no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Comments on Comments #21

July 20th, 2008

shiva left a comment on Violence and Vandalism are Not Solutions, I agreed with Mike Gogulski who said that vandalizing property is counterproductive to the cause of liberty. Mike said that it was possible that people were lawfully evicted from the properties to make way for condominium development, since de facto eviction occurs whenever a landlord simply refuses to extend or renew rental agreements.

And what if you believe that the only valid “ownership” of a house is living in it, and therefore that no one has the right to evict anyone?

Rentiers are parasites and oppressors just as much as government is. Rent is extortion with threats of violence just as much as tax is.

What I’m not saying is that the current situation is ideal, or necessarily legitimate.  I imagine that a free market would provide vastly different alternatives than those which we currently enjoy. The market is perveted in the sense that there are (probably) more absentee owners enjoying greater market power than they would in a truly free market, I’m with you 100% on this, if I follow you correctly.   But unless you can demonstrate how a free market would eliminate entirely the market for rental, I’d say your belief is not entirely well-thought out. Certainly we can imagine short- and medium-term rental agreements as valid and legitimate instances of non-owner tenancy, and of (somewhat) absentee ownership.  At what point, then, does a rolling short-term rental agreement become ownership in-fact?  The idea is preposterous.

Anyways, when did two wrongs start making things right? The facts remain the same: people associate these acts with lawlessness and disregard for the well-being of others (rightly or wrongly). As long as they think we’re a bunch of hooded hooligans and arsonists, throwing shit-bombs on people’s cars, they’ll never take the movement seriously.

We can play at this game a little: the tenants were arguably the (mostly) rightful owners.  Except for the native Mexicans from whom the land was stolen to begin with, and probably a series of unfortunate thefts and misappropriations in between, in reality even their claim to ownership by tenancy is based on a seriously clouded title. About 90% of the status quo is entirely indefensible, and that includes any discussion of current property rights/ownership, since a great deal of such titles (or claims thereto) are necessarily clouded by prior government action, and/or dependent on the state for any semblance of validity.

Mike Gogulski responded late, that there are certainly many “claims of property today existing which are unjust and which should be rightly dissolved,” but that truth alone is not sufficient moral justification for vandalism.

I agree that landlords in many circumstances are parasites and oppressors, but so is just about everyone (to one degree or another) with whom we interact, on a daily basis: the librarian who checks out our books, the old lady across the street collecting social security without having paid a thin dime into it, labor unions in certain states that have pushed for (and gained) legislation that denies men the right to work, etc.None of these people are the problem, all these things are symptoms of the government disease. Strike the root, and the branches will die on their own.

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Jeff Molby left a comment on Why I’m Glad Player Piano is a Work of Fiction, it seems, taking Vonneguts dystopic assumptions to heart:

I asked about such a scenario recently. I don’t see much discussion about this, so I welcome the opportunity.

In the absence of a need for hard labor, would we toil nonetheless?

In the collective sense, there might not be a “need for hard labor”, but that’s not necessarily true in an individual sense. If the owners of the world’s capital have no incentive to satisfy the needs of the proletariat, — and aren’t charitable enough to do it anyway — the proletariat will have to find a way to satisfy its own needs, probably through hard labor.

Specifically, Jeff asks:

About a month ago, I wondered about the end game of robotics. Given the current direction of things, it seems apparent that we will eventually arrive at a time where there will be a market for only the very smartest of human beings. The cream of the cream of the crop, so to speak.

…Does that scenario not shoot a gaping hole in libertarian philosophy? In that case, would the means of efficient production rest in the hands of a relatively small group of people, thus necessitating either drastic socialism or mass starvation?

Jeff, this is an interesting topic for discussion.  I think there are a lot of assumptions in these questions, and I fear I’d be doing you a disservice if I attempted to respond to you in this forum.  If you’d like to do some brainstorming, send me an e-mail [ david AT nothirdsolution DOT com] discussing this in greater detail and I’d be happy to contribute.

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1955Design left a comment on All of Our Productivity is Wasted:

Although your point is well taken, I think that there is perhaps one intangible that you are not factoring in: boredom.

Even the most unusual behavior (i.e. leisure activity) becomes commonplace if repeated often enough. You can only shoot so many baskets, or drink so much coffee on the patio, or fly off to Lake Como so many times…before your leisure activity becomes commonplace. And boring.

Agreed, but I’m not sure I would conclude from this, that labor, for its own sake, is a part of the solution. Labor has always been primarily a means to an end, and not an end of itself.  People don’t enjoy their leisure because the rest of their waking hours they’re stuck in a factory, although they are able to enjoy it, because of and in spite of that.  As stupid as man can be, they can be equally creative.  In the absence of a true need to work (in order to provide for sustenance and leisure) I’d sincerely hope that man’s creative side could come up with a better cure for boredom than sitting in a cube or rolling parts of an assembly line producing profits for someone else…

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Joe McHugh also left a comment on All of Our Productivity is Wasted:

I quit my 10k/mo job to trade currencies, stay at home and it’s working out great. There’s true value in what you’re talking about here.

Would that everyone could enjoy early retirement! And thanks for the compliment!

David Gross mentions it in his post, that he quit a $100K/year job and does contract work from home.  Joe McHugh quit his $120K/year job to chill out max and relax all cool…

If you’re making that much money, even for a short amount of time, it is relatively easy to buy your way out with a fair amount of security. To the average person who’s making $30k or $40k, they simply don’t have (or can’t imagine having) the financial wherewithal to break out of the rut. If you’re making $100K and you’re not saving money, you’re an idiot. If you’re making $30K, you’re not saving money probably because there just isn’t any left over at the end of the month.

I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way, even reading this, no matter how carefully I try to word it, sounds like I’m saying “David and Joe are hypocrites.” Please accept that I’m not trying to say any such thing, because I mean no harm.  If you’re making $100k+ you’re in a very, very small minority, but I’ve noticed this sort of comment elsewhere in the blogosphere, and just wanted to point out that anyone making that much money has opportunities that most people will never have.

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John Robb left a comment on Scrip Currency is a Recipe for Disaster:

The scrip solution is a way to ameliorate the impact of a debased/unabailable national currency. It catalyzes economic activity locally.

Also, it’s not forced but an alternative means of exchange. Participants can save in the national currency.

The problem with placing one’s savings in the national currency, as Robb unintentionally alluded to in the above passage, is that the currency is continually debased through inflation. But local scrip currency is continually debased further, through some other fiat. What’s the difference? Both types of currency lose value rapidly, and as such are ill-suited to be media of exchange in a free market.

If the currency is not “forced,” then how do we propose to start paying people in it, if they don’t want it. And why would they want it? What’s the point of an “alternative” currency that is both tied to the national currency you’re trying to avoid, and at the same time, objectively worse at providing the functions of money?

Here’s a way to ameliorate the impact of debased national currency: stop using it. I have no qualms about trying to catalyze local economic activity, but I think this needs to be done with a legitimate, specie-backed currency.

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In Comments #20, Jeff Molby says:

Close, but not quite. [The thrill of gambling is] based on the belief of a non-zero change (sic) at actually winning.

I say it’s based on a non-zero chance of winning; the game is otherwise rigged.

Jeff says “no, it’s based on the belief that one has a non-zero chance of winning.” I’m not sure there’s as sharp a distinction as Jeff would have us believe; the current system is set up in such a manner that encourages deception and borderline fraudulent behavior on behalf of those who issue lottery tickets, because they are a quasi-governmental agency and free from any meaningful competition. In any event, I think we’re largely debating semantics here, and I’d prefer not to get into a fight about something that’s really of little/no consequence, we seem to agree on the issue.

In a free market, good trumps evil and there is diminished capacity for lottery-holders to outright cheat their patrons. The goal of cheating customers is to earn super-normal profits, or to compensate for being a shitty businessperson. Arbitrage drives profit down to so-called normal rates of return and ensures that bad businessmen are driven from the market. Anyone who routinely sold lottery or raffled tickets with no chance of winning the prize (i.e., after the prize had been won) would find himself out of business rather quickly. In truth, I’m not convinced that lotteries are a profitable business model in a free market.  Maybe lottery-like games, in Casino environments or something, and certainly lotteries in the charitable sense, but I’m having a hard time imagining Mega-Millions in a free market.

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Orville Seymer is back, commenting on What Could You Do With Allodial Title?

What “Allodial Title” means in my mind, is the state does not the right to regulate your private property. So in other words, all of the Zoning laws and other restrictions on your property are unconstitutional. Of course you would have to convince numerous Judges of this, which would be very difficult if not almost impossible and it would take bundles of money to pay the Attorneys.

Orville gave a nice little lesson in American History to boot. I’ve read more about Allodial title and its legal basis. Some people say that Allodial title is only granted by monarchs. If this is the case, then it’s as fraudulent as any other form of property ownership, except there are fewer bases to challenge it, and is therefore a more perfected title.

Mike Gogulski thinks that Allodial title is a dead end:

But wait… the state granted it? What the state granteth, surely the state can take away… and where does the state get the authority to issue title to land anyway?

If we’re to acquire just and legitimate freehold, it’ll have to be done some other way. Some way that doesn’t involve states. Unless I’m missing something essential here.

I’m inclined to agree. Really it comes down to, “what if the State grants an Allodium, and then later renegs on the deal. To whom do you turn for arbitration?” Good luck. You can’t fight City Hall, as they say. It’s a fun thought experiment, but like anything the State does, it can also do the opposite: it can protect your property, until it wants to sell it. It can protect you, until you’ve dissented too many times. It can feed you, or it can starve you.

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perlhaqr left a comment on an old post, If You Don’t Like it, Get the Fuck Out!

ut, usually the people I’m telling to get the fuck out are trying to take away some freedom of mine!

(Most recently, in “discussions” of the Heller ruling. People lamenting that it was so horrible and we were all going to die because of icky guns.)

And seriously. There’s well over a hundred other countries where the people can’t have guns. America is nearly unique in this regard. Leave me and my hobbies alone.

Well then, that’s an entirely different position altogether! Like I said, who are they to tell me to leave? If they’re so unhappy with my choices, or the choices I want to make, why don’t they find somewhere it’s easier to ignore/avoid me. And if you don’t like guns, like perlhaqr says, there are plenty of countries willing to accommodate your irrational fear of inanimate objects.

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Some people liked The Truth About What Anarchists Want, which was a response post to the generally propagandist criticism: anarchists just want to tear things apart.

Danielo says, “The ‘you’re just a nihilist’ argument is perhaps the most common assumption I run into, & your notes here are succinct and clear.”

Francois Tremblay comments, toungue-in-cheek, that “Anarchists don’t want to TEAR shit up, want to BURN shit up. Duh.” He also notes that, in his experience, far more Statists are nihilists than anarchists.

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no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics