Ferguson/Cleveland

Posted November 26, 2014 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Uncategorized

I’m a proponent of protestation, but what good does it do to protest if you’re only hurting those that are just as innocent in the case at hand as you are?

The same is true of Ferguson. Many people’s businesses, property, and lives were all either destroyed or put at risk by such protestors even though those particular victims were not the perpetrators of the actions that are at protest.

Such persons are protesting the actions of particular individuals while contradicting themselves in their own actions. But their actions are actually quite worse, because they’re indiscriminate in levying them out (they attack everybody, the innocent), even though their primary gripe is upon discrimination (and particular individuals)– do you see the logical disconnect here?

So their actions are analogous to saying, “I don’t like discriminatory violence, therefor, indiscriminate violence is the answer”. As well they’re saying, “I’m against discriminating against certain individuals–I have a gripe with certain individuals–so I’ll now take my gripes out upon indiscriminate individuals (i.e. everybody else that had nothing to do with it)”.

That is ridiculous

(I guess that the moral of this story is that the supposed “protestors” are no longer innocent. They’ve become criminals for a cause.No better–and probably worse–than that of which they’re protesting.)

On Human Rights (a rant)

Posted July 3, 2014 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Civil Rights, General, Misc Debris, Political Philosophy

I don’t believe in men’s, women’s, gay’s, hetero’s, or whatever rights you’ll arbitrarily put upon the table. I only agree with the rights of human beings themselves, as body-owners of their selves, and as the first appropriators of unowned property, or property transferred by way of legitimate title-transfer (contract).

So yeah, my sense of rights is entirely universal no matter who you are; there is no ambiguousness on the matter! I can care less about collectivist battles about “muh rights”, because at the end of the day, whenever a group is screaming about their ‘collective’ rights, you need only to hold tight to your wallet in order to put them all into a petulant frenzy.

And it is this that is quite instructive of the world of which we live in today … to quote Bastiat, “the state is the great fiction whereby everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else”.

If there is not a more instructive and objective case in order to prove such a thing–other than the world in which we live today–then I will never endeavor to find another case.

The preponderance of folks that argue over who will pay for their own expenses, ad infinitum? It grows tiresome.

However, I would tend to think that in my current years, that I’ve identified an understanding that precedes my time by many years and ages, one that was just as true as before, and one that has permeated the essence of human liberty … We are all social beings, but we must also understand [that] our individual natures are the essence of our cooperation. It is not our equality that makes us whole, but rather it is our cooperation in the truths of our inequalities–that which one can do that the other cannot, but where cooperation ensues–that brings us all that single step forward from where we were before.

To disregard that is to disregard the actuality of one’s being in this world that we call humanity.

My Appearance on ‘Live All Your Life’ with Cody Limbaugh (Part 3)

Posted July 2, 2014 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Common Sense, Economics, Fun Corner, General, Government, Media, Misc Debris, Political Philosophy

The 97% Consensus is Bollocks

Posted July 1, 2014 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Common Sense, Propaganda, Science, Uncategorized

I am sure that you have all heard the word consensus used many times with regard to what is often called Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), or more recently, Global Climate Change (GCC). However, over the past year or so there has been another phrase bandied about to support this so-called consensus, that “97% of climate scientists agree with the consensus view that humans are the primary cause of global warming” (or something to that effect).

The source of this second claim (that attempts to reinforce the first) is from a 2013 paper by lead author John Cook, a solar physicist who operates the website Skeptical Science. The paper in question, Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature, or simply Cook et. al. (2013), concludes, “Among papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (97.2% based on self-ratings, 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW”.

That statement looks fine and dandy at first glance and it seems to support the data as shown in the Cook et. al. paper. However, there is far more to this statement than meets the eye.

Methodology is Everything

In order to undertake their study, Cook and his co-authors searched the ISI Web of Science looking for papers published from 1991-2011 using the search terms “global warming” and “global climate change”, and they further restricted their search to articles only (which excluded books, discussions, proceeding papers, and other types). This yielded a total of 12,465 papers, which were then rated into types according to Table 1 below, the result of which was the elimination of papers that were not peer-reviewed, not climate related, or without an abstract; this resulted in a total of 11,944 papers from 29,083 authors in 1980 journals.

Table 1

 

The resulting 11,944 papers where then sorted into seven levels according to their level of endorsement of AGW as shown in Table 2 below. We can see that amongst the seven levels in Table 2, that they can further be reduced to 3 primary categories, two of which (endorse/reject) have their own three levels of relative endorsement/rejection. The primary categories are: Endorse AGW, No Position/Uncertain, and Reject AGW.

Table 2

 

Cook et. al. also performed a self-rating analysis, whereby they emailed 8547 authors with an invitation to rate their own papers. They received 1200 responses (a 14% response rate), and a total of 2142 papers received a self-rating from 1189 authors.

While the self-rating section of this study is quite interesting, I’ll be limiting my analysis of the claim that “97% of climate scientists agree with the consensus” (paraphrase) to only the first part of the study, that which deals with the papers themselves. The reason for this decision of mine is two-fold: first, due to the very small number of respondents who self-rated, there could be the inclusion of bias toward a particular position; and two, I do not have access to the data file for the self-rating portion of the study (I only have the data file for the abstract analysis portion of the study).

What Consensus?

It must be asked, “what exactly is the consensus in this study?”. Cook et. al. (2013) doesn’t define this term for us, so we have no choice but to infer its definition from our own opinions, right? Well, not exactly.

You see, there was another paper, Legates et. al. (2013), that served as a critical response to Cook et. al. (2013). While this paper is behind a pay wall and thus cannot be fully accessed by myself, it is fortuitous that Cook responded to it in another paper, Bedford and Cook (2013). In this particular paper co-authored by Cook we see the sentence, “Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause”.

So while in the first Cook paper we only get the statement, “Among papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (97.2% based on self-ratings, 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW”, we get a followup paper from Cook stating that “Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause” (emphasis mine).

It appears that we now have Cook’s definition of what the consensus is that he referred to in his first paper, and it is entirely consistent with the IPCC’s claims as laid out in their 2007 statement, as well. The consensus is apparently that humans are the main cause of global warming.

The only problem is that Cook is full of it. He’s being entirely dishonest!

A Little Look at the Numbers

As mentioned above, the methodology employed by Cook et. al. (2013) was to take the 11,944 papers and separate them into seven distinct levels of endorsement, and that these seven levels could further be separated into three primary categories as outlined in Table 2 above. The results were then compiled and shown as percentages in Table 3 below, though one can clearly see that level 4 was further divided between “uncertain on AGW” and “no AGW position” in the table.

Table 3

 

As can be clearly seen, 32.6% of all abstracts endorse the AGW position, a majority of 66.4% having no position on AGW, and the other categories represent less than 3% of the total. However, we also see the 97.1% figure that is the topic of our inquiry, which represents the percentage of abstracts with a position on AGW who actually endorse (rather than reject) the AGW position.

This all seems consistent with Cook’s claims, right? No, not exactly.

If you’ll remember, the primary category of endorsement for AGW was divided between three distinct levels of relative endorsement (levels 1, 2, and 3 in Table 2). The first is level 1, “explicitly states that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming”. The next level 2 says, “explicitly states humans are causing global warming or refers to anthropogenic global warming/climate change as a known fact”. The last level 3 states, “implies humans are causing global warming”. So only level 1 states that humans are the primary or main cause of global warming, while level 2 merely states that humans “are causing” global warming (which doesn’t tell us how much they are causing it), and level 3 merely implies that humans are causing global warming (which again doesn’t tell us how much they are causing it).

So the 97.1% figure that is the topic of our enquiry is actually the sum of levels 1, 2, and 3. If this is the case, then it certainly cannot be said that the statement from Bedford and Cook (2013) that, “Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause”, is at all accurate. After all, some of those papers representing that 97.1% in Cook et. al. (2013) must have fallen into both levels 2 and 3, and not just level 1 (which is the only level that states that humans are the primary or main cause of global warming). Nor can it be said that the statement in Cook et. al (2013) that, “among papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (97.2% based on self-ratings, 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW”, is accurate, because the subsequent paper by Cook defines the consensus in this statement as being the position that humans are the main cause of global warming.

