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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reader Mail #57

I saw this article on the startup Viaweb. It had a huge error. At the end, it says "startups with a group of hackers shouldn't fear large corporations; large corporations should fear groups of hackers". WRONG! This is How the State Destroys Small Businesses. The large corporation can:

  1. Raise money via borrowing at a negative real interest rate. The group of hackers must grow via reinvested earnings or, if they're lucky, raise capital on terms that make the VCs the effective owners of their business.
  2. When selling to other large corporations, the large corporation will *ALWAYS* have the advantage over the startup. For example, corporation A pays $100M for a product from corporation B. Corporation B then hires the friends of corporation A's management for $10M. So what if the hackers can provide a better product for only $1M or less? The management of corporation A is *ALWAYS* going to sell to the vendor that gives the biggest kickback.
  3. The large corporation can lobby for laws that shield it from competition, especially now that software patents are commonplace. What happens when the group of hackers is sued over an "obvious" patent that they'd never heard about?
  4. The large corporation has many lines of business. It can afford to sell for $0 until the competition is bankrupted (i.e., Microsoft vs. Netscape). This is profitable, because the large corporation is shielded from competition once a monopoly/oligopoly is established.
You may respond "Some groups of hackers succeed. Therefore, the economic system is fair." A smart group of hackers may have 100x-1000x (or more!) the productivity of a large corporate bureaucracy. An expert team of developers has *TREMENDOUS* scaling power. The ability to leverage software allows small startups to succeed *IN SPITE OF* the huge handicaps they face.



Lately, the Picket Line has a bizarre fetish about Quakers and war tax resistance.

Someone who is a pacifist and someone who believes in the non-aggression principle are *DIFFERENT*. A pacifist says "I'm not going to resist violently, even if you try to steal from me." Someone who follows the non-aggression principle says "I'm not going to try to steal from you. If you try stealing from me, expect a violent response." In the present, violently resisting the State isn't practical, due to their superior resources. If you're the victim of a terrorist/police raid over tax resistance, your best option is to surrender peacefully and take your chances in a trial.

If you attempt to resist violently, then the police can merely afford to keep you surrounded for months, as was the case with Ed and Elaine Brown. The police still get their salary, paid via everyone else's taxes, while you're trapped.

The Quakers only care about "war tax resistance". They don't resist taxes levied for other purposes. *ALL* taxation is theft. If you phrase the "tax resistance" movement in terms of "war tax resistance", you're placing the debate in the wrong frame.

In another post, the Quakers had an interested debate during the US revolutionary war. Should they pay taxes to the king or to the colonies fighting the king? Which was the "legitimate" government that owned the Quakers as property?

*ALL* taxes are used for war, whether it's murdering Iraqis or arresting people who drive a taxi without a license. *ALL* State actions are violence/war.

In the US Revolution, the slogan was "No taxation without representation!" This time, "Taxation is theft!" is more appropriate.



I liked this post on the Agitator. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has a new slogan. "ATF" stands for "Always Think Forfeiture".

In other words, their primary objective is to seize property of their victims.

If you're the subject of a raid, your property is usually seized without a trial.

It is kind of odd that alcohol and tobacco fall under the same category as firearms. Alcohol and tobacco are the *MOST HEAVILY TAXED* products. This is a huge incentive for free market activity (and greater State surveillance). Firearms are also heavily regulated, even though some states have "open carry" laws (Wyoming and New Hampshire).



I liked this post on Check Your Premises. Many printers leave "tracking dots" on all printed pages. This means that all documents can be traced to a specific source.

What if I bought my printer with cash? What if I used a credit card? Do you really think the bad guys are clever enough to track who owns what printer? If they're that powerful, then why haven't I been assassinated yet? (unless I really am the SLH)

I consider this conspiracy theory to be "not proven". It may be shoddy printer design. You would have to compare a *LOT* of printers and check if the dots follow a specific pattern.

I have an inkjet (not laserjet), and my printer isn't on the list.

The EFF is usually pretty good, but they're on the fruitcake end of this story.

Also, it isn't clear if the dots are still legible if the paper is photocopied (or does the photocopier add its own tracking dots?).



I liked this article on gold-eagle.com, referred by this post on Silver is Money. Hyperinflation in the USA is compared with hyperinflation during the fall of the Roman Empire.

Historically, all fiat currencies collapse in hyperinflation after approximately 100 years. The issuing authority cannot resist the temptation to print new money and give it to themselves, causing hyperinflation. The Federal Reserve is a "captured regulator", serving the needs of financial industry insiders. New money is being printed to subsidize their profits; everyone else pays the cost as inflation.

During hyperinflation, there isn't just an increase in the money supply. The velocity of money also increases. During hyperinflation, people rush to convert their money to tangible goods as soon as they are paid. In the present, people are willing to hold cash or leave money in their checking account, because they believe inflation is only 2%-3% per year; inflation actually is 2%-3% per month.



I liked this post on the Liberty Papers. Obama should choose McCain as his running mate, and McCain should choose Obama as his running mate.

A unity ticket between Barack Obama and John McCain. Because, quite frankly, they agree a heck of a lot more than they disagree.

Ask Obama or McCain if "Taxation is theft". They both give the same answer. On the only important political question, all politicians give the exact same wrong answer.



I liked this post on Dissident Voice, referred via Kevin Caron's shared items. The USA is switching from analog TV broadcasts to digital TV broadcasts. There's one *REALLY IMPORTANT* feature that has gone completely unmentioned.

With digital broadcasting, 4 channels can be broadcast in the same frequency range that currently takes 1 channel. These additional 3 channels *ARE BEING GIVEN TO CURRENT BROADCASTERS FOR FREE*! Current broadcasters *ALREADY* received a massive State subsidy in the form of cheap/free spectrum. Instead of auctioning the new channels to new market participants, or making the broadcasters pay for them, they are getting 4x the bandwidth for free!

The broadcast networks *AREN'T PLANNING TO MAKE ANY NEW CONTENT*! Instead, they're going to simulcast their existing content 4 times!

As long as the Internet exists, broadcast and cable monopolies don't offend me as much. As long as it's possible to reach an audience on the Internet, I don't care what the mainstream media does. The Internet isn't going away.



This post on Check Your Premises was interesting. "Animal rights advocates" are merely "more power to the State activists". In a truly free market, there's no way to prevent someone from mistreating animals. Animals are *NOT* entitled to the same rights as humans.



This thread on mises.org about the "economic calculation problem in large corporations" got off track. I didn't bother posting, because it degenerated to flamewar status before I noticed it.

In a communist dictatorship, a handful of people make decisions for the entire economy. This is incredibly inefficient. Ignoring price signals, they can't efficiently decide whether to manufacture shoes or televisions. Further, in a communist dictatorship, there's no incentive for creativity or working hard.

A large corporation has the *EXACT SAME ECONOMIC CALCULATION PROBLEM* as a communist dictatorship. In the current economic system, large corporations are shielded from competition. They have a State-granted monopoly/oligopoly.

Suppose the corporation is manufacturing widgets, and they have a monopoly. Suppose that a widget is made of two pieces A and B. Components A and B are only useful when making widgets, so nobody besides the widget corporation manufactures them. The corporation manufacturers components A and B and then assembles them to make widgets. Suppose that the corporation manufactures A at a cost of $5 each and B at a cost of $10 each.

The problem is that the widget monopoly cannot tell if it is manufacturing A and B efficiently. Suppose the free market cost were $2 for component A and $3 for component B. There's no way that the monopoly would ever know, since it isn't subject to market competition.

The problem can't be solved by "outsourcing" A and B. The outsourcing vendor would have no choice but to sell to the widget monopoly. The management of the widget monopoly would bid out the contract to their friends, rather than seeking a truly competitive bid.

A large corporation with a State-granted monopoly/oligopoly has the *EXACT SAME* resource allocation problem as a communist dictatorship. With a monopoly, it's impossible to tell if each of its internal processes are efficient or not. In a free market with lots of small businesses, inefficiencies are obvious.

You may ask "If large corporations are so inefficient, then why are they the dominant mode of production?" The problem is State distortion of the market.

