The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass has released a statement in support of the economic stimulus activities undertaken this week in London. “Over the past three nights,” said guild spokesman JM Keynes, “The brave young people of London have taken it upon themselves to guarantee the economic health of our city for years to come.” Keynes went on to explain that the Glaziers expect a 10,000% increase in demand for new glass windows over the coming weeks, which will employ hundreds of new glassmakers, who are paid as much as six francs for each new window produced.

Shopkeeper F Bastiat took a rather dimmer view of the stimulus package, citing its cost to his business. “Look here,” he said, gesturing to his store’s broken window. “They broke that, broke the door, came in and took things right off the shelves.” Bastiat expects that his insurance will cover some of the damages, but that much of his inventory will be a total loss. “I had a year’s profits tied up, just in what was on the shelves,” he explained. “And some of it they just destroyed! This television was too heavy to steal, I suppose, so they just smashed it.”

Bastiat’s selfishness, though, is not representative of most Londoners.  In addition to creating jobs and increasing private spending, the stimulus is providing an increased standard of living for some participants. “I got tones of stuff todayyyy!” explained one of the stimulus agents via twitter, ” … whop whop … wat ev;; it was free so i took it ennit,, didn’t get caught so[.]”

The London Olympics, set for 2012, could bring economic stimulus to countries the world over. “Just imagine,” said Keynes, “What would happen if some of these elite athletes had their possessions appropriated by another stimulus, or if they were injured? And there’ll be millions of attendees, too! All these people will have to buy replacement goods and seek health care upon return to their home nations. Everyone will benefit!”

Bastiat could not be reached for further comment at press time.


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be either good or evil.”
– Hannah Arendt

America has been a dangerous place for innocent citizens for a long time.  Whether one was an indentured or chattel slave in the 18th and 19th century or a hapless member of the pensioners who got beat down in the Bonus Marchers Protest in 1932 or one of thousands of Americans kidnapped, caged, maimed and killed by the police annually in the Land of the Free, you live in a country that has not only practiced this behavior but even legally endorsed it in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks in New York and Mordor on the Potomac.

Bush did have the hubris to deliver a speech condemning torture on 26 June 2003 with full knowledge of what his regime was doing:

“Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the United States and more than 130 other countries since 1984, forbids governments from deliberately inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering on those within their custody or control. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit. Beating, burning, rape, and electric shock are some of the grisly tools such regimes use to terrorize their own citizens. These despicable crimes cannot be tolerated by a world committed to justice.”

When one examines the first through fourth Geneva conventions and associated protocols, you make a grisly discovery.  Your treatment at the hands of the US government and its associated police agencies down to the local level is better afforded to you as a Prisoner of War than an ordinary civilian in America.  Mind you, even that has become more Orwellian with the abandonment by the Bush administration of even these and a complete reversal of the UN Convention Against Torture ironically passed in 1984.  POWs, in the countries that respect the Geneva and Hague conventions, have more rights than ordinary citizens in the American penal system.

Some of the torture memorandums under Bush have been released and the evidence is clear that not only did the Administration use arcane and amateurish legal arguments to abandon centuries of moral and philosophical proscriptions against torture but it became official policy.  David Addington and John Yoo were the primary architects of the various sundering of civil liberties and twisted legal reasoning that advocated and created the torture complex that Obama has refused to renounce or dispose of.   These worthies were the philosopher kings who devised the means for Bush to not only fight terror with terror but also a justification for barbarism.

In the December [2005] debate with Cassel, Yoo was asked: “If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?”

Yoo: “No treaty.”

Cassel: “Also no law by Congress? That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo [that went to the president].”

Yoo: “I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.”

Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture endorsed in 1984:

Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

In addition Article 16 states: “Actions which fall short of torture may still constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Jane Mayer was asked about the efficacy of torture.  Her book is required reading to see how Mordor codified torture during the Bushevik regime.  As a collectivist journalist, she shares the inner blind spot with the rest of her colleagues at the New York media complex of holding her nose about torture (rightfully so) but being completely blind to her advocacy of big government which relies on violence as its modus operandi.

Q. Leaving aside the essential moral and legal questions, is there any indication that this harsh treatment “worked,” that it yielded valuable intelligence?

A. One thing that came through all of this research was that this new paradigm—again, basically redesigning our laws in order to be able to coerce or maybe even torture detainees when we interrogate them—has been completely counterproductive. It’s been sold as if it’s some sort of tough new effective thing we’ve got to do. In fact, if you really go carefully over these cases, you find that it’s almost always produced false confessions. 

There are so many cases where specific detainees wound up making up stuff in order to make the pain stop, and I’ve got in this book, I think for the first time, some of the contents of the Red Cross report where they interviewed the CIA’s detainees in Guantanamo, who are there now, and Khalid Sheik Mohamed told them, almost sneeringly, that he created false alerts in America. He takes credit for having sent—put the American government on high alert on false premises. So, it’s just created an ocean on false confessions. There’s some real stuff in there, but it’s very hard for the intelligence agencies to figure out what’s real and what’s not. One former CIA official told me 90 percent of what they got was crap.

The way we have handled detainees and the absurd illegal combatant framework in the infamous and state-worshiping War on Terror has been disgraceful, ungentlemanly and philosophically vile.  But then again, what other behavior would I expect from governments?

Here are ten torture techniques endorsed by the Bush administration.

Here is George Bush on the evolution of torture in his regime:

“The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example.” President Bush on UN Torture Victims Recognition Day 26 June 2003

“Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right and we are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law … Many have been detained, arrested, thrown in prison and subjected to torture by regimes that fail to understand that their habits of control will not serve them well in the long term.” Statement by President Bush released by the White House on June 26, 2005

“We do not torture.” President Bush to reporters during a visit to Panama in November 2005

“The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror — the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives.” President Bush on his veto of a bill that would have outlawed waterboarding in March 2008

“I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved … I told the country we did that. And I also told them it was legal. We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it.” President Bush in an interview with ABC about interrogation tactics used on detainees in April 2008

Incidentally, while we have witnessed the sickening legal rationale for torturing the detainees captured in the War on Terror, a cursory glance at the mounting tsunami of domestic police abuses and misconduct in America dovetails nicely with the torture codification emanating from the White House for these barbaric and vicious practices.

What makes all the aforementioned treaties and legal prognostications  so wicked is the ease by which an executive authority in the last superpower on Earth can continue to practice an initiation and continuing maintenance of violence unconscionable to virtuous humans.

The State codifies cruelty, violence and torture as a matter of state prerogative.  This is simply what states do.  You would be hard pressed to find any nation on Earth that, when examined closely, does not practice and endorse abuses by its paid agents on the citizens caught in its jurisdiction.  It is unlimited and has been demonstrated here that an American president can justify ANY violence or cruelty visited on other humans.

Truman dropped the atomic bomb on Japan as a warning for the Russians in 1945 because the Japanese signed a treaty in August 1945 they had been pursuing since January of that year (some speculate as early as 1943) eerily similar to the peace proposal floated during the entire year.  The bomb was not meant for a Japanese audience but to get the attention of the Russians at the dawn of the Cold War.  The hapless victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were merely a demonstration project to get the attention of the other USSR (the one in Russia not North America).

Look at it from another perspective, if a government is willing to go through all the legal hoops (and bureaucratic stonewalling where it cannot) to justify visiting cruelty, maiming and killing on a class of people it chooses to dispose of in this way, what stops that from expanding to the general citizenry? If the physical and psychological destruction of other humans is not only authorized but encouraged, where does that leave the moral position of government?  How does this affect the torturers themselves?  One can even say that torture policies were in part responsible for the near military coup in France in 1962.

I happen to think that the tolerance and encouragement of torture and cruelty of government agents is a natural outgrowth of all states, we are simply witnesses to the inevitable unveiling of the US abuses over time and their acceleration after 2001.  I hope it it further diminishes and tarnishes even further the expectations anyone has of justice from the State.

For the longest time, the government-media complex has done an extraordinary job of convincing Americans that we are exceptional, the City on the Hill and all the other balderdash going back to the political coup by the Founding Lawyers in 1787-88.  We are not nor never have been.  When government is stripped of its bunting and patriotic gore, it is a tax jurisdiction run by violence-prone psychopaths whose only means to maintenance and expansion of power is violence and the threat thereof.  That violence is codified in the criminal code.  It is exercised around the globe through military means.  And, worst of all, it is justified in our names.

The blood is on everybody.

Resist.

“To call something an ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ doesn’t alter the fact that we thought it was torture when the Japanese used it on American prisoners, we thought it was torture when the North Koreans used it, we thought it was torture when the Soviets used it. You know, it’s almost the moral equivalent of saying that rape is an enhanced seduction technique.”
– Ted Koppel

“You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”
– Mohandas Gandhi

Copyright © 2011 by zerogov.com

This is drivel, drivel in disagreement with drivel; my short sermon to you, my members of a silent choir in a forgotten cathedral. We had a good run; we tried, and volumes of history will be written in Red, White and Blue ink.

Our dear leaders are nearly finished yelling at each other for the time being, and have settled on a course of action which will allow them to continue on toward catastrophe. Republicans cheer for fiscal responsibility; fiscal responsibility is confused, because he was not invited to the party. Democrats decry the impending doom the Republicans have wrought this term, ignoring the centuries of proud expansion and deficit spending which have brought us to our fate.

Here’s the problem: borrowing is only right when you can pay back your creditors. US policy is to fund our debt payments with additional debt. Tax revenues, even vastly increased tax revenues, cannot pay back the present debt. Growing that debt more slowly is not a solution; if the federal government can’t pay its bills without perpetual borrowing now, how is it supposed to pay those bills later? At some point, some creditors must be left holding the bag.

But our elected representatives provide us with political theater in the meantime. They’ve agreed to “cut” the deficit by $2.3 trillion over the course of the next decade or so. In order to do this, the debt ceiling must be increased $2.1 trillion dollars. I am not sure how the latter can possibly lead to the former… but I am certain that greater problems are ahead, and that there’s a limit to how much debt our government can issue before there’s nobody left to buy it.

 

“A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.”
– H.L. Mencken

There are 27,000 pages of Federal code and many criminal offenses sprinkled in them.  Most of these laws are malum prohibitum and not malum in se; in other words, they are criminal offenses because the government says they are.  That enormous figure is the figurehead of the code, the respective executive agencies charged with interpretation and enforcement divine their own regulations and code.  The EPA alone has 25,000 pages of Federal regulations comprising almost 15 percent of the total Federal corpus by some estimates.

Mordor does not even know how many laws there are now:

“Counting them is impossible. The Justice Department spent two years trying in the 1980s, but produced only an estimate: 3,000 federal criminal offenses.

The American Bar Association tried in the late 1990s, but concluded only that the number was likely much higher than 3,000. The ABA’s report said “the amount of individual citizen behavior now potentially subject to federal criminal control has increased in astonishing proportions in the last few decades.”

A Justice spokeswoman said there was no quantifiable number. Criminal statutes are sprinkled throughout some 27,000 pages of the federal code.”

The numbers are staggering but the inherent madness even more so.  The EPA is currently trying to bankrupt the good citizens of an Alaska town for non-criminal environmental offenses totaling in the tens of millions for a town of several thousand.  Sometimes water can even be “too clean” for fish.  This madness goes on every day.

No one sums it up better than Keith Richards in view of consensual crimes:  “I’ve never had a problem with drugs.  I’ve had problems with the police.” The governments seek to make victimless crimes punishable.

Take a look at these statistics.  There are four times as many folks ensnared (not counting families and friends of the convicted) in the US penal system than the peak population of both criminal and political prisoners combined in the gulag system in the USSR.  The Land of the Free has the highest per capita prison population on Earth.

