LeBron James is going to be a free agent. LeBron James is a superstar who can sell out every game. People will pay just to see him play. LeBron James' fair salary is much more than the NBA maximum salary. Whatever team signs him will receive a windfall.
Some teams have hired one of LeBron James' favorite coaches, hoping to entice him. Because LeBron James will be underpaid, he gets such leverage with teams.
LeBron James says "I want to win an NBA championship." If that were his sole concern, he should sign a 1 year minimum contract with the Lakers or another good team. Given the value of endorsements, it might make sense to do that.
The NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) contains a maximum salary clause. This illustrates the problem with democracy. The CBA is determined by a majority vote of players. Only the top 5-20 players are limited by the maximum salary. In exchange, the NBA owners offered a higher minimum salary, which benefits a greater % of union members. When ratifying the CBA, benchwarmers get one vote just like LeBron James. Due to State regulation of unions, LeBron James can't opt out of the CBA and sign his own contract. Due to State restriction of the market, it's hard to form a competing league. Most of the successful competing leagues (ABA, AFL, National League) were formed when the USA had a freer market.
The maximum salary and salary cap hurt superstar players. The players' union accepts these clauses in exchange for things that benefit more players. This illustrates the problem with democracy. As another example, the NFL's "franchise/transition tag" hurts only star players.
Even though LeBron James is a superstar player, he only gets one vote when ratifying the NBA CBA. A benchwarmer gets the same vote as LeBron James. This is the problem with democracy. A highly skilled productive worker gets one vote, just like State parasites. The majority can vote to steal from the minority.
The NBA gives a territorial monopoly to each team. If I bought an NBA team, I would not be allowed to move it to New York and compete with the Knicks. (The Nets paid a concession to the Knicks when they were admitted from the ABA.) This guarantees high revenue for the Knicks, just because they're in a large market. It's the usual "criminal gangs parceling out their turf" problem. I'm not forced to watch basketball; I'm forced to support government no matter what. However, sports teams received State-subsidized stadiums/arenas. I would not get such a perk if I started an entertainment business.
By having a State-backed NYC basketball monopoly, the Knicks are guaranteed high revenues. The salary cap and maximum salary limit their expenses. This guarantees high profits for the Knicks, even if they have a lousy team.
A pro-State troll says "LeBron James earns $20M+ per year! He shouldn't complain." He would be earning even more with no State restriction of the market. The difference is economic rent for the NBA owners and State parasites. If LeBron James didn't have his salary stolen by the State, he might be able to afford to buy his own basketball team after retiring as a player.
LeBron James earns less than his fair market value. The NBA and the State restrict his employment opportunities. It makes sense for an entertainer to be paid a lot of money. If millions of people watch each game on TV, worth $1+ each, or thousands pay $50+ for tickets, then his salary makes economic sense.
The NBA CBA and maximum salary are a examples of State restriction of the market. Most people won't see LeBron James as victim, because he's still making a really huge salary. State restriction of the market makes it hard for people to accumulate capital and start their own business. Without State restriction of the market, LeBron James would probably earn enough to start his own team.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
LeBron James is going to be a free agent. LeBron James is a superstar who can sell out every game. People will pay just to see him play. LeBron James' fair salary is much more than the NBA maximum salary. Whatever team signs him will receive a windfall.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
This story was funny. It was an exchange with Scott Borkin, a custard store manager.
Scott Borkin: "Don't worry, it's on the house. ... Lower our taxes and we'll call it even."Why did Biden get so angry at Scott Borkin? Does Biden get heckled by him every day? In that context, the outburst seems silly.
Joe Biden: "Why don't you say something nice instead of being a smarta-- all the time?"
Politicians are getting increasing feedback "Taxes are too high!" or even "All taxation is theft!" That would explain Biden's angry outburst, when someone complained about high taxes.
State parasites view taxes as their divine right. Anyone who challenges State taxation/theft is a terrorist.
Before YouTube, the mainstream media might have buried such a story. Now, everyone has a video camera and Internet access. It's hard to cover up such an outburst by a politician.
Obama has the "abused productive" personality type. Biden has the parasitic personality type. It's always a paired opposite. A parasite is likely to express his true feelings towards the slave class, when he deviates from the script. Obama probably would have said something like "We're trying to make things better for small business owners."
This angry outburst by Biden is a promising sign. An ever-increasing number of slaves are complaining. Biden's outburst illustrates the true contempt State parasites have for the slaves. Someone who manages a custard-selling business is obviously inferior to a State bureaucrat.
Monday, June 28, 2010
The mainstream media recently touted a study, saying "There's more than $1T of valuable mineral deposits in Afghanistan."
However, the actual study is more than two years old. Why is it being heavily touted now?
Some people cynically say "The war in Afghanistan is now the USA's longest war. The mineral deposits are touted as justification for the war."
The rationale for the war in Afghanistan has changed from "We're there because they attacked us!" to "We're there to protect US mining corporation profits!" At this point, all the organizers of the World Trade Center terrorist attack were killed, captured, or got away.
Technically, the US government isn't at war with Afghanistan's government. Afghanistan's official government is a US puppet government. However, Afghanistan's government would fall without US support. Most people in Afghanistan don't recognize the legitimacy of this government.
This webpage had the real reason for touting the mineral deposits now. Afghanistan's recently-ratified Constitution has an interesting provision. Mineral rights belong to the central government, and not to local villagers! These $1T mineral deposits were stolen by Afghanistan State bureaucrats. They waited until now to disclose the mineral wealth, so people wouldn't say "WTF? We were robbed!"
"You don't own mineral rights to your own land." is an example of corrupt State law. In the eastern USA, surface rights and mineral rights are usually jointly owned. In western states, the mineral rights are sold separately by the State. The mineral right owner may build a mine or well on your property to extract his mineral rights, even if the owner of the surface rights objects! If I owned a farm in Texas and an oil corporation wanted to put a well on my land, I would be legally required to allow it!
The mineral rights will now be sold to US corporations. The mineral rights will be sold for a fraction of their fair value, making this a lucrative scam. That's the reason BP and oil corporation executives are so eager to drill offshore in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. The drilling rights are sold for a discount to the fair market value.
US corporations are about to buy lucrative mining contracts in Afghanistan. That would have to be publicly announced. If Afghanistan's puppet government falls, then these mining contracts become worthless.
US corporations now own oil wells in Iraq. US corporations will soon operate mines in Afghanistan. US military policy subsidizes corporate profits, more than protecting individual safety.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
For lunch, I occasionally buy a hamburger. They raised their price from $8+tax to $9+tax. That's a 10% increase!
It was amusing asking the cashier. "Did you raise your price?" "Yeah. We had no choice." (Inflation caused our expenses to increase.)
I've been considering making a semi-scientific "FSK price index." I noticed that a gallon of apple cider increased from $4 to $5 over the past year. I should explicitly keep track.
State comedians like to announce "There's no inflation." This justifies stimulus/theft packages. It also justifies the Federal Reserve's 0.25% Fed Funds Rate policy.
I'm offended by biased statistics like the CPI. Using better inflation measures like the price of gold and silver, I estimate true inflation to be 20%-30% or more.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I noticed a new evil fnord circulating. It's directed at Glenn Beck and Ron Paul, for advising people to invest in gold. The message is "They have a financial interest in gold. Therefore, their advice is invalid."
Gold dealers like Goldline advertise on Glenn Beck and Fox News. Since Glenn Beck is getting paid to promote gold, his advice is immoral.
My criticism of Goldline is "Their website is inferior to APMEX and Kitco and other online dealers." Goldline's website says "Call us for prices." APMEX and Kitco automatically update their web quotes whenever the spot price changes.
Ron Paul owns gold and shares of gold mining companies. Therefore, it's immoral for him to advise others to buy gold.
"Getting paid to promote something" is the way celebrity endorsements work. Is it immoral for Michael Jordan to promote Nike, if he sincerely believes their shoes are good? (I noticed that expensive shoes are actually a better buy than cheap shoes, because cheap shoes wear out quickly.)
When a corporate CEO talks on the Communism Channel, he's implicitly saying "You should buy my corporation's stock." The CEO gains financially when people buy his stock, because he can then cash out his option/equity grants at favorable prices. If it's immoral for Glenn Beck and Ron Paul to promote gold, then it should also be immoral for a CEO to promote his own stock.
These gold critics are missing an important point. Over the last 10 years, gold has trounced the stock market by a wide amount. That trend continues so far in 2010. I've never seen the Communism Channel highlight the disparity between gold and stocks over the last 10 years. A lot of State comedians are saying "Just wait. Any day now, the price of gold is going to crash!"
My own personal progress of investment awareness has been:
- money market account
- index funds
- individual stocks
- PM ETFs like GLD and SLV
- physical delivery of actual gold and silver (not yet attained)
It isn't immoral for Ron Paul and Glenn Beck to promote gold investing. Gold really is a good investment! People who tout worthless State paper are the true economic criminals.
I've noticed a lot of pro-State troll comments here, when I advocate for gold investing, or when I advocate for no State regulation of money (which would lead to a gold/silver standard). When I mention gold to my father, he starts blindly reciting Communism Channel propaganda.
Around the time of the default on the gold standard in 1933, there was a lot of State propaganda denouncing gold. Keynes was touted as a genius, because he made a fancy theory that told State insiders what they wanted to hear. If you want to be a successful State-licensed scientist, you should reach the "right" conclusions! "Inflation stimulates the economy!" is an evil fnord designed to justify the State theft of people's savings.