The Federal Reserve, income tax, and government regulations are an enormous disincentive to productive activity.

The Federal Reserve makes it hard for individuals to accumulate capital; their savings are eroded by inflation. It's very easy for management of large corporations to raise capital; they can borrow at a negative real interest rate.

The income tax means that approximately 50% of the economy is directly stolen by the State. With 50% of the economy at their disposal, it's very easy for politically connected insiders to lobby the State for favors. If I work twice as hard and double my income, the bad guys get $1 more for every extra $1 I get!

Government regulations are effectively subsidies of large corporations. A large corporation can effectively amortize the cost of regulation compliance. For example, compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley costs a lot more for small corporations than large corporations, as a % of assets. Sarbanes-Oxley is effectively a tax on small corporations. As another example, consider State mandates for milk pasteurization. A large industrial milk farm can afford to buy its own milk pasteurization plant, and charge extortionate fees if small farmers want to use their plant. A small milk farm cannot afford its own milk pasteurization plant, and it pays monopolistic rent to use the large farm's plant.

Large corporations don't dominate because they're actually more efficient. Large corporations dominate because their management can most effectively lobby the State for favors. If I control a $10M business, then it doesn't pay for me to spend $1M bribing Congress for favors. If I control a $100B business, then I can easily afford to spend $10M bribing Congress for favors.

This bit deserves its own separate post.



In this thread on mises.org, someone asks about how a free market would handle global warming.

Most "global warming" policy proposals are essentially corporate welfare, if you read them carefully.

In a truly free market, victims of pollution would have a valid tort claim against polluters. For example, people who have oceanfront property that will be submerged by global warming have a valid claim against people who have CO2 emissions. In practice, I suspect the size of the claim would be so negligible that it wouldn't be worth pursuing.

You also could argue that someone who owns oceanfront property deserves the risk they're taking. In a free market, it might be cheaper for them to sell their property and move than purchase flood insurance.



This post on gilliganscorner was missing an important point. He says "voting is pointless" and "voting is immoral".

Approximately 50% of the people in the USA vote. The State steals about 50% of the productive value of the economy. Approximately 50% of the population is employed, directly or indirectly, by the State. For example, if you work at a corporation that manufactures tanks, you're effectively a State employee even though you don't work directly for the State.

Since 50% of the population is directly employed by the State, voter turnout will probably *NEVER* fall substantially below 50%!

It's wrong to say "voting is immoral". "Voting is pointless" is more accurate. For example, if I *KNEW* that only 10 people were going to vote in the next election, I would definitely try to find 11 sensible people to vote for the government to shut itself down.

More important than "voting is immoral" is "paying taxes is immoral". The proceeds of taxes are directly used to injure other people, directly or indirectly. For example, corporate welfare of the financial industry makes it impossible for me to start a free market bank. I would like to start a free market banking business, but the Federal Reserve interest rate subsidy and State regulations make it impractical. When you pay taxes, you prevent me from opening a free market bank.

I consider "Taxation is theft!" to be obvious. Even more important, "Paying taxes is immoral!", because the proceeds are used to hurt other people. When you pay taxes, you're directly contributing to my oppression. In the present, tax resistance is risky, so I understand if you see the gun and pay the tribute. I'm working towards building free market alternatives, so that people can conduct economic activity without paying tribute/taxes.

If 99.99% of the population voluntarily pays taxes, then the bad guys can afford to waste a lot of resources tracking down the remaining 0.01%. If the ratio were 90%/10% or even 99%/1%, then it might become very difficult to raid everyone working in the free market.

This bit deserves its own separate post.



I liked this post on Check Your Premises about the destruction of trial by jury. A jury has *TWO* responsibilities. The first is to judge the facts of the case. The second is to determine if the law itself is morally just.

However, State restrictions on trials effectively repeal trial by jury. There are many restrictions.
  1. A lawyer is barred from specifically mentioning jury nullification during a trial. If you want to present a jury nullification defense, you must present it yourself sui juris. Even in that case, the judge may hold in you in "contempt of court" for disobeying his order to not mention jury nullification.
  2. The jury selection rules are biased. For example, the judge will ask you if you believe in jury nullification; if you answer yes, you are excluded as a juror. In a "possession of marijuana" trial, the judge will ask you if you believe marijuana should be legalized; if you answer yes, you are excluded as a juror. Originally, a "jury of your peers" meant people who *PERSONALLY KNEW THE DEFENDANT*. Now, a "jury of your peers" means "people too stupid to dodge jury duty".
  3. Even if you are knowledgeable, serving on a jury is a waste of time. You spend 1-2 weeks just to maybe help one person. You'd probably have to intentionally lie to get placed on the jury.
  4. The rules of evidence are biased. For example, suppose you were previously robbed and are on trial for "illegal possession of a gun". You are barred from mentioning that you were previously robbed and had a gun to protect yourself.
  5. If you attempt to defend yourself sui juris, the judge will be biased against you. If you are represented by a lawyer and he makes a technical error, the judge may let him correct it. If you represent yourself and make a technical error, you won't be allowed to fix it. The rules of a trial are *INTENTIONALLY* complicated, so that anyone attempting to represent themselves is at a disadvantage. If you're threatened with State violence, your best option may be to pay tribute to a lawyer, so you may escape conviction. However, for many issues, I probably could defend myself better than a lawyer.
  6. In a "high profile" case, the State may spend millions of dollars. The defendant must spend their life savings, to avoid conviction. From the State's point of view, wasting millions of dollars is irrelevant.
  7. The judge gives the jury instructions for what to do. These rules are biased in favor of the State. For example, the jury should interpret the law as quoted by the judge; in the case of the income tax, it's unclear if the law actually allows it! The jury instructions specifically bar them from practicing jury nullification. The jury instructions imply that the jury may be sent to jail if they disobey the judge's orders! (I read an actual jury instruction document once; it was posted on the Internet during someone's trial.)
This bit deserves its own separate post.



I liked this article on the Daily Kos, referred by Ran Prieur (May 16 entry).

If you join a cult church, it can change your personality type! (According to the Briggs-Meyers scale.)

I took that test a long time ago, and came out as "INTJ", the most common type for software engineers, about 1% of the population. With my increased awareness, I noticed that I no longer fit into a single point on that scale.

That makes me wonder. Is "personality type" merely another aspect of pro-State brainwashing. I estimate the size of "The Remnant" to be 1%. Is that the natural distribution of human behavior, or a consequence of pro-State brainwashing? There *NEEDS* to be a certain % of people capable of thinking logically, so that new inventions can be built and things can be efficiently repaired. However, you can't have *TOO MANY* such people, otherwise they would figure out what's going on and revolt.

Are public schooling and other brainwashing programs carefully calibrated to produce a specific distribution of personality types?



I liked this article, referred by Ran Prieur (June 7 entry). A sheriff in Philadelphia is refusing to enforce mortgage foreclosures.

A debt contract with a bank really is a no-interest contract. A mortgage contract isn't enforceable, because the bank performs no work when it issues the loan. The bank literally prints new money and loans it to you.

Due to the Compound Interest Paradox, a certain percentage of people are forced into bankruptcy during each economic bust.



I liked this article by Paul Graham, referred by Ran Prieur (March 21 entry). Humans weren't meant to having a boss. Working in a large corporation is an unnatural human behavior.

He gives a nice example. If you see a lion in a zoo, they're captive, bored, and listless. If you see a lion in the wild, they have a *LOT* more energy.

Ran Prieur really should have a RSS feed. I don't look at his blog regularly, because he has no RSS feed.



I liked this article by Paul Graham. It's about moral fashions and taboo ideas.

The biggest "taboo idea" is "Taxation is theft!"



This post on no third solution was interesting, but also contained some errors and omissions. It was about credit card debt.

Most credit card contracts now contain "mandatory arbitration clauses". Any disputes are decided by an arbitrator, instead of a court. The arbitrators are chosen by, surprise, the financial industry. According to that post, the creditors win in arbitration 99.8% of the time. The creditors will refuse to re-hire any arbitrator that rules in favor of debtors. A clause in the arbitration contract allows either side to exclude any arbitrator for arbitrary reasons. The arbitrators know where their bread is buttered, and rule in favor of the creditors most of the time.

