While there are obvious similarities between the Universal Basic Income and the Minimum Wage, there is also a difference that causes the former to be immeasurably more stupid than the latter. The MW, of course, is a legal guarantee that one’s labor will have a certain value; the UBI is the guarantee that one’s existence will have a certain value.
It’s absurd, stupid, and another example of how our confused species has enjoyed luxury so great that we’ve forgotten we live in a universe where it’s an organism’s responsibility to secure its own survival.
I voluntarily provide my cats with a UBI. I’m not kidding, and anyone who thinks I’m kidding has missed the point. Nothing is required of them, and each day they’re provided with food, water, air conditioning, medical care, and a roof over their heads. This is precisely what the UBI is meant to assure people.
While I’ve undertaken this as my responsibility, the fact remains that they are subsisting entirely off my productivity. My labor acquires food, and so they don’t have to expend their own labor hunting mice in the surrounding fields. That I refill their water bowl means they don’t have to chase down water sources. Whatever else is true, it costs me to do these things, and it requires no more effort from them than to get their fat asses to the food bowl.
Even so, I don’t owe this to anyone. There are millions of cats to whom I give nothing, simply for practicality’s sake: if I spent all my time chasing down stray cats to take care of, I’d have no time to secure the money I use to buy the stuff they need. And though it really doesn’t take long for me to buy a can of cat food, it remains true that someone has to put in the effort to get my cats something to eat. It’s easier for me to work a few minutes and buy what they need than it is for them to go out and find dinner, water, and a place to stay; moreover, they are incapable of getting health care for themselves. It also remains true that food is not going to magically appear for them.
This isn’t true of humans. It’s no easier for me to go to college and establish a career than it is for anyone else to do it. The ease with which I, being a human, can acquire the stuff my cats need and want means less energy is expended when I simply take care of it. Additionally, it’s an obligation I chose to take on voluntarily, because I like them and they’re my friends.
In the grand scheme of things, I actually had a harder time securing a college degree and a career than the average person. Yet advocates of the UBI don’t care. Part of my productivity should, they argue, be siphoned off and used to secure things for other people. After all, manna doesn’t fall from the sky. My cats may not realize it, but their food bowl isn’t magical–I have to actually expend effort earning the money to buy their food. It’s not free food. It’s just free to them.
So let’s drop the bullshit for a moment and call things what they are.
It’s Socialism. It’s entitlement. It’s this notion that one is entitled to the necessities of survival, and that it’s okay to enslave other people and command them to provide one with food, water, and other things.
Bullshit. It’s backward. It’s called “slavery.”
There is no escaping this. That food, that water, that electricity, that doctor, that pharmacist… All of that stuff is other people’s labor. The doctor is a human being, not a mechanical dispensary of diagnoses. The farmers, the biochemists, the nurses, the coal miners–these people are all entitled to be paid for their labor. They must be, because the idea that it’s okay to make them work for free is unequivocally called slavery. If you can put a hundred people to work in a nightmarish coal mine and then not pay them because no one has paid you for your coal, then you don’t have a hundred employees–you have a hundred slaves, and you are simply the Enslaved Slave Master, enslaved and commanded by others to command other slaves. You’d be the ultimate Uncle Tom: the slave given a prestigious position and power over other slaves.
It can be taken a given, then, that the owner of the coal mine and the coal miners should be paid for their labors. “But it’s so useful to the function of society!” can’t be used as an argument to justify refusing to pay them, because people once said the very same thing about cotton as a justification for slavery. “Cotton is critical to the function of society and to the economy!” people claimed [which, it’s worth mentioning, if this was truly the case, then people would be willing to pay enough for it to keep the industry alive without slavery]. Perhaps doctors do provide a service to society that is so extremely useful, but it doesn’t matter–the utility of the service a person provides cannot be used as an argument for their slavery.
Someone has to put in the productivity to earn the money to pay the coal miner, the doctors, the farmers, and everyone else. Again, this is because manna doesn’t fall from the sky. We live in a universe that pretty much never stops trying to kill us. Life is born with an expiration date. That expiration date can be pushed back by eating, drinking, and taking care of oneself, but it cannot be postponed indefinitely. The only thing a living being is entitled to… is death.
It’s easy to forget this, especially in western nations, where food and water are so abundant. A newly born infant, however, is going to die in just fewer than 48 hours if someone doesn’t provide it with food and water. We could certainly justify making the argument that it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide the helpless infant with the necessities of survival, much in the same way that my choice to take in two cats came with the responsibility to ensure their well-being, but the entire reason the parents may be required to provide the food and water is because the infant will die if it doesn’t get it. By being born at all, the infant is sentenced to death, and it becomes the responsibility of the parents not to ensure survival but to postpone death until such time as the infant is old enough and capable enough to postpone their own death.
Attrition is part of the universe. We are mortal beings. Starvation, malnutrition, disease, dehydration, and countless other things are literally trying to kill us around the clock. The very moment we lapse in our responsibility to stave off these bringers of death is the very moment they overtake us. Life itself is trying to kill you right now. It’s the reason you’ll become hungry and thirsty today. It’s the reason you might catch a cold. At this very moment, life is trying to kill you, and it requires effort and energy to stave off its victory. If you do nothing–if you simply sit there and do nothing–you will die, with 100% certainty. Our efforts to eat don’t assure immortality; they postpone mortality.
Energy must be expended. Someone must use their labor to keep you alive. Ideally, that person is you. No one has to take care of me and ensure that I have food, because I’ve gone out and secured my food in the way that any healthy, sane organism has to be able to do because the very essence of life is constantly trying to kill that organism. This is true of literally everything in our universe. The passage of time ensures the destruction of everything and everyone, from planets to humans, and the best anything and anyone can do is expend energy to postpone that moment. Stars expend this energy through nuclear fusion; humans expend this energy by taking jobs. These are the most basic aspects of our reality, and they cannot be ignored with good feelings that are meant to obfuscate systemic slavery.
Effort is required simply to stave off one’s own destruction, because the universe is trying to kill everyone, and because if that energy isn’t expended, then death is imminent.
The Sword of Damocles constantly hangs over our heads. This is literally what it means to be mortal, to have a finite existence. We must strengthen the string by which the sword hangs, because the moment we fail to is the moment the sword will fall and kill us. If we choose to just lay there, then gravity and friction will take over, the twine will tear, and the sword will break free. Only by constant effort can we prevent that, and only temporarily with our very best efforts.
The universe doesn’t owe us anything, and I certainly don’t owe anyone anything. I expend my energy keeping my sword from falling. Coming up to me and demanding that I use some of my energy keeping them alive so that they don’t have to is parasitism, slavery, and statism. That’s exactly how we ended up with the state in the first place, and how it became our responsibility, as productive members of society, to provide ancient kings and lords with food so that they didn’t have to toil in the fields.
People call this UBI shit progress–it’s quite clearly not. Having a class of people who sit in their homes with another class of people bringing them food and water? We’ve been down that road before: it’s called serfdom. In feudal times, that lord had to eat, after all. Someone had to work in the field to grow the food. The lord, who didn’t want to do it, instead used force and violence to force people who did work in the fields to bring him food. To say today that we should revisit this idea is the opposite of progress. Whether it’s someone who calls themselves a lord using knights to force everyone to give a portion of what they have for the lord’s benefit, or someone who calls themselves a progressive using police and the state to force everyone to give a portion of what they have for the progressive’s benefit, it’s still just feudal serfdom, and we’ve been down that road before.
Having a larger part of the population make up the unproductive parasitic class of lords, whose defining feature is that they use force to acquire necessities from productive classes, hardly constitutes progress. It simply means that the lowly peasants who are productive must pay the lords a greater tax, because now there are more lords. Whereas feudal times saw fewer than 1% of the population being titled lords parasitically siphoning resources from the productive classes, modern UBI times would see huge sections of the population setting themselves up as lords parasitically siphoning resources from the productive classes. Instead of a member of the productive class paying 65% in taxes to sate the lord’s greed, the member of the productive class has ten times the number of lords and has to pay 95% in taxes.
Progress down the Road to Serfdom, but that kind of progress won’t take us anywhere else.
We can’t prevent any and all negative consequences.
The idea that we somehow can lies at the heart of statism. We can’t have freedom of association, because then some racist assholes would choose not to associate with black people. We can’t have capitalism because then some people might not be able to afford food. We can’t have freedom of speech because then some people might hurt other people’s feelings.
The most common criticism of anarchism is that anarchy can’t guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong, a security that people seem to desperately crave, even though they don’t have it, and even though it’s impossible in a universe that doesn’t seem to care much whether we’re here. “What will you do to prevent murder?” people ask the anarchist, using the anarchist’s inability to definitively prevent murder as a reason for rejecting anarchy.
It’s fallacious, of course. The state doesn’t successfully prevent negative consequences either, no matter how much it tries and interferes in our lives. With all the laws and prisons, with all the destruction of liberty in the modern United States, there remains murder. It’s readily apparent that this isn’t an argument for the state; it’s an excuse for the status quo. “The state doesn’t successfully prevent murder, but anarchy can’t either. So why change?”
The obvious answer is that the state doesn’t simply fail to prevent murder; it is the Primary Murderer. As an institution, the state has racked up a body count that should cause any moral person to do a doubletake; in the 20th century alone, counting only war and advice combatants, states killed more than 120,000,000 people. If there were no states, those people killed by states would not have died. So if we want to reduce murder, the stateless society is clearly the way to go.
Prohibition doesn’t work, and we know this. Everyone knows it until we get to their Pet Issue, at which point they decide arbitrarily that prohibition can work. Abortion is a great example, because outlawing abortion doesn’t stop abortion; it merely chases it to the shadows of the back alley. Prohibition against alcohol didn’t eliminate alcohol; it was merely chased into the shadows of the black market. Prohibition against drugs hasn’t stopped people from doing drugs.
The argument may be that it’s fine, because we’ve substantially reduced the number of people doing these things, even if some people still do them, but this ignores the tremendous negative consequences. Our prisons are filled with non-violent offenders, largely minorities. Drugs are bought and sold in secret, unverified, possibly impure, possibly laced, and possibly lethal. People who can’t find heroin turn to krokodil. These are negative consequences. Our state intervention did not come without a price and arguments can certainly be made that the price was higher than the reward. Great, we kept five people off heroin, and the only side effect was that two people got on krokodil! Only a supremely jaded person can call this a victory.
Of course, this simply leads to more interventions, and more attempts to make up new rules to address the negative side effects of the old rules. Russia made codeine prescription-only to fix the krokodil epidemic caused by heroin being illegal, which simply made heroin easier to get and cheaper than krokodil. And then they’ll come up with some new rule to address the negative side effects of the last rule, and the end result is a clusterfuck of nonsensical laws limiting the behavior of adults.
Don’t think that we’re any different in the United States. There are positive and negative consequences to every action. Getting up early and starting my work day early comes with the positive consequence of earning more money, and with the negative consequence of getting less sleep. There’s always a trade-off, and this is the critical thing that statists attempt to deny.
Sure, outlawing heroin seems like a good idea with positive consequences–right up until someone’s skin rots off because they turned to krokodil. That negative consequence can’t be ignored. Furthermore, any attempt to fix it will come with its own set of consequences. And each time, liberty is restricted. The adults out there who use heroin in the same way that party drinkers use alcohol are caught in the cross fire, their lives destroyed in our Quixotic quest to eliminate drug addicts, and turned into hardened criminals by a prison system that rivals the Roman Gladiatorial Arenas in sheer barbarism.
Prohibition against alcohol probably lowered the number of people who drank. It also created Al Capone and turned Chicago into the gang-infested nightmare that it remains today. It drastically lowered the quality of alcohol, leading to widespread poisoning, and turned previously safe warehouses into guarded camps that regularly saw vicious battles erupting over control of the lucrative black market. It was hardly what anyone would call a victory.
