Anarchists Are Better

I know… I know… now that I have your attention…follow me.

When I say anarchists are better people, I intend that they are “better” in the sense they understand that systematically aggressing against people is unethical.  They hold no exceptions to this position.  They also understand that the ethical question is paramount and it therefore carries the day.  Anarchists hold that coherency based on irrefutable axiomatic statements is the ethical position.  To employ philosophically inconsistent arguments is not to argue at all, but to be purely argumentative.  These discussions by definition are unprincipled, put forth nothing of any value, and further, reduce the likelihood of meaningful conversation.

Some may think “I know some so-called libertarians and they don’t behave any better (observably) than any other group.”  That may be true on an individual basis, but anarchists reject the use of the most destructive (philosophically and historically) mechanism, the state.  The state has at is disposal its only tool, force.  And the mere threat of the use of that tool, causes fear, creates intimidation and ultimately compliance by the citizenry.  To ignore this – to deny that the state is a coercive agency – is incoherent.

A common critique of libertarianism is that it sounds good in theory, but its functionality remains in question (or is flatly rejected).  Not only do libertarians refute the workability question, the political philosophy of freedom asserts that a free society would enjoy improved peace and prosperity.  However, it remains that the ethical question holds the weight.

The argument made by the anarchist is that even if the performance of a free society would be less than that of a statist society (not possible), it represents a morally superior society.  If the choice is a better performing immoral society v. a lesser performing moral society (which it is not), the ethical society represents the better society.  How is it possible that a society employing systematic coercion could outperform a moral one?  Or how could the removal of a criminal gang of thieves from society cause the society to generate less wealth?

Many claim, however, that the current society performs quite well.  Well?  Compared to what?  Comparing the society of the US to other societies?  Libertarians contend that compared to a free society the US society underperforms.  They do not deny that temporarily the elites do quite well, however, at the expense of the vast majority of society.  And the generally better condition of the US society is not an endorsement of the statism that exists, but is a credit to its culture that performs reasonably even while be coerced.

This culture generally understands and conducts their lives to the their benefit employing social cooperation.  They inherently understand the cost of conflict and seek to avoid it.  They dedicate themselves to creating the wealth they seek through voluntary exchange rather than engaging in immoral behavior even as they witness and endorse the state engaging in coercive activity.  They have been indoctrinated into believing that the state, and the services it provides, require an exception to ethical behavior or they simply do not recognize it as such (even though it is).

It is a wholly incoherent argument to make the case that bank robbing is a superior profession because bank robbers can make a fine living.  The robbers engage in an immoral act (theft, the taking of another’s property without his consent) and they reduce the wealth of society materially as well as wrecking havoc on the level of social cooperation in society.  In short robbery also breaks down the “social fabric” whereas a moral society supports and enhances the “social fabric”.  Similarly, agents of the state can make a fine living (and are generally respected by the populace), but do so at the expense of the ruled.

To make an incoherent argument is to argue for nothing substantively.  There is no principle at stake.  It is in fact not an argument, but rather simply argumentative.  Libertarians understand this.  Further, as an example of incoherency, many statists claim to be devout in their religious faith and to their faith’s moral teachings.  However, it is wholly inconsistent to support theft, murder (warfare) and more on a mass scale through the mechanism of the state while claiming to support the moral teachings of one’s religion.  Not only inconsistent – it leads one to objectively conclude that it renders one’s support of the tenets of one’s religious faith utterly meaningless – to decry individual acts of aggression while simultaneously advocating and supporting the same act on a mass scale.  Incoherent arguments carry no weight, hold no meaning and are not arguments at all.

Anarchists are better people.  They understand that systematically aggressing against people is immoral.  They also understand that the ethical question is paramount and wins the argument.  Anarchists hold that coherency based on irrefutable axiomatic statements represent the moral position.  Anarchists support self government rejecting the state as an immoral institution.

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Further Socializing the Cost of Education

Socialized Costs – Privatized Benefits – The Modus Operandi of the State

President Obama, by executive order, announced “reforms” to the federal student loan debt repayment program.  Of course his words apply to federal student loans directly, but also affect other loans and loan policies (through regulation and pressure tactics).  Isn’t that Barack Obama a nice guy?  He “really cares” about the people of this country.  What a nice thing for a student who is heavily indebted.  This is very helpful to those who have “invested in their own education”.  These are just a few of the reactions heard regarding the president’s changes made to the federal student loan program on Monday.

The American people continue to take on the financial burden created by others with barely an objection.  This is in part a result of most commenters on the media (politicians seeking reelection and pundits seeking more opportunities to speak and greater access to the state) who largely speak of the benefits of these policy changes to indebted students – not of the costs to the taxpayer.  So the public is mislead.

Let’s shed some light on what is really going on here.  To place this executive order in political context, the president may be attempting to deflect criticism from the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange ordeal; which may have been an attempt to divert attention from the Veterans’s Administration fiasco which is a result of continuing an unjust war…  Not to mention the favor Obama gains from those who got the loan relief.  I apologize, for a fleeting moment I had the thought that politics may play a role in this, but I digress…

The citizenry must understand that the organization of the state has massive authority over it.  By signing a document and without any other approval, the president has determined that those who explicitly and contractually obligated themselves to debt in exchange for “an education” no longer have to fully repay that debt according to the terms to which they agreed.  Terms of such contracts with the state can be changed unilaterally, by the state only, of course.  Further people who had not obligated themselves to such debt are now obligated to it and with without agreement.  The state indeed has vast authority over the citizenry – an authority to which freedom supporters object.  But there are more consequences to the action taken by the president.

Students, knowing that they will not have to fully repay their loans will be incentivized to borrow more.  Why wouldn’t they?  And as a result, there will be more money available to pay for college education.  And likely the cost of education will rise as a segment of students (those who take on loans) will be willing to pay more (as they won’t have to pay it all back).  More people will likely take loans, therefore increasing the total number of students (demand).  The public universities and colleges will clamor for more federal, state and local dollars as more students are drawn to the perceived lower cost (even as tuition rates rise).

The politicians will support their case for more higher education dollars on the basis that all of society benefits from a better educated populace.  This is in part how the masses are duped into bearing the cost of “public programs”.  Even the argument of benefit does not obligate another to pay.  Suppose you enjoy the flowers I plant within eye shot of passing by;  should you be obligated to pay for them?  In the case of contemplating higher education, only a prospective student can evaluate the cost/benefit analysis with validity.  Only he who bears all of the costs (direct and opportunity) can justly weigh them against the benefit.

This is simply a case of socializing costs (which are relatively small to each tax payer) with concentrated benefits to a few (the students who took out these types of loans).

In a private law society no such mechanism would exist capable of “legally” taking from one person to provide goods or services to another.  Such coerced exchanges would be subject to sanction.  Only voluntary exchanges (where both parties to such an exchange would benefit – otherwise the exchange would not take place) would be undertaken.  This is largely what happens every time you purchase a product or service from a private entity.  If you want more people to attend institutions of higher learning, encourage them to do so; even offer them a loan yourself, even at a reduced rates, or outright offer to pay some or all of their tuition costs using your own resources.  This is a virtuous act.  Such actions become immoral, however, when one makes these offers legally binding on another who has not provided explicit agreement to do so.

In a free society, students seeking a higher education would have the incentive to economize their educational needs.  They would have the incentive to tightly control all of their costs as they alone would bear the burden of repayment measuring this burden against the advantage of gaining a diploma.  And when the individual improves efficiency, the whole of society benefits.  A free society with free markets – a society that does not engage in systematic aggression – benefits the individual and all of society.  This lies in stark contrast with the statist society that benefits the few, the favored, the elite at the expense of the many.

 

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Elizabeth Warren: It’s a Rigged Playing Field!

And Warren and her cronies are rigging it!

Elizabeth Warren, the statist de jour, has been out promoting her recent book, a memoir “A Fighting Chance”.  She and her media friends have been working for years to position her as an advocate for the middle class.  And recently the buzz surrounding Ms. Warren has been centered on a run for the white house (more intently centered on her “denials” for a run for the white house in 2016).

In an interview on The CBS Morning News Elizabeth Warren claimed that “it’s a rigged playing field”.  We should believe her.  After all she is well educated and came from a middle class family.  And most importantly she is popular.  Game over in the world of politics.

So let’s accept her statement at face value: it is a rigged playing field.  So the solution, of course, would be to “un-rig” the game.  And Warren and all politicians (possibly with the exception of Ron Paul) have been working to un-rig the game for how many years and with countless pieces of legislation?  And by their own admission, wealth and power are more concentrated than ever.  So how does their track record look to you?  (This, by the way, is not the case against statism.)

Does “a rigged playing field” as Warren claims support the need for ever more regulation (oversight, restrictions, standards, policies, bureaucracy, fines and the like)?  And does this never ending cycle of regulation (and so-called reform) create the desired outcomes?  Why is it that shortly after reform is enacted, the clamor for reform is repeated?  Is this not sufficient evidence alone and on the “playing field” that these “reforms” simply do not create the desired outcome (emphasis for sarcasm).

Warren and the rest of the statists are in fact rigging the game.  

Let’s take a look at a portion of the exchange between Rose and Warren in a CBS This Morning interview that took place on April 22, 2014 that indicates the failures of prior legislation.  On the topic of a banking system that has prospered at the expense of the citizenry and that has grown ever more powerful and prosperous (even in the face of legislation) the following exchange ensued.
 
ROSE: Did Dodd-Frank take care of that or not?
 
WARREN: So watch what happened. We bailed them out. We got some financial reforms in place. But look where we are today. Those CEOs of the largest financial institutions still strut around Washington. Those big banks still push back on the regulators and block real change. Today, those large financial institutions are 38% bigger than they were when we bailed them out. And they break the law and nobody goes to jail. That’s not a level playing field. That’s not a fair system. They get richer, everybody else –
 
ROSE: Are more regulations or tax reforms the answer?
 
WARREN: Yes and yes.

The interventions Ms. Warren and her ilk seek are what further rigs the game.  This is by design.  They seek to use the legalized initiation of force to favor their friends, personal and political.  These actions will further concentrate wealth and power.

If you cannot get yourself to see these facts, the historical record of 100% percent failure should provide motivation to seek an alternative to the use of aggressive force.  And that alternative (and the only sustainable approach) is liberty.  Until the individual takes it upon himself to break the cycle of statism, it will continue.  The loss of liberty will continue to accelerate and society will continue to destabilize.

As expected, Nora O’Donnell beamed at how Ms. Warren advocates for the middle class.  One should come to expect this from statists; considering the only option available to their thinking…the threat of the use of force, the use of force and the use of additional force.  (Advocating for any class is not in and of itself disingenuous, but it is to do so at the expense of another as Warren supports).  I am not blaming the media in full here, only in part, as almost everything the media does is intended to supply the audience with what it demands.  Don’t kid yourself here, the media business is well understood to exist in a hampered market, not a free market as they are the recipient themselves of government favors and intend to cater to get unique access as is necessary to gain an edge on the competition.

Again, the individual must take it upon himself to break the cycle of the propaganda to understand the nature of man.  And it is the individual alone that is capable and responsible for breaking the cycle.  Libertarianism, the only coherent philosophy, is of course, based on the individual and is therefore the antidote to the ills that face society.

Many see the free market as “survival of the fittest”.  It is nothing more than the result of a cooperative society; a summary of voluntary exchanges.  The burden is on those that support the use of force in what is otherwise peaceful to justify interventions.  And it is simply not possible to justify the use of force against an innocent.  These interventions only serve to further “rig the playing field” as Elizabeth Warren and her cronies seek.  The only proper course of action is to remove the prior interventions and to allow and promote voluntary interactions.

The full interview is available here http://www.wtsp.com/video/3495619454001/1/CBS-This-Morning-interview-with-Sen-Elizabeth-Warren.  Listen carefully to the exchange in its entirety and decide for yourself what Warren and her cronies support.

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Firm; Yet Flexible (Anarcho-Capitalism is)

I have a running joke with a friend.  We often cite the mantra “firm; yet flexible”.

It occurs to me that this could be the mantra of an anarcho-capitalist.  How so?  I might argue an anarcho-capitalist is the very definition of the “firm; yet flexible” mantra.

An anarcho-capitalist is undeniably firm.  He strictly adheres to the two pillars of the philosophy of liberty – the non-aggression axiom and private property rights rooted in self ownership.  These rules apply to all people in all places at all times.  There are simply no exceptions.  It does not matter if you are associated with others, wear nice uniforms or even gain popular support.  The anarcho-capitalist stands firm against the initiation of violence (fraud, theft, rape, murder etc. – violations of property).

An anarcho-capitalist is the epitome of flexible.  Adherence to the two pillars of the philosophy does not make one inflexible.  The anarcho-capitalist holds that peaceful acts are not crimes – no matter how distasteful, outrageous, or destructive they may appear as there is no violation in property rights.  Anarcho-capitalism holds that one has the right to engage in activities including drug dealing or use, prostitution (or facilitation), blackmail, speculation or other vilified or disfavored activities.  That does not intend that the anarcho-capitalist supports engaging in such behaviors.  And there is no contradiction in supporting a right while simultaneously advocating against exercising the right.  (One is a legal matter – the other a moral matter.)

The only tool at the disposal of the state is force.  The introduction of violence does not remedy the situation, but in fact makes it worse.  Force does nothing to address the underlying demand for these goods and services.  The state can only offer punishment for engaging in them.  There is no doubt some deterrent effect from punishment.

On balance, criminalization of these behaviors has a multitude of negative effects.  It provides the incentives for the creation of  black markets.  Black markets have limited competitors – only those willing to assume the risk of violence and police action – or the cost of police protection (bribes, payoffs or offering of information) will enter the market.  This scenario has a variety of deleterious effects including reduced safety (communicable disease in the case of prostitution), higher costs, and reduction in the quality of products and services.

Criminalizing increases the impetus for violence – gangs (in lieu of using peaceful means for dispute resolution – impartial third party arbitrators) and violent resistence.  Violence begets violence.  Criminalization also creates a parasite industry of jailing non-violent “criminals”.

There are many societal ill effects as well.  Futures are destroyed by convictions and imprisonment removing individuals from the possibility of learning and engaging in productive work.  Jailing severely limits the possibility of the experience of satisfaction from a job well done.  And the emotional damage and scars left on the families of the convicted weigh heavily on the innocent.  These families are victims of illegitimate laws and as a consequence lose respect for legitimate laws.

As these acts are non-crimes, they therefore are not preventable or punishable by violence.  To change one’s beliefs, behavior, ideas or position, he must be properly persuaded through education or example.  The use of violence does not improve society.  It simply makes it violent.  The state reduces cooperation by introducing itself into peaceful, voluntary transactions.

Many anarcho-capitalists deplore these distasteful or unsavory activities.  They insist, however, that the initiation of violence is improper on the grounds that it is a violation of the non-aggression axiom and that it does not provide the desired outcome while in fact making the state of affairs worse.  The anarcho-capitalist is in fact “firm: yet flexible”.

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Market Forces Continue to Work to Your Benefit

Subway announced on Thursday, February 6th, 2014 that it has unilaterally decided to remove an ingredient (azodicarbonamide) approved by the US FDA for use as an “aging and bleaching agent” used in flour in a concentration not to exceed 2.05 grams per 100 pounds.  Presumably the azodicarbonamide makes bread products whiter and “bouncier” and is used by a number of fast-food chains, restaurants and groceries across the nation.  The ingredient is banned for similar use in Great Britain, the European Union and Australia.

Subway’s action was prompted by Vani Hari, an activist food blogger, who has gone after other restaurants and food companies for their use of controversial ingredients.

As of February 9th, Senator NY Chuck Schumer (D) chose not to miss the opportunity to capitalize politically on the announcement by Subway.  He has called for the FDA to outright ban the ingredient for such use.

In my view this presents another example of the free market imposing discipline upon itself to improve the products and services provided.  This has occurred despite a fully funded FDA.  I mention this as the incentive to monitor the market independently is reduced as people rely on the various agencies to perform the tasks assigned to them.  So where was the state leading the charge for your safety?  How is it that an activist blogger is the entity responsible for this improvement?  Is this not an example of how market discipline is imposed by activists, competitors and consumers.

Subway is using this to position itself better against its competitors as an even healthier alternative.

Another example of how a free market would work (as it has worked in a hampered market).

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Would You “Push the Button”?

There is a reason that we do not live in a free society.  This society is simply not supportive of one.  Unfortunately, this is painfully obvious to most libertarians.

I recently had a conversation with another who hesitated at the notion of “pushing the button”.  That is, if there were a button that you could push to create a free society, would you?

The reality is that with the current society, even if someone were to push the button, a free society would likely exist, but for a very short time.  Not for the reasons that statists would put forth, but because this society is simply not ready for self determination.  As inexplicable as this is to me, this appears to be the reality.  But how is this so if all I have been saying and writing for the last number of years is true about the nature of man – about his yearning to be free.  My only explanation is indoctrination and complacency.

But what would be the alternative to “the button test”?  This comes to strategy.  And what strategy is coherent with the goal of liberty?  Should the libertarian become patient and realistic?  Rothbard has spoken on this matter with well reasoned arguments.

“If liberty is to be the highest political end, then this implies that liberty is to be pursued by the most efficacious means, i.e., those means which will most speedily and thoroughly arrive at the goal. This means that the libertarian must be an “ abolitionist,” i.e., he must wish to achieve the goal of liberty as rapidly as possible. If he balks at abolitionism, then he is no longer holding liberty as the highest political end. The libertarian, then, should be an abolitionist who would, if he could, abolish instantaneously all invasions of liberty. Following the classical liberal Leonard Read, who advocated immediate and total abolition of price-and-wage controls after World War II, we might refer to this as the “button-pushing” criterion. Thus, Read declared that “If there were a button on this rostrum, the pressing of which would release all wage-and-price controls instantaneously I would put my finger on it and push!” The libertarian, then, should be a person who would push a button, if it existed, for the instantaneous abolition of all invasions of liberty—not something, by the way, that any utilitarian would ever be likely to do.”

Rothbard continues with why the immediate abolition of invasions of liberty are in fact realistic.  The mechanism to make this so is solely dependent on man’s will.  And his will is determined by his ability to reason.

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The libertarian goals—including immediate abolition of invasions of liberty—are “realistic” in the sense that they could be achieved if enough people agreed on them, and that, if achieved, the resulting libertarian system would be viable. The goal of immediate liberty is not unrealistic or “Utopian” because—in contrast to such goals as the “elimination of poverty”—its achievement is entirely dependent on man’s will. If, for example, everyone suddenly and immediately agreed on the overriding desirability of liberty, then total liberty would be immediately achieved. The strategic estimate of how the path toward liberty is likely to be achieved is, of course, an entirely separate question.

I would push that button.  And I would keep pushing that button; not because I believe it would necessarily have the desired effect, but because it is the strategy consistent with libertarianism.

Until such a mechanism is available, I will attempt to educate all that are drawn to the lesson of liberty.  I will support justice – voluntary associations and voluntary exchanges – property rights rooted in self-ownership and the non-aggression axiom.  A goal will be to continue to develop my intellectual base and my ability to persuade others within an open learning style.I will support the political philosophy of liberty in the most consistent manner.  As part of that strategy, I will continue to develop my character.  I will continue to advocate for justice.  I will support voluntary associations, free trade, property rights and the non-aggression axiom.  These are the tools at my disposal.  Knowledge and learning are the tools of free people.  It is aggression and force that are the tools of the state.

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January 13, 2014 · 11:15 pm

Monopoly: Defined

One of the many difficulties in debating the statist is clear communication.  Many economic terms have never been well defined and therefore the definition of such terms has been assumed.  To add to the confusion, in some cases, multiple definitions exist.  Additionally, definitions of words have evolved or have been outright co-opted with the intent of blurring their meaning.  So which definition holds?  To be prudent, one must point to the definition in use and must continually ask others to clarify the meaning of their words.

The use of the word monopoly is but one example.  In fact, in attempting his discussion of monopoly price in Man, Economy and State, Rothbard writes “Before investigating the theory of monopoly price, we must begin by defining monopoly.  Despite the fact that monopoly problems occupy an enormous quantity of economic writings, little or no clarity of definition exists.  There is, in fact, enormous vagueness and confusion on the subject.  Very few economists have formulated a coherent, meaningful definition.”[1]  In the very next paragraph he adds “A common example of a confused definition is: ‘Monopoly exists when a firm has control over its price.’  This definition is a mixture of confusion and absurdity.”[2]

For clarity, when I use the word monopoly, I use it in concert with the definition put forth by Murray Rothbard in Man, Economy and State.  His definition is “…monopoly is a grant of special privilege by the State, reserving a certain area of production to one particular individual or group.”[3]  Libertarians object to this grant as it is incompatible with market freedom.

I note the above for two purposes.  To document the use of the term monopoly in discussion and to respond in part to a comment posed by a listener to the Annoying Peasant Radio Show.  The comment stated in part “Monopoly is defined as having the means to control a market, but it is not illegal to compete with them.”  I would first point out that this is not a definition of monopoly to which I ascribe, and further, I recognize Rothbard as the authority on the subject.

Any writing of Murray Rothbard is worthwhile to read to discover the coherency of the libertarian philosophy (as well as to uncover the contradictions of the State).  For the beginner, Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is highly recommended.  To find a plethora of recommendations I refer the reader to Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom (http://www.libertyclassroom.com/learn-austrian-economics/).


[1] Murray Rothbard, Man, Economy and State, page 661

[2] Murray Rothbard, Man, Economy and State, page 662

[3] Murray Rothbard, Man, Economy and State, page 669

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