no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Comments on Comments #11

March 28th, 2008

I hate posting these on Fridays, because Friday is typically a low-traffic day. But I also hate waiting until Monday at which time some of my comments are well-past overdue.

Kip Esquire responds in brief to my second post on jury nullification, which was a response to his podcast on the same subject:

1. That libertarians do not have a monopoly on nullification, and therefore the maneuver is not intrinsically libertarian. Just as a gun can be used either for libertarian or anti-libertarian purposes, so too can nullification. It is therefore invalid for libertarians to claim a unique moral proprietorship of the act, as they so often do.

2. The simple truth remains that lying your way onto a jury is not the moral high ground. “The ends justify the means” was, last time I checked, simply not a core libertarian premise — quite the opposite, in fact.

As to (1), I grant that jury nullification is not the only way, nor the best way, and probably not even a moderately successful way to advance the cause of liberty. It’s just one more tool to use as circumstances so dictate. If other libertarians claim stewardship over jury nullification, they are certainly as wrong as the people who claim that guns are intrinsically evil.

Regarding (2), the definition of “moral high ground” I suppose, is at least somehow related to whether there exists a law higher than that created by the State. And since many (most? all?) libertarians claim that the State is overstepping some sort of boundary beyond which its actions cease being justifiable, we can surmise that appealing to a higher law is certainly a libertarian principle, and a core principle, at that. Furthermore, we need to examine whether the act of lying, that is, misrepresenting the truth is universally immoral—a claim which I reject. We don’t need to worry about whether “the ends justify the means” if we’re confident that the means are justified of themselves. Of the moral high ground, we can be certain of at least one thing: there is nothing morally superior about acquiescing to the State, and convicting, or participating in the conviction/incarceration of people for acts which are not crimes.

+++

The Picket Line criticizes my argument against the futility of tax resistance, or symbolic withholding. All’s fair, I suppose. It depends on how you define victory. If you really think that by making yourself worse-off, you can ween the State from its violent cycle, by all means go for it. I just don’t think it works.

Mr. Z’s call for anarchists to “lead the way for ‘off the books’ transactions, making them more available” is followed not by some good examples of how he does this, but with what seems to be a demand that these anarchists be more-or-less completely victorious in this task before he joins them: “Find me a way to buy my house, agorist-style, and I’ll listen.”

At the present, agorism is a brand-new subject matter for me. I’ve only just begun studying the idea, let alone have I had the opportunity to put any of it in to practice. The “find me a way to buy a house, agorist style, and I’ll listen” comment was a tad toungue-in-cheek. I don’t want everyone else to be victorious, but it’s not something I can do on my own. For the record, I did note some quasi-agorist transactions of the sort that most people (present company, included) already practice on a more-or-less frequent basis.

This sort of “it’s only symbolic, it’s not really important” thinking is usually accompanied by gestures of capitulation. Mr. Z goes on to say that “all efforts to resist paying a portion of one’s income taxes are essentially futile, because one is still paying all other forms of taxes…” In other words, I may as well not fight the battle, because even if I win, I still won’t have won the war.

“Even if I win the battle” is a red herring, because as long as you’re using FRNs there are no battles! Almost every transaction in which you participate is taxable, so as long as you spend those notes you’re simply choosing a different form of taxation! If withholding $17.76 from your tax return this year makes it easier to sleep at night, by all means, do it. But don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re going to stop the State by so doing. If you’re withholding your taxes, you’re not going far enough.

I think victory is freedom from the State. Symbolically fighting the State with its own laws isn’t going to get anyone very far because it’s only possible to de-fund the government if it were using legitimate currency, which it is not. And even if it were, there simply aren’t enough tax protesters in existence to starve the State by withholding some nominal sum, and therefore their efforts are misguided.

The principal argument, though, is that you can’t de-fund Leviathan by withholding from the State the very fiat money the creation of which it controls! Because the government operates on monopoly money backed only by the people’s general faith in that fiction, I understand that the only way to bring down the system is to stop having faith in that fiction, to stop using that money, and to practice counter-economics. There probably are enough resisters to begin a counter-economy, which has greater chance at succeeding, if you define success as “freedom from the State.”

This is, as I’ve previously noted, easier said than done. Eventually we’re all asked the question, “How do we get from here, to there?” There, being the libertarian ideal. I admit that I’m long on rhetoric and short on practicality, but one thing is certain: the system is beyond broken, and can’t be reformed from within.

+++

The Peak Oil Myth has been popular!

NC Erickson wants to know, “What alternative sources are you imagining?? There is nothing known that comes close to the energy profit ratio of light, sweet crude oil.”

NCE, I’m not imagining anything. I’m just hypothesizing based on the laws of economics. What is true is that at some price point, at some time in the future, there will be an alternative. It may or may not be less expensive than oil, (my conjecture is that it will be less-so) but since we’ll effectively run out of oil anyways, that doesn’t really matter.

+++

Dave McCartney also sounds off on the subject:

The hope and/or assertion that the free market will allow another energy source to usurp oil is inherently flawed.

…Any alternative energy source is wholly dependent upon fossil fuels for it’s extraction, transport, and distribution, and ongoing maintenance.>

Dave, where is your sandwichboard? “The End is Nigh!”

This is a dangerously stupid position to argue, unless you suggest that in-fact there can never be a way to efficiently tap other sources of energy! i.e., to produce more energy than is expended on production. If this is true, there is not a single argument you can advance in favor of continued use of fossil fuels over other alternatives that doesn’t ultimately result in the destruction of mankind.

Of course, on balance, some alternative fuels so-called are net-negative. I’m calling you out, ethanol! But at some level of scarcity, light sweet crude also becomes a net-negative: it will cost more than a gallon of gas to produce a gallon of gas. Although alternative energy’s dependence on fossil fuels may be true now (to my knowledge it is), it certainly won’t be true in the future. As oil becomes increasingly more expensive, other sources of energy become increasingly more viable. This is elementary economics.

The laws of thermodynamics ultimately constrain and limit us, and no combination of human inventiveness or money can make energy, only manage it.

When left to their own devices, entrepreneurs will see to it that the market embraces opportunities to engage in what Schumpeter called “creative destruction.” New industries rise on the backs of the old. Previously unimaginable concepts become commonplace.

The market should be able to manage the (nearly) infininite amount of solar power beamed down to us from the heavens, every day. Nuclear power is an alternative energy source, provided the market develops the appropriate means of disposing waste and quarantining contaminants. Of course solar power can’t make tires and clothing, but for the most part, plastics are pretty recyclable. Clothes can be made from renewable resources like, oh, I dunno: cotton or wool. People can live in earthships, for instance, which consist of a fair amount of recycled materials, they require no fossil fuels to operate, and are self-sustainable/energy independent.

There is a finite supply of fossil fuel-oil in the world, and in light of this fact, the only conclusion I can draw from Dave’s pessismistic argument is: “The only source of energy that mankind will ever be able to use is oil.”

If this is true, then we’re all pretty much fucked anyways.

Franc chimes in:

Bla bla bla, who gives a fuck? Oil might be more efficient, but that doesn’t mean people will keep using it even if the price skyrockets.

Y’all are fucked.

I think the point that Dave was trying to make is that not only is oil more efficient, but also that it’s the only efficient source of energey, being defined as a source of energy that has a positive net balance. This may be true, for now, but I don’t believe it is a universally true statement. If it is, as I’ve outlined above and as Franc notes: we are all fucked.

+++

I haven’t heard from Olly in a while, but glad he’s back. He adds to the discussion in What is your Obligation to your Lender:

I guess I just don’t understand the confusion here. If you signed a contract that said “if I can’t afford to pay X then I’ll give you this collateral” then what’s wrong with saying “well, can’t afford it, here you go.”

…Everyone is to blame for this crisis

Everyone, including the lenders and the investors who bought these toxic asset-backed securities (RMBS, anyone?) If you don’t understand how commodities are traded, you probably shouldn’t be investing in commodities. If you don’t understand the intricacies of forex, you shouldn’t be writing options on Yen. There is probably a rule in investing: If you don’t know what the fuck you’re buying, you can’t value the asset in question, or you don’t understand the fundamentals of its valuation, then you probably shouldn’t be buying it.

If this isn’t a rule in investing, I propose that it should be one.

+++

On the topic of the Detroit mayor and his recent perjury/hooker/adultery/whistleblowing scandal, (Detroit Mayor Guilty of Perjury?Jorge comments:

I think Congress should pass a law prohibiting any kind of inquiries on marital/sexual behavior of people (while on office or not). Exceptions would be, of course, if the inquiry is proven to be absolutely necessary to clarify other sorts of misconduct. Still, even in such cases, the details of the investigated’s sexual lives should be fiercely protected by Justice.

I don’t think Congress should pass any laws. I also don’t think that public officials should be using “public” funds to protect the secrecy of their extramarital affairs especially as they are materially related to the whistleblower suit in question.

+++

That’s all for now, I’m working on a handful of drafts which may or may not bear fruit.

Comments

One Coment

RSS
  • KipEsquire says on: March 28, 2008 at 9:59 am

     

    “What is true is that at some price point, at some time in the future, there will be an alternative.”

    Keeping in mind, of course, that “consume less” is always an alternative in the face of higher prices.

    Also, the “laws of thermodynamics” assume a closed system. So long as the sun rises in the morning, our system is not closed and the laws of thermodynamics do not apply.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics