I’ve had good luck with converting Statists into non-Statists and I think I can write a little primer on it. Before I lay it out below, keep in mind this very important observation – Statists have been subjected to decades of brainwashing to believe what they do. They attend schools where the questions, “Are you intelligent” and “Can you regurgitate what I tell you” are synonym questions. Breaking this conditioning is a lot like getting someone hooked on smoking. At first they hate it, then they get used to it, and finally they like it. Because of this, you will not be able to stand on a street corner and free peoples’ minds en masse. You will have to work with people you are around a lot, and it will take a while.
Step One: Know thy adversary
The first, and most important, thing to realize is that Statists share the Hobbesian view of mankind. This is the view of mankind put forth by Hobbes in his book “Leviathan”. If you can, you should read the first half of this book. If not, read this. Read it, and understand that Hobbes was wrong. Hobbes makes the assumption that given a choice between peaceful trade and murderous theft, the average person prefers murder and theft. Hobbes was a Calvanist that lived the vast majority of his life in the English court, surrounded by murderers (generals and kings). Of course he felt this way – it was all he knew. He never lived as a common person, or even spent any time with a common person. He was writing about something for which he had no knowledge. However, his views are the very core of the Statist position.
Disproving Hobbes –
… is surprisingly easy. First, point out to your Statist company that no gov’t program forced you to meet up. Point out that you are not discussing screwing anyone over or violently taking over anything. Therefore, Hobbes was wrong. People get together because people enjoy the company of other people. Human beings are pack animals – we like to be social. Therefore, we do not need to be forced to get along – we do it naturally.
How mankind really is –
Two things describe humanity well – they are like electricity and they are like dogs. People are like dogs in that they like to form groups and in these groups there is usually some sort of pecking order that can change depending on various situations and so forth. People are like electricity in that they prefer the path of least resistance to get the things they want and to accomplish their goals. Sometimes these two things work in unison, and that is great, and sometimes they work against each other, and that sucks.
Rules vs. Rulers
“Aha!” Your Statist friends will say. “There is a reason to have a gov’t! Sometimes people hurt each other because that is easier than peacefully getting what they want. Thus, we need a gov’t to make hostility too costly to be used.”
At this point, you will plant the seed that will one day sprout freedom and make it so that their love of Statism dies.
RULES are what are important –
Yes, we need rules of engagement for dealing with each other. There are bad people out there. There always will be. We need a way of making it so that dealing with bad people is ok and not to be feared. This is why we have rules. We really only need two rules – The Non-Aggression Principle and Property Rights. Property Rights is a heavily loaded term. Please be sure that you are referring to where people own everything and there is no such thing as “publicly owned” anything.
RULERS are not important –
“But who will enforce those rules if you don’t have a gov’t to do it? Anyways, once someone begins to regularly enforce those rules, isn’t that a gov’t?” is the conclusion your friends will invariably jump to.
First of all – point out that the rules we have now are not enforced. How many bankers went to jail for the financial catastrophe? One – some Indian guy that nobody has ever heard of. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs? He’s free. John Corzine of Golman Sachs and MF Global? He’s free. The gov’t only selectively enforces laws, which means that it doesn’t enforce laws.
But to the question – with no gov’t, how do you have courts? Wouldn’t everyone just start shooting each other since there would be no peaceful way to resolve conflicts, such as what courts are purported to do? This is the core fear that keeps a Statist a Statist in the face of all the gov’t failure we see before us.
The answer that will eventually turn that light on:
We live in a new age with the internet. We already rate products online. We can rate people too. If we decide to go into a contract with someone and there are no courts, what do we do? I can’t predict the future, but here’s what I would do:
- Pick a friend to be my arbitrator.
- Other guy picks a friend to be his arbitrator.
- The arbitrators pick a third arbitrator as a tie-breaker.
- All three arbitrators sign off on the contract.
- In the event of a dispute, they hear the case from both myself and the person I contracted with.
- Arbitrators decide and then both I and the person I had a dispute with rate the arbitrators.
- I rate the person I had a dispute with. He rates me.
- Other people that decide to contract with me or him can see that we had a dispute, why we had it, what happened, who ruled over it, etc.
- Other people will decide whether to do business with either me or him depending on the results.
- Other people will choose their arbitrator depending on the ratings of each.
That’s how I would do it. No gov’t needed! At the very worst – it would be only as bad as what we have now.
“But what if the other guy doesn’t pay the fine or whatever the judgement was against him? How do you punish him without a gov’t?” Your Statist friends will rebuttal.
