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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reader Mail #44

According to Google Analytics, March is going to be my all-time best month traffic-wise.

My series of posts on the Black-Scholes formula is driving a lot of traffic via Google search.

I liked this post on Rad Geek. A reporter asked the White House press secretary a question about the declining value of the US dollar. She responded that she was under strict orders to not discuss the US dollar at all.

Most mainstream media reporters know that if they write the wrong sort of story, they will be fired. The morality of the Federal Reserve and income tax are never questioned.

Someone was googling "What is demonetization". Demonetization is when precious metals are removed from circulation.

Before the 1960s, US dimes, quarters, and half dollars contained mostly silver. Silver was demonetized. Now, those coins are made of metals much less valuable than silver. People hoard those old coins, because their silver content is worth a lot more than the face amount.

A 5 cent coin is called a "nickel" to denote the fact that it was made out of a cheaper metal than dimes, quarters, and half-dollars.

In the late 1800s, the US abandoned a bimetallic gold/silver standard. When silver was demonetized, people who were holding silver lost a lot of their purchasing power. "Legal tender" laws meant that silver was no longer valid for paying debts and taxes.

In 1933, gold was demonetized. Before that, people could redeem their paper dollars for physical gold. Paper dollars still circulated, but they were no longer redeemable for gold. President Roosevelt and the Federal Reserve stole all the gold that belonged to US citizens.

I liked this post on how to spot counterintelligence/disinformation agents.

if you are NOT under surveillance, you are not a very good activist!

The bad guys, when joining an activist group:

1) Want to establish "leaders" to set them up for a fall in order to stop the movement.
2) Suggest doing foolish, illegal things to get the activists in trouble.
3) Encourage militancy.
4) Want to taunt the authorities.
5) Attempt to make the activist compromise their values.
6) Attempt to instigate violence. Activisim ought to always be non-violent.
7) Attempt to provoke revolt among people who are ill-prepared to deal with the reaction of the authorities to such violence.

The above tactics make it *IMPOSSIBLE* to organize a large group of people using standard pyramid/dictatorship structures.

Agorism's goal is to create a decentralized free market. It should be resistant to infiltration by the bad guys.

Things like the "9/11 Truth Movement" and "UFO Truth Movement" are designed as distractions. Whenever people are focused on activism or protesting, they are wasting their time. The *ONLY* form of political resistance that matters is creating a pool of wealth outside the control of the bad guys.

To ensure that people waste their time on pointless activities, the bad guys *INTENTIONALLY* spread a lot of misinformation about 9/11 or UFOs. If 99% of the public information is strategic garbage and 1% is truth, then it's almost impossible to figure out what's true.

It's very interesting to compare the "9/11 Truth Movement" and the "UFO Truth Movement". The same disinformation tactics are used in both areas. That means that some underlying truth is being covered up. For 9/11, the truth is that Osama bin Laden originally worked for the US government. In many ways, the bad guys have benefited from the 9/11 attacks. For UFOs, the truth is that flying saucers were actually invented by humans 100 years ago.

That article mentions popular "activist" sites like It says they exist more to distract people from the truth, than sincerely educate them. For example, sites like hardly ever discuss topics such as the evils of the Federal Reserve and income tax. They are shills for the establishment rather than sincerely seeking freedom.

That's a common tactic by the bad guys. They set up fake "freedom activist" groups to distract people from genuine freedom.

I liked this article on 25 tactics of truth suppression.

This gets back to my aggressive crackdown on people who "pro-State troll". I can't tell the difference between someone who is intentionally disruptive and someone who is merely clueless. If I coddle all the fools, then I'm subjecting myself to a lot of comments and E-Mails by trolls.

I didn't like this post on Marginal Revolution. People come up with all sorts of convoluted explanation for rising commodity prices.

The real problem is devaluation of the dollar. If you print more dollars, prices go up! What's complicated about that?

I liked this post on Marginal Revolution. Limited liability laws distort the market.

Installing indoor tile is risky, compared to the price people are willing to pay. Large firms refuse to install indoor tile. It would only be a negligible slice of revenue. They would lose millions of dollars if there's a problem.

Therefore, small contractors provide the service of installing indoor tile. HOWEVER, they are facing zero downside risk if there's a problem. Suppose there's an accident and they're sued for $5M. They'll just declare bankruptcy and start a new contracting corporation. Limited liability laws mean that nobody is ever responsible for everything.

Similarly, small corporations can't hire large accounting firms. The big accounting firm doesn't want to risk a huge judgement if there's accounting fraud. Therefore, small corporations hire small accounting firms to audit their books.

That's the only instance I heard of state violence encouraging small businesses! However, the individual is still stuck. If you hire someone and there's a problem, you usually have no recourse. Seeking justice in a monopolistic government court is usually too expensive.

I liked this article on Techdirt. The FBI uses aggressive entrapment techniques to convict people of child pornography. The FBI put a link to child pornography on the Internet. They prosecuted people who clicked on that link.

"Child pornography" is one of those hot-button issues that are used as excuses to censor/monitor/regulate the Internet.

I liked this article on Techdirt, referring to this story. A company was performing "click arbitrage". They would bid on keywords for $0.20 from Google, and they would get paid $10/visit on the page where the ad landed. However, those "landing pages" were just spam pages with a bunch of links for ads.

The company was very profitable. It raised $160M in venture capital for a small slice of the company. However, all the company's revenue came from Google "click arbitrage".

Google figured out what was going on. Google realized that "click arbitrage" would ruin their adwords system. If most ads referred people to spam/junk pages, then eventually people would stop clicking on ads. Google instituted a policy that said that when you buy an advertisement, the landing page must have interesting and original content.

This ruined the company's business model.

As terms of their severance agreement, laid off employees are barred from making any public statements. Such "confidentiality clauses" are offensive to me. If you're cheated, you should be free to tell everyone.

This article on Techdirt was also interesting. Some people are suing Google when their PageRank decreases. Google is getting better at penalizing the PageRank of spammers. The spammers respond by suing.

Overall, I'm pleased with my blog's search ranking. According to Google Analytics, I'm getting a decent amount of search traffic.

This post on the Picket Line was somewhat out of touch with reality. Some tax resisters are mailing the IRS a letter stating their disapproval of income taxes. The IRS is responding by threatening to fine them. Why would anyone think that mailing the IRS such a letter would accomplish anything?

In another post, the author talks about intentionally keeping your income below the IRS filing threshold. That is also silly. I'm not sacrificing my lifestyle to fight the State. Instead, you should focus on accumulating wealth that isn't reported to the IRS for taxation.

Last year, I did not steal, nor did I rape, nor did I plunder or kill or defraud. Nor would I have done those things even if they had been legal. I needed no law to inform me of right and wrong; nor, I trust, did you. On the other hand, how many men did things that they otherwise would not have done, merely because the state said that it was okay? Would hundreds of thousands of young men, merely on their own initiative, have armed themselves to the teeth and journeyed to Iraq to torture, kill, and terrorize? No, to accomplish that great evil they needed a state to tell them that it was all right to do what they would otherwise find repugnant.

This addresses a common pro-State troll point. Most people do not interact violently in their day-to-day lives. You don't need monopolistic government police to enforce order. If you include all the crimes that are officially sanctioned by the State, then the State is the biggest agent of theft and crime anywhere.

That post made another interesting point. If you make a complaint to the IRS that includes any type of legal or Constitutional argument against the IRS, they will fine you for "frivolous filing". If you fight the bad guys on their terms, you're guaranteed to lose.

The bad guys *WANT* people to think that their only recourse is writing the IRS an angry letter. Do you seriously think that some low-ranking clueless bureaucrat is going to be affected by your letter? If they were smart enough to understand the immorality of income taxes, they wouldn't be working at the IRS in the first place.

