Saturday, February 1, 2014

what's my problem with socialism?

i complain a lot about socialism, but i'm not sure that, in over 100 posts on this blog, i've ever specifically pointed out what my problem is.

it's pretty simple. there are two issues; one philosophical and one practical.

philosophically, socialism requires the rule of some over others. duh. so what? the problem is that no person has the right to rule over another person. we're all people. if any one of us has the right to rule over others, then we all must. if one of us does not have the right to rule over others, then none of us do. there aren't any super-humans and there aren't any sub-humans. we're all human and we all have the same rights, specifically, to our own person and property. socialism, therefore, requires the immoral violent rule of one over another. if one advocates socialism, how can this problem be rectified? it can't.

the second issue is practicality. socialism has a fatal flaw: it can't work. there is an economic idea called "the economic calculation problem", in which the state can't efficiently or effectively determine appropriate allocation of resources. for example: if you make toasters, but you force everyone to buy one, then how can you tell if you're making the right amount of toasters? only individuals, by themselves, in their particular life circumstances, can determine value. some may not eat bread and therefore don't need a toaster. some may eat lots of bread and need two toasters. some may prefer their bread untoasted. so, if everyone has to buy a toaster, how do you know that you haven't made too many? how do you know that the resources that went into the toasters wouldn't have been better served in some other goods or services? you can't. that's the problem. unless you're providing goods and services on a market, where people have the ability to buy or not to buy, you can't tell if what you're doing actually has value. governments suffer this problem in every aspect of production, be it defense, police, justice, or what-have-you.

it's immoral and unpractical and therefore leads to the degradation of human sociaety. there you have it. a short, concise summary of why i oppose socialism.

yes, conservatives are socialists, too.

socialism, like most of the other broad economic ideas, has a very short definition: it is the state's ownership of the means of production. the "means of production" just means the processes and tools used to make goods and services, or, to put it even simpler - stuff that makes stuff.

i alter the popular definition this way: socialism is the state-titled control of the means of production. that definition, though it sounds more confusing, is meant to separate the idea of ownership from the idea of legal title. true ownership is the entitlement to goods or services obtained voluntarily, or without the use of fraud, threats or violence. governments come by virtually everything they have through the use of fraud, threats or violence - taxation relies on threatening people with fines or imprisonment, inflation requires fraud by undermining the value of a currency without the consent of those forced (by legal tender laws) to use it. land is often confiscated by force for use in government projects or to be given away to political allies in the pseudo-private sector; the list goes on.

so, when i say "state-titled control", i'm pointing out that a government doesn't actually legitimately own anything, they simply have a legal title to it and forced control over it. it avoids mixing up philosophical ideas.

anyway, all of that is just to let you know why i call conservatives socialists. of course, i also call liberals socialists, but i call every stripe of statist a socialist. it's really pretty simple: if you support, call for or advocate the state-titled control of the means of production in any market sector, you're a socialist - by definition.

when conservatives call for the government to control defense, justice or police, or immigration or agricultural production, or anything else - which they commonly do -  they are calling for socialism.

anyone who calls for socialism is a socialist and conservatives, as well as others, are socialists.

if that makes you uncomfortable, then stop calling for socialism. there's only one thing that solves so-called social problems and that's the market. i know that isn't obvious to most folks, but all it takes is a little reading to understand it. here's a great place to start:

http://mises.org/rothbard/newlibertywhole.asp

Sunday, December 22, 2013

you do not have an inherent right to free speech

the only right that you have is the right to your property. property can consist of anything that you have acquired through voluntary means, including your own body, your socks, your car, your home and land (if you own them), your snuggie, or your dog, etc.

i get the strong impression, because of recent statements made by A&E television stars, that people think that there is a right to say whatever you want, whenever you want, without any consequences. the problem stems from a misunderstanding of the phrase "free speech". the whole free speech thing derives from the idea that, according to the u.s. constitution, the government cannot punish or forcibly silence anyone:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

outside of the relationship of citizens to government, the "right to free speech" is completely meaningless. in the real world, you only have the right to use your property as you see fit as long as it doesn't infringe on the ability of others to do the same. if you are in another person's home, you may legitimately be kicked out for saying anything that offends the homeowner. conversely, if someone comes into your home and says things that offend you, you have the right to remove them from your home. that should be obvious. if people say things that offend you anywhere in the world, you have the right to stop associating with that person and vice versa. if you are making offensive statements, a business has a right to end their association with you. similarly, if you are making offensive statements on the property of a business, the owner has the right to refuse to do business with you and remove you from the premises and likewise with your own business.

the key in all of the examples above is property. you have no right to the property of others and, consequently, you have no right to do what you wish with the property of others. so, if you use your property (making offensive statements with your mouth) in a way that infringes on the property of others (making those statements in someone else's business, home, etc) you may be legitimately discriminated against.

many people (hopefully the vast majority) who read this will respond with, "duh!", but i felt compelled to elucidate for what seems like many people who haven't grasped this concept. so, if your favorite t.v. star makes statements that land him in hot water with his associates, don't scream out "whatever happened to free speech!". it only makes you look foolish.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

leaving christianity for atheism

over the last couple of years i've been letting go of my life-long dedication to christianity for atheism. i've always had trouble with faith, but i've tried to stick it out, regardless. but, in my never-ending pursuit of truth, i have to be honest with myself about what i believe if i ever wish to actually separate truth from fiction. sometimes, like in this case, that can be very unsettling. i've been a conscientious christian my entire life and it's hard to come around to letting something like that go without great discomfort.

if you are a religious person reading this, i suggest you stop here. i'm going to present some very simple and strong arguments against the belief in a god. i'm not trying to convert anyone. i'm totally cool with you believing in whatever you want and i don't care to cause doubt for you.  the only reason i'm writing this is because i feel the need to let it out. you don't have to read this, so just turn back and everything will be fine.

no matter how hard i try, i can't believe in something for which i have no evidence. i've never seen god. god's never talked to me, that i'm aware of, and my life, with or without god, seems the same. who made this clear to me? unicorns and leprechauns (more to follow).

i used to argue that god must exist in some form because it's not a property of matter to self-propagate, therefore, in the beginning, matter must have been created by something and that something, the creator, had to be god. well, it doesn't have to be. we don't know everything about matter or the universe. in fact, we know comparatively little. it's entirely possible that matter is a manifestation of some as yet unknown physical laws, or that time and "beginnings and ends" are not at all the way we perceive them. so, that's not a valid argument.

but, for the sake of argument, let's say that the "creator" justification i just outlined is valid. now, take out "god" and replace it with "leprechauns"...

"...leprechauns must exist in some form because it's not a property of matter to self-propagate, therefore, matter must have been created by something and that something, the creator(s), had to be leprechauns."

if you assume that there is a wide-spread myth that not "god", but leprechauns created the first matter and, therefore, the universe, the above quote sounds ridiculous. but why? there is just as much evidence that leprechauns exist as there is that god exists. no one has ever seen either one of them. so, why is it ridiculous to believe in one but not the other?

i also used to argue using pascal's wager. briefly, french mathematician and philosopher, blaise pascal argued that it made sense to believe in god, because, if you believe and you are right, you have eternal salvation to gain. if you believe and you are wrong, you lose nothing. conversely, if you don't believe and you're right, you gain nothing, but if you don't believe and you're wrong, you're damned eternally. but the biggest problem for me became the fact that one can't simply make oneself believe something. you're either convinced of something or you aren't. if you dispute this, here's a test: count to three, and, on three, start believing in leprechauns. then, count to three again and stop believing in them. no - really - believe in them - then stop. it's impossible. same goes for a belief in god.

there have been many, past and present that claim to have spoken (directly) to god. of the more notable are the christian apostles, mohammed, joseph smith and others. none of us have ever met any of these people. all we have to go by is what they've claimed. so, why believe one of them, but none of the rest? when it really comes down to it, all you have to go on is the word of people that neither you, nor anyone else has ever met or even seen. why not believe me if i said i had spoken to god and he told me to write his words down? why believe the apostle paul when he said the very same thing?

...then there's the evidence argument. no one has ever been able to show any evidence that they had seen god, spoken to god, or otherwise had any direct interaction with him (she? it?). no one has been able to show that god has directly caused or stopped any physical occurrence. considering there is no direct evidence that god exists, why believe in god, but not unicorns?  there is just as much evidence that one exists as the other, but, for some reason, we tend to believe in god, but not in unicorns. what if i created a mythical creature called "Flarf the Almighty", and, even though i had no evidence to suggest that flarf is real, i told you that he was the creator of man and the universe and that a book i'd written was his word to mankind using me as a conduit. would people believe that? why not, if they believe the authors of the bible?

the unicorns also pushed me directly past agnosticism. an agnostic neither believes nor disbelieves in god (in this context) because god's existence can be neither proven nor disproven. but, unicorns' existence can be neither proven nor disproven. wouldn't seem silly, though, to claim to be an agnostic when it comes to god, yet be a non-believer when it comes to unicorns? i'm calling myself an atheist because i refuse to give slack to one mythical being, while refusing to so with another, even though they're both on the same evidentiary footing. i don't believe in unicorns and, likewise, i don't believe in god. do unicorns exist? maybe. does god exist? maybe, but i can't believe in either one - that makes me an atheist.

the belief in god just became too much for me, as a person who strives for intellectual honesty, to hang on to. so, i'll chalk that up to one more past belief that i've had to toss into the circular file. that file's overflowing at this point.

hopefully, if you read this, and you're religious, you understand that this is a point i came to honestly and humbly. as stated above, it's not my intention to de-convert the religious, or to disturb their beliefs. i'm fine with religion, it just isn't for me.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

the irresponsibility of voting

i was listening to my favorite talk radio show the other day and a caller, new to the freedom movement i'd guess, went on about how the only way to achieve freedom is to exercise the right to vote. "we've got to replace the bad folks with the good ones", she said. "we've got to let them know that if they don't follow the constitution, that they won't get another term". it may or may not be obvious to you that there are some major flaws in that logic, but there's one i never hear people talking about that i'd like to focus on.

one thing i think we've all seen, no matter what your political persuasion might be, is that politicians, by and large, rarely come through on the promises they've made before the election. another way to put it is that politicians are mostly (to what extent this is true, we can't really know. we can only know that it's VERY prevalent) liars.

given that we're all aware of this time-tested phenomenon, how can a person ever have enough information to vote for a candidate? considering that you're actively throwing your support behind a candidate when you vote; helping them to gain power, isn't voting supremely irresponsible since you really have no idea what the candidate in question is planning to do with ultimate and unaccountable power?

what if, hypothetically, of course, a candidate were to campaign on a humble and restrained foreign policy, only to be elected and invade two or three countries causing hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties? in that case, those who voted for bush him acted with the highest level of irresponsibility by helping a man to gain power, even though they had no idea what he would do with it if he got it. voting is giving a person, who is most likely a liar, a blank check of support no matter what he does while in office. it's saying, "i don't have a clue what you're planning to do with your power, since you are probably lying, but i'm behind it, even if it's aggressive war, genocide, domestic oppression, religious persecution or anything else.

what kind of person could go out and give that kind of support? certainly not one who has any regard for responsibility. most likely, if you're reading this, you've voted. well, you can't change the past, but you can change your behavior in the future. all i'm asking is that you be certain of what you're supporting with your vote, or don't vote. since you can never be certain of anything when it comes to candidates, never vote.

it isn't as if a candidate is, during a campaign, going to say that he likes coke best, but then drink pepsi after being elected. that doesn't matter. we're talking about candidates who might kill innocent people - many innocent people. think about people in other countries voting for politicians who might end up killing you or your family members. wouldn't you want them to act responsibly? since you can't trust politicians, isn't it impossible to vote responsibly, especially when there's the option not to vote at all?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

the problem with schooling

one of the most destructive ideas in the world today is the idea that traditional schooling (i'll define that later) is good. i don't mean just public schooling, but traditional schooling in general, be it public or private. 

of course, public schooling is wrong on plenty of levels before you get to the main problem of schooling in general, namely the calculation problem constantly requiring that, no matter what, the system needs more funding despite continually declining results, but also it clearly violates the non-aggression principle both by forcing students to attend against their will and by forcing others to fund it.

even after you get past that, traditional schooling doesn't make sense.

when i say "traditional schooling", i mean putting a bunch of children together of the same age group and having a teacher teach them lessons about various subjects. it's what virtually everyone thinks of when the word "school" is uttered.

there are a lot of problems with it, most of them stemming from the false idea that people are all the same. they aren't. some are smart, some are not, some are athletic, some are artistic. some learn with their hands, some with their eyes or ears, some develop early, some develop late. considering the undeniable truth of that, it should seem absurd to pack a bunch of kids in a room together and attempt to teach them all the same things at the same level.

kids forced into classes together by the arbitrary category of "age" hurts those who develop early and those who develop late. all children are, more or less, in one of those two categories.those who develop early will held back by the lack of higher competition from other age groups and by the fact that they have to remain on a somewhat similar academic trajectory as the rest of their cohort. those who develop late will be hurt by being forced into an unnaturally competitive environment dominated by early developers. they will be constantly beaten by their peers, subjecting them to a confidence-crushing environment during a crucial part of their lives. even though they may have great potential, they may be hindered from fulfilling it because of depression or a general lack of confidence developed in an artificially competitive social environment.

learning is hard-wired into human beings through millenia of evolution. we are all the result of the fittest genes surviving and reproducing for millions of years. without being wired to learn, we wouldn't have come as far as we have as a species. for the vast majority of human evolution, there were no such things as classrooms and recess. humans are equipped to learn as individuals. we are designed to associate freely, where children will interact with others of their developmental peer group naturally, rather than by the arbitrary regimentation of age. early-developing 4-year-olds may associate naturally with late developing 6-year-olds and vice versa. placing children together with those outside of their developmental group hurts the progress of early-developers and demoralizes late-developers.

children develop not only at different rates, but also in different areas. children don't have to be forced to learn the things they are naturally attracted to, and in fact, forcing them to learn things they have no interest in may damage their appetite for learning as a whole. children are naturally insatiable when it comes to learning. they will naturally seek knowledge on virtually any subject, but, left to direct their own learning, they will develop most in the areas in which they have natural proclivities. these will vary for each child. it's counter-productive to attempt to change this natural direction.

most of the behavioral problems seen in children may be attributed to the institution of traditional schooling; depression and lack of confidence in late-developers and trouble-making by bored and unchallenged early-developers. bullying may have, at its core, the unnatural, forced association of traditional schooling to blame, where the weak are forced together with the strong with early-developing bullies growing to see late-developing victims as inferior, thus creating an incentive to attack and dehumanize them. the social delinquencies developed by both early and late-developers can have adverse effects on their lives throughout adulthood.

often, schooling is considered vital for socialization when, in fact, it is destructive to that end. schooling, as mentioned previously, creates an unnatural social environment not encountered anywhere else in human society. some may argue that they want their children to be able to relate to others of their age group on a social level, anecdotally citing home schooled children's seemingly awkward social behaviors. those people have the problem backwards. why is it important for children to be able to relate to others of such an arbitrary category as age-group? it's much more important for them the associate with those of their developmental level instead. the only reason that it might be important to get on well with those of one's own age group is because of schooling itself! it's circular reasoning that children should need to relate to others of their age-group because they're going to be forced together in school and that schooling is necessary to make that happen.

schooling is much more likely to inhibit social development for the reasons stated above. a reason home schooled children may relate better to adults (as is often cited) than to their cohort is because they are more correctly socialized and developed. it should be seen as a positive that children are able to relate to highly developed persons (adults) more readily than to lesser-developed persons. there's no logical reason that they should ever need to do associate otherwise. once children exit the schooling age, they will mix socially with others of various age-groups that more closely resemble themselves in interest and development anyway, which is what human beings are supposed to do, naturally.

eliminating the poor model of traditional schooling and replacing it with supportive parenting of self-directed learning and free social interaction can be a great step towards unlocking the potential of all children. age should not be seen as relevant to development or socialization of children at all, rather developmental level and common interest should be the social focus, as it will inevitably be the case throughout their adult lives.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

how to think like a politician, part 2: the war on terror

i maintain that, generally, the biggest political initiatives are seen when the interests of big, politically-connected corporations intersect the interests of government. those interests are, again generally, profits for the corporation and power for the government. of course, there is cross-over, but it's a good, general guideline.

politically-connected corporations fund political campaigns, getting politicians the power they crave, and, in return, politicians line those company's coffers, either directly or indirectly. some of the biggest funders of political campaigns are the corporations of the military-industrial complex (MIC): the companies who make money building and selling weapons systems to the government's military and big banks, who fund war. all of the u.s.'s various unnecessary wars have been great profit-makers for MIC and the big banks who fund them. they have also been great power-grabs for the government. war is the kind of big political initiative you can expect to see from a confluence of corporate/government interest. but a war every decade isn't much considering that the u.s. government can simply start a war whenever they want.

MIC corps and big banks are not going to pay for political campaigns if they can't make money doing it. politicians aren't going to push for huge military budgets and war-making if they aren't going to have their campaigns funded. so, in the 1950s, after stumbling upon the gold-mine of soviet communism, a great innovation in war-making appeared: the sustainable, permanent war. the rising soviet union was the perfect enemy for a new war. the problem was that shooting wars weary a country's people and resources while the threat of an evil and capable enemy was just as good at scaring people as actual flying bullets. all governments really need to do is scare their citizens in order to justify huge military budgets.

the cold war was born. power-grabbing politicians were happy, MIC corporations were happy (the big banks were a much smaller part of the cold war, but they had become more focused on the easier money of the fractional reserve system) and on the other side of the world, things were working out just as well for the soviets. brilliant! problem solved!

unfortunately for all parties involved, no one understood economics well enough to realize that communism was doomed from the start. the sustainable, permanent war was not as sustainable as was previously believed.

so, when the soviet union collapsed in 1991, the party was over. but there was too much power and money to be had in the idea of the sustainable, permanent war.

enter: the war on terror.

the war on terror has brilliantly solved all of the problems of the cold war. it scares citizens, it allows for huge military budgets, and it gives governments the excuses necessary to grab power, but it improves on the original cold war in key ways: 1) it is well-known and has been well-known for decades that intervention in the affairs of foreign countries who lack the wherewithal to stage a shooting war against a superpower inevitably results in terror attacks. so, the more foreign intervention there is, the more terror attacks one can expect, thus creating an endless cycle of permanent, sustainable war. 2) where the big banks may have been lost in the cold war, they are replaced by big oil companies in the war on terror, who have great interest in the oil resources of the middle east. 3) war tends to hurt economies as resources are wasted. thanks to the domination of john maynard keynes' economic theories, when the economy wanes, he says, it is best to print money through the fractional reserve banking system. this brings the big banks back into the fold.

so the war on terror provides a truly permanent, sustainable war, is a boon for the MIC as well as big oil and the big banks (all three of the big campaign financiers - a huge win) and provides the best known way for government to extend its power both at home and imperially. the system has worked very well despite the lack of recent terror attacks. it appears that the above-named political establishment assumed that there would be more attacks (a reasonable assumption) because of the "slips" heard occasionally in the media from politicians (like hillary clinton or newt gingrich) lamenting the lack of attacks or opining that there should be a new attack, or that it would be a net positive to stage an attack.

regardless, the war on terror has been a brilliant ploy that has made good money for politically established corporations in all three of the biggest campaign-funding sectors as well as an unprecedented enabler of government power-grabbing.

it is great example of how to think like a politician.