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The Inevitable State War on Crypto

I’ve been watching the crypto market for a long time. Naturally, being a tech person and an anarchist, Bitcoin was something that I was deeply interested in, but it wasn’t until last year that I actually started putting any money into it–and even then, only small amounts. More recently, I’m putting in literally every penny that I can afford. It’s pretty clear to me that crypto-currencies are the future, and that fiat currencies are going to be crushed. But before we get into that, let’s discuss this idea first that BTC and other cryptos are “fiat” currencies.

Fiat?

Fiat means “by decree,” basically. A fiat currency is one that some authority figure decrees to be the currency. This is why the USD is a fiat currency–the U.S. government has made it our currency and has, in the way that monopolies do, fought very hard to keep any competition from existing. It’s not being inflationary that makes a currency “fiat.” It’s having a government say, “This is your currency.” If the USD was abolished and the government switched to BTC, then BTC would be a “fiat currency.” In fact, a isn’t the right article to use when discussing fiat currencies; the is usually more accurate. The USD is the fiat currency.

The Past

In the past, kings and nations had to pay for wars using their gold and silver coins. War is expensive, and it has always been expensive. Historically, men who otherwise could have been doing something productive are instead paid to go out and be destructive. This obviously constitutes a net drain on wealth. You not only have people not being productive–and being paid to not be productive–but they’re also being deliberately destructive. Resources, gold, labor, man-hours… all of these things are destroyed during war, and all of them could have been used in a more capitalist sense by investing them and turning them into more wealth and resources.

Taxes were historically high upon barons and lords, who in turn taxed the shit out of their peasants to pay the king’s taxes. The peasants were not usually taxed directly by the king; the king commanded the barons, dukes, and lords to give him money, and they did so. However, the barons, dukes, and lords didn’t really do anything to earn money (neither did the king, of course), and so they had to steal it from the peasants through taxation. The king had to pay his soldiers to fight the wars, had to pay for swords and ships, and all of these other things, because an unpaid soldier is a disloyal soldier.

Soldiers are always the first people to be paid by the ruling power. We see this today in Venezuela where, despite crippling national poverty, soldiers still enforce the government’s bidding because they are still being paid, and offered extra toilet paper for their service. It becomes a matter of survival for the soldiers–everyone else is starving, but they can keep themselves and their families provided-for by continuing to serve the system that has made everyone else poor, but if they refuse to serve, then their families will starve with everyone else.

Because it was a necessity to pay soldiers and because it was impossible for any king to do everything they needed to do while also paying for a war, they instead resorted to inflation. Inflation is when the amount of currency increases while the amount of wealth it represents stays the same or decreases (typically, it decreases). Let’s use a silly example to explain it.

I give you ten M&Ms and I say “These are worth $100.” This means that each M&M is worth $10, yes? Then I say, “I’m going to make you more wealthy. Here’s twenty more M&Ms.” But you find, once you have thirty M&Ms, that they’re still only worth $100. You have more M&Ms, sure, but you still only have $100. Instead of making you richer, you have the same amount of money that you had before. This is inflation. The value of the M&M was inflated. Real life inflation is more dangerous than this, because I don’t actually give you the other twenty M&Ms. In reality, I keep them, and let you keep yours. You still have ten M&Ms, but they’re only worth $33.33 now. I didn’t make you wealthier, did I? I made you poorer.

I robbed you.

Instead of paying with pure gold coins, kings stretched their gold further by taking cheap metals like tin and plating them with gold. It was still “a gold coin,” but it was worth much, much less than a pure gold coin. Instead of having only one thousand gold coins, the king had ten thousand of these gold-plated coins. So if a soldier was paid one coin a week, then he was able to pay ten thousand soldiers that week, instead of only one thousand.

Today the United States Government does this by printing money instead of adding tin to gold coins, but it has exactly the same effect. Earlier today I watched a video of some obnoxious twats who rented dinosaur costumes to go to the White House and “protest” with signs saying that the government should fund national sciences. They may think that now, because the government’s inflation allows them to mask the true cost of this crap. But if the government had to actually steal from us tax us to pay its bills, they wouldn’t be out there asking for their taxes to be increased.

You know, people think our taxes pay for our roads, our education, our bridges, Medicare, Medicaid, and these wars… That’s so untrue. Our taxes leave a huge deficit, to the tune of about $600 billion dollars every year, and that deficit just increases, raising the National Debt ever more. Even with obscene taxation (because we are taxed far more heavily than the colonists would have stood for), the government must inflate the currency to obscene degrees by borrowing it from the private banking cartel that is the Federal Reserve Bank.

The Future

So how do crypto-currencies fit into this? Well, the U.S. government can’t inflate them. They’re decentralized, so they can’t be inflated like that. The U.S. Government can drop money into bank accounts and buy large amounts of crypto, and it’s certainly doing so, but this is pouring value into the cryptos because the USD represents value because it’s easier to exchange and is used in wage payments. If clients paid my invoices in LTC and ETH… That would be fantastic. Anyway, if they did so, then my labor would be pouring value into LTC and ETH, and every new coin would be a representation of the work that I did to earn it. As it is now, it’s a representation of how much USD I spent and, in theory, the USD is a representation of the work I did to earn it.

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The government can’t just tell Crypto Managers, “We want 35 Bitcoins to pay for something,” because there are no “Crypto Managers” they can tell it to. This is the way the Federal Reserve System works, of course–the government tells this cartel of privately owned banks that it wants money (which has Interest attached to it, naturally), and the bank coalition hands it over, because they’re assured to make money in the long-run since the government will steal from us to pay it back. This money is created out of thin air, devaluing all the existent money like the M&Ms above.

If the government wants crypto, it has to buy them. To do that, it must raise money. To do that, it must steal from us. This will work for a while, and the government will buy cryptos, but the continual increase in value that cryptos are seeing will continue to cause people to move away from the USD and into cryptos. Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Target will inevitably start taking the more popular cryptos. We saw exactly the same thing with credit and debit cards, and with personal checks. There are minimal differences, because the debit cards and the personal checks also represented wealth. When people store their wealth, they want it to still be there when they go to retrieve it. A history of it “not being there” is why we have FDIC today, and is what the movie It’s a Wonderful Life is sort of about. Think of each crypto as its own MasterCard or Visa or Discover or American Express. Right now, I’d say BTC is Visa, ETH is MasterCard, LTC is American Express, and DASH is probably Discover.

In the beginning of cards, no one took them, because not enough people had the cards for the companies to justify the expense in setting up their systems to accept them as payment. There are also legal hurdles, but let’s put those aside for the moment. As more people make money in cryptos and find that they are excellent places to store wealth, more people will store their wealth in them, and more people will carry the “cards” and motivate Target et al. to install “card processing machines.” In time (and, due to how accelerated social changes have become, I’d bet it will be within ten years), larger corporate employers will offer employees the option of being paid in crypto currencies.

This is something that cannot be stopped. Pandora’s Box is open, and the only way to pull the plug now is to shut down the entire Internet and never let it come back online. Every BTC miner has a full copy of the blockchain and could restore the network. There is no amount of cracking down that could get and destroy every single part of the crypto networks. They will try, of course. They have no choice. To survive, they must try. We’re getting to that.

There already exist completely anonymous wallets like Jaxx, which allow a person to send and receive crypto without giving up any personal identifying information. This stuff is extremely difficult (although not impossible) to track. I purchase through Coinbase and then send to one of three other wallets. If the state zoomed in on me, they could certainly figure out exactly how much money I have where, but they can’t do this for everyone, and eventually they’ll be overwhelmed solely by numbers–it’s like how torrent sites openly exist today, such as the Pirate Bay. And even if The Pirate Bay one day finally goes down, a hundred will pop up in its place.

The Internet gave us far more power than they ever anticipated, and cryptos are the next stage of that. Once we have cryptos, we can be paid, and we can make purchases, all without ever touching the USD. The USD, which steadily loses value, is a terrible investment. It takes $20 today to buy what $1 bought in 1913. Meanwhile, it takes 0.1 BTC to buy today what it took 1 BTC to buy a year ago. Cryptos have been moving in the opposite direction from the USD; while it becomes less valuable, they become more valuable. Which would you want to be paid in? Which would you rather have–a one hundred dollar bill, or 1.2 Litecoins?

To make matters even worse, they will find that it’s very, very difficult to tax. And it’s impossible to tax in large amounts. Every single person would have to be audited. Massive amounts of wealth will slip right through the IRS’s fingers. “How much crypto do you have?”

“I plead the Fifth.”

They can easily look up your social security number to find your checking and savings accounts, and to find your stocks and shares, and tax you accordingly. But how are they going to find your crypto wallets? What if you store your crypto wallet on an Onion server–on the Tor network? Anonymity within anonymity.

What will happen when Saudi Arabia says, “Sorry, man, but you have to pay us in ETH for our gas”?

It won’t matter by that point, of course. By that point, every American citizen will have started moving away from the USD. Wal-Mart and other corporations will accept it as payment, and they’ll offer to pay people in the same currency. The government’s stranglehold on our wealth will have been broken. So how will it pay $300,000 to teach hookers in the Phillipines how to use condoms? How will it pay $1.6 trillion to fight in foreign countries? The soldiers wouldn’t accept the USD as payment, and neither would the tank and missile manufacturers.

“Taxation” is the only way–inflation will have been ruled out, because they don’t control the currency and can’t inflate it.

And this is why the anonymity matters. They cannot tax what they cannot track. And if they begin kidnapping random people to extort money from them, I don’t believe even the slothen, lackadaisical Americans would put up with that. “We’re going to institute a 0.01 BTC tax to pay for a hammer for NASA to use.”

lol.

Yeah, right.

Once we have to actually be directly taxed to pay for this shit, these government schemes will evaporate. You want to End the Fed? You want to abolish the Department of Education? You want to end Medicaid and welfare? You want to stop the wars? You want to keep the government from paying ludicrous amounts of money to teach hookers how to use condoms?

It’s done with cryptos.

I don’t know if Bitcoin will be one of the holdouts in the end. It has a lot of baggage attached to it. To many people, Bitcoin is used for money laundering and for paying ransoms. It’s going to be very difficult for BTC to get out from under that shadow, even if it’s possible. And I know BTC people are celebrating as it approaches $5,000 per (and I would be, too), and I congratulate them–but their excitement is a little undue. We’re still in the very, very early phases of this. We haven’t even come close to 5% adoption rates. We’re still deep in the Early Adopter phase.

Once we get around 5%, television shows and movies will begin featuring cryptos. Popular mainstream figures and shows like Pewdewpie, Family Guy, Rick & Morty, and South Park will begin mentioning it in regular conversation. They’ll show characters making money with it, making purchases with it… Then, with the Trend Setters like them on board, we’ll reach about 15% adoption. The Trend Setters will bring in the Trend Followers, and that is when Target et al. will start accepting it at the cash registers.

