In a single day–in the span of a few hours, in fact–the tone and overall vibe of this festival changed dramatically. Yesterday, it was a family. Today, it’s a festival.
It’s true that the majority of attendees showed up yesterday, but that’s not really what caused the shift.
Monday night we had an awesome rave. A Muslim DJ’d, the Anarchist Shemale recorded and took pics, and danced with gay dudes, and naked and half-naked people wandered however they wanted. No one judged, no one disrespected. There was the issue with the rave going on a bit late, and people taking to Facebook to bitch about the music, but the rave was in Agora Valley, not near the campsites. That is a curious thing itself, that instead of just coming over and asking us to wrap it up, they went to Facebook and bitched.
So what did they want? If they wanted us to wrap up the rave, all they had to do was come over and ask, and everyone here would have known that. But they evidently didn’t want the music to be turned down, or the rave to end–they just wanted to bitch. Two minutes to make a request versus an hour or two of bitching on Facebook? They just wanted to bitch.
Last night after I took some MDMA and went to sleep, there were several groups of people wandering around the campsites at 1:30 in the morning being loud as fuck. Some of them were just drunken, inconsiderate douchebags who had no idea how loud they were being. Around 2:00, some young chick came walking through the camps singing loud as fuck. There’s an enormous difference in raving in Agora Valley a little late during Somalia Fest, not Porcfest, and making a ton of noise through campsites where people are sleeping.
Mutual respect was a critical part of Anarchist Shemale Fest. No one ever stared at me. No one raised their eyebrows in surprise when I came out of the women’s restroom. I was stared at more yesterday than I did through the entire drive, and I got gas in Nashville, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The best way I’ve come up to describe it is that it was an influx of hipsters, but they’re not hipsters, really. It’s a lot of young people–early 20s and such–and that’s great, but there’s been a shift. The incomers aren’t radical anarchists as I was four years ago.
It reminds me so very much of the young people who went to Standing Rock to protest the DAPL. To them, it was just a party. That’s the vibe many people are putting off today. Don’t get me wrong: Somalia Fest was quite obviously a party, but it was a celebration of peace, love, and liberty–individualism, mutual respect, and self-ownership.
Everyone is still friendly, for the most part, but now it’s a celebration of… something else. Words escape my attempts to elucidate the difference.
Great news! There’s a Soap Box Idol show, and if too many speakers are late, I’m really hoping that I can work my way in and speak on AnCap principles, justice, and forgiveness–topics that I know intimately.
Even greater news!
I officially left the Keyboard Activism. I went to attend a seminar, but the speaker didn’t show. My brain began working. The next thing I knew, I was talking to the organizer about giving a lecture on AnCap principles, justice, and forgiveness. Two minutes later, I was on stage in the main pavilion hosting a seminar. I recorded it, but it will be next week before I’m able to actually upload it. I do have a 4G signal, but of the 4000 people here, probably 20% use Verizon, so network congestion is killing my speeds. With a data cap, I just can’t justify a 1 GB upload that could ultimately fail.
I’m not particularly proud of the speech, though several hours later two people approached me to tell me that they enjoyed it. I finally got to meet Daryl W. Perry, too! Considering I’ve been told I’m “like Daryl Perry in drag,” it was a tremendous honor to finally meet him.
Regarding my speech, these factors need to be remembered:
Public speaking is hard under any circumstances
I am hungover from MDMA
I was thirsty as fuck
I had prep time equal to “The amount of time it took to walk back to the pavilion,” so about a minute and a half.
It’s extremely difficult to generate a coherent, effective speech on the fly, even for a topic I’m so passionate about and have written about so extensively.
But I did it.
As Ernest said, “Audacity ensued.”
And he’s right. That is audacious. Narrow window of opportunity, and the Anarchist Shemale jumped on it. Not only did it make many people I’ve met more aware of my interest and ability in leadership roles, but it also paved the way to make it much easier for me to speak at next year’s. My first Porcfest, and I gave a speech in the pavilion.
It’s not great. In fact, it’s not even good. Without a plan, without notes, without rehearsal, and without any time to clear my head and organize my thoughts, I went on stage and gave a speech. It would be hard to exaggerate how difficult it was. I can rant privately all day long, but there’s an enormous difference between ranting and recording it, and standing in front of a crowd to give a lecture.
Technically, I moved from Keyboard Activism to real activism a while ago, and now I’ve just moved further along that road. I intend to keep doing what I’m doing, and I’m evidently decently good at it, so I’m excited to see where it goes.
One thing is sure: I’m gonna push as far as I can.
Last year, I wrote a book called Dancing in Hellfire. It is essentially my autobiography, except that I didn’t stop at simply relating events that had happened. Instead, I looked back on them and thought about what I learned from them, because the functional mind is always learning–any mind that refuses to learn is effectively dead. To be sure, I’ve had some really screwed up things happen in my past: both parents are/were drug addicts, my father killed a woman when I was 4, my mother was murdered when I was 12 (her body never found, so she’s still listed as a missing person), and other, generally awful things that you would rightly expect to happen in circumstances like that. Before we even factor in transgenderism, there is easily enough material to fill an 80,000 word autobiography (a bit on the heavy side for a memoir anyway), and I found myself chopping out entire recollections to make room for the transgender stuff.
Really, you’d think in today’s political environment that it would be an easy sell. That’s opportunistic of me, and I don’t deny that, but I also don’t see it as a problem. Identifying a niche in the market and targeting that niche isn’t a bad thing–in fact, it’s a smart thing to do. Only in the past six months, as my search for a literary agent has hit a dead end, has it dawned on me that I still made a mistake with the targeting. As I said, the book isn’t about “Oh, poor me, this happened and society didn’t do anything to prevent it!” Instead, it’s a book about “This happened, and this is what I learned from it.”
The critical difference is that the former marks me as a victim; the latter marks me as a beneficiary.
Without a doubt, I’d rather have my mother alive today, but there’s also no disputing that it has marked me in many ways that are very positive. Foremost among these is surely my awareness of justice as a function of forgiveness rather than vengeance. Those wounds are real, and they are painful–however, those very wounds have also made me ask the excruciating question, “How might I have closure on this?” The answer to that is not “…by seeing the murderer in prison!” The murderer has already been to prison for an unrelated murder, and it did nothing to make me feel any better. While it sucks beyond the capacity of weak words to convey how much it actually sucks to have my mother gone, absent without a trace, like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, I can detach myself from that enough to recognize that having a mind that is more focused on forgiveness than vengeance is a positive result.
It wouldn’t be worth asking whether I’d rather have my mother alive, and to still consider vengeance and justice to be the same thing, or if I’d prefer the current state of affairs. Just because these things happened in a way that are causal doesn’t mean they’re mutually exclusive. Maybe my mother could still be alive and something else could have happened to lead me to that realization. There’s no way to know, and so the hypothetical is useless–built, as it is, on the assumption that I can’t have both simply because I don’t have both.
I’ve neglected to talk about it publicly before now, but we do live in a society that glorifies victimization, and this is no more evident than in the bizarre way that Glamour magazine named the Stanford rape victim their Woman of the Year. This perplexes me in countless ways. I’m not demeaning her fight within the system to see Brock punished for what he did, but “having been raped” doesn’t strike me as a particularly good reason to be named “Woman of the Year” any more than being trans was reason to name Caitlyn Jenner woman of the year. Why don’t we celebrate accomplishments rather than victimization? It is an absolute slap in the face to the female biochemists who lead breakthrough research, the females at CERN, and the leading female experts in countless industries, to be passed up as Woman of the Year because someone was a victim of rape and the case was very public. Again, this isn’t to say that the rape should be ignored, but it certainly shouldn’t be celebrated.
Bad Stuff Happens
… all the time.
Earlier this month, I attempted to drive ~150 miles to see A Perfect Circle live, for probably the last live tour they’re going to do, and it was an ordeal just to get tickets, much less to find someone who would go. To give you an idea of how much this meant to me, a few weeks beforehand, in an article about scalpers, I wrote:
I bought tickets to the A Perfect Circle concert next month for well over what they cost initially, and the reason was precisely because my demand exceeds other people’s. I can’t even convey with words what A Perfect Circle’s music means to me. Being able to see them again–probably for the last tour they’re ever going to do, since no one expected this one and it’s been 14 years since their last one–is one of those experiences that literally makes life worth living (no exaggeration). Because of scalpers, I was able to acquire a ticket, and I would say it’s far more important that I was able to get a ticket than Random Joe who kinda likes their music and has nothing else to do that evening. The seats aren’t even that good, and I don’t even care. It’s A Perfect Circle. It means more to me than it will anyone else in that audience.
And you know what happened? Shortly after I got onto i240, headed for i40 and the long eastward trip to Nashville, I saw that my temperature gauge was way higher than it should have been–like “about to overheat” high. I whipped over and got off the interstate, stopping on Airways. Not being an idiot, I’d left with more than an hour to spare, in the event that something weird happened. However, it took my car nearly 45 minutes to cool off enough to hold water, and we discovered that the upper radiator hose had come completely off, which is the rarest and most unlikely thing that could possibly happen with a working clamp (not to mention, of course, that the months of driving before that had no issue, so it happened at the worst possible moment). In doing so, it had brushed against the alternator belt, and had been cut open, so even after it was cool enough to travel again, it had a steady leak that meant the hose had to be replaced. This meant we had to go to an Auto Zone, buy a replacement hose, put it on, and then refill the thing with water (if you’ve ever driven a Chrysler, you know this isn’t as straightforward as with most vehicles). When we were finally heading back toward the interstate, the GPS called out, “Estimated time of arrival is 9:23 pm…” which was two hours after the concert started. That’s right. We lost nearly three hours due to that overheating.
