Thursday, September 3, 2009

NHS revives eugenics in the sick

Don't get too sick in the NHS - they'll pull your fluids. Of course, the NHS were certainly not the first to think of this.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Three words that will bring real hope and change to America

End the Fed. If you want to really understand what is wrong with the US economy, the government bailouts and the general degradation of US culture and society, you need to read Ron Paul's ground-shaking book that is in danger of igniting a bloodless revolution within the United States! Dr. Paul draws on his extensive study of economics, foreign policy and decades of experience in Washington, DC - as a foreigner in a foreign land. He is that rare breed trying to represent what the vast majority of Americans actually want (freedom from government meddling, stifling taxation and condescending handouts funded on the backs of other citizens) rather than trying to monetize his Congressional seat and promote his own prestige and power and that of his family like most of the crooks in Washington are doing. If you want to see the anatomy of modern government finance and how they use their bankster cronies to take your property through inflation and cooking the books (all 100% legal, of course), read this book! Ending the Federal Reserve will stop the monkey business and fraud and bring back a solid foundation for real freedom and prosperity instead of the quasi-Roman empire building that the crooks in Washington have sold us!

End the Fed!
End the Fed!
End the Fed!

Torture worked

The Medieval News Network (MNN) reports today that torture by representatives of the Holy Office has occurred. But, contrary to critics, the Holy Office reports that torture, indeed, has worked.

Not everyone is happy, since torture can be an ugly business ... fingernails pulled out, wives raped, pokers applied to eye-sockets and so on. But critics are at a loss for words after the Arch-Bishop of Intelligence released documents showing that torture, in fact, works. Begging for mercy after having the soles of their feet beaten until they split like ripe tomatoes, heretics have recanted their evil plots to subvert Christendom. Some methods are admittedly a little on the harsh side - water torture being among the most feared - but invoking terror in suspects held indefinitely without legal representation or any contact with the outside world is a job that somebody has got to do.

Mr. _________ is a dungeon-keep for the Holy Office. He's a normal guy with a wife and three playful kids (full disclosure: Mr. ________'s basement door is steel, airtight and has three heavy padlocks on it, which is kind of creepy given his occupation). On the weekend he plays ball with the kids and takes the family on outings. But, during the week, Mr. ________ is hard at work torturing the most hardened suspects for God and Country.

What drew him into this line of work? "I just wanted to do whatever it takes to keep my family safe. I'm like any other guy. I just want my children to grow up happy and healthy. No one wants to do the kind of work I do, it's just a thankless, grueling job, but somebody has to do it and I have a ... a ... 'gift' for torture. Not many people have that ability to just go inside the torture victim's mind and really inculcate terror into him or her. I find that it just comes natural. It's like walking or riding a bike. You just do it." Mr. _______ says the hardest part is having to hide what he does for a living from others. "People just have this tendency to misunderstand. They seem to think that only a sadistic or sociopathic personality could do what I do for a living and nothing could be further from the truth. I couldn't hurt a fly. Heck, I have to get my wife to kill spiders for me."

The Pope is worried that too much criticism of torture could hamper the Holy Office's ability to stop heresy. "We just need solidarity in this difficult time for Christendom. We have Jews, Arabs and all sorts of non-white people trying to sneak in here and pull the whole system down on its head. Pretty soon, we're going to see mosques and synagogues sprouting up all around... all this polytheism could lead to a return to the liberal values of ancient Greece and we can't have that. We must stop all dissent around the issue of torture. Heretics whose souls have been spared should thank us for racking them until their legs and arms come out of joint and and dropping them from height with their arms tied behind their back. Through these dire, but necessary, measures they were assisted in recanting before suffering the fires of eternal hell. But those who cannot be helped, those whose souls are so hardened that they refuse to recant their heresies and confess their plots to undermine Christendom taste the first flames of eternal hell licking at their body upon this earth while burning at the stake."

A poll of the peasantry shows that most peasants are uninterested in the abuses of heretics occurring in the custody of dungeon-keeps like Mr. ________. "If they hadn't done somethin', they wouldn't be in the dungeon" one local peasant woman said. A shop-keeper in the market said, "We have to be willing to sacrifice a few heretics if we intend to keep the kingdom safe from the barbarians outside our borders who would wipe us all off the face of the earth given half a chance." "We just all need to unite around the Pope and blindly do anything and everything he says because he really cares for each and every one of us as if we were his very own child" said a local monk, "It's really those who are blaming the Pope and the dungeon-keeps for doing their job that are a danger to Christendom. These 'liberals' are really just heretic-sympathizers. Maybe they could use a little splash of water in the face down in one of the dungeons to sober them up. They need to come to grips with the reality that we are facing."

9/11: The war on terror and destruction of humanity

I play the piano. Krystian Zimerman is one of the greatest pianists alive today. He is the epitome of finickiness and has a reputation for non-compromise. He is an artist of the first magnitude. There are only a few pianists in every generation who define the pinnacle of artistic excellence - he is in a pantheon with names like Horowitz, Rubinstein, Padarewski, Cliburn or Kissin. If you appreciate classical music, you can get an idea of his talent and skill by listening to my favorite piano piece by Chopin here.

In case you were wondering what this has to do with 9/11, Mr. Zimerman's Wikipedia entry contains this short snippet: "Shortly after September 11, 2001, Zimerman's custom-made piano was confiscated at JFK Airport when he landed in New York City to give a recital at Carnegie Hall. The US Transportation Security Administration decided to destroy his piano, claiming the glue smelled like explosives." [Emphasis added] This was a $200,000 instrument but that doesn't quite capture the full extent of the value of the instrument. From another online article,

Quote:
Since 1989, Zimerman has insisted on travelling with his own instrument, a Steinway concert grand to which he has made a number of modifications. As a schoolchild in Katowice (he was born in Zabrze, Poland, in 1956) he earned pocket money by helping out in a piano repair workshop.

"I started to wind strings, to repair parts of the mechanism. Poland at this time was closed off from the rest of Europe. It was the time of the cold war. You couldn't dream of getting spare parts for a Steinway. But we had plenty of Steinway pianos from the prewar era. They just needed to be repaired. So from a very early time, a piano is not just an instrument for me. I know its problems, I know what can be done to change something, and I'm not afraid to do it."

Zimerman has refined every aspect of his Steinway in order to bend it to his will, interchanging separate actions according to which repertoire he is performing. His narration would sound obsessive if he didn't couch it in such logical terms.

"You can slide out the keys and the mechanism for making the strings sound, and replace it with another one. And these keyboards have particular features. Like a human being. Every person is different, and has different ways of behaving and speaking."

Zimerman impregnates the hammers that strike the strings with specific chemicals, works on his piano's voicing and sound, has devised his own method of transportation, and permits no other technician to touch his instrument.

"I have invented my own ways of doing certain things, which are connected to the sound and its colours," he says. "It depends what the piece requires. Ten years ago, I would say that I adjusted the piano to the composer. Now I would go a step further, and say that I adjust it to a particular piece.

"Actually over the past few years, I have been moving away from sound. On one hand I'm very flattered that people like the sound of my piano. On the other hand I don't care about the sound. I'm looking for an adequate sound. If the piece is ugly, I want an ugly sound. I want the sound to do what I want, not to be beautiful. I've seen pianos like that. I sat down, the piano was beautiful, and the moment I wanted to change something, the piano was still beautiful, and I hated it — because the piano didn't listen to what I wanted to do. My piano is incredibly flexible. It almost dreams with me in the concert. I have an idea, and I don't even have to verbalise or to think how to do it. The piano reads it directly from my soul."
So, we are talking about 12 years of artistic modifications to one of the most complex musical instruments invented by human ingenuity destroyed in one act of bureaucratic fascism. In 2006, the TSA repeated its mistakes by holding up Zimerman's piano for 5 days, which impacted his concert schedule. Zimerman is one of the most well-known pianists in the industry, having recorded 10's of piano albums, hundreds of concerts, but the TSA wants to destroy or confiscate his instrument for days on end because it "smells funny".

Quote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ... That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, ... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness... Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; ... But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, ... [Emphasis added]
Maybe you don't care about pianos or pianists or classical music. Maybe you're more into NASCAR or bocce ball. But, for people like me, classical music is why we're human, it's why we're here. To create new art, widen the culture, and enrich the lives and experience of humanity. The US government is a proto-fascist state. How many priceless pieces of genius must be destroyed, how many works of art confiscated, how many musical experiences cancelled, how many irreplaceable moments of time destroyed by lobotomized fascist bureaucrats operating in the name "security" before we rise up and say enough is enough?

Man tased while just sitting on his front porch

So much for freedom of speech, private property rights, enumerated powers and all that garbage. Farewell land of the free, it was nice knowing thee.

Collateral damage: euphemism for murder

In an article entitled War, Peace and the State, Murray Rothbard says the following:

Quote:
"The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence (“aggress”) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.

Let us set aside the more complex problem of the State for a while and consider simply relations between “private” individuals. Jones finds that he or his property is being invaded, aggressed against, by Smith. It is legitimate for Jones, as we have seen, to repel this invasion by defensive violence of his own.

... if Jones finds that his property is being stolen by Smith, he has the right to repel him and try to catch him; but he has no right to repel him by bombing a building and murdering innocent people or to catch him by spraying machine gunfire into an innocent crowd. If he does this, he is as much (or more of) a criminal aggressor as Smith is. The application to problems of war and peace is already becoming evident. For while war in the narrower sense is a conflict between States, in the broader sense we may define it as the outbreak of open violence between people or groups of people. If Smith and a group of his henchmen aggress against Jones, and Jones and his bodyguards pursue the Smith gang to their lair, we may cheer Jones on in his endeavor; and we, and others in society interested in repelling aggression, may contribute financially or personally to Jones’s cause. But Jones has no right, any more than does Smith, to aggress against anyone else in the course of his “just war”: to steal others’ property in order to finance his pursuit, to conscript others into his posse by use of violence, or to kill others in the course of his struggle to capture the Smith forces. If Jones should do any of these things, he becomes a criminal as fully as Smith, and he too becomes subject to whatever sanctions are meted out against criminality. In fact, if Smith’s crime was theft, and Jones should use conscription to catch him or should kill others in the pursuit, Jones becomes more of a criminal than Smith, for such crimes against another person as enslavement and murder are surely far worse than theft. (For while theft injures the extension of another’s personality, enslavement injures, and murder obliterates, that personality itself.)

...It is legitimate to use violence against criminals in defense of one’s rights of person and property; it is completely impermissible to violate the rights of other innocent people. War, then, is only proper when the exercise of violence is rigorously limited to the individual criminals. We may judge for ourselves how many wars or conflicts in history have met this criterion. It has often been maintained, and especially by conservatives, that the development of the horrendous modern weapons of mass murder (nuclear weapons, rockets, germ warfare, etc.) is a difference only of degree rather than kind from the simpler weapons of an earlier era. Of course, one answer to this is that when the degree is the number of human lives, the difference is a very big one. But another answer that the libertarian is particularly equipped to give is that, while the bow and arrow and even the rifle can be pinpointed, if the will be there, against actual criminals, modern nuclear weapons cannot. Here is a crucial difference in kind. Of course, the bow and arrow could be used for aggressive purposes, but it could also be pinpointed to use only against aggressors. Nuclear weapons, even “conventional” aerial bombs, cannot be. These weapons are ipso facto engines of indiscriminate mass destruction. (The only exception would be the extremely rare case where a mass of people who were all criminals inhabited a vast geographical area.) We must, therefore, conclude that the use of nuclear or similar weapons, or the threat thereof, is a sin and a crime against humanity for which there can be no justification."
So-called "collateral damage" is just a euphemism for murder. You can't justify killing innocents to stop a criminal. Even if you have killed them accidentally this is, at least, manslaughter. And unless there are two moralities - one for private actors and one for state actors - then this applies to everyone, including police chiefs and five-star generals. The number of stripes on your sleeve does not justify murder or manslaughter in the pursuit of your own goals.

And, as Rothbard notes, many weapons in the modern arsenal are inherently indiscriminate and, therefore, have no conceivable use which can be morally justified. We should foreswear the use of inherently offensive and indiscriminate weapons as bombers, NBC weapons, napalm, airburst weapons and environmental weapons (for example, defoliation). Furthermore, we should stop accepting red herrings in the justification of collateral damage by supposedly "moral" governments, such as the US government and the government of Israel. The fanaticism of a criminal does not justify killing others to stop him. We must stop accepting this barbaric morality immediately before it results in the complete breakdown of modern civilization.

This Bud's for Obama + The failure of the constitution

This is just a general rant on US politics circa 2009. Today, I read that Obama is going to sit down for "a beer" with the racist Boston police officer Crowley and his personal friend Gates. This is populism at its most stomach-churning. It's like Obama's handlers want the American public to believe he really is Kal-El, capable of flying around the country in Santa-like manner sitting down and resolving all disputes with a peace-beer.

No one stops to ask whether the police ought to be able to arrest someone for belligerency. Why is belligerency an arrestable (and chargeable) offense in the first place? Since when does someone get "the right" to not be insulted just by virtue of wearing a uniform and a tin badge? Police should not be granted the power to make lawful orders (above the power to make such orders which any citizen has) and they should not be granted exception to traffic rules. I have observed in my nearly 15 years of driving (no accidents) that police cruisers are the greatest single moving hazard on the road, whipping U-turns without warning, running stoplights, stop signs, speeding and driving carelessly and distracted at will. I'm fed up with the double standard, there's no excuse for people to behave illegally because they have a magic uniform on. The Greeks have been rioting on and off for the last two years over the police hypocrisy. The police commit a crime and no one is charged or even disciplined unless it's video taped and, even then, they don't get punished to the same extent that a non-police officer would be. It's time to end the double standard. It doesn't matter what get-up you have on, the same rules apply to you as to any other person. It's become clear that the system is protecting its own and that means that the system has become the enemy of the people.

