no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Who Are You Voting For?

October 25th, 2008

My friends wife asked the dreaded question the last night, “Who are you voting for?” (Technically, that question and the title of this blogpost should be ‘for whom are you voting?’, but whatever.)

I told her I wasn’t voting at all. Not on the national level, not on the local level. (As an aside: I might go to the polling place in order to write in “NOBODY” for president, and take a picture of it on my phone, but even that seems like a tremendous waste of my time for little personal satisfaction.)

She was perplexed, “You of all people, you’re not voting?”

Her husband, who kind of knows where I’m coming from, joked: “Yeah, he’s one of those people.”

It was neither time- or place-appropriate to discuss the topic, so I just left it at that, “Yes, I’m one of those people.” Her presumption of course, was that I seem to know an awful lot about politics, and she couldn’t understand why someone who knows about politics wouldn’t bother to vote.

But it got me thinking: Sure, I know a lot about the nature of politics, but I know next-to-shit about the measures that are on the ballot locally, and I know next-to-shit about the national Popularity Contest. I couldn’t tell you what it means to vote “No” on Michigan proposal 2, or “Yes” on Prop 1. I have no idea. I don’t know how McCain or Obama plan to have the government create jobs. I don’t know how either one plans to handle world affairs, or domestic affairs. I don’t care, because I know that neither one of them is going to give me one iota more of liberty.

I don’t need to know the specifics of Obama’s plan for the economy, or the specifics of McCain’s plan for the economy in order to tell you why they’re not going to work; I don’t need a crystal ball to tell you that they’re both making promises that can’t or won’t be kept.

They can lie to you, and get away with it time after time, because the amount of bullshit people are willing to believe is proportional to how badly they want it to be true.

Which brings my thoughts full-circle. When people learn that you’re not voting. Some people, like my friend’s wife will be puzzled, “Gee, you know an awful lot more about politics than I do, I can’t believe you’re not voting. Why not?”

The inquiry really needs to be redirected. If you’re voting, and you’re surprised to learn that people you trust as knowledgeable about politics aren’t voting, perhaps it’s you that needs to reconsider.

My knowledge and understanding of politics and the political process has taught me that on balance, no good can ever come from voting. I am not an “informed” voter, in terms of the red herrings paraded as “issues” in politics these days.

I refuse to vote for the person who will rob me less than the other guy. I refuse to vote for the person who will murder fewer brown-skinned foreign people. I refuse to vote for the person who promises to take money from you and give it to me.

So, why are you voting?

Catching Up

October 9th, 2008

A lot of things I missed while I was gone… Here’s a bunch of short commentary

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.”

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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.

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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

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DetroitBlog comments:

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.

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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.

Of Greed and Charity

September 18th, 2008

I received a response to my all-time most popular post, All Your Property Are Belong to Uncle Sam. Ryan Anderson objects thusly:

I don’t believe in the ideas your spreading. Look at in a positive manner. Yes, sometimes there will be abuse like Wulfs case; sometimes the government abuses their power.(W. W Woodward) I do not agree with either of these cases, but when your making a extraordinary amount of money you usually do not have the time to invest in others. Because just Like I need you to give me for example a product(Art, technology, ETC) you need me to grow your food. And Sometimes its nice to just give something away without knowing who it might go to. I know I don’t have the time in the world to check with the girl next door is doing well, But i always hope so.

Look, Ryan. You clearly didn’t read my post. It’s not that I merely don’t like how tax dollars are spent. I don’t like taxes. Period. I don’t like any program that relies on the threat of murder. There is a fundamental, and undeniable difference between giving money away, and having money taken from you.

Yes, sometimes it is just nice to give things away, without really knowing who benefits. This is called charity, and it is what happens among the members of compassionate communities. I’m a strong proponent of both charity, and community. There are mountains of evidence that charity will not cease if governments stop stealing from us, because people are simply not as greedy as you’d like to imagine.

The historical record is full of fraternal orders, mutual aid groups, friendly societies, etc. But perhaps the most damning counterexample to the “government needs to help the poor” argument, is the fact that charity continues to exist, in spite of the massive amounts of wealth that are stolen from us directly (through taxes) and indirectly (through inflation, etc.). As I’ve previously blogged about charity and government:

Would you stop giving to charity if you had more money to give? Or would you give a little bit (or even a lot) more? The bottom line is this: There are many, many people just like you, who express concern about the plight of the less fortunate.

If you would, then you’re part of the fucking problem. I care. And I don’t want to share a society with anyone who doesn’t, I don’t want to be forced (by government) to interact, to participate with these people.

Taxation, and welfare schemes are neither charity, nor community, and it is sad that you would equivocate the terms. I donate to charity every time I receive a paycheck, and on a few other occasions throughout the year. I believe that I know, intimately more than anyone else possibly could, when I can and when I cannot afford to help others. I trust that they know the same, about their own personal lives. Taxes force me to “help” other people, even when I might be in a tough spot, financially, of my own.

People who make extraordinary amounts of money, some would argue, have extraordinarily satisfied many others. At least, this is the case in a free market: the only way you can get rich, is by enriching others, by producing products which others want to buy. You could make the argument that the USA is not a free market, but that doesn’t validate your argument, it only indicates that government has screwed up the market so badly that they need to levy taxes as a corrective measure.

But this isn’t the argument you made, and if it were, could be summarily dispatched by appealing to reason alone: the current situation is the product of government interference, that is, the violent imposition of one group’s will to power over the rest of society. There is one, and only one way to rectify this problem.

Further, Ryan counsels:

If you don’t like how your Tax dollars are used; instead of giving it a mafia like presences, go talk to your Representative and tell them what to spend the money on. Yeah Listen or They will be out of a Job.

You still have to give your money to the State-mafia, “talking to your representative” is not a free pass towards not paying taxes, don’t you think I would’ve figured that out, by now?

What happens if, and I desparately would like to hear an honest answer to this question, your representative doesn’t give a flying fuck what you have to say? That’s the case, always and everywhere. If you think my representative cares about my meager, individual opinion, you live in a fantasy world. And even if he (or she, as the case may be) cared, it would still be necessary for the Rep to convince a hundred others, or a thousand others, that my particular concerns are more deserving of political attention than yours, or anyone’s for that matter.

The nature of politics is a zero-sum game. I can only get my way, live as I choose, if I use the coercive apparatus of the State to meld others in to my way of thinking. This is wrong, no matter what the motive.

The point of this post, was to demonstrate that even if you can see past that smokescreen, even if you accept taxes = charity, you ought to be appalled by the fact that your government is claiming the right to an indefinite amount of the incomes generated by individuals who are no longer citizens or residents. Slavery is slavery.

This is de facto slavery, and it’s not one iota more tolerable simply because they’re doing it to wealthy caucasians.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics