Tuesday, February 28, 2006

walmart post #4

If Walmart is gonna be the subject of blog posts here every so often, I may as well just start numbering them, eh?

You can count on the LRC/Mises contingent of libertarianism to sing the holy praises of WalMart from time to time. In fact, that practice is perhaps more common coming from there than the time-honored libertarian tradition of critiqing drug prohibition. While many adore these Walmart love sessions, a growing number seem to be growing mighty tired of them.

I'm a libertarian, and I don't like Walmart. This shouldn't come as a surprise to those who stop by here regularly, since I've written three other posts about this particular beast (uno, dos, tres). My primary point is that Walmart is certainly no beneficiary of a free market, and in fact happens to love taking advantages of various laws and other goodies from the State to gain a competitive edge. Despite this, many libertarians champion Walmart while quite often leaving genuine criticism out of focus.

As I've stated before, there is nothing wrong and much that is good about those who wish to refute some of the typical Walmart bashing that is rooted in protectionist and otherwise anti-market thought. What gets on my nerves though is the wholesale glorification of Walmart that ensues as if there is practically nothing wrong with the corporation, other than perhaps having to deal with big crowds or less than helpful employees.

The latest example is this Lawrence Vance article from Mises.org that lists ten reasons not to like Walmart. The problem is that all ten of these reasons are pretty superficial compared to some of the real reasons to dislike Walmart. Again, aside from stuff like this, many libertarians will go right back to explicit pro-Walmart prose, as if Walmart is as wonderful as sex and they often find themselves hard-pressed not to cream their pants whenever they're strolling down WM's spacious aisles. This may be a bit of an exaggeration, and there are times when they'll mention the use of eminent domain, but such instances are most definitely pretty rare. Is it possible for these particular libertarians to justifiably tear apart the bad criticisms without also engaging in Walmart idolatry?

I got a kick out of reading the many comments inspired by this article on the Mises blog. There were some quality, well-reasoned responses, such as the many written by Roderick T. Long. For example:
"Wal-Mart has never caused any firm to go out of business. Wal-Mart can't close down any store but one of its own. It is the customers who no longer do business with a company or shop at a particular store who put that company out of business or closed that store."
Well, yes and no. It's not as though Wal-mart is a pure market firm, operating with no government patronage. For one thing, Wal-mart often gets the land for its stores by eminent domain. Since land obtained by eminent domain is generally land obtained below the market price (i.e., below the price at which the owner would have sold voluntarily -- otherwise eminent domain wouldn't have been needed), Wal-mart's operating costs are lower than they would have been without government help.

So, sure, customers voluntarily choose to shop at Wal-mart because of its lower prices; but those lower prices have been made possible, in part, by theft -- so it's not exactly fair competition. If I got to steal my means of production I could offer lower prices too. (And eminent domain is only one of the many ways in which big corporations are aided by state violence.)

And if Wal-mart first uses government intervention to help it defeat its competitors, and then takes advantage of the absence of such competitors in order to offer employees lower salaries than they could if the competitors hadn't been wiped out, then Wal-mart's low salaries are not exactly a pure market phenomenon either.

To be sure, Wal-mart's success isn't due solely to state patronage; there's been genuine entrepreneurial skill involved too. Still, Wal-mart's success is rather tainted.

A commentor named Beefcake the Mighty inserted some humor into the discussion by calling Vance "the Sean Hannity of libertarianism", implying that he apparently writes things that make libertarianism look bad. I don't endorse that ad-hominem by Beefcake since I'm unfamiliar with much of Vance's work, but it did make me chuckle and it does have some relevance, at least as it pertains to the Walmart article in particular.

Another good and insightful comment came from "JB" who revealed another (and largely unknown, I'd guess) reason to dislike WM:
I would like to add a "good" reason to not shop at WalMart. I do not "hate" WalMart, but I find some of their business practices questionable and virtually unknown to the consumer.

The "reason" I would like to add is DECEPTION.

The example I will use is from a lawnmower manufacturer about 15 miles from me: Simplicity in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

I own a manufacturing facility here. I have 100 employees and do about 10 million a year - been in business since 1986.

We met with Simplicity (some salesmen and a VP) about 5 years ago for a project. After discussing our deal, we began making small talk. One of the things that came up was our feelings about WalMart as a customer to our companies.

I had a bad experience with WalMart prior to the meeting (basically, the buyer took my price and hammered his current vendor to match it - not illegal, but not something that will have new vendors beating down your door if word gets around - it's like a guy in highschool who screws every girl he can as quickly as he can: he gets a "bad rep" pretty quick and no girls will go out with him at all soon enough).

When I brought this up (my bad experience with WalMart, not bad reps from too much sex!), I was surprised to hear that Simplicity had recently turned down a huge deal with WalMart - until I found out why.

According to the VP in our meeting, WalMart was all set to go with a specific model of Simplicity lawnmower. On the day they went to see the buyer in Bentovnille to get the final p.o. and go over a few minor changes to the graphics, the buyer suddenly let the VP (and owner and a few others that flew down)know that in order for the purchase to go through Simplicity would have to "cheapen-up" many of the parts, but not change the name or model number in comparison to what was sold at their "mom and pop"/other dealers.

So, in a nutshell, the buyer wanted to undercut all other vendors (which is understandable) not with volume, but with DECEPTION.

I have heard so many stories like this from so many different manufacturers, that I have a hard time seeing myself using WalMart as a vendor in the future. To me, this IS "the market" working - it won't start with consumers, it will start with vendors such as myself depriving WalMart of selection due to their behavior - if WalMart responds to the concerns, they will stay in business, if they don't, they will be Kmart in 30 years.

I now must question just about any product I buy from WalMart - am I really getting a "better price" or am I just buying lower quality product that has the same name/label as the higher quality product?

With WalMart, it really may be that we are "getting what we paid for".

One of the libertarians who is sick of all the Walmart praise is Stephen Gordon from Hammer of Truth, who recently wrote a great post titled "The Real Reason to Hate Wal-Mart". He starts off by pointing out all of the good arguments made by libertarians who defend Walmart from shoddy but persistent criticisms. He then shows the flaws in certain other comments and brings up the examples of three Walmarts in his home state of Alabama that have exploited bad laws and greedy politicians to gain favors from the State that wind up giving Walmart a competitive advantage over other stores.

A large debate continues in response to this post as well, with the primary point made by those disagreeing with Gordon being essentially that it is the laws and the system that need to be criticized, not those who benefit from it, such as Walmart. I wholeheartedly agree that the system is the root of the problem and should be condemned, but Walmart and other companies that similarly benefit should not be getting off scot-free from exploiting the system for their benefit. There is nothing libertarian about that. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with criticizing both the government and those who use the government to engage in certain dirty deeds. Just because Walmart is a business and not city hall or a large federal bureaucracy doesn't mean that they should be given a free pass to engage in or profit from political coercion without scorn.

When I see people seeking to eliminate any criticism of companies such as Walmart just because they're not the one who wrote the eminent domain laws, I'm reminded of why some libertarians are increasingly engaged in defining and pointing out instances of what Kevin Carson has dubbed "vulgar libertarianism". While glorifying Walmart may not necessarily equate promotion of faux free enterprise, it does (to return to the idea promoted by Beefcake The Mighty) serve to make libertarianism look bad. As a former left-wing statist who wishes to make libertarianism look good to the left, I'm especially sensitive to examples of corporate glorification that is not justified on libertarian grounds.

The one valid point that was made by those who questioned all the Walmart criticism is that Walmart is not the only corporation benefitting from eminent domain and other government goodies. This is certainly true, and all other corporations, such as Target or Costco or whomever, who fall into this category should be criticized as well. Walmart gets all the attention because it's the biggest and is subject to criticism from all sorts of people, but it certainly isn't alone in terms of gaining unjust nourishment from the government teat. Additionally, libertarians shouldn't need to be reminded that the State is ultimately the root of the problem. With that in mind though, this libertarian critter is not going to be compelled to back off from criticizing corporations who benefit from the State just because they may not be the root of the problem.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Cheers to Brad Spangler for putting together and launching a new informative website called Agorism.info. This new site is the place to check out to learn more about the radical variant of left-libertarianism known as Agorism. As of now, the site includes some great PDFs of work by Samuel Edward Konkin III and Wally Conger, the republished MLL pamphlets that Wally has been releasing, and some links and definitions related to the movement.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

olympics post

This is the first Winter Olympics year I can recall in which I haven't really paid attention to much of anything. I certainly haven't watched any speedskating given the fact that I had no idea who Shani Davis was until I read this Karen De Coster post about him. I guess Davis has been painted by fellow US speedskater Chad Hedrick and the media as being "selfish" and "unpatriotic" for focusing on his preferred event, one in which he had the best shot at winning, instead of a team race involving Hedrick. I not only agree with Karen's assessment of this situation, but also of one of the societal flaws prevalent in our culture today:
Shani Davis was the class act in this brouhaha; Hedrick is a scurrilous creep. Adds Wojnowski, "If Davis is not well-liked by teammates, it's not unanimous. Silver medalist Joey Cheek sat happily with him on the podium, and was one of the few Americans to embrace Davis after the victory."