Many people will enter expecting to multiply their wealth by twenty times, hundred times, and so on, but that phase of the cryptos will mostly be over, and a few primary cryptos will be in the lead, and there they will stay until the next paradigm shift. Some new crypto with some new, novel algorithm won’t sway the masses of people. They won’t be impressed by Newcoin’s shiny new algorithms, and will stay with whatever cryptos are in the lead. I think it’s going to be Ethereum, Litecoin, and something else–probably not Bitcoin, because of all its baggage (and its price). Adoption rates will slow down, as these trend followers tell everyone that the “wealth people were making” must have been greatly exaggerated, because they’re only making 1% or 2% gains. The late arrivers will finally get on board, leaving only the iconoclasts, rebels, and conservatives out of the loop, and by then the Gold Rush will officially be over. There will be no more meteoric rises from $40 to $100, or from $600 to $5000.

And there will be losses. I see a lot of people excited about LTC’s climb right now–myself among them, and I really can’t afford for it to plummet–but it did plummet earlier this year, coming in at about $15 per and dropping to less than $2 each around February. Someone who bought 100 LTC while it was $15 each and sold them when it fell to $2 each lost $1300.

I don’t like Bitcoin, to be honest. It has too much baggage, and I’m more than a little envious of the people who bought it at $10 a pop and now have tens of thousands of dollars. What can I say? I’m honest about my motives. I want to see BTC collapse because I’ll feel better about having missed that boat, and I want to see the smugness wiped from Bitcoin Champions’ faces. It’s petty, I know. But the smugness! My god, the smugness. They act like it’s impossible for BTC to rapidly collapse. And it’s not only possible, it’s extremely likely to, around the time the Trend Setters start coming in.

The dumbest thing I heard this week was someone saying that “the number of coins purchased doesn’t matter–its percentage of growth relative to the USD is all that matters.”

That’s Old Paradigm thinking. In fact, the amount of coinage is all that ultimately matters. If the USD collapses, which it ultimately will, and cryptos will be the reason why, it won’t matter one tiny freaking bit that BTC was valued much more highly, according to the USD, than ETH. 0.01 BTC may be worth $100 right now, but if you take that USD away, what do you have? You have 0.01 of a currency. And without the USD, that 0.01 of a currency is a lot less than 1.00 of another currency. Without the USD measuring these currencies relative to one another, the amount of coinage will be all that freaking matters. You could have your wealth vanish in a heartbeat if people decide that a car is worth more than 6 BTC. Without the USD there saying those 6 BTC are worth $30,000, how are you going to get anyone else to accept that your 6 BTC are an even exchange for a car?

This is why the amount of coinage matters. If you get trapped in the Old Paradigm and attempt to apply it to the New Paradigm, in the end I don’t think you’ll have any wealth left at all. Right now, the only thing keeping BTC so valuable is literally the existence of these other currencies. Erase them from the equation, and what do you have? 0.04 BTC. Well, I’ll have quite a lot more than that of ETH and LTC.

And most people intuitively understand this, even if they couldn’t elucidate it. Most people won’t be willing to drop $500 on a tenth of a Bitcoin when they could spend that same amount of money and get five Litecoins. Who would buy a tenth of a BTC instead of five LTC? Not very many people. And their reasoning is solid, even if they don’t realize it, and even if they don’t know why, exactly, they prefer “five of one thing” to “0.1 of another thing,” even if the values are theoretically equal: those values will vanish. Cryptos themselves will make sure that those values vanish, and that the only thing that will be left is “five of this coin” and “0.1 of that coin.”

Liberty Today, 8-28-17

Unmarked Police Cars

The Libertarian Party of Tate County (of which I am the Chair) voted by two-thirds majority Saturday evening to strongly condemn the usage of unmarked police cars in Tate County, because they’ve been appearing in great numbers in the last few weeks. Our reasoning for this is simple: they create dangerous situations. As recently as July, 2017, a woman was pulled over by an unmarked patrol car, and then was raped and brutalized. Of course, we soon learned that this person was not a law enforcement officer, and was actually just someone who purchased a Halloween costume and a blue light from, perhaps, Alibaba.

Let there be no doubt of this: if LEO did not occasionally use unmarked police vehicles, then any person who saw blue lights in their rearview mirror emanating from an unmarked police vehicle would immediately know that the person attempting to pull them over is an imposter. It is because of this ambiguity, that the person might be a cop, that people are reluctant to continue driving. Besides which, we have all seen countless videos of people who specifically called 911 to verify the person behind them was a LEO in an unmarked car, only to be brutalized by the officers once the car was verified as legitimate, and accused of “resisting arrest” and “attempting escape.”

The use of unmarked squad cars is the clearest possible evidence we could ever hope to receive that Law Enforcement Agencies do not care about “serving and protecting,” and that they are instead motivated by revenue from moving violations. The only benefit to using unmarked cars is to catch drivers acting more naturally–where they are more likely to speed, less likely to use turn signals, more likely to run red lights and stop signs, and so on. However bad we might think these behaviors are, we cannot deny that women are being raped because LEO would rather ticket more of these people who run red lights thinking there is no cop around than they would rather prevent rape.

To combat this, various agencies have released statements and guides, but these fall short–it is rather like telling someone to get a bucket for the blood being spilled when you stab them, instead of simply ceasing to stab them. It’s like handing a smoker a cough drop instead of suggesting that they quit smoking. Besides which, LEO are increasingly likely to discard all of these decades of advice about “waiting to pull over until you are in a clearly publicly visible place” and are likely to treat such people as “attempting to flee the scene.”

It’s an absolute disgrace that any agency that exists to “serve and protect” would create a situation where a woman driving alone at night would not be absolutely certain that the person attempting to pull her over is a Law Enforcement Officer, and terrified that, if she does not immediately pull over, she will be brutalized. In fact, there is a high chance that, even if the patrol car is with law enforcement, she will be raped anyway while police dig inside of her vagina for drugs. The situation between We the People and Law Enforcement in this nation has never been so strained and so precipitously on the edge of disaster, with outright war likely just around the corner, and it is solely up to Law Enforcement to regain community trust.

It is true that such behaviors have not spread to Tate County, and it is also true that Tate County was one of the first places in the nation to require that its officers wear body cams (for which Mississippi and Tate County received no credit, of course), but not ten miles to the north of us is DeSoto County, where the Southaven Police Department recently invaded a man’s home and executed him without a warrant and without any cause. This must be nipped in the bud now, before this has the chance to spread to Tate County. Again, we could lead the nation in officer accountability by having our Sheriff’s Department either sell their unmarked vehicles, or pay to have them repainted.

Toward this end, we are doing a few things. First, we are drafting a letter to the local paper to gauge public response. Secondly, we will be collecting petition signatures demanding the Sheriff’s Office immediately cease all usage of such vehicles, and immediately begin ticketing and arresting any persons attempting to enforce any and all traffic or moving violations in an unmarked police vehicle. Thirdly, we will be going before the city councils, aldermen, etc. to attempt to get legislation passed criminalizing any police work executed in unmarked vehicles, and requiring that any evidence obtained from the use of such vehicles be discarded and destroyed, just as is the case for evidence obtained by warrantless searches.

We are coming down as hard as we can on unmarked police vehicles, because we actually care about police accountability, and we demand that our Law Enforcement Officers take steps to actually make the community safer, not more dangerous.

Libertarian Socialists

Once upon a time, I wrote something to the effect of “libertarian socialism is nonsense.” I don’t remember how I phrased it. I made this statement based on my understanding of what “libertarian” means and my understanding of what “socialism” means. Having now discussed it with some libertarian socialists, I fully stand by my statement: as the words are most commonly used, “libertarian socialism” is an oxymoron.

In fact, reading the ideology makes two things clear. First, when they say “libertarian,” what they actually mean is “anarcho.” Secondly, when they say “socialism,” what they actually mean is “communism.” I discussed this with Matt Kuehnel, and he repeatedly stated that “libertarian socialism” isn’t a problem because “anarchism is the logical completion of libertarianism.” I don’t disagree, and I’ve said it myself, but the fact remains that “libertarian” does not equate to “anarchist.” There are minarchists, and there are classical liberals who do call themselves “libertarian.” I’ve argued extensively that the NAP, fully applied, yields anarchism, but that doesn’t give me the right to redefine “libertarian” to mean “anarchist,” which I’ve pointed out in the past by saying I wouldn’t support an anarchist who ran for the Libertarian Party as an anarchist.

He pointed out, rightly, that I call myself an “anarcho-capitalist,” even though I don’t mean “capitalist” in the sense that almost everyone else means it. That’s true. I’m also fully cognizant of that, and spend much of my time on Quora trying to show people that what we have in the United States is a more lenient form of socialism, not capitalism. It’s why I described the best argument “for” anarcho-capitalism as being “an explanation of what anarcho-capitalism is.” This is because most people think “anarchy” means “chaos,” and that “capitalism” is the mess of socialist government policies we have today. Because of this, they think anarcho-capitalism must mean some weird amalgam of these two things–rule by corporate elites, or something to that effect.

This is why many people who happen to share the same general ideology that I do instead call themselves “free market anarchists” or something like that–because the word “capitalism” is heavily tainted, was conceived disparagingly by Karl Marx in Das Kapital, and isn’t taken to mean “capitalism” as we of the Austrian persuasion mean it. It’s also part of the reason why, when push comes to shove, I call myself a Nietzschean Anarchist far more often than I do an “anarcho-capitalist.” People always ask me what I mean by “Nietzschen Anarchist,” while fewer people ask me what is meant by “anarcho-capitalist.”

Even the definitions that Marx and Engels used, though, cited “socialism” as a middleground between capitalism and communism. Marxism prescribes socialism as the eye of the storm through which society must pass to break free of the bourgeois and restore ownership and equality to the workers in a communist society–a communist society that is, in fact, anarchic in nature. Communism is anarchic; anarchy is not communistic (much to the dismay of Anarcho-Communists). Speaking as someone who is routinely a Most Viewed Writer in Anarchism and Anarcho-Capitalism on the closest thing we have to a market-based system of peer review, Socialism is when the state seizes all capital and uses it for the benefit of the workers, while Communism is when the workers seize the capital directly and eliminate the state as the middleman.

As I’ve pointed out before, Socialism and Communism both would be better called “Consumptionism,” because they restrict private ownership of all goods to only consumption goods, whereas Capitalism is called “Capitalism” because it allows the private ownership of all goods, including capital goods. There is, of course, a recognized and critical difference between a consumption good and a capital good. This reality is recognized by capitalists, communists, and socialists alike. After all, the toothpaste manufacturing facility, as a capital good, may be privately or communally owned, but no one on any side of this discussion would agree that a tube of toothpaste must be communally owned.

I’ve even gotten socialists to agree with my statement that fascism and socialism are identical. They rebuffed that the “difference” is the intent of the rulers, and that in socialism the rulers act in the best interests of the working class, but they ultimately were forced to admit that it is identical in behavior and appearance to fascism. In fact, they are two flavors of the same ice cream.

So I don’t take issue with Libertarian Socialists any longer. However, they’re anarcho-communists, which is exactly what their own ideology describes. They just don’t call themselves Anarcho-Communists. That’s fine–they can call themselves anything they want, and redefine things in whatever way they want. But they can’t blame other people for not knowing that they’re using their own special definitions, you know? I can’t (and don’t) blame people for not knowing what capitalism is when I describe myself as an anarcho-capitalist. In fact, probably a third of my answers on Quora briefly spend time pointing out that “capitalism,” as used by anarcho-capitalists, bears no relation to what most people think of as “capitalism.”

