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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Reader Mail #40 - Blowing Bubbles

I liked this post on Life, Love, and Liberty. George Washington is falsely hailed as a champion of freedom in history books. Shay's rebellion is commonly misreported. Farmers were rebelling against taxes imposed by the new central government. George Washington violently put down the rebellion. George Washington was fighting for a strong central government with taxation power.

Taxation is theft!

I liked this post on End the War on Freedom, in reference to this article.

I look at our public servants as just that – "the help." And so I consider government gun grabbers just as I would a yard man or maid who had the audacity to demand my gun. – Mark Gilmore

If slaves owned guns, would they be slaves? – Greg Josif

The sophisticated and subtle tyrant will unarm his people, and store up their weapons, under pretence of keeping them safe. – Sir Walter Raleigh

The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it. – Thomas Jefferson

Never say "gun control" but instead, say "victim disarmament."

This is "taboo your words" again. "Gun control" is a phrase that should be tabooed. I like the phrase "victim disarmament". I don't own a gun, but I appreciate the bad guys being concerned that I might have one!

I liked this post on Gilliganscorner. The USA is a communist country. Gilliganscorner's post is the same story told from a Canadian point of view. The details are practically identical.

A bunch of secret treaties have caused the same bad laws to be enacted in nearly every country. Every country has debt-based fiat money. Every country has an income tax or equivalent tax; the VAT is logically equivalent to an income tax. Every country has extensive regulations that stifle the economy and make it hard for poor people to start a business. Every country has mandatory public education/brainwashing.

The bad laws are uniformly implemented in EVERY COUNTRY. It's too well organized to be a coincidence. If it was *NOT* a conspiracy, some country would defect. They would say "Let's pass honest laws and have a free market. People would flock to live here." Any political leaders who had such ideas would rapidly find themselves assassinated or overthrown.

I liked this post on Techdirt. Lawrence Lessig was contemplating a run for Congress. He gave up when he realized that he had no chance of winning. Applying the Strawman Fallacy, he said that getting trounced in an election would ruin his credibility.

Lawrence Lessig is trying to "reform Congress". Unfortunately, that makes him a pro-State troll. Anyone who says "reform Congress" is undermining the true cause, which is "Who needs a government anyway?"

I have come to the conclusion that it isn't going to be possible to reform government. The only solution is to get rid of government, via a nonviolent economic revolt.

I thought this post on Scholars and Rogues was funny. Imagine a general election for President where the two candidates were Ron Paul and Ralph Nader. There is zero chance of that happening, but it's an interesting fantasy.

Ron Paul would win in a landslide.

A lot of people say "large banks are underestimating risk" in regards to situations like the Subprime Mortgage problem or big derivatives losses.

Large banks actually have practically no risk. Large banks are not underestimating their risk because they know the government will bail them out whenever they get into trouble. The bailout usually takes the form of a Fed Funds Rate cut. Whenever the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates, it is literally printing new money and giving it to large banks.

Large banks act as if they have no risk because they ACTUALLY HAVE NO RISK. The Federal Reserve will *ALWAYS* bail them out. Under the rules of the current monetary system, the Federal Reserve *HAS TO* bail them out. The entire financial system would unravel if several large banks were forced into bankruptcy.

With debt-based fiat money, you NEED large banks to keep issuing loans. Banks need to continually create money to prevent a hyperdeflationary crash of the dollar. This is the entire point of the Compound Interest Paradox. Banks typically use leverage ratios of 10x when they create money; i.e. banks must have $1 in capital for every $10 they create. This means that the total net worth of banks is *ALWAYS* equal to 10% of the total net worth of the economy! The financial industry is *GUARANTEED* a certain slice of the economy, because they're the ones that print the money! Even though banks do *ZERO* productive work, government violence guarantees them huge profits!

When banks are forced to write down assets, they can't create as much money. This causes the money supply to crash. Without a Federal Reserve bailout, the money supply would crash in hyperdeflation.