I have written before about the size of the American criminal penal systems and the innocents and political prisoners ensnared in it.  The sheer obscenity of so many laws dictated from on high that make no sense whatsoever to reasonable men (this was Blackstone’s expectation).

The Federal government has always been too large and has metastasized in the 20th and 21st centuries into a monster determined to destroy itself.  I can only encourage any behavior that leads to its self-immolation.  There was a recent town hall meeting in Alabama where a potential mining consortium just threw up their hands and said we will simply not open the mine due to the overwhelming burden of Federal regulation and oversight.

Those of you in business for yourselves can speak with aplomb on the sheer immensity of regulatory compliance and how it strangles the provision of goods and services in America.

It gets worse:

Occasionally, Americans are going to prison in the U.S. for violating the laws and rules of other countries. Last year, Abner Schoenwetter finished 69 months in federal prison for conspiracy and smuggling. His conviction was related to importing the wrong kinds of lobsters and bulk packaging them in plastic, rather than separately in boxes, in violation of Honduran laws.

According to court records and interviews, Mr. Schoenwetter had been importing lobsters from Honduras since the mid-1980s. In early 1999, federal officials seized a 70,000-pound shipment after a tip that the load violated a Honduran statute setting a minimum size on lobsters that could be caught. Such a shipment, in turn, violated a U.S. law, the Lacey Act, which makes it a felony to import fish or wildlife if it breaks another country’s laws. Roughly 2% of the seized shipment was clearly undersized, and records indicated other shipments carried much higher percentages, federal officials said.

In an interview, Mr. Schoenwetter, 65 years old, said he and other buyers routinely accepted a percentage of undersized lobsters since the deliveries from the fishermen inevitably included smaller ones. He also said he didn’t believe bringing in some undersized lobsters was illegal, noting that previous shipments had routinely passed through U.S. Customs.

After conviction, Mr. Schoenwetter and three co-defendants appealed, and the Honduran government filed a brief on their behalf saying that Honduran courts had invalidated the undersized-lobster law. By a two-to-one vote, however, a federal appeals panel found the Honduran law valid at the time of the trial and upheld the convictions.

This is a great omnibus example of so many things wrong with the system.  And in the end, you and I and our children (Mordor on the Potomac borrows at least 40 cents of every dollar it spends to oil the works that enslave all of us) pay dearly for the shackles binding us.

In criminal law, Blackstone’s formulation (also known as Blackstone’s ratio or the Blackstone ratio) is the principle: “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”, expressed by the English jurist William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s.  He is also the worthy who opined that ignorance of the law is no excuse as reasonable men apprehend it.  No man of any intellectual merit could possibly be apprised of all the laws on the Federal books.  This does not even speak to the secret laws whose merits we aren’t allowed to see because they are…secret.

Tacitus said ‘[t]he more corrupt the republic, the more numerous the laws.”  As with all governments, the US Federal government is nothing more than a manufacturing facility for generating tyranny.  Liberty is its enemy.  It is nothing more than a sophisticated program to fine, cage, maim and kill ALL citizens if they happen to fall afoul of the impossibly incomprehensible web of laws and regulations it vomits out on a perennial basis.

There is no reform or repudiation or referendum or reconstitution possible to remedy the vicious and wicked system of laws emanating the Federal government.  The only path to redemption is its ultimate self-destruction at its own hands to join the ash-heap of history that the other empires have tumbled on to.

The unfortunate reality is that every one of us in America is moments from a police encounter or judicial decision that robs you of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

There is no common sense to the law anymore.  It is simply a means for a monstrous and unthinking bureaucratic machine to slowly crush everything in its path including our very futures.  The answer remains:  there is no government like no government.

“A country is in a bad state, which is governed only by laws; because a thousand things occur for which laws cannot provide, and where authority ought to interpose.”
– Samuel Johnson

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth!  They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.”

– Pierre Joseph Proudhon, quoted in The Match!

Publisher’s Note: Tom is one of the smartest observers of the impending collapse out there.  He wrote Starving the Monkeys after experiencing the big surprise that is small business in America:  the sky darkens as regulators and tax collectors parachute in to ravage and manage your business to their advantage.  This journey, of course, led to other unpleasant discoveries he will regale us with in this scintillating interview.  He and I share military experience and I am always amused at how that informs one’s evolving worldview when it comes to government. Later he speaks to the conclusions about the Founding that has been a very large turning point for plenty of sober thinking libertarians in the past decades.  I, too, owe Royce for what was a critical turning point in my own philosophical journey. -BB

Why did you write Starving the Monkeys?

My original intention was to write a book for entrepreneurs to teach them how to cut through a lot of the red tape and employee issues that keep business owners from focusing on their original business purpose, and that keep employees from behaving in a more independent and productive way. I had run several small businesses, and found out the hard way that the more one can get by without hiring anyone, the better. Also, I intended to teach people to stop seeing themselves as employees, but instead to run their own small businesses themselves and perform work on a contract basis for their previous (and other) employers. I had successfully applied this change in attitude from the employee/employer to client/consultant from all sides of the equation, to much profit. I knew that I had a lot to offer others to help them make the same transition.

Just as I started to write that book, the real estate collapse of 2008-2009 hit, and wiped out essentially everything I had ever earned, and more. Practically overnight, despite a long track record of business successes, I, along with many others across the country, found myself destitute for reasons which had nothing to do with decisions I had made, other than owning property to house my family and businesses. Essentially, we had our heads down working while thieves snuck up behind us and legally robbed us all blind.

While reorienting to this new reality, I realized that the environment that keeps an adversarial relationship between employee and employer, rather than the ideal of a cooperative relationship of client-consultant/contractor, is a consequence of regulations that are put in place by the legislative lackeys of large corporate interests to protect them from competition from below. And, that it is this same system of institutionalized theft and deceit that is at the heart of practically every problem we face as a people.

Reacting to this revelation, and drawing from the classics of economic, political and military history, I decided to expand the simple entrepreneurial book into a guide that people can use to orient to the economic terrorism that is waged on us all daily. Essentially, “Starving the Monkeys: Fight Back Smarter” is a handbook for what is today a necessary guerrilla war that individuals must fight on an economic and political level today, and a military level tomorrow, followed by additional levels afterward.

By the way, the original title “Starving the Monkeys: An Entrepreneurial Horror”, reflected that early business-only basis. The current title is more descriptive of the expanded scope.

I am also a former military man who found his way to anarcho-capitalism, tell us how your path started and where it went.

Wow, that’s a long and winding path! I went to the Naval Academy because I wanted to be an astronaut and Navy and Marine Corps pilots were considered to be top of the heap in the early space program. When it became clear that the space program was effectively dead in terms of actual progress and exploration, after graduation I decided to go into the Marine Corps on the ground side and became an Air Support Control Officer.

During Desert Storm, I was responsible for the entire Marine air effort for eight hours each night, so I was plugged into the command and control apparatus at a very high level as a junior officer. I began to get the inkling that not everything was as it was marketed: that entire war was pointless, fought for reasons that didn’t make any sense from a historical perspective, fought to an unsatisfying conclusion from a military perspective, and in general just seemed to be an overall boondoggle. I also lost a lot of respect for very senior officers who made short-sighted decisions that got people killed (or would have gotten people killed if they hadn’t been disobeyed) while being focused solely on promotion and advancement. And a lot of junior and mid-level officers aspired to be just like them. That shook a lot loose inside. I joke sometimes that if the war had gone on much longer I probably would have had some colonels and generals heads mounted for display in my cell at Leavenworth. As it was, they sent me to recruiting duty for a couple of years!

After I left the Marine Corps, I earned a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. I was recruited by what was essentially the “skunk works” for McDonnell Douglas, and thought “now I’ll really make a difference.” Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that my main responsibility there was to show my academy ring to win defense contracts for useless weapon concepts. There are a lot of really bad ideas percolating around the defense industry, but all that matters is whether it will sell. I left that after six months and started doing consulting work both independently and through agencies.

A few years later, I started a series of companies to handle my own contracting, and had a couple of hit products in some niches. I made a lot of money on my own, and then made the mistake of hiring people. After I got tired of going into an office to provide good jobs for other people, I started trimming staff way back and magically started making good money again. The light bulb went on.

Then, as mentioned previously, the monkeys snuck up behind me and stole everything. That light bulb turned into a target illuminator.

Is there a misanthropic streak in your book?

I had to look that one up! I suppose there’s more than a streak of that. More like an underlying theme. We are where we are not because of a few bad people. Instead, we are where we are because a whole lot of people like things this way. As an example, wander around a Tea Party rally and ask how many people there are on Social Security or getting a military retirement check. My kids shouldn’t have to be on the hook their whole lives because someone avoided getting hit by a bus for decades, or helped the banksters take over or punish some country somewhere. If Baby Boomers hadn’t spent their youth killing their own kids, someone might be around to take care of them in the years to come. And if the country behaved in ways that was worth defending the citizen-soldiery wouldn’t have to be bribed with pensions to defend it.

As a result, my book doesn’t try to convince anyone of anything. Instead, I’m trying to reach the few people out there who are actually worth a damn, and who understand what is actually going on. Then, I try to give those people some tools to help them live better lives now, and to help them rebuild civilization later. And understand who their actual enemies are.

Tell us about the “forces of niceness”.

Along the Tea Party lines, the forces of niceness are all those people who think that being polite and playing by the rules is more important than justice and liberty.  I’ve called these naive people “lily-whites” elsewhere. Glenn Beck types are a big part of this crowd, and place politeness and respect above all else. But, someone who is trying to steal from me and enslave my children doesn’t deserve my politeness and respect. We are where we are because these people aren’t willing to see through to the horror that actually is our world today. This deliberate blindness allows all kinds of nefarious behavior to go on unchecked and unpunished. They’ll stamp their pedicured feet all day long, but suggest that maybe it isn’t a bad thing when banksters get blown up or feral cops get shot by their intended victims, or that people should be free to use drugs until it kills them, and suddenly these people run for the hills.

This attitude has been bred into the populace for generations to the point that the forces of niceness will instinctively turn against anyone with guts and determination. To them, obedience and decorum must be maintained above all, which makes this class of people actually more dangerous than the oligarchs. As a result, the few of us left that are worth a damn are systematically hunted down and marginalized while the lily-whites wave their flags and cheer about an American exceptionalism that has long vanished.

I am a student of Stoicism and see a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) Stoic thread running through the book.  Would you say that is a fair characterization?

I had to look that one up, too! That’s a theme running through Starve the Monkeys (STM), by the way. It’s fine to not know things as long as you are willing to learn. OK, here’s what I gather about Stoicism. I think it is important to at least adopt the ethical and rational aspects of Stoicism. Where I think the lessons in STM departs from that path is that it is sometimes necessary to wear a monkey suit as camouflage, and derive an inner calm as a tool rather than as a virtue. I often advise people facing conflict in their work or personal lives, as a survival mechanism, to stitch a monkey suit of such quality that the monkeys wouldn’t even recognize the angel of death in their midst. Stoics might stitch that suit as an adaptive mechanism, but then not be ready to follow through to, uh, mitigate the sources of conflict when the circumstances are appropriate. It is the willingness to act in that latter phase immediately following a collapse, which distinguishes a monkey starver from a Stoic. A monkey starver doesn’t act today simply because the personal consequences are inconvenient.

I would characterize all the major political ruling classes in America as profoundly pro-big business and viciously anti-small business.  I think the former is due to the co-opting that takes place between larger firms and the purchasing of regulatory and tax power in DC and the state capitals.  I think they despise small business because of the profound economic illiteracy of the nomenklatura in America in how economies grow and prosper.  What are your thoughts?

I think your thoughts are right on the nose. I would add that the anti-small-business slant is another aspect of that forces of niceness thing. Small businesses are how individuals provide for themselves independent of a traditional work environment. If you can provide for yourself without being subjected to endless indoctrination at the office, you become much harder to control and predict. That scares the hell out of the lily-whites. So, the bigger and more consolidated the businesses, the more control that can be exerted over people, and the less risk of someone slipping through the cracks. That is another reason why I encourage people to slip off those employee chains as soon as they can, even if they wind up making less money. The freedom of mind and action is well worth it.

A friend of mine runs a small business and he makes a compelling case that 50-60 cents of every dollar that comes through his front door is immediately liberated by some level of taxing authority.  Does it pay to be self-employed?  How difficult is it to have even one above-ground employee in America today?

It doesn’t pay at all to be self-employed. But it does pay in a big way to run one’s own small corporation. The distinction is huge. Technically, the deductions are the same either way, but in practice you can save a lot more on taxes by being an employee of your own corporation rather than what is known as a 1099 contractor; but either of those beats being a full-time employee of someone else, when hardly anything is deductible. I’ve written a lot about that in my “Fully Taxated” article series, but the most important advantage to running your own small business is the change in attitude that comes from having clients instead of bosses. Just don’t make the mistake of starting to hire people; the tax and regulatory burden jumps dramatically. Better to help those people incorporate and then do business-to-business work with them.

Tell me your evolution in thought on the Constitution?  Has Lysander Spooner, a patron saint at ZeroGov, had an effect on your approach to government and the state?

I have to thank Russ Longcore at DumpDC for turning me on to Lysander Spooner. Shortly afterward, Ken Royce pointed me to his book, “Hologram of Liberty”. That one-two punch is devastating! STM predates that transformation, but does point out some critical flaws in the Constitution. My thinking now is that all those Constitutional Oaths were obtained by fraud, and are null and void. There is a big gap between the power of the seven Constitutional Articles and the Bill of Rights. One does not equal or imply the other. Similarly, we are taught that the Constitution, a product of what Ken Royce calls the Founding Lawyers (or Bankers) should be held in equal reverence to the Declaration of Independence, a product of the Founding Fathers. I now believe that July 4th, which commemorates the American Revolution, is a perfect time to burn a federally reserved flag, which commemorates the Counter-Revolution of 1787.

How close are we to economic catastrophe?  Do you anticipate an economic collapse with burgeoning secession movements to break the country apart?

Hard to say. I don’t think I’m smart enough to predict that. There is a big difference between what I think is an impending collapse, and a period of worsening leading up to it. I think we’re near that worsening stage right now. The worsening really starts when it becomes clear that government bonds simply don’t have to be, or can’t be, paid. As the effect of that ripples outward, a lot of people (the monkeys) will find out that they really don’t have, or know, or do, anything of value.

During this period, I think a lot of people will be running around with their hair on fire, when in reality the roads will still be there, the water will still come out of the faucets, and electricity will still come out of the holes in the wall. The only thing that will be different is that everything you need will cost a lot, but everything you have isn’t worth anything. An economic collapse is a lot different from The Collapse, which is a total breakdown of social order.

This situation will create a unique opportunity. In that crisis, secession movements can feed on an economic collapse to interrupt The Collapse, at least for their own populations. But, these movements are and will continue to be wildly unpopular, particularly because so many people will wonder where their federally reserved retirement and other checks will come from. If the seceding states take on those obligations, they’ll go down soon, too.

Since no state currently has the right demographics in terms of an independent population willing to forego the nipple, secession movements today best serve in the form of an incubator for ideas about how to rebuild later. Since most of the head-in-the-sand types won’t make it, the demographics will then be appropriate to restore the traditional American ethos, sans-central-control.

I would recommend folks read your book.  What other books would you commend to our readers’ attention?

Thanks! Without a doubt, Hologram of Liberty is a must-read. Che Guevara’s Guerrilla Warfare is essential for understanding when the time is right. A lot of people (typically the lily-whites) won’t read it because they think it will send their souls straight to Marxist hell, but the man was an expert in the art. There is a reason that book is on the USMC reading list for officers. Regarding Che, I think he is a great example of the stunning contrast between success and failure. His best success (Cuba) was based on energizing the populace. But, Bolivia instituted agrarian reforms (think welfare, social security, pensions, etc.). He was killed there because he failed to recognize that he couldn’t energize a populace that was contented with poverty and a tolerable level of oppression. We are in Bolivia today. The Marxism and his military experience is window-dressing. I believe that we are steered away from Che to avoid learning from his mistake.  Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is a good read, but replace all the references to employees with the incorporated contractor idea I mentioned earlier. Teach the kids some science and math, because electromagnetism will still work, and pumps and motors beat doing anything by hand.

Tom Baugh

Copyright © 2011 by zerogov.com

 

 

The Greek default isn’t total, yet. Perhaps it won’t be. But more defaults, across Europe and the rest of the world, are an inevitable consequence of modern banks’ and governments’ twisted corruption of capitalism.

Modern capitalism is built on the idea of investment: that by stockpiling more resources than are immediately needed and dedicating those resources to productive tasks instead of consuming them, you can end up with more resources. This works very well, and has been the policy of every Homo sapiens sapiens who bothered to plan past his next meal. Capital accumulation allowed us to progress past our hunter-gatherer roots, although we didn’t have a name for it at the time.

The concept of capital accumulation leads directly to the idea of lending. If you have more resources than you can effectively employ, you might as well lend those resources to someone else, so that he can use them to go produce even more. In exchange for this loan, you expect to receive your resources back, plus a share of those the borrower has produced.

Once you’re comfortable with the idea of lending, another concept might occur to you: that of fractional reserve banking, the backbone of modern finance. In fractional reserve banking, depositors lend their money to a bank, which then lends it back out at interest. This works because the depositors will not, presumably, come to the bank en masse and request the full return of their deposits. There is a tacit understanding that depositors will at some point have access to the funds they’ve put in the bank, just not “right now.”

