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A Political Movement Pretending To Be A Religion Replaces A Religion Pretending To Be A Political Movement

From The Left’s Unlikely Alliance with Islam By Robert Eugene Simmons Jr.

[callout]First we encounter Marxism, which is a religion masquerading as a political movement. When we finally defeat Marxism the void is almost immediately filled by Islam, which is a political movement masquerading as a religion.[/callout]

Most fair-minded Americans have no problem with people who wish to practice their religion. In addition, most fair-minded Americans know of the difficult pasts of Christianity and Judaism and would demand of Islam what has been demanded of other religions. Americans don’t tolerate inquisitions anymore than they do Sharia courts. Americans realize that religious freedom is inherent in the melting pot that is America, but they also understand that all religions must exist under an umbrella of mutual respect and within the boundaries of common law. Americans would no more accept honor killings than they would accept a Catholic man killing atheists for the sake of his religion. The freedom of religion, in the end, is not a carte blanche to do whatever you wish and then yell “first amendment,” but rather a constraint to prevent the government from imposing a single religion, as Islamic governments do.

I would add, that any religion that seeks dominion over temporal matters (to establish laws) is not a religion, but a political movement masquerading as a religion. And any religion that encourages its people to lie about their convictions, is incompatible with democratic government. Even worse, it’s incompatible with the western way of life.

First we encounter Marxism, which is a religion masquerading as a political movement. When we finally defeat Marxism the void is almost immediately filled by Islam, which is a political movement masquerading as a religion.

Islam and Marxism are the same. They are the totalitarianism of equality in ignorance and poverty.

(In retrospect, Christianity wasn’t much better when it was brought into the empire. )

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An Analysis Of Freedom #2: The Economy Of Freedom

A Little History For Context

The term ‘Freedom’, and its near relation ‘Liberty’, have a long heritage.   The babylonian words “ama-gi”, meaning “Return To The Mother”, written in cuneiform, are often cited by Libertarians as the first written use of ‘freedom’. That usage literally refers to giving a slave back to his mother — an analogy to the more precisely stated ‘freeing him from slavery’ – owners gave a slave back to his mother when freeing him.  In practice, the word “ama-gi” was used to grant exceptions from the dictator’s obligations or taxes.  So the term meant freedom from obligations to the government. These special dispensations were used as a reward – freedom from requirements.

The most simplistic use of Freedom described the opposite of slavery. It was not an abstraction, but a direct analogy to the deprivation of one’s choices under the threat of violence. Slavery to contemporary ears is a horrid system, but under barbarism it was universal. ( Barbarism refers to those people not members of one’s market  system ) (( DEFINITION of “BARBARIAN”: Those persons who do not pay the set of costs of forgone opportunity, employed within a social order that cooperatively manages a market and territory. )) Most farm labor required a great deal of physical effort — hard work easily avoided with slaves. People often sold themselves into slavery simply because it was a reliable way to be fed and sheltered in a world where starvation and hunger were common. Wars and raids were conducted to obtain slaves – forced laborers. And escape was dangerous in that ancient world – without a tribe to take care of you, starvation was almost guaranteed.

Later, ‘Freedom’ was the term used to describe a Free Man. A ‘Citizen’. A ‘non-barbarian’. This means quite literally, in a world consisting largely of either barbarians, competing warrior states, or eastern dictatorships, ‘an investor in the city and market’. As an investor, or rather

It is hard for us to to imagine a world of barbarians. It is not so hard to imagine a world filled with conquerors. Today’s barbarians are immigrants who do not conform. And nation states that seek power in order to obtain resources and trade routes.

Liberty by contrast, refers, not to constraint of, and control of, individual actions under threat of violence such as under the institution of slavery, but to the more general absence of coercion by a government, of those people who are not slaves, and not barbarians, and therefore citizens.  In particular, in the west, it implies and egalitarian relationship between all those who are responsible for society: refraining from imposing conditions other than those one places on one’s self, or are required in order to maintain the property definitions (( DEFINITION of “PROPERTY DEFINITIONS”: A set of forgone opportunities that require one refrain from using objects of utility, or refrain from seizing or creating opportunities for gain – ie: self enforced self deprivations – usually described as property both individual and shareholder, manners, ethics, morals )) that constitute the social order. ((DEFINITION of “SOCIAL ORDER”: A social order is a collection of property definitions, and the required forgone opportunities required of members of the society in order to allow non-violent cooperation, and the establishment of a division of labor, and peaceful trade and exchange. And if a landed culture, also including the visible material contributions needed to maintain the physical viability of the territory, its built capital, its resources, and most importantly its market – without which escape from poverty is impossible. ))

But in response to increases in the complexity of social order due to increases in population and the resulting increases in the division of knowledge and labor, both of the terms of “Freedom” and “Liberty” have been subject to political framing by public intellectuals and politicians, and their followers in the pragmatic public who use the extraordinary and uncommon freedom of speech ‘discount’ under democratic government to redefine these terms.  This redefinition of the Social Order’s Property Definitions, and restatement of the material costs and  the forgone opportunity costs of that system, has effectively constituted a legitimization of fraud, theft and redistribution.

This restatement consequently led to a gradual usurpation of the social accounting system of opportunity costs, material costs, that make the market society possible. This distortion and confusion of meaning begs analysis, so that we, as members of a society under a democratic government, can tell the difference between those commonly held properties of freedom and liberty that are necessary and possible, from those that are either forms logically and physically impossible, from those that are intentionally obscure or distorted for the purpose of committing fraud and theft — or both.

While frequent increases or decreases in redistribution of the PROFITS from the market are not only justifiable and beneficial, but warranted as a return on on the investment to shareholders (( DEFINITION of “SHAREHOLDER”: Synonym to “CITIZEN”: individuals who contribute forgone opportunity costs expressed as property definitions and thereby pay for the social order. ))  (“Citizens”) as the division of knowledge and labor increases, the redefinition of the accounting system of property definitions, and forgone opportunity costs is simply a complex form of corruption, theft and fraud.  Corruption theft and fraud  made possible by the obscurity of the causal processes employed to create the Social Order, due to the fact that they are evolutionary in origin, unarticulated, expressed almost entirely as sentiments, and understood only as habits, superstitions, traditions, or exploitations, rather than as a system of precise and material accounting and costs, that materially effect economic calculation and human cooperation as the size of the population and the resultant division of knowledge and labor increases.

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A Life Lesson – A Change In Approach – And A Thank You

Every day I read around twenty academic papers, a book, and something on the order of 300 blog postings on economics and politics, and a little philosophy. I have my own aggregator on http://www.roundtable.capitalismv3.com, various news readers, and I use the site Rtable.net for everything related to economics. I have a high tolerance for information, a passion for the subject. And I maintain this pace while running a not insignificant mid-market company of hundreds of people, and maintaining a bi-coastal existence at the same time.

I visit a variety of sites, comment on a dozen, copy the comments to a text file, then edit them and put them on my blog, usually expanding them, fixing some of the language and grammar. Because while I read and write a great deal, I write far too fast and often carelessly.

I’ve come to this set of conclusions:

    An affirmation takes a few words: < 60.
    A "Snark" or ad hominem takes about the same < 60.
    A confirmation takes a few hundred words at most 200.
    A sentimental objection with a light narrative takes five hundred – 500.
    A rational objection takes more – around 1000
    An objection that is defended takes more – usually around 1500.
    A thorough refutation takes, depending upon the problem 2500
    A refutation of basic assumptions takes somewhere near 5000.

These ratios are about the same, depending only upon the number of assumptions, preferences, or errors involved. An eloquent writer can discount by half or more. An analytical writer like myself will use every word and then some.

I started working like this twenty years ago. Before the web. Back when there were modems and bulletin boards. I learned early, in newsgroups, and on CompuServe, then on email lists and web forums how to conduct a thorough debate online under hostile circumstances and win. Because of this strategy, I rarely lose.

Winning efficiently is accomplished by answering all the possible objections in your post, and leaving no stone unturned. I have literally thousands of these text files going back for decades, as a record of my intellectual development. (( I started out as a classical liberal in the Jeffersonian sense, became increasingly conservative, then libertarian, than anarchist, and now decidedly conservative libertarian. )) But this debating technique is designed to win, not to collaborate. That is because a radical does not collaborate, but fight. Otherwise he would not be a radical. And as a radical, I’m invested in this debate. I see it as a battle for the species. I learned a lot from Mises, Rothbard and Friedman: fight tooth and nail. And I learned what not to do from Hayek: be tepid – he only let Keynesian ideas roam freely, and to our painful detriment.

Unfortunately, the comment forum is not the debate forum. It is simply a forum for affirming the sentiments of the article’s author. Debates happen between blogs, not within them. That’s tantamount to stealing thunder. And I too often, quite by accident, steal thunder, or at the very least, only distract from the context. And it’s annoying.

My writing, which was much more literary in my youth, has been reformed by two very dominant experiences. The first, is this assertive debating online. The second, and somewhat unfortunate, is formed by the transformation of my thinking from the literary to that of discreet logical sets, by the act of spending years writing software programs. Writing software is somewhere between math and poetry. I have subconsciously merged the two experiences of debate and programming. And despite my attempts to change, I still write, effectively, the literary equivalent of programming code. My writing is structured as a program. And as such does not account for human short term memory. I leave too many associations unstated, because they are obviously deduced from the set of statement that i put to paper, and I am trying, believe it or not, for brevity despite my desire to describe an argument in a sequence of first-concepts.

Someone very kind, from another blog, chastised me today. And so I’m going to have to try to change my habitual behavior. I’ll leave my authoritative voice for my blog. And resort to socratic questions in comment sections. And point to my blog where necessary.

Old habits die hard. But using a methodology for the wrong application is just plain silly.

(Thanks Lauren)

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“Extend And Pretend”

I lost the source of this quote, but thought it captured the sentiment correctly:

The government has been playing “extend-and-pretend” based entirely on the idea that pent up demand in consumers would grow until it busted out and the recovery would be on – fueled by consumers. What has happened is the exact opposite. This is very serious. We are running into 3 years now, and 4 if you look at what commodity speculation did to consumers starting back in early 2007. Remember the prices for wheat and such that were even driving the price of pizza up 30% or more? And then we have such things as “staycations”. And so the concern should be whether or not we have a permanent shift in consumer behaviors. Three or four years is plenty of time to break old habits and establish new ones.

1) People forget. Their forgetting follows a ‘forgetting curve’. Knowledge is perishable. Habits are perishable. Relationships are perishable. Even wants are perishable.

2) People don’t ‘unforget’. They have to learn new techniques, develop new habits, and form new relationships. And it takes time.

3) People school or swarm on opportunities. Demand is created by those people who invent ideas then bait people into swarming on them. Developing swarms, especially large scale swarms takes time. Months, even years, because people have to learn from the person closest to them, how they can participate in the swarm. Then as the swarm grows, they must learn enough to break off from the main body and find and exploit new niche opportunities.

This last swarming behavior is the general problem with the Keynesian approach to aggregate demand. People are infinitely acquisitive as long as their acquisitions increase either their entertainment, security or status. But opportunities are not infinite. And the less knowledge, the fewer resources available for risk, and the fewer relationships they have, the less likely they are to identify and swarm new relationships.

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Review: Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo

“Why Aid Is Not Working And How There Is A Better Way For Africa.”

We know: Aid is bad. It creates corruption. It harms the economy. It makes nice happy Christians, and nice happy DSH’s (( Democratic Secular Humanists )) feel good about themselves. But it is terribly harmful for Africans and their civilization.

Because I agree with everything she says, I’d like to say something meaningful and supportive, but everything I read in the book is old news. In the Austrian school we’ve been talking about this problem forever. Other than the fact that the author is a successful woman of African origin, this book is a easy read that is very hard to criticize for having uncomfortable motives.

Good book. Good cause. Smart woman.

But nothing new.

What I can say is this: there isn’t any difference between the problem of giving aid to Africa, the Spanish and Portugese import of gold from the new world, and easy credit for american citizens and their expansionist government. It’s all bad.

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Review: The Secret Of The West

I try to keep track of the ‘Grand Theories’. And I came across this one last week. I can’t find the book anywhere except online. I read what I could. And found this page by the author that summarizes his theory. Which is, quite simply, “stability and wealth provide the foundation for technological progress.”

There doesn’t appear to be anything new here. His thesis is a well understood circumstance of geography, which applies both tho coasts and to rivers. Europe has both.

He seems to dismiss culture as a factor. But western culture developed at the fringe of the bronze age and then iron age civilizations. And as a fringe order, especially a fringe order of metalworkers and warriors, they wanted to preserve their freedom from eastern mysticism, decadence and tyranny. It is this culture that led to vast enfranchisement.

I don’t see how he explains chinese stagnation. China is primarily coastal. It matured early. It has vast rivers, wealth and bureaucracy. What is it about confucian society that left it stagnant?

I could go on, but I don’t feel he has made enough of a case to allow me to draw any conclusions. Hopefully I’ll seek him out on one of my trips to europe.

Here is his summary:

Le Secret de l’Occident (“The Secret of the West”) unveils an economic and political theory about scientific & technological progress.

The theory gives the reasons why the scientific and industrial revolutions originated in the West, and not in the Middle East, India or China. It succeeds in explaining the European “miracle” in the IInd millenium as well as the Greek “miracle” in Antiquity. It unravels the causes for the declines and rises of India, China and the Middle East across the centuries. 
That theory was brought together, like a jigsaw puzzle, from many pieces of the historical research previously unconnected. To my knowledge, it is the first united scheme able to explain the main booms and slowdowns observed in the scientific and technological evolutions of the main civilizations.

Chapter 1 – Debunking Traditional Explanations 
The usual “internalist” explanations for the European originality – religion, culture, genetics, climate, third-world abuse, Greek heritage, pure hazard – are dismissed. None of these elements can pretend to shed light on the long-term European success. 
They basically fail at the two following stumbling blocks: Eastern Europe backwardness and leadership fluctuations among civilizations. 
– Eastern Europe is religiously, culturally, ethnically, climatically very similar to Western Europe. Nonetheless, it has always been lagging backward, for centuries if not more, painfully catching up with Western advances, but never leading the way. 
– During some periods of time, China, India or the Middle East led the way in science and technology. This does not fit well with the idea of an inherent (religious, cultural, ethnical, etc.) superiority of the West. If, on the other side, one admits important changes in those inherent abilities, these remain to explain. 
Greek heritage must be rejected because the Romans, the Muslims, the Indians too could benefit from it. Randomness is not an acceptable answer, it merely amounts to giving up looking for an answer.
Continue reading “Review: The Secret Of The West”

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The Reality Of Freedom #1: Freedom Requires Coercion

Whenever something is scarce,  some concept of property (the exclusive use of a resource)  is necessary for the development of incentives, coordination, and production — even if the difference between ‘several property’ and ‘shareholder property’, is defined differently by different groups — therefore all societies include and sanction some form of coercion.  No society can exist without coercion. This applies to tribal hunter gatherers, nomads, village agrarians, market city dwellers, and vast urban and rural empires in a complex division of knowledge and labor.

We can equally forgo the opportunity for violence theft, fraud, corruption.  For the poorest, this means refraining from theft, fraud, deception and violence in exchange for access to the market society and it’s prices. For the middle class, it means refraining from fraud and deception in exchange for participating in the market society and profiting from it.  For the wealthiest, it means refraining from manipulation of market prices or and participating in corruption of the rules of the market, and corruption, in exchange for status and choice.  For the most powerful it means refraining from corruption, and refraining from laziness, incompetence, and maintaining disciplined efforts to serve the marketplace in exchange for freedom from participation in the marketplace.

Each of these forgone opportunities for profit is a cost to the individual.  Cumulatively, for each individual, and for any society, these are very, very high costs, because opportunities for violence, theft, fraud, deception, market manipulation, and corruption are more frequent than opportunities for fair exchange of goods and services due to asymmetries of knowledge and resources — even if the type of cost is different along the spectrum: theft and violence are easiest for the bottom and corruption is most easy for the top.

[callout=’Freedom’]There is no social order that is free of coercion as long as there is scarcity. Property itself is a form of coercion. It must be or we would not have to invent it and enforce it.[/callout]

There is no social order that is free of coercion as long as there is scarcity.  Property itself is a form of coercion. It must be or we would not have to invent it and enforce it.

The coercion that people object to, and classify as corruption, is profiteering by the political class.  Or financial coercion, which means the taking of their time, opportunity, effort, property, or most importantly, status, and to some degree their very attention,  and distributing it to people with whom they disagree, or using it for purposes with which they disagree.  They see this as corruption: obtaining political office and favors by taking from one group and giving to another whom they disfavor.

All societies concentrate and redistribute wealth. All societies participate in coercion – or else they could not have property and production.  But whenever a society consists of people with dissimilar interests, by definition there must be negative coercion.

Almost all members of any society will tolerate any commonly accepted set of property definitions, even if the scope of individual property is severely limited.  They may form black markets if that scope is too severely limited.  They may form tax avoidance schemes if taxes are too expansive.  But if those definitions remain constant, and they do not have to feel that their plans, and efforts at gain were frustrated, then they will not see the state as coercive.

Freedom is defined as freedom from coercion. Meaning freedom from all but equal coercions. And the only freedom we can equally coerce each other with is respect for property. And even then, respecting property is a higher cost for some, and lower for others.