Google “On Liberty” by J.S. Mill

This post is going to have to cover the latter half of Tuesday’s episode as well as all of Wednesday’s. The reason is, he discussed a paper put out by Bernie Sanders on climate change. I found the paper online here. Usually Jason gets it right and all that is left for me to do is a bit of elaboration. I don’t know what the weather is in Kansas, but down here in western Oklahoma we get hail. Great big hail at least once or twice a year. So, unless they’re going to give away solar panels, I won’t be getting one. Wind power might be a little better, but economically it’s the same as what Jason said, it doesn’t make sense. Maybe the day will come when it will only take 2 years to break even, at which point home owners will  buy these alternative energy technologies, but right now it just doesn’t work.

My question for Jason is, if you are a climate change denier, where does this stuff come from? Is it something these people genuinely believe or is it just a ruse to wreck the economy and gain more control? The answer is obvious in regards to the college age tree hugger. I think they really believe there is a threat. But what about the people at the U.N.?

I’m not one for conspiracy theories that get into the CFR and the Knights of the Golden Circle and all of that, but it seems highly convenient that a threat like global warming would present itself so as to necessitate the government managing the economy on such a grand scale. Yes, I do believe we landed on the moon. No, I don’t believe that the Government blew up the World Trade Center. However, this one sort of has me thinking.  If you’re wondering where this is coming from, it’s  The Creature from Jekyll Island. I know enough about the Federal Reserve I can trust everything he says about it. But, when he goes into climate change, it seems like too big of a lie to try to sell to people all over the world. Then again there’s some saying, “The bigger the lie the easier it is to believe.” And, they are able to consolidate power now; they won’t be around to be called liars latter.

Here, we are at a point where the debate is closed on our side, and we’re just trying to figure out what they’re up to…

I’ll re-open the debate. 3/4 of the Earth’s surface never encounters the air. Of the 1/4 that does, only something like 3-5% is covered by human settlement. How can what is put into the air, which only touches 1/4 of the surface, affect the climate? I would be more concerned about changes in temperatures of the earth’s oceans, but I’ve never heard this mentioned at all. I do believe that forests need to be conserved, and whales and rhinos shouldn’t be hunted to extinction. It probably isn’t a good thing to leave your car running at the drive-in movies, and no, you shouldn’t litter (although Walter Block does defend it in his book that I mentioned yesterday). But, are any of these things going to kill the planet? I just don’t see how. I look at things skeptically and critically like Jason, but I’m also open-minded (not to say he isn’t, my guess is he’s researched it more than I have).

Then there are some comments about Trump and shutting down the internet, and about Google working on integrating software that will seek out and block hate speech. I appreciate Jason pointing out they have a right to do that, but we should still raise hell. This is one of those societal issues where, yes, they have a legal right to do it because it doesn’t aggress against others, but it’s not something that is demanded in the market in a free society. I can see it being a niche sort of thing; even then, there should be outrage.

This is where I would recommend a book to everyone who is literate in any language. It isn’t just one of the foundational works of libertarian thought and thus a must read, it is a book that’s been read by every important writer in the field of government, liberty, and economics since it was published nearly 150 years ago. It is, of course, “On Liberty” by J.S. Mill. You can read it free here. Now, I don’t want anyone to think they have to agree with it all, I don’t even think I agree with all of it, and J.S. Mill got a lot of stuff wrong, especially in his later life. But, if a person goes through life without reading this, it can safely be assumed he was a barbarian and probably a savage. On the other hand, maybe just lived under a rock or in a dictatorship where the book was banned.

It isn’t long, and in it he not only argues against government censorship, but also in favor of a liberal attitude towards all ideas, regardless of how moronic, false, or offensive they might be (actually I’m not sure literature being offensive was a big concern back then the way it is now, I haven’t read the book in years). Basically, he sees competing ideas as combatants. If your ideas are right, and they are stronger, they will eventually win out. That it is a sign of weakness to resort to censorship, or from a societal perspective to evade debate. Not to say you have to argue with every fool you meet, but they should have their forum and be able to get their ideas out there, after which they can be smashed.  Mill was also a utilitarian and so his argument didn’t simply rest on standard libertarian principles. He said by engaging in debate, if he is wrong he may learn to be right. If he is silenced, or if no one will hear him, how can his mind be changed? Thus the more important the category of ideas, the more important it is to have a free exchange of ideas. A racist shouldn’t be silenced and ridiculed, he should be heard and then his arguments exploded. When people are unable to express their ideas with words, what other course does that leave them? Small children and babies can’t express their thoughts with words and they throw fits and break things. Adults turn to violence too.

Mill also raises the point that maybe, just maybe, you’re the one who is wrong and might learn a thing or two. Not in the case of racial superiority to be sure, but what about the death penalty, the NSA spy program, or the causes and ramifications of the Civil War?

Maybe we’re doubling back to Tuesday’s show a bit, but it seems like people on both sides act like they are the only ones who have thought about the issue and anyone on the other side is a stupid beast. The fact is they are mostly thoughtful people and have perhaps not seen the full scope of the issue, or have made a misstep in their line of reasoning from premises to conclusion. In any case, the answer is not to ban hate speech, shut down the internet, or yell at a professor.

Besides all that, when it comes to racists and sexists, wouldn’t you rather know who they are than not? The fact people can’t say it doesn’t mean they don’t think it. By the way, censorship doesn’t work, people still talk. The same way people still brewed beer under prohibition. The difference is, when there is censorship, either at the hands of government or at the hands of society, people talk in secret and the hearer doesn’t hear the counter argument. All he knows is what he hears is forbidden, so he isn’t able to talk over the idea with other people, and as he hears more from this thought criminal, he absorbs the idea for himself.

As a post-script, I finally got around to listening to the Tom Woods show from Tuesday, and he had a guest on. He talked about the Yale incident, and a few others at college campuses around the country. Really good stuff.  I’ve also thought more about what I wrote, and I recoil from the conclusions that could be drawn, that men and women should have separate universities (though I never said that). But, I am absolutely convinced if a group of 20-year-old men went to their university president or administrator, which they would never do, and complained about their feelings being hurt, the university would not accommodate them, and would remind them that they are men and send them on their way. I also find it highly unlikely that women would act in such a way without men around, though I’m unable to articulate exactly why.

Defending the Undefendable & Clowns On Campus – December 7th & 8th

Now this was a good episode. I was ecstatic when I heard Jason mention “Defending the Undefendable” by Walter Block! What a terrific book. There are layers of irony in it. In the first place, this is hard-core libertarian “live and let live” type philosophy! I mean, Block has a chapter dedicated to defending pimps. This isn’t your intro to Libertarianism 101, this is some pretty advanced stuff. Not because it’s complicated, or hard, but because it generally takes reading a few books prior before most people’s minds and emotions are at a level where they can read a chapter on defending slum lords, even when the author doesn’t actually advocate some of these activities.  Therefore, for Jason to bring up this book, to an audience that is, for the most part, not too far off the mainstream is pretty ironic and really bold!

The other irony is that Walter Block is probably the most famous, or most outspoken, theorist of the stateless society. He has written extensively on how the free market would provide goods and services that are today provided by the state. Everything from police and courts, to roads and seasteading – yes, that’s private ownership of the seas. I’d like to see Jason take on some of Block’s stateless scenarios. Not that I think he couldn’t do it, but last week he demolished a pretty simplistic stateless scenario (nothing Block has written) and Block presents some of the strongest arguments around.

You can get this book free, in an epub, pdf, and audio here: https://mises.org/library/defending-undefendable-2

Proceed at your own peril. You might want to just put it on your wish list for Christmas 2017. Seriously! Loan sharks, counterfeiters, and dirty cops! He even argues against giving to charity under Chapter 18: The Non-Giver to Charity. You really need to take your time getting to this. You have to read it, just not right now.

