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Programming while Deprogramming πŸ”— 1439057935  

fractal.jpgSee here and here for backstory/inspiration for writing this.

Though I was still in diapers around the time the author for the second article got his C64, my interest in computers came in a similar fashion. I saw how powerful Linux and BSDs could be over Windows 98 (even though much effort was required to accomplish a good setup at the time). There are many SysAdmins and Programmers I've met from my age group, and they usually have similar stories. I'm still amazed every year at how much of the indoctrination I'm shedding, while simultaneously realizing what a con job got done on me during my incarceration within the public schools.

I suppose I have my parents to thank for being able to get this far. By the time I entered kindergarten, I had already been allowed and encouraged to learn how to read and understand english phonetically. I had played enough card games to understand basic arithmetic. It was too late for the State to turn me into a completely dependent, drooling serf. Still, "Life in the School Zone" leaves nobody untouched. The latest steps in my journey come from an unexpected bout of unemployment for my Birthday present earlier this summer.

One of the purposes of teodesian.net is as a sandbox for myself and Doge to experiment with web technologies, which have fascinated us for years. Over time, we've rolled our own system of microblogging, blogging and file sharing that has features I really like (and that I haven't found in other blog/CMS systems out there). I took this time to roll up/refactor and package this system in a way I can distribute this to the public (GPL'd of course) partly as a 'feather in the cap' to show off, partly in case somebody thinks similarly to us and wants to use our system. I should be done putting the finishing touches on that by the end of the week and will post an announcement at such time. Doing this has not only improved my ability (which I intend to continue to do), but has begun to unearth some of the creativity I had buried along with my feelings around the turn of the millennium (and for reasons I won't to go into). More than that, I'm beginning to dream frequently again. I thought for years that I was just simply not remembering having my dreams, but now that I'm having them so frequently and remembering that I had them when I wake up, I'm beginning to wonder if a simple failure to remember them earlier was true.

If I keep heading in this direction, then I suspect I may just wind up having the most fearsome, exhilarating time in my life before I'm done. Not a bad way to start this website's "Third Act", I suppose.

Postscript: Between me and Doge, there's still about 10 or so outlined, unfinished blog posts we have had festering in our conciousness (and our hard drives!) that need finishing. I may just have found the motivation to finish them.

The Third Act πŸ”— 1439057934  

It's kind of odd, looking back at almost two years of what has more or less been the current iteration of teodesian.net. In many ways it is hard to believe that what started on 6/27/2011 went from being (to me) a novel way to keep up with what interested me and replace Google Reader's sharing functionality, then to an almost consuming habit. Still, something has obviously happened recently, signified mostly by our lack of postings, both on the newsfeed and on the blog. This has already been acknowledged to a degree earlier when we had a 'Hiatus'.

Recently, the "magic" seems mostly gone from the process for me. This is not to say that it is a waste of time or that I still don't have a lot to learn from observing current events. A large part of it is genuinely related to us being too busy working at IRL goals to dedicate as much effort to this, but it doesn't strike the root of what's been bothering me for a while.

I think the "Tyranny Today" has actually started to get to me. After learning so much over the last few years, my worldview has gotten pretty much figured out by this point. Now seeing the kind of depravity that oozes from the pores of the state's apparatchi is no longer a source of fascination, but one of aversion. Especially when I see examples effecting me in real life, my desire to see more of this quickly becomes less than reading through a gore thread -- slowly.

So, what, then, must I do? For now, I'm going to read a few more books. Focus more on self improvement and enjoyment. Heck, maybe think up some decent code changes to this thing.

I don't intend to stop posting here. Far from it. I just think I'll ultimately find more of value in the positive side of liberty. I guess it shows that I've been listening to the Freedom Feens at lot more at this point. I'll still post some of the more puzzling or analytical pieces regarding political machinations, but for the most part I'd like to post cool stuff and blogs more.


Cars-n-Guns πŸ”— 1439057933  

People from less wealthy countries, be it impoverished by ancient or modern tribalism (socialism), tend to have a sense of astonishment about the widespread ownership of cars and it's effect on the layout of the USA. Once they get a taste of the freedom accorded by having a device that can get them nearly anywhere they want to go, they start to "get it" on at least an emotional level. Having a car almost universally makes people recognize that freedom of motion and property rights are important (at least when it comes to them anyways).

The other thing that terrifies those used to being disarmed is the near universal ownership of firearms. Yet those who learn how to operate a gun, like cars, become loath to let go of them; even Gun Grabbing pols won't let go of their guns. This is because they are fundamentally no different than cars.

Both are mechanical devices that utilize combustion to deliver payloads from one place to another. Both can be enhanced by mufflers, optics, high quality fuels and integral parts. Both require regular maintenance to safely be operated within their intended operating range. Both are lethal menaces used in the hands of those with an evil mind, and similarly great blessings to those pure of heart.

Yet it seems there is little cry for the banning of cars; all the powers that be seem intent on banning guns. However, I suspect that this banning impulse cannot be restricted just to guns; after all these articles are fundamentally homomorphic.

So do the facts back this up? Well, consider all the existing restrictions on guns. No mufflers suppressors, nitro selective fire, chopping & channeling, "Sawed Off" barrels and stocks, and of course, you can only use your property in exactly the way described by your wise overlords, regardless of whether doing so is safe (harms no one) behavior or not.

This all sounds a lot like driving cars. The state has made this feeling of euphoric freedom into a vague feeling of oppression, knowing that if you don't drive in a helpless and defeated manner, you'll have the goon squad hassle you. Similarly, the confidence one has when concealed carrying is almost universally stripped from you when you go anywhere the "authorities" care about. Also, much like on the roads, you cannot expect to escape any such encounter still in possession of your property, thanks to the "asset forfeiture" loved by the highwaymen and sticky-fingered checkpointers. In both cases you know that the slightest resistance to this unjust imposition will likely result in your death, and the exaltation of your murderer.

And this just scratches the surface. When one considers the controls imposed on the manufacture of these objects, rather than just the ownership and use, one will quickly be lost in a forest of confusing and self-contradictory laws.

So what does this mean in the long term for us? Why do I think this means a ban is planned for both articles? Well, if both cars and guns are restricted in what seems to be inconsistent and confusing ways, you can be sure that the reasoning offered for their restrictions (safety) is a lie. To be sure, those advocating such may have pure intentions, but the end result (demonstrated preference) tells a vastly different story.

Everything the government wants to monopolize control over, they first make unpleasant to do by other parties. This is not surprising, considering the government itself is fundamentally a monopoly on dispute resolution. So, it should not be surprising that they act like monopolies always do, and attempt to shut down the competition in any way possible, and horizontally and vertically integrate.

So, I see the restriction on firearms and cars to be just a natural outgrowth of the monopolistic tendency to charge higher prices while providing a lower level of services. If the government has all the guns, they have a near absolute advantage in the field of dispute resolution; after all, then they can mimic Stalin and say "No man, No problem." Similarly, restricting freedom of motion is just an attempt to create a captive audience.

They must also take over the existing industries which provide these articles; after all, something that frees and empowers good people can also be used to more effectively enslave those without said articles.

When viewed through the lens of what is actually done, and how that fits with the fundamental nature of an actor, we can get enough clarity of mind to know how to effectively deal with them. The way to stop this is not to appeal to the monopoly (or any other one), but to instead proceed ever more boldly in competition to it. Even the greatest monument is eroded by grains of sand over time; so too it will be with competition to the state.

In that spirit, what innovations do I see coming down the pipe that will assist in this venture? Well, with guns, there is a bright future. 3D printing is very nearly developed to the point that restrictions on the manufacture and possession of a firearm will be an impossibility. When "invisibility" cloaks become more widespread, the concealed carry movement will become truly unstoppable.

When driverless cars do all the mindless obedience for us, the highwaymen will have to find a new line of work, or make it clear their parasitism is always a "fishing expedition", and nothing but oppression. Also, many of the auto-pilots being developed are open-source software and hardware; so I doubt the fears of centrally planned destinations are likely to come true.

However, unlike guns, cars are inescapably a more capital intensive article; and as such will likely remain outside the realm of anyone making cheaply and concealing easily. We will likely have to wait until teleportation comes to pass to truly do an end-run around the control-freaks' desire to keep us on the plantation.


Slacktivism πŸ”— 1439057932  

After listening to the Bad Quaker Interview Derrick Freeman, I realized I'd been wanting to share my perspective on activism.

I'm definitely with Ben Stone on this one regarding how many different types of activism there are. I know before he's mentioned that he can't fly because of his temperament, so I definitely can "Grok" what he's talking about.

In any case, I finally got around to watching "Victimless Crime Spree" due to this podcast (before listening to the podcast, actually - It adds needed context IMHO after listening). I know that I do not have the restraint to do what is done by Derrick or any of the Free Staters in "Free Keene" when confronted by such brazen criminals in their government. If I somehow found myself in a situation like that, then I could see having restraint in the moment of the conflict (only if it would facilitate escape); but I doubt I could willingly walk into any jail or tolerate anyone hurting the people I love that way, much less myself. I suspect I might just have decided in the situation that it was time to get a life sentence's worth of victimless crimes under my belt, just to prove a point. Of course, the police would then commit murder to avoid such a public embarrasment; and as I value my life more than confronting authoritarians, I wouldn't get myself anywhere near being in that situation in the first place.

Ben also made a good point that Derrick would be wise to take to heart; namely that his manner invites the cowardly and predatory in society to take advantage of him. It appears that he's even a sucker when it comes to fellow liberty folks. One thing I can say is that guys like Alex Jones don't tend to get hassled as much -- he correctly understands that bullies cower when you display an ability and willingness to resist. You'd think this behavior would backfire on the true government psychos out there; but they tend to flinch, being used to helpless and defeated victims. At which point you realize you probably should run from these people regardless of how you dealt with them.

Stuff like this is why I'm not an activist. I think I understand the Amish more every day; not being a target for those criminals is a good way to avoid the desire to mete out vengeance upon these rapacious devils. At some level, knowing how these fools & reprobates comprising the government act, and yet still exposing yourself to be hurt by them seems like a sinful act on par with suicide.

However, putting yourself inside a cage which you can tolerate is a pale substitute for real freedom; It is a pity that it seems the only practical option available to peaceful people. Furthermore, I'm not sure I buy the sort of "blaming the victim" involved in considering provoking the bad guys by being good as being sinful. Not wise, perhaps, but well within a person's natural right to themselves and their property.