Prohibiting abortion today wouldn’t end it, especially not in an age that has the Tor network (The Dark Web), which would make it easier than ever to find an abortionist. Even Craigslist can’t keep illicit activity off, and people would find abortionists through it. Rather than having the procedure done in a safe and sterile environment, though, we’d be back in the alley with coathangers. We know this, because that’s what happened before abortion was legalized.
It’s true. I can’t promise you that nothing will ever go wrong in an anarcho-capitalist society. In fact, the only thing I can promise you is that things will go wrong. The only thing that really matters is which set of consequences you want. Do you want freedom and the sometimes negative consequences? Do you want free speech even though it means people might say hateful things? Do you want free association even though it means racists might not associate with minorities?
Or do you want statism, for the government to attempt to minimize negative consequences by limiting freedom, and thereby creating a new set of consequences that have to be addressed by limiting freedom more?
We can’t have a utopia. In a universe largely hostile to our existence, imperfect beings can’t have a utopia. The state can’t give us one, and anarchy can’t give us one. Basic algebra tells us, then, that we can reduce the equation by erasing utopia from both sides. When we do this, what are we left with?
Freedom and negative consequences, or tyranny and negative consequences.
The system is currently in a tizzy and can’t decide what to do–it is every bit the proverbial dog that finally managed to catch one of the cars it’s been barking at and chasing for years, now sniffing around the tires and just generally trying to find out “What the fuck.” After pointless gestural votes showing their support for repealing the Affordable Care Act, House and Senate conservatives now have the ability to put some actual weight behind those votes, but instead are seemingly doing everything in their power to not do that.
I discussed that idea briefly in this podcast:
It’s a long one, at nearly an hour, so get comfortable. Also be aware I’m not doing any more podcasts in that voice, because I inexplicably sound angry, due to how I edit out most of the silence. While recording, I actually speak almost exactly like Obama did, and when you remove the gaps the result is what sounds like a continuous angry rant.
Anyway, that’s just there if you’re interested.
It’s a little weird that I have the solution to America’s health care crisis, but the people we’ve elected to solve such problems have no idea what to do. Actually, it’s not weird at all: the solution is for them to do nothing, because they’re absolutely useless anyway, and we have this strange idea in the United States that the government should do stuff and try to solve problems. Politicians don’t just believe that bullshit; they are the primary peddlers of it, because if people knew that politicians can’t solve problems, then politicians would be out of a job and out of power. It’s far better for them to look like they’re doing something productive–such as repassing the Affordable Care Act under a different name–than to do nothing at all and run the risk of the masses figuring out that a law wasn’t necessary in the first place.
Imagine, for example, if computer problems had the observable habit of fixing themselves. To be clear, they don’t–they may be intermittent problems, but a computer problem does not just go away or fix itself. However, let’s pretend that they do. My job, of course, is to fix people’s computer problems. It’s in my best interest to do anything that I can to attempt to fix the computer problems, and it’s obviously against my best interest to do nothing: if I do nothing, then your computer problem will fix itself, and you’ll realize how unnecessary I am to the process. Ideally, my tinkering with the system would actually make the problem worse–fixing one problem by creating two more–and then you’d need me to fix those two new problems. Would you ever notice that you would have been better off if you’d never gotten me involved? Perhaps once the one problem had morphed slowly into nine hundred and sixty problems, you would be raising your eyebrows.
In the real world, it wouldn’t get anywhere near that far. If you called me out to fix your computer problem, and I temporarily resolved it, only for it to return a little while later and be even worse than it was before I touched it, you’d only give me a few more chances to actually fix the issue before you called someone else. “You were supposed to fix my Internet!” you might say. “Now Outlook doesn’t even open and my computer crashes five times a day! Fix it or I’m calling someone else!”
Imagine, though, that you couldn’t call someone else, because I was in charge of all computer problems and fixing them–there was no one else to call. If I implemented a solution, then no one could undo that solution and no one could work against that solution–if they did, their act of working against that solution would be illegal, and they would face fines and incarceration for doing it.
Do you see how, in this scenario, I have you by the balls? I can do anything I want to your computer, and you can’t do anything about it. Perhaps every four years we have a vote to either give me the power to fix your computer, or to give another person the power to fix your computer, but when it comes time to vote everyone always chooses me or this one other person. Neither of us ever actually fix your computer, and your computer goes from “working but with intermittent issues that fix themselves” to being a total clusterfuck of contradictions and problems. And there’s nothing you can do about it, because you’re not even allowed to call someone else or to keep us from tinkering with your computer.
That’s the government.
We can’t just call another government to fix our health care system–we only have the one, and whether that government currently consists of Republicans or Democrats doesn’t much matter as far as the health of your computer is concerned. Whether we’re Republicans or Democrats just determines how we screw up your computer; it determines the fixes we attempt to implement, and the mechanisms we use to make the problem worse. Believe it or not, our analogy also gets worse than what I just outlined.
The government isn’t just trying to fix your computer. No, quite bizarrely they promise that they can fix everything in your life. They can fix your house, your health care, your vehicles, your electricity, your food, your computer, your fridge, and any other problem that you might have. At least with a dedicated specialist, you could ask for their qualifications and shop around until you found someone who you felt was qualified to fix your problem. In the case of government, we have people who realistically know almost nothing about these areas attempted to fix problems in those areas.
No one is capable of repairing a fridge and a computer, monitoring a coal or nuclear power plant, and determining how much rubber a vehicle’s tires should contain. No one enjoys such a sweeping array of specializations and talents. We all know this intuitively. If your fridge repair guy offered to disassemble your motor and replace your head gaskets, you’d probably be a little hesitant about letting him do it, and if he then offered to provide you with recommended [mandatory] regulations for the plumbing in your home, you’d definitely be cautious and unlikely to take him seriously. But when it comes to government, it’s “Nope. These guys and girls can do everything, because they know everything.”
This is why we hate it so much when a politician dares reveal to us that they don’t know something. Our entire system is built on the assumption that politicians are omniscient and omnipotent. When Gary Johnson asked, “What is a leppo?” people turned against him more than if he’d said, “I just think that we don’t need government telling us that we can’t marry little kids.” How dare Gary Johnson reveal that he didn’t know something?! That’s unacceptable to western society. We make a token effort of criticizing Politician’s Answers, when they go on lengthy tirades about something unrelated to anything that was asked of them–just watch the presidential debates and count how many times Trump brings up Isis or immigration while answering a question that has nothing to do with either, and how many times Hillary brings up Russia while answering a question that has nothing to do with them. We’ll accept anything except “I don’t really have the answer to that.”
Saying “I don’t have the answer to that” would destroy a candidate’s chances of winning, and that’s because we need that conceit. We need to believe that our politicians have all the answers, because somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that government has all the answers.
So what about health care, then? What is this solution that I profess to have?
It’s simple: get the government out of it. Repeal every law and every regulation.
And that’s a kneejerk reaction. Clear your mind of that emotional reaction, and then proceed.
Unsurprisingly, most people aren’t really sure what laws and regulations are even on the books, so they have no way of knowing what the effects would be if those laws were repealed. It’s beyond the abilities of anyone to give a comprehensive list, but here are some things that would go away:
Pharmacies would no longer be regulated and could fill prescriptions written by anyone, and could even pass out “prescription drugs” without prescriptions.
Doctors would no longer be required to be certified–rubberstamped–by the government.
Doctors would no longer be required to attend 8+ years of school.
Anyone with the startup money could open up a medical practice or a pharmacy.
The doctor could purchase drugs directly and fill your prescription instead of sending you to a third party.
I haven’t so lost touch with the average person that I’m unaware of how horrible all of that sounds. Each of those sounds like a terrible idea. This, too, is a kneejerk reaction that only focuses on the negative consequences. I don’t deny that there would be negative consequences. There would also be positive consequences.
If anyone could open a medical practice, then we would have quacks opening up doctors’ offices in their basements and garages, and then attempting to diagnose people and write them prescriptions. We would have pharmacies who were willing to give anyone just about any drug in exchange for money, with no hesitation about turning people into drug addicts. We might even have people dying because the quack they went to see misdiagnosed their pneumonia as a common cold.
Let’s take those in reverse order. It’s not exactly hard to diagnose pneumonia. A stethoscope is all that’s necessary, and anyone can watch a YouTube video to learn what pneumatic lungs sound like–they have fluid in them, which is pretty easy to listen for. If you went to a doctor because you had pneumonia and he didn’t even take the time to listen to you breathe, and then he told you that you had a cold, you would almost certainly ask to see that doctor’s credentials. If he couldn’t provide them, you’d probably request a refund and would go see another doctor. We even do this today, with our spiderweb of regulations and oversights meant to eliminate quacks, because often we don’t trust a doctor’s diagnosis and want a second opinion.
A pharmacy that would sell anyone whatever drugs they want is nothing more than a drug dealer with a brick-and-mortar building. That’s… not really a problem. Trying to keep people from securing drugs they want to take has observable and severe consequences. It has also never worked. Prohibition has never worked. If you eliminate someone’s ability to do something openly, but they still want to do that thing, then they will invariably find ways to do that thing in secret. Alcohol Prohibition didn’t stop the manufacture, sell, and consumption of alcohol. The regulations and laws didn’t keep me from getting addicted to pain killers. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t stopped people from smoking pot. Abortion Prohibition didn’t stop people from getting abortions–
And let’s discuss that last one for a moment, shall we? Because we know it for a fact, and it’s an argument in liberals’ toolkits in favor of legalized abortion. Even the most diehard liberal will admit that prohibiting abortion didn’t prevent abortion from happening; it merely chased it into the black market, into society’s shadows, where standards of safety and decency were non-existent. Prohibition doesn’t work.
So this pharmacy develops a reputation as being a drug dealer, and that causes them to lose the business of the “respectable people.” The soccer moms, Catholics, and other “upstanding citizens” wouldn’t be caught dead going into that pharmacy, because anyone who saw it would say, “Oh… She’s a drug addict?” and the gossip and rumors that would result would sink that person’s reputation. This is an observable thing already. “Why is our youth minister cruising Brooks Road at midnight? Is he seeing prostitutes?”
Who cares that drug addicts will have an easier time getting drugs? That’s a good thing. And it would be even better because the addicts could just buy heroin, crystal meth, crack, and whatever else from a pharmacy, out in the open, and not in danger. They wouldn’t have to worry about the person running off with their money when they were supposed to be right back. They wouldn’t have to worry about heroin laced with lethal chemicals to kill them because they were suspected of being informants, because there would be no one to inform to. See? These “negative consequences” that people inherently have a kneejerk reaction to… are actually positive consequences.
These are all good things. We may or may not like it that the coke addict up the street suddenly has an easy and affordable way to get his fix, but that coke addict was getting his fix anyway. Our laws and regulations weren’t stopping him. And even if we did bust him and send him to prison, there are a thousand more ready to fill his place. I shouldn’t have to go into the inherent dangers of the black market, and how it creates violence and people like Al Capone. When was the last time Budweiser was in the news for breaking the kneecaps of its competition? When was the last time that Bayer was in the news for putting fentanyl in its hydrocodone to punish people for buying from Watson?
Never, that’s when.
And it’s an observable fact: black market drug dealers don’t ask for an ID. I never met a drug dealer who told me that they wouldn’t sell to me because I wasn’t 18 years old. Legalizing drugs reduces the number of teens using drugs. If we had a pharmacy repeatedly being called out for selling percocets to fifteen year old kids, that community would rally together and shut down that pharmacy quickly.
And what of the people who have no qualifications at all for treating people’s illnesses? Well, we have those already! There is no scientific evidence to support homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, and similar things, but they exist today, and have ardent defenders who fight tooth and nail against attempts to restrict them. We do have people dying because they think they can pray their illness away, or pierce it away with needles, or flush magical toxins from their body with enough fucking wheatgrass. These people exist already, and not only can you not protect them from their bad decisions, they resist every attempt for you to protect them from their own bad decisions. They don’t want you to tell them that they’re being idiots and playing with their health.
