Sunday, October 30, 2011
Astute Consulting Group, Inc
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, November 10, 2008
Back to the subject at hand...
I approach my august Daily Apology breathren to say simply this. I apologize for not voting in the latest U.S. election. But it's worst than that. Not only did I not vote---a practice outlawed in Australia---I actually advised others to not vote as well. May the legions of stato-libertarians everywhere have mercy on my soul! I had the gall to not only spout off about the lunacy of voting on Strike-the-Root, but also on LewRockwell.com. The nerve! One would think I actually believed I had logical reasons for shirking on the awesome responsibility afforded me by the Founding Fathers. (Wait. Actually they didn't think people like me should be allowed to vote. Well, anyway...)
But wait, wait. It's even worse than that! Not only did I not vote, not only did I publicly and brazenly advise others to not vote, but---and this almost hurts to admit---I didn't feel a single pang of remorse during that entire day. That's right, I just went about my day with a Zen-like mental ease. Hell, I didn't even turn on the TV. (Listen, I'm a partially-recovering TV-holic. I love TV like a crack whore loves, well, crack. Or so I've heard.) Still, I didn't even watch the returns. There I was, a black man in America about the experience a moment almost as seminal as when O.J. got off, and I missed it. I should be ashamed. (I'm not, but at least I know I should be.)
Sure, I understand the hoopla. (When Oprah gets that excited, it means something.) Maybe, just maybe, I don't think it's a great day when the same people who've been lying, stealing, killing, etc. find out that there's a brother just as ready to help out as the 40+ previously-elected unrepentant rights infringers. By way of comparison, my working theory is that many black folk rejoiced when O.J. was acquitted not because they thought he was innocent, but because they figured it was about time a black guy who looked guilty got away with it. (Full Disclosure: Some of that feeling welled up in my soul too.) I figure at least a few (if not more than a few) of the tears for Obama's victory spring from the same well. I guess one could call it progress when the Mafia Chieftain---or should I say, Grand Wizard---is a brother, but count me among that group that disagrees. It should be obvious as well: I apologize for saying so!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
—Robert Heilbroner (1990), "After Communism", The New Yorker, September 10: 92 (1, 2, 3)
Regarding Paul Craig Roberts's "I Resign from the Mont Pelerin Society":
Interesting connected facts:
1. Formerly libertarian Mont Pelerin Society (which lists Hayek, Friedman, "Coase," and others as "Notable Members", but not Mises): its Treasurer is one "Edwin Feulner."
2. Feulner is President of Heritage.
3. In "Saving Georgia," Heritage Web Memo #2021, and The Russian-Georgian War: A Challenge for the U.S. and the World, on "Ariel Cohen, Ph.D." buys into the Bush administration's propaganda that uses "the Russian invasion of Georgia" as an excuse for further American hegemony.
No wonder Hans-Hermann Hoppe founded the Property and Freedom Society to take up the reins that MPS has dropped.
As Guido Hülsmann noted in "Ludwig von Mises and the Mt. Pelerin Society. Strategic Lessons" a speech delivered at the inaugural meeting of the PFS in 2006 (summary; program):
As classical liberal economists were usually not employed in institutions of higher learning (the teaching of economic science was not primarily organized within the universities), they built other institutions, from loose networks to political parties. By 1860 governments realized the danger to themselves that the classical economists posed. Their answer was to create their own economists and thus control the market of ideas. This strategy was first applied in Germany with the German Historical School or “Schmollerism” and soon spread to other countries, each with its own specific national feature. John Stuart Mill in Britain for example changed the meaning of liberalism into interventionism, while the Russian government thought that Schmoller was too tame and hired Marxist economists instead.
This trend continued into the 20th century, with Ludwig von Mises being one of the very few setting himself against it. After demolishing the case for socialism and putting the case for radical liberalism, he insisted that no “third way” was possible, as this would invariably lead to a loss of prosperity and in the end, socialism.
In the first half of the 20th century, a number of societies were founded by liberals to counter the trend towards socialism. By 1938, four schools of thought were represented:
Neoliberalism, i.e., practical and theoretical compromise with socialism; F.A. v. Hayek, for whom a small amount of intervention was permissible; Alexander Rüstow, who considered natural hierarchies as necessary for society; and Ludwig v. Mises, who stood for complete laissez faire.
Nine years and one World War later, these groups convened to form the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS). At the same time, Leonard Read’s FEE in America was publishing leaflets explaining the ideas of Mises and organizing seminars and speeches for Mises and others. These activities were extremely important for spreading Mises’ thoughts, especially to young people. Ralph Raico, George Reisman and Murray N. Rothbard were among those influenced by the FEE papers. Without the FEE, the Chicago School would have totally dominated the field of free market ideology.
Mises was skeptical about the MPS right from the start; he was particularly concerned because of the participation of certain people. In 1947, he stormed out of a meeting, saying: “You’re all a bunch of socialists.”
Today, the MPS, a society of eminent scholars, mainly represents Neoliberalism. Therefore, the PFS could play the role that the MPS was originally designed to play: spreading the uncompromising intellectual radicalism of freedom.
(See also Hülsmann, Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism, pp. 871, 989-90, 1003-10, 1032, et pass.)
This helps place in context the principles for the PFS as announced by Hoppe at its founding in 2006:
The Property and Freedom Society stands for an uncompromising intellectual radicalism: for justly acquired private property, freedom of contract, freedom of association .... It condemns imperialism and militarism and their fomenters, and champions peace. It rejects positivism, relativism, and egalitarianism in any form .... As such it seeks to avoid any association with the policies and proponents of interventionism, which Ludwig von Mises had identified in 1946 as the fatal flaw in the plan of the many earlier and contemporary attempts by intellectuals alarmed by the rising tide of socialism and totalitarianism to found an anti-socialist ideological movement. Mises wrote: "What these frightened intellectuals did not comprehend was that all those measures of government interference with business which they advocated are abortive. ... There is no middle way. Either the consumers are supreme or the government."
Sunday, July 13, 2008
My Last Post Ever…
…about Kinsella and Sandefur. To sum up the two divergent poles of “libertarianism”:
Kinsella: True libertarians never take any action to advance liberty.
Sandefur: True libertarians murder every man, woman and child who doesn’t share his worldview.
He is partially right about Sandefur--he's referring here to Sandefur's devotion to mass-murderer Lincoln and war perpetrated by big Western states against bad smaller states. But the way he wrote it is an exaggeration even of quasi-libertarian Tim Sandefur's views (and strange given his recent praise of Sandefur--here, here, and here).
He's wrong about me--I am not opposed to taking action to advance liberty. I don't even oppose suing the states in federal courts to try to vindicate my rights. I would do it. I simply maintain that outsider analysts should be honest. That's all. I might argue for incorporation as a plaintiff, because I want the feds to stop a state from hurting me. My argument might even persuade the court. (As I noted in my last reply to Oliva, "I of course support any victim of any state crime using another state against the offending state. If I were on the receiving end of a bad state law, sure, I'd use every argument in the book to try to persuade a federal judge to strike it down.")
But bhat does not mean it's honest or correct for a libertarian to say the court's interpretation of the Constitution is accurate, or that that feature is a libertarian one that should be part of any federal constitution.As for this being his "last post" on me and La Sandefur, well, I remember when he "retired from blogging (2)." Uh, yeah. He has also given up (how does one do that?) "being a libertarian" -- see here.
Oliva's behavior of late is bizarre--attacking me for no reason, after years of friendly interaction. See e.g. here. Pro-Mises Instute, then against, now pro again; pro-Kinsella, now anti-; pro-Sandefur, now anti-; "libertarian", then "no longer". Wow, what a ride.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
In Stephan Kinsella’s Libertarianism…Let's take the first four. I presume by "government" Oliva means "state." Now, does he really mean "can"? That just means ability. Certainly, states do steal and murder--and therefore they "can". In my libertarianism, states do not exist since they are widely regarded as criminal.
