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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reader Mail #64 - Job Comments

There's one question I have now. Should I send a copy of my blog to the marketing owners of my former employer? My guess is "No. My correct attitude is '**** them!' If they can't manage their business properly, that's no longer my problem." If they decide they're serious about running a software company, then it's their job to contact me. I probably should ask some of them to be references.

There were so many comments regarding my work issues that I'm making a separate "Reader Mail" post just for this.

I'd already started actively looking for a job a week ago. I already have a bunch of interviews lined up for next week. Looking at Craigslist, there's a lot more postings compared to a couple of months ago. Plus, I'm qualified for more types of jobs now. I have more Java experience, and PHP experience. I didn't realize that most PHP jobs are listed as "LAMP". (Linux, Apache, mySql, Php) An idiot headhunter doing keyword screening, won't match "PHP" and "LAMP". Technically, I was using WAMP on my dev box (Windows + AMP), but LAMP for the production server.

I really need to find someone who'll do more than the typical headhunter "keyword screening". If you do a keyword screening, most headhunters say "Your 7 years of C/C++ experience has a market value of $0. We want a C#/.NET programmer." Some say "We're looking for a C++/UNIX programmer. Your C++/Windows experience is worth $0." In this manner, most idiot hiring managers are doing it wrong.

Seeing so much foolish behavior on the job market is a dead giveaway that the USA does not have a free market. In a true free market, someone with a clue would start their own company and clean out their competitors.

The idiot new manager orchestrated my firing. My direct bosses were the ones who pulled the trigger, but the idiot new manager manipulated it. I could tell the change in attitude over the past week or two. A lot more hostility was directed towards me.

This way, the idiot new manager has clean hands. He didn't make the decision to fire me, so it's not his fault. Now, the idiot manager can say "Rails sucks!", which he knows to be true since I was saying it! He's the type of guy who can singlehandedly wreck a company.

About 2 weeks ago, they had a meeting where the Rails advocate gave a demo of what had been accomplished so far, after 3 months of work. It was obviously a turd. The Rails advocate said "This is awesome!" The idiot new manager said "Looks good!" The marketing owners totally bought it. I couldn't figure out who was most pathetic, and couldn't stop laughing during the meeting. If that was all I accomplished in 3 months of work, I'd be totally embarrassed. I could have easily finished the whole thing by myself in 3 months, if I were allowed to use a language/platform that didn't suck. I'm thinking that ASP.NET/C# is the best choice.

Zargon has left a new comment on your post "Idiots vs Reality #2":

That's almost unbelievable. It would be sorely tempting to publicly call him out over it, but in the end, that only has the potential to benefit the owners, rather than you. You might mention it to the other intelligent employees, but as you said, the owners deserve what's coming to them.

Well, they deserve what they got.

I'm pretty sure that the idiot new manager arranged my firing, even though the Rails advocate pulled the trigger.

The idiot new manager is such a powerful evil force! I could literally see him changing the personality of other people. Before, my bosses were "40 hours/week is fine. We judge you solely by productivity." Now, their attitude was "Death march ahead! We don't care that you're our most productive programmer. We're firing you for not doing your fair share of work!"

If the idiot new manager is able to change people's personality towards evil/insane, then can I change people's personality towards good/sane?

Here's the evil truth. The current economic and political system is run by people like that idiot new manager. Psychopaths totally get their way, without resistance most of the time. They face isolated resistance from people like me, but people like me are easily discredited and discarded.

An interesting, though risky, option (should it even be feasible, given your practical & legal situation) is to write the website in your free time, and after you jump ship, give them a demo and make a standing offer of something like $1-5M for the website and optionally several hundred dollars an hour to maintain it as a consultant for some amount of time. If it's possible to write during a period of unemployment, that might be best.

It isn't worth the legal risk. If there's one thing marketing people know how to do, it's how to sue someone.

Suppose I made a working website on my PC at home. Suppose I demoed it to them. They could claim it's their property, citing my previous non-compete and non-disclosure agreement.

If I'm going to work on something in my spare time, I'd do something productive. I'd work on an agoristBay engine. I'd work on writing an XNA game. I'd work on my blog.

Financial software has a true economic value of $0. I'm wasting my time writing financial software.

Obviously, they'd laugh at you, and maybe threaten legal action to make you hand it over, which is why you would need to be damn sure of what your employment contract says, and store your work in a secure location anyways, but if their potential customers start realizing down the line they're all talk and no walk, they might get desperate. Or they might not, in which case you'd be out a month's worth of effort.

Exactly. They're desperate and insane. I don't want a protracted legal struggle. Suppose they offer me $50k for my program, and I refuse. Do I want to be involved in a lawsuit? From their point of view, they'd be offended. "Why should we pay FSK 1% of our company, worth $5M, for 2 months of work?"

Courts tend to interpret non-disclosure and non-compete agreements favorably towards the employer. Especially facing an expensive attorney, the dispute would most likely be resolved in their favor.

Did you hear about the guy who wrote a killer Facebook application, and then a previous employer claimed it was their IP?

There are other productive things I can do with a month of time.

Mike has left a new comment on your post "Idiots vs Reality #2":

Find the new job, then tell them where to stuff it?

What actually transpired was "Get fired, tell them to stuff it on the way out."

Telling them to stuff it on the way out may not have been so bad. I got the wheels turning in the minds of the marketing owners. The odds of them hiring someone else who knows what they're doing are negligible, essentially zero.

Now that I'm gone, the iditos can spin it "FSK was a lousy employee. We're glad he's gone."

Also, the idiot new boss can now start arguing "Rails sucks!" If the idiot new boss said "Rails sucks!" while I was there, he would be providing support to me. Now, he can loudly say "Rails sucks!", he'll be right, and he won't be reinforcing me.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Idiots vs Reality #2":

I've been in almost exactly the same situaiton (schmuck boss who was literally a gradeschool teacher in his prior job, thinking he could lead engineers and lying thru his teeth the whole time.) I confronted the CEO with his actions, and found that he had been telling her tales about me to undermine my credibility.

There definitely was a noticeable change in other people's attitude since the idiot new boss arrived. There was a lot more hostility towards me. Previously, I would have been working on minor bugs. Then, I was working on "OMFG!!! MAJOR ISSUES!!! WHY WEREN'T THEY FIXED IN FIVE MINUTES??!!"

(I don't suffer fools lightly so it was probably obvious to him what I really thought of him, though I was trying.)

I didn't bother pretending I respected the idiot new manager. People like him can see through that sort of thing, anyway. The biggest threat to a professional faker is someone who knows what he's doing!

I confronted her with proof, but she was unwilling to consider the possibility. So, I went back to my office, ostensibly to work on my "plan for fixing the mess [that my boss caused]" which she'd asked me for... an hour later I walked into her office with some paper in my hand. She said "That was a lot quicker than I expected!" and I said "Its not what you expect". Handed her the resignation letter and walked out the front door. Fortunately, I had been figuring that this might happen for a couple weeks so my desk had already been cleaned out, etc. I just gave her the letter, and walked out of the building, letting the other engineers know that I'd resigned on the way out.

I'd mentally quit, rather than literally quit. I was avoiding working on the Rails project, knowing it was a disaster. I figured I would do fixes in the old Java system for a few more months, until they realized the Rails project was a disaster. I also started actively looking for a new job.

I can't tell you how much pleasure it was to see the shock on her face when I resigned (She thought I was like all the other interchangeable schmucks who would work for too little money and put up with broken promises.)

And I can't tell you how great it felt to fire that fucking company!

They didn't last more than 4-5 months after that.

I don't give these guys more than a few months either. They're going to blow through their seed funding. If they raise more money, they're giving up a bigger chunk of their company. Their valuation isn't going to increase, because they don't have a working product. At some point, their customers will lose interest if they don't have a product. With a website like theirs, the value of their website is O(n^2), where n is the number of customers. They already have a large number of interested customers, which is a huge hurdle and marketing accomplishment. They don't have a working product.

The sad part is that it really was an amazing opportunity. If they had a working website, their valuation would be $250M-$500M. The marketing guys really did do a great job of promoting their product and generating interest, even though it was mostly vaporware.

I actually feel relived that it's over.

In the future, use salary and options as a measure of the company. Seems you got neither, which means that the people making the offer were assholes. IF they aren't impressing you with how much they want you, either by how much they will pay you, or by the cut of the company (on a fully diluted basis, of course) that they're giving you, then don't take the job.

They gave vague promises of lucrative option grants. They never made a written offer. They said "We'll have a formal options plan in a month or two." I've been cheated by that *TWICE* now.

I didn't have a strong bargaining position, so I didn't press the issue.

If you're in the first couple of engineers at a startup, you should be getting at least %1 of the company, vested over 4 years or less. A worthwhile company will give you between %5 and %50 (depending on how early you are and how much of the total business is based on engineering, etc.)

This business was half-software, half-marketing. However, I was not the senior software guy. I was actually listed as "junior software engineer" in their HR database (with 10 years of experience!). In this case, 0.25%-0.5% probably would have been fair. If you consider a sale price of $500M, plus dilution as more capital is raised, that would still be a decent paycheck for 2-4 years of work.

If they aren't offering significant upside, then its better to get a job at market wages at an insurance company, or some such-- no reason to take startup pressure with no upside!

Actually, it was pretty laid-back initially. When the Rails project started going off course, then the pressure intensified. I prefer a laid-back environment.

Regrettably, an insurance company or other big corporation won't hire me. First, I've switched jobs too often. Second, my experience is no longer in the "latest hot trendy thing". Third, I'm the type of person would would point out that the emperor is naked, which makes me unattractive to the typical nudist hiring manager.

Plus, as you have found out, the people who aren't worth working for are also the people who don't pay well. Good pay tells you that the working conditions are more likely to be decent.

Yes, I know. In this case, I'd been unemployed for a long time and didn't have a strong bargaining position. They seemed decent, so I accepted a raw deal. Their vague verbal promises of options were not fulfilled. I figured that I would at least get some experience (Java and PHP) that would help me find my next job.

Good luck! And remember, you don't owe them the next release. You don't owe them completion of the project.

You can walk out tomorrow with no regrets. But if another job is what you're doing next, line one up first. (I didn't in the case above, but wasn't on the market long.)

I was planning to give them my fair 2 weeks' notice when I found a new job and quit.

I didn't expect things to go downhill so quickly. I could tell they were headed in the wrong direction and the idiot new manager was angling to fire me. I didn't think they would move so quickly! I thought I was getting along well with the marketing owners, and I didn't get any "FSK is about to get fired" vibes from them. I wonder if the idiot managers fired me without consulting with the marketing owners first?

gyakusetsu has left a new comment on your post "Idiots vs Reality #2":

Code that P2P bartering program. I'd pay to see a copy.

I've been thinking about that. That would be a more effective use of my time than writing a website for my now-former employer.

How much? Should I solicit bids? I'll post a specification. I've been considering doing this. I think that a network of trustworthy trading partners is worth more than a piece of software.

"Write some software" is easy. The real work is trading with tangible in-person goods.

If I wrote my "agoristBay" engine, it would also be generally useful to find interesting content on the Internet. "Engine to find good agorist trading partners" and "generally good social networking engine" are almost equivalent.

Most social networking software falls short in the "trust metric" area. With agorists, trust is supremely important. With most social networking engines, the "friend" operation is boolean, and usually symmetric. Technically, it should be a float and non-symmetric. For example, you could say "I trust FSK. He has an awesome blog!" I could say "Who are you?" There's also a difference between "I trust FSK 10%" and "I trust FSK 90%".

BTW, my "Idiots vs. Reality" post series has been highly-plagiarized, according to Google. Some spam blogs have imported my RSS feed. The spam blogs are getting smarter. They're stripping out links back to my site. I'm not dignifying the spam blogs with a link, boosting their PageRank. Google "Idiots vs. Reality" if you want to see spam blogs plagiarizing me.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

The phrase "trimming flowers and cultivating weeds" comes to mind here.

I hadn't heard that one before. It had zero references in Google.

Oh, well, take a few weeks and decompress. Don't even start looking for a job - would be my advice. If you wanna write some code, great-- but see this as a well deserved vacation from idiocy!

I'd already started looking. I have some interviews lined up next week. I have a really cool one lined up on Friday afternoon. (All my interviews next week are at 5:30. I thought I'd still be employed!) Ideally, "job" and "hanging out with idiots" would have no overlap.

Here's the way I look at it. My *REAL* job is "Get an agorist free market economy started." My "source of income" is writing useless software for idiots.

thomasblair has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

Write the code for the website yourself and shop it to the two marketing guys who really seems to give a shit about their business opportunity.

If they've got a $200M-$500M company on their hands as long as they have a working site, you've got a $1M-$5M plus options opportunity knocking at your door if you do it yourself and present them with a working product.

That was suggested above.

First, there would be legal risk involved with doing that. I could give them a demo, and then they could sue me claiming it's their IP.

Second, I know I could do it without effort. I don't have to prove it. If they want it, they should do it with a formal contract.

Third, financial software has an economic value of $0. If I'm going to write software in my spare time, it should be something genuinely useful. I've been considering writing an "agoristBay" engine. It'd be cool to write an XNA game.

barry b. has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

Good work and glad to see you are making progress. Most people never have the nerve (balls) to say what they really think to the powers that be. I'm glad to see that you not only speak your mind here - but in the 'real' world as well.... always a fan.

Getting fired is progress?

I don't have patience for fools anymore. If someone's intent on ruining their business, then why should I waste my time on them?

In this case, "speaking my mind" included several obvious things:
  1. Ruby on Rails sucks!
  2. The Rails project is badly mismanaged, in addition to the mistake of using Rails in the first place.
  3. I could write their website by myself in 1-2 months. Anyone with a clue about software could do this. The trick is "How does someone who knows nothing about software hire someone skilled instead of a con artist."
  4. The genius new manager was really an unqualified dishonest ****sucker. A startup does not need a "software architect" who can't write a single line of code himself. If you're a technical employee in a small software startup, then at least 50% of your time should be spent writing code or fixing bugs. They had the "too many chiefs, not enough indians" problem.
Surprisingly, recognizing someone as an unqualified dishonest ****sucker is a rare skill. Everyone else was totally snowed by this guy. He was a *GREAT* faker. He'd been doing it his whole career! He had an "excellent track record", because he always managed to deflect the blame for failure elsewhere.

Now that I'm out of the picture, the unqualified idiot has no true enemies. (Declaring "FSK is my enemy!" is equivalent to saying "Reality is my enemy!") The bullseye is now squarely on the Rails advocate. The project is a disaster, and the genius new manager isn't going to take the blame. I was making decent progress with patches and bugfixes in the barely maintainable Java garbage. Good luck finding someone else qualified for the pittance they're offering! Besides, the unqualified idiot now has veto power over new hires. He's going to make sure they don't hire anyone good!

There are other good software engineers. The odds of landing one when you're offering almost no salary and "death march" conditions are negligible. If I were given a decent chunk of equity to promise new hires, I probably could get someone good. I could attract good resumes just by writing a job ad that didn't read like a keyword screening, "Need n years in language X."

I consider "disagreeing with FSK" to be equivalent to "disagreeing with reality". If you align your personal reality with anti-truth, then you won't like me. There's only one version of real reality. There are many different versions of anti-reality.

BTW, do you remember the incident in Idiots vs. Reality #2! The idiot new manager performed a successful mindwipe! I asked people about it again, and they said "The idiot new manager never tried to take credit for FSK's idea." He totally retconned it!

One of the skills I acquired during my "illness" was "The ability to prevent other people from altering my memories." I never realized that's a superpower!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

Come work for us at FINCAD. We need great developers for our financial system. That is, if you don't mind coming to Vancouver, BC...

I'm not interested in moving. Should I reveal where I live, in case I can get a job via my blog? If you've been paying attention carefully, you should be able to figure out where I live.

gilliganscorner has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

I was where you were once before. I do write some S/W, but I would not call myself an S/W engineer. Don't get angry or cynical. I did. It is a waste of time. You potentially have a *HUGE* opportunity in front of you. Stop thinking like a slave.

You said that two of the marketing owners seemed a bit sympathetic to you and you left it open with them to give you a call. This is the beginning of your marketing connections - something you said was lacking.

At this point, I'd be more interested in "We're starting a brand new business" rather than "bail out their sorry asses". The idiot new manager invested a chunk of his own money in my now-former employer. If I make the business worth $500M, then I'm also making a fortune for the idiot new manager!

I gave them my E-Mail. If they're interested, they'll contact me. In a few more months, when they don't have a working product, they might be more sympathetic. In order to have a better bargaining position, I should wait for them to contact me. Perhaps, I should send them a goodbye E-Mail, along with "BTW, here's a link to my blog."? On the other hand, perhaps leaving without another word is probably best.

I thought of sending my blog to the marketing guys. Should I? I still have the work E-Mail addresses!

Right now, I'll focus on looking for a new job.

There are lots of people who could singlehandedly write their website in 1-2 months. The problem is "Who do you hire?" If you're a marketing specialist with zero knowledge of software, you're almost definitely going to hire a con artist instead of a genuine software engineer. If you hire a software engineer based on their marketing ability, that's almost exactly the wrong approach.

How long would it take them to build a working product, now that FSK has left? You seem pretty confident that they won't. How long would it take *YOU* to write it, using the language/technologies of your choice?

Based on their current approach, they will have a working product NEVER. That's my fair and unbiased estimate. It would take me 1-2 months. I'd probably use ASP.NET/C#. I'd also consider PHP, but there are back-end tasks that can't be written in PHP.

Even if they had a $1B budget, the idiot new manager would find a way to squander it.

Maybe they'll succeed in getting the Rails project to work. If I could buy put options on their business, I would.

You know what their vision is. That is crucial. If you really think they have a company that would be worth $200-500M and that is contingent on what what you were building.

Of all the people in the software group, I'm the only one who really understood the business logic.

There's a couple of important software principles.

First, if you pick a good design, making changes is trivial. Don't go for 100% perfection on the first try. Get for something that mostly works, show it to the users, get feedback, and make changes.

If I'm not currently working there, I'm cut out of the "show it to the users, get feedback, make changes" loop. However, I still understand their product better than anyone else.

Second, what the users ask for isn't always right. If they ask for something slightly wrong, do what you think is right instead. You can always make changes later. Usually, the correct feature is somewhere inbetween both. If you have a working prototype to demo, and your design isn't stupid, then changes are easy. It's much easier for a non-software-expert to comment on a feature when he has a working demo.

You live at home w/ your parents. Financially, they may be willing to carry you while you write this thing. You may NEVER have the chance in your lifetime again to have someone else foot the bills while you do this. Oh, you can still look for a job , but you can focus on the product in the meantime. Leave your blog alone for while, if necessary.

My parents are not supportive of me. They are giving financial support, but not emotional support. They are saying "FSK got fired because FSK is a loser!" That's the wrong attitude, but they're too old to change. By default, they assume that all the bad things that have happened to me are a direct result of a mistake I made. They don't even get "The 'chemical imbalance' theory of mental illness is nonsense."

Realistically, I can't work on my own business while stuck here. My first goal is interpersonal freedom, which includes getting my own apartment. To appease my parents, I must get a regular slave job for now. (That sucks, but my freedom is restricted due to my illness. If I can avoid relapsing for another year and have a steady job, then I can justify moving out. I'd move out today if I could manage it without resistance from them.)

Working as an agorist while living with my parents is infeasible, because they'd say "OMFG!! That's illegal!" They'd be the first ones testifying against me in the event of an IRS audit.

So write it. Write it in the language and technologies you know are correct. Make notes of ideas enhancements along the way, but only implement the features needed to house their vision. Make notes of "nice to haves". Slap your stuff on VMWare Server (it's free), if you need to. After you have a working prototype, call up the two marketing owners to meet with them offsite, as having the Rails people around may distract you and the owners.

Show them your work. You want them to salivate. Keep it friendly and be excited but relaxed when you present. FSK is going to put on the marketing hat. Explain business value and advantages to your technical decisions (not too technical though). Your job is to translate everything to business value. Watch their body language. One thing I noticed about marketing guys - they are attuned to bullshit as they have dished enough of it out. If they ask lots of questions, that's good. If they get quiet but you have their rapt attention, that is *REALLY* good.

I'm not sure that would work. If they specifically hired me to do it, I'd consider it. I should wait a few months until they're more desperate.

I'm concerned about the legal risk. If I gave them a working demo, then they could sue me, claiming it was their IP.

The marketing guys did seem like genuinely nice guys. However, they picked total fools/scumbags to run their technology group. That reflects badly on them. I can't believe they started a software company without knowing a competent programmer to hire as co-founder.

Here's another important point. If you're starting a software business, then one of the co-founders *MUST* be someone who can write most of the prototype/first version by himself in a few months. If you don't know someone qualified to do this, then you have no business starting a software company.

The marketing owners are the decision makers, right? FSK has a working product. What do they have? Death march/80 hour per week employees scrambling to produce a product with skills they don't have? FSK, you can bet whatever remains of their development group are polishing their resumes and looking to bail at the first opportunity - except for the new manager you describe, of course.

They also have other people telling them "I can manage your software project." These other people are much more skilled at marketing/bull****. Now that I'm gone, those people can whisper "FSK was a bad employee! We're glad he's gone!"

Two of the software engineers are in college. For them, a part-time job helps pay the bills. They aren't going to bail yet. One is an H1-B visa. She can't quit without getting kicked out of the country. If she's smart, she's looking for a new job.

Yes, the other software engineers do have a clue. They can at least tell that I know what I'm doing. Seeing me get fired should be raising "Time to leave!" warnings. Some of the marketers may be jumping on the "Time to leave!" bandwagon. You can't sell something that doesn't exist!

I don't know if the Rails advocate is looking for a new job. For him, managing a software project is a big deal. He can't code. Almost half my bugfixes were really fixing things he broke. Did he ever think of running the application before checking in a code change? He can't open a can of soda without spilling half of it, much less manage a software project.

This is the Rails advocate's first full-time job after graduating from college. He's now managing a relatively large project. By itself, that is not automatically bad. However, you've got to make sure that your measuring progress and getting progress. However, I expect him to succeed on future job interviews. He will say "I managed a successful Ruby on Rails project!" and say it with a straight face. The Rails advocate is pursuing the path of anti-truth. He holds the idiot new manager as his role model, rather than me.

The idiot new manager summed up the evil of the State. "The further you are from doing actual work, the more you get paid. I never do any actual programming. Therefore, I'm a superstar employee. You should be grateful I'm here to manage things." The role model of the current corrupt system is a manager who does no actual work himself, and lacks the skill of deciding what employees to hire or how to manage them.

A manager who knows which employees to hire and properly manage them is truly worth a fortune. However, that is the exception, and not the norm. In the corporate world, the fakers are in firm control.

If the marketing owners bite, then you can negotiate terms. Ask to be CTO. Fire the new manager ;). Ensure you get a stake/share in the company with clear "trigger events" defined . For example, if company IPOs within X timeframe, triggers A, B, and C fire. If it DOESN'T IPO, triggers, D, E, and F fire. Define payout schedules and handcuff clauses. Anyway, I am probably getting ahead of myself.

They've already accepted VC funding, so I'd have to agree to whatever standard terms the VCs offer. "Fire the Rails advocate and fire the idiot new manager" is absolutely mandatory. They should do that even if they don't hire me back. The only really negotiable bit would be "what % of the company do I get in options". Someone pointed out I should demand accelerated vesting in the event of a buyout, but also agree to stay on to help with the software transition. When you consider that the company would be worth $500M with a working website, even 1%-2% becomes very lucrative for me.

"Fire the new idiot manager" isn't feasible. He has connections with them going back years. He has a "great track record". In other words, he's taken credit for every success, and blame for every failure was deflected elsewhere. He's an excellent faker. He's probably been ruining projects for years, but he's politically savvy enough to avoid getting blamed. (I have another post queued of "idiot manager tricks" that I wrote before getting fired.)

The idiot new manager is the type of person who can singlehandedly wreck a company. I'm embarrassed to be technically the same species as him. Someone that dishonest is doing it strategically on purpose. The example cited in Idiots vs. Reality #2 was too strategic to be an accident. He erased other people's memories and retconned it after he got caught.

If there's one thing you must learn, it's DON'T LET OTHER PEOPLE ALTER YOUR MEMORIES!

The current economic and political system is run by people like the idiot new manager.

You may be sitting on a HUGE potential, FSK. Think it through. Don't be pissed off and run to another corporate wage slave job, without thinking this one through. I broke out of that 10 years ago and contract/consult for a living now under my own company. My boss is an asshole. Oh wait, that's me. :)

I would like you to do well.

I'm not sure. I'll shop around. My now-former employer needs a few more months of go-nowhere software development before they'll seriously reconsider me. From their point of view "We just hired the idiot new manager! All our problems will be solved!" They need 3-6 more months of trainwreck before they'll be ready for enlightenment.

The idiot new manager accomplished his first major goal. The only person who knew he was a total fraud got fired. He has everyone else totally snowed. He could kick "Evil Dr. Will"'s ass. (winner on season #2 of Big Brother, one of the best reality show players ever)

I did my best. I tried to warn them. I'm not responsible for the failure of their business. Besides, they never offered me any options or equity. I'm not personally losing $500M. It would be nice to build their website and take a small slice of that!

The marketing owners say that this is the most promising opportunity of their career. That is probably true. However, *THEY NEED A WORKING WEBSITE*. Starting a software company without a qualified software engineer was a real boneheaded move. There are plenty of people they could have picked. When you know nothing about software, you'll probably get a professional con artist instead of someone who knows what they're doing.

If the marketing owners couldn't hire someone competent to write their software, then that reflects very poorly on them.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

jobs are very seldom about technical merit. CEOs and the rest arent faking it, they succeeded by mastering a different set of skills. no one ever said the world was supposed to go forward, or that all projects should get built. in some cases i've seen firing a good dev was the best political move for the manager, and they did well from it. The best devs i've seen very rarely get into arguments, they put their case clearly, technically and relate it all to the business objectives... if that fails... they get a new job asap and go were the odds are more in their favour. IT is all about the odds, as is finance, as is life.

This is trolling.

I disagree with "CEOs have skills that are useful in a true free market." CEOs excel at lobbying Wall Street and the State for favors. CEOs lead a communist/corporate/State bureaucracy. CEOs are great at political maneuvering, like the idiot new manager.

In a true free market, a manager who excelled at hiring decisions and managing people would be incredibly valuable. That is the exception rather than the norm in the present.

The world is run by people like the idiot new manager. Maybe that's the best argument for "There's no Supreme Leader of Humanity." The current corrupt system is totally the result of dishonest incompetent ****suckers giving each other favors, via the State.

Was firing me a good move politically? If you're running around without any clothes on, do you fire the guy who says you're naked? They bought themselves a few more months to continue the Rails trainwreck. The idiot new manager removed the person who knows he's a fake. In a large corporation, such gross incompetence can be covered up for years.

This is a small startup! They need working software. There's no room for political maneuvering and empire building in a small startup on a shoestring budget!

Could they hire someone else as good as me? Maybe, but it's really unlikely considering their situation. The idiot new manager is going to make sure nobody qualified is hired. With me out of the picture, the next confrontation is between the idiot new manager and the Rails advocate. The Rails project really is a disaster, so that should be an easy win for the idiot new manager.

I tried careful, logical arguments. The new owners said "We know nothing about software. Why are you asking us?" They brought in the idiot new manager. Let's see what he says! I tried convincing the Rails advocate that it was a disaster, but he sincerely believes that he's a brilliant genius manager. Since he sincerely believes the project is a smashing success, he isn't technically lying! When the marketing owners judge him by body language, the Rails advocate is able to con them. The Rails advocate succeeds at lying because he sincerely believes he's telling the truth. The idiot new manager succeeds at lying, because that's his only useful skill.

A blind person gets an exaggerated sense of sound and other senses. Similarly, an idiot manager with no useful skills acquires an exaggerated skill at dishonesty. I never considered dishonesty to be a useful skill, which put me at a huge handicap when dealing with scumbags. To compensate for my handicap (lacking dishonesty), I wound up with an extreme sense of proper logical reasoning.

Careful, logical arguments can backfire. The idiot new manager has the ability to mindwipe and alter people's memories. You can't win via logic when your opponent can alter people's memories! What are you going to say then, "The idiot new manager has the ability to alter your memories!" Nobody would believe that! I only believe it because I've seen it many times before! The shock of discovering "mindwipes occur" is severe enough to cause a mental break!

tomofindiana has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

I am new to your blog, but enjoy your diverse commentary. I agree with "PJM". You self admittedly are not a "Marketing Guy", so maybe part of the problem is you may not have marketed yourself enough to management? I know from recent experience that it is a tough job market for most coders and almost not worth being a slave. If you have the luxury of taking some time off and living at home affords you the opportunity to be entrepreneurial, go for it! You should think about the project while it is fresh in your head and possibly appeal to the marketing owners as a viable project maybe even done in parallel by you at home if you can single handedly beat the rails camp. Good luck and keep us posted.

