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Monday, August 31, 2009

Are the GLD and SLV ETFs a Fraud?

I liked this article, on SeekingAlpha via Yahoo Finance. Someone did a careful audit of the records for the SLV ETF that tracks silver. He found numerous irregularities that are a symptom of fraud.

They found that there were several bars with the same serial number claimed multiple times as part of the fund's inventory. They found duplicate serial numbers for 11.77% (!) of SLV's holdings, and 0.4619% of ETFS (another silver ETF).

How did the authors get such records? I thought they weren't publicly available?

That article only analyzed SLV. I suspect that an audit of GLD would yield similar conclusions.

If GLD and SLV don't have as much physical silver as they claim, then they are committing fraud. In effect, the fund managers are secretly practicing fractional reserve banking. As long as all shareholders don't simultaneously demand redemption, the scam can continue.

This fraud explains why the price of gold and silver aren't rising, even though people are buying. If funds like GLD and SLV are secretly practicing fractional reserve banking, then they aren't buying enough physical metal to correspond with fund purchases. People are buying shares of a mutual fund thinking they're buying the metal, when they're really buying into what's essentally the early stages of a Ponzi scam.

It wasn't clear what the actual percentage discrepancy was. For a reputable financial firm, *ANY* nonzero discrepancy is too much.

The article gave the correct conclusion. "Don't trust SLV or GLD. If you want to invest in gold or silver, buy and take physical delivery!"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Free Markets Are Not Chaos

A lot of people say "Government is needed to preserve order! An unrestricted free market would be a disaster!" The fallacy is that most problems are due to pre-existing restriction of the market.

For example, the comedians on the Communism channel say "The free market banking system failed during the recent housing bubble!" It is ridiculous to say that the USA has a free market banking system. A central bank credit monopoly is the exact opposite of a free market. Booms and busts are caused by negative real interest rates and central bank manipulation of the interest rate market. The State-manipulated interest rate sends a false price signal that investment is attractive. This causes asset bubbles followed by a bust.

The Federal Reserve was created in 1913. The Federal Reserve was 100% responsible for the Great Depression and the recent housing bubble. Greedy speculators in the "free market" are blamed, but negative real interest rates made their speculation seem desirable. With negative real interest rates, there's an incentive to borrow as much as you can. To stop hyperinflation, the Federal Reserve insiders must eventually raise interest rates and cause a recession. A central bank credit monopoly gives insiders the power to scientifically create inflationary booms and deflationary recessions/depressions.

Even before the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, there was not a free market. A regulated banking industry forced backs to operate under corrupt fractional reserve principles. Limited liability incorporation gave an incentive for bank owners and management to behave dishonestly. They could always declare bankruptcy to cheat depositors. Instead of blaming regulated fractional reserve banking and limited liability incorporation, the free market was blamed. The net result was the creation of the Federal Reserve, which nearly completely destroyed any semblance of a free market. A central bank credit monopoly concentrates economic power in the hands of the people who get to print and spend brand new money.

As another example, California's energy "deregulation" was roundly decried as a disaster. However, it was merely different regulation and not deregulation. A fully deregulated energy market would allow anyone to lay their own wires and build a power plant. What actually happened is that lobbyists from corporations like Enron wrote the deregulation law. Then, insiders exploited defects in the law that they themselves wrote.

Contrast buying a pizza to renewing your driver's license. Ordering a pizza is pretty easy. If it took 2 hours to get a pizza, then you would go to another store next time. When you get your driver's license, you have no choice but to go to the State. State employees have no incentive for speed and efficiency.

Markets provide order, by allowing competition. States are chaos, because of the violence monopoly and related monopolies. In a market, you receive feedback based on your profits and if you're gaining or losing customers. The State has an absolute monopoly. State agents receive no market feedback based on whether they're doing a great job or a lousy job. A State bureaucrat is evaluated based on how well he conforms to the bureaucracy, and not on whether he does something actually useful.

A pro-State troll says "Government is needed to protect the environment! Without government, greedy businessmen would pollute!" Actually, the reverse occurs. Via sovereign immunity, executives at a corporation are immune from personal liability if they commit misconduct.

Suppose you discover that a nearby factory is polluting land that you own. Your only recourse is to sue them in a State court. This will cost millions of dollars and take years. Even then, there is no guarantee that you will win. You might find that you spent millions of dollars in legal fees, only to lose on a technicality. The laws and procedures for a pollution lawsuit were written by executives at large corporations. Executives at the corporation can use many delaying tactics to drag out the lawsuit.

Even if you do win a lawsuit, the damages are usually limited to the cost of a cleanup. Punitive damages are capped. "Tort reform" is the result of lobbying by executives at large corporations. If damages are limited to the cost of cleanup, then the incentive is to not take precaution against pollution.

Even if you do win a lawsuit, the executives are not personally liable. You are suing the corporation, and not the executives responsible for the pollution. Via sovereign immunity, the executives are immune from personal liability. Even worse, the corporation whose employees polluted may have later declared bankruptcy. Then, you have no recourse at all.

As the above example indicates, the State actually protects people who do bad things. A corrupt legal system means that suing someone takes a lot of money and a lot of time. The bad guys lobbied for such restrictions on purpose, as a means of protecting themselves from misconduct. In a free market justice system, trials would usually be cheap and over quickly. If you are a victim, you wouldn't have to worry about spending a fortune to pursue a claim and it taking years.

I was abused by the "mental health" industry. I considered the possibility of filing a lawsuit, but gave up. I couldn't find a lawyer willing to represent me on contingency. I didn't want to waste my own time and money filing a lawsuit, when it's very unlikely that I would win. The State protected the psychiatrists from the negative consequences of their misconduct. The fact that the psychiatrists were brainwashed to believe that they were helping me is not an acceptable excuse.

There are many industries where executives are protected from the consequences of misconduct.

  1. Telecommunications corporations have a State-backed monopoly/oligopoly. If you are unsatisfied with the local cable monopoly or telephone monopoly, your only recourse is to move. For cell phones, there is limited competition. Due to the State-backed monopoly via spectrum licenses, there isn't much competition.
  2. Pharmaceutical corporation executives are immune from misconduct for selling and marketing harmful drugs. Even when there's proof that a drug was harmful and there was a coverup, the executives are immune from personal liability. Damages are usually less than a year of profits from selling a drug later proven to be harmful.
  3. As I mentioned above, polluters are protected by the State.
  4. If a public school does a lousy job, it's irrelevant. Public schools are guaranteed funding via taxation/theft. Even if you send your children to a private school, you still are forced to pay for public schools via taxes. Due to unions, great teachers and lousy teachers get paid the same. Even though the State bureaucracy forces all teachers to be treated equally, the students usually know who are the bad teachers and who are the good ones.
  5. There are lots of stories of police misconduct. They are protected by sovereign immunity. Unless the misconduct is truly egregious, policemen usually get away with it.
  6. If you are the victim of a crime, and the police do a lousy job investigating or don't try, you are SOL. Monopolistic State police do not have a positive obligation to protect you. With free market police, they would have a positive obligation to protect their customers, either by preventing crime or collecting compensation from criminals afterwards. Even if police catch the criminal, they don't have an obligation to reimburse you for your loss. In a criminal trial, it's "State vs. criminal" and not "victim vs. criminal".
  7. Financial industry profits are backed 100% by State violence. Even when the banksters cause a deflationary depression, the rules of the monetary system mean they must get a State bailout.
  8. Lobbying the State for favors is immoral. Favors sought by lobbyists are generally considered legal, unless misconduct is particularly flagrant.
A pro-State troll says "A free market is total chaos!" One example of a working free market system is the Internet. The only State-controlled aspect is the way that IP addresses are allocated and the way that domain names are allocated. Other than that, it's a nearly completely free market. Unfortunately, the Internet is coming under increasing regulation in many countries. Too many businesses depend on the Internet now; it isn't going away. The bad guys are starting to recognize that the Internet is a threat to their scam. If you connect a computer to the Internet and follow the protocols, it works. If your computer misbehaves, there are a group of network administrators who circulate a list of miscreants and your computer will be banned. These administrators have no force of law, but their decisions are nearly universally respected.

One example of network administrators banning computers was the recent AT&T block of 4chan. That was due to a misbehaving server at that IP address, and not motivated by censorship. Even though there was a lot of hype surrounding the ban, the administrators at AT&T behaved correctly if there really was a misbehaving computer.

