Archive | December 2016

People Die.

With Carrie Fisher’s death, social media has gone into yet another one of its agonizingly irritating mourning sprees, where everyone posts about how great the actress was and how 2016 is bad for killing everyone. That’s such a fascinating concept, because obviously no one believes that the year is killing people. But what are they really saying?

“Fuck aging.”

That is what they mean when they say “Fuck 2016 for killing so many people.”

People age, and then they die.

People die.

I would like very much for my fellow millennials to come to terms with this and to stop turning Facebook and Twitter into never-ending funeral processions, because it’s past the point of being ridiculous. So an actress died. Forgive me if I’m not moved to tears that someone I’ve never met died.

No, she didn’t “pass.”

She died.

She is dead.

Let’s come to terms with that.

I’m not a fan of euphemisms, and I’ve been made into a pariah on quite a few occasions for adamantly refusing to say that someone “passed away.” They didn’t “pass away.” They died. Death is a part of life, and there is no reason that anyone should have to hide from that reality. We are mortal beings. You, too, will one day die. You will not “pass away.” You will die.

The funny thing is that there does seem to be a hint of this idea that 2017 will somehow not kill as many people, and it’s here that the “fuck 2016” euphemism shows its true nature: it allows false comfort. It allows them to euphemistically point to a year as the problem, rather than the harsher reality that their icons and heroes from childhood and adolescence are older and closer to death. If 2016 claimed one hundred such icons, 2017 will claim one hundred and fifty. Because it’s not 2016 that is killing people; it’s getting older that is killing people, and in 2017 everyone will be one year older.

I’m sorry, little ones, but 2016 is not the problem, and you should not direct your ire at the year. The problem is aging, the problem is mortality, and the problem is death. We are all aging at every moment of every day, always marching toward the grave. Our progress cannot be halted, and possibly cannot be slowed. 2016 killed no one. Generally speaking, aging did. The more people age, the closer they get to death.

If you must mourn the death of people you’ve never met, might I suggest mourning the 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians who were killed by the American government? Might I suggest mourning the dead Syrian children killed because our government armed the rebels? If you want to mourn the death of people you’ve never met, don’t mourn for someone who lived a life of extreme comfort and luxury. Mourn someone who lived a life of sorrow and tragedy, only to have an American bomb or American bullet put an end to it.

We Value Things That Inherently Have No Value

Okay, so first of all–nothing inherently has value. I know I’ve talked about this many times before. We all have our own little system of values, and even though we agree on them in many cases, they’re still our values, and we assign them subjectively based on our own criteria and because of our own reasons. Of course, we lose sight of this, because they are our values–we hold them dearly, because we value our values. Because we value our values, we establish all kinds of ways of certifying our value systems as the One true Value System, and we have varying degrees of difficulty dealing with it when we come across other people who share our values.

For the purpose of this conversation, we have to go further into what “value” means, because most people think about it in economic terms. The value of a McDouble, or the value of a home. These are certainly types of value, and this type of value is one that we easily measure in dollars or some other currency. That’s right–currencies are merely units of measurement that are used to measure value. Many things go into this “economic valuation,” but it can all be summarized as a matter of need and want. Needs have practically infinite value, while wants have an enormous variability in their value, but are also boolean–one either wants things or not. What I mean by this is that–if a person’s needs are not met, then no want has any value. We’re not talking “I need a few hours of sleep” here. We’re talking “I need food to not die.” We lack the capacity to even want things when our needs are not being met. The man who is on the edge of starving to death has absolutely no desire in his heart that is not a need. The largest television, home, and Lamborghini in the world would not pique his interest if they cannot be used to acquire food. When needs are met, the boolean value of want is “true,” and we begin to place economic values–as measured in dollars, which is a representation of how much we want it.

That’s not going to be enough to say what I’m trying to say, is it?

It’s going to have to be, though, because I don’t have any desire to expand it further.

Moral values are another obvious example, though we tend to not think of them as subjective. This is that same knee-jerk response, though. Like if you devote a few years of your life to purchasing a Porsche, and someone comes along and says, “What a waste of time. That little car is so not worth all that.” The response is a knee-jerk one filled with anger as we recoil that someone would dare say that our values are incorrect. But, of course, they believe their value system is the One True Value System, too. We have the same reaction, of course, when people disagree with us on matters of morality. We can handle some minor disagreement, most of the time–homosexuality, marijuana, alcohol, and things like that. When you start saying that the moral maxim that “murder is wrong” is also subjective, though, that is when you get into the area where you’re really starting to piss people off.

One of the more insidious ways that we assign values to things is to call something “important” or “unimportant,” and this is the topic I want to really get into, because someone posted this earlier on Facebook:

There’s a lot more here than transphobia; there’s quite a lot here, and it’s why it captured my attention instead of just causing me to roll my eyes.

The first is an interesting question. One would assume that the 16-year-old who identifies as a 21-year-old has a fake ID to substantiate her identification as a 21-year-old. “Should” is a rather interesting word here, as it implies that there is a moral right and a moral wrong here–what we “should” do is the right thing; what we “shouldn’t” do is the wrong thing. A better question would be should a random bystander be able to tell another human being what they can and can’t do? Should a random bystander be able to ask someone who old they are and make the determination on that someone’s behalf on whether it is “right” or “wrong” for them to drink?

How amazing that we forget that. Should a 16-year-old be allowed to drink alcohol? I really don’t understand the question. “Who is asking?” would be my initial response. The girl’s parents? I’m not sure I agree that the girl’s parents should be able to make that determination for her, and I’m not sure they have any “right” to be able to tell another person what that person can and can’t do. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience parents are some of the worst people out there at making decisions for themselves, much less for their kids. A random bystander who seeks to use the state to force everyone under the age of 21 to not be allowed to drink? The answer there is “Certainly not.” I have no more right to dictate that 16 year olds can drink than such a person has to dictate that they can’t. If this is the speaker’s kid that we’re talking about, I will acquiesce that they can make the determination about whether their 16-year-old son or daughter “should” be allowed to drink. I won’t be happy about it, because that’s tyranny over that 16-year-old, but I’ll give them that ground for the sake of the argument.

Once the kid turns 18, though, assuming the kid moves out, who then is allowed to say what the 18 year old can and can’t do? So let’s up the age a bit. Should an 18-year-old who identifies as a 21-year-old be allowed to consume alcohol? Well, there are laws on the books that tell us that someone must not sell alcohol to someone under the age of 21, but this tells us nothing of should not. If law and morality were perfectly synchronized, there would be no law. That someone “must not” do something according to the law does not suggest that they “should not” do it, because “must not” is a matter of legality and “should not” is a matter of morality.

Whenever this topic comes up, I’m reminded of people who said that the guy who shot up the theater in Colorado couldn’t have really been a psychopath, because he clearly knew the difference between right and wrong. How did they come to this assessment? I’m not kidding: they stated this because he didn’t run stop signs on the way to the theater. This is how confused a lot of people are, and it’s something that is worth mentioning. Many people do believe that “must not” and “should not” are the same thing; many people believe that legality and morality are in perfect harmony and that if something is illegal then doing it is morally wrong.

So that the state forbids this 18-year-old from buying alcohol tells us nothing about whether or not the 18-year-old should be allowed to buy alcohol, much less anything about whether the 18-year-old should be allowed to consume alcohol she might not have purchased. Perhaps a 21-year-old boyfriend purchased it. Should she be allowed to sit in the comfort of her home and drink a few wine coolers? More importantly, should Random Bystander be allowed to dictate whether or not she is allowed to?

Yet even this isn’t the full extent of the confusion shown in this little diatribe.

Because what is age but a measurement of how much time one has spent on Earth? What value does it really have?

None.

Yet enormous importance is being placed in it; a person’s age is being given ridiculously high value and is being used to determine what that person “should” be allowed to do. I will admit that there is usually high correlation between age and maturity, but the real point of concern here is maturity, and not age. The question “Should a person of x age be allowed to consume alcohol?” is shooting at the wrong target–and is an attempt to dictate what other people can and can’t do on top of that. The only question that should matter is “Should a person of reasonable maturity be allowed to consume alcohol?”

And this is rife with problems, isn’t it? First, there is the obvious issue–we have no right to tell anyone else what they are and are not allowed to do, nor do we have the right to set the criteria which determines what they are and are not allowed to do, and nor do we have the right to delineate a bunch of secondary characteristics that indicate that “this person is mature” but “this person isn’t mature.” This is precisely my point: our fixation on age, and placing this importance in it, has grossly oversimplified the issue, to the point that the question itself is stupid–yet people are asking it in sincerity because they’re so confused.

I get it. We humans like our laws and moral maxims neat and tidy. It doesn’t matter that this means that a guy one day “should not” be allowed to consume alcohol because he is only 20 years and 364 days old. It doesn’t matter that the difference between a 20 year old and a 21 year old isn’t a year but is a single day, a single hour, a single minute. A person does not magically gain maturity, wisdom, and insight when they reach the threshold of 21 years old.

This mindset probably hearkens back to the days when we actually had rites of passage, but even then we usually weren’t so insane as to pick arbitrary and meaningless numbers. In most cases, a girl became a woman not on her 12th birthday but on her first period. In most cases, a boy became a man not on his 13th birthday but on the event of his first successful hunt. When we had these clear milestones that were supposed to help a person develop maturity and wisdom, they sort of made sense, even if the methods were often misguided and archaic, such as separating the “unclean girl” from all the villagers or making the man wear a sleeve filled with bullet ants. Or get plates attached to their lips, you know. That sort of thing.

If there was some sort of lead-up to this, some actual rites of passage that a person embarked upon and completed around their 18th birthday–not including the faux rite of passage that is high school graduation or the driver’s license, because there’s no suffering, no hardship, and no difficulty in any of those. I don’t mean to be harsh, but ease and comfort are not the ways through which we learn wisdom. Hardship, suffering, pain, and difficulty are the teachers of wisdom and maturity.

Rites of passage have become meaningless formalities. A man takes his son to a field where they carefully have planted corn through the last several months, and then they hide and wait in a tree for one of the deer that has been conditioned to find food there wanders up, at which point they shoot the poor animal and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. “Hunting!” they call it, but let’s be honest about it. It’s land fishing. It’s the equivalent of calling yourself a hunter because you laid out a cracker for three days in the same spot, and then placed the cracker on a mousetrap and killed a mouse. Yay! You did it! You big man, you!

The Sweet 16s, the Mexican thing that I don’t know how to spell–these are just formalities. They are Rights of passage, not rites of passage. They are unfailable. They are not tests; they are not trials. And so they are pointless, except as arbitrary milestones to make people feel good about themselves. And we all know this to be the case in modern western society. When was the last time you saw a 14 year old Jewish dude who had recently finished his Bar Mizvah actually treated like the “man” that it supposedly made him into? Never. Because it’s just a formality. It’s just empty words.

I’m not saying that we need to return to en sincera rites of passage. On some level, I think that we probably do need to, because… as I said, suffering is the teacher of wisdom and maturity. We don’t have a generation of immature crybabies playing with Play-Doh in the floor of college classrooms “traumatized” by the election results because they are filled with wisdom and maturity, after all. But, then again, that I value wisdom and maturity are subjective values, and there I go treating the valuation of wisdom and maturity as part of the One True Value System.

Anyway, the underlying assumption to the first question is that the 21-year-old “should” be allowed to consume alcohol, but that a 16-year-old “should not” be. The question would better be asked “Whether it’s a good idea for a 16-year-old to consume alcohol.” So let’s drop the “should” thing from it, because of the previous 2200 freaking words I wrote about it, and let’s ask whether it would be a good idea.

The only conceivably correct answer would be, “It depends.”

Is it a good idea for even a 21 year old to consume alcohol? Who the hell can say? That depends on a ton of factors. Is the 21 year old from a family with a history of alcoholism and drug abuse? Is she drinking to escape her problems? Is she going to have to drive later?

Or are we asking this question more generally? “More often than not, in any and all possible circumstances such a person might be in, is it a good idea for a 21 year old to drink alcohol?”

That’s a remarkably different question from what was initially asked–“Should a 16-year-old be allowed to consume alcohol if she identifies as a 21-year-old?” Let’s remember that we didn’t reach this more complex, more nuanced question accidentally; we reached it by picking apart assumptions and fallacies that weren’t true and weren’t applicable. That someone could ask this horribly simplified version with any amount of sincerity should scare us all–so much importance being placed on the absolutely meaningless age of a person. You might as well say that only people who have a cup size of B or more or who have a penis size of 5 inches or more should be allowed to drink alcohol–a person’s cup size and penis size have just about as much to do with maturity and wisdom as age does.

After all, correlation does not equal causation. The reason people generally mature as they age is that they suffer, experience pain, and experience hardship. That’s precisely what destroys “childhood innocence,” after all–and we all know this. And obviously, the loss of childhood innocence is the gain of maturity; it’s two ways of saying the same thing. “Gaining maturity” = “loss of childhood innocence” = “result of pain, suffering, and hardship”. That’s how we end up with freaking 22 year olds in college blowing bubbles and playing with Play-Doh. Immature–childishness–lack of pain and suffering, lack of trial by fire.

This is going to have to be Part 1 of a two part series.

Exodus 20:13

Please forgive me if I’m not quite up to date with the latest in the Christian world.

When I was in junior high and high school, we received a notebook every year around January that contained on its cover the Ten Commandments. There were even occasions (at least once when I was in the tenth grade) that we were given those little New Testament Bibles. So naturally our school had no sex education program–abstinence or otherwise, which is fine since it’s a parent’s duty to explain procreation to their children, not the state’s–and only barely had a drug education program.

I’m speaking for… basically all… Mississippians when I say that the Bibles and notebooks were unnecessary. In a pragmatic sense, the notebooks were fantastic, because they always came around the time I needed a fresh notebook to continue my writing and not doing schoolwork. Teachers often loathed me for that, because they knew I was not paying attention, that I was writing some story, but when I passed the tests it didn’t leave them many ways to chastise me.

I’d wager that maybe one in two hundred kids didn’t have their own copy of the Bible, though, and I had at least two.

There was controversy surrounding the Ten Commandments, though (because of course there was), specifically whether it was stated that Thou shalt not kill or Thou shalt not murder.

This is an important distinction for a few reasons. First, God kills a number of people in the Bible by any translation, and, if you really want to split hairs, is inadvertently responsible for every death by creating life (unless you subscribe to the literal interpretation of Genesis, in which case he’s still responsible for putting the tree in the garden, but it’s not my intention to attack theology). Second, large portions of the Bible prescribe killing people as the punishment for everything from witchcraft to adultery. In order to avoid a conflict between “Thou shalt not kill [period]” and “Thou shalt kill these people,” it was necessary to draw a distinction between killing (The taking of life) and murder (presumably the unjust taking of human life).

It’s worth mentioning, though, that if our universe has a creator, then its moral mandates to us are not commandments to itself. Such a being has a perspective on human existence that we simply cannot attain, and is sure to abide what would seem to us as Blue & Orange morality. We silly mortals are unlikely to understand the value system of this creator, its criteria for assessing value, or its reason for doing so. Mandate from such a being would be perfectly acceptable, because we couldn’t even grasp its reasoning.

But the “Do as I say, not as I do” thing isn’t really a point of contention for Christians anyway–whether they’ve given it sufficient thought or not, they understand this. It’s mostly just a masturbation exercise for atheists (The Atheist Experience comes to mind, as they do it a lot) who refuse to accept that the existence of a god would instantly invalidate all moral values that weren’t its own. But he who makes the rules determines who is just; he who defines morality determines who is moral.

So the true importance of this distinction isn’t whether the creator of the universe must abide the moral proclamations it passes down to us; the true importance is whether the state has to.

Whew! What a leap, right? Here we were discussing theology, with no mention of the state, then BAM!

It’s not a leap at all, though, because what is the institution that would be responsible for outlawing and punishing heretics and adulterers? It would be the state.

Obviously, the church and state were not always separate things; if they had been, we wouldn’t today have the phrase “separation of church and state.” However, we’d be delusional to suggest that the separation of church and state has been total, throughout the world or throughout the United States. In fact, many sects within Christianity attempt to legislate based on the moral values that they (correctly or incorrectly) say stem from their religion. North Carolina’s transgender restroom law comes to mind, and anti-sodomy laws have only recently been repealed.

In order to carry out and enforce this fundamentalist morality, it is often necessary to break that morality, as we mentioned above. In order to carry out the moral proclamation “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” it is necessary to break the moral proclamation “Thou shalt not kill.” This is why the state, much as the deity we mentioned earlier, gets a pass on its own moral statements.

We do this with euphemisms. “Thou shalt not steal” doesn’t apply to taxation for some inexplicable reason. “Thou shalt not murder” doesn’t apply to war, the abomination of capital punishment, or a police officer killing someone. “Thou shalt not keep slaves”* doesn’t apply to forced military conscription or prison labor. “Thou shalt not rape” doesn’t apply when you send someone to a place where you know they will be raped.

The knee-jerk reaction is to say that taxation isn’t theft, that conscription isn’t slavery, and that being an accomplice sending someone to a rape factory doesn’t count as rape. But no arguments can be put forward to back these positions. One can only say, “Nuh-uh!” and leave it at that, because the position is indefensible.

It is called “theft” when a large group of people gather together and decide to take money and resources from other people who don’t consent to having their money taken. It doesn’t really matter whether three hundred million people agree and only one objects; it’s still theft to take money and resources from the one who objects. We cannot consent to taxation on his behalf any more than one can consent to sex on his behalf.

We recoil at that analogy, and rightly so. The mere thought of consenting to sex on a woman’s behalf, even though she is expressly against it, strikes us as vehemently immoral, but it’s really only a stroke of luck that we don’t live in a world where “sex” is alongside slavery and murder as things we consent to for other people while they object. There appears to be no limit to what we may mandate for other people. We kidnap them against their will, steal from them against their will, enslave them against their will, and kill them against their will. It’s only a matter of fortune that “have sex with them against their will” isn’t on that list.

We can give an omniscient creator of the universe a pass on our morality, because its perspective is too wide for our tiny minds to grasp, but we cannot give the state a pass. The state, after all, is filled with people of no particular greatness. They are not wiser, smarter, or more considered than anyone else, and that rulers are not special was the great revelation that set forward the rise of governance “by the people.”

We can’t have it both ways, of course. We can’t say in one breath that “we are the government” and then say that our government can violate moral values because it is special and exempt. It must be that trying to do such a thing is merely an attempt to give ourselves a pass on morality, to make ourselves into official hypocrites, because “we are the government” and “The government is exempt from our morality” means literally that “we are exempt from our morality.”

So are we? Are we exempt from our morality?

Of course, the truth is that “we” aren’t the government. Even if we buy into the conceit that our representatives actually represent us, “we” still wouldn’t be the government; our representatives would be.

What use is a morality system if we establish loopholes and exemptions that allow systemic violations more horrible than anything an individual might do? Despite our philosophy that killing is wrong, governments last century managed a body count above 160,000,000–a staggering number of dead people. Despite our maxim that theft is wrong, the American Government steals huge chunks of everyone’s money.

We established this moral system. If we judge ourselves by our own rules and standards, I don’t think we’d like the result.

What role do I play in the atrocities committed by the state? Very little, but I could certainly do more to fight it beyond writing articles and arguing with people. Shouldn’t I be out marching in the streets, demanding an end to war, theft, kidnapping, and slavery? By this measure I’m as guilty as anyone.

What role does the average voter play? Well, the average voter is more of an accomplice than a weakly active resistor. The average voter doesn’t just allow it by not resisting strongly enough; the average voter encourages and legitimizes it. The average voter is the rubber stamp that legitimizes the euphemisms and allows the theft, murder, kidnapping, and slavery to continue.

It’s one thing to perhaps-be-not-as-adamant-as-one-could-be about seeing a moral tragedy ended. At least we Pen and Paper Anarchists do something, even if we don’t do enough. Then again, what more can we do without violating the very moral tenants we are trying to spread? We cannot zerg rush DC with guns–the entire point of anarchism is that violence cannot be used to prevent violence. If we use violence, we cease being anarchists immediately and become statists, because its exemption to violate morality is what defines the state. That’s how authorities always function. “For the greater good, we must do evil.”

Fear is what I think compels us to embrace the state and its lies. “Government is a necessary evil,” went the advocates of classical liberalism. “Government is a necessary evil, except ours. Ours is a good one,” states the modern liberal and modern conservative. They arrive at this conclusion by different roads, but they reach it all the same. For the liberal, the government is mostly good because it protects us from ourselves; for the conservative, the government is mostly good because it protects us from others. And the miraculous thing is that these statements can be flipped without problem.

Any skilled chess player will tell you that there are huge differences between defence and offense, and between protecting and attacking. This isn’t to say that the two are always exclusive, because in chess they aren’t–the best attacking moves are those that defend, too.

But we’re not chess pieces to be moved about on a board and sacrificed to gain the upper hand. The pawn would never advocate a pawn sacrifice.

Unless the king had convinced him it was the only way to win.

* Although, to be clear, the Bible never states this.

Christmas Isn’t the Capitalist Wet Dream

I’ve seen a lot of posts and articles in the past few days from libertarians and other capitalists that suggest that Xmas is some kind of Uber Capitalist Celebration, like it’s just this zenith of capitalist ideas and a wonderful, grand thing. In the interest of religious friends, I want to draw a distinction between Xmas and Christmas, because I’m not sure they’re the same thing. Christmas is a holiday about love, family, and friendship–regardless of where it may have its roots. Xmas is a holiday tied to Black Friday and is directly at odds with family and friendship because of this.

There were Facebook posts this year of people asking businesses to not open their stores on Thanksgiving Day, to at least wait until Friday to open up their Black Friday sales, but we all knew they wouldn’t do that, and we all knew that half of those people posting such things would be the first in line. It’s this hyper-competitiveness that destroys the Christmas spirit and replaces it with the Xmas spirit. People abandon their family and friends to go stand in line, rampage over old ladies, punch little kids, and all manner of other horrible things.

In most ways, Christmas has been replaced with Xmas, and it hasn’t been a good thing. It has invaded Thanksgiving–and it threatens to invade Halloween. Now that we have allowed the day to successfully sink its teeth into another holiday, there is likely no end to it; give it a few more decades, and Xmas will have devoured everything from December 25 to September 25. People get so caught up in it, but it’s not because of friends and family–it’s because of gifts, omg, gifts!

One could say that this is a good thing–the spirit of giving and all that, but it’s not the spirit of giving, is it? No, it’s the spirit of buying. We all know this to be true, even if we don’t say it. My father, being perpetually broke, spends each year making fudge and other sugar-loaded crap that he gives out, and it’s never stated but it’s always there, underlying the entire gift-giving process: “These aren’t real gifts.” I believe my nephew has outright stated that. But we don’t make gifts, and none of us has any interest in making gifts. Those who do give such gifts are looked upon strangely, and why? Because this isn’t a season of giving; it’s a season of buying.

There are outliers, of course, and nothing is universally true. But it’s never “Make your loved ones something special this holiday season” that we see, is it? Not anywhere do we see such messages. We’d expect advertisers to jump on the “NO YOU HAVE TO BUY YOUR GIFTS” train–we’d expect them to be in charge of that train, in fact–but their subtle propaganda has been so effective that the masses of people believe it. You’re weird if you make people gifts. That’s too personal, too emotional, too… weird.

But I didn’t mean to get into that.

I’m more concerned with the libertarians and capitalists who have so misunderstood economics and capitalism that they think Xmas is this wonderful season. I’ve even seen people call it “CapitalisMas.” It’s sad that people who profess to understand capitalism show themselves to be so extremely confused about it.

Capitalism is about taking resources and using them to generate a profit. It is quite literally about acquiring resources and turning them into capital.

Realistically, we have to draw a distinction between Consumer Goods and Capital Goods–one is not an investment, and one is. A consumer good is something that is consumed–slowly or quickly, it doesn’t matter–and that won’t return any value beyond the gluttonous value of having consumed it. Chocolate, televisions, video games… The list is practically infinite. A capital good, on the other hand, is something that is an investment, something that will return a profit–or, at least, has the potential to return a profit. No matter how many televisions you buy for your children, those televisions will never become profit, because they aren’t investments. The moment that box is opened, the value plummets, and after 2 or 3 years the value of that television is no better than twenty or thirty percent what it was when purchased. The same is true of phones, computers, and other electronics. Houses, vehicles, stocks, bonds… These are capital goods.

The more consumer goods a person purchases, the fewer resources they have with which to purchase capital goods. Consumer goods, in a very real sense, are the equivalent of pissing away money–except the money isn’t really pissed away, is it? No, it simply changes hands, transferred from the Buyer to the Seller. In exchange for your capital good of “money,” they provide you with a consumer good that is guaranteed to become worthless at a rate that makes the USD look like a good investment.

So what is Xmas? It’s not the Glory of Capitalism that people make it out to be, because no one is out buying capital goods for the holiday season. They’re out buying consumer goods, which transfers money from their hands to the hands of people who sold them the consumer goods–the goods that will be consumed and discarded. It is the Glory of Consumptionism, and Consumptionism and Capitalism are actually at odds with one another–because every penny one spends on a consumption good is one less penny that one can spend on a capital good.

It is not consumption that is the driving force of economic growth. It is savings. Savings is the catalyst of economic growth and the destroyer of poverty. Think about it. No amount of televisions, iPhones, Xboxes, or chocolate will ever make a person wealthy. The expiration date on these things is simply too soon; they are terrible investments. However, even something simple like taking that money and instead burying it in a jar outside will begin the slow process of moving ahead.

If Bob makes $8,000 a year, Bob will never get out of poverty by spending all of his money. He can buy all the televisions and gaming systems that he wants; he will always be poor. What can Bob do? He can save his money. Every penny that Bob puts back is Bob’s profit–he has weighed his income against his expenses and has a surplus of capital. This is capitalism. Bob spending all of that money on consumption goods that he will consume and discard is not capitalism; it is a method of transferring wealth from the buyers to the sellers while leaving the buyers with nothing of value. If this is what you are advocating as a good thing, then you’re not a capitalist.

You’re a Cronyist.

So masses of people–I would hazard the guess that we’re looking at 90% of the American population–have been carefully and deliberately persuaded by the sellers to spend obscene amounts of money each year on consumption items. So parents buy toys that the kids will break or stop playing with, clothes the kids will outgrow, computers that will become obsolete, all because decades of advertising and blatant manipulation have left people convinced that if you don’t buy, buy, buy! then you’re a Scrooge, a monster, and “Bah, humbug!” to you.

Capitalism doesn’t work when masses of people keep themselves in poverty by transferring wealth to the manufacturers and sellers while only getting consumption goods–things that will be consumed and discarded. That is a recipe of careful wealth redistribution from the bottom to the top. It doesn’t matter that it’s not orchestrated by the state; it’s still a huge problem, creating a permanent caste of people who consume everything they can get their hands on, swapping out wealth for chocolate, and digging themselves deeper into poverty rather than lifting themselves out. We should not be advocating this. We should not be cheering for this.

We should be fighting tooth and nail against this.

We should be fighting hard against the propaganda that if you’re against Xmas shopping, then you’re a Scrooge and “just need to get into the Xmas Spirit!” We should be fighting to reveal the truth of the holiday, that it’s not about giving; that it’s about buying. We should be working to educate the masses of people and explaining to them that consumption goods do not and cannot end poverty, that consumption cannot end poverty, and that the only true catalyst of economic growth is savings, not consumption.

Capitalism is about taking a resource and turning it into capital–hence why it’s called “capitalism.” Xmas, on the other hand, is about taking a resource and turning it into nothing: clothes that will be outgrown, toys that will be broken, games that will be beaten. This isn’t to say it’s bad to buy things; it certainly isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with consuming or consumption. But an entire holiday dedicated to it? And loads of people mistaking it for some kind of capitalist Ramadan? No. Just no.

Taking a resource and consuming it–that’s like literally the opposite of capitalism.

Save, save, save!

Not “spend, spend, spend!”

This is Keynesianism versus Austrianism–Hayekism, if you like. Perhaps Misesian? And we have loads and loads of “capitalists,” “libertarians,” and “anarcho-capitalists” advocating Keynesian economic strategies. I wonder if these are the same people who have confused pro-market with pro-corporation, who have confused being a libertarian with being a corporate shill. As libertarians, capitalists, and anarchists, we should want nothing more than to see the poor lift themselves out of being poor.

But that will never happen as long as we foster this Keynesian mentality that spending is the catalyst of economic growth.

Keynesians, pretending to be capitalists.

There’s No Such Thing As the Popular Vote

It certainly hasn’t been a smooth ride, but it looks like the people–specifically, Democrats–are going to have to move out of the Bargaining Stage, since there are no bargains left to be made. I want to also credit them for mostly skipping over denial, because there weren’t very many people who really took the #NotMyPresident crap earnestly. I suspect that Denial is always the shortest stage of grief, at least when it comes to politics and elections, because people woke up on November 9th and there wasn’t really any way to live in denial. Denial requires people to enable it, and no one was willing to do that. Of course, we could make the argument–and I would make the argument–that anger and bargaining are both encapsulated by “Denial,” so the Denial Stage is actually three parts: abject denial, anger, bargaining. I would also contend that “depression” is part of the acceptance phase, but none of that is really important; it just occurred to me that anger and bargaining are part of denial–last ditch efforts to escape the consequences, to deny the outcome.

So the Electoral College voted and, to the surprise of no one with a brain and experience in politics and the ability to look at the issue rationally, Trump has been named the next President of the United States. That’s pretty much it for the denial, though, isn’t it? There are no tricks left up the denier’s sleeve, no cards left to be played, and no more opportunities to overturn the results of the fifty state elections. Jill Stein’s recounts were a total bust, only verifying the outcome in the one state that actually had a recount, and all of the anti-Russian propaganda has amounted to nothing.

It’s fascinating that so much attention was paid not just on the Electoral College but on the people themselves. One day Democrats argue that the Electoral College should be abolished, that it isn’t democratic, and that it’s not right. Then the next they’re lining up and begging the Electoral College to curtail the will of the people they represent. All of this confusion comes from the misunderstanding Democrats have, not realizing that we are fifty individual republics and there is no national popular vote; there are fifty elections on Election Day–one in each state–and the outcome of those elections determine who those states give their votes to. The people of Mississippi didn’t vote for the President. The State of Mississippi did, and the People of Mississippi simply told the state who to give its votes to.

Not as long as I’ve been paying attention to politics has so much focus been put on the Electoral College, not even in 2000. Both articles I’ve seen on the subject tonight express a sort of disappointment, saying things like “Trump clears the final hurdle…” and “Trump completes the final lap…” as though there was ever any doubt. The election is over, and it has been over since 2:00 AM on November 9th. Everything that has happened since in the mainstream media–all of the anti-Trump stuff anyway–has been a form of denial, up to and including the absolutely preposterous notion that there was ever any chance at all that the Electoral College might fail to install Trump.

This is the first time in my life that I’ve even bothered to look at what the Electors’ results were; even though I fully expected them to be what they were–though I didn’t expect any Republicans to defect*–but that really speaks to how sensationalized and extravagant the media and Democrats have been, that even though I knew beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt that the electors would elect Trump, I still went to see the results. I can only imagine how people less grounded in reality–like the Democrats who have accepted the swill that Trump is a tool of Putin–feel right now, their hopes again dashed on the rocks.

But none of this is really what I want to talk about. I want to talk about this fully insane article from the Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-electoral-college-is-poised-to-pick-trump-despite-push-to-dump-him/2016/12/19/75265c16-c58f-11e6-85b5-76616a33048d_story.html?utm_term=.aa42daef7342

Donald Trump clinched the presidency Monday as members of the electoral college cast ballots declaring him the victor, a perfunctory conclusion to the most stunning presidential contest in modern history.

Trump became the winner Monday afternoon after electors from Texas cast ballots and put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Results will be officially announced Jan. 6 in a special joint session of Congress.

While Democrat Hillary Clinton amassed a nearly 3 million-vote lead in the popular vote, Trump won the state-by-state electoral map, making him president-elect. That political dichotomy sparked special scrutiny and intense lobbying of electors by Trump’s opponents in recent weeks, including mass protests. It also drew outsize attention to the usually overlooked, constitutionally obligated gatherings of 538 electors in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Sorry, but I do have to call you out on this. See, Washington Post, I went to your article from the Electoral College votes in 2012, and… Oh. You don’t have such an article. You didn’t write an article when the electors voted in 2008 or 2012, because the process is pretty automatic, isn’t it? It’s a formality.

Anyway, the reason I bolded that part is that it’s kinda sore-loser-ish, isn’t it? First of all, stop saying “the popular vote.” There is not, and never has been, any such thing as “the popular vote.” When you speak of this, you are cultivating and spreading a myth and a lie. Hillary Clinton absolutely does not “lead in the popular vote” because there is no “the popular vote.” There were fifty popular votes. By a large margin, Donald Trump won most of the popular votes. Popular votes. As in–plural. Because there is no “the.”

The mostly symbolic calls for an electoral college rejection of Trump grew after revelations of a CIA assessment that Russian hacking could have boosted his campaign, which in the view of many Trump critics raised doubts about his legitimacy.

You just can’t help it, can you? I compared this to your article from where Obama defeated Romney in 2012. For it to be fair, you would have had to have mentioned the possibility that Obama was born in Kenya, because I’ve figured it out, Washington Post and Democrats. This whole “Trump is a Russian puppet!” thing–it’s just your Birther Movement. Don’t pretend like it’s more than that, or that it’s more dignified than that. This is you demanding to see Trump’s long-form birth certificate. However, you didn’t mention the possibility that Obama was born in Kenya in your article celebrating Obama’s victory.

And why did you say Obama won? Well, obviously, for very positive reasons. Let’s take a look at your language:

  • “reassembling the political coalition that boosted…”
  • “remaking himself from a hopeful uniter into a fighter…”
  • “scored a decisive victory…”
  • “capped a night of gains…”
  • “run as a symbol of limitless hope…”
  • “Obama’s promises had won…”
  • “had promised to fight the hardest…”

Wow! One might say you had your lips to his ass so fully that you were tonguing his large intestine.

For curiosity’s sake, let’s compare that to your language about Trump’s victory on November 9.

  • “Hillary Clinton’s quest to become the first female president…” [C’mon. Seriously?]
  • “Trump, a 70-year-old celebrity businessman who had never before run for office, is poised to become the oldest president ever elected to a first term. ” [Just had to take that whole sentence.] [Age Discrimination–you liberals aren’t fans of that, right?]
  • “After running a divisive campaign…”
  • “With Trump’s ascension to the White House, the nationalist wave that has swept capitals around the world — including in Britain, which voted to break from the European Union this year — came crashing onto U.S. shores.” [Again, just… wow.] [“Came crashing” is obviously heavily loaded language]

In fact, I’m going to stop here a moment to reflect on the horrifically biased language, because word choice is exceedingly important–it’s what gives away the bias. Hillary, you see, was on a quest. Quick, what do you think of when you hear the word “quest?” Unless you’re a World of Warcraft player, you think of an honorable, just mission undertaken to do something good and righteous. Trump is a “celebrity businessman.” Quite a contrast to Hillary’s quest.

Obama “capped a night of gains.” Powerful, positive language. Trump “came crashing onto U.S. shores.”

The primary reason I care isn’t that I like Trump. I don’t. I care because lots and lots of people don’t see the bias, and generally believe the Washington Post is neutral. You can’t claim neutrality while using language like “run as a symbol of limitless hope” for a Democrat, language like “quest to become the first female President” for a democrat, and stacking it against “built his campaign around the single contention…” [Romney] and “came crashing onto U.S. shores.” [Trump]

Moving on.

Trump has dismissed the intelligence community’s analysis of Russia’s role in the election and has boasted, including on Monday, of a “historic” electoral landslide. But his 305-to-232 win over Clinton ranks just 46th out of 58 electoral college margins.

I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. The intelligence community’s analysis? There has been no such analysis.

You mean this one?

I realize you guys are the experts at this, but isn’t this, you know… bullshit?

His detractors called on electors to buck the president-elect in favor of Clinton — or Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, or another Republican such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Yes, and you denialists enabled that delusion by pandering to those detractors and giving the false hope that there was ever any chance in hell that this was a possibility. I don’t mean to say that it was a “one in a million” chance or that it was “really long odds.” There was no chance; there were no odds. It was an impossibility, and you guys knew it. You knew most of these states have laws in place preventing it, and that most of the electors would be replaced if they wouldn’t vote for the person they were supposed to.

But not even once did any mainstream media outlet mention that little detail. I read the news everyday, and a lot of those are liberal outlets, and I never once saw any of these liberal sites mention the fact that most of these electors have alternates standing by and ready to go if the first elector doesn’t vote for the person they’re supposed to vote for. That’s a pretty big detail, but I never saw it mentioned. If it was mentioned, it certainly wasn’t stated nearly enough, and why not? Because that little fact nips the whole delusion in the bud and renders it absolutely impossible.

Across the country, critics of the president-elect braved cold temperatures and rallied outside state capitol buildings in hopes that electors might act as an emergency brake on Trump.

More examples in shockingly biased language. “Braved cold temperatures… rallied outside… hopes that electors… act as an emergency brake…”

And how does it convey the message about Republicans immediately after that sentence?

In Pennsylvania, which voted for a Republican president for the first time since 1988, a few hundred shell-shocked Democrats protested in Harrisburg while all 20 electors backed Trump. In Utah, protesters booed and shouted “Shame on you” as the state’s six electors cast votes for Trump in a capitol building conference room in Salt Lake City.

  • “shell-shocked Democrats…”
  • “booed and shouted…”
  • “‘Shame on you'”

I know what you’re thinking. “They’re just reporting what happened!” Yes, and that’s the problem–the language with which they are reporting it is extremely biased. Allow me to rewrite this <sigh> two sentence “paragraph” without all the loaded language:

In Pennsylvania, which voted for a Republican president for the first time since 1988, Democrat detractors continued protesting while all 20 electors backed Trump. In Utah, protestors jeered as the state’s electors cast their votes from Trump.

See? That is just reporting what happened. I’m not a big fan of “jeered,” to be honest, and if I was a journalist I would spend the time to look for a more neutral word, as “jeered” sounds negative to me. Why is that? The use of “jeered” paints the protestors as snarling, grimacing, unhappy people–which, by all accounts, is exactly right. “…booed” and “shouted” have the same effect, of course, unless you agree with those people, in which case it doesn’t sound so negative.

Ooh! I especially love this:

In Florida, a crucial swing state where Trump defeated Clinton by about a percentage point, Trump won all 29 electoral votes.

I’ll fill that out for you. I’ll fill you in on what the Washington Post actually meant.

In Florida, Trump defeated Clinton by one measly percentage point. One freaking point. But even though he won by only a single point, Trump gets all 29 electoral votes, which is bullshit and unfair. At the very least, Clinton should have gotten 14 of them. Fuck you, white America, you racist, misogynistic pieces of sh–

Okay, maybe not that last part.

What’s the point of even bringing up this info about Trump’s victory in Florida, the margin of his victory, and the distribution of electoral votes? Specifically to make you think what I said. Really, I mean that–they said that, and they put it the way they put it, precisely to make you think what I just said. It’s called manipulation, and there is a reason they spend billions upon billions of dollars each year learning the best ways to manipulate public opinion. Look how subtle it is!

They don’t have to state it. They just have to tell you the facts in the right way.

Again, I can hear you. “But that’s all they did! They just stated the facts!”

But they didn’t. Here. I’ll state the facts.

Due to his narrow victory in Florida, Trump claims its 29 electoral votes.

See? That is what the facts look like. The other stuff–that’s called “slant.”

And they are good at it. Man, are they good at it. It’s all about context, phrasing, and word choice–calling attention to the right facts at the right time and using the right words to convey it.

Some held signs, including one that read, “Resist Putin’s Puppet.”

Pictured: signs with EXACTLY as much truth, credibility, and decency as the sign that called Trump Putin’s puppet.

I mean, if you’re going to hold up a stupid sign, you might as well go all the way, and hold up the most stupid sign you can find, right? “Resist Putin’s Puppet,” are you freaking kidding me? It’s no surprise this idiot was out protesting the electors and evidently believing that there was even a remote chance that the electors wouldn’t elect Trump: clearly, this person is woefully out of touch with reality.

It’s probably because he gets his news from the Washington Post.

* On that note, congratulations Ron Paul, on securing an electoral college vote!

I Don’t Care About Trump’s Appointments

I seem to be a bit anomalous, in that I don’t care even slightly about the people that President Elect Donald Trump chooses to head various federal agencies. The only appointment of his that I have any interest in would be the Supreme Court Justice slot, and my prediction on that is that Trump is going to wait until after his inauguration to let us know who he favors. At the very least, we won’t know until after the Electors have voted.

Thanks to friends who are interested, I see the appointments. I see how Trump picked an Exxon CEO to be… Secretary of State, I think? And someone named DeVos is going to head the Department of Education, if I recall correctly. I don’t care, though, because the whole thing just smacks of tyranny. More than anything, the post-election focus on Trump’s staff and department heads highlights just how broken the American government is, that these positions of extreme power are not elected but appointed.

I am reminded of Thomas Paine’s remarks in The Rights of Man about how France did not find itself under the one despot of King Louis and how there were, in fact, many competing despotisms, some inherited and some newly created, and that Louis himself was little more than the symbol of the myriad tyrannies that stifled the French people:

When despotism has established itself for ages in a country, as in France, it is not in the person of the king only that it resides. It has the appearance of being so in show, and in nominal authority; but it is not so in practice and in fact. It has its standard everywhere. Every office and department has its despotism, founded upon custom and usage. Every place has its Bastille, and every Bastille its despot. The original hereditary despotism resident in the person of the king, divides and sub-divides itself into a thousand shapes and forms, till at last the whole of it is acted by deputation. This was the case in France; and against this species of despotism, proceeding on through an endless labyrinth of office till the source of it is scarcely perceptible, there is no mode of redress. It strengthens itself by assuming the appearance of duty, and tyrannies under the pretence of obeying.

How sad and tragic that this 18th century literature holds so strikingly true today, when we have had the benefit of the United States Constitution and two centuries of education, rationalism, enlightenment, and productivity with which we might have forever cast off the yoke of despotism.

“Drain the swamp!” Trump said during his campaign–a fact that I have only just now bothered to even remark on, because my hyper-cynical libertarianism recognized it immediately as the meaningless slogan that it was–a useless platitude and empty promise to further ignite the “populist” base that propelled him to victory. Hardly a week had gone by, though, that President Elect Donald Trump made it clear that he intended to bathe in the swamp. This is not the pining of someone who expected better, though, but a withdrawn recognition that it was inevitable, just as King Louis would have been utterly unable to effect the changes in government that the French people wanted to see, king or not.

No matter how benevolent King Louis XVI might have been–and it does seem that he was as moderate a monarch as the French people could have hoped for at that period in history–he was as bound by the tyranny of the French government as were the French people who eventually dethroned and executed him. So, too, is it irrelevant how benevolent Trump might be*, how well-intentioned, how moderate, or how compelled he is to complete his countless conflicting campaign contracts.

The tyranny under which the American people suffer–they are extraneous to the office of the President, and the President has little to no power to change them, and I would venture the statement that even Congress has become powerless to change them. Obviously, the CIA is foremost among such agencies: here is a governmental agencies of spies, run by people who were not elected, who play partisan politics, who now operate within the United States, who lied directly to Congress, who involved us in Iraq under false pretenses where at least 150,000 civilians have been killed, who planned Operation Northwoods, who executed Project MK-ULTRA, and who executed Project Paperclip. This agency is responsible, at the very least, for these crimes against the American People–and it can be called nothing else, when the agency kidnaps and tortures American citizens in the name of torture and psychotropic drug “research,” no doubt ideas they got from the people they imported during Project Paperclip–continues on unabated, unchecked, uncontrolled, and uncontested. What difference does it make whether this horrific agency is headed by someone appointed by President Obama or someone appointed by President Trump?

None.

The same holds true of all the government agencies to some degree, though many have crimes against the American people that are less brazen and more oppressive. The Food and Drug Administration, for example, with its absurd shenanigans–it’s hard to even identify a place to start. Aspartame** is probably a good starting point, considering the FDA classified it as a poison for a very long time. Suddenly, though, the FDA decided that it wasn’t a poison after all, and then-head of the FDA resigned and went on to join the board of directors for the company that–shocker of shockers–held the patent on aspartame. There were other things in the news more recently, and libertarians blew the horn on the FDA’s ridiculous bullshit over something that started with a “k.” I don’t recall what, but it’s not of much significance, not really.

How about the IRS? Is Trump’s new appointment to the IRS going to forgive the tax debt of everyone who earns less than fifty thousand dollars a year? Not bloody likely. And I can tell you from first-hand experience that the IRS embodies the spirit of tyranny: unchecked and uncontested, they declare anything they want and they have the power to turn their arbitrary rulings into requirements. The only thing saving me from the IRS is that they are too big, I am too small, and the debt is too small–respectively, for them, at least. If it was $20,000 or $200,000 I have very little doubt that they would throw their might at me. And their might? It is inescapable and indestructible.

So what reason could I possibly have to care that King Louis XV died and has been replaced by King Louis XVI? However well-intentioned he might be, the nature of the state itself is that King Louis does not–indeed, cannot–know that such a person as myself even exists, much less that the state oppresses me. Does the state oppress me? Of course, but I don’t mean to say that it oppresses me more than it oppresses anyone else.

The insidious nature of the state and government regulations is precisely that freedoms are so hard to notice when they’re absent. We humans are creatures of comparison. In order for a man to know he is not free to do something, he must be able to compare his life to some scenario–even a hypothetical one–where he is free to do it. But when it has not been made simply illegal but has been erased entirely from existence, it becomes a matter of extreme imagination to envision scenarios where we might be free but aren’t, where we might have something but don’t.

Our war against the state is beautiful in that it shows how remarkably industrious and creative we are as free, independent people. When the government granted itself the exclusive right to deliver mail and then drove itself into the ground–as fascism is prone to doing–the productivity and ingenuity of liberty stepped forward and delivered: email, facsimile machines, and text messaging were born. “Paperless” is increasingly the trend, further putting the USPS out of business, a relic of the past because government regulations obsoleted the government agency. It was inevitable–by stifling competition, the USPS established a monopoly, promptly became inefficient, and we clever, creative people worked around the letter of the law. I don’t even have a mail box or a Post Office box. That’s how obsolete the USPS is.

What solutions might we have come up with fifty years ago, if the USPS hadn’t outlawed competition? It took a very long time for us to come up with a cost effective, expedient, and efficient solution to undermine the USPS’s tyranny over the delivering of mail–for a long time the literal lifeblood of communication in the country–is it any wonder they wanted to control it? Technology had to advance considerably just for us to be able to do something as simple as deliver a message from one part of the country to another without going through the slow bureaucracy of the USPS.

I mentioned to a friend earlier today that I am tired of shaving… pretty much my entire body, every single day, and so I’m considering trying out Nair. I’m not sure that would be cost effective, though–shaving is pretty cheap, especially when you soak your razors overnight in alcohol*^. I don’t have the patience to let my hair grow long enough to wax it, and I hate being prickly anyway. Then it occurred to me.

Why aren’t there^* At Home Laser Hair Removal kits already?

I can buy a laser pointer powerful enough to crash a 747. Why can’t I buy a Laser Hair Removal kit?

I can buy tattoo guns. In fact, I have tattoo guns. I did most of my tattoos myself. Of course, that’s rife with regulations, but the government can’t keep people in prison from building tattoo guns and giving one another tattoos, so how could they possibly accomplish it out here in wider society? For that matter, they can’t keep guns, drugs, and HIV out of prison, either. So even if they could turn the entire country into a prison in their quest for Max Gun Control and Max Drug Control–which would be necessary, as I enjoy reminding liberals–they still wouldn’t be able to catch that red herring.

I am absolutely positive that, if the government wasn’t in the way, DIY Laser Hair Removal kits would be available. You can buy far more dangerous stuff than that, after all.

Like aspartame, for example.

There was a strange divergence among self-proclaimed libertarians during the 2016 election, and while I know the “type,” I haven’t been able to fully articulate it. They have a nationalist streak and an anti-Islam streak, and while they do qualify as libertarians, they were more than willing to sell out and look the other way on freaking everything that was wrong with Donald Trump in the name of their nationalism and anti-Islamism. I know a few of them, and it’s those people that I think of when I hear the phrase “Drain the swamp!” because they did take Trump at face value; they believed he would do so.

So what is the Federal Government to me? What difference do Trump’s appointments make?

None.

There is Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court. That’s the Constitutional way, right? How very unsurprising that the President who led the charge on the creation of these independent regulatory bodies was none other than Abraham Lincoln–commonly called one of the greatest Presidents in American History, despite the fact that he killed more than a million Americans, started a civil war, suspended habeus corpus, deported a senator, and oversaw the creation of the first independent regulatory agencies. What happened was simple: the government pointed to a group of people and said, “Hey, group of people. Now you can tell the American people what they can and can’t do.”

And… well. We can readily see that this snowballed out of control. How many agencies are listed there? One thousand? I’m not going to count, and I doubt the list is exhaustive anyway.

Constitutionally, there are two people in the Federal Government who have authority to tell you what you can and cannot do: your U.S. Senator and your district’s Representative. Two. That’s it–that is the full and exhaustive list of everyone with the “rightful” power to exercise authority over you, and the “power” they have over you is extremely limited and specifically enumerated. There are like 8 things they’re allowed to do, and only then according to fairly strict standards and criteria.

Yet here we see a list of what I’m guessing is a thousand government agencies–none of them elected and none of them accountable–all with power over you, and all competing with one another for the power to tell you what you can and can’t do. It’s rather easy to compare that gargantuan list to the Constitutional two that there should be. Even if each of those agencies has only a single employee, that is roughly one thousand people with authority over you, with the authority to dictate your life, with the power to tell you what you can and can’t do, with the power to tell you what you can and can’t have, with the power to take options away from you and establish monopolies that have you at their mercy.

This isn’t even a problem that can be fixed by “draining the swamp.”

Draining the swamp isn’t going to help you the next time you’re at the DMV and a smart ass government employee denies your new commercial license for whatever reason, because someone pissed in her Cheerios. Draining the swamp isn’t going to help the fact that you have to purchase the government’s permission to commute from one place to another. Draining the swamp isn’t going to help the thousand government agencies who are dictating your life every moment of every day, a condition that we’re just so accustomed to that we don’t even notice it anymore. That requirement to have an inspection sticker, to have liability insurance, to stop at stop signs, to drive a certain speed. And it’s true many of these examples are handled at the state level, but Sonny learns from Daddy; state governments take their cues on how to behave from the federal government, clearly, since the entire point of southern secession was for state governments to maintain their autonomy. Now they’re just enforcers of federal statutes.

Trump can’t abolish these agencies any more than King Louis could have shut down the Bastille. He could appoint people to them who were going to cut and undo all of their agency’s regulations–like appointing Ron Paul to head the IRS. That would be something, wouldn’t it? The Executive Branch might not have the legislative authority to abolish these institutions***, but the agencies themselves certainly have the power now to undo all their regulations. But Trump isn’t a libertarian, and I don’t know why so many people forgot that. He’s not going to name Judge Andrew Napolitano to the Supreme Court, and he’s not going to name Ron Paul Secretary of the Treasury.

Trump isn’t a fucking libertarian, not even of the Big L variety.

He’s better than Hillary solely because Hillary routinely indicated that she wanted to go to war with Russia; she even said point-blank in one of the debates that she felt it was prudent to respond militarily to finger-quotes-wink-wink “Russian hacking.” As far as everything else goes, he is and has always been just another statist. He has always been willing to play ball.

My only hope for a Trump presidency is that he will hopefully attempt to bridge the enormous divide between liberals and conservatives and that he will, in so doing, inadvertently restore the Tenth Amendment to its proper place and remind us all that we are supposed to be more concerned with our state congresses than with our national congress, with our state supreme court than the national supreme court, and with our governor than the President.

But do I have any faith or hope that King Louis XVI is going to give the French people the liberty they seek?

I’ll see you in the Bastille before that happens.

Or should I say “Gitmo?”

* Assuming, for the argument, that he is. I don’t have many feelings about Trump one way or another.

** I can’t vouch for these sources. I’m going off memory and only looked for a link to provide people with a starting point to research it; it’s not a conspiracy theory, though. It actually happened this way.

*^ Pro tip: razors very slowly get dull. They get gunked up by dead skin cells. This is why barbers use barbicide. Soak your blades in alcohol–but be sure to rinse them–and they will last for months. I’ve seen people go through five-blade razors in a week. A 5-blade razor should last three months, easily.

^* For the second time today, I used “their” instead of “there” initially. That’s starting to concern me. I make a lot of slips on occasion, but never that type of mistake.

*** It’s worth mentioning that the legislative branch didn’t have the authority to create them, either. Think about it in any other terms. Just because your wife gives you permission to sleep with her doesn’t mean you can confer that permission to a friend of yours. Just because we consented to let Congress do something doesn’t mean that they can confer that privilege to someone else.

The Party That Cried Wolf

It seems that everything in America gets politicized to the point of being an exercise in partisanship, and in hindsight that’s not as surprising a statement as I thought. On the contrary, an ultra-partisan atmosphere was always the inevitable result of an overblown federal government that rules over everyone and that is divided into two diametrically opposed, fundamentally insane political parties.

Everything from gay acceptance to climate change to fake news to Russian hacking–it has become not a matter of facts and information but a matter of which side of the aisle one stands on. Truth is now in the eye of the beholder; the details of what a person believes now seem to be determined by the simple question of their party affiliation.

So, of course and predictably, the question of whether Russia had anything at all to do with the 2016 election results is similarly polarized. Except it’s kinda not, because there was not and has never been anything to the allegation in the first place, beyond the accusation itself.

I have to confess that I’m a bit shocked by how successful this propaganda campaign has been–because it is propaganda, which makes the existence of PropOrNot, a website ostensibly devoted to eliminating propaganda, all the stranger. It’s almost funny in a “Haha, America is doomed” kind of way, because PropOrNot is nothing more than an attempt to smear other sides of the discussion and drown them out with the same accusations that Democrats have been making for months. In other words, it is propaganda and, in true Orwellian fashion, subsists off accusing everyone else of being propaganda.

The only thing worth marveling at is what spectacular crybabies the Democrats have been. Nothing the Republicans did following either of Obama’s victories even comes close to the petulant whining of the Democrats–except, funny enough, the Trump-led birther movement, and that’s what we’re seeing here. This is the Democrats’ equivalent of demanding Trump’s birth certificate.

One would almost snidely say, “Good plan. Because that worked out so well for the Republicans,” except we just handed the presidency to the buffoon who led the charge on demands for Obama’s birth certificate and college transcript–up to and including promising to give money to a charity upon the release of the latter, and then failing to.

There is a difference, though. However asinine it was, Trump’s calls for Obama’s birth certificate never had the possibility to start a war. We were already at war with more Muslim countries than I care to think about, but we are not currently at war with Russia–unless you count the proxy war in Syria, which people would if it didn’t clearly paint the U.S. as the aggressors.

I saw a friend share something on Facebook earlier–apparently Assange resurfaced to totally promise us that he like totes 4 real didn’t acquire the information from Russians.

Well, shit! That changes everything, doesn’t it? Good. The Democrats can put it to rest and not mention it ag–

Oh. Except Assange has already been deemed a tool of Russian propagandists himself, so… Yeah. The Democrats will respond, “Well, of course he’d say that! He’s a puppet of the Kremlin!”

They have their own talking heads, too–the omniscient Central Intelligence Agency, who leaked a report that, while it contained no evidence, promised that it like totes 4 real knew that Putin was behind the DNC Leaks. Well–that Russians had influenced the election. Interestingly, the Democrats have been completely unwilling to point to any specific event as being done by Russia, instead leaving it strongly implied–that way, you see, they can’t be proven wrong.

Not that they can be convinced they are wrong, though. No, the only people who can convince the Democrats that Russia didn’t hack the election are the Democrats. I suspect the only people who can actually be persuaded by the evidence–or the continued explicit lack of evidence–are libertarians and greens. Some portions of the GOP are looking for the evidence, too–led by John McCain and old school hawks who are, to be honest, not exactly known for being interested in facts anyway.

I suspect that those Never Trumpers side with the Democrats on this one issue: Russia is Satan, and so they start their search for the truth leaning toward Russia being guilty. The Anti-Russia bachukirism* was what made such people swoon over Hillary in the first place. “She’s like George W.!” they cheered. “Except in a pantsuit!”

It’s not very surprising how much and how many Americans hate Russia. We hate China, too, now that they are becoming a superpower. “No!” those Americans proclaim. “You were just supposed to make our Nikes for us, not put the money into savings and become wealthy!”

This is something I’ve discussed before, of course. It’s the same reason that the EU demanded Apple pay Italy a bunch of money that Apple didn’t owe: “Why compete when you can crush?” Why play fair, according to rules of morality and fairness, when you can instead use your advantage to undermine the rules of the game?

Oh, but the CIA said~!

Which is almost as useful to me as what Assange said.

The CIA could tell me that their conclusion is that the sky is blue, and I’d demand to see their evidence. Are we so short-sighted and forgetful that we’ve forgotten that the CIA is like 97% of the reason we’re in Iraq? Because the CIA promised that Saddam totally, for sure, definitely had WMDs. This is Operation Paperclip CIA, right? Project MK-ULTRA CIA, right? “Saddam totally has WMDs” CIA?

At least with Iraq and Saddam they had the good taste to furnish images.

I get it, though. Democrat CIA is totally different from Republican CIA, just like loving, happy Democrat bombs falling on countries that are no threat to us are totally different from those mean, evil Republican bombs. That’s just how partisan we are.

Republicans and Democrats, it’s not just “the other party.” Your party is full of lying, manipulative sociopaths, too. They’re all lying, manipulative sociopaths. Republicans and Democrats alike–lying, manipulative sociopath. Say it with me now: “Just like <insert other party>, my own party is full of lying, manipulative sociopaths.”

The only thing that matters is whose cry of “Wolf!” you believe.

Well, I’m sorry, little boy, but I’ve heard this cry too many times to accept it at face value. So, as a millennial, let me welcome you to 2016.

Pics or it didn’t happen, bitch.

* Say it aloud.

More Subtle Sexism

Look, I’m not talking about how society is rigged against females or anything like that when I refer to sexism as being real. In fact, the only way in which I can verify that sexism is real is that women are repeatedly told that they are being emotional. Despite repeatedly putting forth factual and logical statements, I was just again told that I was being emotional–actually, I was told that I was on an “emotional rampage.” Wow, right? So what did I say that showcased this emotional rampage?

To start, I answered the question on Quora about whether America could ever become a direct democracy.

I answered:

It could, but there wouldn’t really be any benefit, while there would be terrific harm.

I’ve had a pain when breathing deeply for about two weeks. So what makes more sense?

A) For me to ask a doctor.

B) For me to establish a national poll providing a bunch of information, none of which is complete and all of which is complicated, and ask the entire nation to vote on what my treatment should be. Note that if they vote “Go see a doctor,” then they’re advocating representative democracy. No, I’m needing from them a diagnosis and treatment, and I’m going to do whatever they suggest.

It’s madness, isn’t it? Social matters aren’t simple ones. Most of these complex issues take years of study to understand. Democracy is turning the control of the ship over to the passengers, none of whom know anything about operating a ship and all of whom think “It’s just common sense” or that the gut feelings they have about this or that issue are enough to make an informed decision.

Economics is actually a pretty complex subject, but people tend to take their emotions and use those emotions to support their idea. Rather than learning about economics and how we might raise the standard of living, for example, masses of people who know nothing about economics instead vote to raise the minimum wage—a rash act based in economic ignorance that has severe consequences. It’s the Dunning-Kruger Effect Governmental System: people who know almost nothing about these complex, technical subjects instead think they know enough to dictate the course of the ship.

It’s certainly possible, and the Democrat Party seems to want it to happen (hence their party name), but it would be folly. The problems of democracy have been known and explored for thousands of years; there are very good reasons we’ve never tried it. Especially in the age of the Internet (if we could get a handle on our tech security), it wouldn’t even be that difficult from a logistic standpoint. But from a cultural and social one, it would (hopefully) be hard to sway people to give control of the ship to the passengers.

Replacing our government, whatever type it is, with one more suited to our liking is a right—the right of self-governance. If we decided we wanted a direct democracy, then by all rights our current government should step down. They wouldn’t, of course, and it would require revolution, and then the new government would be just as bad as the old one. Just different.

Every generation has the right to choose its own government. People who lived 200 years ago had no right to determine what type of government we must have, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. However, a republic government really is the best of a terrible situation. If we must have a state, a constitutional republic is the most pro-liberty and restrained.

So far, so good, right? Nothing emotional or irrational about that. Just a few facts and a few rational arguments. In came the comment:

Your answer relies upon a very narrow view of human nature and ignores extremely important principles of democracy. “Economics is a complex subject” is true and that is why there must be widespread and strongly independent news media along with journalists having investigative powers. In the US there used to be journalists who specialized in those issues and released their findings for all to consume. The “news” used to solve that problem for us but corporations have totally destroyed that part of America. [emphasis added]

Not overly polite, but okay. I decided to give Don Tracy the benefit of the doubt and replied:

I’ll be courteous and give you an opportunity to explain how my answer ignores fundamental aspects of democracy and is extremely narrow.

Obviously, I’m not too happy to be insulted–even if the insults are so dim and weak. Retaliation never gets us anywhere, though, and if Don was correct, I wanted to know it. Don replied:

You are narrow minded in forcing people into ignorant masses that can only think emotionally which is the whole premise of your answer. Without the metaphor of passengers passively going along for the ride what is your point? That is not democracy; it is not “mob rule” which immature philosophers of the ancient past claimed – they didn’t even know about the concept of a nation-state. Granted you say we have two thousand years of additional history but rather than claiming we haven’t learned in that time like you say the truth is exactly the opposite – mankind has learned a lot about government and politics over history. The “Democratic Party is folly” shows your biased agenda. Finally, you need to know that a republic is a type of democracy so your answer relies upon a weird personal definition of democracy that no one agrees with and is not accepted in general.

More viciousness. As it happens, I am correct, though, in my initial answer, so I defended my points:

See, and here I was being courtesy. *sigh*. That’s how it goes, though. Pro-democracy people really do love their insults.

You are exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger Effect, I feel I should warn you. It is a statement of fact that areas of complexity and expertise are significantly misunderstood and woefully underestimated in their complexity by the masses. I’ll provide this so that you can read it over it: Dunning–Kruger effect – Wikipedia

Democracy most certainly is mob rule, and that you cite “immature philosophers” as saying this shows how wrapped in the Dunning-Kruger web you must be. Some of the greatest thinkers in human history—those “immature philosophers” you are referring to—rejected democracy on exactly the same grounds that I did. Here is further reading on the nature of democracy—two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner: Is democracy in reality just mob rule?

Democracy is nothing more than mob rule… is an excellent resource, as well. One of those “immature philosophers” you may be referring to happens to go by the name of Thomas Jefferson, and he wrote plenty about the failures and dangers of democracy. Here are those, as well: About this Collection – Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606-1827

If you would suggest that you know better than these people who dedicated their lives to the study of governmental processes and society—those “immature philosophers” again—then you are, again, exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger Effect in shocking ways.

The last part of your reply shows exactly why democracy cannot be allowed: you have confused the question’s discussion of “direct democracy” with universal suffrage—that is, the right of the people to vote. In a republic, the people vote for representatives who enact policy. In a democracy, the people vote directly on the policies. No one has stated that universal suffrage is bad. I said that democracy is bad; e.g., the people voting directly on matters of policy is bad, for reasons outlined above.

You seem to think that universal suffrage and democracy are the same thing. They aren’t. A Democracy is a type of government where the people vote directly on the issues via referendums. It is not the right of the people to vote; that right is called universal suffrage. What, exactly, the people are voting for is what differentiates a democracy from a republic. If they are voting on matters of policy directly, it is “a democracy.” if they are voting for representatives who then vote on matters of policy, it is a republic.

“Democracy” has been twisted by the layperson into meaning “universal suffrage.” I agree with you on that, just as “theory” has been twisted to mean “educated guess” to the layperson. Use the layperson’s definition of “democracy” and “theory” if you would like; I will not. The only thing that differentiates the democracy from the republic is what the votes are for, not the existence of suffrage.

