Saturday, March 31, 2012

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: REMNANT OF MARXISM


Beware lest a stone idol fall on you!

The argument in support of intellectual property (IP) boils down to: the need for innovators to recoup costs. 

This is Marxism, plain and simple.


COST VS. UTILITY THEORY

Karl Marx, like Adam Smith and David Ricardo, believed that value was determined by costs, e.g. labor. Marx, focusing on labor, preached that if one worked a certain amount of ‘labor hours’ or some other labor unit, a product’s price would reflect such labor.

The Austrian school of economics (and several Frenchmen before it) set things straight, recognizing that it was a product’s value to an end-user that determined the cost of inputs. Gold is not valuable because it is hard to mine; people undergo the difficulty of mining because gold has characteristics deemed valuable by buyers.


There’s a federal tax, and a state tax, 
and a city tax, and a street tax, 
and a sewer tax... I figure 
if he doesn’t sing too often, 
he can break even. 
― Groucho Marx, A night at the opera
IP’S ASSUMPTION OF COSTS

It’s clear what this has to do with intellectual property. How could the ‘recoup-costs’ argument continue to be exploited (pun intended), once we realize that costs are higher on account of intellectual property?

By restricting production of goods to patent holders, these goods are bid up higher. It is on account of such high prices that input goods are bid up higher as well. If the government did not restrict such production, R&D equipment and labor would be less cumbersome.


(SORT OF) FINAL WORD


IP might be a legitimate concept after all. But its proponents would have to find something better than the ‘according-to-need’ argument of costs.


ADDENDUM

Then of course there is the other Marxian assumption that one’s thinking of an idea or the application of such an idea equates to ownership. If working with capital equipment doesn’t equate to ownership of such equipment, how does thinking make for a claim on another’s physical property? Simple: it shouldn’t. As it is, ‘thinking’ is a service like any other labor, for which employers pay.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

‘THE HUNGER GAMES’ IS GREAT AND LIBERTARIAN*


Still holds no candle to Romnick & Sheryl.

Up to a few days ago, I had no intention of bothering with ‘The hunger games’ but with all the hype, I figured to give it a read. I just finished book one, which was recently released as a movie.

The story obviously has political implications, what with the state overseeing a destitute majority, a ‘99%’ if you will, and the narrator Katniss seeking to defy the rulers however she can.

Some other things to note (ever-so-slight spoilers, FYI):
  • Friendships in this dystopia are more obviously rooted in utility. Katniss’ best friend Gale becomes such due to their compatibility as hunters. While most imagine the best relationships to come of ‘unconditional’ factors, the truth is that people can’t help but seek something in return for one’s companionship, whether this be monetary in nature or just the satisfaction of feeling understood or appreciated.
  • State oppression results in black markets, the size of the market depending on the degree of oppression. Katniss’ means of survival is illegal but it’s the only way she can provide for her sister Prim. Furthermore, her clients with whom she trades her kills appreciate what she does without any bad conscience. Business is business.
  • The outcome of Katniss’ Hunger Games is one determined ultimately by popular demand. Even an ‘all-powerful’ Capitol-state must compromise for the extraordinary circumstances surrounding Katniss’ decision late in the Games.
  • Katniss soon enough recognizes that her true enemies are not her fellow ‘tribute’ contestants, as nasty as some are, but the state itself that makes them battle to the death. Very ‘All quiet on the western front’-ish.
  • Even winners of the Hunger Games remain pawns of the state, cronies who feed off the expropriated wealth of others. A victory in the arena is wanting, in terms of actually gaining freedom or dignity.


*With apologies to Stephan Kinsella, who used a similar title for his review of the movie ‘Avatar.’ Kinsella got some flak for stretching green hippie Jim Cameron’s tale into one supposedly espousing libertarianism.

Related articles:
Laissez-Faire Books’ Jeffrey Tucker’s anti-intellectual property angle on ‘Hunger games’
My film review of ‘Avatar’

OIL PRICE INCREASES ARE ABOUT CENTRAL BANK MANIPULATION


John Mangun, one of the few columnists with substance in print media, tells it as it is [new tab]: oil price increases are primarily induced by central bank printing of monetary notes.

If the price of oil is to be compared to gold’s, they are pretty much in step from 50 years ago to now.

Let us celebrate the telling of the truth in a newspaper that has more than a dozen readers (more like a hundred thousand).

EARTH HOUR PHILIPPINES 2012: I WILL SHOOT MYSELF IF YOU WILL SHUT UP ALREADY!


What a gimmick for Earth Hour this 2012. Following the buyer-seller principle, people are encouraged to offer to do something, in exchange for a commitment to do something ‘environment-friendly.’ “I will if you will,” e.g. “I will streak around my neighborhood if 10,000 people stop breathing.” This is supposed to “go beyond the hour.”

Check out the Earth Hour Youtube channel [new tab] itself. What a bunch of dumbasses suggesting all the crap they’ll do. If you want to do something you think is good, e.g. “tell every Filipino child to save Mother Earth,” fucking do it already! Half-assed retards.

And if it was so great to stop CO2 emissions, then surely the best way to “go beyond the hour” is to terminate our lives already.


WASN’T CLIMATEGATE ENOUGH?

‘Climategate’ is almost two and a half years old. To me, it didn’t so much serve to invalidate the science (which was never validated via any decent methodology), as much as it showed the ease at which an ‘inconvenient truth’ can be foisted on an uncritical public naïve of political agenda.

But what happened? CNN and others brushed off outright manipulations of data, and admissions of such by alleged experts, as out-of-context interpretations. In the Philippines, maybe seven people heard about it.

Luckily, Climategate isn’t the be-all-end-all of the skeptic’s case [new tab].

Slowly but surely, the science is being recognized for the scam it is. German media is reported to be growing cold, pun intended, to the anthropogenic theory [new tab].  

And there’s the study showing that the whole Earth experienced warming back in the Middle Ages. We all know how many SUVs there were back then!

This tidal wave was caused by global warming!

Wattsupwiththat [new tab] leads you to millions of resources on the general subject of climate.



SO WHAT SHOULD I DO ON EARTH HOUR?


I wouldn’t recommend making a statement like turning on all your lights and appliances. You might set your house on fire! Which would lead the climate activists to say “You’re contributing to CO2 emissions asshole!” No, you don’t want that.

I think the best thing to do is ignore Earth Hour altogether. Do what you’re doing anyway. Telling people there are no witches won’t stop them from hunting witches. Telling people in the Middle Ages that the earth is round and goes around the sun will only ostracize you.

This “ignore ’em” approach goes hand in hand with my general strategy in facing people who believe the state has any good purpose: just ride the wave of stupidity, and don’t lose your balance!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ON KEYNESIANISM, SOCIALISM AND TRUTHS RIGHT IN YOUR FACE


While deleting 40% of my friends list on Facebook (it was delightful; you should try it some time), I saw one of my friends, a pal of mine from my good ol’ days in government, and he’s now making waves as a Malacañang official. 

Anyway, he posted a link of the Keynes-Hayek rap saga. I just found it surprising because while the video itself is considered ‘viral,’ it’s primarily circulated around people steeped in the tradition of the Austrian school of economics.

What I found especially weird was, here was Keynes being spread on the table, dissected of his fatal errors, yet apparently, my friend and his other circle of friends did not take this away from the video. They interpreted it as a matter of ‘he said, he said.’ As if deciding who’s right between Keynes and Hayek is the same as choosing between brands of soup. There’s no wrong choice!*


HOW DID I END UP RIGHT?

Irony of ironies: learning of the dangers of inflation
from the bringer of the greatest  depression yet.
Perhaps my friend, admitting his insufficient education on the topic, is being cautious before expressing his opinion on the subject. But my point is that the truth can be right in your face, and you can still not see it, the truth here being Hayek’s complete pwnage of all that is Keynes.

Indeed, my quick embracing of Hayekian/Misesian/Austrian business cycle theory has less to do with my being incisive and discerning and rational, and more to do with the fact that I was predisposed to it, what with my having read Ayn Rand, especially ‘Capitalism: The unknown ideal.’ But then, why was I predisposed to Ayn Rand in the first place?

I can’t just keep going back in time looking for an understanding of my political positions; ultimately, I just have to be thankful that I found the way to my present understanding of the business cycle, however ‘illogical’ a process it may have been to get there.

My friend himself witnessed my ‘going off the deep end’ in 2008 as I read first Hazlitt, then Ron Paul, then the other Austrian economists. But he was quick to catalogue Ron Paul as a Nader-type, without even comparing the actual political philosophies espoused!


DEFINE YOUR TERMS FIRST

Capitalism this and capitalism that. 
What is capitalism anyway? 
Will you not shut the fuck up then?
My friend on the other hand, would consider himself socialist-leaning from his college days. It’s from him that I discovered the fucking idiot, i.e. pop philosopher, Slavoj Zizek. Just reading a book and several articles of Zizek’s criticizing ‘capitalism,’ it is obvious that he has no clear idea of what he is criticizing.

The term ‘capitalism’ is a dumping ground for all that is shallow, shrewd, crude, etc.; but such criticisms do not take into account the actual system or types of actions involved. As a result, Zizek’s diagnosis of what is wrong with the world is confused, targeting the good (freedom) while advocating more of what’s bad (state interference).


FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s hard to make sense of all this, but I try to take it in, in order to further understand the enemy that is the government-as-solution mentality. But it’s clear that presenting better theories, better philosophies, etc. is not more important than recognizing the warped or backwards psychologies of the many.


* One Facebook commenter lamented how neither Keynes nor Hayek factored in the issue of corruption that very often plagues governments. As if the size of government has no bearing on the amount of corruption! The fact that Hayek advocated a much smaller role for government should make clear that Keynes’ system was more prone to capture by the politically privileged.

Monday, March 26, 2012

ECONOMIC CONDITIONS AND PERSONAL SPACE


Not too terribly long ago, I had a short discussion about how one’s economic well-being is related to their sense of personal space. Ever the non-PC elitist that I am, I said that the poor, like children, have less of such a sense, so that they may be less bothered by people getting in their faces or touching them in the MRT or whatnot.

Related to this, being poor also makes them less appreciative of the importance of property. They are less individualistic, and have more of a communal attitude towards social matters, even those issues involving strangers. It’s no wonder that they don’t think twice about supporting government programs (aside from the fact that they may be beneficiaries).


LET’S ALL BE COMMUNISTS?

You might think that, if only people were more communistic in nature, then theft as done by small-time thugs or by governments would cease to be a problem. If everyone agrees to share, then what of property? What a utopia that would be, right?

Except people do have conflicts in interests and preferences. Sans property, such conflicts can only be settled by violence, brute strength: a crude ‘Darwinism.’ Fortunately, most of our transactions do involve property, and it is thus possible to exchange so as to acquire.

The stability that property provides, also allows for capital to accumulate, by which living standards of both the more business-able and the less -able are advanced. This is Darwinism too, yes, but one involving a symbiotic as opposed to a predator-prey relationship.


A VICIOUS CYCLE

We can see the immense difficulty of getting the masses interested in long-term solutions by which they themselves can thrive. Due to the urgency of their needs, they would be more interested in short-term expropriations of property so as to ‘share in the wealth.’ But such a mentality is also taken up by the rich, in a polluted intellectual climate.

The inability of most to appreciate the means by which civilization is sustained (property) is really quite a social neurosis. Indeed, it is difficult to classify sound thinking against unsound thinking according to economic class.

There’s too much exploitation by the rich of the stupidity of the poor, so much so that the rich are just as stupid. The well-to-do who should know better often take advantage of wrong-headed thinking, so as to perpetuate their political careers. Perhaps they do so innocently, or not, but it makes no difference: good economic reasoning is a rarity, where even the media are pawns of politicians.


FINAL REMARKS

Solutions to society’s problems are not to be found in a change in human nature. Rather, they are to come by a more widespread understanding of what does work and what has worked for centuries, if not millennia: property rights.

At present though, ‘modern’ thinking tends to ignore property, or place it as of secondary importance, all in the name of morality.


We can do wonders with such ‘moral’ reasoning, as applied to personal space, or control over one’s body. Just think, if only women consented to every proposition made to them, there’d be no more rape as well! How moral!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

FAREED ZAKARIA ON HEALTH CARE, AND THE PERPETUATION OF STUPIDITY


Must... look... away...
I’m sorry to sound naive to even declare this, but it seems to me that CNN programs are designed for an audience that does not think at all, that goes along unquestioningly with anything spewed by news anchors and hosts.

I chanced upon Fareed Zakaria who was discussing health care, and I stay tuned because he promised to show how some local government health care scheme was delivering results.

How stupid of me to expect any sound reasoning. After the commercial break, all Fareed did was show a bunch of patients with expensive medical bills who were detected through some information system (Wow I can’t believe it!) and thus helped out. Thankfully the cameras were there to capture these ‘successes.’


BETTER AS OPPOSED TO...?

In the first place, was there any indication that more patients are helped by having government come into the picture? I have previously made the point that you can spend a million dollars for treating the common cold, without considering how many more could be helped if more competition was allowed.

If some system is claimed by Fareed to be “efficient” or cost-effective, how is this incompatible with the much-maligned profitability? If there was real competition in various aspects of health care, wouldn’t institutions take advantage of more efficient systems to make more money, while improving quality of service?


FINAL REMARKS

The only value of shows like Fareed’s is comedic. And there’s something fascinating about watching someone so hideous (OMG racist!)!

BIR AND THE PERVERTED PURPOSE OF RECEIPTS


Receipts are supposed to concern buyer and seller alone. Yet the Bureau of Internal Revenue has wormed its way into every ‘legitimate’ transaction, so much so that the very purpose of receipts is itself twisted.

In the event that say, a professional clock repairman, has got it in its head that he alone has the right to his earnings, and thus will not pay any taxes, he couldn’t issue just any receipt for the purpose of putting on paper his business arrangement with a client. The paper of the receipt itself has to be sanctioned by the BIR.

So what is our horologist to do to get the good faith of a client? He either has to give in and issue the three-party receipt, or, get the client to collude, the latter being quite risky.

It’s lamentable, the present situation, but there’s nothing doing, what with most people believing it a duty to contribute to the supposed ‘pera ng bayan’ coffers.

I myself do not want to risk offending the Philippine government, and so I readily pay taxes as is required of me under Philippine law. But this does not stop me from seeking to change people’s minds on the matter. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

REPUBLICANS IN THE PHILIPPINES, UNITE!


Three babies  (L1-L3) and a man (R).
Yesterday, I attended a gathering of Republicans held in Makati. Not too many of us. It was just me, fellow blogger Harry, and several old-ish dudes.

First off, I do not ally myself in any way with the US Republican party. I didn’t attend the event so as to be counted as one of them! Okay now I can get off my defensive mode and continue with my shocking tale.


SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVILS

It’s kind of amazing. As a libertarian, I watch the news and see Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, these grandstanding dumbasses, and it’s contemptible. But being with guys who have devoted many, many years to the GOP (if not to certain principles themselves), I feel myself easing off in my dislike! It’s no wonder people get sucked in to the dark side if they don’t have clear political ideas: peer pressure, the desire to belong, trumps just about everything else!

T Minus x to the end 
of Vince Vaughn’s Hollywood career...
But for the couple of hours that I hung around, I listened and felt somewhat sympathetic, not to the politicians themselves, but to the people I was with, who hold strongly their convictions.


MY ISSUE WITH THE REPUBLICAN VIEW

I do not intend this blog entry to be about particular issues. Basically, I do not presume any government’s ‘duty’ to protect the world, and this conflicts with Republicans’ desire to police everyone via a monopoly on force.

And much of what Republicans say is mere rhetoric not followed through with consistent action. They can talk about free markets and the importance of liberty but at the same time support the domination of foreign peoples (“At least they’ll be dominated with liberty,” some idiot told me once), and perpetuate the current system that has brought about the present depression.


I LOVE Cordon Bleu!
FINAL REMARKS

Having said all that, I thought the Republican dudes I met were a swell bunch! They liked the fact that I was interested in the political process and whatnot (I did not admit my admiration for Ron Paul). And in general they have a better appreciation of markets than Democrats.

To top it all off, lunch was on them! This generated some chuckles about how, just like with the welfare system, it will keep Harry and I coming back for more. But yeah, there IS such a thing as a free lunch!

Afterwards, I told Harry that we actually gave them something in return: we brought down the average age of the group.

“WE BUY GOLD!” BUT SHOULD YOU SELL?


Quick! Sell to us now,
before the price goes higher!
You see the full-page ad in the newspaper, basically saying you have to sell your gold and silver, before it’s too late. It sure sounds like they’re doing you a favor by being willing to buy your crap!

But before you part with your jewelry, coins, rings or whatnot, take the following into consideration:


AN HONEST BUYER’S WORDS
“We are buying your gold and silver because we believe prices across the board are going up, and having precious metals allows for preservation of wealth.
“We understand that you may have a need for liquidity for whatever reason, and thus, you can look back at my purchase/your sale and regard it as mutually beneficial.”


DISHONEST

Dishonesty is not necessarily fraud. But this does not make it any more desirable to transact with dishonest folk.

What is an outright lie is that these gold buyers offer the highest bids for your items. I just came from one of these events, and talked to someone who had sold a beautiful one-ounce silver coin for 800 friggin’ pesos! Considering the spot price of silver is around $32.50/oz. (approx. PhP1,400), can we say that the seller got a good deal?


AN EXPERIENCE KANINA LANG

I tried making conversation with one of the off-duty American clerks at the event, and the lack of openness in his answers, not to mention his insulting manner upon finding out I wasn’t selling anything, was apparent.

Maybe the guy’s just one prick who thinks being lanky and Caucasian allows him to talk down to a brown monkey such as myself, but I think I’m not too wrong in interpreting secretiveness, if not dishonesty, in his attitude.

The fact is, they know something about precious metals that they don’t want to share with you. While we can admire them for their foresight and appreciation of the need to maintain purchasing power, we shouldn’t be so trusting in their claims. This is where I come in, and I hope that you can be saved from doing something you’ll regret later on.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

FIVE-DOLLAR SLICE OF DI FARA PIZZA ― HAIL PRICES!


Thanks Google User, whoever you are, for the photo!
I just love this Business Insider video about Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn. Imagine, people normally lining up for two hours, four hours during the holidays, for pizzas at $5/slice! And this guy Dom DeMarco handmakes and sells 80-100 whole pizzas a day.

One thing he said really stood out to me:
No matter how much you charge, they don’t mind. But don’t fool them.

Thanks as well, other Google User.
At a time when charging high prices is akin to fraud, it’s great to hear these declarations that attest to the elegance (Jim Grant’s term, I believe) of the pricing mechanism.

(The fact that prices continue going up due to central bank inflation is another story.)
The pricing process is a social process. It is consummated by an interaction of all members of the society. All collaborate and cooperate, each in the particular role he has chosen for himself in the framework of the division of labor. Competing in cooperation and cooperating in competition, all people are instrumental in bringing about the result, viz., the price structure of the market, the allocation of the factors of production to the various lines of want satisfaction, and the determination of the share of each individual. ― Ludwig von Mises, Human action

THE ‘YELLOW BOAT PROJECT’: ‘CUTE,’ ‘INSPIRING,’ NOTHING MORE


Why yellow?... Kailangan pa bang i-ask yan?
Upon learning that hundreds of kids in Zamboanga City have to swim to school everyday, Jay Michael Jaboneta quits his job at Malacañang and puts up the Yellow Boat Project, to keep these kids dry to and from school.

The whole boats-to-school program would be a hundred times more impressive and inspiring, if the kids went to a place that actually benefited them. But Jaboneta is merely facilitating the corruption of their minds, by making it easier to get to school.


WHAT ABOUT FIXING EDUCATION ITSELF?

This is the problem with these ‘feel-good’ stories that the media pretend make a difference in people’s lives. It’s all superficial cuteness. Not once is the real hindrance to education ― bureaucratization ― addressed. This is a sea that has yet to be crossed.

Thinking out-of-the-box
What is the chance of finding a newspaper article that seeks to spread awareness of the following:
1. Education need not be costly;
2. Curricula need not be one-size-fits-all;
3. Centrally-dictated educational policies impede learning;
4. Classes need not be in classrooms;
5. Basic education can be terminated much earlier, to make way for real-world apprenticeships;
... and so on?

These are the keys to educational reform. You won’t find these being touted by mainstream media channels. It’s so much easier to get along with the politicians who grace their anniversary parties, and the status quo is so much a matter of course that hypocrisy isn’t even recognized for what it is.


SHAPING THE GLOBE... INTO WHAT?

In the same story, the 2012 ‘Young Global Shapers’ are named as well. We shouldn’t imagine that these people are ‘making a difference,’ so much as they are ‘shaping’ the world into the sorry state in which it is.

I don’t intend any personal attacks on these so-called shapers. By no means! I don’t know them personally, and they do what they do as they think best, and that they are recognized for it isn’t a fault. But it would be jumping to conclusions to suppose that the world is any better on account of them.

We see no indication that they espouse ideas that are superior to the bullshit in which we wade today. We’re more likely to hear talk about “working together with government” or some such fluffy nonsense rather than opposing government altogether. How could we suppose that their ‘leadership’ will make the country or the world any better, when they support the very hindrance to development, i.e. government?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

THE ‘BISTEK’ CODE: CAN YOU SOLVE IT?


While hanging out near my barangay hall (a new habit of mine), I noticed several strange coincidences that reminded me of the ‘Da Vinci Code’ thriller.

In the printout of the garbage schedule, I noticed that the initials of the program (‘Hiwa-hiwalay na Basura) were colored differently from the rest of the text, thereby making them stand out. It was after some sleuthing that I realized that the initials, H and B, are THE SAME as that of Quezon City mayor, Herbert ‘Bistek’ Bautista!

I might have brushed that off as mere coincidence, but then I saw the side of a nearby barangay truck, which is designed for the so-called Barangay Emergency Response Team. But wait! That’s an acronym for the mayor’s name as well, BERT!

I knew something big was going on, but couldn’t put my finger on the purpose of it all. And then yet another clue fell in my lap: I saw a barangay mini-truck designed with Bistek’s predecessor in mind. 

Sure enough, the words Serbisyong Bayan have the same initials as Sonny Belmonte, the now-congressman of Quezon City.

What do these peculiar acronyms and local officials have to do with each other? Can you figure it out?

PAYING QC REAL PROPERTY TAX: ’YAN ANG SERBISYO!


I loathe government, but am grateful that, for the things for which I am coerced to do, I can get some of them done rather conveniently.

I just paid my household’s real property tax at Quezon City Hall, and all in all it took 45 minutes, for most of which I read on my Kindle. So relaks lang.

Of course, if you interview a victim of a robbery, you’re not going to hear them gush: “... and then they made us line up in such a way that they took our valuables so efficiently!”

What’s more, I saw a P1,200 increase in the tax for this year, to accommodate the city’s “socialized housing” program. And I’m supposed to assume that ‘social assistance’ is best done as they see fit.

I might reason out that if it weren’t for such interventions national and local, perhaps there’d be no perceived need for such ‘socialization’ at all. But that’s just selfish, heartless talk, so I won’t bother.

Monday, March 12, 2012

IS ‘FINDERS-KEEPERS’ STEALING?


Yesterday I jogged at the Academic Oval in UP Diliman. As an experiment, my brother left his water bottle on a seat, next to an empty McDo cup. Sure enough, after making a couple of rounds (less than half an hour), the water bottle was no longer there (while the McDo cup remained).

Is taking another’s possessions in this case ‘stealing’? I think it’s not quite easy to label, because my brother well knew the risk of leaving a decent-looking water bottle in a ‘public place’ like Peyups. It may have appeared to the ‘thief’ that the bottle had been abandoned, just as someone who throws something in the trash as good as relinquishes ownership of such and allows scroungers to feast on such garbage.


ACCOUNTABILITY IS KEY

Yours na lang, my crap!
Rather than seeking to label such acts as this or that, I would like to focus on the degree of accountability for one’s actions. I’m not just talking about the impracticality of leaving one things for the picking, but also the risk of getting caught taken by the person who got the water bottle.

We can determine how advanced a social system is in part by the degree of accountability and responsibility individuals take. It follows from this premise that a decrease in accountability is indicative of social regression.


BLAME GOVERNMENT

What are some factors that decrease accountability? For one thing, the existence of ‘public’ places. While the general meaning of ‘public’ has been made vague so that privately owned properties such as malls are considered ‘public,’ in here we shall limit the notion of ‘public’ to be that of government-owned or -expropriated economic resources, in particular roads and universities such as UP.

While one’s loss of one’s things can just as well happen in big privately-owned places like Ateneo, there is nonetheless a decrease in accountability when it comes to ‘public’ property, because actual ownership is vague or non-existent there. 

Those who manage such places aren’t even considered owners but more like custodians. ‘The people’ supposedly own ‘public’ places. The fact that a member of ‘the people’ such as myself has no part in the dictation of rules regarding these places, belies the notion of ownership. In spite of my ‘ownership’ of the ‘public’ place, I or anyone else could not so much as waive liability in the case that things are lost; the policies regarding lost items remain arbitrary when no actual property owners exist.


POORER CONDITIONS --> LESS ACCOUNTABILITY

Another aspect of accountability is the fact that coercive intervention in free actions of individuals makes for poorer conditions by which people tend to be less respectful of other people’s property such as water bottles. 

How pathetic is it that someone, upon seeing a water bottle while going about their business, thinks to themselves, “Huy water bottle! Wala namang tao, kukunin ko na siya!” and takes it for granted that they have a ‘karapatan’ to the item. Such a mentality requires poverty to breed. And because security measures are bound to be less developed in poorer settings, thieves are better ‘rewarded’ in taking items that don’t belong to them.


FINAL REMARKS

Granted that it’s irresponsible to leave one’s things unattended, and that private property owners will seek minimum liability for their guests’ neglect, it is to the advantage of all concerned ― private land owners and visitors alike ― that their right to property is affirmed to the maximum. This entails the removal of vagueness in terms of ownership, and the increasing of accountability for one’s actions, both of which can be achieved by full privatization.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

HONG KONG: A FILIPINO LIBERTARIAN’S EXPERIENCE


1. Many cab drivers, service crew personnel, etc. can barely understand, much less speak English. 

Ten years ago, my friend had told me Hong Kongians weren’t friendly, but I chalk such an impression to their inability to be more helpful, what with the language barrier.

2. After getting a hang of it, the MTR train system was quite fun. It’s amazing what large amounts of capital can do, even when operations are conducted by governments. 

This is not so much a testament to ‘good governance’ as it is to freeing trade. We have to consider that there is an opportunity cost even with the most efficient government infrastructure.

3. I didn’t eat much Chinese/Hong Kong food while there, but I actually prefer the ‘inauthentic’ stuff they make here in the Philippines. Labeling foods as ‘Chinese’ or ‘Filipino’ or whatever limits the evolutionary possibilities of cuisine.

4. At Harbour City, some big Indian guy went up to me and said, “You know you’re lucky,” and proceeded to give me favorable predictions for the rather near future. I was trying to politely get away but he kept ‘hooking’ me with harmless questions, and then finally he told me to give him HK$100. 
Authentic Hong Kong McNuggets!

The scene just before being
accosted by the fortune teller.
The fucker! He said it was going to charity, and that it’s bad karma or something if I refused. I ended up handing him $10 and told him I didn’t ask for his ‘service,’ and finally I walked away.

In spite of my annoying experience, there was no real threat to my life (it would have been different if he was armed, or had accomplices to detain me). At the time, I imagined someone might grab me, but that was a figment of my paranoia.

Crummy view from my room.
I wouldn’t consider his ‘livelihood’ a coercive one, but I don’t see it being tolerated for too long by private property owners, who wouldn’t want their customers harrassed.

5. All in all, I expected things to be more developed. The area where I stayed was a relative dump, with buildings half-constructed or abandoned, and garbage bags around. I guess I expected too much, but also, it goes to show that anywhere, a rich-poor divide remains.

Looking at the shops, I didn’t get the impression of the place being a financial capital. Why the disconnect in spite of the free flow of capital? I’d hazard central banking as one culprit.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ‘SOCIAL JUSTICE,’ a.k.a. HOW TO BE AN ASS


On the way home from the airport kanina, I chanced to hear Raffy Tulfo’s ‘public service program’ on 92.3 FM. Some workers for a Chinese businesswoman made ‘sumbong’ to him that they were being paid below the minimum wage. So what Raffy did was call up the Chinese woman and mock her accent, all the while threatening that the DoLE will bust her operations, and she’ll be deported.

“Punta jan ang Depatment of Labol at Bulow of Immigleshon. Ipapa-depolt kikta.” He went on and on like that. What a jerk right? I mean, apart from the fact that he’s insulting other Filipino-Chinese folk, does he really think his own ‘media exposés’ will make things better? Let’s say the poor Chinese woman is deported. Will this give the poor more, or less jobs?


INFORMAL ECONOMIES KEEP THE WHEELS GRINDING

One can just imagine what will happen if the ‘informal’ economy is ground to a halt because of do-gooders like Tulfo. The ensuing unemployment will be a testament to ‘social justice,’ alright.

Such harmful economics equates the “karapat-dapat” wage to be what Congress says it is. Never mind the fact that some jobs really are NOT worth the minimum wage! If they were worth it, then Tulfo himself can hire those aggrieved workers, and it will SURELY be worth it to him, regardless of what use he has of their labors.


WHY THE EMPLOYER’S DUTY?

And why isn’t it HIS duty to employ the workers, rather than the Chinese woman’s? As it is, even if she insulted them night and day, she would still be more valuable to the workers than some media man who gets off on threatening people with violence in the name of justice.

Improvements in socioeconomic conditions are a matter of increasing choices available to all market players, and not the mere taking from one against their will, to give to another. The fact that employees have to make do with ‘oppressive’ jobs has less to do with employer cruelty and more to do with capital-destroying intervention by governments, and the dumbasses who support such intervention.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

‘FAIR MINING’ AND WHY COMPROMISE NEVER WORKS


Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, in commenting on the government’s quest for a ‘fair mining’ policy, was quoted as saying that the executive was considering
various models and alternatives in the hope that this can be done so that all the interests of the different sectors are addressed.

But if you take a look at the “various models” on the table, they’re always about pitting one group against another (e.g. ‘pro-mining’ cronies vs. ‘anti-mining’ NGOs), hoping each group compromises their positions to the appeasement of all.

What you will NOT find is a ‘model’ that challenges the idea that government has to be involved. Why seek ‘fair mining’ via an EO in the first place?


HAYEK SPEAKS
[A]n enormous and exceedingly wasteful apparatus of para-government has grown up, consisting of trade associations, trade unions and professional organizations, designed primarily to divert as much as possible of the stream of governmental favour to their members... 

Political parties in these conditions become in fact little more than coalitions of organized interests whose actions are determined by the inherent logic of their mechanics rather than by any general principles or ideals on which they are agreed...

Who indeed would pretend that in modern times the democratic legislatures have granted all the special subsidies, privileges and other benefits which so many special interests enjoy because they regard these demands as just?  

That A be protected against the competition of cheap imports and B against being undercut by a less highly trained operator, C against a reduction in his wages, and D against the loss of his job is not in the general interest, however much the advocates of such a measure pretend that this is so.  

And it is not chiefly because the voters are convinced that it is in the general interest but because they want the support of those who make these demands that they are in turn prepared to support their demands.

In short, it is the seeking of government intervention itself that creates social conflict.


GOVERNMENT INCREASES OUR SENSE OF DETACHMENT, HELPLESSNESS AGAINST SOCIAL ILLS

Belief in government encapsulates the worst in us; not just the will to violence, but the detachment or handwashing in doing so. We tag ‘the people,’ the collective greater than its parts, as culprit, or rather, as legitimate agent of such violent means to some supposedly noble end, e.g. saving the forests.

Entrepreneur, or crony?
Yet in spite of such detachment to the cruelties we perpetuate, we feel helpless in ‘making a difference.’ “I’m just one voter.” We imagine that, if only government ‘truly’ represented us, government would actually be effective. The possibility of reducing government or eradicating government altogether is not in the cards.


GOVERNMENT DETACHMENT/HELPLESSNESS AND THE PSYCHO KILLER ANALOGY

We’re like a deranged killer. It’s not our fault we murder people, it’s “the voices’.” If only we can somehow overpower these voices, the killings will end!

And that’s what the government-as-solution mentality is: it’s about going after the voices, not once questioning if these voices have any external reality, or are to be heeded at all.

Of course, once we do become aware that it is precisely government that breeds social conflict, we need a replacement paradigm. It might astonish us to find that the dreaded ‘free market’ is this true alternative to corruption and poverty.

This is where a genuine effort to educate one’s self comes in. For references, you can start with a couple of my previous entries: