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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is Participating in the State Economy Immoral?

There were two recent threads that generated some surprising comments, regarding the morality of participating in the State slave economy.

In the present, a complete boycott of the State economy is infeasible. Almost all economic activity directly or indirectly supports the State. As an agorist, you should focus on the three main evils of the State. These are income taxes, the Federal Reserve, and government regulation of almost all industries.

For example, suppose I were to start an agorist clothing business. It's acceptable for me to buy my raw materials from a State-licensed store if that's the cheapest price. Over time, as the agorist counter-economy grows, agorist vendors will emerge that will be competitive with the State slave economy. Free from the encumbrance of State regulations, taxes, and overheads, a smart agorist vendor should always be able to undercut the State slave economy on price and provide better quality.

Right now, the agorist counter-economy is non-existent. I'm on the lookout for opportunities to begin practical agorism. As I start working as an agorist, I will buy/sell some goods in the agorist economy, and participate in the State slave economy for the rest of my needs. This bootstrapping process allows agorists to pick and choose their opportunities. The most inefficient State industries will have working agorists first. I'm going to focus on low-risk, high-reward industries initially. Other industries, such as agorist health care, have higher risk but also higher reward.

One of my agorist business ideas is offering a treatment of mental illness without drugs. It's actually a simple business to run, since I merely advise my customers to stop taking their drugs and help them manage their withdrawal symptoms; a simple reassurance that the withdrawal effects are temporary should be sufficient. I'd warn the patients to call me instead of 911 if/when they have a panic attack. I'd probably need assistants to manage such a business, because I really should offer my customers 24x7 support, compared with a traditional therapist who you only see for 30 minutes every week or every other week, or a psychiatrist who you see only once a month for a few minutes for a prescription refill. Technically, telling a "mental illness" patient to stop taking their drugs is a crime, because I don't have a State psychiatry license.

I mentioned that I watch NFL football games. One commenter complained "Watching football games is immoral, because the NFL is a branch of the State! If you watch an NFL football game, you're supporting the State."

This attitude is silly. If I wanted to completely boycott the State, I could not do anything at all. I could not purchase electricity. I could not purchase Internet access. I could not buy a computer. I could not purchase food. I could not purchase clothes. I could not see any TV or movies. I could not play computer games. Until there are viable free market alternatives, a total boycott of the State is infeasible.

For now, I focus my anti-State activities where I get the most reward for effort spent. Right now, promoting agorism is the most effective use of my time. I'm looking to make the transition from theoretical agorism to practical agorism. The more successful I am at raising awareness of agorism, the more likely I am to find trustworthy agorist trading partners.

Further, my interactions with NFL TV broadcasts are completely voluntary. Unlike my interactions with the Federal Reserve and income tax, I voluntarily choose to watch NFL games. In a true free market, I would have more choices, but the NFL is good enough entertainment for now.

Even if you didn't like my two posts about football, that doesn't invalidate all my other points. You're free to not watch football if you choose, and ignore those two posts. Both articles contained an interesting aspect of pro-State brainwashing, which is the fact that pro-State brainwashing affects a coach's strategy. A coach's decision is evaluated by outcomes and not a priori odds. When making decisions, pro-State brainwashing causes people to consider the worst-case rather than average-case. If you do worst-case-only-analysis, agorism is infeasible because of the risk of a State raid. If you do a proper average case analysis, I believe agorism is profitable if you're clever about minimizing your risk and maximizing your reward.

I also wrote that I was planning to put a Google AdSense widget in my blog and RSS feed. This was met with hostility by one/several Anonymous commenters. I have no idea if all Anonymous comments are published by the same person or different people. For this reason, people who use a consistent fake name are better than Anonymous. I recognize the made-up name, and can recognize repeat commenters. For example, you have a reasonably good idea about who "FSK" is, even though it's a made-up name. (In Blogger, I believe there are no uniqueness restrictions on usernames. I believe someone else could make up a username "FSK" and impersonate me, but you'd notice when you clicked on the link to look at the profile.)

If I put up a Google AdSense widget on my blog, I'm supporting the State. That income is automatically reported to the State and I must pay income tax on that profit. Further, Google receives the bulk of the actual AdSense revenue paid by advertisers, and Google is a branch of the State like all large corporations.

If I want to avoid working for the State, I'd also have to refuse any wage slave job. I could not accept any on-the-books work if my goal is to completely avoid supporting the State. The counter-economy is not yet sophisticated enough for me to do this.

I noticed this post by Mike Gogulski, where he refused a job for the State. The fallacy in his reasoning is that *ANY* on-the-books work supports the State via taxes. Suppose I have two choices. I can do $10k of work directly for the State, or $10k of work in a wage slave job. Suppose my income taxation rate is 50%. In the $10k wage slave job, I contribute $5k directly to the State. Similarly, if I accept the $10k job working directly for the State, I pay $5k directly back to the State in taxes. (In some countries, income on State jobs is tax-exempt. I'm ignoring that possibility here.) If I don't accept the $10k State job, someone else will take it, still getting paid $10k but perhaps doing marginally worse work. However, by refusing the direct State job, I am forced to accept a marginally lower salary. Overall, the net damage to the State by my refusal to work directly for the State is negligible.

"I refuse to work directly for the State" is an attitude that only works when vastly more than 50% of the population has been convinced "The State is evil!" By that time, the State has already lost anyway. Once a vast majority of people have been convinced "The State is evil!", then it's already all over for the State. In the meantime, if you refuse to work directly for the State, then someone almost as qualified will gladly take your place.

In *ANY* corporate wage slave job, you're supporting the State. If you let the State steal from you via the income tax and the inflation tax, you're part of the problem and not part of the solution. The agorist economy is not yet sophsiticated enough to pay me a decent full-time salary. For now, I work in the slave economy while promoting agorism in my spare time.

Is it immoral for me to put a Google AdSense widget on my blog, earning maybe $10-$20 per month, if that means the State also earns another $50 per month? Given the context of a completly corrupt State economy, that is not immoral.

Also, even if I solicit donations, PayPay and checks are also automatically reported to the State. You would have to mail me physical metal or Federal Reserve Notes to avoid the reporting requirement. If people started mailing me silver coins or Federal Reserve Notes, that would probably draw the attention of the bad guys. An agorist free market banking system is needed, based similarly to the hawala system.

It is silly to refuse to put a Google AdSense widget on my blog because the bad guys get the vast majority of the profits. It is silly to refuse a corporate wage slave job because the bad guys get the vast majority of the wealth generated by my work. It's going to take another few years to get an agorist counter-economy started. In the meantime, I need to work as a wage slave to support myself. If I make $10-$20 via Google AdSense, then I can reinvest the profits in web hosting, move to my own domain, and start offering other services besides blogging. For example, I want to write my own PHP forum/AgoristBay engine, and for that I need to move to hosting my own site.

Suppose I pursue my "promote agorism via standup comedy" idea. Suppose I am successful, and get invited as a guest on the David Letterman show. Should I refuse, because my guest appearance would support the State via taxes? No. I should accept, because it's an opportunity to promote agorism. An AdSense widget on my blog is the same thing, but on a smaller scale. If I earn some profit via AdSense, I can then reinvest that in making a better site via moving to my own domain. Eventually, like Steve Pavlina, I might get enough non-AdSense revenue for it to make sense for me to remove AdSense from my site. It isn't immoral for me to promote agorism and show a profit at the same time. In the present, the only way for me to do this is via State-sanctioned businesses. The agorist free market economy is still nonexistent. It isn't immoral for me to work in the slave economy until a real free market gets more sophisticated.

In the present, the State has a monopoly of nearly all economic activity. All on-the-books activity directly supports the State via taxes. Once the agorist counter-economy is advanced enough, I can buy and sell goods and services in the agorist free market. In the meantime, it isn't immoral to participate in the State slave economy.


Anonymous said...

FSK, you are pretty good at detecting SOME forms of brainwashing, but unfortunately, either by choice or through a mental defect you refuse to even acknowledge a simple point I've been trying to communicate. Apparently, the fake name 'anonymous' makes me less credible than other fake names.

Google is engaged in the most massive information collection campaign in the history of mankind. This cannot possibly end well, and I ask that you and your readers read rather enlightening books, "IBM and the holocaust" and "Cryptonomicon" for more detailed explanations about why this is a really bad idea.

