Have you heard the news? Prohibitionism is trendy again! It shouldn’t surprise anybody that alcohol has landed in the crosshairs of world governments again. After all, these governments have been waging a multiple decade war against every chemical substance that brings an ounce of joy to people’s lives. The latest strike by neoprohibitionists is Scotland’s decisions to set a minimum legal alcohol price:
It is the first country in the world to implement such a law, with the Scottish government believing its introduction will save lives.
The new legislation sets a 50 pence (approximately 70 cents) minimum price per unit of alcohol. Anyone licensed to serve alcohol in the country — in shops as well as bars and restaurants — will need to follow the new pricing laws.
One unit is 8 grams of alcohol, which in terms of drinks is equal to a 25-milliliter shot of 40% alcohol, such as whiskey, or 76 milliliters of wine at 13%. A standard 175 millileter glass of 14% wine in the UK is 2.4 units. In the United States, a standard drink is 14 grams of alcohol, equal to 148 millilters of table wine.
I can only assume that the politicians who passed this law are actually secret agorists. This law, like all forms of alcohol prohibition before it, will result in more alcohol business going underground.
Anybody who has researched Prohibition in the United States is well aware of the fact that alcohol didn’t cease to exist during that era. Alcohol actually flourish. People made their own bathtub gin, built their own stills, brewed their own beer, opened speakeasies, and found other ways to get the alcohol they desired in spite of the law. A lot of gangsters made a literal fortune from bootlegged alcohol.
People don’t stop consuming alcohol when a bunch of government busybodies decide to ban it or make it prohibitively expensive. If legal alcohol becomes too expensive, people opt for tax-free illegal alcohol instead.
Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack wrote, “Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.” This quote rings true time and time again. The most recent example is the legal mess surrounding the now shuttered website Backpage:
Carl Ferrer, the co-founder of Backpage, the notorious and now-shuttered site that once hosted a vast quantity of prostitution-related ads, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges.
Ferrer agreed, in combined plea deals with both Texas and California authorities, where he faced outstanding charges, that he will shut down Backpage “throughout the world,” will aid authorities in ongoing prosecutions of his co-conspirators, and will make all Backpage data available to authorities.
This outcome is very common in cases involving multiple suspects. The first suspect to offer their services as a snitch against the others is usually handed a sweetheart deal.
Benjamin Franklin’s point should be taken to heart by anybody performing illegal activities. For example, if you’re an agorist who is selling cannabis, you probably don’t want to enter a partnership with another cannabis dealer. You can’t control the actions of another person. Even if you take every precaution to avoid being caught by the authorities, you can’t guarantee that a partner will do the same. And if their mistake causes them to be arrested, there’s a good chance that they’ll offer you up in exchange for a sweetheart deal.
When people think of the counter-economic strategy advocated by Samuel Edward Konkin III they usually think about it in terms of toppling the State. While Agorism as a strategy can be useful for wounding the State I think its greatest feature is the establishment of enterprises divorced from the State.
So-called legitimate businesses are more often than not coupled to the State. Consider all of the technology companies that reside in the United States. The rely heavily on the State to defend their intellectual property. Patents and copyrights are an American technology company’s bread and butter. Without the State to subsidize defending their intellectual property, technology companies would find themselves facing an even vaster sea of competition than they already do on the international market.
Above ground agricultural enterprises, likewise, have become dependent on the State. Without the State’s crop and livestock subsidies many agricultural enterprises would likely collapse.
Statism isn’t a permanent condition. There isn’t a single chunk of land on this planet that has been ruled by the same state for all of human history. States come and go and with them the enterprises that rely on them. Agorist enterprises, however, can survive the collapse of states because they were never reliant on states to begin with. If anything, the collapse of a state will benefit an Agorist business.
Agorist enterprises can ensure goods and services continue to be provided when a state inevitably collapses. That is probably a greater overall contribution than its ability to injure states through counter-economics.
Samuel Edward Konkin III introduced me to the idea that the State can be starved of resources if more economic activity moved into the unregulated black market. However, I always figured entering the black market would require dealing drugs, guns, or some other highly controversial good or service. I never imagined that I could enter the black market by selling household pets:
California could become the first state to outlaw so-called puppy mills with legislation that bans pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits that do not come from rescue organizations or shelters.
Animal rights activists believe that this bill will eliminate “puppy mills” and other breeding operations that often raise animals in inhumane conditions. However, that won’t be the outcome of this bill. What this bill will do is create a black market for household pets. On the upside, this will deprive California of any licensing and tax revenues associated with breeding pets.
I’ll be celebrating Agorism at AgoraFest for the rest of the week. Blogging will resume next week.
I’m not a fan of bitching for bitching’s sake. When problems arise I like to propose solutions. Since a lot of libertarians have suddenly become aware of the power an employer has over an employee I feel as though the time is right to reiterate something. If an employer can fire and employee for what they’ve said, how can an individual speak their mind? The answer, as agorists known, is entrepreneurship.
Samuel Edward Konkin III periodically discussed wage labor. He gave wage labor credit but also pointed out that there was something even better: entrepreneurship. In his rebuttal to Rothbard’s criticism of agorism, Konkin touched on that very subject. As a wage laborer one is subject to the person paying their wage. As an independent contractor, an entrepreneur, one is subject to themselves. While an independent contractor may gain and lose contracts based on what they’ve said, they don’t find themselves tossed to the street with nothing in hand because they own their own means of production. If they lose one contract, they can seek another and may already have other ongoing contracts that keep them going.
The more aspects of your life you personally control, the more freedom you can enjoy. If you want to enjoy more freedom to say controversial things, pursue entrepreneurship. If you’re your own boss, you don’t have to worry about being terminated over what you’ve said.
As an outside observer, when both the alt-right and antifa tout their magnificent triumphs on the battlefield of Berkeley you realize something. Both groups have pursued easy fights instead of hard fights. In this article an individual who considers themselves a leftist performs a bit of introspection and notes that his team has a tendency of choosing battles that can be easily won over the hard battles that need to be won:
Incidents like the black bloc protests at Berkeley or the punching of Richard Spencer grant people license to overestimate the current potential of violent resistance. Hey, Spencer got punched; never mind that the Trump administration reinstituted the global gag rule on abortion the next day. Hey, Milo’s talk got canceled; never mind that the relentless effort to deport thousands, a bipartisan effort for which the Obama administration deserves considerable blame, went on without a hitch. Better to make yet another meme out of Spencer getting hit than to attempt to confront the full horror of our current predicament.
But consider the claim that he was going to out an undocumented student during his visit to campus. Who really threatened that student? Yiannopoulos, or the uniformed authorities who would have actually carried out the actual violent application of state force? (It is entirely unclear to me why Yiannopoulos would not have simply shared that information with ICE after his appearance was shut down anyway. Does Milo not own a cellphone?) Again, the same dynamic: Yiannopoulos’s followers seem punchable, subject to the application of a level of force that we imagine we can bring to bear. ICE doesn’t. The forces of state violence, I assure you, are perfectly capable of rolling right over the most passionate antifas. It turns out you can’t punch an MRAP or a Predator drone.
It’s become a cliché, at this point, but it’s still a powerful image: the man who searches for his keys at night not where he lost them but next to a lamp post, because that’s where he has light to look. That’s what I think about when I see the left fixating on these things, a political movement that is so desperate for good news that it’s willing to lie to itself to find it.
The author’s criticism is equally applicable to libertarians as it is to his fellow leftists. Wars have been fought over lesser tyrannies than we suffer today but most libertarians can’t even bring themselves to perform a little unlawful commerce to withhold their resources from the parasite known as government. And I understand why. Talking to people about ending the Federal Reserve is easy. There are few consequences for doing so. Likewise, voting for politicians who promise to audit the federal reserve has few consequences. Performing a little unlawful commerce for the express purpose of avoiding taxes? That can have real consequences. And when those consequences befall a libertarian they’re unlikely to win their court case. Talking about evil is an easy battle, taking action against evil is a difficult battle.
Much like the leftists though, if libertarians continue favoring the easy fights over the hard fights they will have an abundance of pats on the back but nothing real to show for their efforts.
Us Americans love instant gratification, which is part of the reason so many of us are on several different medications. It’s far easier to pop a pill for our heart conditions than to lose the weight that is causing our heart conditions. Of course, this means that we expel a lot of medications and those expelled medications end up in our sewage and by extension in our ecosystem:
The United States of America is a highly medicated country: almost seven in 10 Americans take prescription drugs. That translates to 4.4 billion prescriptions and nearly $310 billion spent on medication in 2015. Painkillers, cholesterol-lowering medications, and antidepressants top the list of drugs most commonly prescribed by doctors.
Needless to say, the work of biologists like Lee may prove to be crucial.
Americans aren’t just putting these drugs into their bodies; they’re also putting more drugs into the environment. A growing body of research suggests all types of drugs, from illegal drugs to antibiotics to hormones, enter the environment through sewage and cesspool systems across the country. And while pharmaceutical drugs—when used as prescribed—are capable of curing disease and alleviating symptoms in people, they can wreak havoc on nature.
Here’s the difference between an agorist and pretty much everybody else. Most people look at this situation and see a pollution problem and likely want the government to step in and fix it. I, on the other hand, see a lucrative business opportunity. Many of the drugs expelled discussed in this article are difficult to acquire due to regulations. If somebody was able to develop a method of extracting these drugs from the water system and recycle them into consumable drugs again, they would have the perfect black market business. It would be difficult for the State to identify and shutdown and it would remove these valuable chemicals from the ecosystem.
State socialism is quickly reaching its inevitable conclusion in Venezuela. The economy is in shambles. The nation’s currency, the bolivar, is in a state of hyperinflation, which makes buying even a loaf a bread with it difficult. While the Venezuelan government scrambles to maintain its control over the people the people are adapting. One of the adaptions they’re making is using an alternative currency, one that is effectively impossible for the Venezuelan government to control. That currency is, of course, Bitcoin:
Amid growing economic chaos, and the highest inflation rate in the world, some Venezuelans are swapping bolivars for bitcoins in order to buy basic necessities or pay their employees
The digital currency is free from central bank or government controls, and users in Venezuela see it as a safe alternative in an economy where the government has enforced strict foreign exchange controls, and inflation is running at an estimated 500%.
This week, Venezuelans rushed to unload 100-bolivar bills – the largest denomination – after the government announced that it would be withdrawn from circulation on Wednesday in what it described as a move against profiteering.
Mainstream economists have been decrying Bitcoin since it started becoming popular. Since the currency isn’t issued by a central bank the mainstream economists have declared it worthless. But the value of Bitcoin continues to rise. When I last checked it was around $800 per Bitcoin. Why does Bitcoin continue to succeed in spite of mainstream economists? Because mainstream economists are fools.
All of the things mainstream economists criticize Bitcoin for are actually important features. Not being controlled by a central bank means that a government can control it. Venezuela can’t just decide to withdraw Bitcoin or print more of it. The fact that there is a cap on the total amount of Bitcoin that will ever exist is also an important feature. Without the ability to print an infinite amount of Bitcoin no government can inflate it. The lack of inflation means that Bitcoin can be a safe method of preserving one’s purchasing power over time (a fancy way of saying savings). Bitcoin’s pseudoanonymity can protect users from the prying eyes of the State, which means it can be used in countries where the State would rather see people starve to death than utilize a currency it isn’t issuing.
Bitcoin’s popularity will likely continue to increase as more national currencies collapse. As its popularity continues to increase the technical limitations, the only valid criticisms against Bitcoin, will continue to be addressed and addressed more rapidly.
I had a blast at AgoraFest but TANSTAAFL and I’m paying for it with a nasty case of plague.
The new venue, for the most part, was better than the old venue in my opinion. The one downside was the lack of shower facilities. There was only two showers, one in the men’s room and one in the women’s room. Next year I’ll bring a solar shower and a small popup shelter for it. There was also a lack of power drops at the campsites but that has encouraged me to look into building a solar generator. They’re actually pretty cheap to setup now that the price of decent solar panels has come down significantly.
On Friday morning I gave a presentation on building AR-15 rifles. After lunch I lead a small expedition to a public range and we did some shooting. Next year, now that I know how good the range facilities are, I’m going to have a more formal shooting event. On Saturday I gave a presentation on assembling a bug out bag, attended and performed a reading at the unveiling of the new agorist short story collection, and gave a short speech about the need for anarchists to become stronger, smarter, and faster than statists.
Some of the other highlights of AgoraFest included the Discordian tent. It was easily identified by a giant inflated golden apple and contained the expected Discordian affairs inside. There was an excellent presentation on astronomy but, sadly, the cloud cover didn’t allow us to do any stargazing. Two individuals were operating small bookstores with fine selections of anarchist literature. One of the attendees brought Arduino boards and held a small introduction course. The agorist space center returned so kids had an opportunity to launch model rockets. And we ended the whole affair with a terrific firework show.
It was a ton of fun and I’m looking forward to next year.