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Monday, May 26, 2008

Reader Mail #53

This post on Check Your Premises was amusing. Francois Tremblay was debating definitions with someone else.

If you ever discover that a debate boils down to a disagreement in definitions, you should play the "Taboo Your Words" game, substituting the word with what you think it actually means.



I liked this post on no third solution. Should the State ban restaurants from allowing smoking?

A restaurant is private property. The owner should be allowed to do as they please.

If there is demand for smoke-free restaurants, then they should be allowed to advertise and attract customers. If there is demand for smoking-allowed restaurants, they should also be allowed to operate. The free market would allocate fairly, if it were allowed to operate.

A State ban on smoking only makes sense according to insane State logic. "People are property of the State. Smoking damages State property and should be banned." "All businesses are ultimately owned by the State. They need a license from the State to operate. The State will operate its businesses in whatever manner it chooses."



I liked this post on out of step. The left/right debate is a false debate, because *BOTH* sides say "There should be a government." On the only important political issue, both the left and right are in complete agreement.

Anarchists shouldn't describe themselves as "Left-Wing" or "Right-Wing". A better description is "Up-Wing". The point is to emphasize other directions besides left and right, which are really identical politically.



I liked this post on out of step. The Libertarian Party actually wastes people's energy. Smart people are wasting time on political activism, instead of productive anti-political strategies like agorism.



I liked this post on Check Your Premises. Some pro-State anarchists are advocating for mandatory State-funded health care.

This is why I prefer the term "agorist" or "market anarchist" to "anarchist". Many pro-State trolls falsely label themselves "anarchists". If you say "The State should do XXXX", where XXXX is not NULL, then you're not an anarchist.



I liked this post on the Liberty Papers. Despite rising corn prices, farmers are not planting more corn. The cost of their raw materials is increasing *FASTER* than the price of corn!

This makes the "ethanol mandate" seem even stupider. Even with massive State subsidies, corn farming is not profitable.



I liked this post on the Liberty Papers. Some states are banning the sale of foie gras. Foie gras comes from ducks that are force-fed to ensure they taste good. Some people say this is inhumane treatment of ducks.

Would it be possible to ban people from raising and eating foie gras without the State? Of course not. Therefore, foie gras is not a crime.

Even if I found foie gras morally objectionable, I don't have the right to violently prevent other people from eating it. (I've never eaten foie gras. I probably wouldn't mind, especially if it tasted good.)

Animals don't have the same place on the food chain as people. It isn't immoral to eat them.

If you abuse a human, that person can make a valid complaint in a court. Animals don't get the same protection as people. I'm not advocating abusing animals, but technically it isn't a crime, because you can't stop people from doing it without a State.

I suspect that, at some point in the future, meat can be raised in the laboratory at a lower cost than actual farm animals. That wouldn't be inhumane, it would also be cheaper, and probably would have consistently higher quality.



I liked this post on the Agitator. President Bush is making sacrifices due to the war in Iraq. He has stopped playing golf, because it would "look bad".



I didn't like this post on Bill Rempel. He talks about risk and leverage. He makes a couple of big mistakes.

First, using leverage is POSITIVE EXPECTATION, because you're borrowing at the Fed Funds Rate while inflation is really 7%-30%. If you borrow at 2% to buy assets that will appreciate 7%-30%, you're making a huge profit via leverage. Of course, you have to make sure you don't get blown out of your position due to margin calls during an economic bust. The large institutional investor has a *HUGE* advantage over individuals, because they can buy "illiquid" assets that they don't have to "mark to market". A small investor using leverage will lose his position due to margin calls during a bust. A large investor will receive a direct Federal Reserve Bailout (JP Morgan Chase and Bear Stearns) or an indirect bailout (Citigroup doesn't have to sell off its illiquid "Level 3 Assets". As the Federal Reserve reinflates the money supply, those assets can eventually be profitably sold.)

Second, it assumes that various asset classes are uncorrelated. *ALL* "long" asset positions are partially correlated, because prices cyclically move up and down as the money supply expands and contracts. When the money supply expands, all asset prices rise, although different asset classes rise at different rates and bubbles occur. When the money supply contracts, asset prices shrink, with the most rapid shrinkage in the most recent bubble.

Short bets are anticorrelated with the rest of the cycle. However, a "short" asset position is a bet AGAINST inflation and has negative expectation in the long run.

Ideally, a hedge fund wants to do better than average on its long positions and better than average on its short bets. Then, it makes a profit no matter what. However, such strategies are much like a dog chasing its tail. Your bets are ultimately correlated, no matter what your mathematical model says. If your model doesn't take into account the Compound Interest Paradox, it's useless. The Compound Interest Paradox itself says that sophisticated financial models are useless. Political connections are more valuable than technically insight.

As a small investor, you can exploit the flaws in the economic system for your personal benefit. However, leverage is a dangerous game. You can lose everything to margin calls in the next economic bust. Via the Kelly Criterion, a careful use of leverage can give you a positive inflation-adjusted return.

Any economic analysis that doesn't include the Compound Interest Paradox sounds like pro-State trolling.



I liked this post on the Bell Tower. It's about Federal subsidies of college education.

In the 1960s, the Federal government started guaranteeing loans for college education. This was a subsidy to the banking industry, who got to issue low-risk loans. This was also a subsidy to colleges, who got to raise prices. Just like home mortgages cause the price of houses to increase, college loans caused the price of college to increase. Further, college debt starts students off on the path of debt slavery.

A college education became a mandatory prerequisite for most jobs. This drove up prices even further.

The Bell Tower points out an interesting fallacy. As an individual, you benefit from getting a college education. HOWEVER, this does not mean that society as a whole benefits from everyone getting a college degree. For many people, a college degree is a ticket to a decent job, rather than a measure of knowledge or ability. In that case, society as a whole would be better off if people worked an extra 4 years, instead of wasting time and money on a pointless degree. Further, age 18-22 is the most productive years of a person's life. Why should people be forced to waste that time in college, when they could be starting a business?

Further, there's been a watering down of education. Many college-level topics used to be taught in high school.

At this point, there's a "crisis" in college education. College education is expensive, but it's mandatory for a decent job. College tuition rises in line with true inflation of 10%-15%+ per year, while wages rise at a lower rate. This "crisis" is justification for increased State intervention in education. It's the usual "Problem! Reaction! Solution!" paradigm.

The college education system is part of the wage slave system. In a true free market, a meaningless college degree would not be valuable. In a free market, a college degree would not be a prerequisite for a decent job.



I liked this post on the Liberty Papers. When the US government deports people, it frequently injects them with severe antipsychotic drugs, so they will be docile during the plane ride. These drugs have really severe side effects and are very addictive.



I liked this post on the Google Analytics blog. Over 2 years ago, Google purchased MeasureMap, an analytics tool specialized for blogs. MeasureMap is being overhauled, and soon there will be an integrated product combining Google Analytics, Blogger, and MeasureMap. That sounds interesting! I really like Google Analytics, but it'd be nice to see a more specialized offering.



How come "Commodore 64" refers to "64k RAM", whereas "Nintendo 64" refers to "64 bit GPU"?



I liked this post by redpillguy.

He makes one mistake that's one of my new pet peeves. He says that (idealized) "capitalism" and "free markets" are synonymous. I consider "capitalism" and "free markets" to be antonyms.

Let's analyze the word "capitalism". Compare it to "racism", which means "discriminate against people based on their ethnicity". Compare it to "sexism", which means "discriminate against people based on their gender." Following the analogy, "capitalism" means "discriminate against people based on whether they own capital". Workers who don't have access to capital are fighting an uphill battle when forming a successful business. They aren't absolutely barred from success; the odds are merely stacked against them. In fact, the rare success is touted as "One person succeeded. Therefore, the market is fair."

In this context, "capital" means "ability to lobby the State for favors to protect your market position". "Capitalism" means "State subsidies of large corporations". In other words, the opposite of a free market.

That's one of my new free market author pet peeves. Capitalism is *NOT THE SAME* as free markets. Capitalism is falsely advertised as a free market.

Redpillguy also writes about socialism. Capitalism and socialism are related. Due to capitalism, poor people are unable to start businesses or find jobs. Therefore, they must be given welfare payments to keep them docile.

Redpillguy correctly points out that the democrats have had the power to stop the Iraq war since it started. In the Senate, it would be possible to block all funding for the Iraq war with only 41 votes via a filibuster. With a simple majority vote, authorization for the Iraq war could be revoked. (If you read the Constitution carefully, the Senate is supposed to periodically re-authorize all wars.)

Redpillguy needs to let the Ron Paul campaign go. It was a useful vehicle for educating people. It's a piece of evidence that the US political system isn't fair. There's a lot of other overwhelming evidence, although the Ron Paul campaign makes it concrete. If the media were fair, they would have been touting Ron Paul at every opportunity. They didn't even need to criticize him much. By not mentioning him at all, with occasional brief censure, that censors Ron Paul.

Redpillguy also correctly cites Noam Chomsky as a shill for the establishment. Noam Chomsky is a pro-State anarchist. His ridiculous defense of anarchy makes anarchy/agorism seem stupid. He gives true free market advocates a bad name. Viewpoints more extreme than Noam Chomsky's are not allowed. Noam Chomsky represents the "debate ceiling". He's the official gatekeeper of the "most extreme viewpoint that's allowed to be publicly discussed".

Since Noam Chomsky is the "most extreme nutjob out there", ideas more "radical" than his aren't discussed. Noam Chomsky is a pro-State anarchist, so he gives true anarchists a bad reputation. The average person then thinks "Noam Chomsky is an anarchist. Therefore, all anarchists are insane. Anarchy isn't viable if it's strongest supporter is a nutjob like Noam Chomsky."



I liked this post on no third solution. An economist complains that it's too hard to lend money to small businesses and it's too hard for small businesses to raise capital. Well, duh, that's the whole point of the Federal Reserve. If you write about economics and you don't understand the Compound Interest Paradox and the defect of fiat debt-based money and negative real interest rates, then you're a pro-State troll.

On the other hand, if you borrow $20,000 from your grandfather in order to start a Landscaping business, that’s arguably $20,000 of actual, accumulated wealth. It’s money that gramps can’t use in the meantime, except incrementally per the payback schedule.

The substantive difference here is that in the case of the Landscaper, a tradeoff was made: Grandpa foregoes present consumption in favor of future consumption, whereas the big business does not need to make any such tradeoff.

This is a short summary of How the State Destroys Small Businesses.

Even worse, when a large corporation borrows money, it borrows new money into existence out of thin air via the financial industry and the Federal Reserve. When your grandpa gives you $20k to start your business, he had to *EARN* that $20k via working. He couldn't print $20k in new money and loan it to you, like a bank could. In this manner, the financial system is *ALWAYS* biased against small businesses.



I liked this post on the Agitator, in reference to this post on Reason about raw milk.

When the US had a free market, there were lots of small farms. Milk was locally produced. It was fresh and safe.

The US abandoned its free market. Large corporate farms became the norm. Large refrigerated containers of milk were shipped by railroad to large cities. Under these conditions, any bacteria can rapidly contaminate a large quantity of milk.

Also, cows went from being fed grass to all sorts of (literally) garbage. Cows were given hormones to stimulate their milk production. This increased the risk of harmful bacteria in milk.

In the context of corporate farms, raw milk *IS* unsafe.

However, State regulations forbid raw milk. A small local producer that uses sound practices can safely sell raw milk.

Suppose customers actually *WANT* raw milk. This cuts out the advantage of large corporate farms. The State responds by banning raw milk sales.

I don't know if raw milk is safer or better than milk from a large industrial farm. Intuitively, raw milk is safe if it's fresh and the cow hasn't been abused.

There is no need for the State to ban the sale of raw milk. If farmers distribute contaminated raw milk, they would be subject to lawsuits. This "market force" would ensure that small farmers use safe practices. Further, a small farmer is very dependent on his reputation, which is a further incentive for quality.

There's no reason for the State to ban raw milk, except to provide a subsidy to large corporate farms. Cumbersome regulations that restrict raw milk are the functional equivalent of a ban.

I wonder what type of milk is safest for your children? I'm wondering if, like homeschooling, breastfeeding is the only morally acceptable choice.



I liked this post on Check Your Premises (citing the Picket Line). The IRS only collects a small fraction of taxes owed.

However, that *UNDERESTIMATES* the IRS' incompetence. That post considers the effect of tax resistance *ON INCOME ALREADY REPORTED TO THE IRS*. If you practice agorism, your risk is far lower.

I suspect that most State bureaucrats won't pick a fight with a target who will resist, except to make "an example" of them. If you practice agorism and are low-profile, your overall risk should be low.



This post on Econospeak referenced an interesting fallacy (although that wasn't the main point of the post).

"Whether you work by the piece or you work by the day, decreasing the hours increases the pay."

In a communist economy where there's a fixed pool of jobs, this is true. If there's a fixed pool of work, then if workers collectively work fewer hours they get paid more per hour.

In a communist society, suppose that all workers work 10% more. Then, there's a labor surplus of 10%. The pool of jobs does not expand when workers are more productive or work longer. With a labor surplus of 10%, this is downward pressure on wages. Productivity gains cause wages to be driven down to subsistence level. Surplus workers can't start new businesses due to State restrictions.

In a free market, the pool of jobs expands as there are more workers or they are work more hours. If you work 10% more, you get paid 10% more, *AND* society as a whole has 10% more goods or services. In a free market, a worker who works extra hours gets paid more and society as a whole benefits. Productivity gains benefit everyone. Surplus workers can easily start new businesses. If workers are displaced due to productivity gains, then it's only a minor hardship. They can easily start their own business or join someone else's new business.

When there's a fixed pool of jobs, you can work 10% more *BUT* society as a whole does not get 10% more goods or services. Instead, the effect of productivity gains are layoffs and downward pressure on wages.



I didn't like this post on to Herd or not to Herd. He's talking about intelligent design and the economy. Just like God manages the universe, the State manages the economy. God "intelligently designed" life. The State "intelligently designed" the monetary system.

The monetary system was "intelligently designed" to enslave everyone. The economy needs to be "managed" because it isn't a free market.



I liked this post on the Liberty Papers. Criminals are installing sirens on their cars. They are ordering people to stop in deserted areas and robbing them. At night, it's impossible to tell if it's a genuine police car or a fake one.

However, if it turns out that it's a real cop, he will use deadly force to make you stop. You can't say "I'll pull over at the next city." If it's a deserted road, you have to stop RIGHT THERE and take your chances that it's a real cop and not someone trying to rob you. (This assumes that a real cop would behave honestly.)

There actually is a simple solution. If you have a cell phone, you could call 911 to verify that a genuine police car is ordering you to pull over. I don't know if this would work in practice. 911 operators probably aren't equipped to handle this.

The problem is that State police have a monopoly and are unaccountable. If they fraudulently order you to pull over, you have no recourse; your only option is to be as polite as possible and hope they let you go quickly. If police inappropriately use deadly force, they almost never suffer negative consequences.



On a forum, someone said:

Football players are overpaid. Nurses are underpaid. If you could fix salaries, what jobs would be paid more?

The problem is State distortion of the market.

Lawyers are paid a lot, yet they produce nothing of tangible value. Government violence creates an artificial demand for lawyers' services. If you have a dispute with someone, the only place to take it is in a State court, and the rules and procedures require a lawyer. Lawyers intentionally arranged the court procedures to be cumbersome and complicated, so that defending yourself is impractical. State violence will then enforce the court's decision.

If there's a class of job that's "overpaid", the real problem is that the State creates an artificial demand for their services.

Contrast this with a web forum. If the site admins started acting like ****heads, then eventually someone would start a competing site. This means that the admins will behave reasonably most of the time. If you don't like my blog, you can easily stop reading and do other things.

The original example given was a football player being overpaid. I'm not sure about that. If a football player has 10M people watching their game, and the game is worth $10 to each of them, then it's easy to justify high football player salaries.

Another example given was nurses. The problem is that the healthcare system is not a free market.

A group of smart nurses can't get together and say "This hospital is mismanaged; let's start a competing hospital." State regulations make that impossible.

Further, doctors need a license from the State in order to operate. In the USA, the AMA artificially restricts the supply of doctors. This guarantees that doctors will be highly paid. That's the reason you only get to see a doctor for a few minutes; there's an artificially restricted supply of doctors.

Nurses don't have a strong union like doctors, so they're paid a lot less. It's much easier to become a nurse than a doctor. The supply of nursing licenses isn't artificially restricted like doctor licenses.

If you want to know what a job is worth, the answer is "In a free market, everyone is fairly paid." The current economic system is falsely touted as a free market. Most problems you hear about exist due to government distortions of the market.

Someone said:

I disagree. A doctor should always be paid more than a football player. A football player produces nothing tangible.

It's economy of scale. A doctor can only benefit 1 patient at a time, perhaps saving their life or dramatically improving it.

A football player can benefit 10M or more people at once. He only has to perform once, and many people can watch. Even if it wasn't ad-supported, there are other was to pay for a football game. He doesn't save their life, but he does provide them with entertainment. He improves a lot of people's lives a little bit, which can actually be more valuable than outright saving someone's life.

To put the doctor on par with the football player, suppose the doctor invents a cure for a disease. In this case, he can save thousands or millions of lives. In this case, the doctor should get paid more than the football player. In the present, most diseases are cured by doctors who are working for corporations or universities, who claim the patent to the treatment. These doctors are paid far less than their true value. Further, many "cures" for diseases are drugs that don't really work as well as advertised due to fraudulent research.