Rent is Theft?

This is popping up a lot lately, so Matt Kuehnel and I are going to debate “rent is theft” in September (the date is TBA). I’ve proposed that we do this one 2v2 standard team format, to shake things up a bit. I think that would be more fun, anyway. I’d forgotten how much I love formal debates. I mean, I was just in one three days ago, and I’m already itching to do another. It has been nearly a decade since I did one, so I was rusty, but I think it will be alright. This was also going to be last night’s segment of Libertarian Drama of the Week on “Call to Freedom” with Will Coley and Thom Gray (I’m kinda like a permanent guest at this point), but we had technical difficulties and had to call the show early.

And that’s what is presently going on.

Crypto Thoughts

I don’t talk about my personal life often, because I instead use social media for impersonal things (No one online knows I broke up with someone a few weeks ago, for example), but I broke the silence when I returned from Porcfest to share a small tragedy that had befallen me: the laptop on which I kept my BTC, LTC, and ETH suffered an unknown catastrophic failure on the trip to Porcfest.

Total data loss.

No worries, right? I’m an I.T. chick–surely I had backups. In fact, I did, and do, but there is a small problem. In a truly worthy lesson about procrastination, I encrypt things. Pretty much everything. My entire hard drive is encrypted. My phone is encrypted; the removable storage in my phone is encrypted.

On that laptop was a text file that contained several broken series of strings of characters, encoded in a way I designed mentally. “Move the first 56 digits to the end, invert the entire thing,” that sort of thing. Someone who managed to get access to the file would still have unusable private keys, because of these changes I’d made to them. It was tedious sometimes, but secure. There was no fear of anyone, independent or state hacker, getting into my stuff.

In a separate text file was another key–one that was the private key to the encrypted backups. If you’re not familiar with encryption, then this is what I basically said: I created the perfect safe, and then locked the key inside of it. I kept telling myself, “I need to move that text file somewhere else.” But I only ever really used the laptop for work, so on those moments when it occurred to me, I wasn’t in a position to move it anywhere. Of course, my writings, music, and all that are backed up redundantly in other places, so there’s never a risk of losing those.

But each separate backup is a vulnerability point. When dealing with money, it’s not a great idea to throw the unencrypted private key on Google Drive.

So when the drive failed, I lost the crypto I had. Vanished forever into the ether. It was not a lot of money, then or now, but I could really have used access to it while I was at Porcfest.

C’est la vie.

The lesson was learned, and now that I’m rebuilding wallets and purchasing again, I’ve got better redundant methods to protect my investment. Take my warning: don’t leave your encryption keys inside of encrypted backups thinking “nothing will go wrong in the next few days, and I’ll move it later.”

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are my coins, primarily Ethereum. Probably for the same reason I prefer Pepsi to Coke, and the Rolling Stones to the Beatles. So let me get started this crypto discussion.

The Past and Future Coin

In olden days, people broke coins in half and quarters to make purchases. We’ve repeated this with modern crypto currencies, and this is part of Bitcoin’s problem: I don’t have a ton of money, and I have no desire to purchase 0.0003 of a coin. It feels like nothing. It feels like turning $40 into nothing. It’s true that it’s not “turning $40 into nothing,” but how it feels is an important consideration when we’re discussing investments.

This is why I prefer ETH and LTC. $40 in LTC gets you an entire coin (or very nearly). $40 in ETH gets you more than a tenth of a coin. It’s important that these coins can be broken into such small chunks, and BTC is probably the best investment of them, but that’s the other major thing worth thinking about.

Different Denominations

In practice, BTC, LTC, and ETH aren’t different currencies. Yes, they are, strictly speaking, and they have different philosophies, goals, and code. But for the average user, that isn’t important.

What’s important is that BTC is on its way to being the Ten Thousand Dollar Bill, ETH to being the $1,000 bill, and LTC to being the $100 bill. The future will see fiat state currencies wiped away, but it will take numerous cryptos to do it, and I’m not sure BTC will be the leading contender in the end. I strongly suspect BTC is in a bubble, and that when it bursts, people will move en masse to ETH and less so to LTC, and the crypto-currency market will begin to stabilize. BTC will recover, of course, but I don’t see it holding its place in the long run.

What we’ll see in forty years (or longer–I’ve not thought much about the timeframes) are purchases made for “Five ETH, three LTC, and one DASH.” I don’t think we’ll see “5.76352715 ETH is the price.” It’s simply not practical for denominations to be split, cut up, and tossed around like that. It will remain possible in theory, but I don’t see it happening indefinitely, and I don’t see a car being sold for “3.21234221 bitcoin”. It’s happening now, yes, but “3 BTC and 9 ETH” is a lot more succinct and easier to communicate.

We may even see the rise of a single crypto designed to do exactly this, to provide multiple denominations of a single currency. I think most ordinary people would flock to such a currency. On a higher level, it would really just be set fractioning of a single coin–like if we called eight bitcoins a “bytecoin” and half a bitcoin a “slipcoin.” But the ease and convenience of it would attract people, and people would gladly give up precision for convenience (just look how many people round pennies down).

I don’t think the crypto market is where it’s going to stay in the long run. I don’t think they’re ready to be taken as primary currencies, because “0.00031 BTC” is too sloppy of a price. “One ETH and one LTC” is far more attractive.

Time will tell, of course, but I was right about the August split, even as self-professed experts poured out to tell me that there would be no split, and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. Who knows? The future is going to be interesting.

But if you’re not buying crypto currencies, you should be.

The Free Market is not Omnibenevolent

I know it’s considered heresy among libertarians and anarchists, but I feel it’s important to remind people that “The Free Market” isn’t always an acceptable answer. Says the anarcho-capitalist, right–what many would rightly call a “free market anarchist,” in fact, given  the history of the word “capitalism” and whether the market as advocated by anarcho-capitalists actually is “capitalism,” but it’s not important. I’ve written loads praising the free market, and now that we are seeing widespread cheering for the firing of white nationalists, I’m going to write something condemning the free market as the solution.

But let me explain, before you get all worked up and say that I’m abandoning the market now that it’s targeting Nazis, because, in fact, I’m not, and I’ve written this exact thing before targeting traditional values“” and other Nazi-style aphorisms. So, you see, rather than contradicting myself, I’m actually staying true to what I’ve said before, and am now applying the same logic and principles now that the shoe is on the other foot. In this article praising the virtues of personal relationships as the destroyers of bigotry (by all accounts, a positive thing), I said:

There are only three ways that liberty can work: homogeneity, diversity, and individualism.

I also said this on Facebook, drawing attention to the inherent absurdity of attempting to use homogeneity to achieve liberty–we would recognize this as a direct attack on paleo-libertarianism, a weird and twisted school of libertarian philosophy that, in essence, argues that liberty is only for white people:

Homogeneity is obviously broken as an idea–it’s simply impossible. There will always be differences between people, and those differences will always be highlighted. Hitler wanted to basically produce an all-white society, and what happened? The differences among white people were immediately targeted as points of divide: those with blond hair and blue eyes were considered superior to someone who had brown hair and brown eyes. By definition, a society can never be truly homogeneous. Even if Hitler had succeeded in eliminating everyone but white people with blond hair and blue eyes, the divisiveness wouldn’t have ended; instead, it would have become “tall people are superior to short people” or something else. I’d venture the statement that the more homogeneous a society is, the more petty are its points of division.

The idea that any group of people can be truly homogeneous is laughable. If that divisive mentality is there, then it is there regardless of the characteristics of the people in the group. With the divisive mentality in place, paleo-libertarians, the alt-right, and Neo-Nazis think that all non-white people are the problem. Let’s presume for a moment that they somehow manage to get rid of all the non-white, non-straight, non-cisgender people. Do they suddenly stop hating people? No. They merely redirect their hatred to some other minority. Redheads become the target of their hatred, or people who are under 5 feet, 6 inches tall, because the core of their hatred–that there are differences within their group that cannot be tolerated–remains. As long as that idea remains, they will identify any and every difference and pinpoint it as the problem, and will continue on until only one person remains standing and everyone else is dead.

The point I’ve been driving at since I began thinking and writing about this subject a month or so ago is that neither homogeneity nor heterogeneity can deliver on the free market promises of “ultimate equality,” despite its ups and downs. The market, as any market advocate will tell you, swings like a pendulum, and it isn’t always fair or just. It does, however, tend to come to a point of equilibrium, one that is based on the dominant positions and ideologies about what constitutes “justice” and “equality.” If a market comes to rest indefinitely* on inequality, then it is merely a reflection that the majority of people in that society do not value equality.

As written in Fight Club, “on a long enough timeline, the survival rate of everyone drops to zero.”

Just as that is true, so is it true that “on a long enough timeline, the values embraced by a free market are reflective of the people who support that market.” This is why it’s so damning to see that so much child and sweatshop labor continues to go into much of the gimmicky, cheap bullshit bought by people at Wal-Mart; that these things have not vanished in the last few decades since we learned of the child and sweatshop labor is a tacit endorsement of child and sweatshop labor. We know that Indonesian children are making our Nikes. We just don’t care. We know that diamonds are steeped in blood. We just don’t care. We know that the cobalt that goes into our phone and laptop batteries, and soon into our Tesla electric cars, is stepped in blood and horrific child labor. We just don’t care.

With this enormous preamble out of the way, let me get to the point.

People are cheering the firing of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I’m actually inclined to view this as a Pandora’s Box–one that we painstakingly managed to close in the 60s and 70s, and one that we should not, under any circumstances, open again. It was arduous, difficult, and unjust for black Americans, Asian Americans, women, homosexuals, transsexuals (ongoing), and all of these others to have to fight an uphill battle to take back their jobs, to not be fired for these things. Thirty years ago, we all (those of sound mind and reasonable ideas–I didn’t even exist then) condemned the idea of firing a man because he was a drag queen two Fridays out of the month, because he and his wife were swingers, because his wife was black, because he was living with his girlfriend and they weren’t married, or because he was gay. How far have we truly come, if we now revisit these ideas, but simply reverse the power structures so that, instead of the white supremacists firing the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual for being a transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual, the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual fires the white supremacist for being white supremacist?

I’d argue that we haven’t changed anything. We simply turned the table around.

It’s important to remember that swords like this cut both ways, which we should damned well know from the history of American injustices against black people, LGBT people, Hispanic people, women, Asians, and everyone else. We know how this shit feels when it’s done to us, and we know that it can be done to us. As it stands, “we” have the cultural power–there is no doubt of that. We are currently the ones holding the reins of power, freely able to bend society to our will in whatever ways we want, with very few exceptions. We will not always be the ones holding the power. Less than a century ago, we were not the ones holding the power.

It so perfectly mirrors the growth of the executive branch that it’s staggering. For years, Republicans gave their approval to the growth of the executive branch, apparently never considering the possibility that it could end up in the hands of someone they didn’t like. Then Democrats did the same. Now we have Trump in power, and people are like, “You know? Maybe we shouldn’t have created this power structure that is now ripe for abuse against us instead of in favor of whatever we happen to want at that particular moment.”

More bizarrely, we’ve already been through this. We’ve already been on the receiving end of discrimination, and it’s still the case that there are tons and tons of “non-protected groups” with whom we are allies to some extent, and who are free to be fired by their employees for upsetting someone’s personal moral sensibilities.

