Thursday, March 31, 2005

My respect for Chomsky has now slipped even further

I used to be a great admirer of Noam Chomsky. Upon making my personal shift toward libertarianism, I found myself still appreciating much of his contributions to subjects such as media criticism and American imperialism despite his nonsense about wanting to increase statism to rid society of problems created by statism (d'oh!). Needless to say, I was very disappointed when I came across Frank Spieser's article about Chomsky over at LRC.

Conscription is essentially a euphemism for coerced exploitation or, in other words, slavery. Why the hell is Chomsky, a man who claims to be a promoter of peace who is firmly opposed to exploitation, willing to advocate increased exploitation of a coercive nature to achieve some desired result? Not only does this seem to resemble what BK Marcus refers to as the samsara fallacy, but it is flat out objectionable simply on the grounds of actually being ok with the idea of people being forced against their will to engage in atrocious behavior, an idea atrocious in and of itself.

Spieser does a pretty good job of tearing Chomsky to shreds here, at least from a somewhat libertarian perspective. Additional criticism can be found in Jacob Levich's article "Chomsky and Conscription" (via Counterpunch). Levich picks up the slack when it comes to Chomsky's assertion that what he calls "citizens armies" (a term I abhor) would be against the best interests of the top command. An example of Levich's response:
What's significant here is that fascist Italy introduced universal conscription precisely for the purpose of facilitating colonial expansion. So did imperial Japan. And once you let Asia into the equation, Chomsky's argument truly collapses. The 1930s and 1940s saw several of the most brutal colonial wars in history, including the Rape of Nanking and comparably horrific episodes during Japanese invasions of Southeast Asia and Korea. Throughout WWII numerous sideshow conflicts were conducted across the globe as the big powers vied to pick off colonial assets. All this was accomplished with draft armies.

Typically during the modern era, the draft has not hindered but aided imperialist designs. Universal conscription originated in Europe with the French Revolution, but it was Napoleon who first saw how a "citizen's army" could be exploited as an overwhelming military asset -- one which he put to use in conquering most of the European continent. His colonial war in Spain -- the original guerilla war -- was fought, with relentless brutality, by conscripted troops.

And like I mentioned earlier, I abhor Chomsky reference to conscripted armies as being "citizens armies". Levich may not have wanted to dwell on such a euphemism, but I will for a moment. I certainly like to think of myself as being "for the people" and being in favor of "putting people before profits", which is why I have a problem with Chomsky's use of "citizens armies". Since when does a state institution represent the people, especially one rooted in slavery? (no euphemisms from me) The Chinese government still refers to itself as the "Peoples' Republic of China", but I'm willing to bet that the people aren't in charge, nor do they admire those who are in charge. The government ain't the people, dammit!

Well whaddya know...

Yup, that's right, your eyes are glazing on a rare sight. A blog that that has made absolutely no contribution to the latest sensationalist media diversion; you know, the one about that woman somewhere down south, and the political meddling involved with it and whatnotall. I personally tend to tune out such distractions, especially when the topic at hand is none of my business.

Then again, I haven't had much to say about anything lately, and I apologize for that. Been busy.

Friday, March 25, 2005

WOW... A Kennedy who actually makes sense!

The following quotes come via Kevin Carson and Jeffery Smith. Yes, some people may roll their eyes at the sight of blog posts that are merely quotes of other blogs and/or people, but I don't care one bit. My blog, my rules.

Anywhoo, as the title suggests, it seems as if a Kennedy has been discovered who actually makes some sense. That Kennedy would happen to be Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The subject: corporate capitalism, free markets and environmentalism. Here are his words on the subject:
You show me a polluter and I’ll show you a subsidy. I’ll show you a fat cat using political clout to escape the discipline of the free market and load his production costs onto the backs of the public.

The fact is, free-market capitalism is the best thing that could happen to our environment, our economy, our country. Simply put, true free-market capitalism, in which businesses pay all the costs of bringing their products to market, is the most efficient and democratic way of distributing the goods of the land – and the surest way to eliminate pollution. Free markets, when allowed to function, properly value raw materials and encourage producers to eliminate waste – pollution – by reducing, reusing, and recycling.

In a real-market economy, when you make yourself rich, you enrich your community.

The truth is, I don’t even think of myself as an environmentalist anymore. I consider myself a free-marketeer.

Corporate capitalists don’t want free markets, they want dependable profits, and their surest route is to crush the competition by controlling the government.

Let’s not forget that we taxpayers give away $65 billion every year in subsidies to big oil, and more than $35 billion a year in subsidies to western welfare cowboys. Those subsidies helped create the billionaires who financed the right-wing revolution on Capitol Hill and put George W. Bush in the White House.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

You called yourself a what now?

I'm sure y'all have heard about the recent school shooting. Jeff Wiese, the kid responsible for the tragedy, was supposedly an admirer of Hitler. Additionally, a NYT article (registration required; use Bugmenot to give 'em the finger) reports that he was apparently posting at a web forum for the "Libertarian National Socialist Green Party".

What The Fuck ?!?!?
What in the holy friggin world does that mean?
How in the bloody focking world is such a thing possible?
What twisted fuggin planet are these people from?

That is, without question, the most absurd and meaningless label I have ever encountered. Wouldn't being a "libertarian national socialist green" be kinda like being a "communist Jewish Nazi"? Or a "Mormon Hindu Atheist"? Or an "African-American KKK Buddhist"? Or a "5 legged Martian Homo Sapien"?

If you ask me, the people who posted at such a website, especially if they adore Adolf, most likely fall under the ideology of only one of those labels used above. I'll map it out for you:

Libertarian National Socialist Green

Or, if you prefer, you can call them psychopaths.

Why did they come up with such a fallacious label for themselves? Was it to defame those who call themselves libertarians or greens? Was it to give their maniacal movement an air of credibility, albeit false credibility? Whatever the reason, all I know is that their label makes my head hurt, and I haven't even resorted to doing what the little icon dude below is doing, although I thought about it.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005


I've got to give credit to Europeans for having such a humorous take on crooked politicians. I did so already with this post about Belgian urinal stickers. This time, it's the Germans who are under the spotlight for utilizing the power of another form of bodily waste.

For more, check out this site:

Friday, March 18, 2005

Who Is This Antibalas?

Free Image Hosting at

The answer to that question is revealed in an article I recently wrote for Please give it a read if you're curious.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Anti-war Art

Michael Ewens recently announced on his blog thoughts eclectic a new web site called Affliated with the Randolph Bourne Institute, the same group of folks responsible for, this new site's mission is to provide links to various artistic expressions that have an anti-war theme. Even though Ewens claims that all the current content is "crap", I'm sure that'll change eventually as the site gains more recognition. The site sounds like a good idea to me.

Malodorous legislation (yes, I'm aware of the redundancy here)

Could you imagine being kicked out of a library because an employee didn't care for your scent? It seems as if folks in California's San Luis Obispo County don't have to wonder about such an idea any more since it has now been made official by government decree. The county has adopted an ordinance that allows authorities to throw people out to the curb for meeting someone's arbitrary definition of "smelly".

Here is a ridiculous excerpt from the story:
A strict code of conduct, officials argue, is needed to ensure one patron's right to use a public library doesn't infringe on the rights of another.
What rights are being infringed upon if one happens to walk past someone wearing too much perfume or patchouli, or someone reeking of garlic, or someone who has chosen not to bathe the past few days?

If this was being implemented by private libraries, I'd see nothing seriously wrong with it even though I consider the type of mindset that would come up with regulations to be, well, stinky. While I'd rather not get into arguing against the existance of public institutions such as libraries at this point, I will say that while such institutions do exist, people shouldn't be forcibly removed from them based upon an arbitrary definition of what supposedly smells bad.

Here's an interesting question for the people who actually used aggressive political means to make such insanity a reality: What if people are turned off by, or offended by, things such as a patron's clothing, accessories, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or skin color? How do you like the fact that your crusade against so-called bad smells could set a precedent that could one day make you subject for forcible removal? What if someone doesn't care for your brand of perfume? What if you suddenly have an uncontrollable bout of bad gas? You reap what you sow, jackasses!

(link via The Hairy Libertarian)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Picturing preventative measures and addressing a problem's roots

Image Hosted by I've decided to learn more about HTML code relating to posting images so that my blog can be as fancy as BK Marcus's. More specifically, I wanted to be able to post images and have text appear to the left or to the right of them instead of just posting an image and having text below it. The picture that I'm experimenting with here is one of pianist Brian Haas of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. In addition to having text appear to the right of the image, the image itself should be a link to a larger version of the picture that'll allow you to notice that the sticker on the side of his Fender Rhodes piano says "A True Patriot Questions Our Lying Government".

That sticker happens to be one of two stickers that the band gives out to audience members for free at their live gigs. The other sticker says "Doctors Should Teach Nutrition Not Pharmaceutical Addiction". Wise words coming from a group of 20-something jazz virtuosos. The idea behind that commentary on doctors seems to be rooted in the idea that the modern medical profession focuses almost exclusively on treating patient symptoms, often with drugs that can be addictive and/or harmful, rather than teaching preventative measures such as nutrition. Such preventative measures, if absorbed and implemented by people, would increase one's sense of self-responsibility and initiative in the face of a culture increasingly identified with traits such as dependancy on institutions for one's well-being. Then again, a healthy populace would endanger both the profitability of the medical profession and the fate of a government system determined to promote dependancy and increase it's scope of power.

Despite the radical messages promoted by Jacob Fred, I'm disappointed to announce that they're thinking is not as libertarian as you might think. I've read various interviews with band members where they will state the importance of cutting military spending so that the government can spend more money on education, health care and other social services instead. They were also enthusiastic supporters of Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who remained in the Presidential campaign right up until John Kerry's official claim to the Democratic nomination. Kucinich may have an anti-authoritarian streak to him on certain selective subjects, but his support for things like nationalized government health care and increased state interference in other realms is disappointing to say the least. I find it troubling that people can condemn the government and accuse it of lying one minute, then hope that the right people can use the same coercive apparatus to alleviate problems that are mere symptoms of a greater affliction the next minute. It reminds me of Albert Jay Nock's declaration that sending in good people to reform the state is like sending in virgins to reform the whorehouse.

I think the members of JFJO have the right idea by calling upon doctors to teach self-responsibility and prevention to improve one's health rather than continue to merely address symptoms caused by a medical affliction that could have been prevented in the first place. If that is an admirable route to take in regards to one's health, why can't the same line of thinking be applied to address societal problems and prevent the types of suffering and injustice that plagues our nation? Whether the problem is foreign conflict, rising health care costs, growing economic inequality, inadequate education for students, or anything else that troubles us, the root cause of these maladies is government intervention which is rooted in limiting peoples' options and protecting the politically privledged by means of aggression. If you like the idea of giving peace a chance, then the consistent thing to do is to not only condemn aggressive measures abroad but also at home, as Roderick Long challenges us to do in his open letter to the peace movement.

Relying on government to address the symptoms of a sick culture can be just as harmful and addictive as popping pills to address the symptoms of a sick body. If preventative measures are as wise as people think they are, then surely such measures should be applied to as many problems as possible. With government itself causing so much suffering, shouldn't limiting it's destructiveness be considered the proper prescription to our problems? As Henry David Thoreau once said: "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." We need a few more people willing to strike at the root instead of merely treating symptoms, or as Thoreau would say, swinging at branches.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Voluntary cooperation rescuing students from bureaucrats who should go "suck it"

Elliot Mallen, columnist for The Michigan Daily, the University of Michigan's school newspaper, recently chimed in about some campus "guerilla librarians" who have reacted to the university's selling off of material from East Quad's Benzinger Library by attempting to rebuild the collection despite the hostile and uncooperative response from university adminstrators. Known as the Benzinger Library Cooperative, this effort sparked by the voluntary contributions of students living in the dorm is successfully growing in size even though the university hired bureaucrats keep trying to wrestle control away from the students and continue to develop as dull and authoritarian living and learning experience as possible for the students.

This story appears to represent a sort of microcosm of relations between individuals and voluntary groups of individuals and the bureaucratic institutions of government that seek control and conformity of the masses. Since governments are naturally self-serving and corrupt, reacting to situations in ways such as the East Quad students provides an example of how people can overcome oppressive meddling from above. Now if only people would act in similar ways with regard to issues like welfare and other social services instead of turning to the institution that creates most of our problems while claiming to serve and protect us.

Mallen's piece does a fine job describing the authoritarian impulse of university bureaucrats interfering with students' lives and how students have responded by embracing the virtuous choice of using voluntary cooperation to solve their problems. It's a nice break from reading the typical commentary from university lefties who claim to be anti-authoritarian while promoting statist measures to solve problems created by the state to begin with.

I think I'll stop by East Quad on my way to work one day next week and make a donation to the co-op's collection. I have all sorts of great live music that I can burn copies of that'll give the collection some cultural diversity aside from P-Funk and porn, and I think I'll also donate my copy of Benjamin Tucker's "'State Socialism and Anarchism' And Other Essays" after I make a photocopy of it for myself.

Werd up -- Gizoogle that!

From the humorous and bizarre department comes this new alteration of what is most likely the most popular search engine on the interweb: Gizoogle.

It looks like Google, it works somewhat like Google (although only one search page comes up), but with a twist that'll make ya wanna holla! Upon trying it out by doing a search for myself, the first entry that came up was of course a link to my blog: freeman, libertizzle critta. It doesn't seem to be real consistent though, since I also saw my bliznog name come up as "freeman, libertizzle playa", "freeman, libertizzle brotha", and "freeman, libertizzle critta dogg".

And then there are the results that just make no sense whatsoever. Upon doing a search for my friend Sunni Maravillosa, the first entry had this description for her website/blog:
Hizzle page fo` Sunni Maravillizzles web site n bliznog, mackin' freedom, libertarizzle indivizzle n mizzuch mizzle fo my bling bling. ...

And wit T-H-to-tha-izzat, I bid farewell fo` now.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The utter absurdity of viewing media sources as "objective"

I just noticed a cyber survey over at the online site for The Detroit News. The survey question asks if readers consider any news organizations to be fair and unbiased. The obvious answer to such an inquiry is that there is no such thing as an objective media, and all sources of information present some sort of bias.

Over 67% of the respondants are actually aware of this, although I'm assuming that many of those who decided to chime in with their thoughts fall into the over 31% minority who think that at least some media outlets are objective. I make that assumption due to the many responses by people who stated that the only media source they find trustworthy and truthful is...

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What is perhaps even more disturbing than knowing that many people rely on only one source of news and information is the fact that everyone was obsessed with notions of left and right, and no one brought up the fact that the primary bias within the MSM is statist in nature. As Harry Browne stated in his recent column about Syria:
I must remind you that 90% of what we know about foreign affairs is information that has come from the U.S. government. That’s where CNN, Fox TV News, ABC, NBC, CBS, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and almost all the rest of the American media get almost all their information.

Whenever you encounter criticism of government in the MSM, it is almost always superficial and partisan in the sense that government is flawed only when the "wrong people" are in charge. It is this song and dance deception that dupes people into believing that our media has not been fully Sovietized when it fact it largely has been.

All I can say is Viva la internet! May the government licensed and regulated boob tube media die a quick death and let the free and decentralized media of the future flourish!

More apologies

I recently accepted an invitation to the join the crew over at The Daily Apology. I apolgize if this upsets any of my blog's regular readers, not that there are many of those anyway.

I must also apologize for my first post over there, which brings up such blasphemous topics as polygamy and breasts. The horror!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I'm generally not a fan of the myriad online quizzes out there that people take. I know that they're meant to be more entertaining than serious, but I just don't like many of the questions asked and the way that the answers to those questions are interpreted in order to lump the quiz taker into a certain category. Lemuel of This Blog Will Be Deleted By Tomorrow recently linked to one of these quizzes and provided his results. I actually decided to take this one, which is about gender differences, and here are the results:

Your Brain is 46.67% Female, 53.33% Male

Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

However flawed this quiz may be, I'm not surprised by the results. Not only do I acknowledge my feminine side, but I appreciate it and I certainly don't suppress it. That doesn't mean that I'm, to borrow a silly term from the Governator, some sort of "girly man", since I'm also quite masculine in many areas, and the quiz correctly points that I'm still more masculine than feminine. As the results state, I have a "healthy mix", or a balance as I like to call it, between male and female traits.

This notion of balance is something that keeps popping up in my life, and it's something that I appreciate and am fond of. It makes me think of the Eastern concept of yin and yang and how one should seek some sort of balance in their lives, one that is of course reflective of personal idiosyncrasies.

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There are at least two other examples of balance that relate to me aside from the one that the quiz pointed out. The first is that while I may not be truly ambidextrous, I'm not as laterally inclined as most people. I write with my right hand, and I also happen to be a rightie in regards to swinging a baseball bat or holding a hockey stick. In contrast, I throw a football and shoot hoops with my left hand, my power kick is with my left foot, and if I were boxer I'd be a southpaw. My catching abilities are about the same with each hand, at least as far as catching a football is concerned (I never really played baseball as a child).

The other example of balance involves political beliefs. I hold certain beliefs that a common observer might label as "left wing" and some that would be labeled by the same person as "right wing", which is typical of all libertarians. I do not think of myself as being right or left when it comes to politics; I instead like to say that I transcend such a dichotomy.

I also consider the left/right dichotomy within politics to be a largely false one anyways. A much more distinctive and important dichotomy is the one between liberty and tyranny. Libertarians are often accused of being utopian dreamers who wish to create some sort of perfect society, and I couldn't disagree more with that accusation. Rather than trying to rid the world of evil and create perfection, I see freedom lovers such as myself as trying to bring balance to the world. Eastern philosophy is abundant within the Star Wars movies, and the notion of confronting the dark side of the force also comes to mind here.

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Libertarians realize that government is a tool of the dark side, and thus seek to attain balance by minimizing the power and influence of government. Doing so won't eliminate evil, but it will restore harmony to human existance, which is what balance is all about. Moving towards a genuine free market may also result in bringing into balance the yin of competitiveness and the yang of cooperation amongst individuals and communities, which is a bonus for sure.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Famed NYC venues in trouble

Not one, but two, famed venues in New York City are in serious financial trouble. First, there is Tonic, a venue catering to jazz and other experimental forms of music that have difficulty being recieved elsewhere. Now, it appears as if legendary punk rock venue CBGB is also in dire straits, as I learned from this Yahoo News story.

While a number of reasons are cited for the financial troubles plaguing both venues, I can't help but wonder if there is another factor at play here. Could it be that such troubles are also an unintended consequence of NYC's draconian smoking ban for bars and venues such as Tonic and CBGB?

This is definitely some tragic news for music buffs such as myself. It's also ironic since these smoking bans are usually supported by the same types who also support public financing of the arts in order to preserve and protect the types of artists who now face the possibility of having fewer venues available to share their art with the public.

Is it just me, or is it hot in here?

Continuing with the apology theme of this past weekend, I must send out an apology to members of my audience who happen to be female, homosexual, or just plain offended by the following post for whatever reason.

By way of Catallarchy, I have come to the conclusion that Lebanese women are absolutely, and without a doubt, hawt!

In case you wish to view the evidence for yourself, here is a link to the sexiest Catallarchy post ever.

On a more serious note, the news about Lebanon and it's occupation by Syrian forces doesn't seem to be as cut and dry as the MSM (mainstream media) would have you believe. For some insight on why this is the case, I suggest giving Justin Raimondo's latest column over at a read.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The 2 minute apology

Upon noticing that BK Marcus's blog was either hacked or temporarily subverted by Mr. Burger King himself, I decided to view his blogger profile for some odd reason. It was there that I discovered a new endeavor in the blogosphere undertaken by a crew of courageous bloggers who are castigated by the dimwit-serioso delegates of the PC Police: The Daily Apology.

For the record, I apologize for linking to, let alone mentioning, such an outrageous display of defiance to the kommisars of kulture and konformity. I also apologize for the use of three Ks in the preceding sentence.

Additionally, I came across this article condemning war critics while reading Justin Raimondo's latest column "A Fascist America". Upon reading the article mentioned in Justin's column, I must apologize for being a treasonous bastard for daring to speak out against Caesar and his glorious wars. I also must express my deepest apology for actually taking the words of Theodore Roosevelt, our nation's 26th President, seriously when he proclaimed that "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Friday, March 04, 2005

Musical gutters

I like rock music. It's likely that there are still people out there (squares, old fogies, etc.) who equate rock music with the retched rut that the genre was in during the '80s. MTV was new and hip and brought those atrocious "hair bands" to peoples' living rooms across the nation. To many, rock music, like any other genre, consists of what their conception of it is, and that conception is colored almost exclusively by one's exposure to the music. Even though there actually was some good rock music made during the '80s, the lasting impression people have with rock music from the '80s consists of bands like Quiet Riot, Poison, and Warrant. What is interesting about this is that rock music isn't alone in terms of having a dark age, or period of time largely spent in the gutter.

Hip-hop is a genre that many people easily dismiss or at least misunderstand, and the idea that it is going through a similar phase as rock music did in the '80s makes a lot of sense to me. Upon discovering a new music blog called All Thangs Funky..., I noticed a post featuring a rant (which starts later in the post) about hip-hop that made me think "yes, that's it!" To quote it's author, Brother B. Deenie:
A few years ago I was riding in a car with Wise D and Mooch from DepthCharge Records and Wise voiced his theory on how Hip Hop was in its "Hair Band" stage much like the mid to late 80's in rock music. Then all of a sudden (sort of) Grunge took control and brought some freshness back into the artform. True, Grunge was just good rock music given a new "label" buy record companies, but it was refreshing for the times. I think we are in that same kind of blackhole that rock was in and my question is if not now, then when?

This idea makes perfect sense to me. Rappers like 50 Cent, Ludacris, etc. are the Poison and Slaughter of the hip-hop world. Not all hip-hop music is dumbed down, lacking in creativity, and full of loathsome lyrics full of sexism, "bling bling" nonsense, and glorification of "thug life", just like not all rock music resembles the loud and cheesy crud put out by male rockers who dressed like slutty women. That doesn't mean that all of these people were talentless hacks though, since I'm sure that some of the '80s "hair band" rockers were talented musicians making lousy music, just like Enimem is a talented rapper making lousy music.

Despite the absolute rubbish that dominates the mainstream, and thus many peoples' perception of hip-hop music, there have been, currently are, and will be many hip-hop artists that produce worthwhile or even flat out wonderful music. Brother B. Deenie mentioned a few, such as De La Soul, Hieroglyphics, and MF Doom, and I'll add to it artists like Digable Planets, Jurassic 5, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Blackalicious, and so many others.

Since I'm a big jazz freak, I comment on it for a moment too. Although some may point to the swing era as being the jazz equivalent to this whole idea, it seems as if jazz is too subjective and too different to think of in similar terms. Many may point to the revolting and zombified horror that is "smooth jazz" as being the prime example. Skerik, a saxophonist I greatly admire, recently stated that "Smooth jazz is the equivalent of someone trying to sell children in a Mosque in Saudi Arabia." While I agree wholeheartedly with that befitting remark, I won't give people like Kenny G the respect of referring to them as jazz artists. To me, it's a form of muzak that, at least for a moment, makes me wish that I didn't have ears. Additionally, I don't think it'll be going away anytime soon, which is unfortunate.

To counter the fact that Kenny G and his blasphemous contributions to humanity are now occupying my brain, I think I'll listen to some Dead Kenny Gs, followed by some good hip-hop.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A golden shower for the king!

Belgians have apparently come up with a pretty creative way to show their disgust with George Bush. The following sticker can be found in urinals all over Belgium:

Here is a link to the story about this.

I'd like to know where I could get my hands on some of those stickers here in the US. Although I bet it would be fun to piss on such an image, I wonder if Bush himself may actually enjoy being on the recieving end of a golden shower. It's possible, although I have a strong suspicion that Slick Willie would recieve even more delight from a salty sprinkle.

(link via Karen De Coster)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Jamming the wheel of misfortune, and the politics of ideological bait and switch

I recently became aware of an insightful new blog called Upaya. MGM, the blogmeister of Upaya, happens to be a fellow ex-leftist who is interested in debunking the various positions held by left-statists as well as social anarchists. His most recent entry, "Work or Starve" takes a common socialist position to task by reconstructing it from a radical libertarian perspective. Rather than being "forced" to either work for a greedy, exploitative capitalist or starve by purely market forces, the workers' dilemna is not only more complex than that, but is seemingly fueled more by regulations and other forms of state intervention than anything else. Here is MGM's reconstruction of the socialist argument in question:
1. Under state capitalism, capital is much more highly concentrated than it would be in a free market system.
2. Intervention in the market on behalf of economic elites (and “progressive” legislation) significantly restricts the average person’s access to capital and creates artificial scarcity.
3. The political and legal systems are rigged in favor of the power elite and against the average person. And things are worse for those on the margins of the economy.
4. This rigged system forms the background context within which workers look for employment.
5. Therefore, the workers choices are artificially constrained by a political system rigged in favor of the power elite.
6. So, while a worker may freely choose to work for a particular capitalist (or corporation, etc.) her liberty is still illegitimately limited under state capitalism.

When you consider the fact that the wealthy and the power-hungry are always going to be at an advantage within the realm of politics, how can problems such as these be alleviated in any way by MORE government involvement? Since the political realm is always subject to rampant corruption, using the poltical means to address problems will either fail to work, make the current problems worse, and/or create new problems that'll need to be addressed. The result is the vicious cycle that created much dismay and destruction throughout the 20th century, a wheel of misfortune that statists keep spinning, sadistically advancing the spoilage of our culture. If such a path fixes nothing and actually increases suffering, why not try a different approach for once, one that promotes freedom and opportunity for everyday people by removing the barriers to advancement while also removing the traditional political mechanisms of rulers who want to thwart such advacements through force and deception.

The conclusion of MGM's post also presses an important point. He notes that:
Marx is sometimes accused of pulling a bait and switch when it comes to capitalism. First, he describes capitalism as a free enterprise system. And yet the system he goes on to “unmask” and criticize is not free enterprise, but mercantilism. Vulgar libertarians do much the same when they bait with the free market, but then switch to a defense of state capitalism (i.e., mercantilism). Smash (state) capitalism!

This comment urges me to bring attention once more to an article that describes Marx's bait and switch in more detail. BK Marcus's "Straw Men and Ham Sandwiches" explains how Marx starts off with a good faith definition of capitalism before engaging in a strawman attack that actually serves to critique the very mercantilist system that has evolved to create many of our modern dilemnas, including the one MGM addresses.

The other example of bait and switch MGM mentions is the common one deployed by those libertarians who constantly apologize for corporatism and it's major players. These "vulgar libertarians", as he and Kevin Carson like to refer to them as, do a disservice to all freedom lovers and the promotion of free markets by first praising free markets, then equating such support with a support of the corporatist status quo. No wonder so many anti-corporate skeptics of libertarianism are scared of free markets!

I applaud the efforts of those radical and honest libertarians who work to promote the very real distinction between what we yearn for and what corporate executives and their political pals yearn for. In case you aren't aware, Kevin Carson has written a series of blog posts exposing the vulgar libertarians as the schmucks they really are. Here is a link to his most recent addition to this series, one that reveals a love of economic centralization and transparent forms of corporate welfare amongst the vulgar crowd.

The insanity of embracing failure

I wrote yesterday about the corruption and failure of foreign aid and how the atrocious nature of the system may persuade some to abandon support for it's continued existance. Well, Butler Shaffer's latest writing over at LRC, titled Failure is the Health of the State, provides a critique of my reasoning that needs to be recognized and absorbed. The essay, the title of which is a thoughtful play on the famous Randolph Bourne statement that "war is the health of the state", explores the issue of state health and how the continual failures of the state actually seem to feed it rather than fuel the fire of opposition to it. As Shafer describes it himself:
Most of us continue to sanction such statist systems because we lack the inner courage to confront our own thinking. We continue reinvesting our souls and the lives of our children in systems that define who we are to ourselves. When those systems fail, we reenergize our commitments to them, for to acknowledge the failure of the state is to admit to the inadequacy of our personal identity. If the state is a failure, we are a failure.

This is how the failure of systems with which we identify ourselves works to the benefit – rather than the demise – of such agencies. For the same reason that the police system prospers by its ineffectiveness in protecting citizens from crime, the state benefits from its foreign policy/national defense shortcomings. In each instance, most men and women are prepared to grant the state more authority and material resources in a vain effort to shore up their faith in the system.

Reading this article reminded me of Albert Einstein's definition of insanity, which he defined as "...doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Foreign Aid Follies

No matter what the task, libertarians are well aware of the shortcomings and outright dangers that go along with seeking government action for, well, anything. One of the government programs that is regularly touted as being one of the most benevolent is foreign aid. Never mind the fact that this money isn't at all charitable since it is all stolen from us, there seems to be many other problems associated with the endeavor. As a recent story from Yahoo News points out:
Red tape, inefficiency and nepotism mean that only one fifth of international aid actually gets to the people who need it, aid agencies said Monday.
Not only that, but 40 percent of international aid is spent buying overpriced goods and services from the donors' own countries, Action Aid and Oxfam said in a joint report calling for urgent reform of a politically compromised system.

The worst culprits here are Italy and, wouldn't ya know it, the USSA. While there's no doubt that red tape and inefficiency plague every government endeavor, this particular issue is one where the third problem listed, nepotism, plays a much larger role. Much of the literature out there on the subject documents how aid ends up serving favored enterprises, or even favored despots. As Christopher Manion put it in an article written shortly after the recent tsunami disaster:
U.S. government foreign aid represents a devil’s brew cooked up many decades ago, a Frankenstein combining left-wing "humanitarianism" and right-wing "anticommunism." Neither concept could have made it on its own through the congress, and so the bloated two-headed monster has stalked the earth ever since. As Peter Bauer once observed, foreign aid created the "Third World" countries, who had only one thing in common: resentment of America. Playing on American guilt, the dictators and corrupt elites would parade through the halls of international organizations and insist, "our poverty is your fault." And, of course, "we" guilt-ridden Americans would send them millions.

Private agendas, of course, abound. In only one example, a friend on Capitol Hill estimates that Israel alone has received one hundred billion dollars in U.S. foreign aid in the past 50 years.

Manipulation and subterfuge were always central to the foreign aid enterprise. Under the cover of "assistance," however, lurked the ever-present menace of power-lust. There lies the dirty little secret (one of many, alas) about foreign aid. It represents one more familiar fraud, namely, the greed of the usual corporate suspects around the government hot tub whose "services" constitute the warp and woof of countless foreign aid programs. Any time a serious challenge is made to foreign aid, U.S. government luminaries scatter country-wide to induce the corporate "customers" who supply the goods to lobby Congress for this "indispensable" program. After all, they know where their bread is buttered.

A much more detailed analysis of foreign aid, how it's dispensed, and who benefits, can be found in an article written back in November by Bill Walker called "Aid to Dependent Dictators".

Of course, some of the aid out there actually does wind up in the hands of impoverished people throughout the world. Some of this aid is in the form of food. Unfortunately, the food that is sent abroad is not always kosher, or even fit for human consumption. I recently stumbled across this report on the Organic Consumers Organization website, which brings up the fact that Starlink corn (or maize, if you want to get fancy about it) has been shipped to many Latin American countries.

You may or may not be concerned with Starlink corn or other examples of genetically-modified foods, but the truth is that many of these foods have not been thoroughly tested and people who consume them end up being guinea pigs. These foods are far less popular in other countries, including the countries who recieved these food shipments, than they are here. On top of that, many people here in the US who praise the idea of foreign aid are critical of these foods, and this recent news strikes a blow to the credibility of foreign aid. In other words, not only is most foreign aid nothing more than corporate welfare or mischievous political maneuvering in disguise, but now examples of aid directly going to the world's poor is tainted in the eyes of an increasing number of people.

Call me cynical or call me cunning, but I have to say that one question comes to mind when trying to figure out what went wrong: what else do you expect when you turn to the political means (a.k.a. government) to achieve goals, benevolent or not? Methinks that aid from private sources wouldn't end up doing the harm that government aid is responsible for.