More for the Trolling Archive

I usually take criticism and negative comments pretty well, but recently the trolls have just been going through the motions.  In response to my previous post about we-firsters, I received the following comment:

Were you homeschooled by Michele Bachmann or something?

"Government is the great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else."

Your own spell-check calls out "endeavors". That great private Enterprise (geddit) spaceship Endeavour spelt it right.

Literacy aside, let's look at this post. The first sentence categorises a group of people according to a new collective noun I had not heard of until today: "Me-firsters". Your second sentence then affirms that hating these people is ok.

No...no.. that's as far as I need to go with a blog like this.

What fun?! Let's begin.

The We-Firsters - A Lesson in Statism

You're familiar with me-firsters right - those people who always want to go first and get the first, best items all for themselves?  You probably revile these people and rightfully so.  I don't advocate altruism in the sense that one's duty is first to sacrifice for others, but I do recognize that a man leads a better life if he loves and gives.  Trampling on others without respect for their wants and needs deserves some reproach.  But what I propose to you is that you revile, high above the me-firsters, the we-firsters.  These are the apparently kind souls who, upon hearing of something they don't like or broadly disapprove of, claim that "we ought to do something."  Whether that something is to invade country x, y or z (or all three), establish a federal schooling system, ban handguns, large capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapons, or pass legislation aimed at keeping drugs off the streets and away from the children, these busy-bodies always want what is best.  They just aren't willing to go it alone.  They need the help of the royal "we". 

Example: "Why don't we do something about Darfur, Afghanistan, and Libya?!" 

To me this is like saying, "why don't we do a better job at the Olympics?"  "We" isn't the correct word to use.  What is meant is "the US Olympic team", just as above is meant the "US Government" or the" US military."     

You want to contribute to the success of the Olympic team?  Get off your duff and start training.  Donate money or volunteer to drive struggling young gymnasts to training at the crack of dawn every day.  You want to help the poor or protect the children?  How about starting within your self?  Champion a cause, donate money to a charity, volunteer your time or peacefully protest that which you see as evil.  Stop invoking the long arm of the law to force "us" to help you.  See something evil worth stopping?  Think "me first!"

Time for another Ban

Based on an uncontrolled and selective sampling of the news, I cannot help but be alarmed at the sky-rocketing rate of gun violence in the united States.  These massacres make the "Wild West" look civilised, based on the documentary depictions of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.  Considering how these acts of violence were perpetrated, I cannot help but come to the logical conclusion in spite of my previous beliefs and upbringing.

The time has finally come for a comprehensive, nationwide piece of legislation banning schools.

When was the last news report on a mass shooting at a home school?


"It's deplorable," you say, "to make light of this tragedy and use it to further your own political ends."  I would have to agree; please do not interpret my words as making light or cashing in on the sad, sad tragedy that has befallen these people.  But go on Twitter, go on Facebook and see hoards of well-meaning busy-bodies clamoring to "attenuate" my right to self protection in the name of the fallen children who they have never met.  I have not doubt that most of this outpouring comes from a place of empathy and a desire to do good, but that doesn't make it any less wrong.

The statement that inspired this belated post was one on Twitter proclaiming something to the effect, "The right to own guns does not outweigh the right of a child to live."  On the surface and in a vacuum, this statement is thought provoking and not all that disagreeable.  Let's unpack it.

First, let's agree that the child's right to live is paramount - nothing trumps it.  But to whom do we refer when we say "the right to own guns"?  It is my position that rights only apply to individuals, so I will use myself as the example.  Does my right to own a gun outweigh the right of any child to live?  Does any right of one person outweigh any right of another?  Does my right to eat an ice cream sandwich outweigh the right of a child to drink chocolate milk?  Do rights of certain individuals have objective relative merits and values?  No, all such values are subjective and therefore incomparable.  We could all spend the rest of our natural lives debating the relative value of right A vs. right B and end up with no conclusion whatsoever.  So the more elegant, more reasonable approach to rights, is to simply state what, in civilized society, you do not have the right to do: initiate the use of force.  This has been dubbed the Non Aggression Principle. 

Now we're getting somewhere.  Do I agress against the child by owning a gun?  Guns can be dangerous with particular intent or ignorant usage, but so can many things.  My ice cream sandwich could be used as a murder weapon if so intended.  Granted, they are different beasts, but the argument as to whether a particular person is more or less safe by my gun ownership, without sufficient context, is a debate that will rage until the end of time without conclusion.  Let's not go down that path.  Instead, consider if you have the right to take my gun.  I would argue that if you were to see me about to commit an act of violence, you have the right to take my weapons and my life if the process required it.  Otherwise, I would say you do not.  What would you, as an individual, be prepared to do to deprive me of my gun?  If you could take it without brandishing one yourself, I would be surprised.  I hope you see the hypocrisy in this.  If you got together with the neighborhood and decided to raid my home in order to rid the community of this danger, would you feel within your rights to do so?  I would hope not.  I would also hope that you see the fallacy of hiring a gang proxies to do the same. Is this not what you advocate when you clamour for gun control? 

If the child's right to live is so universally accepted, why is it so rarely questioned that the state has the authority to administer compulsory education? Let's bus them across the county, lock them in a box and make them all try to learn the same subjects at the same pace in spite of drastic differences in interests and skills.  If they don't pay attention, if they day-dream and want to do things they are more interested in, we have pills for that.  Then let's throw up our hands in desperation when a select few of them go bat-shit insane.

Free Software for Government "Servants"

I am a fanboy for free and open source software, partly because I'm cheap and partly because I am fascinated by the phenomenon of peaceful community productivity.  In fact I'm writing this in Ubuntu Linux right now, and as I've mentioned before, I've become quite a devotee. 

I had a dream last night that I was working on some important project and had found some amazing gem of free software.  However, I couldn't save anything to PDF, which I desperately needed for some reason, unless I was a Canadian citizen.  Crazy huh?  Well it gets better.  I concocted an elaborate scheme to pretend to be a Canadian student studying abroad in the States and thereby receive a free copy of the software.  A majority of the time spent in the dream consisted of an elaborate series of difficult question from the software vendor, intended to establish my citizenship.  They were very difficult, and I didn't succeed in acquiring the PDF plugin before waking. 

I know what you are saying, "What a bizarre and irrelevant story!  Where is he going?"  Well, apparently my sleeping brain aspires to write for Law & Order, because this tail was ripped from the headlines.  At work yesterday I was looking for some free software to do some meshing for finite element analysis of the spine.  I found several software packages that seemed to have been developed as part of some NASA program.  These were very promising leads, but as I dug deeper I found that some of the software was free to government employees, agencies and contractors only.  Surprise, surprise I am not a government employee, but the way I see it, I'm a government employer!  Is it not bad enough that I had my money confiscated against my will to fund the project from which this software emanated?  And now I come to find out that the only thing that would entitle me to free access is to be employed by some other government agency.



6 Harsh Truths - From Cracked.com

I usually try to provide original content, but I came across something today that was so unexpectedly enjoyable that I wanted to share it.  The following video clip was referenced in a very good article over at cracked.com.  I enjoyed the hard line the author took with regard to getting off your ass and doing something.  I think we could all benefit from that advice from time to time.  Enjoy!


A View Into Krugman

Paul Krugman recently provided some insight into the influence Isaac Asimov had on him at a young age over at the guardian (yea, they don't capitalize it either).  I will provide only a few snippets.  He begins:
There are certain novels that can shape a teenage boy's life. For some, it's Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged; for others it's Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. As a widely quoted internet meme says, the unrealistic fantasy world portrayed in one of those books can warp a young man's character forever; the other book is about orcs.
Ok, that's a little bit funny, but in reality Atlas Shrugged, one of the most popular and highly acclaimed books in human history, is a tale of a struggle to be free.  Yes, those people who are struggling have made alot of money for themselves, but nonetheless, 16 year-olds the world over are able to see the heroism inherent in a free mind in spite of the class warfare they have been marinated in since kindergarten.  An economist who cannot say a kind word about this novel should raise a few red flags.  Interestingly he links to another guardian page with a single review of the book.  Surprise, surprise, they didn't like it.    
The Foundation itself seems to recapitulate a fair bit of American history, passing through Boss Tweed politics and Robber Baron-style plutocracy
The emphasis here is mine. What serious economist uses the term "Robber Baron"? 

 Yet if the Foundation books are a tale of prophecy fulfilled, it's a very bourgeois version of prophecy.
And "bourgeois"?  Seriously, it appeared twice.  
economics is, after all, largely about greed, while other social sciences have to deal with more complex emotions.
And here we come to the essence of the man who has been very influential in guiding the policies - enforced at gunpoint - which are intended to scientifically and magnanimously guide us to the promised land of wealth, health and prosperity for all.  He sees your quest to maximize your subjective self interest as nothing more honorable or complex than greed, and he doesn't even know you.  What you choose to buy, eat, wear, drive, watch and read - and at what price - are simple matters for the economic scientist of tomorrow. 

Admittedly, I have made nothing here but ad hominem attacks, but in the realm of economics, a field far from the certainty and consensus of the physical sciences, it pays to understand the ideology of the shaman offering you the cure. 


More on Mandatory Blood Donation

As faithful readers and people who exerted the effort to look directly to the left to see "Popular Posts" already know, one of my greatest hits is a post on mandatory blood donation.  It is of course an absurdity to stand for individual freedom and also advocate for mandatory blood donation, but is it really the worst thing a citizen of the united States might be subjected to?  Consider this:

  • If you are a male over the age of 18, you have probably registered for the selective service.  As I write this, you are in no danger of being drafted, i.e. forced into slavery and subjected to mortal danger during war time.  I cannot speak for the future.  From the website of the selective service "In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth."  This brings a whole new meaning to the word "service". Sears' call center isn't looking so bad now. 
  • If you work for a living in sectors of the economy visible to the eyes of the law, somewhere on the order of one-third to one-half of all of your earnings are taken by one government or another.  Now of course, you may receive some benefits and services as a result, but nevertheless, your payments are not truly voluntary, contrary to the assertions of Harry Reid
To me, a pint of blood here or there pales in comparison to risking my life and having a large chuck of my earnings taken before touching my bank account.   So why don't they do it?  It makes so much sense; most people could spare the blood, especially the young and healthy who benefit so much from the system of law and order created single-handedly by government.

They don't do it, because the force in the process is too obvious.  Evan an idiot like Harry Reid cannot fail to see the needle in the arm, even though he seems oblivious to the gun in the room. 

Bastiat on the Fiscal Cliff

 The following excerpt from Bastiat illustrates the predicament of the current regime more eloquently than I can, and he died over 150 years ago.  After 60 years of promising everything under the sun in order to gain power, they are embarrassed, or at least they should be, to admit that they have no money.  This is the so called Fiscal Cliff:

The hundred thousand mouths of the press and of the speaker’s platform cry out all at once:
“Organize labor and workmen.”
 “Do away with greed.”
 “Repress insolence and the tyranny of capital.”
“Experiment with manure and eggs.”
“Cover the country with railways.”
“Irrigate the plains.”
“Plant the hills.”
“Make model farms.”
“Found social laboratories.”
“Colonize Algeria.”
“Nourish children.”
“Educate the youth.”
“Assist the aged.”
“Send the inhabitants of towns into the country.”
“Equalize the profits of all trades.”
“Lend money without interest to all who wish to borrow.”
“Emancipate Italy, Poland, and Hungary.”
“Rear and perfect the saddle-horse.”
“Encourage the arts, and provide us with musicians and dancers.”
“Restrict commerce, and at the same time create a merchant navy.”
“Discover truth, and put a grain of reason into our heads. The mission of Government is to enlighten, to develop, to extend, to fortify, to spiritualize, and to sanctify the soul of the people.”

... And the people believe, and the people hope, and the people make a revolution! No sooner are their friends at the head of affairs, than they are called upon to redeem their pledge. “Give us work, bread, assistance, credit, education, colonies,” say the people; “and at the same time protect us, as you promised, from the taxes.”

The Productive, Peaceful Sector and the Nonproductive, Violent Sector

The words we use to delineate between the portions of our world run by governments (public) and everything else (private) strike me as nebulous and inadequate.  The "private sector" sounds shadowy and secretive, and the "public sector" sounds the opposite-open, visible and cooperative.  But it isn't so.  Ask yourself if you feel more cooperative with Walmart or with the IRS.  Think of all the classified information, protected from your eyes for your own benefit, and of the secret mission carried out in your name.

No, "public" and "private" just won't do.

How about this: the "productive sector" and the "nonproductive sector"?  Admittedly, the "nonproductive sector" is a little cumbersome, so we may want to consider variants in wording, but you get the idea.  Some would argue that the government and its agents, public-private partnerships (yuck!) and the like, occasionally produce goods and services people want, to which I would argue, "not without forcibly creating monopolies for themselves."  Be that as it may, it is prudent to search for better, more universally accepted alternatives.


Which leads me to the distinction that I think is incontrovertible: the "peaceful sector" and the "violent sector".  The unifying principle of government is force, and I feel that the nomenclature should reflect it.  If you don't believe me, try starting a government of your own without the use of weapons.  When you fail, open a bakery or a lemonade stand and give something back to the community.


I don’t mean that a business politician won’t steal; stealing is his business. But all politicians are nonproductive. The only commodity any politician has to offer is jawbone. -- Lazarus Long
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