Besides, who am I to try and defend the freedoms of those who desperately want to be enslaved? Many wondered why it took so long to get Ron Paul as far as he did, and once again I have to agree with Ben Stone. It is because the peaceful advocates of liberty and the violent advocates of statism have made a market for liberty. However, this does not mean the market for tyranny is now weak -- in fact it's never been larger.

As such, we will get nowhere by trying to make any gains for liberty at large. Instead, we should make our lives the example to follow of liberty and the success it brings. If we do, the slaves might just associate liberty with success, rather than getting thrown in the pokey like Derrick. If they can't free themselves at that point, then there's nothing you could do for them anyways.

Perhaps the Quakers had it right in their no-compromise position of complete disrespect for the Procrustean authorities & other puritans. I suspect such bold proceedings against evil will again be required if we wish to finish the job of abolishing slavery. Their pacifist position exposes the evil of those aggressing against them, and authoritarianism is fundamentally self-destructive -- one does not have to attack it to defeat it. One merely has to cease supporting it.


Matrix of Banality πŸ”— 1439057931  


all we want is to get out of our skin for a while...

Societies burdened with governments require pressure valves. Whether it is the tax shelter or porn, from EverQuest to Facebook. Humanity constructs another ideal shibboleth to lose themselves inside almost daily. Those who do not understand the individual idiom that each insider to these systems "groks" will likely react predictably upon seeing it, without even acknowledging how alien their paradigm is to those outside his lawn. Even now, I suspect I've "lost" some of you reading who do not share in my set of life experiences, consisting of indoctrination, pop culture and anarcho-capitalism. Well, that and the cliched teaser image and title that are trying too hard to be painfully hipster (as usual).

If, however, I haven't alienated you yet, then there's a good point to be made here. Due to all value being subjective, even "reality" doesn't have a monopoly on where we choose to "live" mentally. Indeed, even the science done on this seems to concur. As such, whichever "reality" we choose to live in will likely be the one with the best percieved return for the least required effort. Let me put it another way, through the paradigm of video games. Would you rather play "Wait in line at the DMV" or "BonerQuest"? Life under the state seems a lot more like Takeshi no Chosenjo than anything you'd actually want to play.

It should come as no surprise that more money went towards buying video games in 2010 (US Only) than was sent to the DNC for the purpose of getting the Magic Negro reelected in 2012 - a difference of over 10 Billion Dollars. I suspect there were more gamers than voters this year too, but to my knowledge, that appears to be an unconfirmed suspicion without any good statistical evidence gathered at this point. Certainly if you just switch over to internet or TV users as your pool, you beat it easily. It is common knowledge by this point that Internet and TV fulfill much the same purpose as video games to the average user anyways, so this certainly isn't just comparing apples to oranges.

Society is necessarily going to be a mirror of the people, so next time you get the urge to castigate some youngun' for playing video games, listening to devil music or snorting krokodil off the ass of a tranny hooker, think about the society that you helped to create before sitting back down to watch Fox News.

SocialSecuritySeal.PNG This article is paid for by taxpayers like you

Thank You, America.


self defense πŸ”— 1439057930  

Seems the authoritarians out there are at it again in the aftermath of the CT school shooting. As usual, they're arguing that gun use and ownership needs to be restricted for private citizens. Cause, y'know the government would never lie to you or round you up now that they have all the guns, right?

In any case, I keep hearing one terrible argument in even libertarian circles, and it goes like this:

I'd love to magically have guns disappear, but since we can't...
Using such as an argument against gun control is entirely ridiculous and dangerous. Not only does it ruin your rhetorical position, as it emotionally concedes the point, which is a cue for the chimps out there to shout you down; But it also implies something far, far more sinister.

It says that you pine for a world where the physically strong dominate the weak. Without guns, anyone with a stronger arm and a long weapon rules the roost. Women and short people need to think real long and hard about that one -- without an equalizer on your hip, peonage and rape is gonna look real easy.

I've also heard lots of people advance the argument that it's OK to have gun control, as long as you have contracted (or are coerced) into a police-protectee relationship. This is also a remarkably foolish argument, as there are some things which simply cannot be delegated. Like one does not hire another to eat or defecate for themselves, hiring another to defend one's self is similarly an impossibility for all but the wealthiest. Even then it is a pale substitute; can one really trust a bodyguard to be there 24/7, and to not betray? Ask the Roman Emperors how that one turned out for them.

In the end, I think the thing that really terrifies all these authoritarians is the statistics on self defense; And this isn't just talking about how more guns reduces the incidents of aggression overall. In every case, resistance to aggression (regardless of how it is done) overall increases one's chance of surviving the incident. This is borne out even in the macro events; being in open rebellion beats the heck out of concentration camps. As such, the authoritarians have a sort of annihilation panic going on; they know their behavior is self-destructive at some level, and as such must rationalize before cognitive dissonance sets in and they feel uncomfortable in the slightest. After all, the whole point of being authoritarian is so that you don't have to think for yourself!

Which I suppose hits back again at the root of all this. Authoritarians delusionally believe that they can delegate authority over themselves and others which they either do not possess or cannot delegate. Some feel they are delegating their ownership of others, and hence control of their actions, to the "authorities". This is clearly wrong, as telepathy does not exist; rights do not exist without the ability to use them.

However, this is something of a straw-man, as most believe something even more ridiculous. That being the "sum of the parts having emergent properties" argument. They hold that while no one has the right to coerce, agglomerations of people ("society" or "the common good" or "the collective") does. Well, I'm all for there existing some emergent properties in some systems. However, I find it a great leap of imagination to believe that emergent properties exist from a summation of parts that equals 0, as no single member of the agglomeration has the claimed authority.

I suppose it is the internalization of this delusion that makes most of those holding it eschew self defense; as otherwise they would have to think for themselves about why they are not internally consistent (and they foolishly believe they can have authorities think for them). So, they go on their merry gun-grabbing way until the reality of self-defense statistics stares them in the face, at which they have a few choices:

The vast majority get emotional and angry to distract oneself from reason (democrat), or start looking out for themselves while not taking the time to become logically consistent (republican). Some do embrace reason however. Hopefully they take it all the way to liberty.


A Clear Mandate πŸ”— 1439057929  

This is going to be a quick take, but it's a bit long for a nuze posting. Anyways, it looks like out of the 221.5 million eligible voters (229.95 Million of age to vote less ~ 7-8 million convicts - I'll go with 8 to be conservative), around 120 million found it to be worth their time to vote*. That means 54% of people decided it was not even worth their time to vote. This is great news, as it means that nobody legitimately won the election if you counted the votes sanely (haha!).

Ultimately, this is great news, as it means the majority have likely withdrawn their consent, even if just due to apathy. Still, there is also another side of the coin here, as it also means that the government (as usual), could care less about what the people want and will go ahead being the pillaging minority that the state always tries to be until they go full retard and embrace communism.

UPDATE: I guess I should just throw this all out and say all the real votes were either stolen or fence posts. What a joke.


*Note that around 1.5 million were confirmed for Libertarian. No telling how man little 'l' libertarians there were, because those aren't counted in the court statistics (as they'll never vote).


Review: Classified Woman πŸ”— 1439057928  

" No, that's your mistake! You are the one who doesn't understand...Like your father, you are the one who lives in an idealistic world. That world does not exist, Sibel. Governments, be it Turkey, Germany, Egypt or the United States are all the same. They want one thing: power to rule. They cannot tolerate truth or dissent. "

Sibel Edmond's Mother, Classified Woman pp. 155-156

I recently have read several books that really brought home to me the true depth of depravity in our government (and to varying extents all governments). I used to be fairly jaded and able to talk about these extremely tyrannical things going on while remaining pretty calm, but I can do so no longer. As such, I didn't quite think that I "Hated the state", like Murray Rothbard said was a big part of being a real fighter for liberty. Though I had the moral passion for Justice, I did not fully internalize how what we have today is not only far from, but the complete opposite of justice. It was when I realized that the message we send by not resisting these criminals, and "running silent and deep" only encouraged them that my strong dislike and aversion turned into a steely determination to resist these criminals in every way possible.

Now when folks like Alex Jones (the interviewer in the video above) talks about being fired up, I really understand on an emotional level what he's talking about. It really is hard not to believe that this is an insane death cult, considering it's the only way to be logically consistent with the actions. The temptation to run as fast as I can from the USA has become nearly irresistible -- we're way past the point that 1776 could solve these problems.


But, time brings calm, and I think I've discovered a couple of rather mundane threads that run through all of these things; an explanation which might be of remarkable rhetorical utility which I intend to make a forthcoming series of essays on. Anyways, I'd like to share my thoughts about one of the few books that will chill almost anyone to the bone.

To begin with, I feel pretty good about excerpting the book above, considering the ridiculous and hysterical claims of state secrecy the FBI and DOJ have levied against the mere publishing of this book. Such bemusement was the general feel I had starting to read the book; this is despite regularly reading Sibel's Boiling Frogs Post, and having heard of some of the explosive allegations surrounding the cover-ups she exposed. Even these things did not prepare me for how brazenly corrupt and evil the reprobates in all branches of government and the media were when it came to Sibel's case.

When I saw that the "State Secrets" privilege (literally a relic from the old star courts) was being invoked not just to classify ridiculous numbers of documents daily, but to prevent discovery, legal defense and practically every other element of due process that I realized that the precedent had been set. The government will never again be limited in any way by anyone for any reason until the whole damn system collapses. It's "If Sulla could, why can't I?" all the way down. They will just wave their magic wand of state secrets, ruin the lives of citizens who resist, and intimidate all politicians and media personalities with their police state blackmail apparatus until it grinds down to full collapse.

It was truly shocking to find out that not just some, but all embarrassing incidents in the FBI and other alphabet agencies are covered up, and that this was common knowledge in said organizations. This is doubly shocking when you find that the government basically concedes all Sibel's points, but refuses to hold anybody whatsoever accountable. Talk about moral hazard -- no wonder these clowns are soiling themselves over terrorism; they know that the way they've set up these agencies is such that they can't even catch a cold!