I thought I marketed myself very well to the owners. All the feedback I got from them was that I was doing well. One of the marketers decided to start doing QA, and I was getting a lot of bugfixes and features done in their old Java system. I wonder if the Rails advocate fired me without consulting with the marketing owners first? Now that I'm not there, it's very easy to spin things so that "FSK sucks!"

I'm not sure. If I'm going to work on other projects, I'd work on my blog or an agoristBay engine. Financial software has an economic value of $0. I also have been considering writing an XNA or XBox Live Arcade game.

It is a very tough job market for software engineers. Most companies are run by people like the idiot new manager. As Zed Shaw said, "In an industry dominated by stupid, smart is unemployed." If you're an idiot manager, the *LAST* thing you want to do is hire someone like me. When interviewing, I screen for idiot managers as much as managers are screening me.

If I'm going to start my own business, it'd be something agorism-related. I'll stay in the slave economy for a few more years. I need to work on my interpersonal freedom.

eagledove9 has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

My first response to that was "Oh no!" It would have been easier in some ways if you could hunt for a second job while still working at your first one.

I was looking forward to trying that. In all my previous jobsearches, I was unemployed at the time. I'd have a better negotiating position while employed.

Somehow, it is always humiliating to get fired, even if the place was falling apart and you were getting ready to leave anyway. You can't help wishing that they would come to their senses: you said several times that the website could still have been built if it were done some other way that didn't use Rails.

Things were definitely falling apart. I'd already decided I was bailing as soon as something better came up. For the first month or two of my job search, I'll try to be more picky.

They really lowballed me on salary, and weren't offering me any equity. That's a bad sign.

This is just a theory, but I wonder if they were going bankrupt for some reason that had nothing to do with their website or any other projects? Maybe in the background, they were speculating on some stocks, or something, and lost a lot of money during the chaos going on in the financial industry? And it had nothing to do with the actual legitimate activities of the company? If that happened, it might explain why the company went into self-destruct mode. They might have lost so much money speculating that they couldn't think clearly anymore to actually keep running the business and trying to continue like everything was normal. Like I said, just a theory. There are lots of other theories for why they got so messed up.

They didn't have enough money to squander. They're operating out of one guy's apartment, in a mixed residential/commercial building. Some of the market owners were selling off personal possessions to sink more money in the company. (No! Don't sell your airplane or boat! Things are going down the toilet anyway!) Most of the marketing employees were paid in equity, with very little cash.

It would be great if you worked someplace doing a job you enjoyed with people who were really cooperating with you. There are people who value the work you do and care about whether you're happy.

I've had bits of such jobs from time to time. It is nice to work on a software project and have it actually work.

My now-ex boss seemed reasonable when I first started. After he made the commitment to Rails and started mismanaging things, that was the end.

Getting fired is better than getting dragged along on a death march! I would have absolutely refused unpaid overtime, so they had to fire me.

One last thing. Where did the two marketing guys get their seed capital from? The clock must be ticking. How long before the sugar daddies want to see ROI?

BTW, PJM is an old handle of mine. Sorry about the double post.

The content wasn't duplicated. I consistently use "FSK" as my online ID.

Their seed capital was invested personal savings. They may have had angel investors. They accepted some VC at a pretty impressive valuation for a company whose product was vaporware. It's not just that the investors want a working product. Pretty soon, they'll blow through their capital and they won't be able to raise more money.

One of the marketers explained it. Customers implies higher valuation implies more capital. What they're missing is "Working website implies customers". Did they screw up a minor annoying detail? Did they screw up a major component of their business?

If I knew what VC they were using, I'd send a copy of my blog to them!

The Rails advocate is saying "Let's hire a bunch more Rails developers and make them work 80 hours/week each! That'll solve all our problems!" In this manner, their cash burn rate is increasing. Further, the idiot new manager is saying "Let's outsource!" There's more money wasted.

sunni has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

Congratulations! Perhaps this can be the beginning of a more voluntaryist way of supporting yourself—from what I've seen, being a consultant has the potential of a fat hourly wage, travel perks (if you want to do that), and various ways to tweak your pay so that you're taxed less.

Good luck with whatever path you choose from here.

Actually, a consultant is just a different class of slave. If you're still billing your hourly wage, your income is limited. Plus, most consultants work at large corporate clients.

I'm not interested in traveling. I live in a city big enough to have many potential customers. However, I don't fit their "profile", so I'm excluded from these jobs. I really should start lying on my resume. Yes, I really do have 20 years of C# experience. Isn't that what your advertisement demanded?

I'm more interested in the free market agorism approach than sucking the corporate teat.

"Consultant" and "true free market worker" are nearly completely different.

Zargon has left a new comment on your post "FSK Got Fired!":

It seems that those two owners are aware of at least the possibility they're getting duped by the new manager, given their actions.

That will clearly be valuable if you decide to write their website on your own and sell it to them.

I don't think it pays to start doing that unless there's a formal agreement. The conditions would have to be something like:
  1. Get paid a decent base salary for time spent, no matter whether they decide to use it or not. I'd give them updates starting at 2 weeks and then every week, if they want to check the progress.
  2. If they decide to use it as their product, then I'm brought on as co-founder with a specific % of the company. Only a few % would be very lucrative, considering their company would be worth $500M if they had a working website.
  3. If they decide to use my version as their product, then the Rails advocate and idiot new manager are fired. The other technical employees actually were decent/average, so they'd be worth keeping.

With the beginning of 80 hour work weeks, would you really have been going back there on Monday anyways? I know I'd be cleaning out my desk as soon as I heard that announcement.

That isn't the approach I would have taken. I would have refused to work the extra unpaid overtime and dared them to fire me. Quite frankly, it was a volunteer job to begin with. I was paid practically nothing and had no equity/options.

BTW, Monday is a holiday in the USA. It's Labor Day!

I have some promising interviews lined up, along with the usual batch of clueless headhunters. I'm rolling the dice and hoping to work for someone with a clue!

Anyone who makes me take an online programming test is clueless. Everyone who's ever offered me a BrainBench test had no clue. Similarly, programming assignments are a waste of my time. If you can't spare someone to talk to me for 15-30 minutes to figure out if I know anything, then why am I wasting my time with you?

At my current job, my direct boss seemed initially relatively decent. However, he went off the deep end when he made a wrong "bet the business" decision on Ruby on Rails. There were broken promises of stock options. "Accept a lower salary. We'll have a written options plan in a few weeks." seemed believable, although I've been fooled by that twice now. (I had a weak bargaining position, so I didn't press the issue.) The idiot new boss is totally urinating over everything. It was a promising opportunity. If they kept their verbal promise regarding options and took a non-idiot development strategy, it could have been lucrative.

Some people are saying "Write a P2P agoristBay program, FSK!" I guess I should. If you want something done right, do it yourself! I've given specifications here, but probably nobody would implement it as well as me.

FSK Asks - Blog and Ex-Employer

Here's my question. Should I E-Mail the marketing owners at my now-former job links to my blog and relevant articles? I don't believe in democracy. I'll consider both arguments and the majority opinion.

I'm on the fence between "do it" and "don't do it". There's zero downside to doing it, other than the time spent writing the E-Mail, so why not?

Arguments against E-Mailing the marketing owners:

  1. It's their company. They're responsible for what their employees do. Even if they were totally duped, they're still responsible for the actions of their subordinates.
  2. It's not my $500M opportunity being flushed down the toilet. While I was working there, I had an obligation to do my best, even if it meant exposing the Rails project and idiot new manager as frauds. I am under no such obligation now. Why should I give them free consulting?
  3. Such an E-Mail might be viewed as "sour grapes".
  4. They might sue me for mentioning them indirectly in my blog, even though I never refer to them by name.
  5. Do they deserve a working product?
  6. If you start a software company with zero knowledge of software, you deserve a disaster. They should have picked a qualified technical person as co-founder. However, I could not have formed such a company, because I don't have the customer contacts they do. I could not start a financial software company because I have no marketing contacts.
  7. Their customers are already getting close to dropping them or losing interest. It probably could still be salvaged with a working product in the next few months.
  8. If they're serious about running a software company, is it their obligation to contact me?
Arguments in favor of E-Mailing the marketing owners:
  1. They might decide to hire me to write their website for them. I could do it independently, as a backup for when the Rails project fails miserably. I'm unemployed right now, and have nothing better to do!
  2. It'll create some extra tension for the people that screwed me over.
  3. They did seem like sincerely nice guys. They had no knowledge of software and got duped by con artists. Professional psychopaths take advantage of people with sincerely good intentions. In their specialty, marketing, they actually seemed to be doing quite well. They were able to sell something that doesn't exist, and never will exist unless they hire me to create it for them. (There's a small chance they could luck into someone else with a clue, but the psychopathic idiot new manager would never allow that.)
  4. It would be very lucrative for me, if they decided to use my version of their website and gave me even a small slice of equity.
  5. The marketing owners might hire me as co-founder in a future business, after this one fails. By marketing standards, they actually seemed quite impressive, although I'm not an expert at marketing.
  6. The Rails advocate and idiot new manager already are people I wouldn't consider working with ever again. Why should I care if they get pissed off at me?
  7. "FSK got fired" probably doesn't sit well with a lot of them. I doubt the idiots got approval before firing me. I didn't get "you're about to get fired" vibes from the marketing guys.
  8. I never did get a chance to properly say goodbye. Most of the marketing guys seemed sincerely nice.
What do you think? I don't believe in democracy, but I'll consider all arguments. I asked one guy by E-Mail, and he said "OMFG!!! OHNONONONOZZZ!! DON'T DO IT!!" That's what my pro-State brainwashing indicates, so maybe I should do it?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rent Control

Rent control is theft because the property owner is prevented from charging the fair free market rent for his property. *HOWEVER*, the rent control is already factored into the property price when the landlord bought the property. Repealing rent control would be a windfall profit for the property owner.

The primary victim of rent control is someone who is trying to rent an apartment. A would-be renter is forced to pay higher prices, due to the supply of apartments tied up in rent control.

In most rent control jurisdictions, new construction is exempt from the rent-control law. The rent control law benefits people who build new apartments, because the rent of non-rent-controlled apartments is artificially high.

In a *FREE* market, rent is not theft. If I invest in an apartment building, paying the fair free market price for capital, then I should be allowed to earn the fair free market rate of return. The problem is that the State distorts the capital market.

In the present, landlords receive a massive Federal Reserve interest rate subsidy. Suppose a landlord puts up $1M to buy an apartment building worth $10M, borrowing $9M from a bank. The interest rate on the loan will typically be around 6%, while inflation really is 15%-30%. The landlord's ownership claim to the property is not legitimate, because his property purchase was subsidized by the State.

In rent-control jurisdictions, the rate the landlord is allowed to increase his rent is still typically larger than the interest rate charged on his loan, yet still less than true inflation. For example, the landlord pays 6% on his mortgage, gets rent increases of 7%-8%, while inflation is 15%-30%. The apartment was still a sound investment.

For a rent-controlled apartment, *NEITHER* the landlord nor the tenant have a legitimate ownership claim. The landlord's ownership claim isn't valid, because he received a State subsidy to fund his purchase. The tenant's ownership claim isn't valid, because he's paying less than the fair free market rent. If I were the judge in a free market court, I would rule that a former rent-controlled apartment is *UNOWNED*!

I know someone who lives in a rent-controlled apartment. I pointed out that, if he could sell his lease to me and I could move in, that benefit would be worth something like $100k-$200k or more, depending on how much less his rent was than the fair free market rent. Living in a rent-controlled apartment, the incentive is for him to not move. If he moved, he would be giving up this massive State subsidy of his living arrangements. When he moved in, he had to pay a large broker fee (bribe) to get a rent-controlled apartment.

I heard a story of a hedge fund that purchased a rent-controlled apartment complex. The hedge fund sent frivolous eviction notices to a lot of people, claiming that wasn't their primary residence and they were ineligible for a rent-controlled apartment. For example, if someone else with the same name as a tenant owned a property, then the tenant would be accused of having a second residence. The tenants had to hire lawyers to defend their apartment; the hedge fund paid a lot less per eviction notice than the tenants paid defending themselves. Even if the tenants won in court, they didn't recover their legal expenses. Even if only 1%-5% of the tenants are evicted, this was a huge profit for the hedge fund; after eviction, the hedge fund can charge the fair free market rent.

When I was interviewing for college, I interviewed with a recent Princeton graduate. He was living in a rent-controlled apartment that he inherited from his grandmother. Most rent-control laws allow apartments to be passed from parents to children. A recent Princeton graduate probably had a very high-paying job; it was immoral for him to live in a rent-controlled apartment. However, if he moved out, then his landlord would receive an unearned windfall!

Rent control creates an adversarial relationship between landlord and tenant. The landlord isn't allowed to charge the fair free market rent, so the incentive is for him to do the minimum maintenance possible. In rent-controlled apartments, the furnace typically breaks on the coldest day of the year; by law, the landlord has 48-72 hours to fix it, and he takes the full 48-72 hours. By avoiding heating costs on the coldest days of the year, the landlord improves his profit margin.

*ANY* government action is theft. Rent control is a tricky issue, because neither the landlord nor the tenant are legitimate owners of the property. If you're paying the fair free market rent, then I do recognize the tenant as the legitimate owner; the landlord received a massive State subsidy for his purchase, but the tenant is the valid current occupier. When the State collapses, the current legitimate occupier of property becomes the owner.

Rent control laws didn't become popular until after the USA abandoned sound money. When the money supply started being inflated, rents started rising. However, workers' salaries typically rise less than the rate of money supply inflation. Rather than having a lot of people get evicted from their apartments, rent control laws were passed. The blame for rising rents is placed on greedy landlords or greedy tenants. An unfair monetary system is never blamed for price inflation.

In a free market with sound money, rents should be stable. As the population increases, rents would rise slightly. However, as there is new construction, rents would decline; rising rents would be an incentive to build. The net effect should be stable prices. State manipulation of the market, especially money supply inflation, prevents the natural equilibrium from occurring. There is legitimate hostility towards landlords; by using leverage and negative real interest rates, landlords receive a massive State subsidy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

FSK Got Fired!

I got fired today! I was slightly worried, because I could tell the new boss was trash-talking me behind my back. Still, I couldn't believe they were that stupid! I was the only one getting any work done!

I was doing bugfixes in their old Java system, while the Rails people were spinning their wheels and wasting time. I assumed that would continue for a few more months, until they realized the Rails project was a disaster (or I found a new job).

They got tired of me saying "Rails sucks!", so they got rid of me.

Actually, it's not much loss. They're entering "death march" mode. They're imposing "mandatory 80 hour workweeks". That's one way to guarantee failure, in addition to the ones they've already implemented. It was the idiot new manager's idea to start a death march. "People who work less than 80 hours per week aren't pulling their weight!"


After I left, two of the marketing owners came out to say goodbye. They asked me what went wrong. They did seem genuinely concerned that their $500M business opportunity is being flushed down the toilet. I told them to give me a call if they're ever serious about running a software company. They left open the possibility of bringing me back in a few months when they realize the people currently managing their software can't deliver. Hopefully, I'll have a new job by then. Firing the Rails advocate and the idiot new boss would be the baseline negotiating point, if they were serious. I should also demand a few % of the company in options.

I feel bad for the marketing owners. Some of them seemed sincerely nice. I feel bad that they got screwed over. I did my best. I'm not responsible for the failure of their business, or the squandering of their $500M-$1B opportunity.

Seriously, their company would be worth $200M-$500M if they had a website that worked. I could write it by myself in a month or two. I could name at least 10 other people who could do the same thing. Seeing them struggle to develop their product makes me realize that I'm more valuable than I thought! It's one thing to have an idea and promote it. It's another thing to have a website that runs.

In the financial industry, the vast majority of managers are faking it. The CEOs are definitely faking it, and the fakers follow on down the hierarchy. Someone who's faking it will almost never hire someone who really knows what he's doing. The Rails advocate was actually above-average by boss standards, but below-average by software engineer standards.

Seeing them struggle to get a simple website developed makes me realize that a good technical person is much more valuable that I think. It's one thing for a bunch of "marketing wizards" to start a company. It's another thing to have a working website.

From my point of view, hiring someone competent who can write your website is trivial. I can name at least 10 people I've worked with in my career who could do it as well as me, or better. The difficult part is "Which 10 people would you choose, of the 100 people I've worked with?" From my point of view, the choice is obvious. However, that's not the choice other people would make!

Gun Control vs. Abortion

The Republicans are relatively strong advocates of an individual's right to own a gun; the NRA typically backs the Republicans. The Democrats usually advocate for more gun control.

The Republicans usually are strong opponents of abortion. The Democrats tend to say abortion should be legal.

In a *FREE* market, anyone who wants a gun may buy one. In a *FREE* market, anyone who wants an abortion can get one. Without a government, there's no way to ban people from owning guns or having abortions.

What options does someone who supports personal liberty have? The Republicans are pro-liberty on guns, but pro-State on abortion. The Democrats are pro-State on guns, but pro-liberty on abortion.

This is a very clever fnord. Each party has *SOME* pro-liberty positions and *SOME* pro-State positions. This means that someone who prefers liberty is confused. By dividing up pro-liberty positions between the two parties, there's no voting option for someone to say "I prefer liberty".

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Idiots vs Reality #2

I can't believe I'm making this a regular feature. There was another incident at work I just *HAVE* to mention.

I've been working on a nasty bug for about 2 weeks. The new idiot boss they hired was saying "FSK is having a hard time fixing this bug. FSK isn't doing a good job." I finally figured out that the bug was caused by XYZ. I entered a note into the bug tracking system of my conclusion, which the new idiot boss obviously read. The new idiot boss was working in another city the day I fixed the bug.

When I was leaving, I told the owners, "It looks like I finally solved that bug. The problem was XYZ." The owners replied, "Yeah. The idiot new boss said that he figured out that XYZ was the cause." I said "He's just repeating what I said, claiming credit for it. He looked it up in the bug tracking system and claimed the idea as his own." The owners could not believe that the idiot new boss is an dishonest unqualified ****sucker.

Come on, that's just unbelievable. I've been working on this bug for two weeks. Even if he was an expert programmer (he isn't), there's no way he could have figured that out without spending as much time on the application as me. The idiot new boss came up with the exact same solution at the exact same time as me? I don't know who's dumber, the idiot new boss for trying it, or the owners for believing it. Even after I pointed out the plagiarism, the owners were still defending the idiot new boss, saying he couldn't possibly be that dishonest.

The main owner has known the idiot new boss for many years. The main owner probably can't recognize his "friend" is a dishonest unqualified ****sucker without having a complete mental breakdown.

A small software startup does not need a "professional manager/****sucker". A small software startup needs someone who can actually write software themselves. The first technical hire/founder in a software startup should be someone who'll implement most of the product by themselves in 3-6 months. The "marketing wizards" did not understand this, and their $500M business opportunity will be wasted. They did a great job of generating interest in their product, but THEY DON'T HAVE A WORKING WEBSITE.

What's harder? Generating interest in your product, or writing a working website? From my point of view, writing a simple website is trivial. Apparently, I'm in a minority. Actually, I could name 10 people I've worked with in my career who could also singlehandedly implement their website in a month, as well as me or possibly even better. However, a dishonest unqualified ****sucker will never hire such a person.

In the financial industry, connections are key. Even if I wrote a working version of their website on my own, I could not get my foot in the door with customers. The USA is "nepotism capitalism" and not a free market.

As other people observed, it's time for FSK to find a new job. It's actually a relief. Instead of thinking "I'm stuck with these ***holes!", it's time to shop around for a better deal. Staying in a hopeless job without looking for better things is definitely slave thinking. However, I'm probably not going to find non-slave working conditions until I switch to agorism.

I mentioned this in Reader Mail #63, but it's worth repeating.

I see now that "marketing wizards" starting a software company without a qualified software person was a disaster from the beginning. They literally had zero chance of success, and due to a statistical anomaly they lucked into me working for them. Their attitude is "We can hire any schmuck to write our website." The result is that schmucks are writing their website.
It's time to move on. It's so sad, because it really was a $500M-$1B business opportunity. If they gave me a decent chunk of options it could have been very lucrative. It's one thing to be a "marketing wizard" with an idea. It's another thing to have a working product.

I should make the transition from "agorism marketing advocate" to a practical agorist. Otherwise, I'm guilty of "all marketing and no implementation"! It's acceptable for me to wait a few more years, raising awareness in the meantime.

There's one question I have. Should I call the idiot new boss out for his dishonesty and incompetence? Or, should I realize they're all hopeless and quietly look for a new job? Calling him out would be fun. However, there's no point in talking when nobody is listening. The owners would never believe me. "Fire FSK" is an empty threat since they're going broke anyway and I'm way underpaid. They deserve each other.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Finland Loves FSK!?

According to Google Analytics, a discussion forum in Finland mentioned my post on The Compound Interest Paradox and drove over 300 visits to my blog! I'm not sure what that website is about; it appears to be Finnish financial news. I found the specific citation, by searching " fskrealityguide", but Google's translator was mostly useless. It's amusing to see pro-State trolls in badly translated foreign languages. They also mentioned my article on the Hunt Brothers, although nobody specifically linked to it.

According to Google Analytics, my previous single-day record for Absolute Unique Visitors was 272, when mentioned Real GDP Growth Has Been Negligible Since 1990. Due to the citation on this Finnish discussion forum, that record was broken with 346 Absolute Unique Visitors yesterday; 184 of these were from Finland. I can't believe my Absolute Unique Visitors record was broken by a citation on a website in Finland.

Based on Google's bad translation, there appear to be two types of comments. First, there's "FSK is insane. FSK should read an economics textbook. FSK does not understand the US monetary system." Second, there's "FSK has a deep understanding of economics that university economics professors lack. This article illustrates why blogging is useful and important." I have read a few economics books and articles, but I got rapidly disgusted by the false axioms, lies, and propaganda. A typical university economist does lots of fancy calculations and advanced stochastic calculus. These calculations are meaningless, because the assumptions are wrong.

Fiat debt-based money is the system used in every country. My writing applies to Finland as much as the USA. Finland is a member of the European Union, and the Euro is a corrupt fiat debt-based monetary unit as much as the US dollar. All my writings on the evils of the Federal Reserve and income tax apply 100% to people living in the European Union. However, I only speak and write fluent English.

Is there anybody who speaks Finnish that can translate that page for me? I thought about posting a comment there, but I don't know if English posts would be accepted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reader Mail #63

This article about chess-boxing was amusing. The two players alternate between boxing rounds and chess rounds. You win by knocking out your opponent, or by winning the chess match.

No third solution had a nice article about the Compound Interest Paradox. It's nice to see someone besides me explaining it.

A pro-State troll commented.

FSK is wrong. When banks borrow via the discount window, the Compound Interest Paradox does not apply.

The Federal Reserve may create money via the discount window or via monetizing the debt. Whether it's an overnight loan, 1 day repurchase agreement, or Treasury purchase, the Compound Interest Paradox still applies. Instead of borrowing at a year for 2.5% (current Discount Rate), the bank borrows for 1 night at approximately 2.5% divided by 360.

There's another point David Z didn't emphasize enough. When individuals loan or invest money, they risk the loss of their capital. When a large bank lends money, they are taking *ZERO RISK*. There is risk of default on any individual loan. Some borrowers actually profit from their loans. Just like a casino, the odds are stacked in the bank's favor, even though individuals sometimes win. When FRE, FNM, and other large banks are at risk due to defaults, they get a bailout. The Federal Reserve cuts interest rates to inflate and bail out banks. Large banks don't need to "mark to market" their assets during a recession.

When individuals invest, they risk loss of their capital. The people who control large banks are taking *NO RISK*. Even when they make bad loans, they get a bailout.

I like that analogy of banks as a casino.

However, the financial industry is worse than a casino. Nobody holds a gun to my head and forces me to play a slot machine. I have no choice but to play in the financial industry's casino. The only escape is to boycott the Federal Reserve and income taxes and use sound money instead.

I'm not interested in debating pro-State trolls anymore. I consider them subhuman and not worth my time.

This post on no third solution about Gresham's law was interesting. When citing Gresham's Law, the important point is that State violence distorts the market for money. If legal tender laws say that a piece of paper with the number "50" on it is legally equivalent to an ounce of gold, then people will hoard gold and trade the pieces of paper. Currently, American eagle 1 ounce gold coins have a face amount of $50 but their fair market value is much higher. You would be a fool to buy an American eagle coin and deposit it in your bank; you'd only get credit for a deposit of $50. If the Treasury department wished, it could have minted 1 ounce gold coins with a face amount of "$5000". Then, people would actually use them as money until inflation caught up with the face amount of the coin.

There is one circumstance where real money is preferable to paper, even in the presence of state violence. Suppose I have an agorist business. I want to invest my savings in gold. Suppose I sell you goods and services worth one ounce of gold.

If you pay me in physical gold, this is best for me. I have privacy and anonymity. Suppose you decide to pay me with pieces of paper. Now, I have a problem. If I hold onto the pieces of paper, I will be ripped off by inflation. Suppose I go into a coin shop to buy a gold coin. The coin shop will charge me a premium to the spot price of gold. Further, I run the risk that the coin shop will report my transaction to the State. If the spot price of gold is $1000, I may have to pay $1075-$1100 to buy an ounce of gold in a coin store. Plus, I have to physically go to the store and take the risk of the State discovering my transaction.

In this example, physical gold is superior to pieces of paper, even though State violence is distorting the market. In this example, State violence makes the gold coin more attractive than pieces of paper!

I liked this post on RadGeek about the Wobblies. I'd read a little bit about them, but couldn't find much information. This is what I've figured out so far.

In the early 20th century, there were 2 big unions competing for members, the AFL-CIO and the Wobblies. The AFL-CIO lobbied for official State recognition (along with the bad guys). The leaders of the AFL-CIO became State agents rather than true workers' advocates.

State regulation of unions crippled union effectiveness.

The Wobblies pointed out that the leadership of the AFL-CIO had sold out. The Wobblies refused to acknowledge the regulation of unions. Due to State violence, the Wobblies were eliminated.

Kevin Carson likes to write about the Wobblies. I haven't found any good resources on the Wobblies.

I don't normally like Lewis Black, but he had a good bit on the Daily Show a few weeks ago. He was referring to the sale of US assets to foreigners, such as Budweiser and the Chrysler building. He said "It's the end of an empire sale! Everything must go!"

I thought about starting a business manufacturing and selling T-Shirts with "Taxation is theft!" and other free market slogans on them. I looked into buying a T-Shirt press. This website was very depressing!

Most of the T-Shirt press machines are made in China! There are none made in the USA! Does anybody in the USA know how to manufacture anything?

This vendor was the most interesting of the websites I checked. They let you design on your PC, print it out, and then stamp it to a T-Shirt. That is useful if you have a variety of designs. This vendor is located in the USA. It's only a $1500 investment, so it's not unreasonable. If you're working a free market business, you don't want there to be a paper trail of how many T-Shirts you sold. If I order shirts from a vendor, I'm paying the cost of their taxes and profits.

Here's one way I like to think about my blogging efforts. Instead of writing software for silicon computers, I'm writing software for human computers. I'm looking to uninstall the pro-State default OS, and replace it with a free market OS. I managed to mostly accomplish this on myself the hard way, by trial and error.

I liked this article. The number of miles driven in the USA in a month decreased year-over-year for the first time in a long time.

Rising gasoline prices and stagnating wages are forcing people to cut down on gasoline consumption.

I liked this YouTube video. It's about the world's first IT helpdesk. It was pretty funny.

I liked this article. Hasbro won its copyright dispute with Scrabulous on Facebook. Scrabulous was shut down. Hasbro's online offering isn't as good.

The rights to online Scrabble were sold to different corporations in different countries. Therefore, players in different countries may not play Scrabble online together. Scrabulous had no such restriction. Plus, Scrabulous was popular and had a nice UI. (I never played Scrabulous.)

Alfred Mosher Butts died in 1993, meaning that under current law, Scrabble will be protected under copyright until 2063. And yet, if Scrabble was treated under the copyright law it was initially published under, it would have come out of copyright in 1994.

Intellectual property is not a legitimate form of property. Unlimited retroactive copyright extensions are stupid.

Most games and characters developed over 20 years ago should be in the public domain now. Is Monopoly a copyrighted game, or part of American culture and belongs to everyone? Why does a certain corporation have the exclusive rights to Superman and Batman? If I write my own Superman story and sell it, then under current illegitimate law, I am committing a crime.

That just seems wrong to me, and completely contrary to the original point of copyright expiration dates, which exist to ensure that aspects of shared culture lose their tollbooths at a certain point so that they can, like chess, be used and reused without cost.

In another article, I read that copyrights were being retroactively enforced on certain works of art. For example, I read that some people were trying to enforce copyright on the Mona Lisa.

I liked this post. If you want to download an iPhone SDK (software developer's kit), then you have to sign a very restrictive NDA. If you're writing an iPhone application and have a problem, you can't ask for help on an Internet forum. If you have any public discussion of the iPhone SDK, then you're violating your NDA.

If I were Apple, I would want *AS MANY* applications as possible written for the iPhone. The success of a platform is usually dependent on 3rd party software. This restriction is stupid and was probably invented by paranoid corporate lawyers.

Recently, the new search engine Cuil was hyped as a Google-killer. A lot of hype was generated. The launch flopped, because Cuil sucked.

It seems like someone spent a lot of money on marketing without building a decent product. It's better to quietly release first, fix defects, and then hype if it's good.

I liked this article. Zimbabwe's money is worth more as an eBay novelty item than as money.

This bit was hilarious. In the USA, "official" inflation is around 5% while true inflation is closer to 30%.

Official inflation is quoted at 2.2 million percent but independent finance houses say it's closer to 12.5 million percent.

Even Zimbabwe's government is understating inflation! Notice that the 6:1 understatement ratio is the same as the USA!

Can you imagine the State bureaucrat whose job is to forge inflation data? He has to come up with an inflation rate that's high enough to be believable, but still less than true inflation! How do you forge the difference between 2,200,000% inflation and 12,500,000% inflation?

One major commercial bank said its automated teller machines are not configured to dispense multi-zero withdrawals and freeze in what it called a "data overflow error." Software writers are busy writing programs to try to overcome the problem.

Banking software isn't programmed with enough decimal places to handle prices.

Bank transfers command a special rate. A hundred billion dollars is worth US$5 at the official rate, US$1 at the black market rate - but just 30 U.S. cents in a transfer because by the time the funds are processed the Zimbabwe currency can be expected to be worth a lot less.

In other words, the biggest cost of a banking transaction is the inflation that happens during the transaction. If I pay you by check it's worthless, because inflation wipes it out before the check clears!

At what point do people say "**** this! We're using something else as money!" Even though using other forms of money is illegal, how does the State enforce its laws?

Zimbabwe has 27 denominations of bills and no coins.

Coins would be a sound investment, if any circulated. They would keep their metal value.

In other countries with hyperinflation, coins were devalued and still circulated. Using the example of the USA, a penny would be declared to be worth $0.10, a nickel worth $0.50, a quarter worth $2.50, etc. This way, coins can still circulate and they become an inflation hedge.

One Internet provider has invited customers to pay their fees in gasoline coupons that hold their value.

I really liked this bit.

A German company stopped shipments of bank note paper to the central bank's printers this month as the European Union looked to strengthen sanctions. The release of new money slowed as the central bank said it was looking to Indonesia and Malaysia to supply the specialized paper.

Zimbabwe's government is so broke that it can't afford the paper it prints its money on!

Dereck Nhamo, who manages a warehouse, says he wants to join the teeming ranks of unemployed because he can't afford to work any longer.

Nhamo earns less than his bus fare to the warehouse in Harare but adds to his monthly income by selling firewood collected on weekends in outlying woodlands.

"It doesn't make sense to go to work any more," Nhamo said.

This is going to happen in the USA soon! Can you imagine working in a job where you earned less than your bus fare! Inflation is so bad that, during the day, you had to bring extra money with you so you could afford bus fare back home!

I also liked this article.

Mugabe went on television immediately after Gono's announcement to warn against illegal money dealings and profiteering.

"Entrepreneurs across the board: Don't drive us further," he warned. "If you drive us even more we will impose emergency measures."

I don't get that one. If you try to start a business using other forms of money, you're committing a crime? It's a crime to protect yourself from hyperinflation?

I liked this article. Due to the Mac vs. PC commericals, there's a perception that Vista is far worse than it actually is. I have Vista on my PC and have had no problems.

Microsoft is releasing a new OS, "Mojave". Mojave is Vista with a different skin.

This post on the Picket Line missed an obvious joke.

The press is starting to cover the tax provisions in the “housing” bill that Dubya just signed.

That's nice. You have press coverage of the details of the bill *AFTER* it's already signed into law. (Actually, I'd read about the details before it was signed.)

The Wall Street Journal highlights the part that requires on-line payment processors like PayPal to file informational returns for anyone who has received at least 200 payments, or any number of payments that total at least $20,000. They note that this may surprise some people who started out by selling things on eBay garage-sale-style, but who over time have found themselves with a side-business.

I like the way that a "banking bailout bill" contains a provision that screws over individuals with small businesses. Before this bill, there was a loophole that allowed individuals with small businesses to not report their income. After all, one of the main purposes of the income tax is profits for the bankers! Is this coincidence, irony, or the truth?

Remember that the cost to individuals is not merely the cost of the tax! There's the cost of keeping records and making sure you're in compliance with the law! Also remember that, if self-employed, you pay double Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Sites like eBay are losing their relevance, due to increased State scrutiny. Fortunately, this creates an opportunity for agoristBay, where you can trade goods and services without any State reporting requirements. Such a network must be completely decentralized in order to avoid violent shutdown.

The Picket Line missed the most offensive parts of the bailout bill. First, there's the bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Second, there's the $5B allocated to state governments to purchase foreclosed homes. This is a further bailout for bankers, and it denies individuals the opportunity to purchase houses at a discount.

I liked this post on Liberty is my Homie. It missed the main point. After his Supreme Court victory, Heller applied for a gun permit and was denied. WTF?

I liked this post on He points out the fnords in the story of Abraham almost murdering his son Issac because the God of Absolute Unopposable Evil ordered him to.

Invisible ghost speaks addresses man, and man responds “Ready!” — thou shalt obey the invisible

Invisible ghost commands man to commit atrocity against his own family, to violate not only Isaac’s nature but his own. Does Abraham question? Hardly. Abraham speaks nary a word, but sets out meekly in compliance with his invisible master’s order. — submit

Abraham lies to his servants by allowing the collective pronoun “we” was in “we will come back to you”, nevermind the horrors implicit in the idea that a man shall have servants. — servitude is fine for some

Next, Abraham lies to his trusting child, and points to an invisible ghost as the solution to his questioning. — lying for your invisible ghosts is okay

Next, Isaac submits to being bound by his father and condemned to death. A clearer expression of the horror contained in the commandment “honor thy father and thy mother” would be difficult to find. — ’nuff said

Then the invisible ghost comes along and says: “Just kidding!” Does Abraham object or rebel? Hardly, he waits for the next command. Does Isaac, the sacrificial lamb, say anything? Nary a word. — honor thy masters even when they deceive you

Invisible ghost, now playing good cop, praises Abraham for his blind obedience, and REWARDS him! — the ends justify the means?

What does Issac learn from this story? He should learn "This God is insane! It's time for a new religion!"

I liked this post on In France, it is a crime to insult a civil servant.

In the USA, you may be arrested for looking at a policeman the wrong way.

Further, if you're in a court, and you do something that the judge doesn't like, then he may jail you for "contempt of court". He doesn't need any justification. It's the random whim of the judge. What happens if you actually do have contempt for the court?

I liked this thread on the Free State Project Forum about homeschooling. It linked to this article on

...Imagine a commodity of so little value that you can't even give it away; recipients must be forced to partake...

Mandatory state schooling is worse than useless. The victims are forced to participate. You are forced to pay for schools under threat of violence (taxes), and then forced to attend.

Unless an outside agency initiates force to change the natural order of things, children normally carry forward the passions of their parents.

My children will be free market advocates, unless an outside force brainwashes them otherwise. (assuming I have children)

After careful consideration, homeschooling is the only morally just way to raise children. I might start a homeschooling business. I might have enough free market income that I or my wife could afford to stay home. If I avoid income taxes, my productivity doubles.

I will believe that children should learn in classes of 20 the same age when mothers start whelping litters about that size. School is for fish; we are a higher species.

One of my favorite homeschooling stories was not mentioned there. A state bureaucrat was saying how the State does such a great job raising children. The questioner asked "Do you think you can teach my children better than me?" "Yes!" "Then what are their names?"

I moved in the summer between sixth and seventh grade. In the new public school the other kids were allowed the freedom 'to be kids' and tormented me daily to the point of hitting me in class because I choose a seat that 'belonged' to another kid. There was no allowing me to be me, but the bullies were always allowed to be themselves and torment anyone they choose to.

The argument was also made that this is some how more like 'real' life.

Actually, being beaten and terrorized by bullies *IS* the way the State operates! I wonder how many former bullies found careers as policemen?

I liked this article on wired, via Hacker News. Australia may start searching all MP3 players in airports, looking for illegally downloaded music.

I thought this article was hilarious, although it wasn't intended as funny. Microsoft is developing a .NET implementation of Ruby, including Ruby on Rails. I'm using Rails at work, and Rails is an abomination. If Rails is an abomination, then I don't know what a .NET implementation of Rails should be called.

I liked this article. Media Defender is a corporation that infiltrates filesharing networks and tries to sabotage them. A computer hacker broke into their corporate systems. He agreed to meet with a reporter, but wanted to make sure the reporter was legitimate and not an undercover cop. The computer hacker downloaded a ton of personal information on the reporter, to verify he was legitimate.

That's a neat trick! That's a great background check. I doubt the bad guys could forge records well enough to trick that hacker! That's a very useful skill, to make sure you aren't trading with an undercover cop. An advanced agorist trading group could use a guy like that!

I also liked the bit about the Pirate Bay fighting with Media Defender. Apparently, in Sweden, the police haven't totally sold out (yet).

There's another interesting bit about P2P filesharing. If downloading something illegally is more convenient than actually buying it, then the entertainment industry has a problem.

I liked this post (via Hacker News) on how to hire an idiot.

This article was interesting (via Hacker News). The NYPD is actively soliciting people to upload videos that document crimes, including crimes committed by policemen. The uploaded videos will be only visible to policemen and prosecutors, and not the general public.

If it were a crime by a policeman, I'd make sure I uploaded it to other websites before the NYPD one.

I liked this post on Overcoming Bias. A scientist recently published a paper saying that women are not worse than men at Math. However, that assumes that "Math ability" is tightly correlated with "score on Math tests". If that assumption is false, then that research is invalid.

No third solution posted a chart of CPI over time. That chart is misleading. In order to be properly accurate, it should be on a log scale. Otherwise, the effect of recent inflation is exaggerated.

I liked this post on Freedom Shenanigans about Anarky, an anarchist comic hero. He originally started as a pro-State socialist anarchist. Allegedly, the authors did their research and now he his a market anarchist. I'm not sure how accurate that is.

I liked this post by Bill Rempel on Heller vs. DC. I didn't realize that Heller worked as a policeman, and merely wanted permission to have a gun while not working.

The right to carry a gun exists for two reasons. First, protection from crime. Second, protection from State-sponsored crime. The latter is more important.

With a semiautomatic or automatic gun, the average person could take on a team of trained para-military police. For this reason, such weapons are banned.

This article was amusing, and made a point I hadn't noticed before. A birth certificate is a warehouse receipt for a person.

This article was interesting. Technically, it is not illegal when the mainstream media lies. They own the newspaper or TV station, and may do as they please.

This article on why the media lies was long, but had some interesting bits.

I liked this post on the Liberty Papers, in reference to this YouTube video of Doug Stanhope. In that video, he was performing standup comedy. I could do as well as that or better.

“The only true freedom that you find is when you realize and come to terms with the fact that you are completely and unapologetically fucked. And then you are free to float around the system.”

The first step to being free is realizing that the government has no moral power over you. Yes, the government has lots of physical power, and they can do things like throw you in jail or extort money out of you.

Once you realize the bad guys have no legitimate authority, then it merely becomes a question of what tactics are most effective for personal freedom.

I liked this post on the Liberty Papers about hyperinflation in Zimbabwe.

They have plenty of power to cause mayhem and destruction with the stroke of a legislative pen, as we have seen in Zimbabwe, with their 2 million percent inflation:

Actually, that's wrong. That is the *OFFICIAL* inflation rate, according to the State. True inflation is higher. That's right, even Zimbabwe's government is understating inflation.

You know you're in trouble when you have to measure your inflation rate in scientific notation, 2.0 x 10^6.

A minibus driver taking commuters into Harare every day still charges his clients in Zimbabwe dollars—but at a higher price on the evening trip home—and changes his local notes into hard currency three times a day.

That's amusing. You commute to work, and the ride home is more expensive than the ride there. You could get stuck at work if you don't bring enough money for a ride home! Some workers are quitting their jobs, because the cost of the bus ride is more than their salary.

Zimbabwe’s currency is now so worthless that their German supplier won’t even sell them the paper to print it on.

I like that one. Zimbabwe's government is so broke that it can't afford the paper it prints its money on.

I don't understand why people in Zimbabwe don't say "**** this! We're using gold or silver or US dollars as money." That's technically illegal, but how does Zimbabwe's government pay its policemen? Could you imagine policemen coming to arrest you, and being able to bribe them to look the other way for a loaf of bread?

If you think that can't happen in the USA, just wait!

I liked this post on the Liberty Papers. A landmark boat is being forced out of service, due to pointless safety regulations.

In opposing any exemption Mr Oberstar cites the example of the General Slocum, which caught fire in New York harbour in 1904. More than 1,000 people were killed, making it the worst man-made tragedy in the city until September 11th 2001.
1904?! Saying that we shouldn’t allow boats with wooden structures today, based on an accident from 104 years ago, is like saying we should tear down the Golden Gate bridge as a result of the Tacoma Narrows failure.

That illustrates one of the problems that the State propaganda machine makes. "One person used a gun inappropriately. Therefore, everyone should be banned from owning a gun." It's incorrect to make laws based on single events. As another example, "One person who was labeled with a mental illness didn't take his drugs and then did something bad. Therefore, people should be forced to take harmful drugs against their will." Consider the reverse "One policeman used a gun inappropriately. Therefore, all policemen should be barred from carrying guns." You'll never hear that argument.

Stupid laws aren't about safety. Stupid laws are about power and control. Some stupid laws are suggesting things that are beneficial. Wearing a seat belt really does increase your safety. Smoking marijuana probably really is bad for you. However, banning people from doing stupid things is pointless and restricts their freedom. In a true free market, car insurers would have their customers voluntarily agree to wear seatbelts. In a true free market, doctors would properly advise people that marijuana is harmful (although it might be safe to use it once in awhile, and it might be safer than FDA-approved antidepressants).

Francois Tremblay quoted my post on How the State Destroys Small Businesses. That citation sent a surprising amount of traffic to my blog. That article is worth reading, if you're a recent subscriber to my blog.

Essentially, the State destroys small businesses by
  1. a corrupt taxation system. The proceeds of taxation are stolen from small businesses and directly given to large corporations via corporate welfare.
  2. a corrupt monetary system. Everybody pays the costs of inflation, but the beneficiaries are financial industry insiders and executives of large corporations. New money is printed by banks. Large corporations may borrow at a cheaper rate than small businesses. Small businesses and individuals must borrow at 8%-10% or not at all, while large corporations pay only a slight premium to the Fed Funds Rate.
  3. corrupt regulations. The burden of regulation compliance falls higher on small businesses than large businesses. The cost of regulation compliance is usually a fixed amount and not a percentage.
  4. laws restricting competition. Patents make it hard for small businesses. One guy said he was considering starting a business, did a patent search, and discovered someone else had already patented what he wanted to do. He was bragging about how brilliant he was for not starting his business. The reality is that patent law prevented him from starting a business, so it's the Bastiat "seen vs. unseen" problem.
If you're serious about working as a small business owner, your best option is to work 100% off-the-books. Otherwise, you're subsidizing your large corporate competitors.

I liked this article by Mark Cuban on "adult" Internet videos. On YouTube and other mainstream video sharing websites, adult content is banned. There are plenty of websites featuring a hot naked woman dancing; all you need is a camera and an Internet connection to make such a website. However, there are practically no adult-themed movies, where there is nudity and sex, but also a real plot.

I liked this article on the Agitator about Alaska senator Ted Stevens.

The man has been fleecing taxpayers for his entire career to build monuments to himself all over the state of Alaska. He’s won huge federal contracts for companies that then give high-paying jobs to his relatives. This is a man who in 1997 decided that he was tired of not being rich, and decided he’d start using his position in the Senate to make himself a millionaire– and then promptly did just that.

I don’t know what laws Stevens may have broken, but all the above is legal. Sens. Warner and Specter are well aware of it, and likely have enjoyed similar privileges themselves. Which is why they can look at taxpayer-fleecing, unapologetic crook like Stevens and, in the face of all common sense and decency, still call him “impeccably honest” and “a strong leader.”

In other words, looting the taxpayers for the your own benefit is acceptable. However, there's a vague line where, once crossed, is criminal.

All government activity is theft and crime. Arguing the relative merits of various Congressmen is like debating "Is it better to murder 1,000,000 people or only 100,000?"

I liked this post on Democracy Sucks. If you explain the philosophy of anarchy to people, they will say "Stop imposing your views on me!"

That is amusing. A logical explanation of anarchy is equivalent to forcibly imposing your viewpoint on someone. That is true, because the attitude most people have is logically inconsistent.

Let’s say I’m getting mugged by some criminals and you’re passing by. You witness them beating me and taking my money, and you see me say to them “Hey stop stealing from me, leave me alone”. Would you really be correct to say that I’m imposing myself on them by telling them not to steal from me?

Now if it’s just that you don’t think tax is theft, or that government is slavery, that’s a separate matter altogether! Then instead of saying “Stop imposing your views on me”, you should be saying to me “No that’s not really a thief”. See what I mean?

I like that explanation. The pro-State troll says "Taxation isn't really theft!" That's like seeing someone getting mugged and blaming the victim for complaining.

There was another interesting comment. Suppose you are murdered. In the criminal trial, it is "The State vs. accused murderer." The State is the plaintiff in a murder trial, because the murderer destroyed State property! Technically, the victim can file a "wrongful death" civil lawsuit, but that isn't practical, because most common criminals have no assets.

This post on Check Your Premises about semantic confusion was interesting. Free markets and governments are opposite ideas. The insiders who control government would never allow a true free market to exist. He also mentions that "privatization" of State owned businesses usually is corporate welfare.

"Natural monopolies" such as electricity, telecommunications, and water are businesses that politically connected insiders operate. There is no such thing as a "natural monopoly". In a true free market, there might be multiple sets of wires and multiple sets of water pipes, to prevent an abusive monopoly from emerging. However, the threat of someone laying another set of pipes or wires should be a sufficient deterrent to keep prices fair. However, a second set of pipes or wires must be occasionally laid out, to keep things fair. In the present, "natural monopolies" are absolutely shielded from competition by the State.

There was one point not emphasized enough in that post.

The concept of "Rule of Law" is one big scam. Some laws are obvious, such as "murder is wrong (when individuals do it)" and "stealing is wrong (when individuals do it)". A State is not needed to enforce such laws, because practically everyone agrees on them.

"Rule of Law" is a problem, because "Rule of Law" really means "A handful of people make up laws and violently impose them on everyone else." The concept of "Rule of Law" leads to stupid laws, such as
  1. victimless crimes, like drugs, prostitution, and gambling
  2. the ban on using sound money
  3. the requirement that taxes must be paid in exchange for permission to work (tax evasion is another victimless crime, and the most serious victimless crime)
  4. licensing requirements for most professions, such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, etc.
  5. the ban on manufacturing incandescent light bulbs
  6. the ban on owning land, via property taxes and eminent domain
  7. corporate welfare, via a corrupt monetary system (some businesses are "too big to fail" and always qualify for a bailout, especially the financial industry)
When people say "The Rule of Law must be respected", they really mean "The arbitrary decisions of a handful of people must be obeyed."

The State is not needed to prevent obvious crime, because everyone agrees they are crimes. In fact, the State encourages obvious crimes. If you are the victim of a crime and the State cannot solve it (or chooses not to), then you have no recourse. With free market police, you would have a claim against your police protection agency if they failed to protect you.

The problem with government is the subtle crimes it encourages. A massive propaganda and brainwashing campaign is needed to ensure that the slaves don't figure out what is going on. For example, the incandescent light bulb ban is touted as a brilliant energy conservation law, rather than a restriction of the market.

This bit deserves its own separate post.

I liked this post by Bill Rempel. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died. I'd read this quote, but didn't know the source.

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?

In other words, when the police make a raid enforcing an illegitimate law, it's actually a good idea if they're afraid they'll be killed during the law. Unfortunately, violently defending yourself against a terrorist raid is not practical.

Acts of violence against random State employees and State property is not morally acceptable. Defending yourself when faced with a violent raid is morally acceptable, but not practical. Is this philosophy logically consistent? I'm not sure. It's hard to make rational moral judgments in the context of a totally corrupt system. By the time resistance of either type is practical, the State will have already lost, so it's an irrelevant issue.

I liked this post. A prominent copyright lawyer has concluded that copyright law is completely ****ed, beyond the point of repair. He took down his blog on copyright law.

A more accurate assessment is "The current economic and political system is completely ****ed, beyond the point of repair, and copyright law is merely one symptom of decay."

As an amateur independent artist, releasing your work into the public domain is probably the best move. Your primary risk is that nobody knows who you are, rather than people copying your work without permission.

I liked this article on the Simple Dollar. In many ways, debt repayment is a great investment. Suppose you have a loan where the interest rate is 10% and your marginal taxation rate on income is 50%. In that case, paying the loan doesn't yield a 10% return. It yields a 20% return, because the loan must be repaid with after-tax income! If you pay $1000 off the loan to save $100 in interest payments, that replaces $200 of future income!

That's another way the State discriminates against individuals and small businesses. A large corporation can expense its interest payments against earnings. An individual normally cannot expense his interest payments. Even if the individual does incorporate, he has to hire an accountant. Further, the tax laws for small businesses and corporations are different; large corporations have more loopholes working in their favor. A small business owner usually raises money via a mortgage on his house.

I liked this post (via Hacker News). Rabbinical students were questioning Richard Feynman about science. They were not sincerely interested in science. They were merely interested in making sure their religion properly covered all cases.

If you're Jewish, you're not allowed to push elevator buttons on Saturday. However, it's perfectly acceptable to hire a non-Jewish person to push elevator buttons for you.

Then I would steer them around a little more by asking, "Is it ethical for a man to hire another man to do something which is unethical for him to do? Would you hire a man to rob for you, for instance?" And I keep working them into the channel, very slowly, and very carefully, until I've got them- trapped!

And do you know what happened? They're rabbinical students, right? They were ten times better than I was! As soon as they saw I could put them in a hole, they went twist, turn, twist- I can't remember how- and they were free! I thought I had come up with an original idea- phooey! It had been discussed in the Talmud for ages! So they cleaned me up just as easy as pie- they got right out.

In other words, Richard Feynman tried pointing out the logical inconsistencies in their religion. However, they were rabbinical students, and had been thoroughly brainwashed. For every logical argument Feynman could make, a plausible counter-argument had already been polished.

This is the problem of pro-State trolls. Most people will look for loopholes, rather than admit "My beliefs are logically inconsistent".

As another example, I say "Ruby on Rails is a lousy framework!" and the pro-Rails trolls say "You aren't giving Rails a fair chance!"

I liked this post on Quantity trumps Quality. (via Hacker News) A ceramics teacher split the class into two groups. One group had to produce one perfect pot to get an A. The other group had to merely produce as many pots as possible, with no regard for quality. The best pots were produced by the group that was producing as many pots as possible.

This makes an interesting analogy for blogging. You should post regularly, rather than waiting for the perfect post. If you have a lot of mediocre posts, you'll probably have a few great ones. My "Best of FSK" post list is only slightly correlated with my expectations.

This also has applications for agorism. As an agorist, you should have several businesses planned. For low-margin businesses, you can let other people operate them. I'd be disappointed with an agorist business that made $15/hour (tax-free), but for many people that would be a bonanza. For high-margin businesses, I would operate them myself or hire employees.

Regrettably, I currently study theoretical agorism but not practical agorism. I plan to make the transition sometime during the next few years.

I saw an interesting post (I forget the source) about a language that featured write-only variables. Once you assign to a variable, you may not change it. If you had a complicated calculation, you broke it down into steps. If you need to change your calculation, you name your variables "x10, x20, x30", and then if you need an intermediate step, you add "x15". Someone retorted, "What is this, line numbered BASIC?"

This post on "Why the world needs Quantum Mechanics." wasn't as interesting as I hoped from the title. Quantum Mechanics are important, because they give you a 2x speed boost when you eat them! (from Nethack)

I liked this article, via the Picket Line. The IRS has a policy that says "If you turn in someone for tax evasion, you get a cut of 30% of the eventual taxes paid." This is so lucrative that some lawyers are entering this area full-time, representing people who turn in tax cheats. It's unclear how effective this program is. If you're working as an agorist on a small-scale, you're probably below the target threshold for this program.

This page had some interesting stories about the damaging effects of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs.

Most FDA approval studies are done over a 6-12 week period. Suppose the patient/victim was taking another drug before the study. In that case, the patient will respond unfavorably to the placebo, due to withdrawal symptoms; the withdrawal looks like a mental illness psychotic outbreak. If the patient is assigned a drug, then the new drug masks the withdrawal effect of the other drug.

For studies conducted over 2+ years, then placebos perform better than drugs. For studies involving patients with their first psychotic break, then the placebo dramatically outperformed drugs.

However, such a study was performed years ago and was not repeated. The bad guys have no interest in losing their lucrative drugging/murder industry.

I liked this post on SHOW US THE LAW. It's about Scott Loper. He was a US citizen. He was in Canada investigating a drug ring organized by Canadian police. He busted the ring, but he wound up arrested, imprisoned, and tortured for several years. When he finally got back and complained to his congressman and the US government, his complaints were ignored.

The State may imprison and torture anyone at will.

The problem is that the bad guys do *NOT* want people to know that insiders are the primary beneficiaries of the "war on drugs". Since drugs are incredibly profitable, this means that drug dealers who successfully bribe the police for silence have a sweet deal. Some people claim that when the police conduct a raid and seize 2lb of drugs, they report 1lb and resell the other 1lb.

Therefore, police aggressively crack down on non-bribing drug dealers because the competition is directly providing kickbacks.

The bad guys love the fact that policemen are underpaid. This means that policemen make deals to augment their salary.

The "war on drugs" is a boon for organized crime and corrupt policemen.

This post on Steve Pavlina's blog was interesting. He claims that a vegan+raw diet leads to a rapid gain in energy.

I liked this post on Steve Pavlina's blog.

Career-wise, the trend is towards over-specialization. Most employers don't want to hire a "software engineer". They don't just want a "software engineer who knows Java". They want "a software engineer with 5 years of Java, 3 years working with mortgage backed securities, and 3 years of jsp/Swing/Beans, and 5 years of Perl".

Over-specializing is bad. Sometimes, you're better off learning a whole bunch of different things.

I learned a lot about a few areas. This led to me learning a little about a whole bunch of areas. I've worked as a financial systems programmer, and I've been managing my own investments. This led to me discovering the Discounted Cashflow Paradox, the flaw in the Black-Scholes forumula, and the Compound Interest Paradox. From there, I involuntarily discovered the corrupt nature of the psychiatric industry. I realized that appealing to the State for help correcting these abuses was pointless. From there, I came to the conclusion that the economic and political system was hopelessly broken and that agorism was the only viable solution.

I learned a lot about financial systems programming. In order to properly understand that, I had to learn a whole bunch of different things.

When I was studying in college, I read a remark that sounds accurate. "If you take one area and learn everything you can about it, then eventually you'll learn everything important."

For example, suppose I wanted to learn everything I could about Mathematics. At some point, I'd consider working as a Mathematics professor at a university. If I were serious, I'd study the effect of State research grants distorting the academic market. At some point, I'd study the Black-Scholes formula and discover the contradiction. If you learn everything you can about Mathematics, eventually you'll discover that the current economic and political system is totally corrupt.

As another example, suppose I wanted to learn everything I could about Computer Science. I'd study the economics of software startup companies and VCs. I'd learn how the economic system is biased against small business owners.

If you take an area and try to learn everything you can about it, then you'll eventually learn everything important. It helps if you try to understand several areas like I did. I'm an expert on:
  1. Mathematics
  2. Computer Science
  3. the economics of software startups (even though I never tried one myself)
  4. personal finance
  5. professional quantitative analysis
  6. The "chemical imbalance" theory of mental illness is nonsense.

In this thread on, people were speculating about the difficulty of boycotting the Federal Reserve by using barter.

According to the IRS, barter transactions are taxable. I consider that law/regulation illegitimate, but the IRS has more guns than me.

The average person believes "barter transactions are not taxable", but the IRS disagrees.

There probably would be a mass propaganda campaign "Barter transactions are taxable!" I'm not sure if that would work, because many people might find that offensive.

If you run a barter network, you are required to report all activity to the IRS. If you want to operate a barter network, it should be P2P decentralized, so the IRS doesn't demand or seize the records.

Taxing barter transactions is difficult. The IRS is dependent on people voluntarily reporting the transaction. If you publicly advertise a barter network, you will come under IRS scrutiny.

Using gold or silver as money is a form of barter. Why not just use gold or silver, which are the least common denominator for barter?

In this thread on, someone was asking about the effect of a declining dollar on imports and exports.

With the declining dollar, other countries should be less willing to export to the USA and more willing to purchase products made in the USA.

What foils this is that other countries are willing to hold dollars or Treasuries and lose ground to inflation. If foreign central banks are willing to hold paper dollars, then they're subsidizing the US government.

For example, China doesn't want to wreck its businesses that export to the USA. China inflates its own currency to keep pace with the inflating dollar. The average person in the USA and China takes the hit; their savings are stolen via inflation. Essentially, the USA is exporting its inflation to China, because China is inflating its own currency to keep pace with the US dollar.

Also note that a pure gold standard eliminates all "currency arbitrage" and "currency speculation". The only reason the gold standard failed was that governments printed more paper money than physical gold in their treasury, making them subject to a run.

In this thread on, someone was writing about the US healthcare crisis.

When mainstream sources talk about expensive health care, the key issue is never mentioned. State licensing requirements for doctors restrict the supply, driving up prices.

If the State licensing requirement for doctors were eliminated, this would fix most/all the problems.

Some people are concerned about "What about the risk of people getting shoddy care?" First, that already happens now. Second, insurance companies could be allowed to license and train their own doctors, rather than relying on State licensing.

Insurance for basic health care is like purchasing a warranty for your car's oil change. It makes no financial sense.

Doctors and insurance companies collude, forcing everyone to buy insurance.

If you're uninsured, then the doctor's visit costs $200, fully paid by the patient.

If you have insurance, then there's a "negotiated plan discount" of $100, the plan pays $80, and the copay is $20.

Essentially, this forces everyone to have insurance. There's no free market in health insurance, so the problem can't be corrected by the market.

It's even worse for hospitalization. If you're uninsured, the "full retail price" for a hospitalization is something like 5x-10x what an insurance company pays. The justification is that uninsured patients tend to be deadbeats, so the price for uninsureds must be high. This is the same reasoning that leads to 20% interest rates on credit cards.

I'm always offended by discussion of the "healthcare crisis" and how more State power is needed to solve it. The entire problem was caused by the State in the first place! State licensing requirements for doctors restrict the supply, driving up prices.

In this thread on, someone was writing about taxation under the Articles of Confederation.

Under the Articles of Confedaration, some colony governments weren't strong enough to collect taxes. The colony leaders were concerned that the people would have true freedom.

They formed a strong central government. After the US government was formed, George Washington sent troops to each state and put down the tax revolts there.

TLP has left a new comment on your post "The Federal Reserve Caused the Great Depression":

When you say "interest rate" which one do you mean?
1) the money banks pay to people who put their money in a bank
2) the money people have to pay back to banks for the money they've loaned

Which one? Or both? Give an example.

They're both closely related.

Here's an example. Suppose the Fed Funds Rate is 2%. In that case, depositors will earn 2% minus their bank's expenses. Why would a bank borrow from depositors at 3% when interest rates are 2%? In that case, borrowers will pay 2% plus the bank's expenses. Investment banks and hedge funds borrow at a slight premium to the Fed Funds Rate. Large corporations borrow at a premium of 2%-4%. Individuals must borrow at a much higher premium, or not at all.

The credited rate for deposits is the Fed Funds Rate minus a fee. The charged rate for loans is the Fed Funds Rate plus a fee which varies based on the "risk profile" of the debtor. Banks and hedge funds are practically zero risk, because they're "too big to fail". Large corporations are good risks, due to their oligopoly/monopoly market position. Individuals and small businesses are huge risks, because the rules of the economic system are biased against them.

>> The speculators were following
>> the false signal the Federal
>> Reserve was sending via
>> artificially cheap interest
>> rates.

What would low interest rates signify in a true free market?

In a true free market, interest rates signify what businesses are worth an investment.

Suppose the free market interest rate is 2%. I predict I can earn a 4% rate of return on my business. Therefore, it pays for me to borrow at 2% and invest in my business yielding 4%. Of course, I should include a margin of error in my calculation.

Suppose the free market interest rate is 6%. I predict I can earn a 4% rate of return on my business. Therefore, it does not pay for me to invest in that business. I'm better off doing something else.

Current prices represent the value of goods in the present.

Interest rates represent the value of future work. Interest rates are a price signal that indicates "This is worth an investment".

When the State tampers with fiat money by printing it, it tampers with present prices. People can't make rational decisions about what work to perform right now.

When the State tampers with interest rates, it is tampering with future prices. People can't make rational decisions about what work to perform in the future.

In a true free market, "return on capital" and "interest rates" converge over time. If they diverge, people borrow and start new businesses. The lower the spread between "return on capital" and "interest rates", the more efficient the market.

In the present, the Federal Reserve literally has an infinite budget. It can set interest rates at any arbitrary level, at no economic cost to insiders.

This sends the false signal about what investments are profitable. Suppose that, during the boom, an investment is expected to yield 10% while interest rates are 2%, an artificially low rate. Therefore, you borrow and invest. This causes an asset bubble. When the bubble pops, prices crash. That investment that seemed profitable is not profitable during the bust.

When the State tampers with interest rates, it prevents people from making rational economic decisions about what businesses are worth starting. Large corporations are shielded from competition and are "too big to fail". When they make mistakes, they qualify for a bailout (FRE, FNM, Bear Stearns and JP Morgan Chase). When individuals make mistakes due to false price signals, they lose their home or their business.

This bit deserves its own separate post.

>> In 1929, the Federal Reserve
>> insiders decided to jack up
>> interest rates worldwide,
>> causing a depression.

How do they cause a depression?

This is the essence of the Compound Interest Paradox. I'll repeat it again.

With debt-based money, the supply of money is always less than all outstanding loans. In the present, suppose the M2 money supply is $10T and the total outstanding debt is $60T. (I'm using round numbers.)

With interest rates at 2%, people will take out a certain amount of loans. This keeps the money supply up.

Suppose the Federal Reserve jacked up interest rates to 10% or 20% or more. Then, people would stop taking out loans.

Suppose that $5T of loans were repaid, and no new loans were issued. Now, the M2 money supply would be $5T and total outstanding debt would be $55T. Prices would crash in half. The effect of money supply inflation/deflation is not uniform. Some debtors would have a hard time raising money to repay their loans.

In the Great Depression, some sources indicate the the Federal Reserve crashed the money supply by 50% or even 66%. People had loaded up on debt in the 1920s boom, to expand their businesses and take advantage of the boom. During the crash, they lost their farms, their businesses, and their homes. They were unable to repay their loans.

With fiat debt-based money, the Federal Reserve has the power to create recessions at will.

As an individual or small business owner, you're stuck either way. If you have no debts, then the money stolen from you via inflaiton and taxation is used to subsidize your large corporate competitors. If you load up on debt, then you are at risk for bankruptcy during the next recession. Large corporations and banks aren't assuming this risk, because they're "too big to fail".

By the rules of the monetary system, boom/bust cycles are inevitable. If the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates low, then there will be an extended inflationary boom. When the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to stop inflation, there is a crash.

In the 1920s, the Federal Reserve insiders knew that their purpose was to loot and pillage the American people. (Some off-the-record comments indicate this.) In the present, I don't know if the Federal Reserve insiders believe their own propaganda, or if they're consciously aware of the scam.

When I talk to financial industry insiders, they know it's one huge scam. They all play along, because it's their gravy train.

For this reason, someone who plays by the rules of a corrupt system cannot accomplish good. No matter what Ben Bernanke does, he is stuck. If he keeps interest rates low, there will be massive inflation to bail out banks. A lot of wealth will be transferred from the productive sector of the economy to the parasite sector via inflation. If Ben Bernanke jacks up interest rates to stop inflation, then large banks will go bankrupt, and the entire monetary system will unravel. If FRE and FNM and other banks are not bailed out, then there will be a huge economic crisis.

By jacking up interest rates, the Federal Reserve crashes the money supply, causing recessions and depressions. Inflating the money supply to bail out banks is also damaging, because that transfers wealth from the productive sector of the economy to the parasite sector.

Financial industry insiders benefit on each leg of the boom/bust cycle. During the boom, they borrow and load up on assets. During the bust, they don't have to "mark to market" their holdings. During the recession, large banks may stay in business even though they're technically bankrupt, due to "Level 3 Assets" and other accounting tricks. Individuals lose their homes and businesses, but the insiders always profit.

Ben Bernanke is literally playing the no-win game. (Just like in "Wrath of Khan". Fnord!) The only way to win the no-win game is to cheat and break the rules. Ben Bernanke doesn't have the intellectual capacity to do this, but fortunately other people do. Agorism is a way to cheat and refuse to play by the rules of the no-win game.

This bit deserves its own separate post.

Sometimes, my Google Analytics statistics surprise me. I can't believe how many people are googling "Who Cares About the Olympics?" I don't bother with SEO (search engine optimization), but that post was a success by SEO standards. Apparently, there isn't that much competition for that search phrase, and it was a popular search phrase.

Google search seems to emphasize keywords in post titles more than keywords in post bodies.

I saw some confusion about the role of drug dealers (black market workers) and the State. The black market does not normally desire to replace the State. Black market workers benefit from the State, because the State crushes their competition.

Suppose I'm a marijuana farmer. A police officer is not a very high paying job. It might be profitable for me to bribe the police to look the other way *AND* have the police crack down on my competitors. Since policemen are not paid much, and policemen are protected by sovereign immunity, there is a strong temptation for them to accept such bribes. If I make such a deal with the police, I'm at their mercy. At any time, they could arrest me for marijuana farming, and it'd be my word against theirs regarding our bribery arrangement. I could be accidentally shot during a raid.

I read some reports of drug raids. Frequently, 2 pounds of drugs are confiscated but 1 pound is reported. The difference is resold.

TLP has left a new comment on your post "Athletes vs. Doctors, Which is Overpaid?":

Stem cell research isn't banned. In fact, US allocates the most funds for stem cell research.

Are you writing about a different USA than me?

Stem cell research isn't outright banned, *BUT* the Federal government bans stem cell research by any organization receiving State funding. Most research is funded by the Federal government, so this ban excludes all universities from participating. (This rule may have been relaxed. I thought Congress attempted to pass a law overturning the ban, but President Bush vetoed it.)

Some individual state governments have funded stem cell research. Some private corporations and individuals are sponsoring such research. Their effectiveness is limited, due to the ban on Federal funding.

I tried looking up the legal status of stem cell research. I believe that such research is allowed only in certain laboratories and only if you use no Federal government funding.

State funding of research distorts the market for scientific research.

In this thread on, someone was writing about the Labor Theory of Value.

For some reason, people have a mental block regarding the Labor Theory of Value. I've received more hate mail for that post than any other. I should have called it "The Free Market Labor Arbitrage Process". Viewed this way, it's a free market concept and not a communist concept.

In a free market, labor is usually the largest cost of manufacturing something.

If labor is underpaid (relative to its fair value), then workers will form competing businesses, arbitraging away the difference.

If labor is overpaid (relative to its fair value), then new workers will enter the industry, again arbitraging away the difference.

In the present, State restrictions of the market prevent this arbitrage from occurring. Either there are State restrictions preventing people from starting new businesses, or there are State licensing requirements preventing people from entering the industry. For example, I can't say "Lawyers are overpaid! I'll go work as a lawyer!" I can't work as a lawyer unless I have a State lawyer license. I can't easily start my own company, because raising capital is hard due to the Federal Reserve credit monopoly.

As another example, suppose I say "The chemical imbalance theory of mental illness is nonsense. I'll start a drug-free mental health business." I need a license from the State in order to operate such a business.

Here's a sample calculation. Suppose a worker produces 1 unit per hour, using equipment provided by his employer. The unit sells for 3 ounces of silver. The worker is paid 2 ounces of silver per hour. The employer makes a profit of 1 ounce of silver per hour. Assume 2000 hours worked per year. This is a profit of 2000 ounces of silver per year for the employer. The fair free market interest rate is 2% per year. What is the value of the employer's equipment?

The value of the equipment is 50x the profit. In other words, the equipment is worth 100,000 ounces of silver. If it was worth less than that, it would pay for the worker to raise capital (paying 2%) and start his own business. If it was worth more than that, then the employer should sell his equipment and invest the proceeds elsewhere (earning 2%).

This is the way I understand the Labor Theory of Value, although this isn't the common definition. I should call this by a different name, "The Free Market Labor Arbitrage Process".

Your calculation is wrong because you don't include cost of raw materials. You assume a perfectly efficient market.

You'll never have absolutely perfect competition. Skilled workers will always earn more than unskilled workers. Skilled workers will enter fields with the greatest disparity between price and cost.

The problem is State distortion of the market. In a free market, the trend is for interest rates and return on capital to converge. If returns on capital exceed interest rates, then workers will borrow and start new businesses. In the present, the power of the Federal Reserve credit monopoly and State restrictions of the market is greater than the power of workers to arbitrage away the difference.

You can't cite historic examples of free markets. There aren't any.

You can add the cost of raw materials to the calculation. I'll leave it to you as an exercise.

Your calculation is wrong because inefficiency won't be perfectly arbitraged away.

It isn't clear how big the gap has to be before workers profitably exploit it. I don't know whether the "edge" required to start a business in a free market is 1%, 2%, or 5%. Right now, the "edge" for starting an agorist business is over 50%, which is the direct savings you get when you avoid taxes. If you include the benefit of avoiding restrictive regulations, the edge is even higher.

You should reduce the edge by the risk of a State raid. If you're careful, the reward exceeds the risk. The cost of State restrictions is *SO HIGH* that the edge is huge. Suppose I have a legal on-the-books business with profits of $50k. The State demands I keep records and do proper accounting. This is a cost of $2500-$5000, or I must do it myself; even if my accountant makes a mistake, I am still personally liable for his error. The cost of compliance with accounting regulations costs me a further 5%-10%. If have an agorist business, I don't need compliance with accounting rules; I can merely track my unit profit and approximate units sold.

For example, suppose an agorist risks a 5% chance of 2 years in jail, but makes a profit of 50%. In this case, over 20 years, you'll get caught once. In the remaining 18 years, your productivity is doubled. Therefore, your agorist activity was profitable. If you include the possibility of insuring your risk or dodging conviction via a sui juris "jury nullifcation" defense, then the risk is even more favorable. The State attempts to disrupt this equation with ridiculously high penalties for tax evasion.

In the present, the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates artificially low. This guarantees that capital and tangible assets will always outperform cash/bond investments.

In a free market, the trend is for interest rates and return on capital to converge. If the disparity is too great, then workers will borrow and start new businesses. In the present, this does not occur, due to the huge State distortion of the credit market.

This bit deserves its own separate post.

In this thread on, someone was writing about Disney suing someone to stop using "Winnie the Pooh".

Intellectual property isn't a valid form of property.

It's silly that characters developed over 50 years ago aren't in the public domain. I should be able to write a "Winnie the Pooh" story if I want to.

There is the concept of "statutory damages", which is a totally corrupt legal concept. Suppose I write a nice "Winnie the Pooh" story. This increases the value of the brand, so you can't argue I was damaging Disney. However, I am punished according to some arbitrary scale, which is totally out of proportion to whether I injured someone or not.

Even if I wrote a pornographic "Winnie the Pooh" story, you could argue it was satire and parents shouldn't show it to their children.

Similarly, if you are found guilt of tax evasion, you are convicted in accordance with an arbitrary punishment scale, rather than owing back taxes plus interest plus collection costs. An individual who practices tax evasion may go to jail for years or decades. A CEO who practices clever accounting tricks is a national hero!

In this thread on, someone was writing about their experiences debating pro-State trolls.

"The difference between the point of view you hold and my point of viewis simple, kingmonkey....I'm recognizing reality while you areespousing theoretical principles. If you really lived your theories, you'd be dispossessed or jailed by now, so I guess you recognize reality as well."

That is an interesting question. How risky is it for a freedom seeker to actually live by their theories? I'm referring to avoiding income taxes, using sound money, and ignoring stupid regulations that restrict trade. Are there any hard statistics? Citing high-profile tax evasion cases is irrelevant, because that doesn't count the people who got away with it.

For example, if there was a 1% chance of being busted for tax evasion and going to jail for 5 years, it's totally worth it. If you avoid income taxes, you get paid twice as much. When you're in jail, you earn no income for 5 years. Therefore, tax evasion has positive expectation, if there's only a 1% chance of getting caught.

(They were writing about waitresses and tax evasion.)

Here's one of my favorite tricks, which I should start using.

When you go to a restaurant, you may pay by credit card or cash. Suppose that 50% of customers pay by credit card and leave an average tip of 15%. Then, the IRS assumes that cash-paying customers leave an average tip of 15%. To frustrate this, you should leave a tip of $1 on your credit card, and leave the rest of the tip in cash!

if you're making more money, start your own business. Pick something that is not regulated, probably something tech-related, like a website.

Actually, if you're starting an agorist off-the-books business, then picking something regulated to the hilt is best! That maximizes your profit. Of course, that also is risky, if you get caught.

The real problem is minimizing risk, by choosing your partners wisely.

That is one issue I am grappling with. Should I practice "blatant-in-public agorism", which maximizes my customer base? Should I practice "stealth agorism", which is less risky but not as beneficial? I'm leaning towards "blatant-in-public agorism". If you're totally public about what you're doing, it's harder for people to get offended.

This thread on discussed the feasibility of agorism versus other resistance tactics.

The question we therefore face is, what kind of organization allows us to produce security against the state's will?

First, you shouldn't think of it as "the State's will". You should think of it as "the will of the handful of insiders who control the State.", along with the front-line enforcers who aren't consciously aware that they're participants in a massive criminal conspiracy. The State is an abstract fictional entity. You can't "violate the will of the State" any more than you can "violate the will of Santa Claus".

There are three methods I can think of.

1. Stealth. You avoid detection. You only trade with people you trust and who agree to respect your privacy.

2. Bribe State employees to ignore you. Many drug dealers do this. If the cost of bribing State employees is less than taxes owed, then this is profitable. Plus, resources are funneled away from the State and to individuals who are friendly towards you.

Direct bribes might be unnecessary. For example, if a policeman knows he can buy good cakes from an agorist baker for half the price and better quality than a State-licensed baker, then he might be inclined to go along with it.

3. Direct violent confrontation. This isn't feasible in the present, due to the State's superior resources. By the time this becomes a viable option, the State will have already lost. For example, the State demands you pay property taxes. You refuse. They raid your property to kick you off *AND LOSE THE CONFRONTATION*. That isn't feasible in the present.

Some combination of stealth and bribery seems optimal. Remember that the State is an abstract fictional entity. You real enemy is the front-line State enforcers who attempt to detect and suppress your economic activity. They should be evaded or bribed.

How will an underground economy enforce justice? Initially, the counter-economy will lack police and jails. The power of ostracism should not be underestimated. If you cheat your trading partners, you'll rapidly find yourself unable to do anything. In a free market, trust is important.

The problem with the agorist approach is that it does not challenge the state's "core" monopoly, only its secondary monopolies, and thus cannot weaken the state.

The State's core monopoly (violence) derives from its secondary monopolies.

Suppose the State loses its monetary monopoly, due to agorists using sound money. Suppose the State loses the ability to collect taxes. Suppose the dollar collapses in hyperinflation.

How is the State going to pay its policemen? It's one thing to hire thugs to terrorize people for a paycheck. It's another thing when that paycheck bounces.

Once there's an established free market economy, it's too hard to shut it down. A free market is decentralized. There's no leader to arrest or assassinate.

Has the crackdown on P2P filesharing eliminated filesharing? No. The filesharers are using cleverer and cleverer tactics. If the ISPs block BitTorrent, then people will start using encrypted BitTorrent.

Perhaps the question could be better put as "What could 1 million anarchists do?"

All the approaches people suggest aren't mutually exclusive.

They could move to the same area and vote for a less intrusive government. This is the "Free state project".

They could move to the same area and form a self-sufficient community, strong enough to repel State-sponsored invaders/police. This isn't feasible, because a small community won't be able to withstand a protracted siege.

They could work towards a free market where they live right now, which is the agorist solution.

I prefer agorism. However, I'm not saying that you're barred from trying other things. I'm just saying that other approaches are less likely to succeed. I'm not violently preventing you from trying other things.

If you could get a true libertarian candidate on the ballot, I'd probably vote for him. I'm not waiting for that to happen.

If we live in a world of scarcity, then yes they are mutually exclusive. If we expend our energy fighting the monopoly on money, that is less energy we can use to fight the monopoly on law and force.

That's exactly wrong. If you fight the monetary monopoly, your savings aren't stolen via inflation. This means you have more resources to fight the violence monopoly.

The correct agorist question is "Can you fight the monetary monopoly and show a profit at the same time?" My answer is "yes", via gold/silver/FRN barter networks and off-the-books banking businesses.

(Someone suggested assassinating State employees.)

In the late nineteenth century, some anarchists adopted the tactic of assassinating State employees. All that accomplished was that it created sympathy for the State.

If you assassinate a State employee, there are many other people lining up to replace them. You need to focus on eliminating the State's ability to leech wealth via taxes and inflation. You need to focus on raising awareness of the evil of the State.

If you're trading peacefully as an agorist, now it's easier to portray the State as the bad guys, when they use violence to stop you.

For resolving disputes among agorists, the power of ostracism should not be underestimated. If you're banned from the community, that's a pretty severe penalty. In a free market, trust and reputation are very important.

Agreed & agreed with Stranger above; an un-intended consequence for physically fighting the enemy is breeding possible sympathy for the enemy, even though they (the state) are clearly the oppressors.

The reason the early anarchists failed is that they did not have the right targets. The enemy is not any man but an institution, and institutions are physically immune. The moment they killed a president, another man was immediately instituted as president, and therefore their action had no positive effect whatsoever except make it easier for crazy men to become presidents.

It's important to convince people that having a government in the first place is a bad idea. Once people experiment with free market economics, they'll see how lucrative it is, and they'll be inclined to go along with it. Only a small fraction of people working in the free market might be sufficient to finish off the State, because their productivity will be so high. Only a handful of people are needed to get an agorist trading group started.

In this thread on, someone was writing about the New Deal and the Great Depression.

How exactly did the New Deal exacerbate the Great Depression?

Is this a proven fact? Was the economy beggining to heal itself and if so, how?

The New Deal was a big increase in the size and power of government, which is always damaging to the economy.

Deficit spending stole from the average person via inflation, and the proceeds were used for the welfare state and big government projects.

This is the "broken window" fallacy. You see government employees doing things. You don't see the productive things they would be doing otherwise.

An increase in the size of government is always bad.

The Great Depression was 100% caused by the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve kept a "tight money" policy until the start of WWII. The Federal Reserve intentionally created the conditions of poverty that allowed President Roosevelt to implement the New Deal and wreck the remnants of the free market economy.

In this thread on, someone was writing about American economic history.

* attempts at setting up central banks in the past and why they weren't a good idea.

* explanation of the various 'panics' and 'crashes' of the past, especially ones I hear occured in the 1800s.

* explanation of the 'robber barons' and why they really weren't

* claims that 'laissez faire' was prevalent in the US economy in the 1800s and into the early 1900s, until 'reigned in' by regulation ushered in by FDR, etc.

* (tied to the above) when exactly did regulation and other attempts at the US government begining, prehaps with an overview of what existed before FDR

* good explanation of the Great Depression and how government intervention (and the Fed) played into this. (am aware of Rothbard's work on the American Great Depression, but have not tackled).

Look at the first central bank of the US (ended just before the War of 1812) and the second central bank of the US (ended by Andrew Jackson). Originally, the central banks were given a 20 year charter. The Federal Reserve was given an indefinite charter. Do you really think the Federal Reserve could have had its charter renewed during the Great Depression?

The first two central banks were an obvious disaster. They created severe boom/bust cycles. At that time, politicians had enough economic literacy to realize they'd been conned. In the present, politicians are mostly completely ignorant of economics.

After the Civil War, the banking system was essentially nationalized via regulations. In the late 1880s, there was a letter where the big banks agreed to collude and cease issuing loans to farmers. The money supply crashed, causing a recession. Individuals lost their farms when they were unable to repay their loans. By evicting people from their self-sufficient farms, they were forced to "voluntarily" agree to work in factories.

Before the Federal Reserve, large banks colluded to create boom/bust cycles. After the Federal Reserve was created, banks were forced to collude via the Federal Reserve monetary policy.

President Lincoln issued greenbacks to finance the Civil War (credit-based money) rather than borrowing from the bankers at extortionate interest rates. Some people say that this is the reason Lincoln was assassinated. Lincoln was planning to finance reconstruction via more Greenback issues, which would break the bankers' monetary monopoly. Lincoln was planning a loose monetary policy after the Civil War, which was contrary to the bankers' goal of debt enslavement.

As a counter-example to laissez faire, consider railroads. The railroads were built by politically connected insiders. Via eminent domain, they received a monopoly to operate the railroads. The railroad monopoly then allowed them to develop monopolies in other industries. There never was a true free market.

In the late 19th century, the Supreme Court legalized corporations. Corporations were granted the right to own property and enforce contracts. This made it easier to manage large business and rake in State subsidies. Corporations allow someone to control a business, even if they aren't a majority owner. This is the essence of the Principal-Agent Problem.

All regulations always are subsidies to the people who write them. For example, the USA adopted and dropped a bimetallic gold/silver standard, but the bimetallic standard overvalued silver. Insiders bought/sold silver before the bimetallic standard was adopted/dropped.

The Great Depression was 100% caused by the Federal Reserve.

There's some good bits on my blog and via Googling. Regrettably, any mainstream information source will merely parrot the lies you learned in school.

By E-Mail, someone wrote a long question, regarding Evidence of a Massive Conspiracy:

This was long, so it took me awhile to respond.

I read your blog every time you post, and with great interest. I sometimes leave browser tabs open for days in order to read, digest and re-read. I have also been slowly working my way back through posts which came before it attracted my attention.

You can also look through the "Best of FSK" post list on the left sidebar. I think I'm getting better at explaining things as I go along. I'm planning to rewrite my most popular articles at some point.

I've sent you anonymous comments before, and at least once you published one anonymously. If you are motivated to publish this comment as well, I would ask that you do so without attribution as well.

I accept anonymous comments, either by E-Mail or via blog comment. I try to publish every comment except for obvious spam. Actually, commenting via blog might be superior to E-Mail, because gmail sometimes has a false positive for its "spam filter" if it's from an unknown recipient. I try to answer every comment, but my time is somewhat limited. I'll see what I do if the volume of comments gets too big.

I read A LOT of other "conspiracy" oriented material. I find plenty of falsehood and paranoia there, while also finding useful tools with which to model our sad world.

I'm getting pretty good at recognizing the truth from the propaganda. Sometimes, you can tell just by the style of writing! If it's logically organized, it seems interesting. If it's overall incoherent, it seems boring. I'm reading so many conspiracy-related websites that I can tell almost instantly if it's worth reading or not!

The amusing part is that some pages have a mixture of truth and propaganda. You have to carefully mix truth and propaganda, in order to be believed. Also, this discredits the bits of truth mixed in with the propaganda.

The post is breathtaking in its scope, really. The nexus for me, though is the connection you make here:

When you suggest the Compound Interest Paradox to an economist, they will experience a certain type of emotional reaction, saying "That can't possibly be right." I am nearly 100% sure that "Taxation is theft!" Whenever I see a politician being grilled about "Taxation is theft!", they experience the same reaction as an economist discussing the Compound Interest Paradox. Whenever I ask a physicist about Zero Point Energy generators, they have the *EXACT SAME REACTION* as an economist discussion the Compound Interest Paradox or a politician discussing "Taxation is theft!" My reaction to this behavior is "OMFG! Zero point energy is real! Are you kidding me?!"

Some comments:

First, "taxation is theft" ought to rise to the level of tautology. Even in the past couple months I know that you have read something from David Z which demolishes any possible objection, and there is much, much more writing out there to support the claim and with which I am sure you are acquainted.

I consider "Taxation is theft!" to be the most obvious of any of the above assertions. However, it is also the one that is most heavily obfuscated. There also is freedomain's writing, and other sources. The number of people writing coherently about "Taxation is theft!" is increasing dramatically. I've noticed a substantial improvement in the year since I've started blogging.

I want to grok what you are saying in writing about "The compound interest paradox". For me, the evil inherent in fractional-reserve banking combined with fiat currency was illustrated very clearly when I read Rothbard's "What has Government Done to Our Money?". Have you read this? Are you promoting the same analysis via a different track? I've read your article more than once, and I still don't get your view exactly. Maybe it's terminology. Maybe if you changed "paradox" to "trap" it would make sense, I'm not sure. Even still, I don't see anything fundamentally wrong with a contractual arrangement for lending that provides for compound interest. I may think that it's a damned stupid thing for someone to agree to, but at the same time I don't see anything inherent in compound interest itself which could not exist without a coercive state.

There's a couple of problems here.

First, Mises and Rothbard never wrote about the Compound Interest Paradox. There is another book, called "The Debt Virus", which is the same subject (but I haven't read it). Mises and Rothbard are dead, so we can't question them about it. This is the "argument from authority fallacy". "My favorite author never wrote about this subject. Therefore, it doesn't exist."

In a true free market, there's nothing inherently evil about lending money at interest. In a true free market with a gold standard, suppose I try to fraudulently expand the money supply by writing a lot of fractional reserve loans. At some point, my customers will discover the fraud, and rush to redeem their deposits. I can't keep my promises, and declare bankruptcy. Without limited liability incorporation, I am personally liable for my depositors getting shafted. All the money I fraudulently created vanishes into thin air once my insolvency is discovered.

In a true free market, lending money at interest is a valid way to invest surplus capital.

In the present, the only way for *ANYONE* to get new money is to borrow directly or indirectly from the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve only creates the principal and not the interest payments. There is no gold standard, so the Federal Reserve may inflate at will. The Federal Reserve keeps expanding the money supply to prevent a money supply crash. ("The Federal Reserve is lowering interest rates to 'stimulate the economy'.") I can't say "This game is stupid. I'm not honoring the Federal Reserve's paper.", because State violence forces me to use Federal Reserve Points as money.

Let's try another analogy. Suppose you have a magic scheme for winning at Roulette. None of the strategies work. The Martingale "double-up" strategy fails if the casino's bankroll is much greater than yours, even if the casino doesn't impose a betting limit at the table. (The casino typically imposes a spread between maximum and minimum bet of 100-1000, to frustrate Martingale players, but that is unnecessary as long as the casino's bankroll is much greater than the player's bankroll.) Each individual bet at a game of roulette has negative expectation. No matter how you sum them up, the entire game has negative expectation. You can't add minuses to get a plus.

Similarly, each individual loan has negative expectation for society as a whole. For a 1 year loan at 5% interest, $1M is created, but $1.05M must be paid in a year when the loan comes due. There's a shortfall of $50,000. Suppose this loan were the only one in existence. Then, the Compound Interest Paradox is obvious, right? Now, imagine a whole bunch of such loans added together. It's exactly like the scenario of a Roulette betting system. Each individual loan places society in a debt hole. Therefore, the overall system places society in a debt hole. You can't add minuses to get a plus.

Trying to add negative-expectation bets to get a positive expectation system is a fallacy of Roulette betting system developers. As long as the casino's bankroll is much greater than the player's bankroll, the player is almost definitely guaranteed to go bankrupt. Similarly, each loan has negative expectation for society as a whole, because of the interest shortfall. Whenever money is borrowed into existence, only the principal is created and not the interest. You can't add negative expectation bets to get a positive expectation system. The Federal Reserve has an infinite bankroll. Ben Bernanke can always keep inflating to bail out insiders. The scam doesn't collapse, because new money is continually created due to new loans. Insiders borrow at negative real interest rates, which is a huge incentive for them to keep borrowing and creating more money. The Federal Reserve doesn't just steal via inflation. Small business owners are ruined during recessions, while large corporations have the size to withstand the business cycle. Individuals are deluded into borrowing during the boom phase, and then are bankrupted and lose everything during the bust phase.

The problem is that State violence forces me to play this game. Even if I personally have no debts, I'm affected by the Federal Reserve. The money in my pocket and in my checking account loses its purchasing power to inflation, and the profits are given to financial industry insiders and executives at large corporations. If I'm a small business owner with no debt, my profits are leeched via inflation and taxes, with the proceeds given to my large corporate competitors. The rest of the economy is wracked by boom/bust cycles, which makes it very hard for me to plan my business. During the bust, I'll be forced to cut back. During the boom, I can't grow fast enough to keep up with my large corporate competitors who have access to cheap/free money.

Without the State, there is no Compound Interest Paradox. With the State and the Federal Reserve, the Compound Interest Paradox operates with the full force of law. In a true free market, banks provide a legitimate service of allocating capital efficiently. In a true free market, banks provide a service of matching people with savings and people who want to start businesses. In the present, large banks take no risk. Large banks are always bailed out during an economic bust. Banks are bailed out via interest rate cuts. Large banks are bailed out by "Level 3 Asset" accounting, which means they don't have to "mark to market" their assets during a recession. During a recession, large banks may continue operating even though they're technically bankrupt.

That said, and with respect... when we continue through the "nexus" paragraph I quoted, I already feel myself sliding off the track. I can recognize of course that most economists and all politicians are state tools. Even so, they ought to get their math right. But the CIP argument doesn't strike me with the same force that the fractional-reserve theft plus inflation argument does. So, when you get to Tesla and zero point energy, well, I still want to believe. But I need more evidence, damnit.

The paragraph starts with what to me is an unassailable assertion: taxation is theft. That economists or politicians react like you're a three-headed monster is definite evidence of widespread, pervasive, fundamental and effective brainwashing. If I were to advance the second phase of this paragraph in my own terms I would say instead that the present system of fractional reserve banking backed by fiat is an institutional delusion, that Keynes was a cocksucker, and that people ought to try to discover the true basis of the phoney "money" they proclaim as a value. You have also laid that out very clearly in other posts, so I believe that we share the same view of the nature of the thing... it's just that I still don't understand the CIP after several readings and several of your revisions.

Your continuing, then, to zero point energy claims and recalling a seemingly unrelated strong number 1 and questionable and possibly weak number 2 in an effort to persuade us to accept number 3 seems quite a stretch.

I should clarify this somewhat. There is the order in which I personally discovered things. Then, there is the order I should present things to someone else.

The order in which I discovered the truth is:
  1. the Discounted Cashflow Paradox
  2. The Put/Call Parity Formula is Wrong.
  3. The chemical imbalance theory of mental illness is nonsense.
  4. Petitioning the State for redress of grievances is pointless, regarding my abuse by the psychiatry/death industry.
  5. Ron Paul would be a neat President! However, the election system is fixed and he has no chance of winning.
  6. the Compound Interest Paradox
  7. The Federal Reserve is immoral.
  8. The income tax is immoral.
  9. Petitioning the State for redress of grievances regarding the income tax and Federal Reserve is pointless.
  10. The USA is actually a Communist country!
  11. Property taxes are immoral.
  12. All forms of taxation are theft!
  13. Who needs a government, anyway?
  14. Agorism is the only sensible strategy for a freedom-seeker to pursue. If I want to have a job that isn't a complete waste of time, then I have to ignore/break all the laws that risk restrict productive activity. The only way to live a morally just life is to do things that are illegal, such as tax evasion/resistance. If I voluntarily pay taxes, then I'm a war criminal.
  15. Public schools are really brainwashing centers. The mainstream media is a propaganda engine.
  16. OMFG, you can build a Zero Point Energy generator! Are you serious!
The order I would present the truth to someone else is:
  1. Taxation is theft! The most evil tax is the income tax. The second most evil tax is property taxes. All taxation is theft, including those allowed by the original Constitution.
  2. Inflation is theft! The Federal Reserve is immoral.
  3. The USA is actually a Communist country!
  4. If government is funded exclusively via theft, then you can't justify having a government.
  5. Voting doesn't work, because of a corrupt mainstream media, corruption among those who count the votes, and most people are stupid.
  6. All monopolies are evil. The most evil monopoly is government. If you give people a monopoly of violence and a monopoly for resolving disputes, then what happens if there's a dispute involving those with the monopoly? State employees are protected by "sovereign immunity". They're practically immune for liability for misconduct while on the job. If a policeman enforces an illegitimate law, he's shielded from liability. If a policeman mistakenly shoots you, then that's too bad for you. If a judge makes a bad ruling, that's too bad for you.
  7. Agorism is the only resistance strategy worth pursuing.
  8. A Constitution is not a legitimate contract, because I never personally consented to it and I don't have the right to withdraw my consent. If you assert that the majority may steal from the minority, then all sorts of crimes can be justified. If you can create the illusion that a majority back each bad law, then all sorts of crimes can be justified.
  9. Public schools are really brainwashing centers. Most private schools are almost as bad, because they follow the model set by public schools.
  10. The only way to get people to accept the current corrupt system is via a massive brainwashing campaign.
  11. If you look carefully, you can see the secret hidden messages in television and newspapers. I can see the fnords! They're actually there! It's exactly like in the movie "They Live!" I really have the special power of the sunglasses in that movie! The are two types of fnords. There are the evil fnords, that are parts of the enslavement Matrix. There are also good fnords, which are clues and hints that help people figure out what's going on, such as the movie "The Matrix". It's obvious where the evil fnords are coming from. Who's generating the good fnords?
  12. The State intentionally restricts the pace of scientific research, via State funding of research. There may be very advanced technologies intentionally withheld from the general public, such as zero point energy.
Here's the details of my personal journey towards the truth.

1. When I first started working as a software engineer, I started researching investing and stocks. The most conservative method of pricing stocks is the "discounted cashflow method". You take the future income stream and discount it to the present at the Treasury yield rate.

However, stocks have historically increased their earnings at a rate of 3%-5% more than the Treasury yield rate. Over every historic period of substantial size, stocks have outperformed bonds. If you run a discounted cashflow simulation over a 50-100 year timeframe, you conclude that the correct stock price is infinite.

At the time, I didn't realize the correct answer. Real interest rates are negative. If you keep your savings in bonds, you're guaranteed to get ripped off by inflation. The numeric value of your principal is safe, but its purchasing power is not safe. The long-term value of a bond investment is zero. That's the reason I calculated an infinite stock price when I discount at the Treasury yield rate.

I've recently realized that a stock investment probably does not outperfom gold. A historic back-test for more than 10 years is invalid, because gold ownership was illegal from 1933-1975 and from 1975 until now, central banks have been selling/leasing their gold reserves to keep down the price of gold. They have nearly exhausted their gold reserves, and their ability to manipulate gold's price is decreasing. For the past 10 years, gold has substantially outperformed the S&P 500.

In other words, when you do a discounted cashflow comparison of stocks vs. bonds, you're literally doing a "zero divided by zero" calculation. The long-term value of both stocks and bonds is zero. You can't prevent corporate management from granting themselves option grants or mismanaging the corporation. You can't prevent the Federal Reserve from inflating and diluting the value of your bonds.

Even real estate underperforms gold, because of the drag of property taxes. With real estate, you may use leverage via a mortgage, but then you risk bankruptcy during the next economic bust. With real estate, you can earn income via rent, but you pay taxes on rent collected and property taxes. With a gold/silver investment, you get full allodial title.

However, a small real estate investment may be sensible. If you anticipate the collapse of the State, you'll be free of the burden of property taxes. If you rent your property out to other agorists, you should make sure they consent to recognizing you as the legitimate owner after the State collapses.

2. I was working at a option trading business. They taught all the technical employees about stock option theory. My immediate reaction to the put/call parity formula was "I call shenanigans!" According to the put/call parity formula, options are priced as if the expected gain in stock equals the Fed Funds Rate. Everybody knows that stocks outperform Treasury Bonds by a substantial margin over every decent timeframe.

I was really confused by this contradiction. When I tried explaining it to other people working there, they just didn't get it. They couldn't answer my objection, but didn't really understand what I was saying either. They had been brainwashed to believe "The Black-Scholes Formula is right!" and they couldn't question the axioms. With my Math background, I knew the difference between axioms and conclusions. Right there on page 1 of the options textbook was the axiom "Expected stock returns equal expected bond returns. If stock returns were greater, then people would borrow and buy stock". That was obviously false.

The reason is that when you borrow money to buy stock, you aren't borrowing money from someone else. You're borrowing brand new money into existence. This prevents that arbitrage process from occurring. If the money supply were fixed, as in a gold standard, then the arbitrage axiom would mostly hold. Even then, stocks should slightly outperform bonds, because of the risk of owning stock. More risky stocks should have a greater premium.

3. Due to stress at work, I barely slept at all for a month. They promoted someone to manage the tech group, but he had no experience managing people, and he totally mismanaged things. It was like the Rails disaster at my current job, but worse.

I was really stressed out and afraid. I called 911 for help. I wound up in the psych ward. I asked to leave, and was told I wasn't allowed to do that. I was given injections and drugs against my will. I was living alone in a different city than my parents. I managed to call them and they bailed me out of the hospital.

After release, I was placed on very strong anti-psychotic drugs. I asked my psychiatrist to reduce the dose or let me stop taking them, but he refused. Finally, I got my parents to agree to let me stop taking them. The withdrawal was horrible. The withdrawal symptoms look like the outbreak of a new mental illness. After a few relapses, I think I've recovered enough to avoid hospitalization again.

Being kidnapped and tortured is very educational! That's why the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay must be kept there! They learned too much during their incarceration!

4. I looked into the possibility of suing the hospital and my psychiatrists for malpractice. I realized that it was hopeless. No lawyer would be willing to represent me on contingency. If I spent my own money pursuing a lawsuit, it would cost $50k-$100k or more, it would take years, and there's no guarantee I would win. The psychiatrists followed "standard industry practices" and they falsified the medical records so it looked like what they did was appropriate.

Even though the psychiatrists and the hospital horribly mistreated me, they are protected by "sovereign immunity".

I researched this on the Internet. There are groups of people saying "Let's lobby/petition the State to end the abuse by the psychiatry/death industry!" However, they are volunteers with limited resources. They can't match the propaganda/lobbying engine of the pharmaceutical industry. Even though the truth is on their side, they are hopelessly outmatched.

The pharmaceutical industry makes too much money marketing and selling harmful drugs. Psychiatrists have invested years in their careers, learning how to murder people. They can't abandon the investment they made in their career and try something else. All those people won't give up their perks without a fight.

I've since realized that schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is the illness of being able to see things that are actually there. When I first started seeing the fnords, it was very traumatic. Now, I'm able to notice them or not notice them as I choose. If I want to see them, I can pay attention and see them. Normally, I let them pass in the background, because it's too depressing.

The bad guys need the psychiatry/death industry. They need to silence the people who start suspecting the nature of the massive conspiracy. If they were outright murdered, that would be too obvious. Instead, they are given drugs that dull their senses and silence them.

I attempted to "petition the government for redress of grievances" regarding abuse by the psychiatry industry. The response was "Go **** yourself!" Why should I feel loyalty to a system that was unable to prevent me from being murdered.

My treatment by the psychiatry industry was literally murder. All my psychiatrists told me "You must take these drugs for the rest of your life. Your complaints about side effects are merely symptoms of your illness." If I had followed my psychiatrists' advice, I would never have recovered. They had literally murdered me. The side effects were 100% caused by the drugs, because the symptoms went away when I stopped taking the harmful drugs.

5. I started to get interested in Ron Paul's presidential campaign. I was active on the Ron Paul Forum for awhile, until I realized that the election was fixed. If the mainstream media were fair, they would have been saying "Look at how awesome Ron Paul is!" at every opportunity. They didn't even waste much time criticizing him. Instead, they censored him by not mentioning him at all.

At this point, I knew that the mainstream media's portrayal of the psychiatry industry was wrong. I was more willing to question their analysis of other things.

I saw a debate clip where Ron Paul was critical of the IRS and Federal Reserve. I wrote a bunch of articles on the Federal Reserve and income tax on the Ron Paul wiki and Ron Paul forum. I got tired of fighting with trolls, so I decided to start my own blog. Plus, having a blog was convenient, because I could make a link for the most common points instead of repeating myself.

6. There were a lot of websites that had information on the psychiatry industry conspiracy, which I knew to be correct. These websites also had information on the evils of the Federal Reserve and income tax. Since they were 100% accurate on the psychiatry industry, I figured these other topics were worth investigating.

The "Federal Reserve conspiracy" websites were talking about how the Federal Reserve leads to permanent debt enslavement. This argument is really complicated. My explanation of the Compound Interest Paradox is simpler than the other explanations I've read.

The Compound Interest Paradox is really complicated. "Taxation is theft!" is obvious. The Compound Interest Paradox is more subtle, but also more damaging. I estimate more wealth is confiscated via boom/bust cycles and inflation, than outright via taxes. The income tax steals from me as I work. The inflation tax steals money out of my checking account. Even if I invest in stocks, I'm not fully protected from the inflation tax.

Once I understood the Compound Interest Paradox, it's very easy to conclude "I can't support a corrupt monetary system."

7. Even if you don't understand the Compound Interest Paradox, it's easy to see the immorality of the Federal Reserve. People's savings are stolen by inflation. The proceeds of inflation are given to the insiders who print and spend the new money.

In order to explain the evils of the Federal Reserve, it's sufficient to say "Inflation is theft!" The Compound Interest Paradox is a subtle consequence of an unjust monetary system. The Compound Interest Paradox is much more damaging than constant uniform inflation.

People don't use gold and silver as money because taxes and regulations make it impractical. People who say "The free market discredited gold and silver as money" are completely missing the point. State violence is 100% responsible for the elimination of the gold standard. The gold standard itself was not defective. Heavy regulation of money via the Federal Reserve destroyed the gold standard.

8. The income tax is the most evil tax. The income tax prevents people from boycotting the Federal Reserve, because income taxes must be paid in Federal Reserve Notes. According to the IRS, all economic activity is subject to taxation.

The income tax means that people must get permission from the State to work. By manipulating the money supply, the Federal Reserve can control the unemployment rate.

Working is a natural right. By taxing labor, the State is taxing a natural right.

The popular impetus for the income tax is to make sure that wealthy people "pay their fair share". In practice, the reverse occurs. The wealthy elite receive more in State subsidies than the amount of taxes they pay. If you steal $1B via the State, and then pay $300M in income taxes, does that make it morally acceptable? Instead of redistributing wealth from wealthy people to the average person, the income tax steals from everyone and gives the proceeds to wealthy insiders.

If I'm a small business owner, I am taxed and the proceeds are used for corporate welfare for my large corporate competitors. In addition to the tax itself, I must pay the cost of ensuring I pay the correct amount of tax. I must either hire an accountant, or do it myself; both cost time or money. The burden of regulation compliance also is greater for small business owners than large corporations.

9. A lot of people have complained to their Congressman and in other venues about the injustice of the Federal Reserve and income tax. Petitioning the State for redress of grievances regarding the income tax and Federal Reserve is pointless. What happens when you petition the State for redress of grievances, and the response is "Go **** yourself!" Then what do you do?

The Supreme Court has approved of the Federal Reserve and income tax via a series of decisions. Via stare decisis, these decisions may not be questioned. There's the obvious conflict of interest. The President frequently says "I'm going to appoint Supreme Court justices that make the decisions I want them to make!" An ideal Supreme Court justice appears superficially impartial, but is biased in the correct direction. All politicians like the Federal Reserve and income tax. A corrupt monetary system and taxation system increases the power of the State and the influence of politicians.

On the issue of the income tax and the Federal Reserve, the Supreme Court is not impartial. Even though the Supreme Court has made many decisions that allow the income tax and Federal Reserve as currently implemented, those decisions should not be accepted as morally binding.

10. It was pretty bizarre to realize that the USA actually is a Communist country. When I was in college, some students were saying "The economic system in the USA is unfair! Communism would be better!" Their arguments really confused me. Communism is obviously a stupid economic system. However, there were obvious flaws in the US economic system. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on.

"People get together and voluntarily cooperate" is actually a free market! In a true free market, if a group of people want to get together and do stuff, there are no restrictions. If a group of people want to get together and cooperate in private, that's none of my business, although that's illegal in the present. Private property is valuable, because it makes sure that individuals are rewarded for their work. When people work, they should keep the fruits of their labor.

I don't mind if a group of people decide to jointly own some property, as long as they receive no special legal perks. With joint property ownership, each owner is individually fully liable for damages that arise from that property. For example, if a group of people jointly own a restaurant, they should each be fully liable if a customer gets food poisoning. "Limited liability incorporation" is an artificial creation of a coercive government. Most plausible business risks could be insured, minimizing risk of ruin to business owners for circumstances beyond their control. In the case of food poisoning, you'd probably purchase food poisoning insurance and kitchen safety inspections from the same vendor. In a free market, customers would probably refuse to eat in a restaurant that didn't have food poisoning insurance.

The current economic system has the worst of both worlds. Income taxes, property taxes, and the inflation tax demolish all individual property ownership rights. "Respect property rights!" really means "Respect established corporate monopolies/oligopolies and shield them from competition!"

Those students in college were tricked! They thought "not USA" equals "Communism". They were arguing in favor of Communism, while the USA already is a nearly perfect implementation of Communism.

Corporate control of the means of production is the functional equivalent of State control of the means of production. A corporate bureaucracy and a State bureaucracy have more similarities than differences. Management of large corporations can't make correct economic decisions for the same reason that managers in a communist dictatorship can't make correct economic decisions. Large corporations are shielded from competition by the State, and they don't get proper price signals regarding what work should be done.

The key provisions of the Communist Manifesto are:
  1. income taxes (all labor owned by the State)
  2. a central bank credit monopoly (the State decides what businesses can raise capital; individual savings are property of the State)
  3. property taxes (all land owned by the State)
  4. regulation of industry and State licensing requirements for many jobs (all businesses extensively regulated by the State)
  5. mandatory public schooling (all children brainwashed by the State)
  6. mainstream media monopoly (all information controlled by the State, although the Internet is changing this)
The underlying philosophy of the US economic system is "all people are property of the State". The handful of people who control the government are the true owners of all the resources in the USA. People are allowed limited freedom, but it's mostly an illusion to keep them complacent.

I have the freedom to choose my own job, but no matter where I work I must give 50% of my productivity to the State. The State restricts the market and restricts my employment opportunities. The State restricts my ability to start my own business, due to the burden of regulations and the difficulty of raising capital. For example, if I'm a small business owner, I must pay $3k-$10k per year to make sure I'm in compliance with accounting regulations and tax regulations. As a small business owner, that's a huge chunk of my profit, in addition to the taxes themselves. To contrast that, management of large corporations pays a negative taxation rate, due to the massive State subsidies they receive. The CEOs of large corporations are not chosen by a true free market process, but rather nepotism capitalism. Sometimes, non-insiders make their way up to CEO, but only then if they have the "right" attitude/brainwashing; such counter-examples are not proof that the economic system is fair.

11. The income tax is the most immoral tax. Property taxes are the second most immoral tax. Due to property taxes, nobody owns full allodial title to their land. Instead, you merely have a perpetual transferable lease.

12. All taxation is theft. This includes income taxes, property taxes, the inflation tax, excise taxes, tariffs, sales taxes, driver's licenses, etc. Anytime you have no choice but to pay the State in exchange for permission to do something, that's an immoral tax. Even a strictly Constitutional capitation tax applied equally per person is immoral.

13. Once you realize "Taxation is theft!", you realize "Who needs a government at all?"

If you take a pure free market perspective, all services currently provided by the State could be more efficiently provided by a true free market.

The Federal Reserve is a totally corrupt monetary system. Obviously, money could be more efficiently handled by the market. Once you take away the State's monetary monopoly, it loses a large chunk of its evil power.

Roads can obviously be handled by a free market. Local roads would be maintained by people living in the area. Expressways would be toll roads, exactly as is implemented now. The true cost of pothole repair is only a few hundred dollars. Split equally among residents of a street, that's only $20-$30 each. Even if there was a "free rider problem", it'd be negligible, and free market courts could efficiently enforce $30 verdicts. Police protection and local road repair might be bundled together, since road repair is cheap.

Schools can obviously be handled by a free market. In the present, there are private schools, but they are only accessible to the wealthy. The average person is already paying the cost of public school, leaving little resources leftover for private schools.

Even police, justice, and national defense can be handled by a free market. The current monopolistic police and justice system has the "Who watches the watchers?" problem. If police, judges, or Congress make/enforce a bad law, then they are absolutely immune from accountability, due to sovereign immunity. Lobbying by lawyers has made the legal system inaccessible to the average person. An expensive lawyer is necessary for anyone involved in a lawsuit or fraudulently accused of a crime. If you're the victim of a frivolous lawsuit or frivolous criminal charges, you usually lose your legal fees, even if you win the trial.

National defense is actually cheap in a free market. With no centralized government, there's no profit from an invasion. Everyone would actively resist an invasion. If there was a serious risk of invasion, then nearly everyone would be armed. Even a few percentage of armed people is enough to discourage an invasion. War is only "profitable" when you can force people to pay the cost via taxes. If the target population is not disarmed and pacified/brainwashed, then an invasion has practically no chance of success. If necessary, a few nuclear weapons could be kept as a deterrent, but even that precaution seems unnecessary. Keeping a stockpile of guns to hand out or sell in the event of an invasion is much cheaper and more effective than a nuclear weapon. Ground-to-air missiles can be kept to discourage airplane bombing raids.

War is only profitable when there's a preexisting taxation and tribute collection system to usurp.

The current system of "punishment-based justice" and "statutory/victimless crimes" is completely defective. The correct goal of justice is compensation for the victims, and punitive damages to discourage irresponsible behavior. If someone is a repeat offender or too violent to be insurable, only then should someone be jailed.

14. Once you realize "Taxation is theft!" and "Government is terrorism!", then what can you do about it? A direct violent revolt is pointless. The bad guys have superior resources. Violence is destructive behavior and not constructive behavior. The leaders of a violent revolt can be assassinated/arrested/infiltrated/bribed. A violent revolt has no chance of success. The bad guys are extremely well prepared for a violent revolt. After all, violence is their specialty!

What about an economic revolt? Agorism is a strategy for pursuing an economic revolt. Agorism focuses on creating wealth, rather than destroying things.

An agorist revolution is self-sustaining, once it gets started. This is the most attractive feature of agorism. In the present, the power of compound interest is turned against individuals. Individuals have half their labor stolen directly via taxes. Inflation steals your savings. Regulations limit the ability of individuals to do useful work.

Agorism turns the power of compound interest in your favor. I estimate the productivity gains of agorists to be 2x-100x or more. The 2x gain is obvious, when you consider the direct cost of taxes. Gains of 100x or more are possible when you consider the crippling effect of regulations.

If agorists reinvest their profits in the underground economy, instead of trying to "launder" their profit, then exponential growth works in their favor. If necessary, gold and silver can be purchased as long-term investments in coin shops, purchasing with cash. An agorist should invest his profits in more capital goods, or in gold or silver. Gold or silver are liquid, and can always be traded back for slave points. A free market gold/silver/FRN barter network should be a priority for agorists. A surplus/deficit can be sold/purchased in the slave economy. I expect the agorist economy to run a "trade surplus" with the rest of the economy, once it gets started. Some agorists should target non-agorists or part-time agorists as customers.

The truth is depressing. Taxes and regulations are designed to stifle my productivity. The proceeds of taxation are used to hurt other people. The only way to live a morally just life is to be a criminal. I have a moral obligation to avoid paying taxes as much as possible. I have a moral obligation to ignore stupid regulations designed to cripple my productivity.

The only way stupid laws are ever changed is by civil disobedience. Agorism is a strategy for civil disobedience against stupid laws that restrict productive activity. In the case of economic civil disobedience, that will lead to the complete collapse of the State.

Agorists will inevitably find themselves the victim of State violence. However, it should be easy for an agorist to portray himself as the victim. "I'm just an individual trying to earn a living. Why are you harassing me?" If I were the victim in a tax evasion trial, I'd pursue a sui juris "jury nullification" defense. The judge would probably get angry, but who cares? How can the judge prevent me from speaking to the jury in my own trial?

I'm on the fence for whether I should attempt stealth-agorism or blatant-in-public agorism. I'm leaning towards blatant-in-public agorism, as a way to raise awareness and customers. That would be placing a bullseye on myself, but becoming a high-profile advocate for free markets might be the best defense. Plus, if I become a good public speaker, then I should be able to avoid conviction in a trial, if necessary. Also, if I seek public speaking engagements, being the victim in a criminal trial might be good publicity.

I'm eager to make the transition from theoretical agorism to practical agorism. There are lots of barriers to getting started. I lack sufficient interpersonal freedom to start working as an agorist, because I lack potential trading partners.

15. The only way to get people to accept such a corrupt system is via a massive brainwashing campaign. Public schools are essentially brainwashing centers. Mandatory public schooling is a key plank of the Communist manifesto.

A mainstream media monopoly also prevents public discussion of key issues. A mainstream media source will never ask "Does the USA have a fair monetary system?" or "Is the income tax moral?" or "Who needs a government anyway?"

16. A lot of people give me a hard time when I say "It might be possible to build a zero point energy generator." I'm not saying it's definitely possible. I'm saying that it must be seriously considered as a possibility, and is seriously worth investigating. If I had spare resources, I'd invest some on zero point energy research. I don't trust any university-based professor, so I'd have to fund the research myself.

The only conclusive proof would be a working Zero Point Energy generator.

My line of reasoning is that politicians, economists, and psychiatrists react in a certain predictable when when confronted with their fraud. When you mention the possibility of Zero Point Energy to a physicist, they react exactly the same way as a politician discussing "Taxation is theft". Therefore, I conclude that Zero Point Energy might exist.

To summarize:
  1. When a politician is confronted with "Taxation is theft!", he reacts in a certain way.
  2. When an economist is confronted with the Compound Interest Paradox, he reacts the same as the politician.
  3. When a psychiatrist is confronted with "The 'chemical inbalance' theory of mental illness is nonsense.", he reacts the same as the politician or economist.
  4. When a physicist is confronted with "It might be possible to build a Zero Point Energy generator.", he reacts the exact same way as a politician, economist, or psychiatrist.
A politician is brainwashed to believe "Taxation is not theft!", and is in denial of the truth. An economist is brainwashed to believe "The USA has a fair monetary system and fair economic system.", and is in denial of the truth. A psychiatrist is brainwashed to believe "Anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs are beneficial", and is in denial of the truth. All three of those professions react in the exact same manner when confronted with the truth that contradicts their brainwashing. When you suggest to a physicist "It might be possible to build a Zero Point Energy generator", he exhibits the same hostile reaction as a politician, economist, or psychiatrist. You don't have to say you have a working engine, just merely suggest the possibility, in order to get an emotional brain-shuts-down reaction from the physicist. My conclusion is "OMFG! Someone has brainwashed all the physicists to believe that Zero Point Energy is impossible! This technology must be real!" All the politicians, all the economists, and all the psychiatrists have been brainwashed to believe false things. It appears that someone has brainwashed all the physicists in the exact same manner.

Once you realize "It's possible to brainwash all the politicians." and "It's possible to brainwash all the economists." and "It's possible to brainwash all the psychiatrists.", then it's very easy to consider the possibility that "Someone has brainwashed all the physicists."

There is other evidence in favor of Zero Point Energy technology.
  1. Tesla's research papers were seized by the State.
  2. Some of Tesla's students attempted to stubbornly pursue his research, and then died mysteriously.
  3. There are rumors of Zero Point Energy technology researched in Germany before the end of WWII.
  4. People who work in factories with strong electric fields have reported strange phenomenon.
  5. The huge volume of misinformation on the Internet is an indication that something is being covered up. One effective technique for truth suppression is to make sure that 99.9% of the material on a subject is nonsense. This buries the 0.1% truth. I can tell, based on my readings of the Federal Reserve, income tax, and psychiatry, that there's a similar element of truth to the Zero Point Energy websites.
  6. Certain websites have accurate information on the evils of the Federal Reserve, income tax, and psychiatry industry. Many of those websites also have a section on Zero Point Energy technology.
The only conclusive proof of Zero Point Energy technology is a working generator. Unless presented with such an invention, I can only say "Zero Point Energy technology might be real and is seriously worth investigating." When you consider the potential gain, compared with the expense of hiring a few smart people to research it, I can justify spending money on the research, even if I intend to release the results into the public domain. In the present, monopolistic State funding of research and "peer review" means that a physicist will not seriously investigate Zero Point Energy technology.

I would very much like for the slumbering, stupefied masses to wake up to "taxation is theft", and rebel. If there is merit in your CIP thesis, I have seen enough to recognize that it also is deserving of rebellion. But to accept the idea that Tesla, a hundred years ago, discovered physical principles the knowledge of which have been actively and successfully suppressed during the explosive flowering of 20th-century science across the intervening years seems just too farfetched for me. Tesla was an intensely brilliant man, of that there is no question at all. But when I consider the bulk of conspiracy necessary to suppress knowledge of the momentous value that zero-point energy would provide, I fall back upon the fundamental anti-conspiracy analysis:

If we are to believe that people in general are so stupid as to produce all the shit we see around us in the world, how then can we imagine that those same people are so smart as to be able to coordinate the suppression of the simultaneous, distributed, natural rediscovery of these truths across an entire century of intesive scientific endeavor?

If you go with the pro-conspiracy viewpoint, then the answer is simple. There are a handful of people who are aware of the truth, or at least most of it. They are more interested in preserving their power monopoly, than true social progress or scientific progress.

There might be no single person aware of the whole truth, but there may be people who know bits and pieces. When I speak with financial industry insiders, they know it's one big fraud. They don't rock the boat, because it's their gravy train. There may be some drug researchers who know that anti-psychotic drugs are harmful. There may be a handful of bureaucrats who are aware of the role of mandatory schooling as brainwashing; they occasionally drop hints that indicate they know the truth.

I have been also trying to catch up on your posts about the Supreme Leader of Humanity. This is also a difficult proposition to swallow, if less so than the above, and I have commented privately to you on this in the past. May I beg a favor? Could you respond to the "suppression" question above, if you choose to respond at all, without reference to the SLH?
There are two opposite possibilities regarding the current corrupt system. There's "the Supreme Leader of Humanity" theory, which is that a human or small group of humans are secretly pulling the strings. The opposite possibility is the "Stand Alone Complex" theory.

When I refer to the Supreme Leader of Humanity, is that a Stand Alone Complex (like in the anime series "Ghost in the Shell")? Is it a copycat without an original? The "Stand Alone Complex" theory suggests that the current corrupt system evolved as the result of a series of bad decisions, each of which looked like a good idea at the time. Is the Supreme Leader of Humanity nonexistent, but the current system is so corrupt that it looks like there's a Supreme Leader of Humanity? If I performed a standup comedy routine as the Supreme Leader of Humanity, would that be a true Stand Alone Complex? I would be a copycat without an original.

(BTW, the movie "The Matrix" was supposed to be a live-action implementation of "Ghost in the Shell", but the plots are very different.)

There are 4 explanations that make sense to me:
  1. There is a Supreme Leader of Humanity, and he's a human. There's no alien presence.
  2. There is a Supreme Leader of Humanity, and he's an alien millions of years more technologically advanced.
  3. There is no Supreme Leader of Humanity, and there's no alien presence.
  4. There is no Supreme Leader of Humanity, but there are advanced aliens working to help things progress.
There could be a human or small group of humans secretly pulling the strings. What is their agenda? Do they want to maintain their power forever? In that case, assassinating people like me would be a good idea. Do they consider themselves to be beneficial custodians, looking for a way to set things in the right direction?

There could be a group of humans that think they rule the world, but they're wrong. The advanced aliens have tricked them into making bad decisions, leading to the eventual collapse of their enslavement Matrix.

There's the possibility that you're suggesting. Humans are so stupid that they collectively enslaved themselves. There is nobody secretly pulling the strings. Each individual law was a group of people lobbying the State for favors. The Federal Reserve was merely a group of bankers lobbying the State for favors, rather than a deliberate attempt to ruin the US economy. (There is evidence that contradicts this, such as hostile comments in London's newspaper regarding Lincoln's greenbacks.) The income tax was originally a reaction to large billion dollar corporate trusts, who previously paid no taxes. That evolved to the current corrupt monster, via Roosevelt's "temporary mandatory payroll tax withholding" experiment during WWII.

I consider "humans are so stupid that they enslaved themselves" to be really depressing.

Each individual stupid law is the result of a lobbyist getting favors for someone. The cumulative effect is a complete crippling of all economic activity. It isn't a deliberate conspiracy, but the cumulative effect of many bad decisions. Each individual bad decision benefited the handful of people who backed the law. Once an industry has successfully lobbied the State for favors and protection from competition, then they can always profitably lobby to keep their market position. In this manner, each erosion of freedom becomes permanent.

For example, the US Constitution was actually promoted by lobbyists. A handful of insiders owned the Revolutionary War debt, and they wanted a central government with taxation power that could pay off those debts at face amount. Insiders were concerned that they were losing their control over their territory, since they lacked sufficient power to collect taxes. Would those people have ratified the US Constitution, if they knew it would grow to the current monster? Did Thomas Jefferson sincerely believe he was creating the perfect form of government that protected individual freedom? The reality is that Thomas Jefferson designed the most efficient enslavement system ever invented. The US Constitution, as currently implemented, provides the illusion of protection of individual freedom and the illusion that people control the government, while the insiders may do exactly what they please. In the present, insiders are massive leeches draining the rest of the economy.

Most of the positive inventions you see are the result of a handful of brilliant scientists or workers. In the present, smart people are severely restricted in the manner they may innovate. I can't research drugs without a license from the State. I can't offer a drug-free "mental illness" treatment without a license from the State. I can't set up a school without a license from the State. It's practically impossible for me to start a manufacturing business without a license from the State. Currently, software is the only area that's available where a smart person can invent things.

Are there super-advanced aliens secretly guiding humanity in the correct direction? It's impossible to tell. There's circumstantial evidence, but no proof. The Internet is an anomaly. It was released to the general public only by accident. The bad guys can't put that genie back in the bottle. The average person has already accepted the Internet. There would be massive objections if services like blogging and YouTube were crippled. If the bad guys could go back in time 30 years and prevent the Internet from being created, they would, but it's too late now.

Are humanity's secret rulers really benevolent? Are they evil and incompetent, and about to lose their power monopoly?

Is there really a Supreme Leader of Humanity? Is that merely a Stand Alone Complex? The current system is so corrupt that there's the illusion of an evil person secretly pulling the strings. Either way, the current economic and political system is totally corrupt and needs to be discarded.

(This bit deserves its own separate post.)

According to Google Analytics, a bunch of people on Twitter were sharing my post on "Ruby on Rails Sucks!" That's the first time I had substantial traffic from Twitter.

My "Ruby on Rails Sucks!" article is showing a weird rise in Google search rankings. I don't know of anyone specifically linking to that article. It's moved from 15th to 4th since I published it.

I wonder if Google augments its search results by seeing how long people visit a page? I.e., suppose I click on search result A but then don't go back to the search page. Therefore, page A is whatever I was looking for. If I click on search result A and then search result B, then page A wasn't that helpful. I wonder if Google is smart enough to do that? I thought their search was solely based off PageRank?

My "Ruby on Rails Sucks!" article has enough views to make the "Best of FSK" list. It's one my few recent posts to rapidly ascend that list. I'm not going to update that list for at least another few weeks. (Maybe I should write a script to automate that? Right now, it's a manual process. There's no nice widget linking Google Analytics and Blogger.)

I'm really surprised how many people per day Google search for "Ruby on Rails sucks"!

I liked the August 17 Dilbert cartoon. The PHB is treating Dilbert like an idiot, and Dilbert objects. The PHB says "You work a lot harder than me for a lot less money. Therefore, you are an idiot." To work as an engineer or software engineer is to be a slave. Most of your productivity is leeched by others.

In a dictatorship organization like a corporation, part of Dilbert's productivity goes to pay his boss' salary. Dilbert doesn't just pay income taxes. He also pays a tax in the form of the salaries of his corporate overlords. In the cartoon, Dilbert is portrayed as a twit who can't start his own business. The reality is that it's very hard to start you own business, due to State restrictions of the market.

Liberty Student has left a new comment on your post "Non-Conspiracy Nuts":

To quote something I read on Lew Rockwell yesterday,

you're not interested in conspiracy theory, you are interested in conspiracy facts.

I'm interested in things that are actually occurring. Is the current corrupt system part of a deliberate conspiracy? Did it arise due to a series of bad decisions? In either case, the correct solution is to discard a corrupt economic and political system and try something else.

Most people have a knee-jerk reaction. "X suggested there is a conspiracy. Therefore, X is insane or not credible." My counter to this is to explicitly say "Yes, it's a conspiracy. If you don't like that statement, then why are you wasting time reading this."

If you were organizing a massive conspiracy, you would condition people to believe that anybody who suggests there's a conspiracy is insane. That's the idea of the Grand Conspiracy Experiment.

Patrick Vessey has left a new comment on your post "Non-Conspiracy Nuts":

"Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, so long as you call yourself a coincidence theorist."
- John Judge, COPA presentation 2002

Is the current corrupt system a coincidence or a deliberate conspiracy? I don't care. I'm not going to support a corrupt system, if I can avoid it.

TLP has left a new comment on your post "Non-Conspiracy Nuts":

In this case I agree with the quote: "Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

It's hard to say which is true: conspiracy or stupidity. The fact is that if I resist the income tax, then eventually a bunch of people with guns will come to kidnap me. If I refuse to pay property taxes, then eventually a bunch of people with guns will kick me off my land. That sounds like a conspiracy to me.

I subscribe to several worldviews which represent a minority:
- rational atheism (Dawkins & co.), together with materialist monism, etc.

No, I'm agnostic rather than atheist. An atheist assumes there is positive existence for the non-existence of God. I say it's absolutely unprovable either way.

Besides, I believe there really is a God of Absolute Unopposable Evil! Look at all the evidence! The God of Christianity is another name for the God of Absolute Unopposable Evil.

I spent several years studying the teachings of the God of Mathematics and the God of Computers. How do you know they're not real?

What's "materialist monism"?

- scientific skepticism (Shermer, Randi)

Science is important and useful. In the present, a lot of fake science passes for genuine science. There are plenty of "scientific" papers proving "anti-psychotic drugs are beneficial". Similarly, in Nazi Germany, plenty of "scientific" papers proved "Jews are genetically inferior". (I don't support Goodwin's Law.)

Real science is valuable. Fake science is worse than useless, when it is used to murder people.

For example, I categorize "carbon dioxide pollution causes global warming" as "not proven either way". If there's a massive propaganda campaign supporting something, I'm automatically suspicious. Is global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions? Is global warming caused by an increase in solar output?

- individual freedom, both personal and economical.

That one is clearly right.

The fact that the majority of the Globe rejects these and that very few exhibit them all doesn't mean there to turn people into sheeple.

If there isn't a conspiracy, then why doesn't the mainstream media start telling the truth? The truth should be attractive to a niche audience of at least 0.5%-1%. In the present, an audience of 1% is sufficient to merit a cable show.

The fact that some mainstream media personality hasn't defected and started telling the truth is evidence of a conspiracy.

I believe you subscribe to most (if not all) of those things on my list. Am I correct?

It was mostly accurate, but not perfectly accurate.

Don has left a new comment on your post "Who Cares About the Olympics?":


May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,


You should actually read the article before commenting. I'm not interested in the Olympics at all, although I did watch a few minutes here and there.

I should have rejected this as spam, but I was feeling charitable.

I don't care if you link back to my blog or not.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Athletes vs. Doctors, Which is Overpaid?":

Government is involved in sports. I read a libertarian piece a while back about how we might see more competing teams/leagues in sports in a fre market.

I can't remember the link though...

but your fundamental premise is of course correct

In the US market, incumbent market participants are shielded from competition by the State. NFL/MLB/NBA have nearly unbreakable monopolies. When was the last time a successful competing professional football/baseball/basketball league was founded? If I wanted a piece of the NFL pie, it'd be cheaper for me to buy an existing NFL team than start my own league.

As another example of State involvement in sports, consider State financing of stadiums. Via favorable tax laws for municipal bonds, it actually is a relatively attractive way to finance stadiums. I don't understand why stadium construction qualifies for a massive State subsidy, except for the "sports as bread and circuses". If I don't support about the local sports team's tax break, I should boycott taxes!

I was justifying athletes' salaries, and not the huge profits paid to the owners. In a free market, there would likely be competing leagues, or a promotion/relegation system like in European soccer. Could you imagine the worst team being kicked out of a major sports league each season?

Jonathan has left a new comment on your post "Athletes vs. Doctors, Which is Overpaid?":

Something about your writing is seductive. Great post..I'll probably have some thoughts on this on my blog.

Send me a link if you want me to read something, via a comment or E-Mail. I have a bunch of blogs in my RSS reader and I don't have time for all of them.

sunni has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #62":

Has anybody tried buying gold or silver coins in a coin shop? Is there an IRS reporting requirement for buying or selling?

I have purchased both with cash in a coin shop within the past three months. No request for ID, no signing of any forms—I just a handed over FRNs and received a bag with the coins in it in return.

That's good to hear. Have you tried selling? According to what I read, small transactions aren't reportable.

There's no way of knowing if the regulations will be tightened in the next few years. If they got too strict, that would just force coin/bullion dealers onto the grey market.

Coin stores typically have a bid/ask spread of around 6%, although I haven't personally checked. If you had a gold/silver/FRN off-the-books barter network, you might be able to get lower costs.

I was wondering why the pro-Rails trolls weren't sending me any hatemail regarding my "Rails sucks!" posts. I finally got some hatemail regarding that topic.

jmonteiro has left a new comment on your post "Ruby on Rails Sucks!":

A little googleing wouldn’t be bad.

You mean Google offers this thing called a "search engine" that I can use to look stuff up on the Internet? I'd never heard of such a thing! Thanks for mentioning it! I use Google Reader, Blogger, Google Analytics, and gmail, but I didn't know that Google also offered a search engine!


I hadn't seen that specific site before. That was incomprehensible, just like all the other Rails resources I read. Apparently, Rails developers have trouble telling the difference between "excellent resource for learning" and "incoherent gibberish".

All the Rails resources seem to be information about a single cool feature of Rails, or a walkthrough. The walkthroughs provide zero insight if what I want doesn't match what was demoed in the walkthrough.

If you are a newbie to Rails, what about buying a book and reading it?

Rails Way is a very nice book:

I tried "Agile Web Development With Rails" at work. It was incoherent. The main body of the book was a walkthrough, which didn't give any insight on what to do if my application was different than their walktrhough.

I'm not wasting any of my own money on Rails. If anyone ever asks me to do a project in Rails again, I know to say "**** you, ****wad!"

And the PragProg have a lot of good Rails books too (with PDF versions for sale too):

All problems that you invented in this article are almos ‘automagicaly’ resolved with TDD (Test Driven Development) or BDD (Behaviour Driven Development), the right way to write serious software. And some of the problems are very related to your strict-Java culture. Try learning a few different languages (such as Ruby, Python, Erlang, Haskell, Smalltalk, Objective-C) so you can think out of the box.

If your management style isn't a TLA, then it's useless! All these "special development methodologies" are not a substitute for basic ability. The Rails geniuses at work can't implement a single working feature, much less have a test. In this case, they had an exact specification of what they were trying to implement, which is the legacy Java/swing/jsp/beans garbage.

These problems were not "invented". My description of a Rails disaster is nonfiction. My coworkers are of average or above-average intelligence, including my delusional boss. If they couldn't handle a Rails project, then I can't advocate anyone using Rails unless they're already an expert. If your project doesn't match the features provided conveniently with Rails, then there's no benefit to using Rails.

If a group of relatively intelligent people couldn't handle a Rails project, then I can't recommend anyone using Rails if they aren't already an expert in it. If you're already a Rails expert, then good for you if you can write stuff that actually runs. If you're someone looking to invest in learning something, then php or Visual Studio are more worth your time.

I'm offended by the suggestion that I only know Java. My favorite language has been C++, which is similar to Java. I'm looking to experiment with C# at some point. I've worked with several languages in school. At work, I've used Perl (yuck), SQL, C, C++, Java, and others.

Most of the "cool" features of Rails could be duplicated in C++ if you had suitable libraries. If you have the right libraries or templates, C++ does allow for rapid development. Most modern languages support the "functions as objects" behavior of LISP/Ruby. You can even use function pointers in C/C++, but that's usually an abomination.

There's a difference between "Thinking out of the box" and "Swimming in a river of ****." Rails resembles the latter more than the former.

You're free to waste your own time and money on Rails. I object when it's forced on me. There's a lot of hype saying "Rails is awesome!" Sometimes, hype is an indication of merit. Other times, hype is an indication of fools flocking to the same turd. Rails resembles a turd more than being truly deserving of its hype.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Problem With Ithaca Hours":

time, like money is a very variable concept.

From my point of view, time flows at a rate of one second per second. Does it vary from your point of view? Are you like the Mad Hatter, who picked a fight with Time and lost?

I prefer my money to be constant also. People who argue for a "fluid monetary system" are really arguing "We like to be able to steal via inflation".

That was the "problem" with a gold standard. When the State started playing tricks with paper money, people started demanding physical gold. Instead of defaulting on the paper, ownership of gold was outlawed. In the present, it's essentially illegal to use gold as money.

Several years ago i spent a lot of time with a lot of data mixing money, with time, with the risk exposure of the people consuming the time (not traded financial risk). The ebbs and flows of the numbers were very interesting, as i was able to crunch years worth of task records for almost 3000 people.

Where did you get such data? It sounds like you can't tell the difference between "careful financial analysis" and "mathematical masturbation".

i created a synthetic unit of account to act as a base for analysis. The question was, how many units to issue for each year - fixed, floating, indexed etc. After much playing i settled on indexed to average salary as the most useful indication of relative rises and falls between departments. This is by popular terms non-sound money. Through this work i came to revise my opinion of sound money, and inflation. i was a gold-bug, but its very hard in a practical sense to make systems work with a constrained base, when what you need is liquidity (i worked for a bit on a liquid concept of risk transfers, but it was not a core requirement). Unless liquidity matches the rate of underlying potential asset-exchange growth you will have a fiscal constraint on economic activity. This constraint is in favour of the conservation of genuine assets, but not in the overall development of the system.

I agree that non-backed money enables the controllers of that money to pick from its users pockets in many ways each day, but i now believe that the time and magnitude of mis-match of market adjustments between fiscal and economic requirements makes the loose money pragmatically better on balance.... with the exception that we currently do not have sufficient accountability in the system to ensure the moral corruption that the system allows is controlled.

Those two paragraphs are incoherent gibberish.

The system is pragmatically useful on balance for society, reduces the individuals grasp on their wealth, but needs a lot more openness to cleanout those who are feasting on fiscal wealth creation without adding products and development to the economy.

You're making absolutely no sense at all. The current system is very useful for insiders who can pick everyone else's pockets via inflation and boom/bust cycles. The current system is lousy for individuals.

I prefer to have a firm grasp on my wealth. How can you argue "It is bad if people have a safe place to park their savings."?

The current corrupt system cannot survive true openness. Once people realize "Taxation is theft!" and "Inflation is theft!", then they won't voluntarily support a corrupt system anymore.

You sound like an economics professor or student. You need to work on your trolling.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Captured Regulators Problem":

It is apparent that FSK is a right-leaning libertarian.

What is the definition of "right libertarian"?

Most people who argue for "less regulation of the economy" really mean "reduce the regulations we don't like, while leaving the regulations we like". Unless you go all the way and repeal the Federal Reserve and income tax, then fewer regulations could be harmful. Most current regulations are corporate welfare or patches on a corrupt system.

I thought "left libertarian" meant "market anarchist" or agorist? I consider the left/right divide to be fake opposites.

It's more accurate to call me an "up-libertarian" than "left-libertarian" or "right-libertarian".

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Captured Regulators Problem":

Right On FSK. This whole country is a rigged market (Not Free Markets). This tactic used learned in the late 1800's by the market thieves. But we need some type of better policing agency to drive these thieves out of business and establish free markets. In a free society people must be protected from a taking by others. When businesses use deceit, fraud and manipulation to rip off the society they need to be caught and punished. This is what we need to regulate. Thieves are everywhere..

In a truly free society, there are two key protections that are missing in the present.

First, there is market competition. If X develops a reputation for cheating his customers, then he will lose his business. In the present, X is shielded from the State from competition. The large corporations that control various sectors of the economy act as a cartel, limiting competition. They prefer to compete in the area of marketing or cutting cost/quality to a minimum, rather than providing a truly great product.

For example, suppose Verizon makes an error on my phone bill and I waste 4 hours getting it fixed. First, I have a "service contract" that I probably can't break; the billing error wouldn't be considered "just cause" to break it. Second, if I drop Verizon, then AT&T will probably have the same shoddy customer service. There's no benefit for me to switch from Verizon to AT&T, if they're both equally lousy. Verizon and AT&T literally have State granted monopolies to offer cell phone service. Why should they offer any product better than the bare minimum?

The second protection in a true free market is tort claims. Suppose Verizon makes me waste 4 hours correcting a mistake they made. In that case, I would have a valid tort claim against Verizon for wasting 4 hours of my time. A free market court could efficiently enforce such a verdict. Such a verdict could be enforced solely via ostracism. A judge could declare, "Verizon owes FSK compensation for 4 hours wasted, or Verizon will be boycotted!" If the judge is respected, and Verizon refuses to pay, then Verizon will lose all its customers. In the present, such a decision is impossible, because Verizon has a State-granted monopoly. In a true free market, the judge would also say "Verizon has defaulted. We should not respect their exclusive right to broadcast at a set frequency!"

(Do spectrum rights have the characteristic of property? If you use a fault-tolerant ethernet-like protocol, multiple businesses can use the same frequency. For example, car remote door controllers use unallocated spectrum, and are designed to be very fault-tolerant. Does someone have to be granted exclusive rights to a frequency, in order for it to be efficiently used? Or, can spectrum be a shared resource? I suspect "spectrum is a shared resource" is the correct free market answer.)

A free market court could efficiently enforce small verdicts, solely via the power of ostracism. In the present, if I went around saying "XYZ ripped me off!", I would probably find myself sued for defamation or libel, even if I was telling the truth. In a true free market, if I falsely say "XYZ is dishonest!", then XYZ is also free to say "FSK is a liar!" and let judges or the general public decide. In a close case, punishment-via-ostracism probably won't work. However, if the case is close, then no side is a clear winner? In the present, a judge can't rule "each side is 50% responsible". A judge/jury must rule in favor of the defendant or the plaintiff.

In the case of Sean Bell, imagine if those policemen who shot him were unable to go into a store and buy anything, unless they paid compensation to the victim? That would be a big incentive for honest police behavior.

Implemented correctly, punishment-via-ostracism can be very effective. In a true free market, reputation is very important. In the present, the State usually shields people from the negative consequences of their misconduct. Did you screw up a project at work and get fired? Lie about it and find a new job! Did you get promoted but leave behind a mess? It's not your problem now!

My article on "The Gold Lease Rate is Negative!" has been getting a surprising amount of traffic. According to Google Analytics, there's no single source that's been promoting it. It's been a trickle here and there, but it's been my #1 post on many days.

There was one error I made in the original post. I thought that a negative gold lease rate meant a negative absolute rate. A negative gold lease rate actually means a negative rate relative to LIBOR. I.e., a gold lease rate of -0.25% means that the gold lease rate is 0.25% less than LIBOR.

Still, a negative gold lease rate means that gold borrowers can make a guaranteed riskless profit. They borrow gold, sell it on the spot market, buy gold futures, and invest the proceeds in bonds. The gold borrower has a free put option to declare bankruptcy and default on the lease. The proceeds of the short sale could be invested in riskier assets than bonds.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Fallacy of Microlending":

Also do not forget that banks work on fractional mechanics and bouble entry accounting. When they make a loan it becomes an asset which increases in worth and makes new money creating more wealth for the banks, the intrest is a sidebar income. If you could make 1000's of % on the scam (fractional mechanics and bouble entry accounting) and pay taxes on low INCOME (6--8% interest return)you would jump on it. When an individual makes a loan its only interest earned baby.

I removed your duplicate comment.

That's correct. If I make a loan for 6%, my profit is 6%. Inflation is 20%-30%, so I'm a fool to lend money at only 6%.

A bank can borrow at the Fed Funds Rate of 2% and lend money at 6%. Banks may use leverage ratios of 10x-100x, which is a profit rate of 40%-400%. Banks don't care that real interest rates are negative. Banks profit off the spread between the Fed Funds Rate and the loan rate, times their leverage ratio.

Due to the Federal Reserve credit monopoly, individuals can't profitably lend money to each other to start businesses. If I make a FRN-denominated loan, I'm going to lose out to inflation. If I make a gold-denominated loan, you'd be a fool to borrow, because you could get a better interest rate from a State-sponsored bank. A gold-denominated loan has an implied interest rate of 20%-30%, because that's the true inflation rate.

Jonathan has left a new comment on your post "The Fallacy of Microlending":

Micro-lending for the super, super poor is cost effective. It helps shift a class of people into the market.

You're missing the point. Micro-lending is a good deal for the borrower. Micro-lending is a bad deal for the lender, unless the lender is a bank.

I'd be a fool to make a micro-loan earning 6%, when I can get 20%-30% investing in gold.

Banks don't want to make micro-loans to individuals. Banks prefer to lend to large corporations, whose State-granted monopoly/oligopoly guarantees that they will be able to repay their loan.

The above Anonymous commenter had the right point.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Commodity Price Volatility Calculation":

I read on other websites that the volatility of gold is lower because the market is MUCH bigger. so it would take much more money to cause a significant change in price. also there are more long term investor. silver market is purely speculative.

That doesn't make sense. Silver has more volume in terms of ounces traded and mined. Silver has more volume than gold in terms of industrial consumption.

I should also do a comparison for copper. Copper consumption is a lot larger than silver or gold.

The primary demand for silver is industrial demand. The primary demand for gold is monetary demand. Gold jewelry is monetary demand. However, I'd expect their volatility characteristics to be similar.

Before I did the calculation, I expected "volatility of gold" and "volatility of silver" to be nearly identical. Most of the volatility of each is really volatility in the value of the dollar.

I consider that calculation to be evidence of gold market manipulation. You're free to draw your own conclusions.

If I were serious, I'd do a similar calculation for copper, oil, platinum, and palladium. If you're interested in seeing the details, let me know. Before I perform the calculation, I predict an anomaly for gold relative to the others.

Most commodity price volatility is really volatility in the value of the dollar. For gold, central banks still have large reserves they use to keep the price down. For other commodities, there are no such reserves.

According to Google Analytics, "The Gold Lease Rate is Negative!" has been very popular. "The gold market is heavily manipulated" is a very controversial statement. Seeing the amount of FUD on both sides of that issue, I conclude "Gold market manipulation is seriously worth considering. As an investor, the way to profit off this manipulation is to make an unleveraged long position in gold. Ideally, you should take physical possession, as protection against a default."

If you buy gold on margin or via futures, gold manipulation can hurt you. You'll be forced into margin calls when the price declines. As the Hunt Brothers discovered, if you're a non-insider and get too greedy with commodity speculation, then the insiders will cheat you. If you have an unleveraged long position in gold, then gold manipulation can't hurt you. You merely hold onto your physical gold. You can buy more when the price is artificially cheap.

In a SHTF scenario, paper promises for gold are probably worthless.

I took a look around Craiglist, looking at job postings. My reaction was "WOW!" It was a total wasteland 4 months ago, and now there's a whole bunch of stuff! It looks like the economy is picking up!

I liked my current employer's job posting. Someone else was looking for an "experienced Ruby on Rails team lead". I should send it to my boss!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Federal Reserve Caused the Great Depression":

Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars which have been transfered FROM US TO THEM. All over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They just keep getting richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductible crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any 'humanitarian' progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. So don’t fall for any of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductible contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGenerous, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. No offense fellow citizens. But we have been mislead by nearly every public figure. We still are. Even now, they claim to be 'hurting' right along with the rest of us. As if gas prices actually effect the lifestyle of a millionaire. ITS A LIE. IN 2007, THE RICHEST 1% INCREASED THEIR AVERAGE BOTTOM LINE WEALTH AGAIN. On average, they are now worth over $4,000,000 each. Thats an all time high. As a group, they are now worth well over $17,000,000,000,000. THATS WELL OVER SEVENTEEN TRILLION DOLLARS. Another all time high. Which by the way, is much more than the entire middle and lower classes combined. Also more than enough to pay off our national debt, fund the Iraq war for twenty years, repair our infrastructure, and bail out the US housing market. Still think that our biggest problem is China? Think again. Its the 1% club. That means every big name celebrity, athlete, executive, entrepreneur, developer, banker, and lottery winner. Along with many attorneys, doctors, politicians, and bankers. If they are rich, then they are part of the problem. Their incredible wealth was not 'created', 'generated', grown in their back yard, or printed up on their command. It was transfered FROM US TO THEM. Directly and indirectly. Its become near impossible to spend a dollar without making some greedy pig even richer. Don't be fooled by the occasional loss of a millionaire's fortune. Overall, they just keep getting richer. They absolutely will not stop. Still, they have the nerve to pretend as if they care about ordinary people. ITS A LIE. NOTHING BUT CALCULATED PR CRAP. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THEIR GOAL IS TO WIN THE GAME. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Reaganomics. Their idea. Loans from China. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. High energy prices. Their idea. Oil 'futures'. Their idea. Obscene health care charges. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. The multi-million dollar endorsement deal. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. Brainwash plots on TV. Their idea. Vioxx, and Celebrex. Their idea. Excessive medical testing. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed, credit card, pharmaceutical, medical testing, love-sick, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of the above shrink the middle class, concentrate the world’s wealth and resources, create a dominoe effect of socio-economic problems, and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for any of their ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR CRAP. In many cases, the 'charitable' contribution is almost entirely offset. Not to mention the opportunity to plug their name, image, product, and 'good will' all at once. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These filthy pigs even have the nerve to throw a fit and spin up a misleading defense with regard to 'federal tax revenue'. ITS A SHAM. THEY SCREWED UP THE EQUATION TO BEGIN WITH. If the middle and lower classes had a greater share of the pie, they could easily cover a greater share of the federal tax revenue. They are held down in many ways because of greed. Wages remain stagnant for millions because the executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, are paid millions. They over-sell, over-charge, under-pay, outsource, cut jobs, and benefits to increase their bottom line. As their profits rise, so do the stock values. Which are owned primarily by the richest 5%. As more United States wealth rises to the top, the middle and lower classes inevitably suffer. This reduces the potential tax reveue drawn from those brackets. At the same time, it wreaks havok on middle and lower class communities and increases the need for financial aid. Not to mention the spike in crime because of it. There is a dominoe effect to consider. IT CAN'T WORK THIS WAY. But our leaders refuse to acknowledge this. Instead they come up with one trick after another to milk the system and screw the majority. These decisions are heavily influensed by the 1% club. Every year, billions of federal tax dollars are diverted behind the scenes back to the rich and their respective industries. Loans from China have been necessary to compensate in part, for the red ink and multi-trillion dollar transfer of wealth to the rich. At the same time, the feds have been pushing more financial burden onto the states who push them lower onto the cities. Again, the hardship is felt more by the majority and less by the 1% club. The rich prefer to live in exclusive areas or upper class communities. They get the best of everything. Reliable city services, new schools, freshly paved roads, upscale parks, ect. The middle and lower class communities get little or nothing without a local tax increase. Which, they usually can't afford. So the red ink flows followed by service cuts and lay-offs. All because of the OBSCENE distribution of bottom line wealth in this country. Anyway, when you account for all federal, state, and local taxes, the middle class actually pay about the same rate as the rich. The devil is in the details. So when people forgive the rich for their incredible greed and then praise them for paying a greater share of the FEDERAL income taxes, its like nails on a chalk board. I can not accept any theory that our economy would suffer in any way with a more reasonable distribution of wealth. Afterall, it was more reasonable 30 years ago. Before Reaganomics came along. Before GREED became such an epidemic. Before we had an army of over-paid executives, bankers, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, doctors, investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and sold-out politicians to kiss their asses. As a nation, we were in much better shape. Strong middle class, free and clear assets, lower crime rate, more widespread prosperity, stable job market, lower deficit, ect. Our economy as a whole was much more stable and prosperous for the majority. WITHOUT LOANS FROM CHINA. Now, we have a more obscene distribution of bottom line wealth than ever before. We have a sold-out government, crumbling infrastructure, energy crisis, home forclosure epidemic, credit crunch, weak US dollar, 13 figure national deficit, and 12 figure annual shortfall. The cost of living is higher than ever before. Most people can't even afford basic health care. ALL BECAUSE OF GREED. I really don't blame the 2nd -5th percentiles in general. No economy could ever function without some reasonable scale of personal wealth and income. But it can't be allowed to run wild like a mad dog. ALBERT EINSTEIN TRIED TO MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. UNBRIDLED CAPITALISM ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK. TOP HEAVY ECONOMIES ALWAYS COLLAPSE. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The American dream will be shattered. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE HUMANITARIAN. EXTREME WEALTH MAKES WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman.. Of course, they will jump to small minded conclusions about 'jealousy', 'envy', or 'socialism'. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

So what can we do about it? Well, not much. Unfortunately, we are stuck on a runaway train. The problem has gone unchecked for too many years. The US/global depression is comming thanks to the 1% club. It would take a massive effort by the vast majority to prevent it. Along with a voluntary sacrifice by the rich. THATS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. But if you believe in miracles, then spend your money as wisely as possible. Especially in middle and lower class communities. Check the Fortune 500 list and limit your support of high profit/low labor industries (Hollywood, pro sports, energy, credit, pharmaceutical, cable, satelite, internet advertising, cell phone, high fashion, jewelry, ect.). Cancel all but one credit card for emergencies only. If you need a cell phone, then do your homework and find the best deal on a local pre-pay. If you want home internet access, then use the least expensive provider, and share accounts whenever possible. If you need to search, then use the less popular search engines. They usually produce the same results anyway. Don't click on any internet ad. If you need the product or service, then look up the phone number or address and contact that business directly. Don't pay to see any blockbuster movie. Instead, wait a few months and rent the DVD from a local store or buy it USED. If you want to see a big name game or event, then watch it in a local bar, club, or at home on network TV. Don't buy any high end official merchendise and don't support the high end sponsors. If its endorsed by a big name celebrity, then don't buy it. If you can afford a new car, then make an exception for GM, Ford, and Dodge. If they don't increase their market share soon, then a lot more people are going to get screwed out of their pensions and/or benefits. Of course, you must know by now to avoid those big trucks and SUVs unless you truly need one for its intended purpose. Don't be ashamed to buy a foreign car if you prefer it. Afterall, those with the most fuel efficient vehicles consume a lot less foreign oil. Which accounts for a pretty big chunk of our trade deficit. Anyway, the global economy is worth supporting to some extent. Its the obscene profit margins, trade deficits, and BS from OPEC that get us into trouble. Otherwise, the global economy would be a good thing for everyone. Just keep in mind that the big 3 are struggling and they do produce a few smaller reliable cars. Don't frequent any high end department store or any business in a newly developed upper class community. By doing so, you make developers richer and draw support away from industrial areas and away from the middle class communities. Instead, support the local retailer and the less popular shopping centers. Especially in lower or middle class communities. If you can afford to buy a home, then do so. But go smaller and less expensive. Don't get yourself in too deep and don't buy into the newly developed condos or gated communities. Instead, find a modest home in a building or neighborhood at least 20 years old. If you live in one of the poorer states, then try to support its economy first and foremost. Be on the lookout for commercial brainwash plots on TV. They are written into nearly every scene of nearly every show. Most cater to network sponsors and parent companies. Especially commercial health care. Big business is fine on occasion depending on the profit margins and profit sharing. Do your homework. If you want to support any legitimate charity, then do so directly. Never support any celebrity foundation. They spend most of their funding on PR campaigns, travel, and high end accomodations for themselves. Instead, go to and look up a top rated charity to support your favorite cause. In general, support the little guy as much as possible and the big guy as little as possible. Do your part to reverse the transfer of wealth away from the rich and back to the middle and lower classes. Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer. Jobs will be lost either way. Innocent children will starve and die either way. But we need to support the largest group of workers with the most reasonable profit margins. We also need to support LEGITIMATE charities (Check that list at This is our only chance to limit the severity and/or duration of the comming US/global depression. In the meantime, don't listen to Bernenke, Paulson, Bartiromo, Orman, Dobbs, Kramer, OReiley, or any other public figure with regard to the economy. They are all plenty smart but I swear to you that they will lie right through their rotten teeth. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These people work for big business. The 'experts' they cite also work for big business. They are all motivated by their desire to accumulate more personal wealth. THEY WILL LIE RIGHT THROUGH THEIR ROTTEN TEETH. So don't fall for their tricks. Instead, look at the big picture. The economic problems we face have been mounting for well over 20 years. All of them caused or aggrivated by a constant transfer of wealth from poorer to richer. This is not brain surgery. Its simple math. Like I said, you are welcome to run this by any professor of economics or socio-economics. If thats not good enough, then look up what Einstein had to say about greed, extreme wealth, and its horrible concequences. I speak the truth. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

Its already underway. A massive campaign to divert our attention. Trump, Buffet, OReiley, and several others are now running their mouths about the economy. They even have the nerve to acknowledge the possibility of a US/global depression. Still, they refuse to acknowledge the underlying cause. Instead, they blame the other guy. The other industry. The other country. The other political party. They will never acknowledge the link between distribution of wealth and economic stability. THEY DON'T HAVE THE GUTS.

A word for those to respond with the usual 'I know more than you. I'm smarter than you. Look how smart, knowledgable, and articulate I am' crap. Let me say this in advance. I don't claim to be an expert in this field. But I did go on record with these predictions long before any public figure uttered the word 'recession'. Since then, I've gone on record against people like Greenspan, Bernenke, and Paulson. So far, my predictions have been accurate. Like I said. This is not brain surgery. For the mostpart, its simple math. When you concentrate the world's wealth, you also concentrate its capital, shrink the middle class, and the potential market for every major industry. Homes go unsold. Bills go unpaid. Banks fail. More products go unsold. Jobs are lost. More banks fail. and so on. and so on. Throughout the cycle, the rich will tighten their grip. Concentrating the world's wealth and resources even further and ensuring the collapse of every major economy worldwide. Think it can't happen? Think again. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

Oh boy! You're thinking in the right direction, but you need to work on your writing. Maybe you should start your own blog, and then just post a link to your articles here.

I noticed that's a common problem. Overcoming your pro-State brainwashing is very difficult and traumatic. Once you come through on the other side, your thoughts tend to be very incoherent, because of the massive amount of false ideas that need to be discarded.

Make sure you don't get labeled with a mental illness! Right now, your #1 priority should be making sure you don't get hospitalized and drugged up! Too much truth all at once is dangerous!

I'll summarize your key points, to illustrate how to write the same ideas more clearly.

All mainstream information sources are pure lies and propaganda. You'll never hear "Taxation is theft!" or "The Federal Reserve is immoral!" from a mainstream media source. Politicians, journalists, and professors are complete liars. They aren't lying in a strict literal sense. They sincerely believe they're telling the truth! If they were consciously aware they were lying, then they wouldn't be able to pull off the scam! However, the actual content is complete lies. Most of them have never been confronted with the truth in their entire lives. If you're the type of person who really thinks independently, then you won't be a politician, journalist, or professor.

There is nothing wrong with greed. All of humanity's positive inventions were due to greed. The problem is greed *COMBINED WITH THE ABILITY TO USE VIOLENCE TO IMPOSE YOUR WILL ON OTHERS*.

Suppose I start an agorist food business. I am greedy. I am making a profit. There is nothing immoral about that, because I am not using violence to force my will on my customers and restrict competition.

Let's summarize.

Greed + State = Evil

Greed + Free Market = Good

When a hedge fund manager is greedy, he is exploiting the evil power of the State. Even though the hedge fund manager himself uses no violence, he is the beneficiary of State violence. A hedge fund manager profits off an unfair financial system. State violence prevents alternate monetary systems from existing. If a hedge fund manager lobbys the State directly or indirectly for favors, then he is indirectly using violence. Financial industry insiders invest heavily in lobbying, to ensure their monetary monopoly is protected.

Do not confuse capitalism with a free market. A true free market (no government at all) is a viable, but untried system. The real evil is the State monopoly of violence and money. Abusive monopolies are only possible when they're backed by State violence.

The solution I recommend is agorism. This channels greed toward constructive activities, rather than towards destructive activities.

propertarian has left a new comment on your post "Programming Ruby on Rails is like Playing Mao or M...":

If Microsoft makes a couple of bad decisions, then they could lose their OS and Office monopoly.
You're kidding, right? Microsoft is a patent troll.

You're confused about the definition of "patent troll".

A patent troll is a business that buys patents, but produces no products itself. It then uses these patent to sue/harass/extort from corporations that actually produce something. A patent troll is purely exploitative. For example, Research in Motion was the victim of a patent troll in its BlackBerry lawsuit. At one point, a judge was seriously considering issuing an injunction to shut down the BlackBerry network, even though the patent owner did not have a competing product. That's pure window breaking.

I can't recall any time Microsoft was the plaintiff in a patent lawsuit. They have been the defendant a few times and lost. That would explain their eagerness to acquire patents. Large corporations patent as much as they can. They then sign mutual patent licensing agreements with each other. It's a form of Mutually-Assured-Destruction. Without the mutual patent licensing agreements, nobody would be able to do anything. Such patent agreements exclude smaller competitors from the market.

There actually is a good reason why corporations like Microsoft and Google aren't normally the plaintiff in a patent lawsuit. The public backlash would be greater than any profits from the lawsuit. Microsoft can bankrupt a competitor by bundling the product with the next version of Vista! They don't need to file a patent lawsuit!

If you're a software developer, you should be very aware that impossible to write software without patent infringements. They even copyrighted their "look and feel," "icon designs," file types and APIs which causes vendor lock-in that makes a monopoly protocal successful. There are open source clones such as Wine that runs Microsoft applications natively and Look at companies such as Adobe and Sun Microsystems. Their software is bloated and way expensive.

Actually, I thought that WINE was relatively good at running Windows applications on Linux. I haven't tried it though. If Windows has a threat, it's from Linux rather than another monolithic proprietary software company. Windows does make an order-of-magnitude improvement every few years. Microsoft needs to keep improving, because otherwise Linux would catch up with it.

You are missing my point. Who is more abusive, Microsoft or FNM? FNM produces *NOTHING*. Their profits are backed by the full power of the State. There are genuine economies of scale from writing software. Microsoft does produce a tangible, useful product. Microsoft receives massive State subsidies, just like all large corporations. Microsoft is nowhere near as parasitic as FNM and the financial industry.

If you had to rank parasitism on a scale of 0 to 1, with FNM at 1.0, then Microsoft would be a 0.1 or even 0.05.

Defending Microsoft is like defending Standard Oil. Both companies privilege from patent protection. Both are protected by regulatory capture. I've always thought that FSK is a vulgar libertarian...

Microsoft does receive massive State subsidies just like all other large corporations. However, Microsoft does not have a monopoly backed by the full power of the State, like FNM or Standard Oil. (It's very easy to get an oil monopoly when the State grants you exclusive drilling rights at a discount. It's also easy to get an oil monopoly when you can lobby the State to overthrow foreign governments hostile to your interests.)

I can, if I choose, install Linux on my PC and not use Windows at all. If I assemble my own PC, I don't pay the OEM tax to Microsoft. If you buy a PC via Dell, you do pay an OEM tax to Microsoft.

There is no law requiring me to use Windows. Linux is relatively good when it comes to interoperability with Windows. However, the full power of the State prevents me from boycotting FNM. I have to boycott the Federal Reserve and income taxes, to avoid subsidizing FNM's profits.

In the present, my primary PC activities are blogging and E-Mail. I could do that just as easily on Linux as Windows. Web-based services are a threat to Microsoft's monopoly. With a web-based service, the OS of the client is immaterial. If Sun didn't mismanage Java, then perhaps Microsoft would have lost their monopoly status by now.

When I say "Visual Studio is better than Ruby on Rails", that is an objective analysis based on technical merit. That should not be interpreted as a pro-State or anti-State position.

You're also confused about the definition of "vulgar libertarian". The businesses that have the best chance of surviving the collapse of the State in their present form are businesses like Microsoft and Google. I'm not arguing that Microsoft and Google don't receive State subsidies like all large corporations. The financial industry is purely parasitic. Microsoft and Google produce useful goods and services. Legally, I can boycott Microsoft and Google if I choose. I can't legally boycott FNM and FRE. In order to avoid subsidizing FNM and FRE's profits, I also must boycott the Federal Reserve and income taxes.

On a scale of evil, Microsoft ranks far below the financial industry. With software, there are legitimate economies of scale. Even in a true free market, I'd expect a small handful of people to write the basic tools that everyone else uses.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Fallacy of Microlending":

mico-lending does work, for both the lender and the borrower when it is the advancement of capital to kickstart a business.

No. I'd be a fool to be a micro-lender. I'd only earn 6%-8%, while I can get 15%-30% in the stock market or in gold.

I don't have the magic money-printing power that banks have. Therefore, I can never loan at such favorable terms. If I could borrow from the Federal Reserve at the Fed Funds Rate and use the same aggressive leverage ratios as the financial industry, then I could maybe start a profitable microlending business. Of course, State regulation of the financial industry won't allow that to happen.

I would make gold-denominated or silver-denominated microloans. However, they would be a lousy deal for the borrower, who would be paying an implied 20%-30% interest rate.

If the loan is to a collective, then more the better. The loan often servers a greater purpose than simply being a fiscal compound interest exchange. interest bearing debt mutates in the right conditions to become a lever for equity, this aspect of debt that i think needs to be more effectively included in the debt discussions, as its exclusion is leading to erroneous conclusions. if an individual has some seed capital, debt leverages their personal wealth if they generate genuine economic assets through business. The banks have a legally protected monopoly not as part of some global conspiracy, but as an implicit recognition of this service, they also get regulated a lot (which is always a loosing game for the regulator as you may block 99% of bad things, which never get publicised, then 1% get through or general structural trends which are uncertain run ahead of total legal power and you're done for again, but that's another story).

Wrong again! Bank have a legally protected monopoly. It *IS* a massive global conspiracy!

Why can't I invest $100k of my own money and start a bank? If banks are enduring such hardship, surely they'd let me join their party. What's that? I need a net worth of $100B to join their club? Isn't free trade wonderful! (You can start a bank with about $10M in capital, but you really need $100B to get into the "too big to fail" range.)

Micro lending when done well multiplies the wealth and owned assets of people rather well. The assets are often intangible and therefore the lenders are exposed to default, but when structured correctly the default rate is low and manageable. The repayment of principle and capital is possible for the borrower, which is a great incentive to build value for themselves.

for the lenders part its good business, as if structured well the default rate is low so the uplift over traditional personal loans is greater than the strict APR difference.

You're still missing the point. If my only options were putting my savings in a money market account or a microloan, then the microloan could be attractive. Gold, stocks, and real estate all yield superior returns than a microloan.

Briefly to the wider point about the growth of the money supply, the inflation rate is not the same as the growth in money supply (M3 or similar).

Wrong again! Inflation is entirely due to an expansion in the money supply. M3 is the most accurate measure of total money supply. Economic growth can mask inflation, because more paper is chasing more goods and services. The US economy is actually shrinking!

The core reason is that the increase in the money supply is mainly absorbed in greater economic activity through the physical need for more units of account. However, the system we have is far from perfect, and further from fair, as the distribution of new units of account is multiplicative to existing units, thus if you have money you broadly do better yet if there is more of it about. For the majority of people the most sensible concept of inflation is that of property, as it’s the only hard, limited asset that most people require for life. Property inflation is a reasonable proxy for the alternative rate of interest to personal loans (as a deposit for a property would grow at that rate and it has an economic value beyond that of a unit of account).

You're writing incoherent gibberish.

Micro lending is like all debt, whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depends not on its innate nature, but on the situations and conditions under which the participants engage with it.

Micro lending would only be a sensible business once the State is close to collapsing. Until then, the Federal Reserve credit monopoly distorts the loan market.

I answered all the comments to "I'm Working for Idiots" in "Idiots vs. Reality".

The disparity of opinions is interesting. "FSK is a schmuck who should be grateful any job he can get." or "FSK is being abused/neglected and should leave." Of the two, the first is slave thinking.

My blog is the #4 search result in Google for "Ruby on Rails Sucks!" That search phrase gathers 1-2 searches per day, according to Google Analytics. I wonder if any of my coworkers read my blog? I don't care. "Fire FSK" is not much of a threat, since I'm paid a way-below-market-rate, I really am their top performer, and they're going broke soon anyway.

I did offer to do their website by myself in Visual Studio in a month, but that offer was declined. The Rails advocate would never allow that. Superficially, the excuse is "We need FSK working on other things." Really, he's afraid I'll succeed. I've done similar projects in the past, and this is actually simpler than other stuff I've done. Besides, why should I make the owners $500M?

"It's time for FSK to start looking for a new job." appears to be the correct attitude. Oh well. It's time to start dealing with idiot headhunters and hiring managers again. I'll roll the dice again and see if I can find someone with a clue.

Starting my own business isn't an option yet. I'm planning on starting some agorist businesses, but I'm going to wait another year or two. I need to work on my interpersonal freedom first. I'm not really interested in starting an on-the-books business, because that would only help the bad guys!

My on-the-books business ideas are:
  1. Write an XNA Xbox Live Arcade Game. It's a competitive market, but it'd be cool. Independent game developer is a high-effort, low-reward business.
  2. Write a Wikipedia/Digg killer engine.
My agorist business ideas are:
  1. Set up a gold/silver/FRN barter network.
  2. Provide a agorist buyer/seller matching service, along with a credit rating service. Someone could buy without knowing they're trading with an undercover cop.
  3. Standup comedian or independent filmmaker/journalist. If I give live performances in small nightclubs, maybe I could get paid off-the-books in cash? Plus, that would help promote other agorist businesses. Independent filmmaker is much less competitive than independent game developer, at least in the area I'm targeting. Independent filmmaker could be an on-the-books or off-the-books business, depending on how it goes. If I could get a mainstream media source to carry my content, then it'd have to be on-the-books. Otherwise, I'd go for off-the-books.
  4. Set up a distributed warehouse receipt banking system.
  5. Help other people start agorist businesses that I couldn't personally start. Taxis, health care, food, clothing, and appliances all are viable free market businesses. I could invest/lend capital and help people promote their business.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Idiots vs. Reality":

Has it occured to you that you would get more money and options if you cooperated with your company by doing what they ask instead of writing here for half the day while you are at work?

I hate to break it to you, but you are their employee and they are paying you to write on your blog. No, sorry, my mistake they aren't. If you take pride in your work than do what they ask because this will not look good for you and your refusal to do work on your next job interview.

You say that the company is being run into the ground and they want to hire more programmers. FSK, you are an intelligent person and say you can program, please do it, if you do, your job will reward you, if you don't then you will yet again be looking for a job.

I should have rejected this comment as trolling. (I wonder if someone from work wrote this?)

If you take the attitude, "FSK is a wage slave code monkey", then I should do just enough work to avoid getting fired. As long as I accomplish that, it doesn't matter what else I do. If you treat me like a professional, I'll act like a professional. If you treat me like a wage slave, I'll act like a wage slave.

When I first started working, I felt guilty about webbrowsing and working on personal projects at work. Now, I don't. Even with half-effort, I'm still more productive than anyone else by a wide margin. My job is a waste of time. My blog provides a useful benefit to myself and others.

In most jobs, whether you do a spectacular job or a lousy one, makes no difference at all. I offered to finish their whole website by myself in a month, and that offer was declined. (I'd do it just to prove I can. I'm confident I could do it. I certainly could get a better working version than the Rails clowns will ever get, even with another 2 years.)

You could also say "FSK is smart. He should be able to make a good product even with crap tools and crap working conditions." I can, to a certain degree. However, some situations are too ****ed up for me to fix. The Rails project is beyond saving. The way I would fix the Rails project is to start over with php or ASP.NET/C#.

You're also confused about how equity-based compensation works in startups. Stock and option grants are valued based on the fair market value of the business at the time of the grant. Suppose I singlehandedly wrote their product, and their valuation jumps by 20x. If I'm granted options then, they're based at the higher valuation instead of the lower valuation. In other words, I worked for free.

