Monday, November 22, 2010

Actually, the ones threatened with killing were the wage slaves funding Ida's retirement. If they had resisted paying the taxes funding Ida's retirement, that's exactly what would have happened: they would have been killed. Well, sure, not straightaway. First, liens would have been placed on their property, lates fees and interest penalties assessed, maybe a not-so-friendly visit paid by the local, state or federal "peace officer" to persuade them to pony up.

But every tax resister knows what awaits him if he persists in resisting. Interestingly enough--and the irony eludes many otherwise intelligent people--it's the same fate awaiting the galley slaves if they resist: great bodily harm up to and including death. At least the galley slaves had the opportunity to earn their freedom. For the wage slaves, the only light at the end of the tunnel is the oncoming train.

So let's not "get tough on Ida" by expecting her to assume responsibility for her own retirement. Let's get tough on everybody else and force them to assume responsibility for her retirement. What could be more enlightened or humanitarian that that?

After all, it's all well and good that Ida pays $25 into the racket and collects $23,000. That's how the Ponzi schemes work. Those who get in at the beginning make a killing (!). Everybody else gets the shaft. In the immortal words of Bastiat, "Government is the great fiction by which everybody lives at the expense of everybody else."


Sent: Mon, Nov 22, 2010 7:37 pm
Subject: Re: Ponzi Scheme Winner

Yeah, we should have killed as soon as she tried to cash that second check; whatever happened to the good ol' days when they executed galley slaves a week before they were scheduled for freedom? If we could just get rid of those nasty things like Social Security and Medicare, we could get the minimum wage down to 2 bucks an hour and very few of those lazy peasants would even live to age 65. Yeah, let's get tough on bums like Ida, and by the way, let's lower taxes on giant corporations.



That's quite a return on her investment.



On January 31, 1940, the first monthly retirement check was issued to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, in the amount of $22.54. Miss Fuller, a Legal Secretary, retired in November 1939. She started collecting benefits in January 1940 at age 65 and lived to be 100 years old, dying in 1975.

Ida May Fuller worked for three years under the Social Security program. The accumulated
taxes on her salary during those three years was [sic] a total of $24.75. Her initial monthly check was $22.54. During her lifetime she collected a total of $22,888.92 in Social Security benefits.


Friday, November 19, 2010

So the joke goes like this:

FINALLY, a great alternative to body scanners at airports!

The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners at the airports. It's a booth you can step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on you.

They see this as a win-win for everyone, with none of the crap about racial profiling. After you hear a muffled explosion, an announcement comes over the PA system: "Attention passengers! We now have a seat available on flight # 1818."

It would eliminate the cost of a long and expensive trial. Justice would be swift.

Case closed! Shalom!


To which I respond:

Good one!

To be fair, though, I see really very little evidence the Israelis have any qualms about violating privacy, practicing racial profiling, or detonating men, women and children--whether those men, women and children are wearing explosive devices or not. So much for justice and shalom.

This is not to bash the Israelis. There's a reason they've forged a "special relationship" with the U.S. Well, yes, there's that AIPAC thing. But aside from that, they know it's terrorism only when the bad guys do it. When the good guys do it, it's a pre-emptive strike or an act of homicidal humanitarianism.

Universality is the hallmark of morality? Only if you're a medievalist.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You're not living in the Twilight Zone. Rather, your central nervous system is organizing sensory-sensual space-time data in a manner that reinforces your a priori conclusions. The alternative theory--that there is no deflation, that it would be a good thing if there were deflation, that our benevolent solons at the helm of state and their lapdog media are lying to us--is too terrifying to contemplate.

Yes, there are two-for-one deals, and three-for-a-dollar deals, and 40-percent off deals. Bargains we always have with us. Such is the nature of our (vague semblance of a) free market. Anecdotal evidence has little to do with the general price level--which is hard to measure, admittedly, but we all know exists. You want anecdotal evidence? I bought a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for $7.99 at Trader Joe's in Royal Oak a year ago, now it's $8.49. My employer offered fully paid family health insurance to me a year ago, starting January 1, 2011 it will charge $780 per year. A gallon of gasoline in Michigan was $2.69 a year ago, now it's $2.99.

Google "Consumer Price Index" plus "hedonic improvements." Then do the same with "changing market basket" and "core prices." Look at the adjustments made to the CPI over the years. You'll see our benevolent solons at the helm of state have tampered with the CPI to understate inflation. They've done the same with the "official" unemployment rate.

Surprisingly enough! As if they have any incentive to do such a thing!

If only there were deflation! In a reasonably free market, with a commodity-based (and therefore stable) currency, that's precisely what we would have: prices gently decreasing with increases in productivity. Even in our mixed, welfare-warfare, fascio-socialist economy, computers and electronic equipment prices have gone down in price. This is a problem? How? Don't I want my dollar to buy more?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank debauches the dollar, facilitating the purchase of U.S. securities by the Chinese central bank and lining the pockets of Wall Street brokerage houses. The Chinese central bank tampers with its currency, too. It pegs the value of its currency to the dollar, despite the country's growing industrial might, thereby subsidizing Chinese export industries.

It's an old story in either case: mercantilism. The economic dislocations ensue. The Chinese central bank won't be putting up with this arrangement much longer. China's growing middle class cries out for a standard of living more commensurate with its productive capacity. Chinese export industries can sell domestically. China's middle class can consume more.

The smart capital States-side is heading to guns, gold and agriculture. And to Transportation Security Administration scatter-ray porno-scanners--the better to protect us from the barbarians!

But the barbarians are at the gates, and the Empire has responded by propping up its distant outposts. This, too, is an old story. Rome maintained its presence in Scotland, the Rhine Valley and Northern Africa even after Alaric sacked world headquarters in 410 A.D. Similarly, nine years after Nine Eleven, Washington still has troops in Germany, Japan, Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Outer Albania and 120 other foreign ratholes.

What's the alternative, Tony? Hmmm? Property rights and the non-aggression axiom? Commodity money replacing fiduciary media? Tosh, what twaddle! How would the elites preserve the disorder? The barbarous relic would rule the roost! There would be no hope for disorder then!


Vaginae? The word is Latin, so this makes sense: the plural of alumna is alumnae, as in the "alumnae [not alumni] of Smith College"--Smith being an all-women's institution of higher yearning (sic). I would probably write "vaginas" nonetheless.

What gets my goat is "chaise lounge." Yes, it's a chair for lounging, people, but the word in French is "chaise *longue*," as in "long chair." If you're going to affect to continental sophistication, make sure you get the terminology right.

Also, why in the hell is marquee, which has an accent over the first "e" pronounced MARK-ee and not MARK-ay, when lingerie, which has no accent over the final "e" is pronounced LANJE-ur-ray instead of LANJE-ur-ree? Given the prevailing imbecility, it's small wonder these United States are saddled with Lincoln lovers, drug laws and the heartbreak of NATO zealotry.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Joe Sobran's writing is indeed "intended for educated and literate adults," as Ronn Neff notes. But among those “conformist, hot-button reactors” for whom it’s not intended, as Mr. Neff surely knows, we must include a substantial number of the ostensibly educated and literate. Many have mastered such cognitively complex subject matter as differential calculus, Latin declensions and (of course!) Keynesians "economics." Notwithstanding acquisition of critical-thinking skills, they have been socialized to emote when confronted with hot-button views. My guess is that Patricia McCoy falls in this camp.

I had a similar experience over a Joseph Sobran column better than a decade ago. I had emailed the offending piece ( to an old college friend. A Ph.D. candidate (in political science no less!) at a major American university, “S” certainly qualified as educated and literate. He was even reasonably open to contrarian views. We’d engaged in numerous heated political exchanges over the years; neither of us took things personally.

Yes, Sobran's “The Legitimacy of Slavery” (Universal Press Syndicate, June 15, 1999) was controversial. The title alone was enough to raise the hackles of the most even-tempered bien-pensant. With that in mind, I had included a caveat: "Read it all the way through or don't read it at all. Sobran deftly shows how slavery is still 'legitimate' today. Great piece of writing."

It did nothing to dissuade my correspondent from issuing this philippic:

"I'm sitting here wondering why Pivetta sent me such bullshit. There's nothing wrong with saying that states can impose a type of slavery and there's nothing wrong with examining the diverse history of slavery in different parts of the world. But the way Sobran does it is to excuse the American variety, to completely dismiss a couple hundred [sic] years of awful, awful human degradation. There's a more legitimate way to make your point than to cite this racist trash, even if you share his view of the state.

"Please, Tony, don't send me this crap anymore."

This was bizarre. I still scratch my head over it. Had he actually read the same article? Where does Sobran defend American chattel slavery? What kind of selective reading sees him dismissing “awful, awful human degradation”? S was an ardent statist. Perhaps the parallels Sobran draws between freelance and state slavery were too much for him. But surely he had the imagination to read the article from a libertarian’s premises. Sobran isn’t downplaying the evil of freelance slavery: he’s calling the state out as history’s most murderous and ubiquitous slaveholder. (Google, for example, “Soviet gulags” for more on this.) It was S who was downplaying the state’s own legacy of “awful, awful human degradation.”

Or perhaps it was the suggestion African slaves embraced their servitude and revered their masters? Is that where the “racist trash” comes in? But Sobran nowhere claims the Africans were too obtuse to perceive their own enslavement. He is merely passing along the accounts of G. T. Basden, from whose 1921 book, Among the Ibos of Nigeria, he quotes liberally. Even then, the fact they’re African has nothing to do with it. Sobran hastens to point out that white slaves in pre-Christian Europe held the same attitudes:

"Did the slaves revolt? Rarely, Basden affirms: 'I have never met a slave who hankered after or even expressed a desire for freedom. Indeed, in instances where the possibility of freedom has been suggested to young men, they have indignantly refused to consider the proposal.'

. . .

"In the Nigerian cultures, slavery was regarded as completely legitimate--even by the slaves themselves. It was totally indigenous and had nothing to do with the white man--though in pre-Christian Europe, white men enslaved other white men and held most of the same attitudes as the Nigerians.

"In the modern world, state slavery has replaced chattel slavery, and this is widely accepted as legitimate. Through two world wars, young men (and their parents) acknowledged the right of the state to demand that they give their lives in combat. Even now, many are grateful dependents of the state, their kindly master, while the state's right to confiscate the fruits of our labor through taxation is seldom challenged. Maybe Aristotle had a point when he said that most men are slaves by nature."

Yes, maybe Aristotle had a point. But it is also man’s nature to try to improve man’s nature. Man doesn’t just think: he thinks about thinking. He is a reflective being. He develops moral principles and political theories and applies them to the world around him. In so doing, he comes to recognize injustice and take a stand against it. It is precisely his faculty for reasoning that enabled him to overcome the blight of freelance slavery. It wasn’t by throwing hissy-fits, Pavlov’s-doglike, at those who accept or resist the prevailing superstitions of the day.