Pessimistic anarchism

I received email recently asking me to respond to an article in the Huffington Post, No Safe Harbor on Gulf Coast; Human Blood Tests Show Dangerous Levels of Toxic Exposure. Questioner’s English wasn’t very good, but the question he was trying to pose was how market anarchists like myself can oppose government action to mitigate disasters like the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and what we have to say about the charge that corporate money is suppressing news of the full toll of the disaster.

What I had to say to him about that follows, slightly edited and expanded. It’s as good an individual case as any to explain why my free-market anarchism is a result not of optimism about the perfectibility of markets but of profound pessimism about the limits of any sort of collective action by human beings.

It does not matter for purposes of answering your question whether or not I think this article is factually accurate, since the situation it describes (environmental disaster followed by insidious long-term health effects that those responsible may be using corrupt means to cover up) represents a possible sort of collective-action problem with which anti-statists have to deal.

Our key insight is a pessimistic one: this is the sort of situation which, though individuals and markets don’t handle it well, isn’t actually handled well by governments either. The fundamental mistake of statist thinking is to juxtapose the tragically, inevitably flawed response of individuals and markets to large collective-action problems like this one against the hypothetical perfection of idealized government action, without coping with the reality that government action is also tragically and inevitably flawed.

The implicit burden of the article, after all, is indignation that the government has been done too little and the wrong things. What the author fails to grasp (because his thinking is warped by the religion of state-worship) is that this sort of dysfunction is not a sporadic accidental failure that could be corrected by sufficiently virtuous thoughts and deeds; it is an essential failure, entirely predictable from the incentives operating on all the actors (including the actors within government).

His sort of fantasy thinking implicitly throws a burden of proof on anarchists to construct a perfect response to something like the Deepwater Horizon disaster in a stateless system, or else have their critique of statism dismissed as heartless and inadequate. But the correct analysis is to notice that we can only do what we can only do, and compare the rationally expectable effectiveness of flawed government action against the rationally expectable effectiveness of flawed individual and market action.

The second level of error, once you get this far, is to require that the market action achieve a better outcome without including all the continuing, institutional costs of state action in the accounting. So, for example, other parts of the continuing costs of accepting state action to solve this individual toxic-exposure problem in the Deep Horizon aftermath is that Americans will be robbed every April 15th of five in twelve parts of their income (on average), and be randomly killed in no-knock drug raids. And it’s no use protesting that these abuses are separable from the “good” parts of government as long as you’re also insisting that the prospect of market failures is not separable from the good behavior of markets!

Irrational anarchists believe that utopia is somehow achievable in a stateless system; they make the exact reciprocal error from statists, believing that all evil proceeds from government. Rational anarchists like myself know that stateless systems will have tragic failures too, but believe after analysis that they would have fewer and smaller ones.

If this seems doubtful to you, do not forget to include all the great genocides of the 20th century in the cost of statism. It was contemplating those that turned me into an anarchist – because that sort of eruption of fire and blood, too, is not accidental but essential given the logic of state collectivism.

460 thoughts on “Pessimistic anarchism

  1. How well put. The big problem, as I see it, in dealing with the ANARCHISM-VS-STATISM debate is that one side or the other tends to bring their *optimal* argument against the *realistic* argument of the other. Let’s keep the *realistic* on both sides for comparison and see where things fall out.

  2. The fundamental mistake of statist thinking is to juxtapose the tragically, inevitably flawed response of individuals and markets to large collective-action problems like this one against the hypothetical perfection of idealized government action, without coping with the reality that government action is also tragically and inevitably flawed.

    Your error is to compare the unknown response of individuals to the roughly estimable response of government. We know the government is rigging economic system to explode again, for example. There is no reason to think that this and worse won’t happen in a stateless system. Same goes for your genocides. You cannot establish empirically that things will be any better in a stateless system, only give hollow theories that are about as credible as bell curve social science.

  3. “Questioners’ English wasn’t very good” -> “Questioner’s English wasn’t very good”

    ESR says: Thanks. Typos will be the death of me yet…

  4. Americans will be robbed every April 15th of five in twelve parts of their income (on average)

    That’s just north of forty percent. Are you sure you’re not confusing marginal tax rate (which seems to be around forty percent for poor people as well as wealthy people who (ha) don’t weasel around their taxes) with total tax rate?

  5. If this seems doubtful to you, do not forget to include all the great genocides of the 20th century in the cost of statism. It was contemplating those that turned me into an anarchist – because that sort of eruption of fire and blood, too, is not accidental but essential given the logic of state collectivism.

    If you’re going to be fair about this, you should note that total violence has decreased over any timescale you care to mention. Even counting the great genocides of the twentieth century, people were less likely to die a violent death during the century that gave us totalitarianism than they were in the preceding century.

    I’m not saying this makes you wrong–it’s a matter of taste, I suppose–but if you’re going to charge “statism” with the change in violence over the last few centuries, you should mention that you prefer a lot of small-scale violence to fewer, larger-scale “eruption[s] of fire and blood”, even if the former adds up to a lot more death in total.

  6. Much of the harm stemming from “natural” disasters can be traced to ham-handed government efforts to deal with problems. And to seemingly unrelated government policies. Why was an oil rig drilling in thousands of feet of water? Because use of more easily accessible resources onshore was forbidden by the government. Why was there such a problem from Katrina? Because of incredibly corrupt and incompetent levee committees, the Louisiana state government, New Orleans city government and the federal bureaucracy, over decades. Huge amounts of tax money were wasted in these government efforts, which only served to give a false sense of security to those who were foolish enough not to take their own measures to protect themselves. Probably the fraudulent “protection” of the government cost more than the damage from the hurricane. And large companies are only branches of the government these days, strictly required by government arrogance to being just as corrupt and incompetent as the government. Without such government efforts, the average citizen would be safer, richer and, in consequence, more free.

  7. Let us compare the Bhopal and Seveso disasters. In both cases, a/immoral company executives were criminally negligent and irresponsible causing enormous suffering on the people living around the plants.

    Now, the aftermaths were handled completely different in India and Europe. But in both cases, the states made sure the causing entities were in big trouble. So much so that none such “accidents” have happened since. Compare this with “states” where there is little difference between state and industry, eg, the horrors in old and new Russia and the mining industry in South America. Here, states are not defending the people, and the people keep suffering. And in South America, they do have unregulated markets. The mining companies simply use force and money to prevent any interference from workers or anyone living around their operations.

    You use “State” as some kind of symbolic (diabolic), non-human entity. A more productive way is to look at Companies and States as organizations of people which are used to the benefit part of their membership. In many or most cases, the State is the only organization that will ultimately be able to defend an individual against other individuals and organizations, like companies, gangs, the mob etc. In general, MY country has been reasonably effective in protecting me against the likes of BP, Dow Chemical, and Hoffman-La Roche. That your country is unable or unwilling to do so is not the result of some fundamental law of nature. It follows more from the priorities and organization of the American people.

    There is little

  8. And it’s no use protesting that these abuses are separable from the “good” parts of government as long as you’re also insisting that the prospect of market failures is not separable from the good behavior of markets!

    Hogwash. This baldly asserts that the evils of no-knock drug raids etc. are inseparable from the “good” parts, that any government will inevitably take upon itself to commit evil in excess of what it prevents. One might as well point to Hans Reiser’s conviction for murdering his wife and say that Linux kills.

    The closest thing to true anarchies in the world today are Afghanistan and Somalia. It’s no use protesting that these hellholes are separable from the “good” parts of anarchism as long as you’re also insisting that abuse of power is not separable from the good behavior of governments. I don’t even know if true anarchism is possible. Somalia has warlords; Afghanistan has some tribal organization.

    A true “market failure” exists when transactions are not voluntarily entered into by all parties. (I did not consent to have my drinking water polluted by your feces.) Those must be addressed somehow. When people believe their person or property has been violated, they will seek redress. You claim that this can be done by private entities not called “government”, but I say that whatever entity gets to decide who has violated another’s rights and prescribe how the victim will be made whole is “government”.

    While it is wonderful when the parties to a controversy can mutually agree on an arbiter to judge their case (either a priori in preparing a contract, or after the controversy itself arises) there will always be situations under which such agreement cannot be reached. Whatever entity has the authority to judge such cases is the “government”.

    Jefferson said the best government is the one that governs least. I agree with him. I want a government that only has to deal with those cases where one party violates the person or property of another, and the parties themselves can’t agree on any other arbiter. Below that level of governance, those warlords will step in to become the “government”.

  9. >Are you sure you’re not confusing marginal tax rate (which seems to be around forty percent for poor people as well as wealthy people who (ha) don’t weasel around their taxes) with total tax rate?

    I think I slipped there, but in a different way than you’re suggesting. The total tax bite, counting local and state taxes and push effects on prices from corporation of taxes, was estimated five parts in twelve on average the last time I saw a study, but not all of that is extracted on April 15th.

    On the other hand, my figures are old. The tax bite is probably larger now.

  10. >> That your country is unable or unwilling to do so is not the result of some fundamental law of nature. It follows more from the priorities and organization of the American people.

    You cannot collectively blame the American people for not looking when it is happening, nor should we have to. The division of labor and specialization require people to focus on their area of expertise, not learn obsessively about what the hell congress is doing. If you know what the hell congress is doing and it is not your job, than you might lose out on the free market.

    I mean, why should I know everything from funding scientific research to foreign policies? Let some other guys worry about it and let me do what I am good at.

    Beside, the US state is probably less corrupt than other states. There are, you know, rules of law. Otherwise, the country wouldn’t prosper.

    >>You use “State” as some kind of symbolic (diabolic), non-human entity. A more productive way is to look at Companies and States as organizations of people which are used to the benefit part of their membership.

    The state use coercion and theft as means to achieve its end. It was a foul entity to begin with. You could try to rationalize taxation, but it’s still theft. If you agree means matter, than the state is already evil. At best, it is a necessary evil.

  11. Roger Phillips Says:
    > Your error is to compare the unknown response of individuals
    > to the roughly estimable response of government.

    That’s not an error. It’s a necessary prerequisite for change.

    Think about what you’re saying. At one time democracy was an untested idea. That doesn’t mean our predecessors should have refused to fix the obvious problems with monarchy. And democracy certainly turned out to be imperfect, but it was still a positive step in our evolution.

  12. grendelkhan – The cause of death in the preceding millenium or two was primarily natural (disease, malnutrition, starvation, earthquake, flood or fire) and was/is greatly reduced by scientific/technological advances (individuals/groups working together to solve real problems). Wars did occur but death on the battlefield was far less than those of natural causes. In contrast, the mayhem and death of the last century was not natural – quite to the contrary, it was the out of control State killing people (for ideological thus wholly unnatural causes) while science and technology continued to advance to reduce the natural cause mortality rate. In the last century, the ratio of natural death vs state sponsored narrowed significantly (natural down, State sponsored up). Let’s see how this century pans out. What with state sponsored fear mongering of global warming while the earth now cools – will the Statist accept blame for their systemic error or will they obfuscate and blame mother nature? I will continue stocking up on 130 grain 38′s thanks.

  13. > robbed every April 15th of five in twelve parts of their income (on average)

    Somewhat offtopic, but I’ve been thinking about taxation and the constantly-changing value of money.

    Imagine there are no taxes, and everybody in the world has $1,000. Now they pass a law saying everybody must spend $100 on something… bananas, for example. Other than the fact that a few banana-growers just hit the lottery, guaranteed by government fiat, has the situation really changed for the remaining 99% of the population?

    Now everybody has only $900. Prices for all the components of the cost of living should drop accordingly, because people are willing to pay less for the same things. So the $900 goes father, about as far as the original $1,000 would have.

    By this logic, tax rates are *irrelevant* to the economy as long as they are roughly equally fair (or equally unfair) to nearly everybody.

  14. Far be it from me to dispute that governments are just as incompetent as you claim they are – anyone who spends any time at all honestly looking at history will see that you’re right – but I do ahve to call you on this one:

    If this seems doubtful to you, do not forget to include all the great genocides of the 20th century in the cost of statism. It was contemplating those that turned me into an anarchist – because that sort of eruption of fire and blood, too, is not accidental but essential given the logic of state collectivism.

    You may well be right, but dropping this into your argument at the last moment without backing it up is a bit sloppier than I’ve come to expect.

  15. The big problem, as I see it, in dealing with the ANARCHISM-VS-STATISM debate is that one side or the other tends to bring their *optimal* argument against the *realistic* argument of the other. Let’s keep the *realistic* on both sides for comparison and see where things fall out.

    Indeed, and this is the only arena that any anarchist, or at least any anarchist arguing from consequentialism, should favor. The “optimal vs. optimal” playing field is actually tilted in statists’ favor: an “optimal” government can always choose to sit out any given problem and let the free market take care of it. In attempting to construct a utopia, the anarchist has strictly fewer tools at his disposal than the statist does.

  16. Looks to me like this fails to answer the question. How would a well-working anarcho-libertarian system deal with the situation? Should there be any kind of screening of projects when someone wants to drill an oil well?

    Why was an oil rig drilling in thousands of feet of water? Because use of more easily accessible resources onshore was forbidden by the government.

    This is pretty disingenuous. The oil wells in easily accessible places in the US are in decline and have been since the 19070s. The production was always going to move to deep waters sooner or later anyway, and the government has banned it on the East and West coasts. The Gulf was excluded from the ban under corporate pressure. I suspect that the ban will be lifted on the other coasts at some point, regardless of the current disaster.

  17. > 19070s

    Sorry. My crystal ball doesn’t see that far out. I meant 1970s.

  18. “The state use coercion and theft as means to achieve its end. It was a foul entity to begin with. You could try to rationalize taxation, but it’s still theft.”

    I’m sick to death of hearing this nonsense. Pack and move to a place where nobody taxes you or forces you to do anything against your precious will. I hear Sealand is a nice place in the summer.

    If everyone agrees that paying taxes is useful to advance a society’s goals, how is that theft? If I agree to pay a regular amount of money with the understanding that it will further the goals I, my friends, my people consider good, such as a decent education for children, the possibility not to die in the street or lose a house because we can’t afford private health care, etc. (yes, all contentious points for free-market fans, I know, but if you can trot old horses, so can I), how the hell is that theft? Because you’re the only grouch in your neighborhood who knows better than the poor sheeple who are being robbed blind?

    I recognise that the state doesn’t always do the things I would do with my money, and that sometimes it fucks up, even spectacularly. I can do many things to change that, including voting, calling my representative, or emigrating to a place where I feel better. I’ve recently moved country, in part because my government blows. So can you. It’s a free market for countries, you can pick and choose.

    And Eric, frankly, saying that statism and government leads to Hitler and Stalin fails to account for all the other countries who haven’t had murderous psychos as leaders in the latest century. Also, your point seems to be that if there’s someone skillful enough and with the resources to rally a great deal of people behind him, the best answer is ‘no state’. So, instead of random people suffering under one dictator, we have… random people suffering under one dictator, only there was no government for him to be voted to in the first place.

    This might be my stupidest post here yet. And still, I’m really not convinced of your points against government. You accuse ‘state religion worshipers’ of positing their best against anarchism’s normal, but you seem to be doing the same with your essay. You mention how low we could sink, but you have only a few datapoints of failed loons (in the end, they all are) against the best mankind has ever had.

  19. MikeH: grendelkhan – The cause of death in the preceding millenium or two was primarily natural (disease, malnutrition, starvation, earthquake, flood or fire) and was/is greatly reduced by scientific/technological advances (individuals/groups working together to solve real problems). Wars did occur but death on the battlefield was far less than those of natural causes. In contrast, the mayhem and death of the last century was not natural – quite to the contrary, it was the out of control State killing people (for ideological thus wholly unnatural causes) while science and technology continued to advance to reduce the natural cause mortality rate.

    Dear me! Clearly I’ve been wrong about this entirely, by comparing all causes of death from ancient times to today, unwittingly confusing natural and unnatural causes of death. I shall now proceed to take up the banner of libertarianism or anarchism or whatever and go take out a subscription to Reason!

    Oh, wait. No, if you’d taken the time to look into Pinker’s work, you’d see that he looked solely at violent death from murder, war, genocide, that sort of thing. The data gets sketchier and more inferential once you go back past the middle ages, but it’s quite solid over the last few centuries. Please do everyone a favor and read what’s actually written, not just what you’d like to hear.

    What with state sponsored fear mongering of global warming while the earth now cools – will the Statist accept blame for their systemic error or will they obfuscate and blame mother nature?

    The first half of the year recorded the highest global temperature on record. Perhaps you mean something different by “cooling”.

    I will continue stocking up on 130 grain 38’s thanks.

    I know I’ve said it before, but… Eric, you get the best commenters here.

  20. I will continue stocking up on 130 grain 38’s thanks.

    I prefer my anti-statist insurance to come in 170-grain, 0.4005-inch-diameter packages, but your sentiment is sound.

  21. Well this is interesting. Your argument squarely addresses my typical complaint about anarch-captialism, which is that very much like anarcho-communism, it asks too much of people to work in real life.

    So now you assert that your non-ideal solution is better than my non-ideal solution.

    If we’re going to look at real life examples, what about Afghanistan? Somalia? Rural Pakistan? Central America?

    These places all have very weak governments. Mostly of these ‘stateless’ areas wind up as clan based fiefdoms operated by small time thugs, a la pre-feudal Europe. I wouldn’t want to live in any of them.

    Meanwhile socialist Canada, where I live, is rated as one of the best places on the planet.

    I think anarchy is a pipe dream. You’re going to have government of one kind or another. Some armed thug is going to come around and demand his ‘spoonful of custard’. Either it will be overt taken-by-force, or it will be a democratic state where you have some say, decent protection for your basic freedoms, and if you want to, you can actually make a big difference in how your neighborhood runs.

    I pay my five parts in twelve happily. I think I get decent value for it. But generally speaking we’ve got good government up here. Your mileage may vary.

  22. (I think my link-heavy comment got lost; I’ll split it up.)

    esr: I think I slipped there, but in a different way than you’re suggesting. The total tax bite, counting local and state taxes and push effects on prices from corporation of taxes, was estomsated five parts in twelve on average the last time I saw a study, but not all of that is extracted on April 15th.

    Could you be more specific? That sort of analysis tends to (rather misleadingly) use marginal rates, not average rates.

    Also, how are “push effects on prices from corporation of taxes” quantified?

  23. (I’ve stripped out links; hopefully this will work a bit better.)

    esr: On the other hand, my figures are old. The tax bite is probably larger now.

    Really? How old? Are the figures larger due to the 2001 and 2003 cuts to the tax rates, or due to the new credits (imagine that linking to the IRS descriptions of the MWP and American Opportunity credits) that were implemented last year? Per the Tax Foundation (google “Summary of Latest Federal Individual Income Tax Data”), proportion of AGI (see Table 8) paid in income taxes steadily fell from 2001 to 2007 (the latest year for which data was available). Note that the 2001/2003 tax cuts have yet to expire.

    Payroll tax rates have been constant since 1990 (though the OASDI roof is raised annually). Is there some reason you think “the tax bite is probably larger” other than that people have been saying “socialism” a lot lately?

  24. I love it when NOAA (a State expert) gets quoted by a Statist to support a Statist theory. It’s so cozy and comfortable having all of these people nodding in agreement. Meanwhile, the science suggests otherwise and will be perhaps proven in the fullness of time. So, while I made an assertion which may be proven true in the future, NOAA attempts to state facts which ultimately end up false. My assertions regarding death in times past were wrong (partially) and I have learned something new – thanks! But what incentive and process does NOAA have to self correct its erroneous surface temperature records? Hmmmm…

  25. >Could you be more specific?

    Not without more research than I have time to do this minute. I can tell you that I actually picked a low figure in this response; the Heritage Foundation, which is not libertarian but conservative-statist, estimates that the total cost of government actually consumes 7/8ths of national income when all push effects and regulatory deadweight losses are counted.

    >Also, how are “push effects on prices from corporation of taxes” quantified?

    Aargh, I meant taxation of corporations. If I were doing this, I’d simply subtract the volume of corporate taxes paid from aggregate individual income. Corporations don’t eat that loss, they count it as overhead and pass it on in prices.

  26. >So, instead of random people suffering under one dictator, we have… random people suffering under one dictator, only there was no government for him to be voted to in the first place.

    But you can’t have a dictator without the machinery of state coercion and the habit of obedience. These are precisely the things I want to abolish.

    Totalitarianism follows naturally from the logic of placing abstractions like ‘society’ or ‘the public good’ above the liberty of the individual. That is why Hitler and Stalin are the natural endpoint of the premises of statism. What varies is only the amount of time it takes for those consequences to come home.

  27. esr, what exactly is the difference between a dictatorial state and an anarchist warlord? This is the fundamental problem I have with anarchy – you mandate the abolition of central power, but without central power you can’t enforce that abolition. So you have about a weekend of fun happy anarchist times, and then you’re back to 500 AD.

  28. States self-organize out of reaction to other states self organizing, or out of one party in the community getting significantly wealthier than the rest of it.

    The “Freidmanite Fairy Tale” of the Icelandic Commonwealth demonstrates this nicely.

    The Icelandic Commonwealth survived for just shy of 400 years as a self governing Al-thing. It survived this because A) Iceland was inconveniently located, B) even by the standards of Early Medieval Europe, there was virtually nothing there worth trading for, and C) there was a very carefully negotiated set of rights – that the Al-thing could NOT alter, that effectively rotated grazing privileges for sheep and goats.

    This carefully negotiated set of rights is critical; it does not reflect the Freidmanite Fairy Tale. It represents a group of people who are KNOWINGLY living on a lifeboat that they cannot leave (no forests for building deep sea ships), and which has resources that are visibly limited.

    And it took the Sturlingas one oath to the King of Norway and three ships loaded with trade goods that amounted to the King of Norway clearing out his attic to end it.

    The Sturlingas came in with more concentrated wealth than anyone had SEEN in Icelandic history prior to that time, and then proceeded to buy allies, get the al-thing to vote to disband itself, trigger a seventy year civil war, and end up being a fiefdom of Norway – and suffer a significant population decline.

    You can also see the qualitative difference between state run militaries and militias in current military actions. The Iraqi Army prior to us kicking the ant-heap over was MORE that sufficient to ensure that death squads and liberation movements didn’t roam the streets. The US military is effectively running up a video-game score in Afghanistan, though the media covering it doesn’t say so.

    In the eras where mercenary forces were viable, they tended to be comparably matched to militias; all indications are that it takes a state to make a viable military, and if you have a viable military and your neighbors have militias, your neighbors tend to grow centralized states and militaries in response.

    The extant track record of anarchism as a social organization is…unpleasant.

    My preferred solution (minachism) tends to fare as well as anarchism in its best cases; the problem is that minarchism eventually succumbs to mission creep and the creation of laws built on the best of intentions to help people…and that never ends well. And I don’t have an answer to that one, either, other than periodically purging the barnacles….and that only seems to happen with armed revolutions.

    In all of human history, I can think of only two revolutions that produced a better government than what they were revolting against. England’s Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution.

    (In one of my fictional settings, there’s a tricameral legislative body. One house is roughly analogous to the House of Representatives. One house is roughly analogous to the Senate. Bill reconciliation goes on between the two. All laws must have a clear statement of intent. The third house has very long terms, and their ONLY mandate is to remove laws from the books that are no longer being applied in concordance with their clear statement of intent.)

  29. What Alsadius said. What’s to stop a very rich man to buy his own army?

  30. So you have about a weekend of fun happy anarchist times, and then you’re back to 500 AD.

    Exactly what I tried to say, but somehow it’s been blocked twice.

  31. >esr, what exactly is the difference between a dictatorial state and an anarchist warlord?

    Hypothetical warlords in an anarchy would only be capable of much smaller-scale violence. It takes nation-state-sized coercive machinery to produce nation-state-sized massacres.

    If you remember that I became an anarchist through studying the Nazi accession to power in Weimar Germany, the implications of the above may become clearer. I don’t even think the average-case failure of statism is more tolerable than the average-case failure of market anarchism would be, but the worst-case failure of statism is orders of magnitude more horrible than the worst-case failure of market anarchy could be.

  32. “If this seems doubtful to you, do not forget to include all the great genocides of the 20th century in the cost of statism. It was contemplating those that turned me into an anarchist – because that sort of eruption of fire and blood, too, is not accidental but essential given the logic of state collectivism.”

    Uh…no. You should realize that “anarchy is unstable.” (I forgot the name of the SF story I cribbed that line from.) People naturally tend to form groups, and it is inevitable in ananarchistic society that some groups will form around charismatic, but power-mad and amoral people. The groups will grow quickly to take over society unless there is a still larger group of the whole (the state) to stop them. It has taken us humans many centuries to evolve a few governments that have managed to remain somewhat democratic and still keep themselves in power.

    You will never have anarchy. Someone will be in power. There will always be a state. We just have to try to make our state as good as it can be at any point in history. The whole thing is very much a work in progress.

  33. >What Alsadius said. What’s to stop a very rich man to buy his own army?

    What’s to stop it now? Geez, you talk as though states are never co-opted by the wealthy. This is exactly the kind of fantasy thinking I was railing against.

  34. >Payroll tax rates have been constant since 1990 (though the OASDI roof is raised annually).

    As you note, “(though the OASDI roof is raised annually)”. Also consider the effects of bracket creep and the AMT.

  35. (In one of my fictional settings, there’s a tricameral legislative body. One house is roughly analogous to the House of Representatives. One house is roughly analogous to the Senate. Bill reconciliation goes on between the two. All laws must have a clear statement of intent. The third house has very long terms, and their ONLY mandate is to remove laws from the books that are no longer being applied in concordance with their clear statement of intent.)

    Funny, I just finished reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, in which a character (I think it was Prof de la Paz) suggests a similar arrangement: a bicameral legislature where one house only passes new laws and the other house only repeals old bad laws.

  36. > What’s to stop it now? Geez, you talk as though states are never co-opted by the wealthy

    Their governments.

  37. >Uh…no. You should realize that “anarchy is unstable.”

    In times when monarchy was normal, the exact criticism was levied at theorists of democracy. Which alternative do you prefer? Either you’ve underestimated the ability of civil society to learn how to work new political arrangements, or democracy is unstable. Either helps my case.

  38. > the exact criticism was levied at theorist of democracy

    I can make perfectly valid criticisms to one thing that turn out not to be valid when applied to another thing. There’s a third option.

  39. >Their governments.

    Right, the goverrnment bought by the wealthy malefactor will stop the wealthy malefactor. Try again.

  40. > Right, the goverrnment bought by the wealthy malefactor will stop the wealthy malefactor. Try again.

    Yes, that sounded stupid. I’m amazed you even responded.

    I meant that in the particular case of buying yourself an army, a government is much more likely to come down on you like a ton of bricks, and in fact it usually already limits the weapons you can buy and their amount. We could discuss whether that’s a good or bad thing in general, but in the particular case, it seems to do good.

    You say “Hypothetical warlords in an anarchy would only be capable of much smaller-scale violence. It takes nation-state-sized coercive machinery to produce nation-state-sized massacres”. I’d say warlords are only limited by what they can buy in that scenario. What’s your explanation for that ‘smaller scale’ limit?

    “But you can’t have a dictator without the machinery of state coercion and the habit of obedience. These are precisely the things I want to abolish.”

    If the dictator establishes himself, over no previous government, what good did your abolition do?

  41. >If everyone agrees that paying taxes is useful to advance a society’s goals, how is that theft?

    If everybody willingly pay their taxes, not be with jail time, than it is no longer a coercive arrangement, no?

    The very fact is that the state can jail me if I choose not to pay taxes mean it’s basically extortion. Some even have concluded that taxation on productive work is a form of slavery.

  42. >I meant that in the particular case of buying yourself an army, a government is much more likely to come down on you like a ton of bricks, and in fact it usually already limits the weapons you can buy and their amount.

    Yes. That’s why you make a sock puppet out of the state and the state’s army instead. That way you get a bigger army and you don’t have to worry about legal blowback – you bought the enforcers.

    Anarchist warlords would have to operate at small scale because they can’t levy taxes. When they can levy taxes, you have a government. Please get the problem right.

  43. “Anarchist warlords would have to operate at small scale because they can’t levy taxes. When they can levy taxes, you have a government. Please get the problem right.”

    Perhaps I’m getting the scale wrong. What’s to stop Rupert Murdoch to do this kind of stuff? Or any other obscenely rich person? What’s to stop them from starting small, as you say, and conquer their way up?

  44. “The very fact is that the state can jail me if I choose not to pay taxes mean it’s basically extortion.”
    You don’t want to obey the rules of the society you’re in, but you enjoy the advantages. That sounds like theft too.

    “Some even have concluded that taxation on productive work is a form of slavery.”
    Some people on FoxNews routinely conclude that Obama is a communist muslim terrorist fascist. Doesn’t mean I have to believe it.

  45. > But you can’t have a dictator without the machinery of state coercion and the habit of obedience. These are precisely the things I want to abolish.

    Abolish how? A ring of three wishes? The state will fade away through the dialectic of history? The sudden emergence of us all as New Anarchist Men? We convince every human being on the planet to embrace anarchism, so that we can vote it in everywhere and no statists group together somewhere to build a state? It seems to me that government is a completely natural outgrowth of the way human beings live in cities. We never have cities without government. It seems to me that your pessimistic solution still requires a non-existent utopian precondition. It’s politically / humanly impossible.

    It is often said that communism would work well if humans were ants. Well, anarchism would work well if humans were bears. But humans are chimpanzees who invented government. We can’t do the anarchic Sioux tribe alpha male thing like chimpanzees do, and humans did until the Sumerians came along. We create governments every time we create cities, and periodically some warlord, like Attila or Genghiz will even unite a passel of tribes, with very little government, and produce massacres as well.

    OTOH, there is a well established political science theory called the Democratic Peace theory which states that, for a particular technical definition of Democracy including strong civil rights and broad voting, Democracies never fight Democracies, and Democracies never commit democide either.

    This is, BTW, completely true. They never do. There are no counter-examples.

    Yours,
    Tom

  46. >Perhaps I’m getting the scale wrong. What’s to stop Rupert Murdoch to do this kind of stuff?

    The same things that stop him now. Clue: it’s not government. It can’t be; your hypothesis depends on him being rich enough to buy one.

  47. > What’s to stop it now? Geez, you talk as though states are never co-opted by the wealthy. This is exactly the kind of fantasy thinking I was railing against.

    What’s to stop it now is that states are, generally speaking, functional enough to keep wealthy men safe and secure in their wealth. They have no reason to hire private armies, and they gain nothing by it.

    > Anarchist warlords would have to operate at small scale because they can’t levy taxes. When they can levy taxes, you have a government.

    You just defined anarchy out of existence.

  48. >Abolish how? A ring of three wishes?

    That’s a good question, but addressing it would broaden the discussion to unmanageability. In my post I addressed the ethical criteria for evaluating state action against the behavior of a market anarchy; let’s stick to that.

    >This is, BTW, completely true. They never do. There are no counter-examples.

    That’s only true because “Democratic Peace Theory” is actually a creation of definitional sophistry sustained by wishful thinking. Whenever someone points out a counterexample (say, the three wars between India and Pakistan) the theorists ignore it or adjust their definitions to exclude the example. See also No True Scotsman fallacy.

  49. esr: >> Anarchist warlords would have to operate at small scale because they can’t levy taxes. When they can levy taxes, you have a government.

    Alsadius: > You just defined anarchy out of existence.

    Maybe people are missing the point that, preferably, all citizens would be armed and ‘regulated,’ per the classical definition of the word. A large, well-armed and well-trained populace makes a wonderful deterrent against power-mongers.

  50. “The same things that stop him now. Clue: it’s not government. It can’t be; your hypothesis depends on him being rich enough to buy one.”

    That’s not my hypothesis at all. I’m only concerned with him buying an army, and being a good-enough sweet talker that he can convince others to follow him, if we lived in anarchy like you want.

  51. Roger Phillips Says:
    > You cannot establish empirically that things will be any better in a stateless system,

    This is not particularly a response to Roger, just a broad observation (and if it makes any difference, I am not an advocate of anarcho capitalism.)

    I have noticed that those who support the state claim that without the state things that require massive capital — like building roads, space ships or Manhattan projects — need the state and its powers of forcible taxation to be achievable. However, one of the most capital intensive activities any state conducts is war. Apparently, private entities are capable of that type of capital formation, even though they allegedly can’t build a canal without government help.

    It is interesting to note also, that despite the commitment of massive state resources, despite the clearly articulated policy goals, and despite one of the most profoundly evil campaign of action in history, the Nazis still did not achieve their Final Solution. I am not Jewish, in fact I am an atheist, but I am very happy that there are synagogues in Berlin.

    And to all who are Jewish: Rosh HaShannah, WiL’Shana Haba’a B’Yerushalayim.

  52. That’s not my hypothesis at all. I’m only concerned with him buying an army, and being a good-enough sweet talker that he can convince others to follow him, if we lived in anarchy like you want.

    Instead, we have rich sweet talkers like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry and George Soros buying control of governments.

    The right of the people to decide their future by controlling their government has been effectively emasculated by the rich left. My government no longer represents me, if it ever did.

  53. >>That’s not my hypothesis at all. I’m only concerned with him buying an army, and being a good-enough sweet talker that he can convince others to follow him, if we lived in anarchy like you want.

    Rich people need bigger security they are a bigger target. There’s nothing to stop assassination markets from forming in anarchism and there’s nothing to stop people from reporting how bad rich people are.

    Sure, they can have little wars and like that, but it’s quite expensive.

    You can get rich in free market or risk a lot of money to gain a monopoly advantage so you can make wads of cash.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if leaders of Mexican cartels are getting replaced/killed and cartels are getting toppled by one another all the time. However, I am surprised that the chief of police in some places got replaced 9 times after been shot in two week. It look like some humans are determined to make right in a world ruled by might.

    In any case, I don’t think rich people killing each other for ultra profit is going to be the default options for an anarchistic society. It will probably descend into one, but I don’t know the characteristic that allow such violent messes.

  54. > Hypothetical warlords in an anarchy would only be capable of much smaller-scale violence. It takes nation-state-sized coercive machinery to produce nation-state-sized massacres.

    I contend than in an anarchy we would all end up living under these bastards. That’s what we see in current stateless areas, and throughout history.

    I don’t see genocide as an inevitable consequence of statism. I agree that statism is a necessary condition, but I don’t think it is a sufficient one. I think we are making progress against our genocidal tendencies. But time will tell.

    So I’ll take the chance of a future large scale war over the certainty of living under a warlord.

  55. @Adriano -

    “jsk” got it exactly right. The thing that would stop R. Murdoch or Wm. Gates, or any other rich person from buying and army and creating a state, is that one brave, determined individual with a sniper rifle. BOOM, there goes your charismatic leader’s brains all over the plaza. If anyone else tries to take up the crown, lather, rinse and repeat. The presupposition that all rational anarchists make is that everyone is *rational*, and that we would each recognize our (probably mutual) self-interest in not letting a dictator get in our way.

    @esr -

    *However*, (without claiming to be any kind of expert on medieval Icelandic history), I think Ken Burnside also got it right. It would only take a small group of people who would reject their rational self-interest in favor of, oh, i dunno, a larger share of the spoils or a fancy title and some delegated authority, to create a small “government´´ that could (necessarily would?) overwhelm the much smaller scale organization of its neighbors. I’ve got an uneasy feeling (not yet rigorously proven) that “rational anarchy” is only a very locally optimum solution to the problem of regulating human behavior, and that other `nearby´ (in phase space) solutions are more stable.

  56. >>I contend than in an anarchy we would all end up living under these bastards. That’s what we see in current stateless areas, and throughout history.

    I suspect technologies play a role in determining what stateless society will look like. For example, if bitcoin become successful, the way anarchists and hackers like it, it will extremely hard to centralize money ever again. That reduce the power of central authorities and in some case warlord authority.

  57. >“jsk” got it exactly right.

    Who got it right?

    In any case, assassination markets are potentially a big ethical hazards, especially if people begins to target innocent rich people. There’s also the technological problem of organizing such an assassination market. You would need a ciphernet to do that.

    Although, that’s probably beginning to change with the introduction of viable cryptocurrency.

  58. (my link heavy submission also apparently got lost, so I prune and re-submit)

    esr> without coping with the reality that government action is also tragically and inevitably flawed

    You are missing the word “more” flawed. Heck make that “N factorial more” flawed.

    Coincidentally, I had just finished packing into one public post, the math of socialism, wealth, growth & decay.

    I think the key generative point you missed is that collective action is by definition always less optimized (debugged) than individual action, because one (or collective group’s) brain does not have enough eyeballs to contemplate and react to all the myriad of situations in the field. I think the common person could understand. Whereas, the theoretical point about propaganda of perfection, imo flies over the head of our politically correct culture.

  59. John D. Bell:
    > “jsk” got it exactly right. The thing that would stop R. Murdoch or Wm. Gates, or any other rich person
    > from buying and army and creating a state, is that one brave, determined individual with a sniper rifle.

    Noooot quite what I meant. Not implying proactive aggression, but merely the strong potential of a trained, organized and regulated militia to pop up anywhere for a common defense when a significant proportion of the populace is properly armed.

  60. @John Bell: so the answer is that if one person tries to conquer, I can blow his brains all over the patio, and do the same to the next, and to the next, etc., but if a group of people get together and try to form a dictatorship, it all falls apart?

    Anarchy sure sounds real reassuring.

  61. esr: [Could you be more specific?] Not without more research than I have time to do this minute. I can tell you that I actually picked a low figure in this response; the Heritage Foundation, which is not libertarian but conservative-statist, estimates that the total cost of government actually consumes 7/8ths of national income when all push effects and regulatory deadweight losses are counted.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong (though I’m not saying you’re right, either); it just raises some alarms when a whole bunch of parameters change, but the answer stays the same. Also, you can see the same seven-eighths claim from actual libertarians, if you’d like. (Libertarians who also think that gasoline should cost less than a dollar a gallon due to abiotic oil, but still, libertarians.)

    Aargh, I meant taxation of corporations. If I were doing this, I’d simply subtract the volume of corporate taxes paid from aggregate individual income. Corporations don’t eat that loss, they count it as overhead and pass it on in prices.

    Okay. According to this handy copy of Death and Taxes 2010 I have nearby, the volume of corporate income taxes is 11% of the volume of payroll and individual income taxes combined. Even if you assume that the incidence of corporate income taxes falls entirely on consumers (which is by no means certain), that’s about three percent of total personal income.

    As you note, “(though the OASDI roof is raised annually)”. Also consider the effects of bracket creep and the AMT.

    The OASDI roof rises along with the income tax brackets–”bracket creep” hasn’t been an issue since the indexing provisions of ERTA took effect in 1985. Is there a reason you don’t consider them to cancel each other out?

  62. Sean C. Says:
    >> Hypothetical warlords
    > I contend than in an anarchy we would all end up living under these bastards.

    A warlord is a government. Please stop claiming that anarchy must be worse than government simply because anarchy might eventually produce bad governments (warlords). If anarchy is unstable, that’s a separate issue from the question of whether an operating anarchy would be innately better or worse than an operating government.

    In a successful anarchy, the only valid reason for military units to form would be to prevent other military units from forming.

    For anarchy to work, the population would first have to be indoctrinated with that prime concept. After a successful indoctrination, the wannabe warlords would be stopped as soon as they tried to recruit their first soldier. The potential recruit would spit on the warlord saying, “what are you, a warmonger?!?”

  63. “Please stop claiming that anarchy must be worse than government simply because anarchy might eventually produce bad governments (warlords).”

    Right when you stop claiming that state inevitably produces mass genocide and tyrants.

  64. Adriano Says:
    > Right when you stop claiming that state inevitably produces mass genocide and tyrants.

    I’m right by definition, read it again.

    I’m NOT claiming (here) that anarchy has been proven to be possible. I’m only saying that if you want to prove that anarchy is impossible, you should do that instead of constantly whining about how if warlords overthrew an anarchy, that would suck.

  65. jsk: Maybe people are missing the point that, preferably, all citizens would be armed and ‘regulated,’ per the classical definition of the word. A large, well-armed and well-trained populace makes a wonderful deterrent against power-mongers.

    I’m skeptical of that; where government has become less powerful–i.e., Russia after the fall of Communism–you wind up with the Mafia stepping into its shoes. And yet the Mafia seems to have no particular problems staying in power, even though guns are plentifully available. Mafia leaders aren’t regularly assassinated by freedom-minded citizens; the large, well-armed populace appears not to make a wonderful deterrent against power-mongers. Sean C. is correct; the rise of the Mafia constitutes hard evidence which wishful thinking does nothing to disprove.

    Kiba: Although, that’s probably beginning to change with the introduction of viable cryptocurrency.

    “Viable cryptocurrency” necessarily enables easy money laundering. The principles have been perfectly well-understood for close to three decades now; Tim May was declaring “crypto anarchy” in 1992. The problem is that true cryptocurrency will be suppressed by governments as long as they have the power to do so, likely by attacking the intersection of real money and the cryptosystem. Is there anything other than vague hope which leads you to believe that this is “beginning to change”?

  66. >Is there a reason you don’t consider them to cancel each other out?

    Yes, I was thinking specifically of the increasing number of middle-income earners hit with AMT because of bracket creep.

  67. “I’m only saying that if you want to prove that anarchy is impossible, you should do that”

    I’m saying that I very much doubt that you can have any kind of anarchy without it devolving to the mess I describe. You say that a well-armed, well-trained, freedom-loving populace is enough to avert this scenario. It starts sounding like marxist utopians “we’ll teach everyone, and everyone will be happy, and we’ll all share”.

  68. > if you want to prove that anarchy is impossible, you should do that

    Very well. I contend by historical example, that all stateless regions wind up as small fiefdoms run by warlords. To bow the pedantic, I contend that governments are inevitable, and large states are preferable to small ones.

    > For anarchy to work, the population would first have to be indoctrinated with that prime concept.

    Good luck with that.

    We’re back to my typical problem with anarchy. In order to have a nice one, you have to ask too much of people.

    Eric’s argument that small warlords are preferable to large states is more interesting.

  69. >A large, well-armed and well-trained populace makes a wonderful deterrent against power-mongers.

    “A land where everybody is armed and nobody has the authority to surrender – its a militarists’ nightmare.”

    I thought from Smith’s novel “The Probability Broach”, but I can’t find it in my copy.

  70. ESR said:
    “Hypothetical warlords in an anarchy would only be capable of much smaller-scale violence. It takes nation-state-sized coercive machinery to produce nation-state-sized massacres.”

    Just to throw in a few historical examples of war-lords:
    - Visigoth invasion into Roman territory
    - Vandals and assorted Germanic tribes towards Iberia and Northern Africa
    - Attila and his Huns
    - The Magyar (Hungarian tribes)
    - The Arab conquests
    - The plight of the Northern Chinese after the Jurchens moved in (~1200)
    - The Mongolian invasions
    - The “migration” of the Turks into Anatolia
    - William the Conquerer
    - The Vikings
    - The Crusades

    And I would advice you to have a look at the state of New Guinea before the Indonesians and Australians pacified the island. It pays to have a look at historical population statistics.

    It is very instructive to see how deep population numbers can plumbed after the war-lords move in. The Roman Empire had 120 million inhabitants. It took around 500 years (and more) to get back to these population numbers.

    If you want to see how “State” versus “Anarchy” affects the life expectancy of people in an area you can not beat the population statistics of the Chinese empire over 3 millennia. Compare the population statistics of Strong emperors against to those in “interesting” times between dynasties. You get a good feeling why the Chinese worship stability and hierarchy. The worst periods were not the Waring States, but the total anarchy of the warlords.

  71. >Eric’s argument that small warlords are preferable to large states is more interesting.

    And goes to the core of the difference between optimistic and pessimistic anarchism. The optimistic anarchist says “people can change in such a way that my ideal anarchy is possible”. The pessimistic anarchist is concerned with reducing the cost of worst-case failure.

  72. If I can be so bold as to rephrase ESR’s argument, it seems to be that if we have to pick between two systems that don’t work very well, then we might as well pick the system that is at the least able to turn corruption into the law of the land, the indomitable machine that forces evil on everyone.

    Now, if you can prove conclusively that there is no way to make a stable anarchy, then that argument would be very interesting to me. But that’s a completely separate question from whether or not a badly functioning anarchy would be worse than a badly functioning government. I contend that a functioning anarchy could not function as badly as a typical government — because any organized service would have competing services that you could switch to if dissatisfied.

    That makes it very desirable for us to search for ways to make an anarchy function and remain stable.

  73. “If you want to see how “State” versus “Anarchy” affects the life expectancy of people in an area you can not beat the population statistics of the Chinese empire over 3 millennia.”

    True, but you’re not talking about Anarchy, you’re talking about chaos.

  74. > The pessimistic anarchist is concerned with reducing the cost of worst-case failure.

    Right. This is the part that made me think. Maybe it’s cognitive dissonance, but I’ll take the chance on worst case failure over the certainty of steady state misery as outlined in the examples above.

    Especially since I think we’re making progress on averting worst case failure. But we’ve only been out of the nuclear armageddon woods for what, 25 years? So it’s too soon to say.

  75. If I can be so bold as to rephrase ESR’s argument, it seems to be that if we have to pick between two systems that don’t work very well, then we might as well pick the system that is at the least able to turn corruption into the law of the land, the indomitable machine that forces evil on everyone.

    My contention is that one of these systems has been tested and still is, the other consists purely on theories and assumptions (some are reasonable assumptions, I’ll grant you that). It reminds me of the classic programmer’s dilemma: rewrite from scratch, or refactor?

  76. Winter Says:
    > The worst periods were not the Waring States, but the total anarchy of the warlords.

    This is confusing the multiple definitions of the word “anarchy”. If there were operating warlords in the region, then there was no successful system of anarchy in operation.

    This is why I prefer the phrase “peaceful anarchy” when discussing non-government.

    And again, I’m not claiming here that anarchy can be successful. Maybe it will inevitably always break down — into government. But if it could work, it’s worth trying for because it would be a far superior organizational system, allowing free choice all services.

  77. Adriano Says:
    > one of these systems has been tested and still is, the other consists purely on theories and assumptions

    That was once true of democracy, but democracy was worth trying repeatedly, even though some democracies failed (Cuba, for example).

  78. >Just to throw in a few historical examples of war-lords:

    Of all those you list, the Mongolian invasions were the only one to produce casualty figures in any way comparable to a modern war – admittedly, the Jurchen invasion of China might also be an exception, I’d have to do some research. If you think the Mongols or Jurchens didn’t have a state system at the time of their most serious depredations, you need to do the research; both groups began as nomad raiders but didn’t stay that way.

    (The fall of the Roman Empire isn’t an exception, as it turns out; the barbarians moved into a vacuum created by the great plagues of the second and third centuries CE. Considering the number of people involved there was very little actual fighting.)

    But even if I grant these and normalize for population, all you’ll actually prove is that the high end of the bell curve for “warlord” violence reaches into the territory of the low end of state-managed wars.

  79. >If I can be so bold as to rephrase ESR’s argument, it seems to be that if we have to pick between two systems that don’t work very well, then we might as well pick the system that is at the least able to turn corruption into the law of the land, the indomitable machine that forces evil on everyone.

    I consider that an acceptable paraphrase.

  80. Sean C. Says:
    > Very well. I contend by historical example, that all stateless regions wind up as small fiefdoms run by warlords.

    Agreed. Peaceful anarchy has a tough row to hoe. For it to work, at a minimum, the masses would have to be indoctrinated to believe that governments always take more than they give back.

    Not a hard sell, put that way. Who here feels confident that the typical politician gives more back to society than they get? But the hard part is overcoming all the irrational fears associated with the word “anarchy”. People’s natural instincts to organize in groups have been corrupted into something more powerful and more dangerous than the small, tribal structures that originally worked fine.

  81. If a group of people live within a system of Anarchy and another group of people live within a system of State, which group of people will be most able to live in freedom, security and happiness? Or, is it better to ask – what extreme must either of these two systems reach before corruption, coercion and violence becomes detrimental to those living within it and to such an extent that the system itself becomes threatened by its own members? Both systems organize people around processes, incentives and economics. Which system is most likely to metastasize around power rather than freedom of individual? Are both systems inherently incapable (over time) of maintaining the greatest level of freedom for the individual? Perhaps the State and Anarchy represent two poles within which humanity has attempted to find a balance (for thousands of years). But as population inexorably increases, anarchy finds its home within the interstitial space of the State. The black (anarchist) and white (State permitted) markets organically grow and the freedom to express and live while left alone (by your next door neighbor or the State) grows within it. Meanwhile, the State attempts to convince its members that it has the individuals best interest at heart but in practice is further and further distanced from the proletarian. Yet at the same time, the freedom to exist as one wishes only increases due to the sheer enormity of the task that the State faces. Of course, the State has a role to play in establishing the rules of the game for justice. But it is the anarchy within the apparatus of the State itself that ensures that the people never become total ideologues that blindly can see no evil in the State. After all, the State is itself a system following its own anarchic principles with human agents and free actors each with their own incentives – both good and ill. (Excuse my ramble, I am sure someone will knock it down flat, which I welcome since I wish to learn).

  82. > Not a hard sell, put that way. But the hard part is overcoming all the irrational fears associated with the word “anarchy”. People’s natural instincts to organize in groups have been corrupted into something more powerful and more dangerous than the small, tribal structures that originally worked fine.

    It is a hard sell. Those instincts weren’t corrupted by some outside force. Governments are an emergent property of our tribal instincts. Lots of people really, really want someone else to tell them what to do and when to do it. Lots of people fear thinking and independence, even more than death. That’s just the curse of our flawed monkey brains.

    So give up the pipe dream dude. Until Eliezer Yudkowsky gives us some juju to re-wire our brains, we’re stuck with governments.

    Oh, and those tribal structures that ‘originally worked fine’? That’s the myth of the Noble Savage. See earlier comments about New Guinea. Some of them worked fine. Others were roving bands of murderous psychopaths.

  83. “the masses would have to be indoctrinated to believe that governments always take more than they give back.
    Not a hard sell, put that way. Who here feels confident that the typical politician gives more back to society than they get?”

    You’re conflating two different things, and also being unscientific. Politicians aren’t the state, and asking that question is heavily biased. I got roads, public schools and health care thanks to my government. You might say that the free market would have provided them too, but the fact is, someone in government did.

  84. > we might as well pick the system that is at the least able to turn corruption into the law of the land

    Warlords turn corruption into the law of the land. And nasty criminal Mafia thug corruption. I’ll take NYPD style corruption over that any day of the week.

  85. “Lots of people really, really want someone else to tell them what to do and when to do it.”

    They also want someone else to deal with problems and tough decisions. Perhaps this explains some of the psychopathy of the state.

  86. > That’s only true because “Democratic Peace Theory” is actually a creation of definitional sophistry sustained by wishful thinking. Whenever someone points out a counterexample (say, the three wars between India and Pakistan) the theorists ignore it or adjust their definitions to exclude the example. See also No True Scotsman fallacy.

    I don’t think that’s true, Eric. Pakistan has never had a functioning democracy. Democratic Peace Theorists are trying to use definitions to work around several problems. One is governments which try to look democratic, but aren’t – such as the U.S.S.R. Another is governments which are trying to be democratic, but haven’t broadened the benefits to enough people – such as America before women were allowed to vote. Another is governments which are trying to be democratic but aren’t stable enough to stay that way, such as Pakistan.

    It’s also true that the Democratic Peace Theory does not handle one of your favorite cases – Nazi Germany. Any democracy can go to war with any other democracy under the democratic Peace Theory, provided one of them stops being a democracy first.

    Yours,
    Tom

  87. Adriano Says:
    > You’re conflating two different things, and also being unscientific.

    Yes, intentionally, in that paragraph.

    That you criticize me for getting the exact result I intended tells me you missed the point. I wasn’t talking about science, I was talking about how to persuade the masses.

  88. Sean C. Says:
    > Until Eliezer Yudkowsky gives us some juju to re-wire our brains, we’re stuck with governments.

    But we already have some ability to rewire our brains, through language.

  89. > But we already have some ability to rewire our brains, through language.
    Sadly, it seems only some of us do. And most of us who think we do, aren’t nearly as good at it as we think we are. These biases are baked in deep.

    “The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self awareness” –(the character) Annie Savoy in the film Bull Durham

    “Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!” — George Carlin

  90. “But even if I grant these and normalize for population, all you’ll actually prove is that the high end of the bell curve for “warlord” violence reaches into the territory of the low end of state-managed wars.”

    Which was my point. The difference between “State” and “Warlord” is one of scale and durability. The difference between a Mongol horde and a medieval European country is quite small. And all three contenders to the English throne, William Harald and Harold qualified as warlords by current standards. And all were willing to depopulate complete earldoms. William was actually able to do so. The fact that the scale of the killings was kept in bounds can be attributed to the lack of people to kill due to the absence of a stable state. And climate change and epidemics etc. (cause and effect are convoluted here)

    We could qualify the 100 years war in France, or the 30 years war in Germany as wars between states. But the differences with warlords fighting it out is nothing but cosmetic, The whole concept of “State” was just being coined again.

    I think the difference between State and Warlord is mostly caused by the fact that States are much, much more productive than roaming tribes. With productivity comes strength and the ability to be more efficient at murdering. It is the fact that states make their people so productive and rich that allows them to be so destructive when they derail.

    What separates the war-lords of history from the great states is that the states killed the people they “produced” themselves. The warlords killed the people that (still) lived despite the warlords. Like the brigands that roamed and looted Europe from the 10th century on.

    To summarize, yes, states can kill more people than warlords. But that is to a large extend because states produce more people and wealth to begin with. Given the lack of wealthy and populous anarchies as controls, this will probably be an unprovable hypothesis. And where to draw the line? Where the Mongols and Huns not simply nomadic states?

  91. Fortunately, I don’t have to persuasively rewire the millions of brains making up the masses.

    I only have to convince the elite intelligentsia — you — that the only thing standing between a huge, corrupt, violent government and a peaceful small (or even non-existent) government is this simple idea:

    Governments waste. Governments steal. Governments kill. Governments can’t be fixed. We can solve our own problems.

    If everybody here and in a handful of other smarty-pants groups around the world realize that nearly every law creates more problems than it solves, then the word “government” will become a curse word, and next the masses will inevitably follow. All you have to do is stop looking to politicians to fix everything. It’s that simple.

  92. I think that most of the disagreement in State v Anarchy is the definitions of those words. I am pretty certain that I, as an anarchist, define them differently than pretty much anyone who supports the state. There’s a “baby with the bathwater” issue, in that when a statist hears “get rid of the state” they hear “get rid of everything that the state does” and vice versa. But anarchy isn’t about getting rid of the state in its entirety, only about getting rid of the coercive (read: violent) parts of the state. I am of the belief that an organisation very similar to modern democratic governments would be created by a truly free market.

    For example, if a government stopped using violence to enforce its laws against non-violent crimes but instead punished those crimes with some form of loss of citizenship privileges then the government becomes a voluntary organisation that qualifies as anarchic no matter how else it’s organised or what it does. I realise that there is some wiggle room on the definitions of “violence” and “non-violent crimes” but for the most part it’s pretty clear, e.g. not paying taxes isn’t violent, so non-payment would mean loss of the privileges of being a citizen such as driving on roads, use of government owned service and facilities, police protection, appeals to courts, etc.

  93. > and next the masses will inevitably follow

    Now where have I heard that before?

    Anyhow your assertion is blatantly self contradictory. If the masses are looking to the ‘elite intelligentsia’ to tell them what anarchy is and how to live, that sounds like a government to me!

  94. > To summarize, yes, states can kill more people than warlords. But that is to a large extend because states produce more people and wealth to begin with. Given the lack of wealthy and populous anarchies as controls, this will probably be an unprovable hypothesis.

    Now this is very interesting. It implies that pessimistic anarchism achieves its goals by lowering the standard of living for everyone. Still sure about that tradeoff Eric?

  95. >I don’t think that’s true, Eric. Pakistan has never had a functioning democracy.

    That’s where the definitional sophistry begins, with weasel-wording about what constitutes “functioning”. What you interpret as an attempt to work around problems, I see as an determined effort to redefine terms until all the awkward counterexamples go away and the theory becomes vacuous.

  96. > If the masses are looking to the ‘elite intelligentsia’ to tell them what anarchy is and how to live, that sounds like a government to me!

    Nope. A government coerces people. I’m not asking you to coerce anyone. But thanks for the nice display of cognitive dissonance after you read my chant.

  97. >Oh, and those tribal structures that ‘originally worked fine’? That’s the myth of the Noble Savage. See earlier comments about New Guinea. Some of them worked fine. Others were roving bands of murderous psychopaths.

    This is certainly true. Idealizing tribalism is one of the mistakes romantic, optimistic anarchists make and I do not.

  98. > Others were roving bands of murderous psychopaths.

    Which only strengthens my point that as a species we need to learn to organize in healthy ways. And we can, too, but only after half of the smartest people stop irrationally arguing that improvement past democracy is impossible.

    ESR says: Yep. People like that always remind me of 17th-century monarchists insisting that democracy would inevitably become the basest sort of mob rule.

  99. >Still sure about that tradeoff Eric?

    Reasonably. To suppose that states produce more wealth and people is to confuse lots of different possible reasons for that growth., most of which have nothing to do with political organization.

  100. >> If the masses are looking to the ‘elite intelligentsia’ to tell them what anarchy is and how to live, that sounds like a government to me!

    > Nope. A government coerces people. I’m not asking you to coerce anyone. But thanks for the nice display of cognitive dissonance after you read my chant.

    You want to end state coercion, state corruption and government by having the masses listen to the intelligentsia to know what to do. Yes, that’s sensible, that’s never worked badly before. We’ve never had an intelligentsia with an idealistic message communicating to the masses and then all going sour. This time it will work, for sure!

    And I’m not arguing that improvement past democracy is impossible. I’m saying that I don’t think this particular proposed improvement would work.

  101. “People like that always remind me of 17th-century monarchists insisting that democracy would inevitably become the basest sort of mob rule.”

    When you’re arguing that state will inevitably lead to genocide, you don’t sound that different, you know.

  102. > What you interpret as an attempt to work around problems, I see as an determined effort to redefine terms until all the awkward counterexamples go away and the theory becomes vacuous.

    Those processes look alike, don’t they? But the definition for democracy they come up with does turn out to be an attractive and useful definition. For example, a democracy that never manages to let the opposition party take power isn’t much of a democracy, is it?

    R.J. Rummel has a more general theory: My own research and a detailed assessment of over a dozen other studies substantiate that the more democratic a nation, the less severe its wars.

    Yours,
    Tom

  103. People like that always remind me of 17th-century monarchists insisting that democracy would inevitably become the basest sort of mob rule.

    They appear to have been right about that. A democracy can only exist until someone persuades a majority of the voters to steal from the minority. Once that happens, it’s doomed.

  104. >R.J. Rummel has a more general theory: My own research and a detailed assessment of over a dozen other studies substantiate that the more democratic a nation, the less severe its wars.

    That is a weaker claim than “democracies never make war on each other”, and I think it is probably true.

  105. >When you’re arguing that state will inevitably lead to genocide, you don’t sound that different, you know.

    That’s not quite my claim. The process can be thwarted if state authority collapses for other reasons before the totalitarian end-state is reached – by revolution, say. But, on the other hand, I have always before me something the 16th-century monarchists never did – the example of Nazi Germany, which was a constitutional republic in the heart of the modern west that voted Hitler into power knowing what he was going to do.

    Not a really surprising result, after all – because once you’ve accepted the primacy of “society” or “the Volk” over the individual, what other destination but the gulags can you have? I’m as haunted by the shadows of Treblinka and Dachau and Belsen-Bergen as any Jew. But what they say to me is: this is the logical end towards which state collectivism tends. Anarchism is my “Never again!”

  106. >They appear to have been right about that.

    Not quite. Democracy is unstable, all right, but in ways more subtle than they imagined. They anticipated a sort of perpetual Jacquerie or Hobbesian war of all against all, and were wrong; most people, most of the time, can make sound and peaceful choices in a civil society. What they failed to foresee is the emergence of a parasitic political class more rapacious than their own kings and aristocrats had ever been.

  107. It is interesting to note also, that despite the commitment of massive state resources, despite the clearly articulated policy goals, and despite one of the most profoundly evil campaign of action in history, the Nazis still did not achieve their Final Solution. I am not Jewish, in fact I am an atheist, but I am very happy that there are synagogues in Berlin.

    The Axis campaign failed because of opposing state action.

    That’s not an error. It’s a necessary prerequisite for change.

    Think about what you’re saying. At one time democracy was an untested idea. That doesn’t mean our predecessors should have refused to fix the obvious problems with monarchy. And democracy certainly turned out to be imperfect, but it was still a positive step in our evolution.

    If you are going to put forth a comparative argument then it is an error. Furthermore the world started off stateless, and it led to states anywhere there was any kind of developed society. Anarchism has no credibility.

  108. Eric, have you read ‘Survival in Auschwitz‘? It, among other things, gives a chillingly lucid account of the society that formed inside the lager. You might be interested.

    As for “once you’ve accepted the primacy of “society” or “the Volk” over the individual, what other destination but the gulags can you have?”, I’ll have to repeat that I’m not convinced at all that this was due to democracy, or that this is the inevitable state that a democracy leads to. You are taking a nation overwhelmed by debt, humiliated in war, stripped of its conquests, accepting a scapegoat, and saying it’s the inevitable doom of any state. I don’t think so.

  109. As much as I tend to lean towards anarchocapitalism these days, one thing seems clear to me: eliminate the government and you’ll have a power vacuum which someone will try to fill. Looking at the recent histories of many of the former European colonies — Fiji, the Seychelles, Comoros, the Solomon Islands — when their strong European governments stepped out, military coups, warlords and petty dictators overthrew the weaker native governments that were left and the stability of the island societies were greatly upset. Perhaps another example a little closer to home is the Philippines, which is still constantly under threat from communist and Islamist rebels seeking to overthrow the government or at least divide the country.

  110. Morgan, the Philippines is an interesting example. I’ll grant that anarchy, minarchy, or whatever might be unstable in an environment that includes proponents of sharia law (indeed, sharia law arose in a low-state environment in the first place, as a way to extract maximum resources by imposing state even where none previously existed; cf. today’s Afghanistan, still stateless enough for sharia to still appeal to many residents). If there were even a semblance of anarchy, though, how likely is it that events in the far-flung southern Muslim islands would be directed by bureaucrats in Luzon? Without military intervention from the national level, some islands would likely be sharia paradises, some would be pirates’ dens, and some would be mini-states with a mix of agriculture, fishing, corruption, and religious heterogeneity quite similar to what they have today. Those unfortunate enough to live in the former though they desired the latter would have to vote with their feet, although I’m pretty sure the overall level of military conflict would be lower. That suggests a hypothesis: in societies organized according to anarchic principles, many people will have to move in order to live comfortably.

  111. > >R.J. Rummel has a more general theory: My own research and a detailed assessment of over a dozen other studies substantiate that the more democratic a nation, the less severe its wars.

    > That is a weaker claim than “democracies never make war on each other”, and I think it is probably true.

    I’m not sure it’s really weaker, since it is also more general, but it’s a very useful finding. It means that any moves a government makes towards more democracy will result in less death via war. It also means Tom Friedman is a Death Eater. Go democracy! Boo Friedman!

    Yours,
    Tom

  112. >I’ll grant that anarchy, minarchy, or whatever might be unstable in an environment that includes proponents of sharia law

    OTOH, shari’a doesn’t seem to be tops on Somali anarchists’ lists of worries. That’s despite the presence of an active Islamic militant faction, the Shahab. It’s not easy to get accurate information about what’s going on in Somalia, but one aspect of that system that might be worth studying is why, in a nominally Muslim country, shari’a hasn’t been able to displace the native customary law.

  113. >It also means Tom Friedman is a Death Eater.

    Well, yes. This isn’t news. It would be much less disturbing if Friedman’s disdain for democracy as practiced by flyover-country American proles and his sneaking admiration for socialist tyrannies that can Get Things Done weren’t so widely shared by the ~liberal~ elite.

  114. I think too many instances of the word *n*rch*st triggers the spam filter. Here’s what I was trying to say:

    Somali *n*rch*sts? What Somali *n*rch*sts? Let’s not confuse tribalists with *n*rch*sts. There are lots of tribal structures in the world. The Sioux tribes seem to have a set of tribal traditions which were alot more *n*rch*st than the Somali tribes and Afghan tribes, which emphasize a lot of capital crimes (like forswearing Islam). In Germanic tribes, they had capital crimes too, like messing with the sacred trees.

    We may have anarchy in Somalia. I’m not sure we have any *n*rch*sts.

    Yours,
    Tom

  115. John D. Bell said: “I’ve got an uneasy feeling (not yet rigorously proven) that “rational anarchy” is only a very locally optimum solution to the problem of regulating human behavior, and that other `nearby´ (in phase space) solutions are more stable.”

    That in a nutshell is why I call myself a little-L libertarian. I broadly agree with the theories esr is espousing here but am somewhat pessimistic about the ability in the real world for them to sustain themselves across even a single lifetime. The ideal-solution-that-could-occur-for-real (as opposed to fanciful utopias) looks somewhat similar to the early US, IMHO, with a government dedicated to freedom and the system set up to mostly deadlock, and a bunch of relatively educated people solving their own problems. (Though by “educated” we probably mean something less like “knows a lot of stuff” and more “has the confidence and self-sufficiency that Heinlein espoused” in one of those rotating quotes at the top; by this standard going to college today is likely to leave you profoundly anti-educated.) I have no solution to the problem of the system degenerating into what it has now. I’m not sure there is one. I see no compelling evidence that a steady-state (across centuries and millenia) free society of humans can exist. Indeed, there seems to be a very predictable pattern across history of people becoming wealthy, and their descendants inevitably failing to understand what brought them the wealth in the first place, making decisions against a mental backdrop of the inevitability of their continuing wealth and success, and ultimately managing to squander it.

    On the other hand, the practical implications of that belief are fairly minimal since the time of dominance of “humanity” is coming to an end in at most another couple of centuries anyhow. In this case I’m not necessarily invoking radical Singulatarian visions of the future, simply observing that all of our arguments and discussions assume a certain homogeneity of humanity that even without a full “Transcendence” simply isn’t going to hold true for much longer. Somebody, somewhere is going to do something to humanity (if not AIs or whatever) that will throw every political model we have out the window, like Huxley’s Brave New World (mandatory drugs) or genegineering a radically more intelligent population or creating a large population of more-literally-sheeple or something.

    (There is one possible escape from the scenario in the first paragraph, which is that high technology eventually allows ever-smaller communities of people to be self-sufficient, and I mean truly, utterly self-sufficient, closed-system-but-for-incoming-solar-energy, and through the diversity of small groups at least some of them retain the “correct” economic system. This will probably necessitate wide-spread space travel so that these societies can physically escape from the inevitable large powers trying to harness and capture them, or at least make the benefits of such capturing less than the cost, and, well, now I’m getting so far out we can’t really know what we’re talking about.)

  116. “Either you’ve underestimated the ability of civil society to learn how to work new political arrangements, or democracy is unstable.”

    No. Both the U.K. And the U.S. have been democratic for centuries. They’ve done it by using their democratic systems to continuously work out new political arrangements. That keeps democracy stable.

    I know that there are plenty out there that will point out all sorts of shortcomings in the democratic countries of the world. There always are those that are convinced that everything is going to hell in the proverbial handbasket. It’s not true. Over my lifetime I have watched American democracy improve considerably, and I’m sure that the same is true of Britain, Canada, France, Australia……there are too many to list. Do you see a trend?

    People who plump for anarchy are like those who try to talk up Socialism/Communism. Their excuse is always, “True Socialism has never been tried.” Yes is has, many times. Every time it turns out bad. Anarchy gets tried every time a government fails. It gets replaced by something else. Always.

    For those who prefer just to work towards commercial anarchy – complete freedom for business – we Americans had that in the 19th century. It was terrible, and led directly to needed reforms. Our ancestors were not stupid. They got rid of laissez-faire for good reasons.

  117. > OTOH, shari’a doesn’t seem to be tops on Somali anarchists’ lists of worries. That’s despite the presence of an active Islamic militant
    > faction, the Shahab. It’s not easy to get accurate information about what’s going on in Somalia, but one aspect of that system that might
    > be worth studying is why, in a nominally Muslim country, shari’a hasn’t been able to displace the native customary law.

    Maybe religion is just a pose, and its associated practices to be discarded when inconvenient? Perhaps the Shahab is able to tax/extort its neighbors without chopping off hands? That is speculation of course, and I agree that this is a question worthy of investigation.

    By “native customary law”, do you mean whatever the local clan chieftain/gangster boss decides? If Somalia has traditional legal practices, what sources attest to their existence, how were they maintained traditionally, and how are they maintained now?

  118. “Abolish how? A ring of three wishes? The state will fade away through the dialectic of history? The sudden emergence of us all as New Anarchist Men? We convince every human being on the planet to embrace anarchism, so that we can vote it in everywhere and no statists group together somewhere to build a state?”

    I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and as Kiba touched upon, it seems that a technological tipping point is required to enable the practicability of anarchism.

    But that’s not really accurate. Such a tipping point would create a new paradigm of human relations, likely synthesizing essential characteristics of radically egalitarian and individualist political philosophies.

  119. Eric wrote:

    That’s not quite my claim. The process can be thwarted if state authority collapses for other reasons before the totalitarian end-state is reached – by revolution, say. But, on the other hand, I have always before me something the 16th-century monarchists never did – the example of Nazi Germany, which was a constitutional republic in the heart of the modern west that voted Hitler into power knowing what he was going to do.

    This, it turns out, is not true. Hitler was never elected. He was appointed by the President of the German Republic to the post of Chancellor (effectively, Head of the Cabinet; sort of Rahm Emmanuel’s job, and the President’s direct representative in the Riechtstag).

    The President and the Prime Minister were of different parties. They also despised each other. The President wouldn’t appoint someone from the PM’s party to the Chancellorship, because he’d get log-rolled and none of his objectives would be met. The Prime Minister would orchestrate it that the confirmation hearings of anyone the President would appoint would turn into flaming shit flinging parties.

    So, they needed someone who had a political party seated, but not one that was a major player. As whomever got appointed would give up their seat, they had to get someone who was affiliated with the political party but wasn’t seated (none of the small power brokering parties would want to run the risk of a special election.)

    This lead them to Hitler. Who, as a convicted felon (Beer Hall Putsch of ’23) could NOT run for elected office, but could be appointed by Presidential order. Plus, the NSDAP was a small German Glory party that was deemed to be well on the way to implosion.

    They first offered him the job in the fall of ’32. He turned it down – he didn’t want to be the lapdog of the Prime Minister. They went through four Chancellors in five months. They offered him the job again, and he accepted. He was the fourth choice on the list, and the third choice didn’t get the job because he was out hunting that day.

    It was thought that Hitler’s Chancellorship would put the institutional thuggery of the NSDAP on public enough display that the party would implode, and having done so, would be less of an obstruction vote in trying to get any kind of policy passed that would help the economic mess. It was also thought that Hitler, being unable to run for election, could be managed – the President could always fire him, after he’d served as a cautionary example.

    The NSDAP sat for one election after Hitler’s appointment to Chancellor. They lost 70% of their seats. They went from being large enough to be a power broker bloc to being nothing worth mentioning.

    There were also widespread accusations of election result rigging, and outright thuggery by NSDAP partisans at polling places.

    Most of the politicians voted out, from all parties, called for street protests. These, coupled with the horrific state of the German economy at the time, turned into riots, then lynchings. Hitler used the Army to bring peace, order and stability…and then shot a bunch of politicians (including a significant number of NSDAP politicians). After a period of just-shy-of-civil-war, he named himself Fuhrer (Head of state and head of government) after the President resigned, and never held an election again.

    A lot of Hitler’s economic policies were amazingly popular, and seemed very effective – largely in contrast to what has been going on before. (He basically finished the abolishment of aristocratic privileges and monopolies, rooted out a number of truly corrupt politicians and businesses, and then repudiated the Versailles debt. This caused less uproar that it might otherwise have, because the German currency had been inflated to cover that debt anyway.)

    Hitler was really a low probability event. To get a feel, look at Taylor’s Thirty Days To Power, available on Amazon. You’d be amazed at how unlikely it was that Hitler came to power.

    Even Stalin’s rise in ’22-24 was anything but a shoe-in. (If Trotsky had won, Lenin’s New Economic Policy might well have blown the cloak of lies off of the disaster of communism in the late 1920s.) And Stalin got installed largely by biding his time and waiting for the founder of the movement to die, while making sure he controlled the levers on a hydraulic monopoly. (Had ’23 been a better harvest, it’s entirely possible that Stalin would’ve had to break more openly with the members of his cabal, and the Soviet Union would’ve gone through an internecine set of civil wars.)

    So, history lessons aside:

    I’ve got roughly 6,000 years of history, covering just about every society with writing, backing up my claim that power vacuums lead to dictators and oligarchists.

    I’ve got election returns that show that even in the US, presidential voter turnout is barely over 50%.

    Both cases stem from the fact that most people do NOT want to be bothered governing themselves. They will cheerfully delegate it to someone, and once it’s delegated, that someone will accumulate power.

    What evidence have you got that this *won’t* happen?

  120. And while we’re on this one:

    Noooot quite what I meant. Not implying proactive aggression, but merely the strong potential of a trained, organized and regulated militia to pop up anywhere for a common defense when a significant proportion of the populace is properly armed.

    Militias, American mythology notwithstanding, have generally fared about as well as the Taliban does against the US Army when faced by a real army.

    A Militia never wins militarily. It wins by betting that the chaos it engenders will aggravate the invaders faster than it burns out its own wellspring of goodwill among the people it’s ostensibly fighting for.

    The vast majority of the field grade and general grade military talent in the US during the American Civil War was on the Confederate side. Leading a bunch of militias. The Union strategically kicked their ass in three ways.

    First, by carving the Confederacy into two parts.
    Second, by mechanizing agriculture; by halving the number of people who needed to work on a farm.
    Third, by acting as a unified command, fighting largely over Confederate objectives, against Confederate forces that were largely local militias that didn’t coordinate that well.

    The Confederacy needed an incredibly fast victory to have any chance of winning. It speaks VOLUMES about the disparity between the Union and Confederacy in terms of military talent that the Confederacy still had some hopes of ‘winning’ as late as Gettysburg.

    So, care to play “Don’t Let Facts Get In The Way Of My Mythology Again?”

  121. Adam put it very well. “A stateless society could NEVER stop the Deepwater Horizon blowout like the government did! Um, never mind….”

    The problem is that the state, by its very nature, is inevitably the executive committee of one ruling class or another. It’s the Iron Law of Oligarchy. The state will be run for the benefit of insiders who have an advantage in attention, information, interest and agenda control. It is simply not amenable to being controlled by a majority, as such. So despite all the legislation, all the regulatory agencies, all the regulations on paper, in practice BP did pretty much whatever the hell it wanted and got it rubber stamped by a regulatory agency.

    OTOH, I think a stateless society with all sorts of ad hoc local organizations and voluntary associations would raise transaction costs through the roof for an operation like BP. Instead of contending with one regulatory body that it could buy off, it would be contending with a near infinite number of groups like (say) fishermen’s associations declaring common fishing rights based on homestead claims, and appealing to free juries for relief.

    Same thing with the logging and mining companies, big ranchers, etc. There wouldn’t be a government to preempt ownership of vacant land and then dole enormous tracts of it as feudal grants. Even if only a smattering of independent homesteaders were spread out over the tracts in question, it would require the big boys to develop them piecemeal and work around the little guys, or pay enormous sums to buy out everybody down to the most cantankerous holdout.

    It’s analogous to invasion by a foreign power. The transaction costs of conquering a territorial state with one government to accept surrender from are a hell of a lot lower than conquering ten thousand communities one by one.

  122. >Hitler was never elected

    Check your facts. The Nazis won two elections: one relatively normal one in early 1933, and a special plebiscite in 1934. The Nazi Party was so widely understood to be Hitler’s personal vehicle that both constituted votes for Hitler.

    In the first election, held a few months after Hitler was appointed Reichskänzler, the Nazis achieved a plurality result of 44%. In the special plebsicite of 1935 they won 85% of the vote with a huge turnout. The German people knew what Hitler was about, but they legitimized him in the first election and confirmed his authority in the second.

    In fact this was the worst possible outcome for your thesis. The Nazis gained a plurality in the 1933 election while Hitler was in office as dictator but had not yet had time to fully seize the machinery of state. And to the extent the 1934 plebiscite was rigged, it merely confirms my pessimism about the fragility of democracy against a determined predator – what good is constitutional democracy when the votes that are supposedly the final check on the system are so easily coerced or stolen?

  123. Eric, why are you hostile to the Democratic Peace Theory? Yes, you can point to counterexamples. No, they aren’t very good counterexamples, because they’re edgy. For example, the US Civil War, except that the south was established to be able to own people. And the requirements of the Democratic part are really Libertarian, not Democratic. It would be much more descriptive to call it the “Libertarian Peace Theory”.

  124. LS: no anarchist is proposing chaos. All anarchists want a structure; just not a hierarchical one.

    There is no such thing as complete freedom for business. Businesses are always regulated by customers. Your theory starts from an incorrect assumption and rapidly goes off into the weeds.

    Jess: There’s a book written by a Dutch expat lawyer on Somalian traditional law (Xeer).

    Tom DeGisi: anarchism will come about slowly. Nelson’s Principle of Conservatism: “Good things happen slowly, and bad things happen quickly.” The manner in which it will appear is that you will have two parties of roughly equal power, and another party with practically no, but not zero power. This party will side with one of the two powerful parties, but only if they get a little freedom. Iterate over five centures, and you arrive at 21st century America.

    Eric: one more point about the Democractic Peace Theory: it uses a strict definition. But this definition is not chosen randomly to fit the past wars. It’s a reasonable definition, including a wide franchise (not limited to just one gender), including freedom of religion, and other freedoms pulled directly from the BoR. The definition functions as a pointer to peace. Yes, you can have a mostly libertarian society which will be mostly free of wars with other libertopias but not completely. In order to have no wars, you have to follow the pointer and stay within the space it delimits.

  125. Tom DeGisi: anarchism will come about slowly. Nelson’s Principle of Conservatism: “Good things happen slowly, and bad things happen quickly.” The manner in which it will appear is that you will have two parties of roughly equal power, and another party with practically no, but not zero power. This party will side with one of the two powerful parties, but only if they get a little freedom. Iterate over five centures, and you arrive at 21st century America.

    Eric: one more point about the Democractic Peace Theory: it uses a strict definition. But this definition is not chosen randomly to fit the past wars. It’s a reasonable definition, including a wide franchise (not limited to just one gender), including freedom of religion, and other freedoms pulled directly from the BoR. The definition functions as a pointer to peace. Yes, you can have a mostly libertarian society which will be mostly free of wars with other libertopias but not completely. In order to have no wars, you have to follow the pointer and stay within the space it delimits.

  126. LS: no anarchist is proposing chaos. All anarchists want a structure; just not a hierarchical one. You’re right that an absence of structure is not sustainable.

    There is no such thing as complete freedom for business. Businesses are always regulated by customers. Your theory starts from an incorrect assumption and rapidly goes off into the weeds.

  127. ESR wrote:
    “The process can be thwarted if state authority collapses for other reasons before the totalitarian end-state is reached – by revolution, say. But, on the other hand, I have always before me something the 16th-century monarchists never did – the example of Nazi Germany, which was a constitutional republic in the heart of the modern west that voted Hitler into power knowing what he was going to do. ”

    I would like you all to look somewhat closer to the canonical examples of genocidal states. There are three 20th century icons: Germany, the Soviet Union, and China. These were not “typical” states. In fact, all three were weak and traumatized states.

    All three were (re-) constructed quite recently. Germany had only be a political entity for 50 years, the Soviet Union consisted of a patchwork of conquered states (Stalin was Georgian), and China had fallen apart 50 years before. All three were devastated by a world war, WWI for the Europeans, WWII for China. All three had experienced a civil war, a “minor” one in Germany and major ones in the Soviet Union and China. And all three had completely collapsed economically. In short, these were “States” on the brink of collapse and seriously threatened from the outside.

    It is very bad “theory” to take these three as the iconic examples for the “State” in general.

    On the contrary. In most cases mass killings outside of interstate war is caused by a lack of state power. The genocide on the native inhabitants in the Americas was almost completely “market driven”. States were at best sympathetic to it. Native inhabitants had their best chances in Canada, which had the strongest state structure.

    The mass killings in the Indian sub-continent in the 1950′s were the result of civil wars that accompanied the breakup of the former UK colony. India and Bangla Desh both have functional state power over their territories and are doing reasonably fine (for such poor countries). Pakistan has become a failed state as the internal conflicts have prevented the State to become the sole armed power in much of the country.

    The ethnic cleansings of the 1990′s in Yugoslavia followed the collapse of the state, and were not part of national policy.

    On the other hand, almost all states are able to fend off mass killings. The US has not seen state driven internal mass murders even though it experienced one of the bloodiest civil wars. Japan emerged as a rich country after a devastating war. Italy has always been a weak state since its inception in the 1880′s. Still it did not commit genocide on massive scales during the fascist regime during WWII. France has seen a bloody civil war (the French Revolution) and was devastated by three wars in succession with the Germans. It survived rather well. When the French did commit mass murder, it was in North Africa where the State was very weak. Most of the killings in North Africa were perpetrated by semi-autonomous occupational forces. The UK was never involved in active genocide, although the starvation of the Irish and Bengals could be seen as an attempt of passive genocide. Again, the victims were non-nationals who were left to die with popular support at home.

    In short, the iconic examples of genocidal “bad states” were all states on the brink of collapse. When states are involved in mass murders, it almost always involves non-nationals in attempts to drive them off their land.

    This might also be an explanation why “anti-statism” is only flourishing in the most stable state of all, the USA. The Americans have not seen foreign invaders and civil war in more than a century. USians might be the only people in the world that feel safe and protected enough to want to abolish the state. In all of the rest of the world the people have a much more livid memory of what it means to have no functioning government of your own.

  128. >Eric, why are you hostile to the Democratic Peace Theory?

    Because I’m repelled by sloppy, wishful thinking.

  129. @ esr:
    It’s “Reichskanzler”, no need for an “ä” here :)

    ESR says: Damn. Too many years since I read Shirer and my German is nonexistent…thanks..

  130. “In this case I’m not necessarily invoking radical Singulatarian visions of the future, simply observing that all of our arguments and discussions assume a certain homogeneity of humanity that even without a full “Transcendence” simply isn’t going to hold true for much longer. ”

    Well put; this is precisely what I have in mind.

    I don’t have a Democratic Peace Theory but a Cognitive Egalitarianism Peace Theory. There will be peace when one can, e.g. pop a pill and be intellectually self-sufficient. The definition of “Democratic” in this theory is so stringent as to be rather irrelevant in the type of world we find ourselves in. I think that type of “Democracy” becomes rather unlikely after mean IQ of a country falls below 90 or so.

  131. The discussion of taxes here reminds me of SF ‘utopia’ in Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson (link to Baen Free Library), where the titular state tries to have (low) taxes without overhead of apparatus for gathering and ensuring taxation (IRS), by checking if taxes are paid if one is to perform state-related function (like being jury).

    Very nice novel, by the way. Eric, you might like it.

  132. “All three had experienced a civil war, a “minor” one in Germany and major ones in the Soviet Union and China. And all three had completely collapsed economically. In short, these were “States” on the brink of collapse and seriously threatened from the outside.”

    These days attempting to collapse state economies is just another day at the drawing board for card-carrying commie types and their useful idiot memebots. I’m not particularly comforted by the suggestion that genocide states were historical anomalies. All I have to do is tune in to Left’s Meme Central (“hey, now that Obama has failed to properly redistribute the wealth, how about a guaranteed living wage for everyone on the planet?”) to see that economic collapse will be an ongoing threat for the foreseeable future.

  133. JB said:
    “These days attempting to collapse state economies is just another day at the drawing board for card-carrying commie types and their useful idiot memebots.”

    I was refering to economic collapse as in famines, >90% unemployment, and 1000% inflation a year. Say, worse than current day Zimbabwe.

    Not the minor dip seen in the US and elsewhere.

    You are not seriously comparing the post WWI economic situation in Germany, the USSR, and China with the current inconvenience in the Western world, are you?

  134. @Ken Burnside:

    I’ve got roughly 6,000 years of history, covering just about every society with writing, backing up my claim that power vacuums lead to dictators and oligarchists.

    I think that power vacuums can lead to dictators and oligarchists, as evidenced by my last post here, but I remain skeptical that it would always be the case.

    My main reason is in looking at the edge cases. The most interesting edge case is, in fact, the United States itself, which was arguably envisioned as a minarchist state by its Founding Fathers. The main view was that the powers of government would limited to those delineated in the Constitution. I don’t think anyone at the Constitutional Convention ever thought that the government would grow to the size and power structure that exists today.

    We didn’t develop into a dictatorship or an oligarchy (political rhetoric aside). We’ve got strains of socialism and, to a lesser extent, fascism, to be sure, but overall the government of the United States has remained a constitutionally-limited republic. But I think we’re still waiting to see if the Grand Experiment will ultimately fail. Time will tell.

  135. MikeH: I love it when NOAA (a State expert) gets quoted by a Statist to support a Statist theory. It’s so cozy and comfortable having all of these people nodding in agreement. Meanwhile, the science suggests otherwise and will be perhaps proven in the fullness of time.

    Does this translate to anything other than “I am entitled to my own facts”?

    JB: All I have to do is tune in to Left’s Meme Central (”hey, now that Obama has failed to properly redistribute the wealth, how about a guaranteed living wage for everyone on the planet?”) to see that economic collapse will be an ongoing threat for the foreseeable future.

    Social security will very likely be severely curtailed by the “Catfood Commission” after the election is over, and the current economic debate is over whether or not the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts will be extended for the top 1.7% of households. Ideas like a guaranteed minimum income are so far to the left of “sane” political debate in the United States that for you to bring them up as plausible political initiatives leads me to question your grip on reality.

    I’m reminded of the joke about the two Jews on the train in the 1930s. One is reading a Nazi newspaper, and the other asks him how he can read that junk. He replies that, well, if he reads the Jewish newspaper, then there’s persecution and terror closing in on every side, but if he reads the Nazi paper, he can see that the Jews own all the banks and run all of the governments.

  136. >You are not seriously comparing the post WWI economic situation in Germany, the USSR, and China with the current inconvenience in the Western world, are you?

    I’m no longer certain that would be illegitimate. Have you looked at recent unemployment and poverty figures in the U.S. yet? Total unemployment has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression, and the trajectory is towards worse. We’re headed towards either a sovereign-debt default or hyperinflation, and on top of that investors are mounting a tacit capital strike because the political risk of deploying capital looks so high.

    You argue that totalitarian democide is a product of a weak state and economic desperation. I think there are too many counterexamples to buy the former, North Korea being only the most obvious. But I agree that economic desperation is both cause and symptom of the nightmare end stage of statism, and we’re reaching the former rapidly. Accordingly, I am growing doubtful about our ability to put off the latter much longer.

  137. We already have anarchy today, the internet, and it is outperforming government by orders-of-magnitude.

    What differentiates performant democracy is that the participates have control over their portion of the system. Democracy-by-proxy works as well as money-by-proxy (fiat), which btw has always returned to its intrinsic value of 0 (numerous times in history).

    What we need to do is stop wasting time arguing about what does not matter (democracy-by-proxy), and rather invest our focus in making the performant democracy (anarchy) even more granular and permutative.

    The math proof link was in my prior comment.

  138. > What differentiates performant democracy is that the participates have control over their portion of the system

    Make that real-time control over.

    Whereas, the democracy-by-proxy is an oxymoron of democracy. True democracy is precisely anarchy. Anarchy means that each actor in the system is uncorrelated and free to act with free will in real-time. Evolution (free market) will route around any artificial costs (Coase’s theorem). Thus democracy-by-proxy is innately bankrupt. It will always fail.

    I think what confuses people is they think that freedom (anarchy) results in petty conflict– propaganda that has been taught in our schools and mass media. The reality is the internet, where there is plenty of petty conflict, but people are freedom to go where they like.

    Since we seem to get bogged down on over-dramatized issues about physical conflicts (e.g. drinking water theater), I say we just ignore that and work on the internet. I bet you all the physical conflicts will be debugged and fade away.

  139. “You are not seriously comparing the post WWI economic situation in Germany, the USSR, and China with the current inconvenience in the Western world, are you?”

    No. I’m referring to the modern left’s “if you don’t succeed, try harder” perpetual embrace of economic crisis-generating policies, of which today’s is merely a semi-successful example. (I’m actually a bit more sanguine than Eric as to the near-term outcome.)

    “Ideas like a guaranteed minimum income are so far to the left of “sane” political debate in the United States that for you to bring them up as plausible political initiatives leads me to question your grip on reality.”

    My grip on reality is fine; we merely differ in the timeframe for our outlook.

    Like Ahnold, the second we get some growth back in the economy they’ll be baaaack, rent-seeking and rotting the system as usual.

  140. once you’ve accepted the primacy of “society” or “the Volk” over the individual,

    Indeed. If that’s your definition of “government”, then by all means, anything that satisfies that definition carries the seeds of the Inquisition, Holocaust, Witch Trials, Trail of Tears, Tuskeegee Experiment, and every other evil perpetrated by governments.

    The difference between a minarchist and an anarchist is that the former believes there is a kernel within “government” that justifies the existence of such an entity (limited in scope to just that kernel), while the latter does not distinguish between those just powers and the unjust powers. It occurs to me that anarchists and statists share the same definition of “government”, but have differing opinions of it. The anarchists think all the powers are unjust, and the statists think they’re all just (provided they’re being wielded by the “right” people, of course).

  141. esr> We’re headed towards either a sovereign-debt default or hyperinflation

    Disagree, we are headed for rationing, fascism, as a result of perpetual declining interest rates, which means perpetually falling employment, offsetting public deficits which can rise without limitation (because interest rates are falling), etc. This eventually leads to war. It can be finally ended with devaluation of the western fiats to near 0 value (aka a global coordinated default), instead of a drawn out hyperinflation. I expect this to be the new global monetary system. Hyperinflation is impossible because there is nothing to run to any more. There is no country in world on a gold standard and there are no strong currencies nor economies. Switzerland will be (already is being) attacked as a “tax haven”.

    The internet is our chance to prosper.

  142. @Ken Burnside
    > A Militia never wins militarily. It wins by betting that the chaos it engenders will aggravate the invaders faster than it burns out its own…

    In the long-run, the military that wins is the one that interferes the least with the maximum prosperity generated by the free market.

    Shorter: the military that wins is the one that doesn’t exist

    Thus the best military defense strategy is to disperse. It is also the best computer security strategy.

  143. ESR
    “You argue that totalitarian democide is a product of a weak state and economic desperation.”

    Actually, I consider it more complicated. The mass killings you mention generally are part of “cleansing” movements which, eg, the Red Khmer and Rwandees took to their extremes. In such movements, one part of society decides to improve their position by exterminating other parts. Whether these are ethnic, social, or political categories is immaterial. The associated demonization and dehumanization of the other side is part of the motivating propaganda, but not the cause of the “cleansing”. It always involves plain looting.

    Given that the main function of a state is to get everyone to be productive together (you know, wealth and taxes and such), democide is almost the opposite of a state. Large scale violence and murder will reduce national income by a considerable amount. You saw it in all three iconic cases, German “Endlösung” and death camps, the Soviet Great Terror, labor camps, and democide in Ukrain, the Great Leap forward and the Cultural Revolution all were extremely bad for business. In the end, dead people and slaves are less productive than living skilled workers. And heads do count for national income.

    So to me it is not a surprise that only where states are on the brink or beyond disintegration do we see democide. In such cases we get to a head hunters society where you try to drive off the neighboring village to take over their land. A functioning state would try to prevent such violent uprisings for the simple reason that they are way too expensive. Even enslaving one section of society for the benefit of the other (aka, Sparta or feudal Europe) is more profitable than killing them as they did in Rwanda and Cambodia.

  144. JB wrote:
    “a guaranteed minimum income”

    We have one. And we are doing fine, thank you. We also have universal medical insurance and are still doing fine. We are even above the USA in any ranking of freedom of the press with our ultra leftist hyper communist governments (center left for non-USAians).

    Btw we pay more than 50% in taxes, on average. And still feel rather wealthy.

  145. @Winter
    > Native inhabitants had their best chances in Canada, which had the strongest state structure.

    False. Read The Starfish and The Spider (there is a free preview online). The Apache tribes survived the longest because they had an anarchy form of democracy. The highly structured natives such as the Aztecs fell very quickly to the invaders. I would argue that the Apache tribes are still alive today, I visited them in 1993.

  146. >In such movements, one part of society decides to improve their position by exterminating other parts.

    Right. Somebody captures the machinery of the state and kills every opponent in sight. The stronger the state is, the easier this gets.

    >So to me it is not a surprise that only where states are on the brink or beyond disintegration do we see democide.

    No. North Korea, Communist China, the Ankha massacres, and the terror of the Dergue in Eritrea all provide examples of democides by states which were neither internally nor externally threatened. In all these cases, economic collapse was primarily a consequence rather than cause; democide followed from the internal logic of utopian collectivism.

  147. I think too many instances of the word *n*rch*st triggers the spam filter.

    Oh, for fsck’s sake. How can a blog run by a self-identified an‍ar‍ch‍ist ueberhacker have a spam filter that objects to that word? If it were a technorube running the blog, I could accept the excuse that he doesn’t know how to take control over the filter and allow his self-description to be allowed. But this isn’t a PHB; it’s ESR.

    This smacks of when I found that the word “soci‍alist” was verboten on a political site due to the embedded drug name. Fortunately, I know how to defeat most spam filters once I know what the Bad Words are.

  148. ESR said:
    “I’m no longer certain that would be illegitimate. Have you looked at recent unemployment and poverty figures in the U.S. yet?”

    So the USA is already in the same league as Zimbabwe? Come back when you are there.

    The current economic problems seem to be the result of a conscious policy to lure foreign capital into the USA. This was needed to fund the trade deficit and has been SOP for decades. Somehow, you cannot buy for more than you earn without lending money. And then it is either paying back or receivership (devaluation).

    As the USA have done this several times already, I do not see the problem. In the end, the US will default its debts by devaluing the dollar or such. Just as they have done before.

    If you do not like these policies (and the americans do like it, they even demand it) change your government. Every people gets the government they deserve, or so I have been told. If you spend over your means, you get become poor. It is that simple.

    Once I observed a very curious coincidence. I saw a map of the USA with all the states colored by voting preference. And it just happened to be so that the states that were net generators of tax income tended to vote to the left of the states that were net consumers of tax money. A very curious coincidence. Must have been by accidence.

    Btw, the rest of the world is doing fine, especially the BRIC countries.

  149. @Ken Burnside
    > Both cases stem from the fact that most people do NOT want to be bothered governing themselves.
    > They will cheerfully delegate it to someone, and once it’s delegated, that someone will accumulate power.

    People do not want to be bothered with democracy-by-proxy, because they innately know it is irrelevant and failure directed.

    The power gets delegated only because it can. If there comes along a technology which renders some powers of government impotent, then those powers are not delegated. The internet is rendering many government powers impotent, e.g. the regulation of information (FCC, etc).

    The network anarchy model will eventually eliminate the democracy-by-proxy power vacuum.

  150. >How can a blog run by a self-identified an‍ar‍ch‍ist ueberhacker have a spam filter that objects to that word?

    I’m not sure this is happening…but if it is, it’s because he stock WordPress spam filter, Akismet, is doing it. Akismet is very good at stopping blog spam, but the price you pay is you don’t have complete control because it’s doing statistical filtering based on spam reports from all Akismet-using sites. Do I need to explain further or does this make the problem clear?

  151. >So the USA is already in the same league as Zimbabwe?

    No, not yet. The trouble is that before 2008 I wouldn’t have had to add “not yet”.

  152. “No. North Korea,”

    Is unstable after the civil war of the 50s. It would be assimilated by the South the moment its population sees what they are missing. To impose such a level of poverty is only possible with an enormous amount of violence.

    “Communist China,”

    Lost 30 million people in the Great Leap forward. It left a visible dent in the world demograhics. In the mid 1960s, China was very unstable and Mao was sidelined. Mao started a civil war to get back into power and take over the state.

    “the Ankha massacres,”

    You mean the killing fields? Perpetrated by a militia that took power after Cambodia went under in a civil war instigated by the Americans? And that was a stable state?

    “and the terror of the Dergue in Eritrea”

    You call Eritrea a stable state? By what definition?

    “all provide examples of democides by states which were neither internally nor externally threatened. In all these cases, economic collapse was primarily a consequence rather than cause; democide followed from the internal logic of utopian collectivism.”

    Yes, it is not all economics or even rational. Sometimes the ones with the guns take out the ones without the guns for no sane reason. In all cases the ones with the guns stand to lose and everyone else to win.

    But your implication that every state will descent into a Killing Fields scenario is simply proven false by history. France has been a centralist state for almost 600 years now. And they have had a bloody revolution and civil war only once. And the mass killings were NOT started by the state, but part of a civil war. The USA has been a state for 200 years now, and still not descended into the killing fields.

    Actually, this whole discussion is arm chair world political history. And that includes myself. If you ask the Chinese, Russians, or Indians whether they want anarchy instead of the state, they will think you are raving mad.

  153. Jocelyn, I propose that you run for Congress – there may still be time to get on the ballot where you live.

    Run on the ticket that your votes will be managed by the following system:

    1) You will put the full text of all pending legislation on your Facebook page.
    2) People can vote on it with Facebook’s Like button.
    3) You’ll use your vote in accordance to whatever percentage of your Facebook page likes the legislation.

    I’m somewhat astonished that nobody in California (which has direct voting on Propositions) hasn’t mandated this for state legislation yet.

    It may be the only way to get the US government to trim a budget…

  154. >Is unstable after the civil war of the 50s.

    You’re going to blame the North Korean democide on a war 60 years ago that they didn’t even lose? You’re in fantasyland. Your other refutations are almost as strained.

    >The USA has been a state for 200 years now, and still not descended into the killing fields.

    Descent into the totalitarian final stage can be postponed for a long time, but as long as the direction of politics is towards greater state control it’s still happening. See, for a recent example, Katherine Sebelius’s thuggish threats against insurance companies and medical service providers who dare to say in public that ObamaCare will require them to raise rates and cut service.

  155. ESR,

    basically what I don’t get is that every warlord who happens to get strong enough to get a monopoly over some territory (with which comes taxation and everything else) is by definition a government, right? So where is the fundamental difference between state and anarchy? An anarchy is only anarchy until all warlords are small, once a warlord gets enough power to tax but one village, the village is no longer in anarchy? OK and what happens when none of the warlords are strong enough and therefore all of them tax the village (get in, take whatever you see, get out again before the other warlord’s team arrives), that’s technically anarchy but not the one anyone would want.

    It is not a critique of anarchy but the pointing out that there is a definitional problem, how can we tell the warlord-anarchy from a series of small kingdoms, where is the fundamental difference, if any?

  156. @Morgan Greywolf
    > Perhaps another example a little closer to home is the Philippines, which is still constantly under threat
    > from communist and Islamist rebels seeking to overthrow the government or at least divide the country.

    I am writing this from Mindanao, Philippines. Been here on and off since 1994. I go into the highlands and remote areas often. There is no threat, it is mass media propaganda. The government (and the CIA) created the enemy in order to justify itself (and US intervention). There is a lot of diverse culture here (many tribes still too), and that makes it very interesting and dynamic.

    @Jess
    > hypothesis: in societies organized according to anarchic principles, many people will have to move in order to live comfortably.

    That may be why the internet works well as anarchy, because there is near 0 cost to movement.

    Our physical bodies are a hindrance. But we known that for 2500+ years. The alternative to moving is to become invisible. I learned a lot about this from living in Philippines. Here you can spend million on a house but you have way of stopping your neighbor from putting a male rooster ear shot from your bedroom or home office, or from burning plastic, or making a piggery, etc. So here you learn to be clever with technology and the space you control to mitigate the effects. It is a fun challenge for an engineer. And also I learned that it is a lot more efficient to be humble and make friends with your neighbors, than to fight with law. Here I never win with the law, so it was a great lesson. Now when I return to western culture, it seems all wrong.

  157. @Jocelyn: “People do not want to be bothered with democracy-by-proxy, because they innately know it is irrelevant and failure directed.”

    People do not want to be bothered, period, because they’re lazy asses. You are assuming too much, and projecting.

  158. @Ken Burnside
    > 1) You will put the full text of all pending legislation on your Facebook page.
    > 2) People can vote on it with Facebook’s Like button.
    > 3) You’ll use your vote in accordance to whatever percentage of your Facebook page likes the legislation

    But that misses the point of my comments, which is that legislation is (mostly) irrelevant to the internet space. And as the internet space grows to become most of our daily life, then legislation will become impotent and irrelevant.

    I see a future where people don’t live any where stationary, only they need their mobile device. It is going to be very exciting, adventurous, productive, and social. The youth are already doing it.

  159. ESR:
    “You’re going to blame the North Korean democide on a war 60 years ago that they didn’t even lose? You’re in fantasyland. Your other refutations are almost as strained.”

    Nope, but the result of that civil war left the North with a totalitarian government that was increasingly desperate to keep into power. Without the help of the Chinese, they would have collapsed long ago. And they starve their people to death, but have NOT introduced killing fields (yet). They kill because it helps them stay in power.

    With regard to the prevalent Obamaphobia, universal health care is not the start of death camps and genocide. I know because we have had it for decades now and we still have no death camps nor a totalitarian facist state.

    esr:
    “Descent into the totalitarian final stage can be postponed for a long time, but as long as the direction of politics is towards greater state control it’s still happening.”

    In the long run we are all death. You cannot blame some hypothetical future collapse of the USA political system to the actions of long death politicians who managed to protect their people and let them prosper. If the USA collapses in decades or so the people who live then and there are to blame, not your long dead great grandparents.

  160. @Miklos and others

    If I may, I think that what Eric identifies with, and what is being generally argued about, is not anarchic chaos, but the system of organization known as anarchy. That’s why your question about anarchy warlords makes no sense in this discussion: when you have warlords, you don’t have anarchy.

  161. @Jocelyn “But that misses the point of my comments, which is that legislation is (mostly) irrelevant to the internet space. And as the internet space grows to become most of our daily life, then legislation will become impotent and irrelevant.

    I see a future where people don’t live any where stationary, only they need their mobile device. It is going to be very exciting, adventurous, productive, and social. The youth are already doing it.”

    That’s wrong on so many levels I cannot begin to count them.
    But let’s start with some:
    - What about all the very real things like goods and services that aren’t available on the Internet? Can you eat in your internet?
    - What makes you think there won’t be legislation on the internet? If every society mankind has ever created tends to adopt a set of rules of good behavior, what exactly makes you think that it won’t happen this time? Even if it’s a self-imposed netiquette kind of regulation (which by the way, fails every time a great unwashed mass joins the web, because they don’t care), you have legislation.

  162. @Winter
    > Btw, the rest of the world is doing fine, especially the BRIC countries.

    False. Google “Mish China”. He has first hand reporting of what is really going on there. There is global ponzi and every corner of the globe is complicit and vulnerable. The physical world is dying, and the network is growing.

  163. Adriano,

    You to make legislation to regulate every insect on planet earth, especially ants.

  164. >>The USA has been a state for 200 years now, and still not descended into the killing fields.

    The USA has already failed in about 85 years when the civil war came. It was an extremely bloody affair, culminating into the fact that the civil war killed more Americans than any other wars we have before or after.

    All it does was show the stark naked aggression by monopolists to enforce their rules over a nation. Ending slavery was just another excuse, especially when the British and others have free their slaves without violence.

  165. @Winter
    > the Bhopal…disasters…
    > … the states made sure the causing entities were in big trouble

    False again. The causing entity escaped any significant fines, and the small fines were awarded 26 years later.

  166. I propose a thought experiment for those who believe democracies are peaceful.

    1.) Go to Wall Mart. Study the patrons.

    2.) Now imagine yourself naked in an arena with all your possessions on display.

    3.) Imagine the patrons in the bleachers with beer and corn dogs.

    4.) Now imagine Glen Beck in a uniform tells the crowd, in an ever so serious way, that you are a “terrorist” hacker.

    5.) Wall Mart Shoppers will now vote on whether they can help themselves to your possessions. They also get to vote whether the tiger in the cage will be released to chase you for sport.

    Democracy……..the new god.

  167. We must approach this question in a more systematic way.

    I propose a simple experiment. As you claim that the state is bad for people, I suggest we correlate state power against people wellbeing.

    I take level of taxation as a measure of state power (%) and life expectancy as a measure of well being. Drop a square of 100 miles square anywhere on land and calculate average taxation and life expectancy. You can weight by total population size covered.

    Repeat a 100/1000 times and calculate the correlation. If you are right, the correlation must be negative.

    If you think the effects of state intervention are delayed, use taxation of one or two generations back.

    If you consider life expectancy a bad measure of well being use population density or happiness.

    Should settle the matter, wouldn’t it.

  168. @The Monster
    > I want a government that only has to deal with those cases where one party violates the person or property of another

    Someone who doesn’t protect their own property, doesn’t own it. If you can’t protect it, legislation can’t. Why do you ask for useless masturbations? All this accomplishes is to empower the government to steal.

  169. @techtech
    > Now they pass a law saying everybody must spend $100 on something… bananas…
    > …By this logic, tax rates are *irrelevant* to the economy as long as they are roughly equally fair (or equally unfair) to nearly everybody

    False. Re-distribution of capital is mis-allocation. It leads to overproduction in some sectors (e.g. housing, manufactured goods) and underproduction in other sectors (e.g. food and energy). This ends with total economic implosion if it goes to an extreme (as it is now globally). You’ve just described socialism.

  170. @TMR interesting way to troll, ‘democracy equals mob rule’. Interesting.

  171. It makes no sense to focus on the physical world. It is in its death throes. China is driving the profit margins on manufacturing negative, next comes nanotech, biotech, and computerized manufacturing. Farms will become highly automated, energy is abundant, etc.

    We are moving into the information age. Goodbye to your generation, sorry.

  172. >>In the long run we are all death. You cannot blame some hypothetical future collapse of the USA political system to the actions of long death politicians who managed to protect their people and let them prosper. If the USA collapses in decades or so the people who live then and there are to blame, not your long dead great grandparents.

    This is assuming that technology stagnate and that in reality, there is no way of exterminating death, ever.

    Technologies might change the equation of government and anarchy to the point that anarchy become possible or it might lead to the centralizing power. Technology is certainly not neutral.

    Decades from now, we might be living in the diamond age when the age of great nation-states is finally ending or beginning to end.

  173. @Morgan Greywolf

    >I don’t think anyone at the Constitutional Convention ever thought that the government would grow to the size and power structure >that exists today.

    Ben did:

    “In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”

    See:

    http://www.usconstitution.net/franklin.html

  174. >>It makes no sense to focus on the physical world. It is in its death throes. China is driving the profit margins on manufacturing negative, next comes nanotech, biotech, and computerized manufacturing. Farms will become highly automated, energy is abundant, etc. We are moving into the information age. Goodbye to your generation, sorry.

    I see hackers are already developing 3D printer, which mean decentralized manufacturing, and cryptocurrency to facilitate economic exchange, etc. However, we should not assume that creating the future will be a piece of cake. States will undoubtedly resist the spread of cryptocurrencies and will be pressured to exert the intellectual property machinery to stop the spread of 3D printer.

  175. @Adriano

    interesting way to troll, ‘democracy equals mob rule’. Interesting.

    A troll?

    Or are you unwilling to truly consider the analogy?

    It’s not like this is an original sentiment…..

    my favorite quote is first.

    “A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way. The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.” – Fisher Ames

    “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” – John Adams

    “Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths… A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.” (James Madison, Federalist Papers, the McClean Edition, Federalist Paper #10, page 81, 1788)

    as I said…..the new god.

    It will fail eventually.

  176. Someone who doesn’t protect their own property, doesn’t own it. If you can’t protect it, legislation can’t.

    Well, if you insist that I personally protect my property (from those who don’t respect that ownership) in order to “own” it, then you don’t respect that ownership yourself. Logically, to defend my property, I must threaten those who don’t respect my ownership with violence, even unto death, if they don’t change their attitude.

    Acknowledge my ownership of my property or I have to kill you (unless I want to forfeit my ownership, which I’m not doing). It’s your choice. That’s what you’re saying, right? So what’s it going to be?

  177. esr> democide followed from the internal logic of utopian collectivism

    I have read from Howard Katz’s blog that Nazi Germany’s collective utopia was universal health care. It ended with the utopia of killing anyone who “wasn’t fittest”, i.e. a burden on the bankrupt nation.

    Whereas in USA, the universal health care seems to be an early stage preparation for the rationing I mentioned is coming, the opposite utopia of “share fairly”.

    @The Monster
    > you insist that I personally protect my property [...] in order to “own” it,

    I don’t insist, nature does. Possession is 9/10ths ownership.

    > I must threaten those who don’t respect my ownership with violence

    Security technology. Must I enumerate?

    @techtech
    > Now they pass a law saying everybody must spend $100…
    > …By this logic, tax rates are *irrelevant* [...] as they are roughly equally fair…

    “share fairly”

    Redistribution mis-allocates capital causing distortions in the optimum annealing of the market, leading to market failure.

  178. @Kilba
    > cryptocurrency to facilitate economic exchange

    I think knowledge is the new money. I have an idea of how to monetize this such that it remains knowledge. Hint: Copute and code snippets. Why shouldn’t open source contribution be monetized?

    I don’t know if anonymity is realistic, but I think it isn’t necessary (tax strategy) because the future is not about the material things you can boast, but rather your ego will be based on the knowledge you can boast. How can the society tax that? Billionaires will be viewed as dinosaurs. We will laugh at them because they can not eat all their money, and they have no credibility (relevance) in the new economy.

  179. Jocelyn said:
    “I have read from Howard Katz’s blog that Nazi Germany’s collective utopia was universal health care. ”

    Has Godwin’s law been triggered?

    This comment is pointless. Many countries have universal health care. Most of these are also more civilized than the USA (higher life expectancy, less corruption, less violence, more freedom of speech etc.) Almost all countries have some sort of (very imperfect) universal health care.

    The USA is the exception, not the rule in this case.

  180. @The Monster

    >Well, if you insist that I personally protect my property (from those who don’t respect that ownership) in order to “own” it, then you don’t respect that ownership yourself. Logically, to defend my property, I must threaten those who don’t respect my ownership with violence, even unto death, if they don’t change their attitude.

    Yes. But nothing says you can’t use the division of labor. You could hire a security company to protect your property. You could pay an insurance company who hires a private police force. You could live in a secure neighborhood. My family has lived in places with basically failed states. You wind up living behind walls with razor wire or broken glass along the top. There is usually a guard with a machine gun at the gate. The cops are usually in league with the criminals.

    Most of these places do not allow mere mundanes to be armed. If they did a lot of the violence would go away. The walls would stay. As the central state becomes more and more ineffective I expect we will evolve toward these historic norms. If you have already experienced it you aren’t as afraid of it. To be honest I prefer it to having a cavity search checkpoint on every corner. If the government is hopelessly inefficient and bureaucratic corruption is the only way to get anything done.

    If you can’t be flexible and pragmatic you will soon become an alcoholic and die. Otherwise life is good.

  181. @Winter
    > This comment is pointless. Many countries have universal health care. Most of these are also more civilized

    You missed the point and the fact, that Germans of the 1930s were psychologically committed to their “perfect health care system”, as a comfort or distraction from that the rest of the economy was in shambles. Germans lean towards perfectionists by culture. This obsession is what lead to the deviant result. Whereas, I don’t think most other examples of universal health care exist under that same culture and severe economic situation. The Germans were beyond bankrupt and added that obsession on top of it.

    Whereas, the USA is being forced to universal health care as a cover for the coming rationing, because the USA can not afford to pay out the $500+ trillion in unfunded liabilities.

  182. >So where is the fundamental difference between state and anarchy?

    A state is an entity which claims a monopoly on the legal use of force in a specified territory. (Max Weber’s definition, never really improved on.) The signature of state power is the ability to levy taxes. Taxation is distinguished from banditry by fact that the state has (and is expected to have by its taxpayers) the ability to prevent other bandits from operating in its territory.

    You have anarchy, in a weak negative sense, when there is no state. You have anarchy, in the positive sense, when there is no state and individuals are able to organize and arm themselves to both prevent banditry and takeover attempts by neighboring states. You have the kind of positive anarchy I want to live in when there is common law and self-defense is organized at scale through the market, using coalitions of security agencies and insurance companies

  183. Of course, trying to actually change what we have now for the better, as it has been done many times, isn’t on the map. Running for office on your own constituency, making a change for the better in your own town, too hard. Let’s all be armchair futurists and pass the ammo.

  184. >If I may, I think that what Eric identifies with, and what is being generally argued about, is not anarchic chaos, but the system of organization known as anarchy.

    Correct. I even expect that a market anarchy would have police, but they’d be paid from insurance premiums rather than taxes.

  185. @Ken Burnside
    > In one of my fictional settings, there’s a tricameral legislative body. One house is roughly analogous to the House of Representatives. > One house is roughly analogous to the Senate. Bill reconciliation goes on between the two. All laws must have a clear statement of >intent. The third house has very long terms, and their ONLY mandate is to remove laws from the books that are no longer being applied > in concordance with their clear statement of intent.

    Interestingly enough, Simon Bolivar of all people proposed a similar system, with the third house having the additional power of executive impeachment.

  186. @techtech

    > Somewhat offtopic, but I’ve been thinking about taxation and the constantly-changing value of money.

    >Imagine there are no taxes, and everybody in the world has $1,000. Now they pass a law saying everybody must spend $100 on >something… bananas, for example. Other than the fact that a few banana-growers just hit the lottery, guaranteed by government >fiat, has the situation really changed for the remaining 99% of the population?

    Yes; I’m out $100 I could have used one something else, like apples or pants or a new computer, or buying stock in the banana growers.

    >Now everybody has only $900. Prices for all the components of the cost of living should drop accordingly, because people are willing >to pay less for the same things. So the $900 goes father, about as far as the original $1,000 would have.

    Untrue; The supply of money hasn’t changed, so prices won’t decrease. There are still 6e9 * $1000 = $6e12 still in circulation. Government fiat just handed 10% of that to the banana growers.

    >By this logic, tax rates are *irrelevant* to the economy as long as they are roughly equally fair (or equally unfair) to nearly >everybody.

    By your logic, a 100% tax rate would be irrelevant, as long as everyone paid their 100%. This, sir, is slavery.

  187. @Adriano

    >Of course, trying to actually change what we have now for the better, as it has been done many times, isn’t on the map. Running for office on your own constituency, making a change for the better in your own town, too hard. Let’s all be armchair futurists and pass the ammo.

    Actually your question is one I have considered very carefully and do not take lightly. Attempting to stop the tide is not a very good strategic or tactical response. In fact we do not have mob rule. In my Wall Mart analogy Mr. Beck is the ruler. The mob is simply the vehicle. The Naked Hacker is the enemy…..

