March was my single best month all-time. I had 2386 Absolute Unique Visitors in March.
I realized that Google Analytics' "visitor loyalty" page is misleading. If someone visits for the 53rd, 54th, 55th, and 56th time, then it counts as 4 entries in the "51-100" bin. That is misleading, because the same person is being counted 4 times.
On the other hand, the "1 visit" bin is useful information. 2320 people visited my blog for the first time in March. That means that only 66 of the visitors to my blog in March had previously read my blog!
According to Google Webmaster Tools, I have 21 RSS subscribers. That only counts people who subscribe via a Google-sponsored reader. (I really should start using Feedburner! I'm waiting for it to be integrated seamlessly with Blogger. Will that never happen?)
This post on the Bell Tower complains that, at financial companies, the CEOs don't know what their underlings are doing. This is true at *ALMOST EVERY CORPORATION*. This is the usual "Agent-Principal Problem".
At a corporation like Coca-Cola, there's a limit to how much damage one clueless employee or manager can do. In a financial company, the potential damage is literally unlimited. With excessive use of leverage and the inability to "mark to market", huge crashes are commonplace.
Don't blame management of Wall Street firms. Blame the corrupt economic and political system that causes "responsibility", "ownership", and power to be segregated.
I liked this post on George Washington's blog about the 9/11 Truth Movement.
I wonder if these 9/11 Truth stories are merely planted as a distraction from the real issues.
I liked this post on RadGeek. We live in the age of the "anti-Cassandra". People who make policy predictions are proven wrong again and again, yet they're touted as geniuses.
This is confusing the true purpose of news. The purpose of news is not to provide a carefully thought out analysis. The purpose of news is to tell people what they should think.
This post on Tranarchism talks about the housing bubble. It also talks about the true purpose of a college education. Ineffabelle sort of misses the point.
Topics currently taught in college used to be standard high school fare. There's been a deliberate "dumbing down" of the educational system. The college education requirement serves several purposes.
The average middle class or poor worker enters the workforce with a huge debt burden. This means they *HAVE* to work to repay their loans. Some student loans are at a relatively high rate, increasing the students' burden.
When you're 18-22, those are potentially the most productive years of your life. Instead of starting a business or getting useful experience, a student is forced to do pointless things. The college degree requirement helps keep people poor. Most people are focused on "get college degree" rather than "start a business".
In a communist economy, there's no true free market competition. Even though a college degree is largely a meaningless indicator, large corporations collude to demand a college degree (or more). Since there's no true free market competition, there's no opportunity for non-college graduates to get together and form competing businesses. Your only employment opportunity is at a large corporation, and a college degree is mandatory.
Effectively, a college degree is a license from the State that is a prerequisite (but not a guarantee) for most decent jobs. If you don't have permission from the State to work, you're barred from the labor market. Most universities are an extension of the State; their primary source of revenue is government grants.
In some areas, such as Computer Science or Mathematics, a college degree actually does teach you something. However, I probably could have learned that material in high school, if only it were presented to me. In high school, I was forced to waste a lot of time on pointless courses. At that time, there was no Internet I could use to learn independently.
(That's another interesting question. Should children have unrestricted/uncensored Internet access? I'm thinking "Yes, but log everything they do".)
One of my "free market" business ideas is educational/homeschooling services. There should be enough demand to make it profitable.
The more I think about it, "homeschooling" is the only morally acceptable way to raise your children if you don't want them to be brainwashed as slaves.
By the time your child has finished a few years of school, he's spent more waking hours in school than with his parents!
This post on Bill Rempel is missing the point. He talks about the problems that GM and Ford are having.
GM and Ford are a prime example of a monopoly/oligopoly. The car manufacturing industry is incredibly heavily regulated. This makes it practically impossible for someone to start a new car manufacturing business. There are too many regulations, which shuts small business out of the market.
A new car sells for around $20k, with most of the cost being labor and overhead. Someone manufacturing cars out of their garage should easily make 10+ per year. This does not occur, because you can't easily manufacture a car yourself and then get it certified as legally driveable.
It doesn't matter that the management of Ford and GM are incompetent. The rules of a corrupt economic system protect them from competition.
In this post on no third solution, David Z talks about the real estate market. Real estate experts say that spending $5k remodeling a bathroom will raise the sale price of a home by $20k. David Z says that this illustrates an obvious inefficiency in the market.
Like all industries, the real estate industry is regulated. The real estate salesmen act as a cartel.
One possibility is that the real estate experts are falsely saying that remodeling has a 300% return on investment. Another possibility is that buyers are stupid or receiving bad advice.
Another factor is that the seller is usually financing the improvements via a home equity loan or mortgage. This means that the real interest rate on the loan is negative. If there's a 1-2 year lag between making the improvement and selling the house, then inflation could account for the discrepancy.
In a fiat debt-based money system, *ALL* prices are arbitrary! If banks are loose with credit, then home prices will skyrocket. If banks are tight with credit, then home prices will crash. If downpayment requirements are changed from 20% to 5%, than can have the effect of a 4x increase in home prices. Similarly, raising downpayment requirements can crash home prices.
I liked this post on the Picket Line, in reference to this interview between Jan Helfeld and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The video on that link is worth watching.
Jan Helfeld was explaining that income taxes in the US are forcefully taken. Under threat of violence, wealth is taken from one group of people and given to another group of people.
Harry Reid *JUST DIDN'T UNDERSTAND*. He kept saying "The USA has a 'voluntary' system.", but he also said "There are criminal and civil penalties for failing to pay taxes."
The offensive part is that Harry Reid *DIDN'T GET IT*. He was going through all sorts of intellectual contortions to avoid understanding "Taxation is theft!" Harry Reid sees himself as a noble politician. If he realized the he was leading a gang of thieves, then he wouldn't be able to keep his job.
It's one thing for someone to steal from me, consciously aware of what they're doing. It's another thing for someone to be stealing *AND BE SO CLUELESS ABOUT IT*.
If you want a serious discussion of "Taxation is theft!", a politician is the *LAST* person to ask. If you ever want to embarrass a politician, ask him to explain why taxes and stealing are different.
I also think that Harry Reid was confusing the term "voluntary compliance". The US taxation system is dependent on the willingness of employers and financial institutions to "voluntarily" report all transactions to the IRS and the government! That's not the same as taxes themselves being voluntary, or the reporting requirements being followed voluntarily.
I was also shocked by the reader comments on the blog. The commenters WERE DEFENDING HARRY REID! As a libertarian blogger, he should be more responsible cracking down on pro-State trolls. The comments section on that blog shows what happens if you DON'T keep the pro-State trolls under control.
The worst fallacy shown by the commenters were "A majority of people have voted to indicate that income taxes are acceptable. Therefore, income taxes are acceptable." This is *INVALID REASONING*. You do not have the right to steal from me. You cannot delegate a right you don't have to someone else. You cannot authorize Congress to steal from me on your behalf, because that's a right you didn't have in the first place.
Of course, if the vast majority of people approve of taxation, then it's risky to dodge taxes. Once you realize "Taxation is theft!", then it's a question of tactics instead of goals.
Also, progressive taxation is a myth. When the super-wealthy pay taxes, it is merely a partial return of stolen property. Suppose I could use State violence to earn a $1B profit. I would gladly pay $300M in taxes and keep the remaining $700M. A super-wealthy person is *ALWAYS* a net beneficiary of the State.
I liked this post on Check Your Premises. Soldiers who write articles critical of the war tend to mysteriously die. The most noteworthy example is Pat Tillman.
Also, US military contractors working in Iraq are not subject to the same rules and accountability as soldiers.
I like this post on Democracy Sucks. Almost nobody gives extra money to the government. They would usually donate to a private charity instead.
This contradicts "taxes are part of a voluntary social contract". If taxes are so wonderful, why don't people voluntarily pay more?
This post on Freedomain made an interesting point. Philosophers tend to focus unnecessarily on "extreme" scenarios. Instead, it's more important for philosophers to question everyday problems, like taxes, the Federal Reserve, and government regulations.
The tendency to focus on extreme situations is part of "loss-oriented thinking". This is not an inherent human characteristic, but an aspect of the State brainwashing/control system.