I can notice the trance-like mental state of someone blindly reciting their pro-State brainwashing. There is more State propaganda surrounding gold than almost every other economic idea.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Rand Paul was sharply criticized for a comment he made on the Federal Civil Rights law. He said that he would have voted against the 60's Federal civil rights law. That law made it illegal for a business owner to refuse to serve a customer. Rand Paul said that law usurped the property rights of the business owner. The free market should be able to take care of discrimination. Customers should boycott a business that mistreats people.
The reason "The free market can end discrimination!" didn't work in the USA, is because the USA does not have a free market. If a business has a State-backed monopoly, it's hard/impractical/illegal to boycott and start a competing business.
Before the Civil Rights Act, many states had laws requiring businesses to discriminate. For example, Plessy vs. Ferguson challenged a Louisiana law requiring railroad owners to segregate. The railroad also has an explicit State-backed monopoly.
The Civil Rights Act went to the other extreme, forcing a business to serve all customers. This law affected large corporations and small business owners.
The State police monopoly didn't enforce the laws protecting individuals and owners. Suppose someone entered a business and was assaulted; the police would not investigate. Suppose a white business owner decided to treat all his customers fairly but was the victim of violence; the police would not investigate. Suppose a black person tried to start a business and was the victim of violence; the police would not investigate.
Corruption by the State police monopoly encouraged abusive behavior. One "benefit" of the Civil Rights law was that it discouraged black people from forming their own police force that competed with the State police monopoly.
How would racial discrimination be handled in a really free market? If a business owner behaves abusively, then you should boycott their business. If group X is mistreated, then they'll start their own competing business. If a majority disapproves of discrimination, then business owners would rapidly find it unprofitable.
Someone else pointed out a silly contradiction. It's illegal for a member of group X to prevent a member of group Y from entering his business. It is legal for a member of group X to refuse to visit a business owned by a member of group Y.
The Civil Rights law is an example of "Problem! Reaction! Solution!" The State causes a problem. A new law is passed restricting freedom even more. The present situation leads to silly behavior. A business tries to have x% of its workers from each protected group, lest they be accused of discrimination. If a small business owner is accused of racism, then he can be sued; even if the court rules in your favor, you still lose the legal expenses. In NYC, it's illegal to discriminate racially when renting an aparment. That law encourages hard-to-prove accusations and frivolous lawsuits.
There are laws forbidding business owners from making whatever decisions they choose. These laws create more problems than they solve. Most mainstream media discussion of racism is actually an evil fnord promoting racist thinking. I didn't really notice that until after I had cracked my pro-State brainwashing. Rand Paul criticized the State propaganda that says "State thugs should prevent people from behaving rudely!"
The owner of a business should have the right to refuse to serve a customer for any reason. In a really free market, an owner would be throwing away profits by mistreating customers. Some State businesses have an explicit or implicit monopoly. Before the Civil Rights Act, many states had laws requiring business owners to discriminate.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
This story is interesting. The University of California is in a dispute with one of the leading scientific publishers, over rising journal prices. They are demanding lower fees, or that UC professors should stop publishing articles in their journals.
Academic publishing is *NOT* a free market. Most research grant money comes from the State. State tuition subsidies are an indirect subsidy of Universities.
Academic publishing is really messed up. The professors write the articles for free. They peer review and edit the articles for free. As part of this process, copyright is assigned to the scientific publisher. The publisher then charges the university an *OUTRAGEOUS* fee for subscribing to the journal.
In effect, professors are paying to read the stuff they collectively wrote for free! Technically, the money comes out of university budgets and not the professor's personal salary.
In a non-free market, there's little incentive towards efficiency and innovation. Now, with the Internet, there's a huge opportunity for innovation. A professor could self-publish articles on his website. However, the professor would be concerned that self-publishing would lead to less status and promotions, via the corrupt "peer review" system. It wouldn't be hard to write a Reddit-like engine for reviewing academic papers. There's no incentive for professors to start using it.
I saw this problem first-hand when I was in graduate school working towards a Math PhD. The academic journals also had space restrictions. This led to Math papers saying "It is obvious that A implies B.", when it took me a week to figure it out. On an Internet-based system, I could make a comment showing my work so nobody else would be forced to duplicate it. Math papers especially would benefit from hypertext, as you could link to show the details of any calculation.
Academic journals are an example of State waste and inefficiency. The US academic market is not a true free market. State research grants make most professors State employees/parasites. "Peer review" actively discourages innovation, because an important original idea will be a minority when first discovered. An important original idea will be offensive to established interests in the field.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I noticed that "The Pat Tillman Conspiracy Theory" got a sudden boost of Google Analytics traffic. That's due to General Stanley McChrystal being in the news. Allegedly, McChrystal played a role in the coverup of Pat Tillman's assassination/"accident". Summarizing that post, I'm not sure that Pat Tillman was assassinated. It looks suspicious. It's practically impossible to prove.
One rule of State espionage is "The guy who publicly gets blamed didn't organize it." If McCrystal is publicly mentioned as guilty of organizing the coverup, then he probably isn't the one who organized the murder.
Did State parasites benefit from Pat Tillman's murder? Yes. Pat Tillman would have been a credible high-profile antiwar critic after his term was over. Are some State parasites psychopathic enough to do it? Yes. Did they actually do it on purpose? It's almost impossible to prove.
McCrystal is accused of making public statements critical of the war in Afghanistan. What's wrong with that? Are the generals really so delusional that they think everything is going smoothly?
Why is it wrong to tell your boss "Hey! Your plan is stupid!"? This illustrates an important point of State evil.
What can McCrystal do if he's unfairly fired? Is he going to start his own competing Army? The State has a monopoly. There's no accountability if State bureaucrats do a lousy job.
State-backed monopolies lack market accountability. State bureaucracies are organized as a hierarchy. In a hierarchy, the incentive is to weed out independent thinkers. If all the other generals say "Yes, Mr. President! Great plan!", and McCrystal says "What an idiot!", then he stands out, even if he's right. The President has the power to fire any general, making it a bad career move to disagree with him.
"It's wrong to publicly criticize your boss" is a policy that might work for a privately owned for-profit business receiving no State subsidies. When the business is the State, public criticism should be encouraged. "It's OK for the President to fire subordinates who disagree with him." makes sense only if the State is a for-profit business owned by the President.
A State monopoly actively weeds out independent thinkers. When most of the generals give the President great ****jobs, then anyone who refuses seems like "not a team player".
State parasites actively discourage dissent. Criticizing the President and Congress is like criticizing the Pope. The Pope and the President must provide an illusion of infallibility. State parasites actively control information that is fed to the media. When someone like McCrystal deviates from the script, he must be publicly humiliated.
Look at the photo of McCrystal in this article and the other articles mentioning him. All of them are photos that make him look bad. He's frowning. He isn't looking directly at the camera. It's a non-airbrushed photo. By selecting an unfavorable picture, that's an evil fnord saying "This guy is a scumbag!"
There's a concentrated mainstream media effort to make McCrystal seem like the bad guy. I conclude that he must be someone standing up against State evil.
Again, notice that McCrystal gave a public apology. Why doesn't he say "No! I'm not apologizing! This war really is one big cluster****!" His military career is over anyway, so why not have some balls and tell the truth. This is an important part of the State brainwashing ritual. The truth-teller must publicly apologize before being fired.
The President probably held out false hope "You might keep your job if you publicly apologize!", and then fired him anyway. By criticizing the President and then backing down with an apology, McCrystal seems like a wimp. State parasites have no marketable skills, making McCrystal eager to hang onto his job at all costs.
It isn't necessary to send McCrystal to a death camp. Publicly shaming him is sufficient. The mainstream media won't accurately portray his point of view.
The State censorship rules are not written, but almost everyone knows them. State insiders must be continually on guard, lest they be fired for saying a forbidden truth. It's like there's a huge conspiracy watching your every word, ready to shame you and ruin your career if you slip up. Other generals are eager to blame McCrystal, so they can advance their own careers! If McCrystal gets fired, someone else gets promoted to replace him!
McCrystal probably knew he was getting scapegoated anyway, giving him the freedom to make public criticism. Afghanistan really is a disaster. It isn't the President's fault. It isn't Congress' fault. It's McCrystal's fault. Fire McCrystal and replace him with another figurehead. Problem solved!
Whenever I see a State insider like McCrystal publicly shamed, my reaction is "What part of the forbidden truth did he accidentally say?" McCrystal's forbidden statements were "The war isn't going so well! The President and Congress are out of touch with reality!"
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I subscribe to Time Warner Cable. They have an explicit State-backed monopoly, so I have no choice. In NYC, you get a choice of Cablevision or Time Warner based on where you live, but each has a geographic monopoly. It's a group of criminal gangs parceling out their turf.
Verizon FiOS isn't available yet where I live. My parents are eager to switch. I suspect Verizon will be just as bad.
About 1-2 years ago, Time Warner upgraded the software for the cable box. It automatically downloads the software every time the box reboots.
The new cable box software is a lousy piece of ****! It crashes 2+ times per week! It usually crashes while I'm using the "guide" feature, but it may crash anytime. It crashes while I'm recording things. The error message is "er09" when it crashes, displayed on the cable box. I try to intentionally crash it occasionally, so it doesn't crash while I'm recording!
