A Quick Example

I work in a small town, where the municipal building and the post office are connected. I ran to the post office today for the second time, and, just like the first time, it felt really strange.

This time, though, I figured it out: the number of signs. I quickly counted the number of signs in the parking lot, which was 17. Then I counted the number of parking spaces, which was 49. That’s right, there was a sign for every three parking spaces: yield signs, stop signs, no parking signs, handicapped parking signs, and street signs (in a fucking parking lot). Worse yet, I was there on the lunch hour, and there were maybe a dozen cars in the lot, three signs for every two cars.

They don’t trust that you can figure your way around a parking lot the size of a small backyard. Do you think they’re going to trust you with your life, citizen?

Root Causes

At the Lewrockwell.com blog, Daniel McAdams notes some disconnects in regards to Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s recent firing:

Said Rumsfeld, “The first war of the 21st century is not well-known, it was not well-understood, it is complex for people to comprehend.”

OK, I’ll bite. One: US participation in this new kind of war has in duration nearly surpassed US participation in World War II. Is that not enough time to adequately explain to the American people the nature of this new kind of war? And if after all that time they still cannot comprehend it, one can only wonder if the flaw is in the terminally stupid student, or an incompetent teacher.

Two, and most important. If Bush and Rumsfeld were so determined to redirect our understanding of this war away from the old, WWII model and to a new kind of thinking, exactly why is it that both Bush and Rumsfeld continuously cite World War II when explaining the the war on Iraq and Afghanistan?

Let’s see what kinds of answers we can find to those questions. The “student” in this case (the electorate) isn’t necessarily terminally stupid, but definitely has no incentive at all to pay serious attention to the Iraq war. Think for a second: do you get a better Iraq war if you pay attention to it? No, you get whatever Iraq war that this government serves up. You can devote all the time and effort you care to into studying military history and tactics, Arab culture, or what have you, and at the end of the day you get the same Iraq war as everyone else.

The “teachers” in McAdams’ analogy (the various elected government officials) not only have to “teach” such students, but at the same time have to deal with the fact that their students can fire them every couple of years. Faced with an overwhelmingly uneducable “student body” that has veto power over their jobs, is it any wonder that the “teachers” devote far more time to placating the students than trying to teach them? What kind of school lets the students continue to attend if they openly refuse to learn, anyway?

It’s no wonder that Rumsfeld and Bush tried to sell the Iraq war as another World War 2: that war holds an enormous amount of emotional sway with the voters. Unlike conficts since then, in the eyes of the voters, WW2 had a Good Side and a Bad Side and the Good Side won decisively. There isn’t any of the moral ambiguity that’s present in later conflicts, and that’s what Bush & Co. are trying to harness with regards to the Iraq war.

McAdams seems content to leave this as it stands, simply pointing out the surface deceptions of the current administration. That’s fine, they’re liars and theives and as such deserve to be exposed. However, it’s well worth thinking about the root causes behind these lies: why does Bush lie so consitently and transparently? Why compare the Iraq war to WW2 when it’s clear that there is little to no substatial basis for comparison? The answer is, as usual, that that’s how the incentives are arranged. The lies that surround the Iraq war are a natural consequence of a representative democracy.

Attention Billy Beck: It’s Not The Democrats That Are The Problem

Billy Beck writes at his blog :

“The Cold War” is not “over”, socialism is not “dead”, and the Democrats will be an unprecedented disaster.

Beck implies that the Democrats will bring some sort of special evil to the table if they get elected. The problem with that idea is that this election, like all before it, will be an “unprecedented disaster” simply because whoever wins will have more power and a more-cowed populance than any of their predecessors, and they will in turn use those things to create more of the same. A majoritarian democratic government is controlled by positive feedback:

In every feedback loop, as the name suggests, information about the result of a transformation or an action is sent back to the input of the system in the form of input data. If these new data facilitate and accelerate the transformation in the same direction as the preceding results, they are positive feedback – their effects are cumulative. If the new data produce a result in the opposite direction to previous results, they are negative feedback – their effects stabilize the system. In the first case there is exponential growth or decline; in the second there is maintenance of the equilibrium.

Positive feedback leads to divergent behavior: indefinite expansion or explosion (a running away toward infinity) or total blocking of activities (a running away toward zero). Each plus involves another plus; there is a snowball effect. The examples are numerous: chain reaction, population explosion, industrial expansion, capital invested at compound interest, inflation, proliferation of cancer cells. However, when minus leads to another minus, events come to a standstill. Typical examples are bankruptcy and economic depression.

In either case a positive feedback loop left to itself can lead only to the destruction of the system, through explosion or through the blocking of all its functions. The wild behavior of positive loops – a veritable death wish – must be controlled by negative loops. This control is essential for a system to maintain itself in the course of time.

More government interference in individuals’ lives leads to more clamoring for interference which leads to more elections won by those who promise government interference which leads to more interference. Repeat enough times, and soon enough, everyone is either a jailer, or in jail.

And we are heading just there. Beck’s implicit claim that the Democrats will be worse is like arguing over which brand of gasoline will make the fire worse – you might be right, but it doesn’t matter in the context. The fire’s going to be plenty bad enough no matter which one gets poured on it.

The problem with pouring gasoline on a fire isn’t making sure that you choose the one with an anti-knock additive, and the problem with this election isn’t the Democrats. The problem with this election is democracy.

Beck On Immigration

Billy Beck writes:

Milton Friedman (getting a lot of play here today) was entirely, simply, correct when he said, “You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.”

Following Beck’s link to VDARE we find the full quote:

Q: Dr. Friedman should the U.S.A. open its borders to all immigrants? What is your opinion on that?

A: Unfortunately no. You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.

Friedman is saying that as long as welfare state exists in America, as it clearly does today, individuals should be restrained from freely crossing the borders.

Beck:

As a general principle, I say, “The more, the merrier.” The thing that I insist on is that they come here to be Americans, like my great-grandfather did.

But what right does Beck have to insist anything of an individual for crossing a line on a map unless that line marks his personal property?

And what does it mean to “be Americans” anyway? Are Du Toit and McPhillips being Americans when they champion collective politics, or does Beck insist they leave?

Libertarian Conspiracy in Full Swing

Liberal meathead Alan Wolfe writes in “Why Conservatives Can’t Govern”:

[R]ight-wing pundits are furiously blaming right-wing politicians for failing to adhere to right-wing convictions. Libertarians such as Bruce Bartlett fret that under Republican control, government has not shrunk, as conservatives prescribe, but has grown. Insiders like Peggy Noonan complain that Republicans have become–well, insiders; they are too focused on retaining power and too disconnected from the base whose anger pushed them into power. Idealistic younger conservatives bewail the care and feeding of the K Street beast. Paleocons Pat Buchanan and Robert Novak blame neocons William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer for the debacle that is Iraq.

All of which is true. But why is it that conservatives can’t govern? Simply, because they’re all nihilist libertarians:

Contemporary conservatism is first and foremost about shrinking the size and reach of the federal government. This mission, let us be clear, is an ideological one. It does not emerge out of an attempt to solve real-world problems, such as managing increasing deficits or finding revenue to pay for entitlements built into the structure of federal legislation. It stems, rather, from the libertarian conviction, repeated endlessly by George W. Bush, that the money government collects in order to carry out its business properly belongs to the people themselves. One thought, and one thought only, guided Bush and his Republican allies since they assumed power in the wake of Bush vs. Gore: taxes must be cut, and the more they are cut–especially in ways benefiting the rich–the better.

Ooh, you liberals are so smart. You caught us! That’s right, we sneaked a full-throated, red-blooded libertarian into the White House while you guys were laughing it up about his language blunders. And now he’s implementing the libertarian agenda: tax cuts for the rich and pork for the rich!

Despite the fact that Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Bush the Younger have all presided over massive increases in federal spending, proposed and signed legislation expanding the welfare, warfare, and regulatory state, and played the Great Game in various regions of the world, the real problem is that they’re all closet libertarians. Call me crazy, but perhaps the problem is that conservatives don’t actually want smaller government, but want votes from those who do. You know, like the liberals who promise black people salvation through government while destroying their communities?

Conservatives have been walking and talking like big government people for a long time, with the occasional nod to tax cuts. Are liberals so dumb that they take conservative politicians at their (occasional) word?

The Perils Of Partisan Politics, Part II

Among other dangers: trying so hard to score points during a publicity stunt that you fail to see how much of a fool you’re making of yourself.

Tim Eyman, in a stunt that was not wholly unexpected, arrived at the state elections division building Monday dressed as Darth Vader and wielding a plastic light saber. Missing were the petitions full of signatures in support of an effort to overturn the state’s new gay civil-rights law.

Memo to Tim Eyman: Darth Vader was the bad guy.

The Five To Ten Percent Solution

Lysander Spooner estimated that no more than 5-10% of the American population was even eligible to vote at the time the Constitution was framed and ratified. In his own time less than 20% of the population could vote.

In the very nature of things, the act of voting could bind nobody but the actual voters. But owing to the property qualifications required, it is probable that, during the first twenty or thirty years under the Constitution, not more than one-tenth, fifteenth, or perhaps twentieth of the whole population (black and white, men, women, and minors) were permitted to vote. Consequently, so far as voting was concerned, not more than one-tenth, fifteenth, or twentieth of those then existing, could have incurred any obligation to support the Constitution.

At the present time [1869], it is probable that not more than one-sixth of the whole population are permitted to vote. Consequently, so far as voting is concerned, the other five-sixths can have given no pledge that they will support the Constitution.

2. Of the one-sixth that are permitted to vote, probably not more than two-thirds (about one-ninth of the whole population) have usually voted. Many never vote at all. Many vote only once in two, three, five, or ten years, in periods of great excitement.

Even if there had been unanimous support for ratification of the Constitution among voters that would have been roughly the same percentage of the population that voted for Ross Perot in 1992. And Perot finished a distant third.

Yet constitutionalists pretend that this small minority was somehow entitled to bind all Americans in an eternal social contract.

