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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Criticisms of Stefan Molyneux

On "An Excellent Example of Parasitic Behavior", Stefan Molyneux and others asked me if I wanted to participate in his Sunday call-in show. I'm not interested in that right now. I might in a year or two, when I start my own vlogging business or "promote agorism via standup comedy" business.

I'm much more offended by pure Statists like Paul Krugman, than by Stefan Molyneux. I don't bother reading Paul Krugman at all, except when I feel like noticing some evil fnords. Stefan Molyneux is still annoying, because he has the philosophy of freedom mostly correct but he isn't all the way there.

This is the opposite of the type of criticism Stefan Molyneux usually receives. I'm not saying "Stefan Molyneux is a fruitcake who believes a government violence monopoly is a bad idea." I'm saying "Stefan Molyneux could promote freedom better."

I prefer the written format to the verbal format. I'd rather participate in a thread on his discussion forum, than the call-in show. I prefer the written format, because I can read faster than most people talk.

My criticisms of Stefan Molyneux are:

1. He's pretty longwinded. He'll make a 20 minute video when the idea could be summarized in only 1-2 minutes.

I don't have time to watch every single one of his videos. I only watch videos that are cited elsewhere and seem interesting.

A long detailed description might be useful to someone who's a complete beginner to the philosophy of freedom. I'm looking for more advanced material.

I read his online books. I prefer written resources, because I can read faster than someone in a video can speak.

2. He doesn't emphasize the effect of a corrupt taxation system and corrupt monetary system. Stefan Molyneux claims that he made more videos on this subject, which I probably didn't watch. (If he wanted to be more specific, he could provide a link.)

The income tax is evil because it steals from you when you work.

The inflation tax is evil because it steals the savings out of your wallet and out of your checking account. The Compound Interest Paradox is a defect in fiat debt-based money that is more evil than constant uniform inflation. Even if you don't understand the Compound Interest Paradox, "Inflation is theft!" is sufficient argument against the Federal Reserve.

Government regulations are evil because they increase the cost of doing business. As a percentage of sales, government regulations cost small business owners more than large corporations. Government regulations are a way of indirectly subsidizing large corporations at the expense of small business owners.

Property taxes are evil because that means you don't own land. If you don't pay rent/taxes/tribute, then armed thugs will kick you off your land. You don't own your house. You merely have a perpetual transferable lease.

Property taxes mean that subsistence farming is unprofitable. If you own a farm that produces just enough to feed yourself, that isn't good enough because you need to raise money to pay property taxes.

All taxation is theft. The income tax, the inflation tax, and the regulatory tax are the most evil taxes.

Someone said that property taxes are more evil, because property taxes force people to participate in the State slave economy even if they have a self-sufficient farm. Debating "Which tax is most evil?" is like debating "What's the proper technique for beating your wife?"

Statists falsely call the US system as a free market, when it's really a fake free market.

For example, healthcare is expensive because of government. Government licensing requirements for doctors restrict the supply and raise prices. The number of slots in State-licensed medical schools is not determined by a free market process, but by a law. There's an artificial State-created shortage of doctors.

The USA does not have a free market healthcare system, due to government licensing requirements for doctors. The problem is not "too much free market". The problem is "too little free market". Neither Obama nor his mainstream critics mention the damaging effect of government licensing requirements for doctors. A good video on this subject might be interesting.

3. "Refuse to see abusive parents and relatives!" might be bad advice.

Everyone is individually responsible for what they do. If someone is abusive, then you should see them less often or not at all. On the other hand, your parents and relatives are unaware of their own pro-State brainwashing.

Do you have a greater responsibility to parents and relatives than to complete strangers? My parents did help me when I was first involuntarily hospitalized, so I feel morally obligated to try and help them. If my parents didn't bail me out of the hospital, then I probably would have been institutionalized for the rest of my life.

After I was involuntarily hospitalized, I was forced to live with my parents. Even though it was uncomfortable, it was actually very enlightening. Eventually, I was able to see how my parents pro-State brainwashed me without being consciously aware of it themselves. They thought they were teaching me to be a good person, but they were really teaching me bad habits and bad emotional/logical brainwashing. I wouldn't have started noticing these things if I'd been able to refuse to see them altogether.

Since I didn't have the option to leave, I was forced to adopt a different approach. I tried to figure out how to retrain my parents to be less abusive. To a certain degree, it worked!

I'm not going to make my parents understand "Taxation is theft! Government is a massive criminal conspiracy!" However, I am able to make them understand "$3 trillion in bailouts! What a ripoff! That's your retirement savings being stolen by inflation!"

I'm not able to explain to my parents "Government licensing requirements for doctors are evil and should be eliminated!" I was able to make them understand "The supply of doctor licenses should be increased. The number of slots in medical schools should be increased. While Bill Clinton was President, a law was passed reducing the number of spots in medical schools."

I'm somewhat worried about my parents. When the US dollar collapses in hyperinflation, they will lose their retirement savings. It's disappointing to see them work their whole life, only to have their retirement savings stolen via inflation. The people who get stuck the most during times of complete economic collapse are the elderly who lose their retirement savings. If you're a productive worker, a time of economic collapse is actually an opportunity, because the usual restraints on your productivity are lifted.

4. Stefan Molyneux accepts donations via PayPal. His site is supported by donations from readers, and he claims that he earns enough income for this to be his full-time job.

PayPal transactions are automatically reported to the State/IRS. If you accept donations via PayPal, aren't you required to pay income tax on the donations? Is it immoral to donate money to Stefan Molyneux, if the transaction is taxable?

An agorist banking system is needed, to solve this type of problem.

5. Stefan Molyneux is writing about theoretical anarchy and not practical anarchy, even though Stefan Molyneux claims to be writing about practical anarchy.

This relates to my post on "An Example Tax Resister Insurance Calculation". Francois Tremblay said "Tax resistance is easy! Everyone should be doing it!" I told Francois Tremblay that he should put his freedom where his mouth is and start a tax resister insurance business. That post was an example of how such a business would work. Francois Tremblay seems to be trying to move towards actual practical agorism. Francois Tremblay seems to be trying to start an actual tax resister insurance business. Tax resister insurance probably won't be profitable until the counter-economy is more sophisticated.

I agree when Stefan Molyneux says "Security and defense and justice can be more efficiently provided by a free market. Dispute Resolution Organizations (DROs) are preferable to a government police and justice monopoly." However, that is only theoretical anarchy. That's not practical anarchy.

In order to be a real practical anarchist, Stefan Molyneux should say "I'm starting a DRO business! Who wants to be a customer?" That would be actual practical anarchy.

Right now, it's impractical to start a DRO that actually has armed policemen employed. The government police monopoly would be threatened by such an organization, and you'd find yourself the victim of a violent State raid. A DRO can enforce rules without armed police. Enforcement through ostracism can be effective. If someone breaks the DRO's rules, then they're banned from future participation (unless they pay restitution to the victims). When there are multiple competing DROs, then all of them sensibly would refuse membership to someone who doesn't follow the rules.

Initially, a DRO would be a way for agorists to buy and sell goods and services. If I want to perform off-the-books work for cash, I can't advertise on Craigslist or other State venues, because the police might be spying. It's an even bigger risk if I'm entering a business that's regulated by the State. Working as an agorist in a State-regulated industry is lucrative but risky. A DRO would ensure that both the buyer and seller would respect each other's privacy from State enforcers. The #1 rule for any agorist DRO would be "No matter what happens, nobody complains to the State police." It's a tricky balancing act. You want to have as many customers as possible. You also need to keep out undercover State spies, or people who would complain to the State if they're unsatisfied.

Going back to the example of health care, suppose I wanted to work as an unlicensed agorist doctor. I can't advertise my services in public, because the State would shut me down. If there was a good DRO where I could advertise, then I could get customers. My customers would have assurance that I'm a good doctor. I would have assurance that my customers won't complain to the State and arrange for my arrest/kidnapping. A DRO would be useful for anyone who wants to buy or sell outside of the State slave economic system.

Right now, if you're an individual looking to buy or sell to other individuals, there's no way to communicate. If you use eBay, there's an obligation for the eBay corporation to report the transaction to the IRS. If you use Craigslist, then there's the risk that undercover police may read your ad. If you buy/sell on Craigslist, there's no assurance of the trustworthiness of the buyer or seller.

As another example, suppose I want to buy or sell gold/silver. If I buy from a State-licensed gold/silver dealer, then the transaction is reported to the State/IRS. If I sell to a State-licensed gold/silver dealer, then the transaction is reported to the State/IRS and I must pay capital gains taxes. A good DRO would enable people to trade gold/silver/FRNs without the State knowing about the transaction. Even better, a DRO could have an agorist gold/silver warehouse receipt banking service, so people would have a safe place to store their savings.