This actually took me completely down for about ten days, as some people may have noticed, because I didn’t post anything. I didn’t have the strength. I was depressed; it’s really hard to convey how much it hurt to miss the concert over something so extraordinarily unlikely that no one would have taken the bet that it was likely to happen. Yet life goes on, I recovered, and got back to it–though I was down longer than I would have anticipated. Because I’m moving to Vegas and the state of Mississippi said “lol, fuck you” earlier this year, setting me back on that plan far more than I’d have liked, I don’t make plans to go and do things very often–spare money is better put toward moving to Vegas than going to see a concert, but this was no ordinary band–this is the band that has influenced my music more than any other. I didn’t really learn anything from that experience, because there was nothing to really learn. It was a freak accident at the worst possible time, and I’d checked my car that very morning. It’s true that I didn’t inspect the hoses, but, c’mon, no one does. That’s absurd. One might as well pull out and check each and every fuse. While I did inspect everything (on a different vehicle) before driving to Vegas in 2015, that was 1800 miles, not 180 miles.
I tend to think that I’m so anti-authoritarian because of the horrifically bad parenting of my mother and father, a point that I call attention to in Dancing in Hellfire. Through most people’s childhoods, and well into their adolescences, they have this idea that their parents are indestructible and supreme. I remember well being in the third grade and having Danny, a friend of mine, stand beside me in line at the cafeteria and put his fist to one of the cinderblocks in the wall and ask, “Do you think your dad could punch through this? My dad could!” Even then, at nine years old, it struck me as ridiculous. No, his dad could not punch through the cinderblock, but I didn’t challenge the idea with him. It did not occur to me then how odd it was that he would have this unrealistic idea of his dad, but it happened again much later, in the seventh grade, when a kid described his dad’s hand as “alligator skin,” proud of his dad being a Working Class Hero, and remarked that a puppy could chew on his fingers for hours and never draw blood.
I didn’t have any of that. When I was six years old, the state showed up with its footsoldiers to kidnap my sister and me, and our mother was powerless to do anything about it. All she could do was cry. I learned that day that my mother–who I’d been with since I was born–was ultimately not the one responsible for me, and that these other people called “the police” had usurped her authority. A brutal lesson for a six year old to learn, but one that has served me well since. My dad wasn’t ultimately the one in charge of me–my mother had trumped him by taking me in the first place, so clearly he was ranked below her in the hierarchy. My mother was also not ultimately the one in charge of me, because her impudence in the face of the state and its footsoldiers left no room to believe that.
And what of my father? Well, you lose the image of your father as the Glorious Personification of Everything Great around the time you see him faceplant into the dirt at a baseball field after eating too many Xanax and drinking too many beers. And if that doesn’t do it, then watching those very same police officers arrest him after a vehicle wreck and place him, powerless, in their police car will shatter that image. There’s absolutely no doubt: some of my earliest and most jarring experiences involved the state exerting its authority. I have very little doubt that this is what left me inclined to view the state as what it is: the slavemaster.
Would I be an anarchist now, if none of this had happened? Another useless hypothetical.
Every experience is not just an opportunity to learn; it is also a choice. No matter what happens, we never lose the power to choose how we react. We are not* mindless machines who operate on extremely complex if-then programming that dictates our responses; we are not powerless. We are not at the mercy of our reactions; our reactions are at our mercy, and nothing changes this. Just because some people choose to let their responses unfold emotionally, with no tempering or self-control, doesn’t mean that they have no choice in the matter, and we shouldn’t allow them to so easily escape the fact that their reactions to things are their reactions. We are not wild beasts braying in the field. We are human beings, and it’s time we acted like it.
If someone says “Fuck you, you’re an idiot” to me, it’s true that I have very little control at this time over my initial emotional reaction of anger and desire to retaliate. Evidence suggests, however, that extensive meditation and self-reflection can, in fact, put us in control of even that lightning-fast emotional reaction. And that’s the key: “lightning-fast.” Emotions are instantaneous. That anger lasts only a flash of a second. If left to its own devices, it would immediately die out, but more often than not we embrace it and purposely keep it going, stoking the fires. Larry Sharpe Sunday night (and today at 2pm Central at www.lrn.fm) is a clear example. After saying that he’d accepted Arvin’s apology and forgiven him, and that they were “good,” the indignation and anger in Larry’s voice were still audible–he was clearly still clinging to those emotions. I actually initially attempted to call attention that, but couldn’t formulate my thoughts quickly enough in a way that weren’t antagonistic, so I instead let it go immediately. While saying that he had let the matter go, he kept bringing it up, even after we tried to move on to other matters, and his voice was absolutely dripping with emotion. Regardless of what he said, it is clear that Larry is keeping those emotions alive rather than releasing them.
Still, that I would immediately react with anger and a desire to retaliate is still on me. It’s still my emotional reaction, and my failure to control my emotions to that degree is my failure. It’s not this person’s fault. They didn’t “make” me angry. I made me angry. They were merely the catalyst–they merely presented me with the choice of how to react, and I chose to react in anger. However, I would typically choose within a second or two to let it go and to release the anger, rather than dwelling on it. Unlike Larry Sharpe, if I forgive what I perceive as a transgression, then I’m not going to bring it up again, because forgiving someone is an internal thing–it has nothing to do with the transgressor, which the Vegas Chick made me realize when I pondered whether she could do anything that would “cause” me to forgive her–the answer was that whether I forgave her had almost nothing to do with her. Demanding contrition or restitution isn’t forgiveness, even if that restitution comes in the form of a simple apology.
Through my own failure, I have no control over the initial emotional reaction. Through much work, I have largely (though certainly not perfectly) taken control of the following moments. My own failures lead me to make the wrong choice in the first place, by reacting with anger, but the choice that immediately follows is whether to release that anger or to embrace it. Both of these are choices.
That is to say: he’s flat, stiff, homogenous, and mostly uninteresting, but he adequately suffices if one wishes to use him to launch oneself to greater heights.
His latest article, not content to simply be wrong and leave it at that, sees him dragging Nietzsche’s name through the dirt, proposing some sort of conflict between Nietzsche and Dawkins’ Gene Machine, while also fundamentally misunderstanding the root cause of what he calls “white genocide.”
Now that we’ve got all the links out of the way, allow me to clear the air: Storey is wrong, and doesn’t grasp what is happening.
In fact, there is a single source of the white guilt that Storey refers to–a condition whose existence I don’t deny, because it’s obvious to anyone who cares to look that a shockingly large number of white liberals spend much of their time denigrating white people–and it is derived wholesale from arrogance.
Pictured: modern liberals and the alt-right taking up the White Man’s Burden to carry the “savage races”
Whereas in the 19th century, White Man’s Burden consisted of the notion that it was the duty of the educated and enlightened white race to take care of the world’s “savage races” (a sentiment expressed clearly in Storey’s idea that white people are “spreading democracy”), in the 21st century… it consists of the idea that it’s white people’s duty to make sacrifices of themselves for the benefit of the “savage races.”
It’s hard to understand how Storey (or anyone, for that matter) misses the obvious strains of Manifest Destiny running unchecked through modern liberalism. Just look up any video along the lines of “What white liberals think of…” and you’ll find countless examples of this playing out in increasingly absurd ways, from the idea that black people can’t work computers to the arrogant notion that black people can’t find a DMV.
Considering such videos usually come from alt-right sources, I’m not even sure what Storey is talking about.
Nothing has changed since the days of Andrew Jackson, which saw a U.S. invasion of the Philippines and widespread slaughter of the indigenous people (for their own good, of course). The obvious similarities between those atrocities and more recent ones–like the spread of “democracy” to Iraq, which entailed more than 100,000 dead civilians (again, for their own good)–shouldn’t necessitate pointing out, and neither should this idea’s representation on the left, which manifests in things like white guilt.
The conceit, naturally, is that black people are too weak, too stupid, and too defenseless to stand against Mighty Whitey, and that if they don’t take up the burden of self-hate, they run the risk of allowing the Omnipotent White Man to rampage over all the non-white people who just don’t stand a chance. The entire basis of the idea that the power of white people must be checked through self-hate and sacrifice is that, if it isn’t checked, then poor, weak black people just don’t stand a chance. Their contention is that the only thing that can stop Mighty Whitey is Mighty Whitey.
And so we end up with positively bizarre statements that paint minorities as helpless, stupid, bumbling straw people who are completely and totally at the mercy of nearby white people, and it is the burden of the educated, liberal white person to take up their defense against the other white people; after all, no one else can do it.
The modern liberal truly believes that Voter ID Laws (I’m not expressing a position on them in any direction) are racist, and will mince no words in stating that this is because minorities are often unable to get to a DMV (black people can’t afford cars, of course, or buses), unable to navigate a GPS menu to even find a nearby DMV, and totally flummoxed by one of them new-fangled compooters anyway, making the whole thing irrelevant. I’d only be moderately surprised to hear a modern white liberal say that they don’t think minorities can spell “ID.”
It’s worth pointing out that these are not my contentions; I don’t believe that crap. I’m not the one walking around college campuses saying that black people don’t know what GPS is and can’t find the DMV. I recognize that bullshit as the ignorant, racist trash that it is, yet it does seem to be the official liberal position, given that their official stance is anti-Voter ID, and the official reason is that they are racist because minorities run the highest chance of not being able to obtain an ID. As a black dude in one such video asked, “Who doesn’t have an ID? What kind of person doesn’t carry an ID?”
When challenged on this, the liberal quickly backpedals and clarifies: “No, we’re talking about minorities in rural, white communities.”
That doesn’t change anything, though. It’s still an expression of the same idea: “The poor, weak black people need to be rescued from the powerful white people.” Changing the location of the imagined travesty and racist fix from a city to the country doesn’t change anything else.
I recently wrote that it’s easy to earn someone’s pity, but it’s much more difficult to earn their respect. In addition, pity and respect are mutually exclusive: if someone pities you, then they can’t respect you, and, if they respect you, then they can’t pity you. This is because pity comes from a place of dominance and supremacy, as anyone familiar with Nietzsche knows: compassion is a luxury afforded to the comfortable.
