A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for March, 2020

The Fragility of the Centrally Planned System

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If COVID-19 has accomplished nothing else positive, it has been doing a wonderful job of illustrating the fragile nature of the centrally planned system under which we suffer.

At the tail end of last year the City of Minneapolis, for the good of Mother Gaia, required stores to charge a nickle for every plastic bag. This policy was put into place to encourage people to use reusable bags. Now many stores are banning reusable bags because they can spread disease.

The City of Minneapolis has also been waging a war against personally owned automobiles. I guess when you spend over $2 billion on trains you really want people to use them. But cramming a bunch of people into a small train car or bus is an ideal environment for a spreading contagion. To mitigate this problem, Metro Transit has asked people to avoid getting onto buses and train cars with 10 or more passengers. Oh, did I mention that Metro Transit also reduced service and suspended it entirely between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.? So don’t wait too long for the next bus or train!

Another centralized system that is under a great deal of stress is, as you might guess, the unemployment application system. Some people in Minnesota who have applied for unemployment benefits aren’t getting their checks and are unable to get a hold of anybody in the bureaucracy who can help them. To help alleviate the pressure, Minnesota is asking people to apply for unemployment benefits on specific days based on their social security number. Hopefully you don’t need your benefits right away!

In addition to a stressed unemployment system, Minnesota is also facing a lack of intensive care beds. Perhaps the State of Minnesota shouldn’t have put a moratorium on the construction of new hospitals into law.

These are just a handful of local examples. On a national scale the system is falling to pieces. The Federal Reserved has announced that it will print infinite money to alleviate the crisis brought on by national and state level economic shutdowns. Everybody will receive money, but they won’t be able to buy anything with it for very long.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 31st, 2020 at 6:00 am

Cutting Off Power and Water

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I’m going to start this post by quoting myself from yesterday:

It is also easy to see how the state was able to become more authoritarian as more and more people migrated into tightly packed cities (there’s a reason the most authoritarian regimes tightly control travel) and as the state claimed monopoly powers over critical infrastructure such as electricity, power, and sanitation. If you live in a city, the very things you depend on to survive are likely entirely controlled by the state and that gives it literal power of life and death.

I think the universe may be conspiring to prove my point:

The mayor went on to announce the “business ambassadors program” — an effort to get nonessential businesses to close.

“This behavior is irresponsible and selfish,” he said of those that remain open.

He said the Department of Water and Power will shut off services for the businesses that don’t comply with the “safer at home” ordinance.

If you ask a random Joe on the street why the state usually claims a monopoly on providing utilities like power and water, the odds are extremely good that they will claim that those things are natural monopolies. It’s a bullshit claim because natural monopolies don’t exist. The real reason the state claims a monopoly on those things is because those things provide it tremendous power. A lack of power and water will cripple most businesses (and residences) this day and age.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 25th, 2020 at 6:00 am

Maybe the Nomads Had It Right

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Over the last year I’ve done a lot of thinking about statism. I think that it’s safe to say that statism is the predominant ideology of our time. Most so-called revolutionaries don’t talk about eliminating the state, they talk about replacing current states with a more idealistic ones. Even a lot of so-called anarchists fall into this trap. For example, if you talk to an anarcho-communist, they’ll tell you that humanity won’t be truly free until every worker enjoys the same democratic control over their workplace. However, are you really free if your actions are decided by a majority vote? I would argue that you aren’t.

My thinking has lead me to look for historical alternatives to modern statism. If you read enough about human history, you’ll likely come across the fact that until very recently there has been two widespread societal ideologies: sedentary and nomadic. As James C. Scott notes in his book Against the Grain sedentary societies gave rise to statism. Throughout most of human history nomadic people tended to be healthier, happier, and, obviously, overall less centralized.

The health aspect likely comes from the fact that humans only recently figured out how to keep a lot of tightly packed people sanitary (it turns out we’re a filthy species). Until our species figured that out, disease was rampant in cities (COVID-19 was nothing compared to the plagues that frequented cities just a short while ago). Happiness is a harder thing to define and understand. However, nomadic people were able to pick up their entire lives and migrate elsewhere quickly, which made them much harder to oppress. If a tribe on the Asian Steppe didn’t like the conditions they were living under, they could pack up and move to greener pastures. It’s easy for me to see how that would make people happier.

So what happened? If nomadic people were healthier and happier, how did sedentary societies become the dominant societal form? I can’t answer that question authoritatively (I don’t think anybody can), I can only provide some hypotheses. I think the largest contributor to the domination of sedentary societies was the Industrial Revolution. Factories were necessarily centralized and factory jobs during the Industrial Revolution were often the highest paying jobs. It is also easy to see how the state was able to become more authoritarian as more and more people migrated into tightly packed cities (there’s a reason the most authoritarian regimes tightly control travel) and as the state claimed monopoly powers over critical infrastructure such as electricity, power, and sanitation. If you live in a city, the very things you depend on to survive are likely entirely controlled by the state and that gives it literal power of life and death.

However, I do have some home that the situation we find ourselves in is an anomaly. Due to the COVID-19 scare, I am working from home for the indefinite future. This hasn’t cause me any trouble since technology has evolved to the point where I can do my work from anywhere that has an Internet connection. Many people are in the same boat as I am. Moreover, technology is advancing in factory automation. In a few years factory employees might be able to do their job, which will likely evolve into programming the machines that do the actual manufacturing, remotely as well. Amazon is already experimenting with automated grocery stores and delivery drones. If drone technology evolves sufficiently, it may become easy to get even highly perishable goods in the middle of nowhere.

As technology improves nomadic societies may make a resurgence. If that happens, it might reestablish the greatest historical alternative to statism.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 24th, 2020 at 6:30 am

Posted in Liberty

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Moving Up in the World

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If anybody is still checking this feed, I want to let you know that I finally escaped the Twin Cities region. The misses and I bought a house on a few acres of land out in the country. While I wouldn’t necessarily advise buying a house at the moment (with the way things are going you’ll probably get some stellar deals in a few months if you’re willing to buy during a time of major economic uncertainty), the housing and land prices out in the country aren’t nearly as insane as they are in the metro area.

The only downside is that my Internet is much slower. Since this site is still hosting on a server in my home, the site’s performance will probably be terrible, but I’m not making any money off of this site so I don’t really care. With that said, that single trade-off is well worth all of the benefits (especially if shit keeps going downhill, I don’t really want to deal with civil unrest in a major metropolitan area).

Now that my biggest project is crossed off of the list, I hope to get back to writing more frequently.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 24th, 2020 at 6:00 am