Monday, June 23, 2014

5 Traits Allegra Kirkland's Arguments Share With Exploitive Interventionists

Allegra Kirkland, AlterNet's associate managing editor, is afraid of Lyft, Uber and Sidecar.* She mostly bashes Uber, but she wants you to hate Lyft and Sidecar as well. Kirkland's written thoughts are at times confounded and at other times boldly abhorrent. She outlines 5 ways she thinks Uber is acting as an "exploitive old school capitalist company". I shall plainly show any reader that Kirkland's claim is wrong on each point, and that she describes ride sharing companies best when she says
A key part to Uber's egalitarian, modern image is the idea that it is grassroots-supported, providing a data driven, useful service to thousands of hip young urban professionals who need an easy way to get around town.
1) "Regulation Free"
This first brief claim of hers is evidently confounded. She conflates "regulation" with regulation by the United States' government. There is no doubt that ride sharing companies are regulated - the normative debate should be about who is doing the regulating not whether or not they are regulated. There are several levels of regulation for us to select from when making this decision. Ride sharing companies can be regulated by the coercive federal government, the coercive state government, the coercive municipal government or the consensual choices of consumers. Clearly, I prefer the consensual model. Kirkland notes that the taxi industry is called a protectionist scheme, but refuses to refute the claim. A protectionist prioritizes the job security of low performing producers above consumer benefits, and petitions goons with guns to make this status quo prevail. This is the taxi industry. Why don't we let the freed market eat the rich, via consumers regulating transportation with their choices of whom to give money to and whom not to?

2) "Avoiding Accountability"
This is neither for me, nor for Kirkland to have much of a say in. If a ride sharing employee has done harm to a passenger, the passenger should submit a case to dispute resolvers. When choosing dispute resolvers there are again myriad selections. Two disputants can select consensual negotiation, consensual mediation, consensual arbitration or the coercive courts. The two disputing parties should make this decision, not I. I humbly suggest consensual mediation, and if that fails consensual arbitration.

3) "The Perils of Surge Pricing"
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I try to keep an open mind as often as possible, but it is difficult when people are arguing for flat earth theories and against Euclid's Elements of Geometry. The question of prices is simple. Who decides? That is what matters. If passengers want to be whisked away at a moment's notice, at 4 ante meridian, then the cost of that consensual arrangement should be determined by those passengers and the providers of that whisking service. No one outside of them should dare determine for them what is a "just" or "fair" price, because that does not exist. Prices are wholly subjective. For more on this, see the Austrian School of Economics.** Anyone who argues against the subjective (labor) theory of value is claiming to have objective knowledge of what prices should be. This puts the arguer in the same corner as the Soviet and Maoist economists who suggested collectivizing farms - thinking they could determine the price of bread. The results? Tens of millions of deaths of Eurasians and Asians, at the hands of brutal atheist 20th century rulers.***

4) "Labor Exploitation"
Do I care about the well being of ride sharing employees? I should hope so, as you would find out if you read my full disclosure at the bottom of this piece, I am a provider of transportation services who is willing to charge for it. Is it more likely that Allegra Kirkland wants to exploit my labor, or that I would like to exploit my labor? Lofty goals for employees are nice, but not so when it comes at the barrel of a gun. I have sovereignty over my labor, and should be able to make money from my labor without Kirkland requesting goons with guns to prevent me from doing so. When the coercive government, at whatever level, selects the standards they deem appropriate for my labor there are seen and unseen negative consequences. The seen, are all the people employed by Uber, Lyft and Sidecar that would be fired if the bureaucrats and their cheer leaders in the 4th Estate got their way.  The unseen, are the lost opportunities to benefit society through the increasing of consensual arrangements, the increased cost of living to these fired people and every act they do to get money once they are desperate for income. The State is not the daddy of ride sharers, so paternalistic ideas about what our jobs should look like are not welcome.

Alternatives to poor conditions offered by ride sharing companies:
We ride sharers can form consensual unions if we feel we are being exploited. Empowerment comes from the bottom-up not the top-down. Learn words like guerrilla and stigmergy. Or even better, give us better employment, healthcare and car insurance on your dime Ms. Kirkland.

5) "Blinded by Boosterism"
150 is a blatantly arbitrary number that is defeated by the same arguments made in section 3 above. If ride sharing companies have to launch PR campaigns, it is because they face mainstream opposition from Sovietized economic intelligentsia and commentariat blurting out daily arguments that amount to no more than nonsense on stilts.

Post Scriptum:

If you made it this far and are confused as to what I was responding to, it is because you did not click on the first hyperlink that sends you to Ms. Kirkland's piece on AlterNet. Remedy that.

Full Disclosure - I have friends and family in both the taxi industry and the ride sharing industry. The distinction betwixt the two so-called industries is solely euphemistic, and exists to thwart bureaucratic meddlers/interveners/invaders with a taste of their own misdirection. Better said, I have friends and family who provide transportation services for a fee. At the time of this writing, I joined them.

*Alyssa Figueroa, AlterNet's associate editor, has a conversation with Nell Bernstein, author of Burning Down The House: The End of Juvenile Prison, that you would be remiss in missing. Bernstein plainly speaks of her nonviolent verbal dismemberment of the prison-industrial-complex. She who has ears to hear, let her hear.
** There are scores of free books. articles and journals there on mises.org to read from
*** Atheism does not dictate brutality. The Austrian School of Economics is filled with atheists - though it is value free, its highly correlated normative system of thought, libertarianism, is also filled with atheists.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Boko Haram Blowback

blowback
the action of a light automatic weapon in which the expanding gases of the propellant force back the bolt, thus reloading the weapon
 I am oft gung-ho about dictionary.com, but this definition is not quite the context I am seeking. I seek the political context. Blowback, is when the coercive U.S. military, or secret three letter forces pejoratively called the alphabet boys, invade a nation hoping to see their will be done, and it backfires on them in an unexpected fashion.

Immortal Technique, long ago, warned us about the dangers of coffee-shop-revolutionaries. They are the whitewashed tombs of foreign policy. Outwardly they cry for the beautiful ideas; justice, mercy and faith, but on the inside, they are apathetic.* Now, they might be confused for hipsters, but I assure you coffee-shop-revolutionaries can, and oft do, include the mundane status-quo guardians as well. When the U.S. military invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, they cheered or ignored it. Osama Bin Laden's extra-judicial assassination? They had a parade. The extra-judicial assassination of American citizen and Al-Qaeda affiliate Anwar al-Awlaki? Not phased. The extra-judicial assassination, via unmanned drone, of his unaffiliated 16 year old son? Shit happens. In 2012, they wanted to play Where's Kony?** This year, along with the FLOTUS*** they demanded that we "BRING BACK OUR GIRLS!"


I am more recently African, and according to 23andme a lot more African, than many of the coffee-shop-revolutionaries wailing in the public domain of social media. This does not mean that I must be more concerned, but I am concerned, and empathy is aided by closeness. I believe that on some level, coffee-shop-revolutionaries care about foreign policy, meaning they are not 100% evil, but the propositions to invade Nigeria and the lack of propositions, by other commentariat, to back their barbaric yelp of BRING BACK OUR GIRLS, was alarming. Now, it is even more so.

Here is the blowback:

1)Backed by Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, the U.S. military invades Libya
2)The U.S. military puts advanced-grade arms**** into the hands of rebels to First Among Equals Khadafi's regime
3)Some of these arms are given, by these rebels, to Boko Haram of Nigeria
4)An armed Boko Haram kidnaps 200 plus Nigerian women

Boko Haram is literally selling women for cattle. If you still care, please pray to the Lord, fund voluntary grassroots initiatives to uproot Boko Haram, and help others think critically over this before making decisions.


Post Scriptum:

*If they did, they would dedicate more time to formulate coherent strategies to aid the couple hundred girls that were captured
**Much like Where's Waldo, except with an African guerrilla fighter that they have less experience with than with Waldo.
*** First Lady of The United States - currently Michelle Obama
****According to Reuters, "rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns with anti-aircraft visors, automatic rifles, ammunition, grenades, explosives, and light anti-aircraft artillery... mounted on vehicles"

Friday, May 30, 2014

Are you on The Right or are you on The Left? Jeff Riggenbach knows

Jeff Riggenbach, with the precision of a neurosurgeon, tells us who is on the Left and who is on the Right, and why it all matters. His book, from 2009,  is Why American History is Not What They Say: an Introduction to Revisionism.  Revisionism is the editing of history according to more recently found knowledge, or a reassessment of the knowledge previously interpreted. Riggenbach tells us that most historical accounts are apologetics for the corporate-capitalist ruling power of the status-quo by authors that are nothing more than "court historians". For this reason, he seeks, and wants you to seek, an analysis of past events that does not hold as its first premise the necessity of highly centralized, taxgathering, ever-warmongering nation-states.

The mainstream historians, or court historians, he says are on the Right, because they cannot help but write with that premise in the back of their minds. The furthest Right you can be is to support total centralization of power, and the furthest Left you can be is to support total decentralization of, or liberation from, power. On the far Right you have state socialists' regimes like Mao's, Stalin's, Fidel's and Kim Jong-il's. Also, fascist regimes like Hitler's and Mussolini's. On the far Left you have the anarchic Native Americans, Inuit, early Irish, early Icelanders, and the customary law of the Afar & Oromo & Somali of the Horn of Africa. *

So who is on the Left and the Right today? He says most Democrats and Republicans are both on the Right. The rhetoric of Democrats is "liberal", but in fact both Democrats and Republicans are conservative. They are conserving the centralized power from the days of the absolute monarchies and aristocracy of the ancien regime. They have more in common with state socialists and fascists (who also model their politics after the ancien regime). This is not supposed to be hyperbole or any stretching of the facts. He is noting that the uniting factor of these parties is that they want to consolidate ruling power. Who then is on the Left? An alliance that is difficult to make sense of, unless you read his book. The Progressives of the early 20th century, The New Left of the mid 20th Century, and The Libertarians from the 1960's until now.

What unites The Progressives, The New Left, and The Libertarians,who surely have at times diametrically opposed economic views? War. More specifically, they are all anti-war, or positively pro-peace. They stand against the imperialistic leviathan that is the United States' federal government, and slice off its overreaching tentacles from the Philippines, the Caribbean, Central America, the Middle East and nigh the entire globe, with their revisionist books.

Who are these authors that dissent from the hagiographical zeitgeist of the court historians? Harry Elmer Barnes, Charles Beard, Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn, John Dos Passos, James J. Martin, Murray Rothbard, William Appleman Williams, Thomas DiLorenzo and Thomas Woods Jr.

Who should read Why American History is Not What They Say: an Introduction to Revisionism, by Jeff Riggenbach? You, and anyone else that does not believe their grade school history books are the inerrant words of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and protected by angels from even grammatical mistakes. At just over 200 pages, it is brief enough for light coffeeshop reading, and delicious enough where you will sacrifice some precious sleeping hours just to finish this midnight snack and reread passages that shock you enough to want to continue the revisionist legacy. While you are at it, read the works of the authors listed above;

History of the United States - Beard
Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace - Barnes
A People's History of the United States - Zinn
The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History - Woods Jr.
Lincoln: A Novel (The American Chronicle Series) - Vidal
The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War - DiLorenzo
Men Against the State: The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism, 1827-1908 - Martin



Post Scriptum:

* He does not use these examples but I think they help frame your mind.
Jeff Riggenbach has a wonderful audio series on mises.org and youtube where you can learn of revisionist history without purchasing any books, and whilst doing other tasks around your home or on your way to work. click here for revisionism on audio

Saturday, March 29, 2014

More Capitalism Conflation

C'mon gals. If we cannot agree on what words mean, then there is no way for us to succeed in uniting through discourse. Words should be able to have different meanings in different contexts, but they should never be allowed to have ever-shifting meanings. Capitalism has to mean one fixed thing. It is either the existing economic structure, or one in which the State is removed from the picture. It cannot mean both, or any shifting variety betwixt the two.

Though not an absolute, the usage of the word capitalism by a libertarian is quite telling of that person's ideology. The "libertarian" that refers to existing economic arrangements as capitalism, and defends capitalism, is showing that her ideal world is less about radical liberation from oppressive barriers, and more about feng shui. The libertarian that anathematizes, or eschews from her lexicon, the word capitalism, whilst claiming the existing system is capitalism, illustrates a want to leave the status quo. She is aware of the power, offensiveness and weight held by the term capitalism in banal dinner-party-conversations, academic debates, and the blogosphere. This libertarian sees the rosy horizon of the localized bazaar of businesses and cooperatives that will be, once we end the State.

How did this all come to me? I was on my way to smog-drenched downtown Los Angeles, on the 10 highway, from the westside, when I mentally paused to think. Why is there so much traffic on this God-forsaken State owned and managed (sovietized) road? Generally, the libertarian that thinks the status quo is capitalism, and defends capitalism as if it were the freed market, does not seek to relinquish control of the roads from the State back to We The People. If she speaks of any removal of the roads from the State, it is to slide it, for what is lauded as a great deal of money, to the Combination Pizza Hut & Taco Bell. You know, "privatization" (corporatism). The other libertarian? She wants to have no trades with the State. Skedaddle is the verb that suits the State in her eyes. Then local communities surrounding the roads can use consensual courts to determine who gets which portions, and in what manner.

The difference betwixt the two libertarians is the power they think belongs to us, in determining what our work environments should look like. Should our options be determined by various bosses that have State bestowed access to land, credit, currency and digital files? Or, should each person be able to determine which options lay before her? In the latter, more structural diversity arises from the greater competition. It all comes down to competition. How much freedom do you feel comfortable allowing people to have? Enough freedom to sell health services from home? To work 20 hours a week? Do you want power more centralized or decentralized?


Furthermore, the State is not your friend.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blockbusted

I can't help but be joyful everyday. Blame my faith or blame my apolitical* philosophy, but either way to the chagrin of the legion, a Cheshire smile adorns my face on the daily. I whipped it to In-N-Out in my American, but not muscle, car today, lo and behold the blandly festering carcass of a Blockbuster video store was before me. 

I was familiar with this particular spot before its desert emptiness sent one chill down my spine. That was for the workers. There was one woman sifting through the darkness and dust of the innards, to take pictures of the remains with her iphone. Lord knows where the income of the fired workers will be coming from now - one worker found out about his store's dodo fate from reading the news. Secular hierarchy oft leads to the formation of information barriers betwixt each layer of bosses. Austrian Economist Hayek says the presumption that these bosses can serve the consumers' whims without knowing what each layer of lesser bosses knows about the consumers is what leads to sluggish movement and miscalculations in behemoth corporations. I don't know what information Blockbuster as a whole lacked about its consumers, that's an entrepreneurial question, but I do know that they lacked essential information to serve the consumers. The market process is the will of the masses like no election in history. In the market process, minority parties' votes count towards the calculation of producers serving them. If not, then the consumers votes in the direct democracy of the market process would have kept Blockbuster amongst the living.

Libertarians and Progressives have room for unity in witnessing the extinction of Blockbuster. Both are in word opposed to corporations. To have consistency in deed, they should delight in the future without Blockbuster. Blockbuster achieved it's rise to largesse because it is protected by State copyrights, patents and trademarks of videos, snacks, video games, and accessories. Without this protection, people wanting to work from their own employ, instead of under a boss, would be able to have localized home production of videos, snacks, video games and accessories. Small scale neighborhood production and sale of these items would have severed Blockbuster's hold over our communities eons ago. Alas, Blockbuster fell to the likes of videostreaming sites like Netflix and Hulu. They too are paper tigers, until the day we abolish State patents, copyrights and trademarks.


Post Scriptum:

apolitical: no interest in the political system

I studied Political Science, read international and domestic news, and even the works of some political scientists and yet I call myself apolitical. Why? I don't believe in using the State as a means to an end. My views on voting are a little more nuanced, but basically I keep my eyes away from electoral politics. If politics means changing the world to the vision you seek, then I do have some political views. I want all adults to form voluntary communities, associations and cooperatives to provide goods and services to each other at any consensual price.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Enemy, the Pigs

Limey polemicist and fiction author George Orwell is claimed as a hero by progressives and libertarians. How can this be? Tom Watson, commissar of the thought police and writer at Salon, says we must be in opposition to one another, instead of uniting against the NSA. George Orwell was not a libertarian, nor was he a classical liberal. He was however, a man with a proclivity to liberalism, and this is the least common denominator betwixt progressives and libertarians.

I may be a smidgeon tardy, but I just finished reading Animal Farm by George Orwell. Literary critics, and more importantly Orwell, say that the entire novel is an allegory to the U.S.S.R. under commissar of the commissars Joseph Stalin. I agree. SPOILER ALERT, this should not be necessary seventy years after Animal Farm was written, but I'm covering my bases with my readers. Mr. Jones is a human farmer who gets his farm, Manor Farm, overthrown by his animals who had been preached the equality of nonhuman animals by an aged goat. The nonhuman animals, hereafter beasts, want to have equality of outcome and establish seven commandments which they will abide by. It does not take long for hierarchy to set in. The pigs, the most literate of the herd, take charge and deliver orders. Most of the commandments are about not emulating humans - one in particular bans trade with them. The pigs incrementally break/alter the commandments and become more human. In the end the beasts can't tell pig from human. Mr. Jones is the tsar, the pigs are the State Socialist ruling committee, the neighboring humans that the pigs trade with are the varying interventionist countries bordering the U.S.S.R. , and the beasts are the uneducated masses intellectually won over by the utopia of State Socialism.

A progressive and a libertarian can read this tale and learn that as Lord Acton says
power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I would stipulate this phrase works in the context of man, and has no metaphysical connotations. The pigs claim to be equal with the beasts, but over time they become "more" equal. They get more food. They dress as the humans do. They get drunk as the humans do. They walk on two legs as the humans do. The progressive sees that this is an issue of authority. She says that the pigs have no right to tell the beasts what do in the privacy of their homes. The libertarian takes this one step further and says the pigs have no authority the beasts are bound to respect. Let's make like a tree and leave this allegory.

The brushfire of liberty is being ignited in the minds of progressives, because the State has penetrated our collective privacy to an extent they did not expect. Progressives do not want the State to read the emails, listen to the phone calls, and track all electronic trails of Americans without a warrant. They don't think the State should have the authority to do this, nor to prevent homosexual unions, nor to hail missiles at Syria until kingdom come. The libertarian agrees. Again, she takes this thinking to its theoretical conclusion. She pontificates, "If the State should have no authority to do x, why should the State have authority to do y?" She concludes, the State should have no authority that men outside the aegis of statehood should have. She concludes, the State should have no authority to steal, kidnap, murder et cetera. She concludes, the State should have no authority.

The great uniter betwixt progressives and libertarians is our shared appreciation and history against authority. Though Lord Acton uses the term power, authority is interchangeable. Progressives and libertarians are witnesses to the collusion of corporation and State in sundry sections of the market economy. The libertarian testifies to this persistence in all State action - roads, courts and security production included.

I'm not asking every progressive to wave the black flag, against all other flags, though I would ooze jubilee everywhere I frolicked if they did. I'm asking progressives and libertarians to put aside their other differences and collaborate against authority wherever and whenever they both see it. Smash the NSA, the banks, Big Pharma, land thieves, oil tycoons, patent/copyright Gestapo, the military-industrial-complex and any other tentacle of the State. People of the world, unite against our enemy, the pigs.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Gang or Us?

Cookie cutters, suburban domiciles, and textbooks provided by the State are engraved with the stale bacteria known as commonplaceness. Cookie cutters are designed to mold raw materials to one prescribed shape and size. How boring. Suburban domiciles are mass produced to reduce the cost of quickly expanding across former deserts. Great for affordability, horrendous for standing out in our universe. Our enemy, the State, has had a stranglehold on individuality since it was a zygote. Statehood and individuality are inherently at each others' throats. The former demands, at gunpoint, uniformity and mediocrity of services. The latter permits herd thinking, but thrives when host to sundry strains of dissent. The public school system in the U.S. is an abject failure. No controversy here. In this discussion, let us prioritize the mal effect this has on our ideas over the economic disarray it displays.

There is no positive reason to have a system of State sponsored schooling. The commissar, or lobbyist, responsible for maintaing the status quo is acting either in ignorance, or malevolence. Either she does not know that she is suppressing the human spirit, or she is proud of the fact. The secular humanists worship the State. Like any other religion, secular humanist adherents have texts considered holy. In this case, it is those anointed for distribution to our children by the State's high priest of schooling. Revisionist historian Jeff Riggenbach notes the constricted view of history this leaves us.

Wendy is damned to have her world view highly influenced by an institution that wants her no different then the other cogs. She may have wanted to explore art, theoretical mathematics, Eastern mysticism, Austrian Economics et cetera. Her wants are for not. She gets the same recipe as the rest of us, the glory of the State. Why is there order? The State. Why is there respect for contracts? The State. How should security and law be provided? The State. What about the roads? The State. To think otherwise is sacrilegious.

If we abolished the State today, thought would be freed. The diversity of ideas would be expressed in the varying schooling methods of local communities. There would be more home schoolers, cooperative based teaching, private schools, religious schools et cetera. The specifics are questions for entrepreneurs to pursue. With certitude, I can say that we would have ranging opinions on history, science, mathematics, art and so forth. This would promote the investigation of truth. Which one is right? Which schools have the most voluntary consumers? Who gets to select what we learn, the gang or us?

If State theft and transfer of wealth is an inseparable part of your ideology, fret not. There is a plan for you as well. If we abolished the schooling bureaucracy, we would see the same advancements in education as listed above. Sponsoring students with scholarships (reduced tithes), from the State, to attend these myriad schools is a better alternative to the status squo.

The first option would be better for lack of theft. Furthermore, we must end the State.


Post Scriptum:

Recall the book review I did of legendary polemicist Murray Rothbard's Education Free & Compulsory. If nothing else, I want you to read his analogy of State education
One of the best ways of regarding compulsory education is to think of the almost exact analogy in the area of that other great educational medium- the newspaper. What would we think of a proposal for the government, Federal or State, to use the taxpayers' money to set up a nationwide chain of public newspapers, and compel all people, or all children to read them? What would we think furthermore of the government's outlawing all other newspapers, or indeed outlawing all newspapers that do not come up to the "standards" of what a government commission thinks children ought to read? Such a proposal would be generally regarded with horror in America, and yet this is exactly the sort of regime that the government has established in the sphere of scholastic instruction.