A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

without comments

I’ve seen a few of my libertarian friends announce that they’re moving away from Google in response to the company firing the engineer who issued that now famous manifesto about gender.

On the one hand, I count this as a win. I’ve been encouraging people to leave Google’s surveillance platform for years now.

On the other hand, I count this as a loss. Apparently the fact that Google makes its money off of spying on its users and often provides the information it has collected to law enforcement (not necessarily by choice) wasn’t enough to dissuade a lot of libertarians from using Google’s services. But the company deciding it no longer wants to associate with an employee? That’s downright unacceptable!

You win some, you lose some.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 11th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Lead by Example

with 2 comments

My earlier post about the bakers that refused to bake a Trump theme cake lead me to another thought. I oppose discrimination. Personally, I find disassociating with somebody because of their race, religion, gender, age, etc. to be a form of collectivism and you know how much I hate collectivism. Even though I oppose discrimination I also oppose forcing people to associate with people they don’t want to associate with. This puts me at odds with a lot of people who oppose discrimination. In their eyes, because of my unwillingness to use force to solve what I see as a problem, I don’t actually oppose discrimination but merely pay lip service to doing so. This is a common argument between people who use force to get what they want and people who try to convince people that what they want is a good thing.

Most of the people I know who identify themselves as alt-right really dislike me because I don’t believe pushing national socialists out of helicopters is an effective way to bring about an individualist society. How can I claim to be a serious anti-collectivist if I’m not willing to kill collectivists? As I’ve said before, the ends reflect the means. If you use force to make people bend to your will, you’re not moving individual freedom forward. In the end you’ll simply replace one tyranny with another form of tyranny.

Discrimination is similar in that regard. If you force, say, a white man who is racist against blacks to associate with blacks, you have furthered discrimination. Of course, some will say that discrimination against white racists is acceptable just as many alt-righters will say that violence against collectivists is acceptable. However, the problem of discrimination hasn’t actually been solved, it has just been amplified. Instead of there being a white man who discriminates against blacks we now have him and a government that discriminates against white racists. Simply forcing somebody to act against their will doesn’t solve the problem. At best it will conceal the problem, at worst it will motivate the target to increase the severity of their actions in an act of rebellion.

How can discrimination be reduced without coercion? First, if you want to protect a discriminated group from violence, help makes of that group harder targets. Teach them how to defend themselves, help them organization mutual defense groups, walk them through the process of obtaining a carry permit and firearm, etc. That increases the cost of violently discriminating against them. Second, lead by example. Choose your friends by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Do business with people who are being discriminated against. Stand by them when somebody is discriminating against them. Show everybody who watches you that your life has benefited from not discriminating.

This applies to anything. If you want to advance individual freedom, lead by example. Live a life as free as you can, discuss the benefits of individual freedom with statists, and continue to educate yourself about individual freedom so that you can answer questions put forth by both sympathizers and critics. Make yourself what you want to see in the world. If people see that your benefiting from your way of life, they may decide that your way of life isn’t as terrible as they expected it to be and come around to your way of thinking. Then the problem you perceive will actually be solved instead of covered up or amplified.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 11:00 am

A Disturbance in the Bordertarian Force

without comments

Bordertarians, a term I like for referring to “libertarians” who advocate for closed borders, were on the receiving end of some rather hilarious karma. Members of the band Backwordz, a band that raps about libertarian concepts, was recently ejected from Canada:

One of the people sympathetic to this idea, Eric July of the libertarian-themed band Backwordz, was on his way to a gig in Canada with the rest of his bandmates when they were stopped and held at the border going into Canada.

They were denied entry into the country. They were turned around. They have to cancel their date in Toronto.

One of the members of the band had a DUI on his record and, according to Canadian law, enough time had not passed to allow him entry into the country with that mark on his record.

The border was closed to them.

Justifiably, Eric July was not at all happy about what had happened. That seems like a ridiculous rule to have in place. But more importantly, an uninvited third party, the government of Canada, stepped in between Eric July and the venue that was supposed to host Backwordz. Without any actual authority to do so, they prevented the concert from occurring even though none of the private property owners involved had any issue over the arrangement.

For some reason this has upset some bordertarians. It turns out that they didn’t quite understand what closed borders entail.

In the fantasy utopia of bordertarians, governments pass laws that prevent people they don’t like from entering the country but allow people they do like to enter the country. But that’s not how things work here in the real world. When governments can decide who can and cannot cross their imaginary lines the people aren’t given a say. If, for example, the government decides that people with a DUI charge are prohibited from entering the country even if a majority of the people living in that country find such a rule stupid, people with DUI charges don’t get to enter the country.

As a radical individualist, I oppose any interference with voluntary association, which means I necessarily oppose closed borders. In my world, unlike the world of bordertarians, Backwordz would have been able to play its show because the venue wanted them to play there. The venue’s desire to associate with the band is all that should be needed for Backwordz to play there.

You reap what you sow. If you’re a bordertarian, you should be jumping for joy at this news since a government did exactly what you advocated.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Voluntary Association

without comments

If a homosexual couple asks a baker who is a devout Christian to bake their wedding cake and he refuses for religious reasons, should the State force him to bake the cake? A lot of people, predominantly those on the progressive side of the political spectrum but even some self-proclaimed libertarians, would say yes. Now let’s turn this around. Let’s say the mother of a child who is a fan of Donald Trump asks a baker who hates Trump to bake her son a Trump themed cake, should the baker be required to bake it:

Nine-year-old Dylan Harbin, aka “Pickle,” is such a big fan of President Donald Trump that his mother SueAnn tried to get him a Trump cake for his birthday. However, according to the Washington Post, bakeries in the Harbins’ home state of California have refused to make the cake, forcing the mother to bake the cake herself.

Interestingly enough, some of the people who wanted the State to force a Christian baker to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage don’t hold the same opinion in regards to this scenario.

I support the principle of voluntary association, which includes voluntary disassociation. A devout Christian should be allowed to not bake a cake for a wedding they morally disagree with. Sure, I find them foolish for not taking the job but my personal morals rate coercing somebody into action they don’t want to take far worse than personal discrimination. Likewise, I think the bakers who refused to bake a Trump themed cake are rather foolish, they’re just leaving money on the table, but I also believe they have the right to decided whether or not they want to associate with customers who oppose their political beliefs.

If voluntary association doesn’t exist, no other rights can really be said to exist. Moreover, if somebody can force you to do something against your will, you’re not really free.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 10:00 am

How Civil Asset Forfeiture Reduces Economic Mobility

without comments

Believers in the American dream still talk about how people who had nothing managed to pull themselves up by their bootlaces and make it big. Proponents of socialism point out that such economic mobility almost never happens. Are believers in the American dream right? Can somebody from poverty elevate themselves to the middle class or higher? Are the socialist right? Is such economic mobility a pipe dream? They’re both correct.

In a free market and where property rights are recognized it is certainly possible for a person to elevate themselves from poverty to a comfortable or even luxurious life. However, such mobility seldom happens this day an age. Where both parties get things wrong is believing that the United States has a free market and property rights.

There is no free market in the United States and there sure as the fuck isn’t a concept of property rights:

Asset forfeiture primarily targets the poor. Most forfeitures are for small amounts: in 2012, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that has focused heavily on asset forfeiture, analyzed forfeiture in 10 states and found that the median value of assets seized ranged from $451 (Minnesota) to $2,048 (Utah). Given that law enforcement routinely take everything they find in a forfeiture case, these small values suggest the relative poverty of the victims.

The procedural hurdles for challenging asset forfeiture also mean that poor people are less able to get their money back. The average forfeiture challenge requires four weekdays in court; missing four days of work can be a prohibitive expense for Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Additionally, claims are challenged in civil court, where the right to counsel doesn’t apply, meaning that claimants need to hire their own lawyer.

Asset forfeiture is especially dangerous for the unbanked, because police and federal agents consider high amounts of cash to be suspect. In 2013, half of all households with incomes of less than $15,000 were either unbanked or underbanked. In a report on non-criminal asset forfeiture, the Center for American Progress argues that “low-income individuals and communities of color are hit hardest” by forfeiture.

Civil asset forfeiture allows the State to seize your property if one of its law enforcers accuses you of a drug crime or affiliation with terrorism. The only time proof comes into play with civil asset forfeiture is when the accused party has to prove that the officer’s accusation was incorrect, which is nearly impossible to do under ideal circumstances. However, as the article notes, poor individuals aren’t operating under ideal circumstances. Many of them cannot afford to take several days off of work to plead their case in court. This makes them prime targets for civil asset forfeiture because law enforcers know that they chances of the property being returned to its rightful owner is practically zero.

As I noted, economic mobility requires property rights because you have to be able to keep what wealth you acquire. If you’re able to scrape together some capital to start a side business but then have that capital stolen, your ability to elevating yourself economically through entrepreneurship is also stolen.

Freedom of Speech

without comments

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the engineer at Google who spent out a manifesto against diversity. I’m sure you’ve also heard that that engineer has been fired. There are enough posts discussing the contents of the manifesto and Google’s response so I won’t bore you with that. However, based on comments being posted everywhere, I feel the need to point out something. The First Amendment only applies to government censorship.

Yes, a lot of people are claiming that Google’s actions are an abridgment of the engineer’s free speech but the concept of free speech doesn’t apply in this case. Freedom of speech, as a concept, states that you have the right to say whatever you want without being punished by the State. It doesn’t shield you from consequences from private parties though.

If you come into my home and spout a bunch of racial slurs, I will kick you out. I won’t be abridging your freedom of speech by doing so though, I’m will merely be enforcing my right to voluntarily disassociate with you. You can continue spouting those racial slurs, you just can’t do it in my home. Google enforced its right to voluntarily disassociate with the engineer who wrote that manifesto. It didn’t prevent him from speaking out against diversity, he can still do so. He just can’t do so as an employee of Google.

While the concept of free speech prevents an agent of the government from jailing the engineer, it doesn’t shield him from consequences. An employer can choose to fire him, a friend can choose to stop associating with him, and a homeowner can choose to forbid him from entering their property.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 9th, 2017 at 10:30 am

A Shocking Development in Venezuela

without comments

I think Venezuela just shocked the entire world. In a totally unprecedented move for a socialist country, the newly established constitutional assembly has granted itself practically unlimited power:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The new constitutional assembly assumed even more power in Venezuela by declaring itself as the superior body to all other governmental institutions, including the opposition-controlled congress.

That decree came Tuesday just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela’s socialist system.

Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the ruling socialist party and leader of the body, said the unanimously approved decree prohibits lawmakers in congress from taking any action that would interfere with laws passed by the newly installed constitutional assembly.

“We are not threatening anyone,” said Aristobulo Isturiz, the constitutional assembly’s first vice president. “We are looking for ways to coexist.”

Leaders of congress, which previously voted not to recognize any of the new super-body’s decrees, said lawmakers would try to meet in the gold-domed legislative palace Wednesday, but there were questions whether security officers guarding the building would let them in.

History may not repeat itself but it certainly rhymes.

The coup is complete. While the leaders of congress may have voted against recognizing the assembly’s decrees, the only thing that matters at this point is which side has the most armed thugs at its disposal. If the members of congress who oppose the assembly can muster a fighting force great enough to take on the assembly then it has a chance to enforce its oppositional vote. Otherwise those members of congress who refuse to “get with the program” will likely find themselves against the wall in short order. Meanwhile, while the elites have their pissing match the people of Venezuela will continue to starve.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 9th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Nothing to See Here

without comments

I spent last night breathing new life into an old Mac Mini. It ended up being more of a hassle than I expected since Amazon sent me a 250GB solid state drive (SSD) instead of the 500GB SSD I ordered. When I returned the drive the replacement they sent was, once again, a 250GB SSD. Thank the gods for Microcenter.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 8th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Side Notes

Tagged with

Mixed Signals

without comments

I came across a rather amusing combination of signs when I was at Lake Monster Brewing yesterday:

Written by Christopher Burg

August 7th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Monday Metal: Lvgvs by Eluveitie

without comments

Eluveitie, one of my favorite folk metal bands, went through a fairly significant lineup change last year. Now that it appears that it has finalized its new lineup, Eluveitie is getting ready to release its next album, Evocation II: Pantheon. Like Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion, Evocation II will be an acoustic album, which I’m not terribly wild about but since Evocation I was a good album I have some hope for the band’s new acoustic effort. Moreover, the music video released for the album is actually pretty catchy:

Written by Christopher Burg

August 7th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Media

Tagged with