Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I am extremely curious to see how this plays out. You don't often have the opportunity to see a world-renowned philosopher engage in an on-going discussion with his critics. Should be great.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
All the while, Keynesians the world over (looking at you Bernanke!) swore housing was not in a bubble.
End the Fed; Abolish the government
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Hume’s question implicitly brings to light two of my most hated mindsets – “the ends justify the means” and paternalism (i.e. “I know what’s best for you, moreso than you know what’s best for you).
Hume’s proposed course of action for Candidate A is fraud. That is, Candidate A is intentionally telling a lie, which lie will cause an individual to act in a way that he otherwise would not and the ultimate effect will be harm to that individual. He votes for “A” believing that “A” will increase entitlement programs and cut taxes. If “A” wins and then increases taxes and cuts entitlements, the individual has been fraudulently tricked into voting for someone who does not represent what that individual actually wanted.
Now, democracy is no less slavery than a fascist, totalitarian State. Rather than an autocratic ruler of one, an autocratic ruler of 50%+1 exists (and this is ignoring how modern democracy actually functions) and those in the minority have no option but to live under the tyranny of the majority.
But, I will not fight the hypothetical (even though “A’s” economic plan is ludicrously ridiculous!). Given the set up of a democracy, perhaps one would consider his right to vote to be analogous to a property right? It’s a tough sell, I think, but voting rights are central to democratic theory. In any event, “A’s” lies cause a voter to vote in such a way that he otherwise would not if the truth was known. As such, the voter’s rights have been violated.
Ugh, these hypotheticals are so difficult for me to answer.
Monday, December 13, 2010
When Austrians discuss the perverse effects of the Fed, they often refer to how it distorts information and market transactions, with the assumption that these distortions are negative consequences from an economic point of view. With respect to other governmental interventionism, they often point to the Hayekian argument regarding the use of knowledge in society, the ability of individuals to make better use of their contextual knowledge than central planners ever could, etc. They point to the destabilizing effects of frequent and unpredictable governmental involvement, and how this affects the ability of individuals to develop life plans, which affects investment decisions. My question is this: if the ability to act on local knowledge and plan for the future is central for the maintenance of an orderly economic system, how does an anarchist political philosophy fit into the story? I am not equating Austrian economics with political anarchism. They are two independent theories in independent disciplines. But you are an anarchist with Austrian beliefs. What assumptions does the Austrian/anarcho economic model make? What does this model look like? I am especially interested to see the assumptions regarding stability and predictability in market transactions. What are the systemic effects of a free market in law and protection? What kind of plans are individuals able to make?
I am not familiar with Carson’s work, so maybe he has answered these questions. But I think they are important and this is an issue I have raised in the past, something I am not comfortable with. I have not seen a convincing anarchist argument regarding the fact of reasonable disagreement in a pluralist society. In other words, even if everyone was an angel and always acted on their good-faith belief about the natural rights and obligations of their fellow man, there would still be considerable disagreement about the content of those rights and obligations, the boundaries they set forth, and whether or not these boundaries have been violated.
Anthony Fowler and Ryan D. Enos asked Americans to pretend they could buy a congressional seat for their preferred party:
In a recent YouGov survey, we gave respondents a hypothetical scenario. “Suppose that you alone could determine whether a Democrat or a Republican represents your Congressional district by paying a specific dollar amount? How much would you be willing to pay to ensure that a Congressman from your preferred party will win the office?” We expected that most Americans would place a high value on the party of their Congressmen. Shockingly, 55% of respondents said “ZERO” -- they would not pay even $1 to place their preferred party in power.
The lesson they draw:
[W]e have little evidence that Americans care about politics. They often say that they are interested in politics but they won’t put their money where the mouth is – even hypothetical money.
The second paragraph doesn't follow first. One can care deeply about politics and still be unwilling to pay for an electoral outcome on the grounds that it would undermine democracy.
I will offer another perspective - I would be unwilling to pay any amount because I view the illegitimate attempt by the State to coercible usurp power over me as immoral and in violation of my natural right of liberty and, derivatively, self-determination and self-governance. It matters not to me whether a criminal claims affiliation with the democons or the republicrats.
As always - End the Fed, Abolish the government
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Update: Larry Solum on Legality:
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Amen brother. This brief excerpt, however, does not mention another glaring and enormous problem - the lack of a free market for currency.
A free market does not exist in America. People blame the "free market" for inequity and crises, but what ought to be blamed for the problems people note is the lack of a free market; the lack of competition and failure; the lack of opportunity.
Being the eternal optimist that I am, perhaps one day a free market will exist.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
In response to my post regarding the wage and benefit discrepancies between public and private workers, Hume asks “Does this mean there is greater incentive for the more qualified to pursue ‘public’ work?”
At first blush, the obvious answer seems to be “yes”. Upon closer inspection, however, I’m not sure “yes” is absolutely correct.
Many other factors need to be considered beyond average wage and benefit compensation, including, the “risk/reward” scenario (perhaps less risk of losing a public sector job, although that’s debatable, versus the potential gigantic reward of entrepreneurial endeavor in the private sector) and a desire to not work in a bureaucratic environment.
I think the incentives are viewed differently by different individuals. I will say, though, the greater average total compensation package certainly does not act as a deterrent to public sector work for those not otherwise predisposed against it.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Does this mean there is greater incentive for the more qualified to pursue "public" work?
An ethical code was created by Tourist Union #63 during its 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis Missouri. This code was voted upon as a concrete set of laws to govern the Nation-wide Hobo Body; it reads this way:
- Decide your own life, don't let another person run or rule you.
- When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
- Don't take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
- Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
- When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
- Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals' treatment of other hobos.
- When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
- Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
- If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
- Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
- When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
- Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
- Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society.
- Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
- Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
- If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts!
By comparison, the private worker earned $50,462 in pay and $10,589 in benefits, meaning that federal workers earn about half more in pay but four times as much in benefits, the BEA says."
h/t Robert Wenzel, www.economicpolicyjournal.com
I disagree with his starting point of constitutionality. I don't believe that a document agreed upon by alleged representatives of states should have been binding upon individuals 200+ years ago and I believe it even more ridiculous to claim a document that old could possibly be binding upon individuals today. I never consented to it, neither tacitly or expressly, and I am outright disclaiming its jurisdiction over me today (for the 100,000,000,000th time).
Regardless, still worth the few minutes to watch.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Update: Also, many theorists note that some sort of legal system is an additional distinguishing feature between the State and a band of thugs. The modern state governs through an institutional system made up of rules ('laws'), as opposed to informal decrees and random acts of violence.
"How on earth can a politician telling the truth be a bad thing?"
This got me thinking: should we assess this statement from the standpoint of institutional design or from the standpoint of pragmatic administration? In other words, should we assess the truthfulness of politicians with an eye towards systematic consequences or on a case-by-case basis? I can easily think of hypothetical situations where it is a "good" thing for politicians to fudge the truth (e.g., probabilistic chance that awful event X happens, and the only possibility of preventing event X is if the general population remains calm and orderly).
Let me start by stating that I am an anarchist. This means different things to different people, but to me it means I am anti-State, anti-War, and pro-Liberty. Being pro-Liberty means I believe people have the right to do as they please so long as they do not harm another, i.e. aggress against another. Incumbent in that is the fact that people have the right to retain the fruits of their labor, without it being stolen from them, and can use such “fruit” as they see fit (including trade it). The State is inherently evil as its entire existence is predicated upon theft and coercion. The State exists because it illegitimately claims authority and jurisdiction over individuals on the sole basis of their residence within an imaginary set of lines. The State sustains itself through taxation, which is nothing more than the theft of privately created wealth. The State erects artificial barriers to entry in market places and, contrary to popular belief, creates far more poverty than would otherwise exist. This really deserves its own post, indeed its own multi-volume anthology.
Back to Hume’s comment. “[S]hould we assess this statement from the standpoint of institutional design or from the standpoint of pragmatic administration.” As so often happens, I feel I cannot really respond to this statement. The underlying premise, to me, is flawed. The “institutional design” is a function of the coercive acts of the State. The institutional design of democracy is premised upon individuals electing representatives to reflect/protect/advance their specific interests against the interests of other individuals forced into a “society” with them.
I believe we can only assess the “rightness” or “wrongness” of any statement or action from the standpoint of “does it harm others? does it infringe upon the natural rights of others?” When a politician lies to the general public, it has an effect on markets. By markets I do not only mean equity, credit, commodity, etc markets that are talked about on CNBC and in the Wall Street Journal. By markets, I literally mean every single transaction that takes place between consenting individuals and entities. Such lies have the effect of distorting available information, which, in turn, has the effect of skewing the transaction away from what would otherwise be the natural reactions of markets. This necessarily harms people – decisions are made and actions taken based on information that is flawed due to the calculated lies told by a politician attempting to advance his own interests (which often happen to coincide with the interests of those occupying the power circles created in the first instance by the State).
This creates harm. Some one or some many ones will end up in a losing position because the markets generally were influenced by a conscious lie. At least some portion of those losers would have acted differently but for the flawed information.
I know this is likely dissatisfying, as it does not really address Hume’s comment. I, however, truly believe that it is foolish to attempt to analyze the pragmatism or practicality of political actions taken by State actors. The entire institution is criminal and ought to be destroyed.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Last night while driving home from work, observing the lovely scenery from a standstill position on the BQE, I was listening to Bloomberg Radio, specifically a replay of “Bloomberg on the Economy,” which was originally broadcasted earlier in the day. The host, Sarah Eisen, was discussing the debacle that is the state of EU finance and the Euro itself with a guest, who was the top economist from a major investment firm.
Eisen began by referencing a statement German Chancellor Angela Merkel made earlier in the day, which was something to the effect of “The Euro is in an exceptionally serious situation,” due to the crushing debt:GDP ratios of EU countries and the bond markets realization that, hey!, this could be more problematic than we previously thought. Eisen then asked the guest, “What was she [Merkel] thinking in saying that?!!,” implying that the bond and currency markets reactions would be harmful. Several thoughts immediately popped into my head, only one of which is discussed below:
How on earth can a politician telling the truth be a bad thing? One need not be a long time economic analyst or expert on EU financing to understand the entirely unsustainable debt load the member States are facing. Yes, the specifics of the problems facing each country are somewhat different, i.e. Ireland’s is the result of the government’s guaranteeing of horrific bank loans, whereas Greece’s stem more from impossible entitlement programs and public sector contracts. The main thrust, however, is the same for all – bondholders realize that these States’ debt repayment abilities are more or less non-existent.
The only thing I could infer from Eisen’s comment was that she somehow believes that if politicians, central bankers, etc. simply lie about the true state in which the EU and its member States find themselves, everything will end up bright eyes and blue skies. The ever-so en vogue “kick the can”/“extend and pretend”/“O.D. on hopium” meme that governments, banks and most of the mainstream media would have the (mostly) economically illiterate populous swallow as a panacea is nothing more than snake oil.
Eisen's inferred position is, of course, pure folly. The idea that one can simply stick his head in the sand and avoid problems by ignoring them is so ridiculous that the average 6 year old has little trouble understanding the concept. Merkel’s comments are exactly the type that should be made. The most important function of markets is their ability to convey information, through pricing, in the fastest and most efficient manner known (and, indeed, possible). By lying, extending and pretending, and kicking the can, prices do not drop to where they must. This leads to poor decisions based on incorrect information. In a truly freed society, this resolves itself easily and of its own accord, as issues of sovereign debt would not exist. Sovereign debt is far different than any other type of debt, since other borrowers do not have the option of throwing millions of people in cages if they refuse to surrender money to the borrower. Additionally, other borrowers do not have the ability to counterfeit money to pay off these debts (although individual EU member States do not have this option either).
No, in a freed market, the only option for a borrower who cannot repay its debts is default and bankruptcy. In the current world in which we live, however, governments no longer default. They bailout banks and bondholders, they bailout member States, they steal through taxation, they counterfeit money by printing at will, with nothing of value behind it. These “solutions” are always at the tips of their fingers and, therefore, they always believe that if they can just have a little bit more time, the situation will resolve itself. “If we could just get people spending again!” … one is left with no savers, ergo no investors, ergo no way to create new businesses or expand current businesses, ergo no way to produce jobs, ergo no way to truly recover. Economies do not grow on hopes and dreams, they grow on investments made with the aid of free-flowing, unencumbered information.
But it’s OK – keep up the lies distorting the true economic reality. Keep perpetuating the biggest Ponzi scheme ever devised.