In a free market, people can do whatever they think is needed. The State prevents this process from occurring. In a free market, a rational person might say "Doctors are overpaid! I'm pretty intelligent so I'll go work as a doctor!" The AMA licensing cartel restricts the supply of doctors. If I decided to go to medical school and get a State doctor license, then that means that someone else doesn't get a license. If I go work as a State-licensed doctor, that accomplishes nothing to solve the shortage of doctors. The skill of "able to get into medical school" probably is only loosely correlated with "would make a good doctor". For example, many schools have a policy of admitting you if one of your parents attended that school. This means that, if one of your parents is a doctor, then it's easier for you to become a doctor.

By creating artificial barriers to industry X, the State reduces quality and increases prices in industry X. I can't experiment with working part-time as a taxi driver or experiment part-time with a food sales business. In order to drive a taxi in NYC, I must purchase a medallion license. In order to legally sell food, my kitchen must pass "food safety" regulations, which requires a huge capital investment.

"Consumer safety" regulations actually reduce consumer quality and choice. If there's a regulation that's too strict, then the costs are merely passed on to customers as higher prices. If the regulation is too lenient, then executives will say "I obeyed the safety regulation!" and point to that as evidence that they did nothing wrong. Of course, most regulations are written by executives/lobbyists/insiders. An executive at a large corporation likes regulations, because they hurt smaller competitors more than large corporations.

As another example, I can't say "Ford and GM are incredibly inefficient. I'll start my own car manufacturing business." Government regulations make a small car manufacturing business unprofitable.

Since I know "Government is a massive criminal conspiracy!", that technically makes me an anarchist. I prefer to call myself "agorist" or "someone who supports really free markets". The mainstream media usually labels anarchists as fools, so I prefer to use a different word to describe myself.

People are brainwashed to believe "If you don't like the government, your only alternatives are to destroy property, protest, or murder State agents." When the mainstream media covers someone who's an anarchist, they're usually doing such stupid activity. Destroying property is stupid for several reasons. First, it creates sympathy for the State. People say "The State is needed to crack down on those stupid anarchists!" Second, all property already belongs to the State, via property taxes. A residential apartment building belongs to the State as much as a police station. Anybody working in an on-the-books job is a State employee as much as policeman or soldier. Third, destroying property is a violation of the non-Aggression principle. Most State agents are unaware that they're participants in a massive crime. You're only morally justified defending yourself when police come to kidnap or assault you. By then, it's too late, due to the State's superior resources. You can't withstand a seige by State agents. You're surrounded while the policeman are collecting a paycheck and get to go home when their shift is over. Finally, the State's resources are just too superior. Even if you did successfully destroy property and avoid capture, the State can easily replace it. If one State enforcer dies, another is eager to take his place.

Destroying property and protesting might make a fool feel good. Ultimately, those tactics accomplish nothing. The number of people who know that government is a massive criminal conspiracy are completely outnumbered by the pro-State trolls. That makes stealth tactics more useful than a direct confrontation.

It's pointless to use violence to directly confront the State. The State specializes in violence! Even if you're 5x-10x as good as the mercenary State police, you're still totally outnumbered. If you're determined to be a threat, then the bad guys will just surround and siege you. It is profitable to crack down on the occasional freedom seeker, because the vast majority of slaves pay their taxes/tribute without resiting.

The correct solution is to boycott all the stupid laws and taxes. Agorists should build free market alternatives to the State. In a true free market, it's very easy to do the right thing. Just do what is necessary. You can look at market prices as a signal for what work is considered desirable.

In the present, State restriction of the market prevents people from communicating about what work needs to be done. When careers have State licensing requirements, that prevents people from looking at wages and deciding what job to pursue. When the State tampers with the interest rate market, that prevents people from planning for the future. Interest rates represent the price of work in the present relative to work in the future. Interest rates send a price signal about what investments are desirable.

In a real free market, people will figure out what needs to be done and do it. Government prevents this arbitrage process from occurring. Government protects the bad guys from negative consequences for misconduct. Most of the evils in the world are directly or indirectly attributable to government. Most of the positive inventions and goods are due to the free market. A pro-State troll says "Computers were invented while the State existed. Therefore, the State is wonderful!" That is false reasoning. The rate of invention probably would be greater without the State, but you can't prove it unless you perform an experiment. One of the reasons that computers, software, and the Internet progress so rapidly is that the electronics/software industry is nearly completely unregulated.

It's possible that, in an unregulated medical industry, the quality of medical care would increase by the same rate as Moore's Law! In the present, progress in medical science is negligible. Most new "cures" are really drugs that suppress the symptoms, rather than genuinely treating disease. The business model for the pharmaceutical industry causes drugs to be promoted/regulated ahead of other types of medicine.

The market in the USA is becoming less free rather than more free. Via "Problem! Reaction! Solution!", the answer is always more power to the State. This is the virtuous path towards complete economic collapse.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Absolutely Smallest Political Quiz

I see this site frequently cited. It's called the world's smallest political quiz. I realized that it's possible to write a smaller and more accurate quiz. My quiz has only one question.

Question: Should there be a government?
If you click on "Yes.", then your political classification is "Brainwashed Idiot".
If you click on "No.", then you qualify as having more political awareness than 99.9% of the world's population.

If Blogger supported it, I'd code it up as html. That has to wait until I get my own site.

Notice that "the world's smallest political quiz" has a bias. "Anarchist" or "agorist" is not one of the possible conclusions. The most freedom-oriented choice is "libertarian".

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Nuremberg Defense

In school, most people learn that the Nazi government during World War II was evil and that the mass murder of Jews was evil. This crime was possible because police blindly obeyed orders, without thinking if the orders were good or evil. Most people also learn about the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

The Nuremberg trials contain an important good fnord. The Nazi soldiers said "I was just following orders. If I didn't carry out my order to murder the Jews, then myself and my family would have gone to jail. I had no choice." That was not accepted as a valid defense. The Nazi government lost the war. By definition, that makes all of its high-ranking State bureaucrats criminals.

Even in a State brainwashing center, people learn that "I was following orders!" is not a valid defense, in the context of Nazi Germany. However, they fail to apply that lesson to their everyday lives.

Any State bureaucrat, especially policemen, says "I'm just following orders! I'm just doing my job!" This is their justification for participating in the evil of the State.

If you're arrested by the State for income tax evasion, all the State enforcers will say "I'm just following orders!"

  • Politicians won't seriously consider repealing the income tax law. The income tax allows the government to be very big. The income tax steals a lot of wealth that politicians can then dole out as pork. The income tax is the primary source of politicians' power.
  • The bureaucrat at the IRS is just doing his job.
  • The prosecutor who advocates for your arrest is just doing his job.
  • The judge will say "It's not my job to decide if the law is good or bad. It's my job to enforce the law as written."
  • The police who kidnaps or assaults you says "I'm just doing my job."
  • In a trial, the judge probably won't allow you to explain "jury nullification" to the jury. Even if you are allowed to explain "jury nullification", there's no guarantee that the jurors will act on it. They might be intimidated by their pro-State brainwashing or by the judge.
  • The mainstream media won't broadcast a story on "Taxation is theft!" The editor making the decision knows he would be fired if he published such a story. The editor values his job more than he values doing the right thing. Besides, the editor knows that, if he is fired, then there are plenty of other people eager to take his place. The editor isn't explicitly threatened with arrest for violating the orders of the State. The editor knows that he's sacrificing his career if he tells the truth, making it practically the same as being threatened with jail.
All of those people are just doing their job. The net overall result is a massive crime, and nobody feels individually responsible.

Each of the above people are responsible for the evil of the State. The police bear the most responsibility, because they're the ones who use violence to enforce the decisions of the other State agents.

It's also amusing to see people in online discussion forums invoke "Goodwin's Law". "Goodwin's Laws" says f someone makes a reference to Nazi Germany, then the person who makes the analogy automatically loses the debate. That is silly. Many of the abuses in our current society are just as bad as the Nazis or worse. The use of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs is literally mass murder, affecting millions of people per year. The income tax and the Federal Reserve and the State literally make all Americans into slaves. Those abuses are just as serious or more serious, and they're happening right now.

People are taught that "I was following orders!" is not a valid excuse for committing evil. Unfortunately, people are thoroughly pro-State brainwashed. They cannot see that many common government functions, especially tax collection, are really crimes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cash for Clunkers and the CPI

As I've said many times before, the CPI is biased. If you want a less biased inflation measure, you should look at money supply measures (M2 and the suppressed M3) or the price of silver/gold. M2 is increasing at a rate of 8%-9% per year. Reconstructed M3 is increasing at a rate of 15%-20% per year. The FRN-denominated price of gold is increasing at a rate of 20%-30% per year. All three of these inflation measures are much greater than the CPI.

Pro-State trolls make up all sorts of excuses for why M2/M3/gold/silver are invalid inflation measures. All of their arguments are incoherent gibberish.

This story made me think "ROFLMAO"!

In the latest CPI calculation, the "Cash for Clunkers" discount counts as a decrease in the price of a car! Suppose a car cost $15000 before, but now costs $10500 including the "Cash for Clunkers" credit. The "new car" component of CPI therefore decreases by 30%!

A lot of people are buying new cars due to the "Cash for Clunkers" program. Therefore, the weight of "new cars" in the CPI should increase! After the "Cash for Clunkers" program expires, the weight will be decreased again! Periodic reweighting causes the CPI to be less than true inflation.

It's amusing to read the jokes that these professional comedians come up with. Including the "Cash for Clunkers" credit as a discount against the CPI is really funny!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FedEx, UPS, and the Post Office

Obama said:

If the private insurance companies are providing a good bargain, and if the public option has to be self-sustaining -- meaning taxpayers aren't subsidizing it, but it has to run on charging premiums and providing good services and a good network of doctors, just like any other private insurer would do -- then I think private insurers should be able to compete. They do it all the time. I mean, if you think about -- if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It's the Post Office that's always having problems.
This quote shows an embarrassing level of ignorance by President Obama.

UPS and FedEx provide express delivery service and package delivery service. They do *NOT* provide first class mail service. It is explicitly illegal for a private business to create a first class mail service that competes with the Post Office. The reason that UPS and FedEx don't offer first class delivery of regular letters is not because they don't want to. They don't do it because it's illegal.

There's an amusing story on this point. Lysander Spooner tried to operate his own mail delivery business that competed with the Post Office. He was offering better prices and better service. The State forcibly shut down his business, because the Post Office has a State-backed monopoly. Competing with the Post Office is illegal.

As long as the Federal government exists, the Post Office *CANNOT* go bankrupt. The Post Office's debts and employee pensions are backed by the full taxation power of the Federal government. The Post Office has an explicit State-backed monopoly.

Fortunately, the Post Office is sufficiently inefficient that UPS and FedEx can compete with it in their niche. At this point, UPS and FedEx are able to hire lobbyists to defend their market position. They can prevent the Post Office from using its first class mail monopoly to undermine their business.

A "State option" healthcare plan would have the same problem. It would be guaranteed funding via taxation/theft. Private plans might be able to offer better prices or better service. They would be taxed to subsidize the State plan, forcing them to raise prices.

Government "competition" with private businesses is not true competition. The "State option" would be guaranteed funding via taxation/theft. Either the "State option" would be so lousy that nobody would use it, or it would be so attractive that almost everyone would choose it.

For example, if there were a "State option" healthcare plan, my employer might decide to stop offering their own plan. Instead, they'll enroll everyone in the State plan. Only employers that cater to wealthy workers would have their own private plan.

It is silly to say "government competes with private businesses". There is no true competition in the areas that matter, providing security and defense.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Answers to Common Pro-State Troll Criticisms of "Taxation is Theft"

Debating pro-State trolls is usually a waste of time. Now that I have greater awareness, the pro-State arguments seem obviously stupid. I'm still aware of the gibberish spewed by pro-State trolls reciting their brainwashing.

It is useful to identify all the stupid arguments and respond to them in one place.

Taxes are payment for services rendered!

Buying government is not the same as buying a pizza. When I buy a pizza, I have a choice of multiple stores. When I "buy" government, I have no choice but to pay. I don't get the opportunity to pick and choose which government programs are good, and which I think are stupid.

Without taxes, who would build the roads/schools/etc.? Without taxes, who would pay for the police?

This assumes that people are stupid. In the present, government has a monopoly of road-building. Only State employees build/repair roads, because of the State monopoly. People are already forced to pay for public schools via taxes. Unless you're relatively wealthy, you can't afford private school in addition to the tax burden of paying for public schools.

Suppose that 1% of the population is needed to work as policeman (a high number). In that case, I need to spend 1% of my income paying for police. The State charges me 50% of my income in direct tribute, plus a greater amount for indirect hidden taxes. The State is charging a pretty extortionate rate for police protection and other "services".

Everything the State does would be cheaper in a really free market. It's stupid to think that people won't bother paying for roads, schools, or police without the government forcing them to pay at gunpoint. In a real free market, you would have better roads/schools/police/etc., and the price would be cheaper.

Taxes are valid because a majority consented to them!

This is stupid.

There are all sorts of tricks that can be used to rig an election.

In an election, "There should be no government at all!" is never one of the options. Suppose "There should be no government at all!" were on the ballot, and 10% or 1% or 0.1% chose it. Then, how could tax collectors claim the right to steal from those who don't consent to the government?

Once you agree that the majority have the right to steal from the minority, then all sorts of evils are justified. As long as only a minority of people are hurt by each new tax, then the majority won't object.

For example, suppose the government imposes a $1000 per post tax on bloggers. As long as fewer than half the people have a blog, then this tax would be approved by a majority. Of course, such a law is obviously stupid. Most taxes are really that stupid, but there's sleight of hand that makes them seem beneficial.

For example, an idiot thinks "Income taxes hurt wealthy people more than poor people. Therefore, there's nothing wrong with the income tax." Consider a lawyer who earns $500k/year or a banker who earns $5M+/year. The only reason they earn such high salaries is due to State violence. It's wrong to say "The lawyer earned $500k and paid $250k in taxes. The banker earned $5M and paid $2.5M in taxes." It's more accurate to say "Via State violence, the lawyer stole $250k and the banker stole $2.5M." The taxes paid by lawyers and bankers are merely a partial return of stolen property. Income taxes hurt the average productive worker. The property stolen from him via taxes is used to subsidize the lawyer and banker.

Even if you don't personally deal with lawyers, the cost imposed by the legal system affects everything you do. You can't boycott the profits of the banker as long as you use slave points as money. The reason the banker makes money is that he steals your savings via inflation.

The government provides the illusion that it is helping people. An income tax refund may seem like a gift from the government, but it's merely a partial return of stolen property. A welfare check may seem like a good deal, but welfare comes with strings attached. In a true free market, people would be able to easily find work, making welfare unnecessary.

If taxes were theft, then some economist or mainstream media outlet would have said something!

Most university professors receive their salary directly or indirectly from the State. That makes it very hard for an economics professor to criticize the State. Further, economics professors are hired based on "peer review". If every State-licensed economist believes "Taxation is not theft!", then anyone who says "Taxation is theft!" is essentially telling his colleagues that they're all frauds. In this manner, the peer review process slows the rate of scientific progress. Being a university professor is more a ****sucking contest than being able to do something useful.

The mainstream media has the same problem. A handful of people control all mainstream media corporations. They are eager to protect the State, because it is the source of their wealth and power. Once all the leaders and middle managers of the media cartel are brainwashed pro-State trolls, then independent thinkers are easily excluded.

The income tax and Federal Reserve are valid, because the Supreme Court allows them.

A Supreme Court judge is a pro-State troll. A Supreme Court judge is going to make decisions that increase the power of the State. At this point, the Supreme Court can't admit that the government has been operating illegitimately for 100+ years.

The Supreme Court is an evil fnord. The Supreme Court provides the illusion that someone is protecting individual freedom, while accomplishing nothing.

There's a valid social contract that makes you obligated to pay taxes!

If it's a contract, then where do I sign up to withdraw my consent? The "social contract" argument is silly. For a genuine contract, people have the option to consent or not consent. If you asked me if I consented to the State when I was 18 years old, I would have said yes. However, that doesn't mean I should be forbidden from withdrawing my consent later.

This reasoning says "I'm the personal property of the insiders who control the US government, just by virtue of the fact that I was born in the USA."

Taxes are voluntary, because you can leave for another country.

All countries offer terms as bad as the USA or worse. The insiders who control various countries made corrupt treaties, agreeing to treat their cattle poorly.

Different countries do *NOT* compete for workers. That's one of the "benefits" of laws restricting immigration.

Consider this example. There are only two employers, X and Y. You have a choice of working for X, who beats you 5 times a week, or working for Y, who beats you 4 times a week. It's wrong to say "Y is a great employer! He only beats you 4 times a week! Be grateful you aren't stuck with X!" It's wrong to say "You have a choice! You can choose X or Y!"

Besides, this is my home and I'm not moving! Just because there's a terrorist organization threatening me, doesn't mean I should be forced to move.

Until the mid-nineteenth century, this argument was valid. People unsatisfied with the Federal government could move west, kill some Native Americans, and start a farm or new city. Until the late 19th century, the existence of the frontier place a limit on the expansion of State power. That option is no longer available. There's no unoccupied space I can move to and be free of taxation.

Taxes are voluntary. You don't have to pay.

Really? If you own a house, try refusing to pay property taxes. Eventually, a group of armed thugs (police) will come to kidnap you or take away your house. If you attempt to resist, and are good at it, then the police will murder you.

Similarly, try refusing to pay income taxes.

All taxes are backed by State violence.

Property is theft! Therefore, taxation is not theft!

This is silly. I disagree with "property is theft". People should not own more land than they can profitably manage. In a true free market, it's in your best interest to sell if you accumulated too much land. In the present, most land ownership claims are invalid, because the purchase was funded via State subsidies. That is not the same as saying private property is inherently evil.

Private property is legitimate. Otherwise, what incentive is there for anyone to work? What incentive is there to build a house, if someone else can claim it belongs to them?

You can't enforce property rights without violence. Therefore, taxation is not theft.

You're confusing tax collection and the non-Aggression Principle.

Tax collection is aggressive violence. The tax collector says "Pay me tribute or I will physically assault you!"

You can defend your property with only retaliatory violence. If you steal from me, I will try to defend myself or recover my stolen property. That isn't the same as me claiming that I have a right to steal from you.

There's a difference between stealing and protecting yourself. Due to Christianity brainwashing and the "Turn the other cheek!" evil fnord, people are confused with "Don't initiate violence against others!" and "You should defend yourself from theft!" Christianity teaches slaves that they should not resist when others steal from them.

Also, certain types of non-property can only be enforced via violence. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are not a valid form of property. Such fake property can only be enforced via State violence.

If you don't pay taxes, you're free-riding off those who do pay taxes. If you don't pay taxes, you're stealing roads/schools/police/etc.

The free-rider argument is false. The reality is that taxes make me a forced rider. I am forced to pay for State roads/schools/police/etc., even if the State does a lousy job.

There is no incentive for people with a State monopoly to do a great job. In fact, if you have a State monopoly, then the incentive is to fail. Then, you can say "The State is failing! Therefore, the State needs more resource!" For example, "The public school system is a mess! Therefore, people should spend more money on public schools!" or "The banking system is in trouble! Give the bankers more money!" or "The police are having trouble preventing crime! Spend more money on State police!" or "This State-built bridge is falling apart! Let's spend a lot of money repairing it!"

I see these false arguments repeated over and over again. They seem obviously silly to me now.

Let me know if I missed anything important.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reader Mail #106

I liked this post on No Treason. That video is worth watching. It's an excellent illustration of productive/parasitic behavior.

The guy saying "Goldman Sachs' management are criminals!" has the productive personality type. The guy defending Goldman Sachs has the parasitic personality type. Notice the way the parasite speaks!

The parasite is a university professor. A university professor receives his salary directly or indirectly from the State, making him a pro-State troll. The parasite is arguing "Goldman Sachs made profit because they're brilliant businessmen." instead of "Executives at Goldman Sachs are economic terrorists."

Also notice how such shows always have to be "balanced". If you have one guy telling the truth, you also must also have another person spreading lies. This is better than usual, when both viewpoints are lies and presented as False Opposites.

I liked the bit "Paulson and Geithner are a greater threat to Americans than Osama bin Laden." If you compare "Property destroyed/stolen by financial industry insiders." to "Property destroyed by Osama bin Laden.", then the financial industry really is a bigger threat than al Qaeda.

I also liked DixieFlatline saying "Nobody has the balls to go on the mainstream media in the USA and criticize the State like this." I'm seriously considering "Promote agorism via standup comedy." Even if I tried that, it'd be very hard to get invited as a guest on a mainstream media program.

This article was an interesting piece of pro-State trolling. The author said "Rothbard is a fruitcake who believes 'Taxation is theft!' Rothbard is an unqualified hack." The author is a State-licensed philosopher.

This page had an interesting quote.

As J.L Menchin said, (paraphrase) "A democracy is an auction on stolen property".

This article was interesting. Disillusioned with the effectiveness of State police, a group of people are experimenting with a private police force. Naturally, State bureaucrats are doing everything they can to quash the business.

A private police force can't accomplish anything as long as you still pay tribute to the State. When the State steals more than 50% of everything you produce via taxes, it's hard to produce a private police force that's competitive with State police.

When the agorist counter-economy becomes more sophisticated, it might be practical to have a private police force strong enough to repel an ambush by State police. Once that becomes practical, the bad guys have lost.

Bas has left a new comment on your post "Reading Corporate History Via Subversion":

I didn't realize until I read the post you were talking about software subversion history, not psychological subversion.
Yes, I meant "subversion the source control system" and not "subversion psychological tactics".

It's amusing how much useful information is buried in a source control system. "Most of the software was written by people who no longer work there!" is a red flag. The job isn't super-awesome, but it's good enough for now.

I liked this thread on Everybody from Bureaucrash seems to have left for fr33agents. There was an interesting point.

Someone said that it's a waste of time trying to convince a die-hard statist. You're just wasting your energy. If someone already has some libertarian or anarchist tendencies, then it's more likely that you'll be able to convince them toward the philosophy of really free markets.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "I Got a New Wage Slave Job!":

In the UK case law states that the employer only owns the copyright for work DIRECTLY ORDERED. Other case law states if the work is done at home, during the evenings or weekends it suggests the employee owns it. I found this information on the Internet, but my leafing through textbooks on law seems to confirm this.

I guess though you are working in the States where the law is different.
I live in the USA. Also in the USA, the law varies by individual state. In New York, the law very much favors the employer.

I always found it strange that there should be restrictions on what you do in the privacy of your own home on your own computer equipment. That someone can try to reach into your domain and steal the software you create.

The laws are written by the employers.

It's only a dispute if I create something *REALLY* valuable. If I create a personal website and only get 200 regular readers, my employer won't care. If I get 1M users, then there's an incentive for them to sue me and claim it's their property.

Essentially, my employer gets a free put option to sue me if I create something valuable while working there.

The reasoning is that, for an intellectual property worker, I could be thinking about my side project while at work. Then, my employer may claim it as their property.

Even so, there are loopholes. I could publish my personal project under a fake name like "FSK". I could wait until I switch jobs, wait a few months, and then publish it, claiming I developed it while unemployed. I could open source it, making it very hard for my employer to closed-source it again.

Anyway, my wage slave job is sucking up a lot of my time. I don't have time for personal projects. I barely have enough time to keep up with blogging.

Kiba has left a new comment on your post "Al Qaeda Fnord":

In an anarchistic sense, Al Queda terrorist cells threaten and undermine anarchy. They are in short, agents of chaos. They cause anomy by giving states their reasons for existence and thus create the hobbesian nightmare of man against every man.

War after all, is the health of the state no matter how ernastly Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War said about how evil and bad war is.

But then again, lot of anti-war commentary in fact comes from the military.

I don't get that bit. The bad guys *LIKE* Al Qaeda, because it gives them an excuse to claim more power and more resources.

There's a lot of evidence that these terrorists were formerly on the US government payroll.

My favorite joke in the "healthcare reform" debate is "To keep your medical expenses down, don't get sick!" The funny part is that's presented as serious advice. People aren't getting sick on purpose. The AMA licensing cartel makes health care artificially expensive.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "What Exactly is Obama's Healthcare Reform Proposal...":

re: your RSS feed.

In Canada, you cannot sell private medical insurance for 'services' covered by the state. You CAN buy supplemental insurance to get yourself a nicer room and to cover expenses not covered by the state. This includes many ambulance rides, the 'co-pay' costs of most drugs, eye doctor visits, glasses and any non life-threatening dental work.

That's interesting. That's a loophole that allows wealthy people to get better treatment.

Any doctor CAN legally provide services covered by the state plan, but then is prohibited from receiving ANY money from the state for any medical services at all. Needless to say, it's just easier to move your practice to the USA than to deal with that. eg., if you accept $10 to put a bandaid on a scrape, you are immediately prohibited from receiving any state money and have to explain to any patient that they will have to pay for your services the state provides 'free' at other doctors. Any doctor trying this also is 'examined' ruthlessly by bureaucrats.