There's no option for me to roll back to the old version of the software, which worked fine. I can't believe that nobody at Time Warner noticed. Anybody with a clue about software would notice that it's buggy.
This illustrates the problem with State-backed monopolies. They have no incentive to provide decent customer service.
Most industries are organized as oligopolies. If every cartel member gives lousy service, then customers are SOL.
When Time Warner gives lousy service, most people would get angry at Time Warner. The real criminal is the State. By lobbying politicians for favors, executives at Time Warner got a monopoly. State parasites like it when industries are monopolies and oligopolies, because that maximizes corruption opportunities.
A business exposed to true free market competition won't have surplus profits to spend on bribes/waste/inefficiency. When a monopoly/oligopoly earns economic rent, that's a profit opportunity for State parasites.
Utility monopolies are an excellent example of abuse of State power. "Natural monopoly" is a lie spread by State comedians. Most people get angry at the utility vendor, rather than the State which granted them the monopoly/oligopoly.
The next time you get angry at a business with a State-backed monopoly/oligopoly, realize that the true criminals are the State extortion racket!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Why do corrupt politicians squeeze out honest politicians? There's a very obvious explanation. If you're an honest politician, you only get paid your base salary. If you're a corrupt politician, you get to augment your salary with all the State resources you steal.
This reddit thread about real-world corruption was widely cited. It has some interesting bits.
Suppose I decided to run for Congress, and behave honestly. That's an economically bad decision. There's a lot of time and energy spent on the campaign. If I win, the salary is worse than many private-sector jobs.
A corrupt politician has a much higher effective salary. It's even better if the politician is so pro-State brainwashed that he doesn't know his own corruption. He thinks "Everyone does it. That's the way the game is played." In his own mind, the corrupt politician is the hero.
To what extent are corrupt politicians and lobbyists aware of their crimes? As a practical matter, it's irrelevant. "Intentions matter" is a principle of corrupt State law. The correct answer is "outcomes matter". Corrupt politicians lead to massive theft. It makes no difference if they're doing it on purpose, or if they're so stupid that they believe their own lies. It makes you a better psychopath if you believe your own lies; that makes it easier to convince the victims about your sincerity.
When all your peers are scumbags, corruption seems normal! In such an environment, the honest person sticks out as abnormal. Honest people learn to avoid a career in politics. They get negative feedback if they start investigating. Similarly, honest and intelligent people tend to avoid careers as journalist, lawyers, and other parasite-dominated careers.
Most former Congressmen get high-paying jobs as lobbyists. This leads to a "quid pro quo" arrangement. The Congressman lets the lobbyist write laws for him, in exchange for a high-paying job later.
State corruption is fueled by taxation/theft. State bureaucracy selects against intelligent and honest people. Once most high-ranking State insiders are corrupt, reform is impossible.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Woodcock gave five basic reasons for the sentence he imposed and his reasons for not believing Donnelly’s claims of being a war tax resister. He said Donnelly never made his war tax protest public, he didn’t notify the IRS about his protest, he didn’t pay his state taxes, he benefited by not paying the full amount, and he is now getting benefits from other taxpayers.This is an interesting logical contradiction. If you perform tax resistance in private, then State thugs will prosecute you for being a stealthy tax protester. If you perform public tax resistance, then State thugs will prosecute you for encouraging other people. The common theme is "State thugs will use violence to collect their tribute."
According to natural law, "lying on your tax returns" is not a real crime. If a mugger says "Tell me where you live and list everything you own!", you have no obligation to provide full disclosure. Of course, corrupt State courts rule differently.
However, Frank Donnelly's tax resistance was still poorly implemented. He had an on-the-books incorporated business. He was using the State financial system. This leaves a paper trail that State thugs can track.
A skilled tax resister should *NOT* own an incorporated business. All transactions should be performed off-the-books. Your profits should *NOT* be deposited in a State bank. If you deposit cash in a bank, the bank is required to file a "suspicious activity report" with the IRS and FBI. To avoid also getting ripped off by the inflation tax, you should keep your savings in physical gold and silver. That still is problematic, because State thugs will steal your savings when/if they raid your home. State thugs can also steal from your State checking account.
War tax resistance is an inherently contradictory philosophy. If you object to war, but not other State aggression, your position is logically inconsistent. *ALL* State activities are aggression. *ALL* taxation is theft, whether it's used for war or not.
When the issue is taxation, a slave will never get a fair trial in a corrupt State court. A judge is a high-ranking State insider. State insiders rely on taxes for their power and influence. A judge will always rule in favor of the State prosecutor in a taxation trial. A judge relies on taxation/theft to pay his own salary. Without taxes and the State police monopoly, a judge would just be a crazy guy wearing a robe.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I wrote this draft back in December, but I forgot to publish it. Reading about the world cup, I remembered that Ireland was cheated by FIFA.
Most famously, Ireland was eliminated when the referee missed a handball by a France player. However, they were cheated in many ways.
The original tournament was set up so that in the 2nd place playoff, teams would be unseeded. It would be a completely random draw. When the favorite France failed to win their group, the 2nd place playoff draw was changed so it was seeded. This unfairly paired Ireland against France. It is unfair to change the rules of a tournament after the tournament has started.
When I read "The Bridge World", they like to illustrate tournaments with unfair arrangements. They particularly like paradoxes where a team improves their chance of winning the tournament by throwing a match. For example, in the last NFL season, Indianapolis benefited by losing to the Jets. The loss to the Jets helped keep Pittsburgh out of the playoffs, giving the Colts an easier opponent in the AFC championship game.
The European World Cup qualifying tournament is an example of really unfair conditions of contest. The group/draw/seeding process gives the pre-tournament favorites an unfair advantage.
Breaking teams up into 9 groups and having a double round robin is somewhat unfair. Most of the matches are played against teams with no realistic chance of qualification. Comparing the 2nd place teams in different groups with only one match is unfair.
Why was Norway eliminated? Were they eliminated because they were the weakest 2nd place team, or because they were in a tough group?
Why was Serbia ahead of France? France beat and tied Serbia, but Serbia played better against weaker teams that had no chance of qualifying. That's like picking a boxing champion based on their ability to knockout amateurs.
Why does Greece qualify but not Ireland? They were in different groups, had no common opponents, and never played each other.
This is a problem in tournament theory. If there are multiple qualifiers and a limited number of matches, what is the fairest way to determine the qualifiers? You can view it as a math problem.
There are logical problems no matter what method you pick. For example, in the current World Cup, Mexico and Uruguay are guaranteed a spot in the next round if they intentionally draw their next match, eliminating France and South Africa.
There's a limit on the number of matches the players can play, due to other commitments. However, the matches they do play could be allocated more efficiently. It's pointless to play most of your matches against teams with no realistic chance of qualifying.
For example, a 53 team Swiss would be more fair than the system UEFA used. A group round robin is unfair, when the vast majority of teams entered have no realistic chance of qualifying.
In a Swiss tournament, each team is paired against a team with comparable records. If you win, you play your next match against a tougher opponent. If you lose, you play your next match against a weaker opponent. This is notably used in chess and contract bridge. A Swiss format would ensure that the teams that are just barely qualifying would play games against each other. There would be no "draw unfairness" or "group of death".
There were 53 teams competing for 13 spots.
For example, they could play 10 matches of a Swiss tournament. Then, suppose the top 10 qualify and the bottom teams are eliminated. Then, you play another 4 matches and qualify another 2 or 3. Then, maybe you can have a playoff for the last spot.
You can still partially seed, arranging the pairings so that the top teams don't play each other in the first 2 or 3 matches. Chess swiss tournaments do this, seeding players by ELO ranking in the first few rounds. Chess swiss rules also balance white/black, just like FIFA should balance home/away.
More generally, you can phrase this problem as "There are n teams entered. You have m qualifiers (or a single winner). Due to time constraints, you may play a maximum of k matches. What conditions of contest maximize the chance that the best team qualified?" A computer simulation would probably be needed to justify the answer.
A Swiss arrangement would definitely be better than what FIFA is using now. There is no incentive to reform, because the most influential teams profit from this system. Under a fairer qualifying tournament, the favorites might lose. The current system gives the favorites a huge advantage, due to the grouping and seeding.
FIFA is not as evil as government, but corruption is still rampant. If you're offended by FIFA, you can choose to not watch their events. If you're offended by government, violence forces you to buy their services. In a really free market, corrupt organizations like FIFA would be more exposed to competition.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Some libertarian/minarchist websites are all excited about Andrew Napolitano's new show on Fox Business News. It seems that Fox Business News is trying to become the (L)libertarian channel, in the way that Fox News is the Republican channel.
Andrew Napolitano and Ron Paul are simultaneously encouraging and frustrating. They're the most libertarian/minarchist mainstream media personalities. At the same time, they still say "The Constitution is a valid contract and the authority of the Federal government is legitimate. If only we didn't elect such corrupt politicians, then things would get better!"
This quote shows that Andrew Napolitano is a pro-State troll:
I think all taxation is theft. I'm not talking about user fees; I am taking about the government taking money from you for the privilege of engaging in a commercial transaction or for the privilege of earning income. It's moral theft. But as it is lawful, I can't encourage tax resistance because I would be encouraging criminal behavior. I can encourage the repeal of the 16th and 17th amendments that would shrink the government back down to it's normal size and starve. But until that is the case, if you want to stay our of jail you better pay your taxes.He gets off to such a good start, "All taxation is theft!" Then he says, "If you're concerned about excessive taxation, your only recourse is to write your Congressman and hope they repeal the law. Until then, pay the tribute to your masters and be a good slave!"
BTW, eliminating the income tax does not require the repeal of the 16th amendment. Congress can repeal the income tax without repealing the 16th amendment. The 16th amendment allows Congress to collect income taxes, but does not require Congress to impose such a tax. Of course, repealing the income tax is politically infeasible. Congressmen depend on the income tax for their power and influence. They won't give up their gravy train!
Andrew Napolitano makes an interesting point. He is a high-profile mainstream media personality. If he advocated for tax resistance, then he would be jailed for treason. He would be "encouraging criminal behavior", and therefore he'd be a criminal if he encouraged tax resistance.
That's one corrupt aspect of State law. If X is recognized by the State as a statutory crime, and you advocate that people do X, then you're a criminal. For example, Dr. Kevorkian is barred from advocating assisted suicide as terms of his parole. If I advocated that the "chemical imbalance" theory of mental illness is a fraud, then I might be legally responsible if someone followed my advice, stopped taking their poison, and then did something stupid while suffering from withdrawal.
As a relatively unknown blogger, State bureaucrats aren't threatened by me. They don't have the resources to crack down on everyone. (I sometimes wonder if any State insiders read my blog, given my very unusual history.) If Andrew Napolitano went around saying "The government's authority is not legitimate! You should stop paying taxes!", then he would lose his status as a State insider. No mainstream media corporation would broadcast his content. He might be jailed for treason.
Andrew Napolitano and Ron Paul are pushing the "debate ceiling". They are one of few State insiders who publicly criticize the State extortion racket. If I attempt to become a high-profile public advocate for freedom, then I might benefit from the fact that Andrew Napolitano and Ron Paul pushed the limits of the "debate ceiling".
Andrew Napolitano was self-publishing his show on the Internet for awhile. He was popular, and then landed a contract with Fox. Maybe I can follow a similar track towards wider popularity.
If I become a high-profile advocate for freedom, then I risk being assaulted by State thugs. Irwin Schiff was prosecuted by the IRS only after he gave an interview on NBC promoting his tax resistance philosophy. As a small unknown blogger, I'm at relatively low risk. If I gain a wider audience and start practical agorism, I'm taking a greater personal risk.
Andrew Napolitano and Ron Paul are simultaneously encouraging and frustrating. They are encouraging, because they're the most freedom-minded mainstream media personalities. They are frustrating because they still say "The Constitution is a valid contract; if only politicians would follow it. The authority of the Federal government is legitimate. All the slaves have to do is vote for less corrupt politicians, and then things will get better."
The US economic and political system has crossed the "moral event horizon". Reform is no longer possible. State insiders benefit from corruption. They will always successfully lobby against real reform. At this point, complete collapse is a historic inevitability.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Suppose you have evidence of a potential crime, such as a plan to murder someone. You call 911, but the operator doesn't take you seriously. You put the information on the Internet. Someone else finds the information and stops the crime.
Did you do anything wrong? Of course not.
Most things classified as "State secrets" are really "evidence of criminal activity". It isn't immoral to disclose evidence of criminal activity.
State parasites love secrecy. If the slaves knew what they were actually doing, the slaves would object. Evidence of State corruption helps wake up slaves to the scam. The State parasites make up excuses like "We're smarter than you. We have information that you don't." The secret information is the reason secrecy is needed.
For example, Federal Reserve insiders demand secrecy. There is no public disclosure of how much they lend to whom. With negative real interest rates, lending someone money is like giving them money.
If I decide to lend you money, I'm lending my own money I had to work to acquire. It isn't immoral for me to lend you money, unless State favors are involved. If I decide to lend you my own personal money, there's no public disclosure requirement. When Federal Reserve insiders lend money, they're printing and lending new money. The money they lend is stolen from everyone else via inflation, making secrecy immoral.
As another example, politicians usually have secrecy regarding which lobbyists they meet with. That is immoral. State violence forces everyone to obey laws that were written by lobbyists. If politicians didn't have the power to violently impose their will on others, then secrecy would not be immoral. By itself, secrecy is not immoral. Secrecy combined with State power leads to corruption.
The story of Bradley Manning is interesting. He leaked the now-famous video of US soldiers executing journalists and other civilians. Allegedly, he also leaked a bunch of other documents, "diplomatic messages". Many "diplomats" are really State spies. Bradley Manning got caught when he bragged about his exploits to someone else, who turned him in. That shows a risk of freedom activism. There are plenty of slaves willing to rat you out to their master, in exchange for favors.
I'm surprised that Lamo, who turned in Bradley Manning to the Army, isn't roundly decried as a scumbag. Bradley Manning was an idiot for bragging about his exploits to a stranger. Lamo was a contributor to Wikileaks. I wonder if most of the funding for sites like Wikileaks actually comes from undercover State spies. It wouldn't be too hard for an undercover cop to pretend to be a freedom activist and donate money and labor to Wikileaks. If I were a State parasite, "infiltrate Wikileaks" would be a high priority.
According to State parasites, Bradley Manning is a criminal. He was in the Army, which means he doesn't even get a regular trial. He is SOL. It was his mistake for joining the Army in the first place.
Is Bradley Manning a traitor or a hero? Did he leak valuable State secrets? Did he disclose evidence of criminal activity?
I'm not interested in State secrets, because I already know that government is one huge scam. However, evidence of corruption could help wake up some slaves. With the Internet, people have access to information that State parasites would prefer to censor. It doesn't take a YouTube clip of a policeman executing someone for me to know that the State police monopoly is immoral, but that helps wake up others to State crime.
State parasites are hypocritical regarding secrecy. They like to spy on the slaves. They say "If you're doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide!", but it's illegal to videotape an on-duty policeman. State insiders love to keep secrets from the slaves. If State insiders are doing nothing wrong, then why do they have so much secrecy?
The most evil State secrets are the ones hidden in plain sight. "Taxation is theft!" is obvious to anyone who thinks about it, although it contradicts what you were pro-State brainwashed to believe. The details of the monetary system and Federal Reserve are publicly available, but most people are pro-State brainwashed to believe "The USA has a fair monetary system! The President and Congress wouldn't sell us to the banksters!"
"Taxation is theft! Inflation is theft! The USA has an unfair monetary system! Government is one huge extortion racket!" are hidden-in-plain-sight State secrets. Those truths are more dangerous than any other leaked State secret.
Government parasites do not have any legitimate claim to "State secrets". Government parasites have no legitimate ownership claim to anything. "Leaking State secrets!" is really "Disclosing evidence of criminal activity!" Someone who leaks evidence of a crime is a hero, especially when the criminal retaliates for exposing his scam.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
This story is interesting. Due to lobbying by mainstream media corporations, the FCC is contemplating a "Blogger Tax". There will be a tax on Internet advertising. The proceeds of the tax will be used to subsidize mainstream media corporations. Other proposals include a tax on cell phones and ISPs and webhosting vendors.
This is very offensive. State parasites would love to cripple and censor the Internet. The Internet threatens the State mainstream media information monopoly.
The same legal principle that allows a 5% tax also allows a 99% tax or a 10000% tax. By imposing high enough taxes, it would be declared illegal to operate a for-profit Internet business.
The law seems to be targeting websites like Digg and Reddit. One proposal is a "link tax", where a website has to pay a tax whenever they link to a mainstream media corporations' website. That shows a lack of understanding about how the Internet works. I never understood why mainstream media executives get offended when someone links to their website. I guess they want people to read all the news in the order they choose, rather than people just reading stuff that interests them.
The mainstream media has been surprisingly quiet about this proposed tax. That's unsurprising, considering they're the ones lobbying for it. That is evidence of their corruption.
The mainstream media is losing market share for several reasons.
First, a website is updated continuously all day, while a newspaper is only updated once per day. On the Internet, instead of waiting for the scheduled news time, you can read what interests you in the order you choose.
Second, the Internet offers more depth. The mainstream media necessarily covers many topics superficially. If you want detailed discussion of a subject, it's best to go to a website targeting that subject.
Finally, and most importantly, the mainstream media has a credibility problem. Most "news" stories are State press releases repackaged as original reporting. Corporate press releases are also treated as news. For example, coverage of a hot new drug is an advertisement disguised as news.
The mainstream media never has a serious discussion of "Taxation is theft! The USA has a corrupt monetary system! Government is one huge criminal conspiracy!" The Internet is enabling people to bypass State censorship and discover the truth. It's a slow process, but the progress is noticeable. State parasites know that their information monopoly is ending and that their scam is ending. This really scares them.
A year or two ago, some websites had one person saying "Taxation is theft!" while everyone else denounced him as a crank. Now, several different people are arguing "Taxation is theft!" There still are pro-State trolls, but their majority is shrinking.
Hopefully, the "Blogger Tax" won't pass. The only ones lobbying for it are mainstream media corporations. It's obviously ethically problematic, when the State subsidizes media. Corporations like Google should be able to successfully lobby against this obviously stupid law.
