Sunday, July 24, 2011

Open Borders Are Not Free Market

I’ve never been able to come up with a completely satisfactory definition of “the free market.” It’s always been eluded me.

I don’t think I will ever go able to come up with one that satisfies me. It is a fact, and not an opinion, that the map is not the terrain. All theories are convenient fictions used to describe reality, but none are reality itself.

It isn’t a problem for me for that being unable to formulate a comprehensive theory to describe everything is impossible. To understand everything is, theologically, to know the mind of God, which is beyond human abilities.

The closer the theory describes reality, the better it works. But no theory will ever be able to describe reality perfectly. At first, I used the word “theory,” which is the most commonly used one. Then I switched to “model.” But perhaps “theology” is the best word.

Why the word “theology”? Because any endeavor to understand reality is the attempt, ultimately, to understand the mind of God. By the way, I don’t care if you use the word “God” or “the Absolute” or “science.” It’s all the same thing: the attempt to understand the whole of reality.

I studied the neo-Keynesian synthesis taught in college. I dismissed it as dangerous nonsense believed only by what I call high-IQ idiots, the dumbest of which come from Harvard and Yale and Princeton and then go to work for the federal government or else regurgitate what they have learned by teaching college. None have any practical experience in business.

Monetarists out of the University of Chicago are better but still dangerous. Fortunately they’re not as dangerous as Keynesians of whatever perversion.

The closest economic theory I have encountered that describes reality with much accuracy is the Austrian School. But I have my disagreements with some its more vociferous and confused supporters.

Let’s say the “free market” is what occurs when the government only protects “life, liberty and property,” as John Locke suggested, and which made it into the Constitution as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

What automatically springs up is the maximum of political and economic liberty – what is commonly defined as the free market. This is a very good thing for maximizing people’s well-being, although some people prefer security, not understanding they always give up their liberty for it. They don’t get their security, either.

There is no such thing as economics per se. Economics is inseparable from political science, and in wiser days it was called “political economy.” It’s also an inseparable part of the law, since under that minimum of law protecting “life, liberty and property” we get the maximum amount of liberty.

Those three things –- economics, political science, and law – also cannot be separated from religion. All religions agree people should not murder or steal or lie, and without religion I doubt there would be anything except a wolves-eats-sheep society. With no religion, contrary to the delusions of atheists (and John Lennon, too), you’ll get not much more than chaos.

So you can see my problem in trying to define the free market. It’s not just economics. It’s also politics, law and religion. But it gets even more complicated. It’s also tribe.

Let’s look at the relationship of open borders to tribe. Are open borders part of the free market? The open-borders libertarian crowd claims that it is. They operate on the assumption the free market will turn all immigrants into Americans who share American values – whatever the hell they are these days.

How do you define tribe? Essentially, an extended family that have many traits in common. It can be race, religion, ethnic group or nationality. But they always must have certain core beliefs in common.

Open borders, however, aren’t part of the free market. Let’s do a thought experiment – a rather extreme thought experiment – and imagine a country of three tribes: Wahabi Muslims (the ones responsible for 9-11), Zionists, and fundamentalist Christians. Now imagine them trying to share the same land.

Some will claim such a hypothetical example will never happen. True. But it doesn’t matter. Let’s quote Ludwig von Mises: “There is no such thing as too much of a correct theory.”

If the belief in open-borders is a correct theory, then there can be no such thing as too few borders. If the theory is completely correct, there should be no borders at all.

So what would happen with the example I just created? Would all of those people be turned into Americans, united in their love of DVD players, wide-screen TVs and SUVs?

Nope. There’d be violence and murder as each tried to expel the other from their land. As Gary Brecher (the War Nerd) has written, “Traditionally, genocide has been the result when one tribe encounters another.” It’s been the history of the world.

The free market makes life better. Open borders makes things worse. Ergo, open borders are not part of the free market and political liberty.

“Economics” is not based on empiricism. You can’t do repeatable experiments in a lab, which is why it’s not a hard science. It is historical in that you can look at what has happened in the past, such as what inflation has always done.

Yet even history doesn’t always work. Historically it’s possible to see what the oversupply of money does, but you can’t always tell about the demand, or velocity, for money.

That’s why economics is based on rationalism, as von Mises commented. But in order for it to be a comprehensive, rational theory it must take human nature into account – the differences in race, culture, religion, intelligence.

My conclusion? The free market must take into account the tribal nature of mankind. That is the application of the “correct theory” of which von Mises wrote.

Since open borders (i.e., the unimpeded free movement of labor throughout the world) do not work, and in fact is immensely destructive, this means, contrary to the hallucinations of anarchist libertarians, there will always be some kind of government.

A cohesive, workable country must be overwhelmingly of one “family” that shares certain traits in common.

The only way open borders (or no borders) would work is if everyone in the world was of the same race, same language, same religion, and shared the same culture; specifically, the belief in the smallest possible government with the maximum of political and economic liberty. Otherwise, it would never work.

Leftists, who truly are fuzzy-minded (as Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote in Leftism Revisited, leftists don’t merely misunderstand human nature but instead don’t understand it at all), believe that all cultures can learn to co-exist peacefully.

How they believe this is beyond me, considering Jews don’t believe in Jesus at all, Christians see him as the Son of God and consider Muhammad a psychotic child-raping false prophet, and Muslims consider Jesus a mere man and Christians who believe in the Trinity as polytheists. The idea these people could share the same land peacefully and productively is something only a mentally-stillborn leftist could believe.

The free market is based on economics, political science, law, religion, and a culture with shared views. Those five pillars must support the minimum number of laws to obtain the maximum amount of political and economic liberty.

The only place where those five things coalesced to discover political and economic liberty is the Christian, European “West.” It came from no place else in the world, and for that matter, isn’t taking root beyond its birthplace. It’s not going to, either.

Unfortunately, these five pillars are close to collapsing. Mainstream economics is a dangerous joke, as is much of political science, law, religion and culture. They’ve all been degraded. Since all of those things are so severely damaged, and since all of them are essential pillars of society, I see no way around a coming collapse of some sort.

What passes for economics today is dominated by blundering neo-Keynesians; the law is about lawyers suing those with money to transfer it into their own pockets; a lot of political science is leftist looniness; a politically-noticeable number of “Christians” believe Jesus is going to come back, rub out all the Muslims and kill Jews until they convert to their perverted version of Christianity; and “Western culture” (sic) has become multiculturalism (actually multitribalism) which is going to lead to nothing but conflict, destruction and backwardness.

It won’t be the Dark Ages, but it won’t be much fun.

So even though I cannot come up with a fully satisfactory definition of the free market, I do know enough about it to know that its loss is a terribly dangerous thing.

Science Fiction Writers Should Rule the World

I’m not a science fiction writer but I am a fan, and have been since a few months before I turned 12. So I’ve been familiar with the genre and the writers for a quite a while, and so have decided that science fiction writers should be in charge of the government. I’m not kidding about that, either.

I hold nearly all politicians in contempt and suspect most of them are intelligent psychopaths (dumb psychopaths end up in prison). There are some exceptions, of course. Ron Paul is one of them. But most politicians are self-aggrandizing liars, murderers and thieves. Oh, I forgot – they’re also drunks and sexual perverts.

Is there anything lower than a politician? A serial killer? A child molester? The damage they’ve done is a drop in the ocean compared to the millennia of wreckage left by politicians -- and most politicians happen to be lawyers, which is why lawyers should be forbidden permanently from holding any political office.

Government has killed more people in history than everything else put together. I’ve read estimates that in the 20th Century anywhere from 177 million to 200 million people were killed by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – another name for the State.

All governments are based on force and fraud, without exception. Force and fraud, the two things that sent most people straight to Hell in Dante’s Inferno.

Why should science fiction writers rule? Because they are far more intelligent, sensitive, imaginative and empathic than politicians or the average joe. Most of them have libertarian sympathies, which is a prerequisite for good rulers.

Libertarianism – or classical liberalism – believes in the smallest necessary government (except for the anarchist libertarians, who are leftist fools). If the purpose of government is to, as John Locke wrote, protect “life, liberty and property” then what automatically springs up is political liberty and the free market. And that maximizes the well-being of everyone.

Politicians always try to expand government, and for that matter, so does much of the Herd. The Herd, unfortunately, isn’t merely dim-witted. It has no brains at all.

This Blob-like growth of government is why it always collapses. It gets too big and destroys or absorbs everything in its path, like the Borg. There in fact hasn’t been a government that hasn’t collapsed.

The first science fiction novel I remember reading is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Fighting Man of Mars. It’s not exactly a libertarian novel but the Bad Guys are the power-mad rulers who want to conquer the planet and the Good Guys want freedom for everyone. I can’t tell you the effect this novel, with its swordfights and “radium pistols” and flying ships, had on my 11-year-old sensibilities.

There were other stories. Eric Frank Russell’s …and Then There Were None, a very funny story about a society that keeps its freedom by figuring out a fool-proof way to avoid being conquered: they just ignore their wannabe-be conquerors. In fact, they end up absorbing those who want to conquer them, just the way early America absorbed the Hessian mercenaries who wouldn’t go back to the Statist hell they came from.

There was A.E van Vogt’s The Weapon Shops of Isher, with its famous line: “The Right to Buy Weapons is the Right to be Free.” I still remember the frustration I felt that there were no Weapon Shop pistols, which threw up an impenetrable energy field about the owner and would not fire unless he was attacked. Imagine what that did for crime. Most especially, the crimes committed by the Empire, which, not surprisingly, hated and feared the Weapon Shops.

There are many others. James Hogan. Jerry Pournelle. L. Neil Smith. Neal Stephenson. I’m sure there are others I’ve never read, maybe even heard about.

When people are imaginative they have the ability to empathize with other people, to put themselves in their shoes. That’s why Stephen King is so popular: he can put himself in all of his character’s shoes.

I doubt a literal-minded person could easily sympathize with others, especially the more different those others are. I am reminded of something I read: the stupid don’t learn from their mistakes; the more intelligent do; and the smartest of all learn from other people’s mistakes. And you’ll certainly have a very difficult time learning from others unless you have some imaginative empathy.

Imagination, when united with reason and sympathy, is my definition of creativity. And creativity is what advances all societies. And no society can go anywhere unless it has small government.

And who else besides science fiction writers are imaginative, reasonable and libertarian?

The world has given other types of government its chance. Kings, constitutional monarchies, republics. They’ve all degraded. It’s time to try something different. Just don’t ask me what kind of government we should have, because I don’t know. I just know who should be in authority.

It’s too bad those damn Weapon Shop pistols don’t exist. We wouldn’t need anyone to rule.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Buying Weapons and Weapon Stocks

“The Right to Buy Weapons is the Right to be Free” –“The Weapon
Shops of Isher,” A.E. van Vogt, 1954

Some years ago I was talking with a woman I know who told me that while she was for people owning weapons she could not invest in weapons stocks. Since she said she could not buy weapons stocks for religious reasons I let the matter drop.

I didn’t want to upset her by telling her she was already investing in weapons stocks. When the U.S. government takes people’s money though taxation, it uses that money to design and manufacture weapons. The taxpayers have no say in the matter. My friend’s tax money was being used to produce weapons of war whether or not she wanted it.

Weapons are neither moral nor immoral. They are amoral. A weapon will lie harmless and inert until the end of time unless someone uses it.

Weapons, like all machines, are examples of Cooper’s Law: “All machines are amplifiers.” All machines amplify our natural abilities, for good or bad. All machines are amoral – there is no good or bad inherent in them, no morality or immorality. The terms “good” or “bad” cannot be applied to any machine. “Goodness” or “badness” is only in the use to which people put machines.

Weapons can be used for good or bad -- to defend or to murder. It depends, as always, on the characters of the people wielding them. There are some countries, such as Switzerland, that buy American military weapons but have avoided war for hundreds of year (the Nazis did not invade Switzerland because they knew they’d be slaughtered). Then there are countries whose governments use American weapons for immoral purposes -- against their own people or against people in other countries.

To say it is moral to not invest your money in weapons stocks while ignoring the fact your tax money is, in my opinion, is a distinction that will not bear much scrutiny. A person who is totally consistent about not letting their tax money used to buy weapons would refuse to pay taxes. The only way to do that is to live in a cabin in the woods, be completely off the grid, and be totally self-supporting.