Neither do you have the right to. As loyal as I am to scientific methodology, and as much as I reject homeopathic medicine, the Placebo Effect is a real thing, and something that we have only begun to understand. We know that it’s possible, if someone believes that drinking carrot juice will cure them, they may very well walk away cured. This is why every drug ever synthesized stacks its effectiveness against the Placebo Effect, and things like aspirin provide a noticeable improvement in headache reduction over placebos. But this doesn’t mean that a person can’t take Vitamin E and have their headache cured. If the Placebo Effect and homeopathic remedies [sic] are enough to cure them, then let them have the cure they want.
Besides, we don’t have the right to tell other people what they can and can’t do. This gets murky when we’re talking about children, but I’m not even going to touch that one, because the issue persists today and would continue to persist regardless. This means it’s irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
We don’t need the government breaking into people’s homes and arresting people for using hair dryers in the shower to prevent people from using hair dryers in the shower. If they’re irresponsible and reckless enough to do that, then it’s senseless to try to spare them the consequences. It can’t be done, and attempting to do it means that everyone has their homes broken into by the police several times a day in the attempt. Liberty and privacy are destroyed for everyone in our misguided attempt to protect reckless people from the consequences of their own poor decisions.
If someone is reckless enough to just take the word of an unqualified and untrained doctor, we can’t protect them from that. Worse, it could very well be the case that there are people out there more than capable of diagnosing the flu, the cold, pneumonia, and other things, but who lack any formal training. These people obviously wouldn’t be able to charge as much as a doctor with an 8 year degree. If they came across something that they couldn’t diagnose, they would direct you to someone who was more qualified.
You know, like what already happens today.
“I don’t know about that mole,” your general practitioner might say. “It’s irregularly shaped. You should go see a dermatologist about it.”
Obviously, the dermatologist will charge you more than the general practitioner, because the dermatologist is better qualified. So the girl with a two year degree in Physical Fitness and the guy with a four year degree in Human Physiology may not be able to diagnose your cancer, but they would be able to diagnose a lot of things, and they would not cost nearly as much money.
And that is the key.
No one would pay $150 per visit to go see a doctor whose only qualification was a 2 year degree in physical fitness. They would, however, pay that doctor $20 for a visit, to get a yearly physical and checkup, or to get a prescription for their pneumonia or whatever. Neither would anyone pay $150 per visit go see a doctor with a 4 year degree, but they would probably pay $50 to get a more accurate assessment and physical, or a diagnosis.
This increases our options. It’s no longer just “I need to go see a doctor over this relatively minor thing, but each one is going to charge between $100 and $150 for a visit, so… I’m just screwed, I guess. Let’s see, that’s www.webmd…”
I know lots and lots of people who abuse the Emergency Room precisely because they refuse to pay $150 to have their flu diagnosed and to receive a few prescriptions. This not only increases ER wait times, it’s always a loss for the hospital, because those bills never get paid. The hospital can’t turn people away, and they didn’t turn people away before we made it illegal; doctors and medical people have always taken the Hippocratic Oath seriously, and it wasn’t until we forced them to that they began shirking it. A fair number of these people, however, would spend $20 to be looked at by someone capable of diagnosing the flu.
The system would work just fine.
Sure, there would be occasions when someone died because they went to see a quack, or because they believed in homeopathic medicine that proved incapable of treating their leukemia. Lawsuits brought by family members against these reckless institutions would be in order, and those who were reckless would quickly be put out of business. If you die because I told you that you had the cold and you had pneumonia, then that’s on me for overstepping my qualifications, for putting my arrogance and desire for money above your life, and your family has a legitimate lawsuit against me for recklessly playing with your life in pursuit of profit.
This doesn’t do you any favors, but your family should have tried convincing you to go see someone else about the time you started coughing up blood, too. Let’s not deny your own responsibility to your health, or your family’s responsibility to talk some sense into you.
But if you let this fear of the consequences motivate you to let the government try to fix something with a law, then this health care mess is the result. Why are doctors so expensive? Because they’re protected from competition by people who could easily compete with them at lower price points. A doctor can charge you $125 for a visit because I can’t undercut him by saying, “You don’t need to go see him and pay that much. I can diagnose the flu, and here’s the 4 year degree that proves I’m probably capable of diagnosing such a common illness. Pay me $40 and I’ll take a look at you.”
Voila! We reduced the cost of your visit to the doctor from $125 to just $40. We cut out two-thirds of the price. And we didn’t need the government for it to happen. We didn’t need insurance companies to jump into bed with one another and with doctors and pharmacies and drug companies. We didn’t need price controls. We didn’t need monopolistic insurance industries. All we needed was to get the government out of the way and let people be free.
As I explained in the intro, now that the iron appears to be having an effect and my anemia is lessening, I plan to be more active–it also helps that I’ve just forced myself to proceed anyway, of course–and that means a return to podcasting. I’ve been planning to reboot Rantings & Ravings for a while, and this is episode 1: “Ryancare & Russians.”
Note: I’m certainly not doing anymore podcasts in this voice. I sound so angry. This is actually due to the fact that I edited out most of the pauses; you can tell from some of the less edited podcasts that, when recording, I tend to talk about like Obama, with a pause following every 3 or 4 words. That fits with the inflections better, but removing the silences makes it sound… like a continuous raving rant. That’s actually not intentional.
In this episode, we discuss the GOP’s attempts to modify the Affordable Care Act, and the effects we can expect that to have. Spoiler: it will really piss off the GOP’s voter base. They already have trust issues so severe that they rejected the establishment and elected Donald Trump. With him betraying them, as I predicted in this video:
… and with Paul Ryan–who already drew their ire by siding against Trump–working to further undermine their implicit desires, the 2018 midterm elections will be The Reckoning for Republicans. It will be a bloodbath that pours Democrats into office, a trend that will continue with a sure Democrat victory for the White House in 2020.
The Stupid Comment of the Week is quite possibly the most stupid thing that anyone has ever said to me, no joke. It’s seriously that stupid. The Anarchist Shemale will not be held responsible for drivers whose heads explode when they hear the stupidity and thereby have an accident. It is advised to not listen to this segment while driving.
Furthermore, Trump, Russians, and hysteria are discussed, since that’s always in the news, and we consider the implications of the Clown Sightings that people seem to have forgotten about, as well as what it might mean that the FBI isn’t looking into it. Schools were actually locked down because of alleged clown sightings, but the FBI hasn’t bothered to check it out? There’s something certainly odd about that, and the parallels between clowns and Russians are too much to ignore, so we speculate the possibility that–seriously–the entire clown sightings thing was a Psy-Ops campaign by intelligence agencies to study the effects and spread of hysteria.
We also discuss the absolutely absurd assertion that the Russians are competent enough to “hack the election” of the world’s foremost superpower and the most technologically advanced nation in human history, but are simultaneously too incompetent to click four things to change their Date & Time and keyboard settings.
Finally, there is an overview of Reductive Reasoning and how it applies to the boy/girl dichotomy, the nature of definitions, and abortion. Each week in this segment, I’ll be picking an issue and applying Reductive Reasoning to it. This week wasn’t meant to dive fully into gender or abortion, but sought to use them as examples to explain the concept.
Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy the reboot. 😀
Let’s back this train allll the way up in honor of Being Libertarian’s dribble about how if you’re a libertarian and you don’t like Rand Paul, then you’re the problem, and take a moment to explain to “Being Libertarian” what it actually means to be libertarian. One would think they’d know this before grabbing such a domain name, but we all make bad decisions.
I think the most basic definition of “libertarian” that everyone would agree to is “one who believes liberty should be maximized.” This obviously has a problem, though, and is why I’m an anarchist and not a libertarian. The state’s very existence curtails liberty, so “libertarian” is actually a bit of a self-contradiction. Any libertarian who carries the ideas to their completion becomes an anarchist, but we’ll get more into this in a moment. First, we must ask: “What is liberty, then?”
Liberty is a more nuanced term. Strictly speaking, we could say that it is the condition when natural rights are respected by others. This, of course, leads to the next question: What are rights? As it happens, I’ve addressed this before: a right is anything that one could do on a deserted island. What does it mean when someone violates your rights? It means that they have prevented you from doing something that you have a right to do. How can they prevent you from doing something?
Why, the only way they can prevent you from doing something is by using force, violence, and/or coercion.
Libertarian –> liberty should be maximized
Liberty –> rights are respected
Rights –> anything one can do on a deserted island
Violation of rights –> Force, violence, and/or coercion
Libertarian –> someone who condemns the violation of another person’s ability to do anything they would be able to do on a deserted island by using force, violence, and coercion against them.
That really wasn’t so hard was it? We can simplify it more, of course. A Libertarian is someone who condemns the initiation of force, violence, and coercion. This is an obvious corollary, because one can’t initiate force, violence, and coercion against people on a deserted island, because there are no other people upon whom one can use violence. Ergo, one does not have the right to use violence. One does have the right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against them on a deserted island, because there is no one to use it against one. Ipso facto, anyone who uses force, violence, and coercion is violating another person’s rights, and the Libertarian obviously rejects this.
One could take the time to dispute my assertion that rights are anything one can do on a deserted island, but not easily. It’s true that the idea of respecting an animal’s natural rights is a human one, and doesn’t actually exist anywhere in nature. Nature, however, is bloody horrific. Did you know one specie of wasp paralyzes worms and drags them back to the nest, where the worm has an egg laid in it and is eaten alive from the inside out? That’s nature. Yeah. Let’s keep nature away from our civilized behavior, right?
I’m not going to take the time to go into an explanation of natural rights, or why it makes sense to support the notion, because I shouldn’t have to in the United States–a nation that was literally built on the classical liberal ideology that was literally built from Locke and Smith’s works on government, which themselves were literally built on the ideas of natural rights. The concept of natural rights should be ingrained enough in our society that it warrants no explanation and is taken as a given: free speech, free thought, free association… These are rights because they’re rights because they’re rights. It’s true that some of these rights have come under fire in recent years, but not from libertarians, classical liberals, or even liberty-leaning conservatives. In other words, no one who actually likes anything the Anarchist Shemale has to say would take umbrage with the idea of natural rights.
So what does all this have to do with Rand Paul and “Being Libertarian?”
Well, as I explained above, “libertarian” isn’t a matter of degree. It’s boolean. It’s either/or. It’s a dichotomy: one either is a libertarian, or one is not. One can have “some positions in common with libertarians,” and one can even lean toward libertarian solutions as the preferred answers to problems, but one can’t be more libertarian or less libertarian than anyone else, because one either is libertarian, or one isn’t. Why? Simply put, because one either condemns the use of force, violence, and coercion, or one does not condemn the use of force, violence, and coercion.
It is here that I have to reiterate: this would be understood if, instead of teaching twelve fucking years of language courses, American schools dedicated just a single semester to learning the Logical Absolutes. When people say that Rand Paul is the “most Libertarian person in the Senate,” that isn’t what they really mean; as demonstrated above, it can’t be what they really mean, because “most Libertarian” doesn’t make sense.
“I condemn the use of force, violence, and coercion more than anyone else!”
“I condemn the use of force, violence, and coercion, too! Just… not as much as that guy!”
Obviously, those statements don’t make any sense at all.
“Very well!” someone might be saying. “But it remains a fact that Rand Paul happens to share more positions with libertarianism than anyone else in the Senate!”
This is true.
It is also a Lesser of Evils argument.
The “Lesser of Evils” argument is absolute bullshit, and half of the Libertarians now trying to use it have rejected it in the past. I wonder if Being Libertarian is aware that Rand Paul just made sweeping statements about how leakers should be persecuted and prosecuted? Yeah, that’s a real friend of libertarianism right there! “Protect state secrets! Protect the spies! Protect the liars! Protect the military industrial complex! Liberty! Prosecute anyone who spills the truth to the public!”
Sure, Rand does a few good things every once in a while.
So did Hitler.
So did Charles Manson.