State distortion of the market means that doctors who invent cures for diseases are paid FAR LESS than the true value of the work. In turn, this means that the State artificially restricts the rate of medical research progress.

The key difference is: Are you helping just one person at a time, or a whole bunch of people at the same time?

Let's give a specific number. A doctor saves someone's life, which is worth $5M (assigning an arbitrary finite value to someone's life). In practice, it would vary. Saving the life of someone who's only 20 is much more valuable than saving the life of someone who's 80. (If someone is suffering, severely incapacitated, and can only survive with extensive medical treatment, prolonging their life may have negative value, but that's another moral issue.)

If someone says "A person's life has infinite value", that's pro-State trolling. A person's life always has a finite value. Of course, you should *NOT* intentionally injure someone else. However, when someone is injured, the damages are finite and not infinite.

A football player provides 2 hours of entertainment to people who watch. People watch the game willingly, so obviously they enjoy it. People would pay $10 to see a movie, so assigning a value of $10 to watching a football game makes sense. If 10M people watch the game, then that's $100M value created. People are more entertained by star players than average players, so it makes sense to distribute this profit unevenly.

If it takes 2 hours to save someone's life or 2 hours to play a football game, then it *IS* possible to justify (even in a free market), a football player getting paid more than a doctor.

Actually, individual doctors are *OVERPAID* in the present. The government artificially limits the supply of doctors, driving up salaries. Why do doctors need a license from the government? For example, why can't insurance companies license doctors?

The key point is that in a *FREE* market, the issue of "who gets paid how much for which job" is *ALWAYS* fairly settled by the market. In the present, most careers have artificial barriers to entry. This prevents the natural salary arbitrage process from occurring.

I've invested several years in my career as a financial systems programmer. It doesn't pay for me to switch fields, even to other areas of software development! I'm branded as "someone who's only good at financial systems programming". If someone is hiring an "entry level" web developer, they'd prefer to hire someone out of college. My experience is considered useless for anything other than financial systems programming, even though it's not true. You can't say "If you don't like it, start your own business", because there's many artificial State restrictions on starting a business.

If everyone could stop lobbying the government for favors at the EXACT SAME TIME, everyone would collectively be better off. If everyone else is lobbying the government for favors and you aren't, you're SOL.

Someone else said:

Teachers are underpaid!

"Teachers are underpaid" is simultaneously true and false.

A *good* or *excellent* teacher is way underpaid. The average public school teacher is probably overpaid.

Why?

I have *NO CHOICE* but to pay teachers' salaries. If I refuse to pay property taxes (which go towards schools in the USA), then people with guns will show up and kick me out of my house. Teachers are guaranteed their salaries, even if they do a bad job. In fact, if teachers do a lousy job, that's an excuse to lobby for higher taxes and more money stolen and spent on schools.

The purpose of a public school is to create "good citizens" (slaves).

There are private schools, but they usually follow the model of a public school.

The very structure of public schools is defective. Even an excellent teacher can only do limited benefit, because the fundamental structure of schools is flawed.

In general, if a job type is guaranteed funding via government violence, then it's overpaid.

This bit deserves its own separate post.



Joey has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #52":

The reader mail round-up posts are always my favorites. Excellent job, and thanks for the replies.

Surprisingly, the reader mail posts don't rank high in Google Analytics. However, they do get a decent number of readers, and the people who comment say they appreciate them.

More blogs should highlight reader comments like I do. I typically don't bother commenting on other blogs, because interesting comments tend to get buried. Plus, I don't like having to keep reloading the blog page to see new comments.

BTW, I'm planning to continue the "Relationship Discussion" thread, but I've been busy lately.



Broadlighter has left a new comment on your post "Who's the Richest Man in the World?":

I take heart in that the salvation of humanity lies in the utter fallibility of the Supreme Leader of Humanity.

After all, he or she is human. Not a god, just human.

Is the Supreme Leader of Humanity a human or an alien? Is the Supreme Leader of Humanity consciously working towards the goal of the elimination of government?

It takes skill to enslave the entire world. That's an interesting question. Is control slipping out of the Supreme Leader's grasp? Or, is he intentionally abdicating power and eliminating government?

The population control systems have been nearly perfected. If the SLH is losing power, it's got to be on purpose.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Who's the Richest Man in the World?":

hi there,

perhaps a system is required to manage the world's resources and the populations of the world. in my experience, most people are followers, some are leaders. most leaders are unable to hold high levels of power without having corruption of some sort manifesting through them. the few that can are predestined and trained for that level of responsibility.

regarding "the richest man in the world", have you ever been wealthy yourself? what kind of character does it take to handle wealth? how many people can make money? i say just about anyone can make money. but how many can then keep it?

in my experience, only men or women of high moral standing, honest, hard-working, feet-on-the-ground types accomplish long-term generational wealth - the quality is so rare, i would say no more than a dozen people worldwide have the necessary fortitude at any time in history to rule and reign. of that group, i would suggest that, at times (but not often), one shines above the rest. when that happens, the world is a better place.

is now one of those times? i say - yes. and further, in my opinion, the time after this time will be greater still. rule and reign, great leader. i serve you willingly. so be it.

You sure are pro-State trolling here!

The best system for managing the world's resources and population is a free market. A *REAL* free market, not a fake free market. Capitalism is a fake free market system.

Most people are brainwashed to be followers. That's the whole point of schools. Some people are resistant to this brainwashing. The elite try to educate their children properly, either via homeschooling or sending them to good schools.

Some people are predestined to be leaders? In other words, the elite can reliably pass on their power to their children.

Only people who successfully lobby the State for favors achieve long-term generational wealth. Normally, savings are eroded via inflation. Only by continually lobbying the State for favors, can you maintain long-term wealth.

In a fake free market, you're confusing "genuine leadership and business knowledge" and "using the State to profit by violently imposing your will on others". Most long-term influential families are successful by lobbying the State for favors. Publicly, the propaganda is that they're successful because they're brilliant businessmen. The reality is that they only excel at one thing - exploiting the State.

For example, do you consider the Bush family to be great leaders? Or, are they merely politically connected. They can use their connections to exploit the State for favors. That's communism, not a free market.

As another example, Dow Jones, the News Corporation, the NY Times, Comcast, Viacom, CBS and other media corporations have special high-powered voting shares. These shares enable a handful of people to control the corporation, even with a minority equity interest. These shares are closely held in trusts, and passed on from parents to children. These shares allow nearly absolute control of TV and newspapers by a small handful of people. The rules of the market protect these established businesses from competition. Are these people predestined to be leaders? Or, are they merely exploiting a corrupt system for their personal benefit?

You've been conditioned to believe "The current economic and political leaders have their position of power because of their brilliance." The reality is that a corrupt system allows them to consolidate and increase their power at the expense of everyone else. These powerful individuals could reform the system if they wanted to, but why should they?

Enjoy your lifetime of slavery! Some of us are working on plans to resist and break the cycle.

Your comment was nearly 100% pro-State trolling.

Francois Tremblay has left a new comment on your post "Who's the Richest Man in the World?":

"After all, he or she is human. Not a god, just human."

Yea you got me there, I am only human.


If you really were the SLH, then the Market Anarchist Blog Carnival would have much better content.



David_Z has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #52":

Re: Redpillguy

I'm fairly confident, that in recorded history of about 1,000 years for which we have reasonably reliable data, the quantity of gold in the world has never declined year-over-year. And the long-term growth rate of the physical gold supply is something like 2%. (This is from Skousen's "Structure of Production")

After the discovery of the New World in the 15th Century, there was a brief spike in gold production but ther than that, even during the gold rush years in America, and the discovery of mines in South Africa and Australia, the world supply of gold has not increased by more than 5% in any year. The supply of gold doesn't fluctuate, as redpillguy supposes, and as FSK notes. On the contrary, additions to the world gold stock seem to have a stabilizing effect on its value.

Existing supply of gold has a stabilizing effect on price because it's used to manipulate the gold price. The world's central banks confiscated almost the entire world's gold supply in 1933. For decades, it was illegal to own gold, except in the form of collectible coins or jewelry. This stolen gold is being gradually sold/leased to manipulate the gold price downward. Central banks have nearly exhausted their reserves and they're losing their ability to manipulate the gold price.

One point that may be confusing redpillguy. Some gold may be moving from "on-the-books" reserves to hidden reserves. That isn't the same as the gold being physically destroyed.

Most demand for gold is monetary demand. For industrial processes that use gold, that gold is recoverable by recycling. I read that industrial demand for gold is less than gold mined.



stocks fan has left a new comment on your post "Is Gold/Money a Better Investment than Stocks?":

I agree with the anonymous since I personally benefitted alot from stock marketing. With the help of Online trading company (Sogotrade) I earned huge amounts. I develop my own skills using their education articles with real life demo pages on site.

I almost rejected this comment as spam, but I was feeling charitable.

Profiting from stock marketing is NOT THE SAME as profiting from stock trading. Stock marketing is just taking advantage of other people's cluelessness. I can pick stocks myself better than hiring someone else to manage my investments for me. Most people don't have that level of self-confidence. Taking into account management fees, picking randomly probably would outperform a professional adviser over the long term.

I consider "Gold is a better investment than stocks" to be more likely to be true than "stocks are better". I'm not 100% sure, but I'm seriously concerned about the possibility that, for a small investor, gold outperforms stocks.

If you own enough shares to control the corporation, then stocks are a great investment. You can name yourself or your buddies CEO and management. You can loot the shareholders by granting yourself options. Even if you mismanage the business, the State protects you from competition. Management of a large corporation has to really mismanage things in order to lose their market share.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Is Miley Cyrus' Vanity Fair Photo Child Pornograph...":

why does Vanity Fair have to show that kind of content of a teenager? Especially one who many people like to look up to. showing pictures like that ruin many peoples point of view towards miley. i would personally call that child pornography. no doubt about it.

You're entirely missing the point. Miley Cyrus is old enough to decide what sorts of photographs are appropriate and inappropriate. If you don't like it, why are you reading Vanity Fair or watching the "news" programs that keep publishing that photo over and over again?



cRavias has left a new comment on your post ""The US Government is Bankrupt" - What does that M...":

[If by "bankrupt", you mean having a nominal debt in a currency the US issues, then the US government is NOT bankrupt. Congress can always raise the national debt ceiling. The Federal Reserve can create as many paper dollars as it chooses.]

Wrong. Read it again. By this definition the US is very bankrupt.
You wanted to write: - " If you mean US is bankrupt because it has a nominal debt, - then US is not bankrupt, because it's debt is in the currency it actually issues itself."

Take care

What? I don't see the error in what I wrote.

The point is the US government has a nominal debt in dollars. The US government is the issuer for dollars. By this standard, the US government is not bankrupt. It can always print more dollars to pay down its debt (by repealing or amending the Federal Reserve Act). The US government can always issue more Treasury bonds to cover its debt (raising the national debt ceiling).

The US government has ceded its money printing power to the Federal Reserve. Congress' only option is to raise the national debt ceiling. Congress can't just print new money and pay off the debt.

I consider the US government bankrupt. The default on the US dollar in 1913, 1933, and 1971 was the biggest credit default in history.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "How Collateralized Debt Obligations Work":

FSK, sir you have a lot of knowledge and I enjoy your posts because they are so enlightening, especially considering the profundity of their substance as it relates to our lives and ways of living. So for that I would like to say thank you. Beyond that, I mainly decided to post a comment because I just wanted to give you some feedback if you were open to suggestion. Sometimes it becomes so difficult to understand what you are saying because you may use words or acronyms that I'm not familiar with and sometimes because what you are saying just goes over my head altogether.

I'm considering making an "FSK Glossary" post.

Is there any way you could explain certain pillars of your knowledge such as the Compound Interest Paradox in simpler or "laymen" terms? Could you perhaps use more analogies or simple stories to explain what you are saying?

I made a simpler post on the Compound Interest Paradox. I also have a series of posts on the Compound Interest Paradox scheduled to be posted soon.

I like to think I'm pretty well-informed about Government history, civics, policies both foreign and domestic, political movements and their meaning, but I am not an economist by any means. In fact I get the sneaky suspicion sometimes that the image of great division between prominent economists as seen on tv is an illusion meant to confuse people and take them away from focusing on an economic system that is quite fundamentally flawed. That image, along with the prevailing "differences" that the two political parties agree behind close doors to disagree about in public seems to me like discussing how we should re-arrange the furniture when we should just leave the house.

Almost all economic and political debate that you see in mainstream news sources is fake. Of course, the participants themselves don't know it's fake, which makes the lie believable. Honest people were systematically removed from the journalism industry. This guarantees that only dishonest people *WHO ACTUALLY BELIEVE THEIR OWN LIES* are employed as reporters or journalists.

The only political issues that matter are:
  • Should there be a Federal Reserve or central bank?
  • Should there be an income tax?
  • How are taxes different from stealing?
  • Who needs a government anyway?

I have some theories of my own and consider myself an astute and intuitive sociologist but I would like very much to engage in a dialogue with you about a number of things if you would be inclined to do so as well. Policies won't change unless an enlightened majority compells our goverment through elected officials to make changes.

Now you're pro-State trolling. "You need to convince a majority in order to achieve any meaningful reform" is *FALSE*. Via agorism, you can get a free market economy started with only a handful of people. Of course, it's best to enlighten as many people as possible. It's better to focus on the Remnant. Get the smartest 1% of the population working directly for a free market economy, and then everyone else will follow.

Voting doesn't work. There's another way to achieve reform. You can avoid supporting an illegitimate government by using sound money, avoiding income taxes, and avoiding regulations that restrict free trade. If you use sound money, you prevent your savings from being eroded by inflation. If you avoid income taxes, you avoid the direct confiscation of your labor. There are many regulations that restrict small businesses; these also should be ignored.

I don't care if you vote or not. I do object when other people pay taxes, because the proceeds are used to oppress me and are used for other things I find objectionable. Unfortunately, I'm still working in the slave economy, paying income taxes, and supporting an illegitimate government. I'm looking for free market business opportunities.

I believe a truly enlightened majority in this country and around the world concerning the most fundamental dangers to health and happiness, be they seen or unseen at present, could serve to roll back and even eliminate the most vile elements of the ruling class and their machinations in fiscal and government policy. Yes, I believe even the Board of Governors at the so-called "Federal" Reserve, including Morgan and the House of Rothschild, are not safe from impunity, discovery, exposure, and removal by any means from power over a free society.

The reform isn't going to occur by voting or any other aspect of the political process. The only way out is an agorist revolution. If you pay income taxes, you're supporting the bad guys. There are too many ways to fix an election. If necessary, an honest politician will be assassinated.

Maybe there is some supreme leader of humanity and maybe there isn't, logic would dictate that there is a good chance there is perhaps one individual in some place who serves in a role as supreme leader of a global system of control but the likeli-hood of my knowing that for certain leaves me with very little desire to pursue or speculate over such a person.

Why should you avoid speculating about the Supreme Leader of Humanity just because the idea is depressing? I'm not 100% certain that the SLH exists. The existence of the SLH explains a lot of my observations.

Besides, if there is a SLH, and he didn't want an agorist revolution, he would have assassinated me and the other free market bloggers by now.

In believeing these things which drive me, perhaps I am being un-realistically optimistic, but knowing that the stakes are no less high than the continuing and growing existence of a world that is just and free compells me to carry on. Moreover, even in the face of failure, shouldn't the common chords of humanity in all of our hearts leave us with no other choice? Returning to the topic of an enlightened majority, I re-affirm my desire to engage in a dialogue with you so that I may be an agent of enlightenment with my fellow man.

I respond to all reader comments that aren't obviously spam.

I've concluded that working towards an agorist revolution is the only type of political activism that isn't a waste of time.

I'm still working in my corporate slave job, working towards agorism in my spare time. I haven't actually started a free market business yet.

As you most certainly know in the realm of politics, the quality of being succinct and otherwise having the ability to communicate complex information in simple terms, with the goal of achieving a high absorption rate of understanding in those who would listen, is most of the time the difference between victory and defeat depending on how well one exercises that quality.

That is false. In politics, the difference between success and failure is the ability to get the handful of people who control the mainstream media to support your candidacy. For example, Ron Paul had no chance of getting elected, because he received no serious news coverage. Every time there's a news story covering Obama, Clinton, or McCain, there's a fnord "Nobody else has a chance of being elected President."

You are a great help, but I know if there is any way I can achieve a good understanding of your knowledge in simpler terms that I can put myself in a place where the "rubber meets the road" in terms of communicating with and enlightening others for the purposes I have already declared from my heart to serve. Thank you very much, I look forward to an informative dialogue with you.

Robert


Let me know if you have any specific questions. I have a lot of archived posts that you may read. Look at the "Best of FSK" list to see what's most popular.

Robert has left a new comment on your post "How Collateralized Debt Obligations Work":

[Duplicate comment]

I have "comment moderation" enabled for my blog. I try to log into my blog at least once a day to publish comments. My policy is that it gets published unless it's obviously spam.



PatriotG has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #19 - How Stupid Are Taxpayers?":

"There's a Ron Paul blog that claims to have been tracking him since 2004, before Ron Paul was trendy. They asked me to promote their website. It was sort of interesting, but redundant with the stuff I've already read elsewhere.

In case you're wondering, neither of those people paid me to mention their book or website. I think it's interesting that people are starting to ask me to link to their site. I only have about 200 regular readers!"

