Monthly Archives: September 2012

Opting Out

Standard

Some people, when envisioning the dismantling of the State, picture a violent revolution, fought by guerillas against well armed soldiers. Others, however, believe that it will be a rather peaceful process where more and more people simply ignore the government and it eventually withers away. I think that a long lasting change in the conduct of human affairs, such as creating a stateless society where a state used to exist, requires efforts resembling the latter vision. Things like this have to come about organically and voluntarily; they cannot be imposed (that would be contradictory, really). But I don’t think it will be as simple as described. One can only opt out of the State so much before it retaliates (assuming that she remains a resident in that state’s claimed boundaries. The ultimate opting out of expatriation, which is beyond the scope of this post. But fret not, I’ve written of it here.) She can refuse to accept government contracts, limit tax exposure, homeschool, etc. These are things she can do on her own. But if she refuses to pay income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, payroll taxes, or any other form of state robbery, the state will attempt to punish her. What is required then is a critical mass of individuals choosing to opt out in this way, so much that the state can’t possibly punish them all. For the ones they do try to punish, jury nullification can supplement the peaceful efforts. This will require much coordination and much courage. It might take a while to get to this point.

The biggest hurdle in this starts with us as individuals. Are our minds free? Do we live each day as though we can accomplish what we want as long as we work hard enough, obstacles aside? Sometimes I focus so much on how to become freer and shrink the State that I lose focus on what I want to do with all that freedom. We should live with a free mindset, not letting the State take away any more joy out of our lives than we let it. When or friends see how happy and successful we are, they will ask where we get or joy from.

As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Advertisements

Using Violence to Stop Violence (on TV)

Standard

wpid-Using-violence-to-solve-violence.jpg

I was reading through the Bangkok Post and came across a letter to the editor complaining about the amount of violence on the Thai television networks. That is quite fine. It is reasonable to write to the newspaper about what you see as a local issue. However, he suggested that the government not allow certain types of shows to be aired during certain hours. While some might see this also as a reasonable measure, Anarcho-Buddy exists to ask people to look at things critically.

Basically, what is implied by any government mandate is the use of force; i.e. violence. In order to make a ban against TV shows during certain hours effective, the government will have penalties for any network that chooses to disobey. These will typically be in terms of fines. But what happens if they choose not to pay any fines? The usual recourse to this is being arrested and put into a cage. And if one physically resists being put into a cage, they risk possibly being shot. Hence, we come to this conclusion: all government laws are enforced at the barrel of a gun.

And this was the irony I saw in this situation. This man, concerned about what his child watches, wanted there to be less violent programming on TV. I would assume that he would also like there to be less violence in society generally. But what it seems most people have failed to realize is that government is violence. Everything it does is through violence or the threat of violence (otherwise taxes would be called donations). If we really want to reduce the amount of violence we must reduce the State.

I am not claiming that all violence would then go away, for that would be utopian. I would rather be a realist, which I don’t think is necessarily opposed to idealism. Why not have as our ideal the least amount of violence possible? Wouldn’t the most realistic way of achieving this be getting rid of the supposed “legitimate” violence of the State? Max Weber defined the state as the entity which claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a given geographical territory. We would really be utopian to expect that someone granted such a monopoly would not abuse it.

So, if this were a “Dear Abbey” letter rather than a letter to the editor, I would make the following suggestions. First, realize that all government action is backed by violence or the threat of violence, and in asking it to ban more non-aggressive behaviors you have increased the amount of violence and supported its legitimacy. I hope that this realization would lead to a radical change in how one relates to the State. Second, maybe suggest a good book for your little one to read or some other activity than watching TV. Have your wife help you in this regard. I think your child will be better for it and I hope this is practical.

Thanks for reading.

Bangkok Chronicles: Sunday August 26

Standard

I slept like a rock after not seeing a bed for 36 hours or so. Kuhn Tor (Kuhn is added to a name to show respect, kind of like how “San” is added at the end of a name in Japan) took us on a short tour of the neighborhood. It is definitely densely populated, being close to Silom road and next to a station of the Sky Train. There is a grocery store, which is surprisingly expensive. Interestingly enough, it is more affordable to eat out (at the reasonably priced restaurants, of course) than it is to get the bulk of one’s nourishment at the grocer. I’m not sure why this is but it seems like a worthy subject of study. I wonder how much different things will be once the US dollar hegemony ends and the Fed is no longer able to export inflation to the dollar-holding central banks of the world. We then took the Sky Train (BTS) all the way to the Siam stop, at which is where the Siam Paragon is, which I believe is the largest mall in Thailand. And it is huge!

I figure somebody in Bangkok must be doing well, or else a lot of tourists must be, since this mall had designer stores like Dolche & Gabana, Armani, etc. as well as BMW, Maserati, and Lamborghini dealers. I can’t imagine trying to drive a Lamborghini in Bangkok. (Interestingly enough, the grandson of the co-founder of Red Bull would allegedly hit a pedestrian with his Ferrari a week later). I think it also has the bookstore with the largest collection of English books in Thailand. There is surely plenty to see (pictures to come later).

Most people in the mall were on the lower levels, where affordable things, such as goodies at the food court, were available. Foot traffic was pretty crazy. Go to the top floor, and you’ll find a bowling alley and IMAX theatre. And they have some interesting cinematic services available, such as getting a couch and a blanket with food service at your movie. Not sure how much that costs, but I think it costs roughly the same as just going to a new release in the US does.

We spent most of the day here, trying new things. One of the highlights, and what I wish I would have caught a picture of, was the Japan Fest that was happening right outside. Imagine all kinds of anime characters becoming live action, complete with Japanese girl on stage in a short-skirted school uniform, singing a pop song. They had all kinds of costumes. There was Sailor Moon, samurai, even guys looking like they were straight out of Call of Duty. There is also very interesting food offered at the Paragon. One thing we tried was a milk tea cake/ice cream ball thing. It was…interesting. The most tasty drink I might have had so far was from a place with “Amazon” in the title, which was some type of mango smoothie. Yummie.

After being at the Siam Paragon, it hardly felt like I was in Asia. Most of the signs in the mall were in English. I dislike the feeling of sameness everywhere I go. It kind of reminds me when I first took a commercial flight (the only time flying before that was in someone’s private, single engine biplane in Bismarck, ND) and flew to the Denver Airport. It was so huge! I had a 2 hour layover and decided to see how many times I could walk from end to end. That is actually still what I do when I’m in airports: tour. But then I realized that I just kept seeing the same stores over and over. What is that very popular bookstore called? Hudson? And then the same restaurants. And then the same retailers. With the same products, only with a different city pasted across the sweatshirts or coffee mugs. Had these places lost any locally distinctive trait?

Hence, I’ve decided forthwith, that if presented the opportunity (if reasonably priced) I will opt for the local experience over the possibly more comfortable and familiar chain. I will stay at the older couple’s B&B rather than the hotel. Or whatever else seems necessary. Isn’t that part of the reason that we travel? To experience something different? You can get McDonald’s at home.

The NSA Says It’s Not Spying On You

Standard

But for some reason it’s building a $2 billion data center in Utah. The Guardian reports how an NSA insider blew the whistle on how the intelligence agency is spying on Americans and is being harassed because of it. It also reports how the House approved the renewal of the FISA amendments allowing warrantless wiretapping happened last week. See how the criminal in your neck of the woods voted. The surveillance state has gotten pretty ridiculous. Just thought you should be aware.

An Update On Brandon Raub, Political Prisoner

Standard

In my previous post regarding how not even ex-marines are safe from the police state, I touched upon the story of Brandon Raub. In case you missed it, he was committed to a mental institution after posting remarks critical of the government on a private Facebook page. Unlike the rest of the marines mentioned, Raub has not yet been murdered by the police and plans to sue the FBI.

The author of the this link is the chair of the rEVOLution PAC and apparently this organization is helping Mr. Raub. Will government courts decide against government agents breaking government laws? We’ll find out!

P.S. This is a link to a piece written by Mr. Raub’s attorney. It regards the practice by despotic regimes of classifying political prisoners as mentally unstable so that they could be detained without trial.

Democide

Standard

image

Published in 1997, R.J. Rummel wrote a book called Death by Government. He helped popularize the term, “democide,” which refers to the murder of any person or people by government. I think it relates to the following story. I was watching the news last night and it was reported that 58 people drowned after the boat that they were sailing on sank near the coast of Turkey. The boat belonged to a smuggler and most of the passengers were illegal immigrants who were fleeing Assad and war-torn Syria. I think their deaths can be directly related to the actions of governments and I’ll explain why. The obvious reason of how this tragedy can be chalked up to the State is that these people were trying to escape tyrants and wars, both creatures of the State. Without the ability to conscript or tax, raising an army for anything but defense would be very counterproductive and a losing proposition in terms of wealth and lives. Violence is expensive and one can become much more wealthy from trade than by theft. Secondly, without a state claiming a monopoly of force over a given geographical area, there wouldn’t be any political borders. Borders would simply be where one individual’s real estate ends and another individual’s begins. If this were the case, it is very likely that there will be a property owner along the coast who would most willingly accept refugees (perhaps either at a price or through a mutual aid service). There wouldn’t be any “smuggling” and so those travelling wouldn’t have to do so covertly, but could move about as any legitimate traveller, as this is what they would be if not for the State declaring them to be “illegals.” Hence, their travel would be much safer since they could openly use the services of professional transporters with ships or planes designed to carry a large amount of passengers, rather than a fishing boat as in this case. In this way, I would claim that the government of Turkey partially carries the blame in this case, as they took the choice away from those who would willingly exchange with and take in these refugees. The government of Turkey has committed democide by actively disallowing the free exchange between refugees and the residents of Turkey.

David Seaman – Civil Liberties Hipster

Standard

I’ve been following David Seaman’s YouTube channel for a while now, and he seems to keep me pretty up to date with electronic privacy issues, the NDAA, the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order, and related issues without being too overwhelming in output. He is also running for Congress, but I haven’t looked too much into what he believes about most other things (though I have some idea when he says he’d rather see money being spent on the TSA go to education or NASA. Is there not a way to improve the education levels of Americans or space exploration without expropriating funds through the threat of force?). In this particular video he talks about a story in The New York Times regarding an FBI agent’s laptop that was hacked and found to have many data about individual iPhone users. The majority of Seaman’s video is a complaint about the comments by reddit users who make light of the fact that the government is spying on people. Good for him. I do, however, question parts of his call to action, particularly the portion in which he says that one should write his or her congressman to threaten to support his opponent if he does nothing to stop these abuses. The problem is that hardly anyone in Congress cares about individual liberties or privacy, and the same applies to their potential opponents. Even worse, their opponent might want to destroy your privacy even more. As well, with politicians you are buying a packaged deal, and an improvement in privacy might be bundled with someone who wants to tax you even more. (I also question whether sending money to the ACLU is the best thing to do to advance civil liberties). Other parts of his call to action seem much better, like contacting local media outlets and addeing them to cover these stories. Not sure how effective it will be (I plan to try this myself) but I’m so glad it is something outside of the political process. I grow tired of the inefficacy of democracy, where people think voting is the only way to change things. This reminds me of another video I saw today by Tom Woods. He created a new page on his website: tomwoods.com/afterpaul. It is about what practical actions individuals can take to advance liberty in a post-Ron Paul political environment. Personally, I’m not sure what the best way to advance the Non-Aggression Principle is, but I looking forward to learning it with you.

The Bangkok Chronicles: Thursday, August 23 – Saturday, August 25

Standard

Lea and I flew out of Boise at 9PM Thursday, headed for Seattle. Travelling this late in the day, there was no line to get through security, so of course everyone would get the pleasure of going through the body scanner. I opted out for the pat-down, for which I had to say to the TSA officer: “Be gentle. It’s my first time.” It took a surprisingly long time, with very redundant methods. The fact is though that I could easily sneak a prohibited item past this screening. It’s hard to believe that anyone actually thinks that what the TSA does is for the purpose of security.

It would be in Seattle that we would wait for 16 hours for our flight to Seoul. We passed the time quite well, spending the first hour trying to recover her checked luggage (the layover was so long that they wouldn’t be able to store it until the transfer to the next flight) and pay $9 for someone to hold on to it. We sat in a Starbucks which fortunately served tap water so I didn’t have to pay $4 for a bottle of Fuji. After doing a quick Udacity lesson (which I would highly recommend checking out), we started to read the Hunger Games together. What I at first thought was a teeny-bopper book due to its popularity turned out to be something better than I expected. I’m pretty hooked. I also spent a couple of hours finishing a letter to my dear grandmother in Berthold, North Dakota. Shout out to you, Grandma.

We went on to find a place to sleep in the Seattle airport. This was surprisingly hard to do. The only airport that I’ve slept in overnight was the San Francisco one, and this was made easier by the fact that one could lay out on its furniture. Unfortunately, Seattle had no such forethought, and nearly all its seats were divided by armrests. I tried sleeping sitting up, which didn’t work for me at this point. I then found a table and rested my head on it. This was slightly more comfortable, but I couldn’t release consciousness. So I laid out on the marble floor. I was able to fall asleep but woke up frequently, often to the Gestapo playing every 10 minutes on the PA system: “If you see something, say something.” We later found seating without the armrests (the only piece I found of its type) and were able to spread out on that. Sadly, it still had metal dividers between the seats and sleeping was rough.

Upon waking up, we decided to get cleaned up and head into downtown Seattle for a bit. We took the train and ended up perusing through Pike’s Market. The place I really wanted to see, Chinatown, ended up being cancelled due to time shortages.

We got back to the airport and through security, headed to Seoul. With the greater traffic through the TSA cattle lines, I was able to go through a metal detector instead of a porno-scanner or groping. But on my way to the plane, I moved past a K9 and its handler. Not sure if they were searching for drugs or currency. For some reason the elderly Korean in front of me was stopped for questioning. I, myself, was stopped by what I believe to have been a U.S. Customs agent who asked me where I was going, if I was a student, and how much cash I had on me. This renewed my resolve to make sure that I won’t be victimized by capital controls or precious metal confiscation. Protect your wealth.

It was quite a long flight to Seoul; about 11 hours, I believe. Attempting to get in tune with the culture, I watched a silly Korean movie called, “Dancing Queen.” It is about a Seoul man who is a civil rights attorney and is persuaded to run for mayor. His wife secretly pursues a career as a pop star. I do like that in the debates between the protagonist and his competing candidates that he acknowledges that government bureaucrats have no idea how to run the lives of anyone else. But then when he said he would surround himself with experts and used the platitude of trying to get everyone’s input in coming up with a solution, it seemed less powerful. Strangely, what led to a drop in his popularity was the revelation that his wife is a dancing girl. Maybe this isn’t so strange. The public’s opinions on political figures are based on irrational thing. Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend this movie.

Interestingly, at the Incheon Airport in Seoul, we had to go through security to make a transfer. However, security here is not nearly as demeaning as in the U.S. There were no naked scanners or pat-downs, no taking off shoes or belts. I did, however, get the bottle of water given to me on the flight taken away. Can’t have it all, I guess.

The last leg of the trip, from Seoul to Bangkok, was pretty rough for me. I was very tired and choosing to wear long pants was a mistake. I have trouble napping on airplanes (or anywhere while sitting up). I’m very glad I wouldn’t have to make the return trip for months.

We arrived at the southeast Bangkok airport and took a taxi to our current residence at Escape at Sathorn Terrace. Bangkok is a gigantic town. I have a hard time telling what the “downtown” section is because the skyscrapers go on and on. Our landlord, Tor, was very polite and generous in greeting us at nearly midnight. His English is very good, but he talks quickly and I can’t quite pick up everything. He bid us goodnight and I slept like a rock.

No One is Safe From the Police State (including ex-Marines)

Standard

I suppose I could get in trouble with some Marine veterans, since there is no such thing as an “ex-Marine.” But various individuals who happened to formerly be active-duty Marines have had terrible experiences with law enforcement for no apparent or good reason.

Brandon Raub

The most recent case is that of Brandon Raub of Virginia. He apparently wrote things on Facebook critical of the government and was arrested and assigned to a mental institution without being charged. You can read the full account by William Norman Grigg here and Lawrence Hunter here.

Victim of shooting, Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.

Another case was that of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., whose Life Alert necklace was accidentally set off (have you seen the design for those things? I wouldn’t be surprised if false alarms happened all the time).

The police came to his home and he claimed he didn’t need help. They broke down his door, tasered him, and shot him dead. A NY grand jury decided that no criminal charges would be filed against the police. Mr. Chamberlain’s family is suing the government. Wikipedia page.

Jose Guerena

And you might remember the death of Jose Guerena last year, who was shot 22 times by a SWAT team executing a search warrant. Contrary to the accounts given by police, he fired no rounds at them. No drugs were found. Here is a video account:

Of course, the fact that these men were in the Marine Corps increases the notoriety of their stories, but it doesn’t make the acts against them more egregious than if they were civilians all of their lives. But what it does demonstrate is that no one is safe from the police state.

“What Can Men Do Against Such Reckless Hate?”

Standard

One of the many lines I remember from the Lord of the Rings movies is when King Theoden asks, “What can men do against such reckless hate?” This now comes to mind after reading a piece on LewRockwell.com. This is what the interviewee, Ron Holland, says:

“I don’t mean to sound sexist here but any nation or people made up of fathers, husbands or lovers who are willing to stand aside and allow thugs and perverts to grope, feel up and intimidate their children, spouses or elderly parents without wholesale rebellion and resort to outrage and defense does not deserve to live free any longer.”

If it wasn’t obvious, the above quote refers to American airports. Now, I am not a frequent flyer, nor do I take flights where I can easily drive instead. But I am uncertain of what I should do as an individual to counteract what goes on in airport security. In particular, what does “wholesale rebellion” mean in this case? Generally, libertarians advocate using force in self-defense, but not for the end of achieving political revolution, so it is hard to imagine that Mr. Holland meant that. 

How does one resort to outrage and defense? I’ve obtained humorous bumper stickers regarding the TSA, everyone in my social circle knows of my dissatisfaction with federalization and monopolization of airport security, I have used DownsizeDC.org to contact some (I will not say “my” or claim to be represented in any way) representatives in the U.S. Congress to demand the TSA’s abolition, and please let me express my OUTRAGE right here in this blog. I am left with two questions: “What should I be doing to more efficiently express outrage or help abolish the TSA?” and “Do I not deserve to be free any longer?”

The dilemma we are presented with in the second question is a difficult one. What we can infer about a collective body of people from certain types of information? The information in this case is that the TSA exists in the U.S. and it does some unethical and degrading things, to say the least. What does this imply about the men living in the U.S.? Can we say that they “are willing to stand aside and allow thugs and perverts to grope, feel up and intimidate their children, spouses and elderly parents”? We cannot say all for that would be untrue. We can say it of some. Can we say it of the majority? This is an empirical question; the answer might well show that the politically unpopular, and yet morally disgusting, can very much exist in a representative democracy (assuming that is a fair characterization of the U.S. political system). 

But either way, I feel as though there are problems with Mr. Holland’s statement. Moral judgment is something reserved for individuals, not for groups (which are just collections of individuals). The husbands, fathers, etc. who do express outrage have not yet been rewarded with a change in government policy, though I wouldn’t consider them to undeserving of living free. Secondly, does lack of resistance imply that one deserves to be mistreated? If one is robbed by thugs but remains silent and compliant to avoid further abuse should we then say he or she deserved it? However, these might be minor quibbles. I can understand the sentiment of the sentence: there are enough sheep such that this garbage continues and those sheep are doing nothing to ease the burden now or in the future for themselves or others.

At any rate, I will do what I can to both be an example for the sheep, as well as inform people that there is an alternative to being someone else’s livestock.