Saturday, February 25, 2012

Follow the Yellowcake Road -- Again?

Time Magazine, July 9, 2003 - bolding mine throughout this essay.
Is a fib really a fib if the teller is unaware that he is uttering an untruth? That question appears to be the basis of the White House defense, having now admitted a falsehood in President Bush's claim, in his State of the Union address, that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa. But that defense is under mounting pressure from a variety of sources claiming that the White House could not have been unaware that the claim was false, because it had been checked out — and debunked — by U.S. intelligence a year before the President repeated it.
During the buildup to the Iraq invasion, few questions were asked concerning the administration's claims, and they were generally dismissed as somehow unpatriotic, politically biased, or just plain mean-spirited. Not until after the invasion did the real questions start to surface.

Now, nine years later, the spin seems to be that Iran is going to have a Nuclear Weapon, real soon now, so we better just go ahead and invade before that happens. News coverage superficially seems to indicate that war is all but inevitable. Once again, challenging that assertion is all but forbidden.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shall Not Be Infringed?

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

Merriam-Webster defines right as something to which one has a just claim; the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled, and defines infringe as to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another. Keep those definitions in mind. 1

Also keep in mind that violent crime in Washington D.C. is more than three times the national average of 403.6 reported offenses per 100,000 people in 2010.

Now, on with our story.

Emily Miller is the Senior Editor of The Washington Times Editorial and Opinion Pages, and, not inconsequentially, a resident of Washington DC. On October 5th of last year, she made the decision to legally own a handgun. On February 8th of this year, over four months later, she finally took possession of her handgun, with the caveat that she carry it directly home and keep it there, transporting it only when she takes it out of state to practice, since there is no place in Washington where she can legally fire it.

As she explains in her February 8th column, "The bad guys buy guns off the street in five minutes, and the city has no record of the transaction. Law-abiding citizens have to take a five-hour class that is only taught outside of the District, pay $465 in fees, sign six forms, pass a written test on gun laws, get fingerprinted, be subject to a police ballistics test and take days off work."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Transformational Generation

I had other plans for today's post, but then I ran across a compelling essay, on Pastebin, by way of Twitter, which tangentally restates the theme of the essay itself.

I don't know who Piotr Czerski is, or his age, or where he lives, other than that he is young, and from Poland. Nor does it matter, as Piotr himself points out.

What I do know is that Piotr is representative of a generation like none the world has seen before. I'm not sure what conclusions can be drawn from Piotr's essay, other than a warning that those who fail to recognize the fundamental shift that it represents are rapidly sowing the seeds of their own irrelevance.

I can't recommend reading the entire essay strongly enough. You'll find it included at the end of the post under Creative Commons license, which represents yet another restatement of his theme.

After noting the superficial differences that separate the various 'generations' that get bandied about, he proceeds to point out what makes his generation the transformational one. His generation is the one that has grown up with the richness of the Internet as a natural extension of their lives, rather than as a tool that can be used, or not, to provide some benefit. Piotr's generation breathes the Internet, as we do not.
What unites us is not a common, limited cultural context, but the belief that the context is self-defined and an effect of free choice.

We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The One Percent's Revolving Door

In Defining the One Percent, I explained that big government and big business work together to their advantage, while occasionally pretending to be mortal enemies. Then I provided a definition of the One Percent.
The One Percent is composed of both those who would seek to influence those who write the laws to create legislation that prevent competition and force business their way, and those politicians and bureaucrats who gladly pass and enforce the legislation that provides those benefits.

The One Percent includes both Crony Capitalists and Crony Politicians. We ignore their collusion at our peril.
In On Law and Sausages - SOPA, PIPA and Cronyism, I explained how these two groups work together to create legislation that ends up benefiting a particular industry or a particular corporation at the expense of consumers and the small businesses on Main Street. But they have plenty of other tricks up their sleeves to maintain their hold on the reins of power.

One of the favorite tricks of crony politicians is to appoint a well-connected industry insider who was particularly helpful to their election campaign to a high government position. Quite often it turns out to be a position where they're responsible for regulating the industry they just departed. This generally results in a few murmurs from members of the opposition party, quelled by a lot of head-nodding over the common wisdom that it takes people with an intimate knowledge of an industry to effectively regulate that industry.

Show of hands, please. How many in the audience would recommend to their local bank that they hire bank robbers as security guards?


Monday, February 20, 2012

Uncle Sam's Clogged Arteries

There are many reasons for the listless, if not moribund, state of the US economy. Today, this Tireless Agorist would like to tackle the topic of the clogging of the arteries of commerce. I'm not referring to the continual degradation of the physical infrastructure on which commerce depends; the roadways, railbeds, waterways and airways along which products move, the systems that bring us clean water and carry away our waste, or the pipelines, electrical generation plants and transmission grid that power our industry, although that would be a good topic for a future posting. In this essay, we'll address the impact of ever-growing regulation on economic production, innovation, and competition.

The Code of Federal Regulations totaled 165,494 pages as of the end of 2010, the most recent data according to the Office of the Federal Register. This is an increase of 132% from 71,224 pages in 1975. These regulations are enforced by more than 50 agencies, and a 2005 study by the Small Business Administration found that the cost of all these rules seven years ago was more than $1.1 trillion dollars a year, more than Americans paid in federal income taxes in 2009. That figure includes only the direct burden placed on consumers. Constraints on innovation, new inventions or products that never reached the marketplace cannot possibly be measured, since they are by nature undefinable.

And note we're speaking only of federal regulations; for businesses involved in interstate commerce, there may be as many as 50 sets of state regulations they must adhere to. Nor does it stop there. Many counties and municipalities have their own sets of rules and regulations that must be strictly adhered to under the risk of financial penalties or even permission to continue operations.

Agorism, Country Style, in Hardyville

"If we as individuals can't find freedom in our own lives, our own work, our own communities, we're never going to find it. And that's what Hardyvillians do."

Claire Wolfe, interview with Brian Wilson, 8/12/2011

Although I've written on a number of topics over the last month, I've always felt remiss for not explaining the name of my blog. While "Tireless" is explained by the masthead quote, I've never defined the term agorist, although most of my posts reflect the agorist philosophy in one way or another. 1

So here it is, briefly stated.

Agorism is a libertarian philosophy that holds as its ultimate goal a society in which all relations between people are voluntary exchanges and rejects the view that the solution to human aggression is to institute aggressive governments. It proposes that such a society can only be brought about by circumventing or ignoring the state.

Agorism embraces the libertarian philosophy of individual choice and responsibility and expands it to include a method for instituting that philosophy.

Claire Wolfe, libertarian author and columnist at Backwoods Home Magazine, wrote extensively of the rural community of Hardyville between October 2003 and September 2007. Hardyville, as a profoundly libertarian community with strong agorist tendencies, is a perfect example to illustrate the meanings of both libertarianism and agorism.