I liked this post on ProBlogger. It's about putting videos on your blog. There's a website called Overstream that allows you to add subtitles to your uploaded videos.

I liked this post on Unqualified Offerings. The author wonders why academics are so stupid. In a free market, some force would ensure that people working at universities *REALLY ARE* the smartest people.

The problem is that the US academic environment is not a free market. High schools and elementary schools are funded via taxes, i.e. money stolen via violence. Universities are funded primarily via government research grants. Even with high tuition, government grants are a huge chunk of universities' income. This makes a university or school an extension or a state.

The next time you wonder "Why are university professors so clueless?", it's like saying "Why are government employees so incompetent?" They don't have to be competent, because there's no free market. Most university professors are unaware that they are really government employees. Government research grants distort the market for academic research. Like all government programs, government intervention in the market reduces the quality.

I wonder if that's the reason a professor who writes for a non-academic audience is decried as a hack. With a bestselling book, a professor has a source of income *OTHER* than government handouts. It would be hard for a university to fire a professor who's a bestselling author.

Government-funded universities create the illusion of research, without much genuine research occurring. That's the reason economists are so stupid. They are dependent on government grants to survive. An economist who's smart enough to figure out "The emperor has no clothes!" is rapidly going to be out of a job.

I liked this post on Stumbling and Mumbling.

What it shows is that campaigners now try to to protect workers not through organized unions but through the law. What used to be done by unions is now done in parliament, with minimum wage or health and safety laws or the proposed agency workers' bill.

The problem is, though, that the law is a much blunter weapon than unions.

Regulation of unions reduced their effectiveness. Many gains previously negotiated by unions are now being enforced half-heartedly via laws.

No matter how many laws you pass, you can never fully patch up a defective economic and political system.

Government is a much weaker advocate of workers' rights than a strong unregulated union. Of course, a free market is the strongest advocate of workers' rights. The free market says you can always get another job if you don't like your current employer. In the present, this does not occur, because the US economy is not a free market.

I liked this post on Today's Dangerous Truth. It is about Civil Rights vs. Natural Rights.

Natural Rights are rights you are born with, just from existing. Civil Rights are rights you get from the government.

For example, working is a natural right. Income taxes convert this natural right into a civil right. You can only work if you pay income taxes. This means that you need permission from the Federal Reserve and the government in order to work.

The right to possess or smoke marijuana is a natural right. However, you do not have a civil right to smoke marijuana. An illegitimate government denies you this right.

The right to own land is a natural right. The government denies people this right, because of property taxes. If you don't pay property taxes, you lose your land. Many small farmers lost their farms due to their inability to pay property taxes.

you now get your rights from the government, and that these rights can be taken away. Natural Rights mean that your rights are given from your creator, and that no man can take these from you.

the gross majority of crimes which would incarcerate a citizen of the United States are ones which do not cause harm to a third party

This is an important point of Natural Law. You only are committing a crime if you injure someone else. Many consensual activities are falsely classified as a crime by an illegitimate government.

Of course, the biggest violation of Natural Law is taxes. If you don't pay taxes you go to jail. Failure to pay taxes does not directly injure someone else, other than red market workers dependent on looting your productivity.

Ultimately, it is state violence that denies people their natural rights.

The shift from Natural Rights to Civil Rights is closely associated with the rise of red market power and the loss of individual power.

When a citizen-sovereign submits to an executive authority, allows himself to be placed in prison for such a crime by force or threat of violence, he has lost a war. His imprisonment is the terms of the treaty. When the community around him allows it to happen, they have either sided with the non-Constitutional authority of Civil Rights and State power, or at best, decided to remain neutral to shirk off the responsibility to protect these rights for other citizen-sovereigns. In a microcosmic way, they have granted the same authority to the State concerning themselves in the future. Since they did not protest or take arms against the State for the crime committed, they have given away this power to the state in regards to their own right to Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.

There exists a truth in saying that one cannot bring a Constitution or book of laws into a court to his defense. Once you have entered into a court, and submitted yourself to its authority to render judgement on a matter, you have de facto given away the power to resolve the issue to the judiciary in question, and he can chose to rule however he likes.

Ultimately, there has not been a successful military challenge by a state or citizen militia to the power of the State in U.S. History. This means that, in accordance with International Law, there is no guarantee of Constitutional protections in our government.

The war that US citizens have lost was not a overt declared war. It was the systematic and gradual subversion of the US government by the Supreme Leader of Humanity. The US government was overthrown economically. Primarily, it was accomplished by bribing Congress and the President to pass the illegitimate Federal Reserve and income tax. The Federal Reserve and income tax completely subverted the original "limited government" intent of the US Constitution. The Federal Reserve and income tax are the underlying abuse that makes all other abuses possible. Leeching 50% or more of the output of productive workers, government grew to an unreasonable size. All the wealth squandered enforcing those stupid laws has to come from somewhere. Without the income tax and Federal Reserve, you can't have a military-industrial complex and you can have a "war on drugs". You can't have a war when there's nobody forced to pay the soldiers' salaries!

"we have four boxes with which to defend our freedom, the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box. Apply in that order."

This quote is outright wrong. The last option is not the cartridge box. It is the money box. The State will not be defeated via an overt violent revolt. It will be a covert economic revolt. It is impossible to win a violent confrontation with the State. Their resources are far too superior.

You cannot murder the state with violence, but you can starve it by avoiding taxes. Ultimately, it is taxes that feed the State.

Many people falsely believe that violence is the last option for opposing an illegitimate government. The bad guys cannot be defeated violently, but they can be defeated economically.

I liked this post on Today's Dangerous Truth.

“When you choose the lesser of two evils, always remember that it is
still an evil.”
-max lerner

Voting is pointless. It isn't possible to reform government via voting.

There are too many people who benefit from the current corrupt system. They will not voluntarily relinquish their control.

This video on the Onion has been widely circulated. The joke is that, due to a software glitch, Diebold accidentally released the results of the 2008 election too early.

I stopped reading the Onion regularly a few years ago. That video was really nicely done. It has a bunch of great quotes. It was done in the style of a serious propaganda/news program. It's nice to see a news source like the Onion pointing out the sham of US democracy.

The Onion has more legitimacy as a news source than CNN.

I liked this post on the Technology Liberation Front, for the following quote.

The Federal Communications Commission conducted a public hearing this week on network management before a group of law students – as opposed to, say, engineering students who study network management

When writing laws, it's important to discuss them with other lawyers. People who are experts in the subject matter are irrelevant.

I didn't like this post on the Technology Liberation front. In a world without copyright, what prevents people from playing a game without permission? Who would pay for game development in a world without copyright?

There are a lot of people who would willingly pay to support the legitimate authors. Also, other services, like multiplayer support and tournaments, could be added to encourage people to register their game.

The bottom line is that if people want something badly enough, they will pay for it. In a truly free market, everything people want gets accomplished. After all, most game developers work for relatively low wages, just because they like working on games. In the present, there is a problem. Writing a game requires a lot of capital, and capital is concentrated in the hands of a few people.

I liked this post on P2P Foundation.

Hackers are contributing to radical social change because they prevent the labour market from being the sole determinant over the allocation of programming recourses in society.

The open source software movement means that a lot of high-quality software is outside the control of the red market.

These "open source" techniques need to be developed for the economy as a whole, and not just software. It's most easily applied with software, where the duplication cost is zero. The same techniques could be used to facilitate a decentralized agorist economy.

I liked this post on MacRaven. If "intellectual property" is valid property, how come there's no property tax?

If you had to pay a tax each year to maintain ownership, this would solve the "abandoned works" problem.

This is an inherent contradiction in tax law. Physical property always has property taxes. Intellectual property, which is entirely a legal fiction created by the State, owes no property taxes.

The fact that intellectual property is *NOT* taxed is evidence that the bad guys benefit much more from intellectual property than individuals. If intellectual property benefited the average person, you could be sure it would be heavily taxed.

I liked this post on End the War on Freedom.

