Is Individuality Necessary for Social Order?

What does it mean to be organized? Usually it means “stuff” is defined based on it’s individual characteristics, and put in a place based on that classification.

We organize our desk by recognizing pens, pencils, and markers as writing utensils, and putting them in the drawer. Then we categorize pencils, pens, and markers separately based on their individual characteristics, and put them on the left, middle, and right. Continue reading

True Utopia: Communism versus Anarcho-Capitalism (Part I)

There is a “South Park” episode (season 9 episode 2) where hippies start to take over the tiny animated mountain town in Colorado. As the hippies begin to form the second Woodstock, they convince the protagonists, four fourth grade boys, that “the corporations” are the source of all problems in the world. The boys want to do something about it, so they hang with the hippies waiting to take action. Finally the boys get the hippies to describe their vision for a utopian society.

Stan: So it seems like we have enough people now, when do we start taking down the corporations?

Hippie: Yea man the corporations, right now they’re raping the world for money.

Kyle: Yea, so where are they, let’s go get them.

Hippie: Right now we’re proving that we don’t need corporations, we don’t need money. This can become a commune where everyone just helps each other.

Hippie: Yea we’ll have one guy who like, who like makes bread, and one guy who like, looks out for other people’s safety.

Stan: You mean like a baker and a cop?

Hippie: No, no can’t you imagine a place where people live together and like provide services for each other in exchange for their services?

Kyle: Yea its called a town.

Hippie: You kids just haven’t been to college yet…

This exchange perfectly exemplifies the difference between a fairly tale, and a truly obtainable “utopia” if you want to call it that. There are two ideas that are basically on the opposite end of the political spectrum, but are actually pretty similar in the desired outcome. Communism is the end game for what some imagine to be a perfect society based on cooperation and togetherness, but lacking incentives that would make the society function absent of force.

The problem is that communism would require an interim dictatorship, and dictators never give up power. Instead this interim government would never hand the reigns back to the people, but continue to use force and “righteous ideas” to promote and extend their own power. Even if they did hand the control back however, not enough would be produced to sustain the society. We know this from examples like Plymouth Plantation where people starved working together, until they adopted an every man for himself philosophy. Then the colony thrived.

The second idea could attain a very similar society to what communists dream of, but include incentives for production, and exclude force, or a regulatory authority or government. Anarcho-capitalism is the idea that everything in society for which there is a market or demand would be provided by those seeking to profit, even absent an organizational authority. So when the hippie talks about his ideal commune having, like, some guy that bakes bread and some guy that looks out for safety, he is thinking of these people as willing volunteers, not expecting any reward, other than what everyone else gets.

The obvious problem is that if everyone gets the same reward for different amounts of effort, the effort people put in will quickly diminish, and not enough will be produced to provide for the entire society. Anarcho-capitalism doesn’t depend on people doing things out of the goodness of their heart, it depends on people specializing in a skill in order to trade that skill for the products of another person’s labor. So everyone doesn’t have to bake their own bread, and provide their own security, they can specialize in baking bread, and trade that bread for security. Money just streamlines this process so that you don’t have to trade a physical loaf of bread, instead using a placeholder.

But the hippies imagine a society where no one goes hungry and everyone is taken care of. In an anarcho-capitalist society there would be so much extra that everyone would in fact be taken care of. How do I know this? Simply from studying the most free markets that have existed, and extrapolating from there. Right now enough extra is produced in America so that “poor” Americans now live the life that “the rich” once lived. Cell phones, heat, electricity, air conditioning, vehicles, alcohol, material comforts, free time, and access to healthcare are all things that the poor enjoy in the United States. Not because the government magically provides these things, but because there is enough extra produced from a free-ish market.

If these things were simply provided by government, then why is there so much more poverty in some parts of Africa and Central and South America where governments have no problem mandating generous redistributions of wealth? The answer is that stability provides incentives to produce more. If you know that when you grow a field of wheat, almost all of it will be taken, you are much less likely to grow that wheat. In America, there is a relative guarantee that you can keep (part) of what you produce, so we have incentive to produce more. This incentive decreases with every tax hike, every bailout, and every dollar borrowed or printed by government. As the incentive fades, so does the production. This happens on a continuum, which is why our economy is slowly bleeding to death with every government intervention.

So it makes sense that if the closer we got to a free market, the more extra there was, that in the most free market possible with nothing being taken by force, more would be produced. Why not grow more wheat if you know that you get to trade every single grain for your benefit? But don’t take an individual’s benefit as negating others’ benefits—after all there is a field of wheat where a dirt lot could have stood.

So instead of a government that automatically takes 40-50% of your labor, and the products of that labor, you have a society where each individual controls where his or her extra labor and production goes. The fact that there is no siphoning body like the government provides two-fold benefits, they aren’t taking the extra product, and because they are not taking it, the population produces more. So now the government is not there to take anything from the laborers, and this leads each laborer to make more of whatever they make.

The control in this society would be with the individuals, and that is what does not sit well with those who want a communist utopia. Many people cannot stand to think that a person could be greedy if they chose, and instead prefer a body which can use force to control producers. The inevitable effect of this force is less being produced, and therefore less to go around. When this production is not confiscated however, that extra will find its way into the hands of those who need it, instead of into the hands of government cronies like corrupt corporations, and unproductive bureaucrats.

So if the hippies could just let go, chill out, and give up their desire for control, we could get pretty damn close to their utopia. After all, aren’t communists really interested in freeing the laborer? What could be better than allowing an individual laborer to keep the entirety of what he or she produces? What could be better than freeing the individual from being forced by the government to give money to corporations in the form of bailouts, grants, and subsidies?