For The Record, I am An Admin and contributor for RTR.Org

I didnt ask you to promote our site , I respectfully asked you to place the link on your site thats all. Your link is already on our site. (To be removed). To be honest I dont need your mightier than thou bullshit.

You expected to paid for linking??
Well we arent in this for money, we make no money whatsoever on our site, it a labor of love....we like the sharing of information.

I apologize if you find the information on our site redundant, but there only one way to go into any given issue. We dont pubish BS, we tell it like it is. IF you want color, well I guess we arent your kind of site.

Secondly, yes we have been online since 2004 and yes weve actually know about RP since 2000. Thats not a claim thats fact. There is nothing glorious about it. We happen to care about this country and admire the man and his philisophies very much

Have a nice life FSK

If you're going to take offense to that, shouldn't you have objected immediately after I posted it? Why are you objecting to a post that's almost 6 months old?

Also, you're quoting that out of context. At that time, I was having a debate with Aahz over whether it was appropriate to accept paid links disguised as content. I agree that I shouldn't accept payment in exchange for linking (unless it's a *LOT* of money). I haven't made any money off my blog (yet). I'm thinking that I'll indirectly profit from my blog eventually by starting free market businesses, instead of directly via ads. I also benefit from my blog via reader comments, because there's no other way to reach a targeted niche audience.

Technically, a Ron Paul website doesn't fit in with the theme of my blog. I've concluded that political activism is a waste of time. My policy is to respond to every non-spam comment or E-Mail, so I published the link. It is neat that you were following Ron Paul before he was popular.

I enthusiastically followed the Ron Paul campaign for a few months, and then I realized that he had no chance of being elected. I figured out that elections are fixed. Mainstream media coverage of the Ron Paul campaign made it painfully obvious that the people who control the current economic and political system are not interested in reform.

I gave up on the Ron Paul discussion forums, because when I wrote "This is a waste of time! Let's work on agorism.", people started getting hostile.

Ron Paul's Presidential campaign is over. What are you going to do now? Twiddle your thumbs for 4 years and wait for the next election?

If you say "Our problems will be solved if X is elected!", you're pro-State trolling.

Running a blog is interesting. There are some people like you who say "**** you FSK! I'm leaving!" There are others, like Robert above, who appreciate my blog.

That's another version of pro-State trolling. With a mainstream media source, if a handful of dedicated viewers/readers write and say "**** you! I didn't like that article/show!", that can be enough to get a show canceled. A mainstream media source has to coddle everyone because of advertising. A vocal minority is allowed to censor. I don't make income from my blog, so I'm not directly injured if you stop reading. I don't mind when fools stop reading or commenting, because I want the overall quality of reader comments to be high.

My blog's overall readership is increasing. That doesn't mean it would increase faster or slower with another approach. Based on Technorati rank and RSS subscribers, this is one of the top "libertarian left" blogs. I keep track of "referring sites" in Google Analytics, and your blog has given me negligible traffic. I'm not injured if you remove your link to my blog, and it probably won't affect my PageRank in Google.

What really offends you is my point that "Advocating 'Ron Paul for President!' is a waste of time." Ron Paul's campaign was useful for spreading information about the evils of the income tax, the Federal Reserve, and big government. However, Ron Paul's criticism of the Federal Reserve and income tax is weak. Ron Paul says "The Federal Reserve and income tax are unconstitutional." The correct argument is "The Federal Reserve and income tax are immoral."

The odds of Ron Paul, or someone like him, being elected President are zero. There are too many dirty tricks that can be used to fix an election. Agorism is the only resistance strategy with a non-zero chance of success. I've given up on political methods of reform, and I'm interested in anti-political counter-economic reform now.

Francois Tremblay has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #19 - How Stupid Are Taxpayers?":

So patriotg, do you believe in democracy??

Technically, Ron Paul's campaign slogan is "Restore the Republic!", which is different than a democracy.

In practice, the USA is a oligarchy/dictatorship. A handful of people have all the political power. All important laws are chosen by the Supreme Leader of Humanity. (As a fake SLH, Francois Tremblay should know that.)

PatriotG still has a fantasy that the US government can be magically reformed by voting, despite all evidence to the contrary. He is angry at me for saying that advocating for Ron Paul or any other candidate is a waste of time.

Agorism and counter-economics are the only resistance strategies worth pursuing.

Are you subscribed to my RSS comment feed?

PatriotG has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #19 - How Stupid Are Taxpayers?":

Sign Up For RTR and I will answer your question there.

This will be be my final post here because frankly I resent how FSK comes off with this attitude of his and have no desire to add any content to his site, good, bad, or indifferent. I have complimented him more than once in private with regards to his talent for writing, and he is obviously well schooled, but much of what he said with regards to RTR was insulting. My colleagues and I interested in and passionate about discussion and the sharing of views and info regarding the direction this country has been and is currently taking. Obviously FSK is too holy for this. EOM

I don't consider pro-State trolling or flamewars to be "contributing content".

I gave up on Ron Paul forums and websites, because agorism was considered "too radical" for them. I still have your RSS feed somewhere in my "hitlist" (blogs I'm scanning for decent content). Contributing to other forums and websites is usually a waste of time, because the pro-State trolls are usually the majority and shout me down.

Anyway, do whatever you want. Other people can subscribe to your discussion forum if they want to waste their time. I'm not injured if you stop reading or contributing to my blog. I try to respond to each comment and take them seriously, so I don't mind if fools stop contributing.

PatriotG has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #19 - How Stupid Are Taxpayers?":

IF there are any doubts about us being online since 2004

http://web.archive.org/web/*/Restoretherepublic.org

we don't lie.....

You're using the Strawman Fallacy now. I never questioned your claim that your website has been around since 2004. My point is that advocating "Ron Paul for President!" is a waste of time. I didn't accuse you of lying. I said you were wasting your time.

I thought you said you weren't posting any more comments? You wouldn't be so angry if what I'm writing isn't true.



Ed has left a new comment on your post "Is Gold/Money a Better Investment than Stocks?":

A lot of people don't realise this but gold has outperformed the benchmark S&P 500 and Dow Jones since 1971!

That is definitely a long enough time-frame to eradicate short term bubbles, and it includes the huge price increase and subsequent sell of at the start of the 80's.

That's an invalid comparison, because it was illegal to own gold in 1971. Some people attempted to arbitrage this by buying nearly pure gold jewelry, paying a slight premium to the "official"
price of gold.

If you go back to 1913, gold doesn't outperform the stock market. However, if you bought gold in 1913, it would have been stolen from you in 1933!

Intuitively, it makes sense that gold outperforms the stock market. Corporations receive massive State subsidies, but there also is a massive amount of fraud and waste. It makes sense that stocks aren't a good deal for the average small shareholder.

On the other hand, it's extremely depressing. In the long-run, gold should yield a 0% inflation-adjusted return (minus transaction costs and storage costs). This means that it's *IMPOSSIBLE* for the average person to earn a positive inflation-adjusted return on their savings!

I'm considering buying some gold futures or gold futures options, so that I can bet *ON* inflation.



Order New Iraqi Dinar has left a new comment on your post "Is Gold/Money a Better Investment than Stocks?":

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Paying since 09-jan-2008. c-Gold Group is an investment management firm specializing in oil futures trading - liberty reserve - e-bullion - pecunix - e-Gold -

Thank you,
George Andersson
c-Gold Group

I considered rejecting this comment as spam, but I was feeling charitable.

I don't trust online e-Gold vendors. They could be shut down like the Liberty Dollar.

If I were to invest in gold, I'd take physical metal in my possession. I'd also consider buying gold futures/options or warehouse receipts on a trusted exchange like COMEX. Those should be valid until the collapse of the State draws near. The advantage of using a futures exchange is that I can use leverage. With physical metal in my possession, my only option is an unleveraged long position.

A gold futures contract is surprisingly non-risky. There have been very few recent years where the price of gold declined, and the declines were almost never more than 5%-10%.



By E-Mail, someone writes:

Hello Mr. Smith, my name is Soviet Onion. Like you, I'm a big proponent of Agorism, left-libertarianism and market anarchism, and a partisan to liberty in general. I'm also a concerned one. Radical libertarianism, as a social movement, still barely exists. Our present state of affairs seems to be one of isolation and atomization, even at the local level. Whatever activism does take place mostly piggybacks on whatever political reformism the Libertarian Party or assorted "small government conservatives" are involved in (seen by partyarchs as the alternative to "doing nothing"). We've seen this recently with the Ron Paul phenomenon.

You'll have to excuse this young anarchist, but this all seems terribly inappropriate. For a libertarians, and libertarian anarchists especially, political success is less of matter of directing the state toward certain favored ends and more a matter of blocking it from wreaking more evil. Directly and immediately. The point is not to scribble libertarian amendments into the Constitution but to make un-libertarian laws unenforceable, to make civil society ungovernable. With that in mind, and to kick start some much needed organization, I propose that we converge on the coming Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The anarchist "Welcoming Commitee" has been organizing a series of actions for over two years. Their primary of objective is to halt the convention before it begins by blockading the major streets and bridges around the Xcel Energy Center, sealing it off before the delegates arrive. A detailed account of this strategy, and the reasons for selecting it, can be found here. Those concerned about the residents' welfare should note that the Feds are shutting down the city anyway, so a blockade won't cost merchants and residents any business or block any movement that hasn't already been taken from them by the Republicans. The only people we'd be impeding are the delegates.

Summit hopping has it's secondary benefits, as the social anarchists have noted over the years. One of which is that it allows activists from distant locations to meet and devolop a geographic sense of eachother. As a currently dispersed and highly atomized tendency, there's nothing we need more. The Twin Cities will make an ideal focal point for that, do our part beside other members of the RNC Welcoming Commitee in disrupting the political class, to distribute and disseminate agorist ideas at the convergence spaces, and as an opportunity for members of our currently far-flung milieu to meet and communicate face-face. Even if the proposed blockade fails, going there together would be a boon to ourselves.

Eight months ago, this call was placed on the LeftLibertarian2 listserve by William Gillis, exhorting us to join the opposition:

. . . .

"Hey folks, my name's Will and I'm a big fan of Agorism, the Libertarian Left and Market Anarchism in general. I'm also founding member of the RNC Welcoming Committee (a broad, non-sectarian coalition of anarchists and anti-authoritarians in the Twin Cities working to give the Republican Party a Minnesota-nice welcome to our state).

For over a year now we've been working to facilitate a diversity of tactics by Anarchists in responding to and overshadowing the Republican National Convention being held next year in St. Paul. The convention is a big propaganda show and it's important that anarchist voices are distinctly represented in the opposition. On the one hand whatever we do it's a sure thing that anarchists from around the country will flock to the Twin Cities with the intent of pulling militant and dramatic direct action. On the other hand we have to live here and it's not enough simply to disrupt the political class, we have to sustain long-term projects towards autonomy and self reliance in or communities. In part that means counter-economic organizing to create an infrastructure for the anarchist response, but it also means respecting every perspective and not trying to impose one set of solutions. We're a diverse bunch of primitivists, insurrectionaries, individualists, class-war reds, cyberpunks and generally uncategorizable anti-authoritarians. (You can read our broad points of unity here http://www.nornc.org/who-we-arepoints-of unity/ and be sure to check out the definition of capitalism.)

A recently formed national network called Unconventional Action has called for a specific strategy of Direct Action to block off the Convention on the fist day and ideally prevent any delegates from arriving. But regardless of whether we succeed in denying the Republicans access to our city (a city whose government has rolled over and coughed up millions of tax dollars and public property for this charade) it's important that we eclipse the convention. The plan is to have plenty of events simultaneously and beyond direct resistance demonstrate to the world by example how a better world is possible. In doing both we'll crash their little staged show!

Even if it's Ron Paul at the podium instead of Giuliani, it's vital that the political class is not afforded a moment or an iota of legitimacy.

Beyond direct action (whether it be conventionally "non-violent" & passive or involving the aggressive rejection of oligarchical property's legitimacy) it's important to use this opportunity to build our movement, both within and without. The Welcoming Committee has been doing serious work and the 08 RNC is gearing up to be a major event in activist history. That we Anarchists are the ones best prepared and most visible of everyone organizing for the RNC (while the various liberal and socialist groups are still floundering) speaks volumes.

While I can't presume to personally speak for the Welcoming Committee, a Libertarian Left presence at the counter-convention would be fondly appreciated. Any support you'd like to individually or collectively (A3! ) contribute would be absolutely wonderful. Whether it's just a statement, participation in the actions (agorist affinity groups?!), a separate project, setting up a symposium during the festivities, propping up a book cart in front of a convergence space, or lending some mutual aid and helping us build the infrastructure needed to feed, shelter (etc) the thousands upon thousands of anarchists descending on our fair cities. (Black Markets can also be Gift Economies... hint, hint)

When I was in Seattle in '99 there was one loud guy shouting above the din of the crowd that the WTO was impeding Free Trade and globally raising cost-of-entry to the market, and that was it's crime! That one crazy guy had something of an effect upon me. Imagine how great it would be if there was an entire bloc of them! ;)

This is our Call To Action: http://www.rncwelcomingcommittee.org/2007/09/30/crash-the-convention-2008-call-to-action/

Please take a look at it and consider participating however you feel comfortable. I guarantee you'll have a friend in the committee."

-William Gillis
http://williamgillis.blogspot.com/


Transport and housing lists will available on the Welcoming Committe website, but won't be fully fleshed out about until a month beforehand... sorry, that's the best they can do. The good news is that for anyone under 25 and vaguely student-ish, Macalester SDS can provide literally unlimited space (bring a sleeping bag and maybe a tent, whatever you need to be comfortable). Registration is ongoing at http://minnesotasds.org/.
If you're looking for other ways to contribute, the WC is currently trying to rent a massive convergence space in or near downtown St. Paul. Market anarchist propaganda tables, bazaars and other projects would be welcome there, but rent for a reasonably sized space (given other precedents) is going to be at least 40,000 dollars. We're going to cut corners, but we need donations and fundraisers really, really bad.
Those who are interested are invited to head over to this thread on the newly formed LeftLibertarian forums, where we'll discuss the tactics, group organization and ideal placement within the greater range of activities. Even if you're unable to come, you're still welcome to drop by and help us plan.
Give it some thought. If you know anyone else who might be interested, please pass the message along to them. If you'd really like to help spread the call, consider forwarding the message on your blog. I'll be sending it to everyone in the left-liberarian milieu, and posting a more formalized call on some of the more public market anarchist venues.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Laissez-faire,
Soviet Onion

First, "Mr. Smith" is not my name. That's the name of Sarah Jane Smith's alien supercomputer in "The Sarah Jane Adventures". If you need a name for me, "FSK" is fine.

Are you suggesting that I'm an alien supercomputer?

Second, you're entirely missing the point of agorism. If you suggest a protest at the Republican National Convention, that is the *OPPOSITE* of agorism. Agorism is anti-politics. A true agorist knows that rioting and protesting is a complete waste of time.

Agorism is about counter-economics. It's about doing productive and useful work without getting permission from the State or letting them loot the proceeds of your labor. If you're suggesting a political protest, you're one of those pro-State anarchists.

I read there was some sort of schism on the LibertarianLeft mailing lists. Allegedly, a bunch of fools took over the mailing list and the sensible people left to start a new one. You're hanging out with pro-State agorists.

I'm not interested in hanging out with a bunch of fools. If you have a serious counter-economic business plan, I'd help you with it.

First of all, I apologize for getting your name wrong. I sent out a large number of similar emails, and must have doubled up on someone else's name at some point.
I think you misinterprete my intentions regarding the RNC. My angle here is not to stage a symbolic protest, or to influence a certain political outcome (in this case a Democratic victory. I'd oppose them too if I could, and encourage others to do the same). It's basic Phase 1 advocacy, as Konkin described it:

Many worthy libertarians argue that the market structures of businesses, partnerships and joint-stock companies provide all the organization necessary or desirable; save maybe for personal mating or socializing. In one sense they are correct in that all structures must be market-compatible or be inconsistent with agorism. In another sense, they are guilty of a lack of imagination and a concern of form over substance. . .

Thus an association of entrepreneurs of liberty for the purpose of specializing, coordinating and delivering libertarian activities is no violation of the market and may well be optimal. New Liberarian Manifesto

The activities mentioned in my original message included "setting up a symposium during the festivities, propping up a book cart in front of a convergence space," "to distribute and disseminate agorist ideas at the convergence spaces," "and as an opportunity for members of our currently far-flung milieu to meet and communicate face-face."

Nothing here could be remotely construed as political action or reformism; everything is compatable with making our advocacy of Agorism more efficient, and strengthening the ties between the disparate groups.

And while it may not be readily apparent, my mention of "agorist ideas" also included practical advice on counter-economics (the proliferation of which you clearly do see as a part of agorism, since you offered it to me). I already had some things in mind, but was holding them for discussion later on. These include ex-narc Barry Cooper's excellent DVD series on marijuana smuggling, advice on urban guerilla and community gardening for untaxed and unregulated food production, public-key computer encryption, VOID cell phones and small-time money laundering. There would also be original analyses and how-to's pertaining to exceptional counter-economic enterprises, such as organized gypsy cab services or even Tankafritt.nu, a proto-agorist security firm from Sweden that will insure you against fines for a filesharing conviction. A thorough explication of those entities' workings could provide guidance and inspiration for other potential counter-entrepreneurs.