Having been in organizations where a culture of "face saving" and other such tribal "we look out for our own above all else" behavior has literally wrecked productivity, I know how this ends. It is all the more dangerous and destructive considering that these guys are in the business of violence; If anybody can make people disappear to cover for incompetence, things get real scary quick. I can't honestly say beyond a shadow of a doubt that such is not already going on; in fact there is strong evidence in many cases that the FBI, F-Troop, the CIA and DEA have and are making people disappear.

Needless to say, this is a book which should be read by all Americans. If this story of all the branches of government covering up for foriegn infiltration involved in nuclear arms smuggling and 9/11 can't break people out of their trance, I don't know what will. Considering that half the voting population (Demoncrats) are now lauding the doubling-down on these policies which were so evil under Bush, and that the clownish Rethuglicans are basically groveling and worshiping Obama's use of these powers because of this, I'm not holding my breath. It seems the general public has been so inculcated to authority via public schools that there's no limit to what they'll put up with.


Big Rock Candy Monetary Theory πŸ”— 1439057927  

There are some days where I really shouldn't bother reading my emails. Though I list Naked Capitalism as one of my sources in the Links page, there are some pages I skip over rather routinely. This one, unfortunately, got emailed to me as well, so I decided to see what must be so neat about this article. Alas, I could not resist ragin' hard enough to write a rather lengthy reply over this one. Below is the reply, with a link added for context.

This time, Phillip Pilkington continues with his usual strawmanning and misunderstanding of Austrian Economics. I'll admit, he would be correct to bash the 'right wing' and the CATO crowd for acting illogically/nostalgically. Ultimately, however, he's not even striking in their direction, except tangentially. Judging by Phillip's references and earlier hit pieces on Austrianism, this appears to just be another polemic against Austrian economics (due to an MMT based Inflation Infatuation).

In any case, the Austrian Economist does not advocate either inflation or deflation, as the 'correct' money supply is necessarily unknowable to the Austrian due to the implications of the action axiom. If asked for a policy prescription, any 'target' amount of money given by an Austrian economist would always be incorrect even by their own admission, unless due to accident/luck (as it is not calculable via economic analysis, due to omniscience not being a means available to man).

Mises recommendation would not be to abolish the fed or abolish the government, instead merely observing that central planning of 'x' is necessarily going to be an insufficient means of obtaining whatever 'y' is and must thus necessarily end either by voluntary abandonment of these "Means unsuited to the attainment of certain Ends" or by the failure of that collective venture due to the compound effect of persisting in employing means unsuited for obtaining whatever the desired end is.

Even more essential to the debate is the very structure of production and 'Cantillon effects', which all but the most delusional MMT bozos can grasp (Ed Harrison gets this). MMT has a similar, but much more limited notion of banks not being 'reserve constrained' but rather 'capital constrained'. In the same way, regardless of the supply of money, the real capital pool of an economy is not determined by the supply of money, but by incentives existent to employ capital (which the money supply does influence, but is not the only factor). One can contrast the 'miraculous' gold glut period Pilkington refers to with the 'disastrous' gold glut that accompanied the fall of the Spanish Empire. Why did these periods have similar monetary growth profiles but different outcomes (ENDS)?

If you've been paying attention, you'll see it is the means employed by the actors in the market to obtain the gold. The private gold miners of the 1800s largely were providing a demanded product at a price freely negotiated between them and the buyers, where the Spanish empire had no such concern. Thus the Empire made errors in calculation due to having no frame of reference to judge the profitability/viability of their decisions as it relates to funding the continued operation of the Hapsburg Empire. This caused more errors later when the empire frivolously wasted all their gold on that century's version of 'No Bid Contracts'.

Once you start walking down those roads, whether it starts with paper money and ends with authoritarianism or starts with authoritarianism and ends with paper money is irrelevant, as doubling down on any coercive end to obtain anything other than privation will necessitate ever more intervention until whatever comprises the collective achieves a perfect state of privation and savagery. The Spanish monarchs eventually figured this out and voluntarily abandoned most of their schemes when their cousins got hanged and guillotined or otherwise fell from grace.

In the end, Pilkington makes the Austrian case himself and doesn't realize it by using 'the great liberalism due to gold glut' theory he espouses, as no central bank was required to accomplish this miracle of inflation without the 'stag'. He then goes on to note that the deflation afterward was marked by massive cronyism and police stating (mostly born from the 'Reconstruction' of the south into the north's plantation). This massive increase in slavery resulted in a deflation the Aztecs got to experience earlier as all their gold got 'liberated' from them by the Spanish empire. The north, of course, was busy spending all the spoils from the enslaved south to pacify the southern slave states at the time, so the economy predictably suffered due to the misdirection of scarce resources.

Philip doesn't get that the reason the Libertarian Austrians decry paper money/centrally planned inflation is because it is not caused by an actual increase in scarce resources and thus breaks the price mechanism in ways both unforeseeable and catastrophic. Since MMT guys are stuck in Book Value world, I suppose it is unsurprising that he does not grasp this.


The Truth does not have to be forced πŸ”— 1439057926  

"How many lights do you see there?"
"I see four lights."
"No. There are five."

Have you noticed that nobody has to stick a gun to anybody's head to make them believe, say, Newton's laws of motion? This might seem like a silly question, even though it is clearly true that nobody has to force people to believe that inertia exists. It's sort of an "ignore this at your own peril" sort of thing.

Similarly, companies tend not to make products that kill people unless they already have blanket immunity, usually acquired through some sort of bribery, be it direct or indirect. That might seem like an extreme example, but we must realize that even the non-extreme example is true; any company which makes a product superior product to another firm's at a better price point will always succeed supposing the other firm does not apply coercive measures. Even then history shows that the force cannot be maintained forever; Mr. Market wins in the end.

What I'm getting at here is that ideas which are true do not have to be forced. If a scientific, technological or political idea which purports to be beneficial if used is indeed true, no force need be applied -- people act to achieve desired ends, and anything making that easier tends to catch on pretty quick.

Like another key insight I learned early in life (if you are confused, something or someone is lying to you), this seems rather profound and useful. Consider practically any government program and you will immediately realize the truth of the situation: that it is fundamentally exploitation. For example, suppose you say that public police, roads, schools, et cetera are beneficial ergo we must have them, and such justifies forced exactions (taxation). Well, if it were such a good idea (e.g. everyone involved wanted it, and it was clearly better than private alternatives), would people need to be forced to pay for it? I think not.

Like in the days of slavery, we all want cotton; but does this mean that it will not be picked without slavery? Or that less cotton will be picked if we abolish slavery? Clearly the answer is no; cotton production neither ceased nor reduced production after abolition. Production increased instead.

Some say that this was due to mechanization, but this is tantamount to saying the facts don't matter. The Sharecropping model that replaced slavery was no walk in the park -- these people were not in any shape to buy capital equipment. Nevertheless, production increased. Freedom, even in small amounts, is a powerful motivator. Similarly, we will not have a society with more violence, less roads, illiterate kids or lower quality/quantity of any service which is now publicly provided if we decide to fund them without coercion. We will have a less violent, better educated and more prosperous society instead, due to the accountability imposed upon actors in those fields by the market.

Consider a more contemporary example, say the notion that we must all pay a tax to combat global warming. Well, if global warming was really as dire as advertised, you would not need to force people to fight it -- Like fighting a foreign invader, people would be lining up to volunteer.

Of course, this is somewhat more complicated -- many do volunteer to combat said warming, being convinced of it's danger. I suppose they do not think their efforts will ever be enough however, like those volunteering for war tend to do (warning sign!), and almost universally agitate for a tax to support said efforts. Those agitating against global warming think that this tax will disincentivize using petrochemical fuels, and that people will instead use renewables which will avert catastrophe.

Of course, this is foolishness when one considers that religions have been threatening sinners with hell for thousands of years, and torturing, robbing and killing them for a good portion of that time. Yet, man still sins. They say this is due to man's fallen nature, but I suspect it has more to do with the fallen nature of those in the church incapable of seeing the mote in their own eyes.

The reality is that be they sins against god, master against his slaves, or our earth-mother with evil carbon, man will not repent until it benefits him to do so. This is not a reason for despair however; it is in fact a reason to rejoice, for it means that civilization will slowly become less wrong, as the initiation of force is never mutually beneficial. Like Jesus said, the truth sets you free. And the truth does not have to be forced, so eventually we will be free.


Judge Time πŸ”— 1439057925  

I was listening to Anarchast the other day, and I heard an argument from Bob Murphy that really resonated with me vis-a-vis becoming an anarchist. He said that he managed to be a minarchist for many years, until he realized that the state doesn't even reliably provide law & order, and never has. I am reminded of the phrase "with friends like these, who needs enemies" -- but here it's "if you call this order, I'd hate to see what you think is chaos!" This made me realize that it was probably the law classes I took in college that made me realize how unnecessary legislatures actually are; as such, it didn't take much to realize that the rest of the state was a total scam after reading the Austrian Economists.

Looking back, I must say that there is definitely a good reason that law is not taught in US primary school; If it were, the strength, simplicity, and moral authority of common law would likely strike more people in the same way it did myself. Failing that, it might make people think twice about treaties, and raise a bigger stink about unconstitutional statutes. Maybe I'm an optimist, but I suspect most people going through that class would wonder why a constitution, statutes and treaties are necessary at all.

This is because it's really, really hard to beat the common-law definitions of crimes and torts:

Torts

A tort is any harmful action done by one person to another person, regardless of intent for which compensatory restoration is possible. If the act was intentional, triple the amount which would be sufficient to restore is to be levied as a disincentive to intentional harming of others.

Crimes

A crime is any harmful and intentional action done by one person to another person, for which compensatory restoration is not possible, either in whole or in part. Since all such harms inevitably violate a person's ownership of themselves, some valuation can always be put on a person's use of their body over time, which was cut short or stolen by crime; ergo all crimes are also torts. Traditionally the punishment for crimes was death, shunning/exile or enslavement.

I cannot think of any way a person, knowing the definitions as such, could be confused as to what is criminal & tortuous, and what is not. However, there are a couple of areas I think that this could be improved upon.

Harm vs. Lack of Gain

A place where significant trip-ups have been made in the past and resulted in some of the greatest evils of our time (namely monopolies/cartels and copyrights/patents) is the deliberation of when someone has been harmed, rather than prevented from profiting. Most people do not realize it, but the arguments in favor of copyrights and patents are identical to those behind monopolies and cartels -- namely that a person is harmed by competition. Put this way, the argument seems legally ridiculous; I am clearly not harmed by a person competing with me, I simply do not gain where they excel in contrast to myself.

However, it gets more complex when we get down to the personal level, such as is done with patent and copyright. Suppose I share some copyrighted works on-line. Have I harmed the copyright holder, or am I simply a competing distributor with a rock-bottom price preventing the copyright holder from profit? Reality has borne out the second view. If the copyright holder moves to a "name your price" model, they invariably capture more audience than "pirates" do. This means that the real problem the copyright holder had was price discovery; The number of people who were willing to pay the copyright holder's price was lower than the number of those who would prefer it at a lower price, and due to the monopoly nature of it had nowhere to turn but to "pirates".

So, since it is clear that there is a market remedy which acknowledges the way humans really act, why do we need a monopoly? Like all the other uses for violence, it is because the person does not have an actual argument; they are simply ignorant of a way to be rewarded for their intellectual efforts, and resort to waving guns around. It will take time for people to internalize these lessons; but like this generation of musicians, all will soon realize that their recordings are better used as a way to popularize their real moneymaker -- live performance. This notion is already taking root in silicon valley for patent-holders; they are beginning to realize that they can sell their employment in implementing said design easier & more profitably than the patent itself.

It is worth noting that these concepts (monopolies, copyrights, patents) are not common-law concepts, but were invariably put in by a statutory authority (e.g. Kings). This too leads me to believe that I am right to consider all of these legal fictions to be the result of mistaking Lack of gain for harm. Considering the hideous evils wrought by these legal notions, one realizes precisely why the law was limited to questions of harm; when we expand it to prevention of gain, it takes on an entirely arbitrary character. If it's legitimate to deserve renumeration from a person competing with you, it's legitimate to stop him from competing altogether via injunction or more extreme sanction. Such a standard quickly degenerates into "my way or the highway" for the most powerful interests in a country.

Punishment

Now, as to punishment for crimes, and treble damages, there is much controversy -- in simpler times, death was generally preferred; today most societies prefer enslavement (incarceration). I personally consider exile to be the most humane, due to the argument made by Clarence Darrow -- the courts, even if guided by such simple principles will make mistakes. As such, death and enslavement is criminal behavior towards the wrongfully convicted; exile alone is at worst tortuous -- access to a land can be restored. Of course, exile has been abused in the past, especially when one considers the punishments for violating it (outlawry) and how it frequently was coupled with asset confiscation. I suspect the only punishment which does no crime to those wrongfully exiled would be shunning.

Thinking on it, adapting the "first do no harm" from medicinal traditon into "first, do no crime when sentencing" would be a good, simple to understand addition to the common-law tradition. Such would send a clear message that our "justice" system is no longer about vengeance or exploitation, but about the pursuit of justice, no matter the cost.

Who's law is it anyway?

Speaking of the vengeful and exploitative legal punishments US citizens and visitors are subject to, it's also worth mentioning that it's completely arbitrary; from it's composition and interpretation to it's enforcement. The fact that our federal and state governments have three separate apparatuses for doing precisely these things bears this out; if our rules were not arbitrary, they would be:

  • Static, and not require composers (parliaments, dictators, etc).
  • Simple enough to be interpreted correctly by the layman (e.g. jurors)
  • Simple enough that enforcement could be conducted by the layman (e.g. militias/posses)
Arbitrary rules are dangerous precisely because if the determination of rules can be done at whim, it is also morally legitimate to enforce and interpret them at whim. If a congress, dictator or some collective comes to the point to where their word is law, can we really be surprised when the judges and police below them act in the same arrogant manner? As it is above, so it is below -- this is fundamentally why corruption happens, despite otherwise ethical people overwhelmingly staffing these organizations.

To add insult to injury our laws are not just arbitrary, but non-universal. Non-universal rules for humans means that some men are not subject to them, and all who are not subjects are rulers (e.g. above the law). This is clearly the root cause of the arbitrariness; furthermore it is a less robust system, as a limited number of rulers can never resolve the disputes of all the subjects as quickly and satisfactory as the subjects can themselves (see the economic calculation problem). Also, like with arbitrariness, we can expect those below the rulers to agitate for exemptions too -- corporations, "loopholes" and subsidies are all manifestations of this.

It is for these reasons that I realized that not only was the state unnecessary for the provisioning of justice, but actually hindered it's administration. For many years, I have struggled like many others in the "liberty movement" to find a way that I could make this superior system of common law, rather than statutory and administrative law live once more, and to make improvements upon it. It was not until recently that it occurred to me that the very arbitrariness of the system was the mechanism by which it could be defeated, if only at the local level.

Judge Time

To start, I would campaign for low office like JP or county court, and vociferously make the case that since the law is arbitrary and everybody's techincally a criminal (note "3 felonies a day", etc), nobody should really care if I ignore what's on the books and throw out all cases that don't fit the common law definitions of crimes/torts (who was harmed?)

Furthermore, nobody should really mind if my decisions get overturned on appeal; it's all arbitrary, remember? I'd also make a point of passing out FIJA pamphlets to Jurors, denying "fishing" warrants, granting habeas corpus, and doing various other things that would majorly piss off DAs. Hopefully it would get to the point where they wouldn't even bring cases before me; then I'd at least feel less put out from turning down the salary and running my court on donation. Failing that, maybe I could get away with a helping along some barratry or malicious prosecution suits against said DAs that have a penchant for railroading people. It would also be neat to have cops hauled in for harming people unnecessarily or under citizen's arrest, but I suspect I'd have to be bringing murder charges against the police if any citizen attempted such an arrest anywhere in the US.

You'll note I added that caveat "at the local level" earlier -- I have no doubt that if this were not a nationwide phenomenon, the existing power structure would find nothing at all wrong with caging or killing anyone doing this that made trouble for people "higher up the food chain". But, we have to start somewhere; this to me seems the place in which the liberty movement as a whole has the greatest disagreement upon.

Navel Gazing

Folks like Stefan Molenyux think we have to ignore politics and raise "the perfect socialist libertarian man" first, and that this will be a nearly endless slog. That sounds a lot like the fuzzy-headedness I hear all the time from the other side of the aisle -- e.g. communism only failed because they weren't communist enough. But it also has a grain of truth, much like agorism (just be free, ignore the state); If Mises truly is right, just letting the non-aggression principle work it's zesty magic long enough will make liberty lovers out-compete the parasites, who will slowly go extinct, or at least slide into irrelevance.

I'd say that in the end, the most likely strategy for achieving real gains for liberty in our lifetime is emphasizing that we want to opt-out of the state, like Murray Rothbard suggested. My strategy above, and a previous post I've made about suggested tax reform seem to fit in pretty well with that; and the more I think about an opt-out government, the more I like it. It's not just compassionate to those dependent on the current system and hard to disagree with (though I intend to make a forthcoming post on what objections exist, and why they're all some form of circular reasoning), but it's also practical; I seriously doubt I'd be able to use private roads exclusively for quite some time after universal-opt out was allowed. It also allows for those of us who want to be more hardcore in our embracing of the concepts of liberty to do so -- which means the Molenyuxites, Agorists and Praxeologists could test our approaches towards the pursuit of happiness too.

This, in some ways makes me wonder why there is this feeling of schism at all in the movement. Is not the true way of liberty to "lassiez faire"? Should not the best path to liberty not constrain oneself to a single path? I guess we can all lose sight of the big picture in the frustrating battle against statism; maybe all this subtle insinuation of division is all just a psyop, like Alex Jones suggests. Judging by the actions of the movers and shakers in the movement, they all seem to get along well enough to hang out at PorcFest, FreedomFest and Libertopia just fine. As such, I think much like Ben Stone does on this subject; we are all still growing in our understanding of humans and liberty. As such, the plank in our own eye can be hard to see sometimes.


Ridiculous Moral Arguments πŸ”— 1439057924  

I saw a great video by Molenyux on some commonly bandied about arguments used by statists:

Hint: one was used by Thugman the other day on the Colbert Report. People always forget that moral catch-22's aren't really possible -- if there are no choices, there can be no ethical or moral context. It's that old truism -- there is no such thing as good if one cannot choose to be evil (and vice versa).

However, real world examples are not quite so simple -- for example, The International Business Times is now bashing Ron Paul for admitting that he collects Social Security monies when there already was no choice in having the money taken from you in the first place. Either way, the Immoral act has already been accomplished. Taking a small amount of your stolen money back or choosing not to take the money back basically has no moral context.

Now it could still be argued that since the government has done more evils in that it has to enslave future generations just to pay these benefits currently, taking the money is bad. However, it must be noted that the bad decision was yet again already made here -- that is the state running this pension program like a ponzi scheme rather than a retirement fund.

So, all that is left is the praexological perspective -- we must consider how this impacts incentives, and whether it encourages you to do good or evil in the future. And from that perspective, taking the 30 pieces of silver is clearly the wrong move here. Deriving benefit from an evil organization like the state will inevitably tempt you to rise in it's defense. This in particular has always seemed to be a blind spot for those like Walter Block who derive benefit from the state, yet rationalize it as helping to "starve the monkeys".

AGW: the why behind no consensus πŸ”— 1439057923  

About 3 years ago, I got into a debate about Anthropogenic Global Warming with some of my friends. As you may suspect, I took the skeptical position. Due to such, the initial response was to use ad-hominems ("denier!") and to shout other thought-terminating cliches ("There's a consensus!") Of course, I didn't bother pointing out that the use of such implied that their opinion on such rested more on magical thinking; Use of such is generally a signaling mechanism that they are simply uninterested in the facts.

So, I decided to take a different tack. I asked them why they thought I hold the position that I do on this issue. Their first response was that I'm clearly heavily propagandized and brainwashed, due to not holding similar political opinions to them. So I responded, Supposing that's true, why have I been propagandized? Who gains from this? Their response was that it was the evil oil companies funding all those skeptical.

At this point, I didn't bother saying "I don't see my oilco check in the mail", or pointing out that most of those behind the AGW science are paid by governments, and not free from such conflict of interest either. Pointing out that something like government which they have internalized as good (which is like saying rape is love) could possibly corrupt scientists would more likely provoke a fight-or-flight response than reflection, so I didn't bother with that argument either. Instead, I asked why would these companies both fund colleges which have AGW promoting professors, and even back their conferences and run AGW awareness campaigns if they don't care about the issue? They responded that it must be a trick, considering that these companies are Evil (tm). Since I knew they would not respond well to me pointing out that they're engaging in the same kind of tinfoil-y conspiracy theorizing they accuse anti-government people of doing, I decided to tack yet again.

Supposing I've been propagandized by these evil companies, I said, why was I susceptible to this propaganda and you were not? Considering that we both had presented ourselves as pretty empirical and rational people up to this point, they thankfully did not make the argument hopeless by declaring me insane. They responded that they really couldn't tell me, as they weren't mind readers. I responded that I knew who could read my mind (myself), and offered the following explanation as to what could possibly incentivize me to believe as I do from a completely pragmatic perspective.

According to the IPCC's own worst-case estimate global warming would result in 37 inches of sea level rise over 100 years. Think about where I live. At the time it was 430 feet above sea level. It's obvious that I would not be directly affected by this; furthermore it would creep up so slowly that I'm sure we'll be able to adapt as a society. In fact, I would likely indirectly benefit due to increased crop yields (plants like CO2, and more ocean means more available humidity for clouds/rain) and higher relative property values (due to less land). The benefits would be even greater for those in high latitudes, as crop growth would be possible even higher than before. This explanation seemed to fit for them, as their general perception of those who "deny" AGW is that of a redneck rural republican.

I then turned the argument around and pondered why it seemed there was elite consensus on the danger of AGW? Well, considering that beachfront property is the most valuable, and hence owned in the largest proportion by the rich this becomes obvious pretty quickly. Furthermore, most refineries, ports and other capital equipment are there (due to 80% of humanity being within 20 miles of a water source, which is usually the coast). I posited that this was a more likely explanation for corporate backing of AGW, including that of the oil companies. Next, I stated that as a result of this agglomeration of humanity, governments would necesarily be anxious about disruption to them; as they want to maximize tax revenues.

I then asked why they think they support AGW, specifically in the context of how that belief benefits them. Almost invariably they said something along the lines of having had it explained to them by some particular friend in an AGW friendly way. Considering all these people's friends were on some kind of government assistance, the incentive structure became immediately clear to me; but I didn't decide to press that. Rather, since they were rather non-religious folk, I asked "Isn't that a bit like giving lip service to god because it makes dinner with family less tense?" They started slithering a bit at that point, and I realized that this was about as far as I was gonna get. Hopefully it was enough to plant the seed of doubt.


Corporations versus The State πŸ”— 1439057922  

I hear arguments along these lines all the time:

Liberal: "Evil corporations! They have corrupted our once virtuous government! We need more 'democracy'."
Conservative: "It's the evil government's creation of moral hazard that's incentivizing our once virtuous businesses to act in a reckless manner!"
and they never seem to resolve themselves; generally they agree to disagree. It is quite rare that the parties to these debates step back and realize that it takes two to tango; and even then they rarely realize why the dance floor is there in the first place.

Even those who recognize that the modern western state is basically Fascism, don't generally go in to why all of the western republics seem to always go this way. For some, I suppose it is not sensational enough, as the reality requires no conspiring by elites; for others, the reality would kill too many ideas which they hold sacred, and they do not investigate further in order to protect against having an existential crisis. In any case, the fundamental reason why the modern state and corporations tend towards this cartelization with each other is because structurally and functionally, they are the same.

Defective by Design

To demonstrate this, let me provide a couple of definitions, so as to facilitate straw-man attacks against this piece. When I say the "modern western state", what I mean is some sort of government in which the populace elects representatives to carry out the political aims of the populace. When I say the "modern western corporation", what I mean is some sort of organization in which shareholders elect various agents to carry out the economic aims of the shareholders. If you're paying attention, I'm sure you have noticed some similarities in those two definitions.

In fact, the only meaningful difference between the two are their aims and stakeholders. Many would believe that this would be enough difference to keep these parties distinct; however, when one truly understands incentives, you realize that the means always color the ends. In fact, the longer the means are in place, the more likely they are to become the ends themselves.

The means in this context are twofold: agency and limitation of liability; both have defects which make the possibility of effective shareholder control less likely as the size of the organization grows.

The Agency Problem

Agency is the notion that one can delegate the particular details of implementing a policy to someone else in exchange for payment. Where this breaks down is fairly well understood, just look up the "principal-agent problem". The usual hierarchal organization of governments and corporations practically always exacerbates this.

In the most degenerate stages of the agency problems in corporations, we see both executives abusing the company long-term to maximize short term bonuses; we also see situations where executives don't see rogue business units under them. Similarly, we see this in the large republics; practically all of them are actually run by their bureaucracies.

Limited Liability

As a result of the difficulties in caused by the agency problem in large organizations, the notion of limited liability always comes up either de-facto or de-jure. For example, if a corporation does some hideous polluting and as a result several people are killed, the shareholders are not held to account; this is because by law they have no direct control. Similarly, if a government decides to genocide some neighboring country (and fails), it's people are not directly held liable -- reparation payments are limited to their government, which inevitably finds a way to default on such.

The state, of course, does have an interesting extra measure here that is related to how not only they will abuse others which are not stakeholders, but how they also will abuse their own stakeholders (see Principal-Agent problems above). This concept limiting the liability of the agents against their principals is called "Sovereign Immunity," and this may perhaps be the only way in which the corporate model is superior to the modern western state. Still, even this type of immunity seems to be coming to many corporations as well. This phenomenon is known as "regulatory capture".

The fundamental defect in limiting liability is that it solves the problem of corrupt agents by corrupting the principals. Shareholders will be much more willing to go along with morally reprehensible, but profitable, actions when they have no reasonable expectation of blowback. Similarly, voters can get behind monstrous atrocities like enslaving generations yet unborn for a stimulus check today, as they know they'll never be held to account even if the bill came due tomorrow.

Consequences & Solutions

The consequences of these problems are quite far-reaching. Some Austrian School economists would even go so far to say that ultimately the issue with the modern corporation is that it suffers from the same economic calculation problems that plague all states, due to elements of central planning being present in corporations. Indeed, this problem becomes even worse when paired with the state, as they create a culture of competition in centralization, where the pressures to preserve your respective organizations actually drive you to centralize more due to mutual parasitism.

The astute reader might now be thinking that direct democracy or perhaps even monarchy is a solution to this nearly intractable problem. While Monarchy is indeed an improvement (as limited liability clearly is not present), and the autocrat has longer time horizons, it is at best only a mitigation strategy. It will inevitably suffer from out of control agents as size increases. On the other hand, consider direct democracy. If your "democracy" just ends up electing more agents, you will achieve at best a monarchy with multiple personality disorder. At worst, it is indistinguishable from republicanism and will degenerate into fascism. If instead your democracy ends up implementing all it's directives directly, I ask why vote at all? Such a system is really indistinguishable from anarchy; so don't bother going through with the ballot ritual and skip straight to free markets.

However, I suspect that radical decentralization of such a sort will be a bridge too far for most. Most fear their own failures so strongly (usually due to extreme sanction on such during childhood) that they will not be able to resist setting up liability limiters. Only time will tell whether de-centralization's obvious robustness and superior ability at satisfying the needs of it's stakeholders will win; I suspect such will happen only after the greatest achievement of centralization (global government) fails miserably.


Agile and Praexology πŸ”— 1439057921  

In my Professional capacity, I often come into contact with various methodologies such as Agile, ISO and Six Sigma. I've seen it done Right and wrong -- and I do think that in general Agile is the best of them. However, it is worth saying right out of the gate that all of these things cannot magically increase productivity, or make the lumpen creative. All the process-oriented approaches can do is get you uniform output, and as such reduce the incidence of stellar catastrophes.

As to why Agile by and large hits the mark, I believe the reasons lie mostly with praexological principles. When I am exposed to new ideas, or go over old ones, I have the habit of seeing it through the praexological lens. It struck me how similar the reasons that the failures of the "waterfall" method of software development resemble those of central economic planning. Requirements are decided by wise overlords, which are then implemented by programmers, checked by QA, and sold by marketing/sales. If any one of those in the chain fail, the project fails -- and the longer the planning horizon is, the more catastrophic the failure becomes.

Agile solves this effectively through decentralization and redundancy, which is the place that most organizations fall down in implementing agile. It is worth noting that this is also the way to mitigate the the ill effects of malinvestment brought on by failed economic calculation. As above, so below.

Another interesting concept in Project Management is the Iron triangle of Cost, Scope and Schedule -- that if you insist on any two, one must give. This is fundamentally what economic calculation is all about. Agile recognizes that if you insist that all three requirements are met, no amount of effort can make it a reality. If only the state would realize that backing up it's insistence on project goals with a gun is similarly futile and deluded.

The reasons for this are largely due to the information paradox created by all economic valuation being subjective. Value is subjective due to the impossibility of any two individuals having an identical informational context; like a program, we cannot rule out differing output when run by different interpreters, even if we feed it identical inputs. Similarly, the possibility that a group of stakeholders will ever be able to come to perfect agreement on the three points of the triangle quickly approaches 0 as the number of stakeholders increases.

Anyways, most businesses are not actually built to maximize the company's revenue, but profits for the owners; and as such they tend to be arranged hierarchically. This inevitably conflicts with the notion of "self-directed teams" in such organizations, as anxious managers and info-hoarding Neddries will lose power. The radical transparency required for such a team to correctly function is often a bridge too far, usually due to a lack of trusted agents. Most organizations are simply incapable of providing sufficient incentives to attract and keep employees worthy of such trust.

Similarly, governments always tend towards centralization due to the fact that doing such institutionalized violence makes finding trusted agents practically impossible. One look at the state of politics bears this out; only those capable of great lies can bury the skeletons required for maintaining the aura of legitimacy. Similarly, the requirement to bury such skeletons inevitably kills the level of transparency required for effective cross-agency co-ordination. As such, de-centralization is seen as an existential threat rather than as the way to effectively achieve their stated goals; and governments default to self-preservation becoming the goal.


Phobos Ozymandias πŸ”— 1439057920  

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

-Frankenstein's Baby Daddy

Many have often speculated about what really motivates the 'Power Elite' into acting in the way that they do. From what I have seen in the Anarcho-Capitalist/Liberty minded folks out there on the internet, the prevailing theory seems to be that they really are a bunch of power mad control freaks who actually derive pleasure from imposing their will upon others. Upon reflection, it is becoming more and more clear to me that this emerging "New World Order" and it's masters are not, as it may appear, motivated to continue to ride this train all the way to hell as a means of control, but rather because of a fear that the opposite is coming true despite their best efforts. One can make the case for this most persuasively when viewing the continuing rollout of the Police State and the complete zombification and paralysis of the banking sector. Why would they be simultaneously so impotent and yet need increasingly more draconian policies to be implemented if they already were 'getting off' on how much they are imitating BTK? Having to work harder to obtain your goals of domination doesn't exactly sound enjoyable to one having a high time preference when it comes to bossing people around, as it takes more effort to beat (or kill) your slaves into compliance than to have them be a compliant stockholm syndrome victim. Also, if you were already that delusional, wouldn't it be easier to rationalize and say you are still in control, even as everything tumbles down around your head?

Contrary to the more dramatic of the commentators out there, I would say that most of these 'Superclass' people are possessed of far more mundane motivations, even if a few of them are lunatics. One could even go to the root of the issue and just make an appeal based on the language of power: The State. What is implied by that phrase? Most obviously, stasis. It is a failed paradigm that aims to eliminate change in a world where resources are scarce, which leads to obvious problems. Regardless, this is the story of humanity's existance, as it is in our nature to seek stasis. Change is ultimately an immediate threat to homeostasis. Looking at evolutionary history, however, it is quite clear that the species that resist change (and thus does not select towards adaptiveness and intelligence) winds up as the extinct race. I think, deep down, the elites of this world can feel this, even if they don't know it. They may fear this more than they like to admit. Their actions would seem to validate my line of reasoning, as attempts to tighten control are ultimately a sign of weakness, not strength.

Still, perhaps this says more about myself and how I'd feel if I was captaining the Titanic than what is really felt by the elites. Who can say, as it would require being that person to truly know - and then, could you even honestly tell yourself, much less others, the truth?


The origin of the virus πŸ”— 1439057919  

Some have speculated that the virus preceded life, being as they are nothing more than amino acid/DNA/RNA chains. This would seem to be plausible. However, being as we likely do not (and possibly never will) have the ability to reproduce the conditions in which life formed, this may have to remain speculation for some time to come.

That in mind, another interesting possibility came to mind; that life itself generated the virus as a means to more effectively compete amongst each other. This has some real world backing, insofar as all life that is a carrier of a particular virus generally tends to be more successful than those who are not; such obviously reduces competitive pressure. We have also many cases of life generating other poisons to reduce competitive pressure, so it is not a stretch to posit that they may have branched out into virological warfare.

So, with the motive and use of such a mechanism in place, we have merely to show now that life can indeed spontaneously generate the virus where previously there was none. This would likely be as a result of random mutation in one of several competing strains of a particular species.

An experiment to verify such would be as follows: Take a number of strains of a particular bacterium species, and culture them isolated from each other until they reach some particular population level. Then put them into competition on the same substrate, and see which (if any) particular strain achieves dominance. Study said strain for traits that are new (and virological in particular). If no evidence of new viruses is found, separate the winner and culture into groups much like the original experiment, and repeat until one of these conditions are met:

  • Virus has spontaneously generated. This would be enough to prove that at least some viruses originated as selection mechanisms from living organisms.
  • Over a significant number of iterations, no evidence of virus generation is found. We can conclude then that it is at the least highly unlikely that viruses came from this source.

It is likely that the latter outcome will occur, in my opinion, as life is notoriously tight-fisted with it's origin story. However, it would be an enlightening experiment to carry out either way.


Keeping the dream alive πŸ”— 1439057918  

In modern times, it seems as if governments are entirely unresponsive to the demands of the electorate. This is of course, due to the natural political phenomenon of rigging any system that matters, such as elections and financial exchanges. However, as of late, too many in electorate are catching on to the fact that the system is rigged, and that they have no real control. Phenomena such as the ever-lowering voter participation rate, and Occupy Wall Street are but a few examples of this.

So, the elites need some kind of new gimmick to distract the people, or at least get them to rationalize elite decisions as in line with their own. Traditionally, this has been war, and there seem to be no lack of attempts at this sort of maneuver by the modern states. However, even this is wearing thin, as noted before. The same people who realize the whole system is rigged know that war itself is a racket. Therefore, I propose a bold new experiment for the USA -- and like all other "bold" new proposals, it makes up for it's lack of substance with style.

The proposal I am making here is eminently passable; it requires no constitutional amendments, no changing of tax rates, and is completely opt-in. Simply put, I would make charitable deductions reduce your AGI (adjusted gross income), and include government organizations in the list of qualifing charities. This would allow those who are devout worshipers at the federal temple the option to allow their wise overlords to spend their tax allotment at their own discretion, while also allowing those more skeptical to redirect those funds to agencies they support, or even private charity. This would satisfy progressives and the welfare hordes, as it would not change rates or effect FICA/FUDA (social security/unemployment insurance) very much. This would also satisfy conservatives, who could redirect all their tax dollars away from funding abortion, and towards dropping bombs on brown people.

The government will also be quite pleased, as it will confer some much needed legitimacy and moral authority on the state. Like they say (falsely) about the national debt "we owe it to ourselves", we could similarly say that our government's priorities are "entirely controlled by the people", and are therefore democratically legitimate. This measure will also not serve as a meaningful check upon government power, being as they are primarily financed by borrowing and money printing anyways.

With all that in mind, I would name the bill the "Prioritization of National Spending & Investment" (PONSI) act. With this bill in place, I am confident that we can keep the rigged system and it's associated ponzi schemes running until the currency collapses. Which is to say, no different a time-line than the current situation; but there's a better chance that it does not end in guillotines for the operators, as might be the case with the current state of public opinion. The more blindsided the public is by the event, the more likely they'll buy the excuse that it was caused by communists/al-qaeda/militia groups. In short, it's change we can believe in.


Thoughts on WAR πŸ”— 1439057917  

death
The real face of war

I recently watched an interesting Canadian documentary from 1983. Though it is lengthy (coming in at nearly seven hours) I was riveted. I honestly think that if this, (or something like it) were shown widely in the USA, the military would have a serious problem on their hands. Perhaps it is time for an addendum to be made, as it seems that war has not changed too much in the mean-time.

Part 1: The road to total war

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

Good introduction to the last century's wars, and how folks thought of them at the time.

Part 2: Anybody's son will do

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

I began to get the feeling that had many of my classmates seen this after we took the ASVAB, none of them would have joined. Military training, like public schooling, is simple operant conditioning -- but bent towards a different purpose. In public school, the purpose of conditioning is to make you a good little slave, and fill your head with lies about how the system works. However, it is not terribly effectual, as the primary purpose is actually to keep the kids out of the way while the adults work.

In the more extreme case of boot camp, the purpose is to turn you into a hardened killer temporarily; and into a person who will follow orders from "higher authority" (which we see what that is next chapter) unquestioningly.

Part 3: The Profession of War

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

The job of the officer corps is made quite clear herein. The nature of modern war makes success and failure (and hence life and death) largely a matter of chance. This would make most rational people see no reason to follow leadership, as they would get the same results just rolling dice. It is rather humorous how closely art imitates life in this regard; success in D&D depends entirely on your equipment and luck.

In any case, such a collapse in discipline is anathema to the whole purpose of a warrior society, so officers are there to invent rationalizations and inspire confidence in the soldiery. However such is but a cruel joke on the soldiery, and the officers know it. They are fully aware of the grim reality; yet like those under them, they too are prisoners of their conditioning. The warrior society is a bizarre sort of Stockholm syndrome -- everyone grimly sets about doing things not a one of them want to do.

Part 4: The deadly game of Nations

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

To me, this is the most important part of the series. It made me realize, as I have many times before that it is collectivism, and nothing else, that is the root cause of war. The true "tragedy of the commons" is that everybody has equal right to defend it against non-owners (e.g. other collectives/tribes/nations). It is an inevitability that one (or many) of these owners will be foolish enough to take said defense of their commons too far, which is how all war begins. Once it begins, war proves to be a cancer which is incurable for a civilization; as it either kills the patient when they lose, or enriches it to the point that it's various special interests' lust for conquest becomes insatiatable.

It was also quite informative as to Israel. I remember reading that Prussia was "but an army masquerading as a state" once. I have a feeling that the Israelis feel uncomfortably close to being the same thing; the angst they must feel realizing that peace with the Palestinians is likely only to come with measures NAZIs might have dreamed up must be troubling.

Part 5: Keeping the old game alive: conventional warfare

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

Hammers home how woefully useless all the tanks, aircraft carriers and fighter jets would really be if it came to a shooting war with a party that could actually put up a fight. Soldiery is effectively obsolete as a profession, at least when used against nuclear powers.

This is why special ops and covert intelligence currently dominate the relationships between the great powers, and the military is relegated to pushing around those who have no meaningful ability to resist. It would seem that the consensus amongst the nations was to form a few cartels (NATO and SCO/Russia), and divide up the world in lieu of burning it in nuclear fire. They did not reckon on what would happen when they both want to take over some place, however.

Part 6: Notes on nuclear war

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

Makes the horror or nuclear war pretty clear, and puts the lie to the notion that conventional warfare would not degenerate into nuclear war. Like most other things that discuss nuclear war, I suspect the fear-button pressing has an ulterior motive, and the next chapter does not disappoint.

Part 7: Goodbye War

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

The conclusion of the documentary is that we should have global government as a solution to the risk of global nuclear war. However, the notion that this would stop war is foolish. The governments of the world will not willingly join a global government if it does not give them more power over their citizens; ergo, we must assume that rebellions against the resultant tyranny and slavery will occur quite frequently. There is no guarantee that nukes would not then be used as a tool of oppression rather than as a risk to all human civilization.

Some might consider that something of an improvement, as at least man would survive; but that will be little comfort to those living as slaves of the new world order. The real solution is not to have global collectivism, but to abolish the state and it's militarizes worldwide. Though the documentary said "the most unlikely conclusion must be true", they did not consider private property anarchy as the most "unlikely possibility"; however, they can be forgiven that, as it was not exactly a well known movement in 1983.


The corruptor πŸ”— 1439057916  

After watching an interview with notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, I came to three Realizations. The first was fairly obvious; This system is incapable of being "reformed". You could liquidate all of K street, and they'd just come back meaner. Instead of giving bribes, they'd start kidnapping, hiring investigators to get blackmail material, or just flat out kill those who don't play ball.

Which brings me to my next point. Abramoff repeatedly in the interview states that he thought he was one of the nice guys, and as we can clearly see, he didn't exactly play hardball with his clients. Yet the interviewer still felt revulsion, and I suppose rightly so. But there was the sense that the interviewer thought the government and the system wasn't really to blame. Of course, such a notion is ridiculous, as it takes two to tango; but even then, "don't hate the player, hate the game". It's the fact that there's a floor for these folks to dance on that's the real problem. Remove the arbitrary power of the government, and the reason to corrupt those involved disappear.

The last thing I noticed was remarkably more subtle. If organizations like Abramoff's can get this deep in so quickly, what about more powerful organizations? It makes one realize that maybe this consipracy talk about secret societies might just be on to something. When one realizes how many CFR, Trilateralists, Bilderbergers, and members of other secret clubs are right up there at the top regardless of which direction you look, you realize that maybe their influence isn't so different from those folks Abramoff "owned". Heck, when you think about it, the two parties are really just this sort of corrupt lobbying organization in an institutional capacity.

Considering all this, one begins to understand why despite the faces changing, none of the policies out of Washington do. Even if you elect a good man as president, he'll be surrounded by people who only present the side of the story they want seen. That must by why President Jackson instituted the spoils system. He knew he couldn't get anything done any other way.


Picnic on wall street πŸ”— 1439057915  

occupado

It would seem that the hip thing to do now is to go out and "occupy" the banking district of cities. This is all well and good, but like the "Arab Spring" protests, they will not accomplish much in the long run, and are little more than an excuse for police-stating in the short run. In the Arab nations the goal was at least accomplishable (overthrow of a dictator), rather than being largely undirected rage against "the system" as in OWS. Of course, people are just as angry here in the EU and US at "the system" as any of those Arabs are, but they aren't quite sure just why.

This confusion is mostly due to the difficulty in grasping and holding to account a vast faceless bureaucracy and their corporate minions as opposed to a smiling dictator and his minions. People find it hard to believe that so many eyes on a position of power could allow the kind of abuses that are common to dictatorship. So, they end up lashing out at any obvious symptom, oblivious of the root cause of all of this; the cancer that pulses in the heart of all government.

They all speak of particular symptoms (Wall St. criminals, Obama, Congress, etc), but you could liquidate all of these and change nothing. Like the Arab nations ousted their dictators, we could throw all the upper management of the mega corporations in prison, and re-staff the entire government, but things magically wouldn't change at all. They cry for transparency; but their blind spot for the root cause (lack of accountability) will net them only a brazen government in the end. Until they demand (and implement!) a system that is responsive to the people's desires, real change will not occur, and they will continue to rage futilely against the machine.

Suppose we did "throw all the bums out" and make the heads roll of the wall street crooks. Within the year, new crooks would have appeared like shark-teeth to replace them; and neither the ouster or the lack of change would be directly due to the protestations of the disenfranchised. The guys chosen to replace after the ouster could even be angels (though this probability approaches 0), and it still wouldn't fix the accountability shield that the modern state gives it's agents. Like lord Acton said, power corrupts; and sovereign immunity is as close to absolute power as it gets.

The question arises, though, why do we have government who's agents and friends (corporations) are effectively above the law thanks to liability shields (sovereign immunity and the corporate veil, respectively)? Weren't all the western democracies founded on the liberal principles of equality under the law? Universal Brotherhood? Didn't we make all of these fancy charters and constitutions and other straight jackets to keep the government responsive to our wills, rather than doing as it pleases? How on earth could ALL of them fail? Well, it's because they all have a fundamental defect; they didn't know how power really works.

The notion of the state has always been one of violence and coercion. If people do something "wrong", the government is there to force them to do "right", or at least exact vengeance. They can only accomplish this by acquiring the means to destroy. Well, if you can't destroy without first acquiring something which was created, which is the more fundamental power? Clearly, it is creation. So, consider this: perhaps voting (determining who is in office) is not so important as how much creative power you "give" the government. In the end it's power that matters. That's why no set of laws will stop a government which has acquired enough to overpower it's citizens.

Consider any other physical object -- you cannot move it if you do not have enough power; enough leverage. You want a good purchase on whatever you grasp, lest it slip from your hands. Anything which can exert it's own force will have to be overpowered. Now consider government -- do you or any other person think you have the power to move it? No, you have to band together, and try to use it's own power against it (judo throw); this is why we have corporations. Where did the government get all this power such that we need to go to such lengths just to make it serve our interests?

In our world, creative power is represented by money and other assets which represent purchasing power (creation). Well, if we are to keep the government accountable to the will of the people, we must have some rationing mechanism; some way in which we can restrict their flow of money when we are displeased. Sadly, the rationing mechanisms are called "Tax evasion", "Terrorism" and "Black Marketeering", any of which will get the full force of the state to smash those who try.

This is because our governments all acquire their power in fundamentally illiberal means; it is just raw force. Involuntary Taxation is the norm; it is barely different in the way it is carried out than a mafia protection racket. Fiat Money debasement, the other tool of the tyrant, can only work with legal tender laws (which is, again, force).

So, if OWS is to actually accomplish their goal of a system which satisfies their needs, they have to strike at the root. Demand honest money and voluntary financing of government; accept no substitutes. Otherwise, you won't get what you want. After all, thanks to withholding and Fiat currency, they already have your money. Why should they listen to you?


One thing a Statist should NEVAR do πŸ”— 1439057914  

From time to time, I keep seeing posts from various sources, whether they be as a link in some comment or even a full blown article making the argument that if you hate Taxes/The State/Welfare Programs/Infrastructure but simultaneously utilize some government offered service, then you are obviously some sort of sociopathic hypocrite. This, of course, fails on many levels to be a logically consistent argument.

First, hypocrisy implies deception, which may not always be the case. I very seriously doubt that most who advocate for Smaller Government/Minarchism/Anarchy actually are massive statists "on the down low" (unless, perhaps, you happen to be a politician). You may be able to legitimately say that many of these people do not 'practice what they preach', but even then, there are many who, through their writings/speech, have made it clear that under whatever system they 'preach,' it's still okay to accept state "services", whether that acceptance is voluntary or forced.

Then again, Libertarians (and Commies!) can also make this mistake - sometimes even resulting in double the dissonance:


can you spot Schiff's error?

Still, in the interest of simultaneously "Striking the Root" and arguing in Bad Faith, I'll go one better to statists with a list of prohibitions they should comply with in order to avoid "hypocrisy":

   1. Do not engage in free exchange and association. Instead make all relations mandatory.

What? You were wanting more? Too bad. Since you have such faith in the state, you should be pleased to know that there will be no market failures or externalities to worry about anymore. This is because you'll be too busy dealing with extreme privation to worry about anything like that if you follow the rule above. I think I can be fairly certain, however, that I don't have to worry about leading anyone down this ever so consistent path, as facts don't matter and language controls perceptions.

Hmm. Not bad for a first blog post. Now that the bile has been cleared from my throat, maybe I can get to work on some decent posts - I've been in an Aesop mood recently.


Bitcoin: Hologram of Cryptocurrency πŸ”— 1439057913  

I wrote an earlier post going over bitcoin. In it, I made a prediction that it would be more successful than most suspect, and I stand by that...but upon reflection, not for the reasons cited there. I was always suspicious about one or two technical parts of bitcoin, and the interview with one of the big bitcoin movers & shakers on the Peter Schiff show, along with Gavin Andressen's visit to the CIA have not helped such. Considering the history of cryptocurrencies, I could not believe that anyone would want to get the government involved in any way. Cypherpunks hate the government's control, and would not even try to sidle up to the powers that be...so I am forced to conclude that this has nothing to do with the cypherpunk movement, and their primary child, the cryptocurrency. The fact that you see almost no mention whatsoever of J. Orlin Grabbe's DMT, TruLedger or even lucre/opentransactions on the Bitcoin Forum, or practically any bitcoin information source gives me great pause. This, along with a few other things have led me to the conclusion that bitcoin is not a cryptocurrency, but a hologram[1] of a cryptocurrency.

To summarize my previous article, Bitcoin is basically the same as dollars from a technical standpoint but with the added advantages of being scarce, and not being controlled by the FED banking cartel. I think I left out the most important reason things will succeed, which I thought at the time was a fairly trivial conclusion to make based on the lack of FED control. That advantage would be that anybody can get in on the seigniorage train; bitcoin is literally a gold rush. Add these tough economic times to all the unemployed hipsters with computers and that's about all you need to conclude bitcoin isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

It is worth noting what I am not saying here though; gold is scarce and not controlled by a banking cartel...plus it can't be physically destroyed like bitcoin wallets can be done with a keystroke. So why would anyone use BtC over gold? Well, it would have to be a cryptocurrency to have an edge; and I did not define explicitly what that was. The primary selling point of cryptocurrency is that it cannot be tracked, not that it is possible not to be tracked. Bitcoins all contain a transaction history, ergo they are all unique, ergo they are imminently traceable...unless you launder them. Which is the real problem. If one has to go out of your way to launder things, the government can criminalize such an act, and the ability to evade taxes and exchange controls (the reason to have cryptocurrency in the first place) as a matter of form is basically gone.

There are other systems that did (and do!) have real untraceability, yet can be used in transactions credibly (as the tokens are basically reciepts, as laid out here). I even linked to them in the introduction...so why no mention? Why the trying to be friends with the government? And why did this currency initially billed as a proof of concept take off? All the arguments I used to justify bitcoin in my previous analysis apply, yet are even stronger in the cases of bitcoin's competitors. It's sudden success is because it was the first decentralized one; the DMT, E-Gold and others being shut down cannot happen to bitcoin, despite it not being a cryptocurrency in the most important way.

However, the ability to modify bitcoin to not have transaction registers beyond the last one, and to make everyone's wallets a part of the network (and thus not destroyable) could be easily added. And such will be done; this will result in a pretty much perfect cryptocurrency, supposing it uses the strongest crypto it can. However, I doubt it will take over and kill bitcoin despite it being better for the intended purpose. This is because there will be a huge number of folks with a large vested interest (indeed there are several large interests already) in keeping bitcoin going, and the government, when confronted with a perfect cryptocurrency, will opt to stick with the devil it knows. That the bitcoin majors seem to be trying to cozy up to governments makes me think that they perhaps anticipate this; and to their credit, they see what little improvement this represents over the dollar as worth it.

It is a pity that in this regard, "worse is better". However, this does not change the fact that people will use the better form whether bitcoiners or the government wants them to; and this gives me hope due to the extreme police-stating that will be required to stop it. Anything that can kill a perfect cryptocurrency from being used will kill the imperfect one too; so maybe Gavin and Don Norman aren't so out there sidling up to the powers that be. Perhaps they think bitcoin could go from being a mere hologram, a false promise, into a Trojan horse. If it catches on enough to become widely legitimate, there will be no stopping real cryptocurrency from coming along and dealing the killing blow to asset taxation.

I think that may be a bridge too far, however. Governments will NOT like having their seigniorage gravy train taken away; this is a serious barrier to becoming legitimate. Furthermore, if things are forced by a dollar collapse, it is more likely that gold rises back to the top than bitcoin. So, I think we have to go back to the strategy of the cypherpunks: Use barter dead dropping (like with TruLedger) and real cryptocurrency to take yourself out of the system. Run, silent, run deep. Withdrawal of consent from the current system is what is required for real change.


Notes:

[1]The archaic definition of hologram: a document falsely representing itself as an accurate metaphor.

Bitcoin: The Golden Apple of Eris πŸ”— 1439057912  

Bitcoin is a new currency that has taken the web by storm. There are many touting and decrying it, and most doing so are missing the point entirely. This new currency based on ancient ideas will win the world, and here's why.

There have been many currencies that have risen and fallen throughout history; they all rise and fall for the same reasons. No currency has intrinsic value (due to all market value being subjective); in every case money is only an easy to carry placeholder for something of real value*. Throughout time, that was usually some commodity; eventually gold was settled on due to its easy subdivision and high scarcity. However, these placeholders were (and are) always done in by fraud. Many (banks, usually) would issue more placeholders than were warranted by their wealth on hand, and somebody would get wise. Such would result in a hiccup in the economy whilst all goods are revalued; Or if such is disallowed, thanks to price controls or other coercion, the whole system would collapse in a crisis of confidence.

The reason this fraud (fractional reserves) occurs is because people forget that money is not wealth. An increase in the amount of money in circulation does not make you wealthier, as such is simply a claim on said wealth. More claims just means the share of the wealth is now redistributed towards the party which holds the new claims.

So, keeping this in mind, why will bitcoin succeed over the modern fiat currencies?

First, there is no technical reason that the transfer of bitcoins will be any more difficult than that of the other modern currencies. All modern currencies are effectively digital currencies, as most of their outstanding supply is but digits on a ledger, which is no different from bitcoin. This will allow bitcoin to achieve the high velocity needed to facilitate global trade; the volume of trades achieved in this early stage already reflects this. Bitcoin can be used in personal transactions. Bitcoin has Escrow services.

Second, it has many excellent advantages over the other modern currencies. As all modern currencies are controlled centrally by governments through their quasi-private "central banking" cartels, the people have as much power over monetary policy as they do over their government (which is laughably small, even in the most advanced democracies). As such, the government is capable of treating the savings denominated in that currency of said people like a piggy bank to be looted at the stroke of a key. Bitcoin, being generated by the users themselves, and having a strict cap on the number of coins which can ever be in circulation, is immune to such depredation. Supposing that bitcoins themselves continue to be traded (rather than markers representing bitcoins on deposit at some bank), we will not see bubbles and their resultant collapses.

Furthermore, due to being a cryptocurrency, it is trivially easy to evade income and wealth taxation using bitcoin. Since bitcoin "wallets" are easily held and secured by individuals, one needs but to avoid banks and baliments to escape levies. Furthermore, due to the transactions being encrypted, and the amount changing hands being known only to the transacting parties, valuation by a taxing authority is effectively impossible. "Following the money" in bitcoins is practically impossible, due to the trivial ease and untraceability of laundering said bitcoins. Like in Elizabethan Brittania, "every man will be master of his own valuation"**; and that sort of rules out the sort of leviathian states that are all the rage these days.

Finally, due to being peer-to-peer and encrypted, the ability of governments to shut down trade in bitcoins is severely limited. There are only 2 ways that governments can expect to completely stamp out bitcoin usage. The first is by forcing goods shipped in that country to verify it was purchased using their highly surveilled money; good luck doing that without world government, and even then the increase in transaction cost would be crippling to the economy.

Secondly, they could just shut the internet off forever. Such a remedy would be needed, due to the following factors:

  • domain seizure of vendors (such as SilkRoad) can be circumvented by not using domains at all
  • bitcoin traffic is indistinguishable from many other common online communications, so outlawing it is not feasible
  • the needed software to use bitcoin will not be able to be suppressed, as it is open source, and the internet has a way of keeping such things around
Even then, those few nations that value free trade religiously (like Singapore) will not outlaw this, as they see it is a clear benefit to them.

The government will have to resort to extremely tyrannical and intrusive measures which will have very deleterious economic effects if it wants to stop bitcoin. I see this as a plus, as there are several other methods of raising revenue that the government can resort to that are not obsoleted by bitcoin (such as poll taxes, tariffs and excises). Of course, the internet and globalism has struck a serious blow to both tariffs and excises, and most governments are loath to return to poll taxation (as it must be payable by all, and ergo must be low). So, many governments will resort to such repression; but they will be overcome eventually by those that accept the fact that the days of huge revenues via coercion may be over, and shrink their government to a size that can be sustained by poll taxes and/or donation.

Now there are some speed-bumps and other hazards that must be avoided if bitcoin is to live up to it's full potential.

First, there is always the risk that the encryption algorithm protecting it from counterfeit (and hence it's scarcity), SHA 256, is broken at some date in the future. Due to the projected computational difficulty of such a task, we do not expect such to be done anytime in the near future; but such will eventually become a concern. Now, it is possible to simply add new and stronger algorithms to the bitcoin network; but the holder of bitcoins would be wise to upgrade to higher grade encryption at the first opportunity; As when the lower grade encryption gets broken, transactions in bitcoins that have not yet been converted will likely not be accepted save for by the extremely foolish (probably a government).

Next, due to the convenience of escrow services and banking, we will likely forget once again that money is not wealth. As such, we may start trading in markers representing bitcoins, rather than the coins themselves; then we will fall into the same banker-trap we find ourselves in today.

Finally, (and most importantly) the currency has not yet gained widespread acceptance. Until a vast array of merchants accept it, it will remain but a speculative commodity; However, due to the pros listed above, I think most will come around in short order.

We must always remember that "good money" always beats "bad money" in the competition for who gets the highest velocity of money, supposing no exchange controls. Good money has the following qualities, while bad money does not:

  • Easily subdividable
  • Man portable
  • Scarce
  • Difficult to destroy by man and nature
Bitcoin has these qualities, and in ways that beat existing fiat currencies. As such, it will quickly gain such momentum as to make the governments of the world tremble in fear, and the people of the world rejoice.


Notes:

* Sometimes money is also something of real value, like gold. Then it's more of an extension of barter which eventually becomes money.

** See Adams "For good and evil" pp 242-245


How Steam could replace all consoles and even GameStop πŸ”— 1439057911  

Steam is one of many online software systems used to distribute computer games. Eventually, it's face will change when even AAA games start to be distributed by the browser; but the suggestions I will lay out here should apply regardless. It will also be applicable to all other online game distribution systems, and as you will see, can be generalized to the software market at large.

Games, like much software, is distributed under "licensing". Anything distributed via digital means is trivially easy to copy, and so the only way they can reasonably expect sales in a similar fashion to more traditional games (like board games) is to enforce their copyright via a end-user licensing agreement. This worked reasonably well when the software was distributed on physical media; and this sector still thrives thanks to re-selling used games being possible.

Online distribution, however, has not had the benefit to the consumer of being able to transfer ownership of a license to their software. Effectively, once you bought it, you are stuck with it, unless you sell your whole library of games you bought with that particular distribution service. This is not feasible for many gamers, as they have reputation and identity tied up with their distribution system (as many games' online component relies on said distribution service as a backend). So, why has the ability to transfer license even between users not been allowed yet?

It is obvious that transferring between distribution systems would not be a trivial task; being as the publishers and distributors would all have to get on the same page legally. But when it comes to peers inside a distribution system, there's no technical reason that licenses could not be transferred via auction. The reason such has not happened yet is because the publishers of the games is attempting to use the market power of the distribution system to suppress the used market, as they fear they would make less money. Their fears are not unfounded, as sales of used physical copies would attest. However, there are ways that the publishers could be accommodated which would satisfy the customers as well.

First, the publishers (or the distributors) could offer to buy back used licenses for some fraction of the new price, and then resell them at reduced price. This would satisfy the publishers, the sellers and the buyers, as each gets an economic benefit they would not have beforehand. Furthermore, the reduction in revenue from sales of new licenses could easily be made up for by the increased sales of used licenses, as they churn through multiple re-sellings. It is likely that this would maximize the revenues obtained in the long run.

Alternatively, an auction service could be set up where the sellers set the price, and a portion of the proceeds is kicked back to the distributor and publisher. This would provide actual market signaling, which is useful information to the publishers; if licenses sell on the used market at a discount or a premium, they can adjust their prices on new licenses to increase sales. Furthermore, if the licenses expire after a time, the market could discount them pro rata, and do many of the things that traditional commodity markets do.

I feel that the publishers will likely go for the first option, being as it gives them more control; however, experiments with the latter might just prove to be unexpectedly lucrative. I suspect the second would have the best application for games that can only sustain a certain number of users at a time, such as MMOs. Then due to the (somewhat) artificially restricted supply of seats on a server, the good games could command quite a premium on the market. On a small scale, this already goes on privately.

Of course, marketplaces like this would also be easy targets for VATs and other excises. Thankfully, the internet has successfully resisted such things for normal retail so far. Hopefully it takes a new world order to tax the internet; I think we can resist that for a good while yet. Maybe even the one-worlders won't be able to interfere, if the success of bitcoin and SilkRoad is any measure.


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