Drag queens aren’t protected.

Swingers aren’t protected.

Interracial couples aren’t protected.

Women who have had abortions aren’t protected.

Former partiers, musicians, rappers, and the like are not protected. In fact, we see this already with colleges and employers searching through people’s histories and firing them for getting a little too wild at a party 6 years before.

Polyamorous people aren’t protected.

In fact, if we look at things rationally and objectively, we’ll find that not a whole lot are protected from anti-discrimination laws. And while I don’t think we need anti-discrimination laws at all, and certainly not more of them, the overall sentiment appears to be that “It’s okay if we discriminate against them, because the law prevents them from doing the same to us,” and this simply isn’t true.

There is no protection for contractors, of course. You could wreck my entire life by finding out who my clients are and informing them that I’m transsexual. This was actually my biggest concern with forming the Libertarian Party in my county. Even if I was an employee, and not a contractor, there is still very little protection for transgender and transsexual people, legally or socially, and none at all in the state of Mississippi.

Do you think that the white supremacists and traditional valuists in positions of authority will not retaliate? Do you think that secret KKK member Bob Greenwich, head of the marketing department in some firm, won’t suddenly begin finding reasons to fire his black employees?

Unlike many people who seem to be talking these days, I reject both. I fully recognize the right of an employer to fire anyone that they want for any reason that they want. This does not mean, however, that having the right to do something makes it the right thing to do. I have the right to fire someone for being gay, for being a white supremacist, or for being lazy. But this doesn’t mean it’s right, just, or moral to fire someone for being gay, or for being a white supremacist. The only factors that should go into employment are the person’s capabilities to do that job. I said this exact thing two weeks ago when arguing against Trump’s proposed trans military ban, and people applauded. I say it now, and I’m called a Nazi sympathizer.

On July 27, I said this:

Banning trans people from a job is dumb.

As an employer, you shouldn’t be interested in what characteristics a person has; you should be interested in their ability and skills to do the job. If you hire them according to any other criteria, you won’t be hiring the best unless it’s by complete accident.

This applies to every job.

If you want the best military in the world, then you have to hire the people who are the best. If you hire the people who are second-best or third-best because they have whatever characteristics you prefer, then your military will be second-best, third-best, or worse.

People are looking at this thing all wrong. Perhaps, on average, the extra medical and psychological needs make trans people inferior to other potential employees. But then you have people like me, whose only “need” is to be left the hell alone by people with more free time than common sense. “Can this individual do the job? Is this individual the best person for the job?” The hardships and struggles of the collective are fictitious. We are dealing with individuals.

I don’t give a damn if I hire a guy who seduced his dog, if he’s the best damn tech in the area. The “best” are usually pretty quirky, to put it kindly.

No one disagreed. No one took issue with it. It was common sense, and I was obviously right. Earlier today, I said this:

People are cheering the firing of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I’m actually inclined to view this as a Pandora’s Box–one that we painstakingly managed to close in the 60s and 70s, and one that we should not, under any circumstances, open again. It was arduous, difficult, and unjust for black Americans, Asian Americans, women, homosexuals, transsexuals (ongoing), and all of these others to have to fight an uphill battle to take back their jobs, to not be fired for these things. Thirty years ago, we all (those of sound mind and reasonable ideas–I didn’t even exist then) condemned the idea of firing a man because he was a drag queen two Fridays out of the month, because he and his wife were swingers, because his wife was black, because he was living with his girlfriend and they weren’t married, or because he was gay. How far have we truly come, if we now revisit these ideas, but simply reverse the power structures so that, instead of the white supremacists firing the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual for being a transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual, the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual fires the white supremacist for being white supremacist?

I’d argue that we haven’t changed anything. We simply turned the table around.

… which you’ll find written above. I do that often, where I write something in an article and preview it on Facebook. Anyway, I was immediately accused of being against freedom of association. That’s quite remarkable, considering that I have a long ass history of arguing in favor of freedom of association.

On an individual basis.

I wholly reject as immoral, reckless, stupid, and irresponsible the idea of disassociating from an entire group of people because of the actions of some, the words of some, ostensible similarities among its members, or whatever-fucking-else is proposed. If someone wants to fire the racist asshat Bob because he treats black customers like crap, I have absolutely no issue with that. But if someone wants to fire the racist asshat Bob because he’s a KKK member even though he’s never displayed any tendency for treating black customers differently, I have to take issue with that. Sure, they have the right to do it, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

And it’s really just a back-handed, passive aggressive forceful coercion, when it comes down to it, especially in these hypothetical numbers I gave above, where 99.99% discriminates against the 0.01%. As someone pointed out, “Then the 0.01% of people who are racists need to change their minds.” Yes, and that’s a moral hazard. “If the 0.01% don’t want to die, then they need to get on board with my ideas and stop disagreeing with me.” I’m not saying that it violates the NAP. Nor does it violate the NAP if 99.99% of people are cisgender and insist, “Then the 0.01% need to stop being transgender if they want to work.”

I’m kinda surprised that I’m saying this, but the NAP isn’t the ultimate standard on what is and isn’t moral. It’s only the standard of what must be tolerated and what must not be tolerated. It’s not a moral guide. It’s a minimal level of acceptable behavior guide. One’s morality is something for one to work out themselves, and I have many thoughts on morality–many of which would you would disagree with. I’m not saying that my moral proclamations that collectivist discrimination is morally wrong is objectively correct. I’m saying that it’s subjectively correct, and here I’ve outlined the subjective criteria for making that assertion.

It has also been stated that the 0.01% are more than welcome to form their own little society, despite that I’ve pointed out that, even in the United States, this would produce a society of only 30,000 people–nowhere near enough for a self-sufficient society in any modern terms. Besides which, the nature of leaving a society where food is bought from stores to form one where there are no stores from which to buy groceries, and where food would have to be raised and farmed, is effectively a death sentence without outside help–do we need to be reminded that the only reason the Puritan settlers survived the first winter in the New World was the benevolence of Native Americans? There’s a rather large gap there between “leaving society” and “growing one’s own food” that results in rather a lot of death.

Now I’ve got someone who says he’s closer to anarcho-communism than anarcho-capitalism suggesting market solutions, while I’m pointing out that a free market, in order to achieve liberty, requires either pure heterogeneity (practically impossible), pure homogeneity (theoretically impossible), or individualism. You know–the same thing I said a month ago, when another group–*cough* trans people *cough*–were being treated as a collective instead of as individuals with their own merits regardless of these characteristics and behaviors that had absolutely nothing to do with their ability to do a job and function within the confines of a free market.

And though I was right a month ago… Now, I’m wrong. In fact, one of the people who liked my status about this very subject when I wrote it about trans people in the military is not arguing with me, because I’ve had the audacity to say the same damned thing about individuals who, regardless of their ability to do the task they are required to do, are also white supremacists. And, in so doing, this person–who alleges to fall closer to AnComs than AnCaps–is suggesting market solutions.

I will be debating this person–presumably–on the 25th, where we will use Lincoln-Douglas format to discuss “The nature and scope of self-defense.” Honestly, I don’t think the debate is going to happen. I’ve not heard anything about it since I challenged and Matt accepted. This isn’t the way I do things, you know? I iron out the details beforehand, and I still don’t know the venue where we are having this debate. But, as soon as I have that info, I’ll share it.

I made that crappy thing. Someone is, again presumably, making a better one. Since they’re doing it for free out of kindness, I’m not badgering them about it, but it doesn’t seem to have been made, and that further makes me wonder whether this debate is actually going to happen.

* Markets never rest indefinitely, but that’s not the point.

The Failure to Pair Workers With Work

According to the known liars in the Federal Government, the unemployment rate in the United States is a mere 4.3%. That number is obviously wrong, but it’s really not important. Any degree of unemployment is a bad thing, even if it’s only 1%, because that means one in every one hundred people cannot find a job in order to earn money.

Now, let me point out something that many people seem to have overlooked…

Ridiculous amounts of work are going undone in the United States. Bridges and road signs are covered in graffiti, streets are littered with trash and refuse; storefront windows are smudged with fingerprints and streaks of rain, buildings need to be repainted, countless yards need to be cut, and statues and monuments throughout the nation are covered in bird droppings and graffiti. If you simply begin looking for it, you will see thousands of things, just on your daily commute to work, that need to be done–things that could be done. Things that, you would think, someone would be willing to pay to have done.

And then there’s that number looking at us: 4.3%.

It’s not simply a matter of location, obviously. If only we could make the assertion that our unemployed people are nestled in the valleys of the Smokey Mountains, where there are no bridges to be cleaned of graffiti or monuments to be cleaned. Yet we know that isn’t the case. These unemployed people are scattered throughout the United States unevenly, just as are the tasks that need to be done. This sort of “undone work” exists in the city of Southaven, Mississippi, and, yet, there are unemployed people in the city of Southaven.

The question we have to ask is simple:

If there is work to be done, why isn’t it being done?

The answer is just as simple: the Minimum Wage.

I learned about the Balance of Power when I was a preteen, when I was required to cut the grass each week (in addition to household chores) to earn my $1.50/week allowance. My sister had similar household chores to complete, but didn’t have to cut the grass, and yet she earned exactly the same amount that I made. I pointed out that I had to spend one entire Saturday every two weeks cutting a rather large yard, while my sister didn’t, and I received basically no payment for it, and I argued that I should have been given a raise to my allowance.

“I’ll give you a raise when you start doing a better job of cutting the grass,” my grandmother replied.

I’m sure the problem is obvious. My grandmother could make me cut the grass; I had no real choice in the matter. I couldn’t simply say, “Well, then I’m not cutting the grass anymore.” Yet, she could say, “I’m not paying you anything. You’ll get out there and cut the grass, and that’s that.”

I was at her mercy regarding payment. She didn’t need to pay me, but I needed her to pay me.

The same thing is true in the United States today, especially in regard to Minimum Wage jobs. The individual worker is not needed by the employer, because there are ten others waiting in line if that particular worker proves to be a hassle. Just like my grandmother didn’t need to pay me, so does McDonald’s not need to pay Jim. If Jim demands a higher wage, they can simply fire him and hire from among the 4.3% of people who need that job in order to survive. As it was with my grandmother, the Balance of Power is tilted entirely toward the employer.

If there is one job and ten potential employees, then the workers compete with one another for the job. Think of it like an auction. Each worker offers up the most labor for the lowest cost to the employer, because all of the people bidding for the job need the job.

“I’ll do it for $9/hour plus health insurance,” says the first.

The second laughs. “I’ll do it for $8/hour. Forget the health insurance,” says the second.

The third laughs. “I’ll do it for $6/hour! Forget all the benefits!”

The Minimum Wage then prevents the first and second people–and the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and however many more there are–from proceeding to undercut the third guy. They can come forward and match his offer, but they cannot stack the odds in their favor by lowering the wage for which they will work. This is why Unions despise “scabs” so much. The second person might go away, grumbling, angry that he didn’t get the job, saying, “It’s not fair! He shouldn’t be able to undercut me like that! There ought to be a law!

That “law,” of course, is the Minimum Wage.