As another example, I'm considering starting a drug-free mental illness treatment business. I don't have a State psychiatrist or therapist license. Therefore, it's illegal for me to operate such a business. I can't advertise that business on Craigslist. I'd need a trustworthy DRO to advertise and sell my services. My customers would need assurance that my service is good, and I would need assurance that my customers won't rat me out to the State.

If DROs are so wonderful, then you should start a DRO business now and get a head start on everyone else! If DROs are so wonderful, then Stefan Molyneux should put his freedom where his mouth is and start a DRO business! Initially, a DRO would be a way for people to buy/sell goods and services outside of the State economy. People who want to work in the free market have a big problem and a big risk. There's no place for agorist buyers and sellers to meet. There's the risk that your trading partner will rat you out to the State.

Since Stefan Molyneux already has a large audience, he's in a good position to start a DRO business.

You might say "FSK, you're a hypocrite for not starting a DRO business yourself." My personal circumstances make that impossible. I am currently stuck living with my parents. My parents would be the first to rat me out to the State if I attempted practical agorism. For now, I'm stuck with only blogging. I'm working towards recovering my interpersonal freedom and then moving towards practical agorism. In order to recover my physical freedom, I need a wage slave job for now. It will take a few years before I'll be ready to start working on practical agorism. In the meantime, I'm helping raise awareness of the evils of the State and the value of really free markets.

Also, I'm still making progress on cracking my pro-State brainwashing. It isn't enough to realize consciously "Taxation is theft! Government is a massive criminal conspiracy!" You also have to crack your emotional pro-State brainwashing. That is hard, because you have the symptoms of a panic/manic attack when you do it.

I have several agorist business ideas.

  1. Start a DRO, where people can buy and sell agorist goods and services. I might write some "AgoristBay" software, to enable agorists to communicate via the Internet. Initially, you can just keep records partially encrypted on paper, and then use software when you have more customers. Some people on the fr33agents website appear to be writing some AgoristBay software, but I haven't looked at the details.
  2. Start a gold/silver/FRN barter network, making it easier for people to invest in gold and silver, avoiding State taxes and State overhead for transaction costs.
  3. Start a distributed gold/silver warehouse receipt bank.
  4. Start a drug-free mental health treatment business.
  5. Attempt "Promote agorism via standup comedy." I might find people willing to hire me to perform, but pay me in cash in an off-the-books transaction. I could give performances in unlicensed nightclubs, or start an unlicensed nightclub.
  6. Make and sell agorist-themed T-shirts. I might buy a T-shirt burning press.
  7. (Advanced) Start an agorist gold/silver time-deposit banking system, enabling agorists to invest their surplus capital and borrow to start businesses.
  8. (Advanced) Start a tax resister insurance business. Sell insurance against the possibility that agorists would be raided by the State.
  9. (Advanced) Offer an arbitration service, if two agorists have a dispute.
One nice thing about agorism is that there's no artificial State overhead. I can experiment with only a few hours on each business idea and see which are most profitable. My most capital-intensive ideas are vlogging (need to buy a camera) and making T-Shirts (need to buy a burner/printer), which are relatively small investments. Writing AgoristBay requires a time investment, but not a capital investment. Besides, I won't need software to help until I already have a network of trustworthy trading partners. When I first start with practical agorism, I can keep my records partially encrypted on a piece of paper.

There seems to be a greater awareness of really free markets spreading on the Internet. If I wait a few years to get started, I might have an easier time finding customers and trading partners. Stefan Molyneux has a much greater audience than my blog, which would make it easier for him to start an actual agorist DRO business.

Mostly, Stefan Molyneux's videos are discussing things I already understand pretty well. He takes a long time to explain ideas that I already understand. I'm looking to move forward with actual practical agorism and really free markets. It's going to take me a couple of years before I start. It'd be nice to hear about other people's experiences with practical agorism.

Of course, attempting practical agorism is risky. If you try it, you might find yourself raided by the State. However, some people must operate a DRO and advertise to the general public, to attract customers. It's tricky. If you're 100% secretive, then you can't recruit new customers. If you're 100% public, then you risk a violent State raid. A good public speaker like Stefan Molyneux probably could do a good job defending themselves sui juris in a trial, if necessary.

If you're arguing "The law is immoral!", you need to represent yourself sui juris. A State-licensed lawyer can't argue "The law is immoral!", because a State-licensed lawyer has taken an oath to uphold the law. A State-licensed lawyer works for the State first, and for his client second. I probably could represent myself better than a State-licensed lawyer. Hopefully, I'll never be forced to find out! When/if State enforcers decide to harass me for agorism, I'll defend myself sui juris. If I seem like a tough victim, then State enforcers might seek softer targets elsewhere. If I'm a high-profile advocate for freedom, then State enforcers will make it a high priority to arrest/kidnap/silence me.

I don't mind if other people start DRO businesses before me. The more people practice agorism, the less resources are available to State parasites. I object more to someone working in an on-the-books wage slave job than I do to someone else working as an agorist.

One nice thing about an agorist business is that there's no artificial State-induced overhead. You can start for 5-10 hours per week until you get enough customers to do it full-time.

Given that the State is going to collapse in 15-20 years, not starting/joining a DRO is also risky! If you have a DRO in place before the collapse, then your odds of surviving are much more likely when TSHTF.

If Stefan Molyneux really wants to impress me as a super-awesome anarchist, then he should start his own DRO business. At some point, you need to move from talking/speculating to actually working towards freedom. I plan to start my own agorist businesses in a few years.

I'd already finished this draft, and noticed another awful video. This video ("True News 50") had huge errors. At the beginning of the video, Stefan Molyneux accepts the pro-State propaganda that the CPI is an unbiased measure of inflation.

My analysis "Real GDP is Decreasing, 1990-2008" is much better than Stefan Molyneux's analysis. If you use less biased inflation measures, like M2, reconstructed M3, or the price of gold, then real GDP is crashing, rather than increasing slowly as pro-State communists/economists state.

The CPI is less than true inflation. "Official" GDP reports are adjusted using biased inflation measures. Money supply inflation is misreported as economic growth.

That video ("True News 50") is an example of Stefan Molyneux getting facts outright wrong on basic economics. Of course, almost every State-licensed economist makes the exact same error. That video wasn't endorsing the State, but it's annoying to see basic logic errors like accepting the CPI as an unbiased inflation measure.

As another footnote, that YouTube video had approximately 3k pageviews. My blog gets 200-300 daily Visitors, according to Google Analytics. Stefan Molyneux appears to have an audience 10x-20x greater than my blog.


fritz said...

I still would have liked to listen to you and Stefan mull things over. Most likely you would have agreed on most things and just had a few counter views.

I have watched many of his videos and learned alot. Actually because of him I was introduced to Plato's Socrates. But again he is long winded and could get to the point much faster.


George Donnelly said...

Building your own agoristbay is a strategic mistake. We need to co-opt existing means of trade for agorism, hiding ourselves among the state-approved trade and thus rendering ourselves almost invisible.

They can shut down agoristbay, even on Tor, but they can't shut down amazon. Rooting us out from the state-approved vendors on amazon will be very hard, if done right.

s_baar said...

I don't know why you didn't want to go on his show. I prefer text too, but you really could have gotten quit a bit of exposure from that. If your goal is to gain readers, I don't think that was a wise decision, cost/benefit wise.

Phil said...

If you asked your parents "Is violence a good way to solve problems" would they say yes? If not, then they are responsible for their pro-state leanings and are not "brain-washed". Its important to recognize that, or else you are living your life based on a mythology called "My parents couldn't have ended up any other way, so its OK that they 'abused' me" (I'm using your word there).

However, if they were (and are) able to not put propaganda above their own child then that reveals much more of a problem, because then its their choice, not a pre-determined fate. Thus, they are responsible for their abuse.

Also, its important, if you want to be empirical, to ask "How did my parents *justify* their abuse?" Did they say "I can't help abusing you because of all the propaganda I've received and abuse I experienced as a child and it gives me efficacy to abuse my own child?" Maybe, but I highly doubt it.

More likely they justified their abuse in *moral* terms. "I'm abusing you because you are a *bad* child". This is another indicator that it was a choice to abuse, not an inevitable result of propaganda. If they were doing it purely as a result of being sheeple, they would have no reason to *morally* justify their actions, but rather they could just say it terms of cause and effect and wouldn't feel that was a problem.

I know I'm probably being totally annoying, but if there is one place in our lives where its incredible important to use philosophy, its in our own selves and relationships. The State is a great enemy to freedom, but it is, at its core, an *effect* of people not being free in their own lives. My intention of this comment is to provide a perspective that will hopefully be helpful for you because its what I'm most passionate about. I'm sure you can understand wanting to communicate ideas that you are passionate about :-).

Stefan Molyneux, MA said...

Hey, I'd like to read this article on my show, some great points! :)

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