wonder if there is a way to track the support of this act?

I was thinking of using Apmex for my first purchase. I don't see any reason to rush to buy physical gold or silver right now. The final collapse of the current economic system is still around 20 years away. In the meantime, my stock investments are good enough. Right now, it's more important to get an underground free market economy started, than it is to invest in physical gold or silver.

Colorado Gold did seem to be slightly cheaper than Apmex. Apmex had a wider variety of products offered. If you say they're trustworthy, I'll consider them. They had a minimum purchase of 10 oz gold, which is higher than Apmex's minimum. They say "no cash", and you can bet that a check for $8k will be reported to the red market.

Why shouldn't I be worried about taxes and government reporting? The law is that all transactions over a certain dollar amount must be reported. If I'm buying anonymously on the Internet, they have to comply with the law because they don't know if I'm an undercover cop or not.

Anyway, in the present I plan to be a net buyer of gold or silver, not a seller. If I need to sell, I should be able to arrange an anonymous in-person cash transaction.

Ron Paul's proposed law involves repealing 18 USC Sec. 486 and 489

I looked up 18 USC Sec. 486 on the House website:

-CITE-
18 USC Sec. 486 01/02/2006

-EXPCITE-
TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 25 - COUNTERFEITING AND FORGERY

-HEAD-
Sec. 486. Uttering coins of gold, silver or other metal

-STATUTE-
Whoever, except as authorized by law, makes or utters or passes, or attempts to utter or pass, any coins of gold or silver or other metal, or alloys of metals, intended for use as current money,
whether in the resemblance of coins of the United States or of foreign countries, or of original design, shall be fined under this title (!1) or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

The wording of this statute is ambiguous. If you make coins that look like US government money, that is a crime. According to Ron Paul, that is punishable by other laws.

If you make gold or silver rounds, and use them as "barter money", is that a crime? I say no. This statute is ambiguous.

An overzealous prosecutor could interpret this to say that anyone who attempts to use gold or silver as money is committing a crime, EVEN IF THEY DON'T PRETEND THE GOLD OR SILVER IS OFFICIAL US GOVERNMENT MONEY.

I looked up 18 USC Sec 489:

-CITE-
18 USC Sec. 489 01/02/2006

-EXPCITE-
TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 25 - COUNTERFEITING AND FORGERY

-HEAD-
Sec. 489. Making or possessing likeness of coins

-STATUTE-
Whoever, within the United States, makes or brings therein from any foreign country, or possesses with intent to sell, give away, or in any other manner uses the same, except under authority of the Secretary of the Treasury or other proper officer of the United States, any token, disk, or device in the likeness or similitude as to design, color, or the inscription thereon of any of the coins of the United States or of any foreign country issued as money, either under the authority of the United States or under the authority of any foreign government shall be fined under this title.

This one looks harmless. You can't make coins that look like official government money. What's wrong with that?

Anyway, this proposed law by Ron Paul looks kind of pointless to me. If you want to legalize the use of gold and silver as money, there are a LOT of laws and taxes that need to be repealed.

The bottom line is: The Supreme Leader of Humanity won't allow Congress to return to a fair monetary system.

On Gold and Silver Buyer's Guide, LibertyLu:

Kimochi,

Go to www.govtrack.us

You can track sponsorship, upcoming votes, status, etc... It's a great site.

There's one important point you're missing. I don't care what the government does! I want the government to pass the stupidest possible laws.

If this was the best monetary reform bill Ron Paul could come up with, I'm deeply disappointed.

On Gold and Silver Buyer's Guide, an anonymous reader says:

Before you decide to purchase gold or silver bullion from others, consider creating it for yourself.

You need a chemical tester kit for sterling silver ( 92.5% ) and gold of different karat percentages. Said kit can be purchased online.

Here's one http://www.mineralab.com/GoldTest.htm

Google will give you hundreds of others. Then you go prospecting through the classifieds and the local flea markets, auctions and house sales.

You will face a lot of competition from scrap buyers but they are buying for resale to smelters, you can always smelt your own. Most folks are not stupid about gold but they are not so careful about sterling silver.

It's not as easy as buying a few bars from someone somewhere but it is private and mostly anonymous.

Do it for a year you will have several ounces of pure gold and several pounds of pure silver. Do it regularly for 20 to 50 years and you will need a large vault for the bullion but then noone will know you have the bullion.

Any transaction you make with a third party over the interent is neither anonymous nor private. Any payment with a Credit card can be gathered immediately you make it without your knowledge. FRN's are king; trade them for real metals and get some exercise and some really greasy food at the same time.