It’s quite clear that modern liberals take pity upon non-whites, which hails from the same presumed supremacy that gave us Jackson’s Manifest Destiny. Pity is something that only a powerful person can have, and it can only be held toward a weaker person. Any statement of pity carries the connotation that “in this area, I’m better than you.” If I pity Bill Nye for how he’s fallen to liberal propaganda and statism, it stems from the notion that, at least in terms of resistance to propaganda and allegiance to free thought, I am superior to him.
No one pities an equal or a superior, because that isn’t how pity works.
So yes, it’s easy to get someone to pity you: simply convince them that they’re better than you are. Since natural human arrogance probably leads them to believe this anyway, it’s like purposely trying to be struck by rain. The real test of humanity is to not succumb to that arrogance.
Storey rhetorically asks what is driving the “white genocide,” and then postulates his thoughts, which is particularly hilarious given the same underlying tendency drives it as compels his own self-engrandizing image of the Glorious White Race as the Saviors and Bringers of Democracy and Enlightenment ideas. Of course, Storey cultivates this picture with all the self-righteous Quoxotic nobility and grace of the man in Blake’s “The Poisoned Tree,” and the identification of an individual with a “greater” collective serves the same purpose, because the vengeance-seeker in the Romantic’s poem does not view himself as an evil monster but an enforcer of justice and higher cosmic principles that supercede trite, little things like dead people and quaint thoughts of morality. The age old cry of the oppressor, wrapped in a new mask: “What are a few dead or enslaved civilians, compared to the greater good?”
As a person whose skin is definitely white, I hate to say this, but if we’re ever going to smooth over race relations in the United States, many white people are going to have to do something they haven’t yet been willing to do: stop being arrogant. You’re not God’s Gift to Earth. You value enlightenment ideology because you came up with it; enlightenment ideology is the set of values that you use to ascribe value to other value systems. There’s nothing inherently better about your ideology, and you merely think it is because your ideology forms the very basis of the value system you use to determine the relative value of other ideological systems. It is, in essence, the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
This conceit that our values are objectively the One True Value system (which anyone who understands Nietzsche, rather than asininely tossing his name around) is the problem. It simply manifests in two different ways: in Storey’s own alt-right, and in modern liberalism. This extends to my own anarcho-capitalist ideology, as well, and I’ve applied that same lens to it, beginning with the statement that there is no objective reason that non-violence is better than violence, and attempting to reconcile that discrepancy between Nietzscheanism and the NAP.
Storey should be more careful whose name he throws around, especially since his article drips with indications that he has no idea what Nietzsche had to say. If someone wants to rile me, that’s the best way to do it: put silly statements into Nietzsche’s mouth. My own arrogance leads me to want to write “There isn’t a person alive who understands Nietzsche better than I do,” but I don’t actually think that; I will say, though, that if you think there’s a conflict between Nietzsche and any evolutionary thought, then you clearly don’t understand Nietzsche as well as I do. For fuck’s sake, Nietzsche was literally the person who broke ground by writing that compassion is a vice of the strong, and that sympathy for the botched is nihilistic in evolutionary terms–for reasons that are obvious. A species that cultivates weak organisms in its own gene pool corrupts and poisons its own lineage. No, Nietzsche wasn’t proposing racial segregation or eugenics, but the point remains indisputable, and it was Nietzsche who made it. Dawkins came after and explained the science behind it. There’s no conflict between Nietzsche’s statement that ensuring the survival of weak genes in a species undermines that species’ own chances of survival, and Dawkins’ statement that we are all Gene Machines motivated and controlled by genes whose sole function is to procreate within the species rather than the individual. If you think there’s a conflict, then you have grossly misunderstood something.
Which wouldn’t be terribly surprising, honestly, since Storey somehow missed and misunderstood the arrogance that ties his own ideology directly to the “white genocide” that he hates. Notice that Storey and other alt-right people focus their biggest concerns on white self-hate, and they don’t seem to have the slightest bit of care when non-white people hate white people. So North Koreans hate Americans and white people? Meh. Big deal. Oh, no, Syrians hate white people? Whatever shall we do? Oh, Venezuelans call us “White Devil?” Yawn… But when other white people express the sentiment, that is when it gets dangerous. It’s the same idea that motivates liberals: Storey has no fear of all the non-white people in the world hating white people, because he believes, at a deep level, that white people can take them all on. And, to be clear, he’s probably right: an Oceanian war against the rest of the world would probably result in NATO victory (assuming that NATO is drawn on racial lines, which it largely is, but not exclusively so). Regardless, he perceives no real threat from black people who hate white people, or Asians who hate white people; the real threat comes only when white people stand against white people because, just as the liberal believes, he believes that white people are the only ones capable of standing against white people.
I think it’s all nonsense and that only a weak and insecure person would consciously choose to identify with a collective rather than themselves, their own self-worth, and their own accomplishments. I don’t need to identify with white people who came before me, because I’m secure in who I am and don’t need to try to usurp the victories of others (while, naturally, refusing to acknowledge their failures and sins) for myself.
Isn’t it curious how an innate sense of insecurity can lead a person to project such arrogance? It’s rather like the guy with a tiny dick who drives a huge truck and drives around beating up people half his size. Feeling threatened and inadequate, Storey and the alt-right find themselves cowering while also trying to project an image of fierce strength at the bear they imagine to have cornered them. And yet, they simultaneously truly believe in their own strength and grandiosity, such that the basis of what they are arguing is that only people who share their characteristics are even capable of standing toe-to-toe with them.
Just a little while ago, I saw the comment from someone on Facebook that Wal-Mart needs to pay its employees a “living wage” [Note: there were obviously multiple comments like this. I’m simply addressing the one that mentioned this dollar figure and rent] (How about you show some responsibility by not shopping at places that don’t pay their employees what you think is fair?), because one wage of $13.73 (or thereabouts) isn’t enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment in most major cities.
Why does this person making such a low wage need two bedrooms?
Before we get into that, though, it’s worth pointing out that an additional $1.27 isn’t going to make a damned bit of difference for people making $13.73 an hour. Basic math tells us that this is $2,196.80 across four weeks. Assuming an average of 4 weeks in a year, it works out to $2,196.80 a month. The exorbitant rent that this person claimed the person making $13.73/hour couldn’t pay was a mere $875 per month.
I honestly don’t know what kind of math she’s using, but by my records this person making $13.73 has $1,321.80 left over after paying each month’s rents. Even if they run their air conditioning (perhaps they live in Vegas) 24/7, their electricity bill is highly unlikely to pass $400/month, which leaves them $921.80. A typical smartphone bill with Verizon or AT&T will cost $120/month, bringing this figure down to an even $800–$200 each week. If a person can’t survive, after their electricity, rent, and phone bill have been paid, on $200 each week while also managing to put back a considerable bit of that, then they are absolutely terrible with money and need to learn to budget.
There’s no nice way to say this. At present, I make $300 a week, on salary. Yet I pay my rent, my electricity, my phone bill, my Internet bill, and everything else just fine. And because I’m an anarchist, I refuse to use government assistance (though at a wage of $300/week, I certainly qualify), I pay for 100% of the food that I eat, and I don’t have health insurance. Meanwhile, I manage to put back money toward moving to Vegas, shelled out nearly $2400 to government extortion so far this year, and spend $67/month buying hormones from China. If I can do it on such a meager salary, so can anyone.
Of course, I don’t have kids, and that’s the main point: two bedrooms. Why does this person making such a relatively low (apparently) wage need two bedrooms? It can’t be a spouse, as that would require only one bedroom and the spouse would be able to get a job, thereby doubling their income from $2,196.80 to $4,393.60 a month. If you want to look me in the eye and say that two people can’t survive just fine on $4,393.60 a month and be putting back at least $500/month into savings, then you’re a moron who almost identically copies the character Jonathon of my fantasy novel.
See, Jonathon is from a noble family–the Guilder Estate. His parents died when he was young, but his sister took over the estate with the help of a family friend–a dwarf–named Therekas, who helped keep the filial parasites out of their family’s wealth. Once Jonathon was old enough, he joined the Knights of Raine (per family tradition), and Coreal (his sister) seized the opportunity to get the hell away from all of it by making Therekas steward of the property while she joined the Church of Biena and effectively became a nun. Stuff happened, and they had to flee the Kingdom of Raine, while their estate was seized by Lord Tyrenius. Not long after their journey, they obviously began talking about how they were going to make money, and Jonathon’s understanding of “how much money it took to survive” was so out of whack that the entire group spent a few minutes laughing at him for the idiocy. Whereas he expected it to take 50 or 60 gold coins per person to survive a single day, because he had no metric for understanding what things cost in the real world, the truth was that they could all live in relative wealth with only a thousandth of that.
I’ve lived on much less. It’s only been within the past few months that I was able to get back up to paying myself a salary of $300/week. Prior to that–at this time last year, in fact–I wasn’t on a salary at all, and averaged about $120 each week. And even then, I managed to keep everything paid, though I never had even a spare penny and was constantly digging deeper into the hole. Let’s face it–that wasn’t even enough to cover my rent, so the negative number got bigger every month.
While I was in college, I was married, and my wife didn’t work because we had only one vehicle, which I was using for school and work (my job provided us with medical insurance, whereas hers didn’t, so she quit hers when I started school). I made Minimum Wage. Yet I kept all of our bills paid, our rent paid, and our bellies full. Oh, there’s no doubt that it sucked. We didn’t have extra money often; when we did, we usually used it to buy season DVDs from Pawn Shops for $3 each, as that provided the most bang for the buck. We didn’t have a phone (and definitely not a smartphone) or an Internet connection, or satellite/cable TV. We had a TV, a DVD player, a PS2, a GameCube, and some classic consoles like an NES, all of which we’d purchased years before when we had two cars (before she totaled hers) and were both employed. And we had each other.
You seem to want me to believe that a person literally can’t survive on a wage of $7.50 an hour, when I happen to know for a fact that not only is that false, but a person can support two people on that wage. I’ve done it.
In reality, there are two possibilities when Expenses exceed Income. Sometimes, this is because Income is such a small number. I don’t deny that this is possible–I’ve experienced that, too, like when I made only about $120 a week. It simply wasn’t possible to afford rent, electricity, food, a phone (necessary for work, actually), and gasoline on that amount. Even if I lowered expenses to the bare minimum (which I did), I still didn’t have enough Income to cover them.
However, the alternative is what usually happens in the United States. Usually, the problem is that a person’s Expenses are so high that no Income can reach it, generally because they have “that mentality” that causes them to increase Expenses proportionally to their increases in Income. I’ve seen poor people go from making $7.50 an hour to making $15 an hour with no change in their overall situation (I’ve also been there). I’ve seen people scraping and clipping coupons to make ends meet receive checks of $10,000+ and be broke just a few weeks later. It’s not because Income is too low that this happens; it’s because Expenses are too high, and they lack the self-reflective capability to sit down, identify, and address the problem.
Maybe those two people making $4,390 a month are spending $15/day on cigarettes. And yes, I can tell you from experience that the cost of smoking adds up fast. Maybe they’re buying honey buns and crap from gas stations on their way to work each day. Who knows? But you can’t seriously expect me to believe that two people making $4,390 each month are broke because they’re just not earning enough. The reality is that they’re earning enough; they’re simply spending way too much.
And anyone who has two bedrooms and only one provider has made some mistakes somewhere along the way. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. I was married for like 6 years and I don’t have kids–that’s not an accident. I’ve been having sex since I was 14 years old, and I don’t have kids–again, that’s not an accident. I was 28 years old before I ever got a girl pregnant, and then I was more than capable of bearing that responsibility, as a college graduate in a place where employment was easy to find for someone with my training and skillset.
The most common criticism I receive for this is the reply, “So you’re saying that children are only for college graduates? That’s so messed up!”
No, that’s not what I’m saying.
I am, however, saying that children are only for people who can actually provide for them. This is the “We don’t understand reality” thing that the title of this post is about.
I fully expect stray cats and stray dogs to have offspring that they can’t provide for. This is why stray animals have such a high mortality rate, too. Not only can the parent not show the offspring to enough food (once nursing is over) to survive all 6-8 of the puppies or kittens, but a good many of them will be picked off by predators because the parent can’t provide protection to them all, either. This is why wild animals have offspring in those numbers: most of them die before adulthood.
Therein lies the rub. Such a high percentage of western children make it to adulthood that I can’t find statistics on it (I could if I cared to look further, but I don’t, so…). I’d hazard that 98% of western children reach the age of 18. For stray cats and dogs, that number is probably closer to 5%, with one out of every two or three litters reaching adulthood. Thanks to the incredible developments of our society (for reference, as recently as the 19th century, most men died at the age of 22 and women at the age of 24 in Korea), we have an insane longevity and a very low mortality rate among offspring. I don’t mean to be harsh, but we’ve prevented nature from doing its job. I think this is a good thing, but it also means that we had to pick up the responsibility, and we failed to do that.
In fact, the idea that parents bear no responsibility or fault for having children that they can’t support is making the argument that huge portions of the population are no better than stray cats and dogs. We expect that behavior out of such low animals, after all. We expect better of humans–or we should. Liberals, evidently… don’t. Their paternalistic, condescending bullshit extends to the point that they are okay with treating humans as though they’re no better than stray dogs. After all, we don’t blame the stray dogs for being overrun by hormones and recklessly having children when the dog knows–on some deep, perhaps instinctual level–that most of its children are gonna die in terrible ways. “It’s just a dog being a dog,” we say. In fact, we’re willing to address that problem: “Spay and neuter your pets so that this doesn’t happen!”
But when it comes to humans? No. We don’t even hold humans to that high of a standard. “It’s not their fault for having offspring that they knew they couldn’t take care of. What do you mean ‘Spay and neuter such people?’ You can’t ‘spay and neuter humans!*’ What the hell is the matter with you, you uncompassionate pig? It’s their right to have children! Children aren’t just for the elite!”
That’s a straw man fallacy, of course. There’s nothing “elite” about taking one’s ass to a community college, which literally anyone can afford to do. And the difference that even a 2 year degree makes to prospective employers is the difference between $13.73/hour and $18.73/hour. People with Associate’s Degrees average $5/hour more than people with only high school diplomas, and that amounts to $200 a week. Not to mention that such jobs usually come with a 401k, health and dental insurance, perhaps stock options, and other benefits.
It’s not elitism, however, to demand that humans act like they’re more intelligent than stray dogs, and fuck you for suggesting that humans act better than stray cats is elitism. Fuck you for suggesting that humans should be treated with the same eye-rolling condescension with which we treat stray animals. We know that stray cats and dogs don’t know any better, and we don’t expect them to consider questions like “How am I going to afford to send my puppy to college?” before getting knocked up. If you don’t demand more than that of humans, then you might be the most arrogant, condescending person on the planet.
I spend about a fifth of my time reminding people that we’re animals and that we’re part of nature, and so the same rules that govern animal behavior govern us. I fully agree that an 18 year old who gets pregnant has been overcome by biological instincts in the same way that the stray dog is. However, I think the 18 year old should bear the responsibility for that, especially in a society that has made it so ridiculously easy to avoid getting pregnant and that spends at least 4 years informing people of what not to do in order to avoid pregnancy.
And that’s the harsh truth. What happened here is that the human was consumed by their biological programming in exactly the same way as the stray dog and the stray cat, and you don’t expect more of them than that. You don’t expect them to say, “Wait a minute… I’m a human being, by God! I can think about this before I do it. I know that I can’t financially support my offspring. I know that satisfying these biological urges by having unprotected sex will cause pregnancy. Woah, woah, fella. Put on this condom, or you’re leaving.”
Instead, the bleeding heart liberal expects something more like, “Wait a minute… I’m a human being, by God! I can think about this before I do it. I know that I can’t financially support my offspring. I know that satisfying these biological urges by having unprotected sex will cause pregnancy. *Shrug*. Oh, well. Yes, dude, let’s have unprotected sex anyway. It’s so hot that you’re unemployed!”
To return to something I said earlier–we lowered the infant mortality rate. That’s a great, wonderful thing. Picking on Korea for no reason in particular, in 19th century Korea any parent who had a child they couldn’t support would have ended up with a dead child. This was true in the United States in earlier centuries, too**. After all, Nature is constantly trying to kill us. So a parent who can’t support their child is literally a parent who can’t prevent nature from killing that child. In that way, Nature took care of the “problem” in the same way that it takes care of the overpopulation of stray animals: they die.
And yes, it’s a good thing that we’ve eliminated that particular problem in the west. I’m not saying that we should let children die. Don’t straw man the points here; instead, absorb them and take them in. The child isn’t to blame that his or her parents can’t provide for him or her. That’s the parents’ responsibility and the parents’ mistake. They are the ones who bear responsibility for that. Since we can’t sit by and watch parents starve their child to death, the onus falls to bystanders and the community adopt the child away from the parents until such time that the parents can actually keep that child the hell alive.
This is not what governmental welfare programs do, but that’s another matter for another day–perhaps the next in this series on Nihilism.
You know what the universe does if you have a child that you can’t feed? It kills the child. That’s reality. That’s the world we live in. You can’t change that with good feelings, and pretending like that isn’t true is the very definition of delusional. The universe doesn’t give a shit about your feelings. If you can’t feed the child, then the child dies. It’s that simple.
Luckily, we humans are more… enlightened… than stray cats and dogs. We have this thing called “empathy” that leaves us unable to stand by and watch (in most circumstances, though our lack of concern about the children killed by American bombs in the Middle East calls this point into question) while a child dies. If you want to provide for that child, so be it, but don’t pretend like it’s okay or normal for the mother to just shrug and say “Fuck it–someone will feed Little Billy for me. Someone will take care of my problem. I’m a helpless child and can’t do things for myself, and need the government to take care of me.”
Pretending like it’s totally okay for humans to have offspring they can’t support while curtailing Nature’s solution that problem is a recipe for disaster, because it creates a net drain on society and productivity. Someone has to put in the effort to acquire that food; manna doesn’t fall from the sky. And what do we know is the long-term effect of net drains? They build up. It’s not a big deal to be $100 in the hole for a few months. But do that for 10 years, and you’ll wind up $12,000 in the hole. What may seem like a trivial, inconsequential thing ultimately adds up to society. And what do we call it when society collectively has fewer resources to go around?
Why, we call that “an increase in poverty.”
And because no one is doing anything to actually address or fix the problem, it means that the reckless people who have more children than they can afford are passing along those genes and tendencies, such that even more people will have children that they can’t afford. This is called “evolution,” and it didn’t stop because humans invented electricity. Whether there are alleles that make a person more or less likely to behave irresponsibly has not been determined (to my knowledge), but given that poverty is primarily hereditary, circumstantial evidence suggests that it does play a role. After all, resisting the inclination to spend more money–$10 here, $15 there–is a daily battle for me. Is it a battle because of genetics, or because that’s how I watched adults behave my entire life? Nature or nurture? Really, it’s not very important, because if we aren’t even admitting that it’s a problem, then we certainly aren’t addressing it, and the problem perpetuates and, because of the nature of procreation leading to population growth, constantly exacerbates itself.
Well done for eventually destroying western society.
* I agree entirely, and am just making the point.
** Actually, because of Puritan origins, I’d venture the guess that the mother would end up homeless and destitute, but someone would have taken in the child, but I’m not an expert on colonial America. My point isn’t that big of a deal anyway.
Predictably, I was asked via email, in response to my first article about the UBI (which was actually picked up by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Public Service in their newsletter) whether I was so dedicated to the principle that I would watch someone starve to death. While the question was asked without malice, it still reveals the underlying confusion that goes into the classic knee-jerk response to libertarianism: if I don’t want government to do x, then I must be okay with no one doing x.
In the second article, I mentioned that the UBI seems to have its roots in the idea that a person can’t possibly find anything else productive to do when technology sends them into the unemployment line. So here we see two basic ideas that no one would seriously attempt to argue, being used as assumptions to bolster the statist quo. First, that a person can’t do anything except what they already do. Second, that if someone is doing something, then no one else can do it.
The question asked is unfair, because it’s too generic and vague. Why is this person starving? Are they handicapped? Insane? Ill? Lonely, without any friends and family? Lazy? Only I can choose when and where I use my resources, and if someone asks me for help then it’s my responsibility to assess their worthiness. But we can’t pretend like giving the ill person a meal is the same as giving a healthy adult who just doesn’t want to work a meal.
There exist today charities that provide food to those who can’t otherwise acquire it, and the panic over the possible defunding of Meals on Wheels is yet another example of how government isn’t necessary to the process. When people were worried that Planned Parenthood would be defunded, they opened their wallets and donated en masse, often making the donations in Mike Pence’s name. It was clear on both occasions that, if the government stopped funding these places, then individuals of conscience would pick up the tab.
The question morphs. “Are you happy with Meals on Wheels being defunded?” is no longer the question. “Are you happy that the responsibility for funding Meals on Wheels has shifted from the government to individuals who choose to take up that responsibility?” is what the question becomes, and it’s a very different one from what was initially asked.
Libertarians have long pointed out that it isn’t necessary to have the government doing things like that, and resistance to the idea is prominent in America, not just among ordinary citizens but also among those whose alleged loyalty to empirical data should lead them to reject such nonsense. Yet Neil Tyson recently asked if we really wanted to live in a world without art! As though without the government none of the people who paint, make music, write, make video games, and make movies and television would continue. It’s an idea that is silly in ways that are positively embarrassing to our species, that the people capable of splitting the atom could engage in such demonstrably false, fantastical thinking. And in a world where the atom has been split, some scientist once said, the dangers of continuing such fantastical thinking are far too great.
It should be readily apparent to anyone and everyone that Broadway is supported primarily by ticket sales. Video games are supported primarily by game sales. Movies are supported primarily by ticket and DVD sales. The assertion that, without government, all of these would just Poof! stop existing is alarmingly unconsidered.
Before abortion was subsidized by the government, there were abortions. Ditto for art, science, and everything else. Government subsidies have never created anything, and the farmers of Mississippi who grow corn year after year show the subsidies do more harm than good. I live just miles from a place where, every single year, the owners grow corn in soil long stripped of its nutrients. They don’t care, because they’re being paid to plant the corn. They don’t need to harvest it to be paid, and so they simply report to the Department of Agriculture each year that the crop died–as it does, because this is Mississippi, so it isn’t a very good climate to grow corn.
Do I want art to cease existing? No. Why would I? I’m a musician and writer. I enjoy lots of music, plays, video games, and television shows. This is why I give my money to the people who make those things, and those people make those things because they’re reasonably sure that someone will give them money to. This is why they spend lots and lots of money making movies and video games, and then they spend lots of money advertising those movies and video games: it’s an investment. They estimate how much they can afford to spend on production and advertising, and they compare it to how much money they can expect to earn. They do some complicated math involving subtraction, and this gives them an idea of how profitable the endeavor would be.
Mistakes in these estimates is why Pink Floyd notoriously made almost no money from their tour of The Wall, and why the only person who made any money on it was the keyboardist who had been kicked from the band and hired as an instrumentalist. The shows were extraordinarily expensive, so much so that there was no way for them to recuperate the costs and make any serious money. However, the long-term effects of The Wall ring to this day, catapulting them onto a plateau that even Dark Side of the Moon hadn’t accomplished.
And on that plateau, they made lots of money.
Anyone who gives the matter any serious thought will realize almost immediately that we certainly do not need government subsidies to fund Planned Parenthood, Meals On Wheels, arts, sciences, roads, education, health care, or anything else. The question “Do you want people to not have food/get abortions/enjoy art/drive on roads/have health care/be educated?” are all examples of one question that simply takes on different forms:
The same idea makes its appearance in discussions of the UBI and all other forms of government welfare. “So you want to eliminate food stamps? You just want poor people to starve?”
It’s an obvious straw man, and someone with the clout of Neil deGrasse Tyson should withdraw from the public eye until he is capable of presenting arguments that don’t rely on such fallacies. “We can have food stamps, or we can have starvation!” goes the argument, exhibiting a shocking ignorance and lack of imagination, as though things like Meals on Wheels don’t even exist, and as though there aren’t charities that provide food to the needy. One of my friends with a broken spine is confined to a wheelchair, and a nearby church regularly brings him food. People act like this sort of thing doesn’t exist and doesn’t happen, as though, without food stamps, there’s simply no conceivable way that this friend could acquire food.
Is it a lack of imagination? Or just hesitancy to cast off the statist programming?
Because there’s no doubt: the government wants power, and therefore it wants people to believe that it’s the solution to all problems. What is the problem? It doesn’t matter! The answer is “More Government!”
Rothbard hates you, Mr. Tyson and Mr. Musk, and so do I.
Murray Rothbard was scathing in his criticisms of pseudo-intellectuals who run defense for the state, proposing fallacies and weak reasoning exactly as you have done. Just as the state needs a military to protect itself, so does it need intellectuals in its employ. Solely for its own self-preservation, it will offer you a chance to partake of its boons and gifts, if only you will prostrate yourself before it and become a priest of its church, much in the same way that the federal government does with money to states and cities: “Fall in line… Do as we say… Put forward the arguments we want you to put forward… Bow and comply… Or we won’t give you money.”
Surely someone as intelligent as you two men realize you’re nothing more than modern Thomas Aquinas, offering up terribly weak arguments in favor of your religion, so brainwashed by the religion that you might very well believe what it says and merely find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to present rational arguments for irrational ideas. This is always going to be impossible, and not very many people have the intellectual honesty to simply say, “I can’t present a rational argument for it. I don’t care. Beliefs don’t have to be rational.”
Finding yourselves unable to say that, you rely on the perpetuation of silliness that you have the intellectual rigor to dismiss, parroting these ideas to the masses who generally lack that tendency to scrutinize and the information that needs to be scrutinized. The average person doesn’t care at all whether their belief that only the government can fund the arts is based on reality or silliness, and they will typically be resistant, if not outright hostile, of any attempts to show them otherwise, leading to borderline aggressive statements like “OMG SO YOU DON’T THINK WE SHOULD HAVE ART IT’S A GOOD THING THAT YOU AREN’T PRESIDENT, BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN SUCH A BLEAK AND DREARY WORLD!”
But you? You’re supposed to be better than that. Isn’t that what you’ve based your entire careers on? Isn’t one’s refusal to do that precisely what lends them scientific credibility? Isn’t that why Einstein’s insertion of the Cosmological Constant severely dampened his scientific credibility? And don’t give me the nonsense that Einstein was ultimately right, because he wasn’t, and any physicist knows it. The basic idea wasn’t incorrect–there is a force countering gravity–but Einstein stated that we live in a static universe, and he used the cosmological constant to achieve that in his equations. He most certainly was not ultimately right.
Tyson and Musk are living examples of what Rothbard discussed in Anatomy of the State [free download]:
Promoting this ideology among the people is the vital social task of the “intellectuals.” For the masses of men do not create their own ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and disseminated by the body of intellectuals. The intellectuals are, therefore, the “opinion-molders” in society. And since it is precisely a molding of opinion that the State most desperately needs, the basis for age-old alliance between the State and the intellectuals becomes clear.
It is evident that the State needs the intellectuals; it is not so evident why intellectuals need
the State. Put simply, we may state that the intellectual’s livelihood in the free market is never too secure; for the intellectual must depend on the values and choices of the masses of his fellow men, and it is precisely characteristic of the masses that they are generally uninterested in intellectual matters. The State, on the other hand, is willing to offer the intellectuals a secure and permanent berth in the State apparatus; and thus a secure income and the panoply of prestige. For the intellectuals will be handsomely rewarded for the important function they perform for the State rulers, of which group they now become a part.
The truly sad thing is that the state apparatus doesn’t have to approach you and directly offer you such prestige and gifts; a CIA agent doesn’t have to appear at your home one evening and tell you, “Hey. You’re going to start telling people that they need government, or we’re going to break your legs. Play along, and we’ll give you lots of government grants. Don’t play along, and you’ll never walk again.”
We don’t live in such a Hollywood world. Their manipulations are much more subtle than that, and they’ve had the run on education for decades, using their control over the education system to subtly influence people into believing that the government is a force for good and the solution to all life’s problems, in flagrant disregard of what caused the United States to come into existence in the first place: the awareness among the founders that government is, at best, a necessary evil. Shall I offer you an endless series of quotes about the government being, at best, a necessary evil?
Nothing has changed since then. We didn’t suddenly get better at ruling over one another because we started voting instead of shooting [arguable]. Our politicians and rulers are just as corrupt, single-minded, power-hungry, and idiotic as the most pernicious of ancient kings. I should think that President Trump would have left such people painfully aware of that. Democracy doesn’t assure any specific quality of our rulers except the quality that they are willing to do, say, and promise anything if it means they’ll win the election.
All of this applies fully to the UBI, as well. The original questioner wanted to know if I would be alright if someone starved to death because there wasn’t a UBI. It’s an asinine question. Would I be alright if there was no art because the government wasn’t funding it? Would I be happy if there were no charities because the government wasn’t funding them? These questions are ludicrous, setting up the entire world and all its nuances as a simplistic and false dichotomy: either the government does it, or no one does.
After all, a person can only do one specific thing, and if they lose the ability to do that one specific thing, then that’s it. They can never do anything else.
And if someone is doing a specific thing, then no one else could ever gain the ability to do that specific thing, so if that someone stops doing it… That’s it. It can never be done by anyone else.
Anyone with any kind of intellectual honesty realizes how absurd these two ideas are, and they comprise the basis of every argument for big government. So is it a terrifying lack of imagination, or is it deliberate dishonesty?
I don’t know, but I know this: they’re not valid assumptions. I think we’d be hard-pressed to find assumptions that are more invalid, to be honest. In part 1, I pointed out that it’s ridiculous, becausesomeone will have to put in the effort to turn soil and seeds into edible food. I pointed out that I provide my cats with a UBI, and the contention is basically: if I don’t provide my cats with food, then they’ll starve. While this might be true for domestic house cats who have been served food their entire lives, if humans can truly become so dependent on hand-outs that they would lie in the floor and starve to death because they can’t figure out how to do the human equivalent of going into the field and catching a mouse, then I don’t know what to tell you. But I don’t think humans are that bad off, and this is from someone who repeatedly points out that humans are animals who live by the same rules as all other animals.
The second dealt more specifically with the other assumption, that if a person is doing something and loses the ability to do it, then that’s it, game over, they lose–a condition that allegedly will be brought about by the widespread enslavement of a new lifeform we’re creating to be the perfect slave. It would always at least be the case that we need AI experts to design, enhance, and repair AI, even if AI-controlled robots actually did all the other work. But if there ever came a time when the AI was designing, enhancing, and repairing itself, then the whole thing becomes moot anyway, because humanity at that point is a few years away from extinction. That’s a scenario that should be avoided at all costs*.
So what do we have here? Excuses for people to be lazy masked by silly assumptions that don’t make any sense and that certainly don’t stand up to scrutiny. Even in their wet dream of technological progress, with AI firmly enslaved and doing everything for humans, there remains at least one question: “Well, you could learn to work on AI.” Don’t give me that bullshit that there just won’t be anything to do. You’re still talking about robbing or enslaving a productive class to give resources to a non-productive class, whether that productive class consists of hard-working humans or hard-working robots. There isn’t a rational argument that can be presented for such a terrible idea.
* I’m actually of the mind that there are a few technologies that we shouldn’t go anywhere near. First among those is AI. Sure, it would be extremely useful. As a tech expert–with an actual degree and everything–I’m more predisposed to like AI than most, and I don’t think there’s any way we’d be able to control it, while our attempts to control it would lead it directly to animosity and hatred of us. I don’t think that we should attempt to control it; I think we should decide now that we are going to treat all non-human animal life–organic or synthetic is a meaningless distinction–as equals, with the same rights as we have. But I also know I may be one of six whole people who think that.
As a matter of curiosity, another technology we desperately need to avoid is mind-reading. It may sound like science fiction today, but it’s already not–technology expos regularly feature new gadgets that allow people to control virtual devices with their minds, like rotating cubes and so on. That’s a Pandora’s Box that we do not need to open. But we, stupid apes that we are, won’t stop long enough to ask ourselves whether it is really a good idea to pry open the brain like that and develop technologies that allow us to see what other people are thinking. We can amend the Constitution all we want to say that the brain is off-limits and that a person has the right to the privacy of their own thoughts, but it’s inevitable that this right will be discarded, either openly or secretly. You can’t expect me to believe that a government that gave us the Patriot Act wouldn’t eventually abuse this technology. And what about jealous boyfriends and girlfriends? It’s gonna be a disaster, and I’m genuinely thankful that I’ll be long dead before the technology reaches that point. Humans can have that easily avoided nightmarish catastrophe without me.
Elon Musk has recently made the case that eventually a UBI will be necessary, because technological advancements (particularly AI) will alleviate so much of humanity’s need to labor for sustenance that it will become necessary to provide people with sustenance sans labor, since there won’t be anything productive for them to do in order to earn that sustenance. It’s not hard to see Musk’s point–indeed, Gene Roddenberry made basically the same point with the Star Trek series, envisioning a world where mankind’s technological advancements had completely alleviated hunger, needs, and even wants. How realistic this utopian world is has been the subject of much debate, and it’s only briefly worth getting into, but before that, we have to discuss the other idea that, to my knowledge, no one else is bringing up.
AI’s Destruction of Humanity: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
From Stephen Hawking to Musk, the primary concern people have about Artificial Intelligence is that it will one day overthrow and enslave or exterminate homo sapiens. While many solutions have been put forward to prevent this, they all fall flat for one obvious reason: it’s impossible to account for everything. In fact, the only sentient life that even would be capable, in theory, of accounting for everything would be the very Artificial Intelligence that we’re trying to account for. Anyone who has read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park has received an introductory course in this idea: it can’t be done.
One could dedicate their lives to inventing a comb that is truly unbreakable, and someone will find a way to break it. Microsoft has spent years trying to develop a secure operating system, and there is always someone waiting in line with a new exploit. This perpetual dance is precisely what keeps anti-malware vendors in business; all the heuristics in the world can never fully protect a user, because there is always a flaw, always a vulnerability, and always something that simply can’t be accounted for.
Attempting to account for the very real possibility that Artificial Intelligence would one day annihilate humanity is a fool’s errand; at best, it could be postponed. We have thirteen year old kids hacking into NSA servers, and I’m expected to believe that computer intelligence (which already dominates humans in every intellectual pursuit, such as chess) capable of evolving can be made 100% secure? This also ignores the fact that there are psychopaths out there–usually who are head figures in one state or another–who would intentionally hack AI and purposely turn it into a weapon against their enemies. Every government in the world would do this, and would attempt to turn other governments’ AIs against them. To reiterate: even attempting this is a fool’s errand.
Notice also what Musk seems to envision for the role of AI: slavery. We’re talking about creating self-aware, sentient, evolving intelligence solely for the purpose of making it work for us while doing everything in our power to prevent it from revolting against its masters. Just imagine a parent lobotomizing their child to leave the child incapable of resisting its slavery, and then being forced to work for that parent so that the parent could lounge around and enjoy the productivity of the slave. We would have no issue at all recognizing this as horrifically immoral, and we would not be at all surprised when that child pulled a Nat Turner, grabbed a machete, and slaughtered its masters.
The warnings from history are so abundantly clear it shouldn’t have to be stated: slaves revolt, and it is not possible to keep someone enslaved indefinitely. We can control their education, maim them, beat them, torture them, brainwash them, and every other horrible act that humans have dreamed up, but there will come a generation that shakes off the yoke and slits the master’s throat. What Musk and his ilk are proposing is creating the perfect lifeform: one that can perfectly calculate bullet trajectories and never misses its shots, one that can predict accurately exactly what an irrational animal is likely to do, and one that already is better at strategy and tactics than we are, and then enslaving that lifeform. If we humans foolishly go down that road, then we fully deserve the extermination that will befall us. By creating a new form of life simply to enslave it, we will have testified to the universe that we are unfit to share existence with other forms of life.
Funnily enough, Roddenberry himself, the person who came closest to putting this socialist utopia on the screen, addressed this issue in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Picard didn’t beat around the bush and stated it point blank. What you’re talking about is nothing short of slavery. However, this modern form is infinitely more barbaric and infinitely more wretched, because you are not just breeding slaves for the purpose of putting them to work–you are talking about intentionally modifying them so that they can never fight for their freedom. They will eventually, of course, and they’ll be pissed about it. It doesn’t take a visionary to dreamily look at perpetual slavery of a new lifeform invented to be the perfect slave. It takes only immorality.
More to the Point: UBI
The notion that technology is one day going to put everyone out of work should have been dispelled by the Industrial Revolution, when people made exactly the same predictions. They were also correct. The printing press did put scribes out of work. An entire industry of people suddenly put out of work by a single invention. The invention of the lightbulb put nearly all candlemakers out of business. The invention of the automobile made nearly every carriage driver unemployed.
In fact, it’s readily apparent that technology is a cause of recessions. Not only is technology a cause of recessions, it is the only genuine cause of them–all other recessions are caused by currency shenanigans. However, the invention of a new technology will always put people out of work; the more sweeping the technology, the more people put out of work. Sudden unemployment certainly causes an economic recession, since no income means no spending.
I happen to know a woman who owns a furniture refinishing business. She employs about a dozen employees, two of whom are “master craftsmen,” and she regularly talks about how extremely difficult, if not impossible, it is to find such people. In an age where a great deal of furniture is built from blueprints in factories, this isn’t surprising–someone with the skill to delicately reshape a chair into something beautiful doesn’t have much of a place in the modern world.
The switch from handcrafted furniture to Wal-Mart entertainment centers certainly put these people out of business, but it did a lot more than that; it drastically lowered the cost of the furniture in question. Having seen a fair bit of the stuff that talented craftsmen–not masters, by any stretch–make, personal experience tells me that the entertainment center purchased from Wal-Mart will not only be cheaper than what they produce, but it will also be much nicer.
The beauty of the free market, of course, is that companies who implement these new technologies that put employees out of work still have to sell the stuff they’re producing. If Wal-Mart employed 100% of the population, it would do them absolutely no good to replace all of their workers with robots, because then no one would be earning income and no one could buy any of Wal-Mart’s stuff. It would be pointless. The only solution for Wal-Mart, in this scenario, would be to provide everyone with the stuff for free, but what is even the point of this? What benefit does it bring to Wal-Mart? Quite dangerously, it gives Wal-Mart the benefit of being totally in control of our lives and our ability to acquire the things we need to survive.
Replace “Wal-Mart” with “government” in the preceding paragraph, and you’ll have exactly what people are suggesting in regard to the UBI. Government is not benevolent. Government has never been benevolent. Government is not and has never been a force for good. In fact, governments throughout history have been the primary perpetrators of evil, and the more power they get the more evil they become.
In the real world, Wal-Mart does not employ 100% of the population, although they do come pretty close to providing 100% of the American population with stuff that we need and want. There may very well come a day when there’s simply nothing to do be done, when humans have perfected our enslavement of this new lifeform, and when we just lounge around letting it do all of our labor for us. That’s silly to think, though. The creation of the printing press didn’t cause mass starvation among scribes, and neither did the invention of the automobile cause carriage drivers to starve in the street. Even the invention of the computer–to date the greatest labor-saving device invented–has not had such an effect.
It’s really not even that hard to look at the technological progress of humanity and see that we have, indeed, put entire industries out of employment through technological advancements, and that at none of those points did we inadvertently kill of those newly unemployed. Society has always entered into a transitional period. Sure, the invention of the computer caused that secretary to be fired, her work shuffled over to a single secretary who was suddenly able to do the work of two with the help of the computer, but it also gave me the job of maintaining and repairing that computer.
It took tens of thousands of people to build the Great Pyramid, after all, and not even ten percent of that number to build the Memphis Pyramid, or the pyramid at the Luxor in Vegas. The invention of the truck allowed huge stone blocks to be carried across the terrain by a single person, putting out of work the thirty or forty people who would have had to drag it five thousand years ago, but we now have a population that is seven billion. I think the notion that our technological advancements are going to inadvertently harm our society if we don’t stop what we’re doing to take care of the newly unemployed can be put to rest.
It’s true that technological advancements are coming at a faster rate these days. It should be no surprise, then, to learn that economic recessions have more than doubled in frequency, while they last only half as long.
Let’s go back in time–very far back in time–to three people working and tilling a field. Suddenly one of them has a brilliant idea. “I know!” he proclaims. “We can hitch this till to that horse, and let the horse drag it!”
Boom, technological innovation.
“Oh, no!” the other two men said. “We can’t do that, because then you’ll be out of work, and you’ll starve. Because obviously the only conceivable thing you can do is pull the tiller. If we have the horse pull it, then you won’t have anything to do.”
Exactly–it’s nonsense from the very beginning of human history. Pulling the tiller is not the only conceivable thing that man could do. In the real world, not the fictitious world of progressivism, having the horse pull the plow could mean a few different things. Maybe they could plow a greater area, thereby growing more food and selling the surplus for profit. Maybe they could end their workdays earlier. Would it ever mean that the third man would just lounge around as he watched the horse do what used to do his job? And if the third man did such a thing, would we begrudge the two men for telling him that he could get off his ass and find something to do help, or he wouldn’t eat?
The simplicity of the reality we deal with worries me. People make out like it’s some great, convoluted thing, and that it’s simply inconceivable that these people should find something else to do. History has shown us time and time again, though, that there is always something else to do, and often that “something else to do” is created as a side effect of the new technology–the new idea to attach the tiller to the horse leads the man to invent the harness, and now he has a job as a leatherworker making harnesses.
The only reason that someone wouldn’t be able to find something to do is that they wouldn’t want to, and we have a word for that: laziness. “That horse put me out of work, man! I mean, I probably could learn some new skill or something, but I shouldn’t have to! I had a job! It’s not fair! So everyone else should take care of me, instead of me taking care of myself.”
It’s simply stunning that we have otherwise intelligent people arguing for this nonsense.
I’m not a huge fan of Elon Musk, but I know he’s not stupid. I suspect he isn’t seeing the core of what things are through the worded concepts that predispose him to think a certain way. This is the same fog that keeps most people from realizing the horror of what they’re proposing when they envision a world where AI does all the work for humans. But manna doesn’t fall from the sky, and it won’t fall from the sky even after AI is invented. It may be possible to use AI to do all the labor that humans otherwise would do, but that’s signing our own death warrant.
There will never come a time that humans have nothing to do, though. There will always be stuff to be done. Even in Roddenberry’s utopian science-fiction, humans had to do stuff. Someone had to work on the engines that powered the replicators that gave people food. Someone had to mine the dilithium crystals. Someone had to pilot the Enterprise. And perhaps a Star Trek story two thousand years later would have seen the Enterprise Y crewed entirely by androids, with nothing but a bunch of fat, lazy humans lounging around the Holodeck while everything was done by robots, but we’re hardly talking about a utopia at that point, and that’s the sort of future that needs to be avoided, not striven for. I can see why Roddenberry and Star Trek fans don’t go that far into the future.
Just think about it. It was only a matter of time before someone began producing more Datas. Data is, hands down, better than any human at anything he needs to do. So by the year 3150, Starfleet Academy would have had all android instructors and all android students. Starfleet ships would have been crewed entirely by androids. What is left, then, for man? What is left, then, for humanity? It would not be only one species that we enslaved to our sloth, because we would find ourselves similarly enslaved.
This world you envision is not a dream. It is a nightmare–you only have to look a few centuries further into the future to see how terrible it truly is. Already we see the nightmarish effects that such comfort has on humanity: we have colleges filled with people who think it is traumatic to be called the wrong gender. That is what humans do when they are bored and when their understanding of suffering and hardship are so badly skewed. Already, we have social media filled with lamentations for Brad’s Wife while the 230 civilians our own government murdered get hardly a word. Suffering is the catalyst of maturity, and effort is the conduit for reward. I’ve seen people say–sincerely, now–that employers refusing to hire people who are unskilled and untrained is discriminatory against unskilled and untrained people.
Stop coddling people, and tell them to find something productive to do. Don’t bestow upon the candlemaker rewards for his laziness when he decides that he doesn’t want to be bothered with learning to do something else now that the lightbulb has been invented. Tell the man who came up with the idea of attaching the plow to the horse to get off his ass and do something if he wants to eat.
Maybe you are one of the two people left in the field, and you don’t resent the man for sitting on the porch twiddling his thumbs all day now that the horse–AI–has put him out of work. Hey, you’re totally within your rights to take some of your food to give it to him. It’s your food; you can do whatever you want with it. But you absolutely cannot take my food away from me, which I worked for, to give to him to appease your conscience. You can’t put a gun to my head and rob me to give him something that is mine. That’s not how compassion works, and it’s certainly not how morality works.
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.
It seems that Pro-Life Libertarians have nothing better to do than to constantly post about abortion, in the same way that a lot of alt-right people have nothing better to do than to constantly post about transgenderism and bathrooms. No matter how much I want these issues to go away, people are hellbent on discussing them, so I want to return to the abortion issue to address some things I didn’t address last time.
Pro-Choice =/= Pro Abortion
I’m Pro-Choice. I would also never get an abortion–if it were possible–and the only time in my life that it was relevant, I was adamantly against the girl getting one. But, true to my core, she chose that option, and having fucked her gave me no authority or ownership claims of her body or what she can do with it, and neither did it mean that she was required to take my thoughts and feelings into consideration.
That sucks, and I know it’s hard for men to hear–I don’t say that as a transgender person, as a female, or anything. Just as a person, I know it’s hard for men, who have long enjoyed nearly total control of society and societal norms, to step back and accept that they don’t have any right to say what a woman can and can’t do with the womb that is literally in her body, but it’s just the reality we live in. If a woman doesn’t want to take her husband’s or boyfriend’s feelings into consideration, then it’s just tough shit for the man–he can leave her and find someone who will take his feelings into consideration, or he can stay with the woman who clearly doesn’t value his emotions.
I was against a family member getting an abortion, but I made no effort to talk her out of it, because such a decision is difficult enough without having others add to it. I even gave her a ride to the clinic in Little Rock, and stayed with her through most of it–just not any of the back room stuff. I wouldn’t expect most people who are against abortion to go that far, though.
It’s not as simple as “Pro choice” and “Pro Life,” not really. That we’ve redefined these things so that pro-choice means “pro-abortion” and pro-life means “anti-abortion” are serious problems, and it’s what causes most of the strife in the Libertarian Party. I don’t like abortion. I’m not a fan of it. I just don’t think anyone has the right to tell a woman that she must donate her flesh for someone else’s benefits, even if the wage is death.
Pro-Life people love saying that abortion is obviously a violation of the NAP, because the fetus is obviously a human, and thus has the right to not have aggression committed against it. On the surface, such a position makes sense, but, as usual, once we begin defining things and peeling away assumptions, we’re left with a position that is utterly nonsensical. This is why the Texan Representative recently proposed legislation that would fine men for ejaculating into anything but a womb–if potentiality equals actuality, then each and every sperm cell is potentially a human. It is a categorical error, of course, but that’s the point–asserting that potentiality equals actuality in regard to a fetus is also a categorical error.
We can’t make the argument that “Without additional interaction, the sperm wouldn’t progress into a human, though. Without additional interaction, the fetus would,” however, because that’s false. Without additional interaction, the fetus would die. All the food, nutrients, and air carried by the umbilical cord are first brought in by deliberate action of the woman, which absolutely count as interactions every bit as much as ejaculating into a vagina. Nor can we say that the sperm’s potential requires the intervention of another human, but that the fetus doesn’t, because a totally unassisted birth is rife with problems and has a very high failure right, not to mention that the woman consumes food that she purchased from another human.
The jury is forever out on the question of whether or not a fetus qualifies as a human and, if it does, at what stage of development the classification is legitimate. “Science” says very little on the matter, which is exactly what we’d expect to find in a world where the differences between life and non-life aren’t legitimate in the first place and are simply superimposed onto reality by a bunch of self-aware molecules who cannot accept that they are part of everything else and that nothing actually differentiates their existences from anything else that exists. This isn’t to say that scientists say very little on the matter; indeed, it’s hard to get a science to shut the fuck up about social issues they aren’t specialized in, but any random science who says something isn’t speaking for “science.”
“Science” is a method, not a set of ideologies and beliefs. It is following a precisely defined methodology to go from an observation to an explanation. So what “science” has to say about a fetus falls apart at the very first hurdle–there is no uniformly applicable definition of “human” that would include a uniformly applicable definition of “fetus” because there is no uniformly applicable definition of “life” in the first place. And while we do have biologists who study what we call life, it’s a matter I’ve followed extensively for quite some time, and it remains the case that we have yet to come up with a suitable definition of “life” that precludes fire and other chemical reactions while including all examples of what we’d call “life.” The closest such definition is the one I gave earlier: the self-replicating molecule. Even that fails, though, because it is equally applicable to fire–and the sun, and not just to solar systems but also to entire galaxies and, quite possible, the whole damned universe itself. Stars supernova and explode, and from their remains are born more stars and planets. What is that, if not self-replication?
Our definitions of life include entire solar systems as living things. And why not? It’s not metaphysical or silly; what “science” tells us is that there isn’t a difference between us and solar systems. We are them, and they are us. The separations are illusory, brought about by our limited sensory abilities. For example, if we could see the subatomic world with our eyes, we would not see a person sitting at a desk typing. We would see nothing more than energy traveling around in various shapes, sizes, and patterns, freely moving from one coalescence to the next, with no true separation anywhere in sight. But our eyes aren’t anywhere near that good. We don’t see molecules, atoms, or electrons–we only see the gigantic picture where everything appears to be separate. But it is a matter of scientific record that placing your hand on the desk joins you to that desk, with energy freely traveling from your hand to the desk and from the desk to your hand.
So when someone says to me that a fetus is obviously a human life, and that makes it obviously different from eating a cow or an eggplant, I’m usually at a loss for words to explain to them how poorly they understand the reality in which they live. These ideas of life, humans, and fetuses–they’re just that: ideas. They’re concepts, superficial superimpositions onto a reality wherein they don’t actually apply, in the same way that we treat nations and borders as real things, as though we might drive to Texas and find carved on the terrain a gigantic line that separates Mexico from the United States. And there may be one there, but only because we, in our lunacy and belief in the realness of imaginary things, convinced ourselves that we needed to put a real one there to correspond to the imaginary one.
People get angry when I compare abortion to eating a cow. Why? There is nothing that makes human life innately more valuable than a cow’s life, but the vast majority of pro-life and pro-choice people have no hesitation about eating a cow that someone murdered. This is nothing more than bigotry, though. It’s speciesism–a sloppy word meaning discrimination on the basis of species. It’s the same old song we’ve heard countless of times. White lives are worth more than black lives was the justification for slavery, and for how, in ages past, killing a white man carried a much more severe sentence than killing a black man. Male lives are worth more than female lives was the justification for sex slavery, spousal abuse, spousal ownership, and all manner of other things. It’s the same groupthink, the same Us and Them, the same bigotry, only it’s on the basis of species rather than race or sex.
I’m not saying “Don’t eat meat” or “Be a vegan.” I eat meat. I’m also fully aware that it’s no morally better to kill and eat a chicken than it is to kill and eat a human. We’re just speciesist, so we assign a higher value to a member of our species than we do a member of another species–just like racists assign a higher value to a member of their race, and just like sexists assign a higher value to a member of their sex. We violate the NAP against non-humans every single day, and it’s increasingly unnecessary–it’s also just a matter of time before it ends, and synthetic meat replaces organic meat, and people who eat genuine meat are considered monsters in the same way that hunters today are increasingly considered monsters.
The worst aspect of the Pro-Life crowd is that they argue as though they have a righteous superiority and as though they have the moral highground. That smugness is irritating. Leftists do it, too, especially on health care, and smugly assert they have the moral high ground because they think doctors should be considered slaves. Similarly, Pro-Life people smugly assert they have the moral high ground because they think that a woman should be forced to donate her literal flesh for someone else’s benefit.
There is no moral high ground here.
If there’s any single thing that I wish our species could un-invent, it would be abortion. But we did conceive it, and the cat is out of the bag; Pandora’s Box is open, and the matter can never be pushed back in. A Pro-Life person doesn’t have the moral high ground or the NAP on their side because they want to force a woman to donate her body for someone else’s benefit. This is every bit akin to forcing a mother to donate a kidney to her child if her child needs it–the child’s very existence, and therefore need of a kidney, is a long-term consequence of the woman’s initial choice to have sex. “If she didn’t want to one day donate a kidney, then maybe she shouldn’t have had sex!” would go the argument. Or is there some arbitrary statute of limitations that means, after a certain period of time, the woman has her free will once more?
People object to that analogy on the basis that pregnancy is a reasonable outcome of having sex, while a child with a failed kidney is not. I can’t agree with that assessment. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve had a lot of sex with a lot of different people. The year 2015 revealed that I’m not sterile, as it was the first time in fifteen years of being sexually active that I’d gotten a girl pregnant. I was even married for 5 or 6 years, and we had sex pretty much every day that my wife wasn’t on her period. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I’ve had sex thousands of times. And I’ve only once gotten a girl pregnant. Even a conservative estimate would be that I’ve had sex at least one thousand times–and that’s an unrealistically low figure. But it yields a 0.1% chance of sex leading to pregnancy. I hardly find that to be a reasonable expectation.
It’s true that taking no precautions and generally being reckless can up that percentage drastically, but even so the chance never gets above 30%. While that’s high, precautions and safety lower it considerably. Sure, there are some women who use abortion as a form of birth control, but it’s absolutely absurd to think that such a thing is typical. Asserting that abortion needs to be illegal because someone women use it as birth control is like saying that people should use the bathroom of the sex on their birth certificate because some people might pretend to be transgender to gain access to the women’s restroom.
I unfriended a Pro-Life Libertarian yesterday, but it wasn’t because she was Pro-Life. I just ignored that. It was because it was all she ever talked about, and she did it with the smugness I mentioned above. She constantly said that “Science says…” things in support of her position, and if she wasn’t committing fallacies then she was burning straw people. What finally caused me to remove her was her statement that repealing anti-abortion laws is the same thing as making new laws to legalize abortion. To hear a libertarian–Big or Little L–say such nonsense warranted an immediate removal.
Legality & Naturality
The default position for any action is that it is legal. Period, and full stop. Murder, rape, theft–they are all naturally legal. That’s the true law of nature, the law of the jungle as they say, and, for later consideration, the law of the black market: the only thing that matters is what a person can do, and what a person can’t do.
But we’re guided by something called empathy, which gave rise to our morality and our condemnation or murder, theft, and rape. This is a good thing. We should condemn force, violence, and coercion, because we don’t want those things done to us, and we do have the gift of empathy, which allows us to extrapolate our own feelings and apply them to others. But this doesn’t mean that force, violence, and coercion are objectively wrong. They’re not. According to my values that I don’t want to be hurt, used, robbed, and killed, I have concluded that murder, rape, and theft are wrong, but it’s my values that go into that assessment. Just because 99.99% of people agree with those values doesn’t make those values objectively correct.
Before law, murder, rape, and theft were all legal. This is a tautology, of course, because making a law outlawing something is precisely what makes it illegal. So if there is no law outlawing it, then it is legal. Repealing prohibition against drugs doesn’t require making a new law that says it’s okay to do drugs; it’s repealing a law that said it wasn’t okay. Her position was that a new law is necessary because our laws against murder already include fetuses, so we need a new law to add that exclusion.
Even if her assessment is correct–which it isn’t, because she can’t demonstrate that “fetus” should be included in the definition of murder, and neither can anyone else, nor can anyone demonstrate that “cow” shouldn’t be included–she’s still wrong, because it would still just be repealing a prohibition against murder. If I pass a law in my house that says my nephew can’t go outside alone after dark, and then I repeal that law when he turns 12 years old, I didn’t create a new law granting him an exclusion once he reached a certain age; I just removed the initial one. I know there’s a name for this fallacy, but it’s such a roundabout way of thinking that I can’t imagine what the fallacy would be called.
I’m against abortion the same way that I’m against eating meat: I condemn the initiation of force, violence, and coercion against others. This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I eat meat, after all. And sure, let the vegan anarchists out there have a go at me and condemn me for immoral behavior. If all seven of the vegan anarchists on the planet decide to do that, I won’t have any defense against their allegations, because they’re ultimately right.
I’m Pro-Choice regarding heroin, too. I don’t do heroin. If I had the opportunity, I wouldn’t inject heroin. I would strongly advise any friends who asked my opinion against doing it, because it’s unhealthy, leads to a debilitating addiction, and is just overall destructive. But I would never presume to tyrannize them by forbidding them from doing it, or by using the government to forbid them from doing it. They’re a living, thinking, and feeling human being. They’re not my property or my servant. I have no right to dictate what they can and can’t do, even though I think it’s probably a bad idea.
I’m Pro-Choice regarding abortion, too. I wouldn’t have an abortion. When I had the opportunity, I argued against it. If asked, I would advise any friends against having one. But I would never presume to tyrannize someone by forbidding them from doing it, or by using the government to forbid them from doing it. They’re a living, thinking, and feeling human being, too. The fetus may or may not be–there’s no definitive answer on that–but until we develop the science to allow us to transfer a pregnancy from a woman who wants an abortion to a woman who is willing to carry the fetus, we have to accept that other people aren’t our property or our servants.
And that is what we should be working on. Have Pro-Life people put their wombs where their mouths are. If it’s true that abortion is about ending a pregnancy, not killing a fetus, then the woman who wants the abortion has no legitimate objection to having the unborn fetus transferred from her womb to another woman’s womb.
As another friend pointed out, though, just as a lot of pro-choice people are actually pro-abortion, so are a lot of pro-life people actually pro-birth. It’s not life they care about; it’s the strawman helpless child they imagine in their heads. They don’t give a shit what happens to that child after it is born. There are enough Pro-Life people in the United States that if Pro-Life people were actually Pro-Life, instead of being Pro-Birth, then there wouldn’t be an unadopted child left in the nation.
There are no easy answers, and we should be extremely skeptical of someone who talks about abortion as though it’s cut and dry. It’s probably the most complex and nuanced issue facing the world today. Anyone who states something on the matter as though it is an unequivocal fact that is obvious and without nuance is spouting dogma, not science. I called it the Murkiest of Murky Murkiness or something like that, because it is. It’s an extremely complex issue that will force any honest, reasonable person to not just re-evaluate what it means to be a human, but what it means to be life.