Your desire to work and get paid in whatever currency is not an issue.

Your desire to sell large amounts of information about your readership to Google in exchange for a penny a pop is possibly the lowest, most desperate form of supporting the machinery (or soon-to-be machinery) of the State.

Yes, you are small potatoes. So are your readers. The government does not really care about us. However, by doing a massive search through Google records, the State can isolate a few or a few million 'dangerous individuals' by cross-correlating various small potato sites they visit.

You are a logical, intelligent individual. Why is it that you will not address this issue in a logical manner you are known for? Research, think, and consider the cost/benefit in the best and worst scenario. A penny for you in exchange for a possible disastrous raid and concentration camps filled with people whom you sold to Google for a penny? Probably not, but is it really so impossible?

Thanks for being reasonable this time.

Cowardly anonymous reader.

fritz said...

I think Anonymous is really on to something.I don't know the ins and outs about computer security. I personally don't care. The day the government starts rounding up citizens for the concentration camps is the day I begin to lead the peoples army against government forces. And on that day we will all have lost. If it really goes that far(which it very well could)we are doomed to fighting on the streets. And im sure that most people won't be held up on their computers waiting for the gestapo to come and grab them..On that day people will come out of their trance and fight for their lives. And the possibility for a peace full transgression to an agorist society would be lost. Do you have any idea what would happen if martial law was ordered??

I know lots of people with arms who wouldn't stand for it. And I know most people wouldn't stand for it.On that day people would really begin the fight to take back our rights..If it really is coming to that than you should join a para military group,store arms,food,and camping gear, because you will certainly need it..


sunni said...

Right now, the agorist counter-economy is non-existent.

Perhaps for you, and perhaps in your location, but not elsewhere. I've been making and selling a variety of candies—mostly caramels and truffles—for a few years now. I know of others who have a more general approach, but they still consistently and actively seek out informal exchanges of goods and services rather than the licensed and taxed guy with a storefront on Main Street. Some people consider garage sales, Craigslist, and Freecycle groups part of the counter-economy.

By its very nature, "the" counter-economy is harder to see and track, but it's there, and probably closer than one realizes. Any time a neighbor borrows a power tool instead of buying (or renting) it, or a friend helps another with his vehicle, it's counter-economic.

It's the way humans have done business for far longer than shops set up outside the home, with only credentialed individuals permitted to engage in certain activities—and that's an important key to turn in others' minds, it seems to me.

DixieFlatline said...

As I posted on my blog, FSK, Kevin Carson all of the BLOGGER bloggers, are ALREADY ON GOOGLE'S PLATFORM.

They are already data mining you. Your use of "Anonymous" is futile.

Your paranoia however is well founded.

GooFighter said...

Simply because I am paranoid, does not mean that the Google isn't really after me.

I do believe that eventually, the Google's databases will be used to determine who will go to a death camp.

This is because it is simply the most efficient approach, from a point of view of a dictatorial power.

We will get under the dictatorial power, because this simply is the only way for currently powers that be, to remain in power after the con game collapses. Sheeple are not going to want to participate in the scheme any more, but the government doesn't want to just go away. They would want to preserve their power, and the only way to do it is to force the sheeple into the system.

So, do not ask on who the Google collects the data, for it collects it on you.

Anonymous said...


They are already data mining you. Your use of "Anonymous" is futile.

Denying the miners a more convenient natural key like your name, and making them use the IP address you post from raises their cost to find you in the data mining. Google is also pushing the Android phone platform, and I expect that to produce encrypted phone calls in a few months. Some you win, some you lose.

Mike Gogulski said...

Bah, no trackbacks. I replied at length to the bits about my own praxis: Educating for anarchism #4 — a reply to FSK.


FSK said...

I have trackbacks enabled, but for some reason Blogger does not handle them properly. Blogger trackbacks have been very flaky.

I'm looking forward to getting my own domain and switching to WordPress. I'm pretty annoyed with Blogger, and the quality seems to be deteriorating.

When I was configuring AdSense, Blogger had some kind of site-wide bug that was preventing people from manually editing their template.

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