When arguing against the income tax, it's wrong to focus on the legal argument. The moral argument is much more important.

I think my policy of calling out "pro-State trolls" is a good one. I am careful to criticize specific points rather than make ad hominem attacks. However, some people reflexively use the Strawman Fallacy. If you aren't capable of understanding the difference, then I shouldn't waste time on you.

"State-embedded thinking" is so pervasive. People are pro-State trolling even when they aren't consciously aware of it. It's interesting to compare people's reactions. Some people react favorably and some people react with hostility.

People who can't think clearly get angry at me and skulk away. I don't mind if I don't get feedback from fools. I deal with pro-State trolls in every other aspect of my life.

I normally don't watch TV news, but I was visiting relatives and there was nothing else to do. The top several news stories were "Person X assaulted/raped/murdered person Y." The reporters acted as if this was the most exciting news story ever. They had the same "anticipation excitement" that a sports play-by-play announcer has.

"Person X hurt person Y" isn't news. I'm not a party to their dispute. Why should I care?

What propaganda purpose do such stories serve?

The propaganda purpose is promoting "People are intrinsically evil; therefore, government is necessary." The cops investigating the crime were portrayed as heroes/geniuses.

It's depressing to see the fnords. Whenever you watch a mainstream news source, ask the question "What propaganda purpose does this story serve?"

For example, I saw news coverage of a snowstorm. That's actually *REAL* news. A big snowstorm is something that will personally affect everyone watching. If a news outlet *ALWAYS* told lies and propaganda, they wouldn't be believed. There has to be some genuine news mixed in, so the propaganda will also have credibility.

This article on to Herd or not to Herd is somewhat missing the point. He is writing about the explosion in the derivatives market.

The entire problem with the derivatives market is Federal Reserve subsidized negative real interest rates. With negative real interest rates, firms are rewarded for maximizing their use of leverage.

Without negative real interest rates, there's no derivatives market.

It cited this article on Gold Eagle. At that time that article was written in 2001, the US derivatives market was $44T, while US GDP was only $10T. Imagine negative real interest rates of only 1%. In that case, the derivatives market is sucking away $440B, around 4% of GDP!

The purpose of the financial industry and the derivatives market is to siphon away the wealth of the rest of society. Everyone else pays the cost as inflation.

The article also talks about Long-Term Capital Management. The "fat tails problem" is entirely due to the Compound Interest Paradox and an unfair monetary system. "Extreme market moves" occur more often than models predict, because the market isn't really a free market.

Also, derivatives allow someone to make the following bet. "I will make a 30% profit 95% of the time. I will make a 1000% loss 5% of the time." Most of the time, you'll look like a genius. If your bank or hedge fund is large enough, the Federal Reserve will bail you out when you get the 1000% loss.

I liked this post on Techdirt. Comcast may put cameras into its DVRs. The data recorded would be automatically broadcast back to Comcast. That is literally straight out of George Orwell.

I liked this post on Techdirt. China is having "problems" in Tibet. China is now cracking down on video hosting sites in China. Many people made videotapes of the crackdown and posted them on the Internet.

Techdirt warns that investing in China is really risky. At any time, the Chinese government could change the rules and you lose your investment.

In the USA, diversified investments in "too big to fail" corporations is a relatively safe strategy. Government intervention in the USA usually favors corporate management. However, I'm considering the possibility that gold is a better investment than stocks!

I liked this post on Techdirt. There is concern that telecom corporations will eliminate network neutrality. That's easier in theory than in practice.

AOL kept changing its instant messaging protocol. AOL wanted to shut out third party clients. The other clients were able to patch their software within hours of AOL's patch.

Comcast is trying to block BitTorrent users from its network. All Comcast is doing is they're encouraging the spread of "encrypted BitTorrent".

In the technology race, the bad guys *DON'T* have superior resources than the good guys. A few clever hackers can easily frustrate corporate censorship.

Even if Google started censoring my blog, I'd just move to another host.

I liked this post on no third solution about jury nullification. Originally, "a jury of your peers" meant people who personally knew the defendant. It has since evolved to mean "12 random people, excluding those who don't meet certain criteria". Effectively, this is "12 random people who are going to blindly follow the judge's orders". Even worse "12 people not smart enough to dodge jury duty".

What are the options for a would-be jury nullifier? First, you'll probably have to lie just to get on the jury. Second, you'll have to waste 2-3 weeks on the trial, just to acquit one person. Third, if you're the only person voting "not guilty", then the prosecution can retry the victim. Fourth, even if acquitted, the defendant can't recover the time and money spent defending themselves. Fifth, even if the law is frivolous, the bad guys can still prosecute other people for the exact same non-crime; your nullification only helps one person one time.

Why would I waste several weeks of my life to help a complete stranger, when I could be doing other productive things? Unless you feel *REALLY STRONGLY* about the issue, it's impractical to get on a jury just to nullify a law.

The *MOST OFFENSIVE* part of the whole "jury nullification" debate is that defense attorneys are *BARRED* from mentioning jury nullification to the jury. It's one thing for a jury to decide to nullify the law. It's another thing to bar the defense from suggesting the possibility.

"Jury nullification" is one of the reasons juries were instituted in the first place! If juries are going to blindly follow the orders of the judge/prosecutor, then they're not serving their purpose.

Pretty much all the provisions of the Constitution that protect individual rights have been repealed.

If you are ever frivolously accused of a crime and want to pursue a "jury nullification" defense, you're probably going to have to defend yourself sui juris. A lawyer isn't going to risk losing his law license to provide you with a jury nullification defense.

I liked this post on lowercase liberty.

"Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger unless it permanently cripples you, in which case it definitely makes you weaker."

I liked this post on the Picket Line. Tax resistance is the form of antiwar protest that yields the best return on investment. Other forms of protest are pointless. Sit-ins, parades, marches, and writing politicians is a complete waste of time.

Tax resistance should be focused on generating wealth that isn't taxable.

Some "tax resisters" report all their income to the IRS but only pay a fraction of taxes owed. They are fools. The key is to generate wealth that isn't reported to the IRS as taxable income.

I liked this post on the Liberty Papers. Eliot Spitzer was ultimately caught by the Patriot Act.

Banks are required to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) whenever a customer does something unusual. The requirements are vague and the penalties for non-compliance are severe. Therefore, banks go overboard and file way too many SARs. Banks will file an SAR for almost anything.

This allows free market activities to be stopped by the IRS. Tax evasion, drug sales, and prostitution are easily caught by aggressive bank SAR reporting.

If you're engaged in free market economic activity, you *HAVE* to use sound money. This way you don't have to "launder" your money by depositing it in a bank. If you make frequent cash deposits to your bank account, that triggers a SAR. If you hold Federal Reserve Points, you will lose your purchasing power to inflation.

A free market banking system is desperately needed.

I liked this post on Overcoming Bias, referring to this post. When people are confronted with ideas that challenge their political beliefs, the logic center of their brain shuts down.

And it not just pigheadedness that keeps people thinking the wrong way once they’ve made a decision. Their brains actually change.

Neuroscientists have recently shown that these biases in thinking are built into the very way the brain processes information - all brains, regardless of their owners’ political affiliations. For example, in a study of people who were being monitored by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) wile they were trying to process dissonant or consonant information about George Bush or John Kerry, [researchers] found that the reasoning areas of the brain virtually shut down when participants were confronted with dissonant information and the emotion circuits of the brain lit up happily when consonance was restored. These mechanisms provide a neurological basis for the observation that once our minds are made up, it is hard to change them.

I disagree that this is an inherent human behavior. It is evidence of a massive successful brainwashing campaign.

People *NEED* to shut off the thinking portions of their brains when discussing politics. Otherwise, they would realize what's going on! They would become depressed and angry. This behavior is a form of self-defense.

When I call someone a "pro-State troll", I'm just trying to get them to restart the thinking portion of their brain. People who are unable to do this get offended and leave.

I liked this post on Overcoming Bias.

In one of Frank Herbert's Dune books, IIRC, it is said that a Truthsayer gains their ability to detect lies in others by always speaking truth themselves, so that they form a relationship with the truth whose violation they can feel.

I may have actually acquired this ability somewhat. When watching a discussion of economics, the fallacies and lies are obvious to me now. I also am able to tell when someone else isn't thinking clearly.

Unfortunately, almost everyone else is lacking this clear thinking ability. It's frustrating. When I try explaining the evils of the Federal Reserve and income tax to people, I can hear their brains turning off.

I liked this post on the Agitator, referring to this YouTube video. A lot of "freedom activists" are now making "schoolhouse rock" style propaganda videos.

The video was about "pirates and emperors". When violence and theft occurs without state approval, it's a crime. When violence and theft occurs with state approval, it's publicly touted as wonderful.

By E-Mail, someone writes:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
- James Madison

No, you're "pro-State trolling". If people are intrinsically evil, then the *MOST* evil people will assume positions of power in government where they can abuse others.

Your reasoning is defective. "People are intrinsically evil, therefore government is necessary" is invalid reasoning.

Actions are evil on a relative scale from 0 to 1. No person is evil all the time or not evil all the time.

The State is the biggest enabler of evil actions. By falsely labeling "evil" as "good", people will accept evil.

My experience has been that, in politics, 99.9%+ of people fall under the "pure evil" category. Here's my test for how evil a person is politically. Ask them "Should there be a government?" If they answer "definitely yes", they're evil. If they answer "maybe" or "probably not", they're not evil.

I'm not 100% sure of the truth value of any statement! How can you be sure of the answer to "Should there be a government?", when it's impossible to be sure of anything? You can't even be sure of "2+2=4", because there may be a contradiction in the laws of Mathematics that hasn't been discovered yet. If you can't be sure of the answer to "What is 2+2?", then how can you be sure of the answer to "Should there be a government?"

The same troll writes:

You still have failed to explain away evil people.

Without government, the damage evil people can do is limited.
Government *REWARDS* evil behavior a lot of the time. Government shields people from the negative consequences of their misbehavior.

Without government, evil people won't disappear. Without government, evil people won't be able to violently impose their will on everyone else. Evil people won't be able to leech my productivity and use it for their own purposes.

Without government to shield them from negative consequences, people will be less evil.
For example, suppose police violently raid someone's house inappropriately. In the present, the police are absolutely immune from prosecution for their misbehavior. In a free market, there would be no such protection.

There's a recent high-profile case. Someone was robbed a week earlier, and started keeping a gun in his apartment. Police incorrectly made a drug raid on his apartment. The police didn't properly identify themselves as police. (Even identifying themselves as police isn't a defense, because criminals are starting to impersonate policemen.) Thinking he was being robbed again, he shot and killed one of the policemen. He is now being tried for murder.

The most obvious example of evil is war. Without government, you can't have war. War is only profitable when you can force people to pay for it via taxes. War is an excuse to funnel wealth to politically-connected military contractors, like Blackwater.

A better question is "What economic and political system minimizes the amount of damage evil people can cause?" The current economic and political system *MAXIMIZES* the amount of damage evil people can cause.

I didn't like this post on the Picket Line. He writes about the protest at IRS headquarters. A bunch of war tax resisters blockaded the office. They accomplished nothing. They were wasting their time.

Are the "war tax resisters" going to stop tax resistance once the Iraq war is over? It's probably going to end in 2009.

He also writes about property tax resistance during the Great Depression. The movement ended when the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

All forms of taxation are theft. Suppose you had to rank taxes on a scale of evil. Income taxes are the most evil, because you cannot do productive work without paying income taxes. Legally, income taxes are completely unavoidable. Income taxes mean people need permission from the Federal Reserve and the government in order to work. The second most evil tax is property taxes. Property taxes mean that nobody fully owns their land. Instead, they have a perpetual transferable lease.

Of course, property tax resistance is very risky. Unless you can win a violent confrontation with State police, you have to pay property taxes or you'll be kicked off your land. Property taxes are partially avoidable. You don't have to buy the most expensive house you can afford. You can live in an area with relatively low property tax rates.

However, there is *NOPLACE* in the USA where you can own land without paying property taxes! You can't get "full allodial title" to your land!

I liked this post on Unqualified Offering. "Waterboarding" used to be called "water torture". When an activity is known to be wrong, people change the details slightly and give it a different name.

The Freedom Symposium pointed out that Freedomain has a copy of his book available for free download, temporarily.

I don't bother with Freedomain's podcasts/vlogs. They tend to move too slow. I prefer the written format, because I can read fast.

His books are worth reading.

I wonder if I could reach a wider audience with a vlog? I'm going to conduct an experiment, eventually. A lot of people said they prefer text to video. However, that includes selection bias, because it only includes responses from people who *ALREADY* read my blog.

bryan has left a new comment on your post "Gold and Silver Price Manipulation":

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As a gold/silver investor, I advise people to buy rounds or bars instead of government-issued coins. I don't see the value in paying a premium for government-issued coins. If I were investing in gold or silver, I would try to pay the cheapest price per ounce of metal.

I'm seriously concerned that gold/silver is a better investment than stocks! Large corporations receive massive government subsidies, but there's also a massive amount of fraud and waste.

I haven't started investing in physical gold or silver yet. It's on my list of things to try soon.

I see the communists on CNBC tout "Gold's price went down recently. Gold is discredited as an investment." This makes me think "OMFG! Gold really is the best investment out there!"

There's one advantage of gold over silver that I haven't mentioned before. You can make an alloy of cheaper metals that has the same specific gravity as silver. I believe that you can't make an alloy of cheaper metals that has the same specific gravity as gold; the only metals denser than gold are also more expensive than gold. That's one advantage of gold over silver. As a silver investor, a specific gravity test is insufficient to discourage forgery. With gold, a specific gravity test suffices.

David Gross has left a new comment on your post "FSK Asks - Should I Use Post Labels?":

Labels can be a useful way for people to filter feeds. For example, if a blogger likes to write posts about politics, his favorite sports team, and his favorite TV show, and he uses the labels "politics", "sports", "TV" then if I only care about the political stuff, I can filter the blog's RSS feed to exclude the posts with the "sports" and "TV" labels, and thereby not have to be bothered by the posts I don't care about.

I don't think that's an issue on my blog. I have only 1 post/day and I stick on-topic.

I agree that some blogs cover a wide variety of topics. I'm not interested in American Idol or the latest sports scores.

This was the only response. I'm not convinced that adding post labels is worth my time. I'm not concerned about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). "Organic growth" is working for me.

I have one tip for SEO. In Google search, keywords in a post title are given FAR GREATER weight than keywords in a post body.

This has been a slow week for reader comments. I think a lot of people are on vacation for Easter. According to Google Analytics, traffic has decreased slightly the past few days.

I should stop feeling guilty about shouting down pro-State trolls. It's hard to break bad habits. The fact that I feel guilty about shouting down trolls is an indication that it's actually a good idea.

Pro-State trolls get annoying after awhile.

I'm better off without clueless fools wasting my time. I prefer "comment quality" to "comment quantity".

1 comment:

Ineffabelle said...

You said: "The *ONLY* form of political resistance that matters is creating a pool of wealth outside the control of the bad guys."

I think that is a wonderfully concise way of putting it. (Given an expansive enough definition of "wealth")

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