That's interesting. So wealthy people like Michael Jackson can still get their own personal private doctor. Everyone else is stuck with the State plan.

A doctor is required to work solely for the State, or not participate in the State plan at all. That sounds like a system ripe for abuse. Notice that system squeezes the middle class, who aren't wealthy enough to afford their personal doctors, but aren't able to purchase better care than that provided by the State plan.

The inherent wait times in the socialist system have been ruled unconstitutional in Quebec. So, private clinics are starting to appear. It's the only practical way to actually get yourself a family doctor. At the way things are going, in 5 years, Americans will be coming to private clinics up north as the system becomes privatized, as the state takes over the US system.

That's a good sign. Real progress would be agorist doctors, working without a State license. Unfortunately, that's too risky until there's a more advanced agorist counter-economy.

Of course no politician will acknowledge the system is being privatized. But, as soon as the US one is socialized, the pro-state, anti-American trolls will extol the virtues of Canada's private system.

FSK, if you're a programmer, why don't you move to Central America? My rent is $150/month w/hi-speed internet. A big bottle of beer cost $1.50 in a nice restaurant and I challenge anyone to eat $10 worth of restaurant food. It is impossible to eat $5 worth of grocery store food. Not because of quality, but because it's so cheap, and not full of steroids. $25 is a weeks worth of groceries easy. No house has air conditioning or heaters because they're unnecessary. Move every 180 days to a different country and be a 'permanent tourist' in the eyes of governments. Of course since you're American you have 10 years of IRS payments to make after renouncing citizenship, but by not financing state murder of aliens won't you sleep better?

For personal reasons, moving away from NYC is not an option for me right now. There's no evidence that another location would be more or less safe.

As I mentioned before, I'm stuck living with my parents for now, giving me practically zero freedom. I have to at least get my own apartment first, before I could seriously consider moving.

Yes, I pay more in rent living in NYC. However, I make more from my wage slave job. It's a tradeoff.

I may make plans for escape as the final collapse draws near.

On Big Brother 11 (USA version), the houseguest Chima was kicked off the show (or quit, depending on who you ask). "Big Brother 11 Chima quit" was a top search according to "Google search trends".

I'm offended that CBS picked stupid smart people on the "brains" team. Both Ronnie and Chima played like idiots. They had the "parasitic" personality type instead of the "abused productive" personality type.

"Smart people are stupid!" is a common evil fnord. If you're a productive worker and let parasites steal from you, then you really are stupid! In the USA, parasites are held as the role model, and not productive workers.

Someone shared "Who's the Richest Man in the World?" on StumbleUpon and it generated a lot of traffic. It was a brief spike. Usually, such spikes lead to an increase in my overall readership level.

I started posting on again. It's been reasonably successful at generating traffic for my blog.

On, there's a much greater discussion of anarcho-capitalism, agorism, or market anarchism. It's a big improvement compared to a year ago.

Has anyone else noticed that a lot more people are writing intelligently about market anarchism compared to a year or two ago? It isn't just on, but in many other places.

Joel Laramee has left a new comment on your post "Evil Gods and the State":

I am a Christian, and I am an anarchist (voluntaryist). When I say I am a Christian, I mean that I am a follower, or "disciple" of Jesus Christ. I do not mean much else-- i.e., nothing that you have said here about Christianity, really applies to me. If that means that you, or other people who wear the label "Christian", don't consider me a "real Christian", well, that's fine.

I believe that the correct understanding of what Jesus was about, what his essence was, all but disappeared not long after his death (certainly by 200 A.D. or so, at the very latest). And yes, you guess correctly, that I don't believe in God or Satan or Heaven or Hell or angels or demons, at least not in the "traditional" way.

I believe that Christians who know the truth about Jesus (and we are in the minority) have something to offer "atheist" anarchists. But I couldn't care less that you or anyone else denies the existence of God-- how could that possibly determine whether or not you are a good person?

I have taken a first stab at explaining my worldview (no "supernatural"), in this blog post of mine:
. For a long time I was afraid to be honest about this, but now that I am a voluntaryist, I am unashamed of my beliefs. What you see is what you get.

Great post, by the way! -Joel
I tried reading that post, and it seemed like incoherent gibberish. I can tell just from the content and style and overall logic if a post has interesting content or not. This is my "Conspiracy Smell" technique, which enables me to lead a lot of conspiracy-oriented websites and filter out the useful content from the nonsense and deliberate misinformation.

I'd judge people by their actions and not their beliefs. If I had an agorist business, I'd still accept you as a customer if I thought you were trustworthy.

Still, I'm very cautious about someone who says "Government is a massive criminal conspiracy!" without also considering "Christianity might be a bunch of lies!" The State and Christianity are closely related.

Another key component of Christianity is "People must be converted to Christianity!" This sounds a lot like invading a country to "spread democracy".

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

"Nurses don't have a strong union like doctors, so they're paid a lot less."

That would be true, except for the fact that it's illegal for doctors to unionize!

There is no doctor's union.
You're an idiot.

The AMA licensing cartel is effectively a union for doctors.

Membership in the AMA is not mandatory for doctors. All State-licensed doctors benefit from the licensing cartel, whether they're AMA members or not.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The SEC and Ken Lewis vs. You":

"The only way to boycott the financial industry is to use real money (gold and silver) and to stop paying income taxes."

Way ahead of you there, and I know about half a dozen other people who are as well. We use Fed notes wherever we have to, which is still a majority of our transactions, but we all trade in metals whenever we can, and we certainly don't file for or pay any income taxes. Even at this point the state is spread far too thin to catch even a sliver of that portion of the population that doesn't submit to its now-laughable attempts at regulation.

You should definitely forge ahead with that guy with the french name and start up a small gov't-resister insurance company.
Good for you, if you're ahead of me in practical agorism. For personal reasons, I won't be able to attempt practical agorism for a few more years. I need to recover my personal freedom first, and for that I need a wage slave job.

Do you mean Francois Tremblay? Actually, it's better if he sets up his business independently of me. This way, the only way the terrorists can end it is if they kidnap *BOTH* of us.

If I'm going to start an agorist business, it'd be with people living in the same city as me. Francois Tremblay does not live in NYC, so there's not much benefit to partnering with him.

That "tax resister insurance" discussion/proposal started from a post by Francois Tremblay on his own blog. He said "Tax resistance is easy! Everyone should be doing it!" My retort was "If you believe that to be true, then you should put your freedom where your mouth is and start a tax resister insurance business." I then wrote a more detailed post about how tax resister insurance would operate.

An agorist banking system is a prerequisite to operating a tax resister insurance business. The group selling tax resister insurance needs a safe place to store its capital.

"Tax resister insurance" is a good agorist business idea. It won't be a viable business until larger agorist trading groups form. Right now, people should focus on more basic tactics.

Just like the on-the-books economy bootstrapped itself over time, the agorist economy must bootstrap itself. Agorists should focus on low-risk high-reward activities first. "Tax resister insurance" is high-risk high-reward.

The biggest risk of running a tax resister insurance business is that terrorists would seize a copy of your customer list. Even if you keep no written records, the bad guys could spy on you for a year or two to figure out your partners.

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

Here's a good rule of thumb. If you've heard someone publicly named, then they're not the Supreme Leader of Humanity. The insiders *REALLY* make sure that they're never mentioned in public.

Based on what I've read the Rothschild family has more power and influence than the Rockefellers.

Anybody you see in public is almost definitely a slave-puppet.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Man With Assault Rifle Says "Taxation is Theft!" O...":

I don't live in the US, but rather in a country which has a reputation as being more "socialist" and does have more free services.

I have been healthy and fit all my life and for a vast number of years paid taxes.

On one occasion only, I got sick and unfortunately I saw a bad doctor who didn't seem to care or maybe he wasn't that specialized in the area I was sick in. Or maybe the government issued guidelines making the doctor more uncaring.

That sounds a lot like my mistreatment at the hands of the psychiatry/death industry. I would have been better off with no treatment, than with the harmful drugs I was forced to take.

To cut a long story short, I ended up being ousted from my job and ended up living off my savings and having to pay privately for medical care.

So all my taxes were for nothing. Maybe I just fell through the cracks.

But all the laws, safeguards, public free services and social security all came to nothing for me.
That's one problem I've heard in many places. These "socialist State welfare programs" seem like a good deal when you're paying taxes to support them. Then, when you actually need them, you can't get a payout.

Antijingoist has left a new comment on your post "Obama's Birth Certificate Fnord":

It was the seed of "Obama is an illegitimate president that led me to the realization that "the government is illegitimate"
Maybe that story is serving a deeper purpose, by raising that issue.

There are all sorts of subtle hints, if you know where to look, that government is one massive scam.

MVT has left a new comment on your post "July AdBrite Summary":

Go for it !
Your appreciated

He's referring to my idea of "promote agorism via standup comedy". It's on my list of things to do, but it may wait a year or two.

Right now, all my energy is going towards my new wage slave job.

David_Z has left a new comment on your post "Who Wants to be a Thousandaire?":

$1M isn't enough to retire? Maybe not, but As long as you don't go wild buying boats and cars with the $600k (net taxes) it's enough to pay off all your debts (housing, student loans, cars, etc.) and have some left over, for most people. If you don't change your consumption, you can save/invest the remainder, and quit your rat-race job.

I estimate that I could live quite comfortably working part time for minimum wage, if I didn't have all those other bills to pay. And that would make practical agorism more attainable.

"$1M is enough seed capital for a business." is not the same as "It's enough to retire." All State-sanctioned investments yield a negative rate of return, when adjusted for true inflation.

My personal plan is to start some on-the-books and agorist businesses. Right now, there's just my blog, but I'm looking to expand into other things. My wage slave job takes a lot of time and energy, leaving little leftover.

Wes has left a new comment on your post "Where Did $700 Billion Go?":

"Somebody has to pay up, or current home owners will lose their houses."

Sounds ok to me. I already have my house to pay for, I don't know why I'm expected to pay for yours, too. (I think Rick Santelli already famously covered this.)

Rick Santelli's famous speech was a shill for the State.

The evil fnord is "Greedy individual speculators deserve to lose their houses and their savings. Insiders get a bailout." Bailing out the banksters, but not individual homeowners, is theft. Bailing out both groups is also theft.

House prices are too high and need to come down and should come down. Propping them up is just a transfer of wealth.

What a strange country we live in when people don't want to let the "free" market work.

The USA is not a free market. The USA is much closer to a Communist dicatorship than a free market.

Anybody who postponed buying a house during the bubble should get the perk of buying cheap now.

It's silly to say "The free market banking system failed in the housing bubble!", when there's a central bank credit monopoly. Central banks and free markets are opposite ideas.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Obama The Joker":

If I had my own comedy show or YouTube channel, I'd do a sketch about an interview with The Joker. The Joker would be complaining about how Obama totally outdid him, and he's embarrassed that he hasn't been able to destroy as much property as Obama. "My mother always told me that, if you want to steal or destroy trillions of dollars and hurt millions of people, you should become a Congressman or President. I was a fool for ignoring her advice."
You keep talking about stand-up comedy as promotion for agorism. This stuff just isn't funny.
It depends on the delivery. It'd be "alternative comedy", rather than traditional standup.

It's worth a try. The only way to find out is to conduct an experiment! I'm not going to quit my wage slave job until I have steady income from other sources.

The nice thing about "promote agorism via standup comedy" is that I can go to "open mike" nights once in awhile for entertainment.

Also, not everything I try will be super-awesome. If I make 50 YouTube videos and two of them are really popular, that's still pretty good. In order to have the occasional success, you need a lot of attempts.

That post received a decent number of citations elsewhere.

Kiba has left a new comment on your post "Obama The Joker":

The Joker is basically a Hayekian gone insane. However, he is wrong, because the basis of society is because most men are lawful rather than criminal.

If a society was mostly composed of criminals, it could not thrive or even survive in the face of an overwhelming powerful criminal enterprise people called the government and their cronies.

That's an interesting point. If *EVERYONE* was a skilled criminal, there's no way they'd let the government extortion racket steal from them.

Government exists because a lot of people assume that State enforcers have good intentions like they do.

The reality is that the most evil people are the ones who control the State. Under "color of law", their theft is legitimized.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Agorist Philosophy Overview":

This agorist economy might work, especially in third world countries where the government doesn't have too much high technology to monitor all individuals transactions.

Even in the USA, the bad guys don't have that much power. One key point is to use gold and silver as money, boycotting the State banking system. The State banking system has a rule where anyone who deposits or withdraws a lot of cash is flagged as a potential criminal.

another way to set it up is to create a secret society that believes in it , grow a large enough community then when the members are numerous enough (be sure to have members that are loyal and infiltrated in police, and government).

That's sort of how it would function. The problem is recruiting new people to the agorist counter-economy. There should be some low-risk services available to everyone, and high-risk services only available to trustworthy people.

Another possibility is that new members would be admitted only if a current member vouched for their trustworthiness.

Then cassively coordinate and begin implementing the agorist economy on a grand scale as a surprise attack to the established system. Better if the system takes a loong time to figure out what is going on.
Make sure it works and recruit new people to use agorist economy instead of being pawns of the red market. If the people feel that the agorist economy is more beneficiall to them and can survive with little risk compared to the benefits.
It might have a chance.

The only way to find out is to conduct an experiment! I'm looking to move towards practical agorism, rather than merely debating it.

daniel guimond has left a new comment on your post "Is Jon Stewart a Wimp?":

"There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them." -George Orwell

In many ways, a State education is really brainwashing.

JonCatalán has left a new comment on your post "Is Jon Stewart a Wimp?":

On the other hand, you could make the case that dropping the nuclear bomb was a better option than the other real alternative (real used in this case as "likely" and "realistic", when considering the government that was in power and government in general). The other alternative was a systematic carpet bombing of Japan, which would have resulted in even more deaths than the nuclear bomb had (and would have also led to a landing on the Japanese islands, which would have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives).

I'm sure that accepting Japan's conditional surrender (if that is true: I don't doubt it, but neither do I endorse it, since my area of expertise is the European Theater, not the Pacific Theater) would have been a better option than the above two, but I think that the nuclear bomb was not the worst of all possibilities. It was certainly not the worst of the most likely routes the government would have taken without having the nuclear bomb at its disposal (or had Japan not agreed to surrender after the bombs were dropped).

I guess you could make a case against the above argument by claiming that the nuclear bombs did not ultimately impact the Japanese enough to catalyze the surrender. The surrender came due to other reasons. I have read this, although I don't know too much about it (or have forgotten why). And so, ultimately, a possible rejection of the above defense of the use of nuclear bombs was that they were eventually ineffective.
You sound like someone who's spent too much time receiving a State-backed history education/brainwashing.

Master Doh-San has left a new comment on your post "Is Jon Stewart a Wimp?":

"Never apologize or explain. Your friends don't need it, and your enemies won't accept it anyway." -- Mark Twain

That's a good point. Apologies are ultimately irrelevant. The people who understand, already would anyway. You aren't going to convince idiots.

If only State brainwashing centers spent as much time teaching Lysander Spooner as they spend teaching Mark Twain! Mark Twain sometimes said "Congress is a bunch of crooks!", but he doesn't go all the way and say "Government is not legitimate! Government is one big scam!"

starsailor has left a new comment on your post "Predator/State vs. Prey/Agorist":

There's a book i think you would like: Political Ponerology by Polish psychologist Andrew Lobaczewski. Himself and other researchers stumbled upon humanity's natural predator while studying psychology in countries fallen victim to totalitarianism: Communist Poland and other eastern European countries behind the Iron Curtain.

They found that a statistically constant 6% of any given population are psychopaths - quite literally, a subspecies. The numbers involved are far higher than we've been led to believe, in part - as Lobaczewski points out - because psychopaths 'gravitate' towards power and positions of social influence. . . not least as educators and 'authorities' in the field of psychology!

The effect this subspecies has on the rest of the population varies in accordance with many factors. It's ultimately inevitable that all societies succumb to their pathological influence. Lobaczewski and co. examine the dynamic in terms of the development of disease: a body-politic becomes infected, undergoes stages of illness, then recovers as immunity is acquired.

Really? 6%? That seems pretty high. I estimated it a 1%. 50% of the population has the parasitic personality type, but only around 1% has the "truly dangerous psychopath" personality type.

I haven't done a full statistical analysis. It's based on a sample of the places I worked. In the financial industry, which is completely divorced from productive activity, I'd expect to see a greater percentage of psychopaths than in the general population.

A business can't have 100% psychopaths, because then nothing would get done! There needs to be a carefully calibrated mix of parasites and productive workers.

Fortunately, none of my current coworkers have the severely parasitic personality type, although some are mildly parasitic.

There's also the opposite of the parasite, which is someone who tries to always do the right thing. Regrettably, those people are suffering from a huge handicap of their pro-State brainwashing and the parasites around them. These abused proudctive workers are The Remnant.

Bird Toys has left a new comment on your post "The "Cash for Clunkers" Disaster":

A horrible program that will only give a slight boost to the economy and be short lived.
It's still a net loss. It's boosting sales at car companies. There's an unseen cost in the rest of the economy.

Never forget the "Seen vs. Unseen" fallacy!

The overall size of "Cash for Clunkers" is negligible compared to the other trillions of dollars in bailouts, but it still counts.

In my wage slave job, I still find the overall experience amusing. At a cost of a couple million dollars, they managed to build a website with 10x as many readers as my blog.

I have doubts about whether they will ultimately be profitable. At least I can keep their software working. It's a "good enough for now" job.

Even though my boss is silly sometimes, I comply with his demands and write software that runs.

fritz has left a new comment on your post "Obama's Approval Rating Falls Below 0%":

Interesting point FSK. Another thing to note is that the more government assistance they can get people to accept, the more these people wrongly feel that they need the government to support them.

Its like the government is buying peoples support with the indirect approach. I just always wonder what it is going to take to wake the people up. Do I just have to sit and wait for them to have their coffee. Or can I throw them in a cold shower and shake them a bit!!

There's nothing you can do. If someone's career depends on them being stupid, then they will be stupid.

The best you can do is to start boycotting the State via agorism.

Master Doh-San has left a new comment on your post "Obama's Approval Rating Falls Below 0%":

"The government that will rob Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul." -- G. B. Shaw

Even better is when the government robs Peter to pay Paul, robs Paul to pay Peter, and convinces both of them they're getting a good deal!

fritz has left a new comment on your post "Cash for Clunkers Economics":

I am wondering if they sell the cars you trade in or scrap them. I would imagine they are sold at the car auction and if so they would just end up on the streets again.

They're supposed to scrap the cars.

It'd be cool if a car dealer was supposed to be scrapping the cars but was secretly selling them instead.

I wouldn't be surprised if someone has figured out a way to exploit that loophole.

Another amusing bit is that some car dealers wound up making an interest-free loan to the government. They gave car buyers an immediate credit, but now are waiting to be reimbursed by the "Cash for Clunkers" program.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The "Cash for Clunkers" Disaster":


What a car-load of horse shite

Kiba has left a new comment on your post "The "Cash for Clunkers" Disaster":

It is also an asset destruction program.

They destroy perfectly good engines and make it like impossible to build rebuilt engines.

Or so I heard.

So if it is all true, in addition to what you said. This program is pretty damn evil.

I heard that it's hurting the used car market. Prices for used cars are rising, because the cheapest used cars are turned in for the credit.

The "Cash for Clunkers" program hurts people who want to buy a cheap used car.

Liberty Tiger has left a new comment on your post "Evidence of the AMA Licensing Conspiracy":

Medical schools have stringent admissions standards that relate mainly to achieving a "diverse student body" rather than actually selecting the candidates with the most potential to be great doctors. These MD recruits are then put through a maze of bureaucratic hoops to secure their slots in school, including receiving federal funding or loans. When they make it through school they have to do a residency, a sort of indentured servitude where they're subjected to long hours, an overload of patients, and inferior resources. I don't know why anyone would subject themselves to this process, only to owe hundreds of thousands of student loans with the liability of medical malpractice lawsuits looming over their heads. I think most doctors live paycheck to paycheck just like the rest of us.

It varies. If you're an honest doctor, it's not that lucrative when you consider the cost of the education.

If you're an honest doctor and realize you've been cheated, it's too late. You've already invested many years and a ton of money on your State license.

The most profitable doctors are the ones that milk Medicare/Medicaid. If you get $100 per Medicare patient, and you can see 20 of them in an hour, that's very profitable! There's an economic incentive for doctors to spend as little time as possible on each patient.

If you want to make money as a doctor, you have to "churn patients", seeing as many as you can in a short period of time and milk the Medicare/Medicaid/insurance payments.

During the entirety of their medical training the students are given very little information about nutrition, exercise, and alternative (not drug, non surgical) therapies. Despite their efficacy and low cost, chiropractic, midwifery, and homeopathy are just a few of the practices that are taboo among the MD (allopath) community. The lesson taught to the students is "protect and defend the cartel at all cost" regardless of what the research says.
They aren't explicitly taught to protect the cartel. It's an implied hidden assumption.

Also, alternate medicines are declared illegal. In many states, midwifes are now regulated and/or banned.

When the doctors graduate from school and complete their residency they're fully indoctrinated. The problem is, most people take their doctors advice with very little skepticism. Just like an auto mechanic, a doctor has a financial interest in the course of treatment they recommend. It's up to us as consumers to fully vet those recommendations, but with a third-party single payer system their is very little incentive for a consumer to do their due diligence.

It was hard to for me realize "My psychiatrist is full of ****!" It was even harder to convince my parents to let me stop taking the harmful drugs.

My mother has been brainwashed "FSK must take a pill in order to get better!" She compensates for this by giving me lots of vitamins. They aren't harmful or have negligible effect, so I go along with it. The biggest factor in my recovery is that I'm still gradually cracking my pro-State brainwashing. Every month or two, I start noticing things I didn't notice before.

As a voluntaryist, it's my responsibility to take care of my body. I eat balanced meals, stay away from pharmaceuticals, artificial food additives, and other chemical agents. I exercise regularly. It's important to me to demonstrate my commitment to libertarian principles by caring for my most important possession, my body.

I should get more exercise. Regrettably, I spend most of my time in front of a computer. I should investigate alternate careers where I'd be physically active. Maybe I should learn to manufacture and repair things. Standup comedy would be better than sit-down software engineer.

CorkyAgain has left a new comment on your post ""Audit the Federal Reserve!" - Not Gonna Happen":

I *tried* to unsubscribe from the Ron Paul mailing lists, but there are a few I can't seem to get rid of.

One is called the AMERICAN UNDERGROUND NETWORK, in all caps just like that. I keep getting email from them, inviting me to join a "National Collective Conscious Conference Call." To an individualist like me, that sounds like an invitation to join the pod people.

There is no unsubscribe header on their email, nor can I find any other instructions on unsubscribing. I eventually gave up and wrote a procmail rule to send their stuff to /dev/null. Still, it's annoying as hell that I can't get my name off their list. I wish I'd never spent any time in the Ron Paul forums or the Meetup groups.

If you use gmail, mark it as spam. Gmail's anti-spam filter is pretty good. There are very few false positives and very few false negatives.

Another way is to setup mail filters on your own server, which is what you did.

I still keep up the subscriptions for amusement.

On, people are moving towards anarchism. On the Ron Paul lists, most people still seem to think "If we vote for Ron Paul (or people like him), then our problems will be solved!" It's amusing, pathetic, and annoying.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The "Cash for Clunkers" Disaster":

Part of the agenda is to destroy all cars that aren't bugged and can't be remotely monitored/shut down.

I doubt "bug everyone's car" is a reasonable or achievable goal. Enough people have technical ability that such a plan would be discovered.

That reminds me of an amusing story. Great Britain was pursuing the leader of the IRA. However, they didn't know what car he used. Their solution was to bug *EVERY SINGLE CAR* imported into Ireland. Apparently, that worked.

Maybe it is possible to bug every single car? If you're going to do that, why stop there? Put a small bug in every piece of furniture, every article of clothing, and every electronic deivce?

At some point, it's impractical to filter through the large volume of information.

I got another huge boost of StumbleUpon traffic for "The Bittorrent Economy" and "Water Powered Cars and Zero Point Energy". It seems that, if someone shares/stumbles your blog, then you get approximately 70 readers.

I've been falling behind on answering reader comments. I'll try to catch up later!

If I didn't answer a comment, I'll try to get to it next time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How Much Should Roads Cost?

When I write "Taxation is theft! Who needs a government anyway?", a pro-State troll retorts "But who will build the roads? Who will pay for police? Who will pay for schools?" How much should these things actually cost?

According to this page, the NYPD has less than 40,000 officers. That's less than 0.5% of the population. Assuming that "0.5% of the population must work as policemen!" is the optimal number, then 0.5% of my income is a fair price for police protection.

The State falsely declares many activities as crimes. With no "victimless crimes", then the actual number of police needed would be less than 0.5%. With a "criminal pays!" legal system, the cost would be even lower.

The NYPD has an monopoly. Subject to free market competition, police would definitely be available more cheaply.

A pro-State troll argues "What about national defense?" 40,000 people should be sufficient to protect a city against an invasion. If necessary, more soldiers could be hired temporarily during an invasion. Suppose there were no Federal government and a hostile invading army of 10,000 landed in Manhattan. Would they really have any chance of success?

The only reason that 40,000 policeman are sufficient to collect taxes is that the vast majority have been brainwashed to believe that taxation is legitimate. A hostile invading army would not be recognized as legitimate masters.

Also, if I double my income, the State charges me twice as much for police protection. (Actually, more than double when you consider progressive income taxation rates.) Subject to free market competition, I probably wouldn't need to pay twice as much for police if I had twice as much property. It would be more, but not double.

What about roads? Suppose that the street in front of my house is repaved once every 5 years. Suppose it takes a crew of 50 people one day to repave the road, and an equal value of equipment (a high estimate). Assuming that road repair workers get paid the same salary as me, it costs approximately 50% of my annual salary to repave the road. The road must be repaved only once every 5 years, so the cost is 10% of my annual salary per year. Suppose there are 50 families living on the same block as me. That brings the cost down to 0.2% of my annual salary.

In the present, suppose the State road repair crew does a bad job. There's no penalty. In fact, if they do shoddy work, they can get hired again to repave the road soon. The incentive is for the road repair crew to do a bad job.

Subject to market competition, I can make sure that I hire a repair crew that does a good job. The true cost of roads is less than the 0.2% figure quoted above.

Road building is even cheaper than police protection. Local roads would be paid by residents in the area. Highways would be toll roads exactly the same as now, but their construction wouldn't be subsidized by the State. Most people would have reciprocal agreements so that they could travel. "I'll let you drive on roads near where I live if you let me drive on roads near where you live."

What about schools? Suppose I want to send my child to a school with a 20:1 student:teacher ratio. (Most State schools have a ratio of 30:1 or worse.) Then, it would cost 5% of my salary, assuming the teacher gets paid the same as me. However, only people who have children pay the cost. Of course, if I earn more than a typical teacher, then the cost is less than 5%.

Suppose I want to send my child to a better school with a 10:1 student:teacher ratio. Then, I could pay more and get such a school. The State offers me no such option.

If I have no children, I must still pay for State schools via taxes. If my children have graduated, I must still pay for State schools via taxes. If I send my child to a private school or homeschool, I must still pay for State schools via taxes. Even if I have several children, the total cost of schooling over my life is less than 5% of my salary per year.

Schooling is one of the functions that the State does particularly badly. A State school is really a brainwashing center. With free market competition, the schools would be of much higher quality.

This calculation is very enlightening. If you think about it carefully, police and roadbuilding and schools should cost *MUCH* less than the extortionate price that the State monopoly charges me. In a free market, the prices would be lower and the quality would be better. If you include that, it's obvious that government parasites are stealing from me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Are All Of Microsoft's Software Engineers Idiots?

In my current wage slave job, my boss made a very bizarre claim. "The people who wrote most of our software used to work at Microsoft. I used to work at Microsoft. Therefore, our software is awesome."

Superficially, that makes sense. Regrettably, that is not true when actually observing what they're doing.

The tactics of writing software for Microsoft are *NOT THE SAME* as the tactics that are appropriate in a small startup.

Working for Microsoft is probably a lot like working for NASA. At NASA, software is given a super-detailed specification. At Microsoft, there's also usually a pretty detailed specification. When writing Windows, the primary goal is to make it the same as the last version of Windows, with some enhancements and bugfixes. When working at a startup, you don't always have a clear direction.

NASA is a direct State-backed monopoly. Similarly, Microsoft is a State-backed monopoly. At NASA, the managers' primary goal is to have software that works, and to avoid looking stupid. There's no penalty for inefficiency, because the cost is passed on to taxpayers.

Similarly, Microsoft's primary goal is to have the next version of Windows mostly work. If there are bugs, then John Hodgeman will be ridiculing Microsoft for a couple of years. Even if Microsoft pays 100x more than necessary when developing Windows, the cost is passed on to customers as higher prices.

At a startup, when you only have a couple hundred users, if there's a bug you just fix it. It doesn't pay to add extra overhead to the software development process. With a web-based product, it's very easy to rapidly fix any problems.

A software engineer at Microsoft is much more like a State bureaucrat, rather than someone trying to get stuff done at a small startup.

There's a bunch of things my employer is doing that makes me say "WTF?" Regrettably, it's probably better to work with what they already have, than to try to fix it.

They wrote their own http server in C++. That would have made sense 10-15 years ago. They could have saved a lot of time just using Microsoft's server. I doubt their webserver is better than Microsoft's or Apache.

They wrote their own string classes and string manipulation libraries. That makes no sense at all. Why not use the classes that come with Visual Studio?

They wrote their own build tool. They aren't using Make. They aren't using Visual Studio's build tool. Their own tool is inferior to both of them. Both Make and Visual Studio are smart enough to only rebuild files that have changed since the last compile. Their build tool always recompiles everything.

I tried setting up some Visual Studio workspaces/solutions and projects. They're using bizarre compiler options. I couldn't get it to match. I'm going to have to look through the source code for their build tool, in order to figure out exactly which flags are being passed to the compiler.

I'm working on a Windows desktop application to help people who write content for the website. Was it written in C# or .NET? No. Was it written in MFC? No. They're using direct win32 API calls! This application was written last year! What kind of fool does that? They were working for Microsoft! They should have learned something better than using win32 API calls!

They even wrote their own dialog classes and control classes, built around the win32 API calls. Essentially, they wrote their own version of MFC.

Regrettably, the fact that everything is written in low-level C++ is bad for me. First, it's obviously a stupid design. Second, it doesn't solve my primary career problem, which is "All of FSK's experience is considered obsolete." At least I have a job for now.

They could have used ASP.NET or PHP and had a better website written in 1/5 the time or less.

Another bad habit from Microsoft is the code review. So far, all the code reviews I've ever participated in were demeaning and pointless.

Here's an example of a criticism my boss had of my code.

I wrote:

for (i=n; i>0; i--)

He demanded I change it to:

for (i = n; i > 0; i--)

For those of you who can't see the difference, he made me add spaces around the '=' and '>'. My reaction was "WTF?" Of course, I'm a wage slave and I complied with the crazy demand. There was a whole bunch of stuff. He made me rename my classes and variable names to conform with "Hungarian notation". Microsoft doesn't even use Hungarian notation anymore! Modern compilers with context-sensitive help make Hungarian notation obsolete. He demanded I change

if (bTest)
return false;


if (bTest)
return false;

He also demanded I change

if (bTest)
return false;
// ... more code


if (bTest)
return false;
// ... more code

He also had a bunch of recommended changes that affected my program's actual logic. I managed to convince him to not insist on them.

He was complaining that I wasn't checking for errors, in a code segment that couldn't possibly lead to an error if the algorithm were implemented correctly.

Performing a nitpicky code review allows him to superficially seem like he's managing me. He may say "I made FSK rename his variables the way I insist. Therefore, I'm a good manager." I doubt he checked or understood the actual logic of what I was doing.

This is a bad habit that he obviously picked up at Microsoft. It might make sense on a team of 100+ people. With 3 software engineers, it's obviously stupid. It would have been better for me to move on to the next feature, instead of renaming all my functions and variables.

In some programs, they're using their own collection of flatfiles instead of a database. I tried explaining the merits of a database, but they didn't get it. There are some places where they are using a database. I suggested adding some new tables for my new feature, and they didn't get it. They were afraid that adding new tables to the database would break something.

It's amusing how a software engineer at Microsoft has learned bad habits that are damaging when working at a small startup. "Write your own string library, http server, and database!" may make sense if you're writing Windows. It's a waste of time at a small startup.

If I told you what branch of Microsoft they worked at, you would say "ROFLMAO!!" If I told you, it'd give away who they are. They claim that they were among the better software engineers and program managers working in their area.

Anyway, their software is good enough for what they're doing. They have about 100x more code than they actually need for their simple website, but at least it runs. I should be able to maintain it and make the changes they want.

My job is "good enough for now". It doesn't solve one of my big problems, which is "All of FSK's experience is considered obselete!" They're only using low-level C++ and win32 API calls. They wrote their own custom C++ code for everything, but at least it runs.

My employer's biggest risk is "Will they generate enough revenue to justify the investment made?" and not "Will the code for their website run?"

It's amusing to notice the attitude "We used to work at Microsoft! Therefore, we write great software!", and compare that to what they're actually doing.

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