A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for November, 2015

Pfizer Joins The Ranks Of Intelligent Companies Fleeing The American Empire

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Pfizer is joining the elite club of American companies fleeing the empire. Wanting to avoid the oppressive tax environment of the American Empire, Pfizer has started merging with a foreign company so it can move its headquarters to the much friendly nation of Ireland:

Pfizer Inc on Monday said it would buy Botox maker Allergan Plc in a deal worth $160 billion to slash its U.S. tax bill, rekindling a fierce political debate over the financial maneuver.

The acquisition, which would shift Pfizer’s headquarters to Ireland, would be the biggest-ever tax inversion.

Just as expatriation has forced the government of the United States to put laws into place that prevent individual tax cattle from fleeing, this decision by Pfizer has renewed efforts to prevent corporate tax cattle from fleeing:

U.S. President Barack Obama has called inversions unpatriotic and has tried to crack down on the practice.

Senator Bernie Sanders, another Democratic candidate for president, called on the Obama administration to stop the deal, which “would allow another major American corporation to hide its profits overseas.”

“Congress also must pass real tax reform that demands that profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes,” Sanders said.

Their reaction demonstrates once again that property rights don’t exist under the State. Politicians are unhappy because Pfizer is choosing to merge with another company so it can take its supposed property to a friendlier environment. Because of this they’re looking to change the rules. In other words they’re stating that Pfizer’s property is actually owned by the State and the temporary usage privileges may soon be revoked.

It really makes you wonder why anybody would consider starting a business in this forsaken country. You can never been certain when the rules will change and the only thing that seems consistent is the rate of plunder going up over time.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Property Cannot Exist Under Statism

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Although there are a lot of disagreements between libertarian anarchists and libertarian statists one of the biggest is their views on property. Libertarian anarchists generally believe property rights are absolute whereas libertarian statists don’t believe in the concept of property rights. I imagine there are several libertarian statists screaming at their computer as though it was actually me. One of the things they’re probably screaming about is their belief that the state is necessary to protect property rights. But libertarian statists believe there should be a state and wherever a state exists property rights cannot.

This discussion isn’t necessarily restricted to libertarian property rights theory. Anywhere a state exists no form of property, other than the state having all rights over all property, can exist. Anarcho-communism’s concept of collectively owned means of production cannot exist. Mutualism’s concept of usage based rights cannot exist. And libertarian anarchism’s concept of absolute private property rights cannot exist.

A state is nothing more than an organized gang that claims a monopoly on the use of force within a geographic area. Different forms of states exist but all of them share a common trait: they declare a monopoly on making and enforcing the rules.

Consider the United States, a state that libertarian statists generally claim to be one of the most libertarian states in existence. Under the laws of the United States private property rights are the rule. There are no legal means by which a person can forcefully take the property of another. I’m just messing with you. In the United States nobody can be said to actually own anything. Everything is owned by the state and individuals are merely granted temporary usage and possession privileges.

If you don’t believe me try not paying your property taxes. You will soon find armed officers at your door threatening to either arrest or evict you. But large property like houses aren’t the only instance where your supposed property can be taken from you. If you fail to pay your income tax the state may put a lien against your property and seize it if you fail to pay off your “debt” within a specified period of time. Civil forfeiture laws allow the state to seize cash, automobiles, and any other property a police officers claims might be related to a drug crime. Your firearms can be seized if the state deems you a felon. There really are no limits on what the state can take.

These laws haven’t always been in existence, which is the biggest point of this post. Although the property rights granted under a particular government may be “libertarian” at one point that can change. Since a state has a monopoly on making and enforcing the rules it can change any rule at any time. Civil forfeiture laws are a prime example of the rules on property ownership changing. Before civil forfeiture laws were passed a random police officer couldn’t steal your car and all of your cash by simply claiming he believe it was somehow related to a drug crime. But the state changed the rules and now random police officers can take your stuff without so much as a court order. The income tax wasn’t always in existence but after it was brought into existence it gave the state an excuse to seize the property of anybody delinquent on their income taxes.

The reason property rights can’t exist under a state is because the state has the power to change the rules at any point. That power makes any property ownership nothing more than a temporary privilege that can be revoked at any time.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 23rd, 2015 at 10:30 am

Monday Metal: Ride The Lightning By Metallica

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Remember when Metallica released good albums? Those were the days. Sadly we now get shit like St. Anger and Death Magnetic. But the past should be remember and celebrated when appropriate. This week we’re going to celebrate the days when Metallica was awesome with Ride the Lightning:

Written by Christopher Burg

November 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 am

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You Can’t Vote Your Way To Libertarianism

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Are you a libertarian? Are you politically active? If you answered yes to both questions then I have a question for you: why? I came across a good article by Jason Farrell that addresses the contradiction of political libertarianism:

There’s a good reason libertarians remain at the ideological fringe: “Libertarian politics” is a contradiction in terms. Libertarianism is not a third party, like the Know-Nothings or the Whigs or a prescription of policy tweaks to make the government more efficient. It is a distinct value system that abhors political power itself, even if some of its adherents consider power a necessary evil.

Libertarians may disagree whether the state should be abolished or minimized, but the difference matters little to the average American: Both seem frighteningly outside his own experience. Even the most moderate libertarians will wax poetic about ending intellectual property or privatizing the welfare system. Moreover, virtually all voters are deeply invested in government services they have come to depend on, and libertarians have been unable to present hypothesized private-sector alternatives while the state forces dependence upon itself. Conceptually, libertarians are on a page that most people find bizarre.

Libertarianism is best understood as the latest in a long line of radical liberation ideologies, rooted in the principles of natural law and individualism, that have provided the intellectual basis for rebellion since the American Revolution. It is a reaction to the perpetual expansion of government power in the U.S. and its frequent abuses. But radicalism, by definition, is immoderate and cannot compromise its way to reforms. Rather than moving toward the “Overton window” of public opinion by moderating controversial views (as Rand Paul attempted), radicals must pull public opinion towards their own viewpoints. Rand’s straying from libertarian principles means that he likely has little unique appeal even for the tiny libertarian electorate his father created. David Boaz’s research shows that 70% of libertarian-leaning voters went with Mitt Romney over Gary Johnson in 2012, so we know even libertarians who believe in politics are willing to blunt their own sword.

Libertarianism is a radical ideology and therefore doesn’t enjoy popular support. Politics is a popularity contest. If your candidate doesn’t support the views of the majority of voters then they’re not going to get elected. And one need only look at some of the more popular presidential candidates to see what the majority supports.

The current frontrunner for the Republican Party is Donald Trump. Trump is a raging asshole. If it were up to him Muslims would probably be wearing armbands. Ben Caron, another popular Republican candidate, believes the pyramids were funny shaped grain silos.

On the other side of the field we have Bernie Sanders. Sanders spends most of his time bitching about economics, a field he demonstrably knows absolutely nothing about. He also supports dropping bombs on foreigners, which is something he shares with Hillary Clinton who is his primary competitor.

So the majority of voters want a candidate who will blow up foreigners, promise them free shit, or believes archeology is a made up science. They’re not interested in freedom. Quite the opposite in fact. They enjoy their comfortable slavery.

This is usually where some political libertarian tells me that victory can be achieved by slowly moving the political needle towards libertarianism. They will say Rand Paul isn’t perfect but he’s palatable to the masses. According to them his victory will show Americans that a tiny bit of freedom doesn’t hurt. This will supposedly make them receptive to a little more freedom when the next election rolls around. I’ve seen absolutely no proof of this. In fact my observations lead me to believe the opposite is true. The masses are always a crisis away from accepting more chains to wrap them in the false feeling of safety. Maybe the needle moves so slowly I can’t perceive it. If that’s the case I’ll be dead before any perceivable freedom is gained so what’s the point?

Politics is a lost cause for libertarianism just as it is for any radical philosophy. Instead you’re better off taking direct action to advance freedom:

Instead, libertarians might be more useful as single-issue activists and innovators. While U.S. politicians fail to shrink government, individualists like Erik Voorhees, Cody Wilson, Peter Thiel and the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto are using technology to forge a new path. Time will tell exactly where that leads. But Rand’s decline underlines the fact that libertarian ethics predicate disruption and revolution, not moderation and compromise. As such, it is unlikely to ever get big votes in American politics.

Cody Wilson and Satoshi Nakamoto accomplished more for freedom than Rand Paul ever will. Wilson showed the world how technological advancements will overcome restrictions against self-defense. Nakamoto gave the world a functioning alternative currency that is highly resistant to centralized control. Disarming citizens and controlling their money are two of the State’s biggest tools for dominating people.

Direct action, unlike politics, has the advantage of not needing popular support. Most people probably don’t support Wilson’s efforts to make firearms easy accessible or Nakamoto’s, probably inadvertent, contribution to empowering the underground economy. But the masses were powerless to stop either of them just as they were powerless to stop Dread Pirate Roberts from building and operating an online market for illicit substances. Even when the State managed to take him down nothing was really accomplished because alternatives sprang up like wildfire. The man that started the first major hidden service marketplace might have been taken down but the idea can’t be destroyed. Hell, the idea is only advancing. Now efforts are being made by projects such as OpenBazaar to create decentralized online marketplaces, which will be even more resilient to government interference.

Freedom is advancing but not because of libertarian politics. It’s advancing because people unwilling to accept their chains chose to rebel. If you’re willing to rebel you too can play an active role in advancing freedom. But if you’re only willing to beg the masses to see things your way you’re doomed to fail. The masses don’t want what you’re selling.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 20th, 2015 at 11:00 am

It Turns Out The Paris Attackers Didn’t Even Use Encryption

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Immediately following the attacks in Paris politicians were demanding bans on effective cryptography. That would lead one to believe that the attackers used cryptography to conceal their communications. As it turns out the attackers coordinated their efforts over regular old unencrypted Short Message Service (SMS):

Yet news emerging from Paris — as well as evidence from a Belgian ISIS raid in January — suggests that the ISIS terror networks involved were communicating in the clear, and that the data on their smartphones was not encrypted.

European media outlets are reporting that the location of a raid conducted on a suspected safe house Wednesday morning was extracted from a cellphone, apparently belonging to one of the attackers, found in the trash outside the Bataclan concert hall massacre. Le Monde reported that investigators were able to access the data on the phone, including a detailed map of the concert hall and an SMS messaging saying “we’re off; we’re starting.” Police were also able to trace the phone’s movements.

This is why jumping to conclusions is foolish. The politicians and other assorted government goons demanding effective cryptography be banned didn’t wait long enough to learn whether the attackers actually used encrypted communications. Now that evidence exists suggesting they didn’t the entire narrative being used to justify the proposed bans has fallen apart.

So how did the various governments’ intelligence services miss the attacks? Probably because the unencrypted messages were buried so deeply in random noise nobody noticed them.

Another possibility is complacency. When you’re looking for boogeymen everywhere you will find them everywhere. Western governments are always looking for terrorist attacks and see them everywhere from foreign nations to local airports. Their security briefings are overflowing with warnings against imminent terrorist attacks. But when you constantly hear about imminent terrorist attacks that never happen you became so numb to the warnings that when a credible threat does exist you dismiss it as yet another overreaction from an overly paranoid intelligence agent seeking a promotion.

Either way mass surveillance did nothing to thwart the attacks and most likely hindered efforts to do so.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 20th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Border Walls Are Good For Keeping People In

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Even though more Mexican immigrants or leaving than coming into the country there are still a lot of people demanding a fortified wall be erected between the United States and Mexico. They believe such a wall will not only keep the Mexicans out but will also keep out the terrorists. But walls work both ways. And as the economic situation continues to degrade in the United States, and with it the amount of plunder available to the State, more barriers are going to be placed between Americans and freedom. One such proposal is to revoke the passport of people delinquent on their taxes:

If you owe the Internal Revenue Service more than $50,000 in taxes, you could soon have your U.S. passport taken away.

House and Senate negotiators are trying to hammer out a long-term highway bill that would fund road and mass-transit projects, and the passport-revocation provision is one revenue-raising measure that’s been approved by both chambers. Lawmakers are scheduled to hold a conference meeting Wednesday morning to begin ironing out a compromise bill.

We’re always told that taxes exist to fund major infrastructure projects. If that were the case you would think the United States government would want people who owe a lot to the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to leave so they stop adding wear and tear to the roads.

While we’re constantly bombarded with the “dangers” of immigration the State doesn’t spend much time on emigration because that’s what it really fears. When people leave a country they take their wealth with them. Cash, assets, capital, and labor generally all leave with an emigrant. That’s why many countries implement an expatriation tax. They know it’s their last chance to steal from the person leaving. Sometimes an expatriation tax isn’t enough and countries erect physical barriers to prevent emigration, such as the Berlin Wall that East Germany built and the Korean Demilitarized Zone that prevents North Koreans from fleeing to South Korea.

Before you go demanding that wall just remember that as things continue to degrade here the politicians are going to become more desperate to prevent emigration. A fortified wall would serve as a great barrier.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 20th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Losing The Signal In The Noise

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As I’ve mentioned before mass surveillance is not effective at discovering and thwarting terrorists attacks before they happen. When you collect everything the signals are lost in the noise. But government officials continue their demands for weakening encryption so their mass surveillance apparatuses can better spy on us. This in spite of the fact the National Security Agency (NSA) is already so overwhelmed with noise that finding signals has become an exercise in luck:

A TOP-SECRET NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DOCUMENT, dated 2011, describes how, by “sheer luck,” an analyst was able to access the communications of top officials of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela.

Beyond the issue of spying on a business, the document highlights a significant flaw in mass surveillance programs: how indiscriminate collection can blind rather than illuminate. It also illustrates the technical and bureaucratic ease with which NSA analysts are able to access the digital communications of certain foreign targets.

The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is a March 23, 2011, article in the NSA’s internal newsletter, SIDtoday. It is written by a signals development analyst who recounts how, in addition to luck, he engaged in a “ton of hard work” to discover that the NSA had obtained access to vast amounts of Petróleos de Venezuela’s internal communications, apparently without anyone at the NSA having previously noticed this surveillance “goldmine.”

That the NSA, unbeknownst to itself, was collecting sensitive communications of top Venezuelan oil officials demonstrates one of the hazards of mass surveillance: The agency collects so much communications data from around the world that it often fails to realize what it has. That is why many surveillance experts contend that mass surveillance makes it harder to detect terrorist plots as compared to an approach of targeted surveillance: An agency that collects billions of communications events daily will fail to understand the significance of what it possesses.

Since the analyst made a note of finding the data on Petróleos de Venezuela it must be assumed it was on the agency’s list of desired signals. It was only after a lot of work and some dumb luck that the analyst found it buried in the sea of collected data.

If the NSA already has too much data how is adding more data going to improve matters? It’s not. In fact it will only make its ability to find valuable signals even more hopeless. That being the case, it makes you wonder what the real intentions of making mass surveillance easier are. It certainly isn’t to thwart terrorist attacks since doing that would require greatly trimming down the amount of data collected. On the other hand, if you just want the data at hand to prosecute a thorn in the side at a later date the mass surveillance system could prove to be somewhat useful.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 19th, 2015 at 11:00 am

Dial 1-800-ISIS-HLP

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The mainstream media has been hard at work trying to make extremely mundane things appear terrifying by pointing out Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) uses them. Take phone-based technical support. It’s something most of us have used at some point in our lives. The only things frightening about it are wait times, trying to explain to the poor sap reading from their script that you’ve already performed the basic trouble shooting steps, and having your call dropped when you miraculously get connected to the one competent support specialist in the entire company. But NBC News decided mundane technical support is something that could be made absolutely terrifying by combining it with ISIS:

NBC News has learned that ISIS is using a web-savvy new tactic to expand its global operational footprint — a 24-hour Jihadi Help Desk to help its foot soldiers spread its message worldwide, recruit followers and launch more attacks on foreign soil.

Counterterrorism analysts affiliated with the U.S. Army tell NBC News that the ISIS help desk, manned by a half-dozen senior operatives around the clock, was established with the express purpose of helping would-be jihadists use encryption and other secure communications in order to evade detection by law enforcement and intelligence authorities.

The relatively new development — which law enforcement and intel officials say has ramped up over the past year — is alarming because it allows potentially thousands of ISIS followers to move about and plan operations without any hint of activity showing up in their massive collection of signals intelligence.

Although I highly doubt the claim that this help desk system is a new development its existence doesn’t change anything. Information on using secure communications technology has been publicly available on the Internet for years. There are numerous well-written step-by-step guides that walk users through setting up and using tools for communicating securely. They’re used by victims of domestic abuse who need to contact help without their abuser knowing, political dissidents in countries ruled by ruthless regimes, buyers and sellers of prohibited goods in countries ruled by regimes willing to storm homes at oh dark thirty and shoot family pets over some plants, and many other at risk individuals.

But technology is amoral and serves both the good and the bad alike. A car can whisk you from home to work but it can also help a bank robber escape after a heist. A gun can allow a frail 80 year-old woman to defend herself against a physically fit 20 year-old rapist but it can also be used by a police officer to murder a cannabis user. Encryption is no different.

Fearing something mundane because an evil person or organization is using it is idiotic. Every technology we have developed has been used by both good and evil people. That will never change.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 19th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Ministry Of Truth

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Since shutting down the Internet isn’t a feasible option what can the righteous nations of Christendom do to combat the scourge of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)? According to to the governor of Ohio, John Kasich, a Ministry of Truth must be established:

During a speech Tuesday at the National Press Club, Ohio Governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich offered a litany of ideas meant to broaden the influence of the United States and combat the rise of the Islamic State. Among them was one that, on its face, seemed to contradict the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.

“We must be more forceful in the battle of ideas,” Kasich said. “U.S. public diplomacy and international broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation. I will consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core, Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association.” The areas he would target: the Middle East, China, Iran and Russia.

I do appreciate politicians like Kasich being honest about what they want. Too many politicians try to conceal their true intentions under layers of bullshit. Kasich is just straight up saying he wants the government to espouse particular religious beliefs. Maybe the United States can do what jolly old England did and declare its own church with the president as the pope!

Remember, this guy is one of your so-called leaders. Do you really want a guy who wishes to established a Ministry of Truth running your life?

Written by Christopher Burg

November 19th, 2015 at 10:00 am

The State Is A Specialist

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Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about propaganda. Although we started off discussing corporate propaganda we quickly ended up talking about the State’s propaganda when I mentioned its program for paying football teams to be propagandists. This lead my friend to ponder whether the general libertarian claim that the State is incompetent was false.

This is actually something worth discussing. Is the State actually incompetent or very competent? I don’t see the State as either. Instead I see it as a specialist, which is to say it’s very competent within its speciality but varies in its competency in other areas. So what is the State’s specialty? Theft.

The State is just another name for the largest gang in an area that pilfers wealth from the people. This pilferage has many euphemisms including taxation, permits, fines, civil forfeiture, and prison work programs. But all of them result in wealth, both in the forms of assets and labor, being transferred from the citizenry to the rulers. Since this is the State’s speciality it’s no surprise that it’s very competent at it.

Propaganda is just one of many tools the State uses to commit theft. As I mentioned yesterday, the State needs to convince its victims that they’re not actually victims, otherwise they get uppity and may either overthrow the rulers themselves or assist a neighboring gang in “liberating” them. A good analogy is the Ponzi scheme. Ponzi schemes rely on an ever increasing number of victims. Getting more victims is made possible by the perpetrators of the schemes convincing the victims that they’re actually investors and will make money in the end. So long as this fiction can be maintained the victims aren’t likely to go to the authorities.

As with most perpetrators of Ponzi schemes, the State is very good at selling its criminal activity as an investment. It tells its victims that taxation is actually an investment that funds infrastructure, defense, and education facilities. Permits are sold as a necessity to fund oversight that ensures dastardly citizens won’t cause undue suffering to their fellows. We’re told fines and civil forfeiture are disincentives for actions that harm others. And prison labor is called a method to reform wrongdoers by giving them valuable skills to make a living with after they’ve paid their debt to society.

Unless the State at least provides the illusion of investment the citizenry is unlikely to believe it for long. So the State invests some of its plunder in building roads, militaries, and schools. Of course, of those things, only the military is any good and that’s because it furthers the State’s plundering. But there’s something there for the State to point to as proof that taxation is an investment. Maintaining the illusion of permits is easier because it only requires finding one or two wrongdoers to make a public example of. Fines and civil forfeiture are even easier sells. All the State must do is scare the citizenry into believing that without such punishments in place horrible things like drug dealers handing out heroine to children would become commonplace. Prison labor may be the easiest one to sell because everything takes place behind giant walls that separate the incarcerated from the citizenry.

Through all of this propaganda the victims can be made to believe they’re investors and maintaining that belief is necessary for the State to continue its specialty of theft unopposed.

So, I believe, the State’s varying levels of competency can be explained the same way as any specialist’s varying levels of competency: when you focus the majority of your efforts on a single skill you slowly become extremely competent at it. Propaganda is a tremendously useful skill to a thief, which is why the State excels at it. It’s the same reason a brilliant computer programmer may, for example, display no skill whatsoever in linguistics.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 18th, 2015 at 11:00 am