Politics Test, Part I

I was intrigued by the Politics Test I took yesterday, on several counts: My own brother made some comment, like, “I laughed when it pegged you as an anarchist.” But I am an anarchist, for fifteen years now. “Oh.” Whoever designed it has a reasonable grasp of what we individualists call “anarco-individualism,” “anarco-capitalism,” “free-market anarchy,” etc. More interesting than #2 is that the predominant tradition of “anarchy” throughout history has been communist and totalitarian (aye, ironic, eh?). In other words, the vast majority of “anarchists,” historically speaking, would come out somewhere in the totalitarian quadrant of that test. The reason for #3 is trivially simple: The only way to prevent the “twin tyrannies” of private property and capital accumulation is through the tyranny of a totalitarian state. But try arguing that with an anarco-syndicalist. It’s not like the, uh, USSR, illustrates my point, or anything. Here’s another thing: You could spend the rest of your life in alt.society.anarchy reading the hundreds of thousands of posts there over the last 15+ years, and you would likely not get the clarity of what I’m talking about with regard to anarchy as you could from a brief time at Wikipedia. The defining paragraph…

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You are a…

Update: See my 4-part series of commentary covering each question of this test. The Politics Test You are a Social Liberal (80% permissive) and an… Economic Conservative (98% permissive) You are best described as a: Anarchist Link: The Politics Test Update: See my 4-part series of commentary covering each question of this test.

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Project Steve

In a comment to my post on “Intelligent Design,” yesterday, I’m reminded of Project Steve. NCSE’s “Project Steve” is a tongue-in-cheek parody of a long-standing creationist tradition of amassing lists of “scientists who doubt evolution” or “scientists who dissent from Darwinism.” Creationists draw up these lists to convince the public that evolution is somehow being rejected by scientists, that it is a “theory in crisis.” Most members of the public lack sufficient contact with the scientific community to know that this claim is totally unfounded. NCSE has been exhorted by its members to compile a list of thousands of scientists affirming the validity of the theory of evolution, but although we easily could have done so, we have resisted such pressure. We did not wish to mislead the public into thinking that scientific issues are decided by who has the longer list of scientists! Project Steve mocks this practice with a bit of humor, and because “Steves” are only about 1% of scientists, it incidentally makes the point that tens of thousands of scientists support evolution. As of September 28, there are 628 scientists named Steve who support the following statement: Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the…

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He Said “Flapdoodle” “Bumcombe” and “Twaddle”

I’ve been sitting on this this scathing critique of “Intelligent Design” by conservative John Derbyshire for at least a few weeks, but hadn’t gotten sufficient motivation to post it. This is Bush at his muddle-headed worst, conferring all the authority of the presidency on the teaching of pseudoscience in science classes. Why stop with Intelligent Design (the theory that life on earth has developed by a series of supernatural miracles performed by the God of the Christian Bible, for which it is pointless to seek any naturalistic explanation)? Why not teach the little ones astrology? Lysenkoism? Orgonomy? Dianetics? Reflexology? Dowsing and radiesthesia? Forteanism? Velikovskianism? Lawsonomy? Secrets of the Great Pyramid? ESP and psychokinesis? Atlantis and Lemuria? The hollow-earth theory? Does the president have any idea, does he have any idea, how many varieties of pseudoscientific flapdoodle there are in the world? If you are going to teach one, why not teach the rest? Shouldn’t all sides be “properly taught”? To give our kids, you know, a rounded picture? Has the president scrutinized Velikovsky’s theories? Can he refute them? Can you? And every buncombe theory — every one of those species of twaddle that I listed — has, or at some…

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Moral High Ground

Here’s a story that just about everyone in the world will tell you is “tragic.” There is an element of tragedy, of course, but there’s not a bit of moral authority to it. A party before the University of Central Florida football home opener turned deadly Saturday when an Orlando police officer shot and killed an undercover university police officer working with state agents to stop illegal drinking. You’ll need to read the whole story to really get what I’m getting at. And you might check this out as well, particularly the open letter from the university president. Now, tell me where it is in that news story or the open letter that addresses what might happen to you if you pull a gun on people who aren’t harming anyone and who are minding their own business — before you came along, that is. In fact, what should you think and what action should you take in such circumstances? These were college kids; drinking, just like virtually all college kids do. Business as usual. Rite of passage. Someone comes up and pulls a gun on you. And, no, I’m not going to make meaningless distinctions between uniformed or plain clothes….

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GOing1nce

Hey, I’d like to give a plug to someone who has just provided me very excellent service. A very frequent commenter to this blog, Kyle Bennett, also runs an eBay store with Sally, his significant other. In fact, I met them both and they sprang for a nice dinner a few months ago here in San Jose when they were in town for the eBay conference. I’d mentioned to Kyle and Sally that I had some PDA/phone units that I’d like to sell. Well, he kept bugging me to send them, so I finally just had my IT manager get in touch and so on. He had already tried to sell some of the items on eBay with no luck at all. Anyway, out of the nine items we sent, eight have sold for a total of nearly $1,000. The last item (Siemens SX66 Phone PDA) should sell soon. We had two of them, and the other one sold for $365. Not bad at all. I think the idea of eBay is great; it’s just that I have no patience for it. I’ve only purchased one thing (our first enterprise-level server for the company), and I got it with the…

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Back

I’ve been in Vegas the last few days, so no blogging, etc. It was business (nope, not even a penny gambled), but I did have time to sneak in a couple of great meals here and here (and here). Steve Wynn opened his new little place — that was almost complete last time I was through here — and raised the bar at least another notch or two. Trump is building a high rise luxury condo project, and Ivana, his ex, has teamed up with a developer to one up him. I love Vegas, and it never has a thing to do with gambling, personally. It’s the one place on Earth where people can pretty much give a fuck about anyone but themselves, and who and what they love. The place draws in enough money and beautiful women to keep the completely worthless do-nothing fuckers in City Hall and the Statehouse off their backs. So, good for all of them. Probably doesn’t even take that much cash & pussy to keep the assholes at bay. I just love that. One of my great aspirations in business is to someday buy cheap whores for local politicians: just so there’s no confusion…

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Pack Animals

Read the story of how an intelligent, disciplined and icy-calm high-school senior dealt with an attack by a pack of animals. Of course, there are elements of this story that are philosophically untenable, such as giving credence to SCOTUS opinions* and such, but his heart and courage are sure in the right place. (via van Bakel) * As John Lopez said: “Think: if the US Constitution were amended to explicitly state that the government could take whatever it wanted, what would these people argue from? In fact, such an amendment would logically have to constitute total victory for them: the government would have admitted its wrongs and rectified them via the legal system.”

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Beehives and Anthills

I’ve been mulling over a few things since posting about price gouging the other day. First, there was an excellent comment by one of this Blog’s star contributors, Kyle Bennett. Here’s an advertisement to get you to go read the whole thing: But collectivism is based on a fundamental contradiction – the idea that people can as a group have ideas, thoughts, interests, etc. Individualism is a simple fact of nature. Human minds cannot share concepts, and thus cannot, through any gymnastics of thought, create a group that has the same attributes as an individual. In order to maintain the ideology of collectivism, then, one must go to increasing lengths of fallacious logic in an attempt to reconcile the root contradiction. Since that contradiction is irreconcilable, these attempts are also contradictory. So then those new contradictions have to be resolved, and so on and so on. The result is that businessmen have to be evil because it is impossible to reconcile the root contradiction if businessmen are good. But then that contradiction has to be reconciled, and so we find that the nature of money and trade must be redefined, then the nature of law and government must be redefined….

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I heard this morning…

…that someone gave a speech last night, and the gist of it is that he’s going to steal about $200 billion from me and you in an attempt to buy back his political popularity. Then, I read somewhere, that: [someone] said Friday that the Gulf Coast must be rebuilt with an eye toward wiping out the persistent poverty and racial injustice plain to all in the suffering of the black and the poor in Hurricane Katrina’s wake. Oh, yea, that’s how you wipe out poverty, “racial injustice,” and suffering. You go in and absolve people of all accountability for their own situation and then take near complete responsibility for managing their own affairs going forward. Yep, that’ll do the trick. After all, it’s worked so well up to now. What a society of complete and total fucking idiots I live in: top-to-bottom and wall-to-wall.

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Price Caps = Price Fixing = Stealing; Price “Gouging” = Freedom (and it’s good for thirsty babies)

Emotions are not tools of cognition But set that aside, for now. Then, ponder its meaning after digesting the following. Last March, I had occasion to blog about ABC’s John Stossel calling out the morons for thier lack of vetements. This is a bit different. First, you must read Stossel’s op-ed, In praise of price gouging. Some key excerpts, but you ought to read the whole thing (short). Consider this scenario: You are thirsty — worried that your baby is going to become dehydrated. You find a store that’s open, and the storeowner thinks it’s immoral to take advantage of your distress, so he won’t charge you a dime more than he charged last week. But you can’t buy water from him. It’s sold out. You continue on your quest, and finally find that dreaded monster, the price gouger. He offers a bottle of water that cost $1 last week at an “outrageous” price — say $20. You pay it to survive the disaster. You resent the price gouger. But if he hadn’t demanded $20, he’d have been out of water. It was the price gouger’s “exploitation” that saved your child. It saved her because people look out for their…

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Begging the Question

Question begging has to be the most prevalent of the logical fallacies. It’s also my experience that few people actually know that it means. It does not mean “raises the question,” which error I hear all the time. So, assuming you’ve done your homework, above, see if you can detect the logical fallacy in the following claim: – We must maintain a government, precisely because of the need to respond to natural catastrophes like Katrina. Here’s a hint, below, and I publish in its entirety because Cosh refuses to get a decent blogging service and his “permalinks” go bad after a while. I’ve been ducking Katrina coverage this week after saturating myself in it (didn’t want to say “swimming” or “drowning”) for the week before. I gather from the squealing at Hit & Run that some people are proclaiming the occasion to be a pretty sharp blow to laissez-faire, libertarianism, minarchism, anarcho-capitalism, classical liberalism, or whatever you want to call the general idea of less bloated, less intrusive, less grasping, less powerful government. So let’s just recap briefly, shall we? We’ve got a million or so human beings living in a low-lying area created in the first place by government…

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BFS

Big Fucking Suprise: Katrina: Airborne Aid Workers Thwarted… Crews Frustrated Many who are trying to offer help to the devastated Gulf region are still grounded. Dr. Aziz Kamali, a family practitioner in Stockton, Calif., mobilized a volunteer group of 20 nurses willing to donate 7 to 10 days of vacation time to help out. Angel Flight America is ready and willing to fly them there, but having gone through “proper channels” as of Friday, Kamali still couldn’t get the OK to leave. The Louisiana governor’s office has told him, “‘We don’t know where to put you and how to use you,'” Kamali told The Stockton Record. They said they’ll get back to him. Dave Pechan, an Angel Flight pilot, told the Record that he was grounded for a week, ready and willing, but unable to get approval to fly. An agreement was signed in August with the Department of Homeland Security saying that pilots could be deployed within two hours of a disaster, but when the hurricane struck, that didn’t seem to help. …Working Around Katrina’s Bureaucracy… Despite beauracratic obstacles, hundreds of volunteer pilots and their GA aircraft are contributing to the relief effort. Civil Air Patrol pilots who live…

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Wada I know?

This hurricane disaster, relief response, and subsequent mass politicization of it did not pass my smell test, as I’ve already posted a number of times. But wada I know? K, then how ’bout VDH, America’s smartest, most truly educated man?

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Word

Here: We do not yet have teleporter or replicator technology like you saw on ‘Star Trek’ in college between hookah hits and waiting to pick up your worthless communications degree while the grown-ups actually engaged in the recovery effort were studying engineering. The United States military can wipe out the Taliban and the Iraqi Republican Guard far more swiftly than they can bring 3 million Swanson dinners to an underwater city through an area the size of Great Britain which has no power, no working ports or airports, and a devastated and impassable road network. You cannot speed recovery and relief efforts up by prepositioning assets (in the affected areas) since the assets are endangered by the very storm which destroyed the region. No amount of yelling, crying and mustering of moral indignation will change any of the facts above.

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“Enormous Questions”

In comments to this entry at QandO Blog, David Sculer asks what Billy Beck characterizes as an enormous question: Yes, that idea occurred to me as well and I pitched it at a dozen or so econ-bloggers but didn’t get much reaction. A detail that probably should be considered in this regard is how such a thing could be privatized. The first alternative that occurred to me was insurance. But, of course, flood insurance is the province of the federal government, too, and the way it’s been explained to me is that the federal government does it because the private sector just won’t do it. It’s a market failure. I’d be interested in being corrected on this. Every other mechanism I could think of sounded pretty darned medieval like the castles on the Rhine collecting tolls. How do you see it being done? Now, read Billy’s answer carefully; very carefully: Dave Schuler—You ask an enormous question. And the enormity of it goes to point out the fact of what I keep calling “The Endarkenment”. What this is really about is learning all over again what values are, what production is, how it happens, and why. There is a huge complex…

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Automatic Lying

John Henke puts together a finely researched exposé on the routine and automatic lying engaged in by the New York Times Editorial Board. It doesn’t surprise me at all, for I’ve known all about this dynamic since I first became politically aware in my early teens. Big media understands that sensation and controversy is what drives ratings and thus, the bottom line. In fact, we don’t have “The News” because it was ordained somewhere. We have “The News” because some people with the necessary capital got together and realized that there was a lot of money to be made in controlling, sensationalizing, manipulating and outright fabricating information. The country — moreso back then when I put this together — is predominately to the more socially conservative side, and I include many democrats in that group. These are people of a deep sense of values, and they don’t toss out or adopt new values willy-nilly. They’re salt-of-the-earth types, even when they’re playing useful idiot by going to the polls every two years to have their 1/270,000,000th say in how their own lives and affairs ought to be arranged. If you want to make money as a media mogul, you don’t give…

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“SqualorFest”

My friend Greg Swann chips in with an excellent compilation of the natural and man-made disaster that is New Orleans. He does what I’ve been trying to do in everything I’ve written about it, and that’s to get to the root of it. As Robert Tracinski writes in The Intellectual Activist article cited by Greg: For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency—indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country. When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples…

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