The fine affects only my pocketbook if I win and he pays. If he doesn’t pay, then the whole world can see what a douchebag this guy is. He will be ostracized. He will have a very hard time finding work. People won’t want to contract with him to do work for him. He’ll find it hard to be a member of society without people always whispering behind his back, asking if he’s currently trying to screw them over. He’ll have to work harder to rebuild his reputation. He’ll do that work too, because he’s a human being and wants to be part of the human “pack”.
Also note that a gov’t would not rise out of this. There would be literally millions of “courts”. Sure, some arbitrators would become preferred, but they can’t hear all cases. They’ll become very expensive as demand for them goes up. An arbitrator that gets bought off will have bad reviews and won’t get used much. In the beginning, things would be fairly rough (as with any new idea), but with use this process would smooth out. Certainly, today we don’t worry about ratings on products when the product is popular and there are hundreds or thousands of ratings.
As you go through this process, you will see impossible scenario arguments tossed at you that would never happen in the real world – denounce the scenario immediately and ask if they can come up with something more realistic. You will see blind adherance to Hobbes’ views, no matter how you show that people really do like each other and want to be around each other because we all get direct enjoyment out of each other’s company – keep disproving Hobbes. You will see blind terror creep into people’s eyes at the thought of no gov’t there to “save us all” from bad people – point out that the gov’t doesn’t save them currently. They will jump to one extreme of human behavior to another, but ardently avoid the vast majority – keep them focused on the majority and allow that the extremes will be dealt with at least as well as they are now with the court system mentioned above. The people you talk to will continually forget that you are assuming the Non-Aggression Principle is something that everyone will want and will follow. They will forget, because deep down, their knee-jerk assumption they will make of you is that you are all for murder, rape, fraud, theft, etc – this is a product of all that mental conditioning – reiterate the benefits of the Non-Aggression Principle. As that mental conditioning breaks down, they’ll slowly recognize that they can affect the social environment around themselves, and then they’ll stop being Statists.
Recently I’ve been thinking about the progression of social order. Hans Herman Hoppe has an interesting lecture called “Parasitism and the Origin of the State” that touches on why a social order rises and I’d like to blab about a piece of it.
The basic progression of society he puts forward is this:
None > Cannibalism > Slavery > Rudimentary Government > State
I think he’s inaccurate. I think the last two are just obfuscated versions of Slavery. The big difference is that with slavery you know exactly who owns you and you have no delusions about becoming free except by some massive turn of good fortune or something unusual happening. With Rudimentary Government (Feudalism) or a State, you are presented with the notion that you chose to have these rules and obligatory fealty put over you and that you have some control over who arbitrates them.
In short, you are subservient to the Feudal lord or the State and the only way of ending that condition is to run away – but anywhere you run you will just be in the same position under someone else. Because of this centralization of power, it is very attractive to be the number one arbitrator of rules (it’s good to be the king). It’s best to be the slave master and not the slave.
What is a contract?
A contract is an agreement between at least two people that both agree can be arbitrated by a third person of their choosing (they have to agree). The contract has an inception date, a conceivable ending date, and a means of being broken by either party through the arbitrator (such that both parties will have some sort of satisfaction after the break).
There are different contracts, but the most difficult to grasp are spatial contracts – contracts that have to do with space (house, land, mines, wells, etc).
One way to solve the difficulty of Spatial Contracts is to use slavery. When one person or entity (such as a state) owns everything (including the people), then it is really easy to just divide, confiscate and distribute these spatial concerns without objection. This is the basis of Social Justice, Marxism, Socialism, Eminent Domain, etc. This method is always beneficial to the state, and the slaves have no place to complain – though with a State it is possible to give the illusion of having an avenue of complaint by allowing the slaves to pick their master periodically and the ability of the State to give gifts to the slaves to make them happy.
The Social Contract Myth:
Proponents of the State contend that we are required to adhere to the tenants of the State because by living in the State we agree to follow the rules of the State. This is stupid. A slave who has no choice but to follow the orders of the master (or else be punished or killed) does not therefore agree to be a slave because he has followed the master’s orders. There must be a reasonable expectation that the arrangement can be ended at any time – but in the case of a State or Slavery there is no such expectation.
Furthermore, when a new child is born, that child has no choice but to become a ward of the State, and none of us have ever been given the option to cease being a ward of the State. There was never an agreed upon third party arbitrator of the contract. If we try to cease being a ward by not paying taxes or adhering to the laws we don’t like, then we get fined and go to jail – i.e. we are punished like the slaves that we are.
This indicates that there is no contract. We should be able to cease paying taxes in return for the expectation that we also will cease to receive anything provided by the State – while still living within the State. Furthermore, this “contract” extends beyond death (death tax). That means that there is no expiration date and so never could reasonably be expected to be a contract.