Spooner’s critique doesn’t end here of course, he’s just getting warmed up. In No Treason he systematically demolishes any hope for the idea of legitimate Constitutional authority.

The State Legislator is the Child Grown Strong

Missouri Lawmaker Seeks to Ban Cold Beer Sales

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A state senator wants to force Missouri stores to sell warm beer. Under a bill by Sen. Bill Alter, grocery and convenience stores would risk losing their liquor licenses if they sold beer colder than 60 degrees. The intent is to cut down on drunken driving by making it less tempting to pop open a beer after leaving the store.

“The only reason why beer would need to be cold is so that it can be consumed right away,” Alter, who has been a police offer for more than 20 years, said Thursday.

He said the idea came from a fifth-grade student in Jefferson County who was participating in a program to teach elementary students about state government. He sought their suggestions for new laws and chose the cold beer ban from a list of the top three ideas.

There are a few things disturbing about this article:

1. “He [the state senator] sought their [fifth-graders] suggestions for new laws…” A state senator is asking ten-year olds for ideas about law? What’s next, state-provided Mountain Dew fountains in public places?

2. Hey, I like cold beer. Fuck you, pal.

3. Does anyone actually crack a beer open on the ride home? And if they do, is that enough to get anyone drunk enough to cause an accident? Come on.

4. I really like cold beer. Double fuck you, pal.

Hat tip: The Agitator

Bush Gets It Right

Maximum Leader Bush finally gets it right:

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in [the PATRIOT Act] undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

Correct, which is why you have no just authority.

Consent of About Half

[T]o secure [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . Declaration of Independence.

As a market anarchist, I have no problem with this statement.

The problem is when “consent of the governed” actually isn’t consent. Iraq’s constitution is a good example of “consent” in action. 63% of Iraq’s adult populace turned out, 78% voted in favour. That’s 49%. 49% of the adult population just bound the other 51% (and their children) to a form of governance they did not choose, and in 2.5m cases, actively rejected. This is consent of the governed?

We are the people of Iraq, who in all our forms and groupings undertake to establish our union freely and by choice . . . Preamble, Constitution of Iraq, AP translation (emphasis mine).

Or not, as the case may be.

Cry Me A River

Creepy liberal bloggers, not content with having thrown all those Soros millions down the toilet, must have more and newer equipment to battle Bushitler! See them whine vigorously here. A sampling of a few of the more hilarious excerpts:

I decided to take the laptop out for a spin, because I had some errands to run and I’m having dnner in Hoboken with friends. So I wouldn’t have time to go home. Besides,this sucker needs a field test before summer. My current laptop bag config needs adjusting. Toshibas run large, so while what I had was fine for a ThinkPad, it’s a tight fit for my new Toshiba. Which means yet another new bag.The laptop bag I have is fine for day trips, but would be uncomfortable on a DC/Boston trip, much less going out West. It won’t fit my Tom Bihn laptop case, for one thing, and that’s an essential for distance travel.

Oh noes! Laptop/bag incompatibility! The suspicious observer will note that the fighting liberal in the photo seems to actually be using a Apple PowerBook, and one of the pricier examples at that – but maybe ol’ George can be persuaded that it’s actually a late-nineties 386 Compac!

Okay, here comes the pitch, boys and girls:

I had dinner with Bob Brigham, executive director of BlogPAC. Technically, since I’m a board member, he works for me. And I explained how he was consistently broke working in Democratic politics.To the point where he didn’t have a working laptop.

When I said it was silly he didn’t have access to a $2000 laptop, people thought that was a bit pricey.

Well, let me explain. When Bob goes on the road for us, or we have people at a conference, they need to have reliable equipment. Jen occasionally goes on the road and has a ThinkPad. Her work machine is about $3K. Why? Because when she shows up as a lawyer, she needs a lawyer’s machine. Something powerful enough to conduct a road show. Now, she doesn’t do it much, but she does it.

A lawyer’s machine! Not some two-bit piece of crap the likes of which must satisfy the common herd. “She doesn’t do much, but she does it – and she needs to do it in style”

Now here’s the classic part, right here. Watch where the pea goes under the cup, now:

When we eventually go to the money people, we need to be professional. We need to have a professional plan, with professional people willing to do professional work. This bake sale mentality is no longer acceptable.

And do you know how I came to this conclusion?

From listening to you.

For years, I tried to cut corners. And finally, you guys said “get new equipment, it will make things easier. You won’t have to worry about your machines andit won’t eat up time.”

Your generousity made me see things differently.

Yes, I, Steve, only want this extra stuff because you told me you want it! All those cards and letters begging me to upgrade! I’ve resisted as long as I could but in the end I am but liberalism’s humble suffering servant! Now send in those dollars – after all, I’m just doing what you want and have already agreed to!”

Here we have people who believe (or want us to think they believe) that Bush and the Republicans are the equivilent of Hitler and the Nazis – but they won’t even think about hitting Omaha Beach without getting that tacky old ThinkPad replaced.

It’s nice to know, though, that their basic dishonesty extends even to their dealings with each other.