Friday, August 31, 2012

Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?

A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart.  One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one.  The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one."
The grandson asked him, "Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?"
The grandfather answered, "The one I feed."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bastiat: Peace & Happiness

"Look at the entire world. Which countries contain the most peaceful, the most moral, and the happiest people? Those people are found in the countries where the law least interferes with private affairs; where government is least felt; where the individual has the greatest scope, and free opinion the greatest influence; where administrative powers are fewest and simplest; where taxes are lightest and most nearly equal, and popular discontent the least excited and the least justifiable . . ."

—Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

Mencken: The State is not force alone

“The State is not force alone. It depends upon the credulity of man quite as much as upon his docility. Its aim is not merely to make him obey, but also to make him want to obey.” H.L. Mencken

Monday, August 27, 2012

Quigley: without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy

"The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can 'throw the rascals out' at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy."
- Carrol Quigley, Tragedy and Hope (self-proclaimed insider of the secret-ruling-elite)

O'Rourke: parliament of whores

"Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadows about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us."  P. J. O'Rourke

Mises: It is ideas alone, and not arms, that, in the last analysis, turn the scales

"Now it cannot be denied that the only way one can offer effective resistance to violent assaults is by violence. Against the weapons of the Bolsheviks, weapons must be used in reprisal, and it would be a mistake to display weakness before murderers. No liberal has ever called this into question. What distinguishes liberal from Fascist political tactics is not a difference of opinion in regard to the necessity of using armed force to resist armed attackers, but a difference in the fundamental estimation of the role of violence in a struggle for power. The great danger threatening domestic policy from the side of Fascism lies in its complete faith in the decisive power of violence. In order to assure success, one must be imbued with the will to victory and always proceed violently. This is its highest principle. What happens, however, when one's opponent, similarly animated by the will to be victorious, acts just as violently? The result must be a battle, a civil war. The ultimate victor to emerge from such conflicts will be the faction strongest in number. In the long run, a minority -- even if it is composed of the most capable and energetic -- cannot succeed in resisting the majority. The decisive question, therefore, always remains: How does one obtain a majority for one's own party? This, however, is a purely intellectual matter. It is a victory that can be won only with the weapons of the intellect, never by force. The suppression of all opposition by sheer violence is a most unsuitable way to win adherents to one's cause. Resort to naked force -- that is, without justification in terms of intellectual arguments accepted by public opinion -- merely gains new friends for those whom one is thereby trying to combat. In a battle between force and an idea, the latter always prevails.
Fascism can triumph today because universal indignation at the infamies committed by the socialists and communists has obtained for it the sympathies of wide circles. But when the fresh impression of the crimes of the Bolsheviks has paled, the socialist program will once again exercise its power of attraction on the masses. For Fascism does nothing to combat it except to suppress socialist ideas and to persecute the people who spread them. If it wanted really to combat socialism, it would have to oppose it with ideas. There is, however, only one idea that can be effectively opposed to socialism, viz., that of liberalism.
It has often been said that nothing furthers a cause more than creating, martyrs for it. This is only approximately correct. What strengthens the cause of the persecuted faction is not the martyrdom of its adherents, but the fact that they are being attacked by force, and not by intellectual weapons. Repression by brute force is always a confession of the inability to make use of the better weapons of the intellect -- better because they alone give promise of final success. This is the fundamental error from which Fascism suffers and which will ultimately cause its downfall. The victory of Fascism in a number of countries is only an episode in the long series of struggles over the problem of property. The next episode will be the victory of Communism. The ultimate outcome of the struggle, however, will not be decided by arms, but by ideas. It is ideas that group men into fighting factions, that press the weapons into their hands, and that determine against whom and for whom the weapons shall be used. It is they alone, and not arms, that, in the last analysis, turn the scales."

~Ludwig von Mises

Weil: Evil

"Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty."
~ Simone Weil

Twain: Imbeciles who really mean it

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it."
~ Mark Twain

Tolstoy: Violence

"All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do."
 ~ Leo Tolstoy

"I sit on man’s back choking him and making him carry me, and yet I assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means, except getting off his back."
 ~ Leo Tolstoy

Solzhenitsyn: To do evil

"To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good… Ideology — that is what gives devildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors."
 ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Montesquieu: a tyrant never lacks instruments for his tyranny,

"No tyranny is more cruel than the one practiced in the shadow of the laws and under color of justice — when, so to speak, one proceeds to drown the unfortunate on the very plank by which they had saved themselves. And since a tyrant never lacks instruments for his tyranny, Tiberius always found judges ready to condemn as many people as he might suspect."
 ~ Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu

Mill: to prevent harm to others

"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or to forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because in the opinions of others to do so would be wise or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else."
                                                              ~ John Stuart Mill

Kant: Democracy

"Democracy is necessarily despotism, as it establishes an executive power contrary to the general will; all being able to decide against one whose opinion may differ, the will of all is therefore not that of all: which is contradictory and opposite to liberty."

Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace, II, (1795).

Hayek: Bureaucrats & Millionaires

“The power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbour and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest functionaire possesses who wields the coercive power of the state, and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live or to work. And who will deny that a world in which the wealthy are powerful is still a better world than one in which only the already powerful can acquire wealth?”
– Friedrich August von Hayek
(1899-1992), Nobel Laureate of Economic Sciences 1974
Source: The Road To Serfdom, P. 115.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Long: Can We Escape the Ruling Class?

"A ruling class need NOT be monolithic, however. In fact, most ruling classes are divided into TWO broad FACTIONS, which we may call the POLITICAL CLASS and the CORPORATE CLASS. The political class comprises those who are in direct control of running the State--politicians, civil servants; the corporate class, on the other hand, comprises the wealthy quasi-private beneficiaries of State power--the collectors of subsidies, government contracts, and grants of monopoly privilege. These two groups might be called the BUREAUCRATS and the PLUTOCRATS."

~ Roderick T. Long. Can We Escape the Ruling Class?

Long: The Marxists were right

"The Marxists were right [don't worry; we haven't lost our minds!] in thinking that present-day society is characterized by power relations that systematically impoverish the lower-classes while increasing the power of the wealthy. Their mistake, however, was to identify CAPITALISM as the culprit. Adam Smith, a more observant social critic than Marx, recognized that capitalists may well be the chief ENEMIES of capitalism. The rich often prefer to buy special government privileges rather than face the discipline of free-market competition."

~Roderick T. Long. Who's the Scrooge?: Libertarians and Compassion

{I would not be in agreement that Smith is necessarily a more observant social critic, but I am willing to concede that, the identification of the conceptual abstraction of "capitalism" as a cause of social-ills, is a philosophical misstep of Marx.}

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

first line of the original draft of the Declaration of Independence

"We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable: that all men are created equal and independent; that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Thomas Jefferson (first line of the original draft of the Declaration of Independence)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Himmler: terror

"The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don’t ask for their love; only for their fear."

~ Heinrich Himmler (Chief of the German Police including the Nazi Gestapo)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Belafonte: in search of freedom

"When I was born, I was colored. I soon became a Negro. Not long after that I was black. Most recently I was African-American. It seems we’re on a roll here. But I am still first and foremost in search of freedom." ~ Harry Belafonte

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Theory of Ethics

Hume once wrote, "You cannot derive an 'ought' from an 'is'." and for quite some time this was considered to be a sound principle, but looking more closely, examining the meaning-logic operators, Hume's statement seems to be implying one of the following statements: "You ought not derive an 'ought' from an 'is'." or, "There is no 'ought' and therefore no 'ought' could be derived from what 'is'."

I take up the proposition, that ethics proceeds, or is derived from the rationality and sociability of the individual person.  If someone violates what we shall describe as an ethical principle, they have denied or abandoned either their rationality or their sociability, and that or those, either temporarily or permanently. 

By rational, I mean to imply that the consistent-recognition of the principle of non-contradiction and by sociability, I mean to imply the consistent-recognition that other persons are manifestations of other rational-consciousnesses.

The consistent recognition of the individual of her own rationality and her own sociability, are the two fundamental principles upon which this theory of ethics is founded.

Some might be concerned with this formulation of ethics, taking the form, "But if this theory of ethics requires the individual to accept these two premises, in order for the ethical theory to be obligatory upon the individual, then could not the individual in question, merely deny one or both of these premises and then escape all ethical obligation?"  I think my answer might be, "Indeed."  An individual who would deny his own rationality, necessarily directs his action as if a beast acting upon whim or instinct; an individual who would deny his sociability, denies that other persons, possess in themselves rationality/rational-consciousnesses that can be negotiated-with/traded-with/socialized-with, is such a person that must belief himself to be a god among monkey-beasts, an Uberman.  An individual who believes himself to be either beast or god, was never a person who would be disposed to acting in peaceful/non-violent/cooperative or ethical manner regardless of the ethical theory; against a beast or presumptive-Uberman, the individual may only defend themselves the best they can, and no appeal to ethical-obligations/rationality was ever relevant to the aggressor that denies his own rationality, or yours.

[to be continued if there is sufficient interest...]

Sowell: government bureaucracy

"It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it." --Thomas Sowell

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rothbard: Action Axiom

Once it is demonstrated that human action is a necessary attribute of the existence of human beings, the rest of praxeology (and its subdivision, economic theory) consists of the elaboration of the logical implications of the concept of action. Economic analysis is of the form:

(1) Assert A--action axiom.
(2) If A, then B; if B, then C; if C, then D, etc.--by rules of logic.
(3) Therefore, we assert (the truth of) B, C, D, etc.

--Murray N. Rothbard. Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market

Sowell: the sad signs of our times

"One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.” --Thomas Sowell

Rose Wilder Lane: To get butter, they must use guns; they have nothing else to use.

"The pattern is as old as human life. The new rulers use more and more force, more police, more soldiers, trying to enforce more efficient control, trying to make the planned economy work by piling regulations on regulations, decree on decree. The people are hungry and hungrier. And how does a man on this earth get butter? Doesn't the government give butter? But government does not produce food from the earth; Government is guns. It is one common distinction of all civilized peoples, that they give their guns to the Government. Men in Government monopolize the necessary use of force; they are not using their energies productively; they are not milking cows. To get butter, they must use guns; they have nothing else to use." - Rose Wilder Lane

Hoppe: No constitution could restrain the state

"No constitution could restrain the state. Once its monopoly of force was granted legitimacy, constitutional limits became mere fictions it could disregard; nobody could have the legal standing to enforce those limits. The state itself would decide, by force, what the constitution “meant,” steadily ruling in its own favor and increasing its own power." ~ Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Bryson: How to have a fight to the life

How to have a fight to the life
By Kelly Bryson

When blaming is going on, which is another way of saying that a request for empathy, healing and reconnection is being made, I recommend taking one of the actions listed below. The order of these actions is hierarchical from the most effective to the least. I need also to be humble enough to recognize which of these actions I can do with honesty and integrity. By humble I mean that I am not overestimating my level of skill or present state of mind. I need to hold an accurate assessment of my ability to be present, and not be thinking I "should" be empathic, compassionate or more present than I am. For example, even if I recognize that empathy would probably be the most effective strategy for the occasion, I will still need to choose honesty at that moment if that is all I can give with congruence. A simple guideline is give empathy when you can, and honesty when you can't. For example, imagine your partner saying, "you just are not meeting my needs for relationship. And besides that you are selfish.". Here are some of the ways you could respond:

1. Empathize with the pain and unmet needs of which the blame is a tragic expression. You might say: "Are you feeling kind of lonely and hurt, and need more consideration of your needs?"

2. Express any regret you have for anything you've done – or haven't done - that might have triggered your partners pain. (Remember, you could not possibly cause it, only trigger it.) You might say: "I am sad that I forgot your birthday and went to play golf all day because I would have liked to have been there for you when you needed support."

3. Ask your partner for acknowledgment: you might say: "I am sad and would appreciate acknowledgment that I did remember your birthday for the last six years."

4. Ask your partner to acknowledge her regrets or actions you might say: "I am frustrated and would appreciate acknowledgment that you forgot my birthday too and I would like to hear how you felt about forgetting."

5. Give nonviolent self–responsible honesty. You might say : "I am feeling scared right now and need to protect myself from sinking into a guilt pit, I could get back to you in an hour?" ( and in that hour you may want to consult with your Giraffe (giraffe is a symbol or nickname for nonviolent communication) Journal, were you record all the wonderful things people have said to you and about you or call one of your empathy exchange partners. Remember that your empathy partners are those people in your support tribe that you call when you are in reaction and need supportive listening to process the reaction. Ideally it is a equal exchange between yourself and someone else was learning the art of empathy. Heinze Kohut, the existential psychologist, said that what humans beings need most is mirroring the presence of others.

6. Be quiet, and give yourself a chance to reconnect with that kind of energy and the intention that you would like to be coming from, before you respond. (This option can be useful at any of the above points.) You might say to yourself: "I am scared and angry right now. I am going to wait until when I say might help matters."

7. Be a jackal (the irrational, righteous part of ourselves that takes a position and it defends it to the death, that expresses itself as blame, analysis or judgment). Go ahead and be a jerk, but do it with the conscious intent to blow off steam, not cause injury. Even pronounce your intent. You might say: "This is my jackal voice, trying to free itself, talking here. Quit whining, you pathetic sack of self-pity."

8. Be a conscious Giraffe Fundamentalist and give a giraffe lecture like this: "when you are calling someone selfish, you are obviously in judgment, and wanting something for your self! So why is that not selfish?" Asking an angry "Why?" question is the best way I know of to look like a prosecuting attorney. A giraffe fundamentalist is someone who is a fundamentalist, usually recently born–again convert to nonviolent communication. They often use the lingo of the process to try to educate or convert others – meanwhile they have, for the moment, lost connection with the spirit of the process, which is compassion. I speak from experience because when I first learned NVC, I used the terminology to defend myself and to attack people, I was much more focused on preaching NVC then I was practicing NVC. As time has passed I have mellowed some and now try to keep my attention more focused on being a compassionate and honest giraffe than trying to get others to be giraffes. But for a long time if someone used language that did not fit the NVC paradigm, for example a label, judgment or exaggeration, I would practically scream at them, "that's violent judgmental communication!" And when they would get angry or hurt in response to my diatribe, I would launch into giraffe lecture mode: "I am not causing your painful feelings. It's what your inner jackal is telling you about what I said that is causing your pain." This was of course a defense from feeling guilty about triggering their anger or hurt. I only recommend the last two options as an alternative to becoming self-destructively violent. By self-destructively violent I mean shutting down due to your own thoughts of self judgment and the resulting feelings of fear, shame, and guilt. These last two can also be an alternative to unconsciously lashing out in anger with the intent to create pain.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Goldman: Every Anarchist

"Every Anarchist partakes sufficiently of this ideal type to make it possible to differentiate him from other men.  The typical Anarchist may be DEFINED as follows: A man perceptible by the spirit of revolt under one or more of its forms,--opposition, investigation, criticism, innovation,--endowed with a strong love of liberty, egoistic or individualistic, and possessed of great curiosity, a keen desire to know. These traits are supplemented by an ardent love of others, a highly developed moral sensitiveness, a profound sentiment of justice, and imbued with missionary zeal."

~ Emma Goldman "Anarchism and Other Essays"

Spencer: free to drop connection with the State

"If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the State--to relinquish its protection, and to refuse paying toward its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others; for his position is a passive one; and whilst passive he cannot become an aggressor."

--Herbert Spencer, Social Statics

LeFevre: Servants & Masters

"Some [governments] have said that the individual is important and the government is merely the servant of the individual. But let the evidence be presented and we discover that this assertion is only a pleasant fiction. The servant has the power and the strength. The individual bows before the might of the servant, who is, despite the platitudes, a master, not a slave to men. Governments rule. Individuals are ruled."

~Robert LeFevre

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Long: State & Liberalism

"The classical liberal version of class analysis, pioneered by Adam Smith, Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, Augustin Thierry, Benjamin Tucker, and Lysander Spooner, holds a diametrically opposed position [i.e., opposed to the socialist version of class analysis]. A ruling class does NOT arise through free competition; it is created by state power. So long as a powerful state remains in place, abolishing the ruling class will do no good, since it will simply be replaced by another. Thus the socialists attempt to resolve the problem by focusing their attack on private economic power, while the classical liberals tend to focus their attack instead on centralized political power. For the socialists, we do not need to worry too much about the State, so long as we eliminate socioeconomic stratification; for the classical liberals, we do not need to worry too much about socioeconomic stratification, so long as we severely curtail the power of the State."

--Roderick T Long, Can We Escape the Ruling Class?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The arguments for the preservation of slavery are eerily familiar

Hume: many are governed by the few

"Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few, and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we inquire by what means this wonder is effected we shall find, that as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is, therefore, on opinion only that government is founded, and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular."

--David Hume, The First Principles of Government

A conversation with a persistent tax-supporter

Woozle Hypertwin
Yesterday 11:36 AM  -  Public
This thought has been bubbling around in my head for some time, and only just today finally decided to de-lurk and introduce itself in a form I could write down.

There's one thing I don't understand about this big debate between the pro-corporation/anti-government people and the pro-regulation people:

How can you be pro-corporation and anti-government at the same time?

A corporation is a government-created class of organization.

Government gives the owners of corporations special protections against debtors, and artificially creates a trust-relationship between owners so they don't actually have to trust (or even know) each other in order to cooperate.

It seems to me that this has a number of implications as far as what the government should be able to expect from corporations.

Nobilis ReedYesterday 11:37 AM
The more thoughtful libertarians I know are both anti-corporate and anti-government.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 11:38 AM
It is not about benefits given to corporations. The Republican conservatives think that way. Libertarians like myself believe in reducing centralized authority. This would force the corps to sink or swim all by themselves, without bailouts or tax breaks.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 11:45 AM
Asmeret: so do you agree that there should be no corporations, that owners of businesses should not be able to obtain protection from debtors through the government?

Rob BushYesterday 11:45 AM
+Nobilis Reed Perhaps I've never met these thoughtful Libertarians. All the ones I've ever run across advocate positions that would allow corporations to run roughshod over society. 

Jacob S.Yesterday 11:48 AMEdit
I'm in agreement; corporations only exist in this economic environment because of their legal protections.  Without those legal protections, individual share-holders would be individually responsible for all damages/debts of the corporation; which is to say, if a corporation went bankrupt, all shareholders would be individually & wholly responsible for all debt/damages of the business of which they are a share-owner.  One would have to be crazy to be a share-owner of a business which one is not intimately aware of its doings, and this would have the effect of incentivizing the reduction the propensity of corporations to externalize costs, because each owner would in fact be liable to cover, not just their own investment in the corporation, but also, personally liable for all of those external costs.
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Asmeret SimonYesterday 11:53 AM
It's a complex question, Woozle. The ideal free market would work that way, but the reality is very tangled. I think I can speak for a lot of us when I say that the Federal government should only handle matters that cannot be addressed locally or privately. These would include massive civic works, like roads, or defense.

When you look at corporate bailouts, you have to remember that these are industries that are too big and important to be allowed to fail. Nobody's sure what the way forward should be, including Libertarians.

We're stuck, in a very real way. Libertarianism campaigns hard for major changes, but our real intent is relatively minor ones. Progress is a slog through the legislative muck. sigh
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 11:53 AM
I'm sure there are thoughtful libertarians out there, but they tend more towards the anarcho-socialist branch of libertarianism than the anarcho-capitalism branch.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 11:54 AM
You can find a lot of thoughtful Libertarians at 

R Prakash PrakashYesterday 11:57 AM
Relating to my country, government and corporations are bed fellows. Politicians have stakes by proxy. So recently when anti corruption movement guys said they'll break fasting and contest polls, educated group of electorate welcomed the move. But many 'experts' are cautioning against, including an spineless economist who has a Noble prize.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:16 PM (edited)
Asmeret: I've seen a number of very dubious arguments at, but perhaps there are some good ones as well.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:15 PM
+R Prakash Prakash : it sounds like the same "crony capitalism" problem we have here in the US.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:24 PM
If you consider Reason dubious, I'm not sure at all that we can come to any meaningful understanding.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:27 PM
Cronyism is cheating, not capitalism. IMO. For one thing, in a Libertarian state, the centralized government authority would not be powerful enough to make it profitable.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:36 PM
I can't seem to quickly locate any of the articles I had filed. A quick glance at the homepage doesn't turn up anything seriously problematic, although anything that cites Hayek or Mises is showing evidence of an ideology whose suggestions should not be accepted without close scrutiny.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:37 PM
Really? They do archive. Did you mark the permalink?

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:38 PM is the print magazine, IIRC. is the Reason Foundation, and is the streaming media.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:41 PM (edited)
Yes, "crony capitalism" is cheating within a capitalistic framework -- which is what we have in the US.

Without a government framework, how do you prevent cheating by the powerful? How do you keep the market free?

A article suggests this:

"All markets are regulated. In a freed market we all know what would happen if someone charged, say, $100 per apple. He’d sell few apples because (under current cost conditions) someone else would offer to sell them for less or, pending that, consumers would switch to alternative products. “The market” would not permit the seller to successfully charge $100."


What if one apple-seller managed to untraceably sabotage the supply-chains of all the other apple-sellers, and then raise the price? What (presumably non-governmental) mechanisms would you have in place to make sure the free market in apples were restored after such an event?
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Jacob S.Yesterday 12:41 PMEdit
+Woozle Hypertwin I would be curious as to your criticisms of Mises. :-)

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:42 PM
Industrial sabotage is unequivocally a criminal act, Libertarianism or no. Equating us with Anarchy is a knee-jerk reflex, and invalid. We do not promote anarchy.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:43 PM
"Really? They do archive. Did you mark the permalink?" I mean, I had set some links aside, and at the moment I can't find where I put them.
Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:43 PM
I submit that we suffer the risk of crime no matter what system the government conforms to.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:45 PM
So would I. I'll have to look into him. :)

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:45 PM

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:50 PM
Here's one:

"House Republicans, you may have heard, are trying to “end Medicare as we know it.” And well they should—Medicare as we know it is the nation’s biggest fiscal disaster."

...and yet studies show that it delivers a much higher percentage of its dollars towards actual care than do commercial insurers. How can it possibly be a financial disaster? Clearly they are omitting or distorting some information here.
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:51 PM
Asmeret: we're not talking about crime, we're talking about tyranny of the winners.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:51 PM
Fair enough. Would you cite the studies? :)

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:52 PM
Really? I thought we were talking about industrial sabotage.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:52 PM
+Jacob S. : for one thing, Mises arguments are always presented as a massive bookstop. People who refer me to Mises articles generally do not seem able to summarize the arguments presented in those articles.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:55 PM
+Asmeret Simon : (found via

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 12:56 PM
Are you saying that industrial sabotage could not lead to tyranny if it was allowed to continue unchecked?

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:57 PM
Strawman. You're inventing an argument I didn't make.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:57 PM
Thank you for the references. Reading.

Jacob S.Yesterday 12:57 PMEdit
+Woozle Hypertwin I think I can understand how that could be frustrating/not-helpful.  If I had a question and if someone else merely referred to a citation/article, without being able to summarize or explain how they thought the article could assist my understanding, could be very frustrating and would not meet my desires to understand & discuss.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 12:59 PM
That does happen... hmm. 

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 1:02 PM
Asmeret: "Strawman. You're inventing an argument I didn't make."

Wait, what?

* I proposed a scenario involving apples, based on an article in Reason.
* You said "I submit that we suffer the risk of crime no matter what system the government conforms to."
* I said it wasn't crime, it was tyranny.
* You said "Really? I thought we were talking about industrial sabotage."
* I said "Are you saying that industrial sabotage could not lead to tyranny if it was allowed to continue unchecked?"

Where did I put words in your mouth?
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Asmeret SimonYesterday 1:06 PM (edited)
All right. Reading this, it seems to me that there's language indicative of bias and a few points I could take issue with, but instead, I'm going to adopt the position that Medicare could be salvaged and put nationalized health care into the category of things that are too big and expensive for private industries to handle, like roads.

That's a move I can make without divorcing myself from Libertarianism. We do disagree with one another. I'll call it an investment that returns greater value, since a healthy population can accomplish more and generate increased wealth for all.

Point to you. Next? :)
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Asmeret SimonYesterday 1:09 PM
"Are you saying that industrial sabotage could not lead to tyranny if it was allowed to continue unchecked?"

This is a strawman.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 1:10 PM
Fair enough. Not so much "too big and expensive", but rather something where profit should not be a motive.

Of course, if the government didn't require corporations to place the profit motive above the public good, maybe commercial health insurance could work. Can we agree on that too?

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 1:12 PM
How does it not follow logically from the dialogue I quoted above?

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 1:18 PM (edited)
Another dubious article: -- this strikes me as being full of emotional appeals and distortions, and little to nothing in the way of reasoned arguments. If you can find any, then we might have something to discuss.

(edit) That said, I found two more articles that I had no problem with (I filed them because I agreed with them, not because I disagreed).

Asmeret SimonYesterday 1:17 PM
Re: strawman: I didn't say it.

I don't think the government does require profit above service. Does it? If that were the case, why bail out critical industries all the time? Surely our socialized systems are indicative of people coming before profit.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 1:23 PM
Asmeret: you didn't say it, but I don't know what other implication to read from your response.

The sequence again:

* I proposed a scenario involving apples, based on an article in Reason.
* You said "I submit that we suffer the risk of crime no matter what system the government conforms to."
* I said it wasn't crime, it was tyranny.
* You said "Really? I thought we were talking about industrial sabotage."

Are you, then, agreeing that industrial sabotage can lead to tyranny if left unchecked? I proposed a sequence of events in a free market that would lead to tyranny unless somehow regulated, and showed how the regulatory mechanism proposed by the Reason article would not work.

You responded that crime would happen even with government.

I said it wasn't the crime I was concerned about, but the tyranny it would lead to if left unchecked.

You said you thought this was merely a case of industrial sabotage, not tyranny.

And I'm trying to figure out how that responds to my point.
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Asmeret SimonYesterday 1:24 PM
Heh. I don't recognize this guy, but personally, I distrust anyone who pluralizes "Internet."

Asmeret SimonYesterday 1:25 PM
Look at it relatively. I think we have fewer outright fallacies in our general platform than either major party.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 1:32 PM
Of course it can. And as far as I'm concerned, you leapt a long way from industrial sabotage to tyranny.

We're discussing an abstract, not a reality. This crime would occur under any system, but crime is not controllable. I don't understand your objection to the article. 

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 1:38 PM (edited)
"I think we have fewer outright fallacies in our general platform than either major party." That's a rather low bar...

Jacob S.Yesterday 1:38 PMEdit
I'll provide a Misesian critique of Medicare and see what you both think:

When an exchange occurs under the voluntary consent of two parties, both parties voluntarily consent, because they both expect that the exchange could benefit them both; if they both are correct in their expectations, then both parties benefit from all voluntarily/mutually-consensual exchange.  Therefore, under normal condition of voluntary/consensual exchange, there is an expectation of a net increase in human-satisfaction/happiness.

  When an exchange is not voluntary or consensual, one party, or a third party has to force/coerce one or both parties to exchange (in layman's terms, this is generally referred to as extortion or theft).  In all involuntary/non-consensual exchanges, one party benefits at the cost of another, at best, the net of human satisfaction is null but would generally tend towards a net decrease in human-satisfaction/happiness.

   Medicare is funded by "taxation" which is coerced under the threat of force/violence/punishment; this involuntary/non-consensual exchange would correspond to the previous analysis of involuntary/non-consensual exchanges and would tend towards a net decrease in human-satisfaction.  Those that have property expropriated, have a net decrease in their ability to provide for their own satisfaction, those that cause the coercion/extortion must coerce/extort more than what they wish to disburse, to cover the expenses/costs of the coercion/extortion, and those to which the coerced/extorted funds are disbursed, provide medical services to a set of persons "in need".

  This causes a distortion in market signals, signalling a greater demand for medical services than there is in the voluntary marketplace (because if this were not the case, then Medicare would not need to be funded involuntarily/coercively, but would be funded through other means voluntarily); this increase in demand for medical goods/services, signals to producers in medical industry that this artificially inflated demand is cause for greater investment in medical-goods/services production than actually exists in the voluntary market (in order to take advantage of the profits of the artificially inflated demand), which increases costs in advance of actual market demand. The result to be expected would be a steady increase in the over-production and over-investment in medical goods/services corresponding to a steadily increasing costs (and correspondingly, and increase in medical insurance costs).  Because those that cause the coercion/extortion, however well meaning, are not the actual consumers of the medical goods/services that they are providing coerced/extorted disbursements for, they have no actual knowledge (just their own guesses) as to the subjective preferences of how medical goods/services of those receiving disbursements (persons "in need") would prefer to receive their medical goods/services; this creates a situation were those disbursements are either going to be less than or greater than the demand of those "in need"; those "in need" are at the mercy of the Medicare bureaucracy of which they have very little control or influence, which is compounded by the lack of control they have over regulation/legislation of the provision of medical goods/services (life-saving drugs are delayed/stalled/denied by FDA bureaucracy, doctors are artificially restricted in supply by licensure, etc).

  The result of all of this, is the logical result of all involuntary/non-consensual exchanges/transactions, a net decrease in human-satisfaction.  The only persons, we might expect to have a net increase in satisfaction by this process, is the legislators, bureaucrats and agents of the institution that engages in coercion/extortion.
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Asmeret SimonYesterday 1:39 PM
+Woozle Hypertwin True, unfortunately.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 1:41 PM
+Jacob S. I can see flaws, but overall I would have to accept that analysis.

Asmeret SimonYesterday 1:43 PM
is increasingly distracted. I have a prescription refill due this week, and the way the phone isn't ringing is driving me up the wall.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 1:53 PM
+Jacob S. : I agree with the argument, and the conclusion that it would be better to have a free market for medical care (and, side issue, non-coercive taxation) -- but the evidence shows that government-run insurance does a much better job of delivering services both in percentage of the public served and in dollar-efficiency.

The problem is that the insurance marketplace in the US is even less of a "free market" than a government-run system, because most healthcare consumer-dollars are very tightly constrained in how they are spent, and the presence of multiple for-profit players with essentially captive markets means that these companies act to optimize their profits by further restricting the choices available and reducing the quality of service delivered.

So while the argument is valid given its premises, if it is trying to argue that government healthcare is a bad idea or that private insurance is superior, it is proceeding from unstated false assumptions.
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Jacob S.Yesterday 2:16 PMEdit
+Woozle Hypertwin I question the premises required to compare the delivery of medical goods/services by "Medicare" vs "private insurance" as that comparison/analysis does not take into consideration, the costs of "private insurance" to navigate coercively enforced legislation/bureaucracies; if those "private insurance" companies are unable to freely and consensually make agreements with customers, then all of those coercively applied costs must be accounted to the institutions of coercion, and not the "private insurance" businesses themselves.  Additionally, the Medicare bureaucracy has the coercively-imposed monopolistic-privilege of forcing medical providers to accept Medicare, and therefore Medicare can artificially impose costs on providers, which then increase the prices those providers charge "private-insurance".  Therefore, to compare services and costs per person between Medicare and "private insurance" seems hopelessly flawed.
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David-Sarah HopwoodYesterday 2:28 PM
+Jacob S. "In all involuntary/non-consensual exchanges, one party benefits at the cost of another, at best, the net of human satisfaction is null but would generally tend towards a net decrease in human-satisfaction/happiness."

Wait, how does that follow logically? Suppose I steal something from you that you didn't need, and don't notice to be gone. This is clearly nonconsensual, but your satisfaction is not decreased, and mine is increased if I wanted the item. (Don't confuse this with whether the theft is morally right. Whether an event increases net happiness and whether it is morally right are independent concepts in general.)

In any case, if you say that taxation is something to which that argument applies, you've effectively assumed the conclusion that all taxation decreases net happiness, without taking into account any benefits of things paid for by taxation.
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Jacob S.Yesterday 2:30 PMEdit
The approach of Mises was never to make recommendations, only to provide reasoned economic analysis; he attempted to produce, what he would call a, "value-free" economic analysis, because it would not presume that a person should or should not, prefer a net increase/decrease in human-satisfaction.  Likewise, the Misesian argument I produced, does not make the conclusion of "Medicare is good" or "Medicare is bad", only that "The implications for Medicare have the result in a strong tendency to decrease overall/net human-satisfaction."  If someone were to say, "Yeah, I'm comfortable with a net decrease in human-satisfaction, so long as the costs are unseen/hard-to-see and the gains are very visible." (the kind of thinking that may go on in the head of a politician seeking popular support in a republic) then the Misesian approach could really have nothing to say to a person comfortable with a net decrease in human-satisfaction.

For myself, I do prefer, unequivocally and in all instances, possible net increases in human-satisfaction/needs-meeting. 
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 2:39 PM
+Jacob S. : if the proposal is to eliminate government-operated insurance AND reform the regulation of private insurance, there might be a discussion to be had -- but I'd want to see some particular stipulations, such as toothy citizen oversight of the private insurers.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 2:41 PM
The problem with Mises's "value-free" arguments is that they are so readily used to argue for one particular set of values, where a little further analysis (such as mine above) shows that the situation is (at best) more complex.

Jacob S.Yesterday 2:43 PMEdit
+David-Sarah Hopwood That's a good hypothetical; I believe it reveals an important point.  If Cindy, goes into Lucy's house, and steals Lucy's necklace, then Lucy is, strictly speaking, not damaged until Lucy realizes her necklace is missing (she experienced no decrease in her net satisfaction).  If Lucy, were to never notice her necklace was missing, and Lucy were to die without heirs, and Lucy directed all her possessions to be donated to charity, and assuming the charity (the technical heir) does not notice that the necklace is missing, then I suppose, in one sense, there is no net decrease in human satisfaction; however in another sense, that charity, or other heir, is deprived of the possible net gain in human satisfaction that they may have had from inheriting the necklace if it had not been stolen.

In my ethical analysis, I see all property, as the extension of the rational-consciousness/human-mind through labor/exchange to transform/exchange material conditions to provide for one's own greater satisfaction.  Therefore, in my own analysis, Cindy has expropriated the material-manifestation/representation of the extension of Lucy's mind into the world to provide for Lucy's own satisfaction.  Assuming, that Lucy had voluntarily exchanged for the money/goods exchanged for the necklace in the first place, then it would seem that the necklace, would properly be Lucy's to dispose of if she wished.  Cindy's theft, from the moment of the theft, had the potential to decrease Lucy's preparations/manifestations to provide for Lucy's own satisfaction, and that Cindy had not the right, to extend Cindy's mind through labor/action, to expropriate that manifestation of Lucy's mind for Cindy's own satisfaction.

Or I suppose, you could just say, that "stealing is unethical/wrong". ;-)
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 2:45 PM
It's not even just "until Lucy realizes her necklace is missing", +Jacob S. What if Lucy has 100 necklaces and Cindy has none?

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 2:47 PM
"Or I suppose, you could just say, that "stealing is unethical/wrong"" -- one could, but I prefer to look at individual situtations. What if you're "stealing" food from a closed store after a hurricane has decimated the area?

Jacob S.Yesterday 2:53 PMEdit
In a sense, the only "value" of the Misesian argument, is that "humans can be more satisfied or less satisfied", the Misesian argument does not, nor could not say, "You should prefer a net increase in human-satisfaction.".  If a person such as Cindy, when she takes Lucy's necklack, prefers a particular net-decrease in human satisfaction, then there really isn't anything a Misesian could say about that.  The Misesian argument would be completely unraveled by a person claiming, "human satisfaction is irrelevant/meaningless" or "the only human's satisfaction that is relevant, is my own."
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 3:00 PM
So, Mises essays are basically framing: he chooses to look at the problem in a particular set of terms, and thereby arrives at conclusions which just happen to match a solution preferred by particular political agenda.

Jacob S.Yesterday 3:06 PMEdit
+Woozle Hypertwin What if Lucy, valuing the necklace so little, would have freely given Cindy the necklace, if Cindy had only asked?  What if Cindy's theft, does not leave Cindy feeling particularly good about herself?  What if Cindy's guilt is transferred into resentment which poisons her friendship with Lucy?

 I would like a world where each person, treats all others with dignity and respect.  Mises may not have wanted to say that anyone should prefer a net increase in human-satisfaction but as I said, I do prefer, unequivocally, the net increase of human-satisfaction & needs-meeting.  I want to have empathy for everyone who is suffering and I want to celebrate with all those who are joyful.  I do not condemn Cindy, I want to empathize with the pain inside of her, that would cause her to steal from someone else; perhaps she was treated with disrespect for most of her life and somehow she acts out of the lack of needs-meeting in her own life. I want to empathize with Lucy, if she is not feeling generous, because she has never been given to generously.  I feel sadness and a sense of tragedy when people do not treat each other with dignity & respect; I have a sense that people only mistreat each other, because they have been mistreated.  I wish for a world where children are raised with dignity and without domination based on power-over, but rather empowered by power-with.  Unlike Mises, I will say that I am strongly in favor of all net increases in human-satisfaction.  Life & happiness/satisfaction is too precious, for me not to prefer it to the alternatives.
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 3:16 PM
+Jacob S. : that is part of why it's important to evaluate ethical acts in their actual context, rather than in the context of absolute rules such as "stealing is bad".

I think I agree with everything you said just now.

Jacob S.Yesterday 3:17 PMEdit
+Woozle Hypertwin I'm not sure if my experience/analysis of Mises' thought is conforming to the conclusions that you seem to be forming.  I don't see how Mises' economic analysis, could be used for anything other than an analysis of human-satisfaction in the economization of scare resources; Mises' arguments could recommend no particular course of action (this is one of the critical differences between Mises and Keynes; Keynes did recommend specific policy changes), but only what kinds of action had the tendency to increase human-satisfaction and what kinds of action had the tendency to decrease human-satisfaction.  I am experiencing an impression/feeling, that perhaps you may have a negative "enemy-image" of Mises and I'm not sure that there is much I can do, that would be productive in assisting an understanding of, or empathy for Mises.  I have my disagreements/departures from Mises, but I appreciate him as a reasoned economist that had respect for the individual's subjective preferences in meeting their own needs.  The economists that I do not prefer, are those that would suggest that their ideas should be imposed on others by the force of government; that doesn't sit well with me.  The idea that people are forced to obey the commands of "authorities" makes me feel uneasy, and I would prefer that all persons could find voluntary/consensual means for meeting their needs.
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Jacob S.Yesterday 3:24 PM (edited)Edit
+Woozle Hypertwin Upon looking back, I think I made the remark that, "Or I suppose, you could just say, that 'stealing is unethical/wrong'." because I was feeling a bit vulnerable at that point... I am working on a theory of ethics, and in the preceding paragraph I summarized the kind of argument that I am looking at elucidating, but after I had finished writing it, I was feeling vulnerable, that it might be seen as a pretentious word-game and so I think I referred the more common ethical employment, as a way to say, "It might sound complex or pretentious, but what I want to say is that I would prefer that all persons treat each other kindly/empathically, and perhaps, here's a simpler, perhaps less pretentious way to say kind-a the same thing."
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Kevin PenoYesterday 3:49 PM (edited)
Without the state, a corporation is a group of people working together, through common investment, to accomplish the goals outlined by the articles of incorporation. The only thing that gives corporations unjust power is the state granting limited liability to members of a corporation. This allows corporations to rival that of state power, effectively making a corporation an entity of its own, in some cases, treated no different  legally than a person.

It is perfectly viable to be both anti-state and pro-corporatism, so long as this distinction is understood (most times it is not). To deny pro-corporation is to deny pro-partnership or pro-union in a stateless society. Since a stateless society cannot deny anything, doing so would imply law, it is illogical to claim that one cannot be pro-anything.
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Kevin PenoYesterday 3:48 PM (edited)
On the subject of ethics, the reason ethics must be reasoned in context to the various possible situations is that no code of ethics, just as no code of law, will perfectly fit everyone. Someone starving is going to have, or at least live differently by, a different set of ethics than someone who is well off. No matter what I believe or what you believe, even if apparently equal, different results are probably had.

This is why I think only through discussion and neutral non-binding arbitration can we find, as +Jacob S. called it, a net increase in human-satisfaction. Anything else results in one party finding a net-loss.
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 4:00 PM
+Jacob S.

Re Mises: perhaps you are right. Mises does tend to get thrown into conversations in a context that is adversarial to points I'm trying to establish, so my opinion of its substance may be colored by that.

Re ethics: I agree with your rephrase as well. It was a bit ambiguous in context, and I may have taken it too literally.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 4:05 PM
+Kevin Peno :

"The only thing that gives corporations unjust power is the state granting limited liability to members of a corporation."

This implies that non-corporate entities cannot attain unjust power. Is that what you are arguing?

(Other than that, I think you're making sense; not trying to shoot you down.)

Dan Dennet describes moral codes as "ethical first-aid" -- a rule-of-thumb for when you don't have the resources for a proper ethical analysis ; I think I agree with that. Full ethical analysis should always trump moral codes, but sometimes a snap judgement based on a code is all you have time for.
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Kevin PenoYesterday 4:07 PM
I am not implying that at all. I was pointing to the source of corporate power, and its primary purpose within a state.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 4:20 PM
Okay. I guess I'd say "the primary thing giving corporations unjust power", then, but now I'm just nitpicking.

Kevin PenoYesterday 4:35 PM (edited)
+Woozle Hypertwin,  I suppose you could argue that, but I'm pretty sure the entire meaning and purpose behind corporation is limited liability. Thus, without that ability, they'd be nothing but a name. So, anything else you can apply or attribute as an unjust power of a corporation could easily be applied to any organization and/or only to a small subset of corporations.

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 4:40 PM
It just seems to me that there are other ways that a corporation (or any group, incorporated or otherwise) can gain illegitimate power. The legal liability protection just helps with that.

Kevin PenoYesterday 5:03 PM (edited)
+Woozle Hypertwin, I said that above. In the context of 'a corporation', I believe you are correct. A single corporation might have or gain other unjust advantages the state grants them and other organizations. The key point I'm making is that other unjust advantages are not unique to corporations. The only distinct advantage corporations have is limited liability to their member-owners granted by the state.

"any group, incorporated or otherwise) can gain illegitimate power"

Define illegitimate. I bet we'll agree on the definition, but the execution will likely differ [see ethics discussion above]. ;)
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 6:02 PM
Ahh. The only unique advantage corporations have. Got it.

"Illegitimate": may I presume that even in a libertarian/anarchist/free-market system, there are some ground rules most people observe?

Kevin PenoYesterday 6:25 PM
Sure, in all societies there is chance of sharing ideals. Those ideals might even form into power, ethics, morals, or de facto law. That doesn't make those ideas, or the execution of those ideals, any more legitimate than similar from opposing views in the same society.

I was making a point to bring the conversation back to ethics and draw similarity to the usage of the two words. Only one person can define legitimacy, the person deciding on whether to accept something as legitimate. If they don't accept it, it is illegitimate.

This is the key problem I have with law. What you find illegitimate, someone else finds legitimate. If you change the law to how you find it legitimate, they will likely find it illegitimate. The end result is an imbalance between parties or, at best, a balance where all parties lose in order to sustain equality.
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 6:31 PM
Well, let's try this, then: "illegitimate" is anything that violates the basic principles of society. If one principle is, say, honesty, then power acquired through lying to people would be illegitimate.

Jacob S.Yesterday 8:06 PMEdit
Does everyone in this discussion, have agreement with the proposition, that each person has the exclusive right/privilege of their own body?

Jacob S.Yesterday 8:16 PMEdit

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 8:49 PM
I agree, but I'm not sure it's firm ground upon which to base a whole structure of rules. Who decides where the boundary is between one's body and enhancements to that body, or between one's body and another's?

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 8:59 PM
I'm not sure I follow this argument:

"IF a portion-of-the-product-of-the-the-labor ('p') of person 'S', rightly belongs to a collective-of-individuals-consisting-of-an-economic-environment ('E') because those persons participating in the greater/collective economic environment make possible the success or wealth of 'S', THEN {if this principle is applied universally} 'S' as one part of that collective is therefore owed 'p' (a part/portion of the product of the labor of that entire collective), due to the role played by 'S' in that economic environment; THEREFORE the claim that 'S' owes 'E' a portion of the product of her labor 'p' is negated by the reciprocal debt owed by 'E' to 'S'."

So, let's say E is the United States, with an average household income of $54,000 and S is a multibillionaire with an annual income of $100m.

Is the argument, then, that just as S owes some portion of his income -- say, 30% -- to E because of E's role in generating S's wealth, then E owes 30% of its income back to S because of his role in generating E's wealth?

I mean, is that the argument, or am I misapplying it?
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Jacob S.Yesterday 10:18 PMEdit
Not exactly... the argument used by that philosophy professor, was that Steve Jobs ('S') owes a portion of the product of his labor (and for the moment, we are assuming, that 'S' is operating in a 'free-economy' or 'voluntary marketplace' because that's the assumption of the professor, that the economic environment is noncoercive) the rest of society is owed a certain portion/percentage of the product of labor of 'S', because the rest of society, was responsible for creating an economic environment in which 'S' could make the product of his mind/labor so valuable (the supporting argument is, that if 'S' was born in a place of extreme poverty, there would be no way for 'S' to do what 'S' is able to do in a more affluent economic environment).

My argument is that if this principle is universal, then in the same term, that 'S' would owe a portion/percentage of his labor to the rest of "society", because that "society" makes the wealth of 'S' possible, THEN the rest of "society" would similarly/universally owe to 'S' a portion of the product of their labor/mind; when the principle is universally applied and not arbitrarily applied, then this alleged obligation is negated; that IF Steve Jobs owes "society" because "society" provides a part of the economic environment that Steve Jobs operates in, which makes his wealth possible, then similiarly/universally, then the rest of society, would owe Steve Jobs a portion/percentage of the product of society's labors/minds for the part that Steve Jobs plays in making society's wealth possible; these comparative obligations on both sides, negate each other, which results in the implication, that neither does Steve Jobs owe "society" nor does "society" owe Steve Jobs. Or perhaps, this would be more concrete, if Steve Jobs owed $312 million to "society" (which would be $1 to each person {in USA} participating in the "economic environment" for their contributions to the "economic environment"), then it would seem that correspondingly/reciprocally each person would similarly owe Steve Jobs $1 for the participation/contribution of Steve Jobs in their "economic environment"; the 'claims' when applied universally, would cancel each other out.

Does that make the argument any clearer?
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Woozle HypertwinYesterday 10:33 PM
What is the basis of your calculation of how much S owes to E? Because it seems to me kind of arbitrarily chosen in order to fit the conclusions -- and not at all how I (or anyone else advocating progressive taxation) model it.

If nothing else, the appropriate curve is a mapping of "your income" (X) to "what you owe back to society" (Y). The rule can be the same for everyone, yet produce an unequal flow.

Progressive taxation is a fair idea that applies equally to everyone, regardless of whether everyone pays the same. Any attempt to claim it must be unfair if it doesn't cancel itself out is pure sophistry -- just like the arguments that it discriminates against rich people and punishes success.
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Jacob S.Yesterday 11:03 PMEdit
Personally, I disagree with the proposition, that 'S' (an individual) owes the set-of-individuals-consisting-of-the-economic-environment anything beyond an expectation to trade/exchange/labor honestly and/or non-violently/non-coercively.

But I think it is interesting, that if the proposition, claiming that 'S' owes the rest of "society" is set up, as a universal principle, there would be required some kind of reciprocal accounting; it cannot be that 'S' owes everyone, but everyone does not owe 'S', for that would be an arbitrary and not a universal principle.  If 'S' owes the rest of "society" a great sum because of the great wealth of 'S', then the rest of society, as individuals, would reciprocally owe some small sum to 'S'; how this "sum" could ever be calculated objectively, I think is impossible to determine even if it were the case that the proposition is true.  How do you calculate an "economic environment"?  Why does the obligation of 'S' go to a particular corporation (i.e. the government)? Why cannot 'S' give to the charities of his choice, or to none at all?  If 'S' gains great wealth honestly/legitimately, what does that wealth represent, other than the value that 'S' has provided his customers?  Why does 'S' owe the value he gave to his customers to third-parties?

I am left with a feeling of sadness for those that are punished (put in cages) for the "crime" of not paying "taxes".  I am not a fan of punishment in general; if threats and punishment are not proper ways for dealing with children, why would I wish to employ those methods for adults?  Taxation is ultimately enforced by the threat of punishment and I do not think that threats and punishments are very good ways to interact with people.  Punishment might seem to some to be necessary for crimes that actually harm people, but for a supposed "crime" that does not actually harm others, such punishment seems all the more tragic.

I wish for people to treat each other with dignity and respect, and if punishment and threat of punishment is off the table, then what is left is for people to voluntarily and consensually interact with each other.
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Woozle Hypertwin8:12 AM (edited)
"it cannot be that 'S' owes everyone, but everyone does not owe 'S', for that would be an arbitrary and not a universal principle."

Not if the principle is based on individual income -- as I have explained at length. That would be universal and yet result in a net movement of resources from S to everyone else, if S has far more than everyone else.

How is this not fair?

I agree that taxation should not be physically coerced, however.
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Jacob S.9:26 AMEdit
+Woozle Hypertwin I fail to reason how "taxation" could be based on "individual income" and yet remain universal; universalization would imply reciprocation.  If 'G' can "tax" the "individual income" of 'S' but 'S' cannot "tax" the "individual income" of 'G', then "tax" is not a universal principle, it is non-reciprocal.  If 'G' creates arbitrary financial obligations on 'S' ('G' just says that 'S' owes x) but 'S' is not permitted to create arbitrary financial obligations on 'G' then, I don't see how this could be interpreted as anything but the arbitrary whim of 'G'.  If a set of persons (IRS), "assesses" the individual income of Steve Jobs, and tells Steve Jobs, how much Steve Jobs owes the IRS; if this principle were applied universally, then Steve Jobs would justified in similarly assessing the income of IRS, and submit to the IRS, the sum Steve Jobs assesses that the IRS owes him.  If "taxation" were a universal, and not an arbitrary principle, if I told you, "you owe me $10" then you would just respond, "well then you owe me $11" and there could be no resolution, so long as each person could arbitrarily decide that others owe them some arbitrary "debt", all of the arbitrary claims, would essentially cancel each other out.

I feel encouraged knowing that you would not support the force/violence/or-threat-of-force against those that would choose to abstain from paying "taxation". :-)
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Woozle Hypertwin9:31 AM
Would it not be a universal rule to say "if you jump over this cliff, you will die"?

Jacob S.9:50 AM (edited)Edit
I wouldn't identify that so much as a "universal" rule, as I would identify such a proposition as a conditional statement expressing a possible/likely consequence.

Woozle Hypertwin9:52 AM
Okay. But is it unfair? Is it being applied asymmetrically?

Jacob S.10:02 AMEdit
"Fairness" requires the framework/presumption of some ethical-theory that could make an analysis of "just" or "unjust" in order to determine the "fairness".

I don't see what is "fair" or corresponding to justice, for a corporation, to threaten punishment against individuals, who do not pay them, a fee that is assessed by that corporation.  Even if a person, pays the corporation that money, each person does so, under the explicit threat of punishment (codified in "law"), and therefore does so under conditions of duress.  I would concede that some people, would "happily" pay their taxes; perhaps some people pay the local Mafia, "happily" as well, I do not know; what I do know, is that if the punishment and threat of punishment were to be extinguished, then "taxation" would seem to appear to be like any voluntary charity and I'm fully supportive of voluntary charity.  So long as that terrible specter  of the threat of force looms over all others, I'm not terribly impressed by the "fairness" of the current political schema.
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Woozle Hypertwin10:13 AM (edited)
As I understand it, your objection to progressive taxation is that it is a rule that is being applied in some asymmetric or unfair way -- that if it were to be applied equally, the same amount of taxation would have to be owed in the other direction, leaving zero net debt.

Is this correct?

Jacob S.11:15 AM (edited)Edit
My reasoning wouldn't apply solely to "progressive taxation" but any taxation; but essentially yes, "If 'G' can create an arbitrary claim of obligation upon 'S' ", then it is non-universal/non-reciprocal, if 'S' is not permitted (by 'G') to create arbitrary obligations upon 'G' to 'S'.  If it were universal/reciprocal, then the claims would essentially cancel each other out, without resolution.  It is not so much that the net calculus would be a zero sum, but that it is a zero-sum game, that neither side gains advantage if they both have the same universal ability to make arbitrary claims of obligation upon each other.
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Woozle Hypertwin1:51 PM
You're proceeding from false assumptions about the reasoning behind progressive taxation, I think. It's not an arbitrary claim, but a claim based on comparative need and ability.
Jacob S.4:22 PM (edited)Edit
If "taxation" is not an arbitrary claim, then why is it not reciprocal?  Why is the person taxed, not permitted to tax others?  If employing the threat of force to extort money is not something that you or I would find ethically satisfactory under all other conditions, why would we make an arbitrary exception, when it is called "taxation"?  How is "taxation" different from extortion?  If you and I would not be ethically comfortable, with a mafia/yakuza enforcer, extorting money from a business owner, why is the same action by an IRS agent a different kind of ethical category?

