Monday, 21 December 2009

Rage vs Hope

It was heartening to see RATM get to number one for Christmas. What is great is to see the power of the internet as a medium for, well, anarchy. I've always thought "Killing in the Name" was perhaps the ultimate libertarian anthem (the "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" bit at the end is exhilarating), although of course, as is pointed out elsewhere, they are actually signed up to the same label as the X Factor guy - Sony.

The irony then is obvious, and corporate interests haven't been hurt a bit. I can envision conspiracy theories that this battle was actually set up by sources in Big Music.

Still, it confirms the optimism I have for the future. It's the internet vs global fascism, that's what the next decade's going to be about.

I wanted to say something about Hope, which is the theme of Joe McElderry's song and pretty much all blatherings around Christmas time. Faith, hope and love are the three great virtues, according to some bible passage that I remember from way back. Well, love has many different meanings. Faith and belief are terrible concepts - responsible for more deaths than you may care to quantify. And hope is just as bad - as Gerald Celente says, it's the most negative word in the dictionary. It takes power out of the hands of people and into the hands of fate, or some other guy. Just as, bizarrely, democracy actually takes power out of the people and into the elites.

Even Roissy has a take on hope, from a different angle, but the point is still the same:

Hope is the great alpha killer, the destroyer of masculinity, the betrayer of dignity. It serves one purpose only — to trick you away from the path of righteous self interest. Weak people cling to hope. But hope is a faint siren song; as soon as you taste some success you will forget all about hope and wallow in the delights of reality.

"Hope" is another word that has been handed down since the emergence of agriculture; another cultural tool of mind enslavement sanctioned by religion. Actually it comes from Middle English hopen, which means to "expect, think, guess, without implication of desire." Well, without desire or urge, we don't amount to much, so that's the problem right there.

Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here! Indeed. And have instead only desire, and righteous self-interest. And it will be Good.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Bernanke joins the ranks of Hitler & Stalin

Time magazine has made Bernanke person of the year. Jesus wept. Let's leave it to Peter Schiff to tell us what he thinks of that.

By the way, a disappointing thing for me has always been that, while I revere Milton Friedman in many ways, especially his Free to Choose, it's actually his ideas that Bernanke follows. Friedman was, bizarrely, a staunch and articulate libertarian, in every area except monetary policy. He seemed to change his mind in later years, but while writing his most influential works he always suggested that government's big mistake in the Great Depression was not inflating the money supply!

Of course, the real issues here are this. Government monopolised issuance of the currency, making it fiat (i.e. funny) money. They inflated the bubble through policies of easy credit. (By the way, every bubble in history has been caused by government - don't believe theories such as the "madness of crowds" - they were all down to the madness of those in power.) They also took over the role of insurer or lender of last resort in the event of bank runs. They made it illegal for any private body to do this.

So what they did wrong is not performing this role properly. And of course they weren't going to to. They don't have the first clue - their incompetence is unbounded.

But not printing enough money? Just generating more worthless, paper money off the presses? Excuse me? It's a shame, and it's baffling, that Friedman took this view, as it shows he didn't actually understand what money is, at all. And that's a hard thing to say, as he is a great man in many ways. He was a great debater, and by all accounts a genuinely great guy. I'm reminded of an anecdote whereby a fellow academic said he was worried about people plagiarising his ideas. Friedman told him that people plagiarising his ideas was a good thing - it showed his ideas were working.

How libertarian is that? And there are many other examples of his greatness. But if only he hadn't thrown the Fed that bone - that of "stimulating" the economy by printing phantom money backed by nothing. Because a lot of people listened to him. Like Bernanke, who said on the occasion of Friedman's birthday - you're right. we caused the last Depression - sorry, we won't do it again. And instead, they're going to cause a bigger one, by doing exactly what Friedman said to do.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Nicely-done post from Leg Iron, saying what needs to be said about the smoking ban.

Friday, 11 December 2009

I love the smell of napalmed tofu in the morning

Stumbled across this, and it made me quite happy. This is someone who has bee blogging for over a year and a half about vegan "food" and how it is the right way to go. All the vegans I've known have converted in the end - sometimes for serious health reasons. What a load of old bollocks it all is.

The food of slaves, prisoners... and us.

Yup, it's bread.

It may be getting to the stage now where people are realising just how bad bread is for you. And pasta, noodles, and all other grains and grain derivatives.

Here is just a small sample of what it has been linked to:

Oh, and obesity. But you knew that.

Yeah, it's kind of a shame, because I miss Marmite on toast, and aga toast with butter, and beautiful sourdough and French breads. And pasta, I used to love it. But if they are, as Arnie Schwarzenegger allegedly said, "poison", then I'm gonna forgo them in favour of steak. Hm. Not much of a sacrifice there after all.

The Artist as a Young Twit

I generally enjoy the writings of Theodre Dalrymple, even though I often don't agree with him (he's against the legalisation of drugs, for instance). He's got his own mind, he's got a lot of interesting life experience, and tends towards the libertarian - although it would be more accurate to describe him as conservative.

In this piece, he talks about le Corbusier. This is a guy who, despite being very talented, discovered socialism and got a very big head. Then his ideas went on to destroy beauty, nature and humanity wherever it was inflicted on the populace.

I'm sure it seemed like a great idea for governments to herd the masses in big tower blocks of concrete, to save space and money. And to pave over lots of greenery in the process. But how about leaving it to the people who buy houses, rent houses, and build houses to decide where and how they should be built?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Red mist

There's an interesting idea suggested by Sean Gabb that the CRU hacking was in fact carried out by the Russians.

If true - and it is very plausible - the irony is heavy. And delicious.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Globalisation or localisation?


Ricardo showed how comparative advantage means everyone benefits from free trade. The case is solid: and there is the case for globalisation. Done. Or is it?

There is a remarkable book review by a fellow called Sean Gabb, which changed the way I look at the issue. It’s a review of a book called “Organization Theory” by Kevin Carson.

The most important issue here, and it really is hugely important, is that what we have in the UK and indeed the West in general, is not a market economy, in the sense that economists envision one. Indeed it never has been anything like it. We are not an economy with a government tacked onto it. We are a society with government, both national and international, running all the way through it like layers of sclerotic fat run through a cirrhotic liver. Indeed, as Gerald Celente is fond of pointing out, the merger of state and corporate powers is called fascism.

One way of examining this issue is to look at the massive corporations we have now and ask why they are so big, and if they would be this way in the absence of a state. Would we have Tesco, Walmart, and giant pharmaceutical companies, for instance?

The answer is no. And the above book and review explain why.

The standard justification given for the proliferation of large firms is from Ronald Coase, who argued that they lower transactions costs. Larger firms generate economies of scale.

According to this analysis, firms grow large so far as their lower internal transaction costs make them more efficient than their smaller competitors. And there is an obvious temptation to regard size in a market economy as evidence of greater efficiency. Against this analysis and its conclusions, Mr Carson argues that the point at which internal transaction costs become equal to the costs of transactions via the market has been artificially raised by state intervention. There are few objective benefits in size. Lowest long run average cost is often achieved by rather small scale production methods. There is little evidence that large factories are more efficient than small factories. There is little evidence that large firms are more innovative than small firms. Anyone who looks inside a large firm will see information and management and resource allocation problems similar to those described by Hayek and von Mises in their work on socialist calculation.

If large firms predominate, it is not because they are the outcome of free market forces. Rather, they are called into being by systematic distortions of the market that amount to a subsidy on size. These distortions include the following:

First, there is subsidised transport and communication infrastructure. According to Mr Carson,

[i]t’s… important to remember that whatever reductions in unit production cost results from internal economies of large-scale production is to some extent offset by the dis-economies of large-scale distribution.[p.34]

The British and American railway networks, for example, were built in the nineteenth century by private companies. However, investment was only made profitable by compulsory purchase laws, or actual grants of land. Without this help, the returns on investment – never very exciting in any event – would in at least most cases have been negative.

As Mr Carson says,

If production on the scale promoted by infrastructure subsidies were actually efficient enough to compensate for real distribution costs, the manufacturers would have presented enough effective demand for such long-distance shipping at actual costs to pay for it without government intervention. …[a]n apparent ‘efficiency’ that presents a positive ledger balance only by shifting and concealing real costs, is really no ‘efficiency’ at all. Costs can be shifted, but they cannot be destroyed.[p.69]

The same can be said of every communications network from national post offices to the Internet. They widen markets at far less than full cost to those who benefit from it.
Second, there are patents and copyrights.
Intellectual property rights are essentially artificial property rights. They do not derive from scarcity, but from the creation of scarcity. They are essentially grants of monopoly privilege. They can only be created by the State. They can only be enforced by limiting what people can do with physical objects they have bought.
The claim that rights to intellectual property encourage the creation of intellectual property is unfounded. There is much evidence that firms would continue to develop new products in the absence of patent protection.

Third, regulations:
A regulation, in essence, is a state-enforced cartel in which the members agree to cease competition in a particular area of quality or safety, and instead agree on a uniform standard which they establish through the state. And unlike private cartels, which are unstable, no member can seek an advantage by defecting.[p.80]
Fourth, incorporation laws:
while the firm has unlimited liability, the liability of its owners is limited to the extent of their investment. This privilege alone allows incorporated firms to raise large amounts of capital on the financial markets. Yet, while the shareholders theoretically own them, such firms in practice are the property of their managers, who feel none of the moral responsibility that comes with ownership.
Unless unlucky or badly run, incorporated firms can last forever, and can grow bigger and bigger and more bureaucratic in their organisation.

Until they don’t. Hi Enron, Worldcom, Lehman Brothers... and y’know, the rest. Rest in Pieces.

By these and other means, Mr Carson says, size of business organisation has been systematically encouraged by the State. Now, those who gain from such enlargement have not been passive or accidental beneficiaries... The world in which we live has been deliberately shaped over the past few hundred years or more by plutocratic elites that have wanted stable markets and docile workers and suppliers. These elites comprise the managerial and rentier classes, politicians and bureaucrats, and the various intellectuals who propagate the ideologies that justify the ruling class as a whole.

Quite so.

The growth of large firms as the dominant business unit has required the virtual conscription of millions of people into hierarchical structures, with the suppression – or at least the discouragement – of their individuality. Apart from regular cash payments, the reward for an almost military deference to authority has been promises of job security and paid holidays and pensions and healthcare. In America, this was made into a cartelised cost on big business. In England and most other countries, it was directly assumed by the State.

And here’s the payoff:

We do not live in anything approaching a market order. The state of affairs in which we live is best described as a kinder, gentler feudalism. Those at the top possess fabulous, almost risk free wealth. Nearly everyone else is attached, in extended patterns of fealty, to large organisations – big business firms, state bureaucracies, welfare services, and the like.

The reason all this is so important is that so many conservatives, libertarians, etc who should be on board with this get it wrong, with disastrous effects:

The Chicago libertarians for the most part seem to define a free market as little more than “Tesco/Walmart minus the State”. They readily accept that there are groups benefiting from state action, but do not accept the existence of a “ruling class”. And they deny that big business forms part of a system that is inherently exploitative.

So, to look a little further:
While irrefutable, however, the theory of comparative cost is usually argued on the assumption of zero transport costs. Once these are taken into account, extended foreign trade may become far less profitable. Richard Cobden once observed that British agriculture was already protected by the high cost of shipping corn from Russia. What has happened since then is the growth of a vast international transport system built or subsidised by the taxpayers. This has brought down transport costs paid at the point of use and enabled the growth of unnaturally large patterns of international trade.

I live in one of the main apple growing regions of England. Even in the autumn, I can go into my local supermarket and find apples on sale from South Africa, from Chile, and even from China. When I drive home every summer from Slovakia, I find myself stuck on the smaller German motorways behind lorries carrying food from Turkey. How much of this trade would make economic sense if price in the shops reflected the full cost of transport? How much would there be if the motorways had not been built by the State, with powers of compulsory purchase and with grants of immunity against tort for pollution? How much would there be if transport companies had to pay the full cost of the wear their lorries made on the roads? How much would there be if the costs of stabilising the Middle East were reflected in the price of commercial diesel?

Adam Smith pointed out that grapes could be grown in Scotland, but that the opportunity costs made this a foolish use of resources. Perhaps it is. But perhaps if the full costs of production and transport entered into price, might it not make better sense to grow our own exotic fruits – especially given our more advanced agricultural techniques? Does it make real economic sense to import every consumer good imaginable from China and the Far East?

... As said, many libertarians recognise that big business is inherently exploitative. But we have also assumed that it is reasonably productive within its own terms. It is not. As already mentioned, Mr Carson believes that large firms show many of the weaknesses long since indentified in centrally-planned economies. He says:

Individual human beings make optimal decisions only when they internalize the costs and benefits of their own decisions. The larger the organization, the more the authority to make decisions is separated both from the negative consequences and from the direct knowledge of the results. And in a hierarchy, the consequences of the irrational and misinformed decisions of those at the top are borne by the people who are actually doing the work. The direct producers, who know what’s going on and experience directly the consequences of decisions, have no direct control of those decisions.[p.193]

The results of this are an obsession at the top with targets that can be measured and an indifference to local understandings of how work may best be done. Profitability crises are managed by thinly-veiled attempts to make people work harder for less, by “downsizings” that cut measurable costs while destroying intangible patterns of human capital, greater incentives to management to restore profitability, and an interest in fad management theories that talk of “empowerment” and decentralised control, but are just shifts in legitimising ideology to jolly the workers along.

Ring any bells?

Every complaint about employers’ restrictions on their employees’ freedom of speech and association outside of work is met with the response: ‘Well, nobody’s forcing you to work there.’

Well, yes and no. We market anarchists do not propose the imposition of any external constraint on what terms an employer can set as a condition of employment. The question is not whether the state should permit employers to set such conditions, but what kind of a market allows it?

Just how godawful do the other ‘options’ have to be before somebody’s desperate enough to take a job, and hold onto it like grim death, under conditions of stagnant pay, where (thanks to downsizing and speedups) they’re doing their own work plus that of a former coworker?

But never mind those things. How do things get to the point where people are lined up to compete for jobs where they can be forbidden to associate with coworkers away from work, where even squalid, low-paying retail jobs can involve being on-call 24/7, where employees can’t attend political meetings without keeping an eye out for an informer, or can’t blog under their own names without living in fear that they’re a websearch away from termination?[pp.402-03]

This is brilliant stuff, and yet it all seems so obvious - which is part of its brilliance, and it partners very well with Bob Black's essay referenced in my first posting. Of course it’s slavery, or feudalism, pure and simple, but in a modern form. The surprising thing here is we are half in agreement with the Leftie lot:

The problem with all those patronising Labour apparatchiks and the scum in donkey jackets selling their newspapers outside Underground stations is their prescription. Their diagnosis that ordinary working people are exploited in a system that transfers wealth upwards is broadly correct.

But how would gutting this system really help the "exploited masses"?

...“[c]onsider” says Mr Carson,
the process of running a small, informal brew pub or restaurant out of your home, under a genuine free market regime. Buying a brewing kettle and a few small fermenting tanks for your basement, using a few tables in an extra room as a public restaurant area, etc., would require at most a bank loan for a few thousand dollars. And with that capital outlay, you could probably service the debt with the margin from a few customers a week. A modest level of business on evenings and weekends, probably drawn from among your existing circle of acquaintances, would enable you to initially shift some of your working hours from wage labor to work in the restaurant, with the possibility of gradually phasing out wage labor altogether or scaling back to part time, as you built up a customer base. In this and many other lines of business, the minimal entry costs and capital outlay mean that the minimum turnover required to pay the overhead and stay in business would be quite modest. In that case, a lot more people would be able to start small businesses for supplementary income and gradually shift some of their wage work to self employment, with minimal risk or sunk costs.[p.549]

This does not talk – as many libertarians do when considering small businesses – about something that might turn its owner into a millionaire. It talks instead about micro-businesses that will never make anyone rich, but will simply make their owners independent of a system that turns them into serfs and bribes them with welfare handouts into becoming electoral fodder for the farce that is plutocratic social democracy. However, all this is presently illegal. There are taxes and regulations that exclude this sort of micro-business. The benefit that libertarianism holds out to the Tesco checkout assistant is not lower taxes on her pitiful and already mostly untaxed salary, but the chance not to work for Tesco.

The problem, as is often the case with politics, is doublespeak. Globalisation can mean, on the one hand that commerce gets controlled by a bunch of global elites who want to socially engineer everyone but themselves. On the other hand, it could also mean that people are able, if they so wish, to trade with whoever they like whether they’re outside of the nation’s borders or not. I've no problem with the second definition. But
given the way the world is right now, I concede that globalisation is more likely to mean the former.

I guess free trade should never have been looked at in terms of nations anyway. All "genuine" trade has always taken place between individuals.

As Celente has often said, America was great when it was Mom and Pop, not Walmart. When it was Main Street, not Wall Street. He advocates not buying from China. Unfortunately, it is up to all of us to react to incentives which are  laid down. If governments subsidise the continued and unnecessary shipping of endless goods, what are we to do?

Still, it's all coming to an end. Governments around the world are broke, and we're going to return to a little localism. But when that happens, things will be so bad that we may just miss the days of globalism.

Are we meat eaters? You betcha.

A remarkable blog posting here from Dr Michael Eades, who shows, stunningly, that we didn't just evolve to eat meat, but actually evolved because we eat meat. The argument is clear, well-structured, and very difficult to refute. It derives from the "Expensive Tissue Hypothesis", and an article in the 1995 journal "Current Anthropology" by Aiello and Wheeler. Read it, it's gripping and may change the way you see food forever.

Saturday, 5 December 2009


Copenhagen is preparing for the climate change summit that will produce as much carbon dioxide as a town the size of Middlesbrough.

Muppet Rhapsody

h/t soul sides:


AGW just baffles me:

1. It hasn't been proven that it's getting warmer, in any meaningful sense. Its pattern is indistinguishable from random. And as for the future - you simply can't project, it doesn't work like that. It could just as well plummet tomorrow and for the rest of the century. Who knows?
2. Even if it were proven that it's getting warmer now and in the future (it won't be - indeed, it can't be), it has to be proven that man is responsible. Through CO2 emissions. Even though they're small relative to natural emissions. Won't happen.
3. Even if it were shown that man is causing a significant upturn in temperatures through his actions, it would have to be shown that government policies and regulation would correct the problem. This is very obviously not the case, as all libertarians know. Getting out of the way would be the thing to do.
4. If it were shown that some super-duper law would fix the problem of AGW (flat-out impossible), what's so bad about it getting warmer anyway? In the past it's been the colder periods that have given us most problems. Warming always coincides with a flourishing of fertility and abundance. The last Ice Age was less of a hoot.

Friday, 4 December 2009


Mark Steyn on Warmergate:

How hard should it be to confirm settled science? After much cyber-gnashing of teeth, Harry throws in the towel:

“ARGH. Just went back to check on synthetic production. Apparently—I have no memory of this at all—we’re not doing observed rain days! It’s all synthetic from 1990 onwards. So I’m going to need conditionals in the update program to handle that. And separate gridding before 1989. And what TF happens to station counts?

“OH F–K THIS. It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I’m hitting yet another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity, it’s just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they’re found.”

Thus spake the Settled Scientist: “OH F–K THIS.” And on the basis of “OH F–K THIS” the world’s enlightened progressives will assemble at Copenhagen for the single greatest advance in punitive liberalism ever perpetrated on the developed world.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Can't see the HIV for the BS

There’s a movie coming out next year called House of Numbers.
Its about HIV and AIDS and how we’re not being told the truth. From Lew Rockwell:

Particularly problematical for the orthodoxy is the interview with Luc Montagnier, the French scientist who discovered HIV (if you accept that he discovered something). You can watch this interview today on YouTube.

The most interesting part of the exchange goes like this:

Montagnier "We can be exposed to HIV many times without being chronically infected. Our immune system will get rid of the virus in a few weeks, if you have a good immune system."

Leung "If you have a good immune system, then your body can naturally get rid of HIV?"

Montagnier "Yes."

Montagnier goes on to say that a neglected point in battling sickness in Africa is that nutrition and hygiene are very important, and people are only thinking of drugs and vaccines.

The significance of such comments coming from, of all people, the man who supposedly discovered the HIV virus, cannot be overstated. To understand why, you must understand that the whole problem of HIV boils down to one very simple concept: people get sick – why?

Why indeed. And in fact, if “being healthy” gets rid of HIV just like that, well then in what way does HIV even exist? We could in fact, define “it” as what happens when we’re not healthy – we get sick. Which is, of course, a truism. Another way of saying this is that HIV is not a virus: it’s just a name that we give to whatever virus comes along to take advantage of a sick person.
This is kind of backed up by this piece, which shows the evident controversy over whether HIV even exists as a unique virus.

By the way, in response to critics who claimed the excerpt above was edited in a special way, he released the full interview.
I mean, this guy isn’t just saying that nutrition and hygiene can help prevent getting AIDS – he’s saying it’ll cure it! Amazing to think this is coming from the guy who “discovered” it. No doubt Big Pharma will have him discredited and carted off, if they get their way.

By the way, those of us who follow people like Dr Eades, Gary Taubes, and the Weston A Price Foundation already have a good idea at how important nutrition is. But... more than that... what is good nutrition? It’s not what we’re being told by the establishment! It’s not low-fat, high-grain, and pasteurised. It’s the exact opposite.

Anyway, back to AIDS. The phantom menace. There’s a great piece here about Celia Farber, who was in Africa for a while. It’s an eye-opener, and basically re-iterates the importance of hygiene in particular – and even the sinister possibility of treatments themselves causing the problems.
There’s more second opinions here, here, and here. More than enough to get you thinking.

There’s also a handy wallchart-style list of the inconsistencies in AIDS claims here.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

If you haven't seen this yet

... you need to. It's long, but worth it. Gerald Celente, Max Keiser, Alex Jones, and the rest - legends.