A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for October, 2017

You Can’t Own Property, Man

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I’d estimate that a vast majority of Americans mistakenly believe that their home is their property. But if it was your property you wouldn’t have to pay rent property taxes on it in order to stay in it. Moreover, if it was your property you’d be able to sell it for whatever you wanted

DENVER — A Denver mom says she did not know her home was part of an affordable housing program when she bought it and the city is preventing her from selling it at market value – nearly $80,000 more – according to KDVR.

[…]

Just days before the home closing, Lopez was told her home was part of an affordable housing program that Denver created in 2003.

Out of 5,000 homes built in Green Valley Ranch, 642, including Lopez’s, were priced as affordable housing. That meant 642 homes could only be sold to buyers who qualified as low income.

[…]

Nothing could be found in the title documents that mention affordable housing restrictions.

The woman, Cynthia Lopez, mistakenly believed that the home she paid for was her home but it actually belonged to the City of Denver, which decided to exercise its ownership privileges by restricting the maximum rental transfer price. Lopez also made the mistaken of believing that she had to sign some kind of documentation for rules to apply. She obviously never heard of social contract theory, which states that everybody agreed to a contract upon birth (which is apparently the only contract one can legally agree to before coming of age but I digress) that allows the government to change the rules whenever it feels like doing so.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 26th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Controlling Property

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What is property? This seemingly simple solution ends up being quite complex when you realize that nobody can agree on the matter. A libertarian will tell you that your property is whatever resources you’re able to homestead or voluntarily trade for. A mutualist will tell you that your property is whatever you’re putting to productive use. A statist will tell you that your property is whatever the State allows you to keep after it has collected its desired taxes. A communist will tell you that you don’t own any property but you might be allowed some possessions of the community can come to a consensus on the matter.

Property isn’t something granted by an organization or by “society.” It certainly isn’t divined by nature. Property ultimately boils down to what you are able to exert your control over. Libertarians, mutualists, statists, and communists usually become quite upset when I point this out. Part of their displeasure arises from the fact that they only understand control as it relates to force. Control can be exerted in many different ways though.

Let’s say I build a house surrounded by a fence and declare the fence and everything inside of it my property, is it my property? A libertarians will say that it’s my property if I either homesteaded the land or voluntarily traded with somebody for it. A mutualist will say that it’s my property if I’m making productive use of the house and the land within the fence. A statist will give me some wishy washy answer about how it’s my property but the government also has the right to control it in whatever way it sees fit (this is probably the least sensible response). A communists will say that it’s not my property but communal property. In actuality though, it is my property so long as I can prevent others from taking it.

Arguments over the nature of property steam from a desire to control property through argumentation. When, for example, anarcho-capitalists claim that private property rights are a natural right derived from homesteading or trade they are trying to convince other people to recognize anything that another individual homesteads or trades for as their property. However, argumentation isn’t the only means of trying to control property. Statists opt to control their property through a proxy. They believe that if all property claims are controlled by a heavily armed gang then everybody’s property rights are protected. It’s a ridiculous belief in my opinion because it actually makes everything the property of the individuals who compose the gang. Egoists hold up their middle fingers at everybody and just declare everything to be their property. I think they tend to recognize the nature of property better than anybody else.

By hook or by crook, if you can establish your control over something then it becomes your property. How you control your property is up to you. I personally prefer starting with argumentation since it is the lowest cost mechanism I know of for controlling property and I see no point of controlling property if I have to spend more to control it than it is worth to me. But being able to backup your claim with force is also important because you’re not going to be successful at convincing everybody else to respect your property claims. An anarcho-syndicalists, for examples, gives no shits whatsoever about Lockean homesteading and will simply seize whatever means of production you’ve claimed as your property.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 25th, 2017 at 11:00 am

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Trigger Warning

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I make not effort to hide the fact that I believe gun ownership should be expanded to everybody, which is why I was happy to read this article:

ROCHESTER, N.Y.—The former pacifist pumped a shotgun at the firing line.

Lore McSpadden never touched a gun before the Trigger Warning Queer & Trans Gun Club started this past year. Now McSpadden is among the shooters routinely yelling, “Pull!” and blasting at clay pigeons angling over a mowed field near Rochester.

Trigger Warning members are anxious about armed and organized extremists who seem increasingly emboldened. Their response has a touch of symmetry to it: They started a club to teach members how to take up arms.

“It’s a way to assert our strength,” said Jake Allen, 27, who helped form the group. “Often, queer people are thought of as being weak, as being defenceless, and I think in many ways this pushes back against that. And I want white supremacists and neo-Nazis to know that queer people are taking steps necessary to protect themselves.”

Trigger Warning members meet once a month to shoot still targets and saucer-shaped pigeons. The 18 dues-paying members are all LGBTQ, many just learning about guns.

Traditionally individuals who fall under the LGBT banner have been tagged as anti-gun progressives. This has lead quite a few curmudgeons in gun owner circles to see LGBT individuals as opponents, which has established a rather nasty circle where LGBT individuals are put off by gun owners who are put off by LGBT individuals being put off by gun owners and so on. But necessity is the mother of invention. Feeling threatened is usually a good motivator for people to learn how to defend themselves.

Although Trigger Warning is a small group at the moment, which isn’t surprising since it currently exists in a state ruled by a very anti-gun government, I hope its ranks expand quickly and new groups like it spring up all around the country. The stereotype of LGBT individuals being anti-gun has made violent individuals who wish to prey on them see them as easy targets. If more LGBT individuals become open gun owners, that stereotype will hopefully fade with time. If that stereotype fades away, it will likely dissuade a lot of predators who are looking for easy targets.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 25th, 2017 at 10:30 am

America in a Nutshell

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I came across an image yesterday that sums up the current state of American quite succinctly:

20 minutes into the future…

Written by Christopher Burg

October 25th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Everything Evil is Capitalism, Everything Good is Communism

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The release of the iPhone X is nearly upon us. Demand appears to be high and it’s doubtful that Apple will have enough units in its initial shipment to satisfy demand. This has lead to prospective buyers coming up with schemes to ensure they can be one of the first to own the anticipated phone. Some will set their alarms to wake them up in the early hours of the morning when the preorder system goes live and others will plan to camp in front of an Apple store to claim one of the first shipped devices. And, of course, a bunch of communists plan to ruin the fun by pointing out that this capitalist ritual is built on the backs of people who are basically slave laborers.

Every time a highly anticipated electronic device is released the communists try to shit all over everybody else’s good time by blaming capitalism for the poor labor conditions in the countries where these devices are manufactured. What seems get lost in their diatribes against capitalism is the fact that the country that manufacturers a lion’s share of these devices, China, is a communist country.

Why is capitalism getting all of the blame here? Shouldn’t communism at least share in the blame? After all, it has apparently failed to elevate the working class of China above the practically slave labor conditions that communists keep complaining about. Isn’t that exactly what communism was supposed to stop?

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If the evil capitalist Americans are to blame for the demand, then the holy communist party in China should be blamed for allowing their workers to be “exploited” by said evil capitalists.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 24th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Job of a Politician Is to Whine about Productive People Not Being Productive Enough

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The government of China recently attempted to bolster the Great Firewall of China by prohibiting virtual private network (VPN) software. This prohibition caused Apple to remove VPN clients from its App Store in China. Now two senators want to know why Apple didn’t do more to thwart this move by China:

Apple CEO Tim Cook wasn’t pleased about pulling VPN software from the company’s App Store in China, but this July, it happened anyway. As a result, many users who once counted on such software to dodge the country’s Great Firewall were left to their own devices (and we’ve explored the situation at length here). Now, senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have called on Cook in a letter to explain in detail how that process went down, out of concern that Apple is “enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the internet.”

The letter (which can be read in full here) poses 10 questions to the Apple CEO. It asks (among other things) whether Apple formally commented on the Chinese government’s Cybersecurity Law when it was presented as a first draft, whether Chinese authorities requested Apple removed the VPN apps, whether Apple has made any attempt to reintroduce said apps, and how many apps were removed in total. (A report from the BBC when the apps first disappeared put the count at around 60.)

Here’s what I want to know. What did Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy do to stop the Chinese government from tightening its grip on the country’s Internet? As senators they have access to the full power of the United States government so I assume they wielded it against China when it announced plans to ban VPN software. Is my assumption incorrect? Are Cruz and Leahy demanding that Apple do something that they didn’t even though they were and are in a better position to do so? Say it ain’t so!

Once again we see that the job of a politician is to whine about productive people not being productive enough. I guarantee if Apple had pushed even harder against China’s VPN ban that Cruz and Leahy would have still been upset that the company didn’t do enough because there is no satisfying politicians. They’re parasites that’ll continue to take while providing nothing of value in return.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 24th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The FBI’s Performance Issues

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When the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) isn’t pursuing terrorists that it created, the agency tends to have a pretty abysmal record. The agency recently announced, most likely as propaganda against effective encryption, that it has failed to obtain the contents of 7,000 encrypted devices:

Agents at the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been unable to extract data from nearly 7,000 mobile devices they have tried to access, the agency’s director has said.

Christopher Wray said encryption on devices was “a huge, huge problem” for FBI investigations.

The agency had failed to access more than half of the devices it targeted in an 11-month period, he said.

The lesson to be learned here is that effective cryptography works. Thanks to effective cryptography the people are able to guarantee their supposed constitutional right to privacy. The restoration of rights should be celebrated but politicians never do because our rights are directly opposed to their goals. I guarantee that this announcement will lead to more political debates in Congress that will result in more bills being introduced to ban the plebs (but not the government, of course) from having effective cryptography. If one of the bills is passed into law, the plebs will have to personally patch their devices to fix the broken cryptography mandated by law (which, contrary to what politicians might believe, is what many of us plebs will do).

If you don’t want government goons violating your privacy, enable the cryptographic features on your devices such as full disk encryption.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 24th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Monday Metal: To Erebor by Wind Rose

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Written by Christopher Burg

October 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

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Claiming to Support Libertarianism and Closed Borders is Intellectually Inconsistent

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If you spend enough time in libertarian anarchist circles, you’ll come to recognize various factions. Two libertarian anarchist factions that like to fight with each other are the advocates of open borders (more specifically the advocates of abolishing governmental borders) and the intellectually inconsistent advocates of closed borders.

Whereas advocates of open borders recognize the State as wholly illegitimate, advocates of closed borders see the State as semi-legitimate. On the one hand, it steals from them (and everybody else), which makes it a violator of private property rights and therefore illegitimate. On the other hand, it subsidizes their security (with, I might point out, stolen money but I digress) by providing law enforcers and a military. If you talk to an advocate for closed borders, you probably won’t hear them discuss the fact that the State is subsidizing them (since that would be admitting government subsidies are good and they generally claim otherwise). They’ll give several other reasons why the State is acting legitimately by controlling its borders, usually with an argument that tries to muddle private property lines with government borders, but no amount of hand waving makes the fact that they want their security subsidized go away.

Where the argument for closed borders begins to really fall apart though is when you compared government borders to private property lines. Property lines, like borders, aren’t a real thing. In the terminology of Max Stirner, property lines are a phantasm or a spook. They exist entirely in our minds, not in the natural world. However, like many human concepts, property lines can serve a purpose, which is to avoid conflict over scarce resources. Two people cannot consume the same piece of bread so to avoid fighting over a piece of bread it’s expedient to say one piece is my property and one piece is your property. Conflict is avoided so long as both of us recognize each other’s property claim.

Government borders serve a similar purpose but the resources differ. While one might think that the raw resources within a government’s borders are what it’s trying to claim ownership over, in reality governments care little about the raw resources themselves. What governments care about are the people that harvest those resources. Governments are also phantasms. They’re a concept in our minds, not a thing that exists in the natural world. The people who call themselves government, on the other hand, do exist in the natural world and they don’t like to do work. Instead, like a mafioso, they prefer to skim a little off the top of other people’s work. The individuals who call themselves government don’t want to till the fields or mine the mountains, they want to take a percentage of the wealth created by the people who till the fields and mine the mountains. To the government the only meaningful resource is the human being.

A funny thing happens under libertarianism when a human being is being claimed as a resource. Under the concept of the non-aggression principle, which is the closest thing to a common philosophical foundation most branches of libertarianism can agree on, slavery is illegitimate. One person claiming ownership over another person becomes a violator of the non-aggression principle as soon as the person making the claim attempts to assert their claim. Governments continuously assert their claims of ownership, usually under various euphemisms such as enforcing the law, over people.

Since one human being is incapable of doing two things at the same time, governments periodically come into conflict with one another over what they want a group of human beings to do. What happens when one government decides that it wants a group of humans to farm its territory while another decides that it wants them to mine its territory? Conflict. To avoid conflict the individuals calling themselves government have take the concept of private property lines and relabeled them national borders. Governmental borders quite literally exist to avoid conflict over human property. Since enforcing a claim of ownership over another human being is considered illegitimate under libertarianism, supporting the division of human property cannot be consider legitimate under libertarianism in any consistent manner.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 20th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Now You Too Can Be Big Brother

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We all know that Big Brother is watching us. Local law enforcers, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and various other government agencies are investing an incredible amount of resources into watching our every move. What if I told you that the day has finally come where you too can play an active role in Big Brother’s great surveillance apparatus? Axon is going to make that a reality:

Axon, the company formerly known as Taser, either wants to encourage helpful citizens or snitches—depending on how you feel about talking to police—to come forward.

On Thursday, the company announced “Axon Citizen,” a new “public safety portal” that lets civilians submit text, video, and audio files directly to participating law enforcement agencies that use its cloud storage service, Evidence.com.

While I spent the opening paragraph of this post mocking this product, I’m sadly aware of the fact that there are a lot of boot lickers out there who will actually use it. However, there is some hope that a bunch of decent people will get together and try to flood Evidence.com with useless data such as videos of lamp posts that are several hours long and high-definition pictures of pigeons. It would also be interesting to see exactly how much porn Evidence.com can store.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 20th, 2017 at 10:30 am