And guess what, no one’s going to let the wheat they worked hard to grow wither in the fields. Tomorrow I will discuss how that wheat (or whatever necessities) will get to everyone that needs it in an anarcho-capitslist society, therefore obtaining the utopia of which communists can only dream.

Grunwald: Big Government Can Solve All Problems/ Should Kill Julian Assange

We all know from watching TV news that the right is violent, angry, and vengeful, while the left is open-minded, peace-loving, and accepting. But one reporter didn’t seem to get the memo, as the liberal confessed he couldn’t wait for the drone assassination of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, so that he could write a piece defending the strike. Perhaps that was Michael Grunwald’s reaction to the praise Assange poured on Ron and Rand Paul as being the last hope for America, or Assange’s statement that the libertarian aspect of the Republican party is the only useful voice in congress. One thing is for certain, that Grunwald has added yet another piece of anecdotal evidence to the argument that liberals can in fact be hateful and intolerant of their political opponents, as the media (which Grunwald is a part of) often claims of conservatives. According to the Daily Caller, the following was tweeted by Michael Grunwald.

grunwald

Obviously anyone could be hateful and call for the death of what they see as their political enemies, but I don’t like that liberals often get a pass on this one, as if the Tea Party are the militants the media portrays them as, and liberals just want world peace. Wishing for a drone strike to take out Julian Assange, who has alerted the world public to abuses of power by the U.S. government, is not a very tolerant attitude. What people forget about liberals like Grunwald is that for them, the ends justify the means; it doesn’t matter how much evil happens in the pursuit of utopia, because the evil is necessary to bring about good. This of course includes the belief that a utopia can be brought about on earth.

Personally I believe that the Constitution laid out a very good system of government. But often liberals will frame an argument by showing flaws in a system, and claiming to know the solution, while ignoring flaws in the alternative system they put forward. For instance many will criticize capitalism for injustices and inequality which the system allows, without bringing up the fact that capitalism is a means for providing as many people as possible with the food, clothing, and shelter they need. But for the liberals they do not have to put a legitimate solution forward, they just have to point out the weaknesses in the current system. Could there be something better than capitalism? Sure, but until that system is designed and explained logically, I have to believe that capitalism should remain the dominant economic system.

Without realizing it many liberals are in favor of a statist solution, crony capitalism where the government can regulate the economy as opposed to the free market regulating the economy. They want a strong government that will eliminate criminals so that no one is victimized, and never make a false arrest. But in their arguments for a strong centralized big government, they use the best case scenario. They argue as if every member of the government will be moral and competent. They argue as if it would be impossible for some evil sociopath to come to power and fulfill his ulterior motives. It becomes not an assessment of which system would work better, but an argument for a utopia, against a system with flaws. The flaws in their own system are ignored.

Capitalism it is said, is controlled by the 1% (which would be about 3 million Americans). Big government however is controlled by 535 members of congress, 17 executives including the President, and 9 supreme court justices. That is .000187% of Americans in control, instead of 1%. Even if you include the 2.6 million bureaucrats in the government control scenario, it is still less than 1% (only .87%) controlling the economy. In reality, in a free market system 100% of the people would control the economy, because only pieces of the economy that the market (and individuals making up the market) demands, would exist.

And the same reporter who wishes to defend a drone assassination on his political “enemy”, wrote a defense of big government earlier this year. In it Grunwald claims it is only big government standing in the way of rampant terrorism, regular mass shootings, unsafe working and living conditions, and discrimination. He says that individual rights need to be balanced with the government’s ability to quell these impending disasters which the free market would hoist upon us. Obviously the government needs to be even bigger than it is now to solve these problems, which still exist in a country with a government that uses a quarter of the entire production of our country to govern. And apparently Grunwald thinks that corruption, misallocation of resources, or human error will not be a problem when the government is big enough to protect us from everything scary about the world.

We know our government is fallible, because it’s made up of people, but we still count on it to protect us from terrorists, from psychos with guns, from exploding factories. We also need it to protect us from floods and wildfires, from financial meltdowns and climate change. We can’t do that kind of thing ourselves.

And how’s the track record on that so far? The last financial meltdown was caused by the government. Benghazi, the Marathon, Aurora, Newton, an exploding factory and wildfires have all happened within a year, when the government is bigger then it ever has been. Do we just need it to be a little bigger? Have a little more power? Take a little more taxes? People like Grunwald pretend the government can do what it cannot, and pretend the private sector can’t do what it has always done: respond to a market demand. In a free market if people demand protection from those things, someone seeking profit will supply a solution. The “evil” incentive of profit gets things done, while the “noble” government has nothing but the voters to enforce its responsibilities. When we vote with our dollars to get things done, the resources are directed in the most beneficial places according to what each individual wants to spend their money on. When we vote for politicians we are tricked with our own money into supporting and paying for things we would never consciously put a dollar towards on our own.

In Grunwald’s narrative the government is only big where it needs to be big: catching and questioning terrorists, preventing market failures (LOL), making sure only the government has “assault weapons designed for mass slaughter”. We are all just helpless individuals who could never organize ourselves enough to protect against our scary world. And the government will only suspend the rights of terrorists, will only prevent criminals from protecting themselves, will only strike down the evil corporations and there could never be any unintended victims.

Grunwald saved his “using-dead-children-to-make-you-feel-bad-if-you-disagree” tactic for the last couple paragraphs. It is so easy when there’s a name attached to the victim. Look at these dead kids who prove the flaws in our imperfect system, and ignore the millions of unnamed victims under our utopian government system. This is the mindset of the people who write your news, who run your government: look only at this one section of the story and never at the whole picture. Look only at these lives lost, and not at net lives saved. It is a good tactic for arguing for the support of the ignorant masses. It is a bad tactic if you actually want to make the world a better place.