Fractional reserve banking is hugely important. It makes credit much more accessible, which allows entrepreneurs to do things like discovering the Americas and founding small businesses. Unfortunately, this easy credit market also makes it very attractive for governments to take on impossibly huge obligations in order to win short-term political victories. Governments issue bonds in order to fund these obligations, which are purchased mostly by banks and investment funds. Greece funded their citizenry’s early retirement pensions and short work hours on such bonds; their tax revenues were not and are not nearly sufficient to maintain that standard of living.

Now, if it were possible to make good on these loans, the problem would be restricted to Greece. The Greek people’s standard of living would fall and that would be difficult for them. Unfortunately, there is no way the Greek government can repay what they owe; if the required austerity measures were implemented, the Greek people would simply tear the country apart, form a new government and repudiate the debt, leaving the lenders holding the bag. This is a huge problem for the European Union, of which Greece is a member state. Therefore, the wealthier and more responsible EU members (most importantly Germany) will make further bad loans to Greece, prolonging the problem but cushioning the blow, at least in theory.

If it works – if the partial default makes it possible for the Greek government to meet its obligations, and the lenders are compensated under the new terms – this still only solves the problem for Greece. A number of other EU nations, notably Ireland and Spain, are still similarly troubled – and the Germans only have so much excess capital to share. How long will the wealthier nations of the EU carry the poorer nations? What would be the fallout if they were to stop?

The best solution, perhaps the only solution, is to allow the lenders to deal with the consequences of their bad loans. Greek debt was a bad risk to take, and those who took it should not have their losses socialized.

In any case, we in the united states have the advantage of seeing this unfold from afar. We can learn the difficult forthcoming lessons by watching the European situation unfold, rather than facing our own states’ forthcoming defaults without any reference. The question is whether we’ll pay attention to those lessons.


“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
– P. J. O’Rourke

The alleged debt crisis is at the top of the news now.  The usual suspects in Mordor on the Potomac are proclaiming that if they do not leverage the unborn into further debt they will be unable to fulfill their fiscal and fiduciary obligations to a wide variety of parasites and looters at the government trough ranging from pensioners to killer robots.

I would submit to you that there should be no limit on the government’s debt ceiling.  None.  It should be unlimited.  It is illusion and misdirection to think that any entity which can simply force assets and wealth from a captive population would think these limitations important except as a good, if insincere, public relations campaign with the host they are draining.  Within the next six months, these united States will achieve a signal triumph:  an alleged national debt that is equal to the established consensus on the amount of the GDP.  We are presently at 95 percent of that goal and rising.  Russia is at 19 percent and China is at 11 percent.  Even communist countries know better. Mind you, I didn’t mean to besmirch the communist idea in front of the chattering classes as they may find that disturbing since that is their philosophical touchstone for economic prosperity.  Much like a demonic telethon to enslave young and unborn generations to enormous debt obligations, the good ship USS Leviathan continues to happily navigate toward these dangerous fiscal shoal waters.  I say alleged debt because we are all certain the government cooks the books and hides spending it wishes not to reveal, therefore future financial historians may discover evidence of the real debt as they poke and prod the ruins of a former global hyper-power in North America.

Non-funded obligations approaching anywhere from 60-115 trillion dollars loom in the future as the demographic tsunami of pending entitlements crashes on the shores of the Potomac.  Some estimate this as high as 202 trillion dollars.  A slight grasp may be entertained by realizing that there are two trillion seconds in 64,000 years.  In reality, this bespeaks one devilish conclusion:  not only is the Federal government NOT too big to fail but it should have failed decades ago.  What the usual suspects and the punditocracy fail to grasp is that the government has reached such gargantuan and unmanageable proportions, its failure is inevitable.  The entropy of imperfect information used on such a large scale and steered by the kakocracy that is the American political class and the shambling bureaucratic masses employed by the State will end in history’s largest collectivist car crash.

Even if they were to tax the productive classes who make 250,000 dollars per annum or more 100 percent, they would be hard-pressed to fund the budget for four to six months.  FDR even toyed with the idea of a 100 percent tax rate in 1943 but finally settled on the paltry figure of 94 percent.     You will note this is a little over a million souls.  Also keep in mind that this tremendous debt is not being used to fund expensive tooling and plants for viable enterprises which would generate profit yield in innovation and production.  No, these wealth transfers mostly end up both literally and figuratively in the septic tank.

Other commentators have covered more than sufficiently and with aplomb the manifest reasons why an increase in the debt is wrong and why by extension the entire fiscal apparatus is wrong.  I agree with them.  But, in the end, the State’s very existence is wrong and they are simply using thimbles to bail the Titanic after the fatal collision.

My keenest desire is for the US Federal government to spend with abandon, print as if there is no tomorrow (they are prophetic, aren’t they?) and produce a state leviathan so large and cumbersome that Lenin would be chagrined at the excess.

There is no such thing as a courageous politician because they are self-selected strata of psychopathy whose prime directive is preservation and expansion of power at everyone’s expense except their own.  Any expectation otherwise will always result in severe disappointment on your part.  It is ironic that the worst elements of humanity are those in charge but history is rife with such folly.

This time I want Obama to win and to continue to print and spend as if there is no tomorrow.  My prognosis is fiscal collapse and the future is bright.  Wait for it…

“Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what’s going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?
– Will Rogers

Copyright © 2011 by zerogov.com

 

Peter over at Western Rifle Shooters turned me onto this.  Codevilla wrote this scintillating short essay on why Obama is who is and why Communism is far from a dead letter.  I always enjoy Codevilla, he is a thoughtful and clear-headed writer.  I caution anyone to carefully pick and choose what you read at the Claremont Institute which is the world headquarters for Lincoln hagiography and idolotry & ground zero for Straussian Trotskyists.  It is ironic that they would publish an essay critical of someone so close to their own ideological pedigree as Obama.  -BB

In sum, Barack Obama grew intertwined with the narrow, self-referential left side of the American Left. They helped one another believe they had come up the hard way, as underprivileged but brilliant, square-jawed tribunes of the common man. Their common problem, however, is that their agendas are antagonistic to people unlike themselves, and that they cannot keep from showing their contempt for the common folk in whose name they would ride to power.

Since the days of Karl Marx’s First International a century and a half ago, this very human opposition between socialist theory (egalitarianism) and socialist reality (oligarchic oppression) has bedeviled the Left. Marx laid the problem bare in his “Critique of the Gotha Program” (1875). Lenin dealt with it honestly and brutally in What Is to Be Done? (1902)—the foundational document of Communism. By acknowledging that the Communist Party is not the common people’s representative, but rather its “vanguard,” Leninists were comfortable with a party responsible only to itself and to history, a party that openly demanded deference from the humans whose habits it forcibly reshaped. Communism’s undeniable horrors forced the New Left to disassociate itself from What Is to Be Done? and once again to pretend that its socialism was neither oligarchic nor coercive, that somehow it was on the side of ordinary folks. This is a much tougher sell in the 21st century than it was in the 19th. Contemporary socialists try to explain away the common man’s suspicion of them as harbingers of oligarchy, corruption, and coercion by resorting to jargon (e.g., “false consciousness” and “socio-economic anxiety”). But that is ever less convincing. This is why the movement argues so strenuously with itself about whether and how much it should dissimulate its agenda.

See: https://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.1852/article_detail.asp

 

“Death solves all problems – no man, no problem.”
– Joseph Stalin

Government is a death cult. It is the most profound mechanism outside of planetary extinction events to rid the globe of human beings.  There have certainly been disease vectors like the plague in medieval times that wiped out significant parts of Europe but even that can be attributed to human volition to a certain extent.

Since the first agricultural communities attracted the government predator’s eye thousands of years ago and led to the tax accountancy records Charles Adams first pointed out to us.  Hunter gatherer communities were quite a bit more difficult to pin down and cage within the confines of a tax jurisdiction.  Tax jurisdictions are the center of gravity for governments to germinate and expand their nefarious enterprises.

Whether the murderous paroxysms of violence in the endless wars created by tax jurisdictions dressed in fancy bunting and flags in ancient times or today have more advanced killing machines, the mission is the same.  Peter McCandless is fond of saying that a government will ultimately kill you for non-compliance of a seatbelt violation if your lack of obedience and insistence on resistance continues and escalates.

The more extreme examples of bureaucratized slaughter and mayhem visited on populations by governments are illustrative of the potential of every government to do the same. That is the genius of government, not only to elevate the absolute worst psychopaths to positions of power because they seek to rule others by default but it industrializes murder machines.  How else can one explain the killing fields in Kampuchea, the bone yards in the former USSR and the mass starvation campaigns either inadvertently or intentionally launched against subject populations?  From Rwanda to Armenia under the Turks to the North American aboriginal destruction in 18th and 19th century America, governments kill.  That is their ultimate failsafe mechanism.  If their power is threatened in any fashion, the cage and the sword and the grave are essential tools of governance.

Beria’s Death Warrant for 20,000 Polish Officers During the War to Save Josef Stalin

Let’s travel down memory lane:

 

Many thanks to Dr. Rummel for the research he has pioneered in this effort.

The Russian attempts to starve significant parts of the Ukraine under Stalin’s reign:

Conquest quotes the later testimony of an activist:

“I heard the children…choking, coughing with screams. It was excruciating to see and hear all this. And even worse to take part in it…. And I persuaded myself, explained to myself. I mustn’t give in to debilitating pity…. We were performing our revolutionary duty. We were obtaining grain for the socialist fatherland….

Our great goal was the universal triumph of Communism, and for the sake of that goal anything was permissible — to lie, to cheat, to steal, to destroy hundreds of thousands and even millions of people….

This was how I had reasoned, and everyone like me, even when…I saw what “total collectivization” meant — how they “kulakized” and “dekulakized,” how they mercilessly stripped the peasants in the winter of 1932—3. I took part in this myself, scouring the countryside, searching for hidden grain…. With the others, I emptied out the old folks’ storage chests, stopping my ears to the children’s crying and the women’s wails. For I was convinced that I was accomplishing the great and necessary transformation of the countryside; that in the days to come the people who lived there would be better off for it….

In the terrible spring of 1933 I saw people dying from hunger. I saw women and children with distended bellies, turning blue, still breathing but with vacant, lifeless eyes…. I [did not] lose my faith. As before, I believed because I wanted to believe.”

You will note here on this page that delineates anthropogenic killing globally that it wasn’t simply the bad communists (although they get the gold medal in sheer numbers) but the UK was responsible for 4 million Indian dead in Bengal during Churchill’s little known escapades raping India during WWII in 1943 (a passing mention of the possible 20 million dead during the Indian famines of 1876-78 and 1899-1900)  or the 1.5 million dead during the Irish potato famine[s] in the 19th century.

The Black War (1828-32) in Australia against the aboriginals is especially terrifying because they almost managed to exterminate every man, woman and child.

I mention these western holocausts to illustrate that history’s traditional mass murderers, the Communists and Socialists, aren’t the only authors of such barbaric behavior.  Mind you, plenty of this behavior took place outside of acknowledged warfare such as Stalin and Mao’s efforts to kill the non-compliant and disobedient.

In the end, ALL governments seek to maim and kill the non-compliant because obedience is the signal contribution of ANY citizen in a tax jurisdiction yesterday, today and tomorrow.

In America, absent the overwhelming presence of armed bureaucrats, how many of even the most brain-dead subjects in America would comply with a fraction of thousands of intrusive and destructive laws on the books?

