Sunday, December 16, 2007

On Medical Freedom

Lately, in regards to the current debate as to whether we ought to have some form of federally sponsored health care regime, I've been running across the following type of comment: We already know what a free market in medicine looks like (or capitalistic health care), and we already know that it doesn't work. I beg to differ.

I am not any kind of expert on the health care industry. I am not a doctor. I do not work in the insurance industry (though I did once process records for workman's compensation). I'm not any kind of lawyer. However, from my own vantage point, I can see that we do not have a free market in health care in this country. And it isn't merely that it isn't "free enough," so far as I'm concerned, it's not really all that free, at all.

I have worked for a couple employers over the years that provided health benefits. One of them allowed a choice between Kaiser Permanente and Cigna; the other, Kaiser only. Those were my options. Sure, I could have opted not to participate in my employer's program and gone with an independent provider, but in doing so I both forgo the matching contribution of my employer, and become one in a very small, noncompetitive market: people who get their health care through someone other than their employer. In short, it is very expensive to get health insurance via any source other than an employer, and your employer offers very limited options, if any. With such a captive subscriber base, is it any wonder health insurance is expensive?

This state of affairs is not the result of the functioning of the market. It is the result of government regulations that require certain kinds of employers to provide health care to certain kinds of employees. These regulations, creating a captive market, drive up the price of health insurance. Given it is mostly insurance companies paying doctors for their services, it also drives up the cost of health care, in general.

Then there are the doctors themselves. Medicine is a highly guarded field in this country. In unregulated product and service fields, you generally have a range of qualities of product and service, with a similar range of prices. You can pay some kid or immigrant to mow your lawn, or you can hire a professional, highly paid landscaper to turn your yard into a work of art. You can buy the older model car used for a couple thousand, or you can pay fifty grand for a luxury car. You can get a free cell phone from a service provider that has frequent outages for next to nothing, or you can get one of the latest models with all the bells and whistles from a carrier that covers everything for considerably more. But when it comes to medicine, if you're not doing it yourself, it's either The Doctor, a Nurse supervised by The Doctor, or nothing at all.

Simply put, Doctors (along with people in many other service professions, including teaching and my own industry: pest control) enjoy a situation much like that of the crafts guilds in mercantilist Europe: the right to control the supply in order to keep prices artificially high, to the point of being able to prosecute anyone outside their club of practicing "without a license." With the AMA enjoying a monopoly--established, once again, by the government, not by the market--in medical services, is it any wonder prices are high?

Even if anyone was allowed, there's still the paperwork. No, I don't know the details, but sending enormous stacks of records and reports to the government costs money, as well. Either the doctor has to waste time he could spend helping patients filling out stacks of redundant paperwork, or he can hire someone else to do it. Either way, that's more money to spend.

Then there's prescription drugs. The price of bringing new drugs to market includes the price of assuring the government that the drug is totally and completely safe: that price is astronomical. And if you think that the approval process is necessary for public safety, understand something: under current regulations, aspirin would not be approved. This is a drug that, while most people are aware there are potential problems with it, most people use safely both as a pain reliever and as a heart medication. I won't even go into the tendency of the federal government to ban any potential medicines that could be grown just about anywhere (cannabis was long known as an effective medication until that "evil Mexican weed" marijuana was banned during the early twentieth century).

Put all this together, and you have an enormously expensive system, and every last extra expense is the result of government regulation. I'd say it isn't the result of the greed of the market participants, but understand that the organizations I mentioned earlier--the AMA and the big pharmaceutical corporations--lobby for and approve of efforts to regulate the industry further. There is corporate greed, but the tool with which they express that greed is not the market (where the consumer is king--that's you and me), but the government.

Sure, there are people out there that can't afford medical care regardless, and perhaps some change is necessary to help those people out. However, I am certain that the number of people unable to get care would drop considerably if both existing and potential medical providers were given the freedom to compete for our business, rather than existing providers alone being given barriers to prevent competitors from finding ways to lower prices. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if those last few who couldn't afford care in a society that possesses medical freedom are few enough that doctors (and other medical practitioners) could afford to treat them themselves, without government payment. Or not.

Public distribution of land rent could help.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

John McCain Invokes Godwin's Law


Throne, Altar, and Uniquely American Conservatism

I honestly didn't expect, when I first read this article, to digg and blog off it. David Gordon's review of Paul Gottfried's "Conservatism in America" initially came across as dry, long, and moderately interesting... worth a read, but probably not worth adding my digg to maybe ten others. Then I got up to start cleaning my kitchen, and all kinds of thoughts started sparking off. You can read, and digg, the article that has inspired me by following the links below.

read more | digg story

I have, for the past few months, been very perplexed as to what, exactly, Conservatism is. I understood that, in the REALLY old days, Conservatism in America would have meant loyalty to the English king, and opposition to the American Revolution. In a way, I've seen today's Conservatism meaning a leaning toward enthusiastic assumption of Britain's former imperial glory. How does that square with the longstanding rhetoric Conservatives have given in favor of the Constitution, and reverence of the Founding Fathers, most of whom were, in their day, quite liberal?

Paul Gottfried's Conservatism in America (or rather, what I gleaned from David Gordon's review) points out that European Conservatism has always referred to "an all-encompassing reverence for 'Throne-and-Altar,' for whatever divinely sanctioned State apparatus happened to be in existence." Thus, French Conservatism was distinguished by loyalty to the French King, the feudal order, and the Catholic Church. German Conservatism was distinguished by loyalty to the Kaiser, the feudal order, and the Lutheran (or possibly the Catholic) Church. British Conservatism was distinguished by loyalty to the British Monarchy, the slightly less feudal order, and the Anglican Church. And so it would go for any European country.

The American Conservative would appear to be in a bind. Without a feudal order, without a state-sanctioned church, and with liberalism (in the old European sense, not in today's socialistic sense) firmly ingrained in the American character, what is a would-be Conservative to do? Where is their "throne-and-altar?" The answer that came to me (as I placed dishes in the dishwasher) suddenly became a startling argument in favor of American Exceptionalism, a doctrine I normally reject. For the American Conservative, the only throne they can look to is the Constitution, and the only Altar they can look to is the melchisian high priesthood of Jesus himself!

At its best, this produces an uneasy unity between Conservative and Liberal that was absent in Europe. The Conservative can be devoted to liberty, limited government, religious tolerance and similar ideas due to their enshrinement in the Constitution. The Liberal shares a similar devotion on principle alone. A Conservative with a view of scripture that prohibits warfare on the grounds that warfare is as far from "love thy enemy, and pray for him that persecutes you" as it can get, can ally with a Liberal that opposes warfare on humanistic grounds. Constitutionalist Conservatives and Liberals can rally together in defense of the freedom of speech, assembly, and worship.

Of course, this doesn't make America into some kind of land without conflict. In addition to the disagreements and dislikes that naturally arise between the two temperaments, there is another conflict that is, I believe, uniquely American (today, at least): that between those who favor the limited government spelled out in the Constitution (for whatever reason), and those who favor a much more active, authoritarian government (for whatever reason). This is a conflict that transcends "Conservative" and "Liberal", for both sides can rally behind one, or the other.

For the Conservative, I suppose it is the underwhelming nature of Constitution and Jesus as their "throne-and-altar" that produces this schism. From the very beginning of the Republic, there have been those who hungered for a much more down-to-earth hierarchy to revere, which I identify with Alexander Hamilton's advocacy of a government headed by a congressionally elected president with a lifelong term (a king, basically), which would pursue "imperial glory" (his words). Being a Puritan, he likely also favored the idea of a state-sanctioned church (as the Puritan Church was in his day). Today, we see this idea coming to full fruition: a staunch Conservative alliance lining up behind an Imperial Presidency, with interchurch associations bragging about their closeness to and influence over various politicians, even as the influence flows the other way as well, and various church leaderships actively support one candidate or another.

For the Liberal, I suppose it is the disappointment in the failure of the Liberal political program to achieve Liberal results. Egalitarianism is a prime goal of Liberalism, and the fact is, even if you extend the vote to every last man and woman in the country, the State will continue to be largely the playground of the rich and the politically connected. The belief that this can be dealt with by the forceful application of the power of the state, at the behest of a popular majority, to the distribution of property, is yet strong in this country. Thus, while Liberalism in continental Europe continues to refer to what we call Libertarianism in this country, in America Liberalism became, in the minds of many, synonymous with Socialism. Thus, from another angle, we see Liberals advocating a government every bit as powerful as that aimed at by conservatives dissatisfied with the Constitution as written.

To big government Liberals, I pose a question: how is it then that an institution that is incorrigibly under the influence of wealth and power is expected to supply a remedy to the problem of the misuse of wealth and power?

To big government, religious Conservatives, I pose a warning: you seek to bring throne-and-altar down from heaven onto earth. Understand, however, that what you will get is not throne-and-altar, but usurper-and-idol. In particular, America has long been blessed by a Church which is lead, at the top level, not by Man or Men, but by God. Will you overturn this, and place your image of God in His stead?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hands Off Iran

Okay. So Chris Hedges has declared that, should the Administration attack Iran, he will not pay his taxes. This is an issue I myself have wrestled with privately over the past couple years--what would it take for me to rebel against the Government in this fashion? Given the accelerating violations of constitutional law by the governing elite, I think we can consider ourselves at the point where the government is now fully illegitimate.

I will now declare openly what I have considered privately: if the Administration declares war on Iran, I will take the actions recommend by Chris Hedges. I modify this only slightly: if Congress can actually muster the political will to make a proper declaration of war, I will continue to pay my taxes. If, however, we have the Administration committing yet more illegal acts of war, I will join this tax revolt.

Somebody set up a pledge site. I think a message needs to be sent.

read more | digg story

Friday, November 16, 2007

Republican Unity?

One thing that kept coming back to me today was the fact that the existing party structure here in Fresno seemed anxious to bring the Ron Paul supporters into the fold. The last of the speakers, speaking on behalf of... was it Mitt Romney?... took some of his time to congratulate the Ron Paul supporters for their strong showing (this was before the vote count) and to express his pleasure at seeing so many excited activists. He also tried to make the point that the honorable thing for us to do is to support whomever the Republican nominee turns out to be, whether or not it's Ron Paul. A lady who came to sit at the table I was sitting at reiterated the point. I'm fairly certain some Hillary doom-and-gloom was mentioned, as well.

I can see their point. Indeed, I am at the point where I have officially participated in a Republican event. I am participating in the primaries, and I am beginning to believe that perhaps supporting the eventual nominee, regardless of whom it turns out to be, could well be the honorable thing to do. I am also aware, however, that many, if not most, Ron Paul supporters are not susceptible to this sort of thing. For many of us, what we are doing is not participation; it is an invasion. They are in now, but if Ron loses the nomination, they will be gone just as quickly, many of them supporting a third-party or write-in campaign whether Ron likes it or not.

And I can definitely sympathize. I do have respect for the non-voter, and my usual practice of voting for a third-party candidate serves a similar purpose. There is nothing wrong with making an exception for Ron Paul. And given the fact that our laws fairly firmly establish a two party system, there is nothing wrong with joining an established party and attempting to enact change from within, any more than there is anything wrong with a Soviet-era Russian joining the Communist party, lacking other options, or an Iraqi joining the Baath party, lacking options. Indeed, if the "core" of the Big Two really want to keep their parties to themselves, they're going to have to establish voting methods that provide what can only be described as the disenfranchised portion of the population opportunities for representation, such as approval voting, or, better yet, range voting. So if more established Republicans don't like the Ron Paul Revolution invading "their" party, they really only have themselves to blame.

However, I tend toward seeing what I am doing as participation, not invasion. Partially this is because I don't like invading, and partially this is because I strongly believe that acting like an invader will only end up stirring up more active resistance to our attempts to get Ron Paul nominated. Is that not the very same principle behind much of our opposition to the Iraq War--that there are other ways of getting at the terrorists that do not generate yet more sympathy for the terrorists among their potential recruiting and fundraising base? The principle looks the same to me, thus I shall endeavor to treat my newfound Republican colleagues with due respect. I may only be around for this election cycle, but I'm not going to act like an asshole while I'm here. (For anyone who thinks I am calling them an asshole, please re-read the previous paragraph.)

However, even if the Republican party does manage to keep a few Ron Paul votes, I can tell you for sure: they will not get our energy or our enthusiasm. This isn't because we will withhold it in a miserly fashion; it simply will not exist to be given. If the Republicans want us to cut a single check (figuratively speaking) in favor of their candidate, it had better be Ron Paul. If they want awesome videos on YouTube for their candidate, it can be no candidate other than Ron Paul. If they want us on street corners, waving signs and cheering their candidate's name, it has to be Ron Paul--and no other. I just might vote for whomever the Republican nominee turns out to be, but the Revolution is for Ron Paul alone.

And so that's the score. So what do you Republicans, those of you primarily concerned with beating the Democrats (and not primarily concerned with beating any particular potential Republican nominee), want behind our candidate? Big big corporatist and/or military/industrial money, money that comes with corrupt strings attached? Or do you want the Revolution's money? Do you want slick campaign ads that at least 60% of the population will regard with only the most contemptuous cynicism? Or do you want a labor of love? As I said in my previous entry, it really looks like it's going to come down to Giuliani vs. Paul. For those of you who have your candidates being left in the dust, what is it you want not only in a candidate, but the campaign that will come with him?

Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice, but likely to nominate so-called "strict constructionist" judges. Ron Paul is straight-up pro-life--he outflanks the Democrats on the Right. However, his goal at the Federal level is simply to remove it from the jurisdiction of Federal Courts, making him non-threatening to pro-choicers in pro-choice majority states who also have localist sympathies... and yes, they do exist. This makes Dr. Paul more palatable to staunchly pro-life voters than Rudy Giuliani, while at the same time making him less frightening to pro-choice voters than Mike Huckabee, for example.

It is pretty well demonstrated that a majority are opposed to continuing the Iraq War. Rudy advocates an even more warlike foreign policy than the current Administration. Ron is against the Iraq War... but unlike most of the Democrats, he is also staunchly in favor of a strong national defense, and has also stated repeatedly that he DOES want to go after the terrorist threat, but using different (and more precise) tools than are currently being used. Believe the Democrats don't know what they're talking about regarding foreign policy if you want (and I tend to do the same), but Ron Paul is an expert. Thus, he outflanks the Democrats on the LEFT... while at the same time being sensible enough to keep us safe, making him far less frightening to voters on the Right than any Democrat.

On these two issues alone, we see how Ron Paul outflanks any Democratic candidate on both the right AND the left, while Rudy has issues which make him at least vaguely unpalatable on both sides of the spectrum. Many on the Religious Right are underwhelmed by Rudy's stance on abortion, while lefties of all stripes would support Hillary over Rudy, perhaps begrudgingly, but support her all the same.

And wouldn't you want to see the Income Tax gone? From what I've read, the federal budget has grown at such a rate that we only have to go back to year 2000 spending levels to account for the loss of revenues from the personal income tax. And the benefits of ending the Income Tax only begin with the amount of money people would be allowed to keep. In my opinion, the primary benefit is the removal of the tax code compliance burden that currently limits economic creativity, and thus limits the population's ability to create new wealth.

Finally, I want to ask a question: when are rank-and-file Republicans going to hold their own representatives accountable for broken promises? My primary example is the Department of Education. From what I understand, Republicans once held the position that if they controlled the government, they would abolish the federal Department of Education. However, with Republican majorities in both the House and Congress, as well as a Republican in the Oval Office, we didn't get the Department of Education abolished. What we got was No Child Left Behind, an expansion of federal power over education unprecedented even in Democratic years. Why? I really want an answer to this question.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Honestly, I wish I had more to report on this event. I just got back from the straw poll, held by the Fresno County Republican Party. Ron Paul took first place, edging out Rudy Giuliani by two votes (good thing my brother and I showed up!). Ron had something like 35% of the vote. Mitt Romney was third, I think, at 17%. The only other number I remember is that Fred Thompson has 7%. I think Huckabee might have taken 2% or something like that.

Honestly, at least so far as I can see, it's looking like the Republican primary is shaping up to be a contest primarily between Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul. So for all you Ron Paul supporters out there, don't forget to sign up at I fully expect that the Tea Party will be an even bigger success than Guy Fawkes Day was, with all the coverage that got him, and all the new supporters that's likely to generate.

I think we may have even won a new convert tonight, an undecided fellow who came to sit at our table, and went away carrying Ron Paul yard signs. Oh, how I wish I had a yard to put a sign in!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Fed Has Wrecked the Stock Market

"America is finished, washed up, kaput. Foreign investors and central banks around the world have lost confidence in US markets and are headed for the exits. The dollar is sinking, the country is insolvent, and its leaders are barking mad. Investors are voting with their feet. They've had enough."

So says Mike Whitney "and many others" at I feel the need to be contrary to the alarmism. Yes, the dollar is on the way down, down to the bottom... of the market (not the ocean). However, it is entirely possible that the bottom is NOT at flat zero value. I've been concerned in the past that the deliberate attempts to artificially raise foreign demand for the dollar (such as the constant maneuvering, both diplomatic and warlike, to ensure that the middle eastern oil market continues to do business in US Dollars) was unsustainable. The dollar was strong, but brittle. The current rejection of the dollar as "worldwide reserve currency" was bound to happen at some point, and is now dropping relative to foreign currencies not because the physical part of the US economy has anything wrong with it now that it did not have before, but because the foreign dollar speculation "bubble" has burst.

So long as the response in the US is not panic, but rather acceptance of our new place in the international order, it's entirely possible that this situation can pass, that the bottom for the dollar will not be total collapse, but rather a settling to a lower, more sustainable level. The US can, as a result of its lowered currency, go back to being an exporter and a lender, rather than relying upon artificial foreign demand for our currency for our standard of living. The other thing that has to happen, of course, is for the political and economic elites to realize they can no longer borrow and inflate at the rate they once did.

read more | digg story

Saturday, November 10, 2007

RE: Salon’s Psychoanalysis of Libertarians's Gene Callahan and Bob Murphy had some things to say about some things Andrew Sullivan had to say about the Nov 5th Moneybomb for Ron Paul's Campaign. Sullivan seems to think (or at least wants his readers to think) that geeks, being computer programmers, believe in the power of sets of rules to produce an ideal society. Somehow, governing society by rules seems to equal the libertarian position for Sullivan... however that works. Callahan and Murphy have already dealt adequately with the absurdities of Sullivan's arguments; I am going to propose a different explanation for why the Internet is such a hotbed of libertarianism.

First off, consider Sullivan's "computer programming nerds." If there is any kind of person who understands that rules and people do not interact in the fashion a rule maker imagines, it is a computer programmer. A computer programmer has, at his disposal, a machine that will follow his instructions exactly. A computer never disobeys, never argues, it just does exactly what it is told... and all to often, the result of that is counter to what the programmer is trying to accomplish. You write, run, debug, run again, debug, cycle through that process repeatedly until the program is finally judged ready for the end user, and STILL the program will have problems. Try to govern human beings by sets of instructions (that is to say, legislation) and the imperfection of sets of instructions is compounded further by the self-directed nature of human beings.

Other than "computer nerds," there's also those of us who have been on the Internet for a long time. The seed of the physical medium may have been established by a government program, and may currently be under the ownership of a small set of big corporations, but the society that has evolved within this medium was, and to a large extent still is, unregulated by government. There are, of course, rules everywhere, but these rules are developed and enforced by the mutual consent of the participants. Nobody has a monopoly on communication, on any particular subject, on anything at all. If you don't like the rules of one community, there are others to join, as well as the option of creating one's own. And there is no "police power" involved in the enforcement of these rules. The moderator of an individual community has no more or less power than that of the host of a party: the authority to exclude. Sure, people get mad at trolls and spammers sometimes, but the existing methods of dealing with problem people are fine.

Even when conflicts do get physical, when hackers and virus creaters cause damage to other people's data, the solution is nearly always technological in nature, and government rarely has any help to offer. By the time government is aware there is a problem, the locals are already fixing it. By the time the government has figured out a "solution," people have already moved on. It's as if, in the real world, somebody was robbed, the thief was surrounded by a group of neighborhood toughs as well as a few older people, testimony was offered, a verdict rendered, the property returned, the people dispersed... and right about then the cops are finally rolling up.

Simply put, we've seen how much can be accomplished without the "help" of government, and don't really see a need for it, in the online realm. How hard is it to imagine that the offline realm might work just as well if people, rather than sitting around waiting for the government to act, just got in and solved their problems without having to ask for permission first?

That's my take on this whole "Internet libertarianism" thing, anyway. This is a very rough draft of it, and I'll probably have to take some stuff back and elaborate on other points later on. I'm also sure there are others who have said it much better.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

9/11 Changed Everything

I've long been one to deny that 9/11 actually changed anything. Sure, the towers are gone, a lot of people died, but the fact is, terrorists have been attacking US targets for years. They'd already had successful operations against targets on foreign soil, and it wasn't even the first time someone attempted to blow up the World Trade Center. 9/11 did not change state of the world in a way that required a sudden upstep in US efforts to bring eternal peace via eternal war. However, I am starting to recognize that it did, truly, change the content of the public foreign policy debate.

Before, "9/11 changed everything" meant nothing more to me than "We win, you don't matter because people are too scared to listen to anyone that won't blow up anything that moves for their sake, so instead of actually attempting to refute your arguments, I'm just going to ignore you. Because of 9/11, it is safe for me to do so." I saw it this way because, for me, 9/11 really didn't change anything. I already knew there were Islamic extremists that wanted to blow up, and already had blown up, US targets. I also knew that much of their motivation was political in nature, the result of CIA operations that placed dictators, no better than Joseph Stalin himself in regard to the lives and rights of the people over whom they ruled, in a position of near total control. The Shah of Iran is a good example, but there is also the government of Egypt, the House of Saud, and many others. People in that part of the world have had to fear for their lives on a daily basis, and the perpetrator of those wrongs nearly universally have the label "Made in the USA" stamped on them. Islamicism is just the flavor of the movement to redress those grievances. It is the grievances themselves that lends the movements their power. For me, 9/11 changed nothing.

However, I am coming to realize just how in the dark most people were about the rest of the world. Most people never thought about it. Those that did, simply thought of them as problems "over there," and that between the moral rightness of our way of life, and the awesome power of the US Military, nobody could, or would, ever touch us. The Soviets had once been a threat, but we "beat" them, and now we could afford to just assume the rest of the world didn't exist.

9/11 changed that. Suddenly, the aura of invincibility has been shattered... and I really had no idea just how much most people depended upon that aura for their mental stability. I've never assumed this, but it seems there are those who do: being hated, being in mortal danger is the norm, and only the threat of overwhelming force keeps people from being constantly at one another's throats. For such people, 9/11 changed everything. To them, we cannot allow "them" (whoever "they" are) to get away with it, lest we invite more, and more, and more... and the armored shell which is necessary for every human being's survival be broken.

Honestly, it boggles my mind, how much people fear each other. I'm shy, but that's just because I fear rejection... not because I fear that if I step out of my bubble world I'm likely to be murdered by the first guy I see! But then, I remember the mutual fear between different areas of the city in which I live. There are folks on the west side that won't go to Clovis because they fear the evil racist cops. There are folks in Clovis that won't go to the west side (and thought I was crazy for attending a west-side magnet school) for fear of the evil, ubiquitously aggressive and murderous gangsters. Personally, I'll go into the very heart of "The U" if someone there calls for pest control.

I could ramble on about irrational fear forever, but then I'd bore you before I got to the second group of people for whom 9/11 changed everything. There are more people than ever before that realize that the same people who set domestic policy also set foreign policy, and with the same motivations: for the benefit of politically connected interest groups, to the detriment of the remainder of the people. People on both sides of this issue are seeing the other side's way. I've personally met a few people who traditionally argue for a more interventionist domestic policy and decry an interventionist foreign policy, who are suddenly willing to consider major shrinkage in the federal government, and pursue their domestic ends at the state level. Sadly, I haven't seen many examples of the reverse conversion: those who traditionally want a minimal domestic policy and yet want a strong, active foreign policy seem much more willing to compromise on domestic issues for the sake of maintaining an aggressive, militant posture on the world stage. Still, I have heard of people going the other way, people who are willing to support Ron Paul because, despite the fact that they disagree with him on the War, they agree with him on just about everything else.

The forces of empire haven't acted so overtly since the Spanish-American war. There probably haven't been so many people aware of the true nature of the foreign policy establishment since the end of World War 1.

9/11 scared some people. It woke some other people up, and as a result we are seeing the most exciting election cycle ever. When was the last time we saw a presidential front runner talk about ending the IRS? When was the last time we saw a presidential front runner talk about ending the Federal Reserve? When was the last time we saw a presidential front runner talk very, very specifically about how the government is the cause of various ills people traditionally run to the government to solve (over and over again, despite repeated, highly predictable failures)? It isn't so much that someone is saying this: Ron is but one among many who have been talking about these things for years. It is, however, the first time we've seen someone garner so much public support (the proof is in the money), to the point where the establishment could not ignore him.

It isn't him. He hasn't discovered some magic political formula that, at long last, makes this all possible. It's 9/11. 9/11 changed everything. 9/11 caused people to wonder about other places in the world. 9/11 emboldened the proponents of empire and conquest to show their hands. And many people, who are now actually paying attention to what is, and has been, going on, are coming to realize who the real enemy of liberty is.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hillary Clinton Censorship of Ron Paul at Denver Rally

It appears the events I reported in my earlier post are not anomalous; it is standard operating procedure at Hillary Clinton's rallys. And I don't believe that sort of attitude toward dissenting views will be limited to her "private" events... but rather that we can expect her public appearances to be every bit as scripted and censored as George W. Bush's have been. Indeed, I fully expect to see further expansion of government control over political speech.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ron Paul...Dirty secrets from the past...Treg

I want EVERYONE who thinks Ron Paul is somehow anti-American for being against the war to watch this.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hillary Clinton Comes to Fresno

I attended Hillary Clinton's ralley over at Fresno High today. I must say, it was certainly a more interesting event than I expected.

Hillary seems to have finally adopted a position of withdrawal from the Iraq War. She's pretty late to that party, but it was a necessary change on her part, if she expects to win either the nomination or the election. Given the reputation of the Clintons when it comes to political speech, I fully suspect she is speaking on political calculation alone--once in office, she will likely keep the troops in Iraq for as long as she can, and ensure a continued military presence long after the bulk of the troops are withdrawn. I even fully expect some kind of military action in Iran, or maybe even Pakistan. After all, even if she does withdraw troops from Iran, the fight against "Islamic Extremism" must go on, right?

Let me be clear on what I mean by her speech being motivated by "political calculation": I am calling her a flat-out liar. It's sad that we can just assume that about politicians in general... and then turn around and vote for them anyway.

She also gave the usual talk about the poor, how we need to give them free medical care, help with their farm jobs and such, etc. Basically running through the who's who of local grievance groups. For the most part, the speech itself was uninteresting. What was interesting was some of the activity in the peanut gallery.

I was among a small group of Republicans standing holding signs, ensuring the alternative was seen at what was, apparently, not only expected to be a one sided rally, but in addition, the one-sidedness was vigorously enforced. The first thing I noticed was that nobody inside the cordoned area was allowed to hold signs other than the approved Hillary Clinton signs. This was not that big an issue for me, and for the most part, it was respected--we held signs from the street from outside. The group was pretty evenly split between mainline republicans holding orange signs stating things like "oppose socialism" and such, and our own group, holding Ron Paul signs. The numbers shifted as time went by, as my group picked up some new recruits.

