Friday, December 30, 2005
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
The Bizarre :
THE Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.
Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia's top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.
The Enlightening :
Once the analytical framework is set up, what the researchers at the World Bank find is fascinating. "The most striking aspect of the wealth estimates is the high values for intangible capital. Nearly 85 percent of the countries in our sample have an intangible capital share of total wealth greater than 50 percent," write the researchers. They further note that years of schooling and a rule-of-law index can account for 90 percent of the variation in intangible capital. In other words, the more highly educated a country's people are and the more honest and fair its legal system is, the wealthier it is.
Let's consider a few cases. The country with the highest per capita wealth is Switzerland at $648,000. The United States is fourth at $513,000. Overall, the average per capita wealth in the rich Organization for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) countries is $440,000. By contrast, the countries with the lowest per capita wealth are Ethiopia ($1,965), Nigeria ($2,748), and Burundi ($2,859). In fact, some countries are so badly run, that they actually have negative intangible capital. Through rampant corruption and failing school systems, Nigeria and the Republic of the Congo are destroying wealth and ensuring that they will be poorer in the future.
So much for the "it's not their fault" theory of foreign aid.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A judge ruled a strike by New York transit workers illegal on Tuesday afternoon, while millions of commuters battled their way home in frigid temperatures.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out at union leaders for "thuggishly" turning their backs on the city, vowing there would be no further contract negotiations until the strike ends.
You tell 'em, Bloomberg!
Judge Theodore Jones ruled Tuesday afternoon that the Transport Workers Union was in contempt of two court injunctions ordering it not to strike, and he ordered that the union be fined $1 million a day beginning Tuesday.
Yes! Fine the shit out of that stupid Union! Talk about collectivism. A union tells you when to strike. A union negotiates with your employer to determine how much you make and works to make all pay equal and fair, making moot any merit-based pay raises you could otherwise argue for. A union prevents a company from laying off people, paying what it wants to pay, or otherwise operating freely. Unions, in America today, are superfluous and counterproductive.
Workers are striking for higher pay and have taken issue with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's plans to require new transit workers to pay more for their health care.
I actually have been working in the insurance industry for 7 years now, so this one line stuck out to me. These people are morons! The only reason employers even offer health care coverage was because during WWII there was a wage freeze in America and to attract employees, companies would offer health coverage in lieu of better pay. It would be much wiser for these transit workers to instead decline health care coverage through their employer and instead get that money put into their paychecks. If they want a group policy so badly then why don’t they have their unions set one up? Maybe they will pay more union fees, but they will be getting bigger paychecks anyway because their employer won't be paying for health care. To have an employer provide all these extra services only ultimately reduces their own paycheck amounts. Why are so many people obsessed with others taking care of their responsibilities for them? Get your own damn insurance policy! I've had people (who don't work in the insurance industry) tell me that you can save money if you get insurance through an employer's group policy. Bullshit. I am on the inside and I know that it's quite the opposite. The employer will only give as much coverage as it thinks it can get away with, and insurance companies make killings on group policies for employees. This is in part due to under utilization, poor product coverage selections, and a lot more red tape.
I don't much like the concept of a strike either. It's like quitting without quitting. What makes one think that one can abandon one's job and still have it waiting for them when they decide to stop striking? Job abandonment is job abandonment, and no striker should ever expect to have a job to go back to when they finish their little tantrum. If I don't like my working conditions, and my employer will not accept work conditions/pay that I am comfortable with, then I am free to quit. I can seek employment elsewhere. The bottom line is that if you break your agreement to work for a company, even if it's only for a strike that lasts a few days, the company should not be expected, nor counted on, to continue to offer employment to you.
In other words, I think all of these transit workers should be fired. I also think that the Transport Workers Union should be refused any recognition from New York City, and that no Transport Workers Union members should be considered for employment by the city ever again.
New York City should go non-union for all of its transportation industry employment needs.
There is another factor involved with striking. It is an attempt by employees to prevent employers from hiring replacement workers. Only with official recognition of unions and their striking power can this tactic be pursued by striking employees. What happens as a result? There are no replacement workers to fulfill the city's transportation needs and therefore thousands of commuters are shit out of luck thanks to a group of assholes that want to abandon their jobs without actually risking their employment status. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
And let this be a lesson to all who work for someone else. If you don't like the working conditions, quit all the way. Don't do a half-assed strike. Remember the words of the wise Mr. Miyagi: "Do Karate yes, safe. Do Karate no, safe. Do Karate 'guess so,' squish! Just like grape."
We like to think that, in these modern enlightened times, we've gotten rid of backward ideas like racism and cultural supremacism. One would think that globalization would have shown us the error of considering any culture as vital - that the homogenization of the planet, the breaking down of ritualism and social inequality, is a great thing. But unfortunately, all the major collectivist belief systems still support cultural supremacy in some form or other.
The leftists probably practice the most crass and aggressive form of cultural supremacy. According to leftist dogma, ALL cultures must be maintained, protected and promoted, regardless of how popular or how useful they are to the individual and regardless of the cost (just like the environment must be maintained at all costs).
There is no sense in liberal ideology that culture is bad in any way, even when it contradicts other liberal principles. In the liberal perspective, the individual is a subset of the culture, and not vice-versa - culture is something that you belong to, instead of something you choose. The worth of the individual trapped into a minority culture is only proportional to how much he seeks to protect "his culture".
This is, therefore, a very different perspective than the individualist one. In our perspective, culture is simply a term we use to designate an arbitrary proportion of behaviours and products. These behaviours and products are the product of individual choice. So the idea of "protecting culture" makes no sense apart from protecting the freedom of the individuals that participate in it, from the individualist perspective.
Liberal cultural supremacy, on the other hand, seeks to repress the freedom of the individual to express himself. Instead of helping others benefit from the homogenization of culture brought about by globalization, liberals make globalization one of their prime targets, precisely because they promote cultural supremacism. The overall effect of this is both to keep people in poverty and to keep them enslaved to their culture.
The right-wing also exerts cultural supremacism, but unlike the liberals, they claim it only for themselves. So it's a more passive kind of cultural supremacism. They claim that their own culture must be preserved, through measures such as forced patriotism, closing down on immigration, forced integration, protectionism - and in the case of minority cultures (like here in Quebec), language laws and a language police, and things of that nature. However, if you are a liberal and are repulsed by these measures, remember that this is what you advocate other cultures do. What you're saying is that what's not good enough for you, is fine for other races or countries. That's racism just as well.
Cultural supremacism is not limited to politics, as many religions practice it as well. Judaism promotes the superiority and integrity of Jewish culture, and Islam promotes Arab culture, both to the point of dictating what a person can eat and wear. Even Buddhism promotes cultural supremacy, in the form of anti-globalization, anti-consumeurism cultural communities. Even the Buddhists are hip enough to understand that consumeurism and globalization are the enemies of traditional culture and its enslavement process - just not wise enough to join the right side.
Cultural supremacism is also morally bankrupt. For one, it stands against moral responsibility, in that it denies individual choice - justifying action by "it's what we do, it's our culture". It is a tool used to motivate evil action, that various tyrants have used in the past and will no doubt continue to use in the future... it promotes a fatalistic, desperate attitude towards life, because it puts important parts of man's life beyond his rational choice. It is used by people all over the political spectrum to validate incredibly evil events such as genocide, ritual murder and sacrifice. Its final result is moral relativism, and a total abandonment of reality and common sense.
MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone (don't let anyone tell you otherwise !), and I'll see you on the other side of the holidays.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
Freakonomics is on our side, at least against voting :
Still, people do continue to vote, in the millions. Why? Here are three possibilities:
1. Perhaps we are just not very bright and therefore wrongly believe that our votes will affect the outcome.
2. Perhaps we vote in the same spirit in which we buy lottery tickets. After all, your chances of winning a lottery and of affecting an election are pretty similar. From a financial perspective, playing the lottery is a bad investment. But it's fun and relatively cheap: for the price of a ticket, you buy the right to fantasize how you'd spend the winnings - much as you get to fantasize that your vote will have some impact on policy.
3. Perhaps we have been socialized into the voting-as-civic-duty idea, believing that it's a good thing for society if people vote, even if it's not particularly good for the individual. And thus we feel guilty for not voting.
Of course, they don't go so far as to use this as an argument against democracy, or understand its anti-individualist implications... but it's a start.
Cafe Hayek reports that "more than half of those polled in a Zogby International poll think Wal-Mart is bad for America".
The majority, or 56 percent, picked: "I believe that Wal-Mart is bad for America. It may provide low prices, but these prices come with a high moral and economic cost for consumers." Thirty-nine percent agreed that "Wal-Mart is good for America. It provides low prices and saves consumers money every day."
Their conclusion :
My hat is off to the unions and Wal-Mart's competitors. Through a relentless media campaign, they have achieved something I would have thought nearly impossible. They have managed to convince a majority of Americans (assuming the poll is well done) that a company that has lowered prices throughout the retail sector, employs a million people and that has created tremendous wealth through the innovative use of technology is actually a bad thing.
It's a sad state of affairs, but not surprising in a collectivist culture where the good of the individual is desecrated.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
So it turns out that the government is a bigger and fatter thief than
I had even imagined. I thought they took a lot of money in taxes.
Maybe 30% or so. Boy howdy was I wrong. Lets start from the
It turns out that there are three forms of businesses in most
countries, they are the corporations, partnerships, and single
proprietorships. Now, partnerships and single proprietorships are
basically for small, local businesses that don't have a large dollar
value of assets. They, like the rest of us, get screwed enough on
taxes. They must pay income tax on their profits, like the rest of
us, in the following marginal tax brackets:
What this (specifically, the word marginal) means is, if you earn
$100,000 in one year, then you pay 15% on the first $27,050, plus
27.5% on the next $38,500 ($65,550-$27,050), and so on. The total
amount you pay is thus (.15x27050)+(.275x38500)+(.305x[100000-65550])
which is $25,150, or 25.15% of your total profit.
What's that, you say? You don't like giving one quarter of YOUR money
to the government? My friend, never fear, the government is a step
ahead of you! If you decide to invest in a corporation, you can pay
much much MORE than a quarter of your profits to them! The reason is
a little phenomenon I like to call "big stupid government money
grubbers like stealing your money," but more commonly known as triple
taxation. Put your Sunday best on because yes, Virginia, it's about
time we've paid our dues to America - not once, not twice, but thrice
- by investing in its "free" market.
I came across this table which struck me first as odd, and then as I
looked at it more and more, it struck me as more and more odd. In
fact, if anyone can give me a reason why this table should be as it
is, I would love to know. Here it is, the table of the hour -
CORPORATE tax brackets:
I'll let that sink in for a minute. Just look at that table a few
times. Stop reading this, look at the table again...
OK. So, what do you think? I really don't know what to make of it.
This is why I call the government big, fat, and STUPID. Honestly,
there's no other word that adequately describes this marginal tax
bracket! What's the deal here?
Anyway, the point of this article is to show just how much money the
government steals from corporations taking part in our beloved "free"
market. It's like the government is a magician, and he's really good
at slight of hand. Every time you think you're making money, the
G-Man is really sliding it all into his purse!
"For my next trick... triple taxation!"
Imagine that Corporation XYZ invests in Corporation ABC. This is not
something so uncommon, in fact it happens all the time. Further,
posit that Mr. Smith buys stock in XYZ. Stock, for people unfamiliar
with economics, is basically an agreement that the company you invest
in will give you a share of its profits, but the amount and time
period of payment are undetermined. These payments are called
dividends. Now, suppose ABC pays a nice large dividend to its
stockholders. Of course, these dividends will go (in part) to XYZ,
and because XYZ profits from them, Mr. Smith will too.
But let us suppose that the initial dividend at ABC en route to XYZ is
D (or 100% of D, if you like). ABC, being a fairly large corporation,
faithfully pays its income taxes to the BFSG (Big Fat[cist] Stupid
Government), to the order of (lets just ballpark it here) 25%. So,
75% of D is going on to XYZ. XYZ again, pays its dues on the profits
it just made: another 25%. This leaves us with only 75% of the 75%
remaining from the first tax payment: or 56.25%. As you can guess,
the poor stockholder must again pay income tax on the dividend he
actually receives, which at this point is only 56 cents on the dollar
of the profits made at ABC. This leaves Mr. Smith with just 42% of
what he would have had without any taxation.
So much for taking a quarter of your profits - the government is
content to take well over half without so much as breaking a sweat!
In this example, we assumed a fairly low average tax rate of 25%.
Imagine that we are dealing with some large corporations and wealthy
investors. If we up the tax rate 10% to a total of 35%, these numbers
scale accordingly. The government will now take 35% of the first
dollar, leaving you with 65 cents. 35% again leaves you with 42 cents
- notice this is where we were before, and we have one more taxation
left! Finally, one last time the BFSG takes 35% of profits in taxes,
and Mr. Smith is left with a measly 27 cents.
Yes that's right Virginia, the government loves your money so much,
they're perfectly willing (and able!) take about three fourths of it
all for the humble prize of being able to invest in our wonderful
"free" market! God Bless America!
(That's the end of the article so feel free to stop reading now. I just wanted to note, however, that my facts are not entirely factual. Congress allows corporations to write off 80% of their dividend income as tax free, to avoid true triple taxation. However, the real tax rates incurred by investors are still "a little more than double." After all, what Radical Libertarian blog would be Radical without inflating the numbers?)
Friday, December 16, 2005
Have you noticed that liberals seem to hate the people who help others the most ?
Doctors - At least in the US... not only are they too rich, but they want the government to take over their market.
Corporations offering jobs in the third-world - it's okay if third-world companies exploit their workers, because that's their "culture", but Westerners build "sweatshops". Liberals advocate cultural enslavement in the name of compassion.
GM food engineers - Do I need to even explain ? Liberals are against GM and fight against products that save millions of lives.
Private charities - They want the government to take over that market too. The existence of private charities is the antithesis of liberal collectivism.
As for conservatives, it seems more of a class thing. They have a general bias for rich white Christian heterosexual males. In essence, they seem to be the side of the powerful majority. Both sides fulfill the roles of "rebels" and "establishment", and so people think it's some kind of meaningful choice.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I used to feel undecided on the abortion issue. Yet I've gradually come to the understanding that abortion rights are a necessary part of our right to our own bodies. If the government controls a woman's womb, then nothing stops it from controlling the rest of our bodies.
Every single argument I've seen against the legality of abortion is pitiful, and could be answered by a smart 6 year old.
"Abortions are disgusting" - So are many other things in life. Shitting is disgusting. Does that mean we should outlaw shitting ?
"Abortions only exist because people are irresponsible" - That may be so in many cases (not all of them by far), but government does not exist to stop irresponsibility.
"Abortion is murder" - Murder presumes the existence of a person that is being killed.
"After a certain stage, a foetus is alive, therefore it is a person" - A bacteria is alive, but we don't give it names or judge it in a court of law when it kills someone. Life is not nearly sufficient for personhood.
"A foetus is a potential person" - Potentiality has no relevance to the discussion. We're not talking about aborting it in the future, after it's born - we're talking about the present.
"Abortion is un-Christian" - There is no verse in the Bible against abortion (as if we cared anyway).
"Saying that a foetus is like an intruder is cruel and mean" - Yea, whacha gonna do about it ? Whine whine whine.
Yea, I've heard them all before, and now I think they are absolutely mindless. Anyone who thinks any of these arguments have any validity is a blinded fanatic or a big fat liar. I must appear very close-minded to an anti-choice advocate, but the time when I thought such a position was defendable is long gone. Between fundamental human rights and someone's feeling of disgust, it's not hard to figure out which one I'm going to choose.
To me, the clincher is the notion that making abortion illegal promotes irresponsibility. I can't make sense of such arguments except as an outright attack against some women's value systems. Abortion is only "irresponsible" because the laws and public opinion have made it so, so this kind of rhetoric is ultimately a circular argument.
The only reason why there is an abortion debate at all, is because religious fanatics have bamboozled everyone into believing that abortions are morally wrong. Once you believe that something is wrong, you will fight it no matter what evidence is presented to you. Anti-choice fanatics are anti-choice fanatics because they sincerely believe that abortion is wrong. We need to get the idea out there that controlling another person's body - that is to say, slavery - is morally wrong. It's sad that we have to reiterate the obvious, but that's the state we're in.
The notion that the father has any say on an abortion is evil. Enslaving a person's choices to other people is the antithesis of freedom. Parental notification is also evil, although not for the same reason. It is evil because parents have no right to know, and try to pass such laws in order to exert greater control over their children. Being against parenting, especially when it is used as a tool of control, I cannot agree with any measure that seeks to destroy a child's right to privacy.
Much ado has been made of the study that demonstrated abortion dramatically (by 15-20%) reduces crime. But there is nothing surprising about this. It merely confirms that unwanted children, receiving less attention and education in childhood, tend to grow up as less grounded as wanted children. This in turn shows that when you stifle individual choice, you break the harmony of values that makes parent take the interest of their children to heart.
Likewise, this causation is not a good argument for abortion rights, and it would be stupid to take it as such (not that it would convince a fanatic who thinks abortion is morally wrong anyway). Killing every single person on Earth ever found guilty of a crime would lower the crime rate even more, but this has nothing to do with public policy. We should always guard ourselves from falling into utilitarian justifications for issues which are philosophical in nature - and remember that utilitarian benefits are the consequence, not the nature, of good policy.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Bureaucrash has cool new stuff for you to buy.
Norman Solomon asks : where the Hell has the American moral compass gone ? I ask : has it ever pointed north ?
Thomas Sowell tells us about some mind-changing books.
Why does libertarianism fail to capture public opinion ? Because we waste time arguing evidence instead of addressing the real root of belief - perceived moral superiority. You can argue evidence all you want but people will still find more things to argue against. Any position that wins the moral battle, on the other hand, is impervious to evidence.
I would invite everyone to listen to the great work of Stefan Molyneux at this podcast :
I am in contact with him and will try to get him on the Hellbound Alleee show. I think his ideas are vital and must be heard.
Hey Vox Popoli fans - you don't get it, do you ? We are writing about your champion Vox Day because he's an imbecile and his absurd moral nihilism is so outrageous that it deserves refutation. We do not want to argue with you. Your amoral and disgusting beliefs do not deserve debate. Go away and complain to your champion about how I'm censoring your discredited worldview, anti-atheist assholes.
PS No seriously, you can stop posting your stupid comments now. You were fun for a while, but this is a serious blog. Enough bullshit.
Monday, December 12, 2005
In foreign policy, neolibertartianism would be characterized by,
* A policy of diplomacy that promotes consensual government and human rights and opposes dictatorship.
* A policy of using US military force solely at the discretion of the US, but only in circumstances where American interests are directly affected.
Being strongly against interventionism, war, corporatism (what other "American interests" could possibly be affected ?) and American imperialism, I can't accept this Neo-Libertarian position. War is the most dramatic instance of political power there is. I can't ever imagine subscribing to a position that suppots warfare beyond necessary self-defense, as much as I like it. I would sacrifice a great deal of principles before I sacrifice that one.
So what should we do ? Either we join the Neo-Libertarians, or we release the Chitinous Attack Squirrels on them. I see no other option.
Vox Day was kind enough to respond to my earlier blog entry about his claim to libertarianism. Unfortunately, he was unable to respond with much substance. He makes plenty of claims, but doesn't back them up very well. He also didn't directly respond to the meat of my post (the claims regarding libertarianism), but he says that there is more to come later, so hopefully he will respond to it eventually.
No, it is self-evident that one can only claim that rape is immoral if one subscribes to a coherent moral code which presents a rational basis for universality, (or at the very least makes a claim, however dubious, to universality).
Little does Vox comprehend (but some of his commenters do) that the Christian moral code presents a "might = right" moral code. Does Vox consider that, as he puts it, "rational"? In his WingNutDaily article, he claims that "might = right" is immoral. Where does he get that judgment from anyway -that "might= right" is wrong? Possibly his "I have all the might, so whatever I say is right," Christian God? Vox is borrowing from the same "might = right" moral code that he decries!
As I have demonstrated, many individuals, past and present, have subscribed to coherent moral codes which do not consider rape to be immoral or consider it at most to be a petty crime worthy of minor compensation.
Vox is correct that there are many individuals that subscribed to a moral code that doesn't consider rape to be that big of a deal. The code they subscribe to is Christianity. Christianity most definitely treats rape, as Vox describes it, "at most to be a petty crime worthy of minor compensation." For example, in the Bible, Lot sacrifices his daughters to a rapist mob. The author of Genesis considers rape to be a crime against the honor of men rather than against the woman herself. The virtue of self-ownership or the women's (victim's) rights is not considered. The Bible exposes an inferior moral code by treating women, and accordingly rape victims, as property rather than valid human beings.
Christians are one of the very few groups who possess a coherent moral code which presents a rational basis for universality - I note that this assertion is supported by a vast panoply of non-Christian intellectuals, past and present.
Is this some kind of argument from authority, argument from popularity, or both? I can surely cite a vast panalopy of non-Christian intellectuals, past and present, who say just the opposite. But there is a more important point to Vox's statement. Rather than Vox trying to directly argue that his Christian theology presents a good moral system for condemning rape, he instead says "it's true because lots of other people say so." I, on the other hand, have been supporting my claims directly.
Aaron also conveniently leaves out that I expressly stated that there may be other such moral codes, but neither Aaron nor anyone else has even attempted to present one.
Actually, I didn't leave that out. I quoted Vox's statement about this, and I replied to it. Now I think its Vox who has issues with reading comprehension. That, or he is practicing some "overt intellectual dishonesty." Anyway, for those who missed it, here is what I said in response to his admission that there may be other such moral codes:
Indeed. Vox hasn't heard much -and doesn't know much- about atheism, his own "might = right" Christian ideology, or the moral code within libertarianism. It's kind of sad to watch Vox claim ignorance as a justification for making up things at whim and assigning the wrong features to the wrong worldviews.
In the comments section of Vox's blog, I linked two sites that provide information on coherent moral codes that do not base themselves on the "might = right" dictates of a grand authority, but base themselves on objective reality and/or rational individualism. I will again present them here and here.
Despite 17 years of Christian fundamentalism, Aaron managed to somehow miss the very basis for Jesus Christ's sacrifice.
No, I think I got it. The unjustified destruction of an innocent human to atone for the guilt, both earned and unearned, of every other human in existence. That is what sacrifice is; trying to make a right out of two wrongs. Does Vox Day think that in a libertarian society people could offer themselves as a sacrifice to serve the punishment of a guilty person, therefore setting the guilty one free? Does any justice system in the world today work like that? Is sacrifice even justice? No, it is not. It is two wrongs trying to make a right, and it just doesn't work.
In fact, Vox does not think that everyone is owned by themselves, but by Satan.
See? He's definitely not a libertarian.
Jesus Christ had to die in order to pay the price to redeem humanity, hence the phrase "Blessed Redeemer" that appears in so many Christian hymns.
Again with the sacrifice. I don't think there's anything within the concept of sacrifice that corresponds to any libertarian virtues.
As for the libertarian concept of self-ownership, one always has the right to sell oneself to another individual.
And now we see Vox make another one of his "numerous errors in logic." If Vox thinks everyone is owned by Satan, then how does he think one can sell himself to Jesus? And how can Vox even reconcile the concept of self-ownership with his contention that everyone is already owned by Satan in the first place?
Vox does not think that, Vox has never written that and Aaron is guilty of exaggeration at best, outright lying at worst.
All this after he wrote an article that says date rape does not exist.
As for the question, I might as easily retort: where are the libertarian values of self-responsibility and independence, not to mention justice, in taking exception to the statement that a woman is responsible for the consequences of her actions?
Straw man. Nobody is taking exception to the statement that a woman is responsible for the consequences of her actions. The problem is that Vox thinks that if a woman leads a man on then she loses the right to tell him to stop.
The contention that traditional Western morality is not synonymous with and largely derived from Christian morality is willfully and demonstrably absurd and anyone with even a modicum of historical knowledge must consider it laughable.
Then perhaps Vox can tell us which Biblical scriptures regarding rape have been considered an integral part of traditional Western morality? I’m serious, which passages would those be? And what about the 10 commandments and their according punishments? Has Leviticus 24:16 been integral to traditional Western morality? What about Exodus 21:15 or 21:17? These are some serious moral statements found in scripture that are not found in traditional Western morality. I contend that it is absurd to think that traditional Western morality proscribes death for cursing one's parents or working on the Sabbath. Vox Day should demonstrate how traditional Western morality is based on Scripture, rather than just claim it. Maybe he can start with rape-related passages.
The equation of Christianity with blindness is an unsupported assertion...
Vox doesn't know his Bible very well. Time for me to support my assertion. I again claim that Christian theology demands blind obedience to a self-appointed creator God. And the Bible agrees with me. In proverbs 3:5-7 we read: "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil." I can't imagine a clearer way for God to call everyone to blindly follow him.
...while the one equating a postulated ultimate authority - aka God - with a "self-appointed authority figure" is a dishonest and illogical caricature. If God as described exists, he is the legitimate and ultimate authority. If he does not exist, then how can he appoint himself?
And finally Vox admits that Christianity is a "might = right" system. But for some reason, I don't think he realized he admitted it.
And yet, he sees the same vaccuum I do, indeed, all he does here is repeat what I have previously stated on a number of occasions: atheism has nothing to say about morality.
We do agree on one thing: atheism has nothing to say on morality. Negative claims tend to be that way, but I don't think Vox understands the difference between a positive and a negative claim. However, libertarianism does indeed have things to say about morality, for it is a political system derived from a moral code. The fact that Vox doesn't understand this either shows that he doesn't understand libertarianism, and is not a libertarian. In fact, throughout his reply, Vox makes no attempt to explain his claims to libertarianism. And as I said before, Vox makes no direct defense or reply to my charge that his ideas are anti-libertarian.
The atheist is provided no basis with which to condemn rape or any other evil by his atheism...
I agree with this. Atheism doesn't concern morality, only the existence of God(s).
...and because he lacks this basis...
Another error of logic from Vox Day. Vox first claims that atheism provides no moral code, then claims that the atheist has no moral code as a result. Vox Day fails to take into account that a moral code may be derived from another source, much less a source that isn't "might = right" in nature. In the case of libertarianism, the moral code comes from the recognition of virtues such as self-ownership, self-determination, and non-coercion.
he is therefore forced to rely on concepts such as "might makes right" when he wishes to condemn the action of another but is unwilling to play moral parasite and piggyback on the morality of others.
Vox writes as if he never read Francois Tremblay's article that I quoted. It has already been successfully argued by Francois that atheists don't subscribe to "might = right" and that it is in fact Vox's Christian religion that expounds this principle. Vox has yet to address it or refute it. Did Vox simply commit a reading comprehension error or is he ignoring it on purpose?
I feel almost as if I am going in circles here. Vox provided little or no substance, merely repeated his previous assertions, and ignored most of my claims. He pretended Francois' essay didn't exist, and he provided no support for any of his statements. He was sure to ask me to provide support for mine, though. It's a good thing for me that my assertions are supportable!
Check out a booklet produced by the CIA in the past in an attempt to overthrow Nicaragua's government. Maybe we can use some of these methods against the CIA, hmmm ? Whadya think about that ? Most Americans already use method #9...
If you could immediately add three new amendments to the US Constitution, what would they be ? In the first issue of CATO Unbound, Nobel laureate James Buchanan suggests the following :
[1.] In its final budget resolution, Congress should restrict estimated spending to the limits imposed by estimated tax revenues. This requirement should be waived only upon approval separately by three-fourths of the House of Representatives and the Senate. This exception would allow for debt financing of federal outlay in situations that are indeed extraordinary (major wars, natural disasters), an exception recognized by classical public finance.
[2.] Congress shall make no law authorizing government to take any discriminatory measures of coercion.
[3.] The Madisonian construction is flawed by its authorization of government regulation through the much abused Commerce Clause. The authorization should be restricted to the prevention of interferences with voluntary exchanges and should not extend to the prohibition, or the coercive dictation of the terms, of such exchanges. Nor should any differentiation be made between exchanges within the domestic economy and those made with others outside the political jurisdiction.
What do you think ?
Friday, December 9, 2005
Vox Day is a self-professed Christian, and a self-professed libertarian. He also thinks that non-Christians cannot justify the condemnation of rape. Lets see what he has to say:
The Judeo-Christian moral ethic is clear – rape is a sin, a willful pollution of a temple that rightly belongs to God. Neither the Jew nor the Christian need hesitate before asserting the act of rape to be evil and justly holding the rapist accountable. But this ethic does not offer a blanket excuse to victims, near victims and would-be victims either, since the element of consent – which today draws the dividing line between sex and rape – can also provide a contrarian condemnation of the woman's own actions.
To Vox, rape is only immoral if you subscribe to the arbitrary dictates of an Abrahamic creator-God. Also, Vox thinks that everyone is owned not by themselves, but by God. So much for the libertarian concept of self-ownership!
Since only the woman who is not entertaining the possibility of sex with a man and is subsequently raped can truly be considered a wholly innocent victim under this ethic, it is no wonder that women who insist that internal consent is the sole determining factor of a woman's victimization find traditional Western morality to be inherently distasteful.
To Vox, date rape does not exist. Vox thinks that if a woman flirts with a man, then he can fuck her and she has no grounds for protest. Where are the libertarian values of non-coercion, individuality, and the right to self? And how does Vox define "traditional Western morality" anyway? I'm assuming he means Christian morality, which isn't a morality at all, but an arbitrary dictate from an all-powerful authority figure (again, where are the libertarian values? Libertarians don't blindly submit to self-appointed authority figures and their dictates). But I would contend that Christian morality is not "traditional Western morality." If anything, Biblical morality could be called "traditional Middle-Eastern morality," but that's quite a bit different.
Vox Day also spends a considerable amount of time looking at this topic from Islamic, Pagan, and other religious perspectives. Clearly, the only "morality" that Vox Day can conceive of is one of a religious dictate from an all-powerful God or gods. These ideas are totally antithetical to libertarianism. Remember, libertarianism focuses on individuality, self-determination, non-coercion, and a refusal to blindly follow the rules of self-appointed authority figures. Eventually, Vox makes his anti-libertarianism quite clear:
As I have previously asserted, most atheist and agnostic morality is parasitical, the cultural residue of previous generations.
Vox has really put himself in a bad spot here. First of all, he accidentally declared with a proverbial bullhorn that he either doesn't understand, or he totally rejects libertarianism. Secondly, he sets up a straw man about atheism. Atheism, in itself, has nothing to say about morality. There are all kinds of atheists with vastly different concepts of morality. But libertarianism does indeed have something to say about morality, and Vox has rejected it completely. What is it about Vox that makes him a libertarian exactly? He seems to like capitalism, but that in itself isn't libertarianism. He seems to be more of a supporter of the Jesus Regime when it comes to morality. You can't get much farther away from libertarianism than that!
And while "might makes right" is the true essence of atheist amorality, it is not exactly the most convincing means of attempting to assert the moral evil of the rapist.
Good luck supporting that statement, Vox! I would pay money to see a "might = right" moral code that is truly derived from the negative claim of atheism. Again, atheism has nothing to say about morality; atheism makes no positive claims. Vox is in the land of straw men. The sad part is that I think he isn't even aware of his straw men. His understanding of atheism is woefully inadequate, and here he is shooting his mouth off. I wonder if Vox even understands the difference between a positive and a negative claim?
Francois Tremblay has written a terrific response to Vox's ignorant claim that atheism says "might = right." Francois says:
The only ones who believe that "might makes right" are God believers, who claim that God has absolute power over all human beings, and can wipe them all out, simply because it has the might. Now that's amorality for you. I have never heard of any atheist who believes this principle - in fact, most atheists tend to be relativists or utilitarians, which is stupid, but very different from "might makes right".
In fact, the only people I know who use power as a standard of morality are followers of collectivist belief systems, like Christianity. Historically, Christianity has always assumed a role of moral nad political dictatorship when it was in power. Christians still attempt to use the social power they have left in the United States to dictate the value-expression of other people.
Their whole moral mindset is that "might (God's might, that is) creates and dictates right", and the subversion of individual values in one's own mind, so how could Christianity possibly be conductive to free value-expression in society ?
Well put, Franc. I couldn't have said it better myself. So much for Vox's absurd claims of which ideology subscribes to "might = right." Vox's God has all the might, so to Vox, whatever his God says is right. Vox is a really confused Christian. He projects "might = right" onto atheism, when in truth it is part of his own belief system, then he expresses his inherent distaste for it, which is especially ironic. Someone should let him know about this contradiction of his. When he finds out about his mistake, I wonder what conclusion he will come to, that his God is immoral, or that "might = right" is ok after all? But Vox still has more to say:
There may be a genuine moral argument against rape to be made outside of the Judeo-Christian ethic, but I have yet to hear it.
Indeed. Vox hasn't heard much -and doesn't know much- about atheism, his own "might = right" Christian ideology, or the moral code within libertarianism. It's kind of sad to watch Vox claim ignorance as a justification for making up things at whim and assigning the wrong features to the wrong worldviews.
Finally, Vox gives us an argument that we can use to attack his own Christian morality:
When each does what is right in his own eyes, all distinctions between right and wrong become meaningless.
Hey Vox, does that include when God does what is right in His own eyes as well? Why or why not?
Vox Day is, quite clearly, a Christoid fundie. He doesn't express or practice any moral code that could be considered libertarian in the slightest sense. Christian morality is antithetical to libertarian morality, and Vox subscribes to the former. Christian morality is the essence of "might = right" while libertarian morality is the exact opposite, and again, Vox subscribes to the former. No wonder Vox thinks that non-Christians can't declare rape immoral! His only concept of morality isn't morality at all, but merely a Christian "might = right" set of rules. Non-coercion is a foreign concept to him.
Vox Day is a true Christian, and a fake libertarian.
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
What is the measure of a society ?
I ask this question because there is a maxim that says "a nation is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens". This is from Hubert H. Humphrey and the full quote is :
"The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."
However, I find this highly problematic. Not because I think we should treat our "most vulnerable citizens" badly, but because we're supposed to take this as the measure, the moral test, of a government or nation.
But charity, since this seems to be what we're talking about here, cannot be a moral test. While there are plenty of reasons to give to charity, there is no challenge in giving money per se. The challenge is creating resources and making them available to all. That is what runs progress, not charity. We are only able to help the least fortunate amongst us because we have the resources to do so. Despite the rantings of some left-wing extremists (I'm looking at you, Peter Singer), we don't need to kill our crippled and aged any more.
Furthermore, isolating one segment of society as a standard has perverse consequences. In this case, victimocracy is the rule. If only the unfortunate and victims are to be reified, then everyone will want to be classified as an unfortunate and a victim. Sexism, racism, classism are resurrected and marshalled as arguments for victimhood. There is a synergy between this and democracy as well - democracy balkanizes society, making the rhetoric of victimhood possible, and even desirable. Victimhood, therefore, becomes the cement that unites a segment against others in social warfare.
And once again, individuality is subverted to this culture of collective victimhood. It is not specific individuals who are victims, but a race, a gender, a class, a nationality, a language. Therefore neither actual evidence of victimhood, nor the individuals or individual values, are relevant. Rather, the interest of the culture of victimhood are paramount. We observe this, for example, in "blacks" telling other "blacks" to be more "black" and to adopt arbitrary cultural patterns against their individual values. This "ideal profile" of the victim exists in all victimocracies, although it can be more or less specific.
The lesson here is that concentrating on one specific area as a standard inevitably has perverse consequences, and is anti-dialectical.
On the other hand, saying that the measure of a society is how it treats itself is tautological and unmeasurable, simply because there are so many contexts in which people deal and trade with each other. Does the measure of a society depend on how I treat my neighbour ? This may seem trivial unless one remembers that society is nothing more than the organization of individual action. So the way I treat others is definitely part of "how we treat each other".
Because of the extent of the problem, it becomes tempting to use a single statistic, or a combination, as a standard. But which do we use ? Homicide rates ? GDP per capita ? Ratio of population in jail ? Contributions to charity ? Level of corruption ? All of these statistics have obvious merits, but not any single one gives us a good grip on the problem.
I would submit that a good standard must start from the premise that there are basically three ways for people to deal with each other :
* On a voluntary basis (trade);
* Coercively, through government power (statism);
* Coercively, on an individual basis (crime).
The standard of a society should perhaps then show how much the people in a given society use crime to arrive to their ends, as well as government power, and add up the two.
However, there are no easy measures of either. For example, the United States has the highest ratio of citizens in jail, but much of this is due to the War on Drugs, which attacks voluntary action as well. Also, the variety of political systems makes a single measure of political participation dubious, and there's likewise no easy way to measure government intervention in social affairs (even though we already have many such measures on the economic side). Perhaps if we had such ratings, the calculation would be easier.
Ultimately I would submit that right now the measure of a society is not something that is wholly important at the moment, and that maxims such as the one I quoted before serve the role of political grandstanding and doubletalk more than it serves clear-headedness.
Monday, December 5, 2005
Saturday, December 3, 2005
Yes, the blog Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds has chosen us as first place for its "Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month (November 2005)", for my article on anti-consumeurism and the poor. Only two submissions and we're already being recognized. Thank you very much !
Thursday, December 1, 2005
Let me state this strongly enough : there is no such thing as price-gouging. It is anti-capitalist propaganda, given to us by people who should know better, and some who know better.
Let me put it this way. If the government was in charge of a high demand situation, they would RATION everything. Would anyone complain then if they didn't get what they wanted ? I'm pretty sure most of them wouldn't. And yet when the free market preserves the information about the value of the product, people rage against "price gougers".
What could "price gouging" possibly mean ? Price is a piece of information. It tells us what people agree upon on being the monetary value of a product or service in a given context. If the price is too high, then the seller won't be able to sell, and thus make maximal profit. If the price is too low, then there will be shortages and once again maximal profit will not be attained. So a rational seller has no interest in setting a non-rational price. "Price gouging" can therefore only mean the presence of an irrational seller.
As for the oil industry, you'd have to be an idiot to think that an industry within a market with high competition and low profit margins could possibly act irrationally and stay in business.
Please, if you don't understand basic economics, morality or politics, don't talk about it. You only make people like me mad.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
The court is dealing with its first abortion case in five years, as well as the first in the brief tenure of Chief Justice John Roberts.
The case does not challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that declared abortion a fundamental constitutional right, and the justices seemed to be seeking a compromise that would avoid breaking new ground.
Several said the law was flawed, because it requires that a parent be informed 48 hours before a minor child has an abortion but makes no exception for a medical emergency that threatens the youth's life.
So the Supreme Court is going to decide soon whether or not a New York state law that requires notification of parents 48 hours in advance of an abortion for a girl under 18 years of age is unconstitutional or not based on the emergency exemptions the law has (or doesn't have). I can only shake my head in disappointment. Disappointment that this law was even conceived (pun intended), disappointment that this law could be voted on in the first place, and extreme disappointment that this law was voted in by the majority of New Yorkers.
From a libertarian perspective, everything about this situation, from the law itself to the supreme court getting involved, is just plain wrong. First of all, any law that positively restricts the freedom of an individual is never permissible, and this law does exactly that. In addition, restricting the reproductive rights of a person simply because they are under an arbitrary age limit is absurd, inhumane, and positively evil.
Of course there is also the democratic aspect of this law. It was voted in by the majority of New Yorkers. This is a fine example of "tyranny of the majority" and it shows us why democracy, and voting, is a bad thing. In a popular voting system, individual rights can never be guaranteed; they are always at risk to the latest fad or emotion that the majority of people feel. In fact, in America, the only time individual rights are protected is when courts strike down stupid laws like these that get voted in by an idiotic populous. Popular vote did not give America Roe vs. Wade. Popular vote did not declare that separate is inherently unequal.
In a libertarian society with unalterable individual rights derived from natural law, this law would never have even existed, much less been voted on. A libertarian government would never have the ability, much less interest, in taking any kind of stand on abortion issues. In a libertarian society, things would be much more simple. A woman would be allowed to get an abortion, regardless of age, and without any notification being sent to her parents. If she wants her parents to know, she can tell them herself. It isn't the doctor's business, it isn't the government's business, and it sure as hell isn't the general population's business.
Coercion is never permissible in a libertarian meritocracy based on natural law, but in an American democracy it is. A democracy cannot guarantee the security and self-determination of its citizens. Only a non-democratic libertarian society can.
As long as popular voting exists, our rights will never be secure. And no clearer an example of this is needed when we see the reproductive rights of our daughters, sisters, and girlfriends being taken away from them.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Will Wilkinson has an interesting quote about the correlation between happiness and economic growth :
By continually giving people a sense of living better than they or their families have in the not very distant past, sustained economic growth reduces the intensity of their desire to live better than one another. Economic growth satisfies the form of people's aspirations for "more" that is possible for everyone to fulfill. . .
When an economy stagnates, however, the importance people attach to living better than others against whom they naturally compare themselves is more intense. The fact they cannot do so, or at least on average cannot, then takes on heightened importance in their eyes. The resulting frustration generates intolerance, ungenerosity, and resistance to greater openness to individual opportunity. . .
Mobility, either economic or social, is inherently threatening because it means the possibility of movement either up, or, more to the point, down, compared to the prevailing norms of the society as a whole. But when the average income for an economy is stagnant, people who allow others to get ahead of them are not only falling behind in relative terms but also losing ground compared to their own past living standard. They lose out from the perspective of both benchmarks. When an economy is growing, however, and per capita income is rising, those who fall behind compared to others can still be moving ahead--and if growth is sufficient, moving ahead solidly--by the standard of their own experience.
What does anyone think about LibertyGrid ? I'd be interested about hearing other people's thoughts on that site.
It's no secret that none of the contributors here like religion, and since we live in North America and Western Europe, that means Christianity. In fact, we feel pretty strongly that religion is bad for society and should be fought against. I have also written an entry on why I think Christians are our cultural enemies. I think it's pretty clear that the Christian worldview - not all Christians, only those who subscribe to it - are enemies of individualism and individual rights.
I know this is not a very popular position to take. I'm not in it to be popular. I'm not in it to be nice. Learning to call a spade a spade is the first step towards a realistic assessment of any situation - without honesty (the uncompromising recognition of reality) and frankness (the ability to express such uncompromising recognitions), we have no guard against problems. It's easy to bury one's head in the sand and refuse to see problems. I think that, in a large part, the current anti-science and anti-atheist movements are due to such head-burying.
The current attitude towards religion is that any religion is good, as long as you have a religion. It doesn't matter what side you're on, at long as you acknowledge the legitimacy of the game. It is not other religions, but rather atheism, which is seen as the enemy. Even atheists make it a point not to challenge Christians to their face, and that is very distressing.
So we end up with a society which preaches "freedom of religion". Freedom of religion means : you have special rights, you are recognized, as long as you have a religion. If you don't, then you lose out. But beyond this inequality, the main problem is that these "special rights" are not natural, and therefore go against freedom.
The most flagrant example is educational abuse. So-called "religious schools" are allowed to teach anything they want in the name of religion, even cults. These brainwashing institutions have no place and should be banned, or at least forbidden to pass as "schools" and "universities", that is to say, if we have a society based on evidence and not on belief, and on protecting the individual from religious fraud. I'm in favour of prudent predation in society, so I wouldn't be in favour of banning them outright, but that's a wholly different issue.
So we've got this thing called "freedom of religion". We must reject this concept and replace it with "freedom from religion". Individuals should be free to be religious but, as anti-individual belief systems, we shoule ensure first of all that the individual is free to leave religion, regardless of cultural, social, family pressures. It is only when the individual has a free mind that he is able to make decisions that pursue his own interest (and by extension general interest).
The special protection of religion hurts everyone. It favours religion and its collectivist consequences, oppresses the victims of religion, warps public discourse, and only creats more inequalities of rights. We should no longer talk about "freedom of religion" but rather the "freedom from religion".
Another aspect of this issue is that Christianity is inherently opposed to freedom of mind, which is a necessary prerequisite for political freedom. It's easy to restrict freedom to political freedom, but if you look at a cult like Scientology, for example, and people who can't leave even when they are made to basically do slave labour simply because they live in fear, I don't think you can really dissociate the two. Sure, political freedom is an important part of it, but not by far the whole story. You can have the most libertarian society in the world and still have an extremely oppressive society.
So the other aspect we should consider is whether we'd like an oppressive monotheistic religion to dominate public discourse. And while Christianity is not as bad as a cult like Scientology, it still promotes mental submission and moral irresponsibility. And that also reflects on politics. If we tolerate Christian discourse, we're tolerating a worst society for each and every one of us.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Because environmental causes have been turned so adroitly by left-wing and activist demagogues as quasi-cults of government and animal worship, the single issue on which us libertarians tend to get lumped in with the lunatics in the right-wing is the environment. It makes me depressed that so many people smash real science together with plutocratic Christian lunacy, just because we disagree with them.
So in the interest of general understanding and reconciliation, I have decided to take the time to explain to my fellow libertarians what the Greenie movement is all about.
First, here is the top 10 list of signs you are a Greenie :
10. You’re furious that pounds kill pets, so you support an organization which kills pets.
9. You think coal pollution is better than nuclear waste, and then you complain about the quality of our air.
8. You think “risk assessment” is a board game.
7. You constantly complain about layoffs, but you think losing millions of jobs (and billions of dollars) is okay if it helps reduce the air temperature by a fraction of a degree. You think people promoting the alternative of sound technological solutions are crackpots.
6. You’re pissed off when people serve you meat, but you act surprised when people blast you for wanting to enforce veganism on your future innocent babies.
5. You think the precautionary principle is AOK, except when it’s applied against you. Then it becomes a matter of principles.
4. You get mad when anyone says you think other animals are more important than people, but you cheer when hunters die or animal researchers are threatened with their grandmother's corpse.
3. You think “The Tragedy of the Commons” is a Shakespeare play.
2. You say we should respect all life, then you gulp antibiotics. The hypocrisy of this doesn’t register in your mind at all.
1. You’re so concerned about third-world hunger that you campaign to ban life-saving GM foods from Africa.
Now, the top 4 activities of Greenies (using American statistics) :
4. Having sex and making children... while believing that human activity is inherently harmful. Perhaps they think it's okay as long as you can brainwash your children to become "caring" Greenies like they are.
3. Eating vegetarian because it's "healthy", "natural" and "compassionate", even though vegetarianism is unnatural, makes many people weaker, and threshers kill more rodents and snakes during a single grain harvest than the amount of animals all slaughterhouses kill in an entire year.
2. "Sustainability". I think this has to do with protesting globalization and growing your own vegetables (not that I have anything against growing your own vegetables). I think it also has to do with whining about oil reserves while you drive your SUV (I don't own a car, so I can feel as superior as I want to the Greenies on this point).
1. Recycling ! This icon of Greenie "concern" persists in the public consciousness even though it is generally acknowledged that a single landfill 120 feet deep and 44 miles square could handle 1000 years of garbage and that recycling in most cases (around 150-200$/ton, and only for some waste) is a waste of resources compared to disposal (30-90$/ton, depending on the place, for all waste).
Finally, here are some jokes about Greenies :
Q: What do you call a Native vegetarian ?
A: A bad shot.
(credit to the show "Cooking with the Wolfman" on APTN for that one)
Q: How many Greenies does it take to change a lightbulb ?
A1: None - lightbulbs aren't biodegradable. Greenies prefer to suffocate themselves with oil lamps.
A2: Twenty to write the EPA report, a hundred to protest the lightbulb changing, and one to give away the socket to the government so the evil capitalists don't get their hands on it and make a profit by offering to change it at a lower price.
Q: Why did the Greenie cross the road ?
A: He had to go back to the car to get his sign for the anti-globalization protest.
Q: Why was Hitler vegetarian ?
A: Because he valued cattle more than human beings.
Ba-doom-tish ! Thank you very much. I'll be here all week.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
There is a general understanding that suicide should be strongly disouraged, both by education and law. And it is true that teenagers generally consider suicide with a lack of perspective. Because of their young age, they tend to lack gravity in the face of the issue, as well as the wholly romanticized notion of the "noble suicide".
The fact remains, however, that this is a small minority. The vast majority of suicides, perhaps 90% according to a 1995 study, have as major factor mental disorders or drug abuse (including alcohol), even in teenagers. Furthermore, a lot of the remaining suicides are due to grave medical conditions. The highest suicide rate is in the "older than 85" demographic (all of this using United States data).
So the old bromides about suicide do not apply most of the time, and education is basically pointless. "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem" only applies to temporary problems, not to debilitating health problems. "Suicide is cowardly" does not apply when there's no other way to fight the problem. And of course both have no relevance to mental illness, where free will becomes a rare commodity.
Still, there are vast differences between countries, and in some cases there is a significant difference. So suicide rates, while not a social problem due to the reasons I just listed, can underlie cultural problems. There seems to be no economic or political correlation to suicide, but cultural correlations are obvious. Countries of the former Eastern bloc have high suicide rates, probably due to the harrowing post-Communist conditions and high rate of alcoholism. On the other hand, other poor countries have extremely low suicide rates. A country like Japan, which considers suicide justifiable in many instances, has a very high suicide rate. The low suicide rates in Islamic countries may be explained by the strict prohibition of suicide in Islam, as well as the sense of purpose given by religious fanaticism. Of course, these are just basic guesses that do not explain a sea of data. But it seems clear that cultural factors are most important, although we have to remember that culture is nothing without tacit moral acceptance.
I think the basic problem with the debate around suicide and assisted suicide is the equivocation between suicide-romanticism, which is not nearly as prevalent as people think, and a reasoned decision to "end one's life". There is a definite lack of respect for the notion that one may desire to take what, according to religion, "God has given us". These notions should have dissapeared with scientific understanding of reproduction, but religious beliefs have made debates centered around reproductive facts highly aberrated. The fact remains that one owns one's own life, and that there can be no justification to discourage or prohibit suicide. If we entrust to the state control over one's most important and profound decision about one's body, then it would be absurd to then preach freedom.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Standing up for you? Is that why he's leaning lazily up against a shit-brown wall?
The slack-jawed idiot pictured to the left is Dan McTeague, member of the Liberal caucus in the Canadian parliament, member of parliament for Pickering—Scarborough East, Ontario. You see, Toronto has been having some trouble with gun violence. So Danny Boy thinks the smart thing to do would be to ban 50 Cent, barring him from entering Canada during his upcoming tour. Fucking moron. Yeah, banning individuals or works that say stupid, ugly, or unpopular things really works well and it's totally acceptable in a free society, right? Or even in a semi-free society like Canada?
Don't get me wrong; I hate 50 Cent. I think his image, his lyrics, and his music are stupid and boring. Right now, though, I hate Dan McTeague even more.
McTeague has written to Immigration Minister Joe Volpe, asking him to stop Curtis Jackson (a.k.a. 50 Cent) from crossing the border. The last I heard, Mr. Volpe has not yet responded.
Mr. McTeague's web site is here: http://www.mcteague.ca/
Standing up for you? Is that why he's leaning lazily up against a shit-brown wall?
The slack-jawed idiot pictured above is Dan McTeague, member of the Liberal caucus in the Canadian parliament, member of parliament for Pickering—Scarborough East, Ontario. You see, Toronto has been having some trouble with gun violence. So Danny Boy thinks the smart thing to do would be to ban 50 Cent, barring him from entering Canada during his upcoming tour. Fucking moron. Yeah, banning individuals or works that say stupid, ugly, or unpopular things really works well and it's totally acceptable in a free society, right? Or even in a semi-free society like Canada?
Don't get me wrong; I hate 50 Cent. I think his image, his lyrics, and his music are stupid and boring. Right now, though, I hate Dan McTeague even more.
McTeague has written to Immigration Minister Joe Volpe, asking him to stop Curtis Jackson (a.k.a. 50 Cent) from crossing the border. The last I heard, Mr. Volpe has not yet responded.
Mr. McTeague's web site is here: http://www.mcteague.ca/
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The Virtual Economy model has been online for quite a while. I remember playing with this years ago. Since we now have a libertarian blog, I thought I'd give a go at it once again and show you the results. I try to apply as much capitalism as I can. Here are my choices for each category (in the advanced model) :
* Income tax : as low as the model permits, with the highest brackets. That means 6%, 10% and 22%.
* Income tax allowances : as high as the model permits.
* Macroeconomy : Unfortunately, the model does not allow for stabilization of the monetary supply or controlled deflation, so I choose "keep inflation at base level". I halve spending on health care, education and defense (assuming that the first two will be covered by private systems and charter systems, and the latter reduced to self-defense).
* National Insurance : as low as the model permits, with the lowest brackets.
* Indirect taxes : abolish duties on beer, spirits, wine. VAT abolished. No change to petrol, tobacco, fuel tax and car tax.
* Benefits : all children-related benefits are reduced as much as the model permits. Working tax credit is maximized. Pension stays the same (it's not the old people's fault if they lived in a crappy system). Tax credits withdrawal rate is set at 10% (to maximize the number of families who have access to the credits - the lower the %, the less the credit tapers off as you go in higher incomes).
Aaaand... run model !
And you get great results. For one thing, all the family scenarios save more money except for the two unemployed parents one, from 1k more (in low-income families) to 47k more (in the case of two employed parents making 100k a year). As predicted, poor families benefit greatly from the abolition of the sales tax, while rich families benefit greatly from the abolition of the income tax.
The government also benefits greatly from this change - tremendous growth and lower spending means more money :
Unfortunately, because of the stunning growth we're stuck with murderous inflation :
But the GDP per capita skyrockets, even adjusting for inflation, which seems to indicate that this inflation is probably entirely caused by the rise in salaries coupled with a growing monetary supply :
And we're going to need major immigration to fill out all these new jobs, otherwise the economy is gonna stagnate pretty fast :
All in all, I think this would be a rather rude shock treatment, and that progressively introducing free market measures would probably be better. But I think living in such a society would be pretty good, all things considered.
Monday, November 21, 2005
General Motors, the world's largest automaker, announced recently that it will be cutting 30,000 jobs and closing about a dozen facilities in an effort to save $7 billion a year and return the company to profitability. Those 30,000 jobs that will be cut represent about 22% of General Motors' hourly workforce.
But the United Auto Workers union may make things difficult for GM. They of course have blasted the move as unfair:
Not surprisingly, the leadership of the United Auto Workers union blasted the move as unfair.
"We have said consistently that General Motors cannot shrink itself to prosperity. In fact, shrinking General Motors only exacerbates its problems," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and Vice President Richard Shoemaker said in a joint statement. "Unfortunately, it is workers, their families and our communities that are being forced to suffer because of the failures of others," they added.
The company's contract with the United Auto Workers union essentially prevents layoffs before it expires in September 2007, as the company needs to pay union members whether or not there is a job for them.
To a small degree, the UAW is right: you can't simply shrink a company into prosperity. But what you can do is manage a company into prosperity. And some of that management involves cutting excess capacity, which is a big, costly problem for GM right now. And given the fact that the UAW contract guarantees pay for these 30,000 employees through 2007, it looks like GM has its hands tied. GM will be facing many difficulties in adjusting their payroll and excess production capacity in order to keep the company thriving.
What is the UAW doing essentially? They are telling GM what to do. They are restricting GM's ability to manage itself as a company, and contract and expand as the market demands. Of course, UAW would never have any problem with GM expanding its workforce, because that would mean more union members, more union dues, and more clout for the union itself. But whenever GM tries to cut back, the UAW fights tooth and nail. The UAW serves as the greatest impediment to GM's attempts to become profitable again. Ironically, the longer it takes GM to turn a profit, the more financial hot water the company gets in, and the hourly union jobs currently in force become even more at risk.
In my opinion, GM (and all automakers in North America) should refuse to hire union members. The UAW doesn't make cars: GM does. The UAW doesn't make its own jobs: it takes money from those who have jobs, and the UAW itself has only a small payroll for the union administrators. But if it weren’t for automakers like GM, Ford, and others, the UAW wouldn't even be able to pay its own administrators or collect union dues. The UAW's entire existence is dependent upon auto giants like GM to employ its members. And yet here we have the UAW telling GM how to run itself. Maybe GM should tell the UAW how to operate, and tell it to shut the hell up.
What does a union like the UAW do? It fights for "decent pay," for one thing, which amounts to an artificial minimum wage within a niche industry (in this case, automotive jobs), and we all know how minimum wage situations hurt society and the economy. They also fight for as many jobs as possible, which restricts the employer’s ability to turn a profit, and in the long run only endangers the job security of everyone that works for the company. Indeed, it puts a greater risk on the mere existence of the company. And to top it off, the pay raises that the UAW fights for are either nullified or reduced in effectiveness for the union members because of the mandatory monthly union dues.
A union can do some good in a monopoly job market. But this is a capitalist economy, where over a dozen different automakers have huge operations in America, and the UAW is obsolete and superfluous. There is a literal automotive job market, where auto manufacturers naturally and necessarily have to compete with each other to offer the best jobs to attract the most capable workers. The unions don't need to exist to protect anybody's wages or job security. The nature of the free and competitive job market does that automatically.
But let's look at the heart of this particular issue: the 30,000 employees that will be laid off. It will be unfortunate for these 30,000 people to receive pink slips. But why artificially protect their jobs through coercion or restrictive, long-term contracts? These 30,000 people will have plenty of options once they get laid off. They can find other jobs at other automobile manufacturers. For example, if GM is laying them off due to lower sales, yet the car market is expanding (which it is), then that means that other companies like Toyota or Honda are increasing their sales. Those other companies will need to hire more people to produce the extra cars that are being sold. These 30,000 people can get jobs at the other companies (yes, Toyota and Honda have many large facilities operating locally in North America). Or the 30,000 people could get jobs in other fields. Or they could start their own car company!
If the UAW is right, and they think they know how to operate a car company better than the people who run GM, then why don’t they organize and start their own car company? It’s a free market and nobody is going to stop them from starting up a competing automobile company. They already have a 30,000 person strong workforce to tap into, after all. I already know what a UAW representative would answer to that question: they would say that the automaking industry is fierce and that they would be squeezed out of the market before they got a chance to sell a car. In other words, they would be admitting that they wouldn't be able to run the company efficiently and competitively enough to survive. So who the hell do they think they are telling GM how to sail its own ship?
The UAW has the attitude that their members have a right to a job. That’s bullshit. Nobody has a right to a job, ever. What all those union members do have a right to, is the freedom to seek a job and be evaluated fairly for the job based on their own merits. This concept is totally foreign to the UAW, and the message is lost in the minds of its members if it ever reaches them at all. They would rather have an organization represent them and coerce a company into keeping them on the payroll rather than face the risk of market forces and merit-based employment. What a bunch of pussies.
Unions do not belong in a capitalist society. They do not belong in a competitive job market. They definitely should not be telling their members' employer how to run itself. But GM is also partly to blame for this problem, because they enable the UAW's evil behavior by agreeing to hire its members and by signing restrictive contracts. GM should stand up for itself and refuse to hire any more union members or sign any more contracts with the UAW.
Looking at the situation from a bird’s eye view, we see a competitive job market and a variety of employers. Then we see a monopoly of sorts, and that monopoly is the UAW. Is it any surprise that the UAW is the entity in the puzzle that's screwing everything up? I hate unions and want them all to disappear, but for sheer smart-ass irony value, I'd love to see a competing union sprout up and drive the UAW out of business. Wouldn't that be something!
Anti-consumeurism usually flares up as the holiday season nears, but it's always in effect. The basic belief of anti-consumeurism originates in sacrifice religions like Christianity and Islam, which decry "the world" and prosperity as evil, and continued in communism, nazism, and other statist extremisms which decry rich people as exploiters and abundance as evil.
This belief is that consumption is an inherent evil, a product of unnecessary greed, which is bad for our moral fiber or religious fervour and can only be tempered by some form of economic collectivism or social engineering.
However, this belief, while being explicitly an attack against the most prosperous amongst us, is really part of the war against the poor. While all these collectivist belief systems preach equality, they promote radically assymetrical systems with strong ruling classes. Sacrifice religions have their clergical ruling classes, communism and nazism had their dictatorial ruling classes. Both stand to benefit the most from the suffering of the masses, in that they can channel that suffering for their own utilitarian ends. This has always been their mode of functioning and is still their mode of functioning (the perpetual wars in our modern democracies are oen example).
The masses are the most vulnerable to economic conditions and the availability of cheap products. Take health care, for example. Socialists in Canada always say that a capitalist health care system creates a "two-level" system that is bad for the poor. And yet that is what we already have in Canada today : friends of the state and celebrities get VIP treatment, and the rich can always go to the United States for treatment. The social elite can compensate for bad economic dynamics better than the masses can. Joe Sixpack need Wal-Mart, but Kevin Costner doesn't. Once again, this comes back to the notion I already discussed of capitalism being a boon for the masses more than for the ruling classes.
A dilemma related to anti-consumeurism is, where do we draw the line ? Obviously buying the food necessary for our survival is all right (although some extremists take it to the absurd and preach self-sufficiency), so how much is too much ? Well, the answer is obviously whatever their value system tells them is "enough". Like any other part of the cultural war, this is a battle of value systems, and the anti-consumeurists seek to make their value system law.
Is Christmas too commercial ? In fact, anyone who knows the history of Christmas also knows that consumeurism saved Christmas. To praise Christmas and then complain that Christmas is too commercial is a contradiction. To villify gift-giving is incredibly callous. But to the collectivist mind, force, not compassion, is the rule.
Anti-prosperity, anti-greed and anti-consumeurist beliefs stand in direct opposition to the expression of individual values in Western society. They know very well they can't persuade people to change their values, because they have nothing to offer, so they complain and try to pass laws. That's how all these anti-social types operate. Wal-Mart is a good example of this.
In fact, Wal-Mart proves nothing better than the fac that people are idiots, and follow Franc's Principle slavishly. People hate Wal-Mart because it drives inefficient and limited competitors our of the market, but they love Wal-Mart when it tries to drive its smaller, minimum wage competitors away by driving wages up. So once again, people hate the free market, people hate the poor (as main beneficiaries of low-priced competition), people hate the expression of values (through the capacity to consume more), and people love government control. No surprises there.
About Wal-Mart, I am looking forward to the movie "Why Wal*Mart Works and why that makes some people C-R-A-Z-Y!". Of course, the statists on Amazon are already complaining of propaganda. And we accuse them of propaganda. The more relevant question is : who's right ?
Friday, November 18, 2005
As individualists, we argue against collectivist belief systems of all kinds - whether religious, political, or otherwise. We get a lot of True Believers, be they Christian, Islamic, liberal, conservative, Greenie, nazi, New Age, or just plain crackpots, telling us that we're intolerent and close-minded (of course, they all want us to listen only to them, not other equally valid belief systems).
Isn't it hypocrite for individualists like us to attack people on the basis of their belief system ? After all, everyone is different. And for someone like me who advocates strict "live and let live" limits to advocate the persecution of other belief systems ?
I am an individualist, but not because I think all positions are equally valid. I don't have any problem with different lifestyles or even value systems, even if I think they are immoral and disgusting. People have the right to hurt themselves and consenting friends as much as they want, in the name of any destructive ideal they want. But when they start abusing children, and coopting the democratic system to impose their value system, that's when I stand and speak up, and where you should also.
For example, I've already explained why I consider Christianity one of our cultural enemies on Goosing the Antithesis. It is a belief system whose basic premises are a principled attack on Western civilization and modern values. In some countries, like the United States, this indicts all other belief systems because they are all tools of the Christian establishment. In other countries, we have to look at them on a case-by-case basis. But in all cases, belief systems only stifle individualism and individual rights - that is the only constant.
And brainwashing of children into any belief system represents child abuse. With more benign belief systems, such abuse is likewise benign - telling a child that liberals are right is not likely to give any trauma. Raising a child in a Marxist environment, for example, and brainwashing a child into mental submission and hatred for other value systems, causes lifelong mental trauma and disrupts moral development.
In the mental model of these belief systems, other people are not individual on their own rights, but representatives of their value system, and they must hate "the bourgeois", "the capitalist", "the exploiter", or in other cases, "the unbeliever", "the world", "the other races", "the materialist" (in either sense), "the liberal" or "the conservative", and generally anyone who dares to disagree with, or just doesn't fit in, the dogma of a given belief system.
For all these reasons, we can only "live and let live" until these belief systems have no more power to attack our lives and those of innocent children.
You also get the argument, usually by patriots, that wanting to impose a value system on everyone is "common good" and "unity", and that wanting people to live separately and isolate themselves is "selfish" and "worldly".
Well, my position is, of course, that selfishness and worldliness are morally superior. But more importantly, they have it all in reverse (as usual). It is the raving activist or preacher who is "selfish" and prey to "worldly" desires (at least in the meaning they give those words) by trying to subvert the entire society, indeed the basis for our civilization itself, to his perverted notions of morality. And it's the individualist who is promoting the "common good" and "unity" (once again, using their meanings) by stopping social warfare. The idea that we can forcibly unite everyone under one flag is sheer lunacy and a refusal to acknowledge the fact that we all have different value systems, and always have.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Francois has invited me to continue to do here something that I've already been doing from time to time at the Graveyard of the Gods, which is to post articles about what I see and think about political goings on. Many of these, but not necessarily all, will be specifically about Canadian politics.
So, without further ado, here's a snapshot of the political shenanigans going down in Ottawa so far this week.
The leaders of the opposition parties got together this past weekend to work out a strategy for bringing down the Liberal government without triggering an election campaign that would interfere with the Christimas holidays. Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party (socialist), would offer the opposition's cooperation in passing a budget update bill this week (being a money bill, it's a confidence vote) in exchange for the Prime Minister promising to dissolve parliament after the Christmas break, causing an election campaign to start in January with a general election taking place in February. If the Prime Minister didn't go for that, Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper would introduce a non-confidence motion in parliament at his next opportunity, which would probably be next week. The result of that would be an election campaign running through the holidays and the opposition would try to spin it so that Canadians would blame the government for the inconvenience.
Prime Minister Paul Martin's response to that was, essentially, that the proposal is irrational. He is saying that it's a binary question: either you do or don't have confidence in the government. He's saying that the opposition's proposal would mean that they do have confidence in the government but only for the next six weeks or so, after which time that confidence would magically disappear. I suppose there's something to that.
The reason that the opposition parties give for wanting the government to fall is the corruption within the Liberal party, as exposed in Justice Gomery's investigation and first report on the infamous sponsorship scandal.
Background on the scandal in general
Gomery's first report
However, the NDP members, in particular, are obviously not being honest in presenting Liberal corruption as their reason for wanting to bring down the government. They were fully prepared to continue to prop up the government as long as the Liberals passed legislation for certain items of social spending that are near and dear to the socialists' hearts. However, when the Prime Minister "no" to the NDP wish list, the government was suddenly too corrupt to continue. That's some funny kind of morality.
Justice Gomery's first report did clear Prime Minister Martin of involvement in and knowledge of the scandal but, as members of the Conservative Party have pointed out, the Liberal Party itself defrauded Canadian taxpayers of millions of dollars. The Conservatives have been fairly consistent in condemning the government, unlike the NDP.
So, anyway, it looks like an election campaign probably will be triggered soon. One of the funny things about it is that the Prime Minister had already promised to call an election within 30 days of Justice Gomery releasing his final report, which is due on February 1st.
However, the reason the opposition doesn't want to wait just a few weeks longer for an election call is that they don't want to give the government too much time to use the power of government in what they claim, with some justification, is partisan electioneering before an election is called.
A budget update was released today which could well be seen as a pre-election move on the part of the government. The update includes some significant personal income tax reductions and some spending which is likely to be popular (we are told that the government surplus was larger than expected). The Liberals are saying, "Merry Christmas, Canada. Here's some money." (Never mind that it was our own money to start with.)
Oh well. At least an early election call will kill a surveillance bill which the Liberals introduced today. It would give police and intelligence officials the legal ability to force telephone and internet companies hand over personal information about subscribers. They could get your name, address, phone number, cell phone number, IP address. The Liberals defend it, saying that it's merely an update of old wiretap laws. The death of this bill due to an early election would probably only be a temporary reprieve, though. (For more on the surveillance bill, go here.)