While Rand Paul is certainly no Hitler or Charles Manson, the point remains that it’s futile, stupid, and fallacious to attempt to stack a person’s bad actions against their good actions, but Being Libertarian and other Rand supporters don’t even go that far, do they? No, they just completely gloss over and ignore his bad actions. No freaking libertarian in their right mind can have any love for a senator who wants to aggressively chase down and prosecute leakers. We love leaks! The government should not have secrets from us; we’re the ones paying the freaking bills! And let’s not get started on his signing Tim Cotton’s letter. Woohoo, though. Rand is fighting Ryancare.
But we do know this: his guiding principle is not the condemnation of the initiation of force, violence, and coercion.
Ergo, he’s not a libertarian.
There’s no “most” or “least” to it.
I’m willing to not give libertarians, classical liberals, and minarchists a hard time about being self-contradictory. Some people don’t agree with the NAP and arrive at the same ideological positions via different principles–much as Rand Paul arrives at “Fuck Ryancare,” but doesn’t arrive at that idea through the libertarian principle that is the NAP. Still others just aren’t ready to take the next step–because it is a big one–from libertarian to anarchist. But I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to support a statist who openly professes to not being a libertarian leeway because he shares a few positions with libertarians.
If you want to know the problem with Libertarianism, that’s where it lies: people are allowed to call themselves libertarians, and people treat liberty-leaning conservatives as libertarians, in full disregard of what the word actually means and what the ideology is actually built from. This is called “corrupting the ideology,” in fact, and is precisely what is harming the party. It’s how we ended up with Gary Johnson and Bill Freaking Weld. The problem is that party heads and figures were clearly willing to allow a little corruption if they could trade principles for a little popularity, and it snowballed to the point where every principle has been traded off and it’s no longer about how one reaches a position; it’s just about the position one reaches. And that’s wrong. It’s mistaken.
Moreover, “He may not be perfect, but he’s the best out of this group of people” is precisely how we ended up with President Donald Trump. Settling for politicians because they’re “not quite as bad” as other politicians has done fuck all to slow the march of the leviathan state.
No compromise. No backing down.
“Excuse me, darling, could I get a dollop of liberty on the side to go with my fascism, please?” isn’t acceptable.
Liberty or death.
No, I’m not the problem because I refuse to compromise my goddamned freedom, my rights as a human being. And if you think I’m the problem because I refuse to just give up my liberty dinner because some statist is kind enough to let me have a small taste, then you are absolutely the problem.
“Who is that, papa?” asked the little Jewish boy as he pointed and his father lowered him from the train that had brought them to Auschwitz.
The father turned and beamed with pride. “That’s Ol’ Henrick, my boy! He’s the best SS soldier in all of Germany! Why, he’s only gassed fourteen Jews!”
“Oh, wonderful, papa! That’s… Wait. But that means he’s killed fourteen Jews,” the boy said.
“He’s the best of the whole lot! How dare you criticize him?” the father roared. “At least he’s trying! He’s making an effort! He actually succeeded in getting into the SS, even though he doesn’t really care for the extermination of the Jews! That’s more than any of those people protesting the Holocaust have accomplished, isn’t it? ALL HAIL OL’ HENRICK, SAVIOR OF THE JEWS.”
I’m sorry for that. It’s really hard not to go way out there when criticizing this absurdly fallacious reasoning that Being Libertarian is offering up. Again, Rand is no Nazi. And he’s gassed no Jews. But he has participated in a lot of state-sanctioned murder, and this is the reasoning that Being Libertarian is offering up.
“You’re the problem! Fucking purist! You won’t accept anyone except someone who is just totally against the extermination of the Jews, will you? Purist! You should take what you can get!”
Don’t get me wrong. I know the media doesn’t care about my trust. They’ve successfully polarized the nation into liberals and conservatives, and the result is that it doesn’t matter what a news outlet reports. Liberals will accuse conservative outlets of bias and untruthful reporting, and conservatives will accuse liberal outlets of bias and untruthful reporting. Each and every issue gets carved into two halves, and what the average American believes is far more dependent on their political views than anything that might resemble truth. Naturally, this leads to shocking amounts of hysteria and hypocrisy. One day, you have the left criticizing Wikileaks and leaks in general while the right praises them; the next, the right criticizes Wikileaks and leaks in general while the left praises them. One day, conservatives cheer for the committee investigating Hillary while liberals condemn it; the next, liberals cheer for the committee investigating Trump’s alleged Russian ties while conservatives condemn it.
While I do enjoy pointing out the glaring hypocrisy, I know that it does no good, because it requires self-awareness to identify one’s own hypocrisy, and if they had any self-awareness at all we wouldn’t be in this mess.
But we are in this mess, and the media has played the biggest role in making it this way.
I think it’s time for a public admission from liberal news elements like The Guardian, CNN, Huffington Post, and all the others that they knowingly terrorized the population to support their political agenda. Have we forgotten the post election headlines? The constant fear and doom mongering? The headlines telling us that we needed to be afraid, that Trump’s tweets made him the next Hitler. “The Republic repeals itself!” and articles from resident lunatic Jessica Valenti about how she’s going to tell her daughter that we elected a racist, misogynist bully. The non-stop spiel from people saying “I’m disabled–imagine what Trump is going to do to me!” The people stating publicly that it was just a matter of time before conversion centers were on every corner, and LGBTQ people were being rounded up and electrocuted?
This shit happened.
I mean, the stuff that those lunatics raved about most certainly did not happen. But the lunatics did scream about it. Bloody hell, you’d have thought that we just elected LITERALLY Hitler to the presidency from the news headlines making the rounds. “You’re not dead, and you’re not in hell. You’re awake. You’re alive. This is your life now,” stated Rachel Maddow, with all pretense of fairness long discarded. And hers is among the less egregious of the horrific things the media peddled about how we were all about to die. “How Donald Trump Will Wreck the World Economy” ran other headlines. It was disgusting.
And there has been no apology. No indication that they feel any remorse whatsoever for this blatant terrorism, this lying, this manipulation, and this deceit.
We’re not weeping in the streets while Trump and his rightwing death squads round up and kill all the LGBTQ people, while they put disabled people in the ovens and cook them alive, and while Muslims are sent to concentration camps. Nothing has changed. Your life is the same as it was a year ago; my life is the same as it was a year ago. Even Trump’s travel bans aren’t new; Obama did it several times. Nothing Trump has done is any different at all from anything Obama did or that Bush Jr. did. All in all, things are proceeding right along exactly as they have always been.
Just contrast it to the world we were warned about four months ago! Fuck, you’d come away from the headlines expecting the KKK Grand Dragon or whatever to be the next Supreme Court Justice. You’d think that slavery was about to return, that forced registration of LGBTQ people was just around the corner, and that we omg we’re all about to die. I heard from people who were literally cowering in their homes in fear.
And it was the media–it was 100% the media that created, stoked, exaggerated, and heightened that fear.
They terrorized huge chunks of the American population just months ago, and they did the same shit over Brexit. “The sky is going to fall!” they shouted. “The economy will collapse! Muslims will be rounded up and killed! Xenophobes will rule the nation! We’ll be sold into slavery! We’re all going to die!”
And, again, none of that fucking shit happened.
Here we are proceeding along normally, doing nothing about the months of terrorism that was just inflicted on us by institutions that are supposed to at least pretend to be unbiased and fair. No, man. Fuck that. Fuck this. We don’t have to put up with this shit. Hold these fuckers accountable for what they did. That’s not okay. That’s not acceptable. You can’t terrorize people into supporting your political agenda.
That’s not okay.
I don’t actually care whether the people who spread this terrorism actually believed the lunacy pouring out of their mouths. Maybe they did, and maybe they didn’t. Maybe they knew that there was no chance at all that LGBTQ people would be forced into conversion therapy centers. Maybe they knew that men weren’t going to be able to run through the streets grabbing random women by the pussy. Maybe they knew that disabled people weren’t going to be euthanized. Maybe they believed this insanity, and maybe they didn’t. It doesn’t matter.
Because it’s reckless, irresponsible, and downright dangerous. Anyone who has ever encountered any wild animal can tell you that the most dangerous animal is the one that has been backed into a corner. And that’s precisely what the media attempted to do: convince everyone that we had been backed into a corner and that death squads were on the way. Now that none of their psychotic prophecies have come to pass, and there is no indication that anything at all is going to change, it is well past time to hold them accountable for it, make them apologize, and make them rue the goddamned day they thought that they could get away with terrorizing us.
We don’t have to put up with this shit, and we shouldn’t put up with it.
Stand up and scream at them, “No! I am a human being, and you will not push me around!”
Question: At what point does a person’s political ideology become a determinant factor in whether it’s okay to inflict violence on them?
Answer: It doesn’t.
A lot of people have talked about this idea, whether it’s okay to punch Nazis, whether the NAP allows it, and even whether it means the NAP should be abandoned. It’s often treated as a “Gotcha!” question for Libertarians, either because the answer is so nuanced that the asker attests the libertarian has no answer, or because it causes the libertarian to stumble out of the gate. After all, Nazis are Ultra Super Evil, so it must me okay to attack them! So if your guiding principle doesn’t allow you to attack these symbols of unchecked evil, then your guiding principle has problems.
In some ways, it can be a difficult question to answer, and I understand why much ink has been spilled over attempting to dissect it and come up with an answer. This usually deals with the core of Nazi beliefs and the idea that it is the Nazi’s intention to use force, violence, and coercion against others; therefore, inflicting violence against the Nazi is an act of prevention.
But that’s the wrong answer.
We can’t allow ourselves to be distracted by magician parlor tricks that cause us to chase down obfuscations. The question is stupid and unworthy of an answer in the first place. It relies on widespread hatred of the very word “Nazi,” often regardless of whether a person knows what Nazism professes, and attempts to bait people into expressing any sort of sympathy with these people widely considered the symbols of evil. Nazis are the safe bad guy in any form of entertainment for a reason.
In fact, the person’s political identification is irrelevant to the question. Is it okay to punch a socialist? A communist? A racist? A sexist? A Muslim? A Christian? An anarchist?
“No” on all counts.
“Well, you see, there are some complexities…”
“No” is still the answer.
Part of this idea that Nazis represent The Devil Incarnate is the notion that all Nazis are the same and believe exactly the same things to exactly the same extent. This is an assumption we don’t apply anywhere else, and for good reason. We all know that we’ll have a very difficult time finding two Democrats who agree on everything, two Republicans who agree on everything, two socialists who agree on everything, and you can forget finding two libertarians who agree on everything. I don’t think I’ve ever met two Christians who agree on everything, or two Muslims who agree on everything. But two Nazis who agree on everything?
It’s just assumed. “Oh, yeah, definitely… All Nazis are the same.”
I know that the propaganda during World War 2 was extremely effective, and that it has permanently colored our society, but it’s time we put aside the propaganda and evaluated things as rational adults. The fact is that, at the height of their power, lots of people were Nazis. And the reason that Hitler kept the Holocaust as quiet as he could was precisely that he knew the common people of Germany, many, many of whom were Nazis, would never have been okay with his proposed Final Solution. Many Nazis defected from the country and the party, not because they disputed National Socialism but because they rejected the Holocaust. That wartime propaganda still lingers, but all Nazis have never been the same.
The question has nothing to do with the NAP; it has everything to do with virtue signaling, as the asker attempts to test the waters to see if he can goad the libertarian into expressing virtues different from his own, at which point the libertarian can be called a Nazi Sympathizer, and, since everyone hates Nazis, it means whoever asks the question generally wins in public perception. A fair question is “At what point is it okay to use a person’s political beliefs as a factor in determining whether it’s acceptable to inflict violence upon them?”
The answer to this question is, “It’s never okay.”
Recently I read an article by a libertarian who wants to re-evaluate the NAP because it allows racists to be considered libertarians, and the author doesn’t like that. He seems to struggle with the idea of tolerance, that we must tolerate behavior and ideas we don’t approve of, as long as the person doesn’t use force, violence, and coercion. Since using force, violence, and coercion are the only ways to be intolerant of an idea, it basically means that “Everything is tolerable except force, violence, and coercion.”
While I can see why people would struggle with this, there is no identifiable link between a person’s religious or political beliefs and their willingness or unwillingness to use violence. Progressives have for decades condemned the use of violence, but now are the prime actors initiating it. If you ask some people, Hitler was a Catholic. If you ask others, he was an atheist. Whether Stalin’s atheism had anything to do with his atrocities is good troll-bait. Whether Islam has anything to do with the large amount of extremism coming out of the Middle East also makes good troll-bait.
But the reality is simpler: the reason we can’t find any direct correlation between a person’s beliefs and things like terrorism is that there really isn’t one. A few years ago, I came across someone who asserted that people who are homophobic are actually gay and just can’t accept it. That’s absurd, and the reasoning behind it is aggressively unworthy of our species. So a man who hates pedophiles is secretly a pedophile and can’t accept it? That’s the reasoning we’re going to go with on this?
As “evidence” of this claim, another person came forward and said, “I used to be homophobic, and I’m gay, so it’s actually true.”
No, it’s still not true. You’re connecting dots where there are no dots to be connected. You were homophobic and you are gay; you weren’t homophobic because you are gay. This person’s upbringing and social environment would have led him to be homophobic regardless of his orientation. Being gay is simply what allowed him to stop being homophobic. We find the same pattern everywhere, with people attempting to draw correlations between religious beliefs and violence, and between political ideologies and violence.
Is the man hateful because he is racist, or is the man racist because he is hateful? Is the man willing to use violence against black people because he’s racist, or is he racist because he’s willing to use violence against black people? Or is his racism unrelated to his willingness to use violence, and his racism merely determines who is the recipient of his willingness to use violence? In most cases, the latter. Being a white supremacist won’t turn a non-violent person into a violent one. I’m sorry, but it won’t. Neither will being a black supremacist, an atheist, a Christian, a Muslim, a Democrat, or a Republican.
In nearly all cases, extremist positions do not create a willingness to use violence. They are merely used as an excuse. The people who bombed abortion clinics didn’t do so because Christianity made them looney. They did so because they were already looney, and parts of Christianity gave them an excuse to do what they wanted to do anyway. Ditto for Muslim extremists, atheist extremists, socialist extremists, racist extremists, and other extremists. And in all of these cases, for every one who is batshit nuts and violent, there are 99 who are perfectly normal.
Question: Is it okay to punch a Nazi?
Answer: What the fuck kind of question is that?
Is it okay to punch someone who is engaged in act of aggression? Is it okay to punch someone who is a reasonable and credible threat planning an act of aggression? Is it okay to punch someone because you really, really don’t like what they believe? These questions don’t all have the same answer, and that’s why “Nazi” is used in the question. We’re just supposed to accept that all Nazis are supremely evil and willing, perhaps even eager, to kill everyone who isn’t a straight, white Christian. And even if that’s true about Nazis–which it isn’t, though it’s more likely to be true of neo-Nazis–it’s still the wrong question to ask, because the fact that they are Nazis isn’t a determining factor. The determining factor is whether the person is engaged in, or credibly planning to be engaged in, acts of violence and aggression. It doesn’t matter if they’re Nazis, socialists, anarchists, communists, capitalists, Christians, atheists, Muslims, or anything else.
Rik Storey is an idiot who has no idea what he’s talking about, cherry-picks to support his chosen ideology, ignores evidence that conflicts with his internal ideas, and spreads this madness for other people to absorb. The only reason I know about this alt-right goon is that he’s a member of a Voluntaryist/Anarchist/Libertarian group I’m in on Facebook, and no one has seen fit to kick him from the group yet for constantly talking about his alt-right positions and why they’re not only part of libertarianism–his latest post is about “the alt-right faction of the Libertarian Party”–but are critical to libertarianism–such as his post “Why Libertarians Need Protectionism.”
This is the idiot who said that multiculturalism is bad.
I’m not going to go into a line-by-line analysis of his writing and where his reasoning breaks down. I’m going to instead talk in broad strokes, because I don’t have the patience right now to read his trite dribble again. I have read his stuff, and I have countered his stuff; he has ignored the counters and continued peddling his inanities anyway.
Anyone who thinks that the United States is at risk of losing its culture needs to turn their sights inward. America runs the world, not just politically but also culturally. Our movies are cherished, our music is highly prized, and our video games are widely praised. Video games are the only cultural area where we don’t run the full sweep, but Bethesda, Bioware, and Blizzard–interestingly, all of whom begin with a “B,” although I think Bethesda is Canadian?–clearly show that the U.S. is a major player in the video game industry, even if it is dominated by Japan. Mass Effect: Andromeda released today, and has surely already sold millions of copies. World of Warcraft, anyone? Fucking Skyrim?
The wonderful thing about mainstream culture is that it’s always representative of the wider cultural values at home. This is obvious when you think about it. No movie in the 1950s would have depicted a gay marriage scene, because gay marriage was almost universally reviled, and the movie makers wanted to make money. Putting in a gay marriage scene would have resulted in widespread protest of the movie, and they wouldn’t have made any money. Culture, of course, is a multi-faceted thing, but the point still stands: America is projecting its culture out into the rest of the world, influencing the rest of the world.
Not the other way around.
We’re not sitting at home watching Bollywood movies and being increasingly influenced by Indian cultural values. We’re not watching Chinese sitcoms and slowly being pushed away from individualist thinking and toward collectivist/clan-based thinking that is more dominant in Asian cultures. American values are a teenage girl telling her middle aged father, “No, father! I will not marry that man, because I do not love him! I don’t care if he can save the family fortune!” An Indian or Chinese film would have the teenage girl saying, “Yes, father. I will do what is best for our family.” Remember, I said we’re speaking in broad strokes.
That kind of stuff influences people. We’re constantly being influenced by movies, television, music, video games, and literature. Take “The Purge,” for example, a movie that I boycotted on the basis of promoting facetious reasoning and the assumption that legality is what keeps people from killing one another. Show people movies like that long enough, and they will come away from it having concluded that the government is what keeps people from killing one another in the streets.
It’s far beyond my abilities to explain how art becomes a catalyst of cultural change while also attempting to be safe enough to make money, but it’s an observable phenomenon. It probably has something to do with the Marilyn Mansons and GG Allins of the world who take refuge in audacity, and whose outlandish behavior breaks down many barriers, opening the door for more mainstream musicians to safely mimic some of that behavior without going quite as far. Marilyn Manson, A Perfect Circle, and Nine Inch Nails all sang about dead gods and anti-religious sentiments, and now no one bats an eye if a rock band says something anti-religion. The dam is broken.
I’ve no doubt that a culture expert can explain this, but it’s not really important to the point at hand. The point is simply that American culture is, by an enormous margin, the most influential culture in the world today. The question we must ask is: What values is American culture promoting? The recent re-release of Beauty and the Beast features a gay kiss, and a lot of conservatives are up in arms about it. This is hardly ultra-liberal, but it doesn’t have to be ultra-liberal, because that dam is already broken. There have already been gay couples in all manner of entertainment, and openly gay musicians and actors. Having a gay kiss is now a safe spot to be in.
Protectionism won’t protect your values if the culture of your society doesn’t reflect your values. You can go as far into isolationism as you would like, and it will not save your social values now. It’s too late. Your values are dying, and nothing can be done to stop that. We will never have an American society again where being gay is criminalized or hidden. We will never have an American society again where being transgender is a capital offense. We will never have an American society where women are depicted as anything less than the equals of men. The tide has changed, and whether your values go as far as these straw values or not, the fact remains that progress is a one-way street. Once people realized that those other people are other people, you can’t convince them that they’re not. Once you convince people that black people are just like white people, you can never again convince them that black people are inferior, because they already identify with them.
The values you wish to protect with your cultural protectionism are already on the chopping block, and isolationism and protectionism can’t save them. Your values are being eroded from the inside, from within America itself. It’s not outside cultural elements convincing us that gay people are ordinary people, too, and that there’s nothing wrong with being gay. That’s something we came up with all by ourselves. We weren’t propagandized by German movies into believing that transgender people are deserving of dignity. We weren’t corrupted by Chinese music into believing that black people are equal to white people. We weren’t twisted by British propaganda into believing that women are equal to men. Again and again and again, these ideas originated–at the very least, in their modern movements–in the United States. We are Ground Zero for these social changes, and we emanate them outward into the rest of the world via our entertainment, which is a reflection of our culture and the very social changes that the alt-right has a problem with.
Why do you think China is relentlessly screening what movies, music, art, and literature enters their country? Even video games have to be screened, censored, and, often, changed before China will allow them in. Why? Because China is engaging in cultural protectionism. We are the influencers, you idiots. We are the ones influencing them. We’re not sitting around going, “Oh, I hope this famous Chinese movie has no subversive communist elements in it!” Dumbasses! We’re going, “Sweet! This movie is fucking awesome! U! S! A! U! S! A!”
This notion that outside elements are trying to influence us is so bizarre to me that I wonder if we’re even in the same reality. What cultural influences are impacting us? Paris has long stopped being the art capital of the world. We still have a lot of fondness for European culture–and, for some reason, we consider it more highly valued than our own, as though the Eiffel Tower is just inherently better than the Sears Tower–but it’s not influencing us. Europe is increasingly socialist, and that’s influencing some of our youngest who look to Europe as a utopia, but protectionism won’t change that, either, because it’s not Europe that people like Rik Storey have a problem with. In fact, they want to include Europe in their protectionism, and save it from all the “icky brown people” who are trying to change the culture that we’re literally influencing everyone else with.
These people are nuts. Fully detached from reality. Anyone with even a tenuous connection to reality can see plainly that it’s the United States that is influencing everyone else, not vice versa. It’s our movies that rock the world. It’s our musicians that rock the world. It’s our television shows that break new ground. It’s our Broadway. It’s our Fiddler on the Roof. It’s our Citizen Kane, our Gone With the Wind, our Titanic, our Avengers, our Avatar. What the hell are you worried about? You’re backward. We are influencing them.
The basic idea of Rik Storey’s idiocy is that we need protectionism to keep out “bad elements” because a libertarian society is a high trust one, and so we need to be able to trust other members. I call this “idiocy” because it is.
As always, let’s begin by dissecting assumptions. What is “trust?” Trust is nothing more than a conditioned expectation to stimuli. There’s no such thing as trust; there’s just an expectation that this action will have this result, or that this other person will do that in response to this. It’s not about trust; it’s about expectation. We don’t trust the mailman to come everyday; trust is unnecessary to the process, because we know from experience and real-world examples that the mailman will come everyday. We’re not pulling from some emotional idea and faith in the mailman; we’re pulling from real experiences and real data to establish an expectation that is in-line with our experience.
Similarly, I don’t “trust” that my girlfriend would be pissed off if I cheated on her. I know she would; trust has nothing to do with it. I’m extrapolating from past experiences–not personal experiences, to be clear–and establishing an expectation based on those past experiences. Neither do I “trust” that she won’t cheat on me; I expect that she won’t, based on my past experiences with her. Trust never, ever enters into the picture. It’s just a misnomer, a colloquial way of saying “I have this expectation based on previous experiences.” A betrayal of trust isn’t a betrayal of trust; it’s when someone does something counter to our expectations that impacts us in a negative way.
That said, I dispute the idea that a libertarian society is a high trust one in the first place. I don’t have to trust that Bob won’t rob my house if there is no law against it, because I can shoot Bob for trespassing and violating my property. The state society involves exactly this same trust, too, because we know that laws don’t create moral behavior; they merely provide a framework by which immoral behavior is punished. No one is out there going, “Damn. I would steal, rape, and kill, if only there were no laws against it!”
