Violence is not a prerequisite for human ingenuity.
Government is violence. Everything it has, everything it does, rests on its monopoly on force. When you advocate for more government for any reason, you are calling for more violence in society.
Two studies released this week have shown that laws to prevent smoking in workplaces have meant that fewer people are being sent to the hospital. And yet somehow these laws are still contentious.
With their servers down after Hurricane Sandy, Gawker has temporarily shifted their shilling for the state to Tumblr.
Correlation does not equal causation. Along with the implementation of these laws has also been a much greater awareness to the dangers of smoking and sensitivity to the demands of non-smokers. Even without these laws (and in many places before these laws), the greater public demand for smoke-free environments would have (and did) lead to many restaurants, shops, and living places to go smoke-free. Although certainly slower than an immediate penalty of force by the state, the outcomes would have been nearly the same - though driven by the demands of the people and allowing for businesses to cater to smokers as well.
That said, I don’t doubt overall health was improved. I would wager that outlawing automobiles would dramatically lower hospitalizations, but such an idea would of course be universally derided as ridiculous. There are many worthwhile goals humanity can achieve, but it’s (1) foolish to force our priorities on others, and (2) illogical to use one unhealthy activity - the legitimized violence of the state, or the threat thereof - to curb another. To quote Penn Jillette, “The end never justifies the means because there is no end; there are only means.”
These laws are still contentious because some people still value something - an anachronism perhaps - known as liberty. Second-hand smoke in so-called public areas may represent a violation of the non-aggression principle, and could be something libertarians may support (albeit a solution vastly inferior to privatization). Laws against smoking in private establishments, however, are laws that interfere with the consensual decisions of peaceful people - and therefore are laws that have no place in a free society.
But maybe that’s my mistake: considering ours a free society.
Last time (that I noted, anyway - there’s been more), they cited a grossly flawed “study.”
This time, gizmodo blogger Joe Brown merely rants: he explains that “[p]retty much every book, movie, or TV” show … has come to the conclusion that [time machines are] a bad idea” and guns are no different. He equivocates gun ownership to giv[ing] a 16 year-old a time machine.” He concludes that firearms “are too advanced for humans to use safely.”
Here’s my short response:
Fact: Bad people exist.
Fact: Outlawing guns won’t make them disappear any more than outlawing marijuana or prostitution has made those disappear. Making such laws only ensures that those aforementioned “bad people” are *more* likely to be armed than the non-bad.
Fact: A gun does more to empower the weak than it does to strengthen the strong. In other words: if guns magically disappeared, it would be more harmful to the physically weaker and smaller among us - generally: women, the elderly, etc. - than it would to those who are already big and strong. Bad people will remain, only they will have less resistance.
Prohibition has never succeeded in eradicating that which was prohibited. The more difficult it is for peaceful, law-abiding individuals to acquire a good, the more the supply of that good falls into the hands of criminals. And someone who is willing to murder is not afraid of committing the much less grievous crime of acquiring an illegal firearm.
The way to mitigate such senseless violence is not to tip the scales in favor of criminals by disarming their victims.
I’ll be happy to give up the firearms that would protect me, my wife, and my daughters as soon as you figure out a way to eradicate the earth of rapists, muggers, and murderers.
As I said the last time I countered Gawker on the matter: “When statist impulses are used to disarm the sane and peaceful, only the insane and violent will be armed - and fewer will be safe.”
Related: Tragedy Shouldn’t Make Policy.
Just in case it wasn’t already obnoxiously clear how Gawker/Gizmodo leaned…
Blog site Gizmodo, part of the infamously statist Gawker network of sites, has shared a “study” from Notre Dame University suggesting that people who carry guns are more likely to think other people carry guns.
“Researchers showed participants partially obstructed images of people and asked them to say whether the person was holding a neutral object—like a soda can or phone—or a gun. Subjects were asked to do it while either holding a gun or a soft foam ball.”
Of course, immediately the inherent flaw in this study is evident: the only options offered seem to have been “neutral” or “gun.” As one commenter noted: the researchers could have given the subjects a banana and more people would have thought banana, particularly if the only options would have been “banana” or “other.”
But if we accept the premise as true, then it works the other way as well. People who don’t carry guns tend to think other people also don’t carry guns, making them more susceptible to becoming victims. (Not to mention that if you think you’re not the only one with a gun, you are less likely to be irresponsible with it.)
Guns are equalizers. No longer can someone be attacked simply because he or she is smaller or weaker. A small elderly woman with a gun can take down an assailant of any size. And if the assailant has a gun, no rape whistle or pepper spray or even knife could equal the playing field like a firearm.
When statist impulses are used to disarm the sane and peaceful, only the insane and violent will be armed - and fewer will be safe.
I enjoy and subscribe to a number of Gawker’s series of blogs. Unfortunately, the writers and curators sometimes can’t help themselves from veering away from their specialized topics (say, gadgets or sci-fi) and exposing themselves as economic illiterates, eco-fascists, and Obama-loving statists.
A few days ago, one such blogger flashed her political faults when “analyzing” the ancient Inca’s “strange economy”:
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Inca Empire was the largest South America had ever known. Centered in Peru, it stretched across the Andes’ mountain tops and down to the shoreline, incorporating lands from today’s Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Peru - all connected by a vast highway system whose complexity rivaled any in the Old World. Rich in foodstuffs, textiles, gold, and coca, the Inca were masters of city building but nevertheless had no money. In fact, they had no marketplaces at all.
The Inca Empire may be the only advanced civilization in history to have no class of traders, and no commerce of any kind within its boundaries. How did they do it?
Let’s stop here and consider.
Money is simply a tool that allows individuals to pursue their desires, communicate their demands, and specialize in that which they are best at.
As I’ve written previously when I was asked to contemplate a “money-less society”:
Since money is merely a medium of exchange, you would expect an end to progress, innovation, cooperation, charity, specialization, and conservation, as well as an increase in distrust, violence, isolationism, and despotism.
Money isn’t evil. Money lets me hire a butcher or plumber or gardener or baker or tailor without having to find one that requires a good or service I can provide in return (and it makes them compete - meaning offer higher quality or better value - for my patronage). It means I can do what I love for a living instead of merely hunting, gathering, or farming in order to keep my family alive. It means I can live in a house without either building it myself or finding an owner that just so happens to want what I can offer. It allows for savings that lead to greater futures and experiences: education, travel, fine cuisine, art - all things previously reserved for nobility. It lets society (see: individuals) communicate its wants and needs, and thus motivates society to fulfill them.
In another post, I further discuss the role money plays in promoting peace and prosperity:
Rational economic decisions - that is, social exchange of limited resources - requires money and prices. Money is simply an agreed medium of exchange. Prices are merely information. In basic terms, prices relay the demand of the consumer to the producer, and the supply of the producer (along with cost of production) to the consumer. An ounce of gold is worth more than an ounce of sand because sand is more abundant, easier to acquire, and generally less desired.
And price is the result of chasing profit, that which is above the value of the costs and makes the good or service worth trading (subjectively, “an increase in the acting man’s happiness” - what Rothbard called “psychic profit”). As I’ve mentioned before, the promise of profit is what incentivizes people to take risks. Conversely, the potential for loss (or failure) is what incentivizes people to be reasoned, efficient, and prudent in their risk-taking. Profit - either material gain or gains in aforementioned happiness - are what mostly drive human cooperation and innovation.
Therefore, prices - and profit and loss - are crucial for a productive, peaceful society; this information - price - cannot emerge without voluntary exchange. And voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange can only exist when private property rights are acknowledged and secured.
So money is an instrument that facilitates the functioning of a voluntary society. True, there may be legitimate, voluntary societies that shun money and marketplaces. But such societies can only theoretically exist in smaller scale in which consent may be withdrawn and individual self-ownership is preserved. Considering the Inca Empire was “the largest South America had ever known,” it cannot be considered small in scale.
But the Gawker blogger does not find this lack of use of money disconcerting. On the contrary, with sections like “Wealth Without Money” and “Food, not Markets” she’s positively tickled by the idea.
So how did the Incas do it?
The secret of the Inca’s great wealth may have been their unusual tax system. Instead of paying taxes in money, every Incan was required to provide labor to the state. In exchange for this labor, they were given the necessities of life.
In short, slavery - as many of you I’m sure would have guessed. And this doesn’t trouble our statist blogger. She presses on:
Of course, not everybody had to pay labor tax. Nobles and their courts were exempt, as were other prominent members of Incan society. In another quirk of the Incan economy, nobles who died could still own property and their families or estate managers could continue to amass wealth for the dead nobles.
A quirk, she says. A ruling oligarchy, a proletariat that is both subservient and dependent to the state, a complete rebuff of individual subjective preference and will… just quirks. All small prices to pay to rid ourselves of those dirty markets.
Indeed, in light of this realization she doubles down on her lack of economic acumen by suggesting the mutual exclusiveness of trade and starvation:
One of the outstanding questions for scientists and historians who study the Incas is why this wealthy, sophisticated culture developed scientifically and culturally without ever inventing markets. One possibility is that life was so difficult to sustain in their environment that all their innovations revolved around agriculture rather than economics. In other words, the Inca Empire was optimized to prevent starvation rather than to foster trade.
“Economics” is simply the study of individual actors exchanging limited resources. That they didn’t have a proper market economy doesn’t mean there wasn’t “economics.” In fact, the slaves were among the limited resources to be economically counted (“these four slaves are strong and would be better moving our temples’ heavy stones than washing our feet”). What such an empire is “optimized” for is not preventing starvation, but maintaining the subjugation of a subordinate class.
So how do you become a continent-dominating empire without cash? In the case of the Incas, it’s likely that the technologies that granted them agricultural surplus (extra food and textile materials) helped them with their expansive empire-building. Food was their coin; pure labor structured their economy.
If food is their coin, then they did have money after all? (Food can be money. In fact, the word salary comes from when Roman soldiers were paid in salt.) Doesn’t matter. What’s important to note is that “pure labor” here means slaves to the state. And it doesn’t seem to bother her too much.
In truth, the Inca probably created an empire like many others. Its leaders were distracted by civil war and internecine squabbles among the nobility. And its slaves and laborers built the dramatic works dreamed up by pre-Columbian civil engineers. What’s remarkable is that evidence suggests those slaves and laborers were probably well fed. Perhaps more remarkable, in this era where markets are associated with civilization, is the idea that an empire could achieve so much without ever spending a dime.
Considering the alternative was slavery, I, personally, would have rather they spent dimes. But at least the slaves were well-fed. And there were no dirty markets to sully their societal bliss.
The watermelon “scientists” (and their cheerleaders at Gawker) are at it again:
Researchers at Cal Berkeley say that we—we being humans—have probably triggered the sixth mass extinction in our planet’s history (the first man-made mass extinction!). Thanks to the last 500 years of over-fishing, overhunting, habitation destruction, and fossil-fuel-induced global warming, we could have the blood of over 75% of Earth’s current living species on our hands.
Maybe people are being paranoid, but those who have tracked extinction rates throughout history think otherwise:
Until mankind’s big expansion some 500 years ago, mammal extinctions were very rare: on average, just two species died out every million years.
But in the last five centuries, at least 80 out of 5,570 mammal species have bitten the dust, providing a clear warning of the peril to biodiversity.
“It looks like modern extinction rates resemble mass extinction rates, even after setting a high bar for defining ‘mass extinction,” said researcher Anthony Barnosky.
Luckily for you, these mass extinction things take thousands, even millions, of years to play out, and its full impact wont even hit for another “3 to 22 centuries.” So you won’t feel nearly as much guilt/stress/terror as some remote descendant of yours in the future. No worries, right?!
That’s the beauty of most climate “science” - it’s so easy to make completely unprovable claims! Who will be around “thousands, even millions, of years” to find out the depth of the calamity? In the meantime: ECOLOGICALLY-MOTIVATED WEALTH DISTRIBUTION!!!
If we only give more money to government, all of our problems will go away…
Is it worth cleaning that last blob from the jar? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, as Mother Jones magazine discovered. San Francisco’s recycling coordinator says cleaner “bales” fetch more money, which funds most any city’s program.
If recyclables are indeed worth more to the city clean, then the city should clean them.
If the city performed a cost-benefit analysis and found that the amount gained to clean all recyclables is less than the cost to clean them, then why should I freely provide my time, soap, and water when my taxes are already paying for plenty?
Lifehacker has a post up today lamenting a future world without so-called ‘net neutrality,’ asking: “What Would You Miss Most if the Net Wasn’t Neutral Anymore?”:
It’s hard to imagine an internet where you’d have to pay to access different types of content, where you can’t download freely, and services are restricted if they’re not in the best interest of your service provider. Of all the things you’d no longer have if the net didn’t remain neutral, what would you miss most?
