Around the Web: Harvest moon over Uranus

Why? Because it’s Friday. My workweek this week happens to start (and hopefully not also end) on Saturday, a circumstance that would totally blow the minds of drive-time radio hosts across the land. Nevertheless, for everybody else, it’s Friday, one of the great days of Lenten fasting at the opposite time of the year, or so we’re instructed, but statistically a day to puke in gutters from Manayunk to the Gaslamp Quarter just like we did last week. Let’s get vulgar.

1. Books are good. Books are edifying. Books encourage us to slow down, focus, develop an attention span longer than that inculcated by lolcat videos, hone our intellects, and increase our funds of knowledge. Books like Boris the Shitting Buffalo.

The same author also maintains a blog, and Good Lord of the High Plains Hunt, the man is shrill. By his reckoning, picking crops commercially apparently isn’t enough to offset the great deficit of manliness that I incur by not being totally head-up about gubbyment taking my money to give food stamps to freeloaders, like the freeloaders who worked alongside me in a bee-infested blueberry patch earlier this month. I and my SNAP-addled colleagues all failed Aaron Clarey’s great manosphere political shit test, although it probably stood to reason for the two women in our group.

As it happens, I heard about Clarey through:

2. Roosh, a STEM dropout who makes a living, or pretends to make a living, by writing about his sex life, or maybe his imagined sex life, crowd-sourcing the sexual attractiveness of random women by posting their photographs on Twitter, deploying sexual slurs against ideological adversaries, and defending crashing long-term at his dad’s place when he isn’t traveling the world bedding its hotties.

A couple of fine self-serious chaps, I say.

3. More proof that any attempt to describe Charles Carreon will fall short of the glory of Charles Carreon:

In a 30-minute phone interview with Ars on Wednesday, Carreon lamented that, as a result of this entire sordid affair, his professional reputation has been damaged—or as he calls it, “rapeutated.” In fact, Carreon has a colorful website at that includes an elaborate chart with a new, long, and extensive list of all the so-called “rapeutationists,” including yours truly and two more Ars staffers. If you’d like to see a picture of Carreon’s critics—including an Ars Technica writer—spewing fecal matter out of their mouths, that too can be accommodated.

Quoth the avowed Buddhist:

“It’s an insoluble problem,” he continued. “It’s is not remediable. As long as you keep punching ‘Charles Carreon’ into Google, there’s just more stories about this nonsense. How can anyone get their message through? I’ve written hundreds of works. You can’t find them. Is that helpful? No. Now it’s difficult for prospective clients to see that I’m a relatively erudite person. Since then, some Amazon reviews of my books have, in bad faith, been given one star—I don’t sell many books anymore. Now it’s highly unlikely that anyone would say that Charles Carreon is a pretty bright guy.”

In the third person, no less. Carreon’s Buddhism isn’t compelling him to let go of his desires by making a concerted effort to pay the judgment already secured against him by his rapeutationists, but realize that he’s from Arizona (because, pursuant to his poetry, you don’t mess with the man from Tucson) by way of Ashland, Oregon, a city whose religious syncretism has never been the self-effacing kind. (Don’t ask me for details. I’ll be up all night if you do.)

4. Quick! Find the most efficient way to aggregate all manosphere tropes in a single essay!

4A. Miley Cyrus as symptom and cause of third-wave feminism.

Alternate explanation: Miley Cyrus, daughter of Billy Ray “Achy Breaky Heart” Cyrus, as vector of second-generation suck.

4B. Our boy Roosh again, in his capacity as patron of the preceding Return of Kings doubleheader:

Women and homosexuals are prohibited from commenting here. They will be immediately banned.

Oh yeah, a no homo manstuff pledge. This guy is as manly as Ted Haggard. And if his demeanor is any indication, he would have us believe that kings, he being among them, are effete, condescending, endlessly intoning about stupid hobbyhorses, and hyperlecherous misogynists.

Come to think of it, it’s served the Kennedy family well enough. God save the King from his flying, driving and skiing habits, or not.

A Note on Taxation

I have found it sensible to characterize taxation as a form of extortion. This is what it was when monarchs claimed that they owned the realm and everyone who occupied a part of it had to pay them for the privilege of utilizing it. Monarchs–at least many of them–believed that they own the country they happen to rule (because, some argued, God appointed them the caretaker of it). So if you make use of any portion, you need to pay them (taxes). It was just a “fee” extracted in return for the privilege of dipping into the monarch’s property.

Some reflections on the Right to Private Property

[Editor’s note: the following is an essay by Dr Tibor Machan, professor emeritus in the department of philosophy at Auburn University, and current holder of the R. C. Hoiles Chair of Business Ethics and Free Enterprise at the Argyros School of Business & Economics at Chapman University in Orange, California. He is also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and a former adjunct faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Machan is a syndicated and freelance columnist; author of more than one hundred scholarly papers and more than thirty books. We are extremely grateful for his generosity in regards to sharing this article.] 

Private Property Rights

The first step in the destruction of capitalism must be the abolition of the right to private property. Marx and Engels were clear about this in The Communist Manifesto. And many who sympathize with his idea of a socialist political economy agree. This is one reason many such thinkers and activists are champions of land use, eminent domain and related legal measures that render even the most personal of real property subject to extensive government control.

Of course, there are others who have argued that the right to private property is not only the basis for vigorous commerce but also the foundation of other individual rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press. It is arguably, in a somewhat roundabout way, the conceptual foundation of the right to freedom of political participation. Without some safe haven, one’s private domain, to return to after the vote has gone against one’s way, one will be vulnerable to the vindictiveness of the winners! And political advocacy without exclusive jurisdiction over one’s domain is difficult to imagine since advocacy, support and such political activities could not be carried out independently of other people’s permission.

Accordingly, it is no mere academic curiosity whether the idea of private property rights is well founded, sound, or just. Within American political and legal history there has been some confidence in the soundness of this principle but the basis of it has not gone unchallenged over the last two centuries. One need but consider the recent work by Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel, The Myth of Ownership, Taxes and Justice (Oxford University Press, 2001) to appreciate how vulnerable is that confidence. Indeed, it is mostly members of the discipline of economics who see merit in the idea of private property, and then not as a feature of justice but more as a feature of an efficient system of resource allocation.

Yet, there is reason to think that the right to private property is a good idea, that everyone should be understood to have this right and that the institutions built upon it should be preserved. Indeed, they should be extended into areas where other ideas have held sway (for example, environmental public law). Let us consider this idea, then, and see whether we can be confident in its validity as a sound political-legal concept. 

From Mixing Labor to Rewarding Good Judgment Continue reading

Around the Web

Hope y’all like the new layout of the blog. Take a few minutes to get comfortable. Take off your coat, your shoes and your troubles. Now have a glass of red wine and a look around.

  1. IRS specifically targets conservative Tea Party groups; So the Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein naturally defends the IRS for not doing more: Listen to the fascists sing
  2. Ken White has an update on the man who made the anti-Islamic film “The Innocence of Muslims”
  3. Dear life (gun control and gun violence). Again and again: gun violence has been declining for about two decades now.
  4. The Crushing of Middle Eastern Christianity
  5. A Brutal Peace: the Postwar Expulsion of the Germans
  6. Barack the buck-passer. A laudatory account of Obama’s foreign policy that I largely agree with.

How to Extirpate Poverty

To “extirpate” means to complete eliminate, from the Latin word meaning to pull out by stem and root. To extirpate poverty means to eliminate its cause, so that it does not come back. Fundamentally, poverty comes from a low wage level, so we need to examine what makes a wage level low.

The wage level of an economy can be thought of as the wages paid to unskilled people. Those with greater skill and talent get higher wages, so some think that the solution to poverty is better education. But a stagnant economy also depresses the return to human capital, the extra wage for those who are more productive. In a thriving productive economy, even those with few skills are better off than skilled labor in a depressed economy. Indeed, in an unproductive economy, those with skills often find little market for their human capital.

The wage level of an economy is set by marginal labor, those who work at the least productive land in use. The classical “law of wages” says that when workers are mobile, the wage at the margin of production will set the wage level for the rest of the economy.

The margin of production has several edges. There is the horizontal extensive margin of land that is just barely worth using, land so unproductive it fetches no rent. There is the vertical extensive margin of the space above a city, into which taller buildings can rise, without increasing the site rent. There is also the intensive margin of adding more workers to land already being used. The wage at the intensive margin will equalize to that of the extensive margin. Workers are paid what they add to production, which is called their marginal product. Continue reading

No Tax Favors for Government Employees

There should be no tax favors for the employees of governments. Tax breaks for “public service” amounts to a tax-free increase in their wages, which does not show up in the government’s budget. It is not just sneaky and unfair; it implements a political bias for government and against private enterprise.

In his “State of the Union” address, President Obama advocated debt forgiveness for students who obtain loans and then spend ten years as government employees. This is an expansion of debt cancellation programs that already exist. The College Cost Reduction Act, implemented in 2009, but enacted under President Bush, provides that loans backed by federal guarantees are forgiven after 10 years of public service in government as well as in nonprofit organizations. That program does not include private loans.

If the citizens wish to raise the wages of government employees, they should just do this by raising their money wage, rather than doing this implicitly with tax-free debt cancellations. But many government employees are already overpaid, as they not only get equal or better money wages than those in private enterprise, they often get early retirement and pensions almost the size of their salaries. Many states such as California have chronic large budget deficits because of the high cost of government employees.

What is superior about government work that entitles employees of the state special favors? Are they better people? Is government service intrinsically better than private-sector service? The term “public service” implies that government workers serve the public whereas those in private industry serve just themselves. Continue reading

Gold, Interest, and Land

Three seemingly unrelated variables are in fact deeply connected. Gold has been the most widely used money, and in a pure free market, gold would most likely come back as the real money. Free-market banking would mostly use money substitutes such as bank notes and bank deposits, but these could be exchanged for gold at a fixed rate. Free banking would combine price stability with money flexibility.

Interest is ultimately based on time preference, the tendency of most people to prefer present-day goods to future goods, due to our limited lifespan and the uncertainty of the future. In a free market, the rate of pure interest would be based on the interplay of savings and borrowing. Interest is not just income and payment, but has a vital job in the market economy. The job of the interest is to equilibrate or make equal the amounts of savings and borrowing. This also equalizes net savings (subtracting borrowing for consumption) and investment. Investment comes from savings, and the job of the interest rate is to make sure that net savings is invested. Continue reading