Regardless, the question deals with direct democracy—i.e., the people voting directly on the issues rather than going through representatives. The question is specifically whether the U.S. can/should remove the representatives from the process, not whether we should or shouldn’t have universal suffrage.

You’ve called me narrow-minded, limited, and biased. I’ve been nothing but polite to you. Learn the difference between universal suffrage, a republic, and a democracy, accept the wisdom of the people who came before you instead of calling them immature, and stop assuming that you know everything while you reject what people who have studied the matters have to say.

A lengthy rebuttal substantiating everything that I said. Cool. And Don’s reply?

Well, there you go again. I must say with all kindness that your ideas definitely are limited and biased but absolutely not you personally. I’m afraid you are on an emotional rampage but please understand that I am not a debater, not a professor, and not a lawyer. I have no idea what a Dunning-Krueger thing is but since you do then you must be pretty smart. So for a smart person, I don’t understand how you can have such stupid ideas. I checked the web page for “Democracy is mob rule” and have warn you it is obviously biased with an agenda to promote – you should not used it. Please re-read my comments above and give them some honest thought and consideration. Good luck my friend.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Now I’m having an emotional reaction, because now I’m pissed off. To present a valid, reasonable argument with citations and evidence, only to be insulted by some ignorant, sexist pig who can’t face the reality that he has no fucking idea what he’s talking about… It’s infuriating.

So I deleted his comments, but they’ll stay here as a testament. This happens quite a lot, and it never happened until Aria existed. Anyone who can read my rebuttal and take away “emotional rampage” is an unequivocal moron. It’s ridiculous that he doesn’t know what the Dunning-Kruger Effect is, since I gave him links to it. Rather than checking it out, he vomited out this spiel.

Look. If you reply to a girl who presents a rational argument with links and citations as she rebuts your insults and your unsubstantiated silliness with the accusation that she’s having an emotional rampage, then you’re a sexist piece of shit. Sorry, but you are. Because you know you wouldn’t say that to a guy.

Look deeper into what he said, too. “You must be pretty smart. So for a smart person, I don’t understand how you can have such stupid ideas.” I’ve talked about his before, this way that people tie their beliefs to their estimation of their own intelligence. It’s so… Dunning-Kruger-ish. “I’m right because I’m intelligent, so anyone who agrees with me must also be intelligent. If they are intelligent and don’t agree with me, then something is very, very wrong, because intelligent people agree with me! Maybe they aren’t intelligent after all.”

It’s so obviously circular.

The new deity with which they make their own ideas sacrosanct: intelligence.

It is such a dangerous thing, to tie “being right” with “believing what I believe” and with “being intelligent.”

Because no one thinks they’re wrong, and no one thinks they’re stupid.

Yet loads and loads of people are both wrong AND stupid. Yet no matter how wrong someone is, and no matter how stupid someone is, they will always–all caps, underline, bold–ALWAYS believe that they are both right and reasonably intelligent. You don’t see half the American population running around saying, “I’m wrong, but I believe it anyway!” and “I’m stupid! Hur hur hur!”

No. You see everyone saying that they’re right–self included–and everyone saying they’re intelligent–self-included. Why, it’s almost as though being right or wrong and being intelligent or stupid are completely and totally unrelated to a person’s ability to recognize whether they are right or wrong or intelligent or stupid!

If you gauge your intelligence by your own beliefs, such that people who agree with you are deemed “intelligent” while people who disagree with you are not, then you’re closing your mind to the possibility that you might be wrong about something. After all, “wrong = dumb” in that worldview, and we all value our egos too much to ever even allow the possibility that we might be stupid.

This is what I mean when I say that intelligence has become the new deity by which we make our beliefs sacrosanct. We all cradle our egos–right, wrong, intelligent, and stupid. So if you assess intelligence by whether or not people agree with you, you divide the world not into “people who think x” and “people who don’t think x,” but “smart people” and “dumb people.” This is an excuse to not listen to them–they become idiots, stupid–heathens, pagans, and apostates.

Being right or wrong have NOTHING to do with intelligence. They have to do with INFORMATION and a willingness–or unwillingness–to accept that information.

Mistakes AnComs Make: Rulers & Leaders

“Anarchy” is derived from the Greek an arkhos, which translates literally to “without rulers.” It follows, then, that we have our universal definition of anarchy: a state in which there are no rulers, and our definition of anarchist: someone who advocates that there should not be rulers.

Then we have something that is completely unrelated–the point of divergence between anarcho-communists and anarcho-capitalists. It is a statement of fact that this thing is not related to anarchy, and this “thing” is hierarchy, which derives from hierarkhes, which means “sacred ruler.” Anarchy, then, means “without a sacred ruler,” because “sacred” is a type of ruler, and anarchy means “without rulers” of any and all types–sacred or mundane. In this classical, etymological sense, yes–anarchy does mean “without hierarchy.”

But what does hierarchy actually mean today? Briefly, we turn to Google for the definition:

a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority.

Not a mention of rulers or anything sacred.

It’s a matter of record that the meaning of “hierarchy” has changed considerably over time–clearly, and no one can dispute this assertion. This is a word game that the Anarcho-Communists pull, as follows:

  • “Anarchy” means without rulers.
  • “Anarchy” means without hierarchy [sacred rulers].
  • “Anarchy” means without hierarchy [a system in which people or groups are ranked…]

We can tell with no more than a glance that “sacred rulers” and “a system in which people or groups are ranked” are not even kinda the same thing. For example, in a lot of ways the colleague I’ve mentioned several times is my boss, and I am subordinate to him; in our two-tier hierarchy, he is above me. He is not, however, sacred nor a ruler. He is not my ruler because I am free to disobey and disassociate from him at any time I would like, and that is not the case with rulers, least of all sacred ones.

It’s a word game that the AnComs are playing, by saying that anarchy means not having “this word,” knowing that “this word” has a new, modern meaning that has absolutely nothing to do with its ancient meaning–and they know they are correct when they reference its ancient meaning. The Anarcho-Capitalist would gladly agree–anarchy most certainly does mean “without sacred rulers.”

Does anarchy mean “without a system in which people or groups are ranked”?

To the Anarcho-Communist, the answer is “Yes.”

To the Anarcho-Capitalist, the answer is “No.”

No True Scotsman

This post is motivated by the claim I hear ad nauseum that AnCaps aren’t true anarchists. This is nonsense. We established the definitions clearly above. Their etymological origins are in full accord with their modern meanings–notwithstanding statist propaganda that has attempted to redefine “anarchy” to mean “lack of a central authority or civil war.” Anarchy means today exactly what it did when the Greeks combined an with arkhos: without rulers. So anyone who advocates the ideology that there should not be rulers is an anarchist.

It’s a two-sided game, and I am more than willing to stop playing it if the AnComs will stop playing it. If you guys stop saying that we aren’t true anarchists, we’ll stop saying that you aren’t true anarchists. This is most definitely an argument that we can make.

For example, the anarcho-communist would not allow me to voluntarily subordinate myself to my colleague. In so doing, the anarcho-communist has granted themselves authority over me, and I must obey them. They are, in every sense, attempting to be my ruler–attempting to decree what I can and cannot do, rather than what I should and should not do. There is nothing anarchistic about this, as they are making themselves rulers. Far from eliminating rulers, anarcho-communism attempts to turn an idea into the ruler–the idea of equality across the board, whether people like it or not, and the anarcho-communists become the footsoldiers of the state to enforce that ruler’s decrees.

See, I don’t have to rely upon word games to say that AnComs aren’t real communists. They do. They have to perform a literary sleight of hand, by saying that anarchy means “without hierarchy” while using the classical, original definition, and pretending that this applies to the modern, unrelated definition. If you argue for them to explain what is meant by hierarchy, you will ultimately beat them back until they confess that what they want is not a society without rulers but a society where everyone is a ruler as long as they bow to this idea and attempt to enforce it.

Person A to Person B: “I hereby voluntarily agree to work for you and to do as you say.”

AnCom: “No, you can’t do that. You have to be equals.”

Person A: “Says who?”

AnCom: “Says me. Everyone has to be equal.”

Person A: “But you have the authority to tell me what I can and can’t do?”

AnCom: “Yes.”

Person A: “Then everyone isn’t equal, are they? You are my ruler.”

AnCom: “It’s for the greater good. Everyone must be equal.”

Person A: “Except they aren’t. You’re at least my ruler.”

AnCom: “It’s for the greater good of equality. You can’t be allowed to subordinate yourself to someone.”

Person A: “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”

Ah, what the hell.

In the anarcho-communist society, entering into a voluntarily subordinate agreement becomes an act of revolution.

It’s a blackhole of contradiction and oxymorons that, in order to ensure that there are no rulers, everyone must become a ruler and rule over everyone who doesn’t agree ideologically–which we see play out precisely in the above conversation. It’s impossible to force people to be equal without setting yourself up as a ruler over them, and why is that? Because the use of force, violence, and coercion are what mark a state, and the state is the ruling caste. Anarcho-Communism does not abolish the state. It widens it.

Leaders & Rulers

The problem is the inability to see that there is a difference between choosing to be subordinate to someone, and being forced to be subordinate to someone. In the above conversation–which, I daresay, few AnComs could actually dispute as being a realistic interpretation of the ideology–in order to stop someone from choosing to be subordinate to someone, they are forced to be subordinate to someone–under the auspices that it is unacceptable to be subordinate to someone. We can see the doublethink and cognitive dissonance in action, can’t we? We know the AnCom is shaking his or her head and mumbling, “No, no… That’s different. That’s not the same.”

And they’re right–but not for the right reasons. They’re right that it is not the same to choose to be subordinate to someone and to be forced to be subordinate. It is the critical difference between a ruler and a leader. A leader is someone to whom we choose to defer–either because of their expertise, knowledge, strength, wisdom, intelligence, or whatever. A ruler is someone to whom we must defer–because of their use of force, violence, and coercion.

It is the difference between following and obeying.

It is the difference between choice and force.

It is the difference between advice and mandate.

It is the difference between suggestion and requirement.

The AnCom, by extension, sees no difference between the above dichotomies, yet there is a world of difference. For example, I have suggested repeatedly that people who read my stuff should use Firefox, Ghostery, NoScript, and Adblock Plus. I have never mandated that these things are required. Of course I haven’t! I have no authority or power to make any mandates or demands. This is the difference; this is where the distinction lies. That some people choose to follow what I write, and on some occasions to even acquiesce to my ideas and adopt them, gives me no authority over them or power over them whatsoever. They can disavow me and disassociate from me at any time. I am not their ruler*.

If I attempt to enter into a voluntary agreement with someone else, and you tell me that I can’t, then how do I not have a ruler? In fact, I’m quite far from being an arkhos, aren’t I? I have a ruler: you. The ruler is the one who mandates that I cannot enter into this voluntarily agreement; the ruler is the one who requires that I not enter into this voluntary agreement.

* To be fair, I would also say that I am not their leader, either. Except, perhaps, in the case of a few examples–two in particular, those same two to whom I posted videos a while back. But let’s not get into that.

 

We Need to Talk About This Debt Thing

So the United States officially has a national debt of twenty trillion dollars. Forbes recently did the math and, based on the estimate that Taylor Swift earned $80 million last year, Taylor Swift would have to do one concert every single day for three years just to pay one day of interest on the national debt. That’s right–such a figure wouldn’t even cut into the principal. It would simply pay one day of interest. After three years of daily performances, one of the most successful singers in the world would be able to pay one day of the interest on the national debt.

This is not a problem that people take very seriously, because it’s so out there, it’s so… intangible. We have no idea how the national debt is a force crushing our necks. We know that the economy sucks, and we all sense that something is wrong, but it’s so hard to connect it to the national debt, especially when humans are naturally poorly skilled at connecting events over long periods of time. That’s not a shot at my fellow species, but a statement of fact. After all, it has taken us decades to realize that the direct correlation in the increase in high fructose corn syrup and the increase in the rates of diabetes and obesity probably aren’t coincidental. Our species is short-sighted. We simply are.

Looking backward in time and connecting Event Z to Event Y to Event X… all the way back to Event A is exceedingly difficult, and it’s even more difficult when we’re talking about the economy, when most people’s eyes glaze over and they start hearing Taylor Swift songs in their heads while the guy from the old Clear Eyes commercials drones on about aggregates and derivatives. However, I’m hear to tell you that none of that crap actually matters. The national debt, its increase, its effect on the size of the state, and its impact on inflation aren’t that complex, and it’s hopefully something I can convey simply.

First, with something like the leading paragraph being true, it must be obvious to you that American taxpayers are not footing that bill–at least not directly. According to this Bloomberg article, the income tax debt of 2014 was $1.4 trillion. Divided across roughly 300,000,000 people, that’s only $4.66 per person. Something seems off about that, but I don’t know what. Oh. Yeah, I do. It’s that the government spent $3.77 trillion. It’s also that only people who earned $50,000 or more paid in anything at all, which only makes about about 40% of the population–at best.

The difference, though, between “how much the government steals through taxation” and “how much the government” spends isn’t really of that much significance, although it’s worth pointing out that if we cut the defense budget completely then the $677 billion deficit from 2014 would almost completely evaporate. How interesting that our deficit each year is so very close to the “defense” spending. None of this is really important, though.

What’s important to know is this: the government spends a lot more money than it gets through taxation.

Fuck, I knew those numbers were way off, but I’m going to fix it here instead of amending it above to make a point. The actual figure is $4,666.67 per American citizen, at 300,000,000. I was dropping three zeroes accidentally. So if every man, woman, other, and child paid $4,666.67 in taxes, we could have fairly met the IRS’s tax demands. Of course, that wouldn’t have satisfied them, since the government spent $3.56 trillion that year, so we’d still have only had about half of what they needed. See? It’s really not that complicated.

So every man, woman, and child would need to pay $9332~, if I’m just looking at the figure and doing a very rough doubling, to come up with about what the IRS needed. Nearly $10,000 for every man, woman, and child to run the government for one year. Mostly. It would still have to cut about 2-3% of its spending.

Of course, there’s that whole stupid idea that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, but that’s such a ridiculous statement, compounding an absurd way of viewing the world. Taxes as a percentage are useless. When you go to Wal-Mart and fill your basket with enough food to feed your family for a week, they don’t ask for 30% of your paycheck, do they? We don’t live in a world where each paycheck we spend:

  • 7% on gasoline.
  • 12% on various types of insurance.
  • 35% on rent/mortgage and utilities.
  • 25% on groceries/food.
  • 15% on taxes.
  • 6% to go out once a month.

That’s not the world we live in. And thank whatever deity you believe in that we don’t live in that world, because it’s impossible to move forward in that world–no matter how wealthy you become, no matter how successful you become, you will never be able to move ahead, to generate savings, to earn a profit against life. That’s an appalling world, and none of us would want to live in it. So be thankful that when you go to Wal-Mart, they don’t crack open your paycheck and say, “Hm, you earned $1,000 this week, which amounts to 25% of your check–give us $250.” No, we live in a world where you can cut out coupons, buy generic brands, and all sorts of crap to save money–to cut your food costs to 15% rather than 25%.

But in this one area, we forget that and start talking about tax liabilities as percentages as though it makes any more sense. It doesn’t. It’s still just as ridiculous. I went into the folly of this type of thinking a bit in this video, but I’ll briefly go over once again.

This is always used to suggest that “the rich” aren’t paying their “fair share” in taxes, when the reality is that either a. the rich are paying their fair share and we are not, or b. the rich are paying well and above their fair share.

Evidently it takes between $2 million and $3 million to pave one mile of a new 2-lane, undivided highway. Let’s assume the lower end of that–two million dollars. Let’s assume that this new highway is going to be packed with taxpayers–one thousand of them on this one mile of highway. We can already see that this is not actually “rural” and would have to be extremely urban, while this estimate deals with rural highways, but let’s go with it.

It will cost each of those taxpayers $2,000 to pave that highway. Holy crap, right? Each and every one of those one thousand people has to scrimp and save and come up with their share of the $2,000. That is what’s fair. Of course, in reality, if those people actually had to pay for that road, this is what they would do:

  1. Most of them would volunteer their own off-hours to help construct the road.
  2. They would shop around and find the cheapest deal, and would probably get the figure cut down drastically.
  3. Between doing a lot of the work themselves and shopping around, they’d probably get the amount of payment required down to $200,000 or so.
  4. They would probably petition local business owners, granting them some sort of special access to the road, or special properties on the road, in exchange for larger payments. “If you pay $10,000 of it, we’ll make sure your employees are never ticketed on it, and we’ll make sure that you can open a new office along this stretch of highway.”

It’s hard for us to even imagine such things, but it would happen. No one is more cautious with their money than the person that money belongs to. I proved it today, when my colleague told me to buy some crap with his credit card. I splurged a bit and bought some things I’d never buy if I was spending my own money. It only cost him $6, of course, but that’s still $6 I would never, ever have spent if it was my money. But I didn’t have to pay for it, so I basically wasted it–I enjoyed it, of course, and he knew I would waste it, so it’s not like I did anything messed up. The point is–people aren’t careful with other people’s money, and the government definitely isn’t.

But there’s this idea that taxes are a percentage thing, and that everyone should be charged 10% to pay for the road. This means Jack the burger flipper pays $75 for the road, while Eric the millionaire business owner pays $225,000. This, the leftist says, might mean that the millionaire paid his fair share. More likely, the leftist isn’t happy and thinks the millionaire should have had to pay more. And if we lived in a world where Wal-Mart charged you a flat 25% of all your money when you checked out, the leftist would have a point. But in a world where Wal-Mart charges you an actual dollar figure based on what you’re actually buying, they don’t. Is Eric going to use the road 3,000 times more than Jack is?

No. In reality, Eric is paying far more than his “fair share” so that Jack doesn’t have to pay his fair share. Obviously. They’re going to use the road about the same; they need the road to the same degree. Yet Eric is paying three thousand times what Jack is paying, for exactly the same product. If the millionaire bought one week of food at Wal-Mart and paid $14,500 while Jack bought one week at Wal-Mart and paid $14.50, we wouldn’t have a hard time seeing how the millionaire was clearly being gouged by Wal-Mart, and that Wal-Mart was doing it simply because they knew that Eric had that much money and could afford it.

It’s so messed up it’s not worth more discussion. Taxes as a percentage is a grotesque and greedy notion. The only “fair share” of taxes that could be paid–if we forget, for the moment, that taxation is theft–is an actual dollar figure. Taxes as a percentage means that some people are paying their fair share, some people (the poor) are not paying their fair share, and some people (the rich) are paying far beyond their fair share. I know it bothers the leftist to be told that, but this is the truth; this is reality. This is how fairness as a concept actually works. You can’t price gouge the millionaire simply because he has the money and then proclaim that it’s fair. It’s not–it’s price gouging the millionaire. There’s nothing “fair” about it.

Anyway, taxation is theft.

That preamble is critical to this discussion, because it’s important for us to recognize that it’s not fair to look at the Taylor Swifts, Metallicas, Marilyn Mansons, Bill Gateses, and expect them to pay huge chunks of money so that we don’t have to. Under the statist propaganda and mindset, the “fair share” of the national debt is a dollar figure doled out among each and every American citizen, not some of them proportional to how much money they made. As I amply demonstrated above, there is nothing fair, just, or moral about that; everything about it is unfair, unjust, and immoral.

As it stands with a twenty trillion dollar national debt, that’s a bill being sent to every American citizen for $66,666.67.

One has to squint at all those sixes.

But even if every single American paid the government every single dollar they had, do you know what would happen?

We would still be in debt.

This is because of a couple of things–primarily, that most Americans are in debt personally to banks for credit cards, houses, and vehicles. That’s the nature of a debt-based currency, and the USD is a debt-based currency, through and through. If every single dollar that everyone owed was paid back, we would still be in debt, and Interest is the reason why. The entire currency is a game of musical chairs–there are never enough chairs, and someone always gets left standing. This threatens to divert into a related topic, though, so I’m going to get back to the national debt.

So how is the government to pay for its stuff, if it can’t tax everyone to pay for it? Why, that’s simple. It borrows the money.

Imagine if you borrowed $1,000 to do the stuff you wanted to do, which, with 1% interest, means you have to pay back $1,010. You manage to make about $300 doing that, but you want to continue doing the stuff you want to do. So you borrow $2,000 and pay back the $1,010 from the first loan, and then have $1290 to do what you want to do. A year later, you have to pay back $2020, but you only made $320 from your endeavor. So you borrow $3,000. You now make only $230, but a year later have to pay back $3030. To keep your operating expenses where they were, you actually have to borrow $4100 this time, to pay back the $3030 and make up for the $100 you didn’t make back in the last year. Each year, your debt increases.

With the intricacies of a national economy, taxation, and all that, it’s not that cut and dry, but that is the gist of what’s going on. After more than a century of doing this, the United States Government has worked its way up to a twenty trillion dollar debt–a debt that we can’t possibly pay off, and a debt that we the American People shouldn’t even be worried about paying off. The government did that, not us.

The United States GDP for 2013 was just over seventeen trillion dollars. The data for 2015 shows that we nearly reached $18 trillion. For 2016 thus far is about $18.5 trillion. Now, if I know anything about figuring out which number is bigger than the other number, this means that the national debt actually exceeds the GDP of the United States.

In literal terms, this means that allllll the productivity of alllllll the American people is exceeded by the amount of money that people in Washington, D.C. are spending. This means that a relatively small number of people have managed to spend more than the entire freaking country produces. This means that all the industriousness, productivity, creativity, ingenuity, and excellence of the American People has been matched and exceeded by government spending.

These ticks have managed to engorge themselves to the point that they are consuming more blood than the dog even has.

You don’t have to be a veterinarian to realize that tick is gonna kill that dog–and sooner, rather than later.