Tag Archive | capitalism

Western Nihilism 4: A Dose of Reality For an Insane Society

Just a little while ago, I saw the comment from someone on Facebook that Wal-Mart needs to pay its employees a “living wage” [Note: there were obviously multiple comments like this. I’m simply addressing the one that mentioned this dollar figure and rent] (How about you show some responsibility by not shopping at places that don’t pay their employees what you think is fair?), because one wage of $13.73 (or thereabouts) isn’t enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment in most major cities.

*Record screech*

Two bedrooms?

Why does this person making such a low wage need two bedrooms?

Before we get into that, though, it’s worth pointing out that an additional $1.27 isn’t going to make a damned bit of difference for people making $13.73 an hour. Basic math tells us that this is $2,196.80 across four weeks. Assuming an average of 4 weeks in a year, it works out to $2,196.80 a month. The exorbitant rent that this person claimed the person making $13.73/hour couldn’t pay was a mere $875 per month.

I honestly don’t know what kind of math she’s using, but by my records this person making $13.73 has $1,321.80 left over after paying each month’s rents. Even if they run their air conditioning (perhaps they live in Vegas) 24/7, their electricity bill is highly unlikely to pass $400/month, which leaves them $921.80. A typical smartphone bill with Verizon or AT&T will cost $120/month, bringing this figure down to an even $800–$200 each week. If a person can’t survive, after their electricity, rent, and phone bill have been paid, on $200 each week while also managing to put back a considerable bit of that, then they are absolutely terrible with money and need to learn to budget.

There’s no nice way to say this. At present, I make $300 a week, on salary. Yet I pay my rent, my electricity, my phone bill, my Internet bill, and everything else just fine. And because I’m an anarchist, I refuse to use government assistance (though at a wage of $300/week, I certainly qualify), I pay for 100% of the food that I eat, and I don’t have health insurance. Meanwhile, I manage to put back money toward moving to Vegas, shelled out nearly $2400 to government extortion so far this year, and spend $67/month buying hormones from China. If I can do it on such a meager salary, so can anyone.

Of course, I don’t have kids, and that’s the main point: two bedrooms. Why does this person making such a relatively low (apparently) wage need two bedrooms? It can’t be a spouse, as that would require only one bedroom and the spouse would be able to get a job, thereby doubling their income from $2,196.80 to $4,393.60 a month. If you want to look me in the eye and say that two people can’t survive just fine on $4,393.60 a month and be putting back at least $500/month into savings, then you’re a moron who almost identically copies the character Jonathon of my fantasy novel.

See, Jonathon is from a noble family–the Guilder Estate. His parents died when he was young, but his sister took over the estate with the help of a family friend–a dwarf–named Therekas, who helped keep the filial parasites out of their family’s wealth. Once Jonathon was old enough, he joined the Knights of Raine (per family tradition), and Coreal (his sister) seized the opportunity to get the hell away from all of it by making Therekas steward of the property while she joined the Church of Biena and effectively became a nun. Stuff happened, and they had to flee the Kingdom of Raine, while their estate was seized by Lord Tyrenius. Not long after their journey, they obviously began talking about how they were going to make money, and Jonathon’s understanding of “how much money it took to survive” was so out of whack that the entire group spent a few minutes laughing at him for the idiocy. Whereas he expected it to take 50 or 60 gold coins per person to survive a single day, because he had no metric for understanding what things cost in the real world, the truth was that they could all live in relative wealth with only a thousandth of that.

I’ve lived on much less. It’s only been within the past few months that I was able to get back up to paying myself a salary of $300/week. Prior to that–at this time last year, in fact–I wasn’t on a salary at all, and averaged about $120 each week. And even then, I managed to keep everything paid, though I never had even a spare penny and was constantly digging deeper into the hole. Let’s face it–that wasn’t even enough to cover my rent, so the negative number got bigger every month.

While I was in college, I was married, and my wife didn’t work because we had only one vehicle, which I was using for school and work (my job provided us with medical insurance, whereas hers didn’t, so she quit hers when I started school). I made Minimum Wage. Yet I kept all of our bills paid, our rent paid, and our bellies full. Oh, there’s no doubt that it sucked. We didn’t have extra money often; when we did, we usually used it to buy season DVDs from Pawn Shops for $3 each, as that provided the most bang for the buck. We didn’t have a phone (and definitely not a smartphone) or an Internet connection, or satellite/cable TV. We had a TV, a DVD player, a PS2, a GameCube, and some classic consoles like an NES, all of which we’d purchased years before when we had two cars (before she totaled hers) and were both employed. And we had each other.

You seem to want me to believe that a person literally can’t survive on a wage of $7.50 an hour, when I happen to know for a fact that not only is that false, but a person can support two people on that wage. I’ve done it.

In reality, there are two possibilities when Expenses exceed Income. Sometimes, this is because Income is such a small number. I don’t deny that this is possible–I’ve experienced that, too, like when I made only about $120 a week. It simply wasn’t possible to afford rent, electricity, food, a phone (necessary for work, actually), and gasoline on that amount. Even if I lowered expenses to the bare minimum (which I did), I still didn’t have enough Income to cover them.

However, the alternative is what usually happens in the United States. Usually, the problem is that a person’s Expenses are so high that no Income can reach it, generally because they have “that mentality” that causes them to increase Expenses proportionally to their increases in Income. I’ve seen poor people go from making $7.50 an hour to making $15 an hour with no change in their overall situation (I’ve also been there). I’ve seen people scraping and clipping coupons to make ends meet receive checks of $10,000+ and be broke just a few weeks later. It’s not because Income is too low that this happens; it’s because Expenses are too high, and they lack the self-reflective capability to sit down, identify, and address the problem.

Maybe those two people making $4,390 a month are spending $15/day on cigarettes. And yes, I can tell you from experience that the cost of smoking adds up fast. Maybe they’re buying honey buns and crap from gas stations on their way to work each day. Who knows? But you can’t seriously expect me to believe that two people making $4,390 each month are broke because they’re just not earning enough. The reality is that they’re earning enough; they’re simply spending way too much.

And anyone who has two bedrooms and only one provider has made some mistakes somewhere along the way. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. I was married for like 6 years and I don’t have kids–that’s not an accident. I’ve been having sex since I was 14 years old, and I don’t have kids–again, that’s not an accident. I was 28 years old before I ever got a girl pregnant, and then I was more than capable of bearing that responsibility, as a college graduate in a place where employment was easy to find for someone with my training and skillset.

The most common criticism I receive for this is the reply, “So you’re saying that children are only for college graduates? That’s so messed up!”

No, that’s not what I’m saying.

I am, however, saying that children are only for people who can actually provide for them. This is the “We don’t understand reality” thing that the title of this post is about.

I fully expect stray cats and stray dogs to have offspring that they can’t provide for. This is why stray animals have such a high mortality rate, too. Not only can the parent not show the offspring to enough food (once nursing is over) to survive all 6-8 of the puppies or kittens, but a good many of them will be picked off by predators because the parent can’t provide protection to them all, either. This is why wild animals have offspring in those numbers: most of them die before adulthood.

Therein lies the rub. Such a high percentage of western children make it to adulthood that I can’t find statistics on it (I could if I cared to look further, but I don’t, so…). I’d hazard that 98% of western children reach the age of 18. For stray cats and dogs, that number is probably closer to 5%, with one out of every two or three litters reaching adulthood. Thanks to the incredible developments of our society (for reference, as recently as the 19th century, most men died at the age of 22 and women at the age of 24 in Korea), we have an insane longevity and a very low mortality rate among offspring. I don’t mean to be harsh, but we’ve prevented nature from doing its job. I think this is a good thing, but it also means that we had to pick up the responsibility, and we failed to do that.

In fact, the idea that parents bear no responsibility or fault for having children that they can’t support is making the argument that huge portions of the population are no better than stray cats and dogs. We expect that behavior out of such low animals, after all. We expect better of humans–or we should. Liberals, evidently… don’t. Their paternalistic, condescending bullshit extends to the point that they are okay with treating humans as though they’re no better than stray dogs. After all, we don’t blame the stray dogs for being overrun by hormones and recklessly having children when the dog knows–on some deep, perhaps instinctual level–that most of its children are gonna die in terrible ways. “It’s just a dog being a dog,” we say. In fact, we’re willing to address that problem: “Spay and neuter your pets so that this doesn’t happen!”

But when it comes to humans? No. We don’t even hold humans to that high of a standard. “It’s not their fault for having offspring that they knew they couldn’t take care of. What do you mean ‘Spay and neuter such people?’ You can’t ‘spay and neuter humans!*’ What the hell is the matter with you, you uncompassionate pig? It’s their right to have children! Children aren’t just for the elite!”

That’s a straw man fallacy, of course. There’s nothing “elite” about taking one’s ass to a community college, which literally anyone can afford to do. And the difference that even a 2 year degree makes to prospective employers is the difference between $13.73/hour and $18.73/hour. People with Associate’s Degrees average $5/hour more than people with only high school diplomas, and that amounts to $200 a week. Not to mention that such jobs usually come with a 401k, health and dental insurance, perhaps stock options, and other benefits.

It’s not elitism, however, to demand that humans act like they’re more intelligent than stray dogs, and fuck you for suggesting that humans act better than stray cats is elitism. Fuck you for suggesting that humans should be treated with the same eye-rolling condescension with which we treat stray animals. We know that stray cats and dogs don’t know any better, and we don’t expect them to consider questions like “How am I going to afford to send my puppy to college?” before getting knocked up. If you don’t demand more than that of humans, then you might be the most arrogant, condescending person on the planet.

I spend about a fifth of my time reminding people that we’re animals and that we’re part of nature, and so the same rules that govern animal behavior govern us. I fully agree that an 18 year old who gets pregnant has been overcome by biological instincts in the same way that the stray dog is. However, I think the 18 year old should bear the responsibility for that, especially in a society that has made it so ridiculously easy to avoid getting pregnant and that spends at least 4 years informing people of what not to do in order to avoid pregnancy.

And that’s the harsh truth. What happened here is that the human was consumed by their biological programming in exactly the same way as the stray dog and the stray cat, and you don’t expect more of them than that. You don’t expect them to say, “Wait a minute… I’m a human being, by God! I can think about this before I do it. I know that I can’t financially support my offspring. I know that satisfying these biological urges by having unprotected sex will cause pregnancy. Woah, woah, fella. Put on this condom, or you’re leaving.”

Instead, the bleeding heart liberal expects something more like, “Wait a minute… I’m a human being, by God! I can think about this before I do it. I know that I can’t financially support my offspring. I know that satisfying these biological urges by having unprotected sex will cause pregnancy. *Shrug*. Oh, well. Yes, dude, let’s have unprotected sex anyway. It’s so hot that you’re unemployed!”

To return to something I said earlier–we lowered the infant mortality rate. That’s a great, wonderful thing. Picking on Korea for no reason in particular, in 19th century Korea any parent who had a child they couldn’t support would have ended up with a dead child. This was true in the United States in earlier centuries, too**. After all, Nature is constantly trying to kill us. So a parent who can’t support their child is literally a parent who can’t prevent nature from killing that child. In that way, Nature took care of the “problem” in the same way that it takes care of the overpopulation of stray animals: they die.

And yes, it’s a good thing that we’ve eliminated that particular problem in the west. I’m not saying that we should let children die. Don’t straw man the points here; instead, absorb them and take them in. The child isn’t to blame that his or her parents can’t provide for him or her. That’s the parents’ responsibility and the parents’ mistake. They are the ones who bear responsibility for that. Since we can’t sit by and watch parents starve their child to death, the onus falls to bystanders and the community adopt the child away from the parents until such time that the parents can actually keep that child the hell alive.

This is not what governmental welfare programs do, but that’s another matter for another day–perhaps the next in this series on Nihilism.

You know what the universe does if you have a child that you can’t feed? It kills the child. That’s reality. That’s the world we live in. You can’t change that with good feelings, and pretending like that isn’t true is the very definition of delusional. The universe doesn’t give a shit about your feelings. If you can’t feed the child, then the child dies. It’s that simple.

Luckily, we humans are more… enlightened… than stray cats and dogs. We have this thing called “empathy” that leaves us unable to stand by and watch (in most circumstances, though our lack of concern about the children killed by American bombs in the Middle East calls this point into question) while a child dies. If you want to provide for that child, so be it, but don’t pretend like it’s okay or normal for the mother to just shrug and say “Fuck it–someone will feed Little Billy for me. Someone will take care of my problem. I’m a helpless child and can’t do things for myself, and need the government to take care of me.”

Pretending like it’s totally okay for humans to have offspring they can’t support while curtailing Nature’s solution that problem is a recipe for disaster, because it creates a net drain on society and productivity. Someone has to put in the effort to acquire that food; manna doesn’t fall from the sky. And what do we know is the long-term effect of net drains? They build up. It’s not a big deal to be $100 in the hole for a few months. But do that for 10 years, and you’ll wind up $12,000 in the hole. What may seem like a trivial, inconsequential thing ultimately adds up to society. And what do we call it when society collectively has fewer resources to go around?

Why, we call that “an increase in poverty.”

And because no one is doing anything to actually address or fix the problem, it means that the reckless people who have more children than they can afford are passing along those genes and tendencies, such that even more people will have children that they can’t afford. This is called “evolution,” and it didn’t stop because humans invented electricity. Whether there are alleles that make a person more or less likely to behave irresponsibly has not been determined (to my knowledge), but given that poverty is primarily hereditary, circumstantial evidence suggests that it does play a role. After all, resisting the inclination to spend more money–$10 here, $15 there–is a daily battle for me. Is it a battle because of genetics, or because that’s how I watched adults behave my entire life? Nature or nurture? Really, it’s not very important, because if we aren’t even admitting that it’s a problem, then we certainly aren’t addressing it, and the problem perpetuates and, because of the nature of procreation leading to population growth, constantly exacerbates itself.

Well done for eventually destroying western society.

Bravo, liberals.

Bravo.

* I agree entirely, and am just making the point.

** Actually, because of Puritan origins, I’d venture the guess that the mother would end up homeless and destitute, but someone would have taken in the child, but I’m not an expert on colonial America. My point isn’t that big of a deal anyway.

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…

Negative Consequences

We can’t prevent any and all negative consequences.

The idea that we somehow can lies at the heart of statism. We can’t have freedom of association, because then some racist assholes would choose not to associate with black people. We can’t have capitalism because then some people might not be able to afford food. We can’t have freedom of speech because then some people might hurt other people’s feelings.

The most common criticism of anarchism is that anarchy can’t guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong, a security that people seem to desperately crave, even though they don’t have it, and even though it’s impossible in a universe that doesn’t seem to care much whether we’re here. “What will you do to prevent murder?” people ask the anarchist, using the anarchist’s inability to definitively prevent murder as a reason for rejecting anarchy.

It’s fallacious, of course. The state doesn’t successfully prevent negative consequences either, no matter how much it tries and interferes in our lives. With all the laws and prisons, with all the destruction of liberty in the modern United States, there remains murder. It’s readily apparent that this isn’t an argument for the state; it’s an excuse for the status quo. “The state doesn’t successfully prevent murder, but anarchy can’t either. So why change?”

The obvious answer is that the state doesn’t simply fail to prevent murder; it is the Primary Murderer. As an institution, the state has racked up a body count that should cause any moral person to do a doubletake; in the 20th century alone, counting only war and advice combatants, states killed more than 120,000,000 people. If there were no states, those people killed by states would not have died. So if we want to reduce murder, the stateless society is clearly the way to go.

Prohibition doesn’t work, and we know this. Everyone knows it until we get to their Pet Issue, at which point they decide arbitrarily that prohibition can work. Abortion is a great example, because outlawing abortion doesn’t stop abortion; it merely chases it to the shadows of the back alley. Prohibition against alcohol didn’t eliminate alcohol; it was merely chased into the shadows of the black market. Prohibition against drugs hasn’t stopped people from doing drugs.

The argument may be that it’s fine, because we’ve substantially reduced the number of people doing these things, even if some people still do them, but this ignores the tremendous negative consequences. Our prisons are filled with non-violent offenders, largely minorities. Drugs are bought and sold in secret, unverified, possibly impure, possibly laced, and possibly lethal. People who can’t find heroin turn to krokodil. These are negative consequences. Our state intervention did not come without a price and arguments can certainly be made that the price was higher than the reward. Great, we kept five people off heroin, and the only side effect was that two people got on krokodil! Only a supremely jaded person can call this a victory.

Of course, this simply leads to more interventions, and more attempts to make up new rules to address the negative side effects of the old rules. Russia made codeine prescription-only to fix the krokodil epidemic caused by heroin being illegal, which simply made heroin easier to get and cheaper than krokodil. And then they’ll come up with some new rule to address the negative side effects of the last rule, and the end result is a clusterfuck of nonsensical laws limiting the behavior of adults.

Don’t think that we’re any different in the United States. There are positive and negative consequences to every action. Getting up early and starting my work day early comes with the positive consequence of earning more money, and with the negative consequence of getting less sleep. There’s always a trade-off, and this is the critical thing that statists attempt to deny.

Sure, outlawing heroin seems like a good idea with positive consequences–right up until someone’s skin rots off because they turned to krokodil. That negative consequence can’t be ignored. Furthermore, any attempt to fix it will come with its own set of consequences. And each time, liberty is restricted. The adults out there who use heroin in the same way that party drinkers use alcohol are caught in the cross fire, their lives destroyed in our Quixotic quest to eliminate drug addicts, and turned into hardened criminals by a prison system that rivals the Roman Gladiatorial Arenas in sheer barbarism.

Prohibition against alcohol probably lowered the number of people who drank. It also created Al Capone and turned Chicago into the gang-infested nightmare that it remains today. It drastically lowered the quality of alcohol, leading to widespread poisoning, and turned previously safe warehouses into guarded camps that regularly saw vicious battles erupting over control of the lucrative black market. It was hardly what anyone would call a victory.

Prohibiting abortion today wouldn’t end it, especially not in an age that has the Tor network (The Dark Web), which would make it easier than ever to find an abortionist. Even Craigslist can’t keep illicit activity off, and people would find abortionists through it. Rather than having the procedure done in a safe and sterile environment, though, we’d be back in the alley with coathangers. We know this, because that’s what happened before abortion was legalized.

It’s true. I can’t promise you that nothing will ever go wrong in an anarcho-capitalist society. In fact, the only thing I can promise you is that things will go wrong. The only thing that really matters is which set of consequences you want. Do you want freedom and the sometimes negative consequences? Do you want free speech even though it means people might say hateful things? Do you want free association even though it means racists might not associate with minorities?

Or do you want statism, for the government to attempt to minimize negative consequences by limiting freedom, and thereby creating a new set of consequences that have to be addressed by limiting freedom more?

We can’t have a utopia. In a universe largely hostile to our existence, imperfect beings can’t have a utopia. The state can’t give us one, and anarchy can’t give us one. Basic algebra tells us, then, that we can reduce the equation by erasing utopia from both sides. When we do this, what are we left with?

Freedom and negative consequences, or tyranny and negative consequences.

I, for one, will always choose freedom.

What if we repealed all Health Care Laws & Regulations

The system is currently in a tizzy and can’t decide what to do–it is every bit the proverbial dog that finally managed to catch one of the cars it’s been barking at and chasing for years, now sniffing around the tires and just generally trying to find out “What the fuck.” After pointless gestural votes showing their support for repealing the Affordable Care Act, House and Senate conservatives now have the ability to put some actual weight behind those votes, but instead are seemingly doing everything in their power to not do that.

I discussed that idea briefly in this podcast:

It’s a long one, at nearly an hour, so get comfortable. Also be aware I’m not doing any more podcasts in that voice, because I inexplicably sound angry, due to how I edit out most of the silence. While recording, I actually speak almost exactly like Obama did, and when you remove the gaps the result is what sounds like a continuous angry rant.

Anyway, that’s just there if you’re interested.

It’s a little weird that I have the solution to America’s health care crisis, but the people we’ve elected to solve such problems have no idea what to do. Actually, it’s not weird at all: the solution is for them to do nothing, because they’re absolutely useless anyway, and we have this strange idea in the United States that the government should do stuff and try to solve problems. Politicians don’t just believe that bullshit; they are the primary peddlers of it, because if people knew that politicians can’t solve problems, then politicians would be out of a job and out of power. It’s far better for them to look like they’re doing something productive–such as repassing the Affordable Care Act under a different name–than to do nothing at all and run the risk of the masses figuring out that a law wasn’t necessary in the first place.

Imagine, for example, if computer problems had the observable habit of fixing themselves. To be clear, they don’t–they may be intermittent problems, but a computer problem does not just go away or fix itself. However, let’s pretend that they do. My job, of course, is to fix people’s computer problems. It’s in my best interest to do anything that I can to attempt to fix the computer problems, and it’s obviously against my best interest to do nothing: if I do nothing, then your computer problem will fix itself, and you’ll realize how unnecessary I am to the process. Ideally, my tinkering with the system would actually make the problem worse–fixing one problem by creating two more–and then you’d need me to fix those two new problems. Would you ever notice that you would have been better off if you’d never gotten me involved? Perhaps once the one problem had morphed slowly into nine hundred and sixty problems, you would be raising your eyebrows.

In the real world, it wouldn’t get anywhere near that far. If you called me out to fix your computer problem, and I temporarily resolved it, only for it to return a little while later and be even worse than it was before I touched it, you’d only give me a few more chances to actually fix the issue before you called someone else. “You were supposed to fix my Internet!” you might say. “Now Outlook doesn’t even open and my computer crashes five times a day! Fix it or I’m calling someone else!”

Imagine, though, that you couldn’t call someone else, because I was in charge of all computer problems and fixing them–there was no one else to call. If I implemented a solution, then no one could undo that solution and no one could work against that solution–if they did, their act of working against that solution would be illegal, and they would face fines and incarceration for doing it.

Do you see how, in this scenario, I have you by the balls? I can do anything I want to your computer, and you can’t do anything about it. Perhaps every four years we have a vote to either give me the power to fix your computer, or to give another person the power to fix your computer, but when it comes time to vote everyone always chooses me or this one other person. Neither of us ever actually fix your computer, and your computer goes from “working but with intermittent issues that fix themselves” to being a total clusterfuck of contradictions and problems. And there’s nothing you can do about it, because you’re not even allowed to call someone else or to keep us from tinkering with your computer.

That’s the government.

We can’t just call another government to fix our health care system–we only have the one, and whether that government currently consists of Republicans or Democrats doesn’t much matter as far as the health of your computer is concerned. Whether we’re Republicans or Democrats just determines how we screw up your computer; it determines the fixes we attempt to implement, and the mechanisms we use to make the problem worse. Believe it or not, our analogy also gets worse than what I just outlined.

The government isn’t just trying to fix your computer. No, quite bizarrely they promise that they can fix everything in your life. They can fix your house, your health care, your vehicles, your electricity, your food, your computer, your fridge, and any other problem that you might have. At least with a dedicated specialist, you could ask for their qualifications and shop around until you found someone who you felt was qualified to fix your problem. In the case of government, we have people who realistically know almost nothing about these areas attempted to fix problems in those areas.

No one is capable of repairing a fridge and a computer, monitoring a coal or nuclear power plant, and determining how much rubber a vehicle’s tires should contain. No one enjoys such a sweeping array of specializations and talents. We all know this intuitively. If your fridge repair guy offered to disassemble your motor and replace your head gaskets, you’d probably be a little hesitant about letting him do it, and if he then offered to provide you with recommended [mandatory] regulations for the plumbing in your home, you’d definitely be cautious and unlikely to take him seriously. But when it comes to government, it’s “Nope. These guys and girls can do everything, because they know everything.”

This is why we hate it so much when a politician dares reveal to us that they don’t know something. Our entire system is built on the assumption that politicians are omniscient and omnipotent. When Gary Johnson asked, “What is a leppo?” people turned against him more than if he’d said, “I just think that we don’t need government telling us that we can’t marry little kids.” How dare Gary Johnson reveal that he didn’t know something?! That’s unacceptable to western society. We make a token effort of criticizing Politician’s Answers, when they go on lengthy tirades about something unrelated to anything that was asked of them–just watch the presidential debates and count how many times Trump brings up Isis or immigration while answering a question that has nothing to do with either, and how many times Hillary brings up Russia while answering a question that has nothing to do with them. We’ll accept anything except “I don’t really have the answer to that.”

Saying “I don’t have the answer to that” would destroy a candidate’s chances of winning, and that’s because we need that conceit. We need to believe that our politicians have all the answers, because somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that government has all the answers.

So what about health care, then? What is this solution that I profess to have?

It’s simple: get the government out of it. Repeal every law and every regulation.

That’s Nuts!

And that’s a kneejerk reaction. Clear your mind of that emotional reaction, and then proceed.

The Effects

Unsurprisingly, most people aren’t really sure what laws and regulations are even on the books, so they have no way of knowing what the effects would be if those laws were repealed. It’s beyond the abilities of anyone to give a comprehensive list, but here are some things that would go away:

  • Pharmacies would no longer be regulated and could fill prescriptions written by anyone, and could even pass out “prescription drugs” without prescriptions.
  • Doctors would no longer be required to be certified–rubberstamped–by the government.
  • Doctors would no longer be required to attend 8+ years of school.
  • Anyone with the startup money could open up a medical practice or a pharmacy.
  • The doctor could purchase drugs directly and fill your prescription instead of sending you to a third party.

I haven’t so lost touch with the average person that I’m unaware of how horrible all of that sounds. Each of those sounds like a terrible idea. This, too, is a kneejerk reaction that only focuses on the negative consequences. I don’t deny that there would be negative consequences. There would also be positive consequences.

If anyone could open a medical practice, then we would have quacks opening up doctors’ offices in their basements and garages, and then attempting to diagnose people and write them prescriptions. We would have pharmacies who were willing to give anyone just about any drug in exchange for money, with no hesitation about turning people into drug addicts. We might even have people dying because the quack they went to see misdiagnosed their pneumonia as a common cold.

Let’s take those in reverse order. It’s not exactly hard to diagnose pneumonia. A stethoscope is all that’s necessary, and anyone can watch a YouTube video to learn what pneumatic lungs sound like–they have fluid in them, which is pretty easy to listen for. If you went to a doctor because you had pneumonia and he didn’t even take the time to listen to you breathe, and then he told you that you had a cold, you would almost certainly ask to see that doctor’s credentials. If he couldn’t provide them, you’d probably request a refund and would go see another doctor. We even do this today, with our spiderweb of regulations and oversights meant to eliminate quacks, because often we don’t trust a doctor’s diagnosis and want a second opinion.

A pharmacy that would sell anyone whatever drugs they want is nothing more than a drug dealer with a brick-and-mortar building. That’s… not really a problem. Trying to keep people from securing drugs they want to take has observable and severe consequences. It has also never worked. Prohibition has never worked. If you eliminate someone’s ability to do something openly, but they still want to do that thing, then they will invariably find ways to do that thing in secret. Alcohol Prohibition didn’t stop the manufacture, sell, and consumption of alcohol. The regulations and laws didn’t keep me from getting addicted to pain killers. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t stopped people from smoking pot. Abortion Prohibition didn’t stop people from getting abortions–

And let’s discuss that last one for a moment, shall we? Because we know it for a fact, and it’s an argument in liberals’ toolkits in favor of legalized abortion. Even the most diehard liberal will admit that prohibiting abortion didn’t prevent abortion from happening; it merely chased it into the black market, into society’s shadows, where standards of safety and decency were non-existent. Prohibition doesn’t work.

On anything.

Ever.

So this pharmacy develops a reputation as being a drug dealer, and that causes them to lose the business of the “respectable people.” The soccer moms, Catholics, and other “upstanding citizens” wouldn’t be caught dead going into that pharmacy, because anyone who saw it would say, “Oh… She’s a drug addict?” and the gossip and rumors that would result would sink that person’s reputation. This is an observable thing already. “Why is our youth minister cruising Brooks Road at midnight? Is he seeing prostitutes?”

Who cares that drug addicts will have an easier time getting drugs? That’s a good thing. And it would be even better because the addicts could just buy heroin, crystal meth, crack, and whatever else from a pharmacy, out in the open, and not in danger. They wouldn’t have to worry about the person running off with their money when they were supposed to be right back. They wouldn’t have to worry about heroin laced with lethal chemicals to kill them because they were suspected of being informants, because there would be no one to inform to. See? These “negative consequences” that people inherently have a kneejerk reaction to… are actually positive consequences.

These are all good things. We may or may not like it that the coke addict up the street suddenly has an easy and affordable way to get his fix, but that coke addict was getting his fix anyway. Our laws and regulations weren’t stopping him. And even if we did bust him and send him to prison, there are a thousand more ready to fill his place. I shouldn’t have to go into the inherent dangers of the black market, and how it creates violence and people like Al Capone. When was the last time Budweiser was in the news for breaking the kneecaps of its competition? When was the last time that Bayer was in the news for putting fentanyl in its hydrocodone to punish people for buying from Watson?

Never, that’s when.

And it’s an observable fact: black market drug dealers don’t ask for an ID. I never met a drug dealer who told me that they wouldn’t sell to me because I wasn’t 18 years old. Legalizing drugs reduces the number of teens using drugs. If we had a pharmacy repeatedly being called out for selling percocets to fifteen year old kids, that community would rally together and shut down that pharmacy quickly.

And what of the people who have no qualifications at all for treating people’s illnesses? Well, we have those already! There is no scientific evidence to support homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, and similar things, but they exist today, and have ardent defenders who fight tooth and nail against attempts to restrict them. We do have people dying because they think they can pray their illness away, or pierce it away with needles, or flush magical toxins from their body with enough fucking wheatgrass. These people exist already, and not only can you not protect them from their bad decisions, they resist every attempt for you to protect them from their own bad decisions. They don’t want you to tell them that they’re being idiots and playing with their health.

Neither do you have the right to. As loyal as I am to scientific methodology, and as much as I reject homeopathic medicine, the Placebo Effect is a real thing, and something that we have only begun to understand. We know that it’s possible, if someone believes that drinking carrot juice will cure them, they may very well walk away cured. This is why every drug ever synthesized stacks its effectiveness against the Placebo Effect, and things like aspirin provide a noticeable improvement in headache reduction over placebos. But this doesn’t mean that a person can’t take Vitamin E and have their headache cured. If the Placebo Effect and homeopathic remedies [sic] are enough to cure them, then let them have the cure they want.

Besides, we don’t have the right to tell other people what they can and can’t do. This gets murky when we’re talking about children, but I’m not even going to touch that one, because the issue persists today and would continue to persist regardless. This means it’s irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

We don’t need the government breaking into people’s homes and arresting people for using hair dryers in the shower to prevent people from using hair dryers in the shower. If they’re irresponsible and reckless enough to do that, then it’s senseless to try to spare them the consequences. It can’t be done, and attempting to do it means that everyone has their homes broken into by the police several times a day in the attempt. Liberty and privacy are destroyed for everyone in our misguided attempt to protect reckless people from the consequences of their own poor decisions.

If someone is reckless enough to just take the word of an unqualified and untrained doctor, we can’t protect them from that. Worse, it could very well be the case that there are people out there more than capable of diagnosing the flu, the cold, pneumonia, and other things, but who lack any formal training. These people obviously wouldn’t be able to charge as much as a doctor with an 8 year degree. If they came across something that they couldn’t diagnose, they would direct you to someone who was more qualified.

You know, like what already happens today.

“I don’t know about that mole,” your general practitioner might say. “It’s irregularly shaped. You should go see a dermatologist about it.”

Obviously, the dermatologist will charge you more than the general practitioner, because the dermatologist is better qualified. So the girl with a two year degree in Physical Fitness and the guy with a four year degree in Human Physiology may not be able to diagnose your cancer, but they would be able to diagnose a lot of things, and they would not cost nearly as much money.

And that is the key.

No one would pay $150 per visit to go see a doctor whose only qualification was a 2 year degree in physical fitness. They would, however, pay that doctor $20 for a visit, to get a yearly physical and checkup, or to get a prescription for their pneumonia or whatever. Neither would anyone pay $150 per visit go see a doctor with a 4 year degree, but they would probably pay $50 to get a more accurate assessment and physical, or a diagnosis.

This increases our options. It’s no longer just “I need to go see a doctor over this relatively minor thing, but each one is going to charge between $100 and $150 for a visit, so… I’m just screwed, I guess. Let’s see, that’s www.webmd…”

I know lots and lots of people who abuse the Emergency Room precisely because they refuse to pay $150 to have their flu diagnosed and to receive a few prescriptions. This not only increases ER wait times, it’s always a loss for the hospital, because those bills never get paid. The hospital can’t turn people away, and they didn’t turn people away before we made it illegal; doctors and medical people have always taken the Hippocratic Oath seriously, and it wasn’t until we forced them to that they began shirking it. A fair number of these people, however, would spend $20 to be looked at by someone capable of diagnosing the flu.

The system would work just fine.

Sure, there would be occasions when someone died because they went to see a quack, or because they believed in homeopathic medicine that proved incapable of treating their leukemia. Lawsuits brought by family members against these reckless institutions would be in order, and those who were reckless would quickly be put out of business. If you die because I told you that you had the cold and you had pneumonia, then that’s on me for overstepping my qualifications, for putting my arrogance and desire for money above your life, and your family has a legitimate lawsuit against me for recklessly playing with your life in pursuit of profit.

This doesn’t do you any favors, but your family should have tried convincing you to go see someone else about the time you started coughing up blood, too. Let’s not deny your own responsibility to your health, or your family’s responsibility to talk some sense into you.

But if you let this fear of the consequences motivate you to let the government try to fix something with a law, then this health care mess is the result. Why are doctors so expensive? Because they’re protected from competition by people who could easily compete with them at lower price points. A doctor can charge you $125 for a visit because I can’t undercut him by saying, “You don’t need to go see him and pay that much. I can diagnose the flu, and here’s the 4 year degree that proves I’m probably capable of diagnosing such a common illness. Pay me $40 and I’ll take a look at you.”

Voila! We reduced the cost of your visit to the doctor from $125 to just $40. We cut out two-thirds of the price. And we didn’t need the government for it to happen. We didn’t need insurance companies to jump into bed with one another and with doctors and pharmacies and drug companies. We didn’t need price controls. We didn’t need monopolistic insurance industries. All we needed was to get the government out of the way and let people be free.

 

Let’s Have A [Trade] War

Recently, a Chinese official warned that they don’t want a Trade War but, if there is one, then the United States would lose. I think this shows a lot of confusion about what is meant by “trade war,” because there isn’t a winner or loser in a trade war. Well, at least not in the sense that the Chinese government can win a trade war and the American corporations can lose one. In fact, the winners of a trade war are consumers, and the losers are producers. A trade war would be a good thing for the American People.

People talk about a possible trade war, and I get excited–fuck. Yes. Bring it on, please. There’s not a better way to save our economy than a trade war. As long as it doesn’t escalate into an actual war, there is absolutely nothing to fear from a trade war–in fact, they happen all the time, and they’re to be desired, because competition is the key element that drives down the cost of production by encouraging companies and nations to increase efficiency, cut waste, and lower prices.

But let’s get to a real example to explain what I mean.

Consider the Foxconn hardware, which has its various devices used in all sorts of consumer items from iPhones to Acer laptops. There are also Foxconn network cards–though they’re increasingly uncommon, and I think Realtek usurped them and Foxconn became just the chip manufacturer… It’s complicated and not really important to the point at hand–so consumers in the United States can buy Foxconn directly.

In real terms, a trade war with China would mean that they intentionally drove down the price of Foxconn hardware in order to drive American manufacturers of out of business. It’s similar to how Wal-Mart has a history of lowering prices to drive other companies out of business. It’s the same principle here: take a loss now to annihilate the competition, and then enjoy a monopoly.

But oops! We’ve already seen the problem, haven’t we? Indeed, there is no American manufacturer that competes with Foxconn. America doesn’t make network cards, are you kidding me? We may nor may not have research teams that devise new chipsets that are leased to other companies, like NVidia does, but I don’t think we even have that. So the grand effect from China driving down the cost of the devices manufactured by Foxconn would simply be to lower Apple’s and Acer’s costs in producing new iPhones and laptops. If it costs less money for Apple and Acer to make laptops, then that benefits consumers, even if it’s not at a 1:1 ratio. I mean, if Apple saves 3%, we wouldn’t see a 3% drop in iPhone prices, but we would see some drop–possibly 0.5% or even 1%.

We know this to be true, because it was only about a month ago that I finally replaced the television that broke down last year. The one that broke down last year was an off-brand I’d purchased from RadioShack for $200. It was a 27 inch television that didn’t handle 1920×1080 especially well, though it did do it. I replaced it with a 32 inch Sanyo television that cost $128 after taxes. Regrettably, the universe conspired to throw that television from my wall, where its screen smashed rather unceremoniously on my hardwood floor, but I can still buy another 32 inch Sanyo–not imminently, though in a few months, when things have calmed down–and will effectively have bought two larger televisions for a price only slightly higher than what I paid for one smaller television a number of years ago.

We lose sight of how much progress we have made in the United States, and how high our standard of living is, because we enjoy all the luxuries of modern society. Fifteen years ago, a 70 inch television would have been unheard of, and would have been either an imaginary item or a pipe dream for the majority of Americans. Today, you can get one for about $1,000. I remember one Black Friday sale around 2004 that Wal-Mart put 27 inch televisions on sale for under $100. But they weren’t flat screens, lol. They were enormous, about the size of a mini-fridge, and maybe had a single composite and coax input. Fast forward to last year, and Black Friday saw sales of 27 inch flatscreens capable of 1080p with 3 HDMI inputs, 2 composite inputs, 1 component input, 1 USB input, and 1 VGA input for the same price.

This is the hidden progress that Americans generally haven’t noticed. We complain about the American poor not making any progress, completely glossing over the fact that in less than 2 decades the American poor went from buying the gigantic CRT-type televisions while only the wealthy could afford LCD screens to having multiple LCD screen televisions, most of them ranging from “very large” to “uselessly large.”

Do you remember when a “big screen tv” meant this gigantic thing that took up an entire living room wall and was two feet deep? Do you remember when that “big screen tv” was a big deal, when it was a point of pride to own one? Again, just compare that to today, when it’s a rarity for someone to not have a widescreen, LCD television pushing at least 720p. The cost of televisions has steadily gone down over the decades, as a result of competition and things like the Foxconn example I gave above. It probably wouldn’t be instant, but the price of phones and laptops would steadily lower as the savings get passed onto consumers, who don’t stop to realize that they’re buying the iPhone 7S today for the same price that they’d have bought the iPhone 6S only a year before, only now the 7S is the latest and greatest and the 6S is a model or two behind. We haven’t stopped to notice that we’re routinely buying and discarding televisions that would have cost three children, half an arm, and one testicle twenty years ago for a half of week of minimum wage labor today.

The other direction that China could go is to increase prices. This also only benefits the United States. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand, and the relationship between them setting the price. Just as selling something for less than it’s actually worth will create a shortage of that item, so will selling something for more than it’s worth create a surplus of that item. One hundred people may be willing to license a Foxconn chipset for $0.50, but if only fifty people are willing to license the chipset for $0.75, then Foxconn has lost money, and that’s how economics works, and why economics always uses curves.

Demand and supply lines are only straight in simplistic economic exercises. In the real world, things never work that way. If I can make one hundred televisions for $50 each, that doesn’t mean I can double production and make two hundred televisions for $50 each. Average laws tell us that I would expect doubling the production to increase costs to about $60 per television. It works in terms of selling things, too, and is the reason that everyone in the world is used to things being cheaper when bought in bulk. One roll of toilet paper may be sold for fifty cents, but four rolls of toilet paper will be sold for $1.50, not $2. This is mathematically a curve, of course, because it’s obviously not a linear progression.

It’s obvious when we stop to think about it, and it’s the reason that a trade war–artificial changing of prices–benefits consumers and ultimately hurts producers. The consumer benefits from buying 4 rolls of toilet paper for $1.50 instead of buying four individual rolls for fifty cents apiece. The consumer has benefit from all the technological innovations and pricing wars over the last twenty years, and now a widescreen, flatscreen LCD television is as much a staple in American homes as the microwave. Oh, there’s another, of course. Microwave ovens were once the property of the rich and wealthy. Today, they’re so cheap and abundant that entire YouTube channels exist of people microwaving random things in order to destroy them. Ditto for refrigerators, washing machines, driers, hair blow driers, and just about any-damn-thing else you can think of.

It wouldn’t be all sunshine and daisies if China foolishly took this route, but it would, in the longrun, help the United States. There is a demand for Foxconn devices, after all. If I can produce bananas so cheaply that I can sell them at a cost that no one can compete with, then the bar of entry is so high that new companies won’t be able to enter the banana production industry. They won’t have the resources or knowledge necessary to compete with me, the very same reason that we see companies like Microsoft dominating industries with inferior products and shady business practices. There’s really nothing that can be done about this except wait until their monopoly destroys itself, because monopolies are self-destructing in the market.

As a monopoly dominates, it grows larger. This increases waste, inefficiency, and loss, not just because production costs and profits don’t scale linearly, but also because competition is the driving force that minimizes waste, inefficiency, and loss. Without someone to compete with in the OS market, Microsoft can release one terrible Operating System after the other, and practically force an “upgrade” onto everyone, while also losing money and absorbing losses due to bad ideas, waste, and inefficiency. They continue to grow, of course, because they’re the only option, and this only generates more waste, inefficiency, and bad ideas. With more and more money being lost to these things, Microsoft has to raise prices to continue making money, so Microsoft Office 2016 goes from $199 to $249. At first, this is bad for consumers, but it also means that a new company making an Office competitor has an extra bit of padding they can work with to improve their software. Maybe they couldn’t afford to implement this feature, because it would have increased the price of their software from $180 to $210, and selling their software for $210 would have made it more expensive than Office. Office, being the champion already and being cheaper, would win that contest. But if Microsoft has to mitigate its increased waste and inefficiency by increasing prices to $249, then the new competitor can implement that feature and still be cheaper than Microsoft Office.

Maybe the company American Network Chip Manufacturers would like to make its own chips, but can’t afford to because Foxconn’s chips are so much cheaper. Foxconn raising the cost of its chips just might mean that ANCM can finally afford to hire American manufacturers and still produce a chip that is cheaper than Foxconn’s. Oh, no, what a disaster! Hiring Americans and creating American manufacturing jobs?! Woe is me, how awful!

Although such a thing would still result in higher prices for consumers, which is the problem with protectionism and tariffs. If we put a 20% tariff on Mexican bananas and Jose starts selling his previous $1 ea bananas for $1.20 to cover the tariff, then obviously it’s the people buying bananas who are paying for the tariff, not Jose. But it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, because it also means that American Banana Producer can now charge up to $1.19 per banana and still beat out Jose in the market. Maybe American Banana Producer was about to go out of business because its banana costs can’t be lowered beyond $1.10. This is bad for consumers, who now pay ten cents more to buy an American banana picked by an American worker, but it also means there is now another American manufacturer with a job. And though banana farming isn’t the most lucrative industry, I would guess, industrial manufacturing jobs generally are.

It’s true that we’ve become a society of service people. Very, very little is manufactured in the United States, and that is a problem in the grand scheme of things. The only reason it works now is because much of the world hasn’t noticed that we’re giving them sheets of paper in exchange for actual goods they manufacture, but that gravy train is inevitably going to crash. I make a living fixing, installing, and configuring computers and networks, almost none of the components of which are manufactured in the United States. What happens to my job, when the USD collapses and China, Japan, and South Korea stop accepting the USD as payment? I’ll have nothing to service if Americans can’t buy the things I service. The very existence of our service-centric economy–from auto mechanics to gas station employees to I.T. people to fast food workers–is dependent upon the USD and the willingness of manufacturers to accept it. The moment–and I mean the very moment–that they stop, the United States will enter a depression that makes the Great Depression look like Disneyland. And that’s not hyperbole; the entire American economy will collapse, virtually overnight. The only reason it persists today is that we’ve managed to keep the world using a dollar standard–often by invading nations who want to stop accepting it. That can’t last forever.

Even so, the way out of that is obvious. It would take a while and would be tremendously unpleasant, but the solution would be to re-open all the American factories that have since been exported to China, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea. A trade war with China would allow this to happen slowly, as opposed to all at once with the collapse of the USD, but it’s inevitable. The chips will fall eventually, and the gravy train will be derailed. We can count on it with as close to absolute certainty as a person can get. Having it happen slowly and over a years-long trade war with China would drastically reduce the hardship, starvation, and interim poverty. Having it happen suddenly at some unknown point in the future will result in widespread starvation. And that’s just a fucking fact.

So yeah. Bring on the trade war. Let’s do it. Let’s get it over with. The longer we kick the can down the road, the more devastating it’s going to be when it finally happens–like the requests to raise the Minimum Wage that are the most blatant examples of kicking the can down the road that we can look to. The Minimum Wage is a Price Floor on the price of labor, of course, and is only “necessary” because the market price of some labor is lower than the Minimum Wage. There’s a disparity between what a job is worth to an employer and what an employer has to pay, so any non-critical task results in a fired employee, because the employer isn’t going to pay someone $7.25 an hour to clean windows when the market price of a window cleaner is $2.50 an hour. So increasing the Minimum Wage just causes a greater overlap between “non-critical tasks” and “not worth it to pay someone to do,” the result of which is unemployment.

Economic law tells us that reckoning is going to happen sooner or later. The market will come to equilibrium one way or another, and it won’t be pretty when it happens. We should be reducing the Minimum Wage–or abolishing it altogether, I’d prefer–incrementally until such time as we can abolish it, not increasing it. Making the disparity greater is the dumbest thing we could do. Let’s get it over with. Let’s crash the train.

Let’s have a war.

As long as force, violence, and coercion are forbidden and it remains a market matter solved by non-violent competition, of course.

Christmas Isn’t the Capitalist Wet Dream

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

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

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

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

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

But I didn’t mean to get into that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re a Cronyist.

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

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

We should be fighting tooth and nail against this.

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

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

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

Save, save, save!

Not “spend, spend, spend!”

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

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

Keynesians, pretending to be capitalists.

The Rising Ideological War

Western society is schizophrenic, and not in any light-hearted way. There are two diametrically opposed threads running through society today that absolutely refuse to forge a compromise, and we’re seeing it manifest in strange ways. First, there is the reality that neo-liberalism won the culture war. There is no doubt of this, and, prior to Trump’s victory, the majority of liberals were aware of it. It was the Liberal Redneck, after all, who said, “This is our world now, and you’re not getting it back.”

What characterizes this liberalism? It is socialistic/fascistic in nature; of this, there can be no doubt. Huge swathes of the western population look upon capitalism as deprecated, antiquated, selfish, and morally wrong. To them, capitalism isn’t just a remnant of bygone eras; socialism is progress. They tie this directly to what they consider social progress–divisiveness, burning the heretical witches, and moving the goalpost when no one was looking from equality to oppression. This is exemplified most clearly in the anarcho-communist, which I’ve often joked is an anarchist who drank the SJW kool-aid. So far, that assessment has been spot-on. I’ve yet to meet an AnCom who wasn’t guzzling gallons of SJW kool-aid.

This is the side that values their personal feelings more than they value free speech. These are the ones who proudly proclaim that hate speech is not free speech, the ones who clamor for the EU to punish Facebook, Twitter, et al. for not, as the Rational Review News Digest put it, being sufficiently enthusiastic about gutting freedom of speech and embracing censorship.

On the other side is the rise of what we are calling populism, and that’s as good a term as any. This has given us Brexit, Donald Trump as President of the United States, and, the way it is looking, a soon-to-be far right Italian government. But can we take a moment to bask in the knowledge that it was a leftist who wanted to repeal the parts of the Italian Constitution that were specifically meant to diffuse power and prevent another Mussolini from rising? Let us just be thankful that his proposition of “Let’s remove some of these checks and balances that we instituted in order to prevent the total control of fascism” was rejected by Italian voters and that Renzi has now resigned.

Is there a clearer picture than that?

Fascism is what we face. I know these liberals don’t like to hear it, because they don’t know what fascism is and therefore accuse everything they don’t like of being fascism, and it doesn’t help that fascism isn’t really clearly defined, but…

It’s basically a socialist government where the state is supreme. It wasn’t terribly long ago that I saw some idiot write an article where he specifically stated that Hitler wasn’t a socialist. No, I’m not kidding. It was some idiot at Ranker. At least the fools who say “Democratic socialism is totally different from national socialism” aren’t so deluded, ignorant, and misinformed that they don’t think Hitler and the National Socialist party weren’t socialists.

The ties between socialism and fascism are so obvious that they’re frequently call the same thing. Indeed–they are one and the same in practice, for a fascist government must be a socialist one (“Everything in the state”), and a socialist one must be a fascist one (since economics, as Thomas Paine wrote, “…when considered as the fruit of many years’ industry, as the reward of labor, sweat and toil, as the widow’s dowry and children’s portion, and as the means of procuring the necessaries and alleviating the afflictions of life, and making old age a scene of rest, has something in it sacred that is not to be sported with, or trusted to the airy bubble of paper currency,” is the result of day-to-day life, control of the economy becomes, by extension, control of everyday life).

economy2Then we have on the other side modern populism.

There is a devout nationalist tendency among the modern populists, which is a clear antagonist of the neo-liberals’ preference for globalism and a worldwide state. Except it’s not nationalistic in the classic sense–for the most part, the modern nationalists don’t want to dominate other countries and subjugate them as the 20th century nationalists did. Modern nationalists stand somewhere between non-interventionism and limited interventionism–they are okay with war, but only insofar as they are confused about what precipitated those wars. In the case of American wars, of course, America caused them.

See, the nationalists of the 20th century hated Russia on principle. Whether this was due to Cold War propaganda or nearly constant fearmongering, who can say, but one way or another previous nationalists held that Russia was the greatest symbol of evil and had to be destroyed. Although modern nationalists do flirt with that mentality a bit in regard to Muslim nations, they don’t view all Muslim nations like this. However misinformed they are, it’s not Muslims or Muslim nations they hate, but groups like ISIS.

The nationalism we see today is more like a rejection of globalism and an attempt to return to national sovereignty. Most of the people I know who supported Trump also support the U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations. I suspect the same is true for many of the Brexit advocates, and many of the far-right Italians.

global-fascismBecause the neo-liberal has tied globalism, social justice, and socialism together into a single, unified package called fascism (and yes, such a package is called fascism), they are no longer able to separate out individual pieces of this trilogy. To them, it is a triangle; if you remove a single piece, the entire thing stops functioning. It is so tangled together that I don’t believe that they are still able to differentiate the three.

So if you reject one part of this, or two parts of this, they think you must be rejecting all three parts. If you reject globalism in favor of this weakened nationalism, and if you reject socialism in favor of this socialistic pay-for-play/privatized profits and socialized losses that we mistaken call capitalism, then they think you must also be rejecting the social justice aspects. I’ll try to cut that sentence down a bit by reframing this mess of an economic system we have that is not capitalism as simply “interventionism.” I don’t approve of that term as an economic descriptor, because I think “socialism” works very well as a descriptor, even if we aren’t fully socialized yet, but whatever.

If you reject globalism in favor of nationalism, and if you reject socialism in favor of interventionism, then they understand you to be against social justice as well. This is how nationalists have had all manner of insults heaped upon them: sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic misogynists and all that. In their minds, socialism is inseparable from the globalism, which is inseparable from the social justice, which is inseparable from the socialism, much as I say that peace is inseparable from love which is inseparable from liberty which is inseparable from peace.

In this great divide, I land on the side of the nationalists and interventionists. I am not their ally, but I am an enemy of globalism and socialism. I’ve written extensively about the failures and stupidity of socialism. But the nationalists are wrong, too. The nation isn’t the end-all-be-all of sovereignty; the individual is. In this sense, the nationalists are every bit as fascist as the globalist–the only difference is what level of state they want to bow to, with it reigning uncontested and always right. Like the people you see interviewed who take the side of the cops in the DAPL protests. “Well, I believe the cops over the protestors.”

I don’t believe any of them.

Similarly, interventionism is a broken economic model.

But before we can pull sovereignty back to the level of the individual, it must be pulled back away from the globalist-level, and that’s not too much of a problem here in the United States. We already don’t listen to the UN. Hell, in a lot of ways we are the UN. This rift is playing out here in a different way, though, with the liberals wanting a strong federal government that dictates over all fifty states, and with conservatives generally wanting a weak federal government and for the states to rule themselves.

Considering how unhappy a lot of people were with Obama’s presidency and how unhappy a lot of people are with Trump’s presidency, the solution is obvious–the answer is obvious. Globalism doesn’t work. Federalism doesn’t work. There is no One Size Fits All government that will make everyone happy. There is a divide in the world–a divide that will never go away, no matter how much closer we get to egalitarianism. People have different worldviews, and that will always be the case. In fact, psychology specifically suggests that it will always be the case.

If you take any ten people and try to propose a solution to any problem that will make them all happy, you will probably not succeed. The more people you try to impose that solution on, the more likely you are to make someone unhappy. When you have three hundred million people, you are guaranteed to make a large chunk of them–about sixty percent, evidently–some degree of unhappy.

We should stop trying to get our way, and start working toward peace. In order for there to be peace, there must be liberty. Don’t tyrannize others. Individualism must defeat fascism, but first nationalist fascism must defeat globalist fascism.

 

Reconciling the NAP & “Reality”

There are three main threads through everything that I write:

  • A rejection of absolutist black & white thinking.
  • Strict adherence to the Non Aggression Principle, to the extent that punishment becomes off-limits in favor of forgiveness and prevention of future crimes.
  • What I now call Nietzscheanism*–that is: morality is a human construct that primarily exists to keep the strong from abusing the weak; it is a luxury of the middle class, one not allowed to the lower class and one that the upper class isn’t held to.

It’s immediately clear, from the second two bullets–the first is only mentioned because it simply is a common thread, but it’s not the point of today’s discussion–that there is a conflict.

Can there be a greater example of middle class morality than the NAP? In fact, I would say that the NAP is the shining bastion of middle class morality–fully swearing off and condemning all force, violence, and coercion and asking that everyone else do it. Obviously, this can only happen in a world where everyone compromises the middle class. This is the crux of anarcho-capitalism, and the reason I insist that Nietzsche would be an AnCap if he lived today, knowing what we know.

nietzscheGoodness, there’s just so much ground to cover to bring my ideology full circle. It’s always difficult to explain to people exactly what I advocate, because it is very much circular, and that makes it hard to pinpoint a beginning. Here, we’ve started from Nietzscheanism and objectivism, and that works, but only if there isn’t a deity. After all, if there is a deity giving some sort of meaning to our existence, then life does matter. So before I could really get anyone on board with Nietzscheanism, I have to get people on board with atheism–Nietzscheanism, after all, is nothing but Applied Atheism. But before I can get anyone on board with atheism, there is a whole lot of groundwork to lay, and it’s groundwork that I’m not going to attempt to lay, because atheism and theism are irrelevant to the larger point. I can be right or wrong about individual pieces regardless of the existence of a deity.

However, I would say that before I could attempt to convince someone that there isn’t a deity, I would have to convince them the value of reason over emotion since, by any measurement, faith is an emotion-based position. We will keep going back and back and back until we arrive right back at subjective value determinations, which lands us right back in the territory of Nietzsche and the Austrian economists. I actually made a few years ago a document–a flow chart, for the most part–where one ideology led to the next, and it was clear by the end of it, after I was able to connect Nietzscheanism back to subjective value determinations–because the essence of Nietzscheanism is that morals are subjective–that I had just created a giant web. I know I still have it somewhere, but I can’t be bothered to find it, and it’s not that important anyway.

Morality, Very Briefly

There is no such thing as “morally good” or “morally bad.” These are values that we prescribe to various acts based on the consequences of those acts, the motive behind those acts, and the circumstances around which that act was committed. This is virtually a tautology at this point, but I will take the time to explain it anyway.

Let’s say that I push you down, causing you to break your arm. I have assaulted you. Everyone would agree that I was morally wrong to do so.

However, let’s say that I push you out of the way of an oncoming train that, for whatever reason, you aren’t aware is coming, and I cause you to break your arm. Suddenly most people would call me a hero and say that I’d saved your life.

In both scenarios, I did exactly the same thing: I pushed you, you fell, and you broke your arm. However, in the first scenario I was just being an aggressive bitch. In the second, I was saving you from being hit by a train. Yet the act itself and the consequence of that act are the same in both scenarios: the act was that I pushed you; the consequence was that you broke your arm.

What changed? In reality, what changed were the imagined consequences of me not pushing you. See, morality, as Henry Hazlitt observed in The Foundations of Morality, arises as a result of imagination, that wonderful characteristic that homo sapien has but so few animals share. It is our ability to imagine that gives rise to morality. Without even realizing it, so gifted are we at doing this, we imagine hypothetical alternative scenarios where I did not push you, and we compare the likeliest result of those scenarios with the reality that transpired. Marvelous creatures, we humans! And, in this way, imagination is literally the cause of morality, as it is precisely what allows us to envision these alternative realities.

In the first example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted, and your arm is not broken. You go on about your day without a broken arm. By most criteria, that is certainly a better outcome for you, and since I am the reason you do not get to enjoy that superior outcome, it is determined in a fraction of a second that what I did was morally wrong. We do this innately; I’d almost say that we conceive these hypotheticals instantaneously, and the speed and proficiency are the reasons why we forget that morality is the result of imagination.

In the second example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted right up until a train plows into you and utterly destroys you. By most criteria, that is certainly an inferior outcome for you, and since I am the reason that you were spared that inferior outcome, it is determined, perhaps instantaneously, that what I did was morally good.

These value statements themselves, though, are built on a few assumptions:

  • Empathy: This person is generally like me, and I should do unto this person what I would like this person to do for me. In most cases, what I want is much the same as what this person wants.
  • My own preferences: I prefer to not be in pain. I prefer pleasure. I prefer happiness. I prefer to not be sad. I prefer to remain alive.

By combining our own personal preferences with an extension of them onto other people–the very essence of what “empathy” is–we arrive at a criteria by which we assess whether something was good or bad. It’s by no means a perfect system–how could it be, when we are imperfect creatures?

Whenever I think of empathy and the application of my preferences onto others, I recall the time in college that I was behind the desk unplugging my laptop because class was over. While back there, without even asking, I took it upon myself to unplug my neighbor’s laptop, because he was in the process of packing his backpack. It seemed perfectly reasonable to assume that he’d like me to go ahead and unplug his while I was back there. Because I have all the social graces of Dexter, it didn’t occur to me at all to ask if he’d like me to do it; I simply did it. And I immediately learned that his laptop’s battery didn’t work, and that I did a cold shutdown on his laptop. Not a big deal, but something that has always stuck with me about assuming that our preferences automatically apply to others. They don’t. However, generally, they do. I mean, what are the odds that his laptop battery wouldn’t work at all? Under 95% of circumstances, the person would have said, “Oh, cool, thank you!” instead of “Oh, hold… What the hell? Did you unplug me?”

Nietzschean Morality

Nietzsche described good as “the will to power” and happiness as “having power.” From a strictly Darwinian perspective, he’s not wrong. He’s clearly not wrong; he can’t be wrong. However uncomfortable it makes us, he’s right. If our criteria is “survival of the species,” then the only thing that makes sense is to let the powerful do what they can. Do the powerful want to wipe out the weak? Turn them into sex slaves? Install governments throughout the world and use those governments to control the weak? Then they must be allowed to, under this perspective, because we do live in a universe that is trying to kill us, where only the strong survive. It’s a straight line from there to Eugenics, to forced breeding programs to breed the “most capable human.” It’s a sickening path.

Now, to be clear, Nietzsche most certainly did not go that far, and he did not advocate any of that. He was merely arguing that morality is a tool used by the weak to neuter the strong, creating three classes of people in the process: the middle class who were strong and obeyed the morality, the lower class who were weak and therefore didn’t have the luxury, and the upper class who were strong and rejected the morality.

The NAP

With all the above being true, we can see that the moral statement “force, violence, and coercion are unacceptable” is the epitome of Middle Class Morality. For one, this maxim is as close as we can get to a universally applicable morality. Is it true that absolutely no one wants force, violence, and coercion done to them? Certainly not. It’s no longer acceptable to say for some reason, but there are people out there who would genuinely like to be raped, for example. I’ve met a few, and their problem is always the same: they want to be raped without consenting to it, but giving someone permission to rape them is consenting to it, and the odds that a random stranger is going to rape them are not good. Beyond that, if they ran around clearly looking to be raped–wearing excessively revealing clothes and being unnecessarily sensual–it is passively consenting to it. I raise all this to make the point that they don’t want to consent to have it forced on them; they want it genuinely forced on them.

Rumor has it that Angelina Jolie once paid a hitman to kill her. She genuinely wanted someone to do violence to her, assuming it is true–and I don’t care whether or not it is, because there have been enough suicides by cop that it’s provable that some people genuinely want violence done to them. My own mother apparently sought out violent and coercive men. So obviously these things are not going to be universally applicable, because nothing is universally applicable to a species filled with individuals as varied and wild as we are.

Rights

In essence, all rights can be distilled to the following: we have the right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us unless we consent to it priorily. This statement is all-inclusive. Just as you have that right, as does everyone have that right. This means, then, that you do not have the right to use force, violence, and coercion against someone without their consent. The right to free speech, free religion, free trade, free employment, and free everything else–they all stem from this basic right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us. They are applications of this maxim to specific issues.

Are these inherent rights? Perhaps and perhaps not. It could be argued you have the right to attempt to stop someone from using force, violence, and coercion against you; in essence, it could be argued that you have the right to try to be strong, and, by being strong, subjugate the weak. It depends upon our subjective values–our criteria for determining morality. If we go with the Darwinian approach, then we arrive at this latter system of rights, where one has the right to do anything they can–this is an underground system of rights, the one that lives in the underbelly’s shadows in society, when certain behaviors are outlawed and black markets thrive.

Because that is, after all, the essence of the black market: a place where the forced middle class morality doesn’t apply because it happens in the shadows. The black market is generally created when the state outlaws something it has no business outlawing**, creating a new dichotomy of the strong and the weak, instead of the trifecta of those who can’t, those who do, and those who don’t. Since middle class morality ceases to apply to anyone, you’re left with only the strong and the weak–the victims and the aggressors.

It follows, then, that if outlawing things leads to the creation of a black market–which we know it does, from indisputable proof and countless examples from the drug war to abortions to ration stamps–that is differentiated from society by the fact that middle class morality doesn’t apply at all and we’re left only with the strong and the weak, then if we outlawed nothing, we would utterly eliminate this black market characterized specifically by the rule of the strong and Darwinian morality.

Application of the NAP Against Nietzscheanism

There are two things that must be done for the NAP to be realized, for middle class morality to be universally applicable–as much as it can be, at least. First, the lower class has to abolished and lifted up into the middle class. So let’s state this loudly and clearly:

No nation other than the United States has come close to eliminating its lower class.

This isn’t a bad thing. We look around the United States and, yes, we have a lower class still, but they aren’t really “lower class,” not in the grand scheme of things. They aren’t poor like the man in Ethiopia who throws out middle class morality to steal food for his family. By an overwhelming degree, the American poor abide middle class morality, though they have no qualms about stealing from the state. Seeing as the state is stealing from everyone, I don’t think it’s fair to condemn them for that one. Besides which, without the state and taxation, they wouldn’t be able to game the system to get “back” finger-quotes-wink-wink ten thousand dollars anyway.

Our “lower class” has electricity, clean water, running water, indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioning, vehicles, iPhones, laptops, steroes, flatscreen TVs, cable/satellite, Internet connections… Our lower class is so high on the totem pole that they’d be considered upper middle class in most parts of the world. This is actually part of the problem, since our lower class, our “poor” have totally lost all perspective on how luxurious their lives are.

To clarify the phrasing, the goal is not to kill off the lower class, not by any means. That’s horrible. No, the goal is to lift up the lower class and bring them into the middle class. Yes, this creates a new middle class, because humans naturally form hierarchies, but none of that matters. The point is that the applicability of middle class morality must be extended to the lower class and, if it is, then it is also true that they are not generally facing the threat of starvation, which is the escape clause that gives them an out from middle class morality in the first place.

Secondly, the upper class must be made to abide middle class morality. Currently, they don’t. I couldn’t even begin to guess how much shit the upper class gets away with in the United States. I’m positive that a solid portion of them engage in child sex tourism and pedophile rings. I’m not referring to the Podesta leaks, but a lifetime of hearing whispers and accusations directed at the upper class. It all may be false, but, in most cases, where there is that much smoke there is usually a fire.

But beyond that, does the upper class get away with theft? Holy crap, absolutely. Not only do they take part in the state and steal from us directly while calling it taxation, but they also use the mechanism of the state to create things like intellectual property and eminent domain, utterly gutting our property rights in the process.

Does the upper class get away with murder? Again, holy crap, yes. The death toll of the 20th century was 160,000,000 from war alone as upper classes in various parts of the world put the lower class to use killing lower class members who were fighting for other upper class groups. They call it “war,” but it is murder.

It’s indisputable that the upper class doesn’t just reject middle class morality; they do so brazenly and openly, in full view of everyone else, and they get away with it by using carefully constructed euphemisms, deceit, and manipulation. There are countless people who will insist that taxes aren’t theft. Except… they are, by any definition of theft. And sending a group of armed people to go kill another group of armed people is unequivocally murder. We cannot allow euphemisms and a refusal to face the truth obscure these basic facts.

Combining

So yes, it is true that we are animals who need to be strong in order to survive, and that our species as a whole must embrace strength and shun weakness. This does not mean a lack of compassion, though, as I’ve explained elsewhere. See, we have mistaken “compassion” as being hardly anything more than getting down in the floor with someone and crying with them. That is fake sympathy; it is empty sympathy.

If you are a herd of gazelle [humans] and are trying to get away from lions [the universe that kills the weak], and you have a loved one who is injured [weak, for whatever reason], then you are doing no one but the lions a favor by laying down with your weak gazelle friend and crying with them. This is empty sympathy. This is virtue signaling. This is nihilistic.

True sympathy leads one to help the other gazelle get up, heal their injuries, become strong themselves, and flee the lion.

We absolutely must have compassion and must be guided to help the weak–it is why we have our middle class morality. It is as close as we can get to “objective morality,” after all. However, if our gazelle friend refuses to get up, if they instead embrace their injury and their victimization, refuse to try to heal, and refuse to try to escape the lion, then we must cut our losses and flee before the lion gets us, too. There is a line between sympathy and nihilism.

Based on observable cause and effect–since it is impossible to speculate too much into our hypothetical alternate realities, and since we lack omniscience and can never know exactly how anything would really have played out if we had acted differently–we know that leaving the gazelle to be eaten by the lion would be bad, and our application of empathy derived from our own personal preferences compels us to help the gazelle. We know with reasonable certainty that the lion would eat the gazelle, and that, if we did not help, we would bear a portion of the blame in that.

We should all be strong; we should all be middle class, with no one enshrined above [through the state] or below [through poverty] anyone else. Now, what is the mechanism that allows that to happen? What mechanism eliminates the state that allows the upper class to escape culpability for their moral violations? Anarchism. What mechanism has provably lifted up virtually the entire population into middle class territory, where the fear of starvation is exceedingly remote? Capitalism.

So how do we create this world of people abiding the NAP, of all people being strong and none being weak?

Anarcho-capitalism.

Boo-ya, bitches.

 

* Thanks to the overwhelming number of angst-ridden ultra-emo millennials who think nihilism means “life sucks and death is cool,” I’ve been left with no choice but to change the label, but that’s fine; Nietzsche wouldn’t have approved of “nihilism” as the label anyway. Of course, these people have never read a word of Nietzsche and don’t fully understand the philosophy, because:

nothing-mattersand they get lost on that second part: nothing matters. They don’t fully apply it, though, or they would realize that it doesn’t matter that nothing matters. That is completely and utterly meaningless.

** Anything they outlaw is something they have no business outlawing.

I’m Thankful For the Free(ish) Market

Clearly, what we have here in the United States isn’t a free market. It’s occasionally free in a few places, if you’re careful and if you’re doing something very innocuous, but we can’t really say that there is “a free market” here simply because the state doesn’t intervene in a few limited areas. No, we have a Fascist Market here in the United States, not a “capitalist plus regulation” one, because one simple pillar of capitalism has been utterly destroyed: private property.

Just this week, during emails to a friend of mine, I said,

We have meaningless property–the same property we’d be allowed to claim as ours under communism. Consumption items, I guess I’d call them. Food, televisions, phones. But actual, meaningful property? It’s not ours. It’s the government’s. Your house will always be the government’s and if you don’t pay your extortion fee, they will take it from you. With private property, that’s not the case: you are the owner, and anyone taking it from you is stealing it (unless you explicitly signed a voluntary contract with the property as collateral). Your house isn’t yours. It’s yours as long as you pay the government. If it’s your property, why can’t you add your own septic tank? Why can’t you add a wing to it? Why can’t you raise cows on it? Because it’s not yours. You’re simply allowed the privilege of using it as long as you pay their rental fees and abide their ownership rules.

And if they want, they can go “eminent domain” and take it from you. Their claim to it always supersedes yours x but they’ll let you stay as long as you follow their rules and pay rent to them.

Private property protects us from exactly that. But it’s not private. It’s “private per the government’s TOU, per your payment of extortion, and per their disinterest in it.” It’s an illusion that we can maintain until we come face to face with it, like the illusion people have that the police aren’t omnipotent falling apart once a person has been pulled over at 3 in the morning and held at their mercy.

To this, the friend replied:

I truly am not following you. In fact, I’m wondering if you’re joking with me. Are you not aware that the vast majority of property in the US is owned – outright – by private interests? For example, my father OWNS two houses outright – bought, fully paid for. No mortgage, no loan, no rent, no monthly fees, certainly no “extortion.” The farm, for example: Dad owns that house, the place you live in, and 10 acres of land. He owns vehicles, tractors, farming implements, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in furniture and assets related to my mom’s business. He owns buildings in <area>, the property they sit on, and for years he owned mini-storage units that he sold outright to another individual. Before that he owned a large building on 3rd St in Memphis, paid it off, and sold it, too. At any point he can sell anything he owns and do whatever he wishes with the money.

The house I live in: it’s owned, 100%, outright, by my father in law. He paid it off in full when he sold his part of <edited> Company – a company that was co-owned by two men.  He can dig a hole tomorrow and bury a septic tank by lunch, if he wants. Neither my dad nor my father in law pays the government anything in the way of rent, fees, or extortion. I guess you could say property taxes are along the lines of “fee,” but that’s a totally different matter than private ownership. Taxes are real. And taxes suck. But the property – land, houses, assets, etc – are owned outright.
My cousin is a farmer. He farms about 3000 acres of prime MS Delta farmland. He owns about 1/3 of it, and he leases the rest – from rich, “landed gentry” in the delta. Neither he as leasor or the landowners are in any way beholden to the government. If anything, most Americans spend their lives beholden to banks and other creditors – which themselves are private interests, owners of vast assets. In fact, what individuals don’t own, banks do, generally speaking. But the government certainly doesn’t own it.
I’m really not following you on this one. Are you speaking figuratively, or perhaps referring to taxes?
And I was truly blown away.

How could he not be following me? What I described was clearly taxation. And despite drawing a direct line from taxation to how it turns us into glorified renters, because of the words involved, he was unable to see what I was saying. I remarked that it was curious how dangerous words are. It’s so clear I don’t know how else to put it: if you don’t pay your extortion fees–property taxes–to the state, then they will take your house from you. How is it your property if you must continually pay a fee just to prevent it from being taken from you?

So even though we have to pay the government taxes regularly to prevent them from taking our property from us, we are not beholden to the government. It’s one thing to have to pay a bank monthly to keep the land, and that certainly does curtail ownership, but it’s a completely different thing to have to pay the government to keep the land, which doesn’t curtail ownership because “those are taxes.” As I said–what a danger words are. The situation I described is unimpeachable; it is a fact of life in the United States, but because he waves it away as this word “taxes,” it gets compartmentalized in his head as something that must be ignored.

Medicine and the Free Market

the-state-vs-the-marketWe can never have free market medicine until the ability of doctors to prescribe medication is no longer sanctioned by the state. Pharmacies, of course, can set their own policies. Does Pharmacy X wish to allow people to get medications without a prescription? Maybe they will for most medications, but won’t allow people to get opiates without a doctor’s prescription? Maybe Pharmacy Y will allow anyone to get any medications they want–as long as they are 18, I suppose, though I would also be against that.

There are several gatekeepers in the way of a person getting medication that they need.

First, it is simply assumed that the doctor knows more about your condition and physiology than you do. In a lot of cases, this is true, because someone who self-diagnoses through Web MD may go to the doctor asking for treatment for a disease contracted by not properly cooking frog legs that came from the Amazon Rainforest, when they really just have a cold. Is this always going to be the case, though? Certainly not.

I’ve contracted pneumonia four times in my life; I have a known susceptibility to it, and it will almost certainly be what kills me one day. I know exactly what it feels like, and I don’t need a doctor running a bunch of tests to confirm that I have pneumonia. This is a minor example, because the “tests” involve little more than using a stethoscope to hear your breathing, but the point remains perfectly valid. I can probably recognize the illness better than most doctors, but there isn’t a doctor alive who would just “take my word for it,” because the state would drop the hammer on them quickly if they turned out to be wrong.

The pharmacy, though, is the true holder of the drugs and the true gatekeeper. After all, they are the ones with shelves full of all kinds of pills, most of them as damaging as whatever symptom they’re supposed to address, but they will only give you those pills if you have a sheet of paper from a doctor–which costs, roughly, $100 to acquire. Why? Because the government has sectioned these pills off into varying degrees of acceptability, and if they let you have those pills without that doctor’s scrap of paper, then the state will drop the hammer on them. If they have that sheet of paper, then they have no responsibility in the matter; the responsibility is shifted to the doctor who gave you the prescription.

So what I’m about to call “free market medicine” isn’t in any sense truly free market.

My Involvement With Free Market Medicine

Last year, I took the extraordinary step of accepting that I am transgender. It was actually about a year ago today that I dropped the ultimatum on my sister that she could accept me or lose me, but I’m not going to hide it. Still, I was not doing well financially, having had my life completely wrecked by someone who betrayed me about as completely as anyone ever betrayed anyone, and it was a long, painful, awful road from that to where I am today.

Obviously, she chose not to have anything to do with me.

Click for full image

Click for full image. It’s more self-aware and devastating than you’d expect, so be warned.

So in January I moved, and I was not making very much money–about $150 a week on good weeks, but it actually came closer to about $100 a week on average. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I managed.

I had spent the previous few months looking into hormone therapy, and ran into brick wall after brick wall. Everything I found online suggested that even if I did find a doctor in Mississippi who would be willing to prescribe me estrogen, they would not do so until I had been in therapy for at least six months, and then all they would do is send me to an endocrinologist who, after extensive testing, would determine the quantity of estrogen that I could take.

Not only was I too old for that–because late twenties is old to be taking hormones to change your freaking gender, so don’t offer me any of that “No, you’re still young!” crap if you don’t know what you’re talking about–but there was no way that I could possibly have afforded it. Affording all that was a pipe dream with no relation to my situation. And I didn’t want to wait six months; I’d waited more than twenty years, mostly because my fundamentalist Christian parents had traumatized me to the extent that I’d forced myself to forget… It’s not something that’s easy to convey. But it took a long time to come to terms with all of that. And it took courage to say, “I’m an adult with friends and family who all know me as a male. But screw it. I’m coming out as transgender.”

So I turned to the Internet.

I was not just researching how to get hormones through the previous few months; I was learning everything there was to know about estrogen and taking it, with the only thing I couldn’t find being its impact on a person’s face. Luckily, it absolutely does impact the face–which is good because I’m sick of my masculine eyebrows, and they are, thankfully, the result of fat and muscle rather than the result of bone. It’s why it frustrates me when transgender friends lie to me about the effects hormones have on them: one girl told me that, after a year, she had already grown C cups. And no… No, she hadn’t. She might have had B cups, but with her using her arms to prop them up it was hard to tell. I know Cs, though–that’s my favorite cup size, and those are no Cs. Plus, the idea that a transgender person will grow C cups in one year is absurd. They probably won’t ever grow C cups, and if they do it will only be after the full 2+ year period of taking high doses of estrogen everyday.

I finally found a website that would let me order them, but it seemed a bit fishy. It was located in China, first of all, and no prescription was required in order to buy the estradiol. Most places I checked did require that a prescription be faxed to them, so obviously I was a bit skeptical. However, I took some money and ordered 56 quantity.

Nearly a month later, they arrived. That was in February.

The next several months were extraordinarily difficult. Every time that I tried to repurchase, the payment failed to process. The pharmacy said that my bank was blocking the international transaction. I spoke with my bank repeatedly, and they were not receiving any attempt to charge my account, much less blocking one. We underwent 3-way calls, and never arrived at a solution. Finally, I took some money and, after having been out of hormones for weeks because of the delays–

For whatever freaking reason, this international pharmacy does not process payments when you make them. They process your payment at some point “within the next 24 hours” after you give them your info. This meant that I had to give them my info one day, and then wait until the next day to find out if there was a problem. If there was a problem, then we would try something else–usually speaking with my bank–and then we’d try again, only for it to fail again. These sort of delays cost me months of being on hormones.

I finally bought a reloadable debit card from a store, loaded it with the money I needed, and the purchase went right through. The next month rolled around, and I took the card to the store, reloaded it, and–once again, the payment failed. Now, it was already difficult to come up with the $60~ I needed every month; there was no way at that point in time that I would have been able to order the next batch of hormones until the very last minute. Now I order them with plenty of room to spare, but I wasn’t able to then.

After a week of making no progress and repeatedly running into that same problem where they couldn’t process the payment because my bank was “blocking the transaction,” even though Visa insisted that they were not blocking the transaction, I broke down and asked a friend to order them, and I’d give him the cash. He did, and the payment went right through. There was yet another period of going 2-3 weeks without any hormones, completely undoing the previous period of taking them.

Not to mention that I was in some kind of emotional state from this extreme fluctuation of hormones. From 8mg estrogen a day for three weeks to zero mg of estrogen a day for three weeks. It’s amazing that I managed to be calm to any degree.

The next refill time came around, and I decided to just purchase another identical reloadable card. But wouldn’t you know it? I bought the wrong damned one. I meant to buy a My Vanilla card, and instead bought a One Vanilla card because, fuck me, I didn’t expect there to be a fucking difference. There was a difference, though, and that difference was that One Vanilla cards couldn’t be used internationally. So I had $65 on a reloadable Visa that served absolutely no purpose, and did not have the $65 I needed to buy the correct one for another week, since you can’t use a debit card to buy a reloadable debit card.

I think it was in July that I worked out the last of the problems, and had been taking hormones consistently for about two months–even though there were fluctuations in the dosage to avoid running out–when I ran into the last snag. I don’t recall what the last snag was; it may have been the one I just described, of buying the stupid One Vanilla card. No, it wasn’t that. Fucking USPS had lost my shipment. That’s what it was. They were just gone, having been sent to Jackson, MS, which was currently being overhauled and which was out of the way of where I lived. They should have gone to Memphis, and then to my local post office. Instead, they went right past Memphis and onto Jackson. And I had one day left, at only 2 mg a day–just enough to keep from undoing the progress I’d made, perhaps.

With nowhere else to turn, I called a pharmacy and told them everything. The pharmacist there, when I told him I’m transgender, confessed that he wasn’t that, but he was “something” himself. Like “No kidding, dude. You’re gay. I think everyone knows that.”

Thanks to his kind heart and sympathy, I was able to make it. He stole something like 46 2mg estrogen tabs, met me when he got off work, and then gave them to it at no cost. Why couldn’t I just have walked into the pharmacy and bought some of these non-narcotic meds? Because of the government. I am extremely thankful to this person for helping me out. And, wouldn’t you know it, ten days later USPS finally delivered the hormones, and I’d already ordered another batch, finally placing me ahead of the cycle.

Customs in New York rubberstamps my packages now when they arrive from Denmark. It’s a strange thing, but yeah–order from China, they ship from Denmark or Germany. Initially, my packages stayed in Customs for 2 or 3 days; now, they’re in and out. So I’m thankful to the people in Customs for recognizing the name on the package, the size of the package, and the contents of the package, and sending it straight on without delay.

Believe it or not, I’m also thankful to Barack Obama, who has promised not to prosecute or impede anyone who orders their medicines online from other countries. While that is fantastic, this entire arrangement could change under President Trump, and that does scare me. Rather than giving a blanket pardon and absolution to everyone ordering medicine internationally, Obama would have done more for health care in the United States if he had repealed the laws that make it technically illegal in the first place–even if he has promised not to enforce those laws.

I suspect, given his propensity for “free-ish markets” that Trump won’t do anything to limit the competition, either.

But this is why competition is such a beautiful thing. If all of these laws were repealed, then pharmacies here in the United States would have to compete with the International Drug Mart to get my business, by offering me lower prices and lower shipping. But they can’t, and they won’t, because they don’t have to. Instead, they can just petition the government to make it illegal to order medicine internationally, and then they have me by my transgender balls, able to charge me whatever they want and capable of making me jump through whatever hoops they want.

Things are different now. Obama, I have heard, has mandated that all doctors must assist transgender patients. I’m not okay with that, because I think that should be between the doctor and the patient. I was not happy when regulations required the doctor to send the patient to six months of therapy, and I’m not happy now that regulations require the doctor to write hormones to anyone who asks for them, whether they may be making a mistake or not. I think the doctor should be able to sit down with me and make that determination himself about whether he thinks I’m serious, without being afraid that I will sue him if he thinks some therapy would do me some good. If he did, I would just find a different doctor.

That wasn’t the case in January, though, that’s for damned sure.

Those eyebrows and cheeks, though... Just gotta let the hormones do their thing now. :/

Those eyebrows and cheeks, though… Just gotta let the hormones do their thing now. :/

Because of all these shenanigans, I don’t actually know how long I’ve been on hormones. It’s not an easy estimate to make, and international delays still occasionally cause me to have to cut down to 4mg a day–on occasion only 2mg a day–while I wait on the next package to arrive. I would guess, though, that it’s coming on five months of continuous, uninterrupted estrogen. The funny part about that is that my situation would be about the same today if I’d gone through the “proper” channels, only I’d have burned through a whole lot more money and would have been totally at the mercy of people who, for some reason, had the right to decide for me whether or not I should be on hormones. And, no, I’d probably just be in month 2 or so, if I’d gone the official route, when instead I’m actually starting to look fairly feminine.

My muscles are finally beginning to drop off–if only slightly so far–and there’s no doubt whatsoever that I’m growing breasts. I’m thankful that there was a backdoor for me to take control of my life and not be at the mercy of the government, its machinations, and the myriad mechanisms it has in place to force me to live according to the parameters set by other people.

The free market allows me to be transgender.

What are you not allowed to do because markets aren’t free? I’d wager there are more things than you’d immediately think of.

Pro-Corporation or Pro-Market

I’m sure that I’ve discussed it before, but never in the detail it deserves, so I want to talk about the notion of free markets, and how libertarians are often considered to be shills for major corporations. This is true… for those libertarians who have misunderstood something somewhere along the way. To clarify what I’m talking about, I want to share this Facebook post I saw earlier:

img_20161022_224539

Simple enough, right? “I don’t approve of this item for this reason and want the company to stop selling it.”

I would disagree.

I would disagree.

Whether you agree or disagree with the sentiment, nothing untoward has happened here. Even if Wal-Mart complies, there’s been no force, violence, or coercion–no aggression. It’s just someone attempting to boycott a product that is sold by a corporation, and we all accept that it’s consumers’ right to refuse to buy a product, to speak out against a product, and to come together to exercise their influence over the company, with the power of their wallets, to get the company to do what they want. The company is free to refuse, and consumers are free to go elsewhere. This is clearly not an act of force, lest literally everything becomes an act of force.

Yet some libertarians disagree.

img_20161022_224748

Okay. No. No, it wouldn’t. The OP did not suggest or ask for legislation banning the sale of such items. He asked that Wal-Mart pull it from shelves. If Wal-Mart listens and bans the item, absolutely no one’s liberty has been violated. You do not have the right to purchase this item from Wal-Mart. In order for it to violate liberty, you must have the right to do it, and you simply cannot have the right to purchase a random item from Wal-Mart. If you had that right, then Wal-Mart would be required to sell the item, else they’d be violating your rights, and thus you’d be firmly violating their right to choose what they do and don’t sell.

This is the sort of thing that gets libertarians called corporate shills. Anarcho-capitalism and libertarianism depend on the power of consumers to influence businesses, and boycotts are a critical part of that process. Refusing to buy the item, asking friends not to buy the item, and saying, “I will take my money elsewhere if you don’t share the values that I share,” are all essential parts of the free market.

img_20161022_224645

How is it “not very libertarian?”

By this logic, it’s “not very libertarian” to give money to lung cancer charities. It’s “not very libertarian” to feel sorry for drug addicts. This person acts like suicidal depression isn’t a mental illness or something. “You shouldn’t feel bad for people who have this mental illness. It’s not very libertarian.”

Sympathy, apparently, is “not very libertarian.”

Libertarians are often accused of being heartless, wanting to let the sick die, and not caring if the poor starve. And though I’ve spent years arguing that this is a straw man built of misunderstood ideas, here is someone who shares those misunderstood ideas and is a straw man. It’s “not very libertarian” to feel sorry for someone with what society has deemed a mental illness?

Granted, I’d argue that there’s nothing inherently insane or ill about being suicidal, but that’s a conversation for another day. To most people, attempting suicide is a sign of mental illness. So this person is saying it’s “not very libertarian” to feel sympathy for people who have mental illnesses.

Awesome.

Thanks for setting libertarianism back.

img_20161022_224721

This is letting the free market decide. The right to boycott and demand that corporations behave, by explicitly or implicitly threatening to take your money elsewhere, is a critical component of the free market.

There is nothing really lost here if Wal-Mart doesn’t pull the item, if no one buys it, and if they lose money on it. This is a minor issue, and it’s why we need to get it out of the way now. Let me present this alternate scenario.

A: “I just found out Wal-Mart is selling Doing brand shoes! Doing brand shoes are manufactured by child labor in Chinese sweatshops! They need to pull these items off the shelves NOW!”

B: “I agree it’s messed up, but you can’t just have them ban it. That violates people’s right to choose to buy the shoes.”

C: “it’s not very libertarian to care what they do in Chinese manufacturing facilities.”

D: “Let the free market decide. If people don’t like it, they won’t buy them.”

See why the mentality is a problem now? “Let the free market sort it out” does not mean “Let the business do whatever it wants, and let it succeed or fail. Don’t try to influence it one way or another.”

That is where things get lost. The free market allows us to influence businesses. Not only do we have the right to, but it is actually imperative, as these free market tools like boycotting are precisely how we check corporate greed.

Yes, corporate greed is a problem. Only a fool denies that. The question is: how do we check it? One way is with the state, with laws. I reject this method as immoral.

The free market way is with boycotts, with shopping elsewhere, with spreading the word.

Simply put: libertarians argue that the state shouldn’t be holding corporations’ feet to the fire. That’s true, but someone has to do it. If you’re not in favor of consumers doing it and you’re not in favor of the state doing it, then, as far as I can fathom, you must be in favor of allowing corporations to reign unchecked, because I can’t imagine another way of doing it.

And, I’m sorry to say, this makes you a corporate shill.

And it’s “not very libertarian” to be a corporate shill.