You can of course make the argument that by not buying weapons stocks voluntarily you at least have some say over where your money goes. I think that really is the point: having some control over your life.

But the amount of money that anyone invests in weapons stocks has no effect on the amount of weapons produced. Even if no one invested in weapons stocks the government would still produce whatever weapons it wanted. So what the argument is about is not effectiveness, but having some control over your life and property (and your money is your property) and feeling good. And I understand that.

John Locke, the British philosopher, came up with the concept that the purpose of government was to protect your “life, liberty and property.” That phrase made it into the Constitution as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

I find it enlightening that some people, even if they cannot articulate it, are almost instinctively offended the government is violating their life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness by taking their money and spending on things those people despise, be it abortion, war weapons, or support for other countries. (If Americans today had the understanding of their ancestors, they realize what Thomas Paine meant when he wrote in Common Sense, “government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”)

There is something else to consider: people who do not make as much money as possible can do little or nothing. But the more money people make the more ability they have to do good things. Even if they make that money from weapons stocks.

I think what my friend was arguing, vaguely and intuitively, is what Franz Oppenheimer in The State and Albert Jay Nock in Our Enemy the State called “the Political Means” and “the Economic Means.”

As Nock wrote, “There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man’s needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means.”

The Political Means is stealing – it’s what all States do (only they call it “taxes”). In fact, without it, they’d all collapse. The Economic Means is the free exchange and trade of the free market. My friend didn’t want her money stolen by the State; she wanted to choose what she did with it. She was frustrated the State was spending her money on things she despised and not what she approved. It outraged her.

One of the problems, as always, is the growth of the State. The Founding Fathers did not believe in standing armies. And they would be appalled to find the federal behemoth about 50 times bigger than they ever envisioned it.

One definition of maturity I’ve read to accept things you cannot change. I cannot change what the State does with my money. No one can. I can, however, do good things with profits, no matter from where I get them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It’s Not All That Hard

"The opposite of war is not peace; it's creation.”– Jonathan Larson

Back when I was in college (close to worthless then and even closer now, except for the hard sciences) I realized none of my classes that I was really interested in were logically connected to each other so that I could come up with an accurate model of how the world works.

All people have a model in their heads of how the world works. Perhaps I should say “theory” instead. No matter what word I use, none of them, no matter how accurate, are reality itself (“the map is not the terrain”). But the closer to reality the theory, the better it works.

The further from reality the model is, the worse it works. You can look at entire failed countries (which means failed cultures, which means the people have poor models in their heads) and see it’s because they don’t follow models that work. Those successful and unsuccessful models always include religion, law, economics and political science.

Economics, political science and law (my main interests) were listed as separate disciplines (in reality they’re not) so I ended up with masses of facts, half-truths and outright lies that of course didn’t make much sense. What I was taught were awful maps that led me into dead zones (for that matter, the United States and most of the rest of the world staggered into those zones, too).

I was taught neo-Keynesian economics (gobbledygook), that politicians give serious thought to the bills they pass (har!) and that law is what the government passes (not even close).

Is it any wonder what I was taught didn’t make much sense? It wasn’t logical, and as Henry Hazlitt wrote in Economics in One Lesson, “…[false] theories…are never held with logical consistency…”

I don’t exactly remember how this happened, but over time I realized that with political and economic liberty there was wealth and happiness, and when those two things did not exist there was poverty, disease, starvation, war, slavery (I’ve always found it significant in ancient cultures Heaven was a place of “milk and honey” and where “the lion would lie down with the lamb”).

I know I was influenced by books I read – books I never heard about in college. Some of them are quite old. The Law, by Frederic Bastiat, which is a pamphlet. Common Sense and The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine. The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane.
The Mainspring of Human Progress by Henry Grady Weaver. Ancient Law by Henry Sumner Maine. The State, by Franz Oppenheimer.

I have all these books in paperback, but the texts are so old they are in the public domain and therefore downloadable for free on the Internet. Yet I had never heard of any of them in high school or college. But I surely heard enough about those nitwits out of Harvard, Yale and Princeton who tortured me and the other students with their inept and boring 300-page semi-Marxist economics textbooks.

(Parenthetically, I proficiencied both Intro to Macro and Intro to Micro Economics because I knew the classes would be excruciating – which is exactly what Intermediate Macro and Intermediate Micro turned out to be. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be proficiency them.)

Things finally started to make sense – and college had nothing to do with it, except for the disappointment it provided and therefore an inventive to get a real education.

I realized the laws of political science and economics (actually it’s political economy) can be discovered just like the laws of physics and chemistry. This put me in the Natural Law camp – just as every one of the Founding Fathers were.

The term “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” came from the British philosopher John Locke, who originally wrote, “life, liberty and property.” They are our natural rights, he said. We are born with them.

Those Natural Rights are what this country was founded upon. The purpose of “government” was to protect those three things, and nothing else. When those three things are protected, what springs up automatically is the free market. Always. It’s a law of nature, one that can be (and has been) discovered.

As Samuel Adams wrote, “The rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; second to liberty, third to property; together with the right to support them and defend them in the best manner they can” (the latter being enshrined in the Second Amendment).

This was a revelation to me. I suddenly had a model of how the world worked. You could have freedom and creation and progress, or you could not have freedom and go backwards, possibly into an abyss.

Law, economics and political science, I realized, were the same thing and not separate disciplines. Understanding the basics of them is not that hard. Almost everyone can do it.

Richard Maybury, for example, has suggested there are only two laws that all free, successful societies need to follow: “Do all you have agreed to do” and “Do not encroach on other people or their property.” It can’t get any simpler than those two laws and even a child can memorize them.

When “government” goes beyond protecting life, liberty and property it always destroys. It’s as simple as that. The bigger the government the more people, families, neighborhoods, education and everything else is damaged. In other words, our life, liberty and property are always damaged by the growth of “government” when it goes beyond protecting those three things.

I define government as protecting life, liberty and property. When it goes beyond those things it turns into the State. Albert Jay Nock, in Our Enemy, the State defined the first as the Economic Means (trade) and the second as the Political Means (stealing).

It’s entirely possible that even “government” is not necessary (well over 2000 years ago the prophet Samuel in the Old Testament warned the Hebrews to follow the Law and stop their whining for “government”). If people always followed the Law (discovered natural law) voluntarily it wouldn’t be necessary.

In fact, if most people didn’t voluntarily follow most natural laws,
society would collapse no matter how oppressive the government was.
Or, as Isabel Paterson wrote, “The percentage of positively malignant,
vicious, or depraved persons is necessarily small, for no species could
survive if its members were habitually and consciously bent upon
injuring one another.”

If government is necessary then what remains is to discover how to keep it within its proper limits. So far, no one has figured that out. The Founding Fathers tried by splitting the government into three parts. They meant to make it weak and ineffectual to limit its power (they also had no use whatsoever for the left-wing delusion of “democracy”, something most people today don’t know).

They make some mistakes. They forgot to write that one of the purposes of government was to protect our property, didn’t get rid of slavery, and didn’t forbid a central bank (which always inflates the money supply, thereby stealing your property, which automatically damages your life and liberty).

These days the United States sometimes follows Natural Law and sometimes follows false law. Unfortunately, it’s got to the point where the federal State makes up one-third of the economy and one percent of the people have used the Political Means to steal 40% of the wealth.

I sometimes do a thought experiment and imagine what this country would be like if the federal government did nothing but protect life, liberty and property.

We’d be far wealthier than we are now. Economists I’ve read estimate the average income today would be over $90,000 a year. We wouldn’t be involved in three wars; we wouldn’t have troops in 144 countries; the federal State wouldn’t take up one-third of the economy and the dollar wouldn’t have lost 99% of its value since the creation of the illegal Federal Reserve Bank (which is not federal, has no reserves and is not a bank). We wouldn’t have the misnamed “War on Drugs” and we certainly wouldn’t have the godawful TSA.

The fact we don’t have many of the good things and instead have many of the bad things comes from breaking the law. Or perhaps, I should write, Law.