The deal of working at a startup is "You accept a below-market cash salary, and you get options or equity." The equity typically has a vesting period. Even if I were given a huge chunk of equity, I'd still have to wait for it to vest and wait for an IPO or sale to cash out. According to what I read on the Internet, for a senior software engineer, 0.25%-0.5% of the company in options is considered "fair". Since they have a $500M-$1B business opportunity, that would be worth $1M-$5M if they successfully sold their business.

Currently, their valuation is a small fraction of that. Do you know why? They don't have a working product! Do you know why it's hard to get a working product? When a bunch of marketing specialists start a software company, they'll probably hire butt-kissers instead of people with actual technical ability. Due to a statistical anomaly, I am working working for them. They lucked into hiring someone really skilled for peanuts. If I'm so smart, then I'd have a better job, right? The only way to test that hypothesis is for me to find a new job.

A few months ago, the job market was lousy. I took a look at Craigslist again, and there's twice the postings compared to several months ago! Things are picking up!

I'm paid a way-below-market rate. I don't have lottery tickets in case they succeed. Seeing the Rails project, those lottery tickets aren't worth anything (even if I owned some). Why bother?

Your comment is "FSK should act like a good wage slave" rather than "FSK is a professional who deserves respect". Will future employers discriminate against me for not acting like a good wage slave? Maybe, maybe not. At every job I've ever had, my boss said "Be grateful for what you have. You'll never find a job as good as this one." My jobs have not been uniformly decreasing in quality, so they weren't all telling the truth. Lately, my jobs have been pretty lousy. I have switched jobs too many times, and employment history gaps due to my illness are counted against me.

The USA does not have a free market. If a business fails to hire a great worker, what difference does it make?

"Start your own business" isn't as easy as it sounds. There are lots of obstacles that make it hard for talented individuals without connections to start a business. I'm more interested in starting an agorist business. If I do productive work legally, I'm helping the bad guys more than myself.

I noticed another important troll point. "Accept abuse and you might be rewarded later." That's Christianity. Why should I put up with abuse for vague already-broken promises of better things later?

Lysander has left a new comment on your post "Idiots vs. Reality":

Ok, I've been there, done that. Even thought rails was magic (for about a month before I realized it was really half assed.)

It took me a few days to realize "Rails is nothing special." After seeing Rails in action, I'm wondering "Why would anyone use Rails, unless you're already an expert in it?"

I don't see any benefit from using Rails compared to php or Visual Studio. Compared to other crappy frameworks like Java/spring/beans/jsp, they're equivalent. My idiot boss says "You must have a framework! You can't manage a 100 person project without a framework!" First, I see 5 developers and not 100. Second, a framework is not a substitute for common sense. If you're capable of organizing your code, you don't need a restrictive framework. If you're a clueless unqualified idiot, then a restrictive framework provides the illusion of work while you're doing nothing, as you produce framework-compliant code.

I worked for a horrible company with horrible managers much like you describe, run by incompetents who had no clue about software development and didn't even recognize that they were a software company. That companies' name is Many people perceive them as a success but the incompetence within their walls is astounding-- thousands of highly trained engineers reporting to managers right out of the DMV.

If Amazon is so badly run, they why are they so successful? A lot of VC was poured into businesses like Amazon and EBay, making them the property of the bankers. In the US economic system, market incumbents are almost absolutely shielded from competition. Amazon was not the first online bookstore, and EBay was not the first online auction house. They succeeded because they were backed by the bankers.

You do need to leave. There is no point in abusing yourself by staying. I don't know how much experience you have as a developer, but I'm guessing not a lot because you're putting up with a really raw deal.

Actually, I have nearly 10 years of experience in a wide variety of areas! I'm sort of in a "career death spiral" mode. Due to a patchy history, only ***holes will hire me. I wind up working for ***holes and then switch jobs again rapidly. On the other hand, maybe nearly all corporations are filled with ***holes. My experiences are not atypical; I'm just more observant than most.

One problem is that most of my experience is in areas that are no longer trendy. The vast majority of my work history is in C/C++, which isn't much in demand anymore. I'd like to make the switch to C#/.NET, but my C/C++ experience doesn't count in the eyes of a HR manager doing keyword screening.

Its possible you're in bumfuck nowhere, and that's why you're getting such a deal. If that's the case, seriously consider moving to a major city-- from Seattle to Houston, there are lots of choices, it doesn't have to be the bay area- and you'll find much better run businesses seeking engineering talent and knowing they have to treat engineers well to attract and retain them.

Actually, I live in a big city! Most jobs here are large financial corporations, and a handful of financial startups or web development startups. I'm not moving for a new job. However, I live in a city not known for technical excellence.

As Zed Shaw said, "In an industry dominated by stupid, the smart man is unemployed/underemployed."

But let me lay a secret on you-- your "marketing oriented" startup needs you more than it needs the founders. If it really is a 500B opportunity, and its primarily a software problem, you should leave and start a competitor to them. Do it yourself. Finding marketing people is easy, and good marketing people are easier to find than engineering people.

You're off by an order of magnitude. It's a $500M opportunity and not a $500B opportunity. Microsoft isn't worth $500B!

You're missing the point of nepotism capitalism. Even if I implemented a working copy of their engine, I could not get my foot in the door with customers. They literally wouldn't return my calls. If I hired a "marketing specialist" to help me, the terms of the partnership would likely make the marketer the owner of the business. (There are all sorts of subtle clauses in legal agreements that screw the other person over. I'm not an expert on such things.)

If you hang out in startup circles you find there are scores and scores of people looking for partners to cofound companies with. (So it wouldn't necessarily be you doing it on your own).

I don't hang out in startup circles. There really isn't any such thing in the city where I live.

Reality is you got a raw deal here. They made a promise (options) and as yet have not kept it, thus you have no moral obligation to stay. You're not being used appropriately, and you should leave, because its highly unlikely they will ever change.

You are correct. It's time for me to leave.

The marketing guys do seem genuinely doing their best, and I feel bad for them. However, defaulting on a verbal promise to offer options should be treated as seriously as a bounced paycheck. I've been working there long enough that they should have a written options plan by now. That's actually happened to me twice! I worked at another startup where there was a verbal but not written offer of options. I didn't stay there long either.

Take your time finding a better job if you want to go work for someone else in the same area (and by the way, I learned early on to ask how many shares the company had outstanding on a fully diluted basis-- cause otherwise 10,000 options should be a lot less valuable than 1,000 options-- depends on how big a slice of the pie each one is.) And of course, your equity should be in your offer letter, or don't take the offer.

I know how to price option grants and equity grants. In order to know what your options are worth, you need to know number of shares outstanding, along with your estimate of the company's value. I once asked in another job, and the hiring manager got offended by the question.

In this case, I'd been unemployed awhile with no other offers. I had no bargaining leverage. The job market is better now. Instead of begging for fair treatment, I should just find a new job.

Good engineering talent (and I can tell you are at least decent, above average) is rare and valuable commodity. Every day you stay there you are selling yourself cheap.

Based on my experiences, I'd say I'm one of the top 1% or even 0.1%-0.01% in ability. I'm that type of person who could accomplish more by myself in 1-3 months than a team of 100 could accomplish in years. However, I've never been really tested. Most of the time, I've been doing maintenance of crap legacy code. Based on what I've seen, 90+% of all corporate work is maintenance of crap legacy code. I've never really had the opportunity to implement a project that would become a cash cow.

Working for others is an easy solution, but in this day and age it takes a lot less investment to start a company- and so you should consider working for yourself-- or getting on a path to doing so.

Opportunity is all around you. And when you're working for yourself, your boss will work you even harder, but he'll be much less of an asshole.

I'm thinking of starting an agorist business, rather than an on-the-books business. I might go either way.

If I'm going to start my own business, it would be in the productive sector of the economy instead of the parasite sector.

Most on-the-books business have "Get big or die!" pressure. However, I could have niche stay-privately-held success like Craigslist. (However, Craigslist did screw up, because a chunk of their business is now owned by their competitor EBay.) I really need more interpersonal freedom before I can start thinking about business opportunities.

Right now, my blog is a type of business, but it isn't earning me any income (yet). Even if someone stole my login and password, I'd still have all the accumulated knowledge. Plus, I keep a backup of my blog on my hard drive.

gilliganscorner has left a new comment on your post "Idiots vs. Reality":

Lysander knows exactly what he is talking about. How do I know? I've been there.

Really? Do you have any more details? Do you also work as a software engineer?

His most valuable quote: "If it really is a 500B opportunity, and its primarily a software problem, you should leave and start a competitor to them. Do it yourself. Finding marketing people is easy, and good marketing people are easier to find than engineering people."

The marketing guys actually have rather impressive connections. I couldn't duplicate their network of connections, nor the level of interest they've generated for their product. They've got everything lined up, except for one minor detail. THEY NEED A WEBSITE THAT ACTUALLY WORKS! From my point of view, "write a working website" is as easy as "let me use Visual Studio and don't interrupt me for a month". I couldn't duplicate their "call 100 financial companies and generate interest in the product". Apparently, they think "we can hire any schmuck to write our website for us". The result is that schmucks are writing their website.

My boss actually seemed reasonably intelligent. He's caught up in his "Rails is awesome! I'm managing this project brilliantly!" fantasy. He sincerely believes the project is a smashing success, and therefore he's able to con the marketing guys into allowing the disaster to continue.

Their website is actually really simple. My boss has this fantasy "I'm brilliantly managing a humongous complicated project!" No, it's a simple website. He put in a whole bunch of stuff that's irrelevant and picked an overly complicated design.

I've been involved with enough software disasters to recognize what's going on.

I'll probably never be selected to manage a project, because I can't muster the "I'm absolutely sure what I'm doing is right, despite all evidence!" attitude.

In one job, a coworker warned me "It's not important whether your ideas have technical merit or not. The important thing is to act as if you're absolutely sure that you're a brilliant genius who can handle everything." The correct way to acquire knowledge is to always have doubt about whether or not what you're doing is right. In other words, the current system anti-selects for intelligent people to be chosen as leaders. Fake intelligence takes priority over genuine intelligence.

I like Cesar Milan and the Dog Whisperer show. Dogs judge each other by their actions and "dominance". In humans, the person who's the leader-backed-by-State-violence isn't necessarily the person with the best true leadership qualities. Many humans wind up taking the submissive role in their relationship with their dog, due to pro-State brainwashing. The State means that humans without true leadership qualities have their leadership power backed by violence.

One of the things I learned is this:

"A corporate project manager/sponsor is not so much as concern for the success of a project as he/she is concerned about being held accountable for its inevitable failure."

That is true. In a large corporation, incompetence and dodged responsibility can last a long time. In a large corporation, if you're "rapidly climbing the corporate ladder", then you'll be switching roles every year or two. If you leave a mess for someone else to clean up, that's not your problem!

However, dodging responsibility doesn't work in a small software startup. If the product doesn't work, they're broke. My boss has conned the owners into believing "Rails is awesome!" The new manager got what he wanted, because his outsourcing firm buddies are getting some work.

Actually, being intelligent can work against you. A hiring manager may thing "This guy is smart. I'm faking it, and FSK is smart enough to notice. Therefore, I should not hire FSK." On an interview, I never know if I should act as intelligently as I can, or hold back so that I don't seem too smart. I want to work for people that have a clue, so I try my best.

Lysander has defined the key for you. If you have good personal skills and your software engineering is a clear as your blog writing, I would be looking to make the leap. I did. There were some scares along the way, but it was worth it in the end. Then again, I am not aware of your financial situation, so it is pretty easy for me to speak for you ;)

Financially, I could afford to work on a startup. Regrettably, my personal situation is not such that I could try that right now.

Due to my illness, I'm stuck living with my parents after they bailed me out of the hospital. My #1 goal really is to move out and get my own place again. My parents say "FSK needs a job! FSK should be a good slave!" Since I'm stuck with them, my freedom is restricted.

I'd like to try starting an agorist business, rather than a software startup. If I start a legal on-the-books business, I'm just helping the bad guys. There are lots of legal and practical hurdles to starting an on-the-books business.

BTW, off topic, isn't it odd that your blog seems to attract alot of people in S/W engineering or IT?

After careful consideration, I think that it's not surprising. Good software engineering requires a "figure things out for yourself" attitude. Free market economics also requires a "figure things out for yourself" attitude. Software engineering is one of the few areas where an intelligent person can make a difference. Most intelligent independent thinkers wind up in the software engineering area. However, this also means that trying to create a software startup is fiercely competitive.

Also seeing things in action at work, it's obvious that ideas are a dime a dozen. Anybody can have an idea. Making a working website is apparently much harder than it sounds (from my point of view). The idea for my employer's business is nothing special. They needed the network of contacts to have a chance of success. I asked one of the owners "Don't you notice that the Rails project is a disaster?" He said "I don't know anything about software. How can I judge?" If you try to start a software company without any knowledge of software, this is what happens. Whether the owners realize it or not, they have a software startup.

If you're an independent thinker, and you try working as a professor, lawyer, or journalist, that's no good. Either your independent thinking ability will be crushed, or you will get disgusted and switch careers. Most people don't have a strong resistance to "My independent thinking ability is being crushed."

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Idiots vs. Reality":

In the software business, there are usually some legal barriers to prevent employees leaving and starting up a competing company.

So even if you hooked up with someone who had the financial connections you lack, you probably couldn't go into direct competition with your current employers. At least, not right away.

If your employment contract with the company didn't include a non-compete clause or a non-disclosure clause, for example, then your bosses are even bigger idiots than you say.

I'll bet Amazon has those clauses in their contracts. I know Microsoft does, because I used to work there. ;-)

They did have me sign a non-compete and non-disclosure agreement. What they originally presented was way too broad. I got them to narrow the scope and the duration.

Non-compete and non-disclosure contracts are stupid. However, every corporate employer insists on them.

It's amusing to hear the sales guys go on meetings. They make customers sign a non-disclosure agreement just to hear a sales pitch. It appears that, in the corporate world, you need to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to hear someone sneeze. That's what happens when lawyers and parasites run things.

I'm not interested in competing with them. I'd rather work in the productive sector of the economy. They have *REALLY IMPRESSIVE* customer contacts. I don't believe I could find someone with connections as great as theirs, even if I had an actual working version of their website. If I want to write their website, I have to sell it to them, and they're not interested in buying.

I live in a state that enforces non-compete clauses. I read that one reason California has a booming tech industry is that they don't enforce non-compete clauses. Frequent rotation of employees actually helps companies succeed.

I don't think I would be much at risk for a lawsuit anyway. There's always the defense "If FSK was such a key employee, then why weren't you paying him much?"

Lysander has left a new comment on your post "Idiots vs. Reality":

Non-compete clauses are unenforceable, for the most part, in Washington state (Where MSFT and AMZN are)... but of course who wants to be tied up in court.

Yes, that's the point. If I'm the victim of a frivolous lawsuit, I'm out at least $50k-$100k. I won't recover my legal expenses, even if I win.

I meant more that one could start a company in the 500B market area, rather than a direct competitor.

I don't think you need financial connections these days. The path to success does not involve wasting the first couple years of your startups life with VCs. (Been down that road too.) VCs are even worse than the bosses he's dealing with as they are totally clueless but feel the need to force technology decisions on companies and are able to do so because of their hold of the purse strings.

If I tried a startup, it'd be 100% organic growth via reinvested earnings, with me keeping 100% ownership.

In many ways, working in a VC funded startup is like being an employee of the VC. The risk/reward ratio for startup founders and VCs is different. If I'm starting a company, I'm hoping to get a high probability of a $100k-$200k annual profit, which is a decent salary. When a VC funds a company, he's looking for a 1000%-10000%+ profit on his investment. The VC wants to maximize his chance of a homerun. A VC isn't interested in a high probability of a small success.

A VC is only interested in homeruns. A sensible small business owner is looking for a high probability of a decent return. A VC is investing in 50-100 companies, all with other people's money. He doesn't care if a bunch of them fail. A startup founder has only one business. If it fails, he loses 3-5 years of work. VCs won't let the founder cash out part of his holding when he accepts funding. The VC *LOVES* the fact that the startup founder is risking everything. This means that the startup founder will work like a dog, and the VC gets a cut of the profit.

Further, the VC makes the founder accept vesting of shares in his own company. Suppose the deal is that the founder keeps 80% and the VC buys 20%. The founder's shares are subject to a 4 years vesting or whatever schedule. If there's a sale, then the VC gets priority for the sale proceeds; the VC's shares have preferences that the founder's shares don't get.

I wouldn't bother with a VC when starting my own company, especially since I'm interested in working on agorist businesses.

When I work as an employee, I'm working towards someone else's dreams and fortunes. If I owned my own business, I'd be working towards my own goals.

My blog is a type of business, but it isn't profitable. I'm looking for ways to turn my blog into serious income. My blog is, literally, mine. Even if someone stole my login and password, I get to keep the accumulated knowledge. Plus, I keep backups on my hard drive.

Working as a standup comedian or amateur filmmaker/journalist seems attractive. Then, my primary asset is my personal reputation. As a software engineer, nobody will ever care "FSK worked on X", or even if I was responsible for its success or failure. Even though I'm building "equity in my career", nobody seems to care that I have 10 years of experience in C/C++ when those languages are no longer trendy. In software engineering, all your skills are considered obsolete every few years. has a blog which talks about how they did it, and their philosophy of business which is pretty decent and useful.

Their site had some nice stuff. Aren't they the guys who promote Ruby on Rails? I thought that DHH, the guy who wrote Rails, works for 37signals?

I'm more interested in agorist businesses than slave software engineer jobs, whether as a wage slave or slave startup founder.

Its not for everybody, and many people start off consulting or contracting to keep the money coming in while working on their product....

You can just as easily work as a wage slave while working on the side. For example, if I wanted to work as an independent game developer, I could do that on the side while I have my wage slave job. Currently, I'm blogging on the side.

I'm considering experimenting with standup comedy or independent filmmaker/journalist on the side of my wage slave job.

The intellectual property clauses these companies force on employees (generally pretty damn asinine, as they claim to often own stuff that was developed prior to your employment, etc.) are just another reason to work on your own terms, rather than someone elses.

I agree those contracts are insulting. In the small companies I've worked for, I've managed to get some annoying clauses eliminated or reduced. The non-compete my current employer presented me with said "no other work in the financial industry at all for a year". I got them to decrease the scope and duration.

Right now, my best business ideas are for agorist-related off-the-books ideas. It doesn't matter if someone else tries to copyright/patent them!

My overall conclusions are:
  1. My current job is a waste.
  2. I should start looking for a new job, although it'll probably be similar wage slave conditions. My current employer is going broke, I'm paid practically nothing, so why not find a new job?
  3. Starting your own software startup isn't as easy as it sounds, due to the defects in the economic and political system. If I work legally as a slave business owner, I'm just helping the bad guys.
  4. I'm really interested in agorist business oppotunities. My plan is to wait a few more years before trying that.
This thread has generated a surprising amount of reader comments. Are people more interested in stories relating to my direct personal experience?

JC has left a new comment on your post "The Defect of Intrade":

You also missed the part where shorting Ron Paul costs 0.3% in trading fees and they take out another 1.0% on expiry. So if you short Ron Paul at 1.2 for $9800 to win $120, Intrade will charge you $30 in trading fees and $100 for your "winning" trade on expiry.

I didn't notice that. I was just looking at the "time value of money" component. When you account for trading fees and expiry fees, then it's even worse.

On Intrade, the defect in their system means that longshots are overpriced, especially if there's a long time left until expiry.

I looked at TradeSports. TradeSports is the same engine as Intrade. They split the sports section and non-sports due to legal technicalities. For example, the NY Yankees are 0.8% bid, 1.5% offered to win the World Series. That seems high to me, but when you take into account trading fees, it makes sense.

Liberty Student has left a new comment on your post "The Non-Aggression Principle":

Bravissimo! Heroic post!

But I may have a tactic that is better than Agorism for resisting the state. Still doing research on it, but I'm pretty excited.

Let me know. I can't think of anything better, but I'll seriously read your proposal.

I wouldn't say "heroic", since I'm not risking my personal safety by blogging. (Am I?) I haven't been the victim of violence based on my blog (yet?).

I like some websites that say "I have a great strategy for resisting the evil power of government, but you must sign a non-disclosure agreement before I'll show it to you."

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Programming Ruby on Rails is like Playing Mao or M...":


I don't even use Rails, but you want to use ASP.NET over it? You're a Visual Studio "auto-complete completes me" turd.

Based on what I've seen of Rails and ASP.NET, I seriously recommend ASP.NET over Rails. Regarding ASP.NET vs. php, that's close.

There's nothing immoral about context sensitive help and auto-completion. A good UNIX command shell offers auto-complete.

By the way, you've completely misinterpreted Zed's Rant on Rails. I guess he needed to make it a PowerPoint presentation for it to get through your skull. Maybe some bullet points will suffice:

* The so called "don't hurt the Rails community" peeps are actually just concerned about making money.
* They don't mind that Rails is becoming the VB of the Web.
* More generally, idiotic web startups are sucking up all the smart people in this world, leaving no one to do disprove String Theory.

Zed Shaw's rant was not the main point of my post. Zed Shaw seems of above average intelligence. I went to a Rails users' group meeting, and it seemed like a twit's convention. What I took out of Zed Shaw's rant was "Anybody with a clue isn't going to waste their time on Rails. Only fools who prefer hype over substance work with Rails. Over time, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

I've made the last point elsewhere. A lot of smart people are wasting their time writing financial software or other web startups. There's a lot of other productive things to do. However, most other sectors of the economy are so regulated to make things impossible. I can't innovate in the area of drug-free treatment for mental illness, because I need a license from the State for that. I'm not going to waste several years taking "Anti-psychotic drugs are beneficial!" courses just so I can get a license.

It's amusing the dichotomy of opinion on my Rails viewpoint. There's "Rails is nothing special". There's "Rails is awesome and anyone who questions that is a fool!" With ASP.NET or php, a project should go well, even if you had talented programmers who had never used it before. Seeing Rails in action, it's a disaster.

There are two objections I have to Rails. First, I don't see any benefit to Rails over php or ASP.NET. Second, my boss totally mismanged the Rails rollout, in addition to the mistake of using Rails in the first place. If we'd used a sensible environment, a massive cluster**** would be less likely.

Norman has left a new comment on your post "Programming Ruby on Rails is like Playing Mao or M...":

I read your post a couple of days and it has been bugging me ever since.

It would be easy to dismiss it since I am a big fan of Ruby on Rails. However you do make some very good points.

I have also got and read Agle Web Development with Rails (2nd and now 3rd Edition in PDF). Everything is in there but I have struggled to make a lot of progress for the time I have invested. I will keep persisting and hopefully have a break through at some point.

That's troll thinking. "Everyone says Rails is cool! I've spent a lot of time on Rails. Pretty soon, it'll all make sense and it'll be wonderful."

Similarly, my boss says "Rails is awesome! Sure, we don't have any working features yet. Any day now, it'll all magically come together and we'll have a working application."

If you're struggling to learn something, there are a couple of possibilities. My favorite explanations are
  1. You're stupid.
  2. It's not worth learning.
Most people tend to default to the "I'm stupid" assumption rather than "This isn't worth learning." In a relatively short period of time, I concluded "Rails isn't worth learning."

Regarding the Rails documentation I have found it is there but it is very hard to "self discover" anything. Once you pick up something from a tutorial or book then you might find the documentation expands on it but it is pretty sparse in areas (at least compared to the Microsoft .NET docs that I am used to).

That's entirely my point. For .NET or php, there's lots of great documentation and lots of resources to help someone who's new to the language. Rails is a wasteland. The books and websites are hyped as awesome, but when I read them, my reaction is "Where's the beef?"

I'd prefer to be known as a C#/APS.NET programmer than as a Rails programmer. Regrettably, when looking for a job as a slave software engineer, "How many years experience in what language" is the primary filtering mechnaism for who's offered what jobs.

lordi has left a new comment on your post "The Fallacy of Microlending":

What I've seen happening on those microlending sites popping up every here and there (America and Europe), those who lend money, are not making money at all. They seem to be donating their savings to those, who know better how to spend them (and not paying back).

If you want to run a microloan business as a charity, that's fine. A microloan business as a for-profit enterprise makes no sense at all. Unless you have the magic money-printing power of banks, you can't profitably loan money. Either you have to charge extortionate interest rates, or your returns won't keep up with inflation.

Risk of no payback is too high compared to the interest the lenders are taking.

Btw, why you say inflation rate is 15-30%???

Where are you living? In Zimbabve?

I live in the USA. The CPI is not an accurate measure of inflation.

Consider the price of gasoline, the price of gold, or even food. They are increasing at a rate of 15%-30% per year.

Pretty soon, inflation in the USA will be as bad as Zimbabwe!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "American Eagle Gold Coins Sales Suspended":

You're absolutely right, bullion bars are way better than coins. But, most people are just like the most people; they want coins, because, they believe in three myphs: gold is worthy because of it's beauty, eagle coins won't be confiscated, coins are easier to trade. Of course, you know all of this to be bullshit.

There's no reason to pay a premium for State-issued coins. I also mean rounds and bullion bars.

I noticed that it's hard to buy silver in coins smaller than 1 oz. If you want to seriously use silver as barter money, you'd need some 0.5, 0.25, and 0.1 oz coins. "Junk silver" (pre-1962 US silver coins) are usable for small transactions, but I prefer plain bullion. I also was looking for 1 oz and 0.5 oz copper coins.

How hard is it to mint your own coins? I've been considering minting some small-denomination coins myself, or hiring someone else to do it. Actually, the correct ratio is probably something like 1.0 oz, 0.48 oz, 0.22 oz, and 0.09 oz. Two half-ounce silver coins are worth more than a one ounce coin, due to the labor involved in making the coin.

Anyway, this shows us that the demand for gold is raising among those very new to gold, or those following the hype. This can be good and bad too. RE hype helped to create financing, but killed those who forgot to stick to value.

If you make an unleveraged long investment in gold and take physical possession, it's hard to get screwed over unless your physical metal is stolen. If you use leverage, then a declining FRN-denominated price can lead to margin calls. Sometimes, I think that periodic 10%-20% declines in the gold price are orchestrated to cheat margin speculators.

The eagles are not for sale precisely because the government wants to show low prices on gold, so low, as to scare the majority into a powerful sell-off event. Of course, it doesn't want to sell at those low-low prices, so therefore the "glitches" in production of eagle blanks.

E-bay price, (the free market) in the meanwhile, is $900.

You can also buy from apmex, other online dealers, or coin stores. That's very weird. Looking at apmex's site, they are very nearly sold out of 1 ounce gold/silver rounds.
This is not the last contango just yet, but I believe it is coming...

In a normal futures market, "contango" refers to the fact that longer-dated futures are worth more. Normally, a January 2010 gold futures contract is worth more than a January 2009 gold futures contract. The difference in price is typically the price of gold plus one year of interest. Otherwise, there would be an aribtrage opportunity, via buying gold in January 2009, borrowing at the Fed Funds Rate, storing gold for a year, and then short selling a January 2010 contract. Conversely, you could short sell gold in January 2009, invest the proceeds for a year, and then cover with a January 2010 contract.

"The last contango" for the US dollar refers to the point when the price of gold goes to infinitity. This is equivalent to the value of the dollar going to zero. At the "last contango" point, there are NO OFFERS to sell gold for US dollars, at *ANY* price. At this point, gold represents tangible wealth while the dollar is worthless. The "last contango" moment is the moment that the State has completely collapsed.

The "last contango" moment for fiat money is still 20 years in the future, by my estimates.

Thomas Blair has left a new comment on your post "The Velocity of Money":

It's typically calculated indirectly as:

velocity = national product / money supply

That sounds wrong to me.

Let's look at this two ways:

velocity = raw uninflation-adjusted GDP / money supply

That is silly, because more money will show up as greater GDP.

Another way:

velocity = CPI-inflation adjusted GDP / money supply

That's also wrong, because the CPI understates true inflation.

That velocity of money calculation seems like nonsense to me, because more money means a greater GDP, because official GDP statistics aren't propertly adjusted for inflation.

anarcho-mercantilist has left a new comment on your post "The Velocity of Money":

FSK already calculated the velocity of money from this post. GDP is inaccurate.

The above calculation of velocity of money seems wrong. Increased money supply also counts as increased non-inflation-adjusted GDP.

"FSK should find a new job" really is a liberating attitude. Before, my attitude was "Why am I stuck working for ***holes?" Now, my attitude is "Shop around for a better deal!" Monogamy sucks!

I see now that "marketing wizards" starting a software company without a qualified software person was a disaster from the beginning. They literally had zero chance of success, and due to a statistical anomaly they lucked into me working for them. Their attitude is "We can hire any schmuck to write our website." The result is that schmucks are writing their website.

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