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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Reader Mail #25 - Pro-State Trolling

I liked this article on Life, Love, and Liberty. The government is busy creating a "terrorist watch list". People should get together and create a list of which people are actually trustworthy and reliable. This would be a useful resource for an agorist economy. You would need to know who's a safe trading partner!

I liked this article on Intemperate Remarks.

But perhaps all is not lost. Per Bylund argues that Govt schooling, like all Govt programs, is a failure because a small number of radicals manage to escape the brainwashing. That would be incorrigibles like yours truly.

Subjects like Mathematics must be taught honestly, otherwise gadgets and electronics would not work! Plus, someone who lies while teaching Mathematics is easily caught! It actually is possible to learn how to think in a government-sponsored school, provided you take the right subjects!

That's one of the reasons most people are taught to dislike Math. Otherwise, there would be too many people capable of thinking! Some people do need to learn how to think, in order to keep things working smoothly.

I liked this collection of Stock Market cartoons.

This post on redpillguy's blog about training monkeys is interesting. I've heard that story before, and I don't recall if I mentioned it here before. I was thinking of naming this story "The Monkey Paradox".

You put a banana on top of a ladder in a cage of monkeys. Whenever a monkey tries to climb the ladder, you spray all of them with cold water. Eventually, the monkeys stop attempting to climb the ladder. Replace one of the monkeys. That monkey will attempt to climb the ladder to get the banana, and the other monkeys will stop him. One by one, replace each of the monkeys. None of them will attempt to climb the ladder, even though none of the remaining monkeys ever was sprayed by cold water.

This post on Overcoming Bias about the Asch Conformity Test is the same experiment, but with humans! A group of humans were asked in sequence "Which line has equal length to line X?" The correct answer was B. The first several respondents were confederates of the experimenter, who falsely answered C. This caused the test subject to also falsely answer C.

Adding a single dissenter - just one other person who gives the correct answer, or even an incorrect answer that's different from the group's incorrect answer - reduces conformity very sharply, down to 5-10%.

In other words, a sole dissenting voice releases conformity from nearly 37% to only 5%-10%!

Being the first dissenter is a valuable (and costly!) social service, but you've got to keep it up.

I guess my blog really is providing a useful service!

For areas where the details are REALLY THOROUGHLY OBSCURED, like money and politics, being the sole dissenting voice becomes a much more valuable service!

In other words, it REALLY IS a good idea to tell people when they indicate they aren't thinking clearly. A single dissenting voice is enough to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

This post on Overcoming Bias gives more details. Most people aren't able to distinguish between "expressing reasonable concern" and "being obnoxious". In other words, most people follow The Strawman Fallacy.

If you perform the group service of being the one who gives voice to the obvious problems, don't expect the group to thank you for it.

This post on Overcoming Bias talks about the Asch conformity experiment some more. It talks about the value of being the *FIRST* dissenter. It also mentioned that the experimental subject felt deep camaraderie for the other truth-teller in the experiment.

But you can only join the rebellion, after someone, somewhere, becomes the first to rebel.

I liked this article on Techdirt about Hollywood making digital archives of its movies. They're using proprietary encrypted formats that go unsupported after a few years. If they used one of the generally-accepted movie formats, it wouldn't be a problem.

I liked this story on Techdirt. Due to Internet competition, salaries for sports reporters are being bid up to obscenely high levels. This is at the same time there are complaints of "The Internet is killing journalism!" There are several interesting points:

- Sports journalism is usually sincere honest journalism, compared to the fake "news" in the rest of the paper. If only the Federal Reserve received the same level of scrutiny as steroid use by baseball players!
- Sports advertising is very lucrative, especially when you consider the number of people who follow a popular sporting event.
- On the Internet, you can read an article minutes after a sporting event is over. With a newspaper, you have to wait until the next day.
- Internet competition is de-cartelizing the industry. You have Yahoo,, and other websites competing for stories now.

I found this article on Techdirt amusing. A commercial used 2 sentences from an MIT professor's lecture without permission. There was a threat of a copyright infringement lawsuit and a settlement. This really falls under "fair use".

I would be more offended about someone copying without citation, rather than pursing a copyright claim. I don't recognize intellectual property as a valid form of property. If you copy my stuff, provide a link back!

I liked this article on MacRaven. The Egyptians are attempting to copyright the likeness of the pyramids and other landmarks. Copyright law is being extended retroactively to 3000 years ago!

I liked this article on Techdirt. It talks about the difference between an "inventor" and an "innovator". An inventor is someone who invents something new. An innovator is someone who takes a new idea and profits off it. In many cases, the innovator took advantage of defects in the patent system or legal system to profit at the expense of the actual inventor.

For example, was not the first online bookstore. EBay was not the first online auction house. Google was not the first search engine. In many ways, they were "innovators" instead of "inventors". The innovators are usually people who have substantial financial backing from the financial industry. The "handful of guys working out of a garage" is more of a myth than fact, although it was sincerely possible to succeed that way at the start of the tech boom.

I would like to be an "innovator" for agorism. I have some original ideas myself also. I'm primarily interested in getting agorist trading groups started.

I found this story interesting. It was referred by Austro-Athenian Empire. The story was about a king who passed a law regulating the number of times per minute people were allowed to breathe. By mistake the law was allowed to expire, and the king was surprised to find people still alive in violation of the law.

Someone made the following argument to me in support of Microsoft:

Millions of man-millennia went into the production of Vista and Office. For only $400, it's a bargain!

That statement has as a hidden false assumption that all those years of work were productively spent. Like all large corporations, Microsoft receives massive government subsidies. Because Microsoft sells so many copies, its costs are easily amortized. Microsoft's monopoly means that its actual costs of production are largely irrelevant.

Even if I could assemble a crack team of 20 programmers and produce a better OS than Microsoft, it wouldn't be economically worth it. There's no way I would generate enough sales to justify the effort. If I were able to assemble such an elite team, it would be much more profitable to work on a product that wasn't directly opposed to Microsoft's monopoly.

Let's consider an analogy:

Thousands of man-millennia have been spent developing the current body of US law. You should be grateful that's available for you to use!

Just because a lot of time was wasted on something, doesn't mean it has any actual value or an alternative wouldn't be more productive.

The economies of scale of software point towards a single vendor. There are genuine efficiencies that arise from everyone using the same OS written by the same vendor.

The problem is that DRM laws and bans on reverse-engineering make it legally risky for someone to develop a Microsoft-compatible OS.

Microsoft got its initial market position as a gift from IBM. IBM had a government-endorsed monopoly. Bill Gates' political connections enabled him to be handed a great start from IBM. On the other hand, other software businesses have gone to lofty heights and fallen, so Microsoft must be doing something right. In the present, Microsoft's huge cash reserve and market position give it a huge margin for error. Other software businesses make one mistake and they've lost their market share to Microsoft. Microsoft can make big mistakes and recover.

Microsoft received another boon. A third-party reverse-engineered IBM's BIOS. They were able to make an IBM-compatible chip without IBM's permission. Current laws would make such a feat illegal today. This competition in hardware meant that Microsoft's OS was the key feature of a PC and not the hardware.

For example, suppose I'm able to reverse-engineer the XBox and manufacture XBox-compatible hardware, or a PC XBox emulator. Under current DRM laws, I have committed a crime if I try to sell it. Suppose I crack the encryption used by the XBox and sell XBox games without Microsoft's permission. Again, current law dictates that I have committed a crime.

I liked this article on Downsize DC. Congress passed a 3,417 page spending bill. It was passed within 2 days of being submitted for a vote. One Senator complained that he didn't have time to read it. Another Senator retorted "TWO FULL DAYS IS PLENTY OF TIME". In order to have read the entire bill, you would have needed to read 1.25 pages/minute, without sleeping.

Another interesting comment was that the committee hearing minutes are attached to the bill. Apparently, they have full force of law as well as the bill itself.

I liked this George Carlin clip. He really looks old! I wonder if he's been reading my blog?

I've been considering starting a standup comedy performance based on my blog. If that George Carlin clip is "comedy", I could do as well or better.

In Reader Mail #24, redpillguy asked me if I knew of any criticisms of the Anarchist FAQ. I found this article. This criticism of the Anarchist FAQ is as lousy of the Anarchist FAQ itself.

According to Unqualified Offerings (and many other sources), Ron Paul is going to be excluded from the next Fox News debate.

According to other sources, this story has been misreported.

Anyway, "Ron Paul excluded from debate" sounds like a reasonable story to me! Besides, even when they invite him, they don't give him equal time and ask him biased questions. He's been excluded from the debates he attended!

If I were involved with Ron Paul's campaign, I would release a series of videos directly to YouTube.

According to Google Analytics, my blog had 1207 Absolute Unique Visitors in December, up from 729 in the previous month. I had a spike of traffic due to Real GDP Growth Has Been Negligible Since 1990. It was mentioned on and then on a bunch of other sites. My regular readership appears to have doubled after that post.

According to Google Analytics, 20 people have visited my blog over 100 times total.

According to Google Analytics, 299 of the people who visited my blog in December visited it over 15 times, compared with 125 a month ago.

"Organic growth" seems to be working well for me.

On The Mistakes Anarchists Make, M. Altermark says:

I don't many (authentic) anarchists consider institutions or certain kinds of behaviours as evil - but they do have much going when they argue that one must look behind the larger social machinations that lead to a certain system being enforced, oppressing the working class.

According to your blogger profile, English is not your first language. I have no idea what you're saying.

On the Social Credit Monetary System, rashomon trolls:

Your post seems to be describing (quite accurately) a Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) as initially described by Michael Linton in 1982 (often referred to as a mutual credit system with promotion of goods offered by participants) instead of what is generally referred to as Social Credit, as proposed by CH Douglas early in this century.

Key elements of the Social Credit system, as it is generally known, are:
- price controls
- government issuance of currency (vs. bank issue)
- government money makes up difference between cost of production and money in circulation

All of which require a central authority for implementation. The whole point behind social credit in a typical proposal for implementation is distribution of a basic income to ensure that purchasing power is available broadly. You'll find a lot about it by looking at Guaranteed Basic Income on the web.

While I do appreciate your posts, it would help to use the commonly-accepted terminology.

To use a recently-defined FSK term, you're "pro-State trolling".

LETS doesn't work. The problem is that a LETS network is a centralized alternate monetary system. A LETS network is required to report all transactions to the government for taxation. The participants of a LETS network do not benefit, because they still need government-issued money to pay income taxes. An alternate monetary system does not provide economic benefit for the participants, unless it enables them to work without taxation.

I first read about Social Credit in "The Money Myth Exploded", by Louis Even. According to Louis Even, Social Credit is a decentralized stateless monetary system, exactly as I described.

Like all important economic ideas, "Social Credit" has been bastardized. There are several different definitions circulating for the Labor Theory of Value. "Social Credit" as sponsored by the Social Credit Party bears absolutely no resemblance to Social Credit as described by Louis Even.

I didn't discover "pro-State Social Credit" or "Social Credit for Wimps" until after I wrote my "Social Credit" post. I'll make an updated version of that post at some point. I consider my version of Social Credit to be "Real Social Credit" or "Stateless Social Credit".

The idea of "Social Credit for Wimps" is that, to compensate for the Compound Interest Paradox, the government introduces new money by directly giving it to the people. The benefits of money supply expansion are spread evenly across the population, instead of being concentrated in the financial industry. That runs contrary to the Supreme Leader of Humanity's agenda for complete economic enslavement of everyone.

That's another good rule: If there are multiple circulating definitions for the same economic idea, you can be sure that economic idea is important. This applies to "The Labor Theory of Value" and "Social Credit".

On The Market Anarchist Blog Carnival, Francois Tremblay says:

Yes, the Market Anarchist Carnival is still in its infant phase and the word needs to be propagated. This is generally a slow process. We just need to keep going at it and keep linking to it and make it known.

I'd be willing to do it again in a few months. The Carnival post got enough visits to make the "Best of FSK" list, but it didn't generate a noticable traffic spike for my blog.

I'm wondering if the Carnival was read more by people who are already regular readers, than by people who specifically visited to see the Carnival?

On The Market Anarchist Blog Carnival, David_Z says:

Great carnival despite the content...

Expect a "Labor Theory of Value" post of my own in the near future, in which I think I can reconcile our earlier disagreement.

I think it is mostly an issue of definitions. "The Labor Theory of Value" is something that has many different definitions in different sources, just like "Social Credit". In both cases, I picked the definition that made the most sense to me.

If you disagree with my analysis, let me know. My conclusion was that in an REALLY free market, a worker's salary is proportional to the actual economic value of his work. If you disagree, I accuse you of "pro-State trolling".

You also said you were going to write up a description of how stateless free market justice would work.

Post a link when it's done.

On The Market Anarchist Blog Carnival, Zhwazi says:

Woot, I didn't even enter and got my whole blog pimped. Thanks!

Your blog is better than almost all of the entries that were "officially" submitted. I put a link to your new blog when you first started it.

IMHO, keeping up a regular posting schedule is important for attracting and retaining readers.

I've been wondering: How much traffic do I direct to someone's blog when I mention it? Has anyone been keeping track? The author of the Picket Line seems to appreciate that I mention his blog sometimes, so I must be directing him some traffic.

Zhwazi's latest post was interesting. There was one part where Zhwazi was also guilty of "pro-State trolling".

I'd throw humans under "loss-oriented" for fearing the loss of an improperly valued identity.

When you say "Humans are intrinsically loss-oriented", you are pro-State trolling. Most people are "loss-oriented" due to State brainwashing and schooling. That is not an intrinsic human trait.

"Loss-oriented thinking" means that, when making a decision, you consider the worst-case outcome instead of the average expected outcome. Suppose an investment strategy yields a return of +300% half the time and a full 100% loss half the time. If you're a "loss-oriented thinker", you will avoid this investment. If you are capable of thinking, you will make this investment, but you will be careful to not risk all your savings on it.

Zhwazi raises another interesting point. Do I have a responsibility to try and educate everyone, or only those who have a clue? If almost everyone is the victim of State brainwashing, aren't we responsible for helping them? On the other hand, the same information is available to everyone on the Internet now. At some point, don't people have to take individual responsibility?

On Megan McArdle Trolls the Gold Standard, an anonymous reader says:

I found the piece useful so no it was not a waste of time. So long as most people are unaware and they appear to gain something from the current system, or they think it is normal for things to be as they are...they will continue to support it. The alternatives may be too painful to bring into effect or they are made to fear alternatives as chaotic and would lead to anarchy (as in disorder and they will not rise up against it. The mass man is totally controlled and his ideas and views are pre-configured for him, by mass education and mass media. Edward Bernays made a good job of Public Relations and Propaganda.

In addition people who depend on a salary, or owe money to a bank are easier to control and manipulate because they fear losing their jobs or homes. Only when the system starts to produce real destructive effects will people attempt to rise against it, however by then the Police State will be firmly entrenched and they will point their weapons at their own domestic populations to keep order and the money masters in power.

Yes, debt is a very effective enslavement technique.

I looked up Edward Bernays on Wikipedia. He appears to have pioneered the "manipulate the masses" marketing techniques. However, this wasn't until after the advent of mandatory public education. When people are subjected to mandatory State brainwashing as children, then it becomes much easier to control them as adults. If Edward Bernays didn't conduct his research, someone else would have done so; you shouldn't blame him personally.

People are trained to believe "debt contracts are valid contracts". When you consider the unjust nature of the monetary system, a debt contract is NOT a legitimate contract. When you borrow, the bank literally prints new money and lends it to you. That is not a service of tangible economic value. Under a gold standard, a loan DOES have tangible economic value. Gold represents tangible economic wealth and not merely a number printed on a piece of paper.

As a sovereign individual, you can arrange your affairs so that you have minimal or no debt. It is tricky. Student loans mean that a young worker is starting out with a heavy debt burden. If a good college degree costs $200k, at some point you're better off keeping the $200k and investing it.

Most loans are taken out by businesses and corporations. Even though money is only created when someone takes out a loan, sovereign individuals can minimize their use of debt. If you own a house, having a mortgage is in your best interest, because real interest rates are negative! That assumes you're able to invest the proceeds intelligently.

I'm not sure that the Police State's power is increasing. The US GDP is decreasing! If GDP is decreasing, that means the resources of the Police State are decreasing. As the Police State tightens its grip, economic activity decreases even more. The wealth squandered spying on people has to come from somewhere!

Remember: Violent revolt is pointless. I think an economic revolt has a nonzero chance of success.

IMHO, the tricky part about getting an economic revolt started is that people with cushy middle class jobs are reluctant to risk their position. As the middle class is eliminated, it will be easier to rally support for an economic revolt. I've found that people with cushy middle class jobs are extremely reluctant to accept a hypothesis like "The current economic system is unfair and needs to be replaced!" Exacerbating the problem, people with below average jobs tend to think they're better than they actually are!

There's never been a true economic revolt before.

If you're having problems with a pro-State troll, let me know! I found a bunch of people discussing David Frum. I'm not going to write a specific critique of him unless someone asks. Almost every mainstream economics author trashes the gold standard. On the Internet, if you know where to look, you can find good information.

It seems that Ron Paul's "pro Gold standard" philosophy has brought out a bunch of pro-State trolls saying "The gold Standard sucks!" Suppose a lie repeated 10,000 times is combined with the truth repeated a handful of times. With mainstream monopolistic information sources, it's very easy to suppress the truth. The Internet allows the truth to filter to the people who want to know.

On Megan McArdle Trolls the Gold Standard, an anonymous reader says:

Well written. Question though.

Your last statement:

The price of gold/silver is stable. The price of oil/gold is stable. If you look at the price of one commodity relative to another, the prices are usually stable. The price of commodities, quoted in dollars, is unstable.

Commodities pricing is also subject to market manipulation, and natural (whenever the market is allowed to be natural - i.e. almost never) supply demand curves. However, you are perfectly correct that the dollar is an unstable measure of price as the private banks and Fed manipulate its purchasing power constantly - usually in favor of Wall Street at the expense of Main Street.

However, could you please explain your assertion that the price of gold/silver ratio is stable? As far as I can see and assuming these graphs are correct, it doesn't appear that stable to me. At one time, you can see the ratio of gold to silver is: 1/100 (approx) and as low as 1/20. As of close yesterday it is 1/56.42.

Even the gold/oil ratio is not all that consistent.

What could explain these gyrations?

I backed up my claim in A Commodity Price Volatility Calculation. The 1 year historic volatility of gold/silver REALLY IS LESS than the 1 year historic volatility of gold/$ and silver/$. The disparity was not as great as I predicted. I was *SHOCKED* to see that the volatility of gold/$ was so much lower than the volatility of silver/$. That calculation is evidence that someone is manipulating the gold price.

If someone is manipulating gold, that would explain the fluctuations in gold/oil. Have you also looked at silver/oil? If you're interested, I'll repeat my calculation for oil/$, gold/oil, and silver/oil.

In that link, you're looking at a 30 year chart. I would only consider a 1 year or 5 year chart to be valid. Central banks have nearly exhausted their gold and silver reserves. Their ability to manipulate the gold and silver price downward should come to an end soon.

Don't forget about the Hunt Brothers' attempted silver corner. That was responsible for a spike in the silver price. (I should make a post on the Hunt Brothers' silver corner.)

It is harder for the world's central banks to manipulate the price of silver. Their silver reserves are far less than their gold reserves. Remember: The world's central banks stole the entire world's gold supply when they defaulted on the gold standard. They've been gradually selling off their gold so that "gold as an investment" is discredited. This makes their fiat money look better by comparison.

I was surprised that "Oil goes over $100/barrel" was touted heavily on CNBC. "Gold nears record high" was barely mentioned. The communists on CNBC seem very eager to talk down the value of gold as an investment.

On A Commodity Price Volatility Calculation, David_Z says:

It's been quite a while since I used blogger, but I imagine you can write the HTML for a table in the editor instead of using the visual editor.

You can also paste a table (from Excel, e.g.) into the visual "compose" editor and it should maintain the integrity of the rows/columns (but not borders) so it will look like a tab-delimited output.

A direct HTML edit doesn't always work for me. For some bizarre reason, Blogger strips out the closing '/'X tags. I'm not interested in the expense and effort of self-hosting at this time. At some future date, I may switch.

I could just post the .csv file so that someone could import it into Excel.

Nobody asked to verify the details of my calculation. Presumably, anyone smart enough to care is capable of performing the calculation themselves.

On The Market Anarchist Blog Carnival, Will says:

Exports are indeed good, the political backlash comes from trade deficits, but we tend to not get a good idea of what trade deficits are.

I run a trade deficit with Wal Mart--I've never exported any good to them. Big crap. The trade is beneficial.

The US has run a deficit all but 30 something years of its existence. Hasn't hurt us much.

This is another pro-State troll.

It is only possible to run a permanent trade deficit with fiat money. Other countries accept the USA's unbacked paper because military force requires them to do so.

I read somewhere that in the decades before the Federal Reserve was created, the USA had huge trade surpluses. Almost all the world's gold supply had found its way to the USA. In order to correct this "problem", it was necessary to debase the US currency. When the US switched to an unsound monetary system, its economic productivity was crippled.

It is silly to look at JUST your relationship with Wal-Mart. If you have net savings, you are running a personal trade surplus. If you are saddled with debt, you are running a personal trade deficit.

Think of yourself as a sovereign country of one person. You export your labor to your employer. You import when you go to a store and buy things. For all practical purposes, Wal-Mart and the corporation that employs you are the same.

As a sovereign individual, you are at a huge disadvantage to the people who control banks and large corporations. You don't have the magic money-printing power that they do.

On The Five Levels of the Economy, Thomas Blair says:

I read it somewhere. I forget the source. I think it was on one of the agorist websites.

I know of its use by Samuel Konkin in his New Libertarian Manifesto, specifically in his discussions on counter-economics.

That might be right. I don't use the exact same terminology that he uses. I define:

The red market is pure theft and waste. This includes lawyers, bankers, accountants, and politicians.

I haven't heard the term "pink market" elsewhere. I define the pink market to be useful products and services, whose price is kept artificially high by government violence. This includes doctors, electricity, telephone, and Internet service.

The white market is legal productive work. After careful consideration, the "white market" segment of the economy is SURPRISINGLY SMALL!

The grey market is work that would otherwise be legal, conducted off the books. In the present, the grey market is relatively small.

The black market is forbidden activity. Drugs and prostitution fall under this category.

The grey and black markets are the "underground economy".

I think the other definitions of "red market" include "non-state-approved violence" as red. I define "non-state-approved violence" as black market.

Since these "colors" aren't mainstream-accepted jargon, I'm going to use my definitions. Other people have given me a hard time for my definitions of "The Labor Theory of Value" and "Social Credit".

1 comment:

redpillguy said...

FSK wrote: "...people with cushy middle class jobs are extremely reluctant to accept a hypothesis like 'The current economic system is unfair and needs to be replaced!'"

More so for people with significant capital who are gaming the system and are making some income from stock market type investments. I got a colleague to watch "Money Masters" and he realizes the Fed is a cartel. His reaction is a shrug and the statement "Life isn't fair, if we didn't have the Fed, there'd be some other unfair system." I know he's afraid that if the Fed were abolished his economic status would fall to a lower level. I personally believe that his ranking may fall but his overall status would improve, as with most other people. Some people live the "crab mentality" - like crabs in a bucket, if someone rises above them, they and others drag him back down.

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