    I do believe in acting locally. I believe in trying to make a difference. However, the most effective way to make a difference is to provide the technology and tools to the masses to free them from bondage. Structure is becoming a weakness, not a strength. The previous century was of the nation state. It was an effective and necessary way to organize an industrial society. Things change. Because of technological change, the nation state is no longer efficient on the current scale. Smaller more local governments and city states with a mix of private insurance and security can do the same thing much more effectively. Large lumbering organizations are incapable of adapting to anything. I’ve seen it first hand.

    You can go on trying to reform the Catholic Church and the Monarchy all you like, I prefer to develop movable type.

    I do not agree entirely with Kiba and Jocelyn. I think this will happen over a longer period of time perhaps a century or more. I also do not think we can escape the inquisition.

    as to the tech rapture…..well…..what can I say.

  188. @Winter
    > I suggest we correlate state power against people wellbeing.

    Lets put white hot coals and big chunks of ice on the floor in the same room and measure the air temperature. If it is temperature is not too hot, we will let you jog briskly barefoot in the room wearing a blindfold of your favorite color (because we want you to be happy and do not want to discriminate against color minorities).

    The point is you can not measure what is important to people by averages. Each person is unique and changing preferences in real-time.

    Plus this metric does not address the long-tail guaranteed failure of government.

    If you want to engineer a better society, then get out of the way of individual empowerment (or don’t and be steamrolled by evolution any way).

    @Adriano
    > making a change for the better in your own town, too hard. Let’s all be armchair futurists and pass the ammo.

    Make a better change for yourself, that is all that is required. Or don’t and suffer the consequences of falling behind the new economy.

    @esr
    > police, but they’d be paid from insurance premiums rather than taxes.

    Agreed on private security technology, and this will become increasing automated requiring no human error involved. Disagree on insurance. Insurance is mathematically equivalent to statism. If you can’t devise adequate security reliability, then insurance can’t either.

    @TMR
    > I think this will happen over a longer period of time perhaps a century or more

    Impossible, the financial and demographic meltdown won’t push past 2022, and probably not past 2016. Technology is accelerating, not because Moore’s Law is constant, but because the network introduces N! scaling law. Did you not read my math link in my first comment on this page?

    Do you know how fact N! scales where N is the number of possible independent actors and N! is the possible sets of permutations of connections?

    5! = 125
    10! = 3628800
    100! = 9.3e+157

  189. @TMR:

    Yes, I knew that. He was actually disappointed that all they could come up with at the Constitutional Convention was a republic. However, I was speaking in generalities, rather than about each specific individual present.

    And, re: democracies. One of my favorite definitions of “democracy” goes like this: Democracy is when you live in a neighborhood of cannibals and everyone in the neighborhood gets to vote on whether or not they get to eat you. :-D

  190. @Morgan Greywolf
    > everyone in the neighborhood gets to vote on whether or not they get to eat you

    This reminds me of my answer to a Google test question, “If you offer all the booty to 51% of the crew, one of them might get motivated to vote against your proposal because they have nothing to lose if your proposal wins (and they might want to try their luck at another proposal that offers them more). Contemplate that deeply! Whereas, the correct answer is to propose that anyone who votes NO will not share in the booty. TADA!”.

    @TMR
    > I think this will happen over a longer period of time perhaps a century or more

    One more point, computing power has increased a million-trillion times (18 zeros) in the boomers’ lifetime, “The first machine to solve ballistic tables was a Mark I built by IBM – it weighed five tons, had 750,000 parts and could do three operations per second.”.

    The network scaling math radically accelerates that. Our world will change more in the next 10 – 20 years, than it did in entire history of mankind. There is no fathomable limit to the opportunities for those who have a high mental bandwidth and motivation.

  191. @Jocelyn

    >Impossible, the financial and demographic meltdown won’t push past 2022, and probably not past 2016. Technology is accelerating, >not because Moore’s Law is constant, but because the network introduces N! scaling law. Did you not read my math link in my first >comment on this page?

    >Do you know how fact N! scales where N is the number of possible independent actors and N! is the possible sets of permutations of >connections?

    >5! = 125
    >10! = 3628800
    >100! = 9.3e+157

    Impossible is a rather strong word don’t you think?

    There are those relatively skilled at breaking things. Things which power your tools. Things which supply you with a nice comfortable place to work. They can very effectively motivate wall mart shoppers to put you in that arena. They can cut off your food. I could go on with far more disturbing thoughts if you like.

    Do you seriously think that the constituencies that benefit from the status quo will just disappear when techno jesus comes to save us? Do you take them for amateurs who are not ruthless? Do you not think them possible of using your technology against you?

    Math will not save you. You are correct that knowledge is valuable, but in the end luck is all you got.

    If you think the average human can recognize the brilliance of your scheme and won’t kill you for three hots and a cot when their families are starving….well I can’t help you.

    ESR is correct….pessimistic indeed

  192. A state is an entity which claims a monopoly on the legal use of force in a specified territory.

    Then the United States is not a state, as our constitution explicitly provides that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    If we’re using Weber’s definition, then I’m an anarchist too.

  193. @Monster

    >If we’re using Weber’s definition, then I’m an anarchist too.

    DANGER! step away from the rabbit hole!! ;-)

    Legal….hmmmm are we talking what is written on a piece of paper, or legal in a moral sense?

    Damn linguistics.

  194. @TMR: ‘”legal” in a moral sense’ doesn’t make sense in context.

  195. @The Monster
    > our constitution explicitly

    Bush and Obama said it is just a piece of paper. We are not allowed to use deadly force to protect our property in most cases. We are even not allowed to use deadly force if our life was threatened but the assailant has turned his back. We are not allowed to use pre-emptive deadly force.

    The solution will be technology. I envision automated electrical stun system, cloaking technology, etc.. As the demand increases, the solutions will proliferate. For the moment we are too dependent on the state, so the demand is low. That will change radically over the next 10 years, because the state will fail and be unable to protect us.

    @TMR
    > There are those relatively skilled at breaking things

    Can they stomp all the ants on earth? Somethings are just impossible.

    > Do you seriously think that the constituencies that benefit from the status quo will just disappear

    Exactly! The pace of this physical order breakdown juxtaposed against the N! network economics, is going to just cause people to walk away from statism. Those who huddle together in the “statism cities”, will be easy to avoid because the rotting stench will warn of their proximity.

    > DANGER! step away from the rabbit hole!! ;-)

    Hehe. It is a black hole to other side. The gateway may be narrow, but opens very wide on the other side. There will be serious threats and probably a period of very intense chaos, but I think the Malthusians will lose again. It is evolution, make sure you are on the winning mutation.

  196. @Adriano

    >‘”legal” in a moral sense’ doesn’t make sense in context.

    Not in the definition. In the implied bearing of arms use of “legal” force.

  197. Jocelyn:
    “Lets put white hot coals and big chunks of ice on the floor in the same room and measure the air temperature. If it is temperature is not too hot, we will let you jog briskly barefoot in the room wearing a blindfold of your favorite color (because we want you to be happy and do not want to discriminate against color minorities).”

    I do not see the connection to tax level and life expectancy. Do you assume somehow that half the people in a 100×100 square pay no taxes and the other half has no life expectancy? That is not how statistics work.

    And why the reference to color, what color? Am I missing something here? I am not a native speaker of English, so you must excuse my ignorance.

    Jocelyn:
    “The point is you can not measure what is important to people by averages. Each person is unique and changing preferences in real-time.”

    You mean, some people value life and others not? Or, they value life only some of the time? What type of people are you refering to?

    Jocelyn:
    “Plus this metric does not address the long-tail guaranteed failure of government.”

    Like the 200+ years of the USA and the 500+ years of France and England? My own country existed as a political entity for the last 400 years. It has never, ever tried to destroy a sizeable part of its own population (though it has done some nasty things abroad). With universal health coverage and a guaranteed minimum income for the last 50 years. I would sign up for another 200 year.

    But you say my country’s “government” is on the brink of trying to kill off a lot of my fellow countrymen? Please, what would be the signs so I can get out to Somalia, where they do not have a government.

    Jocelyn:
    “If you want to engineer a better society, then get out of the way of individual empowerment (or don’t and be steamrolled by evolution any way)”

    Now I have to disagree. I seriously believe that there is nothing worse for humanity than large scale social engineering. In this, I totally follow the ideas of Karl Popper.

    On the other hand, evolution favors those who rather live an immoral and unfree life than die a moral free death.

  198. @Jocelyn: Moore’s law has its upper limits in physics law limits (thermodynamics, speed of light) which cannot be overcome by new technology.

  199. @Jocelyn:
    “Bush and Obama said it is just a piece of paper. We are not allowed to use deadly force to protect our property in most cases. We are even not allowed to use deadly force if our life was threatened but the assailant has turned his back. We are not allowed to use pre-emptive deadly force.”

    I agree that I want the right to use deadly force against anyone I suspect, or expect, to threaten me.

    On the other hand, I want the police to stop and jail anyone who tries to harm me or my nearest. Whether in self-defense or not.

    On balance, there are more idiots that might accidentally, or on purpose, shoot me than there are people I want to shoot. So I will gladly let the police stop and jail everybody with a weapon, myself included. But that is just the personal choice of me and my fellow countrymen. So please feel free to shoot on anyone you want, at home. And do not come over here.

  200. @Jakub Narębski
    > Moore’s law has its upper limits in physics law limits (thermodynamics, speed of light) which cannot be overcome by new technology

    That is why I was working on creating Copute, because only referentially transparent code can provably scale to infinite cores. And the WAN is also conceptually N cores with RPC. Afaics, the N! scaling law trumps Moore’s law and everything else in nature. Linus Law that ESR popularized is afaics actually a form of the N! scaling law.

  201. Winter: That’s basically a variant of the “Blood will run in the streets if we allow everyone to have guns!” And the only real problem with that claim is that it doesn’t actually happen. I mean, other than that, it has everything going for it, it just doesn’t actually happen in the real world. Gun ownership in the US is rising dramatically and crime is down, not up.

  202. @Winter

    >On balance, there are more idiots that might accidentally, or on purpose, shoot me than there are people I want to shoot. So I will >gladly let the police stop and jail everybody with a weapon, myself included. But that is just the personal choice of me and my fellow >countrymen. So please feel free to shoot on anyone you want, at home. And do not come over here.

    best leave it to the experts….those ubermenschen we can never hope to emulate…what with their razor sharp intellect and lightning reflexes. special training you know…..

    You have obviously never been shooting with cops.

  203. @Jocelyn:
    “Lets put white hot coals and big chunks of ice on the floor in the same room and measure the air temperature. If it is temperature is not too hot, we will let you jog briskly barefoot in the room wearing a blindfold of your favorite color (because we want you to be happy and do not want to discriminate against color minorities).”

    I do not get this metaphor. What do these have to do with tax levels and life expectancy? Do you imply that somehow, half the people pay no taxes and the other half has no life expectancy?

    And what am I missing about your reference about color? I am not a native speaker of English so please excuse my ignorance.

    @Jocelyn:
    “The point is you can not measure what is important to people by averages. Each person is unique and changing preferences in real-time.”

    You mean some people do not value life, or only some of the time? Or are you just afraid high taxes correlate with high life expectancies, health, happiness, and freedom. That is an empirical question that is true or not whether we like it or not. If it the correlation is negative, I believe that you are right, and less government makes people happier and healthier. But are you willing to accept the facts too?

    @Jocelyn:
    “Plus this metric does not address the long-tail guaranteed failure of government.”

    France and England exist as states for more than 500 years. My own country existed as a political entity for the last 400 years. In those 4 centuries it has never descended to killing a large part of its inhabitants, or other equally bad treatments (though it did some nasty things abroad). The last 50 years with a minimum income for all and universal health care. No signs that is changing. But you tell me that I should see the signs of imminent disaster? Which signs? If it holds out another 200 years I am fine.

    @Jocelyn:
    “If you want to engineer a better society, then get out of the way of individual empowerment (or don’t and be steamrolled by evolution any way).”

    I disagree completely with you on this. I think large scale social engineering is the worst humankind can experience. I follow Karl Popper here.

    And evolution favors those who life a shameful and unfree life over those who die a free and honorable death.

  204. @Jocelyn:

    Bush and Obama said it is just a piece of paper. We are not allowed to use deadly force to protect our property in most cases. We are even not allowed to use deadly force if our life was threatened but the assailant has turned his back. We are not allowed to use pre-emptive deadly force.

    You don’t live in one of the 31 states with a Castle Doctrine and/or a Stand Your Ground law?

    In those states, it is legal and proper to use deadly force to protect your property.

  205. @Jeremy Bowers:
    “That’s basically a variant of the “Blood will run in the streets if we allow everyone to have guns!” And the only real problem with that claim is that it doesn’t actually happen.”

    Nope. We simply make a different calculation about risks and benefits. And it seems to work as our whole country has less murders than Washington DC. And the police is much less trigger happy. They shoot so little we see it on national news for days when it happens.

  206. >You don’t live in one of the 31 states with a Castle Doctrine and/or a Stand Your Ground law?
    >In those states, it is legal and proper to use deadly force to protect your property.

    That’s funny. My state has neither. I suppose it’s because everybody here just considers that self evident.

    You’d never be convicted by a jury here for standing your ground or protecting yourself. The last case like that was a robbery where the criminal was killed while driving off with the owners property via well placed buckshot. Jury acquitted him of all charges.

    It is very safe here. Many people are armed or have CC permits. Almost everybody has a firearm in their home.

    The places I have been that I felt physical danger and wanted a gun the most were places they were not “legal”. Canada is a very polite place. Probably works just fine there. Not so well in DC.

    That said, Winter’s system is more fragile than he realizes. Safety is dependent on the culture, politeness and relative order. Your protectors are too few to deal with a fat tail event.

    I participated in a real life example of an armed society vs an unarmed one when chaos arrives. I’ll take the armed distributed model thanks.

    I have no problem with what you want to do Winter. It’s when you claim the right to force me to join your “club” that we are going to be at odds.

  207. @TMR:
    “I participated in a real life example of an armed society vs an unarmed one when chaos arrives. I’ll take the armed distributed model thanks.”

    So when I go to Afghanistan or Somalia, you advice me to carry arms? Funny, I once read “The most dangerous places on earth”, where the advice was NOT to carry arms into war territory.

    @TMR:
    “I have no problem with what you want to do Winter. It’s when you claim the right to force me to join your “club” that we are going to be at odds.”

    Why should I? Only if you come here. Then you simply have to obey to our laws. But I hear Americans tend to like it here. A little crowded and a real nanny state in many respects.

  208. Or are you just afraid high taxes correlate with high life expectancies, health, happiness, and freedom. That is an empirical question that is true or not whether we like it or not.

    This is indeed the final nail in the coffin of libertarianism. Wilkinson and Pickett have done for libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism what Jefferson did for monarchism.

    The problem with rational anarchists is that they are rationalists (as opposed to empiricists). They believe that the least-bad governmental system can be arrived at by arguing from first principles. Yet the world’s first and last great experiment in rational anarchism — the USA — has devolved into a barely-civilized nation of religious lunatics with a cosmopolitan reactionary contingent along the coasts. The numbers say that socialism is a boon to humankind and that citizens of socialist regimes are healthier, live longer lives, have more free time, and are more courteous to their neighbors. The social democrats have been winning all the arguments for two decades or more.

    Now what may finally condemn anarcho-capitalism to the dustbins of history is the telos of the present financial crisis when the rich, unfettered by the government regulations anarcho-capitalists so despise, finally steal the last scrap of food from the poor, and the poor either revolt or retreat to more level-headed sectors of the planet. Someone on news.yc put it something like this: “We Europeans are going through a collapse too, but we’re having a lot more fun watching it happen.”

    And personally, I believe that the American revolution and the resultant limited government that was formed out of that effort were necessary and a worthy experiment in nation-building: a minarchist political hack for the ages. It’s just that anyone who looks at the data rather than their cherished a priori assumptions can see that the experiment has a negative result.

  209. @TMR:
    “That said, Winter’s system is more fragile than he realizes. Safety is dependent on the culture, politeness and relative order. Your protectors are too few to deal with a fat tail event.”

    It has worked for the past few centuries, so I am not too worried about the future.

    @TMR:
    “I participated in a real life example of an armed society vs an unarmed one when chaos arrives. I’ll take the armed distributed model thanks.”

    So when I go to Afghanistan or Somalia, you advice me to carry arms? Funny, the general advice seems to be NOT to carry arms into war territory.

    @TMR:
    “I have no problem with what you want to do Winter. It’s when you claim the right to force me to join your “club” that we are going to be at odds.”

    Why should I? Only if you come here. Then you simply have to obey to our laws. But I hear Americans tend to like it here. A little crowded and a real nanny state in many respects.

  210. Afaics, the N! scaling law trumps Moore’s law and everything else in nature.

    Jocelyn, you’re awesome. And I mean awesome in a Louis Savain or Time Cube Guy sort of way.

    What you fail to understand is that things which scale factorially grow intractable really, really fast. Like, faster even than exponentially scaling things. There simply ain’t enough coltan, or even enough silicon, on the freakin’ planet to fab all the chips necessary to tackle a large problem in the way that you describe. And hence, Haskell compiler writers — who are forever searching for efficient ways to transform computations in the nifty abstract realm of referential transparency to ones in the nitty-gritty real world where yes, Virginia, state can change — won’t find themselves wanting for work any time soon.

    So yes, by all means, set yourself against nature. What you will find is that, invariably, nature will win.

  211. @Jeff Read:

    Jocelyn, you’re awesome. And I mean awesome in a Louis Savain or Time Cube Guy sort of way.

    Bah! People who refuse to believe in the N! scaling law are educated stupid! I leave it to physicists to discover that unless things that are N! scaled are having a magnetic moment, they will fail to realize that there are 4 days in ONE day! :P

    *slap*

    Okay, seriously. I’m with you here. “Moore’s Law” has nothing to with laws in the natural, scientific sense. It was just a convenient rule of thumb. Nothing more. This N! scaling law seems silly. Especially when we start looking at the real world, where, in fact, networks of any kind do not scale infinitely, no matter how much we would like them to.

  212. What we have here is a religious war.

    The Holy Orthodox Church of Democracy vs the heretical Techno Jesuits.

    The rapture is ordained, by the holey numbers!

  213. Russell, thanks for pointing me at Xeer. That’s awesome, and to my shame was not something my Western prejudice would have expected to exist. This certainly adds a new layer to the hoary “if you like anarchy so much then why don’t you move to Somalia!” argument one hears occasionally. I’m no sociologist, but what I’ve read of Xeer just now online seems fairly unique among traditional agricultural-weak-state societies to me, and might actually be part of the answer to ESR’s question about the slow uptake of sharia in Somalia.

  214. “The Holy Orthodox Church of Democracy”

    I realize that, as others have confused the meaning of Anarchy, I have been referring to representative governments as ‘democracies’. You’re ok pointing out the flaws in democracies, and I apologize for the error, but it might have been clear that I was referring to systems of organization which we have and are used right now, and not to a system which, to my knowledge, was only briefly used in Greece with any success.

  215. I would actually quite like it if the USA were an anarchist state. If you combined that with completely open borders (as you really have to if you’re serious about anarchism) you get quite close, in my outsider’s opinion, to the ‘American Dream’: a real cosmopolitan land of hardship and opportunity. But I would also like for there to be a heavily socialized Eurostate across the pond. It would be great if people could choose freely between the one ideology and the other, although obviously it’s not so easy to obtain entrance to socialized states. I suspect that a lot of people (but not everyone) would try their luck in America, as they used to during the gold rush days.

    I feel like the mixed-philosophy situation you have in the USA right now is the problem – you get none of the liberties of an anarchist system, with none of the security of a locked down socialist system. Of course this is also true to some extent of every other country I’ve tried living in, though in England and Australia the balance is tipped further toward limits on geographic and class mobility, while in the USA the balance is further toward constantly being screwed over by corporations.

  216. @ Adriano

    >I was referring to systems of organization which we have and are used right now, and not to a system which, to my knowledge, was >only briefly used in Greece with any success.

    I agree. However, I do not really see much difference in practice. My Representative does not represent me and never will. No matter how many phone calls or letters I write. I know, I tried. They take my money by force, presume to rule the world and drop bombs on people I have no quarrel with. Then they “protect” me when it blows up in our face…….

    They print up money and send it to their cronies despite my wishes. Then they expect me to pay the bill. It’s my duty after all.

    Go ahead……tilt that windmill all you want.

    Besides, the Republic died with the “civil war”. That along with direct election of Senators put the final nails in the founders design. The last one is the electoral college. I don’t expect it to last much longer.

    We now have a kind of soft fascist state with democratic kabuki.

    I hope it stays limp.

  217. @Winter

    >So when I go to Afghanistan or Somalia, you advice me to carry arms? Funny, the general advice seems to be NOT to carry arms into >war territory.

    I would advise you not go anywhere people who look like you are involved in a war of occupation. Armed or unarmed. And yes many times it is far safer to be unarmed in a foreign country if weapons are uncommon. The issue here is not one of protecting yourself from individuals, but from the local authorities.

    If you are involved in a situation where the local “authorities” loose control. I assure you having like minded neighbors who are armed is a very positive thing. Not only that, but in the clumsy incompetent efforts at restoring order that come later you are seen as an area under control and therefore left alone. Instead of being in need of often destructive “help”.

  218. What we have here is a religious war.

    The Holy Orthodox Church of Democracy vs the heretical Techno Jesuits.

    The rapture is ordained, by the holey numbers!

    Precisely so.

    There’s a reason why the left have monopolized the term “reality-based community”. As Winter indicated, anyone who looks at the numbers (as opposed to arguing from a priori libertarian assumptions) will see that citizens of countries with social safety nets are better off, happier, healthier, and more polite than citizens of countries which lack these safety nets. The social democrats have been winning all the arguments.

  219. >The social democrats have been winning all the arguments.

    Yeah, they’re winning so handily that the countries they run are in demographic collapse, with large parts of rural France, eastern Germany and Italy becoming actually depopulated. But at last they’re better off than Japan, where urgent efforts are underway to build robotic caregivers because they expect that in few years there won’t be enough young people to man the nursing homes.

    Democratic socialism – civilizational suicide on the installment plan!

  220. >Democratic socialism – civilizational suicide on the installment plan!

    Such a refined form of cannibalism. You consume most of your children before they’re conceived. Then you crush the few that make it out of a vagina under the debt burden inherited from the previous generation of the oh-so-generous political class. As autogenocidally effective as communism, only without all the tacky barbed wire and striped-jersey Spetsnaz heavies.

  221. Yeah, they’re winning so handily that the countries they run are in demographic collapse, with large parts of rural France, eastern Germany and Italy becoming actually depopulated. But at last they’re better off than Japan, where urgent efforts are underway to build robotic caregivers because they expect that in few years there won’t be enough young people to man the nursing homes.

    Democratic socialism – civilizational suicide on the installment plan!

    How will alternatives solve the problem of there being insufficient raw human material to take care of the elderly? Furthermore, exactly which states are in “demographic collapse”? There are socialist states doing better than America in population growth (and many of the criteria Jeff Read lists). I thought you were a genius and a polymath? And yet here you are, blatantly cherry-picking your data. Laughable. It’s also funny to me that you somehow think there’s some contrast between the US and “socialist” countries, when it’s clear that US economic policy is less compatible with capitalism than many of the countries that have “socialist” policies like free healthcare.

  222. Then you crush the few that make it out of a vagina under the debt burden inherited from the previous generation of the oh-so-generous political class. As autogenocidally effective as communism, only without all the tacky barbed wire and striped-jersey Spetsnaz heavies.

    Sorry, socialist policies have been in effect here for as long as anyone can remember and we never go into surplus for more than a few years. The entitlements that you think can’t be scaled back are scaled up and down according to expediency. A basic standard of health care is available for free for all citizens (I got my free 2-yearly eye test a few or two ago for free), but about 40% of people have private health insurance (myself included). That’s about the same number as in the US. The biggest health insurer in the country is a non-profit organisation. But do continue to flounder about viewing the world through your hyperselective American lens. It entertains me.

  223. “There’s a reason why the left have monopolized the term “reality-based community”. As Winter indicated, anyone who looks at the numbers (as opposed to arguing from a priori libertarian assumptions) will see that citizens of countries with social safety nets are better off, happier, healthier, and more polite than citizens of countries which lack these safety nets. The social democrats have been winning all the arguments.”

    As Mark Steyn said (I paraphrase), “what good is achieving utopia when it only lasts for one generation?”

  224. @Jeff Read

    Correlation is not causation. France was doing fine before the Mississippi Scheme unraveled.

    We’ll see.

    @esr

    Cannibalism….meh….I’ve become rather resigned to it. Unfortunate, but necessary.

    Just try not to get eaten.

  225. >There are socialist states doing better than America in population growth

    No, in fact there are not. Anywhere. I wrote about this back in 2002. Since then, the trend curves have gotten grimmer, with the Economist running articles about the Italian south depopulating and entire cities in eastern Germany where no children are visible because almost nobody is having any.

    Which states are in demographic collapse? Britain, not yet. But most of Europe; France is just barely reproducing at replacement level and fully one third of their young are unassimilated immigrant and second-generation families in the ring slums around major cities. In Germany and Italy fertility rates have plunged through a floor demographers call “low-lowest” below which no population has been known to have recovered.

  226. I’m still not understanding your hostility to the Democratic Peace Theory. Look, what if there was an actual effect which only appears between democracies of a certain nature, but not everything that has ever been called a democracy. The main argument here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_between_democracies is that the definition of exactly what constitutes a democracy is crucial. The details of definitions are important, though. I could point you to the Open Source Definition, where people try to argue their THEIR software is really open source and thus we must approve it. But not everything that is source and is open is open source. Similarly, not everything which is demos- and -cratic achieves the Democratic Peace.

    The fact of the matter here is that there really *isn’t* a sharp line. It’s a blurry line. But the line exists, and it is drawn between societies which respect civil rights, and societies which trample civil rights. So rather than reject the idea outright (which you seem to be doing), why not say: libertarian societies are more peaceful: here, look at the democratic peace theory.

  227. @esr:
    “Which states are in demographic collapse? Britain, not yet. But most of Europe; France is just barely reproducing at replacement level and fully one third of their young are unassimilated immigrant and second-generation families in the ring slums around major cities. In Germany and Italy fertility rates have plunged through a floor demographers call “low-lowest” below which no population has been known to have recovered.”

    But population growth is declining EVERYwhere in the world. Even in sub-Sahara Africa and the Arabic world. All caused by increases of education and wealth. The US only has population growth because of immigration and the birth rate of the really poor. As a side note, it has been speculated that Islamic fundamentalism has been largely fueled by the rise of women education and rights. All those young men suddenly having to compete with women who talk back, and do that better too.

    It is a fundamental human tenet that the number of children declines with wealth. The mere fact that all these countries have declining birth rates is precisely that their citizens are rich and happy. People get less children because they WANT to. As in “Free Choice”, and “Personal Responsibility”.

    Really, the only way to increase birth rate is to increase child mortality and poverty.

  228. >It is a fundamental human tenet that the number of children declines with wealth. The mere fact that all these countries have declining birth rates is precisely that their citizens are rich and happy.

    Whistling past the graveyard, son. Native-born Americans are in fact beating the demographic replacement rate, and it’s not the very poor doing it – children have become too expensive for them (see The Empty Cradle for detailed argument). In the U.S., it’s middle-class and lower-middle-class red-state conservatives, the Hank Hill demographic. They didn’t need an “increase in child mortality and poverty” to reproduce; if that were the trick the U.S.’s urban underclass would be breeding like rabbits.

    Increasing wealth and education do decrease fertility, but in cultures that are adapting healthily to that almost all women marry and have enough children to hang the population near replacement rate. What’s going on in the social-democratic part of the developed world is something else – huge numbers of women never having children at all and never planning to. Italy for example has just 1.2 children per woman. Spain is doing even worse, with 1.15 children. These two nations are experiencing the lowest fertility rates ever seen in recorded history (figures from “The Empty Cradle”). This is not “happiness”, it is suicide on a civilizational scale.

  229. @esr

    So let me summarize.

    People in sociialist countries are living a long and happy life pursuing their interests in safety and freedom.

    You are willing to sacrifice this for yourself and your fellow countrymen for a higher purpose. I am not sure which purpose exactly.

    Is this right?

  230. Note: something about this thread is causing a higher number of false positives in my spam filter than I’ve ever seen before. I suspect Akismet may be binning some posts entirely without my seeing them (this has occasionally happened before). If your content is not coming through, rephrase.

  231. >People in sociialist countries are living a long and happy life pursuing their interests in safety and freedom.

    I don’t accept this premise. In the U.S., broadly speaking, the demographic groups that are having children are wealthier and report being happier than those that are not.

    To be fair, the “wealthier” part surprised me when I first read about it four or five years ago. The “happier” part didn’t.

  232. @Jeff Read
    > What you fail to understand is that things which scale factorially grow intractable really, really fast.

    Apparently you failed to grasp the math (nearly every one has the same myopia initially). The physical network is not a physical factorial mesh of dynamic connections– actually it is a (static trunk-wise) hierarchal bifurcating tree (statism and centralization). The set of all possible interactions between ends of the network is a factorial (dynamic and decentralized). That set is a virtual and dynamic network. I explained this with an analogy to the physical structure of neuron interconnections in the brain. Although the physical connections of any one brain are not N factorial, the set of all possible brains is N factorial. This is the mathematical reason we were told to go forth and multiply.

    The virtual network out runs the physical network by more than orders-of-magnitude. It radically (factorial) trumps the physical time-space domain. The factorial trumps any exponential. Do you know of any mathematical expression that trumps factorial?

    Afaik, ants form an N! virtual information network even though their physical network is hierarchal bifurcating tree.

    > Haskell compiler writers — who are forever searching for efficient ways to transform computations
    > in the nifty abstract realm of referential transparency

    You are missing the point of my theory behind Copute. The goal is not to make any one program entirely referentially transparent, but rather to make building blocks (functions or classes) that are referentially transparent, so the N factorial permuted combinations of building blocks (i.e. diversity of programs) are not constrained. The goal is thus to counter-act the exponential breakage of low-level refactoring tsuris.

    > So yes, by all means, set yourself against nature. What you will find is that, invariably, nature will win.

    I am setting myself in harmony with nature. Those who cling to exponential breakage of the physical statism will lose (perish).

  233. @Morgan Greywolf
    > You don’t live in one of the 31 states with a Castle Doctrine and/or a Stand Your Ground law?

    Thanks for the info & link. Yet that criminal law doesn’t protect one from losing everything to predatory civil lawsuit, thus our hands are still tied behind our back. Additionally, I expect the Feds to ignore state law, when they call up all the local police which they have already deputized in preparation. The Feds have unlimited power to unilaterally ignore the constitution. The physical realm is dying, there is no use expending effort there. Route intelligiently around the tsuris.

    > This N! scaling law seems silly. [...] networks of any kind do not scale infinitely

    See my prior rebuttal to Jeff Read.

    I think once people understand the N! math, the state will evaporate in a period of about 7 years. Insurmountable truth can not be denied.

  234. ESR

    It seems I cannot get anything past the filter anymore.

    All research shows people in the EU are very happy, especially in the North West. Also, populations in many countries are growing, including France, Belgium and Sweden.

    So my summary still stands.

  235. @Winter
    >> Lets put white hot coals and big chunks of ice on the floor in the same room and measure the air temperature.
    >> If it is temperature is not too hot, we will let you jog briskly barefoot in the room wearing a blindfold of your favorite color
    >
    > What do these have to do with tax levels and life expectancy? Do you imply that somehow,
    > half the people pay no taxes and the other half has no life expectancy?

    Your chosen metric may not apply to what is important to each individual, who is dealing with factors that are not reflected in your chosen metric. Burning your feet to nubs should be sufficient experience to prove to you that people have immediate issues which get inferred with by statism.

    What in the heck made you assume that the world is only composed of taxes and life expectancy?

    > And what am I missing about your reference about color? I am not a native speaker of English so please excuse my ignorance.

    It was satire on the political correctness of our culture, wherein one is rewarded with tokenism in return for the enema of statism.

    > If it the correlation is negative…

    Correlating things which do not have relevance to my daily priorities is irrelevant. Aggregate statistics are wrong about everything except the aggregate. Burnt nubs is no consolation for good aggregate statistics.

    > France and England exist as states for more than 500 years. My own country existed as a political entity for the last 400 years.
    > In those 4 centuries it has never descended to killing a large part of its inhabitants

    Beheadings, starvation, widespread killing before and in the French Revolution. Massive European death in WW1 and WW2. England addicted the whole of southern China to opium to get its silver back.

    > I think large scale social engineering is the worst humankind can experience.

    I agree. That is why I said get out the way of nature. Statism is social engineering.

    > evolution favors those who life a shameful and unfree life over those who die a free and honorable death.

    What? You are highly confused. Evolution favors those who maximize diversity. Statism reduces diversity to aggregate statistics and causes shameful, lack of freedom, starvation, war, and death.

  236. @Jeff Read
    >> Or are you just afraid high taxes correlate with high life expectancies, health, happiness, and freedom.
    >
    > This is indeed the final nail in the coffin of libertarianism.

    Statistics lie.See my prior posts about burnt nubs. They also lie about fat (long) tails. Theft makes people happy for a while. The social experiment of Europe is sustained by growth of the developing world. If not for stealing from the developing world via the fiat machine, socialized Europe would already have imploded. It is coming. If you need an exhaustive proof, just ask.

    > Yet the world’s first and last great experiment in rational anarchism — the USA — has devolved…

    Democracy-by-proxy is not anarchism. The original democracy was a town hall structure where everyone participated. But even that is not my point. Anarchism does not fail when it is not a proxy, but the N! set of real-time actions. Ken Burnside’s point about power vacuum is salient, and see my reply to him.

    > “We Europeans are going through a collapse too, but we’re having a lot more fun watching it happen.”

    Pride is maximum right before the fall. Utopia is wonderful until it becomes utopian (aka perfect). Have you studied the math of perfection?

  237. Jocelyn
    “Your chosen metric may not apply to what is important to each individual, who is dealing with factors that are not reflected in your chosen metric.”

    Tax levels are a good measure of the power of the state. It is also easy to measure if not already published. If you have a better one, please tell us.

    Life expectancy is a very good measure of overall well being. Happiness is another. If you have a better one, please feel free etc. I know very few people who do not value a high life expectancy for themselves and their loved ones. So if you have other information, please share it with us.

    If there are individuals who rather blow themselves up in a subway station, I could not care less about their feelings. And so do all people I know.

  238. Jocelyn
    “Beheadings, starvation, widespread killing before and in the French Revolution. Massive European death in WW1 and WW2. England addicted the whole of southern China to opium to get its silver back.”

    This did not happen in my country at all. Four years of mayhem in 600 years of history of France is a small glitch, I think. And the mayhem was rather limited. After the French revolution, the French were still strong enough to conquer the whole of Europe. And do you really want to claim anarchists do not make wars? On what grounds? Anarchists are saints and never greedy nor selfish?

    Still, your prediction of the failing state looks further away today as ever, after *600* years. If France and England did not collapse after 6 centuries and a multitude of devastating wars, what can cause a collapse? On the contrary. In these 6 centuries all other territories of Europe organized themselves in ever bigger states. And I do not see any signs that they are on the brink of collapse.

  239. Jocelyn
    “What? You are highly confused. Evolution favors those who maximize diversity. Statism reduces diversity to aggregate statistics and causes shameful, lack of freedom, starvation, war, and death.”

    Nope, evolution favors those who leave behind offspring. Nothing less, nothing more. And Statism did prevent famines in Europe pretty well for the last 200 years. So how do you get the impression that it will cause famines now?

  240. There is something deliciously ironic about a childless “pessimistic anarchist”/ libertarian asserting that low fertility rates are “suicide on a civilizational scale”.

    ESR says: I could reply to this very effectively, but it touches matters that I cannot discuss without breaching the privacy of others. I’ll just say your irony is misplaced.

  241. Jocelyn
    “The social experiment of Europe is sustained by growth of the developing world. If not for stealing from the developing world via the fiat machine, socialized Europe would already have imploded. It is coming. If you need an exhaustive proof, just ask.”

    Said by a citizen of a country that runs up the largest trade deficit in the world. If it wasn’t for European, Japanese, and Chinese money, the USA would have imploded a decade ago.

    See, I can do that too.

    European economies are doing reasonably well. They survived two world wars and countless crises. So why not this crisis?

    And taxes and life expectancy are the two measure that never lie. If you die early, something in your life went wrong. If you pay taxes, you are a citizen of a state. And if paying more taxes concurs with living longer, it is YOU who has to explain that away. Everyone else will rather pay taxes than die.

  242. @Winter “And if paying more taxes concurs with living longer, it is YOU who has to explain that away.”

    The correlation may be reversed. States in which people live longer need higher taxes to support the older population.

  243. @ESR
    > What’s going on in the social-democratic part of the developed world is something else –
    > huge numbers of women never having children at all and never planning to.

    This was explained to me by my 57 year old Belgium farmer friend (with 3 teeth).

    He said that the men have become women and the women have become men. He said the men are so feminine, that they prefer a bossy/dominant woman. And the woman have become so masculine, materially focused, and completely uninterested in the reproduction ritual. He contrasted this with the Philippines, where the filipinas who expect a minimum of several rounds per night– the filipino although smaller is near vertical and again immediately after eruption numerous times. This is not a myth, personally verified ;) My theory on why the filipinos are not fighters (machismo), is because they are getting plenty. Since I first arrived in Philippines in 1991, the population has nearly doubled from 60 to 100 million.

    @Winter
    > But population growth is declining EVERYwhere in the world [...] All caused by increases of education and wealth

    It seems to be highly correlated to contraceptive uptake. And I betcha that the emasculation of European women is hormone changes induced by teenage use of contraceptives.

    @ESR
    > Such a refined form of cannibalism. You consume most of your children before they’re conceived.

    They don’t want evolution (random events), so they get extinction. Man wants to insure and be in control, but whether he likes it or not, evolution always wins.

    @Winter
    > Life expectancy is a very good measure of overall well being

    Duration != quality

    > If you have a better one, please feel free etc.

    The point is that there isn’t one metric that captures N! possibilities (qualities).

    > If there are individuals who rather blow themselves up in a subway station, I could not care less

    Is that the only good possibility you can think of out of N! possibilities.

    > do you really want to claim anarchists do not make wars?

    Anarchism is each person maximizing his/her opportunity cost in real-time (because delay is also a cost). If that can be obtained with technology such that Ken Burnside’s democracy-by-proxy power vacuum disappears, then widespread war is impossible (refer to Ken Burnside’s correct statement about militias and my refinement reply).

    > Nope, evolution favors those who leave behind offspring. Nothing less, nothing more.

    False, because the N! possibilities are necessary to maximize fittness that produces and raises offspring that produce and raise, that produce and raise, etc..

  244. @Winter “Said by a citizen of a country that runs up the largest trade deficit in the world. If it wasn’t for European, Japanese, and Chinese money, the USA would have imploded a decade ago.”

    You’ve got that backwards. A trade deficit means more imports than exports, so there’s less foreign money coming in not more.

  245. Adam
    “The correlation may be reversed. States in which people live longer need higher taxes to support the older population.”

    Indeed. So we should also check current life expectancy against tax levels 1 or 2 generations ago. Then this causation cannot hold. State influence would be expected to imprint on those who lived through it.

    However, this assumes that the higher taxes are used to care for the older population which means that they are accorded by the current population, i.e., not simply robed by the elite to fill their own pockets. I understood libertarians sometimes doubt the intentions of taxation.

  246. Adam:
    “You’ve got that backwards. A trade deficit means more imports than exports, so there’s less foreign money coming in not more.”

    Nope, the foreign money is needed to pay for the imported stuff. Trade deficits are balanced by capital influx.

  247. @Winter “Nope, the foreign money is needed to pay for the imported stuff. Trade deficits are balanced by capital influx.”

    Actually, most foreign goods are denominated in US dollars, since it’s the most common reserve currency. But that’s beside the point. You implied the US trade deficit is equivalent to the “stealing from the developing world via the fiat machine” which doesn’t make sense. Trade deficits and surpluses are neutral to the economy being neither helpful nor harmful.

  248. An example of free-market anarchism that may be viable right now.

    Completely decentralized delivery using smart phones with real time location awareness. All that is needed is the addition of a scanner. This creates a situation where every individual builds a reputation. Shippers will develop a reputation based on accuracy of weight, size and durable packing. Delivery people will only see available packages based on their level of experience. The levels are determined by how much insurance the shipper purchases. There is a required base insurance that covers the delivery charge only.

    An example. I have two packages to send to different places. One is in the general direction I am going. I set one out for pick up at home and scan it for availability. I go to my meeting that is half way to the other packages’ destination. This establishment makes a small area available for packages. Why? Because it is a source of income. So I set my second package down here and scan their location code and then my package and make it available for pick up. Anyone passing through the area can take it the rest of the way or someone who has chosen delivery as there full time work will do it.

    I do not see how this can not scale to even include hazardous materials

    Okay, so I’m a big admirer of coders and this is my first time posting here (I’m a nervous wreck ;-) ) and I probably just embarrassed myself.

  249. Adam
    “You implied the US trade deficit is equivalent to the “stealing from the developing world via the fiat machine” which doesn’t make sense. Trade deficits and surpluses are neutral to the economy being neither helpful nor harmful.”

    The denomination of oil in dollars allowed the USA to print way more money than would have possible otherwise. The devaluation of the dollar and all the burst bubbles, especially the last mortgage crisis, all ended up in a net transfer of foreign capital into US hands.

    But all your arguments can also applied to Europe. So if what the US does is not stealing, why is what the EU does called stealing? This was not my argument at all.

  250. @Winter
    > If it wasn’t for European, Japanese, and Chinese money, the USA would have imploded a decade ago

    Actually we wouldn’t have gotten sidetracked on housing bubble and would be in a much stronger position now, because we would have adjusted to the new realities. But the centralized fiat machinery prevented this annealing fitness feedback. All of the western world will now pay for this with withering private sector and booming statism.

    > European economies are doing reasonably well. They survived two world wars and countless crises. So why not this crisis?

    If withering is surviving. One way of coping with a private sector strangled by the majority is to:

    1) Borrow from the future in numerous ways including removing the cost of producing offspring. This is a one time boost that falls off a cliff.
    2) Purchase the mass media of your competitors and indoctrinate them to copy your model. This is what I suppose ESR was going to write about Codevilla?

    > And taxes and life expectancy are the two measure that never lie.

    They lie about everything positive about individual diversity that is not correlated to those 2 metrics, which is just about everything.

    > If you pay taxes, you are a citizen of a state.

    And that is negative to individual opportunity cost optimization. It also eventually shows up as negative in the aggregate statistics, such as marginal utility of debt and the population growth rate.

    > And if paying more taxes concurs with living longer

    Duration != Quality (Fitness/Optimization)

    > Everyone else will rather pay taxes than die.

    Not paying taxes will kill me? LOL.

    @Adam
    > You implied the US trade deficit is equivalent to the “stealing from the developing world via the fiat machine”
    > which doesn’t make sense. Trade deficits and surpluses are neutral to the economy being neither helpful nor harmful.

    That was my statement as quoted. The trade deficits are stealing from the developing world, because the control is exchange rates is centralized. If the exchanges were occurring in directly between N! parties in the 2 countries, then your statement would be correct. The trade deficits are also stealing from the westerners too, and the theft shows up in too much materialism and too little reproduction, and a withering of the private sector economy, etc.

  251. 1. esr: “People like that always remind me of 17th-century monarchists insisting that democracy would inevitably become the basest sort of mob rule”. Actually, most of the Founding Fathers (and of the other 18th century revolutionaries) were equally apprehensive of “democracy” (i.e. rule by the people). The Founding Gathers would have used the word Republic for the modern “democracies”. What they actually did (and all the other revolutionaries afterwards) was to build on the theory of the “enlightened despot”: they split the despot into three branches, replaced the “Divene Right” as source of his legitimacy with the constitutional duty to uphold the “bill of rights”, and used democratic mechanisms only as a way to veto his authority when it clashed with “certain unalienable Rights, … among these … Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. We do not live in literal democracies, we live in democratically mandated “Regencies”.

    In other words, the major political advancement of the modern political thinking has been the constitutional system proclaiming the prevalence of the individual’s rights over any government’s rights. Democracy has been just a means to compensate for the scarcity and unreliability of would-be constitutional “enlightened despots”.

    2. Where central authority collapses, the end result is not anarchy, it’s some kind of feudal (i.e. mafia-like) system. This seems to be the case in Somalia or Afghanistan. Therefore it seems one should add rather than subtract from the current political system in order to achieve anarchy.

    (esr: for a long time I believed your anarchist views did not make sense. Now, I think it’s rather a matter of terminology: in Weber’s definition I focus on coercion while you emphasize territorial control, which means that probably a non-territorial voluntary coercive organization is not a government according to you.)

    To the extent they worked, ancient and tribal democracies approximated the individuals’ contribution to the military (i.e. coercive) power of the community. This is why only free men with a strong commitment to the community were citizens. In ancient Rome the political system was an expression of the balance between the military strength of the free men (who voted organized in pseudo-military units) and the clout of the rich and influential families represented in the Senate. When citizens became to poor to serve unconditionally in the army and had to be replaced by professional soldiers, military commanders gradually took over, the people was no longer assembled and the SEnate became an advisory body.

    If citizenship were conditional of annual military training, if each voting citizen had his or her personal weapons at home, and each reserve officer had the keys to the warehouse of his unit, officials would become elected leaders of their fellow soldiers and would be accountable accordingly. I’m thinking here on the lines of “Starship Troopers”, except that being a soldier would be a lifelong (intermittent) duty. Perhaps this could be a realistic first step toward an anarchic community.

  252. Jocelyn
    “They lie about everything positive about individual diversity that is not correlated to those 2 metrics, which is just about everything.”

    You yourself are claiming taxes affect an individuals life massively. You cannot have it both ways, telling us taxes are bad because they restrict our life and choices and saying they are not a good measure because they are telling us nothing about a persons life.

    And life expectancy is strongly correlated to a lot of personal life history, like health, education, wealth, security, and happiness. These correlations have been empirically tested in many palces. But if you know of another statistic that is more important, please tell us.

    On the other hand, I get the distinct impression that you simply refuse to really measure the impact of state intervention on the quality of life. Why measure if you can simply argue?

  253. @Winter “But all your arguments can also applied to Europe. So if what the US does is not stealing, why is what the EU does called stealing?”

    What arguments? The point was made that Europe’s economy has been artificially propped up by “stealing from the developing world via the fiat machine” and you implied that the US economy was likewise artificially propped up by “trade deficits.” All I did was point out that that doesn’t make sense.

  254. Adam
    “All I did was point out that that doesn’t make sense.”

    Indeed, it doesn’t.

    Sorry, all further arguments are blocked by the filter.

  255. @Winter “On the other hand, I get the distinct impression that you simply refuse to really measure the impact of state intervention on the quality of life. Why measure if you can simply argue?”

    The rate of taxation isn’t really related to anarchy, only whether force (or the threat of force) is used in its collection. An anarchic society can be organised around a central authority that requires payments be made which are identical to taxes in every other way. Unless there is a causal correlation between life expectancy and the force behind taxation then this line of reasoning doesn’t refute anarchy. It may used as an argument against some types of anarchic structures, but not anarchy in general.

  256. Adam
    “The rate of taxation isn’t really related to anarchy, only whether force (or the threat of force) is used in its collection.”

    In an anarchy, contributions are voluntary. Which is not taxation as that is always obligatory. So if I measure the level of taxation, voluntary contributions are NOT counted. Just as altruistic donations etc are not. But surely, we can agree on a definition of taxation that excludes anarchistic voluntary contributions.

    For all practical purposes, the level of taxation is directly related to the amount of influence of the State. If the state controls the economy, the state controls the life of the people.

  257. Adam
    “Unless there is a causal correlation between life expectancy and the force behind taxation then this line of reasoning doesn’t refute anarchy.”

    I claim there is such a causal relation. Anarchist claim it too. My claim is that the causal relation is positive, more taxation correlates with higher quality of life and hence a higher life expectancy. Others here claim the relation would be negative, higher taxation leads to a lower quality of life and a lower life expectancy. The correlation between quality of life and life expectancy has been empirically found in every society studied.

  258. @ESR
    > ESR says: I could reply to this very effectively

    Comment withdrawn. My apologies.

  259. @Winter
    > You cannot have it both ways, telling us taxes are bad because they restrict our life and choices and
    > saying they are not a good measure because they are telling us nothing about a persons life.

    I did not say that tax levels can not correlate with individual impacts (although you have N! correlations because each individual’s impact is its own category), what I said is aggregate metrics can not capture those individual impacts, except by a priori induction (i.e. cherry picking the random variable). Thus statistics can be used to obfuscate the random day-to-day opportunity costs that individuals must optimize.

    There are more useful aggregate metrics which for example can tell you how the aggregate economy is performing, e.g. marginal utility of debt.

    > And life expectancy is strongly correlated to a lot of personal life history, like health, education, wealth, security, and happiness.

    Happiness is temporal and quixotic– it has in past flipped to despair in a heartbeat as structurally fraudulent (overly statist) economies implode.

    I think the universal health care experience of 1930s Germany is sufficient to show where such can lead. The social experiment of modern Europe is young.

    Public (carbon copy) education creates a one-mind culture that thinks it is happy, thinks it is secure, thinks it is civilized, but is headed towards catastrophic failure (evidence the extinction level birth rates).

    Correlate fantasy to get any result you desire.

    Life expectancy is not correlated with individual impacts, nor the catastrophe that will hit the western world this decade.

    Also even to the extent that we agree that life expectancy is a desirable quality, correlation to tax levels does not prove that big government causes long life. LOL.

    In probability theory it is called mutual information.

    Rather it is the technological progress in the developed countries that enabled them to afford big government social experiments. And technology and wealth correlate to longer lives.

    Winter we’ve reached the point in the debate, where we any one can twist statistics to support any objective. I want to encourage you to do as much economic sharing as you can. Please increase it to the maximum.

  260. @Russell Nelson
    > Nelson’s Principle of Conservatism: “Good things happen slowly, and bad things happen quickly.”

    Inverse. Statism is an exponential (i.e. constant percentage) change that isn’t noticed until the negative effects become nominally greater than the perceived nominal benefits. Whereas, desirable freedoms happen suddenly when the statism implodes.

    > This party will side with one of the two powerful parties, but only if they get a little freedom. Iterate over five centures

    Participants take their “fair” share thus bankrupting the statism, causing freedoms suddenly, but not without irreversible mis-allocation of human capital.

    > definition functions as a pointer to peace

    Definitions do not cause economics. Individual opportunity costs in the system model determine outcome. Peace results if there is no opportunity-cost that enables democracy-by-proxy.

  261. @Jess
    > Russell, thanks for pointing me at Xeer. That’s awesome, and to my shame was not something my Western prejudice
    > would have expected to exist

    It is decentralized as is the Apache culture discussed in the book, The Starfish and The Spider. I expect we will find that Somalia is not “one way”, but rather a diverse set of situations.

  262. @Jess
    > thanks for pointing me at [...] my Western [...] would have expected to exist

    It is decentralized as is the Apache culture discussed in the book, The Starfish and The Spider. I expect we will find that country is not “one way”, but rather a diverse set of situations.

    (had to prune words to get through filter)

  263. Jocelyn
    “Winter we’ve reached the point in the debate, where we any one can twist statistics to support any objective. I want to encourage you to do as much economic sharing as you can. Please increase it to the maximum.”

    If I understand your argument correctly, you are saying the anarchist hypothesis, “no state is good for the people”, cannot be empirically tested. (and mutual information is simply another way of discussing correlations)

    My thesis, a strong state if often good for the well being of the people, however, can be tested. There are well understood procedures for that. You start with correlating measures of well-being with measures of state influence over delayed time. This allows me to look for the causal factors that affect personal well being in relation to level of organization and state influence. After doing this, I can decide whether or not a (socialist) state is helpful or detrimental. Statistics gives me the level of “support” of the data for my hypothesis.

    Causation implies correlation. No correlation, no causation. And I know the reverse is not true. If the anarchist thesis is true, we should find a negative correlation. If we find no correlation, not even a negative one, state influence is NOT bad for the people. And, as I said, you can fill in any quantitative measure of state influence and personal well being (integrated over a lifetime).

    Personally, I will go for the empirically testable route.

  264. Jocelyn
    “Winter we’ve reached the point in the debate, where we any one can twist statistics to support any objective. I want to encourage you to do as much economic sharing as you can. Please increase it to the maximum.”

    If I understand your argument correctly, you are saying the anarchist hypothesis, “no state is good for the people”, cannot be empirically tested. (and mutual information is simply another way of discussing correlations)

    Causation implies correlation. No correlation, no causation. And I know the reverse is not true. If the anarchist thesis is true, we should find a negative correlation. If we find no correlation, not even a negative one, state influence is NOT bad for the people. And, as I said, you can fill in any quantitative measure of state influence and personal well being (integrated over a lifetime).

    Personally, I will go for the empirically testable route.

  265. 2. Where central authority collapses, the end result is not anarchy, it’s some kind of feudal (i.e. mafia-like) system. This seems to be the case in Somalia or Afghanistan. Therefore, to achieve anarchy, it seems one should add rather than subtract from the current political system.

    (esr: for a long time I believed your views did not make sense. Now, I think it’s rather a matter of terminology: in Weber’s definition I focus on coercion while you emphasize territorial control, which means that probably a non-territorial voluntary coercive organization is not a government according to you.)

    To the extent they worked, ancient and tribal democracies approximated the individuals’ contribution to the military (i.e. coercive) power of the community. This is why only free men with a strong commitment to the community were citizens. In ancient Rome the political system was an expression of the balance between the military strength of the free men (who voted organized in pseudo-military units) and the clout of the rich and influential families represented in the Senate. When citizens became to poor to serve unconditionally in the army and had to be replaced by professional soldiers, military commanders gradually took over, the people was no longer assembled and the SEnate became an advisory body.

  266. (continued)

    If citizenship were conditional of annual military training, if each voting citizen had his or her personal weapons at home, and each reserve officer had the keys to the warehouse of his unit, officials would become elected leaders of their fellow soldiers and would be accountable accordingly. I’m thinking here on the lines of “Starship Troopers”, except that being a soldier would be a lifelong (intermittent) duty. Perhaps this could be a realistic first step toward an anarchist community.

  267. Winter I am saying that evolution gives you the right to participate in any society that you wish. Go ahead. The state may be good for you. You will reap what you sow.

    Evolution also gives me the right to participate in technologies which bankrupt your “fair sharing” society, by giving people a way to escape from your society and making it uneconomic for your society to stop them from doing so.

    All the statistics in world won’t be able to predict the effects of new technology, nor stop either of us from doing what we are going to do. So go forth please.

    > If we find no correlation, not even a negative one, state influence is NOT bad for the people.

    You still have the same problem which is that I don’t agree that the aggregate metric you are correlating represents “bad for the people”.

    Go correlate the marginal utility of debt to government as % of GDP. I can argue that shows that big government is “bad for the people”.

    We can draw no certain conclusions about causation from correlation or lack of correlation. One has to eliminate all the possible mutual information, which is impossible especially if the truth is a fat tail (in the future). You have to actually reason about the model.

    The life expectancy is a very backward historical statistic. Look at a real-time aggregate such as the marginal utility of debt. It blows your argument to smithereens.

  268. Eric, three points of order:

    1) You stated that Hitler was elected. You did not say that the NDSAP was elected. Hitler was not elected, he was appointed. The NSDAP was elected. This is the sum total of my original objection.

    2) There’s a fair bit of evidence that the NSDAP was on the decline prior to this appointment; radical reform movements tend to attract all sorts of crazies, and have a short half-life.

    3) There’s no way to test what the NSDAP would have been had Hitler not been a desperation, fourth-choice appointment as Chancellor. However, in places where the power of government was triflingly stronger, and the idea that losing the election isn’t the end of the world, analogs to the NSDAP had MUCH less success.

    I think the case can be made that the democide examples you’ve chosen as ‘inevitable consequences of statism’ are, in fact, strong reactions to the perception of anarchy and chaos, and are more tied to Communism (for the vast majority of them) and Fascism (which grew as a countervailing meme to Communism).

    Marx, Engels and Lenin have much to answer for.

  269. @Ken Burnside
    > I think the case can be made that the democide examples you’ve chosen as ‘inevitable consequences of statism’ are,
    > in fact, strong reactions to the perception of anarchy and chaos, and are more tied to Communism [...] and Fascism …

    The chaos that results from the accumulated mis-allocation of human capital in statism often does lead (as a reaction) to those other degenerate forms of statism. The USA has adopted roughly 9 of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto.

    That chaos is the error correction for the accumulated annealing that did not occur (mis-allocation) without ideal anarchy. Ideal anarchy I previously defined (with the aid of your insight) as minimization of opportunity costs, which would otherwise enable democracy-by-proxy power vacuum.

  270. Jocelyn
    “The life expectancy is a very backward historical statistic. Look at a real-time aggregate such as the marginal utility of debt. It blows your argument to smithereens.”

    And how does the “marginal utility of debt” affect my personal situation?
    This would lead to absurdities like “I am fine because the marginal utility of my country’s debt is good, but some members of my family are expected to die from a preventable cause in the coming year”.

    At least, taxation and life expectancy can be directly measured.

    But whatever you like. Just do it.

  271. >Eric, three points of order:

    Ken, I like you and you’re a very bright guy and usually a sound thinker, but sometimes your elaborate ratiocinative apparatus gets in its own way. There are some subjects on which you need to apply logic-chopping less and pay more attention to evidence from people who were there on the ground, and we’ve landed smack in one of them. In this case, I specifically recommend that you read William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for a close and perceptive reading of the politics of Germany in the preceding twenty years by a man who met many of the protagonists, and was actually living in and broadcasting from Berlin at the beginning of WWII.

    I first read Shirer when I was twelve; that was in 1969, when Naziism was more recent in historical time than the invention of the PC or Ronald Reagan’s second election is now. I’ve read a fair bit of scholarly work on the Nazi revolution since; a lot of it traffics in the sort of second-guessing you’re indulging in (historians gotta publish or they don’t get tenure), and most of it doesn’t add up to a fart in a windstorm compared to Shirer’s report of what it was like to be there.

    Shirer’s larger “sonderweg” thesis may be a bit overdone; I think that was Shirer making the same kind of error you are, trying to fit fact to attractive and preconceived theoretical categories. But Shirer does an excellent job of demolishing the notion that Naziism was as fragile and contingent a phenomenon as you want it to be. Whether you know it or not, you’re playing back a kind of revisionism about the Nazi revolution that was essentially invented post-Shirer in order to rehabilitate the Germans by disassociating Naziism from their national history and character. For a closely parallel phenomenon, examine the postwar lionization of Hans von Luck as a model for the good German officer.

    Shirer is telling on the extent to which the Nazi party functioned as Hitler’s personal vehicle after the purge of the Strasser brothers in 1934 (the infamous Night of the Long Knives), and the degree to which that was correctly read by the Germans who voted for the NSDAP. A vote for the NSDAP was a vote for Hitler; anyone who lived through that time and place would laugh at you for supposing any distinction was meaningful. You can argue about “analogues of the NSDAP” (such as, say, the Romanian Iron Guard) all you like, but this is trying to wave away brute facts with hypotheticals.

    As for your implicit argument that democide can be closely coupled to Communism and Fascism rather than the end stages of statism in general, you’re on shaky historical ground there, too. There are any number of state-managed counterexamples: the Armenian genocide/democide, the Hutu/Tutsi massacres in Rwanda-Burundi, and the near-extermination of the Miskito Indians. I hate the legacy of Marxism-Leninism as much as you do, but don’t let that attachment blind you to the facts.

    In any case, supposing that democide is primarily a manifestation of some dark historical DNA in that strain of politics gains you less than you think. What reason do you actually have to suppose that any end stage of state collectivism could be distinguished from communism/fascism by anything other than the heraldry and uniforms? Naziism and Communism are, in their own way, brutally functional ideologies – memetic machines adapted for the purposes of ultimate statism. All totalitarianisms, all end stages of the cancerous state, have to behave in the same way – up to and including democide; the logic of the gun and the whip renders their initial, contingent ideological commitments irrelevant.

    You can see this convergence, for example, in the way that Japanese “fascism” – a phenomenon with roots completely separate from Marxism/Leninism – took on more and more of the character and details of identikit totalitarianism as it evolved. Yes, they were to some extent imitating the Nazis, but they were doing that because the tricks they imitated met the needs of an indigenously developed state-worship. It was, as an anthropologist would say, less a matter of diffusion than functional convergence.

    (Why, yes. Yes, I have been researching and thinking about these issues for many decades. :-) )

  272. @Winter
    > And how does the “marginal utility of debt” affect my personal situation?

    It is very indicative of your mind programming, that you didn’t know that a negative marginal utility of debt means statism is cannibalizing itself. Once you reach that point, every new unit of fiat causes a decline in production. It is the death spiral with no escape, and the west entered it in 2008. Goodbye to your generation, sorry. It is all over.

    Yes you go ahead and maximize the debt please. Because every debt unit you add, is digging the abyss that you face deeper.

    @ESR
    > all end stages of the cancerous state, have to behave in the same way – up to and including democide;
    > the logic of the gun and the whip renders their initial, contingent ideological commitments irrelevant.

    Yup.

  273. esr
    I actually know and spoke to people who lived through WWII in Germany and the occupied territories. I think your interpretation is essentially correct. The Germans voted the Nazi party in power because they really supported the cause.

    This is not necessarily saying the German voters supported the mass murders. These were not published widely, or at all. Most will have suspected things were not what they seemed. But then it was already too late. Even talking about it was dangerous. The fear of the Gestapo was real and realistic. There were good reasons the German camp guards tried to destroy all evidence. They knew how wrong it was.

    But mass murders have been of all times. Even chimps try to exterminate competing tribes. The Mongols killed a million people in mere weeks or so in their campaign for Samarkand. Others before them did the same. The limit was always determined by the technical means available and the ability of the victims to get away. There were city wide massacres during the 100 years war in France. The crusaders massacred everyone in Jerusalem. William the Conquerer massacred the people of Northumberland. And so on.

  274. @Winter
    > The limit was always determined by the technical means available and the ability of the victims to get away

    Ah so the reason you support statism is because you think there is no better way to protect yourself and provide you with a “civilized” good life.

    So if the N! factorial network scaling law limits the power vacuum, then even you will adopt it in favor of statism. I knew it! I am confident the world will walk away from statism before 2023. We are in decade that will see massive change that people thought wasn’t possible.

  275. Jocelyn
    “Ah so the reason you support statism is because you think there is no better way to protect yourself and provide you with a “civilized” good life.”

    I support a market economy because it makes everyone wealthy, universal health care because it makes everyone healthy, a democracy because it makes everyone free, good education because it reduces ignorance, justice because it more people save, and a state because it makes it all possible. I look at countries and decide where I would like to live and raise a family. That is what I want to emulate at home. And I pay my taxes with a smile on my face.

    And I see support for my opinions everywhere. If you have an alternative, show me the “code”, where is the evidence?

    And your millennial fantasies of the new age are not reassuring. Not at all.

  276. >>I support a market economy because it makes everyone wealthy, universal health care because it makes everyone healthy, a democracy because it makes everyone free, good education because it reduces ignorance, justice because it more people save, and a state because it makes it all possible. I look at countries and decide where I would like to live and raise a family. That is what I want to emulate at home. And I pay my taxes with a smile on my face.

    A free market economy make everyone wealthy = more lifesaving technologies. Universal healthcare = fundamental mis-allocation of resources based on the idea that only free markets can do economic calculation. You cannot oppose economic reality. Democracy != freedom. Good education != public schooling.

    Good for you paying taxes. I don’t wanna pay taxes nor do I think that universal healthcare and democracy are worth supporting.

    >>And I see support for my opinions everywhere. If you have an alternative, show me the “code”, where is the evidence?

    I am not so convinced when I know that some of the more allegedly socialist country also happens to have freerer economies. I am not so convinced because you did not address the theory that socialist commonwealth cannot calculate.

    If you can disrupt the theory, not just point out some convincing evidence(which I believe is not generally the full story), than you can force a rapid belief update in me. I am not so prone to fight for every inch of ground for my beliefs as others might have, but you will have a hard time convincing me if you don’t address my fundamental concerns and disrupt fundamental tenets I hold about how economies work.

  277. >>And I see support for my opinions everywhere. If you have an alternative, show me the “code”, where is the evidence?

    I am not so convinced when I know that some of the more allegedly socialist country also happens to have freerer economies. I am not so convinced because you did not address the theory that socialist commonwealth cannot calculate.

    If you can disrupt the theory, not just point out some convincing evidence(which I believe is not generally the full story), than you can force a rapid belief update in me. I am not so prone to fight for every inch of ground for my (often time, incorrect) beliefs as others might have, but you will have a hard time convincing me if you don’t address my fundamental concerns and disrupt fundamental tenets I hold about how economies work.

  278. >>And your millennial fantasies of the new age are not reassuring. Not at all.

    It is not especially reassuring if you dismiss your opponents’ argument as entirely without merits by calling the argument mere “fantasy”.

    It seem that you have forgotten my mention of cryptocurrencies and the advent of decentralized manufacturing as examples. I would argued that technologies play a key role in determining if “good” anarchy is possible. It seem that you have look into the past but did not consider the technological angle nor does it seem that you have incorporated N! into your consideration.

    I say that Jocelyn vastly overestimated the effects of technology on determination of possible governance methods. In my opinion, I would say there is a small window that determine whether or not we get anarchy(I am still in the exponential curve mode, not N! as it is difficult for me to propagate the implication to my belief system). Admittedly, this conclusion might change significantly once I got a grasp on Jocelyn’s N! idea and discern the relative truthness.

  279. It look like one of my post got eaten by the spam filter….oh well. A short post will do.

    >>I support a market economy because it makes everyone wealthy, universal health care because it makes everyone healthy

    This seem to be a compartmentalization of consequences. A free market that make everyone wealthier also it is a lot easier to make everyone healthier. You say universal healthcare make everyone healthier, but does it stand to reason that free market might make everyone healthier faster? If universal healthcare improve lives right now, but slow down innovation rate in the free market economy, than it might goes to reason that it is better to support free markets as exclusive means of providing healthcare. (This is of course, supposing that universal healthcare really do improve lives)

    Also, are you familiar with the argument that social commonwealth cannot do economic calculation? IF the argument is true, than the implication is that universal healthcare, especially when administered by central authorities, will overtime lose out to more free market entities. This is of course hard to see, as some socialist countries have freer markets than the US, and the US have extensive regulations of its healthcare industry.

  280. I support a market economy because it makes everyone wealthy, universal health care because it makes everyone healthy

    How do you reconcile these? Universal health care is the suppression of the market economy.

  281. And your millennial fantasies of the new age are not reassuring. Not at all.

    Obviously you didn’t comprehend the math then.

  282. “Universal health care is the suppression of the market economy.”
    For a very narrow, biased view of universal health care, in which universal means ‘everyone must use state-provided health care’ and not ‘those who can’t afford a private health care provider can depend on the state’, which is the actual meaning of ‘universal health care’ as used throughout the world.

  283. @Winter
    > I support a market economy because it makes everyone wealthy

    Statism is not a market economy, it is a command economy.

    > universal health care because it makes everyone healthy

    Hahahaha. Do you really believe that?

    > a democracy because it makes everyone free

    Bwhahaha.

    You are delusional.

    > And I pay my taxes with a smile on my face.

    The farm animals smile too, until the day they scream.

    > And I see support for my opinions everywhere.

    Indeed so many will die like mindless ducks.

    > If you have an alternative, show me the “code”, where is the evidence?

    I already did. You are using it. But really I don’t want you to understand. I want you to keep going the direction you are. Please maximize your statism.

    @Kiba
    > I would say there is a small window that determine whether or not we get anarchy

    I also wrote the gateway is narrow, but I mean that most people won’t find the door. Anarchy is already occurring for some people.

    @Adriano
    > For a very narrow, biased view of universal health care, in which universal means ‘everyone must use state-provided health care’
    > and not ‘those who can’t afford a private health care provider can depend on the state’, which is the actual meaning of
    > ‘universal health care’ as used throughout the world.

    Er, handouts interfere with the market and cause mis-allocation of resources, which ultimately leads to failure.

    @Jeff Read
    > Obviously you didn’t comprehend the math then.

    I did not read your refuting proof yet.

  284. @Winter “I claim there is such a causal relation. ”

    Let me make sure that I have this correct. You think that money taken by force leads to longer life spans, but money taken voluntarily *WHICH IS USED FOR IDENTICAL PURPOSES* doesn’t. That needs some explaining.

  285. @Adam
    > Let me make sure that I have this correct. You think that money taken by force leads to longer life spans, but
    > money taken voluntarily *WHICH IS USED FOR IDENTICAL PURPOSES* doesn’t. That needs some explaining.

    Don’t be too explicit like that, Winter might lose focus of the waddling and quacking order.

  286. >>Let me make sure that I have this correct. You think that money taken by force leads to longer life spans, but money taken voluntarily *WHICH IS USED FOR IDENTICAL PURPOSES* doesn’t. That needs some explaining

    His brain is compartmentalized than most of us, obviously. In one drawer, he have “Free market work”. In another drawer, “universal healthcare work”. These knowledge are not in the “economic” drawer.

    If he knew the economic calculation debate, than he would also conclude that governmental function aren’t worth a damn and that include democracy.

  287. >For a very narrow, biased view of universal health care, in which universal means ‘everyone must use state-provided health care’ and not ‘those who can’t afford a private health care provider can depend on the state’, which is the actual meaning of ‘universal health care’ as used throughout the world.

    Thing is that this doesn’t work. The fact of the availability of a “free” (tax-subsidized) alternative means that private insurers can’t compete, since the taxes that pay for the ‘public option’ are paid by everyone, whereas the premiums for a private provider are paid only by the customer, thus people will mostly go for the “free” option. And since there are no competitive incentives for the public option, it will work at suboptimal rates of efficiency and quality. In particular, it’s likely to foster an even more virulent version of the US’ current problem with health insurance, in which everything’s prices are hugely inflated because the party paying for care (insurance entity) doesn’t have any direct control over choice of provider, and the party choosing the provider doesn’t have any incentive to seek lower prices.

  288. Thing is that this doesn’t work. The fact of the availability of a “free” (tax-subsidized) alternative means that private insurers can’t compete, since the taxes that pay for the ‘public option’ are paid by everyone, whereas the premiums for a private provider are paid only by the customer, thus people will mostly go for the “free” option. And since there are no competitive incentives for the public option, it will work at suboptimal rates of efficiency and quality. In particular, it’s likely to foster an even more virulent version of the US’ current problem with health insurance, in which everything’s prices are hugely inflated because the party paying for care (insurance entity) doesn’t have any direct control over choice of provider, and the party choosing the provider doesn’t have any incentive to seek lower prices.

    What I like about politics is how willing people are to theorise without the aid of empiricism. My insurance premiums (and I have very good coverage) cost less than basic coverage does in the US, and I live in a country with free universal healthcare. Furthermore, I can obtain this coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions. We have had free universal healthcare for years and yet we are not growing a deficit. It’s entertaining to watch people who think socioeconomic reality is driven by their Platonic ideals about incentives.

  289. @Roger “It’s entertaining to watch people who think socioeconomic reality is driven by their Platonic ideals about incentives.”

    Well, to be fair, the US medical/insurance system is horribly broken with a mish-mash of conflicting, heavy-handed regulation and severely perverted incentives. It’s so bad as it is, that this anarchist prefers socialised medicine to it. It’s anything but the paragon of a free market.

  290. Eric:
    Ireland, New Zealand, Israel all have universal, free health care, and all have birth rates higher than the US. I figured if I submit this for the 6th time it might make its way through.

    ESR says: [citation needed]

  291. The irony of the statist is he feigns rationalism as his argument, but statism is easily demonstrated to be irrational, i.e. logically incongruent with itself. I suppose that is why some anarchists scratch their head and conclude that desire for statism must be correlated to insufficient IQ, but not just any kind of IQ, rather the economic generative essence sort of reasoning capability.

    Thus statism and the resultant loss of life is an evolutionary filter, that will increase the generative essence IQ of mankind.

    @Jocelyn
    > I also wrote the gateway is narrow, but I mean that most people won’t find the door. Anarchy is already occurring for some people.

    Some people are already living in anarchy. They accomplish this by reducing their opportunity cost to near 0 for all forms of power created by democracy-by-proxy. They expend 0 effort trying to defeat statism for others. Realize the math of the N! factorial scaling law is such that diverse interactions among small groups of 100 to 1000 people can increase their knowledge beyond any capability of the rest of humanity:

    “Do you know how fast N! scales where N is the number of possible independent actors and N! is the possible sets of permutations of connections?

    5! = 125
    10! = 3628800
    100! = 9.3e+157″

    Add 1000! = 4.0e+2567

    @Jocelyn
    > Insurance is mathematically equivalent to statism. If you can’t devise adequate security reliability, then insurance can’t either.

    It seems that insurance is one of the last math hurdles for anarchist-to-be. Insurance pools capital and makes statistical predictions about the category being insured. But the anarchist N! math is that real-time change is necessary in order to maximize knowledge, i.e. optimum fitness for each situation requires each actor be uncorrelated/unconstrained in the future (agreement in the present is okay). If that is not sufficient to explain why insurance is mathematically equivalent to statism, then please reply and I will explain it exhaustively.

    @Jocelyn
    > He said the men are so feminine, that they prefer a bossy/dominant woman.

    Please realize I am not excluding individual cases, as I argued in my white hot coals and blocks of ice heterogeneous analogy, the average obfuscates the diversity.

    One of the planks of the Communist Manifesto is “no oppressed child labor, no submissive barefoot and pregnant women”. Everything is supposed to be equal, e.g. women as a category are supposed to be as good as men in math but standardized tests show they are not. The statist argues that this is environmental and can be “fixed” with a proper public education and sterilization policy. So it is no big surprise that the birth rates in Europe are extinction level, and for another reason being children are universally undesirable because their labor is taboo.

  292. @Roger Phillips
    > We have had free universal healthcare for years and yet we are not growing a deficit.

    That is a cash accounting statistics. Do the actuarial accounting and you find a huge unfunded liability that implodes your economy in the end. Do not forget to include the low birth rates in the calculation.

    > Ireland, New Zealand, Israel all have universal, free health care, and all have birth rates higher than the US.

    The correlation being debate earlier was relative to statism, not the small subset of universal health care. Obviously some countries are younger in their adoption of statism and haven’t yet reaped the “benefits” of the Communist Manifesto plank on the elimination of children. Do we need to refute your mistake 7 times?

    @Tom DeGisi
    > It is often said that communism would work well if humans were ants. Well, anarchism would work well if humans were bears.

    @Jocelyn
    > You make legislation to regulate every insect on planet earth, especially ants.
    > Can they stomp all the ants on earth? Somethings are just impossible.
    > Afaik, ants form an N! virtual information network even though their physical network is hierarchal bifurcating tree.

    Ants and bees are anarchists, they use N! factorial virtual network scaling law.

    Their physical network is not N! factorial, but rather a bifurcating tree gaining statism trunk-wise (queen bee/ant).

    Although they are statist in their protection of their physical trunk, the orthogonal colonies (one can even view small, large, red, black colonies operating side-by-side but not communicating with each other) form redundancy.

  293. The correlation being debate earlier was relative to statism, not the small subset of universal health care.

    Wonderful. I was not addressing any ‘earlier’ argument other than Eric’s statement, which stated that there were no socialist states with higher birth rates than the US. Are you asserting that New Zealand isn’t a socialist country? What nonsense.

    Obviously some countries are younger in their adoption of statism and haven’t yet reaped the “benefits” of the Communist Manifesto plank on the elimination of children.

    “Obviously”, except you can’t establish it empirically. Your acceptance of the inevitable “elimination of children” is based on your own preconceived narratives, not fact.

  294. This will probably be my most important comment so far.

    An interview with the discoverer of the Dunbar Number explains (@9 min) that the number is limited by the physical size of the brain, and that the number was maximized as a survival strategy by primates especially (this is the N! factorial virtual network scaling, where N! possible permutations of brains, i.e. neuron structures and experiences, are interacting). Animals with larger Dunbar Number have a larger brain and more interactive (communal) knowledge. But he didn’t explain ants or bees, where the Dunbar Number is much higher and the brain is the colony (alternative link here) and each ant has a small brain.

    Robin Dunbar laments that the limitation of the Dunbar Number is what causes the democracy-by-proxy power vacuum which leads to statism, whereas, I see the obvious math solution is the N! factorial virtual network such that the virtual network becomes the brain and each human’s brain becomes astronomically relatively small, leveraging that small brain up to astronomically more knowledge. Mr. Dunbar discusses this virtual network, but he apparently doesn’t see that humans can do very granular programming interaction where they don’t need to know what the total relationship (all the permutations of resultant programs) is (i.e. precisely referential transparency, as I plan for Copute). Mr. Dunbar can’t see this because he isn’t a programmer and hasn’t been informed about the pure Lambda Calculus.

  295. A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy, a speech by Clay Shirky at ETech, April, 2003

    There’s a great document called “LambdaMOO Takes a New Direction,” which is about the wizards of LambdaMOO, Pavel Curtis’s Xerox PARC experiment in building a MUD world. And one day the wizards of LambdaMOO announced “We’ve gotten this system up and running, and all these interesting social effects are happening. Henceforth we wizards will only be involved in technological issues. We’re not going to get involved in any of that social stuff.”

    And then, I think about 18 months later — I don’t remember the exact gap of time — they come back. The wizards come back, extremely cranky. And they say: “What we have learned from you whining users is that we can’t do what we said we would do. We cannot separate the technological aspects from the social aspects of running a virtual world.

    “So we’re back, and we’re taking wizardly fiat back, and we’re going to do things to run the system. We are effectively setting ourselves up as a government, because this place needs a government, because without us, the place was falling apart.”

  296. @Jocelyn: So you have N nodes. In many non-trivial tasks you need communication between those nodes to arrive at the solution. The speed of communication is limited by speed of light. And you cannot put those nodes close very together to limit communication lag, because you hit thermodynamic limitation that you hav to get rid of waste heat, which is intrinsic in calculations because of entropy (theory of information). This ceiling is very high, but it does limit soe called “Moore’s law”

  297. @Jakub Narębski
    My applicable comment is awaiting moderation, so it should hopefully appear above today. Also see my very relevant prior comment about Dunbar Number (which you might not have seen as I was writing it while you writing apparently).

    > The speed of communication is limited by speed of light. And you cannot put those nodes close very together to limit communication lag

    Seems you may have entirely missed the distinction I made between the physical network, which is a bifurcating physical tree with statism increasing the closer to the trunk, and the virtual network which has no such thermodynamic limitation. Also you missed the concept that any one virtual topology in time does not have to be N!, whereas, the set of all possible virtual configurations over time is N!, and it must be the case that these are dynamic which means there can’t be binding insurance or future contracts which inhibit degrees of freedom for optimum annealing (fitness) in time. This is why only factorial scaling of possibilities can attain knowledge, because the universe is trending exponentially to disorder as the counter-trend. I provided the math proof for that in my first comment on this page.

    @A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy, a speech by Clay Shirky
    > Are these individuals taking action on their own? Or is this a coordinated group?
    > …because this place needs a government, because without us, the place was falling apart.

    The individuals where not entirely coordinated because they didn’t all know each other well enough within their Dunbar Number limit. This is precisely the same problem that Robin Dunbar laments, in that humans will only trust entirely the tightly knit group of 150 of their tribe. I have illuminated the technical solution, see my prior comment about Dunbar Number.

    > Why Now? is simply “Because it’s time.”

    Yup. As I wrote, the next 10 – 20 years will change mankind more than all of recorded history.

    > one that a group is its own worst enemy

    Only if the human brain has to know all of the program in order to trust any one part of it. Referential transparency removes that limitation and moves humans to the ant N! factorial network scaling model.

  298. A lot of discussion about my comment earlier. I respond one by one.

    “A market economy makes everyone wealthy”

    No one questions this one. But I see a lot of abject poverty in market economies. Market economies generate a lot of wealth. However, they seem to be pretty bad in distribution it.

    Then there was the complaint there were no really free markets. But there are!

    Crime is a free market. The global drug trade is a free market. We hear every day how the free drug trade in Mexico distributes wealth, and death.

  299. “Universal health care makes everyone healthy”

    It is so amusing to see American libertarians etc telling me not to look at the facts or my own life, but only use their “logic”.

    Others already pointed out how ill conceived, and ignorant, these counterarguments are. Suffices it to say that the USA spends more on individual health care (% GDP) than ANY other country in the world. Still, their health care coverage is as bad as many developing countries.

    As another commenter already discussed, I too spend a fraction of the amount a basic US insurance plan would cost. And I get full coverage, uncapped treatment. You get open heart surgery or full length adjuvant chemotherapy in the basic (compulsory) plan. And our health care is NOT paid out of tax money.

  300. “democracy because it makes everyone free”

    Some people dismissed this.

    But you tell me why I nor my fellow countrymen like it here? We are very high on the world wide “freedom” scale, in the neither regions of the “corruption” scale. The possibility that someone kills me is much lower than in the USA. The probability that I end up in jail in minuscule compared to that in the USA.

    You might not like it here. But I do. And please tell me where my freedom is curtailed. What I cannot do?

    And please, money is not freedom. It might buy you freedom in the states, but the best things in life are free.

  301. “Education reduces ignorance”

    Someone wrote “Public education != Good education”.

    So I would say, visit continental Europe and tell me which public schools in e.g., Germany or Sweden, are so much worse than private schools in, eg, the USA and UK. If we look at the statistics of global school ratings, the countries with a public school system are on top.

    Again, it might be helpful if you at least pretend to make an effort to get to know how things really are in the world.

  302. “justice because it more people save”

    No one complained here. Why? Justice is the mainstay of the state. In most places in the world it is blatant INjustice that is served.

    But justice comes with force, bars, and guns. That seems to be less of an argument here.

  303. “the state makes all of this possible”

    Yes. I earlier offered a way to decide empirical whether the state is bad or good for the wellbeing of people.

    But then I heard there are more worthy things in life than a long life expectancy of you and your family. That happiness is not worthy of mentioning. That taxes seem not to be a mark of the state. And in general, statistics and empiricism cannot show whether or not a state is bad.

    Actually, I am told that there are no empirical ways to prove the correctness of the anti-statist theses. Anarchism is correct in the same way that astrology is correct. It has to be correct.

    Sorry, but I am more of the empirical kind. But you could set up an online virtual anarchists world (like WOW). Then you can do real experiments with your own models and demonstrate to us that people really can life an anarchistic life.

    Btw, if you cannot solve the simple question of insurance in anarchism, what are you trying to force upon the world?

  304. @Jocelyn
    > @Adam
    >> Let me make sure that I have this correct. You think that money taken by force leads to longer life spans, but
    >> money taken voluntarily *WHICH IS USED FOR IDENTICAL PURPOSES* doesn’t. That needs some explaining.
    >
    > Don’t be too explicit like that, Winter might lose focus of the waddling and quacking order.

    Retract that, there is no incipient danger Winter will lose such focus.

    @Winter
    > Market economies generate a lot of wealth. However, they seem to be pretty bad in distribution it.

    And statism market interference causes that, evidenced by the power law wealth distribution in every country that is already marked-to-market on all their actuarial liabilities, and even for many who are not yet entirely marked-to-market (which is shocking in near-term future implication).

    @Winter
    > It is so amusing to see American libertarians etc telling me not to look at the facts or my own life

    Then why do you keep telling us that our individual choice doesn’t matter and that we have to bow to your preferred aggregate statistic. As I wrote, statism is self-incongruent, and its members are a fraud to themselves.

    > tell me why I nor my fellow countrymen like it here?

    Who wouldn’t like debt (unfunded future liabilities and no children to pay them) and stealing? A crab will chase the meat tied to its back because it can see anything else.

    > We are very high on the world wide “freedom” scale

    Narcissistic platitudes.

    > please tell me where my freedom is curtailed. What I cannot do?

    You can’t survive. Watch and learn like a deer in the headlights.

    > If we look at the statistics of global school ratings, the countries with a public school system are on top.

    Congratulations, I assert that you and your millions of ducklings are living proof of what that “top” statistic means.

    > In most places in the world it is blatant INjustice that is served.

    And statism is the cause, not the “solution”.

    > Suffices it to say that the USA spends more on individual health care (% GDP) than ANY other country in the world

    I spend near 0 on health care. I don’t have health insurance and when I get sick I never go to the doctor. A few months ago I developed some kind of neurological condition that was causing my feet to severely cramp, swelling, loss of feeling, then it started to spread to my hands and I thought for sure I was goner to Parkinson’s or something like that. I got advice from some medical experts in USA via email, and they basically said come back to USA for a battery of tests. I said screw that! I immediately started an intense running schedule (barefoot!) and weight lifting like a mad-man, eating whole fish fried (head, brain, tail, skin, all), eating crates of raw broccoli, and I am happy to report a new complete remission and on top of that I feel like 28 years old and am competing athletically again like I am.

    Also there was a liver cancer patient here and the doctors said he had 2 months to live and advised chemotherapy. I knew it would bankrupt the poor family, so I advised 1000mg of Vitamen C per hour and funded this at a cost of $150. Within 2 weeks all the liver tearing edema in the abdomen has receded and he was back at work. He is still healthy 1 year hence. Modern medicine is mostly a fraud, and most things can be cured with exercise and proper digestive enzymes that we come from uncooked vegetables.

  305. @Roger Philips
    > [...] I was not addressing any ‘earlier’ argument other [...] which stated that there were
    > no socialist states with higher birth rates than the US. Are you asserting that New Zealand isn’t a socialist country?
    > What no [...] sense.

    I was replying in context of your overall assertion that statism is not growing a deficit.

    Statism always looks good at the start, so the farm animals agree and smile.

    The actuarial view is not sense only if the future survival of your culture and genes doesn’t matter.

    And personal survival is probably also at stake at this juncture.

    (some editing filter avoidance)

  306. @Winter
    > I am told that there are no empirical ways to prove the correctness of the anti-statist theses

    The converse is also true, there are no empirical ways to prove the correctness of the statist theses.

    We can disagree about the aggregate metrics that matter, thus empirical is reduced to subjective.

    Your definition of happiness, long life, good health, etc.. are not the same as my definitions. In fact, for me, your definitions equate to unhappiness, short-life (life ended when you were 5 years old, because you lost control of your mind), perpetually addictive and sickly health, etc.

    But one thing that we can deduce from reasoning and math, is that statism results in catastrophic failure due to its stealing from the individual opportunity costs. If you can’t understand this, then please admit it. What is the point of going on and on spewing the same redundant point about the fact that we disagree on subjective empirical definitions?

  307. Crime is a free market.

    No, it isn’t. When a burglar breaks into my home and steals my TV, I did not freely enter into the transaction. He imposed it upon me by force.

    A free market is one in which mentally-competent adults may enter into transactions based on their mutual consent. There, the only role for government restrictions is against the violation of someone’s person or property, through force or fraud.

    The reason this is a crucial distinction is that those free-market transactions only occur when each party to the transaction values what he’s getting more than what he’s giving up to get it. Uncoerced transactions leave everyone better off (by their own personal standards of value) than they were before the transaction. The larger the possible number of partners with whom each person can freely trade, the more opportunities they will have to maximize the value they receive, so therefore more prosperity for all who participate in that market.

    Any transaction that is coerced, however, forces at least one party to give up more than he gets (again, by his own personal standards of value), reducing overall value. When the government actively suppresses potential free transactions, it prevents people from reaching their best potential trading opportunities.

  308. @Winter
    > Market economies generate a lot of wealth. However, they seem to be pretty bad in distribution it.
    > I am told that there are no empirical ways to prove the correctness of the anti-statist theses

    “Sorry to beat a dead” duck, there is some historical evidence that anti-statism (aka anarchy) distributes wealth more equitably and increases prosperity faster.

    Winter I genuinely believe that you believe in your public health, public education, long-life, public safety, equitable wealth, civilized society, etc.. That is the grotesque nature of statism– it lies to its own before it eats them. The signature of statism is to expect its members to gleefully spout how wonderful it is to ignorantly poison+addict, indoctrinate, cannibalize, dis-arm, steal, and barbarize each other.

    Some Guy named Timothy wrote a fairy tale about this phenomenon, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, [...] Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth [...] But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was“. And even another warning was given, “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do“. But the people refused, “‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles’“. And then the fairy tale was fulfilled as promised, “Now go [...] and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass“.

  309. Yikes that was missing a closing tag.

    @Winter
    > Market economies generate a lot of wealth. However, they seem to be pretty bad in distribution it.
    > I am told that there are no empirical ways to prove the correctness of the anti-statist theses

    “Sorry to beat a dead” duck, there is some historical evidence that anti-statism (aka anarchy) distributes wealth more equitably and increases prosperity faster.

    Winter I genuinely believe that you believe in your public health, public education, long-life, public safety, equitable wealth, civilized society, etc.. That is the grotesque nature of statism– it lies to its own before it eats them. The signature of statism is to expect its members to gleefully spout how wonderful it is to ignorantly poison+addict, indoctrinate, cannibalize, dis-arm, steal, and barbarize each other.

    Some Guy named Timothy wrote a fairy tale about this phenomenon, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, [...] Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth [...] But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was“. And even another warning was given, “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do“. But the people refused, “‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles’“. And then the fairy tale was fulfilled as promised, “Now go [...] and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass“.

  310. That’s enough, “Jocelyn”, aka Shelby Moore. Despite repeated warnings, you have continued to flood my blog with rambling, cranky comments. I’ve tolerated them up to now because of your occasional flashes of lucidity, but my patience is exhausted.

    All your comments will go through moderation from now on. I will allow through only those that are sane-sounding and brief.

    Your rambling, nutty writing style is easy to recognize. If you attempt to circumvent moderation by creating another alias or in any other way, you will be instantly and permanently banned. You will receive no further warnings.

  311. @Winter “Crime is a free market. The global drug trade is a free market. We hear every day how the free drug trade in Mexico distributes wealth, and death.”

    You clearly have no understanding of what a free market is, which explains much about what you say. A free market is a market free of force and coercion. Black markets are, by their very definition, not free.

    @Winter “You might not like it here. But I do. And please tell me where my freedom is curtailed. What I cannot do?”

    I don’t know where you live, but it’d still be easy to rattle of a massive list of things you cannot do. But you know that and both know your question is pure sophistry. You’re making a point about how the list of things you’re not allowed to do are things you don’t mind sacrificing for the common good. You’ve made it very clear that you don’t mind prostrating in worship to your master. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t make the case that having a master is the best way to live.

  312. Jocelyn

    Your medical choices show your grasp of empirical science is severely lacking.

    I think we basically agree. We both think a strong state gives its people a long and happy life where they can pursue their interests in wealth. Anarchy results in the opposit.

    We just dissgree in how we value these life styles. You dispise the long life of the happy slave. I do not like the short unhappy life of the poor lonely anarchist.

    Just how do you plan to convince others of the superiority of your choice?
    .

  313. Mr. Raymond, it is understood and I would like to publicly acknowledge your generous tolerance, which I clearly pushed to the limit. You have my permission to publish this.

    Insanity versus lucidity, the truth is relative to the perspective and knowledge of the observer. Here in this blog, it is agreed and must be respected, that you are the final judge. Being a judge is a very heavy and difficult responsibility, because every judge will also be judged by his judgments. I empathize with your decision. I wish you the best.

  314. >>We just dissgree in how we value these life styles. You dispise the long life of the happy slave. I do not like the short unhappy life of the poor lonely anarchist.

    It is a matter of you looking and taking only the apparent positive things of statism, while anarchists take the hidden negative things of statism much more seriously.

    We now know that the end matters far more to you than the mean. You would kill a million human beings just so ten million human beings can live. That’s very clear here. Despite having a different ethical system than that, I have no problem with it.

    However, what I do have a problem is that you don’t address my concerns at all and the tendency to hide behind empirical evidences. Empirical evidences is all and good but without a theory we cannot predict things. Note that I am merely taking on you that the empirical evidence does prove that health socialism really does work.

    I already pointed out my concerns about the said “evidence” in another post anyway.

  315. @Adam

    The thing about prostrating for the common good is a rather tellng formulation.

    Is your biggest fear really that someone might profit from your work? That predicts a rather unfriendly anarchistic society.

  316. @Russell Nelson:

    Why do I get the sneaky feeling that you aren’t serious about your support for this “Democratic Peace Theory,” which, BTW, I had never actually heard of until now. Upon reading the Wikipedia entry, I laughed so hard that my chair almost fell over.

    Whether you call the ideals represented by this theory “Democratic” or “Libertarian” makes no difference. The idea presumes utopia exists and that it is obtainable if only everyone thought this way.

    Such thinking is very, very dangerous.

  317. >>Is your biggest fear really that someone might profit from your work? That predicts a rather unfriendly anarchistic society.

    I don’t mind people profiting and benefiting from my work but I dislike people who violently coerce others out of their money. There is a difference between downloading illegal musics off the internet and robbing a music store at gunpoint.

  318. I’ve never worked for an anarchist. In fact if you believe the definition of anarchism then you would know they don’t hire people or make anything. So how is they distribute wealth?????

  319. > That’s enough, “Jocelyn”, aka Shelby Moore. Despite repeated warnings, you have continued to flood my blog with rambling, cranky comments. I’ve tolerated them up to now because of your occasional flashes of lucidity, but my patience is exhausted.

    Gee, I like Jocelyn’s comments. I don’t always understand them though. This is a good reminder of rule number one: Don’t bore Eric!

    That rule always worries me.

    Yours,
    Tom

  320. > Whether you call the ideals represented by this theory “Democratic” or “Libertarian” makes no difference. The idea presumes utopia exists and that it is obtainable if only everyone thought this way.

    I don’t think so, Morgan. Those countries defined as Democratic by the theory are a pretty diverse lot.

    Yours,
    Tom

  321. ESR says: [citation needed]

    The CIA factbook is the easiest thing to look up if you’re having trouble finding population statistics.

  322. Thing is that this doesn’t work. The fact of the availability of a “free” (tax-subsidized) alternative means that private insurers can’t compete, since the taxes that pay for the ‘public option’ are paid by everyone, whereas the premiums for a private provider are paid only by the customer, thus people will mostly go for the “free” option.

    Because we know from the U.S. healthcare system what a bang-up job those private insurers do.

  323. >Because we know from the U.S. healthcare system what a bang-up job those private insurers do.

    Before the government got involved with our most powerful union the AMA. We had doctor owned hospitals. They provided insurance policies using direct insurance for everybody, including minorities in the Jim Crow era. It was inexpensive and efficient.

    Of course the bureaucracy will do a far better job…….

    You lefties are such a trip!

  324. lefty thought process:

    all humans pursuing profit are evil.

    when joining the bureaucracy/government these same humans are transmuted into angelic omniscient beings of light and wonder. They will protect us thusly.

    what weak minded crap.

  325. European lefties have such stereotypical thought processes that it’s no longer even interesting to read much of what they have to say. The gist of it is (1) Pretense to a working knowledge of the US they do not possess, which leads to rendering judgement that (2) US sucks, typically based on superficial stats that fail take into account vast demographic differences and varying locales, or real in-depth workings of US systems; followed by a triumphant …(3) Europe is awesome, because they’re, like, happier (ignoring the sustainability/demographic issues on the horizon.

  326. > US sucks, typically based on superficial stats

    While I definitely *don’t* think the US sucks (having lived in Florida and California for a couple of years as a kid), one – perhaps superifical – stat that genuinely worries me is the polling that shows that more than 60% of USA-ians believe God created humans around 10,000 years ago.

    This is a very serious concern.

  327. polling that shows that more than 60% of USA-ians believe God created humans around 10,000 years ago.

    Gallup says 44%. I linked to it elsewhere.

  328. >>(3) Europe is awesome, because they’re, like, happier (ignoring the sustainability/demographic issues on the horizon.

    Happiness is overrated. Being happy mean you are satisfied with what you achieve. Being fulfilled is a much better state, because you’re not stopping, just upgrading your ambition level. Happy stagnation is worse than a bit “unhappy” innovation.

  329. “European lefties have such stereotypical thought processes that it’s no longer even interesting to read much of what they have to say.”

    Whereas US righties that say ‘universal health care cannot work because private health care providers cannot compete, and that everyone chooses the state-funded health care service’, without even reading that in many countries, state-provided health care happily coexists with private providers, that these can compete, and that many people choose them because they’re better than the state, are so much more interesting. It’s riveting, seriously.

  330. >> state-provided health care happily coexists with private providers, that these can compete,

    I thought they are in a symbiotic relationship, not really competitors in a sense. Logics dictate that state health care systems will have an advantage because of the fact they can tax people, all else being equal.

  331. @Kiba: That’s as may be, but private health care providers at least compete between themselves.

  332. TMR,

    “all humans pursuing profit are evil.

    when joining the bureaucracy/government these same humans are transmuted into angelic omniscient beings of light and wonder.”

    Almost, almost, but not quite that – if you take a closer look you will always see a sometimes open, sometimes hidden distinction between the “them”, who are greedy and stupid, and “us”, who are enlightened, clever and caring.

    IMHO leftism as such is usually a symptom of vanity, of a “we are better people than you” way of thinking – which Eric Voegelin have correctly diagnosed being rooted in the Gnostic version of Christianity, but that’s a long story. Have to admit, usually does not mean always – there were always some great people on the left who managed to avoid it, like Orwell did – but they are the exception, not the rule.

    IMHO having a realistic, humble “actually we all suck, me and my friends too” way of looking at things can very rarely lead to leftism – OTOH it can rarely lead to the more radical forms of libertarianism either. IMHO usually it leads to the way of thinking that every person and collective should have limited responsibilities, responsibilites of the size they are capable of handling well, which size differs per person but is usually in the lower ranges. This attitude is by it’s very nature pro-propety, pro-market and against centralization, but is not always 100% pure libertarianism because that sounds rather like the theoretical ideologization of it… (I mean sometimes the council of a small town could get some things about the local factory of a giant corporation better than the corp HQ 10,000 miles away… such exceptions must be accepted and that’s why I’m suspicious not only about leftism but about libertarianism too when it gets too theoretical and ideological… I think the frontporchers’ slogan of “Place. Limits. Liberty” sums up the realistic attitudes I describe here rather well. Be on the side of big gov vs. small business, but OTOH be on the size of small local town council vs. big business.)

  333. “This is a very serious concern.”

    Maybe. I have rather two minds about it. OOH critical thinking skills and suchlike, the usual stuff. OTOH it does not necesarily prevent a person from being a say good engineer, a good father and friend and everything and generally living a good and ethical and productive life. I probably should see some of this people face to face before I make up my mind about it. Once I met an American Protestant missionary on a train in Hungary. Or maybe Mormon, they missionarize a lot more. Or maybe not Mormon, because he was wearing some college football sweater, I’ve herad Mormons always dress very formally. At any rate, the guy was rather scary with his literalist beliefs but was on all other scales doing very well – big and strong, probably college football, handsome, friendly, visibly, radiating happy and optimistic, planning to get into a technical university, generally good ethics, I haven’t picked up even slightest sign of trying to be intimidating or challenging or “macho”, which was surprising given he looked like a body builder and I was a thin guy and at time had roughly about Nietzsche’s attitude about such things which might have annoyed him mighty, I suppose, so his ethics were good, really looked like the kind of person who would be successful himself and generally have a positive net sum effect on others. This is why I have two minds about this thing – perhaps you don’t always need to be able and willing to think critically about everything, perhaps you can live a good life without that too.

  334. Gallup says 44%. I linked to it elsewhere.

    If it’s above statistical noise, it’s cause for concern.

  335. > IMHO usually it leads to the way of thinking that every person and collective should have limited responsibilities

    That assumes that any small level of statism doesn’t metastasize. History doesn’t give good odds.

    Any way, I have devised the algorithmic antidote, and it doesn’t require I tell you.

  336. “European lefties have such stereotypical thought processes that it’s no longer even interesting to read much of what they have to say. ”

    Which interestingly coincides with what I’ve experienced, namely, that the politics of Western Continental Europe is generally incredibly boring, Eastern Europe and the UK / Ireland is more interesting, but the Western Continent is politically incredibly dull, I’m trying to read sites like diepresse.com because I’m trying to get fluent in German but it is just so dull, just so about really nothing really important or interesting at all, that I’m yawning all the time I read it. Even the non-leftie ones like commentaire.fr somehow manage to dilute an interesting topic into something boring.

    The reason I as a European am interesting in American politics that you still have one. In the sense that big and important things are still being debated. Plus in that sense that things are not so dominated by the big entreched party structures – both Obama and the Tea Party folks arrived to the political scene from generally outside the pyramids of power in the two big parties, which makes things fresher, more turbulent, more interesting. American politics often resembles a brainstorming session, even though the brainstorming often resorts into uncivil mud-slinging, Western Continental European politics – not counting Eastern Europe and the UK – often resembles meetings of a corporate board, where the biggest challenge is trying not to yawn…

  337. @Morgan Greywolf
    > Gallup says 44%. I linked to it elsewhere.

    Here’s the link you posted earlier:
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/evolution-creationism-intelligent-design.aspx

    Here’s the statistic (in your link): 39% of respondents thought the following statement is “definitely true” and a further 27% think it is “probably true”:

    “B. Creationism, that is, the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”

  338. > Because we know from the U.S. healthcare system what a bang-up job those private insurers do.

    When we take out homicide and deaths from car accidents, people in the U.S. live longer than other countries. I think private insurers do an excellent job. They did a wonderful job saving my father’s life more than once. They did very well by my family growing up and they are doing very well by my family now.

    Yes. Private insurers do a fantastic job. Stop slandering private insurers, Jeff. Your comments have never paid for life saving surgery for my father.

    Yours,
    Tom

  339. > perhaps you don’t always need to be able and willing to think critically about everything

    Wholly christian-phobes, how did you empirically determine that every one of the billions of individual christian philosophies is less objective than others such as your private version of existentialism, postmodernism, etc.?

    Not very enlightened.

  340. Wholly christian-phobes, how did you empirically determine that every one of the billions of individual christian philosophies is less objective than others such as your private version of existentialism, postmodernism, etc.?

    I know, I know. Shannon-Nyquist theorem says it’s impossible to know if your Scotsman is a TRUE Scotsman unless you sample him for infinite time…

    Anti-intellectualism is a problem for us all. When people are encouraged to unquestioningly accept dogma rather than being provided the tools to discover the truth (and here I use the Popperian sense of “truth” as “statements which accurately predict future observations”) then we are cheating ourselves and our descendants out of future happiness and well-being.

  341. When we take out homicide and deaths from car accidents, people in the U.S. live longer than other countries. I think private insurers do an excellent job. They did a wonderful job saving my father’s life more than once. They did very well by my family growing up and they are doing very well by my family now.

    Citation? If you adjust for injury, accidents and assaults, the USA is below the OECD average for potential life years lost. It also lags in infant mortality. The data for these kinds of statistics is generally not uniform across countries, and it is not clear that the choice between private/public health insurance is the cause.

  342. > Citation? If you adjust for injury, accidents and assaults, the USA is below the OECD average for potential life years lost. It also lags in infant mortality.

    Citation? My memory, just like I’m going with my experience about private insurers. Potential life years lost is a different stat than longevity. Infant mortality is a useless stat for comparison, since it is not defined the same. I’m not interested in hearing from people who insult private insurance anymore. If that’s you, make a different argument.

    Yours,
    Tom

  343. >>Which interestingly coincides with what I’ve experienced, namely, that the politics of Western Continental Europe is generally incredibly boring, Eastern Europe and the UK / Ireland is more interesting, but the Western Continent is politically incredibly dull, I’m trying to read sites like diepresse.com because I’m trying to get fluent in German but it is just so dull, just so about really nothing really important or interesting at all, that I’m yawning all the time I read it. Even the non-leftie ones like commentaire.fr somehow manage to dilute an interesting topic into something boring.

    Leftist argument are more likely to incite boredom rather than idealogical hatred from my experience.

    I have the habits of reading opposing viewpoints. However, I am far more likely say things that I don’t like rather than say things that bore me.

    That being said, I am far more interested in radical anarchism versus statism rather than conservative and liberals. Debates between moderates yield arguments only within frameworks rather than about the framework.

  344. >> then we are cheating ourselves and our descendants out of future happiness and well-being.

    I wish people share my value for living long instead of rationalizing death just so I don’t have to talk about descendants as if I am not there. I hate death, and more so I hate the death of others. Who would want to get a cell phone of “Mom died”, “Your sister died”, or whatever?

    Nobody close enough to me died yet but the day will come sooner or later. Rather, I was the person who came close to dying like three times.(The result of modern diet not being optimized to address evolutionary limitation)

  345. >>When we take out homicide and deaths from car accidents, people in the U.S. live longer than other countries.

    This is why we need take the government out of the business of building road. They build too many roads, encouraging people to drive, thus increasing the likelihood of a fatal car accident. Never mind that much of our roads are rotten.

  346. > The data for these kinds of statistics is generally not uniform across countries, and it is not clear that the choice between private/public health insurance is the cause.

    I apologize for not reading and understanding your whole comment before replying. I see we agree about the uselessness of comparative stats – except for one thing. They do show that if you are insulting private insurers, you don’t have a valid statistical reason to do so.

    Yours,
    Tom

  347. “I wish people share my value for living long instead of rationalizing death just so I don’t have to talk about descendants as if I am not there. I hate death, and more so I hate the death of others.”

    Until we are able to cure neurodegenerative diseases, I’d rather die. Many relatives of mine are in bad or worse shape because their brain has turned to mush. I would not like that to happen to me, especially in a world that doesn’t let you end your life quietly and with dignity.

  348. I apologize for not reading and understanding your whole comment before replying. I see we agree about the uselessness of comparative stats – except for one thing. They do show that if you are insulting private insurers, you don’t have a valid statistical reason to do so.

    Where do I insult private insurers? My point is that most statistics relating to the social sciences are hokum, as are idealised “theories” (really: completely untested hypotheses) about what will or won’t work. All we can do is sustain what seems to work without building too much hidden risk. The government is a frequent culprit of building risk. So is private enterprise.

  349. both Obama and the Tea Party folks arrived to the political scene from generally outside the pyramids of power in the two big parties,

    That’s certainly true of the TP folks, but Obama was fully plugged into the Chicago Democratic Party Machine.

  350. ESR:

    I normally bridle at freemarket arguments (and indeed some of the pro-marketeer comments above had that same effect on me, front-loaded with fallacy as they are; I had to stop reading), but the context of your view seems a little different.

    While I’ve been advocating (elsewhere) the need for *some* form of governance to prevent the game from being dominated by “winner take all” strategists (and evolving into something resembling feudalism), I think I could support more of a free-market approach if the following caveats were agreed upon:

    1. Any modern marketplace must be *designed* well in order to function well. (This isn’t to say that markets can’t emerge via an evolutionary process, but if we’re talking about the global economy, we can’t afford the repeated failures it will take before a successful one emerges — especially when “market failure” might equate to “species failure”.)

    This is part of why I think geeks need to design the next new form of government. We have the skills and the toolset to develop something that will work and be maintainable… and accountable.

    Most of the free-market advocacy I read seems to be focusing on how terrible centralized government is, while giving only the vaguest hints as to what they would replace it with. (Indeed, most of it seems to be just an excuse to rewrite government regulation in favor of the established players, to regulate *away* the competition — if you can’t get rid of government, just make it more evil so everyone else will hate it and destroy it for you.)

    2. Disempowering the current centralized government’s ability to do necessary good *before* we have a workable replacement that has been tested with some degree of rigor is a Bad Idea. (I agree that there are areas where drastic disempowerment of the current government would be a fabulous idea — so this isn’t some sort of cover-argument in support of the status quo.)

    So although I talk about governance being a necessary check on the evils of laissez-faire capitalism and you talk about the need for free-market anarchy to optimize out the evils of centralized government, I think we actually may be talking about the same goal.

    I don’t want it to be centralized, either — or, at least, no more centralized than absolutely necessary, and I don’t think I have any preconceptions about what a minimum necessary level of centralization would look like. (Well, okay, I have some sketchy ideas, but I’m definitely not wedded to them; I’d much *rather* have no centralization at all.)

    So, how does this design look? — http://issuepedia.org/InstaGov

  351. >Until we are able to cure neurodegenerative diseases, I’d rather die. Many relatives of mine are in bad or worse shape because their brain has turned to mush. I would not like that to happen to me, especially in a world that doesn’t let you end your life quietly and with dignity.

    Death, in my opinion, occurs when the brain cannot be restored to normal function. So, the brain turn to must = death. Before you consider dying forever, consider cryonic. If you wanted to, “die” before your brain turn to death.

  352. >>This is part of why I think geeks need to design the next new form of government. We have the skills and the toolset to develop something that will work and be maintainable… and accountable.

    Geeks are not using their skill set to design centralized government but rather decentralize functions of the economy and government. Soon, there may be no printing press because paper money is seen as easily manipulated by single entities.

    In a way, government is much harder to solve because pretty much anything other than markets can’t do economic calculation.

  353. > Death, in my opinion, occurs when the brain cannot be restored to normal function. So, the brain turn to must = death. Before you consider dying forever, consider cryonic. If you wanted to, “die” before your brain turn to death.

    I don’t want to live forever. I want to live a full life, and then leave space for other people. That’s more than enough for me.

  354. >I don’t want to live forever. I want to live a full life, and then leave space for other people.

    I agree, but my notion of a “a full life” would require several million years at minimum. :-)

  355. @Woozle

    >This is part of why I think geeks need to design the next new form of government. We have the skills and the toolset to develop >something that will work and be maintainable… and accountable.

    Anybody who thinks they are smart enough to design the system has lost the battle already.

    It is an information problem. No matter how smart you are your decisions and your design are only as good as your information.

    The design must be emergent. It must rely on dispersed decision making close to the information. It must allow for imperfect decisions and human failings.

    An amateur wants control. A professional designs the system to evolve.

    A good start is encryption, and a secure network no entity can control. The rest will happen on it’s own. I don’t know what it would look like, and it will probably not be the same everywhere. The path will not be simple. It never is. Look at the history that created what we have now. Go all the way back to the Magna Carta. These things take time and require trial and error.

  356. >>I don’t want to live forever. I want to live a full life, and then leave space for other people. That’s more than enough for me.

    That’s assuming you actually remember everything. :)

    Beside, the earth received more energy from the sun in one hour than humanity used in one year. So there are plenty of space for other people. Hopefully, we develop universe hopping technologies to allow our entire civilization to essentially live forever.

  357. >>A good start is encryption, and a secure network no entity can control. The rest will happen on it’s own. I don’t know what it would look like, and it will probably not be the same everywhere. The path will not be simple. It never is. Look at the history that created what we have now. Go all the way back to the Magna Carta. These things take time and require trial and error.

    Incidentally, I am trying to get the technolibertarian/hackers/singularitans tribe to support bitcoin, the cryptocurrency system that threaten to undermine the money monopolies held by nation-states. Right now, I am working the Electronic Frontier Foundation people to accept our donations. I still don’t know if they’re just going to liquidate it for paypal dollars, or put up a donation link for anybody who want to donate in bitcoins. It’s a lot of work and a lot of waiting.

    It would be great if people like ESR, say, put up a donation link for bitcoin(Not for the bitcoin system but for ESR’s bitcoin wallet) as endorsement of the project.

  358. > dogma…“truth” as “statements which accurately predict future observations”

    Ah yes the *faith* that long-tail and Planck’s-tail don’t exist.

  359. @ Shenpen

    Regarding the Euro Left.

    I AM NOT a conservative. I am not a communist. Any form of “ist” or rigid adherent of an ideology seems far too closed minded and narrow to deal with reality to me.

    I have always wondered about Stalin. How to equate his supposed ideology with his actions. After reading the shallow, vain, and cowardly thoughts of most leftists I think I am beginning to understand some of his thought processes. I think he was a sociopath. I think he only cared for power. I think he hated and despised communists and leftists. I think he enjoyed toying with them. Destroying them slowly. Using their thought constructs against them to his advantage. Turning their families and friends against them. I think he derived special pleasure when he broke them. The disturbing thing is I can understand this.

    I need a shower.

  360. >>I AM NOT a conservative. I am not a communist. Any form of “ist” or rigid adherent of an ideology seems far too closed minded and narrow to deal with reality to me.

    Rationalist.

  361. > where the biggest challenge is trying not to yawn…

    The greater the statism, the fewer decisions that aren’t dictated by inertia. It is an obvious function of accumulated future contracts.

  362. @ kiba

    Rationalist perhaps, but most humans are not rational and do not act in their own best interest. They do tend to act in their perceived best interest with the imperfect knowledge that they have on hand. It is really a bit much to expect totally rational behavior. I personally do not act with total rationality. How could one enjoy life as Spock. I’m guessing Spock never had great sex, and if he did, he didn’t know it.

    I am very sympathetic to the anarchist view, with pragmatic tendencies.

  363. I agree, but my notion of a “a full life” would require several million years at minimum. :-)

    Is that a Lazarus Long influence I hear? :)

    As for the Tea Party, it’s the reanimated dead corpse of the John Bircher movement, nothing more or less.

  364. @ Jeff Read

    >As for the Tea Party, it’s the reanimated dead corpse of the John Bircher movement, nothing more or less.

    Maybe. There is a great deal of anger about the bail outs for wall street specifically. Also the way the “health-care” bill was handled.

    I personally will never take them seriously as long as they are attached to militarism and the culture war.

    They are being co-opted as we type.

    I despair the the silliness.

  365. @shenpen
    “Which interestingly coincides with what I’ve experienced, namely, that the politics of Western Continental Europe is generally incredibly boring,”

    Boring politics makes for happy citizens who are able to spend their time pursuing more productive interests. Grandstand fighting between political opponents that differ little in philosophy is not very productive in my eyes.

    @everyone claiming all euro lefties are the same and don’t know about the USA

    When I comment about the US, I have been there, speak the language, talked to US citizens, watched US TV and films, read US books, magazines, and newspapers. And I know the extend of my ignorance quite well, thank you. I will never contest matters of fact from any native.

    Who of you can say the same about ANY country in the continental EU? I will gladly take you serious. All others could display more humility when talking about things about which they never even read a first hand report. On the other hand, it makes an easy shifting of comments to take seriously.

    The remarks about universal health care give an impression of complete ignorance about European matters by many. The best response from Europeans you want to tell how they should organize their 400M+ inhabitants is, “clean up your act with the 300+M at home first”.

    If you are unable to convince even your fellow countrymen to abolish the state, then tell us, why should we do it?

  366. As for the Tea Party, it’s the reanimated dead corpse of the John Bircher movement, nothing more or less.

    That is a ridiculous assertion. What the two have in common is opposition to communism/socialism, and therefore being ridiculed Alinsky-style by the leftists in the Government-Infoedutainment Complex. I’d say that the overwhelming majority of the TP movement know very little of the JBS, because most of them have been politically inert all their lives.

    The recurring theme I hear from TP members is that most of them are mothers who don’t want to see their children and grandchildren have to pay the price for what the government is doing. The Left can’t stand that they have lost their lock on the political expression of maternal instinct; why everyone knows that womyn are naturally feminist, and therefore of the Left. That’s why their attacks on female TP-supported candidates are especially vicious. They can’t allow the other slaves to see that escaping the plantation is an option.

  367. >>If you are unable to convince even your fellow countrymen to abolish the state, then tell us, why should we do it?

    My countrymen and you require greater proof for radical ideas rather than their own status quo ideas. People will automatically say “Are you flicking out of your mind?” It’s the same thing with other good ideas like cryonic and copyright/patent abolishment movement.

    A good idea doesn’t depend on convincing somebody, just that if it work in reality. You are convinced that it will work worse than reality. That’s fine for you to believe. However, you can’t claim that what people believe about anarchy determine weather or not you should implement anarchy.

    >>Boring politics makes for happy citizens who are able to spend their time pursuing more productive interests. Grandstand fighting between political opponents that differ little in philosophy is not very productive in my eyes.

    It’s more about the leftie’s boring drivel rather than their grandstand fighting for me. I disagree strongly with their opinion yet it put me to sleep.

    On the other hand, I decline to learn much about what the US congress make into laws. You see, it made my blood boil when the majority of congress choose to give those damn telecom immunity from prosecution.

    I don’t have time to be informed about the latest shenanigans of congressmen and bureaucrats, never mind voting for one of them. Democracy is freedom? It’s wasting valuable free time and money. We shouldn’t have to worry about some other dude electing the wrong guy that will commit genocide on half of the population.

  368. >>Rationalist perhaps, but most humans are not rational and do not act in their own best interest. They do tend to act in their perceived best interest with the imperfect knowledge that they have on hand. It is really a bit much to expect totally rational behavior. I personally do not act with total rationality. How could one enjoy life as Spock. I’m guessing Spock never had great sex, and if he did, he didn’t know it.

    Rationality to me is a tool, rather than a state of being. Reasoning isn’t alway something that I alway succeed at, but I am confident about the tool helping me make better decisions and gain more accurate knowledge of the world.

  369. The Left can’t stand that they have lost their lock on the political expression of maternal instinct; why everyone knows that womyn are naturally feminist, and therefore of the Left. That’s why their attacks on female TP-supported candidates are especially vicious. They can’t allow the other slaves to see that escaping the plantation is an option.

    The way I see it, you can either stop pretending there’s a homogeneous entity called “the Left” that conforms to your psychoanalytic fantasies, or continue to look like a smug-but-clueless partisan. Are you referring to O’Donnell? I’m pretty sure people are making fun of her because she’s an incompetent who can’t manage her own campaign finances. The fact that she was part of some hilarious anti-masturbation campaign just makes the whole farce more comical.

  370. @kiba
    “It’s more about the leftie’s boring drivel rather than their grandstand fighting for me.”

    This comment seems to be intended to insult people from Europe. If it also characterizes the type of society you want to organize I am pretty sure I want to be no part of it.

    Here you are dismissing the political thoughts of almost half a billion people. You cannot be bothered to even think about it. What about the thoughts and opinions of the other 5.5 billion humans?

    Superficially, many of the opinions written here cross my view of the border of mental sanity by a large margin. But I try to understand and see whether there is value in these ideas. I try to chart out my own prejudices and see what I can do about them. I cannot look into the mind of people, but I suppose there are others here who think the same.

    You seem to be not that open minded, I guess.

  371. “Beside, the earth received more energy from the sun in one hour than humanity used in one year. So there are plenty of space for other people. Hopefully, we develop universe hopping technologies to allow our entire civilization to essentially live forever.”

    C’mon. Let’s first try to avoid scenes such as http://www.google.com/images?q=children+starving or http://www.google.com/images?q=extreme+poverty (Warning: images that can put you out of your lunch) and then I’ll talk with you about cryogenics, living forever, etc. Right now, this kind of stuff is way more important to me.

    I know it is a fallacy to assume that only one of these can be attempted. I’m not arguing that. I’m in the camp of “We really should solve this before doing that. If you want to do that, good, but I’m not yet interested.”

    The other thing is the classical SF view of ‘if mankind obtained immortality, it would lose its curiosity and will to expand’. The contrary view is, strikingly, most known in Fantasy: the immortal elves build empires, great jewels, fight great wars, and yet they live forever. I’m closer to the former view, in thinking that part of what drives us is really that we live relatively short lives.

  372. Anyone who entertains SFnal ideas of living forever — let’s see if you still feel that way after reading “The Immortal” by Jorge Luis Borges. :)

  373. The way I see it, you can either stop pretending there’s a homogeneous entity called “the Left” that conforms to your psychoanalytic fantasies, or continue to look like a smug-but-clueless partisan. Are you referring to O’Donnell?

    I don’t pretend that The Left is homogeneous. It is, rather, a coalition of interest groups that deliver the majority of votes from their respective identity groups in exchange for a slice of the power pie. One of the odd consequences of this is that women and homosexuals vote along with the anti-{colonialist|imperialist} faction that reflexively sides with actual theocratic thugs that treat women as second-class citizens if not outright property, and kill homosexuals. Another is that industrial unions vote to elect übergreens that are killing their jobs.

    And no, I’m not referring specifically to O’Donnell. She’s just the latest in a long series of attacks on women (and other members of the coalition) that stray off the plantation. A double-whammy like Condoleeza Rice was particularly savaged. Is O’Donnell the sharpest knife in the drawer? Hardly. But she has the humility not to think she’s so damned smart she can micromanage my life, so I’ll gladly support her against her “bearded Marxist” (in his own words) opponent.

  374. I don’t pretend that The Left is homogeneous. It is, rather, a coalition of interest groups that deliver the majority of votes from their respective identity groups in exchange for a slice of the power pie. One of the odd consequences of this is that women and homosexuals vote along with the anti-{colonialist|imperialist} faction that reflexively sides with actual theocratic thugs that treat women as second-class citizens if not outright property, and kill homosexuals.

    This is pure narrative fantasy, based upon, amongst other things, your personal world view that politics is about taking “sides”. Rather, opinions are much more subtle than you think they are. I could equally unfairly characterise the Tea Party as racist.

    Another is that industrial unions vote to elect übergreens that are killing their jobs.

    Maybe in America; that is not my experience locally. Besides, industrial workers have to breathe the same air as everyone else. You seem bent on describing the world in terms of oppositions, when in fact these constructs are largely imagined.

    And no, I’m not referring specifically to O’Donnell. She’s just the latest in a long series of attacks on women (and other members of the coalition) that stray off the plantation. A double-whammy like Condoleeza Rice was particularly savaged.

    Political life is harsh; controversial figures attract louder criticism. You can say that Condoleeza Rice was “savaged” because she was a black woman, but that is mere speculation. I might as well say that people are “savaging” Obama now because he is black man. Perhaps, but nobody knows the full extent (if any) of each critic’s racism and it is foolish to cook up such self-serving theories.

    Is O’Donnell the sharpest knife in the drawer? Hardly. But she has the humility not to think she’s so damned smart she can micromanage my life, so I’ll gladly support her against her “bearded Marxist” (in his own words) opponent.

    She has great humility, except when it comes to telling people what they should do with their own bodies. Who do you think is going to “micromanage” your life?

  375. “Anyone who entertains SFnal ideas of living forever — let’s see if you still feel that way after reading “The Immortal” by Jorge Luis Borges. :)”
    Yes, that was what I meant: the literature is half full of this kind of immortality-equals-boredom tales. And fantasy routinely deals with immortals who aren’t bored at all…

  376. >>This comment seems to be intended to insult people from Europe. If it also characterizes the type of society you want to organize I am pretty sure I want to be no part of it.

    Organize what society? A more argumentative society?

    >>Here you are dismissing the political thoughts of almost half a billion people. You cannot be bothered to even think about it. What about the thoughts and opinions of the other 5.5 billion humans?

    I care about the truth. If those half a billion people say something that’s warrant a look, than I take a look at it. If I get bored by leftist literature, that mean I actually read the literature. I also read lot of poor amazon reviews and people who post overly complicated jargon filled essay that are easily picked to death.

    You know what I complain about? The fricking libertarian radio talk show that agree too much with me. Yet, if I try to look for a liberal radio station, I probably couldn’t find one.

    Disagreement is where I get away from the echo chamber and ya know, actually learn things.

  377. This is pure narrative fantasy, based upon, amongst other things, your personal world view that politics is about taking “sides”. Rather, opinions are much more subtle than you think they are. I could equally unfairly characterise the Tea Party as racist.

    It isn’t just my personal world view. Politics must be about taking sides. One candidate gets elected, the others do not. He does that by getting more voters on his side than the others do. If you consider those plain, observable facts to be “pure narrative fantasy”, then it’s clear to any observer who is engaging in fantasy.

    You can say that Condoleeza Rice was “savaged” because she was a black woman, but that is mere speculation. I might as well say that people are “savaging” Obama now because he is black man.

    I don’t say she was savaged because she was a black woman, but because she was a black woman who didn’t follow the prescribed thinking for blacks and women The people who savaged her don’t talk that way about leftist women and/or blacks. They don’t even use those words for conservative/libertarian white men. The people who oppose Obama’s policies opposed them when they were Clinton or Carter’s policies. If anything, they hold back out of fear that they’ll be branded “racist”.

    She has great humility, except when it comes to telling people what they should do with their own bodies. Who do you think is going to “micromanage” your life?

    Clever wording there. I have no problem with someone telling me what they think I should do. It’s when they hire Men With Badges And Guns to force me to do as they say that I have a problem. Bear in mind that when she made those comments years ago, she was not a candidate for any office; she was the president of an organization committed to persuading teens to behave in accordance with a certain code of conduct.

    We have God-given sexual desires and we need to understand them and preserve them to be used in God’s appropriate context. Our members are committed to be role models, committed to be the salt of the earth.

    A role model tries to demonstrate “how it’s done” in the hope that others will emulate the example. Perhaps your own “personal world view” about politics is tied to the notion that good behavior must be enforced at gunpoint that you can’t separate her advocacy for people making individual decisions to live as she believes God intends us to live, and a desire to enforce that lifestyle by force.

    I see no evidence that Ms. O’Donnell will favor legislation against masturbation. I see plenty of evidence that Mr. Coons will favor legislation against things I want to do.

  378. The problem I have with the left and the right is they ARE about politics.

    The politicization of everything down to what you eat and drive is the problem not the cure.

    It’s all about turning the herd in the direction that gives an individual political hack more power.

    The whole thing is a tremendous waste of time and resources.

    People should be able to pursue their specialization and contribute to society without having to constantly mind a bunch of power mad mental midgets.

    It’s one part pep rally and one part who’s going to be class president…..

    BLECH!!

  379. As far as European states. I think France has done a relatively good job. I think they definitely have the best energy policy. They also seem to have a good agricultural policy. When I say good, I don’t mean the best it could be, but good enough that I could live there without feeling like I am in a mental ward.

    England is fine if you like a police state with cameras and busybodies everywhere.

    Germany is nice, but a little too conformist and rigid for me personally.

    IMO the jury is still out on whether the EU experiment will work.

    As socialist states go NZ is probably my favorite. A socialist country must be culturally homogeneous, and have a cultural work ethic. They also can’t have delusions of ruling the world. NZ fits this with enough Maori thrown in to keep it interesting. Immigration must be selective. Nothing works to keep illegal immigration down like a giant shark infested ocean.

    Otherwise….looter central. IE the US. Anybody who doesn’t think we are socialist is deluded. We are just more towards the fascist end of the spectrum. The welfare is corporate with a few crumbs thrown to the masses to keep them on the porch with a 40.

    I have several left leaning acquaintances. An interesting thing happened to both of them. One of them had to take some money out of an IRA to finish a building. He received a hefty tax bill. The guy totally flipped his lid. I mean frothing at the mouth angry.

    The other person won $50K in a sweepstakes. She too flipped her lid when she got the tax bill.

    It’s fine as long as the “greedy rich other” is paying. But whenever it applies to them they don’t think it’s fair. This type of hypocritical thinking and the unwillingness to look at realistic economic data puts them in the same boat as people who believe in the Easter bunny.

    Me, I get to pay that bill personally. I don’t have an employer to do it for me in a hidden manner. When I write that check I know how it hampers my business growth. I feel personally insulted at having to fund an empire of silliness, rather than re-deploying the capital in ways that serve my fellow man in a voluntary manner.

    They don’t like to discuss things like demographics and hard numbers. They have ideological rose colored glasses to make all the inconvenient facts disappear. When you press them, you are declared a heartless monster who would throw widows and orphans to the wolves…..or you must be a racist. They are always the caring sophisticate. In reality they are the exact opposite.

    It’s all very tiring.

  380. 1. Any modern marketplace must be *designed* well in order to function well. (This isn’t to say that markets can’t emerge via an evolutionary process, but if we’re talking about the global economy, we can’t afford the repeated failures it will take before a successful one emerges — especially when “market failure” might equate to “species failure”.)</blockquote

    When you say "marketplace" and use the term "design," you're no longer talking about free markets. You're talking about, at best, regulated markets, and, at worst, command-and-control markets. (Some might argue those are the same thing.)

    Ditto for the terms "maintenance" and "accountable". When you say "accountable," then you have to ask "accountable to whom, for what and when?”

    Of course, that immediately implies something other than a free market.

    Software control is still control.

  381. It isn’t just my personal world view. Politics must be about taking sides.

    Not true. E.g., some years I vote a spread of candidates from each side in order to support a split senate. This may or may not be possible in your local political system.

    One candidate gets elected, the others do not. He does that by getting more voters on his side than the others do. If you consider those plain, observable facts to be “pure narrative fantasy”, then it’s clear to any observer who is engaging in fantasy.

    Aside from the above counter-example, voting for someone doesn’t entail “taking their side”. You were talking about oppressive regimes, so let’s not try to turn this into an argument about the semantics of the word “side”. If I vote for a candidate I am not getting on his side on every issue, nor am I giving the kind of implicit support that you imagine I am.

    I don’t say she was savaged because she was a black woman, but because she was a black woman who didn’t follow the prescribed thinking for blacks and women The people who savaged her don’t talk that way about leftist women and/or blacks. They don’t even use those words for conservative/libertarian white men.

    The people who oppose Obama’s policies opposed them when they were Clinton or Carter’s policies. If anything, they hold back out of fear that they’ll be branded “racist”.

    Again, you believe this is true but you have no evidence. It’s convenient to try to paint a story where the opposition to Obama is morally sound, but the opposition to Rice is “the Left” punishing her for being a race/gender traitor. You cannot establish this empirically.

    Clever wording there. I have no problem with someone telling me what they think I should do. It’s when they hire Men With Badges And Guns to force me to do as they say that I have a problem. Bear in mind that when she made those comments years ago, she was not a candidate for any office; she was the president of an organization committed to persuading teens to behave in accordance with a certain code of conduct.

    Again, who is going to bust down your door and start micromanaging your life? Explain to me which of Coons’ policies will lead to this happening. I was not referring to her anti-masturbation stance, though it’s an entertaining aspect of her lunacy. She is anti-abortion, even in cases where there is danger to the mother or the pregnancy is the result of rape. She is against embryonic stem cell research. She is also pro-war, which will entail raising taxes for either you or your children.

    A role model tries to demonstrate “how it’s done” in the hope that others will emulate the example. Perhaps your own “personal world view” about politics is tied to the notion that good behavior must be enforced at gunpoint that you can’t separate her advocacy for people making individual decisions to live as she believes God intends us to live, and a desire to enforce that lifestyle by force.

    You should speculate less about what people think; you are not very good at it.

    I see no evidence that Ms. O’Donnell will favor legislation against masturbation. I see plenty of evidence that Mr. Coons will favor legislation against things I want to do.

    When did this turn into you justifying your own voting decisions? Or is this some kind of strange hypothetical? If you think voting for O’Donnell converges with your self-interest, so be it. I am still going to chuckle at her moronic outlook on life, up to and including the fact that she’s selling herself as being against government overspending but cannot manage her own finances. People are laughing at her because she’s a simple-minded fool. Maybe this time the fool has it right; that’s not going to stop people from laughing at her.

  382. >>I have answered objections by kiba, TMR, and Morgan Greywolf here.

    The economic calculation problem explicitly state that centralized agents cannot rationally plan the economy. In other words, it show that a socialist planned economy can never work. The free market have such ability and it was called the price mechanism. This is also related to TMR’s knowledge problem.

    Laws have vast and hidden effects that probably cannot be seen by central agents in advanced, no matter how benevolent. (I am doubtful that peer review will be a sufficient mechanism to helping the government decide to regulate the economy)


    You may want to investigate medieval iceland for example of market law anarchy to incorporate into your model, as well the destabilizing effects of Christianity as example of what not to do in a market anarchy….or your government.

  383. @Woozle

    Geeks by large are not engaged in a shadow conspiracy to make the world more anarchistic and decentralized place. I believe many geeks happen to have a preference toward anarchy and decentralization. This tendency accumulate a few tools there and there that make possible anarchy. There are some concerted purposeful effort, but they are rare.(Perhaps, the exception is bitcoin)

    However, another reason is that techno-anarchists by large don’t tend to create things that they view as impossible or ineffective, like yours.

    Anarchists are not opposed to “unregulated” markets, but prefer market based approach to regulations.

  384. voting for someone doesn’t entail “taking their side”

    Alrighty, then, the Germans who voted NSDAP into power didn’t “take their side”. That makes things not only hunky, but a little bit dory.

    Again, you believe this is true but you have no evidence. It’s convenient to try to paint a story where the opposition to Obama is morally sound, but the opposition to Rice is “the Left” punishing her for being a race/gender traitor. You cannot establish this empirically.

    I know what I’ve seen and heard. You don’t believe me. We are at an impasse, as you refuse to believe there is anything but perfect moral equivalence. I can’t say that surprises me.

    Again, who is going to bust down your door and start micromanaging your life? Explain to me which of Coons’ policies will lead to this happening.

    Moving the goalposts again with “bust down your door”. There won’t be much of that; instead they’ll just threaten businesses with huge financial penalties if they don’t comply with the New Order. The micromanagement is in the thousands of pages in the Health Care and Financial Reform bills, and the tens or hundreds of thousands of regulations those laws will require agencies promulgate. These laws will raise the prices I pay, and reduce the value I receive, for pretty much everything I buy for the rest of my life (if we can’t repeal them in the meantime).

    His self-described “Marxist” policies will support government intrusions that will, for instance, force me to join a union without even an organizing election, force me to purchase expensive and potentially ecologically dangerous light bulbs, enact “cap and trade” legislation that will cause electric rates to “necessarily skyrocket” (according to the President), and force even more jobs overseas. Perhaps that’s good for you, but not for me.

    When did this turn into you justifying your own voting decisions?

    It couldn’t, since I did not vote for Ms. O’Donnell. As a Kansas resident, I was not eligible to do so. If I lived in Delaware, however, I would vote for her against either Castle or Coons without hesitation. You began this by assuming that I was talking about her specifically, but I was actually talking about a long string of them. Then you told me that none of my reasons are valid, and it’s all part of my mental illness.

    That doesn’t surprise me either. Diagnosing someone as mentally ill is a handy way to dispense with actually having to discuss their arguments.

  385. Roger Phillips,

    > I am still going to chuckle at her moronic outlook on life, up to and including the fact that she’s selling herself as being against government overspending but cannot manage her own finances. People are laughing at her because she’s a simple-minded fool.

    Everybody is silly some of time. Sounds like you are silly some of the time about what constitutes “a simple-minded fool”. For example, information about a political figure which has been cherry-picked by her political enemies is not really a good way to decide when someone is “a simple-minded fool”.

    Yours,
    Tom

  386. TMR goes forth:
    >As socialist states go NZ is probably my favorite. A socialist country must be culturally homogeneous, and have a cultural work ethic. They also can’t have delusions of ruling the world. NZ fits this with enough Maori thrown in to keep it interesting. Immigration must be selective. Nothing works to keep illegal immigration down like a giant shark infested ocean.

    Forgive the presumptuousness behind the question, but are your travels in Aotearoa recent?

  387. voting for someone doesn’t entail “taking their side”

    Alrighty, then, the Germans who voted NSDAP into power didn’t “take their side”. That makes things not only hunky, but a little bit dory.

    If you vote knowing the consequences of that vote then you are responsible for those consequences. That is not the same thing as “siding” with someone. If your wife has a dispute with someone and you agree with the third party, that doesn’t mean you are “siding” against her. If she is mentally ill and you sign forms to get her help that doesn’t mean you’re “siding” against her in preference of her doctors. In both cases, you may be looking out for her interests above all else.

    I know what I’ve seen and heard. You don’t believe me. We are at an impasse, as you refuse to believe there is anything but perfect moral equivalence. I can’t say that surprises me.

    Unfortunately, you either don’t believe in empiricism, or you misunderstand it. You clearly do not like “lefties”. At some point you have formed some crackpot hypothesis about how their minds work, and have found confirmation of that theory. This is not a credible way to form an objective viewpoint. This is not psychoanalysis; it’s pretty clear you do not want to falsify your hypothesis, because you’re talking to a living counter-example.

    Moving the goalposts again with “bust down your door”. There won’t be much of that; instead they’ll just threaten businesses with huge financial penalties if they don’t comply with the New Order. The micromanagement is in the thousands of pages in the Health Care and Financial Reform bills, and the tens or hundreds of thousands of regulations those laws will require agencies promulgate. These laws will raise the prices I pay, and reduce the value I receive, for pretty much everything I buy for the rest of my life (if we can’t repeal them in the meantime).

    No, I am simply echoing your own use of embellished phraseology (men with guns and so forth). None of what you’re talking about entails micromanagement. If you believe said bills will harm the economy, so be it. Again, I’m not really interested in hearing about your preference for O’Donnell or otherwise. I am pointing out the very valid reasons people have for making fun of her. And now, since you decided to be dramatic about it, I’m pointing out how silly it is to talk about men knocking on your door with guns.

    His self-described “Marxist” policies will support government intrusions that will, for instance, force me to join a union without even an organizing election, force me to purchase expensive and potentially ecologically dangerous light bulbs, enact “cap and trade” legislation that will cause electric rates to “necessarily skyrocket” (according to the President), and force even more jobs overseas. Perhaps that’s good for you, but not for me.

    Again, none of this seems like micromanagement to me. Bad policy maybe. Again, you seem awfully worried about lightbulbs and unions, but not the atrocious levels of spending that go toward the war. Would I vote for a self-describe “Marxist”? No. We have far-left parties here, and I put them close to the bottom of my preferences with the other crazies. That doesn’t negate the fact that O’Donnell has brought ridicule upon herself by behaving stupidly.

    It couldn’t, since I did not vote for Ms. O’Donnell. As a Kansas resident, I was not eligible to do so. If I lived in Delaware, however, I would vote for her against either Castle or Coons without hesitation. You began this by assuming that I was talking about her specifically, but I was actually talking about a long string of them. Then you told me that none of my reasons are valid, and it’s all part of my mental illness.

    No, you tried to defend her as having ‘humility’. I pointed out that this was purely a product of your heavily-biased POV, as she is happy to interfere with peoples’ lives in ways that you apparently consider acceptable.

    That doesn’t surprise me either. Diagnosing someone as mentally ill is a handy way to dispense with actually having to discuss their arguments.

    Pretending I tried to diagnose some kind of mental health issue is a handy way to dispense with the fact that I _did_ discuss your arguments.

  388. Everybody is silly some of time. Sounds like you are silly some of the time about what constitutes “a simple-minded fool”. For example, information about a political figure which has been cherry-picked by her political enemies is not really a good way to decide when someone is “a simple-minded fool”.

    Explain to me how it is ‘cherry-picking’ to note that she is mired in debt, but wants to lecture the incumbent government on debt. This is not a case of picking on someone because some awkward quotes got out into the media.

  389. @ Another Darren

    No, not recent. And they seem to be headed down watermelon way of late. I guess I am projecting my affinity for the ocean, mountains, people and such. Plus the moment of hope when they went broke and started to experiment.

    I’m not going to move there…too far.

  390. No, you tried to defend her as having ‘humility’. I pointed out that this was purely a product of your heavily-biased POV, as she is happy to interfere with peoples’ lives in ways that you apparently consider acceptable.

    The word “interfere” is overbroad. There is a world of difference between “God says to do live your life this way, and as a bonus, if you do, you’ll be happier” and “Obey these rules or a court will sentence you to jail/fine, or both”. I do not happen to belong to Ms. O’Donnell’s particular sect, but the First Amendment guarantees her the right to live her own life by its tenets, and to advocate that others do as well.

    That you can’t see any difference between persuasion and compulsion, sadly, is also not surprising to me. If you did, you wouldn’t self-identify with “Left”.

  391. “The word “interfere” is overbroad. There is a world of difference between “God says to do live your life this way, and as a bonus, if you do, you’ll be happier””

    If the religious right hadn’t used those same words to justify their attempts at proclaiming sex laws, or maintaining religious laws, it would be easier to see the difference you mention.

    Note, I have no idea what exactly this lady thinks, whether she wants to forbid masturbation by law or not. I don’t care. But I’ve seen many people, many times, justify their opposition to or agreement with a law because “it’s what God says to do”. Starting with same-sex marriage laws.

  392. @Woozle:

    Free markets tend to regulate themselves. They are, in fact, inherently stable systems.

    Ditto for accountability. A person supplying goods or services in a free market is accountable to his customers. If his goods or services are defective in some way — that is, in some way, they fail to meet the needs of his customers — he will soon lack customers and those customers that received failed products or bad service will be demanding their money back.

    There is no need for a government to interfere in this stable system. In fact, government intervention in such systems has proven detrimental to these systems.

    Recently, much of the American automotive industry received government bailouts in multiple forms. The failure of the American automotive industry is attributed to the car makers themselves — their products are supposed to be shoddy, lacking in quality and features. Ask yourself this: if their products were so bad, why didn’t anyone else but the Japanese and the Germans step in to fill the void? (Answer: the barrier of entry into the market is too high. This is due, in large part, to heavy government regulation of this industry.)

  393. > Explain to me how it is ‘cherry-picking’ to note that she is mired in debt, but wants to lecture the incumbent government on debt. This is not a case of picking on someone because some awkward quotes got out into the media.

    Roger, it is cherry picking. You know very little about her and have seized an isolated fact. Cherry picking.

    Second, if lecturing someone about avoiding problems very similar to their own describes “a simple minded fool”, then you must believe nearly everyone is “a simple minded fool”. I bet you personally have lectured someone about avoiding problems very similar to your own. Many of us call this “having children”.

    You can’t win this one, Roger. It’s clear as a bell that O’Donnell is not “a simple minded fool”. She may not be as smart as Roger Phillips, but personally I think that standard is several steps above the “simple minded fool” standard. Don’t you agree?

    Yours,
    Tom

  394. I have no idea what exactly this lady thinks, whether she wants to forbid masturbation by law or not. I don’t care. But I’ve seen many people, many times, justify their opposition to or agreement with a law because “it’s what God says to do”. Starting with same-sex marriage laws.

    I don’t see any problem with one’s faith informing his politics. It gave Dr. King the strength to fight unjust laws even while he expected to be killed for it. It gave the signers of the Declaration of Independence the conviction to pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. As long as someone’s religion doesn’t cross that line into compelling people into compliance, it’s fine. Even if that religion is airheaded Gaia worship. As long as I don’t have to give up my car to sate their goddess’ appetite, I’m cool with it.

    And no, she has never for a moment suggested a law against masturbation. If she had, that would take the place of the “dabbling with witchcraft” nonsense.

  395. Roger, it is cherry picking. You know very little about her and have seized an isolated fact. Cherry picking.

    Let’s say your neighbour burns his house down, then he applies for a job as directory of safety at a fireworks factory. I suppose you think that it’s “cherry-picking” to point out to him the obvious credibility problem.

    Second, if lecturing someone about avoiding problems very similar to their own describes “a simple minded fool”, then you must believe nearly everyone is “a simple minded fool”. I bet you personally have lectured someone about avoiding problems very similar to your own. Many of us call this “having children”.

    If someone gives me advice on something they are clearly incompetent at then I consider them a fool. If you crash your car and warn me to be careful on the road I will probably take your advice seriously. However, if you crash your car and then want to give me driving lessons I’m probably going to think you’re an idiot.

    You can’t win this one, Roger. It’s clear as a bell that O’Donnell is not “a simple minded fool”. She may not be as smart as Roger Phillips, but personally I think that standard is several steps above the “simple minded fool” standard. Don’t you agree?

    If someone who can’t balance their own campaign budget coming out against government overspending isn’t a fool, then I don’t know what is. I’m not saying that only fools go into debt. However, running a senate campaign is not a mandatory expense. She hadn’t even paid off her 2008 campaign when she was running her 2010 campaign. That is simply irresponsible. How one can then feel entitled to criticise government overspending is beyond me.

  396. The word “interfere” is overbroad. There is a world of difference between “God says to do live your life this way, and as a bonus, if you do, you’ll be happier” and “Obey these rules or a court will sentence you to jail/fine, or both”. I do not happen to belong to Ms. O’Donnell’s particular sect, but the First Amendment guarantees her the right to live her own life by its tenets, and to advocate that others do as well.

    Which way do you think she is going to vote on bills relating to stem cells, abortion or gay marriage? She is for extending the war, which will contribute to a growing deficit. She’s a senator; she is going to vote for bills that promote her interests like anyone else.

    That you can’t see any difference between persuasion and compulsion, sadly, is also not surprising to me. If you did, you wouldn’t self-identify with “Left”.

    I do not “self-identify” with the “Left”. In my time as a voter I have voted left, right and centre. I like how every few posts someone (maybe it’s always you, I don’t remember) tacks on some silly psychoanalysis about how I must think a certain way because I’m a “leftie”.

  397. She’s a senator; she is going to vote for bills that promote her interests like anyone else.

    Would-be senator, of course.

  398. Morgan, there are no free markets. Zero, zippo, none. There are only markets regulated by governments and markets regulated by customers. Unsurprisingly, the latter give better results for customers, and the former give better results for governments. Surprisingly, some customers want governments to regulate markets.

  399. @Morgan Greywolf:
    “Free markets tend to regulate themselves. They are, in fact, inherently stable systems.”

    I hear that often. But I would dare you to come up with empirical proof. And proof that it works for real humans, not for theoretical humans or machines.

    Theoretically, markets are inherently unstable if there is a scale (dis-)advantage of any sort.

    And they are also instable if there is not someone standing next to it who can enforce contracts and prevent robbery. You will likely counter that the participants will hire goons for security. But the one with the weapons will take the money, and the market. It pays to read up on the history of renaissance Tuscany as an example. The hired goons were mostly worse than the city states who hired them.

  400. > I suppose you think that it’s “cherry-picking” to point out to him the obvious credibility problem.

    No, it’s “cherry-picking” to go from that to “simple minded fool”. One foolish act does not a fool make. You are cherry picking.

    > If someone gives me advice on something they are clearly incompetent at then I consider them a fool.

    Really? How much do you know about balancing campaign finances? Are you qualified to judge incompetence in this matter? Do you have sufficient information about this case? I seem to remember lots of prominent politicians running up campaign debt (like Hillary Clinton and John McCain, IIRC), and begging people for money after the campaign is over. Furthermore the campaign finance laws make campaign finance ridiculously difficult.

    Why don’t you give us advice on campaign finance after you demonstrate your competence? Because right now you appear to be giving advice to O’Donnell about it.

    > If someone who can’t balance their own campaign budget coming out against government overspending isn’t a fool, then I don’t know what is. I’m not saying that only fools go into debt. However, running a senate campaign is not a mandatory expense. She hadn’t even paid off her 2008 campaign when she was running her 2010 campaign. That is simply irresponsible. How one can then feel entitled to criticise government overspending is beyond me.

    Actually I think it shows you don’t know anything about political campaigns. TV stations hate political advertisements, because political campaigns are not reliable sources of funds. If you think about the economics of political campaigns, you’ll see that’s pretty much unavoidable. Campaigns, unlike governments, don’t have steady sources of income.

    “Simple minded fool” is ridiculous hyperbole. You can’t win with that, Roger. “Obvious credibility problem”, OTOH, is a good description.

    Yours,
    Tom

  401. “Why don’t you give us advice on campaign finance after you demonstrate your competence? Because right now you appear to be giving advice to O’Donnell about it.”

    No, he’s criticizing. If you had a point, nobody could criticize a movie without filming first.

  402. “Actually I think it shows you don’t know anything about political campaigns. TV stations hate political advertisements, because political campaigns are not reliable sources of funds. If you think about the economics of political campaigns, you’ll see that’s pretty much unavoidable. Campaigns, unlike governments, don’t have steady sources of income.”

    That might be true, but having debts on one campaign, embarking in another, and telling people how they should manage the economy? You are citing reasons why political campaigns are money sinks, which might be true. Roger is saying that is irresponsible, hypocritical and dumb to do one campaign, not finish paying for it, start a second, and tell us how the government should handle money. Or if he isn’t, I am.

  403. > No, he’s criticizing. If you had a point, nobody could criticize a movie without filming first.

    Then his point is invalid as well – which was my point, see?

    > Roger is saying that is irresponsible, hypocritical and dumb to do one campaign, not finish paying for it, start a second, and tell us how the government should handle money. Or if he isn’t, I am.

    And your point is also invalid by your logic. Even people who can’t make movies can and should tell us how a movie should be made and people who can’t handle money can and should tell us how the government should handle money.

    Yours,
    Tom

  404. “Even people who can’t make movies can and should tell us how a movie should be made and people who can’t handle money can and should tell us how the government should handle money.”

    You are being disingenuous. If I say the latest Polanski film blows, no-one cares. Essentially, it means ‘I didn’t like it’. If a would-be senator says the economy should be run this way or that way, and is shown to be hypocritical, it’s a different thing altogether, because she might get the power to do something about it, and her track record shows she’s not to be trusted. You are muddling the difference between ‘public figure’ and ‘j. q. public’.

  405. Adriano,

    > You are being disingenuous.

    No, I am not. O’Donnell is neither irresponsible, hypocritical nor dumb. You are muddling the difference between an individual and a corporate body. When an individual criticises a movie he is criticizing the group of people who made the movie. A corporation is not a person. When O’Donnell criticizes the government, she is criticizing the group of people who ran the government. The government is not a person. It is perfectly appropriate for me to carefully peruse my minor daughter’s email. It is not perfectly appropriate for my employer, a corporation, or the government to carefully peruse my minor daughter’s email. It is also perfectly appropriate for me to manage my debt in ways it is not perfectly appropriate for either a corporation or the government.

    A failed political campaign is like a failed business – both often end up in debt. That does not mean we should prohibit failed politicians or businessman from borrowing, or that it is foolish or irresponsible for them to do so.

    I want people with debt problems to be critical of the government’s finances and to be free to run for office. It is highly responsible, absolutely ethical, highly intelligent and necessary for them to do so. I completely deny your position and find it thoroughly counterproductive.

    Yours,
    Tom

  406. “People in sociialist countries are living a long and happy life pursuing their interests in safety and freedom.”

    I’d be a lot more happier if I had any idea who is gonna pay for my retirement/pension. (Writing from – as of the time being – Vienna.)

    You see I find it difficult to save up for my own retirement because I’m paying the retirement of the generations, and the generation after me partially simply does not exist (as in: not born), and partially have been born in the rather lower-class and underclass parts of the city and I have some doubts about their future earning capability (and willingness).

    Taking Vienna as an example, although I’m here since only last Nov and working my ass off, therefore had little time to discover the city, but I generally saw two kinds of districts: middle-classy, decent, neat – and _old_, with my 32 years I’m typically younger than pretty much anyone I meet. The other kinds of districts have kids, but they are rather slummy, all signs of low-class and underclass culture from littered streets to kids wearing tracksuits to school and listening to gangsta-rap. (These are basically the Turkish/Balkanian districts but that in itself does not matter much because the problem is not that of ethnicity, but of class and class-culture and underclass culture. This is a complex problem: being a high-skilled migrant here I understand perfectly well why Western Europe tends to get the low-skilled, low-class migrants, the high-skilled ones used to go to America and now typically go to Australia / NZ and not to Western Europe, I’m a bit of an exception because I wanted to stay close to home.)

    Having to pay for the retirement of others and having to save up for my own – gives me three options:

    1) not have kids
    2) live under level I want to, basically on a working-class level
    3) raise my earning ability by at least 30%.

    I’m thinking about trying option 3) – stop having a regular job and go freelancing in the general region of Kiel / Southwest Baltic Sea, the opportunities seem to be good there. But I don’t think this is an option for everybody – hence the trap.

    The big problem is that 1) is the easiest option out which most folks will choose and it is therefore self-reinforcing: if retirement for me will be difficult, it will be nearly impossible for the next generation.

  407. Adriano and Roger Phillips,

    Perhaps you should consider the debts of the people who wrote the Constitution. Debts due to gambling. Debts due to land speculation. Debts due to the Revolutionary War. Consider that Thomas Jefferson, who did not write the Constitution, but did write the Declaration of Independance, died broke.

    And all of these men considered it their duty to not just criticize government finances, but in most cases were actually responsible for them at some point.

    It’s important to be careful about ones arguments and the possible counter arguments when arguing that someone is “a simple minded fool”, or “dumb”, lest you be judged yourself. Arguing that a particular position is “simple minded”, “foolish”, or “dumb” is a much less risky proposition.

    This is the fourth law of gun handling – be aware of what around and beyond your target. Me, I like shooting at paper targets (with an adequate backstop!) and arguing ideas. People? Well I don’t want to shoot at any. I do often aim my words at them, but that is a personal failing for which I hope I will be forgiven.

    Yours,
    Tom

  408. >I’d be a lot more happier if I had any idea who is gonna pay for my retirement/pension [...] if retirement for me will be difficult, it will be nearly impossible for the next generation.

    Ah, yes. You have zeroed in on that central element of left-wing faith: that there will always be more fat cats to squeeze, always more kulaks to liquidate, so that redistributive theft from the future can continue indefinitely.

    That assumption is now collapsing. There’s no more other peoples’ money and the government debt load is reaching levels that are not merely unsustainable but obviously unsustainable. I was wrong twenty years ago when I thought the fall of the Soviet Union would put paid to leftism; our political class and intellectuals were unable or unwilling to learn the lesson then.

    I think they’ll learn it soon. No other choice remains.

  409. Ah, yes. You have zeroed in on that central element of left-wing faith: that there will always be more fat cats to squeeze, always more kulaks to liquidate, so that redistributive theft from the future can continue indefinitely.

    That assumption is now collapsing. There’s no more other peoples’ money and the government debt load is reaching levels that are not merely unsustainable but obviously unsustainable. I was wrong twenty years ago when I thought the fall of the Soviet Union would put paid to leftism; our political class and intellectuals were unable or unwilling to learn the lesson then.

    Nonsense. The countries that are experiencing the debt problems — like the U.S. and Greece — are precisely the ones where heavy taxation is political anathema. In countries like this (I know it’s true for the U.S. and Greece), the fat cats have so thoroughly bought and paid for political power that they can effectively avoid getting squeezed, forcing the government to borrow from the future in order to pay the bills of the present. It’s insanity.

    Have you seen Capitalism: A Love Story? In it, Michael Moore makes the point that in the 1950s the top marginal tax rate for the wealthiest Americans was over 90% — and yet they still lived like kings. Stiff taxes on the rich don’t hurt them terribly much when it comes to actual life style — and may better their relations with their fellow men. (Wilkinson and Pickett cover this too: redistributionist nations tend to have much less animosity between members of different classes.)

  410. @Russell Nelson:

    Morgan, there are no free markets. Zero, zippo, none. There are only markets regulated by governments and markets regulated by customers.

    Excellent point. Actually, there are somewhere in-between as well: both regulated by governments and by customers. I suspect this applies to most markets in Western countries.

  411. Jeff Read:

    Michael Moore is a propagandist, not a documentarian.

    Greek taxes are sky high. Almost nobody not employed by the government pays. The underground economy is huge.

    Sky high tax rates are an instrument of corruption. Those who have a lot have a lot to lose, and will do a lot to protect it. This becomes a gravy train for those in government.

    Shenpen:

    You have a fourth option. Have kids. Scrimp and save to get them trained/educated. Help them buy a house. Trade babysitting for food, shelter, and nursing.

    It’s what most of humanity has done for thousands of years. It’s what my great grandmother did.

  412. Jeff,

    We have 12 to 20 Trillion dollars of debt. We have between 70 and 107 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilites for Social Security and Medicare. The only number I could find for our total wealth was 47 trillion. I think it’s actually liquid wealth, but the name for it was technical and it was not well enough explained. However, what it looks like to me is that we could take not all the wealthy people’s income, but their actual wealth and it still would not be enough to pay our debts.

    This dovetails with what I have read from multiple sources. We could make the wealthy pay 100% income tax and it would not be enough.

    It’s not really that we have run out of other people’s money. It’s that we have run our of our children and grandchildren’s money, as Shenpen has said. And that’s because we have run out of children and grandchildren. When Social Security started we had about twenty people paying in for every person paying out. Now we have three.

    The demographic math is inexorable. Don’t make innumerate claims about taxing the wealthy just because lots of innumerate journalists and politicians do. The math does not work. The wealthy do not have enough wealth.

    Getting married and raising kids to middle class standards used to be cheap. Now it’s expensive, so we don’t do it. Changing society to make it cheaper to raise kids to middle class standards would help – especially popping the higher education bubble to cut college costs, and improving primary and secondary education so that fewer people need to attend college.

    As an example, we should be able to teach writing in high school so that journalism and technical writing does not require a college degree. Writing well is not that hard. An excellent high school student should be able to work at any newspaper or write any user manual.

    And we need to convert the zero-population growth people into lets populate the asteroid belt people.

    In addition to increasing our numbers of children, we need to dramatically increase the retirement age.

    Yours,
    Tom

  413. “I want people with debt problems to be critical of the government’s finances and to be free to run for office. It is highly responsible, absolutely ethical, highly intelligent and necessary for them to do so. I completely deny your position and find it thoroughly counterproductive.”

    So she has a right to say what she wants, and I am forced to like it? I cannot form myself the opinion that she’s talking out of her ass?, and
    She’s completely free to run for office, and to say what she likes. I don’t have to like it. Nor do I have to vote for her (since I am not an American, the point is moot anyway).

    I don’t know how you’re reading what I type, but I said essentially ‘I find her to be an hypocrite. I wouldn’t vote for her’. The rest is rhetoric, yes, I can call her dumb, retard, a jack slawed yokel, for rhetoric. That much should be obvious.

    “Perhaps you should consider the debts of the people who wrote the Constitution. Debts due to gambling. Debts due to land speculation. Debts due to the Revolutionary War. Consider that Thomas Jefferson, who did not write the Constitution, but did write the Declaration of Independance, died broke.”

    Oh, yes, reduction to authority. My own country had at least one founding father who died broke and syphilitic, too.

    “It’s important to be careful about ones arguments and the possible counter arguments when arguing that someone is “a simple minded fool”, or “dumb”, lest you be judged yourself. Arguing that a particular position is “simple minded”, “foolish”, or “dumb” is a much less risky proposition.”

    It’s generally implied, at least in my case. But I’ll concede, and say ‘what she said is hypocritical, and dumb’. Happy now? Can we now discuss the fact that she’s part of the same party that has argued for ‘small government, fiscal responsibility’ for years, and has been in power for much of the last decade failing on both counts, and now they are saying the exact same thing, as if now it was all different, because all of a sudden, a Democrat is ruining America? Or maybe that’s for another thread, since this one was ostensibly about free-market anarchism.

    By the way, Eric, a post or pointer where you described what you mean by that term would be nice. I didn’t find a complete explanationon your ‘Why I am an anarchist essay, nor here, only mentions that it’s what you think to be right. I might have missed it.

  414. No, it’s “cherry-picking” to go from that to “simple minded fool”. One foolish act does not a fool make. You are cherry picking.

    You do not know what the term “cherry-picking” means.

    Really? How much do you know about balancing campaign finances? Are you qualified to judge incompetence in this matter? Do you have sufficient information about this case? I seem to remember lots of prominent politicians running up campaign debt (like Hillary Clinton and John McCain, IIRC), and begging people for money after the campaign is over. Furthermore the campaign finance laws make campaign finance ridiculously difficult.

    If any of these people run on a platform of criticising government overspending, they are fools. Or simply crooks, depending upon their level of self-awareness.

    Why don’t you give us advice on campaign finance after you demonstrate your competence? Because right now you appear to be giving advice to O’Donnell about it.

    I am not giving advice on campaign finances. I am giving advice on managing finances generally. It is a stupid idea to build large debts indefinitely, whether we’re talking about government, personal, corporate or political finances. If Clinton or McCain ran their campaigns while having large outstanding debts then I regard that as most unwise. If they ran on a platform of reducing government debt they are fools or crooks.

    Actually I think it shows you don’t know anything about political campaigns. TV stations hate political advertisements, because political campaigns are not reliable sources of funds. If you think about the economics of political campaigns, you’ll see that’s pretty much unavoidable. Campaigns, unlike governments, don’t have steady sources of income.

    You do not have to run a campaign. If you have debts from one place, you can cut spending until it is paid off. I’m sorry, but anyone who thinks it’s “unavoidable” to keep spending simply because they want something should avoid giving financial advice to others.

    “Simple minded fool” is ridiculous hyperbole. You can’t win with that, Roger. “Obvious credibility problem”, OTOH, is a good description.

    Hyperbole? Maybe. Is hyperbole outlawed on this blog? I had no idea. Regardless of your choice of words there is ample grounds for ridicule.

  415. >However, what it looks like to me is that we could take not all the wealthy people’s income, but their actual wealth and it still would not be enough to pay our debts.

    That is correct. And long before that point a higher tax rate would trigger capital flight. We already have a capital strike in progress now, so flight isn’t that far off.

    >It’s not really that we have run out of other people’s money. It’s that we have run our of our children and grandchildren’s money, as Shenpen has said. [....] The demographic math is inexorable.

    That is also correct. And the inevitable result of the degeneration of democracy into an Olsonian interest-group scramble.

  416. Adriano,

    > So she has a right to say what she wants, and I am forced to like it? I cannot form myself the opinion that she’s talking out of her ass?, and
    She’s completely free to run for office, and to say what she likes. I don’t have to like it. Nor do I have to vote for her (since I am not an American, the point is moot anyway).

    Oh no. Go ahead and say it. I want all kinds of people to comment on politics and run for office, not just the elites. I certainly don’t want you to be discouraged from commenting on politics and I certainly don’t want someone with such minor skeletons in her closet to be discouraged from running for office. Talking out of other orifices is what people do. I do it all the time. Don’t you? When it’s done well and ethically it’s called an educated guess and the speaker identifies it as such.

    I think I’ve missed a few “educated guess” disclaimers in my life. Almost certainly in this very thread.

    I suspect whether or not you like her and would vote for her has little to do with her “educated guesses” and a lot more to do with how much she agrees with you politically.

    See that “I suspect” above. That’s an “educated guess” disclaimer.

    > I don’t know how you’re reading what I type, but I said essentially ‘I find her to be an hypocrite. I wouldn’t vote for her’. The rest is rhetoric, yes, I can call her dumb, retard, a jack slawed yokel, for rhetoric. That much should be obvious.

    Yes, insulting hyperbole is a rhetorical device. But it’s a rhetorical device that can make people really unhappy, because it is so, so easy to mistake it for a deliberate calculated insult designed to wound. So I like to call people on their insulting hyperbole sometimes. And I like to argue.

    > Oh, yes, reduction to authority. My own country had at least one founding father who died broke and syphilitic, too.

    Not at all. Numerous counter-examples. You are, beneath everything, claiming she is too stupid and hypocritical to take office, particularly when running as a member of a small government party. Yet the small government beliefs of our Founding Fathers make the small government beliefs of the Republican Party look like big government beliefs. Are you claiming that our Founding Fathers were similarly unfit for office because they suffered from personal financial failure?

    Me, I think they did pretty well. They even worked hard to pay off our Revolutionary War debts.

    > It’s generally implied, at least in my case.

    Oh, you do very well, I think, especially as someone who likes to argue.

    > But I’ll concede, and say ‘what she said is hypocritical, and dumb’. Happy now?

    I’m generally happy about that, yes. However, what she said wasn’t hypocritical or dumb. Being against government overspending is neither dumb nor hypocritical.

    First the dumb. How she runs her personal and campaign finances does speak to her character and competence. Not very much. Consider campaign finances. Government is not financed at all like a campaign. I suspect very few things are, these days. I think people used to raise venture capital the same way, but now that’s pretty much illegal. Now consider her personal finances. That’s not very much like government finance either. She is dependant on one persons labor, not hundreds of millions. Being against government overspending is smart.

    Now the hypocritical. I don’t want people to apply the same standards to themselves as they do the government. Ususally I want much stricter standards applied to the government. Sometimes I want stricter, even much stricter standards applied to themselves. And sometimes the standards will be different. So, I don’t think you can even apply the word hypocritical to this case.

    > Can we now discuss the fact that she’s part of the same party that has argued for ’small government, fiscal responsibility’ for years, and has been in power for much of the last decade failing on both counts, and now they are saying the exact same thing, as if now it was all different, because all of a sudden, a Democrat is ruining America?

    We could. I’m not starting. I’m still stuck on this discussion. Here is where O’Donnell could be hypocritical, and we can discuss that if you like. If she has been applying different standards about government overspending to Republicans and Democrats, that would be hypocritical. But that assumes facts not in evidence, and avoids the whole issue where government overspending took a big jump when Democrats took over Congress, and a bigger jump when they took over the White House.

    If you have those facts about an O’Donnell double standard, bring them and we can condemn that double standard in unison.

    Yours,
    Tom

  417. Roger Phillips,

    > You do not know what the term “cherry-picking” means.

    Sure I do. It’s a common term for generalizing from a few particular examples beneficial to your case without considering the many counter-examples, which is what you are doing. Or are you contending you have considered the whole of O’Donnell’s life and there have not been a large number of things she’s done which aren’t simple-minded or foolish? Maybe I’m wrong. How well do you know this women?

    First impressions are often wrong, Roger.

    > If any of these people run on a platform of criticising government overspending, they are fools. Or simply crooks, depending upon their level of self-awareness.

    Dead wrong.

    > I am not giving advice on campaign finances.

    Oh yes, you are. It’s general advice, as you say, but it’s advice.

    > I am giving advice on managing finances generally. It is a stupid idea to build large debts indefinitely, whether we’re talking about government, personal, corporate or political finances.

    That’s true. What is indefinite about O’Donnell’s debts? They sound pretty definite. Two campaigns in debt is not an indefinite number of campaigns in debt. That’s the overgeneralizing from insufficient examples thing again. U.S. Grant had multiple business failures, and only his sucessful auto-biography kept him from dying broke. Thomas Jefferson died broke. Both were very concerned about the government not overspending and paying off its debts. They weren’t stupid, and neither is O’Donnell. Are you familiar with Mark Twain’s finances?

    It’s not a good idea to ignore obvious historical counter examples, especially since I gave others up-thread. Or are you going for the notion that all people are fools? Who will we vote for?

    > I’m sorry, but anyone who thinks it’s “unavoidable” to keep spending simply because they want something should avoid giving financial advice to others.

    Who said that?

    It’s pretty much unavoidable that a significant number of candidates for (expensive) high office are not going to be able to accurately estimate their campaigns cash flow and their campaigns expenses. Neither are particularly predictable. Are you thinking about how actual campaigns work? I want normal people to run for office, not just rich people and well connected people.

    I guess you only want rich people in high office.

    I’m sorry, but I find your arguments repetitive, short-sighted and at a simple level. Are you thinking about the details and the side effects of your positions?

    > Hyperbole? Maybe. Is hyperbole outlawed on this blog? I had no idea. Regardless of your choice of words there is ample grounds for ridicule.

    No, hyperbole is not outlawed on this blog. Yes, there is ample grounds for ridicule, but that covers you and I also. Do you want to have the sort of discussion where we ridicule each other? I’d much rather respect you.

    Yours,
    Tom

  418. @Jeff Read:

    First off, I wouldn’t take everything Michael Moore says as gospel truth. In his first movie, Roger and Me, he was more than a bit dishonest about how the city of Flint, Michigan, attained its current state of economic despair, poverty, and crime issues. That downward slide began well before General Motors pulled out of the city. The city has a history of mismanagement and corruption and it is widely grokked that that was the reason for Flint’s downward slide; GM pulling out was just the latest in a series of misfortunes that befell the city of Flint. (full disclosure: I was born and raised in Detroit and so I know a lot more about the local history than most people here would.)

  419. Sure I do. It’s a common term for generalizing from a few particular examples beneficial to your case without considering the many counter-examples, which is what you are doing. Or are you contending you have considered the whole of O’Donnell’s life and there have not been a large number of things she’s done which aren’t simple-minded or foolish? Maybe I’m wrong. How well do you know this women?

    If I steal from someone, I am a thief. Instances of non-theft are not ‘counter-examples’. So it is with being a fool.

    Dead wrong.

    Good argument.

    Oh yes, you are. It’s general advice, as you say, but it’s advice.

    You’re being misleading; I was not giving the kind of specialist advice that requires specialist knowledge of campaign financing, as you insinuated.

    That’s true. What is indefinite about O’Donnell’s debts? They sound pretty definite. Two campaigns in debt is not an indefinite number of campaigns in debt. That’s the overgeneralizing from insufficient examples thing again.

    When she borrowed for her 2010 campaign (after failing in 2008), what indication was there that she was going to stop at two campaigns? In any case, this is a pointless quibble over wording. If you have large, outstanding debts then you should pay them off before building more debt if you’re going to criticise others for overspending.

    U.S. Grant had multiple business failures, and only his sucessful auto-biography kept him from dying broke. Thomas Jefferson died broke. Both were very concerned about the government not overspending and paying off its debts. They weren’t stupid, and neither is O’Donnell. Are you familiar with Mark Twain’s finances?

    I can’t imagine why you consider these claims to authority to hold any sway over my opinion. If they borrowed in order to finance discretionary activities after already being in debt, then wanted to advise other people on finances then yes, they were fools. I do not buy the fallacy of authority that says because someone has produced something interesting in some field that they cannot be a fool in other areas.

    It’s not a good idea to ignore obvious historical counter examples, especially since I gave others up-thread. Or are you going for the notion that all people are fools? Who will we vote for?

    They’re only counter-examples if you worship them as infallible. If someone engages in discretionary, debt-building activities while they have large, outstanding debts, and they simultaneously criticise the spending of others then they are a fool.

    It’s pretty much unavoidable that a significant number of candidates for (expensive) high office are not going to be able to accurately estimate their campaigns cash flow and their campaigns expenses. Neither are particularly predictable. Are you thinking about how actual campaigns work? I want normal people to run for office, not just rich people and well connected people.

    The way that campaigns work is irrelevant. If you go into debt during campaign #1, then so be it. To say that going into debt on the second campaign without paying off the debts from the first campaign it is the result of some inherent inability to predict financial outcomes is simply disingenuous.

    I guess you only want rich people in high office.

    Theft of campaign funds could be justified in the same way. The fact that I’d like for the system to be more egalitarian does not justify irresponsible behaviour. If she wants to borrow loads of money so be it. I am going to laugh at her when she suggests that government spending is out of control.

    I’m sorry, but I find your arguments repetitive, short-sighted and at a simple level. Are you thinking about the details and the side effects of your positions?

    If I am repetitive, it is because it seems to me that I was correct in the first instance and I am not swaying from my position until it is refuted. O’Donnell is a fool to take the position she has. Whether you want to quibble over the precise wording of this statement or not, the fact remains that engaging in discretionary debt-building while lecturing others on spending levels is foolish. It does not matter how many artificial distinctions you make (e.g. private vs public debt), the fact is that her activities directly undermine her position.

    No, hyperbole is not outlawed on this blog. Yes, there is ample grounds for ridicule, but that covers you and I also. Do you want to have the sort of discussion where we ridicule each other? I’d much rather respect you.

    You’re confused. I did not make a gratuitous posting simply to make fun of O’Donnell. Someone (maybe it was you) suggested that she was being ridiculed because she wasn’t towing the line of “the Left”. I pointed out that she’s a fool, and that is probably why people are making fun of her. I do not care whether people vote for her or not. I do not live in Delaware. I am simply answering the points that have been put before me.

  420. Sorry, I can’t comment on this blog any more due to posts being discarded at random.

  421. I am confused by the moderation system. It often says messages are waiting for moderation. Other times they seem to disappear. This one turned up after initially not appearing for me.

  422. >I am confused by the moderation system. It often says messages are waiting for moderation. Other times they seem to disappear. This one turned up after initially not appearing for me.

    I’m confused by it too. There is no moderation queue; there’s just the spam queue. When it tells you your message is “in moderation”, it’s actually in the spam queue (put there by Akismet) and I have to manually approve it to pass it out.

    I can force WordPress to *always* throw someone to the spam queue, which then functions as a half-assed sort of moderation. This is different than banning, which causes messages from the banned person or IP address not to appear even in the spam queue.

    Sometimes, Akismet plain seems to lose incoming messages. I don’t know what causes this. Possibly this means its spamminess heuristics are so sure it’s seeing spam that it doesn’t throw it in the queue for me to inspect.

    What makes all this confusing is that I can’t actually see what Akismet’s rules are.

  423. What makes all this confusing is that I can’t actually see what Akismet’s rules are.

    The one thing I can say for sure is don’t use the words t-e*e-n-s and b*a-n*g in the same post… :-)

    Seriously, my somewhat educated guess is that it probably uses some form of Bayesian filtering.

  424. Roger,

    I think I had one held too. I’ll add something more.

    > I did not make a gratuitous posting simply to make fun of O’Donnell. Someone (maybe it was you) suggested that she was being ridiculed because she wasn’t towing the line of “the Left”. I pointed out that she’s a fool, and that is probably why people are making fun of her.

    I said this above, “Yes, insulting hyperbole is a rhetorical device. But it’s a rhetorical device that can make people really unhappy, because it is so, so easy to mistake it for a deliberate calculated insult designed to wound. So I like to call people on their insulting hyperbole sometimes. And I like to argue.”

    Now I don’t know O’Donnell, and she isn’t someone I particularly admire yet, although that could change. Do you understand how calling a public figure a fool can easily be mistaken for a deliberate calculated insult designed to wound? Lots of public figures are widely admired. In the privacy of my own home I say things about certain public figures which would really make a lot of folks who admire them unhappy. Sometimes I even say them in public. For example, I think Woodrow Wilson is the worst President ever. If you admire Woodrow Wilson, and I know people who do, you might be very insulted by that. When you do that sort of thing with current public figures the chances go way up. And the chances of an interesting discussion go way down.

    Yours,
    Tom

  425. @shenpen
    “I’d be a lot more happier if I had any idea who is gonna pay for my retirement/pension. (Writing from – as of the time being – Vienna.)”

    There is a huge problem with saving for retirement. That is that saved capital is only worth as much as the available work force can produce. Read Terry Pratchet’s “Making Money” for an entry level text-book.

    In fact, saving money is like saving bananas. If you want to have bananas in 20 years time, you should not buy bananas, but plantations.

    The basic problem that under ANY savings plan, the money saved is only worth the work you will able to buy with it later. And if there are no people able to work for you later, any amount of capital (money, gold, stocks) will not be worth anything.

    For the baby-boom generation and the ones on their tail, the number of workers available locally during their retirement will reduce dramatically. For any savings scheme, there are only three ways out, delay retirement and stay productive, increase the productivity of those who work, recruit the work force of countries with a “surplus” of workers.

    All three options will be tired in parallel.

    All options have the same deep problem: How to get the people who work for us in 30 years to accept our currency?

    That means that the retirement money must be invested in production capacity (primary and secondary sectors) with a good ownership structure. The people in, say Africa or Indonesia, should be convinced to enter a bargain, we build you factories now if you work for us later. The other option is to bring the workers to us (immigrants). But then the same bargain must be struck.

  426. “We have 12 to 20 Trillion dollars of debt. We have between 70 and 107 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilites for Social Security and Medicare.”

    The USA debts are mostly foreign owned. The USA will simply default on their debt at some point. Just as Greece is likely to do. The history of the Americas is rife with examples of states heavily borrowing on foreign markets only to default when it was time to pay back.

    The USA are already doing this by devaluing the dollar. If they devalue it another 50%, they will be mostly out of debt. Once, a dollar was worth 5 German marks (~2.5 euros). Now it is worth ~0.80 euros. And it might slide below 0.30 euros (or the euro might slide with it against Chinese Renminbi). In fact, the Chinese are financing the USA to buy Chiense products and are currently practically giving their products away to the USA for the price they pay for the raw materials.

  427. BobW,

    “It’s what most of humanity has done for thousands of years. It’s what my great grandmother did.”

    Almost. Yes, this is what your great-grandma did – but what your great-grandpa did was most likely that he was conveniently dead before retirement became a problem. No family needs two babysitters.

  428. Winter,

    “That is that saved capital is only worth as much as the available work force can produce.”

    I’m not sure I understand your theory of capital. Here is mine and let’s see if they match. Saving means consuming less than you produce. This means some of the stuff you do not consume, but produce, the surplus product goes to someone who does not produce immediate consumer goods but say work on building newer tractors. Your money, invested in a bank, will got a future farmer, who spends it on buying that tractor whose building was enabled by you by consuming less than you produce, and this enabling those workers to spend their time on producing the tractor and not on producing consumer goods, but still consume consuder goods, they consume the consumer goods you have saved by not consuming them – this is how the real economy and the money economy balances out. The farmer will produce more food with the same amount of work, and you get part of it – this is called interest.

    What happens if the future has less workers? My first instinct is that in a purely savings-based retirement system nothing – they produce less, but consume less as well, in a purely savings-based retirement system if your savings have increased their productivity you get your cut of it and all is well. If only there are 2 people left in the world, and I buy the other guy the assets to produce 10 tons of oranges a month, then we just share and we are both happy with 5 tons of oranges each. This of course in a strictly savings-based retirement system. Now of course the pyramid scheme type of retirement system I am stuck in is a wholly different matter…

  429. Trying again…

    Roger Phillips,

    > If I steal from someone, I am a thief. Instances of non-theft are not ‘counter-examples’. So it is with being a fool.

    No it is not. Everyone does foolish things, but everyone is not a fool.

    > Good argument.

    Yes, it’s a naked assertion, like the core of your argument, a “fact” which is actually an opinion, see below. However, it just happens to be supported by my other arguments, unlike your core argument.

    > You’re being misleading; I was not giving the kind of specialist advice that requires specialist knowledge of campaign financing, as you insinuated.

    No, I’m not. You think your general advice is useful, but it isn’t. It’s so general as to be useless, and it indicates you haven’t thought about the problem.

    > When she borrowed for her 2010 campaign (after failing in 2008), what indication was there that she was going to stop at two campaigns? In any case, this is a pointless quibble over wording.

    No, it is not quibbling. We have many instances of successful people who had two failures, resulting in increased debt both times who went on to pay back the debt and become sucessful. But the government has created Social Security and Medicare which actually are indefinite debts increasing, unless something changes, forever.

    > If you have large, outstanding debts then you should pay them off before building more debt if you’re going to criticise others for overspending.

    Nope. First, others is not the government. The government is not a person. The government is an institution. I want people who have large, outstanding debts to criticise institutions for overspending. It is useful, ethical and smart for them to do so. Have you been reading anything else I’ve posted on this thread?

    You have convinced me that this applies when they criticise other people as well. Giving people good advice about their problems should not be limited to only those persons who have sucessfully implemented that advice.

    > I can’t imagine why you consider these claims to authority to hold any sway over my opinion.

    These are not claims to authority, as I stated in my comment and above. They are counter examples.

    > They’re only counter-examples if you worship them as infallible.

    Infalliable and not foolish are not the same. They remain as excellent counter-examples. These are people who behaved like O’Donnell and were not fools.

    > The way that campaigns work is irrelevant. If you go into debt during campaign #1, then so be it. To say that going into debt on the second campaign without paying off the debts from the first campaign it is the result of some inherent inability to predict financial outcomes is simply disingenuous.

    Highly relevant. If it is difficult for a non-rich person to avoid campaign debt, then they are not foolish to incur it – even twice in a row. It is not inherently foolish to go into debt on the second campaign without paying off the debts from the first campaign. For one thing, you are allowed to apply the money from your second campaign to the first. Did you know that? And if you win, buckets of post campaign campaign money will often descend on you. Did you know that?

    I reject your notion that two consecutive big debts is foolish. Risky, yes. But there are too many sucessful people who have incurred two consecutive big debts. The government OTOH hasn’t just incurred two in a row. It has incurred many more than that, and has created programs which will, if not changed always add more debt forever. Can you see the difference?

    > If someone engages in discretionary, debt-building activities while they have large, outstanding debts, and they simultaneously criticise the spending of others then they are a fool.

    No they aren’t. See above.

    > If I am repetitive, it is because it seems to me that I was correct in the first instance and I am not swaying from my position until it is refuted. O’Donnell is a fool to take the position she has. Whether you want to quibble over the precise wording of this statement or not, the fact remains that engaging in discretionary debt-building while lecturing others on spending levels is foolish. It does not matter how many artificial distinctions you make (e.g. private vs public debt), the fact is that her activities directly undermine her position.

    Yes, you keep asserting a “fact” about foolishness, debt and criticism which is an opinion. And you never support that opinion with any evidence or any argument. At all. Repeated assertion is not argument. I have given arguments against your opinion. Mostly you don’t seem to be trying to understand my arguments at any but the most superficial level.

    > You’re confused.

    Perhaps. I thought you were referring to the phrase “ridiculous hyperbole”.

    Yours,
    Tom

  430. I’de like to suggest something. Small gov. vs. big gov may be an oversimplification, because there are at least three dimension to it: size of gov. ownership (nationalization), size of redistribution, size of regulation.

    Generally and by large, the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_model is big on redistribution but small on regulation, while the U.S. Federal gov is big on regulation but small on redistribution.

    Suggestion to discuss: which kind of bigness is better or less wrong: regulation or redistribution?

  431. >Suggestion to discuss: which kind of bigness is better or less wrong: regulation or redistribution?

    I think that’s the wrong question to ask. Either regulation or redistribution can induce arbitrarily high deadweight losses (e.g. destroy arbitrarily large amounts of wealth) if pushed hard enough. I’d say the worst policy is that which inflicts highest deadweight losses, without really caring whether the mechanism in place is regulatory or redistributive.

  432. Shenpen,

    How about a different question? Why can’t we all have the amount and kinds of regulation and redistribution we want?

    I prefer a system of associative community government, where big government folks can group their communities into a big government system, and small government folks can have various small government systems. It’s like churches. You can have a really big church headed by a monarch, a really big church headed by an elected body or a congregational church. You choose. I’m trying to apply the lessons of the Protestant Reformation to politics. This might require something new but familiar – political secularism and tolerance.

    Hopefully there would be an anarchist community for Eric, and an economically libertarian and socially conservative community for me.

    Of course this could be on the wrong side of the line between genius and utter stupidity.

    Yours,
    Tom

  433. > recruit the work force of countries with a “surplus” of workers.
    > How to get the people who work for us in 30 years to accept our currency?

    Buy gold, effectively leveraging global labor. Gold has the lowest stocks-to-flows ratio, thus has highest marginal utility of any commodity on earth. Next is silver. Platinum, Pd, Cu, etc have very high stocks-to-flows ratio and are not suitable for store-of-value function.

    Problem is the nation-state doesn’t like capital flight, and is “cooperating” with G20 to shut out tax havens. In USA at least, gold is taxed on capital gains, yet gold’s function is only the remain level with the per-capita production, i.e. purchasing power. Thus gold can lose purchasing power parity value after taxes.

    > That means that the retirement money must be invested in production capacity

    The best strategy is to invest in productive assets that have pricing power in inflation and deflation. Buffett wrote about this criteria.

    The best investment is in knowledge. It is portable, doesn’t suffer from inflation, and can not be taxed.

  434. @Roger Phillips:

    It’s perfectly legitimate to criticize government overspending even from a position of personal debt. When you go into debt, it’s your money. When the government goes into debt, it’s also your money, but it isn’t your choice. That’s the problem.

    On the topic of sovereign debt: the only possible outcomes, long-term, are hyperinflation and sovereign default. There isn’t enough actual wealth in the country to pay the debt entire; it will either not be paid at all, or will be “paid” by making the currency it’s denominated in worthless (and then paying the entire debt, whatever it works out to be in loaves of bread). Sovereign default will cause major problems for the government; in particular, US government debt will be thereafter considered worthless, or at least rather a lot less valuable than it is currently. This sets up the government to run into the same problem–not enough money–immediately afterward, except that that time around they won’t be able to borrow from the future, and so would need to actually (gasp) cut spending, lest the government actually run out of money. Hyperinflation, on the other hand, is quite a bit worse; it’s a really good way to break the entire country. The former is probably the lesser of two evils; however, it requires a leader with a spine. Should the current aversion to doing anything hard prevail, then the result will mostly likely be hyperinflation, because it is less abrupt, easier for the government to slide into from a series of seemingly-rational decisions. We live in interesting times, indeed.

  435. > Why can’t we all have the amount and kinds of regulation and redistribution we want?

    Because of the iron law of political economics is such that the dead-weight *must* metastasize and eventually kill the host, due to power vacuum between what individuals want (their opportunity cost) and the group’s opportunity cost which can be forced on individuals.

    Cycles of socialism catastrophe is what we get until individuals have the technological capacity to ignore the will of the majority, i.e. the power vacuum is eliminated.

  436. @shenpen
    “they produce less, but consume less as well, in a purely savings-based retirement system if your savings have increased their productivity you get your cut of it and all is well.”

    There is a transitional problem where there are a lot of retirees and a relatively small workforce. This results in a contraction of the economy and a need for massive redistribution. Work will become expensive which will wipe out any savings plan. Money simply is not a durable good.

    @shenpen
    “This means some of the stuff you do not consume, but produce, the surplus product goes to someone who does not produce immediate consumer goods but say work on building newer tractors.”
    @Jocelyn
    “Buy gold, effectively leveraging global labor. ”

    The problem with saving anything, be it gold, currency, or capital goods is that someone has to take it and work for me. If there is more “currency/gold” and less “work” then the price of work will rise. This is effectively wiping out the savings. If the developing world does not develop, they will not have the spare production capacity to work for me. If they do develop enough, they might too become very expensive.

    Something like that happened to the old Spanish empire. They never understood why the masses of gold and silver they shipped into Spain did not make them rich. It simply flowed away like rain from a roof. They didn’t know about monetary effects on prices.

    @Jocelyn
    “The best investment is in knowledge. It is portable, doesn’t suffer from inflation, and can not be taxed.”

    I agree completely. But it is also non-exclusive. So you cannot hoard knowledge. Applying knowledge is work. That is exactly what you do not do when you retire. So the question remain, how to get young people to work for old people.

  437. @Jocelyn
    “Cycles of socialism catastrophe is what we get until individuals have the technological capacity to ignore the will of the majority, i.e. the power vacuum is eliminated.”

    Like what socialist countries went under in a crisis?

    We had a colonial empire that professed to be Communist collapsing. But that empire actually had bigger income differences that the USA and UK. It was woefully inefficient the same way the Mogul and Persian Satrap empires were inefficient. And these latter were not exactly Socialist states.

    But I do not see the Swedish, German, or French socialist countries breaking down soon. Their finances are better than any “small state” anti-communist country. And Germany is still the tool maker of the world. Chinese industrial production runs on German machinery.

    So where do we see the signs of imminent collapse?

  438. Correction: I meant gold has the highest stocks-to-flows ratio (i.e. lowest flows-to-stocks ratio) and lower for the other commodities.

    Flows means periodic mining production and industrial draw-down. Stocks means readily available above ground supply. For example, silver’s above ground supply is very high (≈20 billion troy oz), but it is mostly in jewelry, silverware, electronics, etc where the recovery cost is higher than the value of the metal.

    Also knowledge can not be stolen. Most often a thief wouldn’t even know what to do with it.

    > the only possible outcomes, long-term, are hyperinflation and sovereign default

    Hyperinflation requires the fiat issuer to continually supply more fiat to the masses, i.e. any stampede to commodities is inherently limited and will reverse when there are no more buyers. Hyperinflation destroys the creditors, so it won’t happen if ever, until the power broker banks who own the political class, have dumped their ownership of loans on the public.

    The more likely outcome is that budget deficits will increase for years to come, because each halving of the interest rate (e.g. 1%, 0.5%, 0.25%, 0.125%, etc) halves the cost of the debt service. This destroys the private sector while increasing the size of the public sector, i.e. the marginal utility-of-debt went negative in USA in 2008. Companies hire up to 10 developing world workers for the price of 1 westerner, to fight against this deflation squeeze, which then increases the demand for basic commodities by up to 10 times, causing simultaneous inflation in “things we use” driving real wages of westerners lower, exacerbating deficits in a feedback spiral.

    There doesn’t have to be any default until the people who suffer from it, run away from such a broken system, but what can they run to? Gold? There is no mathematical way to make the net-worth of even 10% of the people whole in gold– moving to gold would bankrupt the massive dead-weight in the global economy.

    Unfortunately, inexorable creep towards world war is all I can see at the end game. Please tell me it isn’t so?

  439. @Shenpen:

    Almost. Yes, this is what your great-grandma did – but what your great-grandpa did was most likely that he was conveniently dead before retirement became a problem. No family needs two babysitters.

    You obviously don’t have children. There is a stage where one babysitter is not enough, particularly if they are elderly. Think tag-team. Thing good cop/bad cop.

    Also, that’s why you have more than one child, to spread the load.

  440. >>How about a different question? Why can’t we all have the amount and kinds of regulation and redistribution we want?

    It’s called seasteading.

  441. It’s called seasteading.

    Instead, I chose the impossible. I chose… Rapture!

  442. @kiba:

    It’s called seasteading.

    I spent a good chunk of time exploring this; all I can say is that it is not very feasible. The original idea, it seems, was to find some deserted island or other unclaimed land somewhere on the planet and start a libertarian utopia. Of course, once you realize that every piece of land on the planet is claimed by someone — with a few exceptions (most of Antarctica, and a large piece of barren desert called “Bi’r Tawil” that is claimed by neither Sudan nor Egypt. And nobody else wants it, either. For good reason; it’s practically useless. More information on the feasibility of starting your own island country. Long story short, not really possible.

    Now a bunch of people are talking about seasteading; the idea of building an island nation (or nations) out in the middle of the ocean somewhere by building an artificial island or structure of some kind. I suggest looking at this thread and, especially this KML data, which shows just exactly where in the ocean you’d have to build your island country. Next, start looking at ocean depths. IF you don’t know something about physics, and especially hydrodynamics, thermal dynamics, and so forth, pick up a few things about them.

    You’ll quickly find there’s almost no place on the planet that building such an artificial island would be very feasible by current technology within a reasonable budget. You’d probably have better luck starting your libertarian utopia on another planet.

  443. As long as we’re wishing for things we can’t have: I’d like more direct feedback from the regulation and redistribution we enact. If life is chess, and regs are moves, then we’re not seeing the position of the board we get until several moves later, long after the first move is forgotten.

  444. Morgan,

    It’s a little more feasible to have seasteads which are on big boats, but I’d still rather live in Kansas.

    Yours,
    Tom

  445. >>I spent a good chunk of time exploring this; all I can say is that it is not very feasible.

    I heard a story from the founder of seasteading.org that a new island nation created by the libertarian got destroyed by statists. That libertarian eventually died. In the end, he had a newsletter program going and not much else.

    I consider The Seasteading Institute to be composed of optimistic realists. That’s also the same thing with bitcoiners too. They’re realists and weary of state power but it is a community made of a bunch of libertarians, hackers, and ciphergeeks. So they’re going to try to make bitcoin big anyway.

  446. “And the inevitable result of the degeneration of democracy into an Olsonian interest-group scramble.”

    Interesting point: lately I took the habit of not reading books that are not about providing general information but about making a specific point: because if the point is good the commenters on Amazon who give 4-5 stars will point it out and if there are any problems with it then the commenters who give 1-2 starts will point the problems, fallacies, and counter-arguments out. It is a way of making economies with my time, “crowdsourcing” some of my reading. At any rate, the point I want to make is that I have not seen any ANY reasonable counter-arguments to Olson ( http://www.amazon.com/Logic-Collective-Action-printing-appendix/product-reviews/0674537513/ref=pr_all_summary_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1 ) save two incoherent and really below-threshold comments.

    And this is something unusual. Might mean that a lot of people were not interested, but I suspect that it means that Olson has a really, really strong case. I have seen authors with roughly similar political-economical convictions get many counter-arguments on Amazon.

  447. @Tom DeGisi

    Counterexamples:
    US vs. Serbia. Serbia fit the definition of a democracy by the website that you listed. And it went to war against the NATO (which is full of countries that fit the definition on the website you listed).

  448. > Serbia fit the definition of a democracy by the website that you listed.

    Are you sure? I’m pretty sure their definition requires two peaceful transitions of power to the opposition party.

    Yours,
    Tom

  449. To follow up on my earlier note, the total tax bite ranges from about 17.4% for the poorest fifth to just over thirty percent for the very wealthy; that includes federal income tax, payroll tax, sales tax, excise tax, and probably some other kinds of tax I’m forgetting. So there’s the actual number.

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