For example, people say "Without the State, who will build and maintain the roads!" This is false philosophy. It appeals to "loss-oriented thinking". Right now, the State is responsible for all infrastructure. People falsely assume that, without the State, nobody will bother to build or repair roads.
Actually, a Stateless society will have BETTER maintained roads. In the present, if the State fails to maintain roads, there's no market punishment for the State. In many circumstances, the incentive is for poor maintenance. In that case, a contract to rebuild the roads can be sold every few years. This contract is, naturally, sold to politically connected insiders.
Focusing on extreme circumstances make bad philosophy.
I liked this post on the Liberty Papers, referencing this YouTube video by the Onion. The #1 issue in the upcoming election is bull****. Make sure you watch the subtitles at the bottom of the video!
The Onion has quite a few interesting videos out there.
I liked this page about the link between the Federal Reserve and the Great Depression.
For example, if you claimed that tallness contributes to excellence in basketball, I could "refute" your claim by defining everyone as tall.
Most mainstream economic analysis shows this level of sophistication.
However, the point of that article is the OPPOSITE my viewpoint. I claim the Federal Reserve is 100% responsible for the Great Depression. That article is making excuses for the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve jacked up interest rates, crashing the money supply. Insiders knew what was coming, and made a fortune. Debt-based money is an inherently unsound system.
I decided to temporarily waive my policy of "Don't post on discussion forums. It's a waste of time." As usual, the pro-State trolls dominated. That confirms my belief that posting on discussion forums is a waste of time.
If you really want an intelligent discussion of non-mainstream ideas, you NEED your own blog or a forum you control.
I liked this article on the Liberty Papers. It's about stupid/unethical behavior by Hillary Clinton when she was working for the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment process.
A lot of negative stories about Hillary Clinton have been emerging lately. I suspect that Obama is being set up to win.
The negative stories about Hillary Clinton seem to indicate outright lying or stupidity. The negative stories about Obama are silly; he wore a Muslim outfit; his preacher said something offensive.
These two posts by Gilliganscorner were somewhat interesting. He's showing an understanding of the Compound Interest Paradox. He complains that government employees don't just demand you let them steal from you. Government also demands that the slaves thank the masters for their enslavement.
The current complex system of enslavement only works because the details are very thoroughly obfuscated. If the enslavement were obvious, people would resist more.
The amusing example is the Harry Reid interview given above. Most Congressmen *ARE NOT CONSCIOUSLY AWARE* that they are stewards of a massive slave economy.
By E-Mail, someone said I was letting the Federal Reserve off easy in The Liberty Dollar Scam Continues!
The Federal Reserve charges a 100% markup for its money.
I was defining "markup" as (face - cost) / face. My calculation was ($50 - $0.03) / $50, approximately 100%. I'll use a value of $0.03 as the printing cost for a Federal Reserve Note.
The E-Mailer said that "markup" is more accurately defined as (face - cost) / cost.
In that case, a Liberty Dollar's markup is (50 - 17) / 17, approximately 194%.
A $50 Federal Reserve Note's markup is ($50 - $0.03) / $0.03 = 1666, a markup of 166600%.
My original calculation assigns a markup of 100% to a Federal Reserve Note and 60% to a Liberty Dollar, making the Federal Reserve Note only 66% more evil than the Liberty Dollar. With my updated calculation, a Federal Reserve Note is 80,000% more evil than a Liberty Dollar.
If you take into account the fact that most money is created electronically, rather than physical currency, then the "markup" for Federal Reserve Points approaches infinity.
I liked this post on to herd or not to herd. If you include future promises for Social Security and Medicare, the Federal Government is in debt $40 trillion. The only solution is to raise taxes, raise inflation, or a combination of both.
The proposed solution to this problem is "Raise taxes!" If you're an agorist, you *WANT* taxes to be raised! As tax rates increase, that's more profit for people who evade them!
The problem is that these "benefits to retirees" must be TANGIBLE goods and services. If you give someone a Social Security check for $2000 when a loaf of bread costs $1000, they'll know they were cheated.
Suppose I didn't have to pay Federal income taxes. I could afford to directly support my elderly parents *AND* have wealth left over for other projects.
If an insurance company used the same accounting rules as government, the insurance regulators would shut them down for fraud.
I liked this article on the Agitator. Congress banned credit card companies from performing transactions that support "illegal offshore Internet gambling". There is no specific list of what must be banned. It's up to the credit card companies, and they face severe civil/criminal penalties if they fail to comply.
The Federal government has externalized the cost of compliance to the credit card companies. There's no penalty for the credit card companies if they ban TOO AGGRESSIVELY. They are responding by banning practically all offshore transactions.
This ban on offshore money transfers is hurting offshore e-Gold providers. As I wrote previously, if you want to use sound money, physical metal in your possession is the way to go.
This post on Bubblegeneration was amusing. He offers to post a list of industries that need to be revolutionized. Let's see:
- health care/doctors/hospitals
- auto manufacturing
- all types of manufacturing
I liked this post on The Agitator. McCain says working towards causes "greater than the individual" are more important than accumulating personal wealth.
The thing is, “causes greater than yourself” are all full of people who act in their-own self-interest, too. But they operate in a way that pretends that everyone involved in them is altruistic. Consequently, they end up being pretty damned destructive.
Whenever a politician talks about the "greater good", he really means "give me your money/wealth".
I say "Taxation is theft!" When I try to prevent other people from stealing from me, politicians and pro-State trolls say that *I* should feel guilty for suggesting "Taxes=Stealing".
I liked this post on Liberty is my Homie, in reference to this YouTube video. I don't normally watch videos by university professors/economists/communists, but this one was interesting.
My favorite bit was near the beginning. He asked his students to rank pairs of countries based on which one had the higher infant mortality rate. His students scored lower than random guessing.
Such "official government statistics" are misleading. Reciting official economy statistics frequently seems like communists bragging about their "5 year plans". For example, he gives per capita income figures. Normalizing by US dollars instead of real money (gold) introduces a severe bias.
I liked this post on Distributed Republic. The NFL commissioner was complaining that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the players' union is a ripoff for the NFL. Half of the Miami Dolphins was sold for $1.1 billion.
When management says "Worker salaries are too high", they really mean "We don't want to pay the fair free market rate".
The NFL has a monopoly. If you're a top-ability professional football player, your only option is to work for the NFL. If you're the NFL, your only option is to negotiate with the players' union or break the union. In markets where there's only one buyer and only one seller, it's impossible to determine the "fair free market rate".
I liked this article on lowercase liberty, in reference to this obituary of Murray Rothbard by William Buckley, and a rebuttal by Lew Rockwell.
According to Lew Rockwell, William Buckley's obituary was harshly critical of Murray Rothbard's philosophy and contained factual errors.
William Buckley, quoting Murray Rothbard:
And so the purges began. One after another, Buckley and National Review purged and excommunicated all the radicals, all the nonrespectables. Consider the roll call: isolationists (such as John T. Flynn), anti-Zionists, libertarians, Ayn Randians, the John Birch Society, and all those who continued, like the early National Review, to dare to oppose Martin Luther King and the civil-rights revolution.
Lew Rockwell wrote:
Buckley expelled all the skeptics of empire from his magazine and the conservative movement.
Mainstream media have purged *EVERYONE* who doesn't tout the official pro-State propaganda. Dissenting viewpoints are *NOT* allowed. If by some chance, someone showed independent thinking, they would be rapidly corrected by their peers.
Mainstream media have purged all independent thinkers from their payrolls. Is this an accident? Is it evidence of a massive conspiracy to manipulate and control information?
I liked this post on lowercase liberty. It has some interesting quotes by Moshe ben Maimon, who I've never heard of before.
Do not consider it proof just because it is written in books, for a liar who will deceive with his tongue will not hesitate to do the same with his pen.
Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it.
I liked this post on Check your Premises. Anarchy is decried as "utopian". The opposite is true. If you say "There should be a government", that's a utopian philosophy.
If you assume "people are intrinsically evil", then government will attract the most evil people. The most evil people will exploit government for their own benefit.
I liked this page on LOLCODE, a programming language based on the lolcats website. It's easier to use than INTERCAL!
I liked this post on Liberty is my Homie. There is a new series on Spike TV that follows DEA agents, glorifying their activities. The DEA is enforcing illegitimate laws. In a free market, possession or sale of drugs is not a crime (even though drugs really are bad for you).
Anytime you see a TV show or news story glorifying policeman, that's a pro-State fnord. I don't have detailed statistics, but most of the time, I suspect police are enforcing illegitimate laws.
After careful consideration, "policeman" and "terrorist" are the same thing.
The biggest crime committed by police is enforcing tax collection and debt collection.
I liked this post on the Agitator, in reference to this YouTube video. If you interleave the pages of two phone books, you cannot separate them by simply pulling them apart.
I don't understand the physics of why that works.
I liked this post on Overcoming Bias. It explains how drug companies manufacture diseases, so they can market and sell drugs. In many cases, the side effects of the drug are worse than the condition they're trying to prevent.
I liked this post on Overcoming Bias. Reading or watching the "news" is bad for you. The debate focuses on superficial topics, instead of important issues.
The "news" exists to tell people what they're supposed to be thinking about, instead of what's really important.
I liked this post on Techdirt, in reference to this article. If you play "Dungeons and Dragons", then Israel's army says you are ineligible for a security clearance.
That's an interesting piece of advice. If you want to make sure someone isn't a spy, offer to play a roleplaying game with them!
I liked this post on Techdirt. Until recently, the fashion industry was very open. Designs were not copyrighted or patented. Some people are lobbying Congress to allow copyright of clothing design. Some patents were filed recently.
This post on Gilliganscorner was interesting.
He's still having debates with pro-State trolls on the Ron Paul Forum. I have abandoned the Ron Paul Forum, declaring it to be property of trolls. I've decided that it's pointless to have political debates on most forums, because the pro-State trolls are the vast majority.
He gives a list of quotes by economic and political leaders citing the injustice of the US monetary system. ALL THOSE QUOTES ARE OVER 50 YEARS OLD!! There have not been any recent examples of a major political or economic leader speaking out against the Federal Reserve and income tax. (Is Ron Paul a "major political leader"? If you ask the other "political leaders", the answer is "NO!!") (Actually, I started seriously researching the income tax and Federal Reserve when I saw Ron Paul, in a debate, say he intended to eliminate the IRS and Federal Reserve. Before that, I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what direction to pursue.)
He also cites a court case. A jury ruled in favor of a homeowner when a bank tried to repossess his home. A mortgage is really a no interest contract.
If you take "natural law" seriously, *ALL* outstanding debt contracts are invalid, when one party is a bank. As an individual, if I loan you $1000, that's a valid loan, because I don't have a banks' magic money-printing power. When a bank loans you money, it merely prints new money and loans it to you.
Of course, this court case cannot be cited as precedent. A jury ruling in someone's favor is *NOT THE SAME* as a judge ruling in someone's favor. A judge's ruling is precedent. A jury's ruling is not.
Lately, I've had enough reading material via Google Reader. I don't feel like looking for intelligent discussions in forums. Frequently, it's a "needle in a haystack" search.
I wonder if the quality of my political thinking isn't going to improve any more until I make the transition from "theoretical agorism" to "practical agorism".
quasibill has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #46":
I don't disagree with anything you said here. My post is trying to describe why I agree that, in a free market, you can't get a permanent advantage from capital - such advantages will always be fleeting. Hence, the return on your capital investments will, at best, be fleeting (and most of the time might actually be nil, as you might make a mistake, or your investment only allows you to compete at the same profit, etc.)
I'm making the argument that current monetary policy (and to a lesser extent, entry barriers) is a necessary pre-cursor to making capital investment into a sustainable profit generator.
I'm not blaming anyone who labors under the current system except for those who impose the current system upon the rest of us.
Monetary policy and regulations are a barrier to forming small businesses. I wrote about this in How the State Destroys Small Businesses. Monetary policy makes it hard for individuals to accumulate capital; their savings are eroded by inflation. Regulations are a barrier to forming small businesses. If my overhead is $10k-$50k, that makes it hard to get a small business started.
Should the current economic and political leaders be blamed? If they're truly that clueless, then they are blameless. On the other hand, it's their "enlightened self interest" to be clueless. If they really understood what was going on, they could no longer continue to support a corrupt system.
Imagine what would happen if Bill Gates or Warren Buffet started speaking out on the injustice of the US economic and political system? Imagine if the President of a Federal Reserve Bank or other large bank started speaking publicly about the unfairness of fiat debt-based money? Are they that clueless? Or, are they aware of the scam, and gladly accepting their salary/bribe as payment for their silence?
Who's to blame? Is the Supreme Leader of Humanity the only person anywhere who's responsible for anything? If everyone else is a slave-puppet, then there's only one person with true responsibility.
In the present, capital does earn a HUGE unearned profit. This means that a free-market business should be INCREDIBLY profitable. A free market business avoids subsidizing the activities of its larger State-funded competitors.
The "excess profit" earned by capital should drift to 0% as a free market gets more and more efficient. State violence is *REQUIRED* for capital to earn a permanent unearned profit.
Ian has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #46":
Thanks for linking to Question That. The quote under my blog header is from Douglas Adams, author of Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy and prominent atheist.
The full quote is as follows:
"One of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them: It is a well known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. Anyone who is capable of getting themselves into a position of power should on no account be allowed to do the job. Another problem with governing people is people"
It sounded vaguely familiar.
I describe myself as "agnostic" rather than "atheist". If you're an "atheist", does that mean you have *POSITIVE* evidence for the non-existence of god? Anyone who claims to have evidence of the existence or non-existence of god is either lying or a fool. The question "Does god exist?" is *ALWAYS* completely unsettled.
Even if god personally manifested himself to you, the correct reaction is "That's a clever trick! How did you do that?"
I read that, pretty soon, Blogger will have a "scheduled posting" feature. If you click on "publish" for a post time-stamped ahead of time, "draft Blogger" will queue the post and publish it at the appropriate time.
I aim for "1 post per day", and separating my timestamps by 24 hours helps me keep that.
gilliganscorner has left a new comment on your post "Hooray for Incompetent Government Employees!":
As the smartest people switch to working in the underground economy, the average intelligence of those working in the white market economy decreases. An "evaporative cooling" effect will occur. Eventually, there won't be enough talent left to support the State and the whole system will collapse.
I love it! A virtual Galt's Gulch!
I've made this point before. Agorism is the proper way to implement Ayn Rand's vision of a strike by productive workers.
You don't need to move to some remote location to start practicing agorism. You can start in any big city. I wonder if it's *EASIER* to start a free market economy in a large city, because there's a larger pool of people to draw from.
Be careful when dealing with Ayn Rand followers. Some of them are the biggest pro-State trolls! If someone names themselves after a character from an Ayn Rand novel, that's a sign that you should be careful!
How much would "free market" police protection *REALLY* cost? In most big cities, less than 1% of the people work as policemen. Imagine 1% of the people really worked as policemen. If you pay them $100,000/year, then free market police service only costs $1000 per person per year. That's a bargain compared to what the monopolistic State charges me for "protection".
In the present, many activities are falsely classified as crimes. If only 0.1% of the people needed to work as policemen, then free market police protection only costs $100/year.
Free market police could recover some of their costs from criminals. Under a "criminal pays costs" justice system, the actual cost of police would be even *LOWER*. In a free market, police protection would probably be bundled with insurance against crime.
Nate has left a new comment on your post "How Much did the Bear Stearns Bailout Cost you?":
This is an interesting post. I think a follow up showing the costs of FED intervention and debt, re: dollar value would be cool.
Perhaps pick 5 or 8 events and detail the M2 value at the time, and then the ratio of inflationary loss.
I can't think of any other specific examples. M2 has been increasing at a steady rate of 6%-7% per year. Reconstructed M3 has been increasing at a rate of 15%-20% per year. The price of gold is increasing at a rate of 30% per year!
It's much simpler to look at the aggregate. Due to inflation, the Federal Reserve steals 6%-30% of all outstanding dollars each year. It depends on whether you consider, M2, M3, or the price of gold to be the most accurate measure of inflation.