Large mainstream media corporations already receive massive State subsidies. Most of them have a lot of debt on their books, which is at a negative real interest rate. Despite this massive State subsidy and all the advantages the economic system gives to incumbent businesses, mainstream media corporations are losing market share to the Internet. One nice thing about the Internet is that there's very few barriers to entry for starting a new business. I'm only making a few dollars per month from Adbrite, which shows that you still need a lot of readers to have a viable business. I'm going to try other things soon/eventually.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The proposed banking "reform" bill had an interesting provision, regarding restricting banks from speculating in derivatives. This is the "Volcker Rule". However, the banksters shot it down and eliminated it. Either it's in the process of being removed from the "reform" law, or it was removed already.
The proposed law would require banks to spin off their derivatives trading desk as a separate business. Any bank with a derivatives desk would lose its perk of borrowing cheaply from the Federal Reserve, at the Fed Funds Rate or Discount Rate. This would force banks to split their derivatives trading desk as a separate business.
This reminds me of an interesting story. A corporation had a commodity hedging desk. The corporation was an airline or food manufacturer; they were hedging the commodity they were actually using. (The actual industry was irrelevant. It was the hedging desk for a business that had a useful end-product.)
One year, the hedging desk was ridiculously profitable! (If your hedging desk is profitable, you're doing it wrong.) The executives decided to spin off the hedging desk as its own separate business.
As a standalone business, the hedging desk couldn't make any profits! When they were one division of a huge corporation, the hedging desk could borrow at cheap AA rates. As a standalone business, the hedging desk could only borrow at C/junk rates. They could no longer profitably finance their trades.
In effect, the whole large corporation was collateral for the hedging desk! If the hedging desk gambled and won, the traders kept the profits. If they lost, the rest of the corporation was collateral for their gamble!
Via fancy derivatives transactions, it's relatively easy to construct a trade where you make $1B 99% of the time, but lose $1T the remaining 1% of the time. When you're right you pocket a huge bonus. When you're wrong, you declare bankruptcy or get a bailout. The "too big to fail" principle encourages this behavior. Limited liability incorporation gives management a free put option to declare bankruptcy and cheat creditors, leading the creditors to lobby for a bailout.
That's the reason the banksters blocked this law. By itself, a derivatives trading desk isn't profitable. Derivatives trades are only profitable when you can borrow at preferred interest rates, either directly from the Federal Reserve or by placing a "too big to fail" business as collateral.
AIG's credit default swap trading desk would not have been profitable as a standalone business. There would not have been any collateral. All of AIG was placed as collateral for the credit default swap trades. When there were no payouts, the traders got huge profits and bonuses. During an inflationary boom, AIG's credit default trading desk was pocketing free money. They were collecting premiums, but had no payouts or collateral requirements.
When the housing market crashed, all of AIG was collateral for the losses. AIG was "too big to fail". In effect, everyone who purchased credit default swap insurance from AIG actually bought it from the government. The profits in the boom years were paid out as bonuses to executives. The bailout of AIG was really a bailout of AIG's creditors.
When you buy credit default swap insurance, one of the risks is supposed to be "The risk that the business I bought insurance from goes broke." The "too big to fail" principle made that default risk zero, *PROVIDED* you bought credit default swap insurance from a huge corporation like AIG. In effect, the law is "Only a 'too big to fail' institution may sell credit default swap insurance." You'd be stupid to buy credit default swap insurance from someone who isn't "too big to fail".
The derivatives market didn't take off until after 1971. Once all pretense of a gold standard was abandoned, the banksters could inflate at will. Negative real interest rates feed derivatives transactions. Complicated derivatives hide what's actually happening.
Suppose Bank A can borrow at the Fed Funds Rate, currently 0.25%. Suppose Corporation B can normally borrow at 6.25%. Bank A enters a derivative contract with Corporation B. Suppose the implied interest rate of the derivative is 3.25%.
Both parties to the derivative trade can claim an immediate profit! Bank A is borrowing at 0.25% and lending at 3.25%. Corporation B is borrowing at 3.25% while they normally pay 6.25% to borrow. It pays for Corporation B to borrow, because true inflation is 20%-30% or more. The bank uses its cheap borrowing power to finance the hedge of the derivative trade.
In this manner, negative real interest rates fuel derivative trades. There's usually also a leverage component implied in the derivative contract, amplifying the benefit. This also means that the derivatives contract has a small chance of a huge loss.
Banks don't want to spin off their derivatives trading desks. Unable to borrow cheaply, that wouldn't be profitable anymore!
It's interesting that some Congressman proposed this reasonable restriction on abuse of leverage and cheap interest rates. However, lobbyists for the banksters removed this part of the "reform" law.
In the US economic system, the banksters literally have the power to print money. With the power to print money, the banksters have a virtually unlimited lobbying budget. They can always profitably lobby to block reform.
No matter what regulation you have, there will be loopholes. The loopholes are usually put there by lobbyists from the regulated industry! Government regulation always fails, due to the "captured regulators" problem.
The financial "reform" law is designed to provide the illusion of reform, while allowing insiders to continue to steal.
The financial crisis was entirely caused by the Federal Reserve credit monopoly. It's meaningless to discuss financial "reform" without also mentioning "The Federal Reserve is one big price-fixing cartel! The Federal Reserve is immoral and should be eliminated!"
Monday, June 14, 2010
Some politicians are outraged that BP is planning to pay its previously-announced dividend. The comedians on the Communism Channel had a neat excuse. "If you prevent BP from paying a dividend, you're stealing from the grandmas and pensioners who rely on the dividend for their retirement income."
That's pretty clever! The US legal system isn't stealing from BP's executives, when they make BP payout a huge claim. They're stealing from BP's shareholders!
This illustrates the Principal-Agent problem. When executives at BP cut corners on safety, they weren't risking their own personal assets; they were risking the shareholders' assets. By cutting corners on safety, executives boosted the balance sheet and earned nice bonuses. When there's an accident, the shareholders and not the executives take responsibility for the loss.
The oil well was already behind schedule. The executives on the well were under pressure to meet their deadlines. It was costing $1M-$2M+ per day that the well was delayed. They were thinking about the bonus for meeting the well schedule, or the penalty for being late, rather than proper safety practices.
I'm agreeing with the US State thugs on this issue. It's immoral for BP to pay a dividend until the total cost of the accident is known. The claims of people injured by the accident take precedence over claims by shareholders. The State thugs in the UK are claiming that the US doesn't have the legal authority to prevent BP from paying a dividend.
From a theoretical finance perspective, paying a dividend or not paying a dividend doesn't affect shareholder returns. If a corporation pays a $1 dividend, then its share price declines by $1 on the ex-dividend date. With or without the dividend, the total return to shareholders is the same; any shareholder who prefers the dividend can sell his shares instead.
In the case of BP, there's a bankruptcy risk. This makes BP equity more like an option than equity. If there's a $1 dividend and BP later declares bankruptcy, the dividend takes away from money available to pay off creditors. If BP pays a dividend and later declares bankruptcy, the dividend payment was effectively stolen from BP's creditors.
BP has the cashflow to pay current expenses. Corrupt State law limits BPs liability, so they'll probably be able to cover all State-recognized expenses. However, there's still a lot of uncertainty. The $75M damage cap does not apply in the event of criminal negligence. If put in front of a jury, it'd be very easy for plaintiff attorneys to argue "Criminal negligence occurred!"
Another possibility is that BP's USA division could declare bankruptcy, while they continue operations in the rest of the world.
When a nearly bankrupt corporation makes a huge payout, that is effectively stealing from other creditors. For example, suppose I am the CEO of a nearly-bankrupt corporation. I have $10B in debts and $500M in cash. Suppose I hire you as a consultant and pay you $500M upfront. Then, I declare bankruptcy. The creditors may claim "Hey! That $500M belongs to us!"
When Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme collapsed, some insiders withdrew their funds ahead of time. The bankruptcy judge is disallowing some of those payments, requiring them to be returned to pay off creditors.
Sometimes, a hedge fund faces huge losses and collapses. Insiders are allowed to redeem their shares at face amount before the losses are announced. The hedge fund manager starts a new fund, and these insiders invest in the new fund!
Corporate executives have successfully lobbied for laws limiting their liability. This encourages and rewards negligence. BP's oils spill isn't a "failure of the free market". It isn't a "failure of the free market" when State law explicitly limits compensatory and punitive damages. Limited liability incorporation protects executives and insiders. The Supreme Court capped Exxon's punitive damages for the Valdez incident, overruling the decision of a jury. Punitive damages play an important role in discouraging negligence. The Oil Pollution Act explicitly limited liability to $75M plus cleanup costs.
Some politicians want to retroactively raise the cap. That would be an "ex post facto law" or a "bill of attainder". You can't declare an action a crime after the fact ("ex post facto"). The cap should never have existed in the first place; it was a compromise so that oil lobbyists would support the Oil Pollution Act. You can't pass laws that target one person ("bill of attainder"). The only corporation affected by the retroactive damage cap increase would be BP.
One offensive bit is "Let's put a tax on all oil, to pay for the cleanup and compensate the victims." That makes everyone *BUT* the criminal pay for the cost of the accident. There was no incentive for Shell to have better safety practices if all oil is now taxed to pay for the accident.
BP executives did the right thing, when they cut corners on safety. If damages are capped at $20B and you save $200M per well, then it pays to be cheap on safety if the chance of accident is less than 1%. Removing damage caps and limited liability incorporation would change this calculation. BP lobbyists and other oil lobbyists are the source of laws that limited liability. It's cheaper to hire lobbyists than spend money on safety. That is the nature of State-sanctioned crime.
The true economic cost of the accident is probably $1T or more. The actual payout is capped by corrupt State law. It seems that will be around $10B to $50B, less than BP's pre-accident market capitalization. Also, some money won't be paid out until 5-10+ years from now, after all lawsuits are resolved. The Exxon Valdez Supreme Court decision didn't occur until 20 years after the accident. In the meantime, many plaintiffs died; the cost of the verdict was not adjusted for the inflation that occurred in the meantime.
Some people are saying "The victims won't get much money each. The only people who will get rich off this are the lawyers." Various lawyers are falling all over each other to be the lead plaintiff in the inevitable class action lawsuit. That is a defect in the legal system, that some lawyers will get an unearned huge bounty after this accident.
Corrupt State law caps compensatory damages and punitive damages. Limited liability incorporation gives executives a free put option to declare bankruptcy and cheat their creditors. This encourages and rewards negligent behavior. Hiring lobbyists is more profitable than doing honest work.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I saw a newspaper. The headline was interesting. A suspected murdered was caught. In this case, he probably really was guilty. What's the evil fnord?
The evil fnord is "Anybody proclaimed as evil in a headline is automatically a criminal." Usually, the victim is accused of a real crime and probably guilty. When the criminal is a political prisoner, this adds a presumption of guilt.
For example, the State media engine proclaimed that Blagojevich was guilty. However, he was legally barred from publicly explaining his point of view. That always seemed corrupt to me. Why are defendants in a criminal case barred from publicly explaining their defense, while the mainstream media loudly proclaims their guilt? The mainstream media is privately-owned (State-owned), and may do as they please. However, that does corrupt a jury trial. The prosecutor's viewpoint is publicly explained, but not the defendants.
That's an evil fnord I hadn't noticed before. Many obviously-guilty criminals are denounced. Then, when a political victim must be shamed, the takedown seems credible.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I saw something really interesting. By the subway, I saw someone selling fruits and vegetables. They were there several different days.
They almost definitely didn't have a State permit. I was surprised nobody called the police. Usually, if someone operates a business without a State license, some license-holder calls the State thugs to violently shut down the competition.
I was wondering if the produce was grown on some non-corporate farm? That would have been promising, if it were a 100% off-the-books operation. I assume they weren't paying taxes.
Last summer, I saw someone selling furniture out of a truck. I told my parents about it, and they made a purchase!
I considered buying some of the fruits. I figured my parents would object, so I told them about it first. Their reaction was interesting. My parents said "OMFG! You can't buy food from a non-State-licensed seller! That food is almost definitely tainted somehow! If you buy from a State-licensed seller, they have a physical store you can sue. If you buy from those guys, and the food is poisoned, then you'll never see them again!"
That was very interesting. My parents automatically assumed that someone without a State permit is probably selling damaged goods. My parents expressed similar hostility when I try buying stuff on the Internet.
Actually, someone without a State permit has a greater incentive to behave honestly. They don't want disgruntled customers complaining to the police!
As the State economy collapses, there will be more entrepreneurs like that agorist food seller. They weren't there last year! This is a promising development, even though I didn't buy from them. The food seller was a partial agorist, and probably didn't even know about it!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
This story was interesting. Helen Thomas accidentally said a forbidden idea. She was banished from the White House press room. She was forced into retirement. Some journalism awards were named after her, and now they're considering renaming them.
I was disappointed that Helen Thomas apologized. She was getting fired anyway, so why bother apologizing? For once, I'd like to see a State insider say "This is an important idea! It's wrong for you to criticize me for saying it! I refuse to apologize!" The forced apology always makes the truth-teller seem like a wimp when they retract their statement.
However, if they had that attitude, their viewpoint may not be aired. If someone had that attitude, they wouldn't be a high-ranking State parasites in the first place. Most high-ranking State parasites are wimps at heart; they know they are interchangeable cogs, replaceable at a moment's notice if they slip up and say a forbidden truth.
I don't like the way State insiders resign, rather than getting fired. Why not tell the truth, that she was banned from the White House based on what she said? Why go through the charade of pretending that she resigned?
There's a certain schadenfreude about seeing a high-ranking State parasite get disgraced. It's still very offensive to see someone's career end because they said something forbidden. I was surprised that practically none of the comments I read on various websites supported Helen Thomas. It's never immoral to suggest an idea that contradicts everyone else's pro-State brainwashing.
This quote by Ed Chen of the White House Correspondent's Association made me think "ROFLMAO!". Ed Chen didn't even notice the obvious logical contradiction.
"Helen Thomas's comments were indefensible and the White House Correspondents’ Association board firmly dissociates itself from them. Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trailblazer on the White House beat," he said.
"We want to emphasize that the role of the WHCA is to represent the White House press corps in its dealings with the White House on coverage-related issues. We do not police the speech of our members or colleagues. We are not involved at all in issuing White House credentials; that is the purview of the White House itself. But the incident does revive the issue of whether it is appropriate for an opinion columnist to have a front-row seat in the WH briefing room. That is an issue under the jurisdiction of this board. We are actively seeking input from our association members on this important matter, and we have scheduled a special meeting of the WHCA board on Thursday to decide on the seating issue," Chen said.
I like the way he said "Helen Thomas said something inappropriate. She isn't welcome here anymore." followed by "It isn't our policy to censor members of the White House press corps." State insiders seem to define free speech as "You may say anything you want, as long as you don't say anything forbidden." Banning Helen Thomas from the White House press room is State censorship of her speech.
The mainstream media censorship guidelines are unwritten, but everyone knows what they are. Occasionally, someone deviates from the script. As punishment, they are fired and their career is over. Mainstream media journalists consciously and subconsciously learn the censorship rules. Any journalist who doesn't conform is rapidly weeded out. Every public humiliation is a lesson to the other journalists regarding the censorship rules.
State parasites hate the Internet. State thugs can't silence a blogger, unless they take the extreme measure of jailing them. The Internet isn't subject to mainstream media censorship rules.
Helen Thomas agreed with "The State is wonderful!", because otherwise she wouldn't have been in the White House. However, she still believed "Journalists should ask tough questions, and should object when an evasive answer is given." The modern trend is for a fully-scripted press conference.
State propaganda artists know what questions will be asked, and in which order. Anyone who deviates isn't invited back. Helen Thomas had sufficient reputation that she couldn't be easily fired. She started working in the White House when the State propaganda engine was less sophisticated. (Try watching State propaganda films from 50+ years ago. They seem pathetic compared to current offerings.)
State journalists and State insiders are interchangeable cogs. There's always someone eager to replace you. If you're invited to be part of the White House press corps, that's a great career opportunity. There are plenty of other "journalists" willing to read pre-chosen questions in exchange for the opportunity. If you're the type of person who would deviate from the script, then you don't get invited to ask a question.
The modern trend is for State parasites to give fully scripted press conferences. That's the reason no politician is ever asked "Doesn't the USA have a corrupt monetary system? Isn't inflation theft? Isn't taxation theft?" Even if such a question made it through, the politician would give an evasive pro-State troll response while the asker's microphone is shut off. The asker would be tasered if he objected to the evasive answer.
Notice that the outcry is "Helen Thomas said something wrong! Fire her!" People don't say "She had a long and productive career. It's OK that she made one mistake." The State censorship engine has a zero tolerance policy. If you say a forbidden idea, then your career is over.
My father remarked that the recently-published photos of Helen Thomas made her seem ugly. They probably published an un-airbrushed photo. The custom is to normally publish airbrushed photos, unless someone needs to be disgraced. The non-airbrushed photo has a stark contrast to what people normally see. An un-airbrushed photo is an evil fnord saying "This person is evil!"
The State censorship engine isn't explicitly backed by a law. It occurs via the "free market", but a handful of insiders have a State-backed information monopoly. The handful of insiders who control the mainstream media wield more influence than the President and most/all politicians. These insiders get to choose the President, by offering preferred candidates favorable coverage and denying coverage to unfavorable candidates. For example, Obama was hyped for a few years as a hot up-and-coming politician, while Ron Paul received practically no mainstream media coverage.
State censorship in the USA is more efficient than in China. The truth-speaker doesn't need to be arrested and sent to a labor camp. They can merely be fired, and never re-hired at a mainstream media corporation. Insiders have a State-backed monopoly, an outsider has little opportunity to reach a wide audience. A disgraced blacklisted journalist is SOL. A mainstream media journalist gets paid a lot more than an unqualified parasite can get paid elsewhere.
The "free market" takes care of censorship, but it's really a cartel. "Don't offend people!" is a high priority, making it forbidden to say something that will offend a lot of people. State forbidden truths do offend a lot of people.
Helen Thomas' forbidden statement was (paraphrasing) "Israel's government is not legitimate." Given US foreign policy history, this comes dangerously close to "The US government is not legitimate."
Discussing the evils of the Israeli/Palestinian problem is enough for another separate full post. All governments are criminal terrorist organizations. All modern governments were established by invasion/conquest. All governments require a territorial violence monopoly. Israel is no exception.
With Israel, the victims of conquest were kept as permanent refugees, rather than moving elsewhere or being genocided. Making the Palestinians into permanent refugees suits the interests of everyone.
State insiders in Israel say "Those Palestinians are evil! Be grateful we're here to protect you." State insiders in other Middle Eastern countries say "Those Israelis are evil! Be grateful we're here to protect you." The Palestinians are pawns in the struggle between the US-backed Israeli government and other US-backed Arab puppet governments.
Prolonging the conflict serves the interests of all State insiders. An individual Israeli or Palestinian can't negotiate their own peace settlement; they're bound by the decisions of State thugs. The Palestinians aren't free to move to another country. There's an Israeli-imposed trade embargo.
Any criticism of Israel seems to degenerate into "Jewish people were abused in Nazi Germany. Therefore, it's acceptable for Israeli thugs to abuse the Palestinians." Why is it anti-Semitic to criticize Israel's government? That's like saying its racist to criticize President Obama. Why do Israeli State thugs get an unlimited free pass for abusive behavior?
The original plan for Israel included strong Constitutional protection for Palestinians and other religious minorities. That was rapidly scrapped once other Arab countries predictably declared war on Israel. The peace proposal "We stole your land but we'll give some of it back in exchange for peace." seems pathetic when your land was stolen.
Do Native Americans have a valid claim against the European settlers? How long is the Palestinian claim valid for? The longer Israel stonewalls and builds settlements, the weaker the Palestinian claim becomes?
Government requires a territorial violence monopoly. The Palestinians would never have recognized the Jewish government as legitimate. You can't have two governments on the same land; that violates the territorial violence monopoly required by governments.
Suppose I found a group of people who want freedom from State taxation. We move to the same geographic area and declare independence. Would State thugs recognize our freedom? Of course not. When a group of Jewish people moved to the same area to start a government, and violently removed people who disapproved, that somehow becomes a brilliant idea. State thugs wouldn't normally let a group of people declare independence, even if people who disapprove aren't forcibly evicted.
The correct answer to the Israeli problem is "All governments with a territorial violence monopoly are immoral." The Palestinians were violently forced off their land when Israel was formed.
Helen Thomas was fired from the White House press corps for saying a forbidden truth. This is an excellent example of the State censorship engine at work. State journalists and politicians are replaceable cogs. If one deviates from the script, they are easily fired and replaced.
The censorship rules are not explicitly mentioned. By making an example of Helen Thomas, the censorship rules are clarified and enforced. Every journalist and politician knows the unwritten censorship rules; otherwise, their career would not last long.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter switched from being a Republican to a Democrat. He thought he'd have an easier chance of getting reelected if he switched parties.
Joe Sestak decided to run against Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, and he won. During the campaign, Joe Sestak claimed that President Obama offered him a patronage job, if he dropped his primary campaign.
When campaigning, Joe Sestak raised the issue to attract votes. Now that he won the nomination, he's not pressing the accusation. Republicans are now pressing for an investigation. They aren't pressing too hard, because they do the exact same thing!
President Obama picked a lawyer to investigate the accusation. This lawyer concluded that nothing improper occurred. This is a big flaw in the State justice monopoly. When a State insider is accused of misconduct, the person conducting the investigation is another State insider.
Even Republicans don't want to press the issue too far. They don't want the slaves to start thinking too hard about State corruption.
Suppose that I am 100% owner of a business, and you are not a State insider. It isn't immoral for me to say "I'll offer you $200k/year if you quit your job and work for me!" Exchanging favors is immoral only when the State is involved.
If I say "I'll hire your brother-in-law for $200k if you give me a $5M State pork contract!", that's obviously immoral. The corrupt politician is spending the taxpayers' money and not his own personal money. This is the Principal-Agent problem.
The system by which politicians exchange favors is a type of counter-economy. There are no written contracts. These arrangements are illegal. Politicians exchange bribes and favors completely off-the-books.
President Obama didn't issue a press release saying "I hereby offer Joe Sestak a job if he abandons his primary campaign." It was an informal offer. By offering a patronage job, Obama is spending/wasting wealth he doesn't technically own. State insiders treat State property as if it were their personal property. They stole it fair and square, and now they may spend it as they please.
State corruption is fueled by taxation/theft/violence. The State taxation monopoly means that politicians control resources they don't own. This creates the opportunity for corruption and profit.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Dr. Andrew Wakefield wrote a controversial paper saying "There might be a connection between vaccines and autism." It was published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Recently, the journal retracted the paper. The State medical cartel revoked Dr. Wakefield's license, as punishment for publishing a paper they didn't like.
One rule of State censorship is "If State thugs censor something, that means it's more likely to be true." The fact that Dr. Wakefield's license was revoked is an indication that vaccines may really have harmful side-effects!
This is a severe encroachment of academic freedom. It's one thing to say "We think this conclusion is wrong." It's another thing to say "We're revoking your license and ending your career, because you said something we don't like."
This illustrates the evil of State licensing cartels. If a license-holder says something that contradicts the cartel's propaganda, then his license is revoked. For another example, suppose a defense attorney explains "jury nullification" to a jury; as punishment, his license may be revoked.
This has a chilling effect on future research. Every medical researcher knows about what happened to Dr. Wakefield. They will adopt self-censorship, even if not consciously aware of it. Every medical researcher now knows "I'd better not conduct research that challenges the status quo, lest my career be ruined like Dr. Wakefield."
This interview with Dr. Wakefield was interesting. Dr. Wakefield said "I never claimed to be absolutely sure that vaccines cause autism. My paper merely said 'This looks suspicious. People should investigate further.' Even if I was wrong, it's never immoral to publish a paper that says 'This should be investigated more.'" The original autism paper was investigating the claims of parents who said "My child developed autism after getting vaccinated."
This quote was really interesting.
They did not look at the outcomes of the vaccine beyond the short-term. To put this in context, we are dealing with viruses that can cause disease many years later. Thus, you do not confine your safety studies to 3 – 6 weeks. As a result of this understanding, it became my clear conviction that parents deserved access to the option to access single vaccines – the way it was done before, which was perfectly effective.Dr. Wakefield says that vaccine safety research is invalid, because patients are only tracked for 3-6 weeks after getting the vaccine. If a vaccine has long-term negative side-effects, then a 3-6 week study might not show the problem.
That is very interesting. It sounds exactly like my criticism of psychiatric drug research. The research is for 6-12 weeks, but patients/victims take the drugs for years or decades. I read some psychiatric drug research papers, and noticed obvious mistakes.
Dr. Wakefield also was suggesting that the MMR vaccine be given as 3 separate vaccines, rather than in one shot. Parents should have a choice; the State medical cartel currently only offers the combined MMR vaccine.
The State medical cartel said "Due to Dr. Wakefield's research, some parents are refusing to vaccinate their children. He is undermining the credibility of the State medical cartel." Silencing critics by revoking their license undermines your credibility!
The State medical cartel really does lack credibility! When "common knowledge of parents" contradicts "State propaganda", there's a good chance that State propaganda is wrong.
I have direct experience with corruption in the mental health industry. That makes me question other areas of medicine.
Regarding "Do vaccines cause autism?", my conclusion is "Not proven either way." Autism rates are approximately 1%. To be scientific, you'd need to vaccinate 100k+ children and not vaccinate 100k+ children, and then compare them.
This is ethically problematic. Some vaccines, like polio and measles, have a clear proven benefit. However, some children do develop polio or measles as a negative side-effect of the vaccine. Some people claim that factors other than viruses are the true cause of these diseases.
For example, the State medical cartel no longer vaccinates everyone for smallpox. Approximately 1 in 100,000 people get seriously ill as a side-effect of the smallpox vaccine. Smallpox is no longer present in the wild, so the smallpox vaccine is no longer given. For the smallpox vaccine, the negative side-effects of vaccination are more serious than the benefit of the vaccine.
I know that the "chemical imbalance" theory of mental illness is a mistake/fraud. It is possible, albeit unlikely, that "Vaccines prevent disease!" is also a mistake. I'm certainly disturbed by the modern trend of having a vaccine for non-serious illnesses, such as the "chicken pox vaccine".
There are other ways to test "vaccines cause autism" without having a vaccine-free control group. One group can be given fewer vaccines than the other, sticking to those with the most benefit. Vaccines like MMR could be split into three separate vaccines months apart. One group of children could be given mercury-preserved vaccines while the other group could be given non-mercury-preserved vaccines. There are lots of factors that could be investigated.
It is possible that "Vaccines cause autism!" is really "Correlation confused with causation." Children get vaccinated at the same age they start showing autism symptoms. Rising vaccination rates are correlated with a modern society. Amish families don't vaccinate their children and have low/zero autism rates; that doesn't prove that vaccines cause autism if autism is due to other lifestyle differences.
Are rising autism rates due to rising vaccination rates? Are rising autism rates caused by rising rates of working mothers? If you leave your child in a State daycare center, that might have a damaging effect.
Maybe autism develops in children who are resistant to their pro-State brainwashing. If a child notices that his parents and all other adults are insane, then the child gives up and develops autism. I wonder if autistic children who aren't taking drugs would have a favorable reaction to me, because I've mostly cracked my pro-State brainwashing? Most severely autistic children wind up crippled by psychiatric drugs.
Why doesn't some researcher perform an experiment saying "Are psychiatric drugs really better than placebos?" The answer is that any such researcher risks being Wakefield-ed. The State would not approve such an experiment; experiments involving humans must be approved by a State bureaucrat. The State would not give such a scientist a research grant. Via "peer review", other researchers would object to the proposed experiment. If a clever grad student or postdoc proposed such an experiment, his peers and advisers would say "Don't waste your time on such nonsense. Everyone knows that psychiatric drugs are beneficial. Don't throw away your career pursuing foolishness." Besides, the State PhD licensing process weeds out true independent thinkers.
Thus, most psychiatry researchers try to say "I invented drug X, which is slightly better than drug Y." The fundamental corruption goes unnoticed by State-licensed experts. Nobody bothers re-verifying "Drug X is better than placebo over a 5+ year period.", because that's considered to be a proven fact.
The State science monopoly follows a corrupt "stare decisis" principle, just like the legal system. Once X is considered to be a scientifically proven fact, then research that questions X is forbidden. There would be no funding for a scientist who conducts an experiment re-verifying X. It would be viewed as a waste of time. From a career management perspective, it's safer for a scientist to do marginal research. It's best to do research that's a tiny improvements of other things. There's no opportunity for a State scientist to tackle a big topic, because he'll be Wakefield-ed even if he's right.
Here's another example of State manipulation of research. If a scientist says "Carbon dioxide causes global warming", then he gets lots of research grants. A scientist who says that hypothesis is false does not get a research grant. Via "peer review", a scientist who questions his colleagues will have a hard time finding a job or getting a State research grant.
The State medical cartel says "It's irresponsible to suggest that children should not be vaccinated." The State medical cartel says "It's irresponsible to give placebos to a mentally ill person." I know the second statement is false. What about the first statement?
Suppose I were invited as a guest on a mainstream media program and told the truth. Suppose I said "The 'chemical imbalance' theory of mental illness is a mistake and a fraud. If you are taking psychiatric drugs, the best thing you could do is to quit taking them cold-turkey and manage the withdrawal as best as you can. Don't consult with your State-licensed psychiatrist, because he is a fraud." What would happen if a mainstream media corporation aired such an interview?
I might be accused of a crime, "Practicing psychiatry without a license." The pharmaceutical industry would organize an astroturf protest campaign; people would write to the host of the show and complain. The lesson would be that it was a mistake, to let me express my viewpoint.
Mandatory vaccination laws are a type of tax, with the profits going to the vaccine manufacturer. The law says "Your child must go to a State-licensed school. All children attending State-licensed schools must be vaccinated." Patents further protect the vaccine manufacturer from competition.
State propaganda says "Vaccines are safe and effective and risk-free." There's a special exemption in Federal liability law for vaccines. Vaccine manufacturers are absolutely immune from liability, if their State-approved vaccine is later proven harmful.
If vaccines are so safe, then why was this exemption necessary? The State passed a law limiting the liability of oil drillers, encouraging negligent behavior by BP executives. Similarly, the liability waiver for vaccines encourages negligent behavior.
The advice I'd give a parent is "Only get vaccines with a clear proven benefit. Try to get mercury-free vaccines, if you can." Unfortunately, State laws require an ever-increasing amount of vaccines. I never understood the chicken pox vaccine or swine flu vaccine, because those are not serious diseases. When I read about the cervical cancer vaccine and the breast cancer vaccine, my reaction was "WTF?" The modern trend to vaccinate for everything is disturbing. It's probably the result of lobbying and propaganda by vaccine manufacturers.
The censorship of Dr. Wakefield has a chilling effect for all medical research. It's wrong to revoke someone's license and end his career, just because he says something you don't like. Even if "Vaccines cause autism!" is false, it wasn't immoral for him to suggest the possibility. My analysis of "Vaccines have harmful long-term side effects!" is "Not proven either way!"
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I noticed a lot of people writing about the "Gold ATM". I'm not really interested, because the "Gold ATM" is illegal in the USA. When it comes to gold and silver ownership, people in the USA have very little economic freedom.
It isn't technically hard to build a vending machine that sells gold. The only tricky part is automatically updating the price when the spot metal price changes. There's also the security of making sure nobody robs the Gold ATM, but it was placed in an expensive hotel.
In order to be a proper ATM, both buying and selling should be supported. Allowing sales is technically harder. In most countries, most gold sales must be reported to the State and taxed.
The Gold ATM has a higher transaction cost than other dealers. You'd be better off buying from APMEX or Kitco, than buying from the Gold ATM. However, it would be nice to conveniently and anonymously purchase gold.
The Gold ATM isn't coming to the USA anytime soon. If you buy gold from a US State-licensed dealer, the dealer is required to report the sale to the IRS and FBI. There's a presumption that only criminals would be interested in buying gold. Presumably, the State tracks physical gold owners in case another gold confiscation order is necessary. Also, there's a presumption that anyone who buys physical gold is dangerous and subversive.
State parasites don't want it to be convenient and easy to buy gold. For this reason, the Gold ATM won't be allowed in the USA. By making it hard to invest in gold, the slaves are forced into State paper investments. This facilitates theft via inflation.
"Start a gold/silver/FRN barter network" is one of my favorite agorist business ideas. It is risky. I might find myself the victim of State violence if I'm successful. State terrorists might confiscate my gold and silver. I'm planning to start practical agorism eventually.
For now, I'm focusing more on raising awareness. It is tricky. My #1 short-term goal is "Don't get involuntarily hospitalized again."
Friday, June 4, 2010
I noticed a change of attitude in the mainstream media. It seems that Obama is being set up to be a one-term President. People who were formerly giving him ****jobs are now criticizing him.
It depends on who is chosen for the Republican nomination. If it's an old guy (McCain or Bob Dole), then Obama is being set up to win. If it's a charismatic young guy, then Obama is being set up to lose.
The President is a replaceable figurehead. The evil fnord is "If only we pick a different President, then things will get better!" The real problem is that government is one huge extortion racket. Even under a new President, existing bad laws are not repealed.
The Republicans are saying "Elect us and we'll repeal the lousy healthcare reform law." The fallacy is that the Democrats in the Senate will filibuster any repeal attempt. The Republicans don't need a simple majority. They need 60 votes in the Senate, plus a President who won't veto the repeal law.
A new President will always promise change and reform, especially when things are going badly. The President is forced to work under the constraint of a completely corrupt system. This guarantees failure, even if the President has good intentions.
It seems that Obama is being set up as a one-term President. A new President means that the State is forgiven for all past abuses. However the laws passed under his predecessor remain intact. All the bad laws passed under Bush are mostly still intact. Bush didn't touch the bad laws passed by Clinton. The new President won't repeal bad laws passed under Obama.
For example, while Bill Clinton was President, there was a law passed that decreased the number of spots in State-licensed medical schools. Instead of fixing the State licensing cartel, President Obama passed another healthcare "reform" law that makes the problem even worse. Under the new law, insiders have even greater State-guaranteed profits. State violence is forcing people to buy health insurance. Under the old system, a healthy young person might make the reasonable choice to not buy insurance.
A bad law has inertia. The people who profit from the bad law can always lobby to prevent reform. A new law is proposed to fix the problems caused by current law. The new law makes things even worse.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I thought of an amusing joke, regarding the US political system compared to China.
In China, State insiders pick one candidate, and you get to decide who you want to vote for.
In the USA, State insiders pick two candidates, and you get to decide who you want to vote for.
Viewed this way, there's no substantial difference between the US political system and China. In both systems, insiders have firm control.
The "advantage" of the US-style system is that there's an illusion of choice. In effect, voters are asked "Do you prefer lie A or lie B?" This gives insiders some feedback on how to tune their propaganda.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I noticed a lot of anti-Facebook sentiment recently. Some politicians are considering prosecuting Facebook for various ethical violations.
If you're offended by Facebook, there's a very simple solution. DON'T USE FACEBOOK! Lobbying the State to prosecute Facebook is silly.
This post on lewrockwell.com (by Lew Rockwell) was very offensive. He denounced "Quit Facebook Day" as anti-capitalist. WTF? I thought Lew Rockwell was supposed to be supporting free markets?
In a free market, if you think a business owner is misbehaving, then you should boycott it. If you think Facebook abuses its customers, then you should shut down your Facebook account and stop updating it.
That's really ironic, after Lew Rockwell was defending Rand Paul for saying "A free market should take care of business owners who racially discriminate, when customers boycott that business. It is immoral to prevent a privately-owned business from refusing to serve a customer."
Usually, when a business abuses a customer, they quietly leave without complaining. If a business owner is abusive, a polite explanation probably won't get them to change their ways. This fnord is repeatedly mentioned in "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares". The owner says "The customers don't complain about the food. Therefore, the food is awesome!" Chef Ramsay says "But you have no customers!"
As another example, I noticed abusive censorship on Wikipedia and mises.org and Joel on Software and other forums. I don't complain loudly on those websites. I left, and no longer contribute there. One nice thing about a blog is that I don't have to get into arguments with censoring moderators.
Anti-capitalist would be to say "State violence should be used against Facebook for abusing its customers." The free market solution is "If Facebook abuses customers, then customers should stop using it."
MySpace was the #1 social networking website for awhile. They got complacent and lost their market share to Facebook. In another few years, something else will probably come along and displace Facebook. Facebook has a strong market position, but not an explicit State-backed monopoly.
I never understood the attraction of Facebook, compared to having a blog. I'm looking to move to my own domain.
I once set up a Facebook account, when I went on a job interview to write a Facebook application. I just entered my name and otherwise don't update it. Some old friends have contacted me via Facebook, but that's it. I tell them I prefer to communicate via E-Mail or via my blog.
Using State violence against Facebook is silly. If Facebook is alienating their customers, then they'll switch to other services. On the Internet, there's very little barrier to entry for starting a new business, compared to other parts of the State economy.