Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Hooray for smugglers!

March 19, 2018

Smuggling. What a funny little non-crime. I can’t even wrap my mind around any possible way it could be wrong. It’s just the act of going around a bully who’s standing in your way, wanting to rob you or prevent you from getting products to those who want them.

Here’s the “legal definition” of smuggling:

The criminal offense of bringing into, or removing from, a country those items that are prohibited or upon which customs or excise duties have not been paid.

The only wrongs I see there are prohibition and taxation. Those are the acts of the State, not those trying to get around the State. So, yeah, smuggling is an indication of a crime, but not a crime committed by the smugglers.

And there are a lot of other non-crimes like this: “money laundering”, “tax avoidance”, “evading arrest”, “assaulting an officer”, etc. “Crimes” that no one would even bother with, except that government and its “laws” have made them necessary as a way to avoid being violated by the State. To all those who commit this kind of “crime”, I say Thank you for your service!


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Laws frequently only cause harm

March 11, 2018

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for February 7, 2018)

Laws can’t solve anything, and often destroy things which worked. Sometimes this is due to the unintended consequences of trying to stop something which might actually be harmful, but more often it is due to the person who made the rule simply not understanding how things work in the real world.

Being harmed by laws is probably more common than being helped or protected by them. It’s a consequence of meddling; one I have personally experienced.

Years ago I was looking for a job after moving across the country. I had checked the “help wanted” ads, and they were all for huge corporations with horrible working conditions I wasn’t anxious to endure. So, I set out to explore the area and see what else I could discover. I checked out businesses I thought I’d like to work for. Mostly small family businesses, since those are the ones where I’ve always fit in best.

There were so many little shops which looked interesting. Some in industries I had experience with. But I kept running into the same problem.

One day, for example, I found a dim and dusty sporting goods store. It was obvious they didn’t have time to clean or arrange their inventory, yet they seemed to care about their customers. They were friendly and likable, and I knew I could help them. I really wanted the chance to show them I could benefit their business.

Unfortunately, like all the small businesses I spoke to, they couldn’t afford to hire an employee. They couldn’t afford to pay anyone “minimum wage”, nor could they afford all the other costs– taxes, paperwork, insurance– associated with legally having an employee.

I wasn’t ready to give up so easily, since any money was better than none.

Outlaw that I am, I begged to be allowed to work “under the table” for an amount agreeable to both of us, but they weren’t willing to risk being caught making a mutually acceptable, consensual arrangement with me that violated “laws”. “Laws” which hurt us both.

I was protected out of a job by not being allowed to work where I wanted, for an amount someone was willing to pay. When I think of all the people like me who are priced out of the job market by rules they don’t want and which hurt them in the long run, I get angry at those who pretend to care about people while hurting them for their own good.


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Scammers and their enthusiastic victims

March 6, 2018

An acquaintance of mine has a job which frequently involves sending electronic money transfers for individuals. A huge chunk of that money is sent to Nigeria (and other “less than ideal” places). Often the senders are elderly, or people who are really lonely (the two categories overlap). And she sees the same people come in over and over again. They often want to tell her the story of why they are sending the money.

To her credit, she has tried to tell the people they are being scammed (and has gotten in some trouble at work for doing so). The denial is strong and none of them want to believe it. They will go to any lengths to tell her she’s wrong.

One guy is sending money to a “woman” who is coming to America to be his bride. She keeps needing more and more money due to various problems that crop up. But, finally, a week or so back, he was sending her the money for the plane ticket! Hallelujah!

But, oops. Apparently, her taxi was involved in a terrible wreck on the way to the airport. Now she’s in the hospital unable to speak, but the hospital was able to get in touch with the man to tell him how much he must send to pay her hospital bill. So that she can recover and come marry him, of course. Ugh.

It’s the same story every time. And she’s seen every variation.

She has practically given up trying to help the people– although she did save a guy from getting scammed out of $9,000 a few months back, and he was very grateful. Of course, he was back sending money to someone else before the week was out.

Part of me thinks “a fool and his money are soon parted“. Another part of me feels really bad for the fools, and a deep hatred for the scammers who take advantage of them.

Part of me is also angry at the fools, knowing that as long as idiots keep making scamming pay, evil people will keep going into the business of scamming. Those who send the money only encourage the scammers and recruit more of them into the ranks. It pisses me off.

I’ve seen libertarians justify scammers by saying no one is forcing their victims to pay; that it is voluntary. That, again, if you’re too or gullible to keep your money, then you deserve getting scammed. I don’t see it that way. I see it as a property rights violation– theft, by lying. Lies told to harm the innocent, facilitating theft, seems to be archation in my mind.

I think I would be fired from the job my acquaintance holds because I don’t think I could be a middle-man in the scamming business.


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Valuing collective above all unsustainable

February 25, 2018

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for January 24, 2018)

Like most people, I enjoy fiction; books, movies, and television programs. Fiction can be entertaining, educational, and inspiring as long as you don’t confuse it with reality.

As a child I loved re-runs of “Gilligan’s Island” and dreamed of being marooned on a deserted tropical island.

The older I became, the less realistic their situation seemed.

The lack of variety in their diet, the constant parade of accidental transient visitors who never sent back help, the clothing which never wore out, and the near magical technology built from coconut shells by people unable to build a simple boat. The better I understood reality, the more I needed to suspend disbelief to enjoy the show. Eventually it became too much.

Now I prefer things which are a bit more realistic, unless I want to let my brain snooze.

This is why I can’t buy into politics. Especially the socialism promoted by both of America’s “mainstream political parties”.

Socialism– which comes down to the belief that people with political power can dictate how, or if, individuals will be allowed to use their property and the products of their labor — isn’t realistic or sustainable. It is based on poor understanding of how things are connected, and a denial of human nature. It can’t work without violently forcing everyone to comply and forbidding anyone to opt out; an idea so good it must be imposed by threats of death.

One popular idea currently pushed by one faction of socialists is what they call “Universal Basic Income”– money paid to everyone for simply being alive. This ignores basic universal economic reality in favor of wishful thinking.

Where does this money come from? Coconuts? Is it stolen through acts of taxation, or is it counterfeited by the Federal Reserve? Either way, it will make the economy worse and hurt the people who believe they will benefit. It will cause greater inflation, because eventually– and probably fairly quickly– this basic income level will become the new “totally broke” as prices rise in reaction. People will then demand more and the cycle will repeat. That’s without even taking into account the economic damage of new taxes or the accelerated influx of debased money.

Any ideology which places a collective– be it a nation, society, or political party– above the individual is the same. It is unsustainable; based on a happy fiction which can’t work in the real world, no matter how desperately people wish it could. Welcome to Gilligan’s Planet.


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Governments are a net negative

February 18, 2018

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for January 17, 2018)

A great many people are upset because President Trump is claimed to have observed that many places around the world are, shall we say, “less than ideal”. Of course, being Donald Trump, he is claimed to have used a colorful metaphor to describe those places. It is honest, but not polite.

His detractors see racism in this observation, which isn’t surprising since they are the same people who see racism around every rock and hear it in every word. I don’t see racism, but I do see denial.

The harsh truth is there are many places around the globe fitting this description. They can have a negative effect on the ethics and intelligence of those who live there.

Trump is, however, unlikely to admit what usually creates those conditions. It isn’t the people who live there. In almost every instance, the horrible conditions are primarily the fault of the governments the people in those places are burdened with; the states they live under.

Obviously, in some cases the residents chose the government, but normally they didn’t. Did you personally choose any of the governments– not just people who hold some government positions– which impose themselves on your life? I didn’t think so. How much blame do you want to accept for the actions of any of the governments around you? How much should you accept? Unless you support one or more of those governments or their policies, I don’t hold you personally responsible for the atrocities they commit, or the conditions which result.

This brings up another guilty party, largely responsible for the conditions mentioned..

In many cases a place is “less than ideal” because of acts committed by the U. S. government (usually through its military) against the people, society, infrastructure, and resources of the foreign land. It’s extremely dishonest to wreck up a place, then insult the victims over the mess you made of their home. And to then complain when the people leave and look for a new home is downright evil.

Of course, governments thrive on chaos, and refugees create chaos, so creating refugees is a win for government. No matter which side of the issue they pretend to be on.

This illustrates why governments shouldn’t have “immigration policies” to begin with, and shouldn’t be able to get away with going around the world killing people and breaking stuff. Governments are a net negative on the world. Don’t add to the misery and chaos by supporting any of them.


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Convince me

February 6, 2018

Convince me that humans have the right to initiate force and damage the usefulness of each other’s property.

Then convince me that government— the State– is the proper way to put this into action.

Convince me I’m wrong, or convince me that I’ve stated the problem incorrectly.

Really. Convince me. If I’m wrong, I want to know. I want to know why I’m wrong and how I’m wrong.

And here’s why: I don’t feel like a success. I’ve always been financially broke, even long before I embarked on making money (or trying to) through writing. If I weren’t wrong, I believe I might be (or feel) more of a success. I see those around me who embrace statism profiting greatly. I realize the sample is skewed since those are the only people around me.

No, I’m not jealous or envious, but I can’t help but see their success as a finger of accusation pointing right at me. Pointing out my shortcomings. And, I’m perfectly willing to accept that my problems might stem from some other personal flaw, having nothing to do with my post-statism. Still, if I’m wrong, I need to know.


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It’s a shame politics not harmless

February 4, 2018

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for January 3, 2017)

After almost a year of President Trump, half the country is in an absolute uproar over the ruination of America being caused by the man.

Exactly like the other half of the country gnashed its teeth for eight straight years over the way President Obama was destroying the country.

I wish both halves weren’t so close to being right.

I also wish politics could be kept in a virtual world, like fantasy football or Pokemon Go. It could exist in apps for your phone or computer, and nowhere else. Finance it with licensed product sales, ads, and subscription fees. Let the people who play be the only ones affected by it, and leave the real world alone.

If politics were harmless, even while its enthusiasts were fanatical about it, I might sit back and enjoy the show with some popcorn. Would this year’s version be called “Sharknado 6: Sharks in the White House”? Or “The Governing Inferno”? If the show got too boring or ridiculous, I could shut it off and go back to meaningful pursuits, leaving the two sides to squabble and squawk at each other.

The trouble is, politics has real-world consequences, and those squabbling sides keep grinding the rest of us between them. That’s not very nice.

Every official presidential act has victims. That’s the nature of politics– winners only win by making someone lose. When neither side understands liberty, it’s the first thing sacrificed to the squeaky wheels on the altar of political expediency. Almost no one understands what liberty is, and won’t miss it because they’ve never had it, so it’s easy to give it away. Presidents know they can buy votes by trading liberty for false national security, for false economic growth, for false … well, you get the idea. And voters are happy to accept the illusions.

People are more concerned over presidential “tweets” than they are over stolen liberty. Many people get the most upset when the president doesn’t help Congress steal enough liberty from the other side. They scream “Close the loopholes!” Loopholes are what they call the last places liberty can hide from its enemies. The situation is crazy, and likely to only get worse.

The good news is, no president can extinguish liberty, as much as he might try. When liberty is outlawed, only outlaws will have liberty. That tiny bit will be enough to reignite the flame when the world is ready for liberty once again.


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Long month, short money

January 28, 2018

The money ran out before the month did, and if anyone can (and wants to) donate or subscribe so I can have some gas money, it would be greatly appreciated.


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Delusions of godhood

January 20, 2018

What should be the qualities of water?
How should DNA be built?
How should snowflakes be designed?
Who should be in charge of flocks of birds or schools of fish?
How should ecosystems be run?
How should the market be controlled?
How should society be run?

All the above is meaningless drivel.

Yet, a majority of people seriously consider the last two and debate them. Society and the market are emergent systems. They can’t be “run”, designed, or controlled, and trying to do so harms individuals, which damages the health of society and destroys the market.

Only the pathologically evil would keep trying.


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What kind of hole?

January 13, 2018

Yes, there really are “s#!thole countries”. Living under those conditions– created almost exclusively by States— can definitely have a negative effect on the ethics and intelligence of the population (but that has zero to do with the rights the people there have). Government has consequences.

Pointing this out is honest, but not very nice. And it isn’t racism. Denying it is statism, though.

I’ll have more to say about this in a few days. (Here)


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