Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Courtesy of the blog.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Blagojevich Removed From Office; Gleaming Luster Restored to Our Shining Democracy

So Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was officially removed from office yesterday by unanimous vote of the Illinois state senate.

I feel no empathy for any power-seeking politician. If one gets tossed into the river by the other capos to swim with the fishes, well, he shouldn't be that surprised, and his cries of outrage will have no effect on my deaf ears. If you're going to run with that mob, then you deserve whatever they stick you with. There are a lot more people being railroaded by government legislators and prosecutors who are exponentially more deserving of my empathy than Rod Blagojevich.

But as I've said before, this insipid idea being more or less blathered by the corporate media headbots that American democracy was this wondrous Eden until Blagojevich waltzed in and crapped all over it just about makes me want to vomit all over my next door neighbor's brand new Barack Obama commemorative china. I very nearly upchucked all over the steering wheel as I listened to several state senators via my car radio wax oratorical about why they were voting to remove G-Rod (as my wife likes to call him) from his privileged office.

Blago, revoking his earlier pledge to refuse participation in his own political lynching, gave a speech in his own defense to the state senate shortly before their vote to remove him. The money quote:
“There was never a conversation where I intended to break any law...take those four tapes as they are. Those are conversations relating to the things all of us in politics do in order to run campaigns and win elections.”
I submit to you that this is what appalled his fellow tyrants so much: Stating explicitly what is the implicit philosophy of tax-funded office-holding itself, which is trading privileges for favors, and favors for privileges. The man spoke too damned honestly for his own good, and that's the real crime U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald caught him doing: Talking bluntly. And amazingly, I heard more than one of those senators pretty much own up to the fact that Blagojevich was indeed telling the truth. Yup, that's what we all do, and that's why I'm voting to remove him. This was typically followed by a lot of pointless blither-blather about the "rule of law," the need for "ethics reform" in state government, and "righting our ship"...Blah, blah, blah, blibbity-blahbbity-blah.

If only a Federal prosecutor would file charges against Bush and Cheney for lying this country into a senseless, unnecessary, and destructive war and who knows how many other crimes. But to ever expect anything from government that resembles real justice, rather than mere knee-jerk reactions to having its game called out by one of its own, is pure fantasy, of course, and that's the tragedy of wanting government to operate contrary to its nature.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Agorism 101

I've recently read the late Samuel E. Konkin III's posthumously published An Agorist Primer: Counter-Economics, Total Freedom, and You, a copy of which was loaned to me by my friend and comrade, Soviet Onion.

I agree with Brad Spangler that it's the book on agorism "that you give your mom." Which means, of course, that the book's clear, straightforward, no-nonsense style makes it the kind of book on anarcho-libertarian revolutionary practice that you not only want to give to your mom, but also to your brothers, your sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, friends, co-workers, or better yet, those poor unemployed folks down the street waiting for this battered economic system that's been foisted upon us to provide them with what is commonly known as "gainful employment." With the U.S. Federal Reserve Note tottering on the precipice of the mighty dustbin of history, they may be better served acquainting themselves with Konkin's counter-economic principles so that they may profit from black and gray markets. After all, as Konkin explains in the book, it was black market goods--what the Russians called "left-hand" or nalevo goods--that saved millions of Russians from starving to death under the "right-hand" Soviet regime. (And they're what's saving who knows how many Cubans now.)

There's a lot of great stuff packed into the slender volume's 105 pages, including what may be the briefest, most concise introduction to the Austrian school of economics and the non-aggression principle (or NAP)--the moral bedrock of libertarianism--ever written. This is the book that we need to get out en masse to bridge revolutionary libertarian theory to revolutionary libertarian practice.

Oddly enough for a primer that is essentially an instruction manual for circumventing coercively imposed authority, however, the publishers claim that
No part of this book may be reproduced, emitted, or transmitted in any form by any means--electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system--without permission in writing from the publisher.
So in other words, even though you've plunked down thirty of those hard-earned central bank-issued greenbacks for a hardcover edition of the book, the publishers claim the right to continue exerting certain controls over how you use it long after it's been delivered into your hands. Not very NAP-py, is it?

Fortunately in this day and digital age, there are yet many, many ways to mass distribute the great ideas that distinguish this book, no matter how many legalistic hindrances its publishers throw in its path.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Amazing Sullenberger

Chesley B. ("Sully") Sullenberger is a god.

Seriously. If I were to run into the guy on the street tomorrow, I would simply be in awe of his presence. That's because Sullenberger actually crash landed a malfunctioning U.S. Airways jet on the Hudson friggin' River and nobody was seriously injured. That is just positively amazing. It's one of those achievements that should stand as a glaring reminder to the rest of us as to what human beings can really accomplish. That act was nothing less than the culmination of many years of intense focus, careful study and much mastering of some very tricky technical skills. Just amazing.

It's interesting, though, that I hear so many people around me mention his experience as an F-4 fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. The upshot of these conversations is thank the gods for "our" military, so that people can learn such highly valued, life-saving skills. The irony never seems to dawn on these people that the mission of the armed forces is to destroy human life, whereas Sullenberger preserved human life.

But they also seem to forget that Sullenberger has been flying commercial airliners since about 1980, whereas he spent only six years in the Air Force. Why jump to the conclusion that what Sullenberger was able to do yesterday must have come from his military experience, rather than from his more numerous years as a commercial airline pilot?

And why this assumption that only the military could provide the kind of training needed to fly airplanes so skillfully? It's true that many military pilots take their flying experience into the commercial airline industry. But surely if there was no military at all, that does not mean that we would all be doomed to flying in planes piloted by incompetents. There's no reason to doubt that some of the billions and billions of dollars that would be spared from "national defense" each year would instead be spent by the airline industry itself, or currently existing flight schools, on continuously improving pilot training and education.

Interestingly, Sullenberger is the founder of a business that provides "technical expertise and strategic vision and direction to improve safety and reliability in a variety of high risk industries." Sullenberger's actions yesterday demonstrate that highly skilled individuals offering their technical expertise in the marketplace in pursuit of their own personal gain--rather than myriad bureaucrats and their rules and regulations--are the most effective at keeping people safe in potentially dangerous situations.

(Cross-posted at the Strike-The-Root blog.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ALLiance: A Journal of Theory and Strategy

Hot off the virtual press comes the very first issue of Chris Lempa's ALLiance: A Journal of Theory and Strategy. If you're at all interested in the Libertarian Left movement, market anarchism, or agorism and counter-economics, you will want to download ASAP. You are encouraged to copy and distribute widely.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Wall Street Journal: Consistency of Principles Is a 'Paradox'

This recent article in the Wall Street Journal laments that Americans are doing great damage to that great and mighty machine called "The Economy" by reigning in consumption in a time of declining productivity and incomes (emphasis is mine):
BOISE, Idaho -- Rick and Noreen Capp recently reduced their credit-card debt, opened a savings account and stopped taking their two children to restaurants. Jessica and Alan Muir have started buying children's clothes at steep markdowns, splitting bulk-food purchases with other families and gathering their firewood instead of buying it for $200 a cord.

As layoffs and store closures grip Boise, these two local families hope their newfound frugality will see them through the economic downturn. But this same thriftiness, embraced by families across the U.S., is also a major reason the downturn may not soon end. Americans, fresh off a decadeslong buying spree, are finally saving more and spending less -- just as the economy needs their dollars the most.

Usually, frugality is good for individuals and for the economy. Savings serve as a reservoir of capital that can be used to finance investment, which helps raise a nation's standard of living. But in a recession, increased saving -- or its flip side, decreased spending -- can exacerbate the economy's woes. It's what economists call the "paradox of thrift."

If frugality is good for everyone in boom times because it finances investment and ultimately raises standards of living, then why does that principle not hold equally during the bust? The author makes the dubious and muddled assertion that it's because this mighty collectivist-capitalist machine called "The Economy" "needs their dollars the most" during recessionary times like these.

If, as the author states, savings finances investment in the production of more capital (which it does), and if productivity and incomes are in decline (which they are), then if anything that's an a fortiori case for curbing one's consumption and shoring up one's resources, isn't it? Savings give rise to new productive capital and makes people better off, says the author, but when productivity is in decline everyone must do the exact opposite of the thing that yields greater productivity.

The basis for this absurdist reasoning is implied by the author's citation of what "economists" call the "paradox of thrift". The particular breed of economists who buy into this flawed theory are the disciples of John Maynard Keynes, whose advice to the government bureaucrats of this world must have sounded like music to their ears: You know, you really oughta tax and spend more. Plunging ourselves deeper and deeper into a vortex of ever declining savings and continually increasing spending can, of course, lead to only one logical conclusion: poverty on a mass scale.

Further into the article you find that Rick Capp, like millions of others in recent years, has been laid off from his job. Naturally, this was even more of an incentive for the Capp family to become increasingly thrifty in order to maximize their utility of present resources, at least until such time as Mr. Capp can successfully redeploy his labor skills elsewhere. If the Capps were to presently spend what they have when their capacity for earning income has been seriously diminished, all for the sake of a "greater good" of The Economy, they'd wind up as beggars in the street. If everyone in their precarious position were to spend away what they have in some mad dash effort to "stimulate" The Economy, we'd have both an entire nation of beggars and a greatly diminished capacity for the economic production that would be necessary for them to rise out of poverty.

Of course, I wouldn't say that it should be inferred that the author actually wants families plagued by unemployment to voluntarily spend away their savings and subject themselves to beggarhood. My hunch is that articles like this are intended to gin up public support for president-elect Barack Obama's economic "stimulus package", a hodge podge of government programs that will spend away the Capps' and the Muirs' savings for them by forcibly shifting scarce resources in accordance to the demands of government civil servants rather than that of freely choosing consumers.

Since the ruled are selfishly patterning their consumption in accordance with their own margins rather than according to the nebulous "needs" allegedly expressed by this collective entity called "The Economy," the rulers, as always, have seen fit to force and coerce them into feeding the beast.

All for our own good, of course.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Oh, yeah? Well screw YOU, Chrysler.

Did you know that you're an "investor" in Chrysler? It's true! Of course, nobody asked you if you wanted to be. This country's central government just took it upon itself to shovel tax dollars extracted from your income into Chrysler's trough. Of course, you won't be getting any certificates of stock or anything like that, nor will you have much say as an "investor" in how Chrysler conducts its affairs, such as how much it pays its executive management and Big Business Unionism-privileged workers.

That's because, of course, you're not an investor, not in any meaningful sense of that term. What this ad exemplifies is yet another political corruption of language in a crude attempt to obfuscate the brazen robbery of productive people for the benefit of government-privileged parasites who are incapable of offering a product in the marketplace that consumers want, at least not for the price they're asking. You're not an investor, you're a peasant. And in this high-tech feudal arrangement that we call the United States of America, it's up to you serfs to expend your labor energy keeping a privileged minority accustomed to a lifestyle they cannot maintain by any other means than political entrepreneurship. They get your money, you get nothing in exchange but more fucked.

Happy New Year.