Steve G.

Cato Institute advertisement

In Libertarian on January 29, 2009 at 10:14 am

StimulusAd_NYTimes

Thank you to all the Nay voters in Washington- particularly my representative, Louie Gohmert of TX CD 1.

Ad via Bureau Crash.

  1. Running dogs of capitalism! Heretics! Burn them at the stake! Now is the time for unity of purpose, lockstepping toward our glorious soviet future. Democrats would never have engaged in such vile and disruptive behavior when they had been soundly defeated by the will of the people. Hosannah to Obama.

  2. The only free market position on any issue is a refusal to authorize a role for government in our lives. Mises and Rothbard were clear on that point. As Lew Rockwell once said to me, “Mises has no policy because….that is the free market policy.”

    Allowing government to limit our range of choices cannot be anything but economic intervention and therefore the antithesis of a free market.

    Each of us, as individuals, is autonomous and possesses natural rights. Natural rights are not granted by government. Our inherent rights precede government and are an indivisible part of our being. Those rights are not modifiable by government or anyone else.

    Some economists who position themselves as free market will talk about social contract. They talk about expediency. Those who want to redefine the meanings of words, allowing a role for government, have motives we should examine closely. Notice always who pays them.

    No corporation is an individual and legislation can not make it so. Corporations should have raised our suspicions long ago since they work through the legislative power of the state and have routinely gone to government for bail outs, subsidies, and limitations on their liabilities.

    The only rights are possessed by biological individuals.

    The freedom movement has made some devastatingly bad wrong turns since the late 70s. One of these was to muddy the waters on the issue of individual rights. The second was muddled thinking that allowed the word, Privatization, to be used as automatically good and in accordance with free market principles. It is not. Privatization as used today means corporatization.

    I discussed this with Bob Poole on the issue of trash collection in 1975. He was wrong then and he is wrong today as he fights in Texas for the Trans Texas Corridor. That is an extension of his life-long blindness to the nature of corporations, their relationship with government, and the irrelevancy of efficiency.

    At issue then was trash collection, carried out by your local government. Bob maintained this should be contracted out to private companies for the sake of efficiency.

    Our choices belong to us, despite their efficiency. The issue is freedom.

    The correct solution is to stop taxing people for trash collection and allow the market place to operate. People will work out their own solutions, the invisible hand of persuasion and consensus. Many would probably contract for pick up. This is their choice, not government’s.

    Returning to individuals the money taken from them by force to pick up their trash is the only free market, solution. Perhaps this was too minor for Bob to consider significant.

    From the tiniest mistakes can come big bloopers.

    Having initially attacked Bob’s ideas for privatization (Garbage Can Libertarianism) Cato realized their potential and embraced the ideas and the word.

    Monetizing the collection of trash for the benefit of government, companies and corporations proved to be useful for Cato in seemingly limitless ways. Individuals could then have many small pieces of their right to choose sold off by government to companies or corporations. This is conversion.

    Allowing government to sell of tiny pieces of your autonomy is like slicing off bits of your soul.

    Cato’s success is founded in selling the rhetoric of freedom as a feel good placebo intended to sedate us. They emote the right words so we trust them. By so doing they confuse the issues, silencing us while selling off slices of our natural right to our bodies, minds and souls to corporations with government as the middle man.

    It pays them well.

    So why the chest thumping above? Why this particular attack on the Obama Stimulus Packages, beginning with Infrastructure to create jobs? Hummm?

    Large public works projects, the building of infrastructure, have been carried out by government for generations. This is not a free market issue now and was not free market at any point in the last nearly 40 years. How many bridges, dams, and other infrastructure projects has Cato opposed over the years of their existence? Did they ever before object to the hiring of workers to carry out those contracts?

    How infrastructure is funded is an interesting and substantial issue. That we need infrastructure is obvious. Cato could hold a symposium on free market alternatives to government funding of infrastructure. That should include not just government and corporations but the full range of possibilities, normally excluded from consideration. That would be relevant. Cato does not raise that issue.

    The U. S. government is bankrupt. The money Obama is proposing be spent does not exist. What will be used is more fiat money backed up by the capital and labor to be extracted from generations yet unborn. This was also true of money being spent in Iraq and elsewhere by Bush and Congress that sent the national debt into the stratosphere. Therefore the causes of and accountability for the present massive national debt, the bail outs, and the Federal Reserve Bank are issues. Cato is not raising those issues.

    Obama is following the traditional means for solving two problems he sees as pivotal. He proposes to spend federal reserve notes, which puts us further into debt, to provide short term jobs to restore infrastructure. The unemployment rate is climbing. Companies are going bankrupt and laying off workers. States, for instance California, are also bankrupt. The state of California will stop paying all bills on February 1st.

    In California, according to sources within CalTrans and others serving on their boards, half the bridges are in danger of failing. According to the same sources there are as many as five dams in California that could well fail. If that takes place tens of thousands of people could die. Infrastructure in California is similar to that throughout the nation.

    Obama will be spending billions on jobs that are intended to rebuild American Infrastructure, something that will be of value to future generations a very different proposition from the war in Iraq.

    Here we encounter two more questions not raised by Cato.

    How could our Infrastructure, paid for through taxes, have deteriorated to its present condition, necessitating replacement? Where are the questions on quality, standards, and accountability for the contractors who bid, built, and profited?

    During the last forty years a prominent government contractor for large scale public works, infrastructure, has been Koch Industries. Charles Koch, CEO, founded and funded Cato. Koch Industries has profited enormously from supplying materials, asphalt, for infrastructure that has proven to be badly flawed, forcing early replacement on multiple projects, according to my sources in that industry.

    Koch Industries, a closely and privately held corporation, owns other companies, for instance Georgia-Pacific. These are normally private companies. Because information on what companies Koch owns is difficult to obtain we do not know how many contracting and supply jobs they handle and how large a percentage of the funds spent arrive in their pockets. This contradicts the principle of transparency. This is an issue Cato has not raised.

    Cato could hold a symposium and write exhaustive white papers on the manipulation of the market that has stalled the adoption of objective standards for durability, cost, quality and accountability by corporate contractors, for instance Koch Industries and its partners. That is a free market issue. They could also read some of my articles on the subject.

    While the rest of the world has adopted products and technologies that extend longevity and cut costs companies such as Koch have profited from the obsolescence of bridges that makes replacement necessary in only decades.

    Roads built using the new technologies do not need replacement every seven years, as is now routine in the United States.

    In other parts of the world concrete additives such as metakaolinite and the products produced by such companies and Wacker in Germany, have extended the life span of bridges, dams, highways and other infrastructure projects to hundreds of years. The descendants of those now living in those countries will inherit infrastructure that is reliable and dependable. There, money is routinely spent on maintenance, a minor cost, to ensure the integrity of their structures. In America maintenance is not mandated. The moment the last check is cashed the contractor, Koch or another like him, is out of the loop of liability.

    Now ask yourself why would Cato spent money on the ad above.

    Think twice before writing checks to those who sell us down the river into slavery.

  3. An excellent and well deserved thrashing of CATO, Melinda Pillsbury-Foster.

  4. Melinda, this:

    “The only free market position on any issue is a refusal to authorize a role for government in our lives. Mises and Rothbard were clear on that point.”

    …appears true for Rothbard, untrue for Mises, as Mises was explicitly not an anarchist. If I’m incorrect, please cite your evidence. And please elaborate on what you mean by “refusal.”

    As an avid reader of LewRockwell.com, I have seen much regurgitation of Rothbard’s circa early 1980s grievances with Cato and the “Kochtopus,” but I’ve never seen this charge before:

    “Because information on what companies Koch owns is difficult to obtain we do not know how many contracting and supply jobs they handle and how large a percentage of the funds spent arrive in their pockets. This contradicts the principle of transparency. This is an issue Cato has not raised. ”

    What are you suggesting here? That Koch Industries should publicly report all its business activities? That Cato launch an investigation of one of its now-minor contributors and its affiliates?

    I’m curious: Does the Mises Institute investigate its donors? Should they?

    While you are at it, your post begs the question: If Cato’s letter is against the stimulus plan, and the stimulus plan would help Koch, help us understand your conspiracy theory better, because it seems to be contradictory.

  5. btw, Walter Block, frequent LRC author, signed this ad. So did Bryan Caplan.

  6. ““The only free market position on any issue is a refusal to authorize a role for government in our lives. Mises and Rothbard were clear on that point.””

    The world as seen by Mises did not include law that created corporations as quasi governmental entities. I have always viewed Rothbard as a clarification of Mises on the developing role of government, not as more radical.

    I did not have to ‘read’ the history. I lived it and am writing a book that will include the manipulation of the then vital and locally organizing Libertarian Party by Crane and Koch. The same strategy was used earlier on the Conservative Movement with different players and again on the Ron Paul Revolution.

    I used to listen to Murray grousing about what happened to him. At first I dismissed it as personal pique. That changed as I watched developments and saw the common strategies, threads, and funders.

    ““Because information on what companies Koch owns is difficult to obtain we do not know how many contracting and supply jobs they handle and how large a percentage of the funds spent arrive in their pockets. This contradicts the principle of transparency. This is an issue Cato has not raised. ””

    “What are you suggesting here? That Koch Industries should publicly report all its business activities? That Cato launch an investigation of one of its now-minor contributors and its affiliates?”

    Cato presents itself as a free market think tank. If you present yourself as an organization whose intentions are free market and then what you produce, as product, is an extension of government control that is tolerated because of the ‘branding’ then you, arguably, have committed fraud in plain sight. This strategy is bait (feel-good rhetoric) and switch to a justification of fascist policies. A spade is a spade or ‘A is A.’

    Koch uses Cato as a positioning tool. Why else would you feel friendly to them if you knew how their profits are produced?

    “I’m curious: Does the Mises Institute investigate its donors? Should they?”

    Your question misstates the foundation of what I previously asserted. I did not say Cato had made a mistake and those directing their operations had failed to do due diligence. I said Cato’s entire existence has been predicated on making money by providing disinformation services to such clients as Koch. Many in the Freedom Movement have pursued similar lines of activity through mistake, before and now. That could happen as a result of foggy and short term strategic thinking. I do not think Cato is guilty of that kind of incompetence. I think that Ed Crane knows exactly what he is doing and has done it for profit since he was in his twenties. Ed has profited enormously from his chosen career.

    I do check out who funds whom. That others failed to see the same thing could be ascribed to their unwillingness to believe those they trusted would have intentionally mislead them. I understand that, it is very human.

    I have not donated to Cato since some minor amounts in the early 80s. By their fruits shall you know them.

    “While you are at it, your post begs the question: If Cato’s letter is against the stimulus plan, and the stimulus plan would help Koch, help us understand your conspiracy theory better, because it seems to be contradictory.”

    In recent years the Kochs have moved their corporate focus to the financial industry. They divested themselves of many of their wholly owned subsidiaries in the construction industries. That would square with this as a misdirection move on their part.

    I do not trust government. I am determined to return to local control exercised directly by the people using only consensus and persuasion. I am also a realist. We need to provide incremental steps that allow for transition. Transparency is essential to that process, allowing individuals to see and accept the truth, no matter how unpalatable.

    As long as government exists in its present form we need to demand absolute transparency both for it and for those with whom it has contracts. Therefore no private company should be granted government contracts.

    Walter is not always right, but he is a nice guy. Are you engaging in an argument that seeks to validate by perceived authority? Question all authority – but be polite while so doing.

    I once made Ed Crane a button that said, “Question ALL Authority. (But mine.)” It made the point at the time. That was before I concluded his course was intentional.

  7. Melinda, your post is provocative, but it raises a lot more questions, and jumps around a bit. (Internet chatter is informal, so I say this not as a criticism, just an observation).

    Melinda: The world as seen by Mises did not include law that created corporations as quasi governmental entities.

    Me: Yes, but Mises – as I stated earlier – was not an anarchist, correct? You initially said: “The only free market position on any issue is a refusal to authorize a role for government in our lives.” That wasn’t Mises’s view. The issue of the corporate form seems entirely beside the point.

    Melinda: I did not have to ‘read’ the history. I lived it and am writing a book that will include the manipulation of the then vital and locally organizing Libertarian Party by Crane and Koch. The same strategy was used earlier on the Conservative Movement with different players and again on the Ron Paul Revolution.

    Me: Looking forward to your book. I’ll be especially interested in your conspiracy theories on the Ron Paul Revolution.

    Melinda: Cato presents itself as a free market think tank. If you present yourself as an organization whose intentions are free market and then what you produce, as product, is an extension of government control that is tolerated because of the ‘branding’ then you, arguably, have committed fraud in plain sight. This strategy is bait (feel-good rhetoric) and switch to a justification of fascist policies. A spade is a spade or ‘A is A.’

    Me: Well, as a Randian/Rothbardian in recovery, I’m familiar with A is A. Doesn’t work for me anymore. Perceptions are perceptions is more like it. Conventions are conventions, too. So, near as I can tell, Cato (really, its scholars and analysts) generally advances ideas to lessen government. You are quite right that they don’t advocate anarchy, although they did publish an essay on the virtues of anarchy in Somalia in recent years. So, if that’s your definition of fraud, best of luck with that insight. I don’t agree.

    Melinda: Koch uses Cato as a positioning tool. Why else would you feel friendly to them if you knew how their profits are produced?

    Me: Your first assertion is an opinion, a vague one at that. I’d like to see proof. Your second sentence is very unclear. I’ve no idea what you mean.

    Melinda: Your question misstates the foundation of what I previously asserted. I did not say Cato had made a mistake and those directing their operations had failed to do due diligence. I said Cato’s entire existence has been predicated on making money by providing disinformation services to such clients as Koch.

    Me: Wow, that’s QUITE a charge. Evidence?

    Melinda: I have not donated to Cato since some minor amounts in the early 80s. By their fruits shall you know them.

    Me: Your prerogative, of course. I don’t donate either, but I think they do very good work, and I know and like the leadership. They aren’t “perfect,” but, then, who is?

    Melinda: In recent years the Kochs have moved their corporate focus to the financial industry. They divested themselves of many of their wholly owned subsidiaries in the construction industries. That would square with this as a misdirection move on their part.

    Me: This ‘graph was in “response” to my question: “If Cato’s letter is against the stimulus plan, and the stimulus plan would help Koch, help us understand your conspiracy theory better, because it seems to be contradictory.” You sidestepped it entirely. Koch Industries may well seek to influence public policy in ways to promote its businesses, but you’ve presented zero evidence thus far, only most vague allegations.

    Melinda: I do not trust government. I am determined to return to local control exercised directly by the people using only consensus and persuasion.

    Me: Sounds good to me as a general proposition.

    Melinda: I am also a realist. We need to provide incremental steps that allow for transition.

    Me: Also sounds good.

    Melinda: Transparency is essential to that process, allowing individuals to see and accept the truth, no matter how unpalatable. As long as government exists in its present form we need to demand absolute transparency both for it and for those with whom it has contracts. Therefore no private company should be granted government contracts.

    Me: Non sequitur. You need to define what you mean by transparency. I agree government should be transparent, although I would carve out a number of things, mostly national defense related matters. Some criminal justice matters as well. I really don’t need to know about where the weapons are, war-game strategies, etc. (I say this as a non-interventionist.) While I want government to be smaller – a lot smaller – it’s not obvious that citizens have a right to all information about private companies that, in part, are government contractors. Kimberly Clark sells them toilet paper, do citizens have a right to what solvents they use in an unrelated business? That sounds ludicrous! And I’m OK with private companies being used for (hopefully very few) government contracts.

    Melinda: Walter is not always right, but he is a nice guy. Are you engaging in an argument that seeks to validate by perceived authority? Question all authority – but be polite while so doing.

    Me: I assume you’re referring to Block. No, I’m not “arguing” at all. I’m really just trying to understand what you’re saying. And pointing out that a noted anarchocapitalist signed the letter…consider it a mere data point.

    Melinda: I once made Ed Crane a button that said, “Question ALL Authority. (But mine.)” It made the point at the time. That was before I concluded his course was intentional.

    Me: I don’t know what “his course” is, other than that he’s built Cato into quite an influential institution, not nearly influential enough, IMO! Yes, he can be a bit headstrong personally. Like I said, nobody’s perfect.

  8. It is always useful to define your terms, Robert, define anarchism. I view the whole, often heated, dialog on the two positions as a pointless distraction when the focus should be on the cultural tools used to enable peaceful cooperation.

    What do you see as an appropriate role for government?

    Since you do not specify which individuals at Cato you are referencing I cannot comment. I grant that doing so in this
    forum is not appropriate and do not encourage you to name them.

    In my view Cato has been far too successful for our own good. Is the world freer because of their work? If you think so take up that point and explain why you hold that opinion. Compare the size and role of government, the controls asserted over our lives by government today, as a contrast with government in 1979, when Cato was founded.

    “”Melinda: Your question misstates the foundation of what I previously asserted. I did not say Cato had made a mistake and those directing their operations had failed to do due diligence. I said Cato’s entire existence has been predicated on making money by providing disinformation services to such clients as Koch.””

    “Me: Wow, that’s QUITE a charge. Evidence?”

    The book is coming. I read the ad and decided that enough is enough. I encourage you to do some of your own research. Given the brief Google search I did of your name, you are well capable of doing your own research.

    National Taxpayers Legal Fund http://www.unclefed.com/TxprBoR/1983/83NTLF.html

    When you live next door to someone who borrows and does not return the pruning shears you come to understand them. Individuals repeat behavior that works. A lack of success tends to extinguish unsuccessful behavior. To ensure deceitful behavior does not work human society works best in small groups. Federalizing America declared a field day for deceitful behavior.

    Refer back to how successful Cato has been in reducing the size, scope, and intrusiveness of government.

    “Melinda: In recent years the Kochs have moved their corporate focus to the financial industry. They divested themselves of many of their wholly owned subsidiaries in the construction industries. That would square with this as a misdirection move on their part.”

    The term, “conspiracy theory,” has been used successfully for many years to distract attention from activities that are now generally accepted as having been perfectly true and accurate. These include the origin of the Federal Reserve Bank, the proliferation of alphabet agencies in government, the origins of WWs I and II, and, in the opinion of most of those involved in the Freedom Movement, the events of 9/11. As individuals, we do not wait for the ‘proof’ before locking the door to our avaricious neighbor.

    Private companies and corporations should not be allowed to bid for government contracts. All policy that promotes transparency promotes freedom. A defense of Koch Industries’ strategy for covertly influencing politics and public policy does not promote freedom. As individuals, Charles and David have natural rights in and to exactly the same degree as any other individual from yourself to a returning vet on the street because he or she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Koch Industries has no ‘right’ to hold government contracts. Any financial impact on them is irrelevant.

    Koch’s business interests bear no relationship to issues of individual rights. How we order government is policy, for libertarians, this should be determined by what will promote freedom.

    Transparency is easy to understand. American citizens have a right to know everything about how their money is spent. What are you reasons for asserting otherwise? What role do you see for the state as appropriate and supported by the philosophy of natural rights, the free market, and America’s founding documents? How many wars would have been foisted on us if our foreign policy had not become a tool of corporations? I would rather know about the toilet paper contracts than miss the ones that buy bombs as fertilizer. War is just another way of stealing.

    “”Melinda: Transparency is essential to that process, allowing individuals to see and accept the truth, no matter how unpalatable. As long as government exists in its present form we need to demand absolute transparency both for it and for those with whom it has contracts. Therefore no private company should be granted government contracts.””

    Transparency matters. Our individual behavior is amazingly consistent over time.

  9. Melinda, the takeaway of your last comment is that we’ll have to wait on your book for your answers. Fair enough. As an author, you have that prerogative. I’ll feedback on some of your points below.

    Melinda: It is always useful to define your terms, Robert, define anarchism.

    Me: Oh, there’s many schools of anarchism, of course. It mostly means “no government” or “no State.”

    Melinda: What do you see as an appropriate role for government?

    Me: I’m a theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist, so my answer today is “as little as possible.” Odds are high that that will be my answer tomorrow as well. My shorthand response is I’m a libertarian.

    Melinda: Since you do not specify which individuals at Cato you are referencing I cannot comment.

    Me: No big deal, Melinda. I know Crane, Boaz, Palmer, and Mitchell…not well, at this point. Back in the day, I knew them pretty well. But, then, do you ever REALLY know someone?😉

    Melinda: In my view Cato has been far too successful for our own good. Is the world freer because of their work?

    Me: Hmm, I could say that about Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Rockwell, and Ron Paul. On balance, our peeps aren’t doing such a great job. But propers to their efforts.

    Melinda: When you live next door to someone who borrows and does not return the pruning shears you come to understand them. Individuals repeat behavior that works. A lack of success tends to extinguish unsuccessful behavior. To ensure deceitful behavior does not work human society works best in small groups. Federalizing America declared a field day for deceitful behavior.

    Me: Yes, I guess so. Cato seems more “successful” than the Mises Institute by most metrics that I can think of. But the beauty of America is that we still have some choices.

    Melinda: The term, “conspiracy theory,” has been used successfully for many years to distract attention from activities that are now generally accepted as having been perfectly true and accurate. These include the origin of the Federal Reserve Bank, the proliferation of alphabet agencies in government, the origins of WWs I and II, and, in the opinion of most of those involved in the Freedom Movement, the events of 9/11. As individuals, we do not wait for the ‘proof’ before locking the door to our avaricious neighbor.

    Me: Yes, I apologize for “conspiracy theory.” Honestly, I thought about it, but I could not come up with a more accurate description. But, again, we’ll wait for the proof in your book.

    Melinda: Private companies and corporations should not be allowed to bid for government contracts.

    Me: I recognize that as an assertion, but I don’t recognize a justification of said assertion.

    Melinda: All policy that promotes transparency promotes freedom.

    Me: I recognize that as an assertion, too, but I don’t recognize a justification of said assertion.

    Melinda: A defense of Koch Industries’ strategy for covertly influencing politics and public policy does not promote freedom. As individuals, Charles and David have natural rights in and to exactly the same degree as any other individual from yourself to a returning vet on the street because he or she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Koch Industries has no ‘right’ to hold government contracts. Any financial impact on them is irrelevant.

    Me: How have I “defended” Charles and David? (Oh, yes, I admit I’ve met them, too, decades ago. I’ve known Ron Paul, and met Rothbard and Rockwell, while we’re at it.) I will say I’m grateful the Kochs have funded organizations I generally support.

    Melinda: Koch’s business interests bear no relationship to issues of individual rights. How we order government is policy, for libertarians, this should be determined by what will promote freedom.

    Me: Agreed. But, if I were a rich dude like the Kochs are, I’d probably be more inclined to support organizations that I agreed with AND didn’t hurt my business. To be a libertarian doesn’t imply being a masochist, yes? I’m a global warming skeptic, not a denier, as Cato seems to be, but I can imagine the Koch’s would defund Cato if it were global warming (climate change) advocates.

    Melinda: Transparency is easy to understand. American citizens have a right to know everything about how their money is spent. What are you reasons for asserting otherwise?

    Me: We’ve established we disagree on this as an absolute. No, I’d say American citizens don’t have the right to know the code for the nuclear football, for example. That would be contra-indicated. Do you want to live in a world where everyone knows everything? I don’t. Importantly, given the fact that there are a lot of rather insane people among us, I’m not sure we would survive in a purely “transparent” world. Seems awfully risky to this hombre.

    Melinda: What role do you see for the state as appropriate and supported by the philosophy of natural rights, the free market, and America’s founding documents? How many wars would have been foisted on us if our foreign policy had not become a tool of corporations? I would rather know about the toilet paper contracts than miss the ones that buy bombs as fertilizer. War is just another way of stealing.

    Me: I’ve already addressed most of this, but if government contracts “buy bombs as fertilizer,” then that seems to call into question whether “transparency” is really “transparent.” People lie. They do it all the time, if you’ve not noticed.

    Melinda: Transparency matters. Our individual behavior is amazingly consistent over time.

    Me: Agree in general. Always? Nyet. Some even break on through to the other side!

  10. “Melinda, the takeaway of your last comment is that we’ll have to wait on your book for your answers. Fair enough. As an author, you have that prerogative. I’ll feedback on some of your points below.

    Melinda: It is always useful to define your terms, Robert, define anarchism.”

    ROBERT Me: Oh, there’s many schools of anarchism, of course. It mostly means “no government” or “no State.”

    Me: (Melinda) This is a false dichotomy and a pernicious one. “No government” implies that only through force can people order their lives. When people work together for agreed, common goals they are not without order, they achieve spontaneous order. How to accomplish that brings into discussion such tools as Non-violent communication and the positive impact of such barter-trade tools as Fourth Corner Exchange, among many others. The Freedom Movement tends to be unaware of these tools because they originate from the left, for the most part. A functional justice system also helps.

    “Melinda: Me: What do you see as an appropriate role for government?

    ROBERT “Me: I’m a theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist, so my answer today is “as little as possible.” Odds are high that that will be my answer tomorrow as well. My shorthand response is I’m a libertarian.”

    Me: Melinda: Libertarianism, as practiced by the LP does not illustrate a consistent form for political philosophy. Please be more specific.

    “Melinda: Since you do not specify which individuals at Cato you are referencing I cannot comment.

    Me: No big deal, Melinda. I know Crane, Boaz, Palmer, and Mitchell…not well, at this point. Back in the day, I knew them pretty well. But, then, do you ever REALLY know someone? ;-)”

    Me: Melinda: I have always thought David Boaz was a nice person. Yes, you can really know people. It helps when you catch them in circumstances they did not anticipate.

    “Melinda: In my view Cato has been far too successful for our own good. Is the world freer because of their work?

    ROBERT: Me: Hmm, I could say that about Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Rockwell, and Ron Paul. On balance, our peeps aren’t doing such a great job. But propers to their efforts.”

    Melinda Me: I never met Mises but each of the others would be well served to lose their illusions.

    “Melinda: When you live next door to someone who borrows and does not return the pruning shears you come to understand them. Individuals repeat behavior that works. A lack of success tends to extinguish unsuccessful behavior. To ensure deceitful behavior does not work human society works best in small groups. Federalizing America declared a field day for deceitful behavior.

    ROBERT Me: Yes, I guess so. Cato seems more “successful” than the Mises Institute by most metrics that I can think of. But the beauty of America is that we still have some choices.”

    Melinda Me: I think of Mises Institute as an historical society, maintaining the work of Mises and Rothbard. In those terms they are very successful and should keep up the good work. You will have different choices soon. I hope you know how to grow your own food or consider becoming a member of a B-T or co-op.

    “Melinda: The term, “conspiracy theory,” has been used successfully for many years to distract attention from activities that are now generally accepted as having been perfectly true and accurate. These include the origin of the Federal Reserve Bank, the proliferation of alphabet agencies in government, the origins of WWs I and II, and, in the opinion of most of those involved in the Freedom Movement, the events of 9/11. As individuals, we do not wait for the ‘proof’ before locking the door to our avaricious neighbor.

    ROBERT Me: Yes, I apologize for “conspiracy theory.” Honestly, I thought about it, but I could not come up with a more accurate description. But, again, we’ll wait for the proof in your book.”

    Melinda Me: No problem. I understand having often been confronted with the same issue. I will be sending Ed Crane an autographed copy.

    “Melinda: Private companies and corporations should not be allowed to bid for government contracts.

    ROBERT Me: I recognize that as an assertion, but I don’t recognize a justification of said assertion.”

    Melinda Me: The present large and impersonal federal government presents two dilemmas. The first is the moral hazard of huge amounts of money for which no one has to account very closely. This attracts people who will do ANYTHING to get their hot little hands on the cash. All moral and ethical considerations are out the window. The behavior grows worse in direct relation to how and if there is an accountability exacted. Transparency increases the probability of discovery and hence asserts some control on the behavior.

    Government as it exists today is also an attractive nuisance. Time and energy is expended in the endless struggle to control it by everyone and, like cow patties, it will always attract flies. Transparency helps. Some.

    “Melinda: All policy that promotes transparency promotes freedom.

    ROBERT Me: I recognize that as an assertion, too, but I don’t recognize a justification of said assertion.”

    Melinda Me: If you can see them it is possible to get a bead on a vital organ. We have to have disincentives for the bad behavior.

    “Melinda: A defense of Koch Industries’ strategy for covertly influencing politics and public policy does not promote freedom. As individuals, Charles and David have natural rights in and to exactly the same degree as any other individual from yourself to a returning vet on the street because he or she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Koch Industries has no ‘right’ to hold government contracts. Any financial impact on them is irrelevant.

    ROBERT Me: How have I “defended” Charles and David? (Oh, yes, I admit I’ve met them, too, decades ago. I’ve known Ron Paul, and met Rothbard and Rockwell, while we’re at it.) I will say I’m grateful the Kochs have funded organizations I generally support.”

    Melinda Me: I have known Ron Paul for years. I think I first met him at a Mises event. I was on National Committee with Rockwell. Rothbard was a member of the Radical Caucus, as was I. I should have said not defended them but the less than transparent behavior of the company they own and control absolutely.

    “Melinda: Koch’s business interests bear no relationship to issues of individual rights. How we order government is policy, for libertarians, this should be determined by what will promote freedom.