This led me to another thought: the Constitution has failed to perform its specified function and, for this reason, it ought to be scrapped. "... Whenever any form of government becomes destructive to [protecting the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." [Emphasis mine] The evidence for the failure of the Constitution is the de facto suspension of habeus corpus which occurred in the cases of Jose Padilla and Brandon Mayfield (these are the cases we are aware of, the nature of gagging NSLs means there could be many, many more such cases that we do not even know about). To me, this is a blatant, obvious violation of human rights on the part of the Federal government for which no excuse can be made. It is not a failure of a few bad apples within the system, it is a failure of the system itself. The system did what it was supposed to do to Padilla, Mayfield and the other innocent victims of the PATRIOT Act and MCA. That means that the system itself has become destructive to the ends which the Constitution was supposed to prevent it from destroying. And this means that it is time to scrap the Constitutional Federal government. We could easily break into 50 (or fewer) separate nations and dissolve the Federal government. This might sound crazy on the face of it, but how crazy is it that the "land of the free and home of the brave" is indefinitely detaining and possibly even torturing its own citizens without due process and even without media scrutiny through the use of NSL gag orders? The Federal government has so far over-stepped its own authority that it is no more insane to dissolve it than to tolerate its ongoing abuses.

Universal vitamin supplements (seriously)

So, there's a lot of talk about Universal Health Care these days. Unfortunately, while the idealization of everyone having a good doctor or prescription medicine available any time they need one, free of charge, receives a lot of hot-airtime, the reality of exactly how putting the government in charge of managing medicine suddenly makes doctors and medicines cost less doesn't get so much discussion. More importantly, I don't see anyone talking about why "health care" should be universal instead of, say, food staples or tickets to Disneyland, for that matter. Through redistribution, the government can make any subset of goods and services "universal", i.e., provide them free of charge. Roads are one example of a good that the government universalizes, that is, provides largely free of charge to everyone for good or ill.

So, a lot of people feel that roads, doctors and medicines should be universally available. Everyone understands that not everything can be universalized. Communism has been tried seven ways from Sunday and it just doesn't work, for what should be obvious reasons. But on whatbasis do we conclude that roads, but not farmland, should be universally available? On what basis do we conclude that doctors and medicines, but not food, should be universally available? After all, if we're creating a better world, it would make sense to check to see if our programs can be expected to have any chance of improving the world.

Everyone knows that there is no such thing as a free lunch. If the government provides this or that good or service for free, then that good or service is being paid for from somewhere else in the economy. That is, "free" health care is paid for, to at least an equal extent, by other things being more expensive. By lowering the price of one thing to zero, the costs of other things must go up*.

So, if we're going to make all other things in the economy more costly to universalize something, it makes sense that we choose only the most important things to be universalized in terms of cost/benefit so that we ensure that we get the most benefit (in terms of improvement of the human condition) for every dollar spent. This should not be misconstrued as a validation of the state's redistributionist behavior. I am coming from the point of view of damage control, if the state is going to wreak havoc upon us, then we ought to at least ask it to wreak havoc in the least damaging way possible. The Copenhagen Consensus produces a list of global problems that is ranked according to cost versus benefit and the most recent list places vitamin supplements at the top of the list. The question is how many lives (around the world, not just the US ( human life in Zimbabwe is not worth less than human life in the US) can be saved for a dollar spent on vitamin supplements versus a dollar on doctors and prescription drugs? If more lives can be saved from spending the dollar on vitamin supplements, then we ought to desire the state to universalize vitamin supplements more than we desire the state to universalize doctors and prescription drugs.

Granted, the problems facing the US may not be exactly the same as those facing the whole world. Nevertheless, the issue I wanted to highlight is the complete failure of anyone in the Universal Healthcare debate to even address the issue of costs and benefits. It's not enough to say that the healthcare system would be better under UHC than under the current system. Even if you establish that, you have not succeeded in establishing that the same money that goes to UHC wouldn't be better spent on vitamins in Zimbabwe or mosquito nets in Angola. Assuming the goal is to improve, as effectively as possible, the state of humanity, then we have to stop thinking in such narrow confines and try to take in the whole problem. Most importantly, we need to get the debates out of the hyper-emotionalized rhetoric of partisan politics and tackle them in a rational manner.

*Some people object that, as a believer in the free market who touts the positive-sum nature of the free market, I should be able to see that the government's actions could be positive-sum. But the reason the free market is positive-sum is exactly because it is free... all parties to an exchange believe they will be better off (and almost always really are) as a result of exchanging, otherwise, they would not do it. However, state redistribution always entails coercion of at least one party to the redistributive transaction, otherwise, there would be no need to involve the state (force). There are other forms of voluntary zero-sum (in monetary accounting terms) redistribution, for example, life insurance, charity and gambling. But, by virtue of being voluntary, these forms of redistribution are not merely zero-sum (in terms of subjective utility) since each willing participant reveals by his voluntary exchange that he is better off than he would have been had he not made the exchange. The need of involving the state (force) implies that at least one participant is being made worse off and, in money accounting terms, we know that he is made worse off by a significantly greater degree than other participants are made better off.

Surprise, surprise, the IDF liars did use WP indiscriminately

You can see video evidence of the IDF's use of White Phosphorus (WP) at the following link:

White phosphorus in Gaza: The victims

The video contains extremely disturbing images of medical damage, so I have not made the link live, you can copy and paste it into your browser if you are comfortable with R-rated medical images.

The other article I quoted in my last post on this, said, "The report repeats charges -- denied by Israel --- that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets." So then how did this Palestinian kid and half his family get WP burns, most of them to death? The poor kid in this video saw his sister and grandfather shredded bodily by the rockets. How terrible it is to have to say that it is unfortunate that his sister did not die immediately.

The use of violence is only justifiable in defense against the initiation of force by someone else, and only to the extent required to stop the aggression and/or administer conscionable punishment. I am of the opinion that the use of any bombs or indiscriminate explosive devices is almost never morally justifiable and that any use of such indiscriminate weapons must always come with criminal liability in the event of collateral damage, all the way up the chain of command. White phosphorus, in particular, is one of the most disgusting and barbaric weapons ever deployed.

Peter Schiff: Raising the Minimum Wage is Stupid

Peter Schiff slams calls to raise the minimum wage in this insightful article. You might point out that raising the minimum wage raises the income of many people who are currently making minimum wage. Remember, however, that there are many other effects - unseen effects - of raising the minimum wage. An employer will likely lay off his weakest performing workers. If the minimum wage is raised 10%, he may lay off as much as 10% of his workforce to maintain profitability (maintaining profitability is a prerequisite for maintaining the jobs of the other 90% that didn't get laid off). For those who were looking for jobs, more employers are now laying off instead of hiring. If you didn't have a job when the minimum wage got increased, finding one just became that much more difficult. So, while it is true that minimum wage earners benefit by an increase in the minimum wage, this comes at the cost of job losses among the presently employed and a decrease in the prospects that the presently unemployed will be able to find employment. Sure, there are benefits, but do the benefits outweigh the costs?

Shoot first, ask questions later

The Israel "Defense" Force has again committed wanton war crimes. Please, conservatives, don't let the occurrence of the label "Israel" scramble your ability to think clearly and rationally. It does not matter what group thinks they have what claim on whatever basis to have the lines drawn on the map this way or that way. War crimes are war crimes. It's high time that American evangelicals took a clear stand on the side of morals, Christian morals, and stopped lending active, passive or other implicit assent to this Nazistic regime in Israel that conscientiously adopts its "Left Behind" role as supposed victim of unbelieving Muslim aggression to deflect all moral criticism of its actions, no matter how wantonly bloodthirsty or depraved they may be.

