Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Regarding the NSA...

In the great hoohaa over the leak, some really important ideas are being missed or lost in the frothing.

IMHO, one original purpose of the 4rth amendment (which still remains as an important purpose) was to prevent harassment of opposition by government.  We have since assigned it other values as well: I have no problem with that.  But the current practices of the NSA are not consistent with what I think of as one original purpose.  The ACLU is doing the right thing to challenge this in court.

The amount of information gathered by the NSA probably exceeds that of the East German Stasi (secret police) and various other police state secret agencies.  The difference is that it is automated and easier to use and abuse on ANY scale.

We need public accountability of our secret organizations: the Google and other pleas to make public how much and what sorts of information they are providing are important.  But they are tiny, piecemeal steps when we need an overall policy.  And the fact is that Google makes it money by knowing everything about you that it can.  Google may well attempt to do privately the same thing the NSA is doing, by buying other private data (or perhaps in the future creating a consortium.)

Libertarians will be outraged because it is government doing this: but why should ANYBODY, including private parties, be allowed to do this?  We need better ideas and laws about privacy and record keeping that apply to corporations and individuals, as well as the government.  We should not allow Google or other corporate giants to accrue similar amounts of information, which of course then could be sold to or subpoenaed by government or others who wished to harass you.  But libertarians are famous for not doing anything about it.

Conservatives are not truly outraged.  But even the dumbest might be outraged if you tell them the NSA could make a pretty good guess as to who has guns, how many, and what type.  I don't know for sure if the NSA could know that, but it is plausible.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Taxation justified.

Libertarians generally have no decent response to Georgist justifications of a tax on land.  David Friedman points out that because "most income in a modern society does not come from unproduced resources, hence the solution to the problem of who is entitled to collect it does not matter very much -- not a very satisfactory response, but I had no better one."  In other words, because land taxes could not raise enough to fund a welfare state, the issue could be ignored.

The Georgist idea of unproduced means "unproduced by humans."  But if we expand the idea a little to mean "unproduced by individual humans", then all social facilities are unproduced, and thus taxation based on their use is justified.  Take for example the very large value of American residency: you get to live and work in America, with excellent defense, law enforcement and economy.  People spend large amounts of money to immigrate legally or illegally.  Residents make use of this value: why should they not be taxed for it as they might be taxed under a Georgist system of paying taxes on land they use?

Update 7/14/2013:

Like most good ideas, this one has antecedents that go way back.  Tom Paine had some similar ideas, that can be updated to be very much like mine.

Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice” and the Origins of Social Insurance [More...] (Edit)
Thomas Paine proposed the first realistic plan to abolish poverty on a nationwide scale, a universal social insurance system comprising old-age pensions and disability support, and universal stakeholder grants for young adults. Compared to Condorcet, Locke, Spencer, Rawls and especially Hayek.

What's new

I've got a pretty good flow of new links from about 10 of the blogs that I read (whose authors despise libertarian) and a few contributors whom I can't thank publicly by name right now.  And I still keep finding new and rich ways to interconnect the many categories.
This summer, I might just be able to enter the 500+ links and few hundred quotations from the old site, and then close it down.  The Twentieth Anniversary is approaching!

NEW 6/09/2013: Ordoliberalism [More...]
Ordoliberalism is the German variant between social liberalism and neoliberalism that emphasises the need for the state to ensure that the free market produces results close to its theoretical potential. [more...]
NEW 6/09/2013: Thank you, Singapore [More...]
Singapore's "managed capitalism" centralized planning has resulted in a system with roughly 1/4 the cost of the US "free market" health care system and much better health outcomes. [more...]
NEW 6/07/2013: Morals and Markets [More...]
"We present controlled experimental evidence on how market interaction changes how human subjects value harm and damage done to third parties." A research article published in Science. [more...]
NEW 6/07/2013: Science Denialists
Libertarians overlap strongly with science denialists on global warming, vaccines, fluoridation, creationism, HIV, smoking, ozone hole, pollution, etc. [more...]
NEW 6/07/2013: Motivated Rejection Of Science [More...]
They find that endorsement of a laissez-faire conception of free-market economics predicts rejection of climate science and other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. [more...]
NEW 6/07/2013: The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science [More...]
"Motivated reasoning" helps explain why we libertarians (among others) are so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts. [more...]
NEW 6/06/2013: Degrees of Laissez Faire [More...]
A list of a dozen different types of economic theories that support various forms of "laissez faire." Includes a discussion of capitalism versus laissez faire. [more...]
NEW 6/05/2013: Should We Trust Economists? [More...]
"No matter how much we might wish they were, economists are not go-to experts who know just how the world works or how to fine tune it...But they do have a lot of interesting things to say. They might help you clarify or re-evaluate your own beliefs about how the economy functions. They can also help you spot the flaws in each other's arguments." [more...]
NEW 6/03/2013: Freeman on the land (RationalWiki) [More...]
Freeman on the land is a form of pseudolegal woo in various English-speaking countries. Freemen believe they can opt out of being governed, and that what normal people understand to be "laws" are merely a form of "contract" that applies only if people consent to it.[more...]
NEW 6/03/2013: Sovereign citizen (RationalWiki) [More...]
The sovereign citizen movement claims that a person has the right under common law (or at least their bizarre sham definition thereof) to declare him/herself as essentially a nation unto themselves, and therefore may not be subject to the law of the land where they live.[more...]
NEW 6/03/2013: The Tax Protester FAQ [More...]
A magnificent and thoroughly documented FAQ 'to provide concise, authoritative rebuttals to nonsense about the U.S. tax system that is frequently posted on web sites scattered throughout the Internet, by a variety of fanatics, idiots, charlatans, and dupes, frequently referred to by the courts as “tax protesters”.' [more...]
NEW 6/03/2013: Tax protester (RationalWiki) [More...]
Tax protester (less commonly, tax protestor) is a general category to describe anyone who does not believe they are required to pay various taxes... The term "tax protester," while the preferred nomenclature, is somewhat misleading. In more common parlance they might be called tax deniers -- and in practice tax evaders. [more...]
NEW 6/03/2013: Pseudolaw (RationalWiki) [More...]
Pseudolaw encompasses any legal theory developed or action taken that relies heavily on frivolous arguments trumped up in legal language. [more...]
NEW 6/03/2013: Tax Protestors And Other Pseudolaw Cranks
There is strong overlap between libertarians and tax protestors. Tax protestors have amazing reinterpretations of laws and history that they claim justify independence from paying taxes. [more...]
NEW 6/03/2013: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
One of the finest SF novels ever written. But the high levels of detail about a libertarian society fail to make such a society plausible, and it suffers badly from the "we don't give a hoot about other people's problems so we blame them" aspect of libertarianism. [more...]
The Kind of Anarchism I Believe in, and What's Wrong with Libertarians [More...]
Noam Chomsky points out that anarchism means requiring justification for authority: not blind opposition to authority. He describes libertarianism as a preference for private, unaccountable authority. And he discusses our system of propaganda and control. [more...]
United Nations Tells Ron Paul To Shove His Lawsuit Right Up His Ass [More...]
"Last we checked, Ron Paul had filed a lawsuit with the World Intellectual Property Organization (an agency of the UN, which he HATES) in an attempt to expropriate both and from his supporters. So how'd that all turn out for Paul? Not so well."[more...]
Ten Great Public Health Achievements -- United States, 1900-1999 [More...]
"Since 1900, the average lifespan of persons in the United States has lengthened by greater than 30 years; 25 years of this gain are attributable to advances in public health." [more...]
Keynes on Laissez-Faire [More...]
Gavin Kennedy writes: "‘Laissez-nous faire’ is not advocated as a universal principle for merchants and their customers; it was a very partial principle for merchants only... [Mill and mine owners] wrapped themselves in laissez-faire flags to wipe up the blood of their employees when they demanded their own freedoms and not those of their labourers or their customers." [more...]