And how do I know that not all of the papers that represent that 97.1% figure fall into only category 1? Because logic would dictate as much, but also because I have the data file for Cook et. al. (2013). Here’s what the breakdown of each level looks like:

Level 1 = 64
Level 2 = 922
Level 3 = 2910
Level 4 = 7970
Level 5 = 54
Level 6 = 15
Level 7 = 9

Clearly, we can see that there were more papers that rejected AGW than there were that supported the notion that humans are the primary or main cause of global warming (i.e. level 1). Further, when we break down the three levels that represent the category of endorsement of AGW, this is what they look like as a percentage:

Level 1 = 1.6%
Level 2 = 23%
Level 3 = 72%

Conclusion

I’m not a climate scientist, but the simple fact is that based upon the evidence in his own papers, John Cook is misrepresenting his own study and is fabricating the idea–based upon his own definition and that of others–that 97% of climate scientists endorse the consensus that humans are the primary or main cause of global warming. What is worse is that I’ve heard this statement “97% support the consensus” from all sorts of sources. From the ignorant masses on the internet, the talking heads on television, in news articles, and even from the President of the United States himself. While it could quite probably be the case that they’re simply repeating what they’ve heard others say, it is still entirely irresponsible to make such a claim as fact without checking it out for yourself.

I’ve done the homework for you. The next time that you hear somebody make claims about a consensus, you’d be entirely correct to point out to them that 1.6% does not represent a consensus.

My Appearance on ‘Live All You Life’ with Cody Limbaugh (Part 2)

Posted June 26, 2014 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: General, Media, Misc Debris

My Appearance on ‘Live All Your Life’ with Cody Limbaugh (Part 1)

Posted June 19, 2014 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Economics, Fun Corner, General, Government, Media, Political Philosophy

My Appearance on the Voluntary Virtues Round Table

Posted June 3, 2014 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Media

On Government and the State

Posted April 28, 2014 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: General, Government, Political Philosophy, Random Musings

In political philosophy circles it is often said that it is very important to define your terms so that confusion can be minimized. One instance where I think that this is of the utmost importance–which also happens to be a certain pet peeve of mine– is in the case that presents itself when speaking about government and the state. It is often the case that these two terms are used as synonyms, but I believe this to be incorrect.

The terms themselves have very important conceptual implications, and conflating the terms ignores their grammatical nature and can lead to faulty conclusions. That the state has served the role of government in society for much of human history is no implication upon the term government with regard to the term’s meaning. Since many continue to use the terms state and government synonymously, I must address this error.

While almost everybody in political philosophy circles knows that the state is an entity that serves as the monopoly of governance in a particular region, most do not take notice of the fact that governance occurs in many other areas of human thought beyond that of the state, as well as the fact that in referring to the state we can also separately refer to the concept of governance.

Please, let me give just a few examples …

*  *  *

If you have any sort of normative order that is under discussion, say, that of property rights itself (or more specifically, that of libertarian property rights), then that is a governing order, it’s a system of government that prevails in a society. The only difference is that these norms (or ought statements) are generally apodictic rather than simply dictated statements in their justification (though this is not always the case, it is the goal in the theorizing about such things). Obviously, in the case of the state, this is entirely reversed, the laws that are dictated are merely statements–more specifically they are dictates (statutes) by the monopoly on governance; the state–but they are certainly not apodictically true, nor is that even the goal, thus they do not meet the criteria of laws at all; they are arbitrary dictates.

The same dynamic also finds itself present in the realm of positive statements, such as those of economic theory. Economics itself relies upon certain laws and understandings, that of which are always grounded in positive or is statements. Certainly the laws of economics govern (steer/guide) the actions of men in a world of scarce resources, this is necessarily the case because such laws are apodictically true. Economics is nothing other than the study of the government of humans acting in a world of scarcity, and indeed, one cannot violate the laws of economics: It’s literally impossible to do so. One could certainly say that the laws of economics comprise a government of human affairs (that these laws govern the reality of man vs nature, that they are apodictically true laws, one cannot contradict them in action). In contrast, it makes little sense to, say, propose the statement that the law of scarcity has no economic impact, or that something is scarce merely because it has been made so by policy functions (e.g. a shortage due to such a policy).

The difference between dictates and policies on the one hand, should never be confused with laws and governance on the other. This distinction between root concepts and foundational ideals cannot be overstated, because it is often the case that in one realm of human thought where these things are entirely understood, that in another realm of thought the understandings of the prior gets tossed to the wayside in favor of very bad ideas. 

*  *  *

One must ultimately understand the etymology of words, as well as the evolution of language, in order to find meaning in the same. In the case of the term govern, it is a verb that simply means to steer or guide people or things. At its root, it is formed from the idea that certain laws prevail or are true in reality. For instance, it would not be too bold to say that the law of supply and demand governs prices, or that the law of gravity governs the attractive relationship of bodies. This is obviously true. However, for some reason, the verb govern takes a twisted turn in many people’s mind once you modify it with the suffix –ment to become a noun.

It is this noun-character (as well as the reality of the state) that often leads people to conflate government with the state as synonyms. They are both nouns, after all, and certainly the state has undertaken the government of society throughout a great part of human history. But it takes one of more astute care and attention to realize what is going on here.

The state is an actual entity (at least it is linguistically referred to as an entity), so it is a concrete noun, whereas government is an abstract noun, which is a concept. So right here we can see can see a pretty large difference between the two grammatically, but the real interesting part is in the root word to suffix transition that occurs (from govern to government).

Probably the best words to use as analogues to the word govern are those of the words excite and entice. These are transitive verbs, just like that of the word govern, and they require a certain object (or objects) in order for reference to them. One simply cannot use a transitive verb without referring to some thing. So let’s modify them into abstract nouns!

In order to stay consistent, I will modify all of these transitive verbs into abstract nouns by the usage of the modifying suffix –ment (which is defined as, “forming nouns expressing the result or means of action”). Since English grammar is the governing structure that gives meaning to the words of English, the point should be quite clear.

The transitive verbs excite and entice are modified into the abstract nouns excitement and enticement. Clearly, we could not conflate these abstract nouns with concrete nouns, such that we could call the state “the excitement” or “the enticement”, rather we are left with resorting to using the preposition of to combine the two. So it is perfectly acceptable to say something like “the excitement/enticement of the state”, but it is not acceptable to refer to the state as “the excitement/enticement”. The same is true of the word government, it cannot be used as a synonym for an entity because of its grammatical nature (i.e. abstract nouns vs concrete nouns).

*  *  *

Anarcho-libertarians often run into problems when discussing their chosen political philosophy with statists, and this is often due to this very dynamic of conflating the terms state and government. This leads one to believe that what the anarchist is saying is that they do not believe in law or order, when it is exactly the opposite that is true. Certainly anarcho-libertarians do believe in laws, they just do not believe in arbitrary laws (such as legislated statutes, or mere dictates); and just as much, they also believe in governance, they just do not believe in monopoly governance, such as the state. The anarcho-libertarian’s system of laws is based upon libertarian property rights in conjunction with the non-aggression principle, which together form a rather robust system of government.

For the anarcho-libertarian to deny government, this only plays into the claims by statists that anarchy is chaotic and lawless (a Hobbesian state of nature of all against all, thus justifying the need for Leviathan; the state) when this is very clearly far from being the actual case. As I am often fond of saying: “I’m all for big government, but I have zero tolerance for the state”. Let a statist try that one on for size.

Bitcoin

Posted December 23, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Economics

I’ve been thinking about the arguments for and against Bitcoin for quite a while, and the thing that almost always had put a wrench into my thought was Mises’s *Regression Theorem*.

This brought about the ideas that a medium of exchange must arise as a commodity, as Mises stated to be so. (that bitcoins are already a medium of exchange should be an indication that there is something else going on. My task here is to reconcile the questions that arose in my mind between the theory and reality)

This term “commodity” typically specifies a particular tangible good. But I’ve recently realized that there are also many service-based commodities (those that are intangible). The services of Dr. X or Lawyer Y are certainly commodities, though they aren’t tangible, just as are the services provided by a particular cellphone provider are intangible but able to be commodified.

All of these things require capital, labor, investment, and everything else that is found in economic action. Their limitations are often time-preference, knowledge, relative capitalization, opportunity cost, disutility, and a myriad of other things that have nothing to do with objective scarcity; these considerations are all subjective to the actor offering such services (just as the consumer of such things has his own subjective considerations). Just the same, these considerations are found in all economic actions in a world of scarcity. And because of this realization, I now realize that Bitcoin is indeed commodity, even if an intangible one.

The direct-use value of Bitcoin is that of a service–one that is entirely commodified and homogeneous (by virtue of its creation and contracted exchange), and it is supplied and demanded upon the unhampered market (but probably due the hampered market that exists today); it is scarce–thus it meets all of the requirements of Mises’s RT.

I’ve often said that a great misunderstanding surrounding Bitcoin had to do entirely with the disregard of subjective value; I now realize how much more important that statement was.

*Strange as it may seem, but this post of mine (and my understanding expressed therein) was entirely inspired by Murray Rothbard’s monopoly theory. That’s actually somewhat ironic if you think about it …

That 70’s Song

Posted October 19, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Music, music, Music (original)

Just a little something from my days in San Diego with the band.

Fixes to last Article

Posted August 29, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Admin, Uncategorized

Sorry folks, it appears that I posted my last article a little too early. I wrote it this morning, slept for a few hours and then woke up and read it again. I noticed a few errors, so I fixed them. I can’t remember what they were, but they weren’t huge errors. In any case, I just wanted to let you know. It’s now in its final form.

Joe

Humanitarian Murder: It’s a Gas

Posted August 29, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Foreign Relations, Government, Iran, Israel, Politics, Propaganda

Here we are yet again at the precipice of war.

Some may not fully remember that we’d been here not too long before, that the narrative is almost exactly the same, and that we’ve been lied to by our “angels” holding the reins of state power ad infinitum for time immemorial.

Will Americans fall for it once more?

The war drums beating, the speeches and punditries spoken, and every fashion of ridiculous justifications and moral reasonings having been proffered, all being flashed in front of your eyes in the blue-light sparkle of your big-screen television; and all of this by the tiding media whose only life-support is the very government establishment that wishes to propagandize and impose its powerful influence upon the minds of each and every one of us, all in order to gain the political support to destroy those “evil” inhabitants of the other side … the enemy. How truly collectivist of them.

However this –like so many other wars and aggressions that have occurred before it– is being sold as a “humanitarian” effort; one to save the children, the mothers and fathers, and indeed the people of Syria.

“We’re only here to help, we mean you no harm”. Right?

There could be nothing further from the truth, and I am here to tell you why.

Of Bombs and Men

There simply does not exist any such thing as a “humanitarian war”, it’s a contradiction in terms. It’s much like saying “humanitarian murder” or “slavery freedom”. War is exactly what it says it is: nothing more than one state’s inhabitants (or military powers) killing the inhabitants that live within another state’s monopolistic region of power, or vice versa. You can tidy it up with soft language such as “conflict” or “engagement” as well as many other fanciful terms, but it all means the same thing: War!

Of what value is the reasoning of humanitarianism when innocent people are amongst the dead and killed by such “humanitarian” actions? I say none.

A bomb is an indiscriminate weapon of terror, a true “weapon of mass destruction”. There simply is no way to control who exactly it is that will be killed by such a weapon.

Sure, you may kill a “bad guy”, but you also may (and probably will) kill a lot of innocent people along with him. In fact, this is often the case, as the statistics of the US government’s drone war, and indeed all of its wars and aggressions over the past century, have proven all too poignantly.

To put things into perspective, those few that are supporting this military action in Syria are essentially saying this:

Person A: “They’re killing innocent people over there, we must do something”

Person B: “What do you suppose to do?”

Person A: “Kill innocent people over there”

Clearly, this is not a cogent argument in favor of humanitarianism (the supposed justification for US military intervention in this conflict).

The Gaseous State

The world is being told that Assad is using chemical weapons against his own people (sound familiar?), but to be sure, there has yet to have been any proof of this.

Yes, we do know that such weapons have been used (by whom?), but as Justin Raimondo has shown in his recent reporting, there is much ambiguity with regard to who has been using them. Further, the inspections by the UN had initially been curtailed, all in an effort to rush to another war without ample evidence of wrongdoing (or any evidence at all). Recently the inspectors were in the region, but were only there to establish that chemical weapons were released, not to assign blame, and the US is hinting that it will ignore the UN Security Council regardless.

The appeal by the President for Congressional support, I think, is far more of a political than a legal move. He’s essentially doing nothing more than spreading out the blame and putting on a show to convince the people that he’s consistent with US jurisprudence. He’s already indicated that it is his belief that he does not need to consult the Congress on these matters, so it only makes sense that his motives are entirely political in nature.

If they want war, then war is what they will have.

Indeed, many have been speculating that it is the US-supported “Rebels”, not Assad, who had a “gas”. In fact, some have even been suggesting that this is a “false flag” event; though I certainly cannot verify this any more than I can verify that it was Assad or the Rebels that used chemical weapons. But it is well-known that the US government has been supporting the Rebels (who are affiliated with the US government’s bogeyman “Al Qaeda”) both financially and militarily, that it is the US government that imposed the “red line” ultimatum on the use of chemical weapons about a year ago, and that due to this it is the US that has the most to gain by such a chemical attack by Assad’s government. Cui Bono?

While I do not discount any of the possibilities presented, I still cannot help but question whether any of these things are even relevant at all when considering the supposed particulars of the US government’s “war plans”. They are much more worrying.

Reign of Terror

So what is the US government’s strategic military play? Why, it’s to bomb the snot out of the Assad government’s supposed chemical weapons regiments (if we are to take their word on it). And of course, it will last “hours not days“, just as we’ve been told before in the case of Iraq.

This seems pretty straight forward in many people’s minds, until they think about the consequences of such a thing. If you bomb a chemical weapons facility or the Syrian military forces used in chemical weapons warfare, would that not release the same chemicals that were supposedly used by Assad’s government “against his own people”? Indeed it would!.

So we are left with a situation where the proposed military plan of the US government is to release into the air the same chemical toxins in which they are accusing the Assad government of perpetrating, but the US government is declaring it as a matter of foreign policy (they deny it, but it is unavoidable if what they say is true). Yet the justification of such an action is based upon a synonymous case. This justification is not much different than saying, “well, they’re killing each other, so why can’t we kill people, too?”. It seems that US “humanitarianism” has come full circle (which is to say it is no humanitarianism at all).

However, what if the US government’s military bombs these supposed chemical weapons regiments, and then no fallout happens at all? I would say that this is the smoking gun that this whole story was a claptrap fabrication to begin with.

“Hey, maybe the WMD’s are over there? Nope. How about over here? Nope.”

What If?

What if it is true what we are being told, that Assad really did use chemical weapons against his people? Does this give any justification for US involvement?

I say no. The only justification for violence is in the case of self-defense. In this case, Syria represents no danger to the United States, and especially not to the subjects that live within its (the US government’s) borders.

To interfere in Syria would certainly result in civilian deaths, there simply is no way of avoiding that. Since that is the case, then the US government would then have innocent blood on its hands, and there is simply no justification for that, because that is supposedly the very thing that it purports to avoid (or protect from).

Ah, but what of US interests? This is a question always bandied about by no other than those within the halls of power. I never hear any of those who are subject to the rule of US politicians and bureaucrats worrying much about interests abroad of which they have no real interest.

Instead, they’re far more worried about how to feed their family, have a good life, raise their children, and do what all of us wish to do in this life. You know, just like your regular, everyday Syrian is.

Whenever you hear the term “US interests”, that means only one thing: the interests of the ruling class, the elites. Trust me, you aren’t part of that club, nor will you be (unless you can become a sociopath in good speed).

The World Gone Insane, US Style

I don’t know if you have noticed, but the US and Israel have been pretty keen on getting into a war with Iran. Whether it be sanctions, or in the case of Israel, actual bombings and network viruses. So it comes as no surprise to me that Iran just so happens to have a mutual defense treaty with Syria.

I cannot say for sure, but if I were to guess, I’d say that this whole Syria fiasco is premeditated. That the entire purpose of striking Syria is to get Iran to make a move, that way the US government can say, “see, the Iranians are crazy, they attacked us in Damascus when all we were doing was trying to help the Syrian people”.

Syria is today essentially the breeding ground of WWIII, and it couldn’t have been better-calculated considering the state of the world’s central powers (“after all, WWII got us out of the depression”, they so ignorantly repeat, ad nauseam). The Western nations are essentially trying to live out a new world war based upon a false belief that the victor will be the US and it’s allies (just like in the old days), and can thus sustain its hegemony both politically and economically, and move toward a more centralized world state.

What they never counted on was the fact that their lies are like paper flies to the flame. Nobody is buying what they’re selling anymore. Much of the world has finally slipped the reins of the gatekeepers, information flows like hot butter, and all statements are now documented and shared for all to see. There is nowhere to hide in the digital world of information.

