Category Archives: Anti-State Archive

This is an archive of my anti-statist site content from 2010 – 2012. Those were fun days but not really what I am interested in writing about or pursuing right now. I want to transition this site into something else, but I keep the legacy content available here. I will not be adding to this material or responding to comments.

Health insurance is not insurance

What passes for “health insurance” in the United States today is not actually insurance. It is really just a subsidy that some people receive on their medical bills while others do not. Rather than serving as a check on the constantly rising prices of medical products and services, this phony “insurance” combined with state regulation is precisely the reason that prices are so high and will continue to rise. The economics of it are really quite simple. They are so elementary in fact that you would have to be a Nobel laureate with a Phd in economics and teach at an elite Ivy League University in order to deny them.

All else being equal, a regulated supply of a given product or service combined with a subsidy to buyers is going to lead to skyrocketing prices no matter what the product or service is. It will lead to a two-tiered caste system where those that are not receiving subsidies will be effectively priced out of the market and unable to afford even basic services, while those that are receiving subsidies will have a perverse incentive to hoard and overuse resources. In the case of health care a Pareto-inefficient outcome is created where those that benefit are harming others by doing so. People without subsidies cannot get basic care because prices are driven up and resources are tied up by those enjoying subsidies. People with a health care subsidy plan get expensive and often unnecessary treatments and tend to overuse health care industry resources to treat even mild ailments that would otherwise be ignored or treated with home remedies. Doctors and hospital managers have an incentive to increase revenues by over-treating people that have a generous subsidy plan, while the patient has no incentive to refuse. They have no idea what the price for various treatments actually is, and even if they did, why would they care?

“Why of course I’ll get an MRI on that ingrowing toenail Doc. Why not? Only the best for me, and I’ll never see a bill for it!”

On the flip side, a free market in health care would lower prices in two ways. First it would lead to a greater supply of service providers who would have to compete for customers and *GASP* maybe even advertise their prices! Shock! Horror! Second, it would reduce the artificially inflated demand of consumers who could now use this price signal to make an informed decision concerning their needs and what they can afford rather than just hoarding because someone else is footing the bill. There would also no doubt be a system of actual insurance for catastrophic injuries or unexpected illnesses. Unlike what passes for insurance today this would be real insurance. Rates and payouts would be determined by a rational assessment of risk to an individual rather than on their membership in an arbitrary or politically determined pool where risk assessment is specifically forbidden by government regulation. This would be better than the present situation from both a moral and a utilitarian perspective. A free market would not only lead to greater abundance and cheaper services, it would also be more fair and equal.

Contrary to Paul Krugman there is no reason that health care cannot be bought and sold on an open market like any other product or service. There is no such thing as a special class of economics with its own particular rules for health care that are unique and different from all other services. Krugman is either disastrously wrong or he is a liar. He is not a stupid man, so I suspect that he is lying. His agenda is to reinforce the ideological prejudices of his privileged baby-boomer audience and maintain them as a loyal constituency for his political masters. Despite his seemingly impressive credentials Krugman does not actually engage in any activity that could reasonably be called economic analysis. He is a political operative. He manages and directs elite liberal public opinion on behalf of the state and its rent-seeking clients. His NY Times column is really just government propaganda and should be taken about as seriously as a Marxist pamphlet handed out at an “occupy” protest.

The service Krugman loyally performs for the government and its clients in the AMA, the hospital worker unions and who knows how many government “health” bureaucracies is to consistently find a way to shift the blame for problems created by the violence that they benefit from to the imaginary bogeyman of a nonexistent “free market.” Hence this rather odious piece of propaganda in which he comes out with howlers like this:

“There are, however, no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn’t work. And people who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of both theory and overwhelming evidence.”

Presumably Krugman knows everything about all health care systems since the beginning of time and is qualified to judge whether they are successful. Successful for whom and compared to what? Nowhere in his blog post does he actually provide any evidence, much less overwhelming evidence for his claim that there are no examples. The only link provided is to an opinion paper from an economics journal published in 1963 that agrees with him ideologically but contains no evidence for his broad claim. The paper also contains flawed theory and many predictions that have since proved false. It is laughable that supposedly educated people take this man seriously.

What is it that Krugman claims is so different about health care that makes it impossible for people to engage in peaceful, voluntary transactions? This is rich:

“There are two strongly distinctive aspects of health care. One is that you don’t know when or whether you’ll need care — but if you do, the care can be extremely expensive.”

This is dishonest in two ways. One, this situation is not distinctive to health care. These circumstances occur in many contexts. This is actually just a general description of circumstances in which insurance is appropriate. This could just as easily apply to cars. You don’t know when you may get into a T-bone collision at an intersection, but if you do it can be extremely expensive. So health care is not at all unique in this respect. Why does Krugman not call for national car insurance? If the market cannot respond to this set of circumstances, then we must have government managed insurance in all such cases. Right? Why is car insurance, while not problem free, much less problematic than health care?

Secondly, health subsidy plans as they exist now, whether nominally “private” or provided directly by government, are not limited to covering only this kind of catastrophic scenario. They cover everything even annual checkups, which are analogous to a tune-up for a car, and maintenance medications that could be considered analogous to gas and oil. Can you imagine what would happen to oil prices if the government were to require that all car insurance policies cover oil changes and gas? As I said, the economics of this are not hard to grasp. Krugman is deliberately misleading his audience.

Why does Krugman do this? He does it because he is a spokesperson for the political class. That is the class of people who derive their incomes by the political means, meaning violence, as opposed to the economic means, meaning peaceful trade. He is providing pseudo-economic cover for those that are engaged in price fixing and rent seeking off the artificial scarcity and inflated prices caused by the current statist system. He wants to expand and entrench state involvement in the health care industry that is already virtually run entirely by government.

The purpose of the American Medical Association is to limit the supply of doctors and thus drive up the prices that its members can charge. It is basically a guild style labor union. This has been true since the association was incorporated in 1897 when item one on their agenda was to prevent black people from becoming doctors. More recently they have been involved in efforts to block retail stores from opening up low cost clinics where their customers could get basic health services without much hassle that would be cheap enough even for people without a subsidy plan. Clearly these altruistic doctors really just care about your health. They care so much so that they will use force to prevent you from ever engaging with anyone other than themselves for your care.

The health care system in the “United States” is already socialist. It is effectively run by the government with a few areas of nominal private control. Medicare and Medicaid, which are subsidy packages provided directly by the “United States Federal Government” subsidized or paid outright for health care services for roughly 100 million people in 2011. That is about three times the number of people that live in “Canada.” The “United States” actually has a far bigger socialist medical system than “Canada,” and that is just the subsidy programs that are directly run by the state. All the other nominally “private” subsidy plans, the providers of which are routinely attacked as evil and greedy by socialists, are controlled by government decree. If they were not, they would not do business the way they do. They would operate more like car insurance companies that only indemnify their clients for an actual insurable risk rather than just paying their bills because the government tells them they have to.

So don’t get it mixed up. Socialist health care is not a potential danger, it is the current reality and has been for some time. Paul Krugman’s job is to distort that reality and run cover for those that benefit from the status quo. When you discuss health care with people, don’t help him by using the word “insurance” to describe subsidies, which is what is really going on.

Environmentalists, the FDA and the AMA want people to die

Thanks to new “FDA” regulations some kinds of asthma inhalers will be “discontinued” over the next few years and the last remaining over the counter asthma inhaler will be taken off the shelves at the end of 2011. This is not only a political favor to misanthropic environmental groups, it is yet another state privilege granted to the prescription drug industry and American Medical Association (AMA) certified doctors. As we would expect with such regulations they will hurt the poor the most. But the welfare of the poor has never been of particular concern to those in the environmental movement, which mainly consists of elitist white people. Nor has it been a driving concern of the AMA, which drives up the cost of medical care putting it out of reach of many poor people.

The Primatene Mist inhaler is supposedly being eliminated from the market in order to protect the ozone layer from depletion. The inhaler uses aerosol propellants that emit chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into the atmosphere when it is actuated. It is theorized that CFCs deplete the ozone layer thus exposing organisms on earth to harmful UV radiation from the sun. There is of course  debate and dissent on this theory. A recent article in Nature highlights some scientists who have cast doubt on earlier pronouncements that there is a definite link between human production of CFCs and ozone depletion.

The so-called “United States” signed on to an international agreement known as the “Montreal Protocol” in 1987. The terms of the agreement went into force in 1989. The purpose of this protocol was supposedly to put into place some “safeguards” and “controls” on human production of CFCs, mainly through aerosol spray cans and the air-conditioning coolant freon. The recent “FDA” rules are intended to bring the “United States” fully into line with this protocol and eliminate the last vestiges of aerosol propellants left on the market. The “Montreal Protocol” is widely recognized as a major victory for environmentalists in pushing government policy. The success of the protocol has served as the inspiration for the recent attempts to create an international agreement on limiting carbon dioxide to combat so-called “climate change” or “global warming.”

Environmentalist inspired bans on industrial products have a grim history. The earlier ban on the insect repellent DDT resulted in millions of deaths from malaria. The deaths continue to this day. This ban will likely also result in many premature deaths and they will tend to be concentrated among the poor and vulnerable. Whether these bans are an honest attempt to preserve the environment or are actually intended to cause mass deaths among humans is irrelevant. These are the documented and predictable results of such bans, yet environmentalists defend the previous bans and push for more. Either way they exhibit an extraordinary callousness toward human life and dignity.

Many famous and powerful environmentalists have openly called for population control, including sterilization of the food and water supply. As “scientist” Paul Ehrlich famously wrote in his 1968 book The Population Bomb:

[T]he first task is population control at home. How do we go about it? Many of my colleagues feel that some sort of compulsory birth regulation would be necessary to achieve such control. One plan often mentioned involves the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired population size.

Ehrlich is no incidental figure either. He is firmly entrenched in the establishment. Despite Ehrlich’s predictions proving to be consistently and disastrously wrong, his protege and co-author John P. Holdren was nominated science adviser to Barack Obama the so-called “President” of the “United States” in 2009. Holdren and Ehrlich co-authored a 1977 book entitled Ecoscience in which they advocate for population control and suggest a “Planetary Regime” to control and administer all natural resources. In their own horrifying words:

[I]t has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.

Such a comprehensive Planetary Regime could control the development, administration, conservation, and distribution of all natural resources, renewable or nonrenewable…not only in the atmosphere and oceans, but in such freshwater bodies as rivers and lakes…The Regime might also be a logical central agency for regulating all international trade…The Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries’ shares within their regional limits…the Regime would have some power to enforce the agreed limits.

So should we really be surprised when policies suggested and inspired by such people result in mass death? The banning of over the counter asthma inhalers will further serve this misanthropic agenda.

As an asthma sufferer myself that has used the Primatene Mist product, this ban hits particularly close to home for me. The Primatene Mist inhaler is the last available over the counter asthma remedy. It costs about 20 dollars and delivers 260 metered puffs of epinephrine to dilate the brochiols in the lungs that constrict during an asthma attack. It is a cheap and effective remedy that is readily available to anyone that suffers from asthma. Immediate relief from a sudden asthma attack can mean someone’s life. There are 4000 deaths from asthma attacks each year in the US. We can expect this number to increase with the ban.

Because it is inexpensive and readily available most of the users of this product are poor. Asthma is concentrated among the urban poor since they tend to live in substandard housing and are exposed to more asthma inducing allergens like mold, dust and cockroaches. Many of these people also lack health insurance and cannot afford to see a doctor without it. They have no way of obtaining the more expensive and “environmentally safe” prescription products. These products cost about 40 dollars without insurance. So a person without insurance that needs an asthma inhaler will now need to pay around $150 for a doctor visit to get a prescription, and then $40 for the product itself. This is probably outside the means of many poor asthma sufferers. Their options will now be limited to going to the emergency room in case of attack. This is not only the most expensive way to treat asthma, the delay in getting there could cost a person’s life.

The requirement of a prescription to purchase an asthma inhaler, along with the “FDA” regulations and patents that restrict the production of such inhalers are ridiculous. They are nothing more than yet another state subsidy to the medical/industrial complex. The purpose — as always with such things– is to limit the supply of medical goods and services and drive up their price. They are blatant handouts to AMA certified doctors, the big pharmaceutical corporations and the overqualified check-out clerks and pill-counters known as “pharmacists.”

Why should a prescription be required for this drug? A person with asthma can easily purchase the inhaler they need on their own. Doing so would not stop them from seeing a doctor should they wish to learn about the newest treatments, although such information could just as easily be passed along by a pharmacist. Asthma can easily and effectively be treated by the individual themselves after an initial visit to a doctor. The rules and regulations that prevent a person from doing so are directly harmful to their well being. I know how to treat my own asthma. There is no reason to force me to incur the expense of seeing doctor every three months for a check-up and to obtain a new script. Such visits last an average of 30 seconds and cost around $150. Often times a patient is not even seen by the doctor. A nurse delivers the prescription while the doctor does more important things. This entire process is costly, unnecessary and out of reach for many people with low incomes.

I have long since opted out of this process and instead order my medications from an overseas pharmacy. This will likely become illegal in the near future. As you would expect it is the AMA that is behind the lobbying efforts to make such purchases illegal. Why then should I believe that the AMA is interested in my health and well being?

The regulation and banning of these products is a team-up between powerful interest groups to screw the consumer and serve their own ideological and financial interests. And of course those that suffer the most will be the poor.

Osama bin Laden doesn’t matter

I have no theory to offer as to what happened on 9/11. On their face the claims of the so-called “truthers” don’t seem to be any more fantastic than the claims of the people that call themselves “The United States.” There is no way that I have the expertise or the access to the evidence that would allow me to make any kind of an informed hypothesis. It seems that everyone proposing a theory has an axe to grind and I am skeptical of all explanations of the event. Given the facts this seems to be the most reasonable position to take.

The same goes for the supposed killing of the individual named “Osama bin Laden” last week. Assuming this individual ever existed there is no reason to believe anything in the story told to us by “The United States” about his death. He has been reported dead before. There is an obvious incentive for “The United States” to lie, and they have a pretty consistent track record of doing so. These are the people that claimed that there were chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq after all. Given their track record it is amazing that any individual believes anything that members of this group say.

Ever since the announcement that “Osama bin Laden” had been killed the story of exactly what happened has been changed. First it was a daring commando raid on a heavily fortified compound. The brave Navy Seals fought their way to the inner sanctum where the defiant terrorist mastermind was wielding a gun and shielding himself with the body of one of his wives. Then this story was revised. It turns out that there were no weapons on the “compound” — which was really just a broken down house — and the brave Seal team faced no resistance. Nor was there a dramatic scene at the end with a human shield. We were also told that film and pictures of the event would be released, but these statements were soon retracted. Now they deny that they have any video of the event at all. As far as we know the Navy Seals just broke into an old man’s house and killed him. That is assuming that even this much happened and the entire story isn’t totally fabricated out of whole cloth.

Ultimately though, none of it matters. Even if “Osama bin Laden” is real, even if “Al Queda” is real, and even if these people really did do 9/11 it doesn’t matter. The people that call themselves “The United States” are ultimately responsible. Even if we believe the official narrative of what happened on 9/11, it is clear that it was a reaction to previous provocative actions by “The United States.” Not only that, it was one of the best things to ever happen to that group of people and they have a clear incentive to continue to provoke such actions. It is not as if this group of individuals grew less rich and powerful as a result. Just the opposite. Given the incentives involved the idea that “The United States” has an interest in protecting you from terrorism is naive in the extreme. They actually view you as a potential enemy even if you think they are there to protect you.

Three Cups of Deceiit

Since 9/11 “The United States” has been experiencing a huge expansion. First two, and now three wars in parts of the world rich in oil and natural gas. A nice bloated military industrial complex to suckle at the teat of the taxpayer. A beefed up police state on the domestic front together with all the corrupt and evil surveillance companies chomping at the bit to supply them with tax-funded gear. Plenty of jingoism, xenophobia and patriotic fervor to prop up the state and make sure that dissenters keep quiet. This is not just a scene for conservative statists either. With the poor treatment of women in Islam and the general poverty of the people of the region the liberal “social justice” crusader can get involved too. There really is something for everyone. The scam artist Greg Mortenson and his fraudulent book “Three Cups of Tea” is a great example of the kind of opportunities that the “war on terror” offers to the unscrupulous and power-seeking social justice advocate. War really brings the state and the parasitic class into their own.

The important thing to understand is that the military strategy of “The United States” has nothing to do with fighting terrorism or protecting so-called “citizens.” To the extent that the group of people running the military industrial complex care about terrorism at all, it is a boon to them. It keeps the public interested, engaged and supportive so they can continue their greater plan. The greater plan was laid out by the military theorist and neoconservative intellectual Thomas Barnett in his books The Pentagon’s New Map and Blueprint for Action. It has also been articulated in various research papers by the neoconservative think-tank Project for a New American Century.

The basic theory is that the world is divided into two regions. There are the “core integrated states” that include “The United States” and its allies as well as countries that trade with it and follow the same general political and economic pattern. Then there are the “non-integrating gap states” that do not toe that line. These are generally poor countries in Africa, South America, the Middle East and Central Asia. The grand plan is not very complicated. “The United States” will conquer them militarily and install governments that will integrate these countries into the state-corporate/democratic system. Sometimes this is referred to as “the international community.” It really is that simple, and that simple-minded.

If this attempt to unify the world under one political and economic system sounds very Trotskyist, that’s because it is. The founders of the neoconservative movement came out of a group of communist intellectuals around a man named Irving Kristol in the 60s. These communist radicals saw which way the wind was blowing however and switched their allegiance to “The United States” during the Vietnam War era. Following the classic Trotskyist strategy of entryism they proceeded to infiltrate conservative political institutions in an effort to gain power and influence. They were extremely successful. Today the ideological core of the Republican party is made up of people carrying on the intellectual legacy of Trotskyism. I know that this actually sounds crazier than some of the 9/11 “truther” theories, but it’s the truth. It can easily be proven by reading Barnett’s book and some of the research papers on the PNAC website as well as examining the intellectual history and influences of the top ideologues. They are quite blatant in their calls for “The United States” to conquer the world. They are not even embarrassed about it.

Certainly oil and gas play a part in this agenda. So does the continuing excuse for astronomical military budgets and bloated Pentagon contracts into the indefinite future. Ultimately this maniacal strategy is an excuse to keep the Pentagon machine that was born during the cold war going for another 50 – 100 years. The TSA and DOHS have recently been added to the mix to create yet more bureaucrats whose jobs are dependent on endless war.  If some crazy Arabs blow up a few subway trains in the meantime, so much the better. It will keep the people frightened and create public demand for revenge and protection. Several neoconservative strategists have even publicly expressed hope that another terror attack will occur because it will make carrying out their agenda easier.

I would like to make the final point that if the “truthers” and “conspiracy theorists” want to prove that “The United States” is a group of mass murderers they need not posit theories about 9/11 that they will never be able to prove and that are not likely to be believed anyway. They need only point to the front page of The New York Times to show that horrifying crimes are going on in plain sight. So don’t be fooled. Osama bin Laden doesn’t matter. It is the people that call themselves “The United States” that are your real enemy.

