Discovery of the Week - No Treason

Do yourself a favor and read Lysander Spooner's series of essays titled "No Treason."  Doubtless, this will not be a discovery for a large portion of you, but wait there's more.  If you go to the Wikisource page for the essays, you can download them as pdf or epub.  I downloaded mine as epub on my Ipad and couldn't be more impressed with the quality of the result and ease of the process.  Welcome to the future. 

Full Faith and Credit

Turns out I'm not infallible.   Since I started my internal debate over whether to invest heavily into Bitcoin, it has more then doubled in value.

It seems that since the Cypriot banking debacle, Bitcoin has entered into the lexicon of the mainstream media.   The general uncertainty regarding government-issued currencies has contributed to its rise in popularity and price.  The news coverage has not all been well-informed or positive however. 

The following segment was appeared on Bloomberg:

Right away the well is poisoned by the title, "The Anarchist Virtual Currency."  My goodness, how frightening!  It could just have well been titled, "The Incorruptible Currency."  Maybe, "The Stateless Currency"?  Oooo, I know, how about "The People's Currency."  That one, I feel, has legs. 

IRS Wastes Money to Save Us From "Total Anarchy"

This IRS made video would be humorous if it wasn't so enraging. Count the crimes.  Your money (reportedly $60,000) was taken to make a terrible Star Trek parody with the intention of training 'public servants' in the proper practice of taking more of your money. 

My Problem with Star Trek

I'm a big fan of Star Trek.  I may not know as much trivia about the show, its characters or the actors and actresses who played them as the biggest nerds do, but I have as much admiration as anyone for the backdrop that the writers created to explore human nature.

I do have one relatively large quibble on the other hand.  I do not have a problem accepting the technological achievements of the time period.  Warp drive, teleportation, phaser pistols and all the rest I can handle within the context of the Star Trek universe.  What I cannot fathom on the other hand, and what seems too unrealistic to me, is the idea that they exist in a post-scarcity society in which money is no longer is necessary.  "We solved poverty." is the line the comes to mind.  Maybe so; maybe everyone in society has ample means.  I can buy that with sufficient technological achievement.  What I cannot buy is the idea that time, energy and materials are no longer scarce and that there is no longer a desire anywhere to make relative value judgments between any combination of goods or services.  Getting 'beyond money' in my mind is tantamount to getting beyond heartache and disappointment.  These are fundamental aspects of being human and living with other humans.  Even in space drama, subverting fundamental human characteristics runs counter to one's story telling goals. 

Where are all the Former Libertarians?

I am sure that I am not the first person to make this observation, but it seems as if there are very few people who have converted from libertarian or anarcho-capitalist to one of the more mainstream viewpoints on the political spectrum.  I never hear about anyone in the Republican or Democrat camps saying in an interview, "You know, I used to believe in the sovereignty of the individual and in doing all that we can to defend individual rights, but now I have seen the light and joined the Democrat party.  I realized after all that it is in fact morally justified to take some money from neighbor A and give it to neighbor B if he really needs it (or if he seems like a likely voter)." 

Am I wrong here?  Can someone provide counter examples?  Where are all the libertarian defectors? 

Where are all the former libertarians?

It's 10 o'clock, do you know where you ideas are?

Imagine that you have a grand idea for some new widget.  Maybe you will change the world.  Maybe you will make a mint.  Or, maybe you will just end up with a pile of scrap and an empty bank account.  Regardless, you need a plan of action to turn your dream into a reality.  What do you do now?

The first thing you need to do, as usual, is check with the State.  Someone else may have had the same idea, or a similar one, and applied for a state-granted monopoly on the use of it.  If you forge ahead, you could stand accused of stealing someone's idea, regardless of its actual origin!  You had better hire a lawyer to search the government's file of officially recognized ideas, though having done due diligence will grant you no immunity from future litigation.  If that goes well, you will need to hire another lawyer to help draft an otherwise very unhelpful document.  It will need to describe as many potential manifestations of the idea as possible, even though you already know what manifestation it will take.   The document will need to be both as specific and as general as possible.  After all, you need to protect your specific idea in as broad a manner as you can.  This will, of course, make the document unreadable and uninteresting to anyone not being paid $500/hour to interpret it, but it is very important that you protect yourself from someone taking your idea away from you in the dark of night.  Worse still, someone could submit your idea in writing to the state, and they will come take it, though it will probably be in the light of day.     

The Real Impact of the Minimum Wage

I usually like to  post original content on this site, and I have been meaning to describe in detail the disastrous effects the minimum wage can have on the poor in particular and the economy in general.  However, I found this article on the minimum wage over at Skeptical Libertarian that does a fantastic job at just that.  What's more, our old friend Frederic Bastiat is invoked in a discussion of the seen vs. the unseen.

He pulls some excellent information from the following video, which he links to.

I apologize for the simple plug, but it is well worth your time, so I hope you head on over and check it out.

Read the original article here. 

The Iron Fist of Daylight Savings Time

Who do the governments think they are helping with daylight savings time?  And what great numbers must benefit from the barbaric practice before it justifies imposing a shift in all of our schedules?  If it is to benefit the farmer, who for some unknown reason is commonly romanticized and heavily subsidized beyond practically every other profession, I have a better solution: Have the farmers adjust their own schedules by mere minutes a day to keep up with changes in daylight.  If the cause is to reduce expenditures on energy, what do these same masterminds so often tell us about the stimulative effect spending has on the economy?  Every argument I have heard in favor of interposing the collective will on my daily schedule can be classified as a weak, pos hoc rationalization of a long-held mass delusion. 

What does it say about our conception of government that in most of the country, we willingly disrupt our lives with nary a whimper?  All the while, few of us are even aware of the purported benefits of the activity, and fewer still actually realize anything more than mild sleep deprivation as a result. 

John Bolton Defends Killing of American Citizens Without Due Process

John Bolton, statist apologist and war monger extraordinaire recently appeared on Stossel.  He made the following statements that I simply could not believe, even from him.  When asked by a student about the government's power to kill civilians without due process, the meat of Ambassador Bolton's response was: 

We killed tens of thousands of American citizens, maybe even hundreds of thousands, with no due process whatever in the Civil War.  And it was the right thing to do.

Too which the crowd boos appropriately.  He follows up:
You know, you want to discredit a movement, defend the Confederacy... Go ahead.
This all begins around 4:40 in the following video.  Really, Mr. Bolton?  Is it defending the Confederacy to disapprove of your justification of murdering thousands of people without due process because the "good guys" decided it was necessary in order to preserve the almighty Union?

When will we be able to have a rational conversation about the War Between the States in this country without the Union state chauvinism and good side/bad side dichotomy?  Is it possible to not support the rampant killing of citizens without due process and to also not be an advocate of slavery at the same time?  This is the mental barrier people like Mr. Bolton would like to see erected, because they know that in the minds of most people not adoring Lincoln and his flagrant abuse of power constitutes a vile form of racism.  

A Slight Correction to the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is a great read and overall a monumental historical achievement in intellectually throwing off the shackles of tyranny.  I do however have this one minor quibble with some of the wording.  The following is my corrected version of one of the most popularly quoted passages in the document:
... Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of some of the governed ...
My addition, in italics, makes the statement considerably more accurate to the actual world.  The consequences of this reversal of logical inconsistency are tremendous.  The individual is sovereign. This property is not exclusive to an arbitrary proportion of an arbitrary number of men, but is applicable to all.  Therefore, the powers derived are not just if unanimous consent is not obtained for their founding - a numerical situation so absurd in the statist paradigm as to be considered impossible.

Things That Annoy Me

You would think by the long list of things that annoy me that I am a crusty old curmudgeon.  Maybe so, I did turn 28 this week.  Here is a short list of things that have been annoying me more and more lately:
  1. The use, by Americans, of "Cheers" at the end of emails annoys me a little bit, but is frequent, so it made the list.  I know one guy who is British, so he gets a pass on this one.  Everyone else, clean up your act.    
  2. The use of "Fail" in the place of "Failure" drives me absolutely insane.  Seriously, how did this abomination become so common so fast?  I'm not a grammar Nazi.  My spelling is atrocious (thank you spell check and Google when spell check doesn't understand me). I split infinitives, end sentences with prepositions, am completely confused about whether to use "who" or "whom" in any given situation, make nonparallel lists and write run-on sentences like it's going out of style. But, I do not commit this transgression and will not suffer fools who do.   
  3. The overuse of the adjective "Epic", especially preceding the misuse of "Fail" troubles me as well.  Please tell me why young people today want to describe everything as "Epic"?  I have nothing against the moderate use of the term.  It can be very appropriate in certain circumstances, but folks please start mixing it up a little bit.   
  4. People who converted from Johnny Cash haters to fans after he died have a certain place in my heart next to my schoolmates who started liking Star Wars when the digitally remastered versions came out.  
  5. Last but certainly not least, that type of magical, Utopian, primordial thinking that can best be described as Statism annoys me to no end.  What is it that frightens us so as a society?  Violence, of course!  So what is the solution?  We systematize the use of violence and give the power over those institutions that wield it to the people who seek it most vigorously and reserve to them the responsibility of deciding its appropriate use.     

Random Thought

No liberal/progressive could have gotten away with a program titled "No Child Left Behind."  We would have all said, "You bleeding heart liberals, all you care about are the poor, the destitute and the slow at the expense of everyone else.  How is anyone going to rise to the highest levels of achievement if our focus is on the lowest common denominator (a phrase which, coincidentally, future generations may not understand)."

Likewise, no conservative could have gotten away with a program titled, "Race To The Top."  We would have said, "You conservatives only care about the best and brightest.  What about those who might be left behind." 

I guess there is not real point to this observation other than the fact that politics is stupid and a particularly poor path to enlightenment for an individual or a society. 
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