The other consideration to this is that the employer may have already decided that the task is not worth more than $7 an hour. By the employer’s calculations, it’s just not worth more than that to hire someone to keep their parking lot clean of litter and trash. So, unknown to him while he cries that the third person shouldn’t be able to undercut him, the second person had overbid anyway.

It’s similar to the television show The Price is Right. Overbidding in the show is an instant loss. If one says $550 for a washing machine that MSRPs for $349, the contestant cannot win that round, no matter what. This is also the case with demanding a wage that is higher than the employer is willing to pay: the worker cannot “win that round.” The worker cannot get that job. It’s instant disqualification. Though the employer, like on the show, has hidden the actual value of the job, the first two people have overbid and have disqualified themselves. This is why everyone cuts their eyes angrily at the person who bids $1–on the show, if everyone else overbids, that person is assured to win the round; that employee who bids the lowest intentionally is assured to get the job, if they are otherwise qualified–and, often, even if they are not.

What happens, though, when everyone is disqualified, because no one is able to bid below a certain amount, and the employer has already calculated to find out that the value of the job is lower than the “certain amount” they aren’t allowed to bid below? Everyone is disqualified. No one gets the job. The job goes undone.

Imagine the foolishness of having on the show The Price is Right the rule that “No one may bid under $100 for an item.” Now imagine the added folly of featuring a toaster that is valued at $40. What happens? Everyone overbids, because everyone must bid over $100. Yes, it’s a rather stupid state of affairs, isn’t it?

Yet the “toasters,” such as they are, exist. There are jobs–tens of thousands of them–that need to be done, but simply aren’t worth $7.25 an hour to the person who would pay to have them done. In our analogy, the toaster is on the show, and the toaster can’t be removed from the show. The circumstances we’ve created are idiotic. We see the toasters on the show, and we know they’re going to have to be bid on, we see the requirement that no one can bid below a certain amount, and we see that this means people are overbidding by default and can’t do anything about it. It’s truly idiotic.

Yet our stakes are so much higher in the real world than round after round of contestant overbidding on the toaster because they can’t bid below a certain amount. In the real world, we end up with unemployment. We end up with people being fired because the employer is unwilling and/or unable to pay someone $9 an hour to do some menial task. We watch a father of three panic over money because he can’t find a job–even McDonald’s continues to hire one teenager after the next, because there are more potential workers than there are jobs available, and the father of three inherently involves more hassle than hiring another pimply seventeen year old nerd.

Yet imagine the opposite! Just as there are, right now, more potential workers than there are jobs available*, so could there be more jobs available than there are potential workers. Look at what this does to the Balance of Power–instead of having a condescending interviewer ask, “What can you do for the company?” we have a grinning worker asking one interviewer after the next, “What do you have to offer me?”

Instead of the workers undercutting each other out of necessity, the employers undercut each other.

“I’ll give you $8.25 an hour,” says the first.

“They offered you $8.25/hour?” asks the second. “Ha. We’ll match that, and we’ll give you stock options.”

“Hm, those are pretty good offers,” says the third. “I tell you what. I’ll give you $10/hour, stock options, and a 3% 401K match.”

That world is possible. It’s a world that exists only when there are more jobs to be done than there are workers to do them. The Minimum Wage ensures that this world does not come to fruition; the Minimum Wage guarantees that workers compete with one another for a job, instead of employers competing with one another for workers. The Minimum Wage is at the heart of this issue. Just look around, at all the stuff that needs to be done–yet isn’t being done. And then look at the millions of Americans who are unemployed, and ask yourself, “Why can’t these unemployed people be hired to do this stuff that isn’t being done?”

The answer, of course, is “Because we made up the rule that contestants couldn’t bid below a certain amount.”

Because, for some weird ass reason, we thought that doing so would make the toaster more valuable.

* Note that, per the title, this isn’t strictly true–the jobs are available, but no one is allowed to hire anyone to do them because of the requirement that bids be a certain amount.

Socialism & Fascism

In a recent article, Robert Higgs made the argument that socialism is pretty much dead, and that fascism is instead the dominant economic policy on the globe. As far as I’m aware, this is my first exposure to Higgs, and I must confess: I’m not impressed.

First, it should be readily observable to all people that fascism and socialism are related, in the same sense that an orchestra maestro entails mastery of the musical pieces; fascism is the conductor’s mastery, and socialism is mastery of the song. It’s possible to be a master of the song without being a master conductor, but it’s not possible to be a master conductor without being a master of the song.

In classic logic terms, all bloops are bleeps, but not all bleeps are bloops.

This is because socialism is an economic policy, while fascism is what we would call governmental policy. It’s true that “fascism” is a notoriously difficult idea to pin down, and a lot of people mistakenly attribute “nationalism” as one of its primary tenets, but that’s a misattribution, a result of people focusing more on words than with the essence represented by those words. State supremacy is the hallmark of fascism. Through most of human history, this would have manifested as nationalism and the notion that the nation is the greatest; in more modern times, it manifests primarily as globalism, and the notion that a global government would be the greatest. However, regardless at what level the fascist pledges their allegiance (whether to the nation or to the globe), the primary hallmark is the same: the state that is in charge is supreme.

Everything within the state. Nothing outside the state, nothing beyond the state.

— Benito Mussolini

Socialism is an idea that prescribes state ownership of capital. To explain this, we must clarify the difference between capital and a consumption good. A consumption good is one that does not increase in value, one that, under normal conditions, only decreases in value (i.e., is “used up”). A consumption good is something that is used and ultimately discarded, and is not an investment. Televisions, cell phones, food, clothing, gasoline, and other similar items are consumption goods. Socialism absolutely allows for individuals within the socialist society to own consumption goods. Even the most diehard socialist isn’t going to advocate a system where Bob, having run out of toothpaste, can enter your apartment and help himself to yours. In the socialist apparatus, consumption goods regularly pass into ownership by consumers, where they are consumed, and the state merely creates, assigns, and hands out these consumption goods.

Capital, on the other hand, is held entirely by the state. Houses, land, vehicles, manufacturing plants, and similar items are the property of the state, and the state uses this capital to create the consumption goods and dole them out to the citizens. The state owns the toothpaste manufacturing plant and provides one tube a month to each citizen, in other words, and once that toothpaste is handed over, it’s generally considered that citizen’s toothpaste. The state doesn’t really care what happens to consumption goods, because they are consumption goods–even if Bob hoards all of his toothpaste and attempts to sell it on the black market, it’s just not going to give him enough capital to seriously challenge the state. Besides which, it has an expiration date–the day is coming that the toothpaste will be without any value at all.

When we discuss “private property” under the ideas of capitalism, we are not saying that individuals have the right to own consumption goods–this right is a given, and even the most adamant socialist isn’t likely to challenge it. Instead, we are saying that individuals have the right to own capital. Individuals have the right to purchase items that will generate a return on the investment, that will produce wealth. Under capitalism, an individual can purchase the glass, copper, gold, plastic, and whatever else is necessary in order to produce phones, which are then sold as consumption goods to other individuals for money, thereby creating a return on the investment. This model is obviously successful, and obviously creates a net benefit to society as a whole: some people get the phone, and one person is rewarded for their investment with more money.

But it’s not my intention here to point out that capitalism is better.

In fact, the requirement that individuals be allowed to own capital is in the name: capitalism. We could easily call socialism consumptionism, in fact, because it restricts the individual’s ownership of property solely to consumption items–to the phones produced, to the toothpaste, to the gasoline, to the food, and never to the facilities, rigs, or farms where these things are produced. Instead, everything of real value that can have labor added to it in order to increase that value belongs to the state.

Five hundred acorns are of very little value to me, after all. However, by adding my labor to them (by planting them, nourishing them, and watering them), I can turn them into 500 trees of considerable value. This is the essence of capitalism: taking a resource, investing in it, and seeing a return on those resources. In the socialist order, one would still be allowed to own acorns, in most cases, but the state would claim the trees as soon as they were grown, and would fine and arrest the person who planted them.

Socialism is state ownership and control of capital property.

Fascism is state control of pretty much everything, including capital property. The state cannot be supreme if it does not control the means of production (i.e., capital). This is why every fascist government that has risen has also been socialist, from Mussolini’s Italy to Hitler’s Germany to Kim Jong Un’s North Korea. In fact, North Korea is one of the few fascist nations in the world today, where the state openly controls everything from education programs to capital.

Similarly, we in the United States are much more fascist than we’d like to realize, and we’re entirely socialist. No American is allowed to own capital; the owners of all capital is ultimately the American Government. In a capitalist order, a person purchases a house and the land around it, and then it’s theirs–it belongs to them, and they can do whatever they want with it, because they are the owner. This is not the case in the United States. In the United States, the person has an enormous list of things they are not allowed to do with the property, must petition for the right to do countless things that they supposedly have the right to do, and then must pay rent each year to avoid having the property taken away from them. Paying property taxes to the government in order to avoid having the government take the property away is not in any sense different from paying a bank note to prevent the bank from taking the property away.

Why should the government get money from you each year, just because you own a house and the land around it? It’s not the government’s house or land, is it? By inserting themselves into this process, lining up outside of your property with guns and soldiers and demanding that you hand over money or they will forcibly remove you, the state has usurped your ownership of the home and made itself the owner. We can use all the doublethink and cognitive dissonance we like, but the fact remains that this affair is known as “renting,” and not “owning.”

This is similarly the case for whatever manufacturing facility you own. Not only are you required to pay duties on thins that you import, but you must pay the government a portion of your profits regularly, because, if you don’t, they will take the manufacturing facility away from you. And, of course, you can’t just build a manufacturing facility in your backyard; you must acquire permits, many of which are exorbitantly expensive, and rely on getting the government’s permission for you to use “your” property in the way that you want in the first place.

This cannot be considered “private property.”

It would be no different if I came by your manufacturing facility once a month with armed goons and demanded a cut of your profits for “protection,” and made it clear that, if you didn’t pay, you would have an “accident” that would end with one of my people being installed as the owner of the facility. This is what the state does now, today, in 2017 Common Era, in the United States. The idea that this arrangement constitutes “private property” is demonstrably false, and has been demonstrated as so.

If that was your house, you could burn it down. If that was your house, you could add a wing without getting permission from the government. If that was your house, you could install your own septic tank. If that was your house, you could dig an enormous hole and create a pond. If that was your house, you would not have to pay someone each year in order to prevent it from being taken away from you. Instead, it is the state who decides whether you can have permission to add a wing, it is the state who decides whether you may install a septic tank (“No, you cannot, but you can pay $1,200 to this guy who paid us $3,000 for his license to do it.”), and it is the state who ultimately owns the property, who must receive a payment from you regularly, on top of all these other considerations.

The thing about ownership is that it means I can do whatever I want with my property.

Compare the ownership of capital in the United States–as most obvious in regard to houses–to the ownership of consumption goods. I can do whatever I want with the Linksys WRT54GL that I’m looking at. I can write my name on it. I can install DDWRT firmware. I can put it on whatever subnet I want. I can take it outside and smash it to pieces. I can unload sixteen 12 gauge shotgun shells into it. I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission, and I don’t have to pay anyone each year for the “privilege” of owning it. It’s mine.

That difference is critical to understanding the current state of the world. Socialism is assuredly not on the decline; private ownership of capital is more regulated, controlled, restricted, and usurped than ever before. Socialism is more powerful today than it has ever been, and more dominant than ever. If we do not take back the right to own capital, free of government regulations, government mandates, and government threats of theft, then the problems we face can never be fixed.

And all of this is without even getting into Intellectual Property, eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, and the millions of regulations that bear down on us every single day. Anyone who looks at this state of affairs and calls it “private property” is severely confused. After all, both socialism and capitalism feature the ownership of consumption goods. As such, the ownership of consumption goods cannot be a deciding factor in whether a society is capitalist or socialist–as it is contained on both sides of the equation, it is reduced:

Private ownership of capital + private ownership of consumption goods = Capitalism

State ownership of capital + private ownership of consumption goods = Socialism

Anyone can see that “private ownership of consumption goods” has nothing to do with it, and must be subtracted from both. What we’re left with is that “private ownership of capital = capitalism” and “state ownership of capital = socialism.” Seeing as Fascism is state dominance over everything, from medicine to education to capital to consumption goods (because, for obvious reasons, if the state manufactures the only toothpaste in existence, then the state controls who has toothpaste and who doesn’t, as opposed to capitalism, where a person who has pissed off Colgate can still purchase Crest).

Fascism is also alive and well, although the state that people want to be supreme over everything has moved up one level, for the most part, to globalism instead of nationalism. This is why I once made the point that national fascism is easier to defeat than global fascism, while I explained my support for Brexit and America leaving NATO and the United Nations. Although viewed as contentious, that statement is actually an obvious extrapolation of how local governments are easier to influence than federal ones. It is much easier to get my city council to do what I want than it is to get the federal government to do what I want, and much easier to get the federal government to do what I want than it is to get the world government to do what I want. There is also the reality that world government soldiers from Uganda and New Guinea will face no real hardship oppressing people in California, while soldiers from California will face some internal difficulty oppressing people in Arkansas, and soldiers from Tate County, Mississippi will face considerable internal strife oppressing the people of Tate County. Local > distant, in every conceivable way.

However, that fascists today are roughly evenly split between nationalism and globalism is of no concern. They want state supremacy either way. The global fascists simply want to create a higher level of government to be supreme and enforce their desires. In that way, the globalist fascists are more fascist than the nationalist ones. And, yes, there is a strong correlation between those who want a powerful world government that can dictate national policies and those who openly desire socialism; yet, even among the national fascists, there is a strong tendency for the state to control different aspects of people’s lives (marriage, sexual identity, drugs, whatever). The globalist fascists simply want to create a Big Joker, because they don’t like how the nationalist fascists have the Little Joker.

 

Cultural Buffets: I’ll Debate You, Michael W. Miller

I’ll spare you all the details and give a brief summary. Arvin Vohra criticized Liberty Hangouts publicly, and members of Liberty Hangouts defended themselves. This led Arvin to apologize and correct himself, and on this thread of comments there appeared a discussion between Jason Weinman (with whom I’ve had disagreements with the past because, if I recall correctly, he went hard for Gary Johnson) and Michael William Miller of Liberty Hangouts about various things I don’t really care about. During the name-calling and pedantry, Michael said:

If you mean we support traditional values, yes, but we have never called once for legislation forcing anyone to do anything.

And, moments later:

[D]o you want to debate this on a livestream? [W]e’d be more than happy to host it on Liberty Hangout. 🙂

While, from what I can gather, the debate invitation was to discuss whether or not Liberty Hangout had called for legislation of traditional values, Jason Weinman declined the invitation. However, I would gladly debate anyone at Liberty Hangout on “traditional” values, and whether it’s a concern that they’re being eroded.

My Values Are My Values, and Therefore Correct

Everyone believes this to be true. It’s an application of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, in fact. Just as we use our ability to play the guitar to understand how skilled another guitar player is, so do we use our own values to judge the values of other people. When we look at uncontacted tribes that segregate girls from their tribe when they hit puberty, we reject the idea as backward and immoral, because our values tell us that it’s wrong to treat people that way, it will have severe permanent damage on the girl’s self-esteem, and there’s nothing magical or mystical about periods. Yet this assessment itself is built on our values that it’s bad to cause severe permanent damage to people’s self-esteem, and our values that positive self-esteem is a good thing. I’ve discussed this countless times before and won’t go into it in full detail. Instead, just check out this article on the subject. Or check out this one.

Cultural Competition

More importantly, the reality of the situation isn’t just that “traditional values” are being eroded from within, although many right-wing figures would deny this and focus their efforts on controlling immigration, in full disregard of the fact that America influences the rest of the world, not the other way around, but also that we are seeing cultural competition, and it functions exactly the same way as economic competition. Worldviews compete in the market in exactly the same way that businesses do, and the one that proves to be most efficient wins out in the long-run. In terms of culture, efficiency appears to be measured primarily in inclusiveness. This also makes sense in economic terms, as exclusiveness reduces a business’s customer base.

For example, acceptance of black people as equals won out the culture war when the two sides pitted against one another: one side advocated continued open racism and segregation, and the other side advocated an end to these things. Motivated by self-interest, the majority of people would have put their personal feelings aside, in the event that they were racist, to advocate for equality, because this, in Mississippi for example, increased their customer reach by 37%. An openly racist business in Mississippi immediately loses 37% of all customers, and more, when it’s considered that many people who aren’t black would refuse to do business with such a company. Many others are motivated simply by empathy, which is also self-interest, since no one wants to be filled with negative emotions like guilt and sorrow.

I have no desire to argue whether one side is right or wrong, even when it comes to “traditional values” (one assumes this to mean heterosexuality, anti-transgenderism, etc.) versus contemporary values, because both sides are subjective. Each can be demonstrated as desirable by its own parameters, and each can demonstrate the other as undesirable by those same parameters. Someone who thinks that transsexualism is a mental illness will obviously think that the normalization of transsexualism is a bad idea, because it openly accepts what they consider to be a mental illness, and they find treating mental illnesses as normal to be a bad idea.

Cultural values change over time, and they clearly move in some direction that I won’t try to name. The arc of human history is pretty evident, though, in that we’ve moved toward secularization and acceptance, rather than toward heightened religiosity and bigotry. We’ve also moved from despotism toward liberty and individualism, at least until the rise of fascism in the 20th century that has set us back so drastically. I’d hazard the guess that there is a common thread that connects these things–the move away from bigotry, the move toward secularization, the move toward liberty–but it’s something to think about some other day. The fact remains: cultural values change over time. Whether they are improving or getting worse is up for argument.

It would seem obvious that a stagnant culture would self-destruct in very short order, but it’s equally obvious that there has never been such a thing as a stagnant culture. Today, our culture changes at a shocking speed and is incredibly robust–so robust that many people don’t consider the United States as having a culture. Compare that to the relatively defined culture of Venice, France, and Saudi Arabia. Here in the United States, we have a culture that includes hateful assholes like Steven Anderson (a pastor who openly says that he wishes more trans teens would kill themselves), wonderful nameless Christians who don’t give a shit if someone is trans, atheists like myself who take no part in religion, people who openly believe themselves to be witches, people who openly worship the devil, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and even scientologists. The only description that will fit these many disparate beliefs and worldviews is that the United States’ culture as a whole values religious freedom.

In another sense, we have goth culture, emo culture, jock culture, snob culture, cheerleader culture, Christian culture, white culture, black culture, Japanese culture, Mexican culture, and so many others that it’s immaterial whether every single individual actively enjoys and embraces all of these different sub-cultures, because, again, on the whole the result is that the Unites States’ culture values cultural differences. This literally allows us to pick and choose what we like from each culture and incorporate it into our lives for personal fulfillment.

I think Michael and I both will agree that “cultural appropriation” is a positive thing, and that SJWs can fuck off.

This allows even the most ardent transphobic Christian to watch and enjoy Japanese anime, to eat burritos, and to have a goth son who listens to Megadeth (though the parent, because of the cultural conflict, won’t be happy about it, hopefully the parent realizes the futility and counterproductive nature of denying the teenager the ability to embrace their own preferences). The United States is basically a gigantic buffet of different cultural elements, and we are actively encouraged (nevermind the lunatic progressives) to take only the dishes that we like, while ignoring the dishes that we don’t like.

My wording in my willingness to accept a debate with Michael isn’t accidental. I have no desire to argue with him about the utility and value of “traditional values.” He has gone to the buffet and taken different dishes–that’s fine. I have absolutely no standing to tell him that the dishes he took are inferior, bigoted, hateful, or narrow-minded. They’re the dishes he likes, and that’s okay. My argument is that it’s not a problem that the Accepting Trans People Dish has been placed on the buffet. I’m not arguing that the “traditional” dishes should be removed from the buffet, and, evidently, Michael isn’t arguing that contemporary dishes should be removed from the buffet (so, really, there’s not much of a debate there).

However, it remains true that anyone who subscribes to traditional values will consider those traditional dishes to be superior to the contemporary ones–and that, in my estimation, is wrong. Not only is it a subjective assessment of different values that is based on the values that go into the assessment (it gets really hard to explain), but the closest we have to “objective” criteria (economic growth, prosperity, and peace) suggests that it’s a positive thing when culture shifts from “whatever it is” along the unnamed thread toward liberty, secularization, and acceptance. This becomes subjective because I value economic growth, prosperity, and peace, and I have absolutely no objective reason that I can point to in order to suggest that economic growth, prosperity, and peace are good things (see Darkside Philosophy for an idea of how deep that rabbit hole gets).

So the questions are ultimately:

  • Does the presence of contemporary values on the Cultural Buffet in any way decrease the value of traditional values?

The answer is “No,” but, to be fair, I don’t think Michael would make that argument in the first place. This is sort of counterintuitive. If we laid out a buffet of ten different currencies, all of them equal to 100 of whatever currency they are (one hundred dollars, one hundred pounds, one hundred euros, etc.), it would seem to cheapen the value of the 100USD if the USD customarily were the only option. However, given that monopolies are inherently wasteful and inefficient (whether cultural, currency, or business monopolies), the presence of competition would more likely increase the value of the USD.

  • Is the presence of contemporary values on the Cultural Buffet a negative detriment to the traditional values?

This is very similar to the first question. If a child of one of the traditional diners is intrigued by the look of some contemporary values dish, it could be argued that the mere presence of the dish piqued the child’s imagination, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. But here we have to point out: if the traditional dish is superior, then there is no harm in allowing the child to taste the contemporary dish. If we place a bowl of chocolate ice cream, and a bowl of sprinkle-covered shit on the buffet, it wouldn’t really be a problem, no matter how much one didn’t want one’s child to eat sprinkle-covered shit. If the chocolate ice cream is better, then even if the child does get the chance to taste the shit, the child will surely go running back to the ice cream at the first opportunity. This is the cowardice and weakness that underlies cultural protectionism: if their values were truly superior–as they profess to believe–it would be unnecessary to prevent others from being exposed to other values. I have no issue with my clients trying out other I.T. companies, because I know they’ll come running back to me in very short order.

  • Are traditional dishes likely to survive the diversity of the buffet in any noteworthy sense?