…the government can take everything you own…
…the police can murder you and your family without consequence…
…religious fanatics can take control of your body and mind…
…regulators can destroy productive capital and plunge the economy into depression…
…and if you do anything to challenge these acts, you will be branded as the enemy of “true” libertarianism.
Perhaps Oliva means "may", as in permission. That is, he is alleging that I believe it is permissible for states to exist, and to rob, murder, and regulate. Where he got the idea that I think it's permissible for states to exist, or commit crime, I do not know, since I'm an anarchist (and Oliva is not even a libertarian).
I suspect what the confused, inarticulate, non-libertarian Mr. Oliva is trying to say is this: if you do not believe that the federal government has (or should have?) the constitutional authority to strike down unlibertarian laws of the several states, then you are in favor of these unlibertarian laws. But when you make plain what he's really saying, it's obviously false.
His last comment is also false. I of course support any victim of any state crime using another state against the offending state. If I were on the receiving end of a bad state law, sure, I'd use every argument in the book to try to persuade a federal judge to strike it down. But there's a difference between advocacy and objective, honest, outside analysis.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Slightly less than one year ago, then-VP of the Science Fiction and fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), Howard V. Hendrix, expressed a distaste for writers who give away their material for free. You can see the original blog post here. The entire post covers SFWA internal business, but the controversial bit is as follows:
I'm also opposed to the increasing presence in our organization of webscabs, who post their creations on the net for free. A scab is someone who works for less than union wages or on non-union terms; more broadly, a scab is someone who feathers his own nest and advances his own career by undercutting the efforts of his fellow workers to gain better pay and working conditions for all. Webscabs claim they're just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they're undercutting those of us who aren't giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work.
Since more and more of SFWA is built around such electronically mediated networking and connection based venues, and more and more of our membership at least tacitly blesses the webscabs (despite the fact that they are rotting our organization from within) -- given my happily retrograde opinions, I felt I was not the president who would provide SFWAns the "net time" they seemed to want at this point in the organization's development, or who would bless the contraction of our industry toward monopoly, or who would give imprimatur to the downward spiral that is converting the noble calling of Writer into the life of Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch.
The response from the technopeasantry was predictably strong. I first heard about it in a podcast from author Scott Sigler. I later heard about it again from various other blogs and podcasts. The response prompted a clarification from Hendrix:
Although I don't spend much time in the blogosphere, I am aware—particularly through emailings from various SFWA committee members— that the use of the term "webscab" has touched off something of a firestorm.
The term itself is undoubtedly too incendiary, but I hope the discussion will prove salutary in the long term, not only to those of us who are members of SFWA or who write in the science fiction and fantasy fields, but for everybody who works in print.
My primary concern is that the webbification of publishing will increasingly disenfranchise authors—to the benefit of the big bandwidth barons, the media conglomerates. In the short term, free online posting of entire novels for promotional purposes may well strengthen the hand of those authors who gravitate to that promotional technique. My concern is that, in the long term, as more and more people become schooled to reading off the screen rather than from the printed page, free online whole-book posting may set a precedent of "why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?" which in the end will benefit conglomerates rather than authors as a class.
That issue still concerns the Luddite in me, who remembers that what the Luddites objected to was not technology per se, but technology which they viewed as potentially damaging to to their community and commonweal—their work and way of life. I believe I have the right to push back against technologies which I feel are potentially damaging to the community and commonweal of writers.
I may well be wrong. A number of folks have written to say that the very people I've called webscabs are those working hardest to prevent land-grabs by the big corporate congloms. I have a great deal of respect for organizations like EFF, EPIC, and Public Knowledge, but I don't feel that free online posting of whole novels for promotional purposes will in the end empower authors as a class.
I've had some very interesting emails from various people, and I'm learning from their points of view. My thoughts are not carved in stone on this. My use of the term "webscab" has proven unfortunate in that it distracted from what I was really concerned about in that posting—namely the "hypermediation" of SFWA business, where the officers and president are increasingly expected (almost required) to participate in scads of lists, blogs, and newsgroups, and to respond to every note of praise or blame that crosses the electronic transom. It's no way to run an organization, and threatens to run down and burn out the organization's officers.
Lastly, I want to clarify that I was not speaking for SFWA when I wrote that LiveJournal note. I was expressing my own opinion in what I considered a personal farewell comment to the organization and its members—rather like Eisenhower's warning of the "military industrial complex" in his farewell address as president (to compare great things with small).
I've been accused of "lobbing a bomb" by using the "webscab" term. Judging from the emails, it was a suicide bomb whose most likely victim is me.
This sort of reaction is, of course, what happens whenever technology changes a well established industry. Hendrix may well be correct in his concern for "authors as a class," as what exactly is the job of an author may soon change radically. The same goes for what it is to be a publisher.
April 1 may well mark the date of vindication for Sigler's chosen method for promoting his work. His novel, Infected, is slated to be released by Crown Publishing Group on that date. The book is being promoted as a major sci-fi thriller. It promises to be a big deal, as it has a major marketing campaign, and has the potential for a wide appeal. It has already been released as a free podcast, and Sigler is currently releasing an audio version of the soon-to-be-released print version now. It is a bold move, and likely alien to many authors. It is the move of an entrepreneur. Sigler is attempting to kick-start a business. I imagine many artistic people dislike the notion that they are, in fact, running a business, but facts are facts, whether or not they are acknowledged. If his business model proves successful, others will imitate it, and everyone will simply have to adjust to the new competition. Indeed Sigler's model suggests a good way for someone who is as prolific as he has shown himself to be. If an author is immensely popular, they could serialize their content, and get paid subscribers for that serialized content. For budding authors, the content would have to be free to attract readers, but there is no need for well-established superstar authors to so limit themselves. Indubitably, people far more savvy than myself will come up with even more ways to monetize the fruits of artistic talent.
P.S. I forgot to add the apology: I apologize for being a black guy writing about science fiction and geekery and not "keeping it real, yo."
Friday, January 04, 2008
Here's the thing though, I remain plagued by a question that scratches at the base of my psyche. That question, to which I haven't gotten a good response from any Paul supporter, is simply this:
Haven't we [market anarchists, anarcho-capitalists, etc.] already decided, among ourselves, logically, that button-pushing scenarios do not necessarily lead to better outcomes?
I've written in other places that I can see some positive motivation behind the Ron Paul campaign. I can legitimately see the value in getting the message of liberty and limited government "out there" during a presidential campaign. What I haven't done, and what I won't do -- and I feel pretty safe saying this is also true about most other anti-Paul folks -- is begin to think that "the answer" to our problems with the state is to take over the state! What logic supports this idea?
Imagine if you will (I'm having a Rod Serling moment) a world where we anarchists are presented with a magic button. Pushing the button will immediately result in the abolition of the IRS, the FDA, the EPA, FEMA, the closing of all US bases in foreign lands, etc. Would pushing that button be the next best action? Not so much. While pushing the button would most assuredly result in some real, almost intoxicating pleasure for most of us, one other relatively unassailable conclusion can be drawn about it. Within milliseconds of that button being pushed, the rest of the populace would begin reconstructing those items that the button-pushing removed, probably supported by violence.
...what I want is a voluntary society that moves toward anarchy and freedom, not my own personally-selected slave master controlling the guns of the state, but hey, I already said I apologize!
(May the ghost of Murray N. Rothbard not haunt me tonight.)
Saturday, October 06, 2007
I apologize for thinking that people ought to make their own way in life, for not believing that the government has any real answers for most of the problems that I or anyone else face and for not seeing any real difference in Republicans and Democrats. I apologize for not feeling sympathy for people that wish to live as victims and seek to blame others for all of their problems. I am sorry that I went to Iraq more than once, spent almost two and a half years of my life there for nothing of real note or value. I apologize for believing that it is ok to be conservative and believe that the government lies, cheats and steals. I am sorry for thinking that small really is beautiful and for wishing that life would just slow down a bit. I am sorry for not shopping at Wal-Mart. I apologize for calling my boss a self-absorbed scoundrel (well, I'm not really sorry for that).
Friday, September 28, 2007
By Wendy McElroy
According to friend and ex-prostitute Norma Jean Almodovar, married men pay for sex mainly to get blow jobs. This baffles me. Why wouldn't every woman include "hunt and suck" in her sexual repertoire? As a stressed and exhausted boomer, the advantages of fellatio would be Chapter One of my future bestseller entitled "How to Drive Your Man Crazy With an Utter Minimum of Effort and Time." You get to keep your clothes on, thus concealing cellulite and those extra ten pounds. You don't have to be "in the mood." It is the fast food drive-through of sex. Moreover, men become unduly grateful. The first time I gave it my "all," the man told me a woman could get anything she wanted in exchange for "that." It seemed like a fair swap to me.
The call girls I know charge $150 to $300 for a blow job. Imagine investing that extra money in a retirement fund at a 10% annual return. I am not so presumptuous as to advise you to charge your husband a fee. That is your choice. And, if you make the fiscally wise choice, you can always give him a price break by using the going street rate. A price chart, covering some of the major U.S. cities, can be found in the Jayhawke Report on the "World Sex Guide" site. For example, in Washington D.C. in 1997, "A blowjob [sic] usually runs $30-60, sex is $50-100, and anal is $70-150." But the report warns, "There is lots of drugs and crime in DC, so use extreme caution!" In other words, men who go to streetwalkers for blow jobs might come back with more than a grin on their faces. Which is another reason to keep more than a log burning in the hearth.
But where can you learn this fine art? (Are you listening, Hillary?) I recommend against chatting with a girlfriend because, within the week, you'll hear back from another girlfriend about how your sex life needs help. And then a male friend will generously offer to "let" you practice on him. And, no, I won't tell you how I am certain this will happen. Proceed instead to a wonderful and free on-line "14 Lesson Tutorial" on oral sex from a pro. It starts at the basics, "First things first. LOOK at the cock." Ignore the tutorial's references to worshiping the penis and seeing it as an icon. There's no need to make a religion out of this. Go in a straight line to "know his testicles" and how to "deep throat" without that nasty gagging reflex.
Of course, seeing oral sex performed has a certain educational appeal. I vividly remember the first blow job I saw in a porn video. It was a scene in which porn superstar (and sweet human being) Nina Hartley blew a cock in a condom -- as opposed to a "bare back blow job" -- and the sex sizzled. I leaned toward the television screen and exclaimed, "So that's what you do with your hands!" Nina also teaches her techniques in Nina Hartley's Guide to Oral Sex.
My last piece of advice: oral sex has no necessary connection with blowing and it should never be viewed as a job. Enjoy!
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I'm also told that Mrs. Koch gave the max to Brownback.
And here are Brownback's positions--
Border security is my top priority and I have consistently voted to immediately secure the border. One of the primary jobs of the
- Double the number of border patrol agents over the next five years.
- Increase detention space in order to end "catch-and-release".
- Build 700 miles of border fencing and 350 miles of vehicle barriers along the Southern border.
- Fund 370 miles of triple-layered fencing and 461 miles of vehicle barriers along the nation's southwest border.
- Deploy cutting-edge technology including cameras, sensors, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to patrol the border for illegal border crossers.
- Implement a tough, smart border security strategy in order to gain operational control of the border.
- Worksite Enforcement is Essential.We will fail to stop illegal immigration until we prove that living and working here illegally is not an option.
- We must enable all law enforcement to identify and quickly remove criminal illegal aliens.
- A secure, fraud-resistant ID must be the foundation of a robust worksite enforcement system that requires every new employee to be screened for valid work authorization.
- Interior and worksite enforcement are essential for homeland security and national security.
- Increase cooperation with state and local authorities to enforce our immigration laws.
- Implement an Electronic Employment Verification System that holds employers accountable for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers.
- Prohibit employers convicted of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants from being eligible to receive government contracts.
- Allow the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to share information helpful to law enforcement investigations against illegal immigrants.
Healthcare Our healthcare system will thrive with increased consumer choice, consumer control and real competition. I believe it is important that we have price transparency within our health care system. This offers consumers, who are either enrolled in high deductible health plans or who pay out-of-pocket, the ability to shop around for the best prices and plan for health care expenditures. Also, the existing health insurance market forces consumers to pay for extra benefits in their premiums, such as aromatherapy and acupuncture, which tends to increase the cost of coverage. Instead, consumers should be able to choose the from health care coverage plans that are tailored to fit their families' needs and values. Accordingly, individuals should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines. Finally, I believe that consumers should have control over the use of their personal health records. I have a proposal that would offer consumers a means to create a lifetime electronic medical record, while, at the same time, ensuring that the privacy of their personal health information is secured and protected. Over time, the socialized medicine model has shown to deprive consumers of access to life-saving treatments and is downright inconsistent with the spirit of the American people to be free from unwanted government intervention. I will continue to work at the forefront to create a consumer-centered, not government-centered, healthcare model that offer both affordable coverage choices and put the consumer in the driver's seat.
Taxes: I have long championed both lower taxes and reform of the existing tax system, and recently signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose all tax increases. Much of our recent economic prosperity is directly attributable to the lower taxes enacted by recent Congresses. I believe
Culture and Values: We must clean up
Energy: Due to years of neglect and short-sighted domestic policies,
Marriage: I believe that our society’s strength lies in its most fundamental building block, the family unit. Family begins with marriage. We must defend the institution of marriage by defending the definition of marriage. The right to marry is not the right to redefine marriage. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. How we define marriage is vitally important because of the message it sends to the culture—to the young, and to the next generation of citizens. Make no mistake, a society that undermines marriage and the family is undermining itself, and a government that attempts to supplant rather than to support the family and marriage is bent on its own destruction. We must recognize that it is our families, built upon the institution of marriage, that are the fundamental and essential centers of commitment and care that have the real power to transform our society.
Human Rights: My belief in the value of human life is what inspired my concern over the international genocides taking place in countries like
Religious Liberty: Religion, once an integral part of our society, is today being eradicated from nearly every aspect of public life. The First Amendment protects the freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice. That freedom is under attack by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, who profit financially from lawsuits brought against cities and towns that display religious symbols. The ACLU and others have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees from suits brought against local cities and towns. Now they are using those victories to threaten other local jurisdictions. I introduced the Public Expression of Religion Act last year to prevent groups like the ACLU from collecting attorneys’ fees in religious freedom cases. Our country was founded on the idea that its citizens should be free to express their religious beliefs without government interference. I will continue the fight to protect that freedom.
Life: Life is worthy of respect and protection from the moment of conception. I fear that our society has forgotten the value of human life. I believe every life has meaning and purpose, and that the termination of life is taken too lightly in our country today. Abortion ends a human life. It destroys an individual who could have lived, worked, and contributed to our society. And has wiped out nearly an entire generation. I believe we should strive to fully embrace a culture of life through our national politics. I will continue to fight to protect life at every stage. I hope that one day
Social Security: The Social Security System is facing a demographic crisis that will someday affect the financial viability of the Social Security Trust Fund. Projections for the financial solvency of the Trust Fund show that as baby boomers begin to enter retirement there will be an increase in the number of people drawing social security benefits, and yet a corresponding decrease in the number of working people who provide those benefits. Clearly, this will present a crisis within the system. We must firmly resolve to keep our commitment to current retirees and those preparing to retire. Further, we must modernize the system to ensure that Social Security is financially sound for our children. I believe every American has a stake in this debate, and I will continue to keep the dialogue open as we work toward a solution. read the in-depth white paper.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
My trips to Irvington-on-Hudson are likely to be rather fewer than in the past, as yesterday was my last meeting of the board of trustees of the Foundation for Economic Education. (FEE’s bylaws require term limits after nine years….and it’s been nine years since I joined the board.) It has been an honor to serve on a board that has included so many distinguished business leaders and intellectuals.Posted by Tom Palmer at May 6, 2007 12:19 PM | TrackBack
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Jeff Saut Presents: The Emerald City presents a theory new to me--that The Wizard of Oz was "based on an economic and political commentary surrounding the debate over “sound money” that occurred in the late 1800s." This article argues that:
... Baum’s book was penned in 1900 following unrest in the agriculture arena (read: farmers) due to the debate between gold, silver, and the dollar standard. The book, therefore, is supposedly an allegory of these historical events making the information easier to understand. In said book, Dorothy represents traditional American values. The Scarecrow portrays the American farmer, while the Tin Man represents the workers, and the Cowardly Lion depicts William Jennings Bryan. Recall that at the time Mr. Bryan was the official standard bearer for the “silver movement,” as well as the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate of 1896. Interestingly, in the original story Dorothy’s slippers were made of silver, not ruby, implying that silver was the Populists’ solution to the nation’s economic woes. Meanwhile, the Yellow Brick Road was the gold standard, and Toto (Dorothy’s faithful dog) represented the Prohibitionists, who were an important part of the silverite coalition. The Wicked Witch of the West symbolizes President William McKinley and the Wizard is Mark Hanna, who was the chairman of the Republican Party and made promises that he could not keep. Obviously “Oz” is an abbreviation for “ounce.”
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
In any event. On the Mises blog post he wrote in a comment that he was glad "that some of my teachings have had an effect on you." I had no idea what he was jabbering about but had a vague recollection that he was some kind of loon or nut. He was insinuating, I thought, that I was using in my arguments something he taught me... and vaguely implying I should have given him credit. I thought this ridiculous and said so; he escalated with attempts at "proving" how I had plagiarized him and was a liar.
So I have refreshed my memory. First, as to who this dude is. I remember now: he has gone in the past, on various boards, as Count Lithium von Chloride, Tetrachordine Omega, and Tetrahedron Omega. He has written before about his various experiences with drugs, and how this has given him insight into the universe, and the "omega point," some nonsense like this. See, e.g., my discussion of this stuff in this post and in this anti-state thread, where he talks about his "god-trips". In his article Jesus is an Anarchist, he signs off thus:
Born in Austin, Texas and raised in the Leander, Texas hill country, the native-born Augustinian James Redford is a young born again Christian who was converted from atheism by a direct revelation from Jesus Christ. He is a scientific rationalist who considers that the Omega Point (i.e., the physicists' technical term for God) is an unavoidable result of the known laws of physics. His personal website can be found here: http://geocities.com/vonchlorideUh, yeah--the Omega Point... direct revelation of Christ via drugs which incude various so-called Levels of so-called God-Trips. Like, wow, man. I think he actually believes this stuff. Another funny comment: in our email conversation in 2000, I jokingly used the term "jelly head" to refer to stoners or those who do drugs, after he started going on about all the revelations he'd gotten from doing drugs. He didn't know the term "jelly-head," so I explained:
Jelly head--slang for junkie, drug head, stoner. I guess the term implies that you do so many terms it turns the brain to sludge, jelly.His humble reply? "Well, my brain is still quite intact and functioning on an I.Q. level higher than almost all people." Uhhh, HOkay.
And in His website shows he's a 9/11 conspiracy nut, too. And let's not forget his various handles: Count Lithium von Chloride, Tetrachordine Omega, and Tetrahedron Omega. He reminds me a bit of Per Malloch, another smart young libertarian who also liked my estoppel theory and Hoppe's argumentation ethics, and who also liked drugs, unfortunately a bit too much--he OD'd in college a few years ago. I wonder how long Redford will be with us. Oh well, at least he's a "Christian," so if he OD's he'll just ascend to the Jesus Omega Point, I guess, where drugs will be free and plentiful.
Anyway, he wrote in the recent Mises thread:
I'm glad that some of my teachings have had an effect on you. Ergo, your somewhat recent statement of "an ought from an ought." (Your September 8, 2006 11:19 AM reply under "How We Come to Own Ourselves.")He was referring to my comment there to someone: "I agree you cannot get an ought from an is. I am not. I am getting an ought from an ought."
Redford is implying I got this from him. Why? Here is something he wrote me long ago (which I had of course forgotten). During one of those conversations he agreed with my Humean point that you can't derive an an ought from an is; and he said he liked my own theory because in it I derive an ought from an ought. He wrote (back in February of 2000):
One remarkable thing about your rights argument is that it seems to totally by-pass the is/ought dichotomy. Rather than simply derive an "ought" from an "is" (which alone is impossible), it derives an "ought" from an "ought": an "ought" which any objector to libertarian punishment necessarily already holds.Note that he here was simply agreeing with what my own theory did: that it derived an ought from an ought. Therefore avoiding the ought from an is problem, which I was of course already aware of. (It permeates my arguments; and see also p. 1432 of my 1994 review essay on one of Hoppe's books (discussing how Hoppe's argumentation ethics overcomes the Humean is-ought dichotomy; and p. 136 (text at n. 13) of Hoppe's 1989 book TSC, which I had of course devoured by the time I wrote my estoppel theory: "In fact, one can readily subscribe to the almost generally accepted view that the gulf between “ought” and “is” is logically unbridgeable. .... On the problem of the deriveability of “ought” from “is” statements cf. W. D. Hudson (ed.), The Is-Ought Question, London, 1969; for the view that the fact-value dichotomy is an ill-conceived idea cf. the natural rights literature cited in note 4 above.")
Now. I have used "ought from an ought" on occasion, at least in the last couple of years, as I have explained and defended my views on rights, and the problem with the is-ought dichotomy. Did I get the phrase from Redmond? I have no idea. I suppose it is possible that a phrase he used to describe my own theory stuck in my head and bubbled to the surface years later. If so, I woudl have no problem "admitting" it, as he charges; why not? After all, it's just a natural way to describe what my own theory does, as he admitted way back in 2000. And although he seems proud that if you google the phrase "ought from an ought" in usenet groups his is the first one mentioned, as if he had some great achievement (in just finding a way to describe why my own "remarkable" rights argument!), as I showed him, if you google the phrase on the web, several uses of it show up, e.g. one in 1973. (Redford's emphasis on the fact that he has the first use of the phrase on usenet, and that there are only 13 or so in a web-wide google search, is also odd: there are no doubt various ways to word the idea that you can only get an ought from an ought, other than the literal phrase "ought from an ought", which his and my google search espicked out, so the basic insight or idea or way of putting it is probably out there many more times than that simple one search would show. Not to mention that there are tons of publications not yet searchable.)
Regarding my citing of the 1973 use of the phrase, of course I did not list that to imply that I got the phrase from that source rather than from Redford; but to show that it's probably a natural way for people to describe this, that many people can either independently come to, or that is floating around out there and occasionally used. I think it's likely I either read this phraseology in various places, or maybe independently came up with it myself. I mean if you say that an ought can't come from an is, so you have to start with a presupposed ought (as Hoppe and I both argue, in a sense; even Rand, as I noted before, with her hypothetical ethics), it's, um, natural to say that you can't get an ought from an is, but only from an ought. Redford's attempt grab fame for such an obvious insight is frankly bizarre. If the thought of using that simple phrase to describe my very own rights theory was put in my head by Redford's email to me back in 2000, whoop de doo. Fine. Who cares?
So, he lists part of our email conversation from 2000 (he, um, saved it, you see), to prove I'm a plagiarist and liar. Okay, so let's recap. I think his "ought from an ought" phrase is a kind of obvious way of stating one good thing about my own rights theory. That, er, I came up with. I think it's good Omega, er Redford, came up with it. I think many people have. I may have too; or may have remembered it from Redford's email to me, um, 6 years ago, or maybe from seeing others' writings on related subjects. I'm even grateful Redford was friendly to my rights theory, but I think it's frankly bizarre of him to keep score of such minute things and to try to take credit for such a thing, or to accuse me of plagiarism, or lying. On the other hand, I guess there are worse things than being insulted by a self-admitted drug-using conspiracy-theorizing born-again Chloride-Omega Christian with Direct Revelation to God.
Our exchange since then:
Posted by: James Redford at November 18, 2006 6:01 PM
Posted by: Stephan Kinsella at November 20, 2006 10:09 AM
Posted by: James Redford at November 20, 2006 3:04 PM
Posted by: Stephan Kinsella at November 20, 2006 3:55 PM