I think that was the biggest highlight of Monday and Tuesday’s shows.

Monday he said something I wanted to touch on; his remarks about Obama pushing the idea that people on the no-fly list shouldn’t be able to buy guns. First, Obama conflates being on the no-fly list to being a terrorist. Jason nailed the whole thing from start to finish. Everything from how ridiculous the criteria can be to get on a no-fly list, to the fact that merely being on a no-fly list doesn’t make you a terrorist!  And he said it: We need to be careful about who we call terrorists. I’ve written about this; it was the first post I got an email response.  This “terrorism” thing is going to blow up in our face one of these days; terrorists will change to “enemy of the state” and just ask someone who lived in the U.S.S.R. what happens to enemies of the state.  Garry Kasparov had a few things to say about it.

This brings us back to the whole incident at Yale Jason covered today. I still don’t know what this whole thing is about. It’s pretty scary; the censorship right now is social, but it can and may become political.

Since we’re on the episode of College and how crazy things are getting, with “safe rooms” and all kinds of aggressiveness and censorship at colleges, I wonder, in light of what Jason has said elsewhere about women being in the infantry and social experiments, whether women being 60% of the college undergrad population might be one of those experiments. I just can’t see young men needing safe rooms, being physical bullies, and intellectual cowards the way these young women are. Go back and look at the video from Missouri where the woman is blocking the guy’s way. I can’t hit a woman, and I won’t, and so she might get away with it. But, there is no man so big that he could talk to me that way and not end up in a fight. I’m not saying women shouldn’t go to college, or that they should stay at home and not work. I’m just making an observation. Men act differently around women and men treat women differently. I simply can’t imagine the world where men got to college faculty and ask for a safe room when a controversial speaker comes on campus, and then the faculty doesn’t say to these boys, “Grow up! Get out of my office!” Walter Block Defends the “Male Chauvinist” in Chapter 3. However, I assure you, that’s not me. I’m only making observations.

Economic Policy of the Fed – December 3rd, 2015

The first thing I need to say is how much I appreciate and respect Jason. I mean, he really does know a great deal about what’s going on in the middle east, more than the vast majority of the population, and yet he still brings in Scott Horton (Friday’s show), that’s impressive.

I have a few more comments on the Dec 4th episode. Jason played a clip of Bernie Sanders making the argument that global warming is contributing to terrorism in Syria, and then Jason made a very good argument using California’s drought as an explanation for the recent San Bernardo massacre. He also does a really good job of making Sanders look silly.  My natural inclination is to ask Bernie about why there isn’t daily terrorism in Taiwan. Taiwan is a very small island with a huge population. As I understand it, they have to import their own drinking water. Whatever the water shortages in Syria or California, they aren’t as bad off as Taiwan. Yet, Taiwan thrives! Why? Because they have security in property rights, and freedom to trade. It’s not that big of a deal if there is a drought, as long as people and markets are left free. And the freer the better.

There was more stuff down my alley on the Thursday show, though. I’m really not sure what the Austrians predicted wrong. I personally have never been convinced that hyperinflation will necessarily happen. It is not like putting a pot of water on a stove and it slowly getting hotter until it boils over. The dollar has lost something like 94% of its value since the Fed opened its doors, and strictly monetarily speaking (not taking into account fiscal policy), it’s possible that a dollar in 2115 will have the purchasing power of today’s nickel.

The crack up boom, or hyperinflation, comes when the devaluation hits all at once and is continuous. I’ve never been quite sure about this, since economics is a qualitative rather than a quantitative science. Mises explained the conditions necessary for a crack up boom, but how close are we? At what rate would the Fed need to inflate to trigger hyperinflation… This is something we cannot know. However, it is, perhaps unlike climate change, a very real possibility. Other countries and even our own country in its infancy experienced the crack up boom. Rothbard recounts to us in “Conceived in Liberty” how debtors would “chase down and pay their creditors mercilessly” with the worthless continentals.  In my estimation, it is better to err on the side of hyperinflation and total disaster as opposed to the “It’ll be fine” view expressed by most main stream economists. It is a very real threat.

As far as the Austrians being wrong, and having problems, I will grant that. My counter point would be that what the Austrians have right, and they are the only school of economics to get this right, is their epistemology and basic understanding of what economics is, and how it should be approached. Chemists still have some problems (I assume), or at least they did in the 18th century. They had a lot of questions and some bad theories, but the main thing is their methods were good, and so they have been able to make advancements over the years. As opposed to the alchemists, who mainly employed trickery to turn lead into gold.

I thought I should just throw out there, and it is an apt analogy, Keynesianism is really nothing short of a failed attempt to get something for nothing… It explains how a bank is able to claim a loan they have out as an asset.

As far as the gold standard, I know of a few problems with it. Mainly it isn’t a truly free market. Regardless of what the constitution says, governments shouldn’t regulate hair dressers, and they shouldn’t regulate money either. Folks should be able to contract in whatever currency they like. There is also, not necessarily a problem, but, a challenge in returning to the gold standard. At least without repealing legal tender laws. There is no need to attempt to retire the Federal Reserve notes or try to peg them to a certain weight of gold. Once a commodity, or in this case FERNs, are monetized, there is no reason to try to make them not money. We would just run for a period of time with two currencies. The important thing is to break the printing press, or in this case smash the computers at the Fed.

Now as far as the U.S. dollar getting stronger this needs to be clarified. The dollar is getting stronger in relation to other currencies, not in and of itself. It is due to recent advances in oil technology that gas prices are dropping. And it seems like everything else is going up.

The Fed is printing money, and thus there is inflation. A balloon is inflated when the amount of air inside it is increased, and we have monetary inflation when the amount of money in the economy is increased.

It seems like there may have been something else I wanted to address. I listen to the show at least twice and then have time to consider everything said before I ever write, but in this case, too much time has passed. I worked a 12-hour shift Thursday night, and then took cattle to the vet Friday morning. I got kicked in the kneecap by a cow getting them loaded, then had a flat tire on the way there, and ran out of gas before getting on the road with the second load. It would seem that my fuel gage no longer works. I finally got to bed at 3pm Friday before I went to work at 7pm that night, and I worked another 12-hour shift last night. I simply do not remember anything else, but these are the main points.

I’m going to have more work to do on this site, maybe I’ll put it on another page, but I read between 3 and 4 books a month and when you read that much you are compelled to write something.

Most recently, I’m on the very last pages of “Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of The Free World Must be Stopped” by Garry Kasparov, probably the best chess player who ever lived. I wouldn’t have bought it for any other reason than he is the author. I’m glad he is. In his book, I find pearls of wisdom regarding his comments on the NSA domestic spy program, and laughable naivety in his equating free elections with freedom.

If you are a minority, or hold minority views, the rule of majority does you very little good. You are as much at their mercy as you are of that of an autocrat. If you don’t believe me, there might just be a few survivors of the Japanese internment camps that you can ask.

Winston Churchill said democracy was an awful system, but it worked better than any other that have been tried. Maybe so, but then the market system has not been tried yet.

Of course, these few brief comments don’t do the book justice, but if I’m paying for a website I figure I ought to get my money’s worth.

We’ll see how this plays out.

Externalities Aren’t a Problem

I truly appreciate Jason’s position of minarchy. It is a view I hold myself sometimes, never out of principle. But, let me ask my fellow an-caps, If the state were a “night-watchman state” and didn’t impose direct taxes, or have regulations on business, and didn’t throw people in jail for stealing imaginary drugs, Would anyone care? Yes, I might still be a philosophical anarchist, but that’s different thaN actually advocating for it. If government were like the government of Mayberry, I just don’t think I would be able to find time to really care, if I just had to pay a penny sales tax and the police didn’t bully people.

As far as Jason’s reasoning for attacking anarchy, he might have a good argument against it, but externalities isn’t one of them. The first four shopkeepers are no worse off than before by the fact that this 5th business has moved into the community. They are not paying any more for security than they were before, and are exposed to no more risk than before.

Most theorists believe the insurance company would, in fact, charge a higher rate than we currently have, and that they would be the insurance company and police in one.

As it is, and even under Jason’s scenario, the police, or security guard gets paid no more or less if stolen property is recovered or an arsonist is caught or not. Yes, the security company could lose its contract, but this is bare minimal motivation, as opposed to compensatory motivation. The man who is paid by the hour will rarely work as hard as the man who is paid on commission. In the one case, the guy only has to do enough to not get fired, in the other there is commission, and his standard of living is directly tied to the level of performance he is able to obtain. I think I’ve heard Jason Speak of this before, but I can’t recall.

It is for this reason that over time Insurance companies providing security will win out. After all, if the security company doesn’t catch a thief, the businesses are unlikely to cancel their contract, but the insurance company has to pay for their inability. Whereas had they caught the thief they can return the stolen property and avoid paying a claim.

Now, under this scenario when the fifth person moves in, and declines insurance, the insurance/protection agency will still be glad to catch a burglar breaking into the fifth store, because it is rare that a person robs one person and has never robbed another or will never rob another. The man who robs the store covered by insurance probably has, or probably will, rob one of his policy holders. Thus, it is in the best interest of the insurance company to extend service to all within the neighborhood. It is true they won’t pay a claim, and may not have as high of a priority of recovering that man’s stolen property.

Now, I’m a sporting fellow, and so I will give Jason a gift here: What I think is the best argument against anarchy.  With all these competing insurance agencies running around, with different policies, what becomes of the accused? If they suspect you of being a thief or if you are actually accused by someone else, do they just get to come in your house and look around? If you use the same insurance company as your accuser, so that it is security agents of the company which you have a policy with, maybe they won’t be in such a hurry. If you have a different insurance company, maybe they will have some sort of agreement worked out. Assuming each is concerned with protecting the rights and privacy of their clients there would be some reciprocity. What about an individual who doesn’t have insurance at all, let’s say, the a very poor person?

I do have some reservations about such a situation. Maybe the Salvation Army, or the ACLU or AARP would provide insurance service for these people; maybe companies would provide security insurance for the poor the same way they give to charities today, but maybe not.

Maybe the financial interest in getting a conviction, and having the convict work off the claim payment would outweigh justice.  Justice is no sure deal with no state, but I don’t know why I’m complaining when laws under government can allow the DEA to trick a man into stealing fake drugs, arrest him for it, and send him to prison for 10 years.

Jason, if you can pick out an argument in that against anarchy then have at it. I tried to help ya.

As always, two very thoughtful and well done shows.

Terrorism

It was a nice break. I didn’t realized how much I’d missed. I take a different view towards the news than most. I don’t rely on mainstream media. In fact, I don’t rely on anything. I listen to the Tom Woods show, which I recommend as the most essential podcast for those who love liberty. And, now I have Jason to listen to, whose show is much more geared towards current events. Besides that, I just let the news come to me.  The news that is really important will find me. Everyone else is wrapped up in the news, and I get some from Jason, but I figure I will hear about it through family or friends or colleagues at work. It’s a strategy that wouldn’t work at all if everyone did it, but it can work for a few people. It’s sort of the reverse strategy of not getting certain immunizations and being protected by the fact that everyone else has been immunized.  The things that are important find their way to my ears, but I’m not subjected to the trivial day to day that is headlined as breaking news.

The thing I want to discuss here is the heretofore-undefined term of terrorism. First, I’m obligated to, and I sincerely do, condemn the violence done at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado.

We have never done a very good job of defining terrorism. Up until the last couple of years, it was pretty easy to tell what it was. It was one of those things that just didn’t need a hard and fast definition, you just knew it when you saw it: hijacking a plane, or blowing up a courthouse. But, shooting 3 people to death?

I had this debate with a friend on Facebook following the shooting at South Carolina church. His view was that it was an act of terrorism, and my view was that it was murder.
The funny thing is how offended he was that I maintained that it was “only” murder. Murder is no small crime; it is still punishable by death in most states. Where capital punishment has been abolished, murder still holds the death penalty.

We are not talking here about a difference in outcomes for the people who commit these atrocities; they will either get the death penalty or not, based on the facts of their individual cases and the disposition of the jury who hears the case. The ramifications come on us as a people and towards our liberties, not immediately, but at some point in the future, I am afraid.

Consider we are fighting a “war on terror” and all those who give them aid and comfort. If you are in a pro-life club and one of the members goes out and shoots up an abortion clinic, does that make your club a terrorist cell? Does that, then, make you a terrorist?

Can you see the difference? If it is a multiple murder, then you and your group are not responsible; he acted alone and you are free to continue expressing yourself through non-violent means. If it is terrorism, I shudder to think what could happen. A dozen more lives may be ruined. This will have a chilling effect of free speech at the very least.

Let’s talk about a few markers of terrorism. Who is terrorism aimed at? All the terrorists attacks I can think of, both here and abroad before 2010 (I can’t remember when people started calling shootings terrorism, but we weren’t doing it before 2010), were aimed at “the powers that be.” There was some sort of message or retaliation. The victim wasn’t merely the people who were killed, but the governing body in some form or fashion. From the 1969 hijacking of YS-11 by the North Koreans to the OKC Bombing, to 9/11.

But motivation, I don’t think is enough. Motivation isn’t necessary to get a conviction in court and it is, in large, part irrelevant.

I put a lot more stock in the methods used and how the attack is carried out. Terrorist attacks are impersonal. When I said that to my friend he was hung up on that; that doesn’t mean that you know the names of the people you kill, but just that you know what people will be killed by your actions. McVeigh and Nichols killed 168 people, but didn’t look a single one of them in the eye. They knew there were nearly a thousand people in that building, but they didn’t know how many would be killed, or which of them would be killed. That is terrorism. It’s a world away from a mass shooting, where even though the shooter is killing as many people as he can, he still takes aim at each individual before pulling the trigger and ending their life.

A terrorist isn’t trying to kill particular individuals, but a shooter is. The shooter chooses who he kills even if his choices are made based on chance, based on who is closest or who is the easier target. A real terrorist just straps a bomb on or flies a plane into a building, not aiming at anyone in particular, but only aiming to kill as many as possible.

By this definition, it may still be possible to make the case that terrorism could be carried out with a firearm, if the individual were to acquire a fully automatic rifle and unload it at random.

But to take aim, is not an act of terrorism. The Planned Parenthood shooter killed three.  At this rate how long will it be until a single murder is defined as an act of terrorism? Do you remember the murder of deputy Goforth in Cypress, Texas back in August? The gunman shot him out of the blue, with no warning and no provocation. The shooting has rattled law enforcement officers and put them on edge around the country. I’m afraid at this rate, an act like that will be considered terrorism very soon.

My point is, so long as there is a global war on terror, being part of a terror cell can single a person out for surveillance and possible indefinite detention at home, and death via drone abroad.

For those of us interested in advancing the cause of liberty, and even for those who might just like to preserve the amount of liberty we have left, we should think real hard about what we call terrorism, and what we might refer to as “mere” murder.

I might also add that we used to have a word for these acts, acts that are not terrorism but are violent beyond the scope of a single murder. May I reintroduce massacre to our vocabulary.