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Monday, April 6, 2009

Reader Mail #93

I liked this Glen Beck video. There's a widely discussed new farming law. The law regulates/bans all small-scale farms, including someone growing tomatoes in their backyard.

I liked the trick by Congressmen. They say "This law isn't intended to affect small farmers." However, the language of the law is not specific. Once passed, the law will be used to crack down on small farmers.

The law is obviously the result of lobbying by executives at large corporate farms.

It's pure "Problem! Reaction! Solution!" There were recent salmonella outbreaks, caused on large corporate farms. The solution is to regulate all farmers, even small ones.

Glen Beck actually seems decent, based on the videos I've been seeing. He was portrayed as a fruitcake on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Of course, like all mainstream media personalities, he's a pro-State troll. However, there does seem to be some cracks in the Matrix.

My reaction to stupid laws is different now. My attitude towards stupid laws is "Hooray! The more stupid laws get passed, the sooner the total collapse occurs!"

I am annoyed by the incandescent light bulb ban. Hopefully, I can find some agorist light bulb manufacturers.

This page was interesting. It's an account of abusive banking practices. I liked this quote:

Thirty percent of the money created by banks with accounting entries is invested for their own accounts. (Chapter 18)

That's an amazing statistic. That says that 30% of the money that banks create is then used directly to purchase assets or bonds.

Banks have a very lucrative scam. They borrow at the Fed Funds Rate and invest in tangible assets. With huge leverage and high inflation, this is very profitable.

This interview with Peter Schiff was interesting. He said "Renting is better than buying, because property values were too high." He also said "Buying is better only if you plan to stay in the same place for 10+ years."

Peter Schiff missed one big point. Via property taxes, *NOBODY* owns their own land. You merely have a perpetual transferable lease.

It's still better to buy than rent a house over a 10+ year profit, because you're not paying profit to a middleman, in addition to property taxes. Plus, if you own, you can make some agorist-style improvements. For example, if you buy a 5 bedroom house when you only need 2 bedrooms, you can run an agorist-style hotel business.

He had another interesting bit. "Why are high home prices desirable?" State subsidies to home buyers, like FRE and FNM and other loopholes, encourage escalating home buyers.

Cheap mortgage rates also lead to higher home prices. The net effect to a new homebuyer is no gain or a loss. You pay a lower mortgage rate, but your total mortgage is higher.

If you own a house, you don't benefit from higher home prices unless you sell. During the housing boom, people were taking mortgages on their house and spending the difference. During the bust, these people lost everything.

The people who profit the most from rapidly rising home prices are insiders who build new houses. Typically, new homebuilders are insiders. They use their connections to get a zoning variance allowing them to build. These insiders have huge leverage in their construction company, so they profit massively from inflation.

He also had a nice bit about "State-subsidized college education is evil!"

I liked this post on Allegedly, some wealthy billionaire funded all the Libertarian think-tank groups. These Libertarian think tanks distract people from the philosophy of true free markets. I find pro-State Libertarians offensive now. They say "The State can be reformed! We only need to shrink it!" instead of "Who needs a monopolistic government anyway?"

I like Freedomain's argument. "Evaluate the Libertarian movement as a for-profit business whose goal is to shrink the government. By that standard, the Libertarian movement is a complete failure."

This post on no third solution about immigration was missing the key point.

People are property of the government. Laws restricting immigration means "Leaders in different countries don't have to compete on terms offered to workers." When the USA restricts immigration from Mexico, the leaders of the USA are saying to the leaders of Mexico, "We won't steal your property!"

BTW, David Z's decision to use "Intense Debate" for his comments was a stupid move. I have it blocked via NoScript, so I don't even see his comments anymore. It's not like David Z was getting thousands of comments per day and needed a system for managing them.

Based on what I see from Intense Debate, it appears that your comments are stored on the Intense Debate servers and not your blog. That's a real bad move. Why not just use a WordPress plugin or write your own? If you have that many comments that it's an issue, just add a forum to your site.

In this thread on Bureaucrash (site registration required), someone was asking about getting started with agorism.

I already wrote about tax resister insurance. It would both be a "best practices" training course and also partial insurance coverage. I wouldn't write big insurance policies until the counter-economy is more sophisticated.

Whatever you do, *DON'T* keep a written customer list (at least non-encrypted)! The bad guys could seize the list and then harass your customers!

Ideally, agorists should use gold or silver as money. The US dollar isn't in hyperinflation yet. You may use slave points as money, provided you immediately redeem them for tangible goods. Using slave points makes it easy to trade with part-time agorists. An agorist should always quote prices in gold or silver, but accept payment in slave points based on the exchange rate.

I don't work as an actual agorist yet.

One useful agorist business is a gold/silver/FRN barter network, so people can trade their slave points for real money.

Any agorist bank should be based on gold and silver instead of slave points. If you use slave points as money, you're letting the bad guys rip you off via inflation.

An agorist gold and silver warehouse receipt bank is a good idea. It'd have to be decentralized.

Making gold-denominated loans to other agorists is too expensive. Inflation is 20%-30%, so a gold-denominated loan has an implied interest rate of 20%-30%. You'd be better off maxing out your credit cards or taking a loan against your house, if you need capital. Initially, agorists should focus on non-capital-intensive businesses, because they're less risky.

A good strategy is to have a wage slave job and pay tax on that, while working part-time as an agorist. If people can pay you with cash, then you can not report all your income. For example, an amateur/semipro musician can get paid in cash and not report the transaction.

There's been a lot of hype surrounding OnLive. OnLive is stupid.

In a regular console, you buy the game and own it forever. Even if Microsoft goes bankrupt or decides to stop supporting the XBox, I can still play Halo.

With OnLive, the game is on the server. The device merely reads the signal on the Internet and displays it on your TV.

It's a subscription-based service. If OnLive raises their prices, or goes bankrupt, then it's worthless.

With OnLive, you don't actually own anything when you buy a game. You're dependent on the OnLive server to be able to play the game.

Where I live, there is occasional Internet lag where my connection goes down for a minute or two. If you're playing a game via OnLive and have a laggy Internet connection, then it will be a lousy experience.

It seems like a stupid idea to me. That doesn't mean they won't have customers.

This post by Mark Cuban had an interesting bit on CEO compensation. He had the correct attitude, which is "CEOs control the corporation. Individual shareholders have zero influence. Why shouldn't the CEO line their pockets as fast as they can?!"

He mentioned stock options. It's a win-win situation for the CEO. If the stock market skyrockets due to an inflationary boom, then the CEO pockets a ton of money. If the stock market tanks, then the CEO gets his options repriced at a lower strike. (assuming that the CEO doesn't get scapegoated and fired during the recession)

I predict another inflationary stock market boom in the next few years. In terms of gold or silver, the economy will continue to shrink. There's been massive inflation recently, which should show up as stock market gains eventually.

F. E. Huginn has left a new comment on your post "A List of Rabbit Holes":

"If there was no government, no one would take care of the poor and homeless, etc." While in reality, without the taxation people would find themselves having numerous resources they could donate. Moreover, this gives benefit for both donor and receiver, as one feels charitable and other feels cared for - as opposed to social system, when one feels robed, and other feels that no one cares for him at all.

That's a good one. "The State is needed to care for the poor."

The reality is that State restriction of the market makes it hard for poor people to find jobs.

Minimum wage laws discriminate against people whose labor is worth less then the minimum.

Some homeless people have signs saying "Will work for food!" Such an arrangement is illegal. Suppose I agreed to hire a homeless person to work 40 hours per week, in exchange for food, a place to sleep, and a couple of dollars. Such a transaction is taxed so heavily to make it illegal. You'd have to pay taxes on the value of the food and room. You'd be violating the minimum wage laws.

As an agorist, I'm going to be targeting high-value labor and not homeless people. Someone else may find a profitable agorist business that helps homeless people.

State restriction of the market makes it illegal to have a business that is partially for-profit and partially a charity.

fritz has left a new comment on your post "A List of Rabbit Holes":

Nice entry FSK..
Here is one..
If it wasn't for the state, who would take care of the poor, disabled,and challenged people of our society. we need the state to protect the rights of those who can't protect themselves.
answer..If people are responsible enough to support a moral state. Than people are moral enough to help others who really need help,regardless of having a state or not.

The government doesn't protect the poor. The government makes it hard for them to start businesses and improve themselves. The government is the cause of poverty, although people think that government fights poverty.

That's another fallacy. "The State protects us from evil people!" The reality is that the most evil people are the ones who take control of the government. Via sovereign immunity, evil people are protected from negative consequences of their actions.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A List of Rabbit Holes":

FSK, thanks for a great list! I haven't seen anyone compile a complete list of idiotic fallacies before.

I decided to make an updated version with all the suggestions, plus some new ones I added. It's in my draft queue.

That post generated a lot of comments, but very little traffic according to Google Analytics. If you like a post I write, cite it elsewhere! The way I evaluate "success of a post" is:
  1. volume/quality of comments
  2. # pageviews
  3. # links from elsewhere

I would add intellectual property to it. Or more generally, the necessity of some monopolies being granted by the government to some insiders for 'the good of the society'. I have otherwise very intelligent friends who honestly believe that downloading a CD is equivalent to breaking into someone's house and taking their couch.

Intellectual property is not a valid form of property. Pro-State brainwashing regarding copyright is very effective.

There are three types of invalid intellectual property. They are copyright, patents, and trademarks.

Another related topic is 'securitization' of unenforceable contracts (starting with dollar bills) by the government. Our society has been conditioned that the financial 'industry' and the bloodsuckers that sprout around it are as legitimate of an industry as factories and mines. That notion is backed by government guarantees of the debt of first the 'quasi-public' entities such as Freddies and Fannies, and by passthrough to mortgages and corporations that handle debt. In the endgame we've seen these guarantees made explicit in the form of bailouts.

The financial industry is one big scam. Complex financial instruments and financial products are a smokescreen that hides the underlying fraud.

The idea that some cancerous corporations are 'too big to fail' and that there will be blood in the streets unless we give them hundreds of billions of dollars is a clear form of extortion. I believe that Paulson has actually threatened congressmen with martial law unless the bailout bill was passed...

"Too big to fail" is an evil concept.

There are many other ways to threaten a Congressmen.
  1. Deny pork projects to their district.
  2. Give them unfavorable media coverage.
  3. Find frivolous criminal charges.
  4. There are plenty of ways to kill someone and make it look like an accident.
Thanks for the good work.

That post generated a lot of comments, but not much Google Analytics traffic.

I put an updated version in my draft queue.

Sovereign has left a new comment on your post "A List of Rabbit Holes":

Without a state, young eight year old children would all either work in facotries or be sold into prostitution!

That's a good one.

Mandatory schooling laws also raise the economic cost of children.

Suppose there were no mandatory schooling laws and you owned a small business. A 13 year old child would then be a productive worker in the business. Ages 13-25 are the most productive years of your life, and most of this time is wasted in school.

In the present, children don't usually perform productive work until the age of 22+. $200k+ must be squandered on a college education, in addition to other costs.

In a farming society, children are a valuable economic resource. By the time they're 13, they're performing useful labor. In the present, the State artificially raises the cost of children.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A List of Rabbit Holes":

Why does EVERYONE fall for the LLC one...
EVERYONE hasn't fallen for the LLC one. FSK didn't fall for it!

I assume you mean "Limited Liability Incorporation". Limited liability incorporation is a State distortion of the market.

Pro-State (L)libertarians always seem to defend large corporations. If a group of people want to go work together, that's not immoral. It's a problem when they get perks from the State.

Without State subsidies and State distortions of the market, large corporations would not be dominant. In a true free market, a small business will always run circles around a large corporation.

In a true free market, liability due to accident is insurable. Liability due to fraud or gross negligence should never be insurable. Limited liability incorporation gives business owners free insurance in the event of fraud or gross negligence. Limited liability incorporation encourages fraud and gross negligence, because you can always declare bankruptcy to cheat your creditors/victims/customers.

If you look at any large corporation that performs useful work, the business probably could be broken down into independent businesses of no more than 100 people. This does not occur due to State restriction of the market and artificial State overhead.

An LLC provides no protection to a small business owner sole proprietorship. They usually have all their net worth invested in their business. It's easy to "pierce the corporate veil" and directly sue the owner.

Corporations benefit the insiders who control them. Small individual investors in a corporation do not earn a positive inflation-adjusted return.

It was really disappointing to learn that the stock market doesn't provide a positive inflation-adjusted return. That's like discovering that Santa Claus doesn't exist.

If you start a small business and incorporate it, you are voluntarily entering yourself into the State regulation and taxation system. I've decided that my blog and other agorist businesses will be unincorporated. The only exception is if I get a contract with a mainstream media outlet to carry my content. Then, I'd have to incorporate or just be an employee. I'm not waiting for a mainstream media outlet to decide to carry my content. I'm planning on self-publishing. I'm already self-publishing my blog. I'm looking to expand to other things.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A List of Rabbit Holes":

I liked number 8 the best. So true

That's a good one. The Constitution is treated as a magic holy document. I'll make a more detailed post on the subject.

AdBrite really cut back on my eCPM rates recently. It's disturbing. I shouldn't read anything into a short-term trend, only a couple of days. Any time period less than a month is mostly irrelevant for measuring ad revenue.

Db0 ( has left a new comment on your post "A List of Rabbit Holes":

Communism would be much preferable to the US system. The USA is already a nearly perfect implementation of Communism!

Sorry but you have no idea what Communism is. Communism is a stateless, classless society.

This is why I prefer to debate ideas and not labels.

Is there private property in your idealized Communist society? There should be. Otherwise, there's a State that can force people to give up their labor.

Idealized Communism seems to very closely resemble a real free market.

State Capitalism and State Communism are practically the same.

I'm referring to Karl Marx's "10 planks of the Communist Manifesto". That's actually an intermediate stage. After the State seizes control of the means of production, it voluntarily shuts itself down.

We're currently in the "State voluntarily shuts itself down" phase of Karl Marx's agenda. The public political and economic leaders are not aware that their true purpose is to bring about complete and total collapse.

J. Nick Puglia has left a new comment on your post "Financial Industry Bailouts and the Compound Inter...":

Very well done. Us freedom lovers need a 'real' monetary system.

There is a very simple solution. Just use silver and gold as money. You don't need to get more complicated than that.

"Alternate monetary system" purveyors seem to always attach needless complexity. In this case, the simplest solution is also the best one.

There are two extra bits that would be useful.

A gold/silver/FRN barter network would be useful. This allows people to trade their slave points for real money, without the State-mandated overhead and reporting requirements. A complete boycott of the Federal Reserve won't be feasible until the State has already lost. In the meantime, prudent advice is to keep long-term savings in gold or silver, and keep some slave points for short-term needs. It's even better if you have a mixture of on-the-books income and off-the-books income. Your on-the-books income may be kept in State-licensed investments *OR* gold/silver, while your agorist income is kept in gold or silver.

Another useful bit is a distributed agorist gold/silver warehouse receipt banking system. This solves the "Where to store your metal?" problem. Suppose I have 100 ounces of gold. If I keep it in my house, I risk theft by common criminals. I also risk theft by criminals wearing shiny badges and uniforms.

A centralized warehouse receipt bank is useless. The bad guys will merely raid the warehouse. A decentralized warehouse receipt banking system would be hard for the bad guys to shut down. They'd have to raid a bunch of people simultaneously. When word of a crackdown spreads, everyone else will be a lot more careful.

As mentioned elsewhere, a member of an agorist warehouse receipt banking system does not need to be personally aware of the identity of every other member. If it's distributed and decentralized, it should be able to withstand a raid by the bad guys.

Femin has left a new comment on your post "Incomprehensible Banking Bailout Law":

What about financial crisis

This appears to be a spammer. I probably shouldn't have posted his comment.

I'm noticing an increase in spam comments lately. I should be more aggressive about filtering out spam.

I notice that some people have "automated comment spam filters". I noticed that those systems have false positives. I'm sticking with manual moderation.


Anonymous said...

You're right that the Free Market represents Communism, but that is only because the Free Market is impossible to have along with Capitalism who is designed to restrict markets.

Is there private property in your idealized Communist society? There should be. Otherwise, there's a State that can force people to give up their labor.

Of course not, and the abolition of a private property does not require a state. Simply that people refuse to acknowledge such claims. On the contrary, the enforcement of private property requires either a state of the law of the jungle.

You mention Karl Marx's points towards the progression to Communism but you display a very superficial understanding of what Marx was about. A cursory glance at the Communist Manifesto will not give you an idea as this is a propagandistic piece with as much detail at the declaration of independence. If you read the rest of it and/or the rest of his writings you will notice that he means something different than you expect when he says "state". Those 10 pieces were furthermore just one suggestion, not a dogma set in stone. Marx was not a prophet.

Greg said...

1. As far as home ownership goes, I prefer owning for many reasons. The prices are NOT high in many "Middle America" type places. And the wages are not that much lower in proportion. A couple working at McDonalds could easily buy a decent house in my area. Not that you'd want to work at McDonald's, just that it's possible. I am self-employed and work virtually. Therefore I can live wherever I want. I understand not everyone wants to live where things are cheap, but only wage slaves really have to worry about living "where the jobs are." I'd rather make $30,000 where houses are $100,000 than make six figures where houses are seven. While property taxes and zoning codes prevent one from truly owning their own property, I can do a lot more with my house than a renter. I plant what I want to plant. I can rip up my yard and build a playground. I can paint what I want, remodel,etc.

2. What is "alleged" about the Kochs funding all the libertarian think tanks? This is common knowledge.

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