It became increasingly clear that we were VERY much not welcome. There was a large group of students who put great effort into blocking the view of our signs with their own Hillary Clinton signs. They (and their adult backers) even went so far as to find a billboard-sized sheet of styrofoam or something, plastering a huge section of Clinton signs on it, and blocking us with that. There was also a group of adults (I don' t know who they were) prowling the grounds and practically assaulting anyone who dared show an unauthorized sign beyond the barrier.

There was one student of the high school (remember, the rally was held right in front of the campus), a kid named Joel Davis, who was holding one of the orange signs on the other side of the barricade. He was there for probably ten seconds when some woman raced over to him, literally grabbed him by the arm, physically dragged him and removed him from the premises. She also took his sign, tore it up, and threw it in the garbage. I expected she was a school official or someone else he knew, to take such liberties without so much as a preliminary "you can't hold that here." I asked him about it; she wasn't. Nobody knows who she was.

Shortly afterward, I began to notice a group of surly looking people hanging around our position, literally glaring at us. One of them was staring right at me, about three feet away. I just continued my usual grin and stared right back... he moved on. But there was another group of students standing around holding United Workers of the World flags. Most of them were on our side of the barricade, but one of them attempted to pass a flag to one of his friends on the other side. This surly group converged on him like a pack of wolves. Another woman actually had to come over and tell them that grabbing and shoving was not necessary. I repeat: These were not teenagers; they were not students. I don't know who they were.

Then I noticed an elderly fellow in a black suit trying to escalate the matter. He was not pleased by what was going on, and was particularly disgusted by the activities of the other teenagers who were deliberately attempting to block our signs. The last I heard he was on the phone with the Chief of Police, complaining about the matter. When I asked another attendee who he was, I was told his name was Charlie Waters, and that he was "a veteren. That's all you need to know about him." (I think it may have been the same woman that interceded on behalf of the UWW kid.) I probably should have followed up on that, but his attention was hard to get.

I ended the event by handing out a few "Democrats for Ron Paul" fliers (sorry, I couldn't find a copy to link to). I only had ten of them, but I had no trouble getting rid of them. I should have printed far more. People seemed interested.

EDIT: According to Teresa Fierro, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Fresno County, the people organizing the blockade and standing around "staring us down" (those were her words) were a group called “Fighting Machinists International Association of Mechanics.” No, I don't know who they are.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Illegal Drugs and Pharmaceutical Substitutes

There is a rather interesting series about "tolerated lawbreaking" that plays as large a role in defining our legal system as legislation and judicial decisions. The second part points out our drug laws: while things like opium, cocaine, and such are illegal, there is for just about any illegal drug a pharmaceutical substitute, which is a way America is kind of "getting around" the drug laws without confronting them directly.

I wonder if it has occurred to the author that, in this manner, drug laws benefit the pharmaceutical industry very directly, by increasing the cost of acquiring what would otherwise be very cheap pharmaceuticals such that patented (and therefore monopoly) medicines can compete in the marketplace. I wonder if he can connect the current difficulty of overturning drug laws with the fact that the the pharmaceutical industry, including Du Pont Chemical in particular, has been financing drug prohibition lobbying efforts from the beginning?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ron Paul on PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer 1 of 2 10-12-2007

This is only the first part. Both parts can be found linked at

This is, by far, the best interview I've yet seen, and I hope a lot of people saw it. However, one thing that should be noted is who broadcast this video (on the air, not online): PBS. That is the Public Broadcasting System. It is somewhat ironic that PBS is among the organizations that, under a Paul administration, could see its funding cut yet further.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am an enthusiastic supporter of Dr. Paul. I am quite grateful for the coverage-so grateful, in fact, that I am probably going to convert some of the money I currently have going toward Dr. Paul's campaign to NPR when this is all over. (I'd donate to PBS, but I don't watch TV.) I hope many other Paul supporters will do the same, and as a result, PBS and NPR (both of which have done some excellent interviews) won't need government support, or rather will be even more independent.

There's government owned media and there's corporate owned media, and neither of them are all that great, when it comes to doing more than playing the same songs over and over again and selling trinkets-and the political establishment. Listener supported media is, in my mind, a very good thing.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ron Paul Believes Terrorists Are Real

The following is a response I posted to some of the responses to this article.

For those of you who think Ron Paul is among those who don't believe in terrorism, I suggest you examine his rhetoric more closely. He has repeatedly stated that those who committed the crime of 9/11 should pay for their crimes. He acknowledges that whatever we do from here on, we will still have enemies as a result of previous bad foreign policy.

What he is saying is that it just doesn't make any sense to make thousands-if not millions-of new enemies while in the process of defeating our existing enemies, which the usual policy of indiscriminate violence does. Remember, he voted in favor of the Afghanistan operation, even though he disagreed with the notion of using a military invasion for what he thought ought to be treated as a crime. His preference was to use not war, but the fully legal and constitutional principles of the letter of marque and reprisal, which means rather than authorizing the president to kill and destroy whatever he feels like within a given area, instead means giving various individuals the authority and incentive to go after specific targets.

And that's how it should have been done. Instead of spending billions of taxpayer (and newly printed inflationary) dollars, killing hundreds of thousands of innocents, and making hundreds of thousands of new enemies in the process, we should have simply conducted an investigation to nail down our prime suspects, sent a few good men over there to apprehend the suspects quietly (preferably with, but possibly without the complicity of the area's government), and otherwise focused our efforts on our individual enemies, rather than provoking the enmity of entire nations.

I do not believe the hard-core terrorists would have anywhere near the influence and resources they do were it not for our foolish, arrogant and murderous foreign policy. I also don't believe their power would suddenly go away if we withdrew, paid some reparations, and issued an apology, but at least we would stop making new enemies. It might even take a couple generations for the anger our government has stirred against us to die out, but if we couple a refusal to get involved in dispute external to the United States, a broad policy of free trade (of the laissez-faire variety, not the false free trade that involves the creation of supergovernments), and extreme care to minimize harm to non-targets on the occasion we must exert force abroad with a firm resistance of any who would attack us directly, I believe the world would be a much more peaceful place.

By refusing to involve ourselves in internal disputes, we provoke no enmity. Free trade ties the economic interests of foreigners with those of our own citizens, making them dread war every bit as much as we should. Firm resistance of anyone who would attack us without provocation puts a high cost on doing so, and I believe a nation that serves as the nexus of world trade and the neutral ground in all disputes would have both the wealth and the power to put a very fierce resistence. But in doing so, we must be very careful to avoid harming bystanders, lest they mature into future enemies.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New revelations in Israeli attack on American spy ship

Israelis knew they were attacking USS Liberty in 1967 and U.S. covered it up, an investigation of classified documents reveals.

This is an article I believe to be very important. Apparently the attack on the USS Liberty was quite deliberate. One question is: why did they do it? An even better one is: why did the White House do absolutely *nothing* about it, going so far as to recall jets sent out by subordinates to drive off the Israeli attackers? I've even heard that President Johnson himself was quoted as saying "I want that damned ship going to the bottom!"

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Eternal Sonata - Free Liberal RPG

This'll be the first video game review I've done in this space in a long time, but I think it fits with the theme I'm going for. Just tonight, I rented a copy of Eternal Sonata for the XBox 360. I was intrigued by what a game in which the hero is not a great swordsman, nor a great magician, nor a monster trainer, marksman, or any other kind of man of violence--but rather, a great composer. Thus far, the music is beautiful (as befits a game in which the hero is a musician), the environments and characters are adorable, and the storyline has a decidedly Free Liberal flavor to it.

The composer, Frederic Francois Chopin, is dying. On his deathbed, he sleeps, and he dreams... but is it a dream? He dreams of a world, that so far has a small, tranquil village, and a port town. (I say "so far" because I'm only a couple hours into the game, and I'm taking my time.) This community has a number of problems. At first, we see the effect. First off, the village makes a medicine called "floral powder." However, they can't seem to sell any anymore, as mineral powder, a competing product, is much cheaper nowadays. There is also a problem of urban poverty in the port town. Indeed, the girl recognizes that the town was much more beautiful when she was little. Her mother, on the other hand, just assumes the greater beauty is simply because memories are always more beautiful than reality... but the daughter is correct.

There is a pair of boys who are trying to deal with that problem by stealing bread and giving it to the poor kids living in the sewers, a sort of "Robin Hood" solution to the problem... but the older of the pair of brothers understands that stealing bread is not the solution. The younger brother, knowing how expensive bread is, figures the baker is being greedy. His older brother corrects him, pointing out the high taxes on all products--all, that is, except for mineral powder. And, of course, the girl from the village realizes it is this unfair tax situation that is damaging the village's floral powder business, as well.

Both of them, separately, are, at the point I've stopped playing, embarking on a journey to the castle, to lobby them to reduce taxes, alternately, on bread and floral powder. I suspect that when they get there, they will discover an even more powerful lobby, from the mineral powder industry. Or perhaps they will discover that the mineral powders are produced by the royal family, itself.

Consider the comparison to the path our budding Free Liberal movement is attempting to lead modern liberals down. Right now, they are like the two boys at the beginning of the game--trying to help the poor by stealing bread and giving it to them. We want them to make the connection between taxes, subsidies, and other government acts to benefit one group over another, and the condition of the poor. It is time to stop using theft for purposes of wealth transfer, and begin to identify and correct the root causes of poverty.

Friday, September 07, 2007

We broke it, we bought it?

Mike Huckabee, during last night's debate in New Hampshire, used the logic "we broke it, we bought it" to say that it doesn't matter that going into Iraq was a mistake, that now that we're there, we must stay and fix it.

The logic has a certain appeal. Our government did "break" Iraq. They certainly did break a lot of things over there.

The thing is, Iraq is not a fragile consumer good taken off the shelf for examination, and accidentally dropped. Iraq is a country, filled with people. If we must regard Iraq as a singular entity, a better analogy would be to refer to it as a patient, an injured man. By this analogy, Huckabee is basically saying that because a thug kicked some guy's ass, it is his responsibility (or that of someone else who shares his attitude) to "fix" the injured man, preferably using the same techniques used to "break" him in the first place.

Or perhaps Huckabee's "we" could be considered a quack of a surgeon, who incorrectly diagnosed a disease, cut in and predicted where a tumor might be found, couldn't find it, just kept digging until he nearly killed his patient. By Huckabee's logic, it would be wrong to force the quack to stop cutting into the patient, bandage his wounds, and leave him to heal.

It sounds to me like we need a doctor on the job. <.<

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Know An Old Lady...

Election season blues are fully upon me, as my readers will know by the sheer length of time between my previous post and this one.

For some reason, lately I've had that children's song "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly" in my head. I do pest control, and I somehow got it in my head when I was at a particular house approximately four months ago, and have gotten it back every single time I serviced that house. So I've been mulling the lyrics over on a regular basis. The lady, for some inexplicable reason, swallowed a fly, and rather than doing the sensible thing by shrugging her shoulders and saying "Heh, it's just extra protein" and allowing the fly to take its natural course, she goes on to swallow successively larger animals, each in an attempt to deal with the previous animal, until she finally kills herself by swallowing something truly monstrous.

I had the sudden realization that this song could be considered analogously descriptive of how our society often seeks to solve problems. The problem is caused, in the first place, by society "swallowing" something that isn't good for it, adopting some error or injustice that begins to cause problems. However, rather than simply dealing with the injustice (because the injustice is perpetrated by the very people charged with dealing with injustice), a larger error is adopted in an attempt to correct the smaller error. This, of course, causes even larger problems, and it's almost as if people say to themselves "well, two wrongs may have failed to make a right, but hey, third time's a charm, right?"

Errors and problems compound, as at each stage, rather than dealing with the root cause of the problems, an even larger error is adopted to solve the problem. The cycle has been going on for so long we don't even remember how it started; we don' t know "why she swallowed the fly." At this rate, however, we'll swallow our horse, and then we'll be dead, of course!

It makes me wonder where this song comes from, how old it is, perhaps even in what language it originally appeared. I couldn't find any place on the Internet that described it as anything other than a "traditional nonsense song." I'm starting to wonder if it is any more "nonsensical" than things like "Ring Around The Rosy," actually a macabre song about the Black Plague, or "Humpty Dumpty," which is actually a song about English political events. Where did the Old Lady Who Swallowed The Fly come from? Does anybody know?

Monday, July 30, 2007

RE: A Libertarian War in Afghanistan?

Over on Lew Rockwell, Walter Block continues his discussion of why the wars in Iraq, and even in Afghanistan, cannot be justified on Libertarian grounds. He gives the following scenario:
The problem we face in making sense of these horrible events is bias. We are all naturally biased in favor of "our" side: Americans in favor of their fellow citizens, and foreigners on their own side. In an attempt to obviate this, let us no longer speak of groups such as the United States, Al-Qaeda, Afghanis, Iranians, Iraqis, Arabs, Palestinians, Israelis, Jews, etc. Instead, let us attempt to look at this matter through less jaundiced eyes, in a more dispassionate manner.Accordingly, let us speak not in terms of the above categories, but instead, for simplicity’s sake, of A and B.

Let us posit that A begins our little drama by murdering 5 of B’s children. Now, the just thing would be for B to capture A, and to subject him to the full penalties provided by law for such an outrage. However, B does something very different, and totally unjustified. He murders one of A’s children. Why so few? Let us stipulate that A is much more powerful than B, and that the murder of only one of A’s innocent children was the "best" he could do.

Assume, that even though A is more powerful than B, both are so well entrenched that justice will not easily be meted out to either of these murderous scoundrels. So now what? What insights does libertarian theory afford us in this context? Several conclusions may be drawn, I think.

One, neither party should be encouraged to invade the territory of the other. To do so, given that both are strong enough not to be brought to the bar of justice, would only mean the senseless killing of still others, neighbors of A or B, whichever is the victim of subsequent hostilities. However, if we take a God’s eye point of view, and entertain the contrary to fact conditional that one but only one of these nefarious characters can indeed be punished for the murder of the others’ child(ren), then it is clear that A must be brought to justice. There are two reasons for this. The minor one: A killed far more innocent children than did B. Major reason: A was the first to engage in murder; in the street vernacular, he "started up." B is no saint. He, too, spilled innocent blood. But he retaliated, he did not begin. There is surely a lower rung in hell reserved for those who begin such dastardly chain reactions than those who "merely" follow suit.
I would like to add another party to this. Suppose, for a moment, that "A" is a more complex entity. Suppose that A actually retains C, paying C for representing him in certain circles, and for defending him from violence. C was actually the one that murdered five of B's children, and A was quite unaware of C's depredations (probably negligent in his oversight). When B murdered one of his children, he was understandably quite upset about it.

However, suppose A kept his head, and tried to find out why B would do such a ghastly thing. C simply insisted B was an unstable psychopath, but A did some investigating, and discovered C's murder of B's children... done in A's name. What would A be most justified in doing?

I think probably the smartest thing A could start with is terminating C's services, even offering C up for justice for the initial murder of B's five children. As to what should be done about B's murder, A should either pursue legal avenues against B himself (NOT retaliate against B by killing yet another child).

The real world extrapolation of this is a thorough electoral revolution on the part of the United States. The American People may be guilty of negligence, but we are not, as a whole, responsible for the acts our elites took upon themselves to instigate. For this reason, the Terrorists are as wrong to engage in their indiscriminate attacks upon regular people as B is, in the previous scenario, to attack A's child for what he perceived as A's act. However, we must not forget that it was the established political elite that started this whole thing.

Ron Paul, to the best of my knowledge, is not a member of this political elite. Unlike every nominee of the major parties for at least the past two generations, Ron Paul is not a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (nor is he a member of Skull and Bones, of which BOTH major party nominees in the 2004 elections were a part). He consistently votes "No" on legislation not authorized by the Constitution. He successfully challenged a potential Democratic switchover in the Republican primaries, taking on the Republican National Committee's attempt to promote said Democratic switchover (details here). Even George W. Bush himself (then governor of Texas) supported Greg Laughlin, Democrat incumbent, against Ron Paul!

Voting for Ron Paul is, I believe, the closest realistic equivalent to rejecting C's services in favor of someone else. Vote for Ron Paul.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Will The Youth Show Up (at the polls) This Time?

Recently, I have taken to monitoring, a conservative blog site. One of their bloggers recently wote a piece entitled "Save the Republican YouTube Debate." Apparently, most of the Republican candidates for the nomination are refusing to participate in the CNN YouTube Debate the Democrats participated in recently. It seems they are afraid of having to see a snowman asking them questions.

One of the points raised in the comments section is the question of whether Republicans can afford to ignore the youth. Here is an example of an answer to that question:

No YouTube by scarchin

I can't believe anyone thinks this is a good idea.

This YouTube crap continues us down the path begun when Clinton answered the "boxers or briefs" question.

Republicans should not participate and remind voters -once again - who the grown-ups are.

BTW - The original post states that "Republicans cannot write off the youth vote. A recent poll showed Democrats with a staggering 24-point advantage among 18 to 29 year old voters." Sorry pal - we CAN write off the youth vote. They don't show up - never have. A 24-point advantage of nothing is nothing.

So here's the question, my fellow "young people": will scarchin be proved right? Or are we going to show up at the polls in record numbers, just to vote for Ron Paul? I'm not talking just about the general election. We need people to show up for the primaries. Register yourself Republican. Show up. Vote. Our future depends on it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fresno Freedom

I just got home from the second monthly meeting of the Fresno Ron Paul 2008 Meetup Group, and let me tell you, it's quite a rush to be there. There were probably about twenty of us there, every last one of us excited about promoting Ron Paul's candidacy for president. We've got people coming from as far away as Oakhurst to see what they can do to get the word out there. Many thanks to Michael Varin for organizing this group.

We've got such a range of ages and affiliations, from old Republicans who recognize the party's traditional message in Ron Paul's message and voting record, to the teenage sons of a fellow who brings his whole family (and a friend of one of his sons!) to the meetup. We've got independent voters who've never participated before. We've got well-to-do local business owners and poor guys (heh, like me). We're all united behind this man who dares bring a true message of freedom to a presidential election, and does so from a highly credible position.

First off, this isn't some Lbertarian, Green Party, Constitution Party, or Independent guy. Ron is a long time Republican, a congressman of ten terms who has never lost an election. He's the only candidate on the Republican side to be against the war (and has been since the beginning, and even before), and even among Democrats, is the only credible opponent of the Iraq War (given how certain Democratic candidates, like Barak Obama, would simply shift the troops from Iraq to places like Darfur and Iran). Simply put, the challenge for Ron Paul isn't winning the general election. I believe that between public disgust over the Iraq (not a) War, fascination with his well spoken message of liberty, his general reputation for actually doing what he says he'll do while campaigning, and the very real possibility that the Democrats might nominate Hillary Clinton, Ron is a shoe-in for the general election.

The challenge is the primaries. There are still a lot of Republicans out there who fervently believe that support for the Iraq War is the litmus test of Conservatism. This is, in my opinion, a preposterous notion, because, as Dr. Paul points out on a regular basis, the Republican Party has a history of winning elections where they campaigned as non-interventionist peacemakers, up to and including George W. Bush's 2000 campaign promising a "humble foreign policy." Just because one Republican started this war, doesn't mean another one can't step forward with the words "the whole thing was a mistake."

As to our meetup group, the people of Fresno can expect to start seeing us around town within the next couple of months or so. There is talk of street corner demonstrations, giant signs hung off the back of trucks, guerrilla flyer posting. I'm hearing things about holding movie showings to show Dr. Paul's speeches, liberty oriented documentaries, movies like V For Vendetta and The Matrix. One fellow has space to put up a huge sign in Oakhurst. I myself will be wearing a T-Shirt I recently purchased (it's being shipped right now) at every opportunity, as well as continuing to promote this campaign on a personal basis.

In other matters, Liberty Dollars are really fun. Over the past week, I've managed to spend forty liberty dollars: two one-ounce Silver Liberties. The Bobby Salazar's on Blackstone and Shields has taken them from me twice now, and I just spent another one at Perko's on Bullard and Highway 41 (where we held the meetup group). I'm about to pick up another seventy: two $20 Silver Liberties and three $10 Silver Half Liberties.

All if this is so exciting!

Monday, July 09, 2007


This is a response to Cranky Weasel's latest entry.

Personally, I think the modern stage magician is the greatest gift the West has given to the world. If you have never been personally acquainted with a person who genuinely believes in “true magic” you cannot understand the tragedy of a person lost in superstition, devoted to “mystery,” suborned to superior “magicians.” The worst is the one that knows she is a fraud, and wishes she had the real power possessed by her superiors! I can only imagine what a whole society caught in the grip of a terror or reverence of practitioners of “magic” would look like. I don’t imagine it is pretty.

The Stage Magician changes that for a majority of people. While his watchers are fully aware he is deceiving them, they are nevertheless entertained. Because he claims that he will do nothing more than entertain them (that his “powers” are little more than tricks), his profession is honest. In addition, his watchers, aware that deception is at the root of this magic, extend the principle to all claims to “magic.” Simply put, the stage magician completely robs the “real” (read: totally fake, but dishonest about it) magician of his power, thus freeing the non-practitioner from superstition.

This is far better than societies dominated by people who claim phenomenal cosmic power and derive authority from that claim, whose entire authority comes from their ability to deceive. In my book, the first magician to choose a suit and top hat over the robes (a man whose name I once knew, but have since forgotten) is a true hero.

Personally, I don’t seek out the “secrets” behind the big tricks. I do, however, enjoy expanding my knowledge of small tricks–ones I can personally perform. There is truly no better feeling than transforming a group of rowdy, undisciplined children into rapt observers with a few simple tricks. I sometimes dream of learning some of the more often “believed” tricks such as hot reading and, especially, cold reading, to be able to topple the remaining charlatans who still claim (to much public credulity) to practice “genuine” magic (such as contacting dead relatives).

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Over on Youtube, andyj2287 asked the following:

My only question for him is how will his privatized health care system function differently than what we have now. HMO's are ruining the American economy while we have almost every other Western nation providing national health are to its citizens.

How would the incentive structure in such a way as to make people more healthy for less money, instead of trying to bilk money out of an increasingly sicker American public and trying to provide as little service as possible.

Well, we do NOT have a free market in medicine right now. FDA regulation of prescription drugs makes the price of bringing new drugs (and new applications of old drugs) to market makes it so only the most massive of corporations can afford to sell pharmaceuticals. By reducing the scope of the FDA to it's original scope, simply ensuring that the contents of the packaging match the label, enormous competition would be (re)introduced to the pharmaceuticals industry, reducing prices drastically.

In addition, the model where businesses buy health care services and distribute them to employees is also an artifact of government regulation (specifically wage controls during WWII, which lead employers to offer health benefits to compensate for not being allowed to pay people as much as they wanted to). Remove government rules that force all medical care through employers, and the power of consumers to choose from whom they purchase service, and on what terms they choose to pay, would reduce costs, as well as restructuring the medical system to the benefit of patients, rather than corporations trying to just barely meet government requirements.

Finally, there is currently an anticompetitive cartel, protected by the government, that is in control of almost all medical care in this country. Remove that government protection, and AMA certified MDs would soon find themselves in competition not only with a few wacko alternative healers, but medical practitioners of varying levels of training. Nurses would be freed from having to be overseen by an MD, and would be able to do the simple stuff for cheap. Fully trained doctors, having less to do, would have to compete more fully for patronage from people needing more complex medical care.

Simply put, a free market in medicine would work now. A free market in medicine is NOT to be confused with the status quo.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What 70 Hard-Won Greenbacks Will Buy Today

In this article, Mark Crovelli makes the observation that, whatever the government chooses to say on the subject, prices ARE rising. I, too, have noticed this in my daily life. I used to rarely pay more than $.89 per pound for fuji or gala apples (generally, one or the other is cheap); now I never see them for less than a dollar, while granny smiths, which were previously an ultra-cheap alternative to these (not to mention those god-awful red "delicious") have risen to the level previously occupied by fujis and galas. I'm definately paying more for fast food; it wasn't long ago I could eat--and eat well--for less than three dollars. Now I drop four and change any time I go anywhere, including Taco Bell. New video games once averaged out at $45.00 or so for top-tier titles; now you probably won't pay less than $60.00, and $70.00 is becoming increasingly common.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that government reports of low general price increases are little more than propaganda. Inflation is always here, but it has sped up in the last few years.I take issue with blaming the Federal Reserve for this higher-than-usual rate of inflation, however. While the FED is inherently inflationary (and not the guardian against inflation they try to claim to be), the current trend is injurious not only to the public, but to the cartel of banking interests that makes up the FED. What's behind the current inflation is not monetary policy from the FED (outside its enabling role, that is), but fiscal policy from Congress.Simply put, all that spending they are doing--particularly the war, but that's hardly the only spending that has increased under the present administration--is being done not with taxes, not even with borrowed money, but with money printed from nothing and spent into the economy. Let me review again, how it works.

Congress overspends. The difference is made up through the selling of treasury bonds. This absorption of available capital by the government would result in a rising interest rate, left as it is. This rising interest rate would slow economic growth, in addition to making it increasingly difficult for the government to finance its own loans. This is the direct result of any kind of borrowing (a reduction in available money, and the resulting increase in the price of money, ie. interest rates), but the destructive uses the government puts it to means that money will never actually be returned; no profit is made, no supplies increased.The FED attempts to avert rising interest rates by buying up treasury bonds. The money they buy it with comes from nowhere; this is where US Dollars see their birth. More dollars are circulating, but this increase in the money supply has no relation to any increase in available goods. Thus, prices rise, while interest rates are held low.

It comes down to the fact that the crisis is caused by Congress. The FED does its best to hide the crisis, which enables Congress to continue, making the problem worse. I have little doubt that a day is coming--and possibly soon--when the probem becomes so large it can no longer be hidden. In the meantime, the rest of us will experience a steady drop in our standards of living. It's a bad situation, overall.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Three Unproductive Drains of Value: More on Land

My study of the use of comoddities as a backing for money (or as money, itself) has given me a better understanding of what the problem is with land.

A thing has a use. The more people who want to use a thing, the greater the demand. The price of the thing is determined by the demand in relation to the supply. So, for example, if lots of people want toasters, and there aren't many toasters on the market, the price will be high. The result of this is that computer manufacturers will profit, encouraging others to enter the toaster industry, while buyers of toasters will take good care of their toasters so they don't have to replace them, resulting in more left for others. This will result in an increase of supply, which will result in a lower price. This is the typical rationale for capitalism: price works well for dealing of problems of scarcity.

Gold also has uses. You can make electrical contacts. You can make jewelry. Good does not tarnish. I'm sure there are many other uses for gold. And gold follows the same market dynamics as anything else: low supply and high price results ultimately in increased gold mining, which raises the supply, which lowers the price.

However, gold is also used as a store of value. Whenever investors are unsure of the future of the dollar and/or the stock market, they start buying gold. When prospects look good, they tend to sell their gold and buy other things with the proceeds. This use of gold as a store of value is yet another demand; the price of gold is influenced not only by industrial and commercial use, but by its financial use, as well. If we suddenly went from a gold market in which it is only used for its industrial uses to one that uses it as a store of value, the price would go up until production increased sufficiently to meet the new demand.

An example that could well end up happening is the Liberty Dollar. Silver is also used as a store of value, in addition to having uses as jewelry and in photography. However, the Liberty Dollar Organization is attempting to put silver into circulation as a barter medium. This adds an additional demand. The Liberty Dollar goes up with the value of silver. However, if the Liberty Dollar becomes popular, the demand of the LDO for silver will likely end up raising the price, in and of itself.

Land is the same. It is a vital component in wealth generation; no economic activity can take place without land. Because of this, land has a very stable value, one that increases steadily as the economy grows. Because of that, people use land as a store of value. Many buy land not for their own use, but simply so they can sell it at a profit at a later date. In the meantime they may or may not allow others to use it in exchange for rent. The existance of blighted regions is evidence that land investors are not always quick to lower their price to a level people are willing to pay.

When gold, silver, or toasters are used as a store of value, the price goes up. This stimulates production, and the price eventually reaches an equilibrium. This is not the case with land, because land is, by definition, not something that can be produced. If it can be, it is not land. The use of land as a store of value raises the price, making it more difficult for people to establish homes and businesses, thus raising unemployment and/or reducing people's economic independence. However, because land cannot be produced, there is no process that lowers the price of land.

A rise in the price of gold results in increased profits not only for those who are currently holding gold, but also increased activity in gold mining--more jobs, more profits, which ultimately spills over into other areas of the economy as investors in mining look for ways to spend their increased profits. A rise in the price of land has no such spillover benefits. Indeed, higher land prices results in a reduced rate of job creation, because the most vital component of any business plan--land--is harder to get. Fewer people can buy it, thus fewer people can start homes and businesses.

If the use of land as a store of value could somehow be reduced (and I will get to that), it would result in more opportunites for self employment, less urban blight, more efficient land usage, and thus more jobs. More jobs is another way of saying more demand for labor, which means the price of labor (wages) would be higher.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

US Warns Iran as Armada Enters Gulf

"The US today threatened new UN sanctions to punish Iran's nuclear drive as it ratcheted up tensions with the biggest display of naval power in the Gulf in years. A bristling US armada led by two aircraft carriers steamed into waters near Iran for exercises, hours before UN watchdogs said Iran was expanding its uranium enrichment program..."

This is something I haven't seen much of in the news I read recently. Most of what I've seen has to do with the Republican debates, and how everybody is excited by Ron Paul's cantidacy. Let us not forget that the election is still some time away, while our current President is steadily moving the government along toward war with Iran.

People will say "but they're making nukes." Indeed, the press is afire with reports of a steadily increasing program of enrichment. Remember, however, that this is the same bunch that was absolutely certain there were WMDs in Iraq.

Even if they are building nukes, honestly, it doesn't scare me in the least. They'd have to be incredibly stupid to actually use them. Of course, once they have them, we'd have to be incredibly stupid to invade, which is probably what they're going for--assuming they are building them at all. The US Government has a history of invading and abusing nations that cannot defend themselves--they leave people who do have nukes alone.

read more | digg story

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Trouble With Government Grants

There are many ideas that many people put a great deal of faith in, with the justification being "A majority of scientific organizations say..." A majority of scientific organizations say the current global warming is caused by increased CO2 emissions. A majority of scientific organizations say that AIDS is caused by HIV. A majority of scientific organizations say even tiny amounts of certain substances can harm certain people. The thing people fail to realize is that a majority of scientific organizations can be wrong.

However, it isn't enough to say "truth is not established by a majority." These are, after all, scientists, and scientists are expected to know about these things. Lately, I've taken to responding to the "a majority of scientists say" comment with "A majority of scientists are selected and funded by politicians." The article linked goes into great detail as to how they are selected and funded, by whom, and how this entrenches a dogmatic orthodoxy within the "scientific community." It calls for new kinds of funding with less government control.

Of course, my solution is to end government funded scientific funding altogether, other than funding designed to produce results for specifically governmental use, such as military research. Never mind the tax dollars that would be saved; cutting off funding for an entrenched, hierarchical model of scientific research would do a great deal of good in and of itself.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Small War Guaranteed To Damage a Superpower

Patrick Cockburn and Tom Engelhardt describe what the Bush Administration Has Wrought in Iraq.

It starts out an "excellent essay on the misadventures of our Empire" (Billhaynes). At the end, the solutions he advocates include a committment to strengthen the U.N., international arms control, and protectionist trade policy (including a reference to "free trade" as "outdated doctrine").Perhaps tarrifs would be a good temporary source of funds to pay down the national debt, but if they are to be used, they should be maintained at a revenue-generating level, and not a level designed to implement an "industrial policy." The way to "reduce our dependence on our trade partners" is not to hinder international trade, but simply to stop creating artificial credit--end the Federal Reserve.

The only credit that should be available is that which is willingly offered and accepted by individuals at rates determined in the marketplace. The People can figure out best how to reduce our dependence, each in their own way, without the interferance of government.Bad loans should have consequences, and irresponsible creditors lending to iresponsible debtors should not be bailed out by the government. We are reaching the point where this will be enforced upon us by nature itself--the government itself is close to going bankrupt. By attempting to protect people from the disciplinary pain of minor bank failures, we have set ourselves up for one big, final, world-destroying bank failure: the bankruptcy of the U.S. Government and the collapse of the U.S. Dollar.

read more | digg story

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Fall of Santiago

Musings on a game of Sid Meier's Pirates! Live the Lfe.

(note: I updated twice today. Don't miss Drains of Value 5, below)

Not long ago I acquired a copy of Pirates! for my XBox (actually, I have a 360; the game works fine except for the Live leaderboard... the game won't connect). In this game you take on the role of a pirate, plying the Carribean and the Spanish Main for treasure, prestige, and, when working for one of the great powers of the day (England, Spain, France, and the Netherlands), rank. You capture ships, raid towns, and, if your force is large enough, you can capture them, installing a governor from a rival power. In a recent game, I did just this, replacing the Spanish governor of Santiago with an English one.

Santiago is one of two major settlements on the island of Cuba, the other being Havana, on the north coast. At the time. I had a large and unruly crew... I needed plunder. Santiago was described as being a "wealthy Spanish capitol." What that meant is that there was a lot of booty to be had by taking Santiago, but also a lot of soldiers to beat to get to it. Even with my three-hundred and fifty men or so, I wasn't going to be able to take it.

So I partnered up with another band from a nearby pirate haven. I allowed them to fall on Santiago's defences, weakening it, and then I and my men invaded, claiming the prize. They had been weakened to the point where I was able to take total posession of the town, and installed an English governor. The city went from being a wealthy Spanish capitol to a poor English outpost overnight.

The town deteriorated further under English rule, until finally England declined to defend it at all (it was defended by no soldiers at one point), and the Spanish finally retook it. It began to recover a bit at that point, but for the remainder of the game. Santiago was never the same. It made me think about similar incidents in actual human history.

Let us consider the circumstances. First off, the justification is that somehow, all that individual prosperity that happened under the Spanish flag was somehow an affront to English security. My personal motivations, while partially motivated by a desire to advance military rank (at that point, I think I was working up through titles of nobility), was mostly motivated by a personal problem: too many men, not enough money. Attacking Santiago was a cynical attempt to reverse that calculation: eliminate some of my men while increasing our gold stores. Yes, my primary goal involved killing not Spaniards, but my own men! The people of Santiago suffered greatly because of my black hearted avarice.

It reminds me of Kiev. Kiev was a Russian city on the Black Sea (I think) and was, and one point, the cutural and commercial center of Russia. It was a prosperous and commercial city, a relatively free city. Under Kiev's leadership, Russian might have become something admirable, but it was not to be. Mongols destroyed the city, and took tribute from the rest. Kiev never fully recovered, and when Russia finally did develop some kind of central identity, it wasn't a commercial center that won that honor, but rather the most productive collector of tribute for the Mongols: Moscow.

The Mongols also ruined Islamic civilization. Prior to the Mongol invasion, Islamic areas were well known for philosophy, mathamatics, engineering, commerce, even some novel and forward thinking ideas. The success of the Mongol invasion left them grasping for the answer to a question: Why? The conclusion they came to, as it so often is for religiously centered civilizations that are conquered from without, is that God was punishing them for being insufficiently rigid and intolerant. The Islamic world was never the same.

A similar thing happend in Iran. A revolution overthew the Shah, and a democratic government elected. With American backing, the Shah returned. Why, do you suppose, did that decent government fall so quickly? Well, of course, it was because Americans are infidels, and Iranians were insufficiently rigid and intolerant to oppse them. :-\

War is a horrible thing, and not just because lots of people die. It's because it destroys the hopes and aspirations of humankind, often leading an entire people into a culture of despair. I found myself wondering: What form would it have taken in the future history of my game? What happened to the people of eastern Cuba?

Nevertheless, virtual war against digital enemies is still fun, so I will return to the Spanish Main. This time, I will not stop at one city. All America will live under the... how about the Dutch flag? ;)

Three Unproductive Drains of Value: Part 5

What to do about currency debasement, inflation.

I've shown that counterfeiting and currency inflation are basically the same thing, undertaken by private parties and the government, respectively. This one is probably the easiest to fix out of all of them. All that is required is monetary freedom; the government doesn't really have to do anything, other than get out of the way.

It is entirely possible for private companies to issue money; this is already happening. However, the legality of such things is in question. It really shouldn't be. The simple fact is that the current monetary system is an upward wealth transfer system, and any alternative should be tolerated, if not welcomed. One thing that could not be done instantly is to abolish the Federal Reserve without there being something else in circulation to replace it. This, of course, is precisely why certain powerful interests will oppose any attempt to establish a privately issued medium of exchange superior to that issued by the government.

As I have written before, privately issued currency would not necessarily have to be based upon gold and/or silver. They could be based upon any other commodity, or even shares in business of one sort or another. Gold and silver have the advantage of rarity and durability, but I can see a place in our monetary system for many other sorts of things, as well. The key feature is that no kind of money should have a government monopoly.

The role of government in this would simply be to enforce contracts and claims of purity. If a company issues a silver piece that claims to contain a ounce of .999 pure silver, but it turns out that they do not, the courts would be there to settle the dispute. I would also like to see a law that says that any credit backed by a commodity would have to be 100% backed--a company would not be allowed to issue more credits backed by a commodity than they have the commodity in their possession or currently owed to them.

I say "currently owed to them" because one of the functions of banking is making loans on behalf of their depositors. I would require them to specify--in writing--what percentage of a given depositor's account is under loan at any given time, and require that the depositor agree that they are only allowed to withdraw the remainder over a given period of time. In other words, if I deposit twenty ounces of silver into my bank, specifying that they can loan out up to 50% of it, I could only go back and withdraw 10 ounces; I would have to give them a contractually specified amount of time to come up with the rest.

This would ensure two things. First, it would prevent a bank from inflating the supply of a given commodity. If there exists x amount of silver, people will trade it based upon that knowledge. If there exists 2x amount of silver backed credits (be they paper or digital), people will then begin to trade it at a lower rate. This is dishonest, and should not be allowed. Secondly, it would ensure that banks in compliance would never collapse, provided they engaged in sound lending practices. Nobody would wake up one day to find that the 100 ounces of silver they thought they had saved up was, in fact, only 20 ounces of silver, because the bank over-issued silver credits.

I could see a role for government in the establishment of a standard of weight and purity for a commodity. For example, early in our history, the US Government defined the "dollar" as being "equal to 412.5 grains (26.73 g) of 90% silver" (ref). While the Treasury was the only entity allowed to issue coins, banks issued their own bank notes, backed by silver dollars. The government could create a similar standard once again, though it'd have to come up with a new name, having so thoroughly corrupted the word "dollar". However, I don't even think this is necessary. Terms like "ounce" and "gram" are sufficient, and the while individuals would determine what degree of weight and purity they prefer to trade in, the network value of money would strongly encourage a consensus standard.

The key feature of all of this is that nobody would have the authority to issue unbacked credits at will and force anyone to accept it in payment (as the Federal Reserve has today). The wealthy and the powerful would no longer be able to steal the earnings of the poor and middle class by way of currency inflation.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Loyalty Day!

Oh dear God...

The very name of this new "holiday" hass Orwellian overtones. Here we have the head of the administration that presided over the biggest centralization of government since FDR, the most overt establisher of a foreign-backed government outside his jurisdiction, bleating about our beloved tradition of "freedom and self-government." Who, exactly, do these people think they are kidding? And it wasn't just Bush. " The Congress, by Public Law 85-529, as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as "Loyalty Day."

Huh. I was searching for this at, and I discovered that congress is busily creating "days" for all kinds of stuff:

9 . Designating March 2, 2007, as `Read Across America Day'. (Agreed to by Senate)[S.RES.91.ATS]
10 . Designating April 20, 2007, as `National and Global Youth Service Day'. (Agreed to by Senate)[S.RES.158.ATS]
11 . Designating March 25, 2007, as `Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy'. (Reported in Senate)[S.RES.95.RS]
6 . Designating March 25, 2007, as `Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy'. (Introduced in Senate)[S.RES.95.IS]
17 . Designating May 18, 2007, as `Endangered Species Day', and encouraging the people of the United States to become educated about, and aware of, threats to species, success stories in... (Reported in Senate)[S.RES.125.RS]
18 . Designating April 6, 2007, as `National Missing Persons Day'. (Introduced in Senate)[S.RES.112.IS]
19 . Designating March 25, 2007, as `Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy'. (Agreed to by Senate)[S.RES.95.ATS]
20 . Designating April 6, 2007, as `National Missing Persons Day'. (Agreed to by Senate)[S.RES.112.ATS]
Can't you just feel the love?

I found the text in the US Code, but I can't seem to find the actual record of it being passed. This doesn't make me suspicious of the President's proclaimation, so much as it does my searching skills, but I am very curious as to how Nunes, Boxer, and Feinstein voted on this. I expect they all voted in favor, since they're all such good patriots.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Three Unproductive Drains of Value: Part 4

What to do about theft.

I have shown that theft is something that is done both by people we traditionally recognize as criminals, as well as by government. The question at hand is: what can be done about theft, both by your regular pickpockets, burglers, muggers, and such, as well as by the grand extortion ring we call "government?"

The simplest one to solve logically is also the most difficult politically. Let us make the assumption, for the moment (an assumption I will attempt to flesh out in part 6) that there is a source of sufficient revenue other than arbitrary taxation which can be used to support government. Assuming that is true, ending institutionalized theft is simply a matter of ending that arbitrary taxation, and switching over to that untapped source of public revenue. (Again, I will discuss that in detail in part 6.) We'll take the "magic wand" approach to government theft for now, and move on to noninstitutional theft.

I think the best way to reduce regular theft, vandalism, and other crimes of property is to reverse it wherever it is found. In other words, restitution should be our primary model in dealing with crimes of property. Did a kid spraypaint your wall? I say give him a chance to fix it himself, whether that be by acquring the paint and painting it personally, or paying someone else to do it, or paying the equivalent money directly to the owner of the wall. Wallet get stolen? Make the thief give back an equal amount. Something taken from the house? The thief should have to give it, or its monetary equivalent, back. Murray Rothbard wrote an excellent article on how, and why, restitution would work, but here is my stab at explaining my take on it.

However, just that amount is not enough. Money in the thief's hands is money you can't spend just yet. It's a kind of "forced interest-free loan" if he only has to pay back what he took. I am inclined to use the Book of Exodus as a model as to what must be paid back in addition to the base amount. For things that are replaceable on a one-to-one basis, such as "silver or goods for safekeeping," televisions, jewelry, and anything still in the thief's posession and intact, the thief should have to pay back double what he took. However, for things which have irreplacable qualities which were either sold or damaged beyond recovery before the thief was found, the thief should have to pay back four or five times as much. Biblial examples include oxen and sheep. I might include such things as personal computers, since at times, the value of such a thing includes data. Folks should be paid back not only for the machine itself, but also for their digital photo albums, personal writings, and other things which can be lost if such a machine is lost. I'm not certain about that, but any living thing which is stolen and/or killed should be replaced double.

In the event that the thief is unable to pay, the thief should be required to work to pay it back. The system I prefer is a system of indentured servitude. The victim would be permitted to work the thief, keeping all the proceeds but providing room and board to the thief, for a period of time not to exceed six years. After the term is served, the servent would be given a statuatorily determined amount of money and supplies and sent on his way. (Once again, I model it after the system given in the Bible--Deuteronomy 12 in this case.) Because not everybody is likely to desire--or even be comfortable with--the responsibility of overseeing the indentured servitude of one who previously victimized them, the servant's term would be transferralbe; he could sell the term to someone else. This system would have numerous advantages.

First off, I think the requirement for the thief to pay back twice as much is much more just than the way we currently do things. These days, if a thief is caught, he is incarcerated. The victim, who has already lost money to the thief, is now among the many who will lose yet more providing the thief room and board in exchange for nothing. Double restitution, I think, would be a sufficient deterrant, and it would restore the victim's fortunes, rather than hurting it further.

For those who are unable to pay the required restitution, indentured servitude would ensure that the victim still got something back. As for the thief, he would spend the next few years not only paying the victim back, but also accumulating job skills, a work history, and finally capital to get him started once he regains his freedom. I can imagine companies arising whose business is purchasing indentured terms, and then maximizing the return on their investment by attempting to get maximum value out of their servents, which means discovering their talents, developing them, utilizing them. In the end, not only is the former victim better off than he started, so is the former thief! The best part: no tax dollars need go toward incarceration.

Then there is battery (which is separate from assault, here in California). I think that the accused should be given a choice between two options: suffering injury equivalent to what was suffered by the victim, or paying for medical care sufficient to restore the victim to full health, and paying it twice over (to compensate the victim for lost time). In other words, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth... unless they can pay the doctor for a new eye or a new tooth. Servitude would not be an option for someone who was unable to pay doctors fees. (Note that the flat doubling of medical expenses, rather than evaluating for "lost time" ensures that all victims are compensated equally--a CEO is owed nothing more than a minimum-wage burger flipper.)

This would extend to murder: I am a firm believer that if a life is taken, a life is owed. The victim himself should have first claim on what is to be done with his murder--if his will specifies that anyone who kills him shall also be killed, then the murderer should be killed. If nothing specific is in the will, then the life of the murderer falls into the hands of the next of kin.

Now, all that said, I do believe that the victim should be in control of what punishment is exacted--not the state (other than ensuring punishment does not exceed a maximum limit). While restitution would be the right of the victim, so would forgiveness. If the victim does not wish to punish the perpetrator, then the perpetrator should not be punished. Someone who did not want to throw some twelve year old shoplifter into six years of servitude could waive that penalty. Someone who does not believe in the death penalty could waive the death penalty. If two men fight, each causing the other injury, they would have the right to call it quits, rather than having both of them suffer yet more injuries under the "eye for an eye" clause.

Thus, the demand for double resitution would reduce theft both by refersing previous thefts (we can count them as "not commited" for the purposes of analyzing how much thefts go on), and would act as a deterrant. For those who could not pay it back, the period of indentured servitude would provide not only a reversal and a deterrant, but also a certain amount of rehabilitation. The complete lack of prisons for crimes of property (other than jails where the accused can be held for trial), reduces the necessary amount of government revenue greatly, which has the potential to significantly reduce governmental theft levels, even without the ideas I will introduce later.