    ROBERT Me: Agreed. But, if I were a rich dude like the Kochs are, I’d probably be more inclined to support organizations that I agreed with AND didn’t hurt my business. To be a libertarian doesn’t imply being a masochist, yes? I’m a global warming skeptic, not a denier, as Cato seems to be, but I can imagine the Koch’s would defund Cato if it were global warming (climate change) advocates.”

    Melinda Me: The percentage the Kochs spend on charity is tiny, given their income. I am cynical about this kind of ‘giving.’ Since I have said before that I view their ‘investments’ in Cato and other ‘freedom movement’ organizations as less than beneficial we will pass on those issues.

    Global warming? My friends who are astrophysicists mostly disagree that we are actually experiencing global warming as asserted by such as Gore.. Rather, they tell me it is particulates in the air that are causing some warming that is masking other, more complex changes. These include, they tell me, that Mars is also experiencing warming. That would mean that conditions external to our own planetary conditions are influencing climate. One of my friends, Augustus, maintains we are actually moving into a cycle of global cooling. I will just wait and see what happens. However, living non-impactively strikes me as polite and appropriate.

    “Melinda: Transparency is easy to understand. American citizens have a right to know everything about how their money is spent. What are you reasons for asserting otherwise?

    ROBERT Me: We’ve established we disagree on this as an absolute. No, I’d say American citizens don’t have the right to know the code for the nuclear football, for example. That would be contra-indicated. Do you want to live in a world where everyone knows everything? I don’t. Importantly, given the fact that there are a lot of rather insane people among us, I’m not sure we would survive in a purely “transparent” world. Seems awfully risky to this hombre.”

    Melinda Me: Yes, we have and will most likely continue to disagree. But I would eliminate the nuclear football, myself. This takes us back to the issue of the attractive nuisance.

    “Melinda: What role do you see for the state as appropriate and supported by the philosophy of natural rights, the free market, and America’s founding documents? How many wars would have been foisted on us if our foreign policy had not become a tool of corporations? I would rather know about the toilet paper contracts than miss the ones that buy bombs as fertilizer. War is just another way of stealing.

    ROBERT Me: I’ve already addressed most of this, but if government contracts “buy bombs as fertilizer,” then that seems to call into question whether “transparency” is really “transparent.” People lie. They do it all the time, if you’ve not noticed.”

    Melinda Me: I certainly have noticed that. Also that in depositions they cross themselves up in delightful ways, revealing the truth. To arrive there you need the transparency. If you let them keep talking you always learn the truth.

    “Melinda: Transparency matters. Our individual behavior is amazingly consistent over time.

    ROBERT Me: Agree in general. Always? Nyet. Some even break on through to the other side!”

    Melinda Me: They can change. Look at John Perkins. I have a good friend who used to arrange the financing for him and he changed, too. Today he hardly every helps eviscerate small nations. But the exception does not change the rule. And now I have to finish writing this prospectus and will not be around.

    Have a lovely day!

  11. That a self-described libertarian can object to the above Cato ad speaks volumes about the relative ineffectiveness of the libertarian movement.

    As geoanarchist Fred Foldvary points out, a market is only truly “free” if it is free from both private and government aggression. That ideal is impossible, and so the question for us grownups is: how close can we approach the ideal? The question for children remains: how can I get people to notice how ideal my daydreams are?

    Melinda, please read http://libertarianmajority.net/does-abstaining-from-aggression-minimize-it

  12. Lose your illusions. They are most dangerous when you don’t even know they exist, your present state.

    I stopped participating in LP Platform Committee Meetings in 1978 and dropped out to study the dynamics of organizational forms in 1988. I had to do original research as then nothing was written on the subject.

    What you do not know will kill you.

  13. Melinda, it seems I should tie up a few loose ends:

    You: Libertarianism, as practiced by the LP does not illustrate a consistent form for political philosophy. Please be more specific [about your branch of L-ism, theoretical asymptotic anarchism/applied lessarchism].

    Me: TAAAL-ism, of which I may well be the only exponent of, is hard to define. It’s heavily influenced by Taoism and Hayek. The Taoist part goes something like this: Force is not virtuous, yet force is always with us. It’s folly to resist force, but it’s virtuous to undo force, where one can, when one can. States practice force, and should be undone where we can, when we can. Undoing the State is a journey, not a destination. From Hayek we learned the conceit of constructs. Constructs may be useful as teaching aids, but are not in any way “reality.” We TAAALists also believe Emerson gave us wise counsel about foolish consistency.

    You: I never met Mises but each of the others would be well served to lose their illusions.

    Me: Losing illusions is a lifelong pursuit for all.

    You: Transparency helps. Some.

    Me: “Some” being the operative term.

    You: We have to have disincentives for the bad behavior.

    Me: Melinda, you may one day adopt TAAAL-ism, too, as this is a basic tenet.

    You: However, living non-impactively strikes me as polite and appropriate.

    Me: I’d lose the term “non-impactively,” but this too points to the TAAAList way.

    You: But I would eliminate the nuclear football, myself.

    Me: Wonderful sentiment, but a construct. Unilateral disarmament is way, way too risky for the foreseeable future.

  14. I wanted to tell you both thank you for such a delightful conversation. It’s so much more interesting to read polite exchanges!

  15. Robert,

    All of life is weaving, its beauties, subtle, teach.
    Each nuance holds an echo of what we’ve yet to reach.

    Our path, not straight or narrow, the future, dim, unseen.
    My steps remember yesterdays, both honored and demeaned.

    And words, they can connect us, or shred all hope of peace.
    Incite and also cage us; they limit and release.

    All the words constructed to stretch our scope of mind
    Echoes of the vision that, embraced, will make us kind.

    “You: Libertarianism, as practiced by the LP does not illustrate a consistent form for political philosophy. Please be more specific [about your branch of L-ism, theoretical asymptotic anarchism/applied lessarchism].

    You: TAAAL-ism, of which I may well be the only exponent of, is hard to define. It’s heavily influenced by Taoism and Hayek. The Taoist part goes something like this: Force is not virtuous, yet force is always with us. It’s folly to resist force, but it’s virtuous to undo force, where one can, when one can. States practice force, and should be undone where we can, when we can. Undoing the State is a journey, not a destination. From Hayek we learned the conceit of constructs. Constructs may be useful as teaching aids, but are not in any way “reality.” We TAAALists also believe Emerson gave us wise counsel about foolish consistency.”

    Me: You could say am a ZenLibertarian with a gnostic bent. My first Teacher was James Dean, who lived freedom with intention, intensity and joy. Jimmy told me about Howard Roark just before he went away that last time. I don’t use words to describe myself politically anymore.

    “Me: I never met Mises but each of the others would be well served to lose their illusions.

    You: Losing illusions is a lifelong pursuit for all.”

    Me: Illusions are what you lose to find yourself.

    “Me: Transparency helps. Some.

    You: “Some” being the operative term.”

    Me: Yep.

    “Me: We have to have disincentives for the bad behavior.

    You: Melinda, you may one day adopt TAAAL-ism, too, as this is a basic tenet.”

    “You: However, living non-impactively strikes me as polite and appropriate.

    You: I’d lose the term “non-impactively,” but this too points to the TAAAList way.”

    “Me: But I would eliminate the nuclear football, myself.

    You: Wonderful sentiment, but a construct. Unilateral disarmament is way, way too risky for the foreseeable future.”

    Me: I always visualize peace and keep my powder dry.

  16. Melinda, the most important things I know are summarized at http://humanknowledge.net/. Feel free to point out any important knowledge that I’ve overlooked, or any “illusions” that I’ve inadvertently included.

  17. Brian, it would take too long and be too much like revisiting a previous chapter of my life. Feel free to read my articles though I will not urge you to do so.

  18. Melinda, thanks for sharing your poem. Breathtaking!

    Speaking of illusions and breaking through to the other side, Thoreau was getting there in WALDEN:

    “If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it to other things we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.”

    I cut him some slack for “men,” trapped as he was in the 19th century.

  19. Robert, you are very welcome. I journal in poetry. My poetry journal is at Shards of Verse http://pillsbury-fosterpoetry.blogspot.com

    I wrote this one in the spring of 1999 as part of Lilac Series. Explanation of the adopted form is on the site. This one sort of explains my view of human organizations and philosophy.

    106.
    Structures and Dying
    We build them in our minds and hearts
    Vaulted ceilings, pledged with lives
    We build them into time and start
    To think of them as living, wise

    Structures.
    Tools to carry us past our years
    To hold what we have built and done
    Cathedraled barriers for our fears
    To convince that battle can be won

    Death
    No limits of our human lives
    On death, and famine, anguish, breed
    They say the No and thus divide
    Our living wills from age lost creeds

    Structures
    Churches, nations, institutes
    Clubs and places we reside
    All of these, we hope refute
    The knowledge that we, ourselves, must die.

    Structures
    Remember as you build and strain
    To put on another coat of paint
    That structures have no life or breath
    No spirit moves their always death

    Structures
    Never living, never filled,
    Never speaking, never real
    Within the least of us abides
    The thing eternal that death denies.

    Structures
    Look on house and castle, mill and keep
    See shadowed things that humans make
    To challenge death and lend us sleep
    From knowing death’s unchallenged wake.

    Death
    Accept that death in us resides
    And structures can’t turn back that tide.

    My grandfather, Arthur C. Pillsbury, took a copy of Walden’s Pond with him on his journey from the headwaters of the Yukon to the Pacific in 1897. He had built in a portable dark room and along the way used the circuit panorama camera he invented to record the opening of the mining towns.

    Generations of the family grew up in that tradition. One of Emerson’s sons worked for my great-great grandfather, Benjamin L. Pillsbury, as a teacher. Benjamin and Sarah, his wife ran the first coeducational high school there in New Hampshire. Parker Pillsbury, a cousin, spent a lot of time with them. I have a site for my grandfather acpillsburyfoundation.org.

    Not all of them were trapped. AC lived the concept of the knowledge commons.

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