David Z missed a big point. A credit card debt contract is a no interest contract. When you borrow via a credit card, the bank literally prints new money and loans it to you.

When a corporation or bank borrows, they get to borrow at a negative real interest rate. The interest rate on a credit card is 15%-25%, which is very close to the true inflation rate.

David Z missed another big point. Bankruptcy law was recently changed. It is much harder to discharge credit card debt in bankruptcy court.



This article on no third solution had another interesting bit on jury nullification.

Prosecutors have broad discretion on what types of criminal charges to pursue. This adds another layer of unfairness to trials.



I liked this post on GraphJam.





I liked this post by Zhwazi. Pro-State trolls tend to be precise, but not accurate.

Libertarians tend to be very precise thinkers. Not always necessarily accurate, but precise. In a "2.24885837+2.11358=3.92485263" sense.

A common Libertarian mistake is "Defend the free market. Corporations should be allowed to do as they please." Without massive State subsidies, corporations are not profitable. Libertarians defend a partially free market as a free market.

Most of the "abuses of the 'free market'" are actually due to restrictions on the market in the first place.



I liked this YouTube video, referred by to Herd or not to Herd. The blame for rising gasoline prices belongs 100% with money supply inflation and the Federal Reserve. In 1947, gasoline was about $0.25 a gallon. In 1947, a quarter was made primarily of silver. You can sell a 1947 quarter based on its silver metal value, and it's still worth approximately a gallon of gasoline.

The mainstream media will make all sorts of excuses for rising gasoline prices. Money supply inflation is *NEVER* blamed.

Decreasing supply and increasing demand does partially contribute to rising gasoline prices. By my estimates, 80%-90%+ of rising gasoline prices is due to money supply inflation.



I always thought that it would be neat to start a business writing computer games. However, I noticed that the barrier to entry is getting higher and higher. You need a team of 5-10+ people just to have a shot of making a decent game. I missed the 1980s when someone working alone could make a bestselling game.

At the same time, the barrier to entry for an amateur filmmaker is getting lower and lower. All you need is a video camera, an Internet connection, and a good theme. Posting a self-made video on YouTube isn't profitable yet. Pretty soon, there will be sites where amateur filmmakers can post their videos for a profit. If your expenses are low, you probably only need an audience of 10,000-100,000 to make a profitable business.

I'm seriously considering vlogging as a side business. I wonder if I'll be able to attract a wider audience vlogging? My only initial investment would be a camera and my time. If I continue to grow my audience at a rate of 10%-20% per month, then I might have a viable business soon.



I liked this article by Paul Graham on trolls.

There's a sort of Gresham's Law of trolls: trolls are willing to use a forum with a lot of thoughtful people in it, but thoughtful people aren't willing to use a forum with a lot of trolls in it. Which means that once trolling takes hold, it tends to become the dominant culture. That had already happened to Slashdot and Digg by the time I paid attention to comment threads there, but I watched it happen to Reddit.

That is one reason I crack down so hard on pro-State trolls. This explanation is better than the one I gave. If a discussion forum is fulled with thoughtful people, then trolls have no problem joining. Once a forum is filled with trolls, then the thoughtful people leave.

This isn't, technically, a forum. I do post all non-spam comments. I don't actively participate in comment threads, except for Reader Mail posts.

I used Wikipedia before the paid disinformation agents (trolls) took it over. It *IS* possible to design a discussion forum/wiki engine that's troll resistant. I may write it myself if nobody else does. The key is moderation on a *PER-USER* level, and not a global level. For example, Digg presents the same "front page" to all users. A Digg-like engine that presented different content to each user, customized based on their preferences, would be *FAR* superior.



I'm starting to get bored/frustrated with mises.org. It's the usual "occasional insightful comment, buried by flamewar" problem. On the other hand, it's been successful driving traffic to my blog.



I was thinking about the novel "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe". In the novel, they say that you can pay for your meal by depositing $1 in a checking account. By the end of the universe, the cumulative effect of compound interest means that it would be enough to pay for your meal.

This is false. The rate of money supply expansion is almost always greater than the rate at which interest is credited. Even under a gold standard, there's the risk that the issuing authority will default on its money. In a free market, there's the risk that your bank will go broke.



This post on the Picket Line criticizes my criticism of the Picket Line. I said that using Quakers as a model for tax resistance is wrong. David Gross disagrees, and he's writing a book on the Quakers.

The problem is that Christianity is inherently a slave religion. Christianity says "Accept abuse while you're alive, and you will be rewarded after you die." That's invalid reasoning. You only get to live once. Anybody who claims to know what happens after you die is lying or a fool.

Christianity says "Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." In other words, Christianity is *EXPLICITLY RECOGNIZING THE LEGITIMACY OF GOVERNMENT*. That's one reason why Christianity is so popular. The Roman emperor didn't convert to Christianity because he thought it was true. He converted *BECAUSE IT WOULD ENABLE HIM TO BETTER CONTROL HIS SUBJECTS/SLAVES*.

Arguing against government by quoting Christianity is like arguing against the the income tax by quoting the IRS tax code.

Besides, quoting the Quakers is an example of *FAILED* tax resistance. If you're a pacifist, you just let other people take your stuff. The correct attitude is not "pacifist", but "non-aggression principle". They are *DIFFERENT*. In the present, the State has superior resources, so violently resisting the State isn't practical (yet?). It would be neat if, at some point, policeman raided your house and you could later bring up charges against the policemen in a free market court. By the time that's practical, it's all over anyway.

Actually, it isn't as infeasible as it sounds. Suppose there was a mature (but nonviolent) agorist economy. It would be a very valuable resource. Any policeman who raided an agorist would be *BANNED* from the free market community. At some point, there may be goods and services that are *ONLY* cheaply available in the free market!



I liked this post on Check Your Premises. A "capitalist" is an absentee owner. He owns a business, but does not supervise its operations. Under such circumstances, the capitalist *MUST* use a military/dictatorship structure to manage things. Otherwise, he can't "manage" his business without being present. Even if the capitalist is actively involved, if he has too many employees, then he can't keep track of what they're doing.

In a truly free market, businesses larger than 100-200 people just don't work. Without State subsidies, large corporations aren't profitable. A large business would be better off fragmenting into several smaller businesses. Someone with surplus capital could still invest it by lending/loaning it to other businesses. Most investments would be gold-denominated time-deposit loans, rather than equity. Without State subsidies of capital, making an equity investment in a business is pointless. If the capital investor earned truly great returns, that means his employees could profitably form a competing business.



The Picket Line is still obsessed about Quaker war tax resistance. There was an interesting bit. If a Quaker was drafted, he could instead pay a fine and avoid the draft. The Quakers objected. If they're taxed and the proceeds are used to hire a soldier, that's as bad as if they fought themselves.

I pay approximately 50% of my income directly in taxes. Approximately 50% of the Federal government's budget is military spending. The means 25% of my productivity is directly spent on warfare. Suppose Congress passed a law saying "Everyone has to work 3 months per year for the military." There would be outrage! Via income taxes, the effect is the same. Actually, it's even worse. My productivity is far greater than the average soldier. By stealing 25%+ of my productivity, the proceeds are used to hire a soldier for more than 3 months per year!

From the point of view of the President, he's better off letting me work in the "free market", leeching 25% of my productivity, instead of directly drafting me to work for the military.

The Quaker war tax resistance movement was not successful. I don't look to them as a model of success.

In the present, the Federal government's budget is *FAR* greater, as a percentage of the economy, than it was in 1864. An agorist economic revolt has a greater chance of succeeding now, because the government is leeching a far greater percentage of the economy!



I liked this post on Life, Love, and Liberty. A lot of young people in Iraq are disillusioned with Islam. They have decided that their religious and political leaders are fools.

The Iraq war is leading to similar attitudes in the USA regarding the Federal government. Maybe the Iraq war wasn't a waste, if it's making people question the illegitimate power of government!



This post on no third solution about credit card balance transfers made a good point. I'd seen it mentioned before.

When you do a "balance transfer" to a new credit card, you're given a "teaser" rate and charged a fee on the balance transfer. What they don't mention is that new purchases *AND* accumulated interest are charged at the "normal" rate. Any payments reduce the "teaser" balance first. Your principal payments reduce the balance that's charged the lower rate, but not the balance that's charged the higher rate.

When you borrow via a credit card, the bank is literally printing new money and loaning it to you. A credit card debt contract is a no interest contract. However, that doesn't mean it's morally acceptable to rack up credit card debt and refuse to pay. The correct response is to avoid debt unless it's at a favorable rate, such as a mortgage or stock option or futures contract.

The rate typically charged on credit card debt is closer to the true inflation rate of 15%-30%. Also, State regulation of the credit card industry drives up prices.



I noticed this article (from 2004) about a hedge fund manager closing his fund. He didn't have any disaster. He closed it voluntarily.

Hedge funds are facing increasing regulation. If you're managing a small fund, the cost of regulation compliance is a greater percentage of your assets, compared with a large fund. This forces small funds out of the market.

The effect is that the mega-funds are fantastically profitable, but the small funds are forced to shut down. A big hedge fund has a lot of perks. A large hedge fund can buy out entire corporations, using 7x-10x leverage. These assets don't need to be "marked to market", as long as the hedge fund can meet the interest payments.

With a leveraged buyout, the hedge fund loads up the acquired company with leverage. Frequently, the hedge fund immediately pays itself a dividend equal to its initial investment. Over time, inflation is 20%-30% while the interest rate on the debt is 6%-8%, making this a lucrative investment. The hedge fund profits from leverage plus inflation. After a few years, the business can be sold or made public again via an IPO.

If the hedge fund has a better credit rating than the acquired company, there's a further advantage. New debt can be issued at a lower interest rate, paying off the higher interest rate debt.

A small hedge fund can't exploit these tricks as efficiently as a large hedge fund. A large hedge fund is in the "too big to fail" category. A large fund that fails would receive a bailout similar to that of Bear Stearns and JP Morgan Chase. This factor, combined with increased regulation, drives small hedge funds out of the market.



I liked this article, referred by the Mental Militia forums. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is making a database of all mail, the sender and recipient. Currently, it only applies to commercial mail, but it probably will be expanded in the future. It's practically guaranteed that UPS and FedEx have similar databases, shared with the government.

Of course, just because there is a massive database, that doesn't mean someone is capable of using it intelligently.

I see a market for agorist courier services developing. If you really desire privacy, you should *NOT* use USPS, UPS, or FedEx. If the goods being delivered have high value *AND* privacy is important, then there's a market for free market delivery services.

For example, if I was a free market gold or silver dealer, and someone in another city wanted to purchase 50 ounces of gold, I would *NOT* use USPS, UPS, or FedEx. I'd use a trusted courier, who would agree to respect my privacy and my customer's privacy. The cost of delivery, *PLUS* the risk of a raid, would be factored into the price. For example, carrying $50k in cash is interpreted by the police as de facto evidence that you committed a crime. The courier probably shouldn't carry more than $10k cash at a time, or goods that wouldn't be seized like cash.

For example, I could instruct the courier to sell the 50 ounces of gold and then immediately go into a couple of stores and buy 20 computers. (The courier would not be stupid and buy 20 computers in the same store with cash.) A van carrying $50k cash is suspicious. A van carrying 20 computers is not suspicious. Alternatively, I could instruct my customer to pay me in computers/goods instead of cash.

This bit is worth its own post.



I liked this page on the Mental Militia wiki about tax resistance strategies. At the time of the US revolution, most cities were small and everyone knew everyone else. A "social boycott" of tax collectors made things very uncomfortable for them. For example, tax collectors would not be welcome in stores. Due to the resistance they faced, the State had to pay tax collectors higher salaries.

Another interesting possibility is a "social boycott" of people who pay taxes. In the present, that's going a bit overboard. You can't refuse to trade with someone who pays taxes, unless you present them with a viable alternative. It's morally acceptable to see the gun, pay your tribute, and make plans for avoiding the mugger later. A "social boycott" of taxpayers is only practical when a very large percentage of people are already boycotting; by that time, the battle has already been won.

Another interesting tactic is "divide and conquer". Many poor people are the recipients of welfare. Therefore, they should support the taxation system. Most "mainstream" political issues are "divide and conquer" issues, rather than any issue of substance. Who cares what your attitude towards abortion is? If you're busy debating abortion, that's time not spent debating "Are taxes morally acceptable?"

Another interesting strategy is for tax resisters to have their property formally owned by others. I read a story about a tax resister who had a "common law" marriage. All his property was in his wife's name. He wasn't "legally" married, so when the IRS tried to seize his property, the IRS couldn't seize the property that was owned by his wife!



I saw this article, referred by this thread on mises.org. Farmers in Argentina are striking. The Argentina government placed export tariffs on farmers. However, the farmers grew their crops specifically for export. This is squeezing the farmers.

All forms of taxation are theft, including tariffs. The export tariffs means that farmers can't sell their crops for as much.

It doesn't make sense that farmers in Argentina are producing primarily for export, instead of local markets. The farmers have revenues in dollars, but expenses in Argentina's local currency. The problem is an unfair dollar-based international monetary system. Under an international gold standard, exchange rates are stable.



I liked this article, referred by this thread on mises.org.

What would you do if you found yourself controlling a State. You would do everything you could to consolidate your power. You would hire thugs to collect taxes for you (policemen). You would hire intellectuals to go around saying "The State is wonderful! Taxes are a moral obligation!" You would have a *MONOPOLY* of intellectuals, making sure all of them worked for you.

When I was a Math grad student, I asked the professors "Why don't we write articles aimed towards a general audience." All the Math professors said "A professor who does that will not be taken seriously." I understand the reason that's a key part of the conspiracy. A professor who writes for a general audience and is popular *IS NOT DEPENDENT ON THE STATE*. A typical Math professor is depending on NSF/State grants for job security and status. If a professor is popular with a general audience, he will have job security *EVEN IF HE DOESN'T HAVE ANY GOVERNMENT GRANTS*.

Most professors, even Math professors, are dependent on State grants. This allows the State to censor what research occurs.

If you control a State, you would make education/brainwashing mandatory.

You tell people that some services are exclusively provided by the State, such as roads, police, schools, courts, etc. Therefore, a State is necessary. You make up this fantasy called "public goods". The free market applies for most things. Some thing, like police and courts are "public goods". They are special, and the usual rules of the free market don't apply to them.

The people who control the State say that they are the final arbiter of all disputes, *INCLUDING DISPUTES INVOLVING THEMSELVES*. This is the "who watches the watchers" problem. If someone has the ultimate final decision in resolving all disputes, then what happens if that person abuses their authority? Once you grant someone the ability to have the ultimate final decision in *ALL* disputes, including disputes involving themselves, then you're granting them the power to enslave everyone.

The same principle that justifies a 1% taxation rate also justifies a 99% taxation rate. In the present, many taxes and costs are carefully hidden.

Not mentioned in that article is another key component of State power. The State's monetary monopoly is almost as valuable as its monopoly on violence. Without a monopoly on violence, you can't enforce a monetary monopoly. With a monetary monopoly, it's very easy to sustain your monopoly on violence! Controlling the State (or central bank), you're allowed to print new money and give it to yourself! With inflation of 15%-30% per year, this means the State is stealing 15%-30% of the value of the economy each year via inflation, in addition to the amount stolen via taxes!



I liked this YouTube video, referred by the Freedom Symposium. It's making fun of the "intelligent design vs. evolution" debate.

I can't believe that video has less than 2k views (when I looked on June 20)!



I read this from many sources. Congress is going to pass a law saying that *ALL* online transactions are reportable to the IRS for taxation. If you have payments exceeding $10k per year, then the bank is *OBLIGATED* to report them to the IRS. Previously, if you made a bunch of small transactions, they weren't reportable or taxable.