Taxes are the price we pay to avoid ass-rape

I apologize for the vulgarity, but I figured this title would be catchy and get my point across effectively. It is tax time again in the so-called “United States” and I thought I would make a few points about taxes. Contrary to Oliver Wendell Holmes, taxes are not the price we pay for civilization. Rather they are the price we pay to stay out of prison, where according to many movies and TV shows we can expect to get raped by large hairy men.

When the people that claim to be the state demand income tax from you as a so-called “citizen” they are really making a prior claim to your body. They are saying that they own your body. If you generate income with your body and do not pay the state a certain percentage of that income — a percentage which will be unilaterally determined by them with no input from you — they will exercise their claim to your body, take possession of it and put it in a cage where you can expect to get ass-raped. In effect taxes are rent you pay to the state on the use of your own body. If you do not use it in ways that the state approves of they reserve the right to lock it up and even kill it.

Taxes are not voluntary, no matter what anybody tells you. Even those that may support taxation and tell you that they are happy to pay taxes cannot possibly prove that they pay voluntarily. Taxes are extracted from people with threats of kidnapping and violence. The liberal that claims they pay taxes voluntarily is subject to the same violence should they not pay as anyone else. In order for them to actually show that they pay voluntarily, they would have to first show that they are somehow exempt from the penalty of violence.

Recently the famous author Steven King was at a pro-government rally with a bunch of liberals. He pointed out that his income was in the millions, yet he was only paying 28% in taxes. His challenge to the government was “Why aren’t I paying 50%?” The answer is because he does not want to. The so-called “US Treasury Department” maintains a website where they offer instructions on how to make a voluntary gift to the “United States.” So if King really wants to pay 50% no one is stopping him. I would say the same to anyone that thinks taxes are too low or that the government needs more money. Lead by example. Even if you don’t make a voluntary gift, certainly do not deduct anything on your tax return. Tell the government to keep more of your income.

We can assume that King has not made a voluntary contribution for the same reason that Warren Buffet, George Soros and Michael Moore probably have not. They do not actually want to do so. They want to keep their money. The “US Treasury” maintains another website where they track the voluntary gifts they have received. As of this writing in 2011 they received $645,917.73. We can safely assume this is less than 50% of King’s income, not to mention the other three.

Of course whenever you complain about taxes the response you will likely get from statists is that you are party to the non-existent “social contract” or that taxes go to help the poor. Few people will argue that you should pay taxes to kill poor people half way around the world with robot planes, maintain a bloated military industrial complex or pay for bailouts and subsidies to big corporations. Never mind that these are the bulk of the government’s activities. No, you should pay taxes for the poor. This argument fails on many levels.

In a society without taxes there would be nothing stopping the bleeding hearts that are so generous with your hard earned money from helping the poor. A good question to ask is whether or not the person saying this believes in democracy. If they do, then presumably taxes go to help the poor only if more than 50% of the voting population want them to. That would be more than enough people to get together and work out some programs to help the poor if there were no taxes. If that many people really want to help the poor, there is no need for the state. If the liberal statist doesn’t actually think that more than 50% of the people want to help the poor, then they would have to actually be advocating for dictatorship. Either way one of their principles has to go. Either they have to admit that that there is in fact no need for taxes to help the poor, or they have to admit that they do not really believe in democracy. The liberal is unlikely to be comfortable with either of these positions.

The same argument applies to any other service that the government claims to provide. If in fact this is a service that more than 50% of the voters want, then clearly there is enough demand that there is no need for a central apparatus of coercion to be in charge of administering it. Nor is there any evidence that taxes are payments for services in the first place. The state grants itself the right to levy taxes. Nowhere does it say that it owes anyone any services in return. The state is under absolutely no legal obligation to provide anything to anyone. If they do provide anything it is only because they feel like it and only in the quantity and quality that they choose. Taxes are by far the worst possible way to fund public services.

Just a few thoughts to consider while you do your taxes and think about how much easier your life would be if you were allowed to keep the full product of your labor.

federation

Socialism: A love story – Star Trek

Star Trek, in all its spin-offs and manifestations, has always been one of my favorite entertainment franchises. But lets face it, the world of Star Trek is a Utopian socialist fantasy. Realizing this fact actually makes watching Star Trek  more enjoyable. I get a kick out of watching and pointing out the absurd economic and political fallacies in the show. There are two main aspects to the socialist fantasy of Star Trek, the economic and the cultural. Economically the show is yet another instance of the classic utopian socialist fantasy of a society without money. Culturally the show reflects the prejudices and misconceptions of modern paternalistic liberalism.

Gene Rodenberry imagined The United Federation of Planets as a society that had moved beyond money. Supposedly the invention of replicator technology, in which energy can be transformed into any kind of matter, had created a post-scarcity society for which money was now superfluous. We are expected to believe that the citizens of the Federation have moved beyond greed to a higher level of human consciousness. With replicators people are now free to follow a higher purpose than the base acquisition of personal wealth. A couple of quotes form Captain Picard illustrate the general attitude towards money and wealth taken by the writers of the show:

A lot has changed in three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of ‘things’. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions.

The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century… The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity.

This attitude towards money is utopian, wrongheaded and naive. Money is not evil or a symbol of greed. It is simply a universal medium of exchange. Money is necessary for any society functioning above subsistence level. Not using money is in fact a step backward towards primitiveness, not a step forward into the future.

Money prices are a rational way of assigning value to resources. Prices are necessary to decide how resources are to be divided up amongst people. A society without money would be impossible, even with replicator technology. No money means no prices, and thus no way to rationally decide on the distribution of resources. It would fall into the socialist calculation problem on a massive scale. Without any money at all the problem would apply not just to the state, but to every single individual in society. No one would be able to decide anything. Individuals would have no way to know how they should use their time. There would be no way to decide who gets what or what anybody should do.

Even if we assume that replicators produce all end-use goods for individual consumption this does not completely eliminate the problem of scarcity. The replicators still need energy to function. How is this energy produced and who produces it? If everyone’s needs are supposedly taken care of by replicators, who will make the replicators and why would they do this? How is it decided which people will do it?

End-use goods are not the only resources that can be scarce. Individuals, land and time are also scare resources. They require some kind of medium of exchange to assign value them to and make it possible to rationally allocate them. Why in a post-scarcity society would individuals subordinate themselves to Captain Picard? Why couldn’t everyone be captain? Why would Scotty be the engineer on The Enterprise instead of some other ship? Even if Scotty absolutely loved to engineer, how would he know what to engineer?

Land and time are also obviously scarce in the universe of the Federation. Starfleet is always out looking for new planets to colonize. How is it decided who has property on Earth, and who will be a colonist? Colonization and exploration take time, as do all other activities in the world of the Federation. People are not instantly transported from one planet to the next, nor do scientific experiments yield instant results. How do people decide how best to use their time if there is no way to rationally allocate? How much time should each person spend working for the Federation and how much time should they spend for leisure? It would have to either be centrally controlled and backed by force, or left up to the whim of the individual.

The Federation also engages in warfare with other civilizations. Why would they do this if there was no scarcity? Not only do they engage in warfare, but sometimes they lose in battle. How could they ever possibly lose if resources were not scarce? Why would they go into battle with 100 ships instead of 100,000 ships? After all, if resources are not scarce they can immediately conjure up 100,000 new ships instantly at no cost whatsoever. Obviously the idea of post-scarcity is bunk, even in the fantasy world of Star Trek. Why even write stories about such a society? There would be no conflict, and thus nothing interesting to write about.

There is certainly no private property in the Federation. In all the episodes of the show throughout the years there have been no references to private companies in the Federation. No company logos and no advertisements are anywhere to be seen. No consumer products are shown other than standard issue Federation or Starfleet gear. There is no evidence that Federation citizens are engaged in commerce or trade of any sort. No one has a private starship, or even a private shuttlecraft. It seems that people must either join Starfleet or work for the Federation. There are no other employers. Most characters are Starfleet officers, but sometimes there appear characters that are politicians, diplomats or scientists. We can safely assume that all scientists must work for the government.

Based on its premises, the Federation would necessarily have to operate like a totalitarian communist state. Unfortunately it is portrayed as a utopian dream society rather than the nightmare dystopia that all communist states in history have been. There are references throughout the show to the fact that The Federation is a perfect society without war, disease, poverty or hunger. Clearly a society like this without money, where all goods are produced by a machine and all people only work for the betterment of others can be classified as a utopian socialist fantasy. I put Gene Rodenberry in the same category as the utopian socialists Robert Owen, Charles Fourier and Jacque Fresco. These men have all envisioned perfect utopian socialist societies of one variety or another.

Fourier and Owen were 19th century utopian socialist philosophers that imagined future societies without money. Fourier called his imaginary society The Phalanx after the ancient Greek military formation. The Phalanx was imagined as a society of exactly 1,620 people living communally in a building that would be specially designed to have both urban and rural features. This idea actually gained a following in its time and 29 different communities were founded in the US based on Fourier’s ideas. The most famous were La Reunion in Texas, The North American Phalanx in New Jersey and Community Place in New York. None of these communities lasted more than a few years. They all eventually failed as the enthusiasm of the settlers waned and people moved away. The histories written about these communities don’t usually say so, but when you read between the lines it becomes obvious that lack of private property was the main reason for people leaving.

New Harmony as imagined by Owen

Robert Owen himself attempted to found a utopian community without any money or private property at New Harmony Indiana in 1825. By 1829 it had already collapsed. The individualist anarchist Josiah Warren was an original participant in the New Harmony experiment and offers some insights as to why it failed:

We had a world in miniature — we had enacted the French revolution over again with despairing hearts instead of corpses as a result. It appeared that it was nature’s own inherent law of diversity that had conquered us. Our “united interests” were directly at war with the individualities of persons and circumstances and the instinct of self-preservation.

Cybernated Government

The Venus Project, which was founded by Jacque Fresco in the 1970s is probably the utopian vision that is most similar to Rodenberry’s Federation. I would not be surprised if Fresco actually got his ideas by watching Star Trek. Despite Fresco’s claims to be some sort of innovative social genius there is not much different about The Venus Project from other utopian fantasies. Fresco claims to have invented a “New Social Design” based on what he calls the “Resource Based Economy.” In their own words:

The term and meaning of a Resource-Based Economy was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.

Modern society has access to highly advanced technology and can make available food, clothing, housing and medical care; update our educational system; and develop a limitless supply of renewable, non-contaminating energy. By supplying an efficiently designed economy, everyone can enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities of a high technological society.

University of Global Resource Management

Yawn. We’ve heard it all before. No money. No private property. The cool paintings are probably the only thing that is actually original about The Venus Project. The idea that scarcity is artificial and resources can be distributed according to a central plan is as old as Marxism. Many have taken to calling the Venus Project “Marxism with Robots.” Fresco envisions society being planned by a central computer that decides how all resources are to be used and distributed. Ironically there have been several episodes of Star trek that seem to warn against just this possibility. Presumably central planning is fine as long as humans are doing it, and The Federation maintains that human touch. Or the writers of Star Trek just never thought that deeply about it.

While economically the Federation is a utopian socialist fantasy, culturally the values and ideas expressed in Star Trek reflect those of modern day liberalism. This is probably because the writers are California liberals and they write their own biases and prejudices into the show. Elitist liberal cultural preferences prevail everywhere in the show. To give just one example, apparently everyone in the future only listens to classical music and opera. No lowbrow styles like rock, heavy metal, country or hip-hop are ever heard. Everyone that is not in the military has some sort of academic career like a botanist, historian or archeologist. Time is spent by these people jet-setting between conferences in  their various fields on different planets. It’s like a universe filled with NPR listeners.

The Original Series episodes were mostly space adventures with a military-socialist bent. Everyone had a rank, a color-coded shirt and they all answered to the wise all-knowing cowboy captain. By the time The Next Generation came out The Enterprise had become sort of a floating UN in space, spreading human rights and social justice to the galaxy. Many of the episodes deal allegorically with the hot-button social issues of the time like gay identity, the rights of the disabled and assisted suicide from a liberal perspective. Other episodes often deal with bureaucratic structures of government and interplanetary diplomacy. One thing you never see is an episode where the crew of The Enterprise meets an alien race that has no government. This is probably beyond the imaginary capabilities of the writers.

All the societies with which the crew interact are also centrally structured. Whenever the crew beams down to make contact with a new society or a new race it is always basically the same. They go right away to meeting with the planet’s ruler or ruling body. The aliens all seem to wear the same clothes as well. Aliens for the most part are treated as members of groups, not individuals. They are given characteristics based on their group membership and they are assumed to share interests based on their race. It is a kind of intergalactic version of racial identity politics.

Liberal bigotry

Probably the worst example of present day liberal prejudices coming through is the treatment of the Ferengi, the only civilization in the galaxy whose society is based on free trade and private property. While Starfleet officers are all depicted as handsome, noble, heroic, and self-sacrificing, a sort of “New Socialist Man” if you will, the Ferengi are depicted as monkey-like, money grubbing, sniveling little wretches. Many of their physical features as well as their behavior are reminiscent of the worst Nazi stereotypes of Jews. This reveals far more about the bigoted nature of liberalism than it does about how societies with free enterprise look and operate.

The writers get everything backwards when it comes to the Ferengi. The culture is depicted as backward and misogynistic. The government is depicted as bureaucratic and oppressive, while the communist government of The Federation somehow preserves individual freedom. This may be the biggest lie of all peddled by the writers. There is never any reference to rules or laws in the Federation, while the Ferengi supposedly have a huge code of 285 laws known as “The Rules of Acquisition.” They even have an enforcement agency called the FCA to make sure no Feregi step out of line and accidentally treat their  employees well or give a customer a fair deal. Yet contracts are also supposedly sacred to Ferengi.

When the home planet of the Ferengi is visited the bureaucrats are shown to be nasty, venal and greedy — just as we would expect bureaucrats to be. But why aren’t Federation bureaucrats like this? Why is it the society based on free trade that has backward cultural values and an oppressive government when in reality we see the exact opposite? In the real world countries that have a greater degree of economic freedom also tend to have more personal freedoms, progressive social values and gender equality. But this is not how liberals would like to see the world. They dislike reactionary social values, and they dislike capitalism and economic freedom. So naturally they put the two together to please themselves.

So how can we explain this? Why is it that The Star Trek writers have these biases? Why would they create this kind of fantasy world? It is because they grew up in a system where the ideas of individual freedom, capitalism, private property and trade are all treated with hostility. Most people in this country that went to public school have been raised to have these values. The military and the government are treated as ideal social structures in public schools. Central authority is praised. The government is where all prosperity is assumed to come from. Economics and logic are not only not taught, they are actively shunned. Racial identity politics and multiculturalism are taught. Children are taught that their value comes from their membership in an ethnic group, not from their own individuality. Politicians and Generals are celebrated as heroes, while capitalists and businessmen are treated as villains. Given that all these prejudices are taught to us in school, it is not surprising that they are reflected in fantasies about the future.

wisconsin-union-moron-e1298471894720

Unions

Unions are in the news again thanks to the recent shenanigans in Wisconsin. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin has proposed a bill that would force the men and women that belong to public employee unions in Wisconsin to contribute some of their pay to their own health care and retirement plans. Previously all the money for these plans was generously “contributed” by tax victims. The bill also forces the unions to give up their collective bargaining “rights” for work rules, but not for wages. These rather modest demands have led to massive protests on the part of these unionized “public” employees.

So what should the libertarian position on labor unions be? What exactly is a union in the first place? How do unions operate? Do they operate differently in the so-called “public” (violent) sector than they do in the nominally “private” sector? Could unions play a part in a theoretical free market society of the future? Many libertarian thinkers have said that while public sector unions are clearly immoral, it is possible for private sector unions to legitimately exist on a free market and operate according to free market principles. I disagree. A union operating on free market principles will not accomplish its goals, and to the extent a market is characterized by union activity it cannot be called free.

In order to understand how unions operate we have to first identify what they are and what their purpose is. Unions are organizations that claim to represent a certain group of workers in a collective bargaining process with employers. Other kinds of organizations can call themselves unions, but for the purpose of this essay I am using this definition because this is the most common type and this is what unions are usually understood to be. The purpose of a union, whether in the private or public sector, is to raise the wages and benefits of the members. How do they go about doing this? As Franz Oppenheimer pointed out in his essay “The Genesis of The State:”

There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others…

I propose in the following discussion to call one’s own labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others, the “economic means” for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the “political means.”

While the political economy of unions in the public and private sectors is different, unions are necessarily parasitic organizations that must resort to the political means to achieve their ends. The common myth, relentlessly promoted by unionized government indoctrinators, that past union activism has led to the improvements in pay and working conditions that we all enjoy today is false.

On a free market, or even a hampered market such as exists in the “United States” today, wages will tend towards the marginal product of labor (MPL). The marginal product of labor is the amount by which a firm’s output will rise if it adds one worker. This is not necessarily the same for all workers. More productive workers get paid more because they add more output and thus more revenue. Given a competitive market, where more than one firm bids for labor, wages will tend toward this level. The market need not be totally free for this to occur. In the US today there is no  kind of free market, but there are multiple bidders for labor numbering in the hundreds, possibly thousands. For unskilled labor the number of bidders is even greater. It is not just firms competing for the same market like McDonalds and Burger King that are bidding for unskilled labor in that market. All companies across all markets that want to hire unskilled labor must compete for people from the same pool of unskilled workers. While ultimately the price of labor is determined by the market and employers will want to pay as little as they can, given the level of competition in the US wages for both skilled and unskilled labor will hover very close to MPL.

A worker’s MPL rises if he or she adds new skills, but also if more capital is added to the production process. For example, I am much more productive with a computer than without. If you give me a newer and faster computer my productivity will increase even more. Pay and working conditions have improved since the time of the industrial revolution not because of unions but because of capitalism. The more capital there is relative to labor in the process of production the higher will be a worker’s MPL and thus the higher his wages. It has nothing to do with unions at all. The reason wages were low and conditions poor at the time of the industrial revolution is the same reason these conditions exist in poor and industrializing countries today. There is a low level of capital relative to labor. (Keep this in mind the next time you see spoiled college students protesting so-called “sweat shops.” They are protesting to maintain precisely the conditions that will keep workers in poor countries in poverty.) It is likely that because of the lost wealth and hampering of capital formation due to union activity wages are lower and working conditions worse than what they would otherwise be. Even worse, by driving workers out of certain fields unions create gluts in others, thus lowering the wage level for workers in those fields and creating unemployment.

In the private sector unions are essentially price fixing cartels. They operate by the same logic as a corporate cartel. They restrict output and raise prices. The goal of unions is to raise the wages and benefits of their members. Since on a competitive market wages will already tend to hover near the MPL, logically unions must seek to raise them above this level. How can they do this? In order to raise their wages above this rate unions must create artificial scarcity. They must limit the supply of labor. They must necessarily resort to the political means — violence. They can either engage in this violence against employers and “scabs” themselves or they can get the state to do it for them. In the old days of union activism they would do it themselves, today it is outsourced to the state.

Many people will argue that it is theoretically possible for a union to restrict itself to doing as a group only those activities that each individual can morally do on his own. That is, threaten to withdraw their labor if wages are not increased. Perhaps the cost of replacing so many workers all at once will give the capitalist an incentive to accede to their demands. But when we look at history we see that in fact unions never actually do this. There is good reason. It is unlikely it could ever work. If they are going to act peacefully and morally unions must overcome two almost impossible hurdles. They must get employers to voluntarily bargain with them in the first place, and they must get non-union workers to voluntarily agree to not seek work in the same trade or for the same employer, and to not replace them if they go on strike. Unions have never done this peacefully.

Before they got the state to force employers to recognize them as bargaining agents unions would engage in threats and intimidation of replacement workers, vandalism of private property and obstruction of peaceful trade during their strike actions. The government would usually take a hands off approach to this sort of violence. With the passage of The Wagner Act in the US, forbidding the firing of strikers and the permanent hiring of replacements, unions effectively outsourced their violence to the state. They became little mini-states unto themselves.

There are a number of ways we can know that private sector unions are in fact raising the wages of their members above MPL and forcefully keeping others out of the trade. Union members pay dues to the union bureaucracy that are automatically deducted from their paycheck. These dues are just like income taxes for everyone else. If the union members are really worth the increased wage they are getting then they have every incentive to bargain behind the back of the union, get that wage on their own and  and cut the union out. They do not do this. They are prevented legally from doing this today, but workers paid dues to unions even before they were legally barred from doing this. Why didn’t union members do this back then?

We can know that unions are cutting other workers out of their trades because there is a high degree of unemployment and abstention in the fields that are unionized. Recently in New York City the Electricians Union opened up 100 apprentice jobs and about 2000 people lined up to get them. Clearly there is an artificial shortage in this field and plenty of people that would like to enter it. The union is a huge barrier to entry. Like all cartels, unions must create barriers to entry to the industry. It is significant that these people had to make their application to the union rather than directly to an employer. That is because the electrician trade in New York City is 100% dominated by the union with the backing of the full force of the state. At this point it is ridiculous to even speak of this as a private sector union.

Industries that are heavily unionized such as auto manufacturing, airlines and steel are also heavily regulated and cartelized by the state. Only a few privileged companies are allowed by the state to participate in these industries. It is not a surprise that they tend to be heavily unionized. One way to tell that a company is heavily subsidized by the state is if it is unionized. These are exactly the kind of companies that are likely to manifest Kevin Carson’s corporate calculation problem. Carson does not claim that unionization is one of the factors that leads to his calculation problem, but it stands to reason that having a significant number of employees receiving wages above the MPL, engaging in strikes and slow downs and bringing all kinds of workplace regulations to the daily operations of the company would contribute to calculation problems. When these companies find themselves buried in red ink and are bailed out by the state this is also a bailout of the union. The union was one of the main factors that brought the company down in the first place. The idea that unions act as a countervailing force to the state/corporate complex is false. They are firmly embedded in this complex and could not survive without it.

The situation is even worse with “public” sector unions. Here the “employees” work directly for the government. In the public sector there are no market signals whatsoever. It is impossible to put a rational price on government “services.” It is impossible to know what a public sector worker’s marginal productivity is. It is impossible to know whether or not the “services” that the state claims to provide are demanded by consumers in the first place. No one is given a choice, so how can you know? What public sector unions engage in cannot even be properly called bargaining. It is just helping themselves to the product of other people’s labor. Public employee unions are the ultimate expression of the political means. It is little better than organized looting. In the private sector there is at least some downward pressure on the demands of the union based on the bottom line of the company. The government has no bottom line. All government money is taken by force in the form of taxes or created with debt that is collateralized by future taxes. Public sector unions profiteer off the sweat of their neighbors and the futures of their children. Politicians have no personal stake in the money stolen by the state, so they have no incentive to bargain downwards with the unions. Union members are also voters, and politicians want that vote. Unions hire big-time lobbyists and make big campaign contributions as well. So there is every incentive for the politicians to give the union what they want and little incentive to deny them.

If the state ever does come into confrontation with the public employee unions it has to be because the promises to the union have grown so extravagant that the state faces a fiscal crisis. This is what is happening now in Wisconsin and across the country. States are not going to be able to make good on the promises to these unions. If they raise taxes to do it they will further destroy investment, jobs and productivity in the private sector. If they issue debt to do it they will only make their fiscal situation worse, and at some point no one is going to be willing to buy their worthless bonds. As the privileges these unions expected to get are cut and promises made by the state are reneged on we can expect more temper tantrums like the one in Wisconsin. No doubt these tantrums will come packaged with self-interested and hypocritical appeals to justice and solidarity. Don’t buy it. The working class are the victims of unions, not helped by them.

So to answer the original question, what is the proper libertarian position on unions in general, and in particular what is the proper position on the Wisconsin controversy? For unions in the private sector libertarians should oppose price fixing and support freedom of contract. People that want to work should get the chance to bargain with potential employers, no matter what their group affiliation or lack of affiliation may be. The state’s actions in the Wisconsin controversy may actually lead to some beneficial effects for the majority in the short term, but that is no reason to support the state. Libertarians should call a pox down on both houses and hope the battle lasts a long time and weakens both institutions.


Here is an excellent lecture by Tom Woods that details some labor history in the US and highlights some major incidents. He provides a large amount of facts to back up my statements about the violence of early union organizing and he details all the pro-union legislation that has been passed in the US over the last hundred years or so. Part II of the lecture should be available in the related links section.

Corporations revisited: Is big necessarily bad?

What exactly is the libertarian argument regarding corporations? There are a few different positions and they usually differ depending on where on the political spectrum the person is coming from. Sometimes they come down to the personal preferences of the individual making the argument. It is tempting to blame state intervention for the stuff we find dissatisfying about the world around us. We’d all love to think that the world would run exactly as we would prefer if the state were to get out of the way. But lets face it, this is not the case. The free market would probably lead to results that a lot of libertarians would find distasteful. The world we live in today certainly leads to outcomes that people find distasteful. But are these outcomes necessarily the result of corrupt collusion with the state?

There is no doubt that the state distorts the economy and manipulates the market in innumerable ways. We all know that an unregulated market economy would likely look very different than the one we have today. This realization however is not much use when making judgments and decisions about the world we actually live in. So how do we judge the institutions around us? The question should be whether or not favors from the sate are actively sought and whether the state is used as a weapon against others. Certainly corporations would not be the only offenders in this respect.

One standard libertarian complaint about corporations is that they are a legal construct of the state. This is true. Corporations are chartered or licensed by the state. Linked with this is the complaint that members of corporations enjoy limited liability. The corporation becomes a legal person that has its own assets and liabilities separate from the assets and liabilities of its members. Thus the personal assets of the members are shielded from any liabilities incurred by the corporation.

For a lot of libertarians this is enough to show that corporations are necessarily unethical and enjoying unearned privileges from state violence. I disagree. There are a lot of good reasons to incorporate your company given the nature of the world we live in. For many companies incorporation is a cost of doing business. You cannot engage in certain types of business or grow beyond a certain size unless you get a corporate charter. Often times certain kinds of taxes can actually be avoided by incorporating, and you can hardly blame people for trying to keep more of their own money. For small businesses where the owners could be wiped out by a lawsuit it certainly makes sense to incorporate. The state monopolized court system is out of control. Malicious lawyers often manipulate envious juries into awarding huge payouts to plaintiffs simply because the plaintiff is poor and the defendant is rich, regardless of the merit of the complaint. This kind of legalized looting is a threat to big companies as well with mass class action lawsuits. At least the personal assets of corporate members can be protected in instances where a corporation has been targeted for looting by lawyers and entitlement-minded individuals.

Of course the flip-side of this is that it can potentially lead to abuse and the personal assets of the abuser will be protected. But this is the fault of the state, not of people that purchase corporate charters from the state in order to do business. There is no reason why all people that have purchased a corporate charter are necessarily engaging in bad behavior or should be held collectively responsible for the bad actions of others. If we are going to criticize corporations just for being corporations then we have to include all corporations, not just the big ones. Many corporations are just one person or a partnership between two people. Pretty much every business save for a few tiny little enterprises would necessarily have to be declared immoral.

And why would it only be the purchase of a corporate charter that we would object to in terms of the granting of state privilege? A driver’s license or a passport purchased from the state grants the holder a privilege that a person that has not purchased one does not enjoy. But does that mean that the person who has purchased one is unethical? Certainly not. They are just trying to get by in the real world. What about the privileges granted to labor unions in the form of exclusive collective bargaining rights? Interestingly many people that complain about the privileges granted to corporations are silent when it comes to this.

Could corporations and limited liability exist without state intervention? I think the answer is yes, but the issue is debatable. The legal form of a business enterprise as a fictitious legal individual is too useful and productive to not be a feature of a free market. I see no reason why private free market courts would not recognize this legal construct in an imaginary future libertarian society. How would this form of business organization be prohibited in a  theoretical free market if not by the state?

A common complaint about corporations is rent seeking behavior. That is behavior which is characterized by seeking protection or subsidy from the state rather than competing on the market. It is the attempt or practice of extracting income by manipulating the political environment rather than offering value. This is often an entirely justified complaint. This complaint however is usually only leveled at big corporations and it is almost always made in conjunction with other less justified complaints. Rent seeking and protection is not restricted to big business. Small businesses certainly do their fair share of rent seeking and receive a good deal of state protection depending on where you are. In New York City big retailers like Walmart are kept out through various legal means in order to protect small businesses. The result is of course fewer jobs, higher prices and less selection for residents. In some poorer neighborhoods it is difficult to get fresh produce close to home because of these kinds of laws.

So the question of rent seeking is an empirical question, not a theoretical one. Corporations differ from company to company and industry to industry. There is no theory that can cover all behavior by corporations and fit them all into a nice clean package, though many have tried to do this. Theory can tell us that if a number of companies try to form a cartel to cut production and raise prices and this cartel is not backed by the state it will fall apart. But theory cannot tell us whether or not companies will seek to form cartels, or how each individual company will act in relation to the state.

We can tell from some basic information whether or not a company or industry is being protected by the state. A good indicator is how many companies there are in the particular industry or sector. For years in the US there were the “big 3″ auto manufacturers and the “big 3″ broadcasters. Clearly these companies were arm in arm with the state and the state made sure they faced no competition. Another indicator is whether or not the company or industry is characterized by expanding production and falling prices or cutting production and rising prices. Companies that are receiving state protection are far more likely to cut production and raise prices. They will also become increasingly dependent on rent seeking as a strategy rather than serving customers and will actually become unable to operate at all without the state. Again the big automakers come to mind. GM at this point is basically a government department. Other sectors like retail, electronics, computers and software are characterized by continuing innovation, expanding production and falling prices.

Another question is whether the corporation could exist at all without the state. Certainly “defense” contractors that manufacture weapons of mass destruction would have no customers and could not exist without the state. To even consider these corporations private entities is kind of silly. They are socialist. Ultimately it’s important to look at the facts of a particular corporation’s relationship to the state before issuing a blanket condemnation of all big corporations as immoral rent seekers.

Of course the most common, and least justified, complaint about corporations is that they are just too big. This seems to be purely a matter of personal preference on the part of the person making the complaint. Many people do not like the culture or the aesthetics of large corporations. Often times people look down on the sort of people that tend to be customers at Walmart, Starbucks, McDonalds or whatever big company may be the current favorite whipping boy of chattering elitists. These people often attempt to find an argument as to why outcomes that they find personally offensive are necessarily the result of bad behavior.

Left-libertarian scholar Kevin Carson has developed a theory as to why big corporations are necessarily subject to the same kinds of calculation problems as the state. He makes some valid points, but in general his argument fails and is not backed up with any evidence at all. The argument is that large corporations, like the state, are too big for those at the top to have all the information they need to make good decisions and that they are necessarily characterized by calculation problems and pervasive irrationality. It may be true that some large corporations suffer from information problems, but this is not the essence of the socialist calculation problem. The calculation problem is not a result of a general lack of information, but a specific lack of price information in the factors of production. The state has absolutely no idea how to price its services or whether or not these services are even wanted by the public. The people that act as the state have no profit or loss test by which they can gauge demand for their “services”, nor do they really care about such things. They just take money from people and distribute it in such a way as to expand their own power. No profit seeking organization has this pricing problem.

The problem of information in large corporations is in fact often solved by compartmentalization. Large companies are broken down into smaller units that make their own profit and loss calculations. Some companies fail at this, but companies fail all the time for a lot of reasons. Unless they are protected or subsidized by the state a company that does not efficiently get information to decision makers and makes bad calculations will fail.

Carson’s point is not helped by the fact that he provides no examples from the inner workings of a large corporation to back up his theory. All of his evidence is based on another person’s article about the typical large corporation. At the end of his piece he provides an anecdote about the irrationality of decision makers at a hospital at which he worked. This is no doubt all totally true, but health care is by far the most regulated and controlled industry there is. More than half of all health care costs in the US are paid for by the government. As of 2009 over 98 million Americans were on Medicare or Medicaid. This does not include those on the Children’s Health Insurance Program and those under the tender care of the Veteran’s Administration. Only 998 out of 5,795 hospitals in the US are run privately for profit. On top of that most hospital staff are organized by state protected labor unions. Given these facts it is hardly a surprise that a hospital is characterized by pervasive irrationality on the part of decision makers. Given all the bureaucratic red tape that must be dealt with, the best way serve customers would probably not even make the agenda of a hospital board meeting.

Carson insists that all large corporations are subject to the same problems as this hospital because they all operate within the same system, but this is clearly not the case. In fact, almost no other businesses are subject to the problems that the health care industry faces. Certainly software manufacturers, fast food joints, coffee houses or big-box retail chains do not face the kind of problems that hospitals do. Of course on a free market health care would consist of a variety of products and services bought and sold on the market that follow the same laws of economics as every other product or service bought and sold on a market. But given the fact that the government sets up different regulatory bodies and rules for different industries the claim cannot be made that all big corporations are operating within the same system.

Ultimately, there are legitimate complaints that can be made about the conduct of both big and small businesses in regards to rent seeking. Complaints about this behavior have to be specific though, not just theoretical. You need to have facts. The fact that an organization has purchased a corporate charter or is particularly large is not necessarily an indicator of bad behavior. Bigness does not automatically mean badness.

Socialism: A love story – This… is… SPARTAAAA!

My regular readers may be surprised to learn that I have hobbies other than economic and moral critiques of socialism. One of them is ancient history. Given the recent popularity of war movies set in the ancient world, I thought it would be fun to combine my favorite subjects of economics, philosophy and ancient history and do a critique of the ancient world’s most notorious group of military socialists: The Spaaaaartaaaaaaans.

First of all, a brief historical overview. Who were the Spartans and where did they come from? Like most of the ancient Greek city-states the prehistory and origins of Sparta are shrouded by the mists of time. There is evidence of human settlement there from about the Middle Neolithic period. There is an oral tradition that attributes the founding of classical Sparta and its militaristic social system to a mythical lawgiver named Lycurgus around the 7th century BC.

Bas-relief of Lycurgus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This Lycurgus person, like many legendary ancient Greek lawgivers and city-fathers, probably never existed. A lot of contemporary ancient Greek philosophers and scholars, such as Herodotus and Plato, thought he did and wrote favorably about his social system. Whether man or myth, he was beyond fascist. Naturally there is a plaque of him in the US house of representatives along with a myriad of other fascist symbols.

The established history of classical Sparta is long and bloody. It includes a lot of famous battles that even average people today know about. The most famous is the stand of the 300 at Thermopylae which has been retold in various films and comic books and has become a part of our culture. Of course the version we get in movies is very different from the truth, but what else would you expect? Other than this there is the famous Battle of Plataea where the Spartans led another Greek victory against the Persians.

The Spartans also emerged victorious, if you can really call it that, from the decades long Peloponnesian War. This was a war between two opposing coalitions led by Athens and Sparta. It embroiled all of Greece in bloody conflict from 430 to 404 BC. There were really two wars, and they were of course  characterized by a lot of lies, backstabbing, murder and ridiculously stupid ventures like the Athenian Sicilian Expedition which ended up costing them an entire army, a naval fleet and ultimately the war. In the end, no one really won. This war marked the end of the golden age of classical Greece. Five years later the Athenians killed Socrates for asking too many questions.

The Peloponnesian War is one of the most fascinating eras in ancient Greek history and I recommend reading about it more if you are interested. It is one of the few periods from which we have a complete primary record that is also an enjoyable read. I recommend Thucydides “History of the Peloponnesian War” to anyone that wants to read further. But this is not the main topic I want to focus on here.

So what was this Spartan social system and why do I characterize it as socialist? The Spartan system was dedicated entirely to producing the finest warriors in Greece for whom there was no greater honor than to die for the state in glorious battle. Trade and commerce were outlawed for the most part. Gold and silver were outlawed for all but the elite. Private property and inheritance were abolished for all but the most elite (of course). All land was granted by the state to the Spartan elite to run as caretakers. The nuclear family as an institution was essentially abolished and children were raised communally. The society was entirely static. A person’s role in society was determined for them by birth and they stayed there until death. It was a totalitarian centrally planned society, with all aspects of life, not just economy, sublimated to the interests of the state. That is why I characterize it as a socialist system.

There were four tiers to Spartan society. At the top were the two kings. Traditionally there were two rival families, both claiming to be descended from Heracles, that occupied the position of King at the same time. They were the top generals and priests of the state. Leonidas, the famous King from the stand of the 300, was a real historical figure and one of these Kings. Just below the Kings, and the least numerous other than the Kings, were the citizens, or Spartiates. These were the elite class of Spartan warriors. Members of this class were selected from birth to go through the uniquely hellish Spartan brand of military training. Given the nature of this training, by the time the Spartiates reached adulthood they would probably be considered complete sociopaths or even psychopaths  by our standards. The Spartiates were granted land to manage by the state and allowed to own gold and silver, but they were absolutely forbidden to engage in any kind of commerce or trade. This was probably not a prohibition that needed to be enforced given Spartan notions of honor and their ideas about commerce.

Below the Spartiates was a slightly larger class of so-called “free men” or Perioikoi. I don’t think I would actually consider anyone in this brutal society to be “free” but whatever. The Perioikoi served as lower level military reserves as well as craftsmen and sometimes messengers or agents of trade, when the Spartans deigned to actually engage in trade.

The lowest rung of society was occupied by the huge majority of people in the area of ancient Laconia (The area around the city of Sparta), known as Helots. At some time in the murky pre-7th century BC past of the Spartans, they conquered the neighboring city of Messinia and enslaved its population. These people became the Helots. They were a slave class owned by the state, not by individual Spartiates. They worked the land that was owned by the state and granted to individual Spartiates, thus freeing the warrior class from any kind of productive activity. The major event in a young Spartan’s coming of age was the ritual slaying of a Helot. Helots could be killed at any time by a full Spartan for any reason with no consequences. A lot of the Spartan military prowess was exercised in controlling this native slave population and putting down the numerous revolts. Some historians think that the entire society ended up structured this way specifically to control this population. This is a credible thesis.

At age seven a boy born into the warrior class was removed from his family and placed into training in the Spartan military academy known as the Agoge. Boys were raised communally in this military training center. They slept and ate in communal barracks and mess halls. They were deliberately underfed in order to teach them toughness and the skill of fending for themselves. At age twelve they were assigned an adult Spartan male as a mentor and substitute father. It is pretty certain that this relationship also included sexual relations. So we can add rape to the list of traumas suffered by Spartan boys. At the age eighteen boys were sent out in groups to live in the wild, live off the land and hunt and kill renegade members of the Helot population as part of the larger effort of controlling the slave population. This final coming of age ceremony was called the Krypteia. Boys that survived this system graduated from the Agoge at age 20 and became full citizens and members of the warrior caste. They were probably completely broken and insane by this point.

Civil and judicial administration was carried out by a council of 28 elder Spartiates known as the Gerousia. State policy was discussed by this council along with the two Kings and proposed to a council of full citizens known as the Damos. State policy in Sparta probably consisted of little more than controlling the Helots and declaring war.

Sparta was a very closed society and hostile to foreigners so little is really known about what went on there. The above is what has been reconstructed as best as possible by both ancient and modern historians. There are of course examples in history of when this system was seemingly not adhered to. Some Spartan Kings showed a fondness for material wealth and inheritance was sometimes allowed for the elite class. But this is probably what the social system of classical Sparta generally looked like.

Sparta today. Nice legacy.

As you would expect from a society entirely dedicated to militarism, controlling a slave population and exhibiting an ethos of contempt for trade and commerce Sparta was poor in comparison to other Greek city-states. No great works of philosophy, theater, art or poetry came out of Sparta. If you go to the site of ancient Sparta today all you will see are some holes in the ground and broken down stone walls. There are no grand statues, temples and monuments such as those decorating the magnificent Acropolis at Athens. There are barely even any buildings. It is a wasteland.

But of course intellectuals throughout the ages have praised Sparta and admired its austere militarism and lack of corruption by commerce and trade as a society to be emulated. The idle rich classes in Athens had a particular admiration for Spartan life. The fascistic prison state imagined by Plato in “The Republic” is loosely based on the four tiered Spartan system, with an additional tier of “Philosopher Kings” at the top. Of course Sparta had no philosophers, and the Spartans would have spit on a wealthy and idle intellectual like Plato. Laconophilia, or admiration for Sparta, has continued down through the ages and even exists today. The recent spate of war movies involving the Spartans and the lionization of the 300 is part of this phenomenon. A valid comparison can be made to a wealthy New York Times editor enjoying the fruits of a society with a certain degree of freedom, property ownership and trade waxing rhapsodic about the virtues of the Soviet Union. Or perhaps a neoconservative intellectual like Victor Davis Hanson excoriating the population of the US for being selfish and not willing to sacrifice for the “War on Terror.” Presumably this “sacrifice” includes paying higher taxes, accepting state spying, undergoing body scans and pat downs and “supporting” the troops no matter how pointless and corrupt the mission.

We need to move beyond this. We need to get away from stupid prejudices against commerce, property and free trade. We need to get away from romantic notions about brutal, regimented, warlike states like Sparta and see them for the evil and barbaric societies they were. We need to recognize that there is nothing heroic about a society based on slavery and systematic child abuse. Most of all we need to recognize the ugly truths about our own society that would lead intellectuals to romanticize a place like ancient Sparta.

Marxism and Left-Libertarianism

It seems that we will never be free of Marxism. Despite the violent history of the 20th century and all the blood and barbed wire that have resulted from this ideology, it keeps cropping up again and again in different forms generation after generation. Why is this? What appeal does Marxism have, particularly for the intellectual mind? Why, despite all the fallacies of Marxian socialism having long since been exploded by Ludwig von Mises, and the historical failure of the USSR along with other communist states, can’t we be rid of it?

The first question to answer is what exactly is Marxism? Marx wrote on a lot of different things, mostly capitalism. He wrote three huge volumes collectively called Capital. The funny thing about these is that the third volume, released posthumously, seems to contradict things he wrote in the first two. Marx never actually laid out any theory or vision for his socialist utopia. He did make some suggestions for preliminary steps to get there in the Communist Manifesto. These steps are a horror show and involve the state pretty much taking over absolutely everything.

So then what really is Marxism? Marxism is a variety of political economy. It is mixture of economic theories and political values that when put together form a coherent political philosophy. Marx’s political economy logically leads right to violent communist revolution as the only solution to the problems he creates, as we shall see.

The goal of Marx’s particular political economy is to develop a theory of exploitation of labor, thus justifying violent action by the working class to “re-appropriate” the means of production from the evil capitalists. Marx starts out with a new interpretation of the classical Labor Theory of Value (LTV). This theory states that the value of a product is determined by the labor time necessary to produce it. Marx adds in the caveat that labor must be “socially necessary” in order to produce value. While obviously false, and long since surpassed by the more sophisticated theory of Marginal Utility, this theory presents an irresistible attraction for those wanting to come up with an exploitation theory. Marx’s exploitation theory states that since the value of a product is bound up with the labor time necessary to produce it, any profit that the capitalist takes is necessarily taken out of the worker’s hide and is a form of exploitation. Essentially the profit of the capitalist represents unpaid labor time by the worker. This is called the theory of Surplus Value.

This theory ignores the time value of money, among other errors. Marx ignores the fact that the capitalist takes a risk and must wait to realize his profit. He may not even make a profit, yet the worker gets paid for his labor anyway, and he gets paid right away. The capitalist performs the service to the worker of waiting and risk-taking. The worker can do this too, yet he demonstrates by his actions that he would rather not. His time preference is higher, and he would rather collect a check now and play it safe.

The purpose of Marx’s political economy and all his theorizing is to come up with a reason for a so-called “worker’s” revolution. If the evil capitalists are stealing the value created by the workers, then the workers are justified in stealing it back. Thus we get Marx’s recommendations for state communism and violent action on the part of the working class.

So we can define Marxism as a variety of political economy that bases itself on a Labor Theory of Value, derives a theory of exploitation of labor and then recommends militant working class action and socialism or communism as the cure. The exploitation of labor comes from the fact that the capitalist, in order to realize profits must necessarily be taking for himself value created by a worker’s labor time.

This theory seems to have some kind of permanent grasp on the imagination of intellectuals. The most recent revival of Marxist political economy is actually being smuggled in under the guise of libertarianism. So-called “left-libertarian” theorist Kevin Carson has recently come up with a new economic theory based on a rather old and obscure left-anarchist system called “mutualism.” His theory is a synthesis of the ideas of 19th century anarchist thinkers like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Benjamin Tucker. He also adds in a bit of Marx and even Murray Rothbard among other Austrians. While he takes from all these disparate, and even contradictory sources, his theory comes out to be yet another rehashing of the basics of Marxist political economy.

My suspicion is that Carson’s motivation for developing this system is a desire to come up with a theory to fit a preconceived conclusion. The conclusion being virtually identical to the Marxist conclusion that labor is exploited by capital, capitalists do not really own their property and militant working class action leading to socialism/communism is the answer. Interestingly Carson’s own critique of marginalist economists is that they are opportunists just seeking to find an apology for big business. I agree with Stephan Kinsella that left-libertarian ideology probably comes from an unwillingness to abandon certain sentimental left-wing prejudices like localism, wage-slavery, alienation of labor and romantic rhapsodizing over the plight of “the workers.”

Carson uses his own version of a LTV in designing his system, but he also endorses Marx’s defense of the objective LTV from it’s subjectivist and marginalist critics. Ultimately any LTV will have to propose an objective value to labor in order to get to an exploitation theory. Carson says Marx is correct that “socially necessary” labor time is a valid response to the marginalist criticism Marxist LTV, but Carson’s own subjective LTV takes a different approach. However, there is not really anything new in Carson’s formulation. It’s just a reversal of standard subjective, marginal value theory applied to a laborer’s view of his own labor. Carson’s theory is an attempt to to get from there to an objective value of labor, as we shall see. Carson says:

“A producer will continue to bring his goods to market only if he receives a price necessary, in his subjective evaluation, to compensate him for the disutility involved in producing them. And he will be unable to charge a price greater than this necessary amount, for a very long time, if market entry is free and supply is elastic, because competitors will enter the field until price equals the disutility of producing the final increment of the commodity.”

There is not much here that has not already been said by marginal utility theory. At a given price per hour a laborer will continue to bring his goods to market (work) until such time as the disutility of continuing becomes too much for him (he gets tired or fed up) or he physically collapses (or until the office runs out of coffee). The lower the hourly wage in this circumstance the quicker the disutility will cause the laborer to stop. One problem that jumps out immediately is that this theory does not seem to take into account the differences between individual laborers and instead views labor as an undifferentiated blob.

Another problem comes from the attempt to derive an exploitation theory from this formula. Carson says that disutility will continue to adjust the price of labor upward until an equilibrium price is reached. This price would then represent the objective exchange-value of labor. So the combination of all the subjective valuations by laborers of their own labor equals the objective value of labor. Commodity prices thus trend toward this equilibrium, a price where supply exactly meets demand and there is zero profit. Theoretically a capitalist cannot charge more for a commodity than this labor/disutility equilibrium price. So where does profit come from?

Fundamentally, the subjective LTV claims that the exchange value of commodities is determined by the opportunity cost of labor. Ultimately, all factors of production can be reduced to labor and thus can be valued according to this opportunity cost. Any profit the capitalist takes represents a difference between what is paid to labor and labor’s true value as determined by opportunity cost. So just like in classical Marxism we have arrived at the idea that the capitalist is stealing surplus value from workers.

From here Carson can now go where he wants to go and start in on his exploitation theory. Since prices tend toward equilibrium and zero profit on a free market, the only remaining source of disequilibrium is the disutility of labor. Thus labor is the source of profit, yet the profit is taken by the capitalist not the worker. And therefore we have exploitation. Profits are necessarily taken out of the hide of workers. Now Carson can conclude all that he wants to about the exploitative nature of capitalism, but he can also say that he advocates a free market. A free market where no one profits and everyone is organized into voluntary socialist communes and collectives, but still a free market.

There are a few problems with this. A free market is good because price signals organize resources as best as possible in regards to the subjective valuations of individuals, not because it avoids profit and exploitation. A market is dynamic and discovers how meet people’s desires on a daily basis, not something that is designed to meet equilibrium. Another problem is that this theory appears to argue that labor is exploited because it begins work at rates that are below what would be necessary to get labor to begin work. But those rates cannot be determined until labor starts working in the first place. This is a very confusing logical contradiction.

Carson argues that the state is the primary tool used by capitalists to create the disequilibrium that allows them to extract profits. Capitalists do this by using the state to limit competition from other capitalists and thus driving up prices. But this is really just a caveat that is added on later. There is no reason why the state is a necessary element in this exploitation theory at all. Why would the state be the only source of disequilibrium? Why would the state be the only reason that capitalists take the profits that are rightly due to the workers? This theory would seem to claim that the state is a huge conspiracy by capitalists to create disequilibrium, and thus create conditions for profit taking. This ignores the numerous other interest groups that the state serves, including big labor unions and including the state itself.

This theory would also seem to negate itself. The theory that disutility labor is the only remaining source of disequilibrium, and thus the source of profits is no longer valid once there is another source of disequilibrium: the state. The state’s limiting of competition from other capitalists would actually mean that profits can be realized in another way than by exploiting labor. Capitalists actually exploit other capitalists, create disequilibrium and thus profit (I would actually argue that this happens in reality, but from a different theoretical perspective). No need for labor to come into the equation. In fact, the state would seem to be the worker’s friend here because it sets the capitalists against each other and prevents them from being the ones that must be exploited for capitalists to profit. From here we can see the theory falling further and further into contradiction with it’s goal of proving capitalist exploitation.

Another standard left-libertarian exploitation theory is that workers do not really agree to be wage laborers and enter into voluntary contracts, as the “vulgar” Austrians would have it, because capitalists are privileged by the state. The workers have no chance to become capitalists themselves, and thus it is not an even playing field where all options are open to workers. It is certainly true that measures taken by the state to regulate, control and cartelize business do raise barriers to entry that make it harder for workers to start businesses and compete with established capitalists. This valid observation does not validate the LTV though, or necessarily mean that workers are exploited by anyone other than the state. It does not follow from this that workers do not voluntarily enter into contracts or that they take jobs for any reason other than that they prefer doing so to other options. This version of exploitation theory ignores the extent to which business owners themselves are exploited by the state and the fact that workers in state protected unions are themselves exploiters of capitalists along with virtually everyone else in society.

The state makes it hard to start a business, and we all suffer for it. No aspect of Marxist political economy is made true by this fact. Nothing follows from this other than the understanding that we ought to get rid of the state. Left-libertarians do not provide an adequate theory as to why this fact means that those capitalists that make it through the statist web are necessarily immoral or exploitative. It’s not that exploitation is not possible, just that there is no reason — and no argument provided — as to why it is necessarily a rule under state-regulated capitalism. If anyone and everyone that prospers under the state is guilty, then all of us have unclean hands and it really doesn’t mean anything to criticize anyone for immorality or exploitation. We are all just exploiting each other all the time by profiting while the sate exists. No one can be good, so whats the point?

While Carson disagrees with Marx on certain points, and I certainly cannot accuse him of being a statist, his method and motives follow the Marxist map. Carson does claim labor as the ultimate source of value. He does claim workers are exploited under capitalism. He does claim that profits are the result of capitalists seizing the value from unpaid labor time. He does claim that capitalists in a statist system are not legitimate property owners. And finally he does defend militant working class action and call for socialism as the solution. This is why I say that Carson is a Marxist at heart, if not necessarily an orthodox Marxist in his economics. Ultimately I think Carson’s ideas are potentially dangerous and run the risk of endorsing or excusing violence, as long as it is violence aimed at the proper class of victim: capitalists.

Happy Christmas (Global Warming is over)

For a while I had almost forgotten about the whole issue of global warming. It seems that it has really died down in the press over the last year. Public skepticism has been growing and the climategate emails have made at least some kind of dent in the orthodoxy. At least it has seemed to be a little safer to express skepticism about the issue over the last year. Or maybe I was just paying less attention. In any case, I was reminded of it today when saw this howler of an article in the official propaganda organ of the US Government. It would seem that the purpose of this  article is an attempt to remind people that despite bitter cold and a huge blizzard today in the eastern US, not to mention colder than average winters in the US and Europe for the last 5 out of 7 years, Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is still real and it is still out there.

The author of the article, a man named Judah Cohen, claims, and this is hardly an original argument, that cooling is caused by warming. According to him:

The not-so-obvious short answer is that the overall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes.

Cohen goes on to explain this seeming contradiction by claiming that melting ice caps caused by global warming create more snow. More snow means more of the sun’s rays reflected back into space which in turn means colder temperatures. This actually makes sense. Whether or not it is true, I don’t know. I am not an expert, although I think I have a good layman’s understanding of the issues and controversies surrounding global warming.

This kind of explanation is not unusual for proponents of AGW theory, and it is actually totally plausible. However, one need not be a global warming scientist to see the problem here for environmental zealots. One need only apply some basic logic. If this is true, then global warming is not actually a problem. Warming leads to effects that in turn lead to cooling. The cycle of nature balances itself out. Problem solved. No need to destroy civilization after all! Whew! That was a close one! Just don’t expect the various beneficiaries of the AGW-state-industrial complex that has metastasized around this issue for the last 30 years or so to let a simple logical problem deter them.

This is not the only logical problem with the man-made global warming hypothesis. In fact, one need not know any science at all to explode the entire theory. It can be taken apart simply by applying some basic logic.

The first problem is that the theory is totally unfalsifiable. If warming proves warming and cooling proves warming, then warming does not actually mean anything. Any weather phenomenon can be used to show that the AGW theory is valid. When winter is cold and snowy: global warming. When winter is warm and rainy: global warming. When weather events seem to confirm the AGW theory, these weather events are trotted out as evidence in arguments claiming that AGW is a huge problem. When weather events seem to show the opposite, two arguments are typically made by proponents of the theory. One is the above argument that warming leads to cooling, which means there is actually no problem. The other is the claim that weather is different than climate, and you cannot use temporary weather effects to make judgments about the course of the entire climate. If this is the case, then AGW proponents can’t do it either. So weather events that seem to confirm the AGW hypothesis cannot be used to argue for it. Not only that, but the claim that weather cannot be used to judge climate means that AGW is meaningless. If the change to the climate is not connected to changes in the actual weather, then what is the point? Why should anyone care about it? The AGW argument falls apart at every angle.

Mr. Thomas L. Friedman, leading statist intellectual, warmonger, liar, apologist for mass murder, author of books with really stupid names and a generally all around disgusting and putrid waste of flesh and DNA has actually sort of acknowledged the above problems, and instead tried to create his own environmental crisis: Global Weirding. This really takes the cake for a theory that is an unscientific joke. If you want to deal with sloppy, unfalsifiable theories, this is the gold standard.

Another problem is that the AGW theory is untestable because global warming is impossible to control for. If man-made CO2 is in fact responsible for the claimed warming of the atmosphere, how could you ever know it? How can you control for the entire planet earth? How can you ever know what conditions would be if things were another way? How could anyone ever know what effects more or less CO2 would really have? And even if you could have a counter earth with less CO2, how could you ever possibly know that you had controlled for every factor? Given this problem, what AGW scientists do is create computer models to make their “observations” and provide for a control. But these models are crap. Judah Cohen in the above article openly acknowledges that the models completely failed to predict the cold and snows of recent winters. Not only that, but AGW proponents have said in previous predictions that snowy winters are a thing of the past. So what good are models that fail to predict anything and often times get things exactly backwards? Not much. And of course these models are programmed by humans that already have a predisposition towards the AGW theory, and whose careers, reputations and livelihoods are bound up with it. As we saw with the climategate scandal, many of these so-called “scientists” are not above messing with their computer code to get the results they want.

These are far from the only problems with the AGW theory. There are many more. There are serious issues with the methods of observing, collecting, storing and interpreting temperature data. There is the inherent problem that trees are not actually thermometers. On top of that is the problem that the leading climate scientists in the world will throw out the data provided by these trees when it does not match with what they want. The most serious issues have to do with integrity. If anyone is familiar with the climategate emails, you can see a serious lack of scientific integrity coming through in almost every one. This is a much bigger and more detailed issue though, and it is best discussed by Anthony Watt and John P. Costella in their various analyses. I have restricted my comments here to the logical problems with the theory.

But of course, as we could probably guess, the real motivation for proponents of AGW theory is neither scientific truth nor concern for the future of mankind.  It is a global feeding frenzy to get other people’s wealth without earning it and without having to provide any value to anyone. So many interest groups have a stake in the AGW-state-industrial complex that it is unlikely that a few logical and scientific problems will deter them.

Governments love the issue because it provides a good excuse for more taxes, regulation and bureaucracy. Scientists love it because it provides grant money and subsidies, as well as fancy trips to exotic locales on someone else’s dime. Government bureaucrats love it for that too (actually, everyone involved loves it for that). Socialists love it because it shows the evils of capitalism. Environmentalists love it because it shows the evils of civilization. Religious leaders love it because it shows the evils of humanity. Statists love it because it seems to be a problem that can only be solved with a bigger state. Corporations love it because they can get government subsidies to pretend to invent “green” products that people can pretend will solve the non-existent problem. Guilt-ridden middle class liberals love it because it helps them to feel alive for a few brief moments before the emptiness returns. Celebrities love it because it gives them a feel good issue to advocate for in order to assuage their guilt over their own extreme wealth and lavish lifestyles. Pretty much every member of the political and intellectual class has a stake in this issue surviving, and so it probably will. Judah Cohen himself is in on the scam and has managed to mix in a bit of the military-industrial-complex for flavor.

The end of the world from climate change or global warming is probably not going to happen. They probably won’t even cause any inconvenience. If you are going to worry, worry about what the global bureaucrats and other AGW interest groups are planning to do to you.