Thursday, March 31, 2011
"The plans differ; the planners are all alike..." ~Frederic Bastiat
Do you agree with the following statement?
Collectivism is anti-individual rights. Whether voluntary collectivism or forced collectivism, the hatred for the individual is ever prevalent.
What I find strange about it is the sudden disdain for something that is "voluntary". Anarcho-capitalists ordinarily seem to celebrate anything that is "voluntary":
Voluntaryism is a popular ideology amongst people who like Anarchism but recoil at its leftist implications. By adopting the simple principle, “whatever is voluntary is ethical,” they believe that they have found the high ground, the ruler with which all other ideologies must be evaluated.
Some openly advocate a “rule by landlords,” a sort of extra-small minarchism where whoever owns the land can impose whatever laws he wishes on anyone who works or lives within his land. This is the “ultimate decision-making power” which defines the State: these landowners are effectively rulers over that land. Although they refuse to see this pretty direct deduction (but to be fair, even Rothbard was too blinded by his pro-property bias to see it), it is clear that the voluntaryists who hold to this ideology have nothing to do with Anarchism.
One famous example from the Mises forum is the question of whether we are justified in shaking off someone who is hanging for his life on a flagpole that we own. Many people there were of the opinion that “property rights” alone justified an act which is, to be clear, nothing more than murder.
Most voluntaryists recoil at the idea that their ideology might justify this sort of baseless murder, and as such adopt a “softer” position. They then try to draw a line, beyond which their belief in “property rights” becomes harmless and does not affect other people’s rights. But as I have pointed out in my past exposé of “anarcho-capitalism,” there is no line beyond which voluntaryism, in its support of “property rights,” does not suffer from this sort of contradiction, because “property rights” are by their very nature an obstacle to all other, real human rights.-Check Your Premises: The voluntaryist delusion.
And what are the "justly acquired" property rights the narrator in the video refers to? Isn't that the issue? I've stated before that the anarcho-capitalist notion that private property (as we know it) could continue without the state to support it is a fantasy of epic proportions. Without a state, any rights in property would have to be based on something self-evident, such as occupancy and use. Otherwise we would just return to what amounts to de facto mini-states and horrifying hierarchies that could be much worse in some cases than what we have now.
The hyper-individualism celebrated is also misplaced. Individualism, yes, but we must also recognize that we as humans are social beings, and it is normal and natural for us to do things in common (without disparaging or infringing on individual rights).
I'm not an anarcho-communist, by the way, but the anarcho-capitalist support of "private" and "voluntary" (when they approve) hierarchies, such as in the workplace, is anti-anarchist. And it's simply ridiculous to say, as the video does, that the state is not the defender of private property. If it is not the state that is defending capitalist private property now, who is it?
Some other videos for possible discussion:
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
A full half of the world’s population cooks with wood and coal over open fires. Over one and a half million die each year from the effects of direct contact with this smoke.
Want to change the world and reduce pollution, help promote an efficient fuel saving stove that burns hot enough to reduce the harmful gasses.
As an amateur nutritionist, I've been against the use of artificial colors in foods for a long time. There simply isn't any really good reason for them. They don't add to taste or serve a function such as a preservative. I'm not a fanatic who opposes all additives in food (though eating fresh, whole foods as much as possible is preferable) but our corporate food companies care more about shallow appearances and profits than about wholesomeness and the health of the millions consuming their processed crap.
Is inflation the reason for the extra spending, just an increase in the cost of living?
It’s a dream, of course, because you have to be pretty much asleep to believe it.
Just a casual look around at society is usually enough for most people to at least acknowledge that there are other factors at work when it comes to individual success, besides one’s attitude. The ranks of the wealthy are full of people who take months of vacation time off from work, while the poor often work two or three jobs and still only survive paycheck to paycheck, one medical bill away from bankruptcy.
Don’t try to tell this to anyone who sees themselves as having succeeded by the sweat of their brow (even if they wear a shirt and tie to work). The mere suggestion that someone is the possessor of unearned privileges is enough to send most people into a tizzy, prompting an angry indignation in the form of accusations along the lines of, “Are you saying I didn’t work hard to get what I have?”
No, mister middle-class white male, I know you worked hard. Most people work hard. I don’t even have a job and I work hard, doing chores around the house, odd jobs for neighbors, free-lance work in one of my fields of expertise, political activism (the real kind, where you have to leave the house and talk to someone face-to-face), and basically making a productive use of my time (at least in my opinion).
But you know who works really hard? The millions of people on welfare. Americans have the misguided notion that people who get financial assistance from the government are lazy, even though many work over 40 hours a week. The truth is, millions of full-time jobs in this country don’t pay enough for the person to live on one paycheck alone, and many families receive aid despite working longer hours and harder jobs than people complaining about paying for welfare.
In the end, people who complain about how they have to pay for someone else to sit at home and not work are people who don’t know what’s going on in this country: namely, that hard work is rewarded with exploitation, while social connections among the nobility ensure a wealthy class of elitists can jetset to their friend’s Caribbean island on a whim.
In my opinion, the nonsensical lie that you can get ahead in this world if you put the effort in is no longer the American Dream. The idea that we live in a meritocracy is so ridiculous at this point that those who claim it to be true are clearly nothing but oblivious. Now, the real dream is to pop out of some trophy wife’s vagina with a silver spoon in your mouth.
Among the three groups I am discussing, there is one that I hold no contempt for, but some sympathy. This group is the producer class and they are a rapidly dwindling class in the United States.
The producers are people who view their own rational self-interest above the needs of others and seek to fulfill them on their own terms without committing crimes against their fellow men. In essence, they work for what they have and they do seek to take or beg from others. If they reach a limitation, they will either seek to overcome it, find a way around it, or simply accept it and move on. They will not complain about it, demand compensation because of it, or blame others for it.
However, even the producers can be driven to their limits and can move to one of the other classes on occasion. Even if we divide people into the various classes that I am describing, people can still move from one class to another. Of the three classes, the producer class is the one that is highly volatile and a person can easily be a producer one day and a moocher the next. It is very difficult for a moocher or a looter to become a producer, the former because he is addicted to his own victimhood or entitlement, the latter because he is addicted to his own power.
The producers need not be producing something of monetary value to be a producer. A housewife, for example, produces no tangible monetary value but does provide a service to her husband that is nearly priceless. And yet the housewife is a producer as long as she is a housewife voluntarily and strives to keep the home in order.
A producer need not be some corporate head. A producer can easily be a worker who is employed by another producer. Again, it all has to do with the attitude. A producer’s attitude toward his employment is that the job he has is not his job, but his employer’s job. He tends to view that job as a contract between him and his employer where he does a task over a specified amount of time in exchange for some monetary benefit.
Remember, these class divides have nothing to do with economic status, but with attitudes toward other people. A producer will not demand anything from anyone else, unless such a thing is due to him because of an agreement of some kind or a crime perpetrated against him.
The producers, however, tend to have a fatal flaw that often times brings about their own complacence and, sometimes, ultimate downfall. They tend to buy into the rhetoric of the moochers and the looters and this often causes them to behave in a manner that is detrimental to their own well-being. They will feel sorry for the moochers, because they do have sob stories to tell, and as such will be accepting of their fate of having to pay for them. Often times, this is facilitated by the looters, as will be described in a later post.
The moment that the producers overlook their own rational self-interest in favor of others, they begin the process of unraveling the benefits of their work and attitudes. This begins a great unraveling of society and the more parasitic elements begin to take control. However, unlike most good parasites who understand that the host needs to live, these have little regard for others and somehow lack the sense to see the damage they are doing.
In the United States, the productive class has been marginalized, its voice is not heard largely because the producers are out producing. Politicians will only listen to those who vote and the moocher class also happens to be the largest group of voters in this country. As such, the State ceases to look out for the interests of the producers and instead looks out for the needs of the producers. And this is when the third class comes into play.
Any thoughts on C.S. Lewis as an apologist for Christianity and theism?
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Amazingly, many, perhaps most, local law enforcement agencies simply fail to issue these forfeiture reports. For these agencies, their forfeiture proceeds are "off budget" slush funds shielded from public view. The Atlanta Police Department, Fulton County Police Department, and Fulton County Sheriff all regularly fail to produce mandated forfeiture reports.
I firmly believe that your class in the United States is not the result of income or wealth, but of attitude. The amount you make in life or the stuff you’ve obtained is largely tied to your own choices and attitudes rather than some external source. Granted, there are things that can happen which will be detrimental to your financial condition, but how you deal with those situations is where it truly counts.
I have come to classify people into three distinct classes, based on my various readings and observations: moochers, looters, and producers. While the political ideology among the three can be similar, their primary motivations are based on their outlooks and attitudes in life, which allow them to be classified as such. There are plenty of reasons that back these attitudes, so I will focus on one class at a time in what will hopefully be a series of posts.
First of all, there is the moocher class. A moocher is someone who believes that they are entitled to something in exchange for nothing. This something may be money, but it could also be services or some kind of relational benefit. They firmly believe that they are entitled to whatever that thing is for various reasons.
As near as I can tell, at least 35% of Americans are essentially moochers. The only measure I have is how many people are accepting government payouts of some kind. These payouts include things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Unemployment “Insurance”. In these cases, these individuals believe that for some reason or another, they deserve this money.
A common reason that comes from the elderly, even among the conservative elderly, is that Social Security and Medicare are entitled to them because they spent all their lives paying into the “system”. While there is no disputing that they paid into the system all their working lives, nor can I deny that these programs have provided people with short-term benefits, the truth is that when they paid into the system, that money went directly to the existing recipients. So while they can argue that it was a kind of savings plan, in truth it was really just a giant Ponzi scheme.
Another reason is usually because they’ve lost their job. OK, I can see how losing your job is a huge financial detriment, but why do you deserve money just because of your poor financial planning? Seriously, don’t you know that most sensible people save in times of plenty so that when times of famine hit, they are prepared for it? Apparently, there are a lot of people who do not plan beyond their first paycheck and even then they do not plan the best way to spend that money for them.
Digging deeper, however, you can usually identify the moochers by how they relate to others. Often times, they can be needy and, in extreme cases, narcissistic when dealing with those around them. Instead of listening, they will talk. Instead of visiting, they will insist of others visiting them. Instead of respecting the boundaries, both physical and emotional, of others, they will cross them. When confronted, they will play the victim or redirect the conservation to the bad behavior of others in order to justify their own.
In other words, the moocher class is nothing more than a bunch of children. Never mind that they may be older than you or even smarter than you, at the end of the day, they lack the maturity of a fully functioning adult. As such, they tend to have the same attitudes of children and are often too foolish to recognize it. For them, life is about what they can get, not what they can do. If things do not go their way, they will behave like children with the full force an adult can provide. If you have ever seen the aftermath of a moocher protest of any kind, you are bound to see a lot of broken property and trash.
Personally, I do hold sympathy, but also no small amount of contempt for the moocher class. Having dealt with some family members who are moochers and knowing that they are capable of so much more, it merely frustrates me. Cutting them off as much as possible, though painful, has proved to be more beneficial to me.
Moochers, however, will always be with us. Depending on how a society treats its moochers, their numbers will vary, but you are always guaranteed more moochers in a society such as ours. Seeing as how people who make less money than us tend to have more disposable income, why wouldn’t someone become a moocher?
“More African American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began"
The U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary means of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness... [Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow]...challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.
“More African American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began,” Michelle Alexander told a standing room only house at the Pasadena Main Library this past Wednesday, the first of many jarring points she made in a riveting presentation.-More Black Men Now in Prison System than Were Enslaved
Monday, March 28, 2011
The Trade Union Congress, or TUC, organized the march in protest of deep public spending cuts. After what was reported as a “mostly peaceful march,” a break away group began busting in to high end stores and attacking police with light bulbs filled with ammonia.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Tom Woods (a genuine scholar, unlike the ideologically driven Levin) takes on the neocon ass (have you ever listened to his radios show?) here. Mark Levin gave a hilariously bad response at his Facebook page, where he ends his embarrassing rant with this: "He's an activist who demands fidelity not to the Constitution but his ideology. The liberal activists do the same. Neither are originalists."
Hahahahahahaha! No, little girly shrieker Levin, it is you who resembles the phony liberals in making the constitution fit your political agenda.
All one has to do to prove Mark Levin's misrepresentation of someone such as Woods wrong is read the work, and I encourage you to read Woods (I'm currently reading Rollback).
How anyone can take Levin seriously on anything in the first place is beyond me (as is how he got on radio with that dreadful nasal voice). On his radio show all he can do when he can't take the heat is shout insults and cut callers off when he has no more answers. Pathetic!
The drunk driver speeds through the stop sign without seeing it.
The stoned driver stops and patiently waits for it to turn green.
Sometimes people say I shouldn’t mind being searched if I have nothing to hide. I immediately accuse them of having a swastika tattooed on their genitalia — if they have nothing to hide, then surely they shouldn’t mind dropping their pants to prove me wrong.
Even the characters played by Tommy Chong make more sense than most politicians.
When a government uses military personnel, equipment, and tactics against its own citizens, is it time to call it a Civil War rather than a Drug War?
On that last one, if our own government is waging a war against us (and I certainly don't mean only drug users, as I consider our rouge regime at war with people such as myself as well, and I use no drugs, not even the deadliest of them all, alcohol, which I recently gave up) then are we not (or shouldn't we be) at war with those waging that war on us and our freedoms?
Read more "Guitherisms".
Should creationism be taught in school? I don't want this to be about public schools and constitutional issues of separation of church and state. No child should be taught a fairy tale as if it is science, so my answer is, certainly not in science class. Even if there's a truth behind the creation myths of various cultures, it's not science, it's philosophy and philosophy of religion. I would say that you can believe in God and assume evolution is true, which is evident also by the millions who at least say they are both religious believers and accept evolution as fact. There may be things to examine about orthodox neo-Darwinism that can lead to questions about its materialist assumptions, but those too are questions that (at least initially) can be kept within the confines of a scientific discussion.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
And why not? There’s plenty of things I would cut if I was in charge. I think the first welfare program I would end would be the military and its bastard kid brother, the defense industry.
I feel bad criticizing the military sometimes. Not because soldiers are out fighting for my freedom and I owe them my respect, but because most soldiers are poor kids who have no other opportunities.
We live in a culture that values self-sufficiency, and for most people who grow up in poor neighborhoods with horrible schools and no economic options, the military is one of the few possibilities for eking out a life of self-sufficiency. The military provides a high salary, preferential treatment when it comes time to be hired in the private or public sector, health benefits, retirement benefits, and funding for higher education.
Basically, poor people are lured into killing poor people in other countries with the promise of a better future… assuming this doesn’t happen to you:
While most countries dump huge quantities of their tax dollars into public works projects and financial assistance to the poor, a huge chunk of our revenue (and money we borrow) goes to paying for our wars. In the end, I don’t blame people who see a sweet deal and take advantage of it, I blame the national policy which forces this despicable choice of being impoverished or fighting the wars of the rich.
Besides the welfare queens in the military itself, there’s the private sector weapons industry that takes in billions of dollars a year to build weapons that are decades ahead of our enemies and are essentially designed to fight a nation that doesn’t exist. We buy fighter planes at over $200 million a pop to fight countries that lack an air force. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, GM, GE, Colt, Boeing, and a handful of others have their dirty mitts in the pocket of every tax payer.
Perhaps even more strange than these forms of welfare is the prison system. “Wait, what?” Yes, the prison system. Incarceration is the American welfare program for people who don’t want to go to foreign lands to commit crimes against humanity. There legitimately are people who want to be in prison. In prison, you are fed and receive medical care. We treat those behind bars better than those living in their cars.
But what do you do if you want to go to jail? Sure, you could do something rash like robbing a store, or something stupid like punching a cop, but the most popular choice has to be drug dealing. In this black market lies a win-win situation for people completely down on their luck.
If you’re lucky, you can make enough money to live pretty well as a drug dealer. If you’re caught, you’re looking at three squares a day and access to free classes and rent-free living in weather controlled conditions with access to any necessary medication. It’s like losing in Vegas: even if you go bust, the room and meals will be comped.
This is fundamentally why we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have an illicit drug industry that funnels the poor into prisons where we can’t see them. In many instances, we then exploit them through cheap labor, not to mention marring their record in the eyes of future employers… pretty much ensuring they go back to dealing when released.
In my opinion, it’s not enough to complain about something. I like to try to think of a solution. The libertarian solution is to just legalize drugs. I think that’s a good start, but we still need something to do about people who are in jail, on parole, or in forced treatment. Their release would, in my opinion, be best accompanied by the first government-run recreational drug company.
We’re broke, so why not take all that money we spend fighting drug dealers and open up businesses run by drug enforcement agents, gang members, hippies, and former prisoners? They have the necessary knowledge and skills, from production to shipping to advertising to security (since I imagine a fair amount of crime may be associated with shipping large amounts of narcotics, like the movement of any valuable).
If the Columbian drug lords can move cocaine with submarines, I think the government could add enough revenue selling drugs to make a difference. And before I get all the typical “statist” crap, realize that the government need not hold a monopoly, nor would I tax recreational drugs.