So a stateless society–or a libertarian one–doesn’t involve more trust than any other sort of society. It doesn’t matter whether there is a law against it or not; trust isn’t the factor distinguishing the two. We don’t operate under the good faith trust that Bob won’t break into my home and steal my stuff in a libertarian society, just like we don’t operate under the good faith trust that Bob won’t break the law in a state society. We expect moral behavior based on our experiences with most people and we have ways of dealing with immoral behavior when it occurs. That doesn’t change in a libertarian society.
For That Matter, WHO Are You Trusting?
Rik Storey makes it pretty clear that he trusts straight, white people. He constantly talks about the greatness of western society, claiming credit for the work of the ancient Greeks, the ancient Romans, and the American ancestors. This is common for such people, of course: by taking credit for the great things that other people did, they give themselves an ego boost by identifying with those other people. “I’m great, because people who were just like me did great things! I can take credit for the fact that the Greeks invented democracy, because I’m white and they were white!”
I can’t speak for everyone, but if I was motivated to be racist, sexist, and sexual orientationist, then straight white men would be the last people I would trust. This is where Rik’s “logic” really breaks down: he wants to claim credit for all the great things that–there’s no reason to be coy–white people did, while he says nothing about the abominable acts that white people have done. If we’re talking about “white people” as a single collective unit, then, yes, they invented democracy, libertarianism, self-governance, and other cool things.
They also started two World Wars, executed the Holocaust, enjoyed American slavery for centuries, annihilated the Native Americans, have invaded countless sovereign nations, have tried more than any other race of people to conquer the world, and have dropped not one but two atomic weapons on civilian population centers. They systemically oppressed women, black people, Asians, Native Americans, LGBTQ people, non-Christians, and anyone else who wasn’t exactly like them. So yeah, if you’re a straight white man with Christian leanings, I could see why you’d be okay trusting other straight white men with Christian leanings. They’ve never turned their viciousness onto you, after all.
But if you’re literally anyone else, then the notion that you should simply trust straight, white Christian men is absurd in the highest degree. There is no other demographic less worthy of trust. Rik Storey’s inability to see this and realize it is exactly because he is part of that demographic and, in the classical sense of that demographic, is incapable of seeing the world through anyone else’s eyes. Straight, white Christian men must be trustworthy, he concludes, because he’s a straight, white Christian man and straight, white Christian men have never done anything to him.
He claims credit for the great things his ancestors have done and uses those great things as reasons why his demographic is inherently more trustworthy, as far as a libertarian society goes. His thinking is that white people invented libertarianism, and thus only white people can be trusted in a libertarian society. He conveniently ignores the fact that white people also invented the nuclear weapon, the cluster bomb, the UAV, and a host of other things that add up to being pretty good reasons why not to trust those people.
I don’t buy any of that. There is no “straight, white Christian male” group that acts and thinks in unison, that is more or less worthy of “trust” than anyone else, because there are only individuals with various characteristics. The above rant is not an attack against men, white people, straight people, or Christians except as an extension of Rik Storey’s own thinking–which I reject in the first place. If Rik Storey truly believes his own spiel, then his conclusion must be that straight, white Christian men whose culture is under threat from the outside world aren’t worthy of trust in the first place, and that it must be a good thing that those outside cultural influences are impacting his values.
Everything about his thinking is backward, skewed, and confused. In a libertarian society, we don’t have to trust our neighbors won’t violate the NAP, because we will have ways of dealing with it if they do. The existence of laws against violence don’t mitigate our trust or increase our trust; they are unrelated to the entire affair, as they are nothing more than the framework we use to punish people when they violate our morality. The morality remains in a libertarian society, and so does the tendency to punish people for violating it*. Just as you’d use law and the state to punish people for stealing from you in a state society, so would you use the NAP and some mechanism to punish people for stealing from you in a stateless society. Trust has nothing to do with it.
And if you really want to ride that demographic identity train, I don’t think it will arrive at a destination that people like Rik Storey will be comfortable with. Because if you’re going to take pride in all the great things that white people, men, straight people, and Christians have done, then you must also take responsibility for all the absolutely horrible things those same people have done: the Inquisition, the Holocaust, the Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the bombed abortion clinics, both World Wars, Nagasaki, Hiroshima… I’d be moderately interested in seeing Rik Storey’s tally where he has added up all the positive things his demographic has done and stacked them against all the negative things his demographic has done, and whether the math shows he is correct in trusting his demographic.
But he isn’t correct, and it’s stupid anyway, because we are individuals, not amalgams of characteristics and not extensions of people who lived and died thousands of years ago. I think it’s interesting that Storey wants to take credit for the Greeks inventing democracy, but I’d bet my shiny new A Perfect Circle tickets [Yes, that phrase again] that Rik Storey vehemently opposes the notion of reparations for black Americans.
So do I, as it happens, but I oppose it because individuals who didn’t do something shouldn’t have to pay for something that other individuals did to individuals who didn’t have it done to them. That is what a position of consistency looks like. “White people are worthy of trust because they invented libertarianism! But that they invented and remain the only people to have used nuclear weapons? No, that isn’t a factor” is not what a position of consistency looks like.
The alt-right is replete with this sort of cherry-picking, denial of history, and doublethink. I don’t criticize white people for the Holocaust; I criticize Hitler. I don’t praise white people for democracy; I praise the unidentified individuals who conceived it. I’m not worried about outside influences impacting American culture because I’m not a blind moron, and I can easily look out into the world and notice that it’s the other way around; American culture is heavily impacting the rest of the world. And even if I shared Storey’s timid, insecure values, I still wouldn’t be able to get on board with his “conclusions,” because I’m capable of noticing that America’s values are changing from within.
And if he’s arguing that those individuals who are fighting to change America’s values from within need to be excised or killed, then he obviously isn’t a libertarian of any sort, but that’s okay, because the alt-right isn’t a faction of libertarianism anyway. Libertarians means liberty for ALL, and let the consequences of freedom be whatever they will be. If liberty means that Rik Storey’s values are eroded and ultimately wiped from history, then so be it. Libertarianism means liberty for all, even non-white, non-straight, non-Christian, non-men. Liberty for one demographic obviously isn’t liberty; it’s tyranny.
So no. Alt-right ideas are fundamentally incompatible with the precepts of liberty. Libertarianism means other people are free to come in and influence your culture, because they aren’t using force, violence, and coercion. If your culture is so weak that it can’t survive that, then there you go–your culture is weak.
I tend to think that Storey must know this. Protectionism is all about insecurity, after all. If Microsoft is so scared of competition that they have to engage in protectionism, then it means they know their products suck and can’t stand up against competing products. If Storey is so scared of competition that he has to engage in protectionism, then it means he knows his culture sucks and can’t stand up against competing cultures.
Letting the weak be defeated by the strong through competition absent force, violence, and coercion? That is libertarianism.
So it’s not other cultures that are incompatible with libertarianism, Storey.
It’s come to my attention–via hearsay, as I’ve never read the person in question–that Walter Block argues that punishment in a stateless society isn’t strictly necessary, but what is important is that survivors are doubly repaid for losses. This seems to deal primarily with theft, but there was also a solution relayed to me regarding murder: simply, the murder would work for the surviving family for the rest of his life.
I… can’t get on board with any of this.
These are the moments when the principle of Non Aggression gets skewed. I have no idea if Walter Block advocates these things are not, but they are grotesque and immoral, and are no better than the state system of law and punishment we have now. So because a man did something wrong, he is to be condemned to being a slave for the rest of his life? What part of that is supposed to be in accord with AnCap principles? What part of that is supposed to be in accord with non aggression? Slavery is among the greatest violations of the NAP, to take someone and force them to work for you because they wronged you and your family member…
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
I know it’s hard. Believe me, I really do. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see some news article from the tri-state area about a body being found in the mountains, in a lake, or in a ditch, and every single time some part of me hopes… “Could this be it? Could this be my mother?” I know damned well what it’s like to lose a family member to murder, and I know what it’s like to live with that, to live with the murderer getting away with absolutely no punishment whatsoever because the body was thoroughly discarded. So you’re not going to find too many more people with the stable ground to say this:
There is nothing that could be done to bring justice to my murdered mother. It’s done. It’s over. She’s dead. While I would love nothing more than to have her rotting body buried somewhere respectable, with a tombstone so that I could finally put her to rest, even that would do nothing to alleviate any of the sorrow or pain, and it definitely wouldn’t bring her back. I know exactly who killed her, but without a body there’s nothing to be charged with. He lives a life of relative comfort, now a trained engineer or something like that, and has the love of his children and his other family members. There is nothing that can be done to him that would constitute justice.
This is the conceit that is breaking modern society: there’s no such thing as justice. It’s an imaginary idea. What we mean when we say “justice” is “This person did something wrong, so we’re going to get revenge, but we’re going to call it something else because we want to convince ourselves that our wrongful act against him is somehow different than the wrongful act he committed.” But it isn’t, because two wrongs don’t make a right.
It’s wrong to kidnap people at gunpoint, hold them against their will, and force them into slave labor, to force them into situations where they live in concrete jungles and have to fight for their lives or be raped. That’s morally wrong. There are no exceptions.
Truth be told, there is only one way for me to have justice over my mother’s murder by what most people would call my uncle, and that would be… forgiveness. Forgiving him is the only way to ease the pain in my heart and to release the sorrow. Isn’t that the point of justice? To ease the victim’s pain? Punishment doesn’t ease the victim’s pain; it converts it into zealous excitement and lust for vengeance. Just like if your wife cheats on you, it won’t ease your pain to then go out and cheat on your wife; it will only exacerbate it, enlarge it, and lengthen it. No, the only way forward, the only way to recovery, and the only way toward justice is through forgiveness.
That phrasing isn’t accidental. Forgiveness is a difficult labyrinth that must be navigated, with pitfalls and temptations hiding around every corner. Through the darkness emanate the whispers, “Why should you be the one putting in the effort? You did nothing wrong! He should be the one who pays! He should be the one who suffers! Haven’t you suffered enough? It’s time for him to pay for what he did!” These voices rarely cease while one travels through the labyrinthine, internal mind, coming to terms with the past and accepting its role in shaping the present.
It’s not supposed to be easy to forgive people, but forgiveness is all about the forgiver; it has nothing to do with the aggressor. I realized this when I was asked what, if anything, Vegas Chick could do to cause me to forgive her. I realized that there was nothing she could do, because it didn’t have anything to do with her. It had everything to do with me and my own emotional responses. I had a choice: to cling to the negative emotions, or to let them go. A demand for some kind of contrition, some kind of punishment… is clinging to the negative emotions. It never releases them, and releasing them is the only way to travel from the land of the wounded to the land of peace.
It’s also not easy to forgive the man who murdered my mother for unknown reasons. It’s not easy to forgive him for being the sole reason that I will be buried long before her body is ever discovered, if, indeed, her body is ever found. It’s not supposed to be easy to take a deep breath, let the negativity wash away, and say, “I forgive you.”
As a society, we have a passionate lust for revenge, and we love our euphemisms precisely because they allow us to pretend like it’s not revenge that we’re after. Years ago, when working through these ideas, I decided that the difference had to be that justice was impartial and vengeance was personal. In other words, if you enacted punishment against the murder on my behalf, then it was justice; if I did it, then it was vengeance. I’ve since realized how wrong that is. You acting on my behalf doesn’t change anything. It’s just a convenient way for me to shirk the responsibility; it’s just a handy way for me to pretend like I’m not the one responsible for the aggression being committed against someone else. “I’m not doing it!” I could proclaim. “They’re doing it!”
Except they’re doing it with my blessing. And whether I have the power to stop them or not–in the modern American system, I probably don’t have the power to stop the court system from prosecuting him, if her body was ever discovered–it wouldn’t change the fact that they’re doing so on my behalf, on my mom’s behalf, and on my sister’s behalf. But what if my sister and I both expressed that we wanted it forgiven, not punished? Because I would absolutely go before court and argue such a thing, even for the person who murdered my mother. Our testimony would mean little. We wouldn’t be able to simply drop the charges, despite being the only survivors of the murdered woman and therefore having more claim to express her wishes than anyone else.
And why? Because the state would be acting instead on behalf of Straw Victims it has imagined, and those Straw Victims are more important than my sister and me.
Punishment doesn’t end an injustice. It extends it.
The goal can’t be to punish someone. Punishment must be incidental, if it happens at all.
I don’t dispute that, once someone murders another person, individuals–whether elected or hired–have the purview to take measures to prevent the murderer from murdering anyone else. How this is to be accomplished, however, is a question of extreme importance. The obvious answer, according to most people, is to “Throw them in prison and throw away the key!”
No, because that doesn’t really prevent murder. The murder rate in prison is pretty high, and you won’t get most rational people to agree to a life sentence for one murder. Hell, the person we’re talking about served only 7 of a ten year sentence for murder. So the person is ultimately going to get back out of prison–or will kill someone in prison, bypassing the “out of prison” part altogether and committing a murder, meaning our preventative efforts failed. Since prison inmates have a 75% likelihood of going back to prison, prison is clearly an ineffective way of preventing crime from happening again. It may or may not prevent some crime, but it’s too ineffective to be our Yes, That’s the Best Solution answer.
I don’t know that I really have an alternative. Extensive therapy by trained psychologists would obviously be in order. Is there any way to fix this person’s damaged brain? Because, without exception, something has broken down in the moral centers of the murderer’s brain. That’s a given, because normal, healthy people don’t murder other people. We find the idea repugnant in every conceivable way, and we would not murder another person even if we knew that we could get away with it without any consequences at all. It’s not punishment or fear of punishment that stays our hands; it’s our own internal morality. Once that internal morality breaks down, no amount of laws will protect someone.
The goal of prison was supposed to be to segregate, punish, and rehabilitate. It fails on all accounts. A scary number of innocent people have landed in prison, without even getting into the number of people in prison for committing “victimless crimes*”. So criminals are not segregated from the innocent. Nor are they punished, at least not in the way that society likes to pretend. Drug abuse and sex are rampant in prison. It’s often easier to find hardcore drugs in prison than it is to find them on the streets. As for rehabilitation–you’re kidding right? I would bet my shiny new tickets to the A Perfect Circle show in Nashville that most the 25% of former prisoners who don’t return to prison are simply too old upon release to be out there raping and killing people, or whatever they did to go to prison in the first place.
There has to be some way of preventing someone from committing another murder, and that’s what our focus should be on. Not punishment. Punishment only exacerbates the amount of wrongdoing in the world. Killing someone because they killed someone doesn’t reduce the amount of killing in the world; it obviously increases it by one. Kidnapping and holding someone against their will for kidnapping and holding someone against their will doesn’t reduce the amount of people being kidnapped and held against their will; it increases it by one. There is no justice as long as we are doing things that add more murder, more kidnapping, more imprisonment, more rape, and more violence to the world.
Justice, as an ideal, must be incapable of increasing the amount of aggression in the world. If it increases the amount of aggression, then it cannot be justice. That must be our metric for determining what is justice and what isn’t.
It starts with forgiveness.
This doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t be held to account for acts of aggression, or that there should be no consequences. It does, however, change the goals of the consequences. Rather than seeking punishment, we should seek prevention. “What can we do to make sure this man never kills again?” should be our guiding question, not, “How can we make this man suffer for what he did?” The act is done. Making him suffer won’t fix anything and won’t help anything; it will only increase the amount of suffering in the world.
And two wrongs don’t make a right.
This is very different from catching someone in the act of aggression and having the opportunity to stop the act from escalating. If you walk in on some thief beating the hell out of your family member and you shoot and kill that thief, you’ve done nothing wrong. You prevented a beating from escalating into what probably would have been a murder. Since the thief initiated the aggression, you did what you had to do to protect another human being who had done nothing to initiate the attack. But what if you came home from work and you knew who had beaten your brother half to death and stolen your laptops and television? Would it be morally right to chase that person down and kill them? I don’t think many people would say “Yes” to that, and I certainly wouldn’t. Because at that point, you’re no longer preventing; you’re punishing.
We need a lot of spiritual growth–a phrase I use colloquially. It’s true, though. Before we can have a stateless society, we have to have a society where no one is asking “How can we punish criminals?” Because a stateless society can’t answer that question, because a stateless society forbids the use of force, violence, and coercion. “How can we punish criminals” is the wrong question, coming from a dark place in the human heart that prefers vengeance to forgiveness, and that’s something we have to let go of. We have to learn to forgive. Once we have a society of people asking the right question–“How can we prevent a murderer from killing again?”–then we will be ready to enjoy the luxuries of a stateless society.
This is part of the reason that the state is so tied to the criminal system, of course. It wants us to confuse punishment with justice, because as long as we’re erroneously calling punishment “justice,” we’ll despise any system that seeks to deny it to us. “You mean you’re not going to punish that child rapist? He should have his dick cut off! He should be publicly castrated! Fuck him! Throw him in prison with Big Jim!”
That’s vengeance, not justice.
Yes, by all means, and absolutely: let’s prevent that rapist from raping again. That’s mandatory, once they have done such a horrific act. But punishment isn’t going to do it. And when taking steps to prevent the act from occurring again, we should be mindful whether our motivation is to sate our bloodlust for vengeance, or whether our motivation is to actually protect future victims from being similarly harmed. Only by using the correct path can we arrive at the correct destination.
Bloodlust leads to punishment and, 75% of the time, repeat offenses.
Forgiveness leads to justice and prevention.
So what do we do about criminals in a stateless society? I don’t know. But I’d love for us to put our brilliant minds and our empathic hearts together and come up with a solution that actually works without increasing the amount of suffering in the world and while releasing the primordial instinct within us that demands we take an eye for an eye.
Part 1 is floating around somewhere on the Internet, on one of my old blogs somewhere. I don’t know. You can find it if you’re really interested.
After leaving a party because some idiot decided that it would be a good idea to get his gun out of his truck and start shooting–in city limits after dark–I came home and started listening to live A Perfect Circle performances. Since I’m not going to be able to see them while they’re on tour, that’s the best I can do. And I can’t even get started on how much it fucking sucks that I’m not going to be able to see play what is literally one of the greatest and most underrated bands of our time, with indisputably one of the best composers [Billy Howerdel] at the helm. There is no band that has influenced me half as much as Billy Howerdel, though David Gilmour of Pink Floyd is certainly second. But you can hear APC in almost everything I write. Not being able to see them is beyond heartbreaking, to the extent that when someone told me they had tickets, it was extremely difficult to resist the urge to hang up on them for the unbridled insensitivity. It’s hard to state the importance that music has in my life, but nowhere is that importance better exemplified than with A Perfect Circle. Severely underrated, but songs like “Orestes” and “Gravity” are some of the best things a person can listen to.
Go ahead. Listen to Orestes. I’ll wait.
A fucking masterpiece, right?
I mean… What do you even say? The only reason it’s better in the studio version is that the singer was rested up and was able to hit the last chorus an octave higher, which is just… god.
My introduction to Tool came through A Perfect Circle. By happenstance one morning, I saw the music video to A Perfect Circle’s Judith, and I was blown away. It was incredible. It was raw, edgy, and profane, and the lyrics masterfully drove it home. Everything about it captured undistilled emotion and threw it right into your face. When I later heard Schism, I thought that it was A Perfect Circle, and it took me a while to separate the two bands and figure out what was going on. It didn’t help that this was right in the middle of Tool’s dispute with their record company, which led to speculation that A Perfect Circle and Tool were exactly the same band, but with a different name because their record company wouldn’t let them do another album or something. You know how rumors go.
Eventually, I pieced it together, and stumbled across Tool and the album Lateralus. I liked it, but it was no A Perfect Circle. Many people still consider it heresy to say, but there’s absolutely no doubt: Billy Howerdel is a better composer than any of the members of Tool. Perhaps the weakest link in Tool is Adam Jones; I’d love to see what Billy Howerdel, Justin Chancellor, Danny Carey, and Maynard could do together. There was a time that Adam Jones, the guitarist, had a lot of original and clever ideas, and I’m getting to that.
From Lateralus, I went backward and bought Ænima, which I easily fell in love with. Lateralus became largely a thing of the past. “Reflection” was probably my favorite song on Lateralus, but it had nothing on “Third Eye” or “Forty-Six & Two.” There was something qualitatively different between Aenima and Lateralus, but I don’t mean in regard to sound quality, though instrument clarity was multitudes better. It was readily apparent that Tool was no longer an underground band; Aenima had given them the resources to release a studio album with some of the greatest instrument clarity you’ll ever hear. That’s no exaggeration–just check out “The Grudge” for an example of what I mean, or even “Schism” if you’re not sick of it already.
It was more than that, though. It was a gigantic tonal shift, from songs that were about things… to songs that weren’t really about anything. Let me give you an example of what I mean:
Shadows o’er the desert, cast
by the unrepentant crow,
whose callow cries are first and last,
and ring loud from sand to snow.
That’s meaningless bullshit. It sounds very profound. It sounds like it is dripping with meaning and symbolism, but… it isn’t. Any line discussing “shadow” is going to sound symbolic, and throw a desert on top of it, and you’ve got Easy Symbolism For Idiots 101. The next line is my favorite, though: “…by the unrepentant crow.”
It’s a fucking bird. For what does it have to be repentant?
“…first and last” is an obvious and transparent allusion to the Alpha and the Omega. Is it meaningful? No. I just put it there because it has a pseudo-spiritualistic meaning. It’s nonsense. The cries are first and last? What does that mean? The callow cries? It means nothing, and it means nothing. It just sounds deep. It sounds like it has a lot of meaning to it, a lot of powerful meaning to it, but it’s just bullshit.
Here’s a legitimate scientific study on bullshit. I would suggest everyone who still calls themselves a “Tool fan” to read it. Here’s the first example of bullshit presented by the actually legitimate scientific paper: “Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.” It sounds so profound and so meaningful, doesn’t it? But it’s bullshit. At best, it means “You have to try to do stuff for stuff to happen.” That’s hardly a profound thought. One of the biggest indicators of bullshit, actually, is something that I’ve talked a lot about: pretentiousness. Anarchists are really bad about it, surpassed only by voluntaryists. Saying something with three and four syllable words when it could be said more briefly and simplistically is usually an indicator of bullshit, and the scientific study backs me up on that.
The real version: “You have to try to do stuff for stuff to happen.”
The Bullshit version: “Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.”
Same meaning, but one is obfuscated severely and made to sound a lot more meaningful than it really is. The same is true of the eye-rolling poetry I wrote above: it’s bullshit without meaning, but it sounds meaningful. But, as is the case with bullshit, if it conveys anything at all, then what it conveys will be an extremely simple idea, or it won’t convey anything.
So what does this have to do with Tool? Well, it should be obvious to anyone familiar with the band.
To be fair to Tool, though, they don’t really go overboard with it. I actually think Tool finds a pretty good balance between bullshit and underlying meaning; usually when they reference something, there is a reason for it, like how the story of Cain and Abel is referenced in “Right in Two” to discuss how humanity divides everything and fights over it petulantly. The song contains some truly profound and meaningful lines, but they also aren’t obfuscated: “Repugnant is the creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here” is pretty clear.
So it’s not really Tool’s fault that this has happened. It’s the fault of people who are so desperate to find meaning in their lives that they make some truly bizarre, nonsensical connections. We’re talking about the people who rearrange the songs from the album Lateralus into the Fibonacci Sequence–or so they say. Somehow, they manage to start this collection–which they call, and I’m not making this up, “The Holy Gift”–with the sixth and seventh songs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the Fibonacci Sequence applied to Lateralus would include very little of the album and would be:
1. The Grudge
1. The Grudge
2. Eon Blue Apocalypse
3. The Patient
8. Ticks & Leeches
13. Faaip de Oaid or whatever
But, of course, that isn’t what they did, is it? No, somehow they “applied the Fibonacci Sequence” and came up with this tracklist:
8. Ticks & Leeches
13. Faaip de Oaid
1. The Grudge
2. Eon Blue Apocalypse
3. The Patient
I wonder what Fibonacci Sequence they’re using. The only part that makes any sense at all is 1. The Grudge followed by 12. Triad, but then the next song must be 3. The Patient. That would be a neat way of preventing The Grudge from being listed twice, but there’s no way to get 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, or 12 in the lineup. I’m sure they have some lengthy ass document somewhere where a lot of really bored people came up with all kinds of Moon Logic reasoning to explain how they manage to come up with this listing, but we can also find a Moon Logic document on the Internet that shows how the Jews were like totes 4 real responsible for 9/11 and how, seriously, British MPs are shapeshifting Silurians. Once we throw logic out the window, fucking anything goes, including starting the Fibonacci Sequence–which is an actual thing with an actual numeric sequence that most certainly does not start with a 6–with a 6.
Perhaps they meant that it’s based on Phi.
Look, it’s not a coincidence that I have Phi tattooed on my body twice–once as the Greek letter and once as the Golden Shape, nor is it a coincidence that I have Pi tattooed on me. I understand that the universe is a tribute to mathematical function, including human beings. The ratio of your shoulder-to-elbow to shoulder-to-fingertip? 1 to 1.6. The ratio of your head-to-waist to your head-to-feet? 1 to 1.6. Phi. The Golden Ratio. 1:1.6. The Golden Spiral, found all throughout the universe, from spiral galaxies to sunflowers.
So I totally get a person’s fascination and admiration for these things, so much so that I have them tattooed on me. I am marveled and awed by the beautifully woven form of the universe, that the same ratio that dictates the pattern of growth for sunflowers dictates the spirals of a galaxy. It’s nothing short of incredible and breathtaking. But I stop short at attributing any spiritual significance to it. It simply is. I don’t know why, and I don’t see much value in speculating. It’s worth pointing out that Pi is every bit as ubiquitous through the universe as is Phi; Pi is not limited to being the proportion of a circle’s diameter to its circumference. Like Phi, it shows itself throughout our entire universe. And that is why I have them tattooed on me.
But then people start going “Tree of Life” and shit, I have to roll my eyes. There is no need to take something clear and scientific and taint it with spiritual bullshit. Phi is a remarkable proportion found throughout the universe, from conch shells and sunflowers to galaxies. This fact stands on its own. It doesn’t need anyone’s help making it more special by calling it a “manifestation of the divine within us all” and shit like that. It simply is, and it is amazing. It doesn’t need anyone’s help to be appreciated. It’s there for all to see.
Believe it or not, all of this still has to do with Tool. Lunatics aside, there is a lot of beauty and meaning in Tool’s music and in their lyrics. Like Phi and Pi, Tool doesn’t need people’s help; the music stands on its own, without people attributing a bunch of pseudo-scientific bullshit to it. We don’t need conversations about Anasaki and chakras to appreciate the beauty and majesty of Phi. In fact, such things only distract from what is there, from what is clearly visible to anyone who cares to look. As a musician, I think I would honestly be insulted if people said, “Yeah, that riff is great, but what’s really great is how this lead interacts with it to form a tribute to an ancient Tibetan prayer that resonates with the black hole at the center of the galaxy!”
And people do say shit like that about Tool’s music… I ended up clicking *sigh* “The Holy Gift – Full Album” wondering if it was Tool’s new album that has been “on the way” for like 8 years. I thought it was odd that Tool would call an album that, but I clicked it anyway, and it didn’t take long scrolling through the comments before I found someone who said–and I’m not kidding–“Every song here is a tribute to God.”
Honestly, it gives me a headache just thinking about it. If Maynard James Keenan believes anything, it’s overwhelmingly more likely to be that we are all gods. The same guy who wrote a song that contained the lyrics “Fuck your god! Your lord, your Christ–he did this! Took what you had and left you this way, and still you pray, you never stray, you never taste of the fruit, and you never thought to question why?” is absolutely, definitely not writing “tributes to God” of any sort.
Worse yet, it’s all an act, and the band themselves told people that. Maynard has never stopped telling people that. The entire reason there hasn’t been more Tool albums is that he hates Tool fans. He seizes every opportunity to bash them for exactly this shit. They found out that Maynard put the Fibonacci Sequence in the lyrics to Lateralus:
All I see
In my infancy
Red and yellow then came to be…
…and they immediately concluded that other “mystical” things must be hidden throughout. Tool cultivates this on purpose, of course. It’s how they’re marketing themselves, and it’s clearly successful–probably too successful, given what Tool fans have done with it. And people praised that short passage as brilliant! No kidding. Like it’s hard to do.
To do that I’d bet
Anyone else could do it, too.
You want to talk about brilliant? Talk about the musicians who actually write their lyrics in such a way that they actually have meaning backward, with things like “new moon” becoming “noo mewn.” It’s always slanted when such a thing happens, but many musicians have done it. That is hard. I think it was Barry White who hid a “fuck you” to someone in one of his songs if played backward. But scattering a single sentence along certainly syllabic patterns? That’s trivial to anyone who has ever studied poetry.
But because it’s there, Tool fans took it and ran with it, and “The Holy Gift” is the result, with these… people… stating without the slightest trace of irony that these songs are “tributes to God.” Let’s look at some of Tool’s other tributes, shall we?
Got your head down, and your hands bound,
And your eyes closed–you look so precious, won’t you
Won’t you come forth, just a bit closer,
Just enough so I can smell you?
I need you to feel this
I can’t stand to burn too long
Release in sodomy
I am your witness that blood and flesh can be trusted…
I have found some kind of temporary sanity
In this shit, blood, and cum on my hands…
Ah, positively dripping with prayers to God, isn’t it? No. It’s a song about a dominant relationship, and a particularly vicious one at that, since it so strongly implies unwillingness on the part of the victim and how the victim goes on to pay it forward: “Do unto others what has been done to me…” It’s a great song, believe it or not, and it actually has meaning. It’s conveyed in grotesque and vivid terms, but it’s about victimization, sodomy, prison sex, and victims becoming abusers while dying inside and finding peace with their abuse–Stockholm Syndrome-ish.
Kinda like the way you’re breathing
Kinda like the way you keep looking away
Would you like to climb on
Climb on my six inches and go down on Maynard’s dick
Took you out in the back of the toolshed
Put it right on top of your forehead
Took you out in the back of the toolshed
Now you know what you’re fuckin with… Maynard’s dick!
Again, just dripping with symbolism, right? No, it’s a fun song about fucking the singer’s dick.
But I’ll keep digging till I feel something
Elbow deep inside the borderline
It may hurt a little, but it’s something you’ll get used to
Shoulder deep within the borderline
Relax, turn around and take my hand
Once more, it’s a song about fisting. That’s all it’s about. It’s not a metaphor for modern society, it’s not an allusion to materialism. It’s about anal fisting. And, need I remind you, this is the same fucking band who apparently is writing albums that are “tributes to God.”
Locked inside you, like calm beneath castles
Is a treasure that no one has been to
Let’s go digging. Let’s go digging.
Bring it out and take it back
You won’t do what you’d like to do.
Lay back and let me show you another way.
I’ll kill what you want me to,
take what’s left and eat it.
Take all or nothing.
Life’s just too short to push it away.
Take it all.
Take it all in.
All the way in.
Let it go.
Let it go in.
Yes, yet another song about anal sex. Why anal sex? Well, look at the name–4 Degrees. Have Tool fans never wondered why it’s called that? It’s called that because the anal cavity is four degrees warmer than the vaginal cavity. It’s literally about taking someone’s anal virginity, cajoling them repeatedly to “take it all, take it all in.” This is the band that is now writing songs that are tributes to God?
No, you idiots. You were played. Tool marketed to you, and you swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. We have only to look to the aptly named “Hooker With a Penis” to see why.
Hooker With a Penis
All you know about me is what I’ve sold you,
Dumb fuck, I sold out long before you ever heard my name.
I sold my soul to make a record, dip shit, and you bought one.
All you read and wear or see and hear on TV
Is a product begging for your fatass dirty dollar
So… shut up and buy my new record
Send more money.
Fuck you, buddy.
Maynard spelled it out, clear as day, for people, and they still missed it. The entire spiritualistic, higher meaning “get in touch with the divine in you” mysticism bullshit is an act. It is how they’re marketing themselves, and, holy shit, has it worked. We’ve got people talking about how “Reflection,” which has wonderful and profound lyrics, is actually an allusion to Narcissus and Greek Mythology. It’s nothing of the sort! It’s a song about ego. “Reflection” stands perfectly well all on its own without people adding nonsensical bullshit to it, and that is why it bothers me.
Because I do like Tool. A lot of their lyrics are really insightful, really meaningful, and reasonably profound, and the music–though it’s getting increasingly predictable and repetitious–is still good. But it’s good on its own merits, without this nonsense added to it, and by adding all that nonsense to it people are missing and overlooking the good shit that is actually there. They end up focusing on the tree of life and dedicating all their time to studying that nonsense instead of simply marveling and enjoying the ubiquity of Phi throughout the universe. So intent upon seeing higher meanings and deeper insights, they are completely missing the meanings and insights that are there, and they’re being absolutely insufferable while they’re at it.
It’s like if I said, “The sun is beautiful because it gives life to Earth, shines brightly, and warms us all,” and someone came along and said, “Nuh-uh! Idiot! The sun is beautiful because it’s a manifestation of the divine and is reaching out to you to convince you of your oneness with it! Dumbass! You just can’t see the bigger picture!”
It’s like… But the sun is literally right there, literally giving life, literally shining brightly, and literally warming us. It doesn’t need that bullshit you said to be beautiful. It’s beautiful all by itself. You’re just cheapening it with that bullshit.
“Right in Two” is a beautiful song about human divisiveness, bloodthirstiness, tribalism, and war. “Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club, and beat a brother down… How they survive so misguided is a mystery…” “Ticks & Leeches” is probably about Tool fans, to be honest. Even with its pretentious, meaningless symbolism about ones, tens, and Saturn, “The Grudge” still has a good meaning behind it: holding grudges is bad. In fact, most of the symbolism in Tool’s songs that is mystical or astrological in origin comes closer to being Big Lipped Alligator Moments than anything, and they rarely have anything at all to do with the song. Sure, it’s pretty obvious Maynard is talking about Saturn moving into a first astrological house or the tenth astrological house and wrecking shit, but what does that actually have to do with the rest of the song? Nothing. It’s just there for people to squee over and motivate them to go looking for deeper meaning, not realizing that they were just marketed to.
Because of that, Tool stopped being a band that I can really get on board with. They’re not marketing to me any longer. They’re marketing to that larger audience: people smart enough to see the symbolism, but too stupid to see through it. And I’m not particularly happy to say that, but it simply is what it is. I shouldn’t have to point out to anyone that randomly bringing up Saturn and ones and tens doesn’t add depth to a song that is otherwise about letting go of grudges. No, I’m not missing the brilliance of the symbolism; the meaning simply isn’t there.
It has spilled into A Perfect Circle, too. As much as I love the song “By and Down,” primarily because it’s the only new APC song we’ve had in like 14 years, most of its symbolism is meaningless. It’s so very, very different from “Orestes” and “The Noose.” “And not to pull your halo down, around your neck and tug you off your cloud, but I’m more than just a little curious how you’re planning to go about making your amends to the dead.” Clear, concise, and meaningful. It’s conveying a lot more than what the words alone indicate. Contrasted to “Pied piper, float on down the river, bloated carcass crippled ‘neath the weight of adoration. Moving in and out of the shadows, it’s no easy mission holding on to how I pictured you,” it’s pretty clear that the references to the piper don’t actually add anything to the song. In fact, the song probably would have been stronger without them, but what do I know? I’m not a millionaire like Maynard surely is by now.