This convergence provides a wonderful marketing opportunity, not just to the throngs of people descending on the city, but also to other radicals who stand a greater chance of being interested in counter-economics once they see it's revolutionary potential. And who knows, we could learn from them as well.

Networking is important. To ignore this is just bad business. Not everyone of these groups or individuals is agoric, but that doesn't mean that can't act counter-economically. Trading off eachother's services and leveraging resources toward mutually-beneficial ends is the very definition of a market. There's a lot we could stand to gain from community gardeners, open-source programmers, even radical trade unionists (Imagine having workers skim parts from their corporatist employers and resell them on the black market, just like workers did in the Soviet nalevo).

You accuse me of misunderstanding Agorism, then try to explain it while ignoring half the picture. As Konkin himself once bemoaned:

Rothbard has chutzpah:jJah to demand I separate libertarianism from counter-economists because the latter don't need it—and then turn around and ask why the Russian counter-economists have not condensed into agoras. Human action is willed action; without entrepreneurs of libertarianism, it will not be sold. -Konkin on Libertarian Strategy

Moral agitation matters, and any Agorist strategy is going to require heavy aboveground advocacy, not just in the initial stages but as a permanent complement to the underground evasion. It's important that we convince ordinary people of the legitimacy, or at least the unimportance, of so-called "criminal activity", with the usual set of op-eds, buttons, bumperstickers and debates to turn social attitudes in a more liberatory direction, and to deny enforcers the organic legitimacy they need to effectively police.

In San Francisco, pot is de facto almost legal because its use is so socially accepted that police can do little to enforce their law (while tolerated medical marijuana clubs legalise much of the existing pot possesion). There's also legal education and legal defense funds; there's nonviolent civil disobedience; there are "grey market" activities that provide arguably or completely legal services that nevertheless help black market operators evade detection; and any number of other things, too


Now as for the blockade itself, it's exactly what you claim it is: defensive force to disrupt and impede the convention. Is this really such a bad thing? I would hardly classify a restrained and targeted action on streets devoid of innocent bystanders as looting and rioting. At best you can argue that it's premature, but I don't buy that either. I certainly recognize the practical limitations to resistance as compared to evasion at this point, and that adventurism does more harm than good (i.e. is unprofitable). But that criticism is better applied to permanent defenses, not to temporary strikes.

The fact remains that tens of thousands of people are dying right now as a result of the Republicans' (and the Democrats') actions. They're convening in a section of the city almost completely surrounded by water, the bridges being the only entry points. People have already been preparing this plan for over two years in anticipation, and there will be thousands of activists present, minimizing the chance that any one person will be arrested. The potential profits simply outweigh the risk.

To do what we can to impede or discredit the political class while scrupulously avoiding harming innocent bystanders is not disorder, it is a highly civilized and compassionate act of solidarity with the victims, a defensive act on other their behalf.

You might object that this isn't real defense because it hasn't grown out of a fully developed counter-economy; you'll excuse me if I'm not interested in forcing my tactics to fit some official 12 Step Program. More likely I think it just doesn't conform to the expected anarcho-capitalist model of competing rent-a-cop firms, and that you see it as somehow less respectable because of this.

Realistically, the production of security is going take on many different compositions and action patterns. It isn't always going to take the form of the private rent-a-cop model. Sometimes it'll just be people acting spontaneously in pursuit of common value, like in this case. There's nothing anti-market about that (and no reason these different models couldn't coexist and cooperate).

You might say that it isn't really agorist since it no one's paying for the defence. That's not entirely true either. The activists are paying through their own effort to attain the humiliation of the political class and defense of innocent people in other areas of the world. Obviously you'd expect people to intervene in defense of their fellow human beings, particularly comrades in a common struggle. Solidarity is important to any social movement; what success we could have if defense of your fellow radicals was everyone's consumptive pleasure! Solidarity in Liberty, Honor amoung Criminals.

Regarding your last comment, I'll just say that I never knew Shulman and joined the breakaway LeftLibertarian2 listserve long after the fallout.


Disrupting a political party meeting doesn't accomplish anything. It's the wrong sort of venue to raise awareness. The media coverage isn't going to be "Look at these people who want free market alternatives to government." It's going to be "Look at those crazy anarchists. Luckily, we have the State to keep them in line."

The odds of actually disrupting the RNC are practically zero. There's no way a group of amateurs could win a direct confrontation with trained para-military police.

Even if you had a magic wand and could assassinate every member of Congress, the President, Vice President, and every federal judge, that would accomplish nothing. Instead of covert martial law, which is the current situation, there would be overt martial law.

Using violence to disrupt the State won't be practical until it's close to collapsing. For example, suppose we already are at the point where the State is close to collapsing. The State demands you pay property taxes. You refuse. At this point, it would be practical to hire a private police force to prevent the State from kicking you off your land. That's an example of properly using violence to resist the State. Such resistance isn't practical until the end of the State is near. In the present, all you can do is pay property taxes and move to an area with low property tax rates.

When the State is close to collapsing, the fee paid to the private police force would be *LESS* than the taxes/tribute demanded by the State! Once private police can credibly defend people from the State, and they charge less than the State demands in tribute, it's all over!

The correct way to spread agorism is to actually start a free market business. If you want to start a free market taxi service ("gypsy cab"), then you should tell your friends and look for trustworthy customers. That's a valid way to spread agorism.

A blog is valid another way to raise awareness. People who are interested will find my blog, or other blogs about free market alternatives to government.

I like to make a distinction between black market (marijuana farming/sales) and grey market (free market taxis). I'm much more interested in building a grey market than a black market. Marijuana actually really is bad for you, so I'm not interested in marijuana farming. Free market taxis, food farming, or restaurants are much more interesting.

I haven't read much about counter-economics in Russia. In a communist dictatorship, counter-economics can become necessary for survival!

I think you're confused about "networking to spread information". Riots and protests aren't that effective. The Internet allows people to communicate in ways that weren't previously possible. The Internet allows people to find free market trading partners much easier than in the past. Just because something hasn't succeeded in the past, doesn't mean it won't succeed in the future. A serious "economic revolt" hasn't been tried before.

I don't see any profit in disrupting the Republican National Convention. You probably won't convert many new people to agorism, at least not compared to other activities such as blogging or actually starting a free market business. The Republican National Convention will occur as planned. You'll be opposed by para-military police.

I can't stop you from wasting your time. You aren't going to convince me that protesting at the Republican National Convention is effective. It might make the protesters feel better, but it won't actually accomplish anything.

If you're organizing mutual self-defense, you need to focus on other things. If the State tries to kick me off my land for not paying property taxes, can I profitably resist? If the State tries to arrest me for refusing to get permission from them to work (i.e., income taxes), can I profitably resist?



Francois Tremblay has left a new comment on your post "The Compound Interest Paradox - a Simpler Explanat...":

FSK- would you like to host the next Carnival? The one for June 29th.

OK, I'll do it. I left a comment on your blog and you already updated the schedule.

Last time, you got angry at me for saying "Most of the submissions sucked." Has it gotten better? (I hadn't been paying attention to it.) Most of the blogs with good submissions are already in my RSS feed.

The Blog Carnival is like a "Reader Mail" post.

I'm leaning towards Zhwazi's viewpoint, which says "Feed aggregators make blog carnivals obsolete". On the other hand, the previous time I hosted did make my "Best of FSK" list, so it wasn't a waste of time.

I wonder if it'll get more traffic this time, due to greater popularity of my blog or greater popularity of the Carnival?

Also, when do you want me to post it? I'm using "scheduled posting" in Blogger? Should I queue it up for June 30 at noon? This allows some last-minute submissions to trickle in.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Compound Interest Paradox - a Simpler Explanat...":

Hey FSK, great post. When you broke into quantum mechanics I was like "oh lord" lol.However I actually did get the proton collision concept and how it ties into the inherent flaw of how the debt through interest, with fractional reserve banking helping as well, will always be greater than the money supply. I have always felt strongly that the monopolization of our economy was bad for everyone, and not even sound economics; based on fair principles anyway.

You don't understand economics unless you understand the Compound Interest Paradox. If don't understand the Compound Interest Paradox and write about economics, you're probably pro-State trolling.

I have concentrated on anti-trust law as a means to break up monopolization but while in theory that could be effective, I never factored in the CIP and the Federal Reserve system as the principle motivation for mergers.

Anti-trust law didn't become popular until after the USA started abandoning free market principles.

After the US Civil War, the banking industry was heavily regulated. This encouraged consolidation of the banking industry. Bank regulations allowed banks to charge more than the fair free market rate, allowing the Compound Interest Paradox to begin operating. Large banks colluded to cause boom/bust cycles; regulation of banking prevented small banks from dampening these cycles.

Another key point was in the late 19th century. The US Supreme Court ruled that corporations had the same rights as individuals to own property and enter contracts. The "limited liability" provision encouraged irresponsible behavior by banks. If a bank failed, its creditors were stuck in bankruptcy court. This encouraged fraud. Previously, a bank's owners were personally liable in the event of a problem. This encouraged responsible behavior.

Another key point was the creation of railroads. The people who built the railroads received land grants from the State, or via exercise of eminent domain rights. They had a State-granted monopoly and could charge whatever price they chose. This encouraged railroad owners to invest in other businesses as well. The railroad owners could charge extortionate rates to businesses they don't own; for their own businesses, this cost merely moved from one part of the balance sheet to another. The railroad monopoly encouraged consolidation of other industries.

Anti-trust law didn't become popular until *AFTER* the USA abandoned free market principles.

The few cases where anti-trust law actually was exercised was when people without the "right" political connections built large businesses. Anti-trust law was used against them.

For example, Microsoft had a "we don't lobby" policy for many years. After they were subject to an antitrust investigation, they started lobbying. They successfully negotiated a settlement that was a slap on the wrist, partially due to lobbying. Cynically, you could say the anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft was a shakedown of the lobbying industry extorting money from Microsoft.

There are more conclusions that I have come to that were the result of reading this post and for that I am very grateful, but it's getting late here and I would be preaching to the choir elaborating on them with you anyway. One other though, right as I clicked on your article "beware of liberatarians as red market agents", not the exact wording but something like that, I remember thinking to myself before the page even loaded what pains in the rear some of the guys at the Luwig Von Mises institute are. Haha.

Unfortunately, once the founders of a political movement die, the people who "inherit" the movement tend to be pro-State trolls. For example, Ayn Rand's objectivist followers tend to be a bunch of fruitcakes.

It's important to evaluate ideas independently of the "authority" espousing those ideas.

I gave up reading the Mises institute stuff. Their stuff is really hard to read! Even they are guilty of pro-State trolling sometimes. I consider Austrian Economists to also be pro-State trolls. They say "Instead of following a corrupt and dishonest monetary policy, the State should follow a monetary policy closer to what would exist in a free market." I say "Who needs a State at all? Let's have the Federal Reserve trash the economy as much as possible, because that leads to the most rapid collapse of the State."

I read some Konkin, but he doesn't have much material available online. Once you understand the basics of agorism, it isn't too hard to figure out the rest.

When I was younger I first started reading some Rothbard stuff and was particularly fascinated by Mises' axioms, or at least attempts at establishing them, in the area of environmental stimuli in development and reactions in human behavior. Anyway, I thought I'd try engaging with some of the fellows over there and I could never get one viable or practical solution out of them in terms of addressing even one of the institutional flaws or inadequecies that they write about.

It's one thing to say "The economic and political system is unfair!" It's another to figure out "What are you going to do about it?" Agorism is the only resistance strategy with a nonzero chance of success.

If you're working in a corporate slave job, "working harder" only benefits the bad guys more. Direct taxation rates are over 50%, which means the State gets paid more for your labor than you. If you include all indirect and hidden taxes, your total taxation rate is 95% or even as high as 99.9%!

On hand they claim to embrace Mises' conclusions about state interventionism in economics, subsidies, taxation, military force, etc.,. But on the other they would put some thin vail of criticism over the FED about how this or that chairman made a tactical mistake without ever addressing its systematic flaws, or even its right to exist. At first I thought they were just stupid or uninformed but it became apparent to me that they are pro-state, neo-con operators with I'm sure varying degrees of blind complicity or deliberation amongst them. Of course the geographical location of Alabama, my home state where I also currently reside, I would think would be a high-volume area for recruits given the educational disfunction that is rampant here. Ok so that was a long "one more thing", but I couldn't help but find both humor and a sense of validation in reading the article you wrote. Again great post, I have made a lot of progress since yesterday.

Robert

Several people have asked for "a simpler explanation of the Compound Interest Paradox", so I finally wrote one.

You always have to be careful about pro-State trolls. Most people are pro-State trolls without being consciously aware. Even on "anarchist" discussion forums, there's a lot of pro-State anarchists!

I'm getting pretty good at telling who's open-minded and who's closed-minded. I try to avoid hanging out with fools. (either in person or on the Internet)

You should consider starting your own blog. That makes it easier to keep track of your writing.



tmbrewer has left a new comment on your post "Thimerosal, Mercury Vaccines, and Autism":

From my perspective, the anti-vaccination folks who have chosen to focus so narrowly on thimerosal as the cause of harm from vaccines have done the debate a general disservice. Any number of things about vaccines could be the source of harm they so clearly cause in so many areas of health. Or, a combination of factors could be at work. The only real way to settle the question of whether or not vaccines are safe is to compare large, otherwise similar groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated children, with an eye to a wide array of potential health impacts. Of course, such a study is entirely feasible, and carries with it the priceless potential benefit of silencing, for once and for all, the pesky non-compliant parents who remain staunchly convinced that their children have been harmed by vaccines. I think a most interesting question is 'why has such a study never been done?', particulary whenit is taken into account that the idea that vaccines are the most wonderful thing in all of modern medicine is shared with near religious conviction by so many people ? Dan Olmsted, a journalist who has devoted great effort to the autism/vaccine debate, has directly confronted the CDC head with the Amish anomaly; among the Amish, who are largely unvaccinated, autism is essentially unknown. Obviously, any government agency charged with protecting the public health that had a genuine interest in alleviating the devastating suffering caused by this modern plague, would be all over these people, leaving no stone unturned in an effort to uncover which factors about their genes/lifestyle confer such a wonderful protection. Of course, such zeal is not to be expected from the CDC or the FDA, institutions whose primary focus seems to be widening the market for the drug companies.

For fluoride and mercury-preserved vaccines, I consider the benefit or potential harm to be *NOT PROVEN*. There hasn't been a proper scientific study showing their safety/benefit. Their hasn't been a proper scientific study showing they're harmful.

The point is the FDA and the State provide drug companies with absolute immunity from liability. If fluoride or mercury vaccines are later proven to be harmful, they will face no liability. There is no incentive for anyone to perform a proper scientific study. Most drug company research is pseudo-science, rubberstamped by the FDA for approval.

It's very easy for conspiracy theorists to point fingers at fluoride and mercury vaccines, because there's never been a proper scientific study. Are they really harmful? Or, are they distracting people from other issues?

Regarding the Amish, you *CANNOT* conclude from that example that autism is caused by vaccines. There are many ways that the Amish differ from the general population. There could be other factors. For example, suppose some children develop autism because their parents don't spend enough time with them. The Amish don't pro-State brainwash their children in the same manner as everyone else. That could also explain lower autism rates. Correlation is *NOT* the same as causation.

tmbrewer has left a new comment on your post "Thimerosal, Mercury Vaccines, and Autism":

I apologize that I sent that comment twice. I am new here, and did not see the comment at the top saying the comment would be posted after blog owner approval. Just delete the second copy, or the first, or whatever. Sorry. tmbrewer

I didn't see a duplicate comment. Yes, I have "comment moderation" enabled. I filter out the obvious spam. Plus, the "comment moderation alert" E-Mails make it easier to write the "Reader Mail" posts.



By E-Mail, someone says:

Did you see the Libertarian Party convention coverage on C-Span?


Why should I care what the Libertarian Party does?

4 comments:

Liberty Student said...

FSK, really appreciate your blog. Some comments.

1. I agree with you about protesting the RNC.

2. Capitalism to me, is the private ownership of productive gains and deferred consumption. I don't agree with your definition, of what is essentially mercantilism.

3. Is it up-wing, or is it left-libertarian? Personally, I cannot stand left-libertarian.

4. I really dislike the obsession with pro-state trolls. Obviously it's your blog, and your content, but count up how many times you use that term in this post. A lot.

I don't think agorism can succeed without community and cooperation. Labeling every potential trading partner who does not share your precise ideology a troll is counter-productive.

5. Thanks again. I really enjoy reading your blog.

6. The Mises forum has many agorists and [sic] left-libertarians. The reason why the remnant is closer to 1~2% or with the Ron Paul people, potential 5% in the next generation, is due to the educational work of Mises and Rothbard. Again, to dismiss everything different as pro-state seems counterproductive to me. You might not have to soften your perspective, but that shouldn't mean that you have to be on an ideological island, not conducting trade with other philosophies...

Just some food for thought.

Francois Tremblay said...

"If you really were the SLH, then the Market Anarchist Blog Carnival would have much better content."

HAH! But why would I want to make popular the arguments against me? I just want to crowd out the Anarchist Carnival field so no one does it better. ;)


Also, I didn't get angry about your assessment of the Carnival. I just don't see the point, when we can just move forward and try to make it better. The goal is to further awareness of Anarchist blogs to each other and to new people as well.

Monkt said...

FSK how do we know you aren't the Supreme Leader of Humanity?

Francois Tremblay said...

Because I am.

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