Yes. Let’s contemplate other areas of non-neutrality in such a dark, cruel world…
What would we miss about the world in which not every restaurant was an all-you-can-eat buffet? Where pharmacies didn’t offer spare tires and not every park had a swingset? Where only water was piped into our homes instead of also pepsi, mountain dew, bacardi, lemonade, pinot noir, and horchata? Where HBO, Showtime, and ESPN didn’t float in freely with my local channels? Where toilet paper rolls weren’t endless and gas stations charged a flat “fill-up” fee whether you drived a Civic or a Hummer? Where gardeners wouldn’t charge the same amount no matter how big of a lawn you had? Where an 11x14 glossy wouldn’t cost the same as a 4x6? Where a toddler’s t-shirt was a different price than an adult XXXL? Where power and gas companies… gulp… charged you for the actual amount you used?
Oh the insanity!
Obama likes to make himself perfectly clear. We’ve all noticed that he says “Let me be clear,” or a derivative thereof, a lot. The people around him have, at least subconsciously, picked up on his phrase and have been using it themselves since the campaign.
His followers have also adopted this language. Gawker media runs a number of very popular blogs. I subscribe to io9, gizmodo, and lifehacker. When they stick to what they’re supposed to and don’t mix in political commentary, they do good work. But I’ve noticed that since Obama has permeated the airwaves with his “let me be clears,” the lefties at gawker have done the same:
- Let me be clear, dentists in training: no robot can loathe you like I do.
- Let me be clear on this: even if you have the latest Windows updates and up-to-the-minute antivirus software, you can still be infected with a virus.
- Let me be perfectly clear - if you stopped watching No Ordinary Family (and I can’t really blame you), then watch “No Ordinary Mobster.”
- Let me make something perfectly clear. Weird numbers bleeping up on a bunch of people’s mobile phones is moderately intriguing.
- Let’s be clear. This change is not in the best interests of users or developers.
- Let’s be clear: This is not a time paradox.
- Let’s be clear: Neither of these films is exactly Oscar-bait.
- Let’s be clear: the only reason a new Apple TV hadn’t been jailbroken yet is that new Apple TVs hadn’t shipped yet; the Dev Team hackers figured out how to do it days ago.
- To be clear, Bing itself is fine.
- To be clear, Intel’s still the big dog here.
- Just to be clear, the reason why this group of researchers studied mouse pain is not to get their jollies.
- Just to be clear: This is not a hoax!
- Just to be clear: segmented data plans like that might be ideal for Verizon Wireless, but they’re the opposite for consumers who’ll have to shell out overage fees.
- Just to be clear, the Boom Dock from Homade doesn’t involve any batteries, which means it’s not exactly going to bring the noise.
- Just to be clear: this wouldn’t mean that you’d be able to Skype video chat through Facebook.
- Let me make this clear: The M11X is unabashedly Alienware.
- Let me make this clear: There are cheaper Blu-ray players out there, but all of the following come with YouTube, Netflix, multiple pay-per-view movie services and Wi-Fi.
- To be clear, I’m fairly sensitive to energy drinks, as evidenced by my liveblog of the Health potion.
- To be clear, this is coming in a future edition of Time’s iPad rag.
- To be clear, this happened first the day after I had had my phone in the pocket of my motorcycle jacket while riding out to the Oregon coast.
- To be clear, all these were present on the Blu-ray, so if you have that, you’re set.
- To be perfectly clear, though: I’m not saying this is what everybody should do.
- Just to be clear on dates—meteors should be visible tonight…
- Before we get started, let’s be clear here — we’re not saying that any of these accusations are true.
- [T]o be clear, I don’t think Popular Mechanics is quite it, either… (okay, they were quoting someone else here)
- This image, which appeared as NASA’s Image of the Day the other day, is not actually a photograph of the Arches star cluster, just to be clear.
And this is just the last few months of (primarily) Gizmodo and io9. To compare, there are only 10 instances of the words “be clear” on Gizmodo.com up to and before Feb. 2008, and 118 instances from March 2008 to present. To be fair, Gizmodo’s volume has definitely grown the last couple of years, but it’s difficult to deny the fact that use of the phrase has increased since Obama’s emergence as a national figure.
Though, to be clear (see what I did there?): lefties aren’t alone in emulating the language; I’ve noticed an uptick in four-word pleas for clarity even amongst libertarians.