As for the military… the US Air Force is the largest in the world. Do you know what the second largest air force is? The US Navy. Instead of dropping bombs on foreign countries because their dictators are using our out-dated weapons to oppress their people, maybe we should tone down the weapons production and re-invest in our people and our country. Our roads are shit, our schools are shit, and both get reduced funding in the new budget while the military budget grew.
There’s nothing wrong with welfare, but all I ever hear from detractors is how they don’t want their money going to some drunk crack-head who drives a Mercedes and hates white people. I’m not sure such a person even exists, and yet we really are giving welfare to people whose job it is to kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims half-way around the globe.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Nina Paley discusses why she chose to make her movie available for free online through a Creative Commons license. While she does not benefit economically from sharing content, Paley reports that many people still want to buy copies from her because it creates a "social bond."
Dear Mr Skeptical,
I wish your column was every Friday
Can't Get Enough
Enough already! These posts of mine are called Dear Mr. Skeptical, and no amount of lobbying by the likes of you will change that. This column is not (and will not be) named Every Friday, and won't ever be as long as I'm writing it. You think I want to churn out this crap every single week? You've got another thing coming, and it won't be a weekly feature from me.
Dear Mister Skepticals
My Grandma died and I will see here again someday, won't I?
Yes, of course you'll see her again. It won't be as you knew her, but you'll see her. Then they'll most likely put her under a lot of dirt, so you won't have to look at her again.
Wait...what!!! "Missing Grandma" has signed your letter? She's alive! Didn't you notice when you sent it? Dear god, fool, she isn't dead at all. She's obviously gone insane though and is wandering in the shadows of your house, signing her name to god knows what. Look out behind you! She could be anywhere! Oh my, how I wish you the best of luck with your crazy grandma. You'll be wishing she was dead in no time.
Dear Mr. Skeptical
Can you tell the time by looking at the moon?
To save us both a lot of trouble, I'm sending you a watch with a light up dial so that you can tell time in the dark.
So, how’s it going Bret?
Not too bad. I’ve been keeping busy since I got kicked off of Skeptical Eye for making death threats and being an overall jackass.
I’m pretty sure no one at SE is Jewish, but thanks for the sympathy.
But dude, you’re missing the bigger picture. You defeated those earthworms with your words, imagine what you would have done with your fire-breathing fists.
My fists don’t do that, but I’m not a warlock like you.
Don’t worry, bro, they’ll offer your old job back. They always do. They can’t process you with a normal brain. You’re like me, tired of pretending you aren’t special. We are bitchin’ rock stars from Mars. We have tiger’s blood and Adonis DNA.
Well… that’s sweet of you to say, but that’s not really what I’m about.
We’ve got 10,000 year old brains and the boogers of a seven year old.
That doesn’t even make sense.
Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?
Holy shit, who invited Batman?
It’s Bateman, actually.
Do you guys ever wonder why Americans have a soft spot for sociopaths?
Jealousy, my friend. It’s just pure jealousy. Everyone wants a piece of you when you’re an F-18, shooting them out of the sky and deploying your ordinance to the ground.
You don’t think the attention is reminiscent of slowing down as you pass a car accident?
Jesus Charlie, what are you doing?
Duh, winning. Drug tests don’t lie. Scoreboard.
Well, it’s not like saying offensive things always works out. Look at Mel, he’s as untouchable as Hitler.
Whoa whoa whoa… don’t go comparing me to Hitler. He was the master. I’ve just made movies, I’m more like Goebbels.
Well, I don’t think you guys will be much help to me, because you were all famous before people knew you were psychotic.
Perhaps I can be of some assistance.
Don’t listen to that nigger, Bret. They aren’t to be trusted.
Shut up Mel. I’m going to at least hear him out.
You have to keep it all bottled up, be real nice and polite, then when you have the world on a string, you can cut the cord and watch all the little people fall at your feet.
I agree. If they never see you coming, it’s just a lot easier.
Listen to Batman.
My mistake. Just cool it, and remain calm when speaking to the public. When you’re behind closed doors, you can order unmanned predator drone attacks or cruise missile strikes, but it’s best if people know you for talking about peace. No one cares what you actually do, just sound civil.
So I can still be a raging maniacal narcissist, so long as I keep it under wraps?
Now you got it. Besides, you aren’t narcissistic, you wanna see narcissistic?
Yeah bitch, look into the camera.
Feeling a little uncomfortable…
Trust me, Bret. Just ignore the detractors and get your message out there, and this could be you: