A lot of things I missed while I was gone… Here’s a bunch of short commentary
I liked B.R. Merrick on non-voting. I’m tired of election-year nonsense, and of course, this is the time when the “get out and vote” crowd yells the loudest.
I liked this post at End the War on Freedom. One of his friends wanted him to agree to vote for Obama, he responded with a concise and well-thought out explanation of his principled stance of non-voting, concluding thusly:
[This] should give you some idea of where I’m coming from. I have arrived where I am through many years of hard thought. You’re not likely to change my mind any time soon.
There is a new libertarian manifesto, and you can read it in ten minutes:
Let’s get one thing out of the way: the system has no right to exist in the form it is in today. Those voters have no right to the system they’re voting for. The burden of “love it or leave it” is on them, not me, and it applies to the entire planet, not just the USofA. If they don’t like my way of individual freedom, free markets, and personal responsibility, they can leave, because I’m going to do all I can to take it back…
The political approach puts success and principles at odds, requiring one to be compromised to the other; the agorist approach aligns principles and success. Success is defined as the extent to which principles are lived by.
The political approach strengthens the system by feeding it with activism, money, and moral sanction; the agorist approach removes activist energy, money, productivity, and moral sanction with each new advance.
to serve and protect, indeed. Fucking sick. Absolutely sick. And these are the people we’re promised are going to protect us in need. In case you weren’t paying attention: fascims caught you by surprise.
In Monte Carlo, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt, parodying the “Societe General” logo. Instead of “Societe”, the shirt read “Anarchie General”. It was especially fitting, since SG’s logo is red and black. A google search for said t-shirt returned no promising leads.
I spoke with a 23-year old Frenchman the other day, and he described (albeit, unknowingly) the economic problems of single-payer health care. He noted that the co-pay is a nominal 1 Euro. To review, when goods are priced below market, they will be demanded in excessive quantities, and generally supplied in sub-optimum quantities.
Yet this is precisely the sort of health care that all politicians are promising these days, in one manner or another? Well, he flat out said: Yes, there is a shortage of service providers (doctors, nurses, etc.) and compounding the problem, many people routinely visit the emergency room for mild fevers, headaches, etc.
Scarce resources can be rationed by the price mechanism of the market, or they can be rationed by the politics of pull, special interests, and class warfare. I am particularly fond of Kip Esquire’s ongoing catalogue of Britain’s NHS Universal Health Care failures.
According to this post on The Agitator, Paul Krugman recently made a huge mistake in a debate about health care. He asked Canadians whether they thought their system was terrible. They mostly all said it was.
Recently, I was in Canada and talked to a Canadian, of about my age. He had just gotten back from Burning Man festival. He said he couldn’t afford health care. (But he could afford to travel 2,500 miles to listen to music, walk around naked, and do drugs? I kid, I know I’m stereotyping the BMF) He said, with all seriousness, that the American ideal is great because it allws everyone the opportunity to succeed. But, in practically the same breath, he said that Canada is better if you’re poor.
I really thought this was a loser, slave mentality. Do you want to live in a place that’s good at providing a modicum of basic, necessary care for the poor? Or would you rather live in a place where nearly everyone has (arguably) the opportunity to extricate himself or herself from poverty?
When businesses go under, it cripples the employees dependent upon them for wages. When employees strike, it cripples the businesses dependent upon them for labor. Some people are proposing the idea of a general strike, but that it should be combined with productive, counter-economic activity like agorism and tax resistance/avoidance.
Notablog talks about the current crisis, and the misnomer of “laissez-faire.” Notablog says that the USA is not a free market:
The current state and the current banking sector require one another; neither can exist without the other. They are so reciprocally intertwined that each is an extension of the other.
Remember this point the next time somebody tells you that “free market madmen” caused the current financial crisis that is threatening to undermine the economy. There is no free market. There is no “laissez-faire capitalism.” The government has been deeply involved in setting the parameters for market relations for eons; in fact, genuine “laissez-faire capitalism” has never existed.
I liked this post at Social Memory Complex about the difference between Capitalism and Free Markets.
I’m not about to say that one definition is more correct than any other, but it is important, when discussing these matters, to make sure you’re working with the same definition
Mike Gogulski says that being against all authority is silly.
What some anarchists oppose is all authority. What I and the (I would like to think) more sensible anarchists oppose is all unjust, illegitimate, coercive authority. There’s a big difference between those two sets, and I must admit to have little patience for those of the “against all authority” mindset if they fail to add this important qualification.
Another semantic confusion, mostly, IMO. What one man considers “authority”, another might consider “cooperation.” The difference, as far as I’m concerned, is that “authority” is present whenever and wherever one party to a co-operation is forcibly prevented from acting upon his own moral judgment. I may contract with an advisor for financial matters, but the moment he does not allow me to A)stop doing business with him, or B)direct my business in a manner that is in accord with my values is when we have a clear-cut rights violation. As an apprentice, I take instruction from the authority of the foreman, using my own judgment to determine that he knows better than I how to build widgets, and that I can learn from him. If he enslaves me and forces me to make widgets, then there’s a problem.
I don’t know. Maybe such circumstances are not really authority.
I’d like to agree with Mike’s reference to Bakunin, that “authority” per se, is perfectly legitimate, and that I may subject myself willingly to “authority”, per Bakunin, “as long as may seem to me necessary, their indications and even their directions, it is because their authority is imposed on me by no one, neither by men nor by God. Otherwise I would repel them with horror.”
Vinay Gupta has an idea about how to provide health care to the poor, what may work in the third world may also be a model one could follow with the western poor.
you can’t provide 99.9% health care on $10 per year. But you can provide 80% health care, and right now, that’s far, far better access to medical support than the poor can get any other way.
SURPRISE! The Government determined that charities alone are not be able to cope with catastrophe relief:
In a worst-case, large-scale disaster, the projected need for mass care services would far exceed the capabilities of these voluntary organizations without government or other assistance
Except there never seems to be a shortage of charitable giving:
Wal-Mart wanted to give, but wasn’t allowed to do so. A flotilla of boats wanted to help, but wasn’t allowed to. Meanwhile, a hundred thousand formaldehyde FEMA trailers, unoccupied. Doubt me?
When some folks look at these trailers, they see formaldehyde. When I look at them, I see a cool, dry, clean place for a family to live until they can get established.
— Mike Miller, FEMA’s field coordinator in Mississippi
It’s not worth the bother to wonder why some people live by subtracting from the world rather than adding to it, or have nothing to offer but the destruction of what others offer. Vandals are boring because they’re all the same.
After five years of speaking (literally) no French, I’m learning that the readjustment process is difficult, especially where nearly everyone speaks English. Despite a pretty thorough and formal education in the language, after a five-year hiatus, I’ve re-acclimated well enough to converse, e.g, I’m able to fairly easily explain to the girl at the Acceuil (Information) booth, and the Security officer, and the Controlleur (Train conductor) that “The ticket window closed, the automatic ticket machine doesn’t accept foreign credit cards, I don’t have a ticket and (apparently) no way of acquiring one. I need to be in Monaco, tonight! What are my options?”
A word amongst travelers: apparently, you’re able to purchase tickets from the conductor under such circumstances, who knew?
Routine day-to-day (e.g., checking in to hotel, ordering dinner, asking directions) hasn’t been any trouble, but the less-frequent day-to-day things have stumped me completely, when the barman told me to take the elevator to floor “moins quatre” (minus 4): stumped; because “minus 4” in that context simply didn’t make any sense to me, so I assume I misunderstood him.
After he said “minus 4” in english, at which point I knew I wasn’t misunderstanding, I remembered that our hotel is cantilevered on a cliff outside Monaco, and that from the ground floor where you enter, it’s conceivable that there would be a floor “minus 4”. Sure enough, that’s where breakfast was served.
Or, after our waitress asked, “Quelq’un s’occupe de vous?” (Have you been taken care of, yet?) I was utterly speechless until she re-posed the question in fractured English, at which point I knew exactly what she had asked! It’s just that I’m so not used to hearing these words, these phrases, that even though they’re up in my brain somewhere, it’s taking way too long for them to register, coherently.