Monday, February 25, 2013

The politics of lost and found


Losing or misplacing one’s property constitutes a relinquishing of rights of sorts, in the sense of losing control of the property. Such relinquishing is to the point that it is by the finder’s good graces that ownership can be restored to the original owner. 

However, a finder will also be judged by others according to the finder’s attitude to finding something that can yet be traced back to the owner and thus returned. Even if not an outright thief legally speaking, the finder who insists on holding on to the found item can still suffer social backlash, not to mention be tracked by the original owner who would be in his right to exercise non-coercive pressures.

Ultimately, peace and order come about from a system where accountability is maximized, where one faces the consequences of an action, even if only in the way the rest of society treats them, let alone how coercive entities (gangs, governments, etc.) bestow sanctions. The actual legal nuances as to what constitutes property is secondary to this even.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Short story: The detection of evil


Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires. — William Blake

Author’s note: Just to prove that I’ve long gone off the deep end and am completely lost in libertarian Narnia, I am presenting this short story I originally wrote in April 2009 for a novella I’ve not published and will probably not publish in my lifetime.
For those who’ve studied the Austrian-Chicago School debate on money and crises, hopefully you’ll have an extra layer to appreciate. It also helps if you’ve read Nietzsche, specifically Book I of ‘Genealogy of morals,’ or William Blake’s poem ‘The marriage of heaven and hell’ (the latter of which I actually had not read in full when writing this).

Once there was a man named Milton. He lived in a world where peace was achieved by the efficient destruction of evil. A century before his time, a genius named Walt Druig had invented an ‘evil detection machine,’ that could detect the evil inside men. Soon after this machine got into the hands of the world’s governing body, millions were summarily executed for being judged to have enough evil in their bodies and minds to be threats to society. It did not matter that even those in power, if checked for the content of evil within them, would have been found just as guilty. These levels of evil were detectable even from birth, and those subsequently born were likewise put to death if their levels of evil reached the threshold.

The system remained in place, but there were continued opponents to it. Some critics maintained that the mandated threshold should be raised some more, and that this would be without significant detriment to society. Others maintained that the threshold ought to be lowered, to further prevent evil acts from being committed. This tug-of-war in opinions led to varying thresholds throughout the years, depending on public clamor as well as the whims of those in the ruling class. When a lessening of the tendencies to commit evil was perceived, the threshold was permitted to increase, but when the tides shifted for an increased proclivity for evil, the threshold was lowered. All in all, it was a stable system, and people were satisfied.

Milton, however, was not satisfied. During adolescence, his interest in the evil detection system (EDS) grew, and he often cried noble tears of pity, for the needless disposal of those newborns who were unjustly killed for being assumed to be murderers, thieves, adulterers and the like. He swore to do battle with the specter of Walt Druig. It may help to understand his sentiments to know that his brother had died by Druig’s invention, and Milton himself could very well have been killed in infancy. Lucky for him, the evil threshold was at a record-high point, and his levels of evil were barely low enough to be spared. If Milton had been born a day later, when the threshold had been lowered once more, he would not have lived. So not only did he have a relatively high ‘evil reading,’ but his personal experience and near-escape from certain death made him more passionate and sensitive about such matters.

It was during the course of his studies, at the age of 21, that he discovered the possibility of detecting a person’s inherent ability of self-control. He checked, and rechecked his findings, and when he was ready, presented himself before the world president.

“Thank you so much, your excellency, for granting me a moment of your time. For most of my life, I have been most aware of an injustice in this world. The evil detection system, which has sent millions to their deaths, has long been thought to be a sufficient instrument in reducing, if not eradicating all crime and destruction. But I maintain that it is a great abettor of evil in itself. So many would have been saved from harm, if evil detection was not the lone determinant of their value to society. There has always been a missing factor, as yet unconsidered in the carrying out of infant deaths. This is the ‘self-control’ level of a human being. Using a self-control detection system (SCDS) hand in hand with the EDS, one arrives at a figure that is more accurate in judging a person.

“Say one’s EDS level, on a scale of 1 to 10, is at 7, this would be above a threshold of 4.75, and would warrant their death. But supposing their SCDS level came up to 9. What we do is flip the SCDS level on the scale of 1 to 10, to get the figure of 2, since 2 is the second number after 1, just as 9 is, counting down, the second number after 10. We get the average of the two numbers, which is seven plus two, divided by two 4.5, which is below the 4.75 threshold. This hypothetical person’s self-control is high enough to counterbalance what would have been deemed otherwise as too high a level of evil. Were his self-control level only at 8, he would get an average of 5, and be rightly condemned to death.”

The world president pondered over Milton’s presentation. After considering all the possibilities, he asked, “And what is this dual system called?”

“Exactly, your excellency. The dual-mode disposition analysis system. The DM Das, your excellency.”

“The DM Das. I like it,” the world president, whose name was D.M. Das, said, nodding. “How soon can we get this system up and running?”

“First thing tomorrow, your excellency.”

“Very well. Tomorrow and henceforth, the DM Das will replace the EDS as a means of ensuring social well-being.”

And Milton’s victory was complete. He was so happy. He looked up to the heavens, and said “This is for you, Marten,” referring to his dead brother.

With the DM Das implemented, the threshold as determined by levels of both evil and self-control, went up, reflecting a more accurate assessment of the social order, and the previously unrecognized self-control of the individuals. The threshold continued to fluctuate, but there was a greater tendency to stay higher than the historical levels of evil. Millions more were allowed to live.

However, the new system was not without its pitfalls. Babies found to have relatively low levels of evil but even lower levels of self-control were now executed. In an interview, Milton defended himself from criticisms that the DM Das was biased against the mentally retarded.

“A high level of evil is okay. It even promotes productivity and proactivity of the individual. The key here is that the evil is not excessive. The SCDS makes sure there is no excess. But having inadequate self-control is unforgivable. If you’re impotent as reflected by low levels of evil and a fool, I don’t see how this contributes to society, and we have to consider society as a whole.”
Having given his defense, there were counterarguments for invalidating the DM Das results, if one’s EDS levels were sufficiently low. When asked about the feasibility of this proposal, Milton gave a non-committal “That could happen, theoretically.”

The proposal, called the Retards Should Live If Evil’s Low Enough, was passed in the next administration, which was by then headed by a man named R.S. Liele.

Milton remained as popular as ever, and when at last presented a Nobel prize for his contributions, he declared that he owed his success to “having stood on the shoulder of my giant predecessor Mr. Druig.”

Still, the killings continued, for those with high evil levels and low self-control levels, although relative to the population, executions had gone down by more than 50%. Milton often remarked in his later years that the deaths were a “necessary evil,” and that what mattered more was “the greatest good for the greatest number.”

Today, a small group is slowly gaining prominence. They maintain that the DM Das and the EDS are not necessary today, and were never necessary, not even during Druig’s time. That society can do without any infanticide whatsoever. At the forefront of this movement is Gehenna Elfir, who says “Milton was wrong to say that ‘a high level of evil is okay, but so and so.’ There are no buts. It’s like he were saying ‘A little infanticide is okay,’ when it is not. After all, it is not evil per se that we are all fighting against, but the ignorant elements of society that bring about its misuse.”

The lady goes on: “The self-control model is flawed in that it does not consider the proper harnessing of evil that can be inculcated early in life. The SCDS, even the EDS, may be as arbitrary as a roll of the dice.

“Milton almost gets it. He speaks of ‘greater productivity and proactivity’ in the context of high levels of evil. Which makes it more astounding that he fails to connect the dots and realize that, hey, evil should be given free reign. The education of people and I mean holistic, nongovernment-sponsored education whether at home or at schools, should take care of the rest. Without the DM Das, our capacity to produce things of value would be exponentially higher. In fact, if evil had been allowed free reign, there would have been more dissenters, more people with the desire, the spunk, for change, than there are today. Which admittedly makes our battle much more difficult. I have no idea if we’ll ever succeed, but we can’t do otherwise.”

For now, Milton’s system is in place, and in readers’ polls, he ranks up there with Walt Druig as one of the greatest minds in history. Even as the ‘free evil’ movement is just beginning, they are already being labeled as “a relic of our savage nature” by the mainstream. Indeed, it is a tough, uphill climb, but didn’t Milton experience the same struggle in his youth? And now we wait, as history unfolds.

***

There are no good politicians. There is no good government.

All politicians are liars, even the honest ones.

There are no good politicians. There are only politicians who do much damage, and those who do less.

This is because government, by its very means, of inhibiting choice, is inherently destructive, since the freedom to trade is precisely how one improves one’s living conditions. This isn’t quite grasped easily. The illusion is that a country without government programs for health care, education, unemployment, etc. is a heartless one, while such state-controlled programs equate to a better, or at least kinder, people.

But this is not so. All it means is that these welfare rackets are controlled by those with guns, as opposed to people, including private charities, who have to compete for consumers who are just as profit-seeking — not just in financial terms but in the satisfaction or vanity or helping others — as those from whom they buy things — including charities who can best appear reputable by doing good.

A people are as charitable and kind as they are — no more, no less. Judgments as to the character of a people could not be based on what a government professes to do or does. A people is more than its government. A people would provide anything that politicians pose as their advocacies. 

Moral values do not originate from government, nor can they be augmented by government. A people would show such traits, if their government doesn’t stop them or usurp such activities, that is.

[Update: I just did a Google search of the first quote above, and it turns out someone posted the exact same wording in October 2010 for God knows what fictional work. It is very well possible that I have had this saying in my head before that, as caution in trusting Ron Paul and other awesome guys like him in government.]

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Privatizing EVERYTHING has no limits


“If two people brought a quarrel to Brody and he could not get them to agree that his settlement was just, he would return fees and, if they fought, referee their duel without charging — and still be trying to persuade them not to use knives right up to squaring off.”

That’s an excerpt from Robert Heinlein’s ‘The moon is a harsh mistress.’ I like how it suggests that the need for arbitration to be conducted by the state is a mere assumption, a bias.

In fact, private competition is just as relevant and able in providing courts and self-defense.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Libertarianism: Extending the anti-war argument


Everyone is a libertarian to some degree. Many recognize the wrongness of war as declared by politicians and as fought by soldiers. That people are killed, whether soldiers or civilians, for the lamest of reasons disguised as ‘protecting freedom’ or whatnot, is a very apparent injustice.

The wrong committed against people is that they are made to do things, or are done unto, against their will.


Applies to the economy as well

This is also the case when it comes to government intervention in economic matters, but the government is better able to disguise its power play in terms of helping the less fortunate, or giving back to the community, and the like.

As a libertarian speaking to non-libertarians, I would think it effective to portray government redistribution and regulation as acts of war, regardless of the noble-sounding causes espoused.


The economics of intervention: An example

It might be argued by a statist that things like antitrust, unemployment welfare, price controls, etc. are legitimate means of self-defense against the greedy capitalists who profit to the disadvantage of others. If such an assertion is made, it would be up to me to inquire as to what act of violence was allegedly committed originally so as to justify government action. Nine times out of ten, I would bet that such ‘capitalists’ actually make use of the state as a tool, in which case ‘free markets’ are not at fault, but government intervention itself, as sanctioned by public opinion.

And of the remaining one of ten, the particular objectionable companies or businessmen are patronized enough by consumers so as to commit their objectionable deeds. Are we to suppose that such consumer patronage would turn into disgust and protest if a ballot box were involved? A government is at best only as good as its people.

I might be asked, why don’t you want to help the unemployed, who need assistance as they get through a rough patch? And I would point out that such a dismal unemployment level is due to previous legislation or decree that drove away higher-paying jobs and resulted in a glut of overqualified applicants competing in other sectors, applicants who either get a job with less secure tenure and less consideration from employers, or who are unable to find work at all. To compound such a situation by yet more legislation (masked as ‘pro-labor’) only further constrains employers and makes getting a job even harder.


Government is the problem

After explaining the economics of it all, which indicate the unfavorable results of government intervention, I could then point out that just as bang-bang war makes for worse quality of life, the war on markets makes for worse quality of life. Because government action, by its very nature, is war.

It is an illusion that charity could come out of government, when it doesn’t exist among a people in the first place. This careless disconnecting of the attributes of government agencies to the attributes of people allows the subsequently elected politicians to use charity as bait, when in fact the charity they provide is unsustainable in not being market-oriented, let alone that such funds are often used in ways that many would consider as ‘corruption.’


Peace or war

We really have only two choices when dealing with others: peaceful means, with all the lying and trickery it could entail, or, the means of war, where such lying and trickery are soon monopolized by the least productive, most war-like elements of society.

To paraphrase Ludwig von Mises: If people are charitable, government is unnecessary. And if people are not charitable, government is futile.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The individual and the collective


First there was family, then friendship. And then came private property, a system of allocation when dealing beyond one’s kith and kin.

All of these came way before government as an official institution, which incidentally indicates that property rights are enforceable among people even without government, just as words and phrases can mean something to a populace with no need of official decree. 

And what was once the monopoly of petty gangs and barbarians — violence — would be usurped by the state, whose primary means of existing is and remains the threat of violence, or the actual use thereof.

In the system of government, the harmony between the individual, the family, friends and the rest of society was broken. People, as grouped by clan, race, class, etc. disregarded private property as much as was possible without inciting regime upheaval.

And in the guise of ‘private property,’ other people’s possessions were taken by force. In fact, such a means of wealth redistribution was carried out via political influence. No wonder that any rich person who belittles the sufferings of others or the violation of others’ property rights is still dubbed a ‘capitalist pig,’ a maligning of free enterprise when in fact state cronyism is upheld.

Through slow education, perhaps a harmony between the individual and the composite of such can still reemerge.