That's because individualism is not acceptable in today's egalitarian-collectivist society of also-rans and parasites. Being above and beyond your "teammates" is somehow equated with seditiousness or dissent. That Shani's years and years of training gained him that one big objective that he had forever strived to reach is unacceptable to his petulant and lesser peers.

I reject all that prattle and instead celebrate Shani's dedication to success and refinement. Wojnowski closes with a no-brainer: "And here's a newsflash: Speedskating is an individual sport, always has been."

Bullseye. Case closed.

The fact that speedskating is an individual sport is irrelevant to those who feel that one must sacrifice his/her individual status for the good of the nation. I obviously reject such nationalistic crap, which is why I wished to bring this whole thing up. With the exception of team sports such as hockey, the Olympics are supposed to be a showcase for individual athletic excellence and goodwill, not nationalist exaltation and petulance. Well, that's at least what the founders of the modern Olympic games had in mind, prior to the rise of the nationalistic and commercialistic trends that have perverted so much in the past century or so.

Additionally, since when is there some sort of written rule stating that one must root for the "home team"? Despite all the wonderful individual events taking place in the Olympics, the one sport that I have watched a bit of is hockey. I must say that I was glad to see the Swedish team knock off the Americans the other day. I'm also not rooting for the American team to win gold. Some would call that blasphemy, but I don't give a shit. Aside from a couple of players, I'm not a fan of most American players, and there are a few that I flat out don't like. With that in mind, why should I root for them? I'm not gonna let nationalism and geography dictate to me which teams or individuals to support.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us The hockey team that I am rooting for is the Swedish team, despite the fact that I have no Swedish heritage or anything. Why? For starters, many of my favorite hockey players are Swedes - Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom (pictured), Peter Forsberg, and Daniel Alfredsson. I also love their uniforms, especially the yellow sweaters. While most other teams seem to alter their look for each international competition, Sweden always sticks with their classic three crown look.

Monday, February 20, 2006

presidents' day

What a lousy day. A day where Americans are supposed to sing praise for the first President (whose warning against foreign entanglents has been shit upon by his successors), the American Lenin, and all the other guys who took part in moving away from the ideals that spawned a revolution over 200 years ago.

I was hoping to recieve a book about Benjamin Tucker and other champions of liberty in the mail today, but there is no mail delivery today. Curses!

I spent most of the day with my mom while she was getting her chemo treatment. While my mom slept through practically the entire ordeal, I spent some time there in the infusion room reading Thomas DiLorenzo's The Real Lincoln, followed by a short nap. Everyone in the infusion room was talking to each other about the same thing when I awoke. They were looking outside at the massive traffic jam that was created when the road was temporarily closed. Why was it closed? Because Caesar himself was escorted right past the office on his way to visit some sort of solar plant in Auburn Hills.

The people in the clinic were excited at the fact that glorious, almighty Caesar was actually in town, the people in the traffic jam were justifiably pissed off, while I was upset over the fact that I slept through an opporunity to give Caesar himself the finger on one of the State's holy days.

ambiguous collectives revisited

Returning to the topic of ambiguous collectives, there is another example that is rather frequent these days. It seems as if many collectivist minded individuals want to throw all Muslims together and refer to them collectively as "they", then condemn them all for the actions carried out by a few individuals who happen to be Muslims. Not only is such a thing stupid, but it can also be dangerous.

James Landrith addresses this specific example of the ambiguous collective in this Rational Review editorial. Notice in the following excerpt how he uses quotation marks when referring to the pro-war "libertarians" who engage in this fallacious practice:
The choice of words by some "libertarians" are interesting. For instance, constantly referring to Muslims in general as "they" and then assigning collective guilt to "they" for actions committed by specific individuals or small groups. "They" didn't burn Danish missions. Specific individual Muslims burned Danish missions. "They" didn't fly planes into the World Trade Center towers. Specific individual Muslims flew planes into the World Trade Center towers. It is fascinating to me that some of my fellow "libertarians" are so eager to engage in gross generalizations, rather than see the distinction between thousands of SOME vs. 1.6 billion of THEY.

I sure see the distinction. It isn't hidden. And it isn't complicated. Why are there suddenly special rules that require Muslims to be treated as less than worthy of the same individuality granted other human beings? Of course, not being prone to promoting simplistic generalizations I see 1.6 billion individuals, some of whom suffer from group-think, and some who don't. Some who live in despotic regimes and some who don't. Some who have poor educations, some who don't. Some who live in the Middle East, and some who don't. Some who subscribe to violence and hatred and some who don't.

Call me "simplistic" if it makes you feel better, but I just don't promote group guilt or assign blame to 1.6 billion individuals on the basis of the actions of a small group of individuals. Should all members of the United States military be blamed for the actions of those who lost their military bearing and violated Geneva Convention restrictions at Abu Ghraib? If we apply the logic of some "libertarians", surely so. Should we label all men rapists on the basis that some of them are? If we apply the group blame philosophy presented by some "libertarians", yes we should. Shall we affix the designation of child molester to all priests on the basis that some of them have been identified as such? Sure, that is the logic of generalizations that strip whole classes of humanity of their individuality, relegating them to a status lower than that of the person making the generalization.

And that is usually the whole point.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

ambiguous collectives & other statist myths

Since I know that most people go through years of schooling and never learn one lick of logic, I thought I'd pass some along today. From Hogeye Bill's Dictonary of Logical Fallacies comes the following:
Ambiguous Collective
[Rel] The use of a collective term without any meaningful delimitation of the elements it subsumes. "We" "you" "they" and "the people" are the most widely used examples. This fallacy is especially devastating in the realm of political discussion, where its use renders impossible the task of discriminating among distinctly different groups of people. I often challenge those who commit this fallacy to eliminate from their discussion vocabulary all general collective terms, and each time they want to use such a term to use instead a precisely delimiting description of the group the term is intended to subsume.

An antecedentless pronoun is an example in the singular of the Ambigious Collective fallacy. Here are two examples of the Ambiguous Collective fallacy: "Last November, 77% of us voted in favor of term limits." In this statement, who exactly are the "us"? The speaker wants to convey the idea that term limits are very widely supported, but if in fact the 77% refers only to those who voted, that subgroup may well be a quite small percentage of the total population. "We need to train doctors to teach us how to get and stay healthy." In this statement, who are the "we" and who are the "us"? Is the speaker trying to promote socialized medicine by advocating government control of the medical schools? When he says "we need to" does he really mean "the government should"? And is the "us" merely a subtle way of saying "me"?

Examples of this fallacy violate my senses regularly and I've been meaning to get the subsequent frustration off my chest. Recent examples include: "we invaded iraq", "we need some sort of government to exist", "we love the fuggin power ballads". My question to those who use the ambiguous collective term "we" is this - who the bloody hell is "we"???

Well... what's the answer? Is it explicitly you and me? Our class? Our family? Our town? Brown-eyed people? No...well who then? I can tell you right off the bat that I never agreed to nor took part in any invasion of Iraq, I don't consent to nor need any sort of government telling me what to do, and I sure as hell don't like power ballads.

Are some of these people trying to suggest that people living on the land known as the United States of America are owned by some sort of being or institution, and thus all such people can be collectively referred to as "we" and that we have no mind or autonomy of our own? Am I part of some gang, club, or cult that I'm not aware of?

Truth is, there is no "we". There is, however, an "I", and there is a "you". There is no living, breating, observable "we" that individuals can point to. The State, it's minions, and it's actions certainly cannot be lumped together with you and me and referred to as "we". On this last point, I refer to an entry on the new anarcho-capitalist FAQ (also by Hogeye Bill) that is pertinent enough to share:
8. What are the myths of statism?
The paradigm of statism divides the world into competing States, and men into subjects of those States. The State generally succeeds in buying the services of "court intellectuals" to convince the people that wise leadership is necessary, for their own good, inevitable, and at any rate better than any alternative. Here are some common myths:

1. We are the government.
This is perhaps the most insidious myth - a form of extreme victimhood. This Stateholm syndrome is a virulent form of Stockholm syndrome. This identification with the ruler is ubiquitous in statist societies. A person who's never been near a military jet might say, "we bombed Iraq" or "we are fighting to bring democracy." In fact, the ruling elite are making the decisions, and their milfare minions are doing the killing. It is very important to avoid using the slave we in speech, as it impairs critical thinking. Beware the ambiguous collective. It may takes practice to be instantly able to translate "Support our troops" to "support the ruler's hired goons."

2. The government acts for the common good.
There are problems with this vulgar utilitarian view. What is the common good? (No one agrees.) If we somehow knew the common good, how do we implement it? (No one knows.) Even if we implemented a plan, how do we know it would have the desired results? (We don't, and coercively imposed social planning often has substantial perverse consequences.) There are also institutional objections to the myth. Why would the State act for the common good rather than the interests of the rulers. The rulers make the decisions, and have incentives like all men. Public choice theory is a more reliable prediter of political behavior than naive faith in Pollyanna pluralism.

3. Government is the only way to solve problem X.
This is the fallacy of government solipotence - the erroneous belief that only the State can solve society's problems. In fact, every valid service that governments now perform can be done more morally, and usually better, by voluntary means. Virtually every current government service has been done, at some time in history, by voluntary means. Private roads, private courts, police, and legal systems, cheap private health insurance, mail delivery, quality control certification, wildlife preservation, and so on have all been done privately.

4. State and society are are the same, or at least closely allied.
Similar to myth #1, this is an attempt to obscure the important difference between society and State. Society is the sum total of all voluntary human interactions; the State is the institution of monopoly force and legal plunder. They are mortal enemies. The more power government gets, the less power society has. The struggle between liberty and authority is a zero-sum game.

The example of an ambiguous collective provided in the FAQ is another popular one that needs to be ridiculed and rejected. "Our" troops? Who the hell is "our"? I don't own any troops, and if I did, I certainly wouldn't send them off on missions to spread evil (er, "freedom" and "democracy") abroad. If they really are mine, I should be able to instruct them to stop killing people and return home immediately, but alas, I cannot.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

that elephant in the room smells rotten

When I speak of elephants, I'm actually referring to Republicans. I can't possibly express how sick I am of the various myths portraying the Republican Party as being in favor of things that only libertarians believe in. The two big things to come to mind are free enterprise and reducing the size of government. The Busheviks have done a thorough job trashing such myths over the past few years, but it's of course not acknowledged by those who voted for or otherwise supported them, not to mention those who oppose the current regime but still view free enterprise and reducing government as being conservative goals. (note: they're not!)

I know of a few people who lean to the right who generally haven't followed political issues since the Clinton years except for news concerning terrorism, and they continue to give lip service to the myth of Republicans as being "a lesser of two evils" or "sound on fiscal issues". It's all complete balderdash, but some people simply refuse to have certain illusions challenged for fear of being thrust into some sort of limbo or (gasp) have to consider non-mainstream alternatives.

Over on the other end of the narrow mainstream spectrum, people still buy the typical Reaganisms hook, line and sinker, as if Reagan and his GOP successors all view free enterprise and limited government as being the hallmarks of conservative ideology. I was rudely smacked by this tiresome BS yet again recently while reading the latest by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut may be a great writer and overall nice and intelligent guy, but it's safe to say that he doesn't exactly have the right wing accurately pegged, let alone does he even know what free enterprise is.

Now, with all this said, I of course must state that I also think that the jackass party smells, but the odor is somewhat different. For one thing, if you want to find people in the mainstream who are actually criticizing foreign policy and recent attacks on our liberty, you won't find them amongst the elephant herd. Amongst the actual cretins serving in the House, Logan Ferree has recently shown that most elephants are flat out authoritarian (some seem to be on par with Hitler and Stalin), while Democrats seem to vary. In fact, the libertarian portion of the Nolan chart he presents has only one red dot (Ron Paul), while there are ten blue dots.

Another thing to consider in regards to my occasional targeting of Republicans is that I used to belong to the statist "progressive" left politically and I've always loathed the Republican party. Add to that the fact that Republicans have done more to tarnish noble ideals such as free enterprise and distrust of big government, and you can see why I have an especially high level of contempt for them. The Republican party and it's supporters are enemies of free enterprise and enemies of liberty in general.

It is thus with great pleasure that I present a link to Anthony Gregory's latest column, titled "The Republican Ideology of the Total State". Here's an excerpt:
The Republicans have lost even the thinnest pretense of being a party for smaller government. They might prefer deficit spending to taxing people up front. They might understand economics well enough to know that some overbearing regulations favored by Democrats will kill the host on which their parasitic operations depend. They are lower-tax imperialists, perhaps. But they do believe, when push comes to shove, that the president should have unchecked power to spy, detain, torture and wage war. Perhaps the only Constitutional provision worth observing is the guarantee of a Republican form of government – that is, a government of, by, and for the Republicans.

Wait, there's more! On the subject of Ronald Reagan in particular, here are a couple of other things to check out. While perusing Roderick Long's excellent blog and jumping from link to link within it earlier today, I came across this 2004 post where he posts a letter to the editor that he submitted to the Opelika-Auburn News (but not published) where he reveals Reagan as being a wolf in sheep's clothing:
To the Editor:

Ronald Reagan spoke with such apparent sincerity about free enterprise, free trade, deregulation, cutting taxes, and downsizing government that he somehow managed to convince both his supporters and his opponents that his administration had actually enacted some of those policies.

In reality, the Reagan presidency’s actions were diametrically opposed to its rhetoric.

Reagan’s 1981 “tax cut” was offset by higher Social Security taxes, resulting in a net tax increase for most taxpayers. He then followed it up with the 1982 TEFRA Act, the largest tax increase in American history. The federal government’s tax intake was $252 billion higher in 1986 than in 1980.

The Reagan administration increased federal spending from $591 billion to $990 billion, the deficit from $74 billion to $200 billion, and the federal debt from $900 billion to $2.7 trillion. Entitlement spending soared from $197 billion in 1981 to $477 billion in 1987.

Despite paying lip service to free trade, Reagan pursued a far more aggressively protectionist policy than his predecessors. He did continue the Carter administration’s deregulation initiatives, but launched no new ones, and reneged on his pledge to rein in the federal bureaucracy. The number of civilian government workers rose by 230,000 during the course of his presidency.

The real Reagan legacy is that, thanks to Reagan’s pro-market rhetoric, the free market unfairly gets the blame for the harmful results of his anti-market policies. In that sense, Reagan perhaps did more harm to the cause of genuine free enterprise than any President in American history.

Roderick T. Long

The other thing concerning Reagan that I'd like to share is this classic 2004 Russmo cartoon:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

*Addendum: I just thought of something else that I'd like to add to this post. Another link I came across while perusing Roderick Long's blog today went to Arthur Silber's epic essay titled "I Accuse: To Those Who Pave the Way for the New Fascism". Since the series of entries that comprise that essay were on Silber's old blog that no longer exists, the link doesn't work. Thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine, however, I was able to find the hidden nook within the interweb where the essay can still be found. The entire thing can be found here.

Monday, February 06, 2006

funniest. post. ever.

If you've had a rough or depressing week, sit back and prepare for the following. I must thank Strike The Root for linking to a blog post by "The Anti-Communist" titled "George Soros and the Libertarians". Who needs Comedy Central and whoopie cushions when you've got grade A comedic gold coming from the ranks of Mr. I Hate Commie Pinkos?

Here's how it starts:
George Soros' ties to Libertarian "anti-war" groups like Lewrockwell.com are a concern for cause. Soros is merging the ideals of hardline Socialism and Libertarianism which is suppose to be the exact opposite of hardline Socialism into a Libertarian-Socialist.

Ties between Soros and Lew Rockwell? News to me. I don't even recall anything written by Soros ever being published at Lew's site. Despite being opposed to the insane War on Humanity (er... drugs, that is) and critical of USSA foreign policy, what in the world would these two people share any sort of vision on? Now, it may be silly to label any gazillionaire like Soros as being a "hardline Socialist", but he is waaaaay too statist to have any sort of influence upon principled anti-statists. And the idea that Soros actually exerts any sort of influence over any sort of actual libertarian is silly enough to make the commentary over at The Onion seem downright amateurish and pedantic. What's next... Osama bin Laden influencing the Bushevik agenda? (hey, both camps aspire for bloody wishes and despotic dreams)

Later on, this war porn loving comedic genius writes:
This group that I displayed is linked to someone who works for Lewrockwell.com as a columnist. He has regularly made anti-drug war comments in attempt to bash America as the "Great Satan" along with attacking America's position on drugs. Many of these "alternative" groups are also linked to the ACLU another Soros' funded outlet which is tied to MoveOn.org. There is a clear case that Soros is attempting to influence Libertarian groups into going against the drug war America is waging. Soros is using Libertarian ideologues and turning the ideologues into anti-American ideologues to what Anthony Gregory at Lewrockwell.com and Lew himself have become.
Libertarians were supportive of the Drug War prior to handing their agenda over to George Soros? News to me. I wonder if he's gonna shatter even more of my illusions by informing me that Christians didn't start believing in God until His Holiness began conversing with Dubya and urging him to bomb Baghdad. How ignorant I must be!

Then there's this gem:
Soros is also merging these Libertarian ideologues with other anti-American ideologues that are found on the radical Left which are mostly made up of hardline Socialists and Communists. Thus the term-Libertarian-Socialist.
Wow... what an intellectual specimen this Mr Anyone Who Doesn't Worship Dubya is a Commie guy is! He even invented the catchy term "libertarian-socialist" to define his recent 2 minutes of hate target! I guess people like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon must be a figment of my imagination. And of course I suppose that those people affilated with Lew Rockwell who call themselves "anarcho-capitalists" must be lying through their teeth since they obviously must have posters of Stalin and Castro all over their bedroom walls. (why else would Mr. Commiebusters hate them so?)

One of his concluding remarks was the following:
Libertarian ideologues are so hardline with their beliefs, that they believe anyone who disagrees with their policies is to the Left of them. That type of thinking can lead to exploitation by anti-American ideologues and Communist agents through people like Soros and his associates.
What stunning logic this man has! He's much more than a mere comedian, folks! He must have been an honor roll student back in his state schooling days. (snicker)

Seriously, this has been some of the funniest shit I've read in ages. I left him the following comment on his blog letting him know how much I appreciated his comedic brilliance:
Thanks for the comedic material, Max!

A libertarian who opposes the Drug War? My God! What's next, A Christian who believes in God?

I just shit myself laughing!
Unfortunately, all comments must be approved by Mr. "There are Commies under my bed!" himself, so there's no guarantee that my salute to him will actually be published.

While he may be a comedic genius, he ain't perfect. While he fixates on George Soros, we all know that the real culprit behind the anti-war movement must be Emmanuel Goldstein!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

an interweb roundup with it's own soundtrack

Lots of bloggers, myself included, occasionally wish to shed light on items of interest elsewhere in the online world or otherwise get into a writer's rut of some sort. Rather than just follow the formula of linking to interesting stuff, I thought I'd spice things up a bit by providing a soundtrack to go along with it. Neat, huh?

I'm gonna start things off by linking to a column on LRC by Christopher Westley titled "Living Without Television". In it, Westley chronicles his family's decision to withdrawl from teevee land, along with some criticism of the culture encompassing all of us that is largely generated by the boob tube. Here's an excerpt from the essay concerning the latter subject:
This is a particular area in which television’s costs are great. Becoming informed takes some work. This traditionally involved reading books, newspapers, and magazines to develop opinions about what you believed (or didn’t). Unfortunately, some of the most uninformed people I meet each day receive their news solely from television, which reduces complex social problems into emotional, highly manipulative one- or two-minute segments.

And these people vote.

The Framers of the Constitution created a decentralized republic, and explicitly not a democracy, because they knew that the latter tended toward centralization and tyranny. Even Jefferson believed that the small role actual voting would play in the new country would only be tolerable with an educated electorate. Not only would he hate television, he’d despair over a culture that promotes democracy and television as goods that must be universally available. What does it mean for freedom when so many voters are only informed to the extent possible through CNN and Fox News?

This column has also been noted by Karen De Coster, who refers to the slime projector as being a "Tool of the State's Totalitarian Democracy". I recommend reading her post as well since she provides her own commentary as well as outside commentary on television from Wil Grigg.

Is teevee a "tool" of the political class? Is there a reason why I referred to it as being a "slime projector"? Yup, and Frank Zappa would certainly agree with such sentiments. Zappa once put his criticism of television into musical form with what is one of my favorite rock songs of all time: "I'm the Slime", complete with backup vocals by Tina Turner and the Ikettes (they're not credited because Ike is a toolbag).

MP3: Frank Zappa - I'm the Slime (from Overnite Sensation)

Kevin Carson is at it again discussing the subject of workplace hell within Corporate America, this time dissecting the repugnant philosophies within books being pushed on a growing number of workers by their useless and pathetic managers. "Choose Your Attitude" is the name of the post and the target philosophies are "Fish philosophy" and the "Who Moved My Cheese?" philosophy, both focused on making people love Big Brother's rat race by encouraging them to deny their sense of self and dignity. Kevin makes a number of thoughtful and humorous remarks on it all, including the following:
Look: I work because I need the money to pay my bills, period. The 1500 or so cubic centimeters in my skull belongs to me. "It's not enough to do your work, Winston. You have to love Big Brother."

I expect any day now to turn on the six o'clock news and see a disgruntled worker on top of his office building with an AK-47, and a sign that says "I'm choosing my attitude right now, motherfucker!" The fact that a popular video game is called Blow Away Your Boss (just upload a digital photo of his face) tells us all we need to know about the state of morale in Corporate America.

For those of you who see some sort of appeal to that video game Kevin mentioned, you might appreciate the lyrics of the following song by hip-hop group The Coup:

MP3: The Coup - 5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO (from Party Music)

Finally, this Hit and Run post by Jesse Walker brought my attention to an Iowa bill meant to restrict the use of certain sexual devices. As Jesse puts it:
In other words, the legislators want to keep the kids safe from dildos -- aside, that is, from the dildos currently serving in the Iowa General Assembly.

As a liberty advocate, I of course object to such puritanistic zealotry. The living dildos that Jesse refers to that are serving in the Iowa General Assembly and all the others working for other state governments and the federal government are far more dangerous and offensive than, say, a large purple dildo.

Why did I bring this subject up? Why a purple dildo? Well, I honestly was just looking for an excuse to share the following song, one that I've been enjoying quite a bit lately. It's from an Indiana based group that I don't think is together anymore called The Japonize Elephants. The music is a crazy and appealing blend of bluegrass, jazz, folk, exotic ethnic music, and some classical. The following song is a good example of all that and is good from start to finish, especially the purple dildo portion of the song.

MP3: The Japonize Elephants - Dirty Old Lady (from La Fete du Cloune-Pirate)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Enlightened Liberty post

Just letting y'all know that I contributed a post to the Enlightened Liberty blog today. It's called "The Danger of Unenlightened Institutions", with a focus on transnational corporations and the State.

At the end of the post, I mentioned an essay that's over at LRC that I'll recommend over here as well: Jeff Knaebel's "Remembering Gandhi".

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

music: shibusashirazu orchestra

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Although jazz has it's roots here in America, there are many international hotbeds of jazz providing plenty of ear candy that is pushing the boundaries of music. While most of these hotbeds are in Europe, there is no question that Japan is home to a lot of innovative stuff. Perhaps the wildest example of Japanese jazz comes from the extravaganza that is the Shibusashirazu Orchestra, although their music encompasses far more than just jazz.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Here's how the band's website introduces these guys:
Just like our japanese name 'Shibusashirazu' (loosely translated: "Never Be Cool") says, we don't stay within the 'cool' frame of jazz bigbands. We reach over into Rock, Japanese Enka, Japanese Pops, Latin, Folk Music, Groove, House and - let's not forget - Jazz.
Our lineup consists of about 20 musicians - the most skillful and creative players in Japan - as well as singers, butoh-dancers, groovedance girls, artists and actors/JapTrad performers. In addition we turn the stage itself into a piece of art with live painting, japanimation screens, stage decoration, and balloon creatures (e.g. a flying dragon of 20m length!). In short, our stage is a big interaction of multimedia, art and improvised music. We are original, and we dare to say: No other band like us exists anywhere on the planet...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI'd love to be able to see them live one day, although they've actually never performed here in America. They of course perform regularly in Japan and they also tour Europe from time to time. Their albums are also unavailable here in the States, although that hasn't stopped me from acquiring a couple of them.

As you'll quickly find out once you take a listen to some of the songs being offered below, their sound is absolutely relentless. Not only is their music loud, but it's also fast, complex, and as rich as Belgian dark chocolate (which I happen to be munching on right now). Below are songs from two of their studio releases as well as a couple of songs from a live recording of their show in Moers, Germany on May 18, 2002.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us ALBUM: Shibu-Hata (Smash, 2004)
MP3: Hyottoko
MP3: Senzu

*This next song has one of the most hard core and coolest openings I've ever heard.
ALBUM: Be Cool (1995)
MP3: Angura-Zu No Ketto

From their May 18, 2002 show at the International New Jazz Festival in Moers, Germany:
MP3: unknown title
MP3: unknown title

*UPDATE: Thanks to Furious for pointing out which files weren't working. It turns out that the bad files were the ones that contained kanji, which Yousendit apparently can't handle. All is good now.