Your collaboration with a system that practices such barbaric behavior on a mass and industrial basis is the key to government’s legitimacy and its very ability to have fractional elements of tens of thousands of “law enforcers” cow millions of shambling sheep to be disposed of as the government wishes; especially the recalcitrant and rebellious black sheep who no longer desire the fetters and are increasingly losing their fear of the noose.  Why do you think that “officer safety” happens to prize the value of the cop’s life higher than any mere citizen or subject?  One recalls that scene in Braveheart where the King’s aristocrat declares that an assault on the King’s men is an assault on the King himself.  How romantic.  As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said:   “Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle.”  Initiated violence is the government’s bread and butter and any active defense against its depredations is always received by the rulers rather dimly.

The only reason you are not yet dead is because the government has not found a sufficient reason or lacks the wherewithal to kill you. Yet.

“There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.”

— Vladimir Lenin

 

Publisher’s NoteThis is my son’s first post.  He is currently waiting to start his MS program in Mechanical Engineering this fall in our beloved Idaho.  I am proud to say that it was my son that ushered me down the path from minarchism to anarchism.  I know that fathers are known to exaggerate but Kyle is an intellectual force of nature and I prize his insights and out-of-the-box thinking.  I look forward to many more contributions in the future. -BB

This is an address to the libertarian-anarchist movement.  If you remain unconvinced of the merits of a stateless society, if you insist that even some problems can only be solved with violence, please move along, continue your daily routine. This is not for you.

Part I: To Achieve Freedom, We Must Build It

For as long as I have been a libertarian, the movement has exhibited a common theme.  We spend an enormous amount of energy attempting to convince people of the merits of a free society.  We argue, plead, and beg people, like a cheap whore on a Las Vegas street corner, to understand that freedom is the only ethical and effective solution to our problems.  It is – without a doubt. The godfathers of our ideology have indisputably won the argument for freedom.  Spooner, Bastiat, Mises, Rothbard, [David & Patri] Friedman, I salute you.

But the problem is, this is all we do.  We work tirelessly to convert people to the cause.  Let me be very clear: we are failing by an enormous margin.  Sheep are walking off the public school assembly line at a much faster rate than we are converting.  Yet just like philosophers, we stand idly by pleading our neighbors to accept our beliefs.  What do libertarians think will happen if we are able to convert a majority of the world population?  Will a free society suddenly appear as the state collapses around it?  If Ron Paul is elected president, will the majority of the population suddenly accept freedom as it is thrust upon them?

The majority of our movement has become so obsessed with why we should be free, we have completely ignored how we will become free.  If we want freedom, we must stop trying to explain it, and we must start showing the world what it is.  And in order to show what freedom is, we must build free institutions.  The state uses violence and force to claim the sole right to provide services that might otherwise be provided voluntarily.  The state has many guns, and there is great risk to compete with them, but nonetheless we still have the ability.  And we can find ways to do so in a way that minimizes the risk to our life and maximizes our ability to create freedom.  The state will not collapse until people can physically see better solutions.

Further reading: https://fr33agents.com/?p=1572#comments

Part II: Reputation, or How We Can Provide Consequences for Bad Behavior When The State Won’t

Here’s where the ambiguity ends, and I provide you with an example of what building a free institution means.

For the average a-political citizen, the government’s job is to provide consequences for bad behavior.  If you murder someone, the justice system’s job is to put you in jail.  But as we know so very well, the united states justice system is inherently corrupt and will never objectively provide consequences for unethical or immoral behavior, especially against its own.  But the average citizen has not seen alternative solutions to providing consequences for bad behavior, and so when he perceives failure in the justice system, his only recourse – so far as he see it – is to protest.  Perhaps if he is motivated enough he will becomes politically involved and attempt to reform the system.  History has proved this never works.

Now.  Take a breath, close your eyes and imagine this scenario.  A member of the SWAT team responsible for the murder of Jose Guerena walks up to the door of his local grocery store in Tucson.  There on the glass is his picture, and underneath reads, “your business is not welcome here.”

In a stateless society, reputation will be king.  When Joe Citizen makes a purchase from Ebay, does he expect a three letter government agency to protect him against fraud?  Of course not!  Ebay built a system of reputation and feedback.  The consequences of fraud are of course that everyone knows, and very few people will want to purchase from you in the future.  In this situation, profit is an incentive not to commit fraud.  We are not philosophizing about freedom here – we are simply observing what is.  And no one had to walk around and convince half the population that it would be safe to buy from random strangers on the internet.  It was built, it was seen, and lots of people took a rational risk to participate.

The lesson to be learned from Ebay is that reputation can be used to provide consequences for bad behavior.  And we can do it today, instead of wandering around waiting for the state to collapse.  We can scroll through the archives of Radley Balko’s blog, and find the name of every cop who has beaten, tazed, and murdered an innocent, and we can use local resources to find their addresses, phone numbers, and emails.  And then we can build a network of libertarian business owners, and convince them to stop doing business with evil people.

The founder and CEO of PayPal, Peter Thiel, is such a dedicated libertarian he donated half a million to the Seasteading project.  What if we could convince him to blacklist these people?  If Visa/Mastercard can deny service to WikiLeaks, why can’t PayPal deny service to thieves and murderers? What would happen if upon cursory inspection of some one’s Ebay profile you wished to purchase from, you noticed a comment identifying them as a police officer involved in the beating of an innocent child?  Would you purchase from someone like that?  Of course simply denying business to murderers isn’t the worst of consequences, but it is a start.

If you find yourself saying, “It will never work … “, “The state will simply fight back”, or “it’s too risky,” then I implore you, stop reading.  Go back to your TV and remain a complacent libertarian.  Keep trying to convince your friends that freedom is the way while the state rapes and pillages your neighbors without consequence.  Keep begging the mafia to change their ways.

I have only provided you with an example of how we can work to achieve freedom.  Maybe I am completely wrong.  But this much is clear to me:  We must stop working to convince people of freedom, and we must start talking about how we can build it, how we can achieve it.  We will not wake up one day and be free.  We will not find freedom, it will not appear in the ashes of a fallen state.  We must physically show people peaceful alternatives.  It is the only way we will achieve freedom.

Copyright © 2011 by zerogov.com