I’ll write something on solving Spatial Contracts without the use of a State soon, so stay tuned!
The new presidential elections will be getting going soon, and I think now is a good time to talk about types of political philosophies and how to identify them. Basically, everybody can be loosely lumped into two main categories – Maturist and Leftist/Statist. I am completely coining the term “Maturist” right here and now. You will not see it elsewhere.
Maturist – someone who understands bad things happen to good people, and take care to prepare for such things well in advance. They prefer to handle all problems themselves and are able to handle stress. They can turn calamity into fortune. They approach other people’s problems with logic and will help in meaningful ways that enable the other person. You know, acting maturely.
Leftist/Statist – a perpetual myopic child that cannot think more than a few weeks ahead and who will run to anyone in authority whenever something not exactly to their liking happens. They supplant their parents with government when they get older. Furthermore, they are arrogant and each considers him or her self to be the only person in the world with a conscious and by virtue of this, each feels that he/she must force the rest of the world through government to behave as he/she thinks they should. These are the people ruining our society.
Now, looking at these two it seems like it would be easy to categorize people into one or the other based on their political views, but it is not. There are various political views that are popular right now and different people can have more than one, as most people tend to pick the view they like the best for any given issue.
Let’s check out some distinctions:
Socialism – This is the view that private property does not exist. Everything is inherently owned by the state and so it is up to the state to make sure that the proper people get what they need to support society. An example of this is welfare, where the property of a productive person (i.e. his/her money) is taken away by the state and given to an unproductive person.
- People who have this view: Barrack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, most University professors, bureaucrats, most Democrats, George H Bush.
Fascism/Mercantilism – The idea that free enterprise is ok, as long as the government is the entity to pick the firms that engage in it. The reason these are paired is because the Mercantilists are the ones who put the Fascists in power and the Fascists ensure the Mercantilists are protected from competition. For example: The new debit card processing fee legislation. This will ensure that only the very large processors stay in business as it will obliterate their smaller competitors.
- People who have this view: Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Government Regulators, George W Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Gingrich, Karl Rove, Dick Morris, most Republicans, Mike Huckabee, Hannity
Libertarian/Individualist – This is a view of “leave me alone and I’ll take care of it”. Most people of this persuasion view government intervention as unnecessary, and at times, outright hostile. They believe in private property. These are people that feel it is ok for people to make bad decisions as long as the decisions do not negatively impact other people. For example – “End the Fed” by Ron Paul.
- People who have this view: Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Rand Paul
Where the problems are:
If people were principled and firmly set in their views regardless of situation, then we could decide how to categorize them more efficiently. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Take Mike Huckabee for example – he’s all about reducing taxes and he wants to cut “government waste”, because those sound good, but at the same time he is all about turning to government for regulations and controls to ensure what he feels are “the right people” are the only ones that can engage in business. In other words, he’s a fascist dressed in maturist clothing.
The easy way of identifying a Leftist/Statist: If someone thinks that having government force people to be “better” is a good idea, then that is a Leftist/Statist. If someone is against out of control spending, against wars in far off places, against ballooning health costs, but is ok with having the government tell you what you can put in your body, where you can live, or if/how you do business, then that is a Leftist/Statist. Do you see the problem? Half sounds like maturist ideas and the other half are not.
If even ONE Leftist/Statist idea is ok with that person, then that person is a Leftist/Statist.
Consider this when you are reviewing the potential candidates this coming election.
It’s been a while. I have been studying some advanced neo-classical economics! It’s terribly complicated, but there is one thing that has been nagging the corner of my mind about some of the assumptions that I just want to air:
One really big premise is that completely free markets that have perfect information and limitless consumers/producers that compete perfectly will achieve this magical equilibrium where exactly the right amount of the good is produced and purchased and there is no profit or loss anywhere.
This never happens in the real world, for various reasons, but a thought occurred to me that it actually CAN’T happen. This is because both consumers and producers wriggle extra gain out of a trade by purposefully fixing their respective prices too high or too low. For example:
Demand: Qd = 100 – 2P
Supply: Qs = 20 + 2P
The perfect equilibrium price would be 20. I’ve come to realize that the price will at best be around 20, but never 20.
Something will happen like a producer will put the item on sale, offer a coupon, a rebate, SOMETHING that snags just a little bit more of the market. Neo-Classicals will say that this is impossible because producers are price takers. This is an acceptable response, but only in the long run. In the short run they can disrupt all they like. Not to mention the super-subjective value judgments like “this place is convenient” or “I feel they treat their inventory better and I like that” and so on, which could create very real long-term preference in consumers for that producer in the market.
Conversely, consumers can do the same thing. They can demand and possibly receive a discount. This is short-term as well, and according to Neo-Classicals the short-term doesn’t exist in any meaningful sense.
However, I’d like to remind everybody about the concept of “nickle-and-diming”. Because this short-term finagling is going on constantly for virtually every transaction, no perfect equilibrium – no matter how perfect the setup and competition is – will ever be achieved.
I mention this because the Neo-Classicals see a market that SEEMS like it should reach equilibrium, yet it never does. They can’t see why it doesn’t, so they have created this concept of “market failure”, and then they propose that the government should step in and do something about it; and of course this never works as intended or at all really. In reality, it seems to me that the more room the producer and consumer have to haggle, the less likely it is they will approach equilibrium, but the more they will value the sale at the end of the experience. They will each REALLY feel like they came away with something they wanted. This is something economists tend to shy away from because it’s impossible to measure a feeling, and even if you could, no two people would be the same. You can measure past preference though! And we do that through watching profits, which Neo-Classicals view as a market failure.
Here’s something more – reducing profit to zero by reaching that magical equilibrium would distort the “value to me” that each consumer or producer has. The product becomes uninteresting and I suspect that this would actually provide incentive for consumers and producers to look at other, more interesting, products. This exit would throw this product into flux and that flux would make it interesting again, but not at equilibrium.
In conclusion – this notion of market failure is flawed since it is easy to see that equilibrium is quite impossible even under perfect conditions.
In this age of Nanny Stating, born again Christians, nutty Muslims and rabid Atheists, I had a recent realization about what is “charity”.
Firstly, I will define what charity is in the view of the above: Giving a good (including money) or service to someone that is deemed as “needy” by the person or group actually giving said good or service. In these groups’ view, you can be charitable by extension – so even if you aren’t giving the good or service directly to the recipient, because you caused a good or service to be given, you are still charitable. Because of this, people still get that little rush created from the goodwill towards men.
However, this is all wrong. Let me use an example:
You sell sandwiches and you have 10 to sell every day. You don’t like it, but you assume that at least 1 sandwich will be a 100% loss for some reason, and you’re ok with that. Now, during your day you come across a very hungry man that is desperately poor. You give him your 1 sandwich that you don’t mind losing and feel great for having been helpful. You have been charitable, right?
Well, no – you haven’t. To see why, we have to take the example to the extreme limits. Let’s continue with the example:
The next day, this man wins the lottery and is instantly a millionaire. Now, even though you knew you were going to lose the money for that 1 sandwich the other day, no matter how much you may want to deny it – you are tempted to be an indian giver (even if it’s for just a heartbeat). This is because you know he can afford it.
Let’s continue the example in the extreme: you have no problem with being an indian giver so you ask him to pay up for the sandwich. This means you were never being charitable at all. You were just willing to give the man a debt that you had very low expectations he would ever pay back.
Some might say, “I would never consider doing that!” Most people would never do violence on someone in the heat of the moment, but virtually everyone has considered it – and this is really no different. Whether you would act on it or not, you have projected a cost to him. You have put him in a subservient role, and this robs him of his dignity. You did this because there is a WAY outside chance that you could get full payment for that sandwich and deep down, you would rather strike a deal than just lose 100% of the cost of the sandwich.
Note that I never said that you wish ill on the poor man. You would rather he was not poor and that he could buy the sandwich from you. This general and natural good will towards your fellow human is what churches, governments and aid organizations use to beat you over the head to get donations out of you. They make you subservient to get your money, time, or knowledge – and then they go subjugate some welfare recipient, who doesn’t really want free stuff, but rather the ability to live like you do. We think ill of professional beggars because we know they are actively unwilling to engage in making a deal. They just want.
So what is real, true-blue, honest to God charity? Real Charity is the willingness on the part of the seller to make a deal with the buyer at a huge loss to enable the buyer. Take our example again – if instead of just putting the man in your debt, you instead struck a deal with him that sucks for you. Maybe he dances a jig or tells you a funny joke or draws a crappy picture for you in return for the sandwich. You still get the warm fuzzies because you have helped out an unfortunate man, and maybe you just learned a new joke, or you have a picture to show people, or you have a story about a man dancing a jig for a sandwich. Either way – you have each enriched the other in some fashion. The next day, when he wins the lottery, you do not have the urge to collect because you made a deal. He paid for his sandwich. Instead, you may have a feeling of “He can pay me for the next sandwich now.”
The poor man has all of his dignity still, because he doesn’t owe you anything. He made a deal with you, and the deal is done. You can not ask for money from him without him asking you for something else in return.