"Oh but the Muslims suicide bombers..." Doesn't matter what crimes suicide bombers commit, it doesn't justify war crimes.

"But, but the Muslims want to wipe Israel off the face of the map." Not true, but even if it were, it still does not justify war crimes.

Let me break it down in simple terms for you:

Nothing justifies the commission of war crimes. "Nothing" means "no thing" as in there is not one thing that can be put forward to justify what the IDF has done to the Palestinians (and, who knows, maybe even some of their own) in Gaza. Stop letting these bloodthirsty sociopaths scramble your brain with Left Behind imagery so that you won't ask why your government is sending weapons and billions of dollars to the aid of the Israeli government who turns these weapons on comparatively unarmed peasants. The lines on the map don't concern me. The wanton razing of villages, wholesale slaughter of innocents and "shoot first ask questions later" policies do concern me.

“Problems that arise from the initiation of force by government have a solution. The solution is for people of the world to stop asking officials to initiate force on their behalf. Evil does not arise only from evil people, but also from good people who tolerate the initiation of force as a means to their own ends. In this manner, good people have empowered evil throughout history." - Epilogue to Jonathan Gullible by Kenneth Schooland

JFK Jr. was assassinated

Just watched this video. I'm convinced.

John Senior. Robert. Two attempts on Ted. John Jr.

The Kennedys are clearly the targets of a violent conspiracy. Could you imagine what a crap storm would have been unleashed on the entrenched interests in the government if someone like JFK Jr. took the Presidency? I'm not saying the Kennedys are great heroes who only care about the American people and aren't out to secure their own power and interests. But it's obvious that they are a threat to some very violent people.

How the central bank concentrates wealth in the hands of a few

Let's start with the criminal counterfeiter. A criminal counterfeiter creates new money. He spends that money in his local community. As he does so, the prices of things he buys will tend to go up (because he is increasing the demand for them). Those he buys from will then have the newly counterfeited money and they, in turn, will spend it, driving up the prices of the things they buy. And so on. Over time, the money spreads out through the community and the prices of everything are a bit higher. A fraction of the wealth of the community has been stolen and transferred to the counterfeiter and those who got early use of the new money (before prices rose, generally) by diluting the purchasing power of everyone's savings. To paraphrase Hoppe, inflation (counterfeiting) transfers wealth from the later users of new money to the early users of new money.

Kings and emperors have been doing this through the debasement of coins for millenia. They take in a batch of 10,000 coins of purity X and dilute them and spend back 11,000 coins of some purity less than X but force merchants to sell at the prices that obtained with the older, purer coins (hence, price controls). With the advent of paper money - whether under Kublai Khan in China or John Law in France - a new and easier means of diluting money emerged. Governments found it difficult to restrain themselves in the debasement of paper money and many economies have been crashed by out of control printing-press inflation.

In the central-banking/fractional-reserve model, it is no longer necessary to print physical banknotes to inflate, you just make "loans" on the books of non-existent money or, at least, money that the vast majority of the public believes to be far more liquid than it actually is. Through interbank loans, the money multiplier allows a reserve ratio of X to result in an expansion of the money supply up to 1/X its original size (i.e. 10% reserve ratio allows up to 10x expansion of the money supply).

You can think of the Federal Reserve as a kind of "money fountain" that sucks money out of the hands of the public (and not just the American public, a large part of the world's population is directly plundered by Fed inflation) and pours it out upon the politically-connected in Washington, DC. The wealthy are more politically connected than the poor. So, the poor get regressively taxed by Fed inflation and the politically well-connected rich in Washington, DC make off with the loot. It should be obvious how this concentrates wealth in the hands of the few.

Gun control

I propose that most people reason about gun control in the following manner:

- Guns enable the more efficient production of violence, much like textile machines enable the more efficient production of clothing
- Since violence is undesirable, we should want its production to be as inefficient as possible. This is in contrast to the production of desirable things, like clothing, which we want to be as efficient as possible.
- Obviously, it's impossible for guns, once invented, to be wished out of existence entirely since someone will always produce them, and the fewer there are, the greater the incentive to do so.
- Therefore, we should desire the fewest number of owners of guns possible since this will make the production of violence less efficient for all but the few persons/organizations which do own guns. And, we can then turn our attention more fully to the oversight of these few gun holders.

However, I think that this analysis is deeply flawed in that it misidentifies what it is that guns (and other weapons) actually produce. Guns do not produce violence, per se. Rather, they are used in the production of security. This mistake arises as a result of thinking about guns and other weapons primarily in their offensive capacity rather than in their defensive capacity.

Security is the nullification or dissuasion of violence and violent threats to persons or property. Many technological devices are used in the production of security - locks, cameras, vaults, fences, keypads, burglar alarms, motion detectors and, of course, weapons.

Deadly force is the "last line of defense" in any security scheme because almost any passive technological measure can be defeated if the attacker has free and clear access without fear of violent assault. A properly equipped crew (thermite torches or semtex) can dispatch even the beefiest bank vault in a matter of hours. It is the imminent violent assault which would be launched against such a crew which deters them from trying it. The violent assault nullifies the attack against the bank's property by potentially rendering the attackers lifeless and, therefore, inactive.

Hence, all physical security is ultimately founded on the potential for the use of deadly force to stop an attack. A world of violence-free security is purely fictional.

If we reason about weapons (and their application, violence) as means for the production of a positive good - security - then we realize that we should not desire there to be the fewest number of producers possible. In fact, like any other good, we should desire the production of security to be as competitive as possible. This will ensure the highest quality and lowest price by forcing producers to fiercely compete with one another for customers.

Good security minimizes attacks, thereby minimizing the need to resort of violence to stop attacks. Therefore, efficient (competitive) production of security minimizes violence. This means that widespread weapon ownership and competitive production of security services (including the use of deadly force) should be expected to tend to a minimum of violence.

In summary, I want to end on a conciliatory note:

- Gun control advocates and (thinking)* gun freedom advocates both agree that violence is undesirable
- Gun control advocates and gun freedom advocates disagree on the conditions under which violence is minimized
- Therefore, the debate should center on the reasons and evidence for the conditions under which the production of security is most efficient (i.e. the conditions under which the production of violence is minimized)

*Unfortunately, some gun freedom advocates seem to take glee in the use of violence... apparently, they've never been on the receiving end. It's no fun.

A terrible miscarriage of justice

Victoria Sprouse has been wrongfully convicted and may be sentenced to as much as 40 years in Federal prison. Sound like a wild claim? Check it out for yourself.

We need to break the back of the monstrous legal monopoly before it becomes so emboldened that it begins victimizing the public en masse. Americans need to be free to seek justice in foreign courts, if necessary, to escape the rampant abuse and injustice of the American courts

Privatization versus capitalism

There are several contemporary political debates surrounding the issue of privatization - should defense be privatized (as in Blackwater), should health insurance remain privatized or should it be socialized or nationalized? Should banking be privatized or nationalized?

Often, people point to the obvious corruption of "privatization" programs as nothing more than corporate welfare - private industry soaking taxpayers through sweetheart contracts with the government. Furthermore, there is a certain extent to which some government agencies and programs can be held more accountable since there is a presumption, for most government agencies, that government records are a matter of public record, whereas the records of private companies are not subject to public scrutiny except under certain conditions.

Unfortunately, the only problem with these observations is the association of this kind of crony privatization with capitalism. Expropriation, whether performed by the state directly or outsourced for greater "efficiency" is still expropriation by any other name. The Romans privatized tax collection, a practice called "tax farming", a terrible system of oppression. Efficiency is usually a good thing, but in the production of "bads" - such as taxation - is a bad thing. And vesting the state's activities with the safeguards afforded to private individuals should be frightening - the whole purpose of government transparency, after all, is to keep its powers in check. Privatization, in many instances, is nothing more than a way for the government to circumvent public scrutiny.

I have made the case many times for the complete eradication of the state and its replacement by competitive production of the many services it monopolizes, including even conflict-resolution (law) and security (police/military) services. But I want to be absolutely clear that this "privatization" has nothing in common with the "privatization" in political discourse today, e.g. the "privatization" of security production by Blackwater. This crony privatization retains all the bad features of government production (monopolization, coercive revenue collection) and adds new bad features from the private sector (secrecy, non-accountability, private plunder of public funds). It's a "worst of both worlds" situation. An anarchic society in a state of natural order would be incompatible with the crony privatization of Republicans which is still monopolistic, and coercive. Privatization is not an end in itself - it should be a means to the end of competitive production of goods and services that have been monopolized by the state for some time. The goal is to bring about capitalism, not nepotistic public-private partnerships.

Just prices and inflation

I think there is a connection between the folk myth of just prices and the ability of governments (and their enabling private banks) to inflate. The two primary reasons given for monopolizing currency issuance and creating central banks are:

1) Controlling inflation and maintaining "price stability"
2) Minimizing unemployment

The concept of "just price" is a folk myth that there is a certain price above which a seller is "unjust" to charge. This price is usually held to be around the going price in "normal" circumstances. For example, theatres "gouge" their customers by charging them 3x or more the price they would pay for drinks and popcorn if purchased almost anywhere else. The implication is that the theatre is, in some sense, immoral and engaging in unconscionable behavior by charging far above the "going rate" for refreshments.

However, this analysis neglects to note that everyone who is holding property (and not selling) has an implicit price tag of infinity on their property. If you stock up on water in preparation for a potential natural disaster, the "price" of the water you are storing in your garage is infinity. You're not selling. When the disaster strikes, you might share your water with friends, but you're not going to put up a sign in your front yard saying "Buy water here at the just price" even while you jeer local merchants for daring to raise their prices due to the natural disaster. However evil the merchant is, his price is infinitely lower than yours because at least he's selling water at some finite price.

Connected to the idea of just price is the idea of price-setting, that is, that sellers, by virtue of their capitalization or their scale or their pull or clout, "set" prices in the market. If you want a bag of potato chips, you have no choice but to pay at least the lowest price at which potato chips are being sold in your area by a local retailer. If that retailer raises his price, then you will have to pay more. If all the retailers raise their prices, you won't be able to escape and you will just have to cough up more cash for potato chips. In this way, you are at the mercy of retailers. Or so the reasoning goes. People usually apply this fallacious reasoning to gas prices more frequently than potato chips since gasoline is a "necessity" and potato chips, apparently, are not (I beg to differ!).

Since retailers and merchants, generally, have a "power" to "set prices" to whatever level they choose and since retailers and merchants are greedy, they will constantly keep pushing up prices. They will charge you as much as they can get away with, legally, so they keep pushing the price higher and higher. This is the folk-myth of "cost-push" inflation. Greedy corporations that produce raw materials keep raising their price higher and ever higher. This, in turn, increases the cost of producing secondary products and those greedy corporations that produce secondary products push their prices even higher to both account for their increased costs, plus an added premium for their own greed, and so on. This process continues while the poor consumer at the bottom of this economic pyramid is crushed under an ever-heavier burden of corporate greed, stealing his wealth through the process of inflationary price-setting.

Enter the heroes at the central bank and the financial regulators. Their job is to "fight" inflation by regulating the markets and the money supply to "check" the greed of corporations. When prices start to rise too fast in any one area, the government's job is to step in and stop the unchecked greed and re-establish "just" prices.

This is, of course, pure nonsense. As Dr. Friedman famously said, "Inflation is everywhere a monetary phenomenon." Inflation - a general rise in price levels - is only, ever the result of an expansion of the monetary base. The phrase commonly used is, "more money chasing the same amount of goods." Inflation could not be the result of anything else, unless the economy were constantly producing fewer and less valuable goods and services (same amount of money chasing fewer goods). But we clearly observe that quite the opposite is the case, there is a constantly increasing trend in both consumption and production. Without expansion of the money supply, prices would gradually fall (same amount of money chasing more goods).

Inflation exists because the currency issuer always benefits by inflating his currency. If the Federal Reserve "expands" the money supply by, say, 5%, then our money will purchase (1.0/1.05)% = 95.2% of what it did before the Federal Reserve expanded the money supply. So, our money loses purchasing power exactly to the extent that they print new money.

Prices of individual goods and services are, as they always have been, subject to the law of supply and demand. You can "set" the price of the "World's Best Dad" coffee mug sitting on your desk to anything you like. But good luck finding anyone who will pay more than $0.75 for it in a garage sale. And as long as you're not selling it, you've set its price to infinity. You greedy, greedy person, you!

But because people tend to believe the folk-myth that prices constantly rise as a result of the greed of price-setting merchants, the government is able to escape blame from a large segment of the population for the rise in prices. And this is why governments can get away with inflating to the extent they do without being held to account by the general public. Thank you very much, St. Augustine!

Fed secrecy finally coming back to bite it in the ass

Looks like the Fed's nefarious goings-on during the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch merger are finally catching up with it. Here's to hoping this story doesn't get buried with freshly printed Federal Reserve Notes sent out to the editors at all the major media outlets.

How to create a global government

The essence of government is territorial monopolization of law and security. Global government, then, would be a worldwide monopoly on law and security. Naturally, the monopolists of law and security that exist today (national governments) will be reluctant to give up their territorial monopolies to a global monopolist. However, faced with the prospects of losing their monopolies (by increasing competitive production of law and security by private individuals within their respective jurisdictions) or joining a larger cartel and preserving the status quo of non-competition within their jurisdiction (at the cost of yielding ultimate control to a higher, global monopoly of law and security), I think national governments will rationally choose to cartelize.

However, cartels are inherently unstable. In this case, each government stands to profit at the expense of other governments by providing a "better deal" in terms of lower taxes and better infrastructure over against its "competitors", that is, other governments. Citizens are attracted to countries with large welfare entitlements and profit opportunities (for some time, America has managed to offer the seemingly impossible: both).

Successful cartels (OPEC, Federal Reserve, etc.) are ultimately bound together through threat of retaliation/force against any member who tries to cheat on the cartel. If you were determined to build a global government, the key obstacle is how to make a meaningful cartel agreement between independent, totally sovereign nations. In the United States, we have the Federal government to enforce the cartel between the state governments. It has, in effect, become a monopolist of territorial jurisdiction, leaving very little to the independent self-direction of the states themselves.

Here are some steps that would likely need to happen to begin cartelizing national governments in preparation for a global monopoly on law and security:

1) You would want to build a worldwide financial cartel. This is accomplished by creating central banks (currency monopoly) in every country. These central banks, by operating in unison, can act as a financial cartel. Note that each central bank has an interest in defying the cartel, that is, to inflate less than the cartel (thereby becoming a "hard" currency). The hard part is forcing the central banks to operate in unison. One solution to this problem is consolidation (e.g. the European Central Bank). Once you have a worldwide central bank with the power to inflate, the rest is just details because this bank has the power to print as much money as it needs to buy all the other pieces to build the global government.

2) You would need to build a worldwide legal cartel. This is both the most important and the most difficult part. However, with enough money, it can be made to happen. You just keep buying off the local sovereigns until they put the agreements in place that make your World Court the de facto court of final appeal.

3) Worldwide security cartel. This is the lynchpin - without this, you cannot put teeth into (1) and (2), but without (2), you cannot have (3), which is why (2) is the most important piece of the puzzle. The security cartel is the overwhelming force by which the global government can overpower the dissent of any particular local government. The United States is the perfect example. No individual state would ever try to stand up to the Federal government because the Federal government has overwhelming force because it collects taxes from 50x the population (and has the central bank with which to inflate, as well) that any individual state has to collect from.

What specifically got me thinking about writing this post was point (3). I was thinking about the splinter nature of special operations units. In most countries, special ops units are not part of the regular chain of command, in fact, bypassing it and going straight to the top. The special ops from many different countries frequently train with one another, so there is a lot of "cross-pollination" and handshaking that goes on between these units. Now, imagine a global organization that links all the special operations units in the world together for the purposes of "combatting global terrorism", for example, and imagine that a particular nation tried to resist the globalization agenda. Now, even if it was a very large and powerful nation, such as the US or Russia or China, if that nation's actions could be characterized as "terrorism" or a general threat to worldwide welfare, all the special ops splinter units could be assembled into a single body and sent up against that nation. A very powerful nation's regular units would not likely fare well against special ops units which are many times more hardened, experienced, determined and flat-out deadly.

Since this is a rational conclusion, it would likely never come to this in any case. The belligerent nation, once confronted with the possibility of an alignment of these very effective special ops units from all over the globe against itself, would likely see the light and become cooperative.

Just a thought I had.

Osama bin Laden on 9/11

"I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks...

The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the U.S. system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. They can be anyone, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia...

What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who carried out the attacks...

The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which makes us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing that. You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness."

- Osama bin Laden, 17 days after the 9/11 attacks

Note that OBL likely met with the CIA in July of '01, just two months before the attacks. Creepy. Even creepier is what in the world would later convince OBL that it was in his/his family's/his country's/his religion's interests to later take responsibility for the attacks?!?

Murdering 26 people is 'no reason to punish'

The AP reports here that the US military admits that not all rules were followed during combat operations and this resulted in the deaths of 26 Afghan civilians last month. 78 Taliban fighters were killed in the process, they claim. Even giving the military the benefit of the doubt - that they are not exaggerating the number of killed who were Taliban and minimizing the number who were civilians - the ratio of collateral damage is 25%... one in four people killed by the military last month were civilian. That is nothing short of carnage.

Do you think killing those 26 civilians in order to kill the other 78 Taliban fighters got us any closer to capturing OBL? Would you be as indifferent if there had been 26 civilian American casualties? Why should you care less if 26 human beings are murdered in Kandahar than if 26 human beings are murdered in Podunk, USA? Odds are, you are no more closely related to any given American than you are to any given Afghan. But the US commander says there is "no reason to punish" any US personnel. This is a self-serving comment since if punishment were dealt out to those who deserve it, it would be the war-mongers in Washington who architected these invasions and their top brass lackeys in the military who executed it.

From the article, "Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the accidental killing of civilians in Afghanistan has become one of the military's greatest strategic problems in the faltering war." Sound familiar? Vietnam, anyone?

We need to stop this march towards a new American colonialism. We can't afford it and it's wrong to financially exploit and militarily subjugate the peoples of the various nations under de facto American occupation. We have no more business being in Afghanistan than we have being in Iraq. And now the media warmongers are beating the drums ever more loudly to confront Iran. This time, I'm afraid the Israelis are going to strike.

Forget Genocide, Democide is Death by Government

Do we really want an organization which is responsible for the deaths of 262 million people in the 20th century (that comes out to 5 human beings killed every minute for 100 years) to be the sole possessor of firearms? The professor who maintains the above website has defined the term democide to mean death at the hands of the government. A vast ocean of humanity has died at the hands of the state throughout history. Given that fact, think carefully about the following question:

Does an organization become legitimate by virtue of there being only one of its kind in existence in a given territory?

Is it the fact that the city police are the only police in the city limits (not strictly true, but close to true) that makes them legitimate? Does having a multiplicity of gun owners make gun ownership illegitimate for all but the one, legitimate organization, i.e. the police, the state? What is it about there being only one organization in a given territory permitted to use firearms (the state) that makes it legitimate? What is it that makes a multiplicity of gun owners illegitimate?

Does an individual who is being assaulted and fears for his life have the right* to use force, even deadly force, to defend himself? Let's say guns are banned by the state and an individual is assaulted by a gun-toting criminal - by sheer luck, the victim managed to wrest the firearm from the perpetrator without being harmed but the perpetrator is persisting in the assault. Does the now gun-bearing victim have a right to use that firearm to defend himself from the criminal? If not, then why does he have the right to use deadly force, so long as it is not with a gun? If so, then why is it illegitimate for him to bear a firearm at all other times so long as he only uses it when and where it is justified (as in the above case)?

I don't think it is at all obvious that the state has a moral imperative to be the sole purveyor of firearms and the use of force. When guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. A rampaging gunman can kill as many as 30-something people (cf Virginia Tech) if there is no one to shoot back. Gangs can kill dozens or hundreds of people if there is no one to shoot back. Warlords and armed tribes can kill many thousands when there is no one to shoot back. But only the modern, taxing/inflating government has the resources to kill millions, hundreds of millions, when there is no one to shoot back.

In my view, a disarmed public at the mercy of an armed state is the most dangerous idea ever. Its historical track record is sheer carnage. It's a miracle that anybody believes in it, today.

9/11 Conspiracy: My Take

I've been conflicted about whether or not 9/11 was a government conspiracy for quite some time. For what it's worth, let me give a run-down of my position.

Before I spell out my position, allow me to make some brief comments on probability and induction (reasoning from specifics to generalities).

First, consider the idea of independence in probabilistic events. If there is a 0.01% chance that your tire will blow out while driving down the highway and a 0.5% chance that you will sneeze at any given time, then the chances that you will sneeze at exactly the same time as your tire blows out while driving down the highway is simply 0.01% x 0.5% = 0.00005%. As you add more simultaneous - but unrelated events - to the mix (say, the probability of seeing a green car, sneezing and blowing a tire all at the same time), the probability approaches zero exponentially quickly.

Two events are dependent if they are not independent. Another way to say this is that if two events occur simultaneously more frequently than their individual probabilities multiplied together, we can know they are not independent events. For example, there is some probability, let's say 1%, of driving over a pothole. If there is a 0.01% probability of blowing a tire but blowing a tire while driving over a pothole occurs 0.0002% (twice 0.01% x 1%), then we know that driving over a pothole and blowing a tire are not independent events. Of course, we have to be careful about drawing conclusions about causation because dependence between events A and B does not imply one caused the other... both could be the result of some common cause C.

This brings me to induction or reasoning from specifics to generalities. In general, when two or more individually improbable events occur simultaneously, we consider this remarkable. For example, if you got struck by lightning and bought the winning Powerball ticket on the same day, that would be an astoundingly remarkable coincidence because each of those events is individually vastly improbable. Now, humans are prone to fallacies in reasoning about probabilities, so we often commit the fallacy of assigning dependence between such improbable events because it seems that each is so improbable on its own that it is impossible (except through some miracle or magic or whatever) that they could both happen simultaneously. Many parlor tricks and card tricks exploit this weakness (e.g. the Birthday "Paradox") to amaze people. Remarkability, however, is the red flag that signals the brain to start looking for a pattern - if two or more individually improbable things happen together, it's probably a good idea to start looking for the causes. The evolutionary basis for this should be obvious - if you hear a stick crack in the forest, that may or may not be remarkable in itself... maybe the wind finally overpowered a dead branch. If you hear a bird flutter off suddenly, that also may not be remarkable... perhaps it finally noticed your presence and fled. But if you hear a stick crack and about the same time hear a bird flutter off suddenly, you better get your knife out and start looking for an exit (or prepare to stand your ground).

Coincidences may be nothing more than two unlikely things happening at the same time. But the more coincidences there are, the less likely this is the case. Casinos do not believe in coincidence. If you win a large sum against the house at table A and then win another large sum against the house at table B, you are likely to find yourself gently escorted from the premises, even if you did nothing wrong. But if you win large sums at tables A, B, C and D before the casino catches on to you, they won't be escorting you out, they'll be asking you to stay while they call the police.

I want to make a brief note on Ockham's razor. Ockham's razor basically states that a simpler explanation that explains all the facts is to be preferred to a more complex explanation. This is because it is more likely to be true by virtue of its simplicity. Let's say we have to competing hypotheses for a particular phenomenon. The first hypothesis creates a model with five irreducible objects in it. The second hypothesis creates a model with three irreducible objects. The second hypothesis is to be preferred because it is more probable that fewer things caused an event than many things. There are more degrees of freedom or ways to arrange five things than three things so it is more probable that an event is the result of the interaction of three things than of five.

The single most disturbing element of a variety of terrorist attacks - the Alfred P. Murrah building, the '93 WTC bombing, the 9/11 attacks, the 7/7 London bombing and the Madrid bombing are the occurrence of similar circumstances between these attacks that should have been all but completely independent. For example, on 9/11, NORAD was running exercises involving hijacked planes. This contributed to the confusion during the response to the real hijackings. That, in itself, is a coincidence and somewhat remarkable. In the 7/7 London bombing, again, there was a terrorism-response training exercise going on at the very subway station where the bombing occurred. Now, there is a stick cracking and a bird is fluttering off suddenly and my curiosity is piqued. There are other coincidences between these attacks that I don't have the time or inclination to go into here but which I find alarming.

There were a lot of ATF documents related to the raids at Waco and Ruby Ridge stored at the Alfred P. Murrah building that were destroyed during that explosion. No BATF personnel were killed. There were a lot of SEC files that were destroyed during the collapse of WTC 7, some estimates say 3,000 to 4,000 active cases were affected. No one died in that collapse.

Let's assume for the moment that the conspiracy theorists are right and the government did cause 9/11. There are several possibilities of the form a government conspiracy to engineer the events of 9/11 might take:

1) The DoD built special remote control military planes (and failed to even go to the effort to make them the right shape and paint them with the colors of the commercial flights they were supposed to be) and fired a cruise missile at the Pentagon. The people who boarded the flights are still alive somewhere, etc.

2) The CIA and/or DoD secretly funded, trained and groomed Osama bin Laden who, along with al-Zarqawi and Kaleed Sheikh Mohammed planned, funded and executed the 9/11 attacks

3) An extra-governmental secret society with high-ranked rogue agents placed throughout the political and national security apparatus and elsewhere planned, funded and executed the 9/11 attacks.

Possibility 1 is laughable and, unfortunately, constitutes a large portion of the 9/11 Truth nonsense.

Possibility 2 is more serious, but ultimately incredible - it would entail so many moving parts and would be so vulnerable to whistle-blowing, it would never hold up without ultimately being exposed.

Possibility 3 is credible but, if true, almost certainly not provable or supportable by any evidence.

And this is where I am at, currently. I see the motive for the state to create and propagate terrorism to be overriding and the motives of Islamic terrorists to crash planes into the WTC towers to be less than convincing. But then, it is not the state itself that would be the telic actor in the most credible scenario, 3. However, a secret society forming a proto-international government might have similar motives to the state. I see patterns (someday when I have some time, I'll go back over the info and try to organize these for presentation) in the various events, but absolutely no convincing, damning evidence, certainly nothing that goes beyond reasonable doubt. If there were such evidence, a criminal investigation and trial would have already occurred, I'm sure.

I can perceive patterns that seem beyond coincidence, I can see the motives of the state or even rogue actors within the state to covertly engineer terrorism but the more likely an explanation of the terrorist attacks is, the less probable any evidence could ever prove it (how do you connect the dots between Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden, assuming there was a secret, rogue cabal within government behind both attacks?) Going back to Ockham's Razor: a secret rogue cabal within government is more credible than a vast, globe-arching Islamic terrorist network and interstate white extremist terrorist network. The government's theory has more moving parts than the rogue agent theory and both would explain the same events. So, the conundrum is this: The more probable the rogue agent theory (the fewer the moving parts) the less likely any evidence could be uncovered to show this to be the case exactly because it has fewer moving parts.

If 9/11 is the result of a secret rogue cabal within government, then the government's account of 9/11 is at least genuine and maybe even largely true. For example, I find any theories of the planes being remote piloted, etc. to be simply absurd - which implies that there really were suicidal hijackers on the planes. But that doesn't mean that they could not have been ultimately funded and directed by a rogue element within our government (and other governments). Also, I'm genuinely conflicted on the credibility of the collapse of WTC 7 but can't imagine how anyone could pull off loading it with explosives. In other words, possibility 3 begins to become unfalsifiable and consistent with the mainstream theory.

The difference between applying Ockham's Razor to nature and to conspiracy theories is that nature is not attempting to actively conceal its secrets and frustrate attempts to discover its underlying workings. Conspirators, on the other hand, are. So, the more probable a conspiracy theory is, the less likely any evidence will support it.

That's my take on 9/11. In my mind, it is very possible that the actions of those within government either actively or passively contributed to the events of 9/11 (among other terror events). But at the same time, the more likely a conspiracy theory is, the less evidence there is which can be brought to bear to support that theory (and exclude other theories), that is, the more unfalsifiable it becomes. Nevertheless, it is not outside the realm of possibility and certainly not "beyond them", there is no a priori reason that terrorists must wear robes and read the Q'ran rather than wear suits and ties and read the Wall Street Journal.

My fellow Americans: Our government tortures and we must stop it

Alfred McCoy, professor of history at UW-Madison and author of A Question of Torture, discusses in this audio interview the history of the CIA's torture programs and their manifestations in the so-called war on terror. For more information, you can read an article by McCoy where he discusses what he calls the CIA's "Manhattan Project of the Mind".

It is plain to see that the US government is actively involved in torture. Everyone in the world but Americans knows it. It's time we stopped accepting the implausible "plausible deniability" arguments that the government-media complex keep suckering us with. This is not medieval Europe, this is the home of the free and the land of the brave. Wake up, people!

Doctor, policeman and heart attack victim

There are three individuals stranded on an island, without radios and with no other way to contact the rest of the world and no one knows they are stranded on this island. The first individual is a doctor, and he has all the tools he needs for his practice with him. The second individual is a policeman, he has a gun, and all the other accoutrements of police work. The third individual is a heart attack victim.

Now, the heart attack victim is in a life and death emergency. The heart attack victim and the doctor have a long history of ill will with the doctor having been the victim of repeated threats and attempts on his life by the now heart attack victim. As a consequence, the doctor refuses to care for the heart attack victim and save his life. At this point, the police officer decides he must intervene: after all, if the doctor does nothing, the heart attack victim will die and this is almost tantamount to murder since the doctor has the capability to save the man's life but is refusing to act.

First, the polieman threatens to imprison the doctor if the heart attack victim dies. The doctor is unmoved by this threat. So, the policeman tasers the doctor in an attempt to force him to treat the heart attack victim... only a few minutes are left until the victim is unrecoverable. Finally, the policeman draws his pistol and places it to the doctor's head and threatens to shoot him if he will not treat the heart attack victim. The doctor still refuses.

Now, if the policeman fires, both men will die. If the policeman does not fire, the heart attack victim will die but the doctor will have gotten away with what the policeman sees as negligent homocide. After the heart attack victim dies, the policeman can place the doctor in handcuffs and imprison him, but to what avail? This will not bring back the heart attack victim to life.

I provide this illustration in order to ask the following question: Is the threat or use of violence against a doctor who refuses medical service to someone who is experiencing a medical emergency morally justified? Does it matter what reasons the doctor has for refusing (no reason, avoidance of legal liability, inability of victim of medical emergency to pay, etc.)? Note that I am not asking whether it is good or bad for a doctor to refuse medical care in this or that situation. Rather, I am asking is the threat or use of violence against a doctor justified in a situation where he or she is refusing medical care to someone in a medical emergency?

Please justify your answer either way.

War is Sin

I don't know who Chris Hedges is but this piece on the sin of war is powerful. As an ex-neocon (ideologically, that is), I feel a great deal of shame about my unapologetic support for the US government's imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I fell trap to the human fascination with war, which Hedges uncompromisingly lambastes, "... the awful knowledge that is hardest to digest [about war is] the knowledge that the line between the victims and the victimizers is razor-thin, that human beings find a perverse delight in destruction and death, and that few can resist the pull. At best, most of us become silent accomplices." Worse, I was a vocal accomplice. The least I can do to recompense for my sins in this regard is to become a vocal opponent of mass murder, i.e. war. War is sin. I supported the US government's wars of aggression and I regret that.

Can you face the truth about your government?

What is the truth about your government? Murray Rothbard eviscerates every myth surrounding the State in this short essay. The truth about the government of whatever country in which you reside is that it is nothing more than a crime syndicate with a monopoly on law and force that maintains the perception that it is morally legitimate. Does this sound like insanity to you? If you are scientifically inclined, do you remember the feeling of bewilderment and borderline disbelief the first time you read about Einstein's theory of relativity or Schrodinger's and Heisenberg's formulations of quantum mechanics? If you are mathematically inclined, do you remember how you felt the first time you encountered Newton's and Leibniz's calculus of variations? Anyone who has experienced a mental "conversion", that is, a realignment of the mental model by which they interpret the world has experienced the initial feeling of disbelief and disorientation upon encountering a staggering challenge to their own preconceived ideas - possibly cherished - with evidence and clear, consistent reason.

Most people believe that modern government is "pretty good overall", that while it has some bad apples in it, most of those eventually get found out and drummed out by exposure and embarrassment in the media, and so on. But if you look at history dispassionately, it does not appear that there is any improvement or reduction in the corruption of the State. Granted, the State finds it harder to control the flow of information to hide its crimes, with the advent of new technologies that enable the rapid dissemination of information. However, this indicates no "progress" or "enlightenment" on the part of our rulers from the times of whips, racks and crucifixions. Consider the eagerness of the Bush administration and its allies (Blair, Brown, Chirac, Sarkozy, Merkel, Howard, and the US puppets in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.) to resurrect these powers in kind: Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, waterboarding, indefinite detentions even of US citizens (Padilla) and "outsourcing" of torture to foreign countries (Egypt, Syria) and private contractors (David Passaro), secret imprisonment (extraordinary rendition... some vestige of this program still exists under Obama), warrantless wiretaps, sneak-and-peek search warrants, no-knock warrants, gagging National Security Letters (all thanks to the most wonderful PATRIOT Act), shoot-to-kill protections (Australia), even summary execution of innocent civilians in broad daylight (de Menezes). Western governments are supposed to be models of enlightenment and moral decency in politics but the intent to exploit the populace to whatever extent it will bear has never diminished and the evidence bears this out.

As for the supposed moral goodness of Western governments, history shows again and again that there never was any moral superiority of Western governments over others. We need only look at the war crimes of the Allies in targeting civilians in the bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the Allies were much more successful and deadly in their efforts to kill civilians than the Axis powers were even if it was the Axis powers that first resurrected the doctrine of targeting civilians) - not to mention the unapologetic war crimes of General Sherman against fellow Americans during the war of 1861-1865 - the war crimes committed in Operation Keelhaul, the conspiring of US generals at the level of the Joint Chiefs to initiate and simulate terrorism against American citizens in Operation Northwoods, the war crimes committed by the CIA in MKULTRA and the crimes against humanity committed during the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments on black men. Not to mention the orchestrated deposition of an elected leader like Mohammed Mossadegh in Operation Ajax and innumerable other imperial interferences in the affairs of other countries, especially in South America and the Middle East. And I have not even touched on the rampant abuses of basic human decency and dignity within our own borders in the brutal crushing of civil rights protests, the FBI's targetting of anti-war movements and even intimidation of celebrities and people of note.

Reason tells us (see Rothbard's essay above) that the inevitable result of granting an organization the powers which we entrust to the government (monopoly on law and force) is exploitation, war, destruction and constant conflict. The historical record amply confirms what reason tells us. The state is a crime syndicate, a protection racket and nothing more.