"Many police departments write 'To protect and serve' on their cars. What they don't say is who. We're supposed to assume that they plan to protect and serve us. Actually, they protect and serve the state, and its owners, the counterfeiters who print the money. I'd call them bankers, but in a fractional reserve world, there are no bankers, only state-approved counterfeiters." -- Bill St. Clair

Also on that blog, he starts calling "gun control" as "victim disarmament". I think that's an interesting tabooing.

I liked this post on End the War on Freedom.

L. Neil Smith wrote long ago how to tell a libertarian from a conservative. Ask their opinion of Abraham Lincoln. The conservative thinks he was God incarnate. The libertarian thinks he was a ruthless tyrant, and John Wilkes Booth's only mistake was waiting too long.

If the civil war was truly fought against slavery -- a dubious, "politically correct" assertion with no historical evidence to back it up -- then clearly, slavery won. (link added by FSK)

Even though the former slaves were technically "free", without land and without education, their employment options were limited. They had no choice but to go work for their former masters.

If the US Constitution were a voluntary agreement among states, then the southern states *SHOULD* have been allowed to say "This Constitution thing isn't working for us. We want a different government."

Ultimately, people have the right to stop supporting a government they consider illegitimate. The US Civil War proved that doing this on a state level is impossible. Is it possible to do this on an individual level?

I liked this post on The Libertarian Alliance.

A chum heard a policeman argue against such a database the other day. The Officer argued that already there is evidence that some criminals are taking other people’s urine, hair, etc, and leaving it at the scene of a crime…

I liked this video on the Onion, referred by Crash Landing. It's a fake news story comparing a political candidate (Edwards) to a fake/genuine prophet/messiah.

I liked this post on Stumbling and Mumbling. It talks about the correlation between unemployment and inflation, according to phony economics. It's all about the money supply! I liked this quote:

Alternatively, might this suggest an overlooked benefit of the expansion of higher education? In creating a cohort burdened with high debt, this might help keep people risk-averse, and so keep the Nairu down.
(I looked up "Nairu". NAIRU stands for Non-Accelarating Inflation Rate of Unemployment. This is the "theoretical ideal" inflation rate. It is low enough that there aren't enough idle workers. It is high enough that workers don't have much bargaining power with their employers.

According to phony economics, low unemployment means that workers can demand higher salaries, causing inflation. This is false. Inflation is *ENTIRELY* caused by more money being printed. Blaming workers, who don't have the power to print money, is pointless. Low unemployment is *CORRELATED* with inflation, but not *CAUSED* by inflation. During a boom phase, there is a lot of extra money in the hands of the wealthy. They use this money to hire workers, expanding their businesses. The Federal Reserve then jacks up inflation, causing a crash. Low unemployment is not the *CAUSE* of a future recession. Low unemployment is *CORRELATED* with a coming recession, because low unemployment happens during economic booms.)

People who spent/wasted a lot of money on a college degree *HAVE* to get a job to pay off their loans and justify the investment of time and money. It's the usual debt slave chains. You need a college degree to qualify for many jobs. Getting the degree places you in debt, meaning you NEED a job.

In addition to brainwashing, education is also an excuse to load up new workers with a crushing debt burden.

I liked this post on lowercase liberty. The comic strip "Garfield" is funnier if you edit it to remove all references to Garfield. It makes Jon Arbuckle look completely insane. Imagine someone who talked to their cat like that?

I liked this post on Classically Liberal about the evils of rent control.

The whole process is like a group of ten people sitting in a circle with the local political walking from participant to participant. From each individual he collects one dollar. When he gets to the last person he hands them five dollars and then starts the process over again. He does this ten times until each person has received one five dollar bonus. This sort of redistribution makes everyone poorer. But they are so happy when they receive their bonus that the tend to see the politician as their friend.

This is an illustration of the taxation con game at work. The red market slowly leeches away your wealth. Occasionally, it hands you a chunk of money in the form of one benefit or another. People remember occasionally receiving the benefit. They forget that their wealth is slowly leeched away via taxes and inflation.

I liked this post on Scholars and Rogues. There was a FCC hearing about Comcast blocking Bittorent users from its network. Comcast hired a bunch of people to attend the hearing, shutting out the people who came to the hearing to protest.

This is one of a long list of reasons why government doesn't work. In many cases, government caters to a minority of highly vocal people. This allows the bad guys to hire a bunch of people to pretend to be highly vocal for their cause.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "What Will be the Next Asset Bubble?":


For awhile, I've been planning to write a post on the Hunt brothers' silver corner. I specifically moved it up in my queue to address this comment.

The bad guys do *NOT* want to see another "bubble" in gold or silver. Many people view a rising gold or silver price as synonymous with a crash of fiat money. It is *IMPORTANT* that gold and silver remain discredited as an investment.

The red market has set a precedent. Anybody who attempts to speculate in gold or silver, driving up the price, will be ruined like the Hunt brothers. Even though gold and silver are going up in the long run, the red market still has the power to temporarily crash the price to ruin leveraged speculators.

I predict that gold and silver will return around 15%-20%/year, which is the true inflation rate according to reconstructed M3. There may be an asset bubble in other commodities, such as oil or corn. There may be a bubble in other metals, such as rhodium, platinum, palladium, or copper. Central banks don't have reserves in these metals and it's much harder to manipulate the price. They aren't quoted as a barometer of inflation, so there isn't motivation to manipulate them. I don't think an asset bubble will occur in gold or silver.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "What Will be the Next Asset Bubble?":

Or alternative energy...

I liked this quote from that article:

Bubbles were once very rare

With sound money and no government regulation of money, you don't have asset bubbles, recessions, and depression. Of course, with debt-based fiat money, the Compound Interest Paradox *GUARANTEES* that there will be an asset bubble every few years. Boom/bust cycles enable the financial industry insiders to steal the wealth of the rest of society.

I heard an interesting quote on CNBC. Ben Bernanke said that he doesn't mind if some small banks are forced into bankruptcy. After all, consolidation of industries is great! As long as the big banks stay solvent, the financial system doesn't collapse. Big banks get legal perks that small banks don't get.

Remember that government is currently passing regulations requiring usage of alternative energy. This could cause an asset bubble. Prices of corn/ethanol have already skyrocketed. Remember that an insider who knows of a regulation in advance has the opportunity to profit immensely! By the time an asset bubble is touted on CNBC, it is already too late to buy.

As an individual investor, I'd stay away from investing in areas where "favorable government regulations" is a huge chunk of the profit equation. Unless you have the connections to bribe Congressmen, this isn't profitable for the average person.

Bill aka NO DooDahs! has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #39":

* Full RSS on purpose. See post today.

* The few threads that get comments usually have worthwhile content in the comments, IMO.

* I made an argument many months ago to the effect that speculating in individual stocks, and an allocation to the stock market, gave one the best chance of outperforming the growth of money supply. Over the last 40-50 years of tracking, what were the gains for M3, gold, real estate, and stocks?

I asked Bill Rempel before for full RSS feeds and he said "NO! NO! NYAH! NYAH!" It's nice to see that he fixed that defect.

I'm not going back to your blog just to read the comments. I read your blog via the RSS feed and only see the posts. If there's good comments on your blog, highlight them in another post like I do.

You can't look at a 40-50 year horizon, because the gold standard wasn't abandoned until 1971. Until recently, central banks were manipulating the gold price downward by selling/leasing their gold. Central banks have nearly exhausted their reserves, and they're losing their ability to suppress gold and silver prices. If you're comparing a gold or silver investment to a stock investment, it isn't valid to compare older than 5 years.

That's why I consider "back-testing" financial models to be nonsense. Government regulations and the Federal Reserve keep changing the rules of the game! Those models are valid *ONLY* to the extent that the people who control the Federal Reserve are using the same models! The Federal Reserve has the power to cause recessions or booms at will. No model can compensate for that power. Only an insider with connections would know what to do.

Government manipulation of the market causes "outlier" events to happen way too often compared to mathematical models. You don't know *WHICH* outlier event is going to occur next, because you don't know what the government is going to do. When investing, outlier events account for most of your profit or loss, especially if you're using leverage.

*IF* a corporation is honestly run, it should outperform inflation. After you deduct for waste and executives lining their pockets, it's unclear if a stock investment outperforms true inflation.

For the next 20 years, I think gold and silver will track TRUE INFLATION pretty closely. Over the next 20 years, true inflation may be as high as 15%-20%/year or more! A buy-and-hold gold or silver investment will have an inflation-adjusted return of 0% minus transaction costs. I consider it to be *NOT PROVEN* that stocks will outperform true inflation. I have most of my savings in stocks and long call options (betting on inflation). I'm contemplating buying some physical metal as an inflation hedge. The final collapse of government is still at least 20 years away, so there's no need to rush to cash out my stock investments.

You could buy gold or silver futures to bet on inflation. You also could buy gold or silver options. I haven't found a good online discount broker and information source for commodity futures and options, so I haven't tried that yet. I'm looking for a broker with reasonable commissions and a place to download prices/quotes so I can do a calculation of the implied interest rate built into the future or option. I also never found a detailed description of margin rules for futures investors. If I'm going to be charged 8% margin as a retail investor, it's not worth it. The GLD and SLV ETFs don't offer options.

I don't like investing in real estate, compared to stocks or metal. With real estate, you have huge transaction costs. You have to use leverage to maximize your profit. You have to pay property taxes. I believe I can pick stocks better than the average person. I *DON'T* believe I can pick real estate better than the average person. If you invest in real estate, it helps if you can be an active landlord. You really need to screen tenants yourself and do repairs yourself, or hire someone qualified and cheap/off-the-books to work for you.

Zhwazi has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #39":

In my defense, I specifically said I made the GPG guide for friends to learn how to use it, not to try to convince a substantial number of people to use it. I'm not out of touch with reality, I know exactly what my intent was and I'm fairly sure my means are conductive to my ends.

SOMEBODY has to be out there knowing what GPG is and how to use it and wanting to use it before demand for seamless integration of GPG reaches the point that it becomes a standard feature in Opera or Firefox or Gmail. Most people don't even know what it is, so of course nobody wants or expects it.

I agree about the "able to gather lots of data but don't know how to use it very well" thing. It's why I dismiss most of the paranoid "omgwtf surveillance state all over end of the world you can't do anything about it" stuff.

It wasn't clear reading your post. I thought you were saying "GPG is cool! Let's use it!"

I'd like to see strong encryption bundled with Firefox or Gmail. It'd probably have to be implemented as a Firefox extension. You also need to convince people to start using it. It would be nice to start a sub-community of people who strong-encrypt all their E-Mails. Currently, my writing is intended for a general audience. If/when I start an agorist business, I'd probably get in the habit of strong-encrypting everything.

I've been considering offering a service to match buyers/sellers for gold or silver. Participants would be expected to make anonymous in-person cash transactions, without reporting their transaction to the red market. Such a service does not exist right now. Ebay isn't usable, because of the government reporting requirement. Would there be a demand for that? If I tried that, I'd probably expect users to strong-encrypt their traffic. The primary reason people don't use gold or silver as money is that it's too inconvenient to trade back and forth between gold and silver (real money) and Federal Reserve Points. Taxes and regulations make it difficult.

It's one thing for the bad guys to go around spying on everyone. It's another thing for them to spend the time and effort sending police to raid your house. Based on my blog content, am I a "homegrown terrorist"? Direct violence against government property or employees is pointless. Technically, everyone is a government employee and all property is government property! If I say "people should have a nonviolent economic revolt", does that make me a terrorist? I think that a judge or policemen trying to arrest me based on my blog's content couldn't do it with a straight face. In other countries, such as China or Russia or the EU, I might be arrested for my blog's content. Things in the USA haven't gotten that bad (yet?).

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