Markets, Markets Everywhere

After most socialist revolutions the newly established burgeoisie (the revolutionaries who claimed to be fighting for the proletariat) begin monopolizing the economy. This monopolization involves the use of violence in an attempt to completely suppress markets. Shortly after the state begins its war on markets nasty periods of bread lines and starvation begin. As it turns out there is no way for the state to plan an economy and when it attempts to do so everything falls apart. Fortunately markets, which are nothing more than events of human economic interaction, cannot be suppressed and when things start turning south in a planned economy markets begin to spring up in spite of the law. An interesting editorial in the New York Times written by a North Korean expatriate explains who even in a totalitarian state like North Korea markets continue to be the salvation of the people:

Dialogue will never entice the regime to give up its nuclear weapons; the nuclear program is tightly linked to its survival. And talks will not lead to change over the long term; the regime sees them only as a tool for extracting aid. High-level diplomacy is no strategy for getting the regime to make economic reforms. The key to change lies outside the sway of the regime — in the flourishing underground economy.

All North Koreans depended for their very survival on a state rationing system until it collapsed in the mid-1990s. Its demise was due in part to the regime’s concentrated investment of funds in a “party economy” that maintained the cult of the Kims and lavished luxuries on an elite instead of developing a normal economy based on domestic production and trade. Desperate people began to barter household goods for rice on the streets — and the underground economy was born. With thousands of people starving to death, the authorities had no option but to turn a blind eye to all the illegal markets that began to pop up.

Like the Soviet Union, North Korea now has a flourishing “underground” economy, which is the only thing preventing more people from starving to death. In fact the “underground” economy has become so rampant that party members have had to give up the ideals of socialism and involve themselves in markets.

Jang Jin-sung, the author, rightly points out that North Korea’s salvation from tyranny isn’t diplomacy, sanctions, or war. The country’s salvation lies in its markets. The only way to topple a regime is to take away its power and the only effective means of doing that, without establishing another regime in its place, is to starve it of resources. Socialist states such as North Korea monopolize the economy because it gives them unfettered access the nation’s resources. Instead of burdening the general population with taxes socialist states merely claim that the best way for everybody to flourish is if the entire economy is controlled by the ruling class (which is ironic when you consider the philosophical reason for socialism is supposedly to overthrow the ruling class and empower all people).

Although they probably don’t realize it the people in North Korea who are participating in the “underground” economy are agorists. Agorism is a simple idea where the people withhold resources from the state by participating in an “underground” economy. Through this practice the state is starved of resources and loses its legitimacy in the eyes of the people. Who is going to suffer a state when it does nothing but take resources? The people of North Korea can be saved but it is up to them. No outside force is going to save them. At most an outside force, such as the United States, would merely topple the current regime and put another, possibly more brutal, regime in its place. If the North Korean people can topple the regime by depriving the state of resources they will come out with a functioning economy already in place and have no need to suffer another regime.

The State Always Wants a Cut of the Action

There are several givens in life. Placing your hand on a hot stove will result in a great deal of pain and the state always wants a cut of the action. Cannabis legalization in Colorado may be going back to the drawing board. It’s not because there has been an uptick in violent crime, it’s because the state wants a cut:

The proposal for a marijuana ballot measure came as the House started debate Friday evening on bills to regulate and tax pot. One bill would state how pot should be grown and sold, and the other would tax recreational marijuana more than 30 percent.

A draft bill floating around the Capitol late this week suggests that a new ballot question on pot taxes should repeal recreational pot in the state constitution if voters don’t approve 15 percent excise taxes on retail pot and a new 15 percent marijuana sales tax. Those would be in addition to regular state and local sales taxes.

Give the state a 15% (which will increase over time) cut or it will make cannabis illegal again. There are no permanent victories when you rely on the political process. All that can be achieved are temporary victories that can be revoked on a politician’s whim. This is why I don’t rely on politics to achieve anything. By relying on politics you’re giving tacit permission to the state to regulate. Since the political means was used to legalize cannabis now the state believes it has a right to tax cannabis sales. If advocates of cannabis legalization doesn’t agree the state will merely make cannabis illegal again and the fight will start from square one. Civil disobedience works because it exploits the state’s biggest weakness, public opinion. When people see the state isn’t all seeing they become more willing to disobey its decrees and the state, therefore, has a vested interest in maintaining its omniscient image and is more apt to decriminalize behaviors that people are partaking in in spite of the law.

What if the Boston Bombers Used Rifles Instead of Improvised Explosives

The New Yorker posted an article asking if things would have been different if Boston bombers used rifles instead of bombs. Although the author tries to appear as though he’s not trying to write an anti-gun post he states:

Well, for one thing, the brothers would probably have killed a lot more than three people at the marathon. AR-15s can fire up to forty-five rounds a minute, and at close range they can tear apart a human body. If the Tsarnaevs had started firing near the finish line, they might easily have killed dozens of spectators and runners before fleeing or being shot by the police.

What the author doesn’t note is the other side of the coin. If the Boston bombers used rifles the death toll may have been lower because the police, who had a strong presences at the marathon, would have had identifiable targets and been able to engage them quickly. If the event happened in a state with less gun control the aggressors may could have been engaged even faster.

Engaging bombers is difficult because you need to catch them before they can plant their explosive devices. Once the explosives are in place it’s very difficult to intervene, especially in a crowded area. Aggressors using firearms on the other hand can be engaged during their act. The engagement time can also be reduced by increasing the number of armed individuals in the area.

In an unrelated subject I would also like to point out a pet peeve of mind:

Here’s a little mental experiment. Imagine, for a moment, that the Tsarnaev brothers, instead of packing a couple of pressure cookers loaded with nails and explosives…

The author, like so many others, has apparently judged the Tsarnaev brothers as guilty even though the trial hasn’t begun. Claiming somebody is guilty of a crime before a trail has concluded is one of those things that annoys me. One should always been presumed innocent until they have either confessed to the crime (without being coerced into it or offered a sweetheart plea bargain designed to get a confession without establishing guilt) or have been found guilty by a jury trial. This is why I used the term “Boston bombers” instead of “the Tsarnaev brothers.”

I Love Virtual Machines

I can’t describe in words how much I love virtual machines. When I made the virtual OpenBSD server that hosts this website I stupidly made the partition holding this website too small. Needless to say the tiny partition was filling up fast and I need to expand it. With a physical machine this could be a daunting task because screwing up would mean really screwing up. Fortunately on a virtual machine I need only take a snapshot of the server in a working condition before fiddling with things and I know no matter how badly I screw up salvation is only a snapshot restore away. The first time I attempted to expand the partition I royally screwed it up and the server would no longer boot. My second attempt was far more successful. The partition holding this website is now, as far as OpenBSD is concerned, on its own drive. Putting the partition on a separate virtual drive will make it easier to expand in the future when the need arises.

Enjoying the Weather

What you’re reading right now is the culmination of my efforts to blog this weekend. Here in Minnesota this weekend marked the first weekend where the weather didn’t suck. Because of this I enjoyed my freedom to move outside again by spending my time at the beach and on my mountain bike. Effectively this blog has been delayed due to weather.

Have a nice day and I may post some content later.

Who Needs that Much Ammunition

Gun control advocates often freak out when they hear how much ammunition some of us gun owners keep in stock, especially when we shoot competitively. Usually they ask, “Who needs that much ammunition?!” It seems that gun control advocates aren’t the only people asking that question, some members of the state are wondering why other members of the state are buying so much ammunition:

Democratic Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., at the opening of the hearing, ridiculed the concerns as “conspiracy theories” which have “no place” in the committee room.

But Republicans said the purchases raise “serious” questions about waste and accountability.

Chaffetz, who chairs one of the House oversight subcommittees holding the hearing Thursday, revealed that the department currently has more than 260 million rounds in stock. He said the department bought more than 103 million rounds in 2012 and used 116 million that same year — among roughly 70,000 agents.

Comparing that with the small-arms purchases procured by the U.S. Army, he said the DHS is churning through between 1,300 and 1,600 rounds per officer, while the U.S. Army goes through roughly 350 rounds per soldier.

He noted that is “roughly 1,000 rounds more per person.”

“Their officers use what seems to be an exorbitant amount of ammunition,” he said.

It’s rather strange when the military purchases less ammunition per solider than the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) buys per office. Don’t get me wrong, I will often go through more than 1,300 rounds in a shooting season but I’m also footing my own ammunition bill and using my ammunition for sport. In the case of DHS they are expropriating wealth from the general populace to pay for their ammunition purchases and using it to arm agents whose primary job is to expropriate wealth from the general populace. If their agents are going to use ammunition to steal from people they could at least foot the ammunition bill themselves.

Cooking the Books

I have some good news, the United States economy is going to show some improvement soon. I also have some bad news, the only reason the economy is going to show some improvement is because the state is going to manipulate the gross domestic produce (GDP) numbers again:

The U.S. government is about to tweak the way it measures the economy, and some of the biggest changes will affect the entertainment industry.

Under the current system, Sichel told me, Lady Gaga’s sales of concert tickets, online songs and CDs all count toward gross domestic product. But the value of the time she spends in the studio working on new songs isn’t counted. That’s about to change.

This is why one cannot rely on numbers put out by the state. When the numbers begin to look bad the state just cooks the books to make things appear better than they are. That’s why reported unemployment is around 7 to 8 percent but real unemployment is around 22 to 23 percent.

The Hypocrisy of Background Checks

There is a great deal of hypocrisy in the state demanding non-state gun buyers submit to background checks. Why should we be expected to submit to a background check when arms of the state are actively blocking an investigation into an operation that involves multiple state departments smuggling guns to Mexican drug cartels:

President Barack Obama is resisting a congressional subpoena for documents related to how the administration responded to the revelation of the failed operation known as “Fast and Furious” on the U.S.- Mexican border. It has already turned over thousands of pages of documents about the operation itself.

Justice Department lawyer Ian Gershengorn told a hearing the matter was best left to the give-and-take of the U.S. government’s two elected branches, the president and Congress, and should not be a matter for the courts.

“That is how it has worked for 225 years,” said Gershengorn, referring to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson was skeptical and told Gershengorn, “There are three branches here, not just two.” She did not say how she would rule, but questioned Gershengorn for more than twice as long as she did House of Representatives lawyer Kerry Kircher.

If gun control advocates want to prevent gun violence they should focus their attention on the biggest perpetrator of gun violence, the state.

The Dwindling PC Market

It’s not secret that the personal computer (PC) market isn’t doing so well:

According to research firm IDC, things are not looking great for the PC industry. The firm says that PC sales saw “the steepest decline ever in a single quarter” this year (excluding tablets and notebooks with a removable screen or keyboard), down 13.9 percent to 76.3 million from the same quarter last year. If you’ll recall, thats more than double the loss the industry experienced in the fourth quarter of 2012, which saw a 6.4 percent decline. Back in January, IDC noted that sales declined year-to-year during the holiday season the first time in more than five years. Today’s newly reported results from IDC mark the fourth consecutive quarter that PC shipments have fallen.

Everybody in the industry is scrambling to find the culprit. Some analysts are blaming Windows 8 while others are blaming the popularity of mobile phones and tablets. What few analysts appear to be looking at is the bloody obvious. Most people I know have a computer that is several years old. Hell, I purchased my last desktop in August of 2006. While I did recently upgraded to a new MacBook Pro the only reason I did so was because my old laptop’s memory controller was failing and replacing that (which means replacing the motherboard) was expensive enough to make a new laptop seem like a smarter way to go. In fact I don’t know a single person who has recently upgraded their computer. Why? Because the current system they’re running is good enough.

Herein lies the secret to the declining PC market, most people who want a computer already have one and have little reason to upgrade until their system dies. Modern computers are powerful enough to serve the needs of most users. Who needs an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a blazing fast graphics card for reading e-mail and looking at Facebook? Nobody, that’s who. The PC market is saturated. People aren’t upgrading as frequently because they don’t need to. The people who are upgrading are usually replacing machines that are so old that they’ve finally broken or are too slow to perform some task or another.

Computers are tools and so long as a tool gets the job done in a satisfactory manner most people aren’t motivated to replace it with something newer. It’s as simple as that.

The Ouroboros of War

People in this country often assume that the people labeled terrorists hate us because of our freedom. It’s an absurd concept on the surface. Why would people in a foreign country give a damn about the freedoms a person living in a foreign country enjoys? Unless they have nothing else to worry about they most likely are going to invest their time, money, and lives on such matters. If the terrorists don’t hate us because of our freedoms then why do they hate us? It’s simple, our government is bombing them:

For the first time, a civilian affected by a US drone strike in Yemen has testified before members of Congress. Farea al-Muslimi, an American-educated Yemeni journalist whose home village of Wessab had been attacked by a US drone just six days prior, went before the Senate’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights yesterday, during a special hearing on the effects of America’s secret drone wars on civilian populations and the US rule of law. But despite previous commitments, representatives of the Obama administration were notably absent.

“The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine,” said Muslimi to the bipartisan panel of US Senators, which included committee chair Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Al Franken (D-MN). The strike killed six people including its intended target, Hamid Radman al Manea, a local man suspected to have ties with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula (AQAP). Muslimi was not an eyewitness to the strike, but he claims that the man was well-known around his home town and could have easily been arrested by local authorities — seemingly at odds with the US government’s legal position that drone strikes are only justified when capture is “unfeasible.”


Muslimi described his experience living in America as having changed his life, and has spoke highly of the US to his fellow Yemenis ever since his return. “Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time,” he said, describing the anger he has seen play into the hands of terrorist recruiters. “What the violent militants previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant… This is not an isolated instance. Drone strikes are the face of America to many Yemenis.”

Most people remember how they felt during 9/11. First they were shocked then, after the shock wore off, they became angry. The same thing happened after the bombing in Boston, people were first in a state of shock and became angry afterward. It’s no different for people living in other parts of the world. When an American drone bombs a village and takes out several children along with the target the people of that community, especially the people who knew the victims, become furious. They want justice, they want to strike back at the monster that struck their community.

War is a self-feeding cycle. One group bombs another group, the other group bombs the first group back, the first group retaliates for the other group’s bombing by bombing them back, the other group retaliates for the first group’s retaliation, and so on. Eventually everybody is either dead or one side is out of soldiers, ordinance, or willpower to continue the fight. Nobody really wins. Sure, one group gets to declare victory but their victory only came at a tremendous cost.

Considering the fact that the United States is bombing people in the Middle East is it any surprise that the bombing in Boston was likely a retalitatory strike:

The two suspects in the Boston bombing that killed three and injured more than 260 were motivated by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials told the Washington Post.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, “the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack,” the Post writes, citing “U.S. officials familiar with the interviews.”

Patriotic folk are usually quick to say “We’re bombing military targets, they’re bombing civilian targets. It’s completely different!” That sentiment is bullshit. The United States has been targeting specific individuals and hasn’t made a notable attempt to avoid taking out innocent bystanders in its quest. Instead of using snipers or other assassins to take out targets in a manner that carriers minimal risk to bystanders the United States has taken the lazy route of dropping Hellfire missiles on suspects (since there is no trial to affirm guilt the people being bombed are merely suspects). Then, to compound its stupidity, it drops another bomb to ensure the target’s death and often kills emergency responders who arrive to care for the victims of the initial blast. There is no notable difference between bombing suspects with drones and the tactics of the people labeled by the state as terrorists.

Another thing often said by patriotic folk is “They’re targeting civilians, we’re not!” Ironically these are the same people who blame all Muslims and Middle Easterners for the actions of a handful of individuals. These bombers were likely patriotic folk themselves and, like patriotic folk here, lay the blame for the actions of a handful of American individuals on all Americans. In other words they don’t see their actions as targeting civilians just as many patriotic folk here don’t see dropping bombs from drones on civilian populations as targeting civilians. When you assign blame collectively don’t be surprised when your enemy does the same.

So here we sit. The government which claims to represent us has declared war on the people of the Middle East. Knowing they cannot win a conventional war they have opted to use the only tactic that has been effective at fighting the United States, fourth generation warfare. Many people here claim that the Muslims, Middle Easterners, or Muslim Middle Easterners are attacking us and we need to attack them back. When the people of the Middle East are attacked they claim that the Americans are attack them and see the need to return the favor. This cycle will continue until one side either wises the hell up or runs the other out of resources. Unless the United States does the former the people we call terrorists will do the latter. Until one of those two conditions are met the cycle will continue, bombs will be dropped, people will die, and demands for revenge will continue.