The answer here is “no,” just as the traditional dish of “divine right of kings” hasn’t survived the buffet. Sure, a few people every once in a while can be found eating that dish, but the total impact that dish has on the overall culture is negligible. Greek Mythology is another traditional dish that hasn’t been treated well by the buffet. Even though we can find people today who worship Zeus, Greek Mythology is widely considered mythology rather than a religion, and the total impact that Zeus worshipers have on wider society is negligible. As long as no one comes along and removes the dish from the buffet, it’s up to the people who like and prefer that dish to convince other people that it’s a dish worth having.

If one can’t do that, then I guess the dish isn’t that good after all. I don’t have to convince people to try my chicken enchiladas, because they’re freaking delicious, and smelling them while hearing everyone raving about them (no joke, my chicken enchiladas are amazing, but it’s not my recipe) will entice them to try them. I don’t have to convince people to not eat the beef burrito; I just have to convince them to give my own dish a shot. And if my dish is really as good as I say it is, after that it will speak for itself.

Bill Nye is Anti-Science

When I first noticed that people were using the descriptor “intelligent” not to denote people who seemed to have higher-than-average levels of intelligence, but to mark allies in political agreement, I posted that something was wrong and that it was going to get worse:

Intelligence has become the new deity.

“If you believe what I believe, then you are smart. If you are smart, then you will believe what I believe.”

An outward thing from which a person derives their own net worth–the problem is that the “outward thing” is actually an inward thing. In true Dunning-Kruger fashion, people judge their own intelligence by their own ideas, and since they always believe their own ideas to be correct, they always judge themselves to be intelligent.

I’m sure we’ve all run into this. At some point, someone has surely said something to you that was similar to, “You seem really smart… You should read this” or “… You should watch this video.” It carries with it the most dangerous of subtleties: “If you are actually smart, then you’d agree with me. Maybe you don’t have the information that I have. Here’s that information. If you still don’t agree, then I was wrong about you being smart.”

In fact, I’ve been called an “idiot” probably more than anyone I’ve ever met, and this insult has never been thrown at me in any context other than political disagreement. No one could ever possibly mistake me for an idiot. Whether I’m correct or incorrect is unrelated to that. In reality, if I say something and someone thinks I’m an idiot for it, then the much more likely answer is that they simply didn’t understand what I said in the first place.

Intelligence isn’t a prerequisite of being right, and neither is being right an indicator of intelligence. Some of the greatest minds in human history were wrong about any number of things. Being correct is a factor of knowledge and nothing else. Even someone with an IQ of 250 will be wrong about any number of things, simply because we lack a lot of information, and their unnaturally high IQ will do nothing to prevent them from being wrong.

Once more, it’s all about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which is one of the most breathtaking psychological breakthroughs in human history. A person judges their own understanding of who is and isn’t intelligent relative to their own intelligence. I pointed out yesterday that we judge value systems relative to our own value systems–all of this is obvious, and the ties to Nietzsche’s philosophy and Austrian economics are equally obvious. We judge the value systems of other cultures by our own value system, and compare them relative to our own; ours are our own, so we like ours, and the more different the other systems are to ours, the more we dislike them. It’s impossible to escape from this, because my love for liberty-oriented value systems forms the basis that I use to assess the value of other systems. It’s also the case with intelligence: my only gauge for assessing other people’s intelligence is my own intelligence.

Several “celebrated scientists” have been exhibiting exactly the behavior that Murray Rothbard and others wrote about. They have become pimps of their scientific credibility in the employ of the state and the status quo. In fact, they have sacrificed their right to call themselves scientists and are about as anti-science as any group of people could be.

These guys.

Modern priests

What is this illustrious word “science?” What does it mean? What does it entail? If it is to be anything more than just a cheap and gaudy rubberstamp that we apply to whatever ideology we happen to believe, then it must have an actual meaning–which, ironically, is a statement that any scientist would agree with. Definitions are important, because they form the basis of the words that we use to understand and communicate the world. A simple Google search gives us:

the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

I can’t help but wonder if that definition makes Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye, and Neili deGrasse Tyson blush and feel ashamed. It should.

Of course, my argument against them is part of the problem, isn’t it? I have no problem recognizing that. In the vein of any actual scientist, I see my own bias and absolutely insane demands of these human beings, that they must apply the scientific method in all areas of their lives, and that they aren’t allowed to deviate from it. In fact, it is I who is accusing them of heresy, isn’t it? They have violated my religion of Science by disgracing its methods, much like a Christian violating Christianity by disgracing the teachings of Christ.

My problem with them is that they should apply the Scientific Method and don’t.

This combines with the masses’ misunderstanding that they do apply the Scientific Method.

In effect, I’m demanding of them what the masses of people think they are already doing. “Surely we can trust Neil Tyson’s statements about art and science funding! He’s a scientist!” Of course, it was not terribly long ago that Neil Tyson asked his many, many Twitter followers if they truly wanted to live in a world without art, framing all of reality as a false dichotomy built on the idea that if the government doesn’t do something, then it can’t be done. The obvious problems with this stupidity don’t need to be pointed out–didn’t I just buy tickets to see a musical concert? The government didn’t buy those tickets.

Bill Nye went on CNN and made the statement that the Constitution authorizes Congress to fund the sciences, and made mention of Article I, Section 8. It’s true that this is the section that enumerates Congressional power, but nothing else that Nye said is remotely true, as the passage that Nye quotes leaves off highly significant data. What do we call a “scientist” who discards a large part of the data because it isn’t convenient to his hypothesis?

“Formerly employed,” perhaps.

“Not a scientist.” Yes, that’s another option.

In fact, the section of the Constitution to which Bill Nye refers explicitly enumerates Congressional power without ambiguity, and the full passage asserts that Congress may promote the arts and sciences by securing patents for the respective authors and inventors. It is authorization to issue patents, not authorization to issue money. There’s no way that Nye could have accidentally read the first part of the sentence and not the second part. This was, we must conclude, an intentional ploy to convince the people who take him at his word as a reliable source that the Constitution authorizes Congress to fund scientific research. In the interest of scientific integrity, I will provide the evidence to support my contention:

Congress shall have the power…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

So this is two “celebrated scientists” who have been thoroughly disloyal to the precepts of science–the Scientific Method, the Bible of Science. Since so few people are calling them out on their heresy, allow me to do so:

Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, you have betrayed your church, and you should both repent and make restitution. This restitution should come in the form of public apologies on no less than six occasions throughout the next six weeks–two in written, two in aural, and two in video form. That shall be your penance.

I may sound like I’m joking, and I am, to a degree. I don’t expect Nye and Tyson to ever back down from their arrogant betrayal of the scientific method and wanton displays of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, much less to ever issue a single apology for the stupid shit they have said. However, I’m serious about my loyalty to the scientific method, to reason, and to evidence, and I’m serious that clearly these three men cannot say the same.

What of Hawking? Well, Hawking has repeatedly waxed at length about the evils of capitalism and how only world government can save us from its oppressive destruction. Never mind that anyone who has taken even a single introductory college-level economics course can attest to the scientific fact that we do not have capitalism anywhere on planet Earth. So I’m calling out Hawking on clearly never studying economics, yet routinely attempting to talk about economics as though he has any idea what in the hell he’s talking about. Clearly, he doesn’t, and any first-year college student could confirm that.

So to these three heretical priests, I say:

Repent! The end is Nye.

What we’re seeing is a more of an revival than a renaissance, as the precepts of science have been tossed in the trash with reckless abandon. What else can we conclude, when “celebrated scientists” make claims that they either know to be false, trusting that the masses will believe them, or are simply too ignorant on the subject to know whether their claim is false at all?

Yet this hasn’t stopped the masses–the precise characteristics which makes them “the masses,” after all, is that they aren’t interested in independently discovering truth and will blindly follow whatever ideology is handed down to them from “trusted authorities”–from swallowing all of it, with Tyson’s demonstrably false, fallacious, and erroneous spiel seeing tens of thousands of retweets by people who have no desire to think the matter through for themselves.

Trust has been placed in these three people, by the masses of people, who, again, are defined “as the masses” precisely by their lack of interest in pursuing these matters intellectually, and these three people have utterly betrayed that trust. Yet the masses don’t know it, do they? No, because the masses aren’t interested in scrutinizing the words of their favorite priests. For the masses, these poisoned, fallacious ideas enter the mind unchallenged, and there they embed themselves; the masses never stop to ponder the false dichotomy that Tyson has proposed, or what credentials Stephen Hawking might have to discuss economics rather than cosmology.

And I’m as qualified to call myself a scientist as Bill Nye.

I haven’t researched this recently, and seem to recall Nye having a Master’s, but maybe not.

In fact, if a “scientist” is someone who liberally applies the scientific method to questions, then I’m infinitely more qualified. Bill Nye has the advantage in that this actor and performer managed to get a kids’ show where he cheaply purchased credibility among the masses and became a trusted authority figure. Indeed, I find myself wondering whether Bill Nye was purposely planted there when we were kids precisely for this purpose–precisely for using him to peddle statism and the status quo once we became adults. It wouldn’t be the most extravagantly dangerous thing the state ever did. After all, they took control of the entire education apparatus and have been using it to manipulate the masses for 60 years. Now those people raised by the state education are adults and in charge, and the idea of dismantling that apparatus is met with knee-jerk angry reactions; the idea is rejected without consideration.

Give me their minds through their formative years, and by the time they’re adults I can have them convinced of anything. I can have them saying it’s okay to kill people who disagree with them, that people of one race deserve to be annihilated or enslaved, that it’s okay to steal things if they want those things… The mind of a child is not critical. By the time they are able to think critically, the ideas I plant will already be firmly in their minds, forming the very lens through which they view the world.

We have rarely been in more danger of a religious sentiment overtaking reason, and Nye, Tyson, Kaku, and Hawking are leading the charge. “Science” isn’t a set of beliefs that one must adhere to or be a heretic. I’ve seen “pro-science” people do the metaphorical equivalent of burning people at the stake for dare challenging one of the items in their set of beliefs, and I’m sure you’ve seen the same. “Science” is a methodology. Anyone who demands that you acquiesce to a set of beliefs and ideas that they have put forward is peddling religion, not science.

If they can’t present evidence, if they can’t present a reasonable argument, and if they can’t prove their position, based on all available evidence, is sound, then they are unworthy of trust. If they ignore huge amounts of information simply because it’s inconvenient to their hypothesis, then they are engaging in cherry-picking, another hallmark of religion, rather than science.

Rantings & Ravings Rebooted Ep 03 – “Gays & Justice”

Intro (0:00)

General conversation about stuff.

News 1 (2:33)

Gay couple in Norway attacked by Moroccans, and reflections on the Pulse Shooting, as well as the fact that we’re not able to fix a problem if we aren’t allowed to discuss it. Also the mess in Syria, why Trump thinks it’s okay to create more terrorists, and the clusterfuck state of American foreign policy.

Stupid Comment of the Week (10:06)

A “former AnCap” who left the ideology because… he couldn’t envision a way for the ideology to come to fruition…? It was really hard to make sense of his ramblings, and this is from someone who rambles a lot. So we discuss various ways in which the radical ideology of non-violence could be implemented, and mention again that beautiful event during World War 1.

News 2 (23:52)

There actually isn’t a second news item this week. I had one, but deleted it to instead talk about the fact that we shouldn’t have this much shit to discuss in the first place, and how it’s an indication that something has gone awry. My anarchism doesn’t come out often (much of the time, I could be mistaken for a libertarian), but here it really shines through.

Are You Fucking Kidding Me? (36:37)

Skittles’ attempt to show solidarity with a rainbow-oriented group by… removing all colors from their candy…? What? I’m far from a Social Justice Warrior, but they have a point. Removing all color doesn’t show support; it shows antagonism, morons. “I’m going to show my support for the women’s march by waving my dick around!” What? No, it doesn’t make sense. A candy with the slogan of “taste the rainbow” removing all its colors to show “support” for a group whose emblem is the rainbow is, at the very least moronic, and that’s assuming it wasn’t meant as a snub of LGBTQ people in a society that wouldn’t tolerate it.

Darkside Philosophy (40:53)

Justice and AnCap principles–most people don’t mean “justice” when they say it. They mean “vengeance.” So I talk a bit about my murdered mother and how I might have justice over it. Spoiler Alert: the only way for me to have justice is to forgive the murderer. The conceit that it’s okay to inflict violence on someone because they used violence is called Eye For An Eye, and it’s not justice; it’s revenge.

The NES Classic & Economics

We anarchists and libertarians are bothered by a great many things, but one of the things that bothers us most–and that is almost universal among anarchists and libertarians–is the general economic ignorance that pervades the United States. We wouldn’t tolerate this ignorance in any other subject, but it serves the state’s purpose to keep us ignorant of economics (the manner by which we turn energy into product), so it’s a field that is touched only briefly–if at all–in high schools. The average American knows only that there’s a thing called “demand” and a thing called “supply,” and then their eyes tend to glaze over and words like “derivatives” and “inflationary tyreni index G7P 14.7” run through their minds.

So, first of all, forget all of that. Forget about GDP, forget about inflationary indexes, and forget about all the shenanigans that we have come to associate with “economics” now that we have given over control of the entire economy to a coalition of privately owned banks that operate with no Congressional oversight. All of that crap is fiction. They are obfuscations designed to confuse us and distract us. They are smokescreens designed to keep us disinterested in the subject, to make us feel ignorant and stupid, and to make us blindly trust in these experts who seem to know what they’re talking about. In reality, they’re just talking nonsense, like this guy:

I’m not kidding. That’s the average state economist. That’s the Fed Chairperson. That’s the Secretary of the Treasury. For the most part, they have just completely made this shit up and invented rules that don’t have anything to do with reality. It’s a game of Monopoly that they’ve invented and tricked us into playing, and they keep us playing by using complicated language and nonsense to convince us that we need them being the game’s referee.

Now, I am not talking about the fact that Nintendo has ceased producing the NES Classic. For those unaware, Nintendo recently released a mini-console for $60, which contained 30 classic NES games like Mega Man 2, Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, and others–even some stupid ones like Balloon Fight that nobody wants. Naturally, the thing sold very well, but Nintendo notoriously has problems with supply and did the same thing with their Amiibos (which are little toys that interact with some of their games). Nintendo repeatedly failed to manufacture enough Amiibos to meet demand, which led to accusations that they were doing it on purpose (in fact, one can conclude nothing else, since they publicly addressed the problem and then did nothing to fix it).

This obviously created scalpers, and scalpers are getting a lot of criticism. Some enterprising individual pops into Wal-Mart, buys an NES Classic for $60, and then posts it on eBay for $100 (or whatever price), pocketing the profit. This is actually a good thing, economically, but it’s a band-aid to the situation. Realistically, Nintendo should be the ones directly increasing the price of the NES Classic, instead of continuing to sell them for $60. In fact, thanks to the scalpers, there is no shortage. Calling this a shortage is economically ignorant and incorrect.

A shortage is when consumers are unable to buy an item.

And there you go. What we have with the NES Classic clearly isn’t a shortage. In economic terms, a shortage exists when Demand exceeds Supply–when more people want to buy a thing, and there aren’t enough of those things to go around. In fact, scalpers have ensured that there isn’t a shortage. Rather than condemning them, we should be thanking them.

The people complaining about a “shortage” don’t really mean that they are unable to buy the item, do they? Clearly, they don’t. What they mean is “I’m not willing to pay that much for one.” This is a critical element of economic understanding: price is not some arbitrary thing. Prices are supposed to increase like this, as the increase in price offsets Demand. Again, this is obvious. Many people were willing to pay $60 for an NES Classic. Fewer people are willing to pay $110 for an NES Classic.

This means that, quite literally, supply exceeds demand, not the other way around. In reality, what we have is a surplus, not a shortage. A shortage exists when demand exceeds supply; a surplus exists when supply exceeds demand. Thanks to the increased price, the supply persists today, and the demand has been lowered.

There is a character in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time who sells Magic Beans to the player, and each purchase increased the cost by 10 rupees. The first costs 10 rupees, the second costs 20 rupees, the third costs 30 rupees, and so on. An increase in price because of high demand is a normal, expected, and beneficial part of economics, as it ensures that we never experience a shortage.

During the 1980s, the United States saw pretty severe gas shortages. Gas stations attempted to raise the price as the supply of gas decreased, but the Federal Government put a Price Ceiling on it and forbade them increasing the price beyond that. So, naturally, everyone immediately set their price at the ceiling (even if they weren’t yet that low on supply). As the cost of something increases, people’s willingness to do it or acquire it decreases, which drives them to seek alternatives (the same phenomenon causes heroin addicts to turn to krokodil, which would be averted if alternatives were made cheaper and more accessible by being made legal). Few people would have been willing to pay $100 for a gallon of gasoline, and so they might have taken that money and bought bicycles instead. Is it ideal? No, the ideal solution is to also increase Supply to re-lower the price, which will be necessary because some people have already chosen to go without because of the increased price. “No, we’re not going to go to grandma’s house this week, not for $20 per gallon. We’ll just not buy the gas at all.”

In the real world, some money is better than no money, and this is why producers can be counted upon to increase supply to meet the demand. Otherwise, they’re just leaving money on the table, and that money will go to someone else. This all has to do with diminishing returns, as well–at a certain point, because all goods are scare and finite, the cost of furnishing the supply gets too high, so the price of the good increases beyond the demand, and producers have to come up with alternative solutions for consumers. This is why we don’t have to actually worry about running out of gasoline: once we get up to $17 a gallon, so many alternatives will be cheaper that gasoline will be phased out naturally.

While it’s certainly bad to have gasoline at $100 per gallon, especially during the 80s, it’s preferable to not having gasoline available at all. If some family had to take their sick child to the emergency room, it’s infinitely better for them to be able to buy gasoline at $100 a gallon than to not be able to buy it. High prices are always preferred to shortages. Those people out there who really, really want an NES Classic can buy one, which is obviously better than their being totally unable to buy one.

Scalpers have performed the critical service of increasing the Price of the good, which in turn lowered Demand so that Supply exceeded it. I was just talking with someone at Jim Sterling’s website about it, and I’d pointed out that marking the item as “Limited Edition” would have made the “shortage” worse. This was before I’d thought about the situation enough to realize that there isn’t a shortage. Sure, one can’t buy one at Target or Wal-Mart, but one can buy one, and that is unequivocally not the case in a shortage.

The only real point of contention is that the thing costs more than they’re willing to pay. Hey, that’s not a problem. There’s a “shortage” of $10 ones, too, and $10 is my price point for one. Every single person out there has their own price point–has their own amount that they’d be willing to pay. Evidently, for most people that number is around $60. For some people, it’s around $120. For me, it’s around $10. The fact that there aren’t any available at my price point doesn’t mean there is a shortage, though. It means that I don’t want one of the things as much as other people do*. These people who want to buy one for $60 are talking about “shortages,” but there isn’t a shortage–their price point simply isn’t as high as other people, and because of the low supply the price of the good has increased beyond the price point as determined by their personal demand.

So scalpers are good. They have performed the critical function of providing the NES Classic to the diehard fans who want them most, and we can say that pretty definitively, as one’s personal price point is determined almost entirely by one’s own demand. It follows that people willing to pay $110 obviously want one more than someone who is only willing to pay $60 for one. This means objectively and measurably that the scalpers have ensured that people who wanted the NES Classic most were able to acquire one.

But, again, all the scalpers have done is ensure that people who are bigger fans of Nintendo and NES games were able to acquire an NES Classic, while people who weren’t as big fans and didn’t want one as badly as those other people weren’t able to, because they weren’t willing to fork over that much cash for one. I can’t even pretend to think it’s a bad thing that people who are bigger fans of Nintendo are able to purchase a Nintendo product that they want, as opposed to people who aren’t as big of fans being able to acquire the product. Clearly, it doesn’t matter as much to them, and the role of currency is precisely to allow us to measure value. That’s literally what currency does. The USD is a unit of measurement for value, and we use it to gauge how much a person wants something. If Person A wants a thing more than Person B, then Person A will be willing to pay more. If Person B can’t get it because he’s not willing to pay as much as, or more, than Person A, then the good should go to Person A, because Person A measurably wants it more.

I try not to tweet much at Jim Sterling, but I think I’m going to tweet this one at him, because he’s been pretty hard on scalpers in the past, and I don’t think that’s fair. Looked at economically, all they do is separate the Diehard Fans from the Casual Fans and ensure that the Diehard Fans are able to acquire the things that they are Diehard Fans of. I agree that this sucks for the Casual Fans, but that’s a problem of Supply, not the scalpers. It’s Nintendo’s fault that someone went without an NES Classic. The scalpers only ensured that it was the Casual Fans who went without, and that the Diehard fans didn’t have to.

I think that’s a good thing. I think that if Person A is a bigger fan of This Thing than Person B and is willing to pay more for it than Person B, then Person A should be the one who gets it.

And I would certainly argue, now that Nintendo has ceased producing them and the next batch will be the last, that it is more critical than ever that we ensure that the diehard fans have them. 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. This song probably conveys it best:

While that’s a matter that’s a bit more serious than a random video game console that can be replicated in countless other ways, the fact remains that scalpers performed the same service there that they’re providing for Diehard Nintendo and NES fans, and… that’s a good thing. It does suck to be on the “I can’t have one” end of that, and I’ve been on that end plenty of times. Until about 3 weeks ago, I was on that end, and didn’t think I was going to be able to make it to see APC in Nashville (The fact that I don’t care even a little about the 3 hour drive says a bit, too). It was genuinely heartbreaking. Thanks to scalpers, I can go. Thanks to scalpers, people who really want an NES Classic can get one.

Nintendo should make more. There’s no doubt of that. And A Perfect Circle should do more tours. But until supply is high enough that everyone can purchase the good at the price point they prefer, there will be people who go without, and scalpers ensure that the “people who go without” are the ones who don’t care as much as other people.

* Actually, I don’t think I’d even pay that. To be completely honest, I don’t think I’d want one if it was free.

I’d also agree that the scalpers have gone way overboard. $400? $500? I even saw one for $8,000. That’s alright, though. I sincerely doubt anyone is going to pay that much, and they’ll lower the price to something less stupid. That’s greed and stupidity more than anything else. But yeah, still, if someone is willing to pay $500 for one of those pieces of crap, then they want it way freaking more than most people and should get it. I just don’t think there is anyone out there willing to pay even half of that. For fuck’s sake, all of the games are available free online…