Woozle Hypertwin5:32 PM (edited)
You're trying to conflate two different ideas: (1) the idea of non-arbitraryness, and (2) the idea of reciprocity.

Plus "reciprocity" does not imply "reciprocity in the same amount". If the rule is "15% of your income goes into the pot", then how is it "arbitrary" non-reciprocal for someone earning $1m annually to pay $150k while someone earning only $100k pays $15k?

(edit) And why is reciprocity important?

By your same argument, if a grocer demands $1 for a banana, that's an arbitrary demand unless the grocer also buys a banana from me for $1. How does either of us benefit from this?

How will a future Steve Jobs benefit from a society in which nobody knows how to read or write because past Steve Jobs (and all those earning at his income level) refused to pay for public schooling?
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Jacob S.6:11 PMEdit
I use the term "arbitrary" to describe a proposition or principle, based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or rational-system.

If Bob were to say, "I was justified in stealing Tom's cellphone, because Tom was being a jerk."  I see this as an arbitrary justification; Bob is saying that his own subjective-perspective of "Tom...being a jerk" was the cause/justification of the theft of the cellphone.  This appears to me, to be mostly based on Bob's personal whim and not on a rational principle.  To make Bob's arbitrary principle, non-arbitrary, we would have to extend that same principle to all persons; that all persons who subjectively perceive someone else as being a "jerk" would justify their own subjective determination of what should be stolen from the "jerk" as retribution/punishment for the "jerk-iness".

"Taxation" seems similarly arbitrary, because one particular corporation (government/IRS) determines for themselves, how much an individual "owes" and then by coercion or force, will proceed to expropriate what they have determined that the individual "owes".  Granted, there is an appeals "process" but the arbitrators are employed by the same corporation that made the arbitrary determination in the first place and the rules that are recognized by those arbitrators, are the rules written by that same corporation.  What if Walmart "taxed" people for the "economic benefit" of having a Walmart in their neighborhood, and the appeals process consisted of a Walmart judge, arbitrating based on Walmart rules?

To make the principle of "taxation" non-arbitrary, we would have to universalize the principle to any and all persons, and not some arbitrarily selected persons; we would have to permit/allow/support any and all individuals to do exactly the same act which is performed by those individuals acting in their capacities of that particular institution which "taxes" currently.  Any and all persons would then necessarily have the same right of an IRS agent, to determine who owes them, how much, and then to select their own employees to arbitrate those that would dispute that claim, based on rules selected/legislated by the extortioner, and then to compel those who have failed to be granted an appeal by those employee-arbitrators.  This would create a situation, where every person, would have the reciprocal power to use the threat of force, to compel others to give them whatever money that they assess/determine is "owed".

The obvious result of this, would either be complete chaos/violence as every person tries to compel all others to give them money or alternatively, every person's claim to this "power to tax" would be seen to negate all claims of others to "tax" that individual.  In either case, the principle of "taxation" if made universal/non-arbitrary, would seem to either collapse upon itself (because everyone is extorting everyone, no one's needs are met, except the most powerful/violent extortioners), or everyone peacefully decides that all claims of extortion, essentially negate themselves.

I reason the principle of "15% of your income goes into the pot" as arbitrary, because who decides which "pot" it will go in? Why 15% and not 1% or 50%? How is this principle decided, except by those with the power to force, compel or coerce the 15%?  How is the power to force, compel or coerce, not just the arbitrary whim of those in power?

In the case of your grocer, the demand of $1 for a banana, is by itself, an arbitrary assessment; but the grocer does not force, compel, coerce anyone to purchase the banana; if someone decides to voluntarily pay the grocer the $1 for the banana, then then both the grocer and the customer have arbitrated their own case; each got what they wanted from the exchange because, the grocer valued the $1 more than the banana and the customer valued the banana more than the $1.

But with "taxation" one party is forcing, compelling, coercing the exchange.  The "customer" is not permitted to arbitrate her own case; she is not permitted to walk away from the "taxer" like she could the grocer.  She is in a situation of subjugation to the "taxer" and the "taxer" is in a position of domination over her. She cannot realistically extricate from this compelled interaction, it is being foisted upon her, against her will; she may meekly pay because she does not want to be punished, but her meekness in no way changes the situation; she might also meekly surrender her purse to a mugger as well, but this would not ameliorate the ethical actions of the mugger.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Burke: “grand Error upon which all … legislative Power is founded”

"It was observed, that Men had ungovernable Passions, which made it necessary to guard against the Violence they might offer to each other. They appointed Governors over them for this Reason; but a worse and more perplexing Difficulty arises, how to be defended against the Governors? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? [Juvenal's who will govern the governors?] In vain they change from a single Person to a few. These few have the Passions of the one, and they unite to strengthen themselves, and to secure the Gratification of their lawless Passions at the Expence of the general Good. In vain do we fly to the Many. The Case is worse; their Passions are less under the Government of Reason, they are augmented by the Contagion, and defended against all Attacks by their Multitude."  ~ Edmund Burke


"'No human laws are of any validity if contrary to the law of nature: and such of them as are valid derive all their force and all their authority mediately or immediately from this original.' Thus writes Blackstone, to whom let all honor be given for having so far out seen the ideas of his time--and, indeed, we may say of our time. Let men learn that a LEGISLATURE IS NOT OUR GOD UPON EARTH!"

--Herbert Spencer, The Right to Ignore the State

Huerta de Soto: Statism runs counter to human nature

"Statism runs counter to human nature, since it consists of the systematic, monopolistic exercise of a coercion which, in all areas where it is felt (including those corresponding to the definition of law and the maintenance of public order), blocks the creativity and entrepreneurial coordination which are precisely the most typical and essential manifestations of human nature. Statism fosters and drives irresponsibility and moral corruption, as it diverts the focus of human behavior toward a privileged pulling on the reins of political power, within a context of ineradicable ignorance that makes it impossible to know the costs of each government action."

--Jesus Huerta de Soto.

Bellegarrigue: governing

"If governing is called a job, I ask to examine the products of this job, and if those products don't suit me, I declare that forcing me to consume them would be the strangest abuse of power a man could exercise on another man. It is true that this abuse is done by force and that I am the one who supports, on my own coins, this force I am complaining about. That said, I'm coiling back on myself and recognize that though I am a victim, I am also an idiot. But my idiocy only stems from my isolation, which is why I say to my fellow citizens: Let's rise up; let's only trust in ourselves; let's say: let freedom be, and freedom shall be." - Anselme Bellegarrigue

Parker: a permanent resister

"The anarchist is not a peddler of schemes of social salvation, but a permanent resister of all attempts to subordinate the uniqueness of the individual to the authority of the collective." - S.E. Parker

Rocker: Culture

"'Culture,' is not created by command. It creates itself, arising spontaneously from the necessities of men and their social cooperative activity. No ruler could ever command men to fashion the first tools, first use fire, invent the telescope and the steam engine, or compose the Iliad. Cultural values do not arise by direction of higher authorities. They cannot be compelled by dictates nor called into life by the resolution of legislative assemblies." - Rudolf Rocker

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Nietzsche: On Priests

"The priest, a parasitical variety of man who can exist only at the cost of every sound view of life, takes the name of God in vain: he calls that state of human society in which he himself determines the value of all things "the Kingdom of God"; he calls the means whereby that state of affairs is attained "the Will of God," with cold-blooded cynicism he estimates all people, all ages, and all individuals by the extent of their subservience or opposition to the power of the priestly order."

 --Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist

The Bomb in the Brain

Rewiring the Brain