My reaction is "Great!" This means that a free market alternative to eBay and a free market financial system is that much more attractive! There should be a way for buyers and sellers to meet, agreeing to respect each others' privacy. Such a system *HAS* to be P2P decentralized, because otherwise the State could shut it down by cracking down on any centralized authority.

It's almost like Congress is intentionally passing laws to encourage a free market economic revolt! Maybe the Supreme Leader of Humanity is doing a great job!



I liked this post on the Agitator. An ambidextrous pitcher was facing a switch-hitter. Who has to declare what they're doing first, which side the batter is on, or which hand the pitcher is using? IMHO, it should be the batter who declares first, but apparently the rules were unclear.



Here's an interesting story from when I was in college. A graduate student in the philosophy department claimed he had a proof of the existence of God. The proof used a lot of formal logic. A Math professor was invited to read the student's paper. The philosophy professors were practically speechless; they didn't know what to say. The Math professor then said "It appears that your assumptions at the beginning are exactly the same as your conclusions at the end." Then, the philosophy professors tore apart the student's paper.

Similarly, a discussion of "Taxation is theft!" is the same. If someone says "Taxation is not theft.", and you analyze their reasoning, essentially they are taking "Taxation is not theft" as an assumption. You can conclude "Taxation is theft" from other principles, such as "Stealing is wrong". If you believe "Taxation is not theft" and "Stealing is wrong (when individuals do it)", then your beliefs are contradictory.



In this thread on mises.org, someone writes:

Whenever I start saying "Who needs government", the pro-State trolls say "You must provide an *EXACT* description of how a stateless society would function. Otherwise, we won't take you seriously". Isn't the collective wisdom of everyone in a free market superior to a handful of people making rules for everyone else?


First, if people want something badly enough, they'll voluntarily pay for it. Currently, I have *NO CHOICE* but to purchase roads/schools/police/courts from the State. In most cases, free market alternatives are outlawed or prohibitively expensive.

You cannot say "Without the State, nobody will build roads." In the present, the State has a monopoly on road building.

There's another argument you're missing. The anarchist has to describe, TO EVERY LAST DETAIL, how a stateless society would work, to convince the Statist. Why can't people experiment and work out the details as they go along? I can't be 100% sure how a stateless society would function, because there's no current or historic examples.

Further, when someone says "There should be a government", they're making a *POSITIVE* argument for its existence. The Statist says "Prove that a stateless society is valuable." Alternatively, you could say "Prove that having a State is a good idea."

Once you realize "Taxation is theft!", it's very hard to support any form of government at all. The same argument that allows a 1% taxation rate allows a 99% taxation rate. (In fact, if you carefully calculate all the direct *AND HIDDEN* taxes, you'd find them to be 95%-99% or more! For example, the State-granted monopoly/oligopoly of telecom corporations means that I pay more than the fair free market rate for phone service; that's a type of tax.)

Someone else made an interesting point:

It seems there is an "ah ha" moment for the anarchist, after which he and the statist cannot really communicate well.

Once you really understand how a *TRUE* free market could function, you can't support any form of government at all. It's difficult, but possible, to be converted from being pro-State to pro-free-market. I haven't heard of any conversions in the other direction.



By E-Mail, redpillguy writes:

Alternative currencies are becoming popular in Europe, in protest of the Euro.

Those alternate currencies are tied to the Euro. They trade at 1:1 parity with Euros. They are merely multi-level marketing scams, in the same manner as the Liberty Dollar. The only difference in using those alternate currencies is that the issuing authority recognizes seignorage revenue instead of the European central bank and financial industry.

A *TRUE* alternate currency must be based on sound money. It must be based on gold, silver, or other tangible goods. If you develop an alternate monetary system based on fiat money, that's loss-oriented thinking.

Also, if you use an alternate monetary system and still pay income taxes, you're still a monetary slave. Taxes can only be paid in government-issued money. You cannot completely boycott State-issued fiat money unless you work off-the-books.



Barry b. has left a new comment on your post "The Compound Interest Paradox Revisited - Edward F...":

Excellent, Excellent post. But....I don't have time to read the whole thing so I've bookmarked it and will read the rest of it tonight. I'm currently reading 'the age of turbulence' - greenspans bio. The Federal Reserve is 'immoral' - that's a very important point that I think is perhaps, the most overlooked. It's amazing what people are willing to give up in order to achieve undeserved prosperity....

That is the most important point, when arguing against the Federal Reserve and income tax. If you make a "legal" or "constitutional" argument, you're fighting the bad guys on their turf. The *MORAL* argument against the Federal Reserve and income tax is *MUCH* more important that any other.

Are you the author of the "debt prison" blog? You don't understand the evil of the USA's monetary system until you understand the Compound Interest Paradox.



In this thread on mises.org, someone was complaining that his ISP had implemented a monthly download cap. Such caps are becoming more commonplace, and some users are complaining. I've seen this complaint in many places.

There's nothing inherently evil about saying "You have a limit of 10GB per month or whatever.", provided it was clearly spelled out in your customer contract.

The problem is that the telecom corporations have a government-granted monopoly/oligopoly. If they all decide to simultaneously price-gouge, there's nothing you can do about.

Also, a lot of telecom corporations are lobbying "We won't invest in upgrading our network unless we're allowed to repeal network neutrality".



Mike has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #56":

On blog hosting/self-hosting:

Bluehost.com immediately comes to mind, though I don't know if the limits would be suitable, and they probably have all the PHP safe mode restrictions to worry about. That and being located in Utah immediately ruled them out for me.

I looked into this a few months ago when I was pondering where to set up nostate.com. In the end I chose a local hosting provider, since I like the ultimate option of storming into their office red in the face if things break down.

www.atlantis.sk. I paid about $200 for a full year of "beta plus" which included domain transfer, unlimited bandwidth, more disk than I'll ever need, no limits on database size, no safe mode, custom php.ini options, SSH access, some marginally useful stats reporting and a bunch of other things. Yes, you'd have to grok Slovak to sign up and manage it, though I get pretty responsive email support in English.

And after starting up with them, I promptly lost all of my notes from the research I'd done. Anyway, the service is out there. Cheers.

I need to speak fluent Slovak to get good customer service? That doesn't sound like such a great deal to me.

I researched hosting 2 years ago, and the best deals I could find were $50/month. Moore's law is working in my favor. Hardware and bandwidth costs are coming down. "Virtual server" technologies are improving, allowing more customers to be hosted on the same hardware.

I asked someone at work, and they said they pay $20/month for hosting. At this point, the time cost of self-hosting is probably greater than the monetary cost.

I'm not planning on moving away from Blogger right now. I'll move *IF* I start making serious full-time income off blogging related activities. I may experiment with vlogging in a year or two, but I'll probably start with YouTube.



tablesandchairsandtables has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #56":

Mises.org: Say I want to start up a business (actually, I am considering starting up a business making buzzers) in the U.S..

What are all the laws I have to follow? Where do I even start to find out such a thing?

You Responded: I researched this.

You need to incorporate, which will set you back $500+.

Incorporation is one of many options when starting a business. The entrepreneur could also choose to create a sole proprietorship, partnership, or cooperative (in addition to a wide variety of types of incorporation; ex: S corp, C corp). Sole proprietorships require no state interference, and partnerships generally require an Article of Partnership (also, no state interference).

There are problems with each of those methods. A C corporation is the "most sophisticated" type of corporation. This provides the greatest "corporate veil" protection of your personal assets.

However, if you're running a corporation where it's 100% owned by you, and it's a small business, then you *DON'T* get the same protection as a mega-corporation. If the corporation is essentially you, then it becomes much easier for someone to "pierce the corporate veil" and go after your personal assets.

A partnership does not provide protection to your personal assets. In a partnership, each partner is personally liable for the full debts of the business. You can have a limited partnership, but that's more legal hassle to incorporate.

My point is that the best method probably is a 100% off-the-books business. If you have a true agorist business, this is the way to go. You should avoid incorporating. If you're selling your product to a large corporation, then unfortunately you have to incorporate. A large corporation is going to pay you on a 1099 form, which is automatically reported to the IRS. If your income is taxable, you should incorporate so you can deduct as many business expenses as possible.

Why should someone looking to start a business be faced with such a confusing array of incorporation options? Someone starting a business should be focused on one thing, creating something useful. When you start wasting time incorporating, hiring lawyers, hiring accountants, and bending over for the IRS, then you're really wasting time. A true free market business should minimize its overhead. The current corrupt economic system has a *LOT* of pointless overhead for someone starting an on-the-books business.



This thread on mises.org degenerated into a flamewar. The subject was "Is there such a thing as a just war?"

War is the health of the State.

War is an excuse for higher taxes. War is an excuse for money supply inflation. War is an excuse to funnel money into the pockets of politically-connected military contractors.

A lot of people were confused about "war of aggression" and "war in self-defense". A war of aggression, such as the invasion of Iraq, is immoral. A war of self-defense is, for example, 10,000 enemy troops land in a US city. It would be *EASY* to round up soldiers for a *LEGITIMATE* war of defense. The people currently employed as policemen probably could handle a war of defense. Do you *SERIOUSLY* think an invasion army in any US city would have any chance of success, even if there were no Federal government?

A lot of people were saying "War is a part of human nature." That's false. War comes from government. Without government, then large-scale wars aren't profitable.

Some people were saying

A war to overthrow government is pointless. You would just have a new government, which might be more abusive.

But what type of war will restrict the power of government? A violent overthrow probably would not work. However, an *ECONOMIC* war has not been tried before. That is the whole point of agorism. People should ignore all the taxes and regulations that prevent productive economic activity. If you're clever about it, it would work. Just because an economic revolt hasn't been tried before, doesn't mean it won't work in the future.

I'm surprised how many people have resistance to a *TRUE* free market. It must be a huge mental shift, to go from being a pro-State troll to being a true advocate for free markets.

That thread degenerated into a trollfest, filled with strawman arguments and ad hominem attacks. It's an interesting topic, but the shouting drowned out any intelligent discussion.



I haven't had any runaway popular posts in awhile. Once in awhile, I make a post that rapidly shoots up my "Best of FSK" list. That hasn't happened recently. Am I losing it?

So far in June, I'm on track for a 5%-10% readership growth compared with May. If I had a for-profit business with 5%-10% monthly customer growth, that would be *AWESOME*. However, 10% growth from 100 readers is only 110. I'm slowly "climbing the long tail".

It isn't as easy to "go viral" as it sounds. A concept like "Taxation is theft!" is really important, but for some reason it doesn't circulate as fast as a rickrolling.



This thread on mises.org about Ireland failing to ratify the EU was interesting.

The problem is that they can hold the referendum again and again each year.

Did Ireland vote against the EU this year? They can vote again next year.

Once you vote to join the EU, it's practically impossible to withdraw.

I read that many provisions of the EU are being implemented via treaty. That's a loophole to avoid a referendum.

Someone else mentioned:

The EU is requiring "tax harmonization" and uniform laws.

"Tax harmonization" essentially means "Governments agree to collude and offer the same tax rates everywhere. People can't get lower taxes by moving." Uniform laws are similar.

Pro-State trolls say "If you don't like the USA, then move!" The problem is that there's no unoccupied space to move to and set up a free market. Due to various treaties, *EVERY* government has a corrupt taxation system and corrupt monetary system. It's more practical for me to try and start a free market where I'm living now, than move and face the same struggle (or greater) elsewhere. At least in the USA, there still a certain sense of individual rights.



In this thread on mises.org, someone was writing about minimum wage laws.

Minimum wage laws, paradoxically, affect the poorest people the hardest.

There is another side-effect you missed. Suppose I can sell hamburgers for $2 each if I could hire someone for $5/hr, with a labor cost of $0.50 per hamburger and raw materials cost of $0.50 per hamburger. I am barred from hiring someone for $5/hr; the minimum wage is $10/hr. People are still going to eat hamburgers. I can then profitably hire someone for $10/hr and charge $3 per hamburger, for the same profit margin (cost of $1 in labor, $0.50 in raw materials; my profit margin is still 50%).

The minimum wage law drives up salaries, but it *ALSO DRIVES UP PRICES*. The cost of the minimum wage law is borne by the worker who can sell his labor for $5/hr but not $10/hr. The cost is also borne by people who pay a higher cost for goods and services.

As another example, the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) has a minimum wage of $700+ per day for an actor. Most actors are on the bottom end of the wage scale. This means that most actors spend large quantities of time unemployed, but earn a decent rate when they are lucky and find a job. Instead of finding steady employment for $100-$200 per day, actors are mostly unemployed instead. The minimum wage rule makes it hard for new actors to break into the industry. An employer isn't going to risk hiring an unknown actor, because he has to risk at least $700 to hire them; hiring an unknown actor for only $100 is much less risky.

Mainstream economists use calculus and other sophisticated mathematical models to justify State intervention in the market. Fancy Mathematics is useless if your underlying assumptions are wrong.



In this thread on mises.org, someone was looking for advice on choosing a college so they could study economics.

Why do you want a degree in economics?

If you really want to learn *REAL* economics, then you're better off reading various sites on the Internet (such as my blog).

If you think a degree in economics will guarantee you a decent job, that's another reason. You may get a decent job, *BUT* you may not have actually learned anything useful.



In this thread on mises.org, someone was complaining about rising oil prices and inflation. "Greedy speculators" are falsely given the blame for rising oil prices. The poster complains that mainstream media sources don't explain rising oil prices properly.

Politicians and mainstream media commentators are almost 100% propaganda artists. They are *NEVER* going to say "The blame for rising oil prices lies with the Federal Reserve and money supply inflation."

The Fed Funds Rate is currently 2% while inflation is 20%-30%. Therefore, it is profitable for speculators to borrow at the Fed Funds Rate and buy oil. The "greedy speculators" are acting in their rational self-interest, given the context of a corrupt monetary system.

If you look at "price of oil" divided by "price of gold" or "price of silver", then the price of oil isn't increasing by much.

If you don't like what politicians and mainstream media commentators are saying, then why are you wasting time listening to them? I find it amusing to watch, looking for the obvious lies and propaganda (fnords).



In this thread on mises.org, someone was complaining that the law is getting to big and cumbersome. There are too many restrictions on someone who just wants to do useful work.

There is a way out. It's known as agorism.

It is exactly as you suspected, civil disobedience and the black/grey market. You do useful work, without getting permission from the lawyers. You ignore all the stupid taxes and regulations, and you just focus on doing useful and productive work.

The power of government is increasing, not decreasing. The crippling effect of taxes and regulations are increasing, not decreasing.

How do you know that there isn't someone, somewhere, who's secretly pulling the strings? Maybe he wants the current corrupt system to completely collapse?



In this thread on mises.org, someone was writing about inflation.

Here is a better inflation calculation. The CPI is a bunch of lies and propaganda. A better measure of inflation is M2, M3, or the price of gold. The Federal Reserve no longer publishes M3, but the price of gold is a reasonable substitute.

If you use the price of gold as your index of inflation, rather than the CPI, then median annual income has been decreasing at a rate of 8% per year since 2001!

If you keep money in a bank account, the credited interest is MUCH LESS than the true inflation rate. Over time, money in the bank loses its purchasing power. Your savings are stolen via inflation.



In this thread on mises.org, someone was writing about the Social Security insolvency problem and the bankruptcy of the Federal government.

Social Security will be defaulted on via inflation. You'll still get your $3000/month benefit check, but it'll only buy a loaf of bread.

Taxes will probably also be raised. However, if they raise the tax rate too high, then people will just start working off-the-books.

Historically, when an economic system collapses, old people with substantial savings lose everything. They become dependent on their children to support them. Young productive workers can benefit from the collapse of an economic system, provided they can do useful work.



eagledove9 has left a new comment on your post "Thimerosal, Mercury Vaccines, and Autism":

I'm sending this comment again because I think I accidentally hit "preview comment" without ever hitting the "publish" button.

I didn't see a duplicate comment.

Two more theories:

Dr. John Martin, Ph.D., says he used to work at the FDA and he found OTHER viruses contaminating the vaccines. The viruses came from the monkeys that the vaccines were cultured in. The viruses were 'stealthed' in such a way that they caused chronic illnesses and the body could not completely eliminate them, similar to AIDS.

Also, the virus itself, the disease contained in the vaccine (measles, mumps, etc) can trigger autoimmune responses that destroy various neurons in the brain. This is similar to diabetes type I, and cataplexy, both of which are theorized to be autoimmune diseases.

I respect anecdotes. People's observations might be correct, even if they don't know how to interpret what they see. Here is what they describe about vaccines and autism (this is my paraphrasing):

My healthy, intelligent young child was learning how to walk, talk, interact, etc. and he/she did everything normally... until ONE DAY when I vaccinated him/her. The child suddenly developed a high fever, and started screaming and crying and wouldn't stop. The child became sick for several days, stopped talking, stopped making eye contact, and never recovered. Before the vaccine, the child was talking and interacting and doing just fine.

According to the anecdotes, the children are perfectly fine the day before the vaccine is administered. Then all of a sudden, immediately after the vaccine, within hours, they become sick and never recover. Afterwards they live a lifetime with the symptoms of autism.

I think anecdotes are important because they reflect real people's experiences. They don't just repeat the big-government viewpoint that doctors are required to tell everybody. This is why internet forums are good for getting at least an overview of people's medical experiences, even if you don't have enough information to really interpret what's going on. It's still hard to decide which information is good. But in some ways it's better than what doctors and government scientists tell us.

In a truly free market, such anecdotal stories would be taken seriously. You could pursue a claim in a free market court. In the present, doctors will frequently ignore anecdotal complaints of patients. If your doctor refuses to take your complaint seriously, then the patient has no recourse.

As another example, I was forced to take anti-psychotic drugs against my will. One side-effect of the drug is that you're unable to sleep. If you tell your psychiatrist, he says "Being unable to sleep is a symptom that you have a mental illness and need the drugs." In this manner, anecdotal evidence is discarded. Psychiatrists are *SPECIFICALLY TRAINED* to recognize patient complaints of drug side-effects as symptoms of their illness!

In the present, there is no incentive for the State/FDA/pharmaceutical industry to properly track negative side effects of drugs. By sovereign immunity, they have no liability when someone gets sick.

Overall, I consider "mercury vaccines are harmful" and "mercury vaccines are beneficial" to be *NOT PROVEN*. There hasn't been a proper scientific study.

I consider "anti-psychotic drugs are harmful" to be 99.9%+ proven, based on my personal experience and observations of other patients/victims.

Another way the State operates is that, once a bad practice is accepted, it's hard to reverse. For example, "vaccines are mandatory for children" is now "conventional wisdom". You can't challenge that. Mandatory vaccines are backed up with full State violence.

If mercury vaccines were *CLEARLY VERY HARMFUL*, it probably would have been discovered by now. It is possible that they are slightly harmful, or only cause severe side-effects 1 time in 100 or 1 in 1000.



Darrell has left a new comment on your post "Real GDP Growth Has Been Negligible Since 1990":

Not really a comment about GDP growth; but about statements on the economy. The economy is good... what does that mean exactly. Well, if the top 1% owns as much as the bottom 90% and the next 9% owns as much as the bottom 90% that means that if the investments of the top 10% go up 20% and the bottom 90% drops 35% over the same time span, you have an economy that is doing well

The top 1% only care about their own personal wealth!

Actually, the middle class plays an important role stabilizing the economy. The middle class will advocate for the rights of the upper class, because they have a fantasy that they will be members of the upper class someday. The smarter members of the lower class can be convinced to not revolt, because they can join the middle class.

If you destroy the middle class, then the whole scheme unravels. For this reason, destroying the middle class is a great idea, if you want the economic and political system to collapse!

I calculate "median annual income" instead of "average annual income", because that gives a better measurement of the typical person's wealth.

The average person today has better living conditions than a king several hundred years ago. Similarly, when the State collapses, people who were in the top 1% may have a far greater standard of living, even though they may no longer be in the top 1%.

It's better to calculate your absolute personal wealth, rather than your wealth relative to someone else.

The elimination of government might be a *BIGGER* shift than the industrial revolution or the development of computers and the Internet. (Anyone smart enough to know that my blog is "dangerous" is also smart enough to know that their standard of living might be dramatically raised if an agorist revolution succeeds.)



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Fluoride Conspiracy Theory":

Teeth are not bones, so that does not back your argument that fluoride should not only make teeth strong but other bones too.

Really? I thought teeth had the same chemical composition as bones. How does the composition of teeth differ from bones? I haven't studied much biology/biochemistry.

You're missing the main point of that article, along with the one on mercury vaccines. I consider "fluoride is beneficial" to be *NOT PROVEN*. I also consider "fluoride is harmful" to be *NOT PROVEN*. Almost all scientific research is funded directly or indirectly by the State. Research proving or disproving their safety has not been conducted by someone I consider trustworthy.



Monkt has left a new comment on your post "Who Cares About Rising Gas Prices?":

Marc Stevens actually did an interesting video on this a few weeks ago.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=LEsEvb1WsIY

That was interesting. The price of gasoline, quoted in silver, has not risen substantially since 1946.

I calculated "price of oil" divided by "price of gold" and it's increasing at a rate of 5%-10% per year over the past few years.

I prefer reading blogs to watching YouTube. I can read much faster than the average person will speak in a video.

To Herd or not to Herd (see above) mentioned the same video.



Kirsten has left a new comment on your post "Non-Abusive Dating/Relationship Techniques":

So how is your strategy of wooing women by refusing to speak to them working out?

That's mischaracterizing what I'm doing. If you attempt to make eye contact with someone, that's almost the same as walking up to them and saying hello. It's the nonverbal equivalent. However, most people are too emotionally crippled to notice, or they pretend to not notice.

I've been approached a lot by homeless people lately. For some reason, they zoom in on me as being an easy target. I never noticed that before.

For example, one woman seemed attractive and returned eye contact. However, her pickup line was "Can you spare some change?" That was really odd, considering she was speaking on a cellphone just before; she obviously wasn't homeless.

I'll try mixing up my tactics, sometimes saying hello and sometimes just trying to make eye contact. The problem is that meeting a complete stranger on the street is very hard. People are conditioned to believe that a random complete stranger is someone who's trying to hurt them.

Normally, you meet people via friends, but most of the people I know have moved away or are too busy with other things.

I'm planning to write more on this subject, but I've been busy with other things.



Tristan has left a new comment on your post "XM and Sirius Merger":

Its rather like transport.

So often I hear people saying that rail is a 'natural monopoly' and you can't have competition between rail companies (which is wrong anyway, because they can compete over different routes to the same place or over trying to get you to locate your business on their line, not a competitors and so on).

In reality however, rail competes with road, aeroplanes and even canals.
It is the field of transport as a whole which they compete to provide a better service.

There's no such thing as a "natural monopoly". Monopolies *ONLY* exist via the State.

For railroads, they received land grants directly from the government. The State exercised its eminent domain right to seize land and give it directly to the railroad.

I read somewhere that the Federal government actually granted railroads full allodial title to their land. They don't have to pay property taxes, and they're exempt from local zoning laws.

The most abusive "natural monopoly" is government itself. If you think about it carefully, then competition is feasible. Why not allow two separate networks to lay telephone and electric cables? Why not allow two separate water delivery networks? It's not that huge of an expense. In a free market, that would be a viable check against monopolistic vendors.

How about we have some competition between government and a true free market?



barry b. has left a new comment on your post "Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, and Adh...":

Here in Mississippi (like all states) the state government is in charge of issuing marriage licenses. As a result, you have to get blood tested here in MS - so they can check you for......syphilis. Apparently it used to be a big problem in MS. It no longer is and seems to be like there would be perhaps a couple of diseases more important that syph to be looking for. But state still mandates this blood test. Personally I think these government issued licenses for the affairs of your personal life are for the birds and brings us a whole range of vile legislation relating to it (think gay marriage).

Mandatory testing is corporate welfare for the corporation that administers the test.

My nephew (just graduated high school) and I were listening to the radio and the issue of drug piss testing in schools came up. He immediately stood up strong for the program stating "kids don't need to be selling drugs at school" and on and on. Well last time i checked children are the responsiblity of parents - and we are steadily creating mountains of legislation in this country to raise our kids in the absence of parents. So I suggested the idea to my nephew, that the problem with drug testing these kids is that it opens the doors for all sorts of other testing they would like to perform on children. Obviously the labs that do the testing are the ones benefitting. And then there is the issue (which came up recently) of mandatory mental screening for all teachers AND students. I suppose this way the government can demand you put your kids on drugs. Anywho - that's the road you start down once you begin these paths.. have a good one - enjoyed the read..

The mandatory mental screening programs are horrible, from what I heard. I consider "mental illness" as typically defined to be a non-existent illness. If your child is resistant to pro-State brainwashing, then he's labeled with a mental illness.

The mandatory mental screening is a questionnaire. It's so vague that normal emotions can be categorized as symptoms of a mental illness.

Suppose a psychiatrist inspects your child and determines he has a mental illness. The psychiatrist demands your child be drugged into submission. Suppose that, as a parent, you refuse. Then "child protective services" is called and your child can be forcibly drugged or taken away from you.

The "chemical imbalance" theory of illness is complete nonsense.

That's another reason to homeschool. The more I think about it, the only morally acceptable way to raise children is via homeschooling. It's hard to make it work, economically. In the present, both parents typically need to work.



David_Z has left a new comment on your post "Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, and Adh...":

Maybe a more appropriate term would be "duress."

Adhesion refers to any contract which is generally not negotiable, and not necessarily a contract one party must accept. Most insurance policies fall under the "adhesion" category, insofar as you can't negotiate the policy line-by-line, they're on standard form.

I suppose a "contract" with the State, like social security or birth certificates is also kind-of an adhesion contract (since it's non-negotiable) but it is primarily a decision under duress, and as a contract, any honest court would find such instruments to be facially void --- not because it was a contract of adhesion, but because the decision to accept it was not made freely.

I looked for a definition of "adhesion contract". An "adhesion contract" is a contract that restricts one party while leaving the other free. An "adhesion contract" implies an inequality of bargaining power. Adhesion contracts are boilerplate contracts presented in "take it or leave it" fashion.

For example, as condition of employment, I am required to sign a "non-disclosure" and "non-compete". However, my employer is unrestricted. The only obligation of my employer is to pay my salary, but that's merely in exchange for my work. That's an example of an adhesion contract. In theory, I can refuse to sign the non-disclosure or non-compete. In practice, all employers will offer such terms. (However, I did get my current employer to shorten the term of the non-compete and make it more narrowly defined. I could not compete with my current employer even if I wanted to; their customer contacts are *FAR* more valuable than the ability to write good software. That is a symptom of communism and nepotism capitalism, rather than a true free market. The valuable aspect of the business is the customer contacts; they could hire any slave to write software for them.)

As an extreme example, the "social contract" or contract with the State is an adhesion contract. The State is imposed on me without my consent. However, the Supreme Leader of Humanity is unrestricted. He may do whatever he wants, even though everybody else is his slaves.

I cannot negotiate each individual clause of my "contract" with the State, yet politicians have the power to alter it at will. In this sense, it is an "adhesion" contract.

I'm not really interested in debating definitions. You understand my point. The State is imposed on me against my will. Whether you define that as an "adhesion contract" or "duress contract" is mostly irrelevant.



propertarian has left a new comment on your post "XM and Sirius Merger":

So often I hear people saying that XM and Sirius are 'natural conditions' resulting in "free market" and you can't have more than two satellite radio companies. This is wrong, because the FCC satellite regulations prohibit new satellites to be launched. And because of our corruption is often hidden, it is impossible to estimate whether corruption was significant in the radio monopolies.

In reality, defending the merger is an aspect of vulgar libertarianism. iPods, iPhones, videophones and some trivial ideas like Internet radio and cell phone radio are patented.

If all these patents are repealed, our society would be very different than currently-existing capitalism. In repealing patents on trivial ideas like e-education and work from home, our society would be much wealthier and technological.

I think that, instead of forbidding the merger, the FCC should allow the merger and auction off the satellite radio license to a new market participant. In the context of a communist economy like the USA economy, it's kind of pointless to debate such trivial issues.

When the Internet was first developed, software patents weren't commonplace. The idea at that time was "You can't patent Mathematics." Imagine if all the technology underlying the Internet were patented!

I agree that patents are, in general, a bad idea. As a software engineer, many software patents seem obvious to me. That leads me to believe that patents in other areas are overly restrictive.

In a really free market, there's no such thing as intellectual property. Intellectual property can only be enforced by a monopolistic State. For many "patentable" ideas, they usually would be considered obvious to experts in the field. Suppose I developed something independently. If someone else had already patented it, that makes my work illegal! Most patents are owned by large corporations, frustrating small competitors. Patents have a huge cost, making it difficult for an individual inventor to profit from patents.

The hype is "Patents protect inventors". The reality is that patents protect large corporations and the politically connected people who control them.



Max has left a new comment on your post "Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, and Adh...":

Nice blog. I would be interested in your thoughts on the Liberty Colony and really establishing a place of freedom. Without action all talk is pointless.

I saw your Liberty Colony proposal being debated on mises.org. Most of the criticisms seemed valid to me.

I agree that it's time to move from talk to action. I consider agorism to be the best strategy. I'm still in the planning stage, but I plan to move from theory to implementation in the next few years.

You're requiring the Liberty Colony participants to move to a 3rd world country. Contrast that with agorism. When I seek agorist trading partners, I'd only be asking for a part-time commitment to get started. It's much easier to get someone to spend 5 hours per week than get someone to move.

You say that Liberty Colony members will get land. Who is occupying that land now? If the land is unoccupied, then it's probably desert and unusable as farmland. If the land is occupied, what are you going to do about the current occupants?

You're asking members to move to a location that hasn't been determined yet? I have to spend $100 to vote or find out where it's located?

Assuming you could find usable farmland, you're going to have to totally build new infrastructure. As an agorist, I can pick and choose my efficiencies. I can practice free market farming or clothing manufacturing, while still using the slave economy for my other needs. I can visit my State-licensed dentist if the agorist economy doesn't have dentists yet. I can still purchase food, water, electricity, and telecommunications from the State, until free market equivalents are developed.

The security corporation that organizes the Liberty Colony has an initial monopoly. That sounds potentially abusive.

Suppose your project is successful. What prevents an army of 1000-10,000 invading and destroying your progress?

Your project sounds unrealistic to me. It's better to stand your ground and set up a free market where you live right now.

2 comments:

gilliganscorner said...

Hey FSK,

Thanks for citing my post. Your recent series on the Compound Interest Paradox was very interesting. Keep up the good work.

However, I never stated on my post that "voting is immoral". I did state that "voting is pointless", but not immoral. And no, I did not go back and re-edit the post. You have my word on it.

Cheers!

Liberty Student said...

I'm starting to get bored/frustrated with mises.org. It's the usual "occasional insightful comment, buried by flamewar" problem. On the other hand, it's been successful driving traffic to my blog.
I'm starting to get bored/frustrated with my job. It's the usual "occasional cool task, buried under mountains of paperwork" problem. On the other hand, it's been successful at keeping my belly full and my rent paid. :)

Blogging for traffic and market share is a job, just like any other. Sometimes, you do what you have to do, to increase your traffic!

For example, one woman seemed attractive and returned eye contact. However, her pickup line was "Can you spare some change?" That was really odd, considering she was speaking on a cellphone just before; she obviously wasn't homeless.

In these situations, I would ask her for change or to use her phone.

People who panhandle don't expect someone to ask them for something, and the momentary confusion will normally get you past them and further down the road.

A friend once asked a homeless person for drugs or money to buy drugs. It was funny to see the beggar running away from the begged.

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