That test only tests the surface of the metal. If you have drilled-out bullion or plated coins, will this test work?

"Smelt your own"? Do you know how to operate your own gold or silver minting operation? That seems like a useful skill.

The problem with prospecting through classifieds and flea markets is the cost of my time.

I considered buying on eBay. I would only bid in auctions where the seller was located in the same city as me, and arrange an anonymous in-person cash transaction.

I would like to buy anonymously in-person with cash. I guess there are enough people with physical metal who need to raise cash that it might be worth my while.

The problem with buying from strangers is that you don't know if they're an undercover red market worker!

I should start an agorist gold and silver coin dealership. One way to do that is participate in a bunch of in-person cash transactions, and let people know you're starting an underground business.

Another advantage of acquiring metal gradually is that you know what your theft risk is.

I'm reluctant to install a vault in my residence because whoever installed the vault would know that something worth stealing is going to be placed in it!

Greasy food is good for you? Some sources say "yes" and some sources say "no". It seems like the "official" description of what is "healthy" changes every few years.

On Gold and Silver Buyer's Guide, an anonymous reader says:

I just finished reading the whole posting, cheap metals: copper is a prime theft target, the other cheap metals take up too much storage for unit value. Aluminum takes up ten times the volume of gold for the same weight of metal.

Aluminum is about $0.065/oz gold is about $801.000/oz. So ten times the space to store 1/12,000 of the value. Lead might be an alternative but it does have its own issues regarding storage. The palladium market is entierly controlled by the auto industry demand for catalytic converters for cars. Platinum is beautiful stuff but half the market is for autos also.

Copper bars in my basement are as much a theft target as gold coins in my basement.

If I have a ton of aluminum in my basement, it's going to be pretty hard for criminals to come into my basement and steal it! Gold coins are easily stolen.

Since palladium is 100% used in automobiles, that means the market for palladium is not manipulated like the gold and silver market is manipulated.

On Gold and Silver Buyer's Guide, gilliganscorner says:

This is a subject I know very, very well.

Hands down, the best dealer I know of is cmigs.com,.

They are located in Phoenix, Arizona. I recommend you strictly deal with Bill Haynes (the owner). He has been at this for 30+ years. Talk to him about Ron Paul, the Fed, Rothbard. He gets it. In fact, he ships out Rothbard's "The Case Against the Fed" if he thinks of it and finds you of that mindset.

Bill has a blog you can read about here.

Confidentiality? From Bill's site:

CMIGS strives to ensure client confidentiality. We do not sell or share our customers' names, and we do not computerize transactions. Not putting transactions on a computer protects our clients from record theft. It also makes it difficult for someone to come in and demand to see who has bought precious metals from CMIGS.

Furthermore, CMIGS does not even put clients' names on invoices, thereby providing even more investment privacy. This became policy in the mid-1970s as CMIGS pioneered the bullion precious metals industry in Phoenix. One day a detective from the Phoenix Police Department's Burglary Division visited our offices.

The detective asked, "Do you know what a nightmare you're going to create for the Police Department - and your clients - if copies of your invoices fall into the wrong hands?" Because of that policeman's visit, CMIGS quit putting clients' names on invoices and started writing their names and addresses on 5" X 8" cards that are stapled to the invoices. After clients receive their gold or silver, the cards are detached and destroyed.

Best gold value for your money? The Lunar Perth Mint Gold Coins offer a unique investing hedge. Check this out

That guy wasn't particularly interesting.

His "perth mint gold coins" are intended to trade at a substantial premium to spot. He was advocating that people buy "collectible" coins that trade at a premium to rounds or bars.

If you're buying gold or silver, you're buying it for a SHTF scenario. In that case, numismatic premiums will disappear.

If you're going to invest in gold or silver, you should buy generic rounds or bars and only pay a slight premium to spot.

I forgot to mention something in my original post. Don't bother with "junk silver", which is circulated US silver coins. When you take into account that the coins are worn from circulating, they aren't a good deal by metal content. Silver rounds give you a cheaper price per ounce.

I certainly hope that someone I purchase gold or silver from doesn't keep a written customer list. The *LAST* thing someone operating a grey market business should do is keep a written customer list!

gillianscorner also said in the Ron Paul Forum:

If you have a basement, you could always crack open the floor, dig out a hole, put a safe in there with the door facing upward, and re-concrete it on the sides so it stays put, and put a false floor on top of it, cover it with a rug or boxes. That would be a weekend project most of us could handle - don't get anyone else to do it - otherwise you have an outsider knowing you have a safe in the basement.

I think that, if you're putting a safe in your basement, self-installation is the way to go. Alternatively, have a trusted friend help install it. Otherwise, there's a risk of theft from whoever installed the safe!

On Gold and Silver Buyer's Guide, A.B. Dada says:

Excellent post!

I started a small gold/silver barter group in my area (within 20 mile radius). We communicate over email, and use a microforum to post buy/sell needs. We meet about twice a month, and our group buys and sells AT spot, with no transaction fees ($10 a year to membership fees).

We have about 70 people in the group. It works well. For 2 years, we've almost all accomplished the tasks we've set out to do each month: those who need cash sell their bullion, those who have cash buy the bullion, and if there are left-overs of any, we have a deal with 3 local coin shops to purchase or sell gold/silver below their usual markup.

I have a new site, www.fullreservebanking.com, which will soon detail how to start your own group.

As to verifying gold or silver, I use a system called the Fisch that works wonders. Check it out at http://www.fisch.co.za/ HIGHLY recommended!

I've detected only 2 underweight coins out of thousands over a 2 year period. I've weighed thousands of coins for other people. 1 of the underweight coins was mine (silver eagle) and 1 was another person's (gold eagle). They were both underweight by fractions of an ounce, so they were most likely just clipped very well.

I would like to set up a gold/silver barter group in my area as well.

Instead of laying off surpluses with a local dealer, I might go with an Internet dealer because they give better prices. On the other hand, then you have to worry about the transaction being reported to the red market.

I would organize the barter group like an exchange! I would keep track of bids and offers. Someone offers to sell for spot + $0.10. Someone else offers to buy for spot - $0.05. You can have your own commodities market! It's a mistake to require all in-group transactions to occur at spot. If people want to trade for more or less than spot, let them! Your group should trade at whatever price where "# of buyers" equals "# of sellers". If that differs too much from other dealers, then people would refrain from bidding.

Did you find that people tend to be net buyers or net sellers? I would expect people to be net buyers overall. You said that you sometimes sell the surplus to a local dealer, which means that you probably have a surplus of sellers sometimes.

I've seen the fisch instrument before. It only tests specific gravity and shape, NOT a chemical test. I believe if someone made a clever alloy, they could trick it. On the other hand, I heard the density of gold makes it hard to counterfeit via alloys. That's one of the advantages of gold money relative to other metals.

If I had a coin that didn't fit their instrument, it would not work. For example, if I bought bars, they would not be testable via fisch.

You could accomplish the same results as the fisch instrument with a glass of water and a carefully calibrated scale. You can do a specific gravity test directly yourself.

I have one criticism of your "fullreserve" website. You aren't critical enough of the Federal Reserve. I describe your website as kissing Bernanke's behind compared to the stuff I write.

On "The National Debt - Who is the Creditor?, stumped writes:

Some of this stuff makes your head spin.

Just a question that some people ask: If it's true that the banking industry is making obscene profits, wouldn't the rational thing to do be to buy stock in banks? Then we could all profit from this Ponzi scheme.

To some extent, "buy banking stocks" is good advice. They usually pay a high dividend. If they make bad decisions, you know the Federal Reserve will bail them out.

However, most of that money winds up in the pockets of management who pay themselves huge salaries and bonuses. The amount that trickles down to shareholders is only a fraction of the loot.

After you take into account management lining their pockets, bank stocks are no more or less lucrative than other investments.

For the same reason "invest in a hedge fund" isn't necessarily great advice. Hedge funds also receive a massive Federal Reserve subsidy, but you pay a 2/20 management fee. Most of the subsidy winds up in the pockets of the fund manager, not the fund shareholders.

You really want to BE a bank or hedge fund. Then, you get the subsidy AND you get to loot the shareholders. Unfortunately, you need $100M or more in capital before you start to get favorable borrowing terms.

The management of a bank or hedge fund are not chosen by a true free market process. Only politically connected insiders have a chance of getting a share of the loot.

On The Social Security Scam, David_Z writes:

Have you ever taken a look at the "Statement" that SS sends you each spring, which lets you know how much money of yours it's confiscated throughout the years? I crunched the numbers on the last one I received, and was appalled - of course, I've never expected anything more than that, so I wasn't disappointed per se. But still, actually looking at that money as an investment foregone would be eye-opening for a lot of people.

It's also been argued that the single largest impediment to the working poor is that FICA portion of taxes, from which none are exempt, and of which none is returned via "refund" in April. But you're spot-on: most people think it's only a 7.5% hit.

I consider the 15% Social Security and Medicare to be an outright tax. In my personal financial calculations, I assume a future benefit of $0.

The fact that the payroll deduction is 7.5% while the actual tax is 15% is part of the scam. If people had to directly write a tax check to the Federal government every year, there would be a lot more resistance to income taxes. The concept of "taxes automatically deducted from paycheck" is one of the best scams invented by the Supreme Leader of Humanity.

If you add Social Security taxes to regular income taxes, the tax scale becomes VERY REGRESSIVE. If you make over approximately $90k, you don't owe Social Security taxes on the additional income. The marginal tax rate of someone earning $150k/year is LOWER than the marginal tax rate of someone earing $60k/year.

Further, corporate CEOs and upper management receive their salary in the form of stock grants and options. Those are taxed MUCH MORE FAVORABLY than ordinary income. First, the CEO doesn't have to pay tax until he actually taxes possession of the shares or exercises the options. Second, if the plan is structured correctly, the income is capital gains instead of W-2 wages. Third, the CEO can use trusts to avoid income taxes altogether. Fourth, many corporations reimburse the CEO for taxes paid when he exercises his options and gets his stock grants.

If you take into account all the perks and loopholes, CEOs pay a MUCH LOWER tax rate than the average worker.

If I had back all the Social Security taxes I ever paid, and invested the money intelligently, I probably would have enough money to retire right now! Social Security is one of the biggest ripoffs for the average working person.

Also, the coming "Social Security crisis" isn't going to occur when the Social Security Trust Fund is depleted. It's coming when "taxes collected" starts being less than "benefits paid". Then, there will be inflation as the money in the Social Security Trust Fund is spent.

For those of you keeping score at home, this comment by David_Z counts as "not trolling".

On The New Energy Law Sucks!, gilliganscorner says:

I don't disagree with the bulk of your posting. Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL's) are being touted as energy efficient, but are they really? For example, what are:

* the environmental costs of producing a CFLs? They are much more intricate and involve more materials (and hazardous ones - i.e. mercury), like the ceramic base etc.

* the environmental impact of shipping these bulbs? I don't know if incandescent bulbs are still produced within the United States or Canada, but since CFL's clearly have a higher cost of production, you can bet that off-shoring production of CFL's will take place, adding to overall carbon footprint these bulbs imprint.

* the health impacts on people as they statistically be exposed to several breakages of CFLs over the human lifespan. CFLs contain lovely chemicals like mercury and other exotic gases that are a joy to inhale.

* The economic and environmental costs of setting up and operating safe environmental disposal processes for these bulbs, assuming consumers actually dispose of them properly - my faith in my amoral, hedonistic neighbors doing that is precisely zero. They will end up in the trash, just like their spent batteries and other hazardous household waste they are not supposed to put in regular trash.

I agree with your assessment of CFLs, however, your post begs a general question:

Should the government ever legislate policy to prevent people from making choices that hurt the environment?

Before you answer the question, let's make the ridiculous assumption that the government legislation isn't surreptitiously creating monopolies, new tax bases, and fleecing the taxpayer in anyway.

You might want to compare it to anti-smoking legislation. If we know second-hand smoke is bad for you, should we rely on the amoral consumer to ban it? Should legislation be introduced to ban smoking in a car with a minor in it? Don't laugh. It is actually being considered in Ontario, Canada. Yes, it is pretty much unenforceable. The police would have to (a) see the person smoking, (b) determine if others are in the car, (c) guesstimate how old they are all while traveling at 60 to 70 miles an hour.

Should legislation be introduced to ban talking on cell phones while driving being banned? You have seen the village idiots causing accidents.

Relying on people to make the correct ethical choice is futile sometimes.

I look forward to your response.

Now it's gilliganscorner's turn to troll?

You should understand that I'm writing from the agorist or "market anarchist" perspective.

The idea that the government should ban the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs is completely ludicrous. The ban on light bulbs is as ludicrous as a ban of marijuana, herbal supplements, vitamins, or other drugs.

There is a more sensible way to encourage environmentally conscious behavior in the context of the current corrupt economic and political system. Congress could have passed a $0.25/bulb tax on light bulbs that don't meet the efficiency standard. If the price of electricity doesn't already include the cost of pollution, then you can compensate with a tax on incandescent light bulbs.

You actually raised two separate troll points:

Should the government ever legislate policy to prevent people from making choices that hurt the environment?

Should the government ever pass laws that prevent people from hurting themselves? (anti-smoking legislation was the example you gave)

My response is, as always, who needs the government?

In a free market, environmental costs will ALWAYS be factored into the price. People who are victims of pollution have a valid tort claim against the polluters.

The problem is that with corrupt government courts, it's almost always impractical to pursue the polluters and hold them responsible. The limited liability of corporations and management effectively protects them from wrongdoing. Corporate lawyers can block an environmental lawsuit for years.

It is government itself that gives corporations and their management immunity from liability when they pollute. You can't solve a government-created problem with more government.

Common law can handle environmental protection just fine. Like David_Z, you can't imagine what true stateless free-market justice would look like.

There's another issue that's frequently not mentioned. Is global warming really bad? Alternatively, "Are CO2 emissions really pollution?" Some parts of the world will be hurt by global warming, such as people who own property in New Orleans. Some parts of the world will benefit from global warming, such as people who own beachfront property in northern Canada.

I'm not sure if CO2 emissions would even be considered actual pollution in a free market. Things like mercury and CFCs, which have been proven harmful, would be considered pollution in a free market.

Does the state have the right to prevent parents from smoking around their children? The BIGGEST abuse against children is mandatory public education. I don't see how the red market can claim the moral high ground on fair treatment of children when it's sponsoring a mandatory mass child brainwashing campaign.

If you take the attitude "People are property of the government", then the Supreme Leader of Humanity should have the right protect his property. People aren't allowed to injure themselves because they're damaging government property. In the context of a welfare state, the government needs to prevent people from injuring themselves, because the government is responsible for taking care of them if they're injured.

In a truly free market, you can't prevent people from injuring themselves. Without state-sponsored welfare, people who injure themselves won't be able to count on the state for help.

Another troll statement you made:

Relying on people to make the correct ethical choice is futile sometimes.

How about "Relying on red market workers to make the correct ethical choice is ALWAYS futile." Individuals don't have the ability to impose their will on others by force. Governments DO have the ability to impose their will on others by force. Concentrating power in the hands of a few people will ALWAYS be abusive.

Why should I rely on the people who work in the red market to make the correct ethical choice? They have proven themselves time and time again to be incapable of making ethically correct decision. The light bulb ban is just one in a long series of abuses.

Consider "people talking on cell phones while driving". What would happen in a free market? Your car insurance provider would give you a discount on your insurance if you agree to not talk on a cell phone while driving. They would hire police to make sure people don't break their contract. Your health insurance provider would give you a discount if you agree to not smoke around your children. The free market can take care of all the "problems" you mentioned.

6 comments:

gilliganscorner said...

What qualifies as a troll point? I was asking your thoughts on something. According to Wikipedia, the definition of a troll is:

"An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who intentionally posts controversial messages in an on-line community such as an on-line discussion forum with the intention of baiting other users into an argumentative response."

If you perceived my question as trying to bait you, then I apologize. That was not my intent. I was inquisitive as to how you would respond to that argument, from an agorist's perspective, being that I am new to that thought stream.

I would caution you not to use what is generally perceived as a derogatory term when someone asks you a question. It turns people away if they have their hand bitten when they seek other people's thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comment. To simply insult people is not going to win you any favors. It is difficult when you constantly have to deal with fools online...you can get into the habit of assuming most people are trolls. I know I have been there.

insulting genuine people will just drive them away. Just cool it is my advice.

Francois Tremblay said...

FSK, you have really made me not want to associate with you any more. If you have any substance to these very public accusations, then provide them. I am through with you.

David_Z said...

RSS feed: http://nothirdsolution.com/feed/

But it's not super-awesome.

Anyways - it seems that this semantic debate once again centers around your redefinition of words which already have commonly accepted and understood definitions. Perhaps I am being to loose with my definitions, I'll concede that your definition of lawyer is certainly more precise than the one I was using, but my point remains the same: whether you call them lawyers, arbitrators, mediators, advocates or zoops, there is a service that they can conceivably provide even in the absence of government monopoly and licensure privilege.

As you've pointed out, and as I've reiterated, they earn a large amount of economic rent at the present, which portion of their income would be eliminated without the government. WE AGREE ON THIS.

I'd rather not make any more mountains out of molehills...

David_Z said...

also, i agree with gilligan regarding the use of the word "troll."

Of course, it's your blog, FSK. Do with it what you will. But I think that the people who read this are generally very open minded and receptive to your/our ideas. It seems you have a hard time distinguishing between honest questioning and baiting.

David_Z said...

"Like David_Z, you can't imagine what true stateless free-market justice would look like."

I can't?

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