Of True Humanity

The true humanitarian position on any question of war is to reject it entirely: war is nothing more than the creation of the collective state, not the individual constituents thereof. US military involvement in Syria will do nothing more than complicate matters not just in Syria, but also the entire region. Indeed, the same politicians who speak so proudly of “democracy” have no problem imposing it upon others (through death and destruction), but when it comes to their own countrymen, it is but a whisper.

Today, only 9% of Americans support any intervention in Syria, and this number is low for good reason: Americans simply do not trust their government anymore. They’ve been through Iraq, they’ve seen Afghanistan, they saw what their political “leaders” did in Libya when Hillary Clinton declared, “we came, we saw, he died”, and every other boondoggle since 9/11. Americans know deep down in their hearts that their rulers are all “full of it”, that they’re only out for their own interests at the detriment to all, and all of this through the power of the state (their ruling nest).

America’s rulers don’t care about what they preach, they only care about themselves and their own.

The simple fact is that most regular folks know true humanity and most Americans are just regular folks. Even in this world of propaganda and false truths, people can see the inhumanity espoused by their statist overlords. Further, due to the lies and distortions spoken by their rulers over time, they’ve all seen time and time again how they’ve been played: the “seeing through the fog” is becoming all the more common in this world of free-flowing information.

Americans are finally finding their humanity, if only at the final hour. I can only hope that it is not too late.

* * *

Addendum:

While it is said that the only justification for violence is self-defense, this might lead one to question whether of not it is justified to come to another’s defense. Indeed it is justified, but one must understand the difference between doing so within a specific case and doing so within the realm of warfare. So in order to avoid confusions of what I meant when talking about the justifiable use of force, I must be more specific.

State warfare always kills uninvolved third-parties, those who have nothing directly to do with the decisions and actions of their respective state.

For instance, in the case of interpersonal conflict we might come across a case such as this: Person C witnesses a situation in which person A is aggressing toward person B (he’s holding a gun to his head, or something similar). It is entirely justified for person C to come to person B’s defense (but he is not obligated to do so). We can easily identify the aggressor (person A), the victim (person B), and the defender (person C).

However, in state warfare, these lines are blurred to the point of illogic. There is simply no way of identifying the particulars of each case, because warfare is indiscriminate. The actions of states are both collectivist and nationalist in nature, thus the individual is erased from the equation. There simply is no way to determine the merits of an individual case, instead we are left with rationalizations of why it is okay to kill innocents. It’s really horrible and twisted when you really give it some thought.

Obviously, one cannot claim a humanitarian position if their actions must ultimately result in the deaths of uninvolved third-parties (innocents). That’s an absurd position.

To take an opposing position is akin to saying that just because I live in the same apartment building as my neighbor, and my neighbor kills somebody’s sister, then the brother of that woman is entirely justified in leveling the entire apartment building (along with all of its contents and inhabitants).

But many actually up the ante, because their position ultimately says that ANYBODY that takes issue with my neighbor killing that women, they (anybody) also now have justification to bomb my apartment building (along with all of its contents and inhabitants).

My Journey in the World of Copyrights

Posted August 26, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Media, Music

The issue of Intellectual Property (IP) is a very contentious one in libertarian circles and indeed between differing political philosophies, not all parties seem to agree on whether such a system could exist in a free society or whether such a system is just in the first place. Admittedly, it wasn’t an issue that I had put much thought into until I began reading some of Stephan Kinsella’s work, which eventually converted me to being an anti-IP advocate. While it is great to study and to understand the theoretical positions for or against IP, it is quite another thing to actually experience such a system first hand in the practical sense. Fortunately or unfortunately, I recently had the privilege of that experience.

I am a multi-instrumentalist who also has a love and knack for production. My idea was simple: I’m going to produce something. So I decided that I would perform and record a full cover of a song and also produce an original video to accompany it, and then I would post the whole thing on the internet. Since I am not planning on monetizing this project I figured that I wouldn’t need to worry about copyright or licensing, but I soon realized that I was being quite naive.

Rather than spending time actually recording and producing my music video I instead found myself searching through the labyrinth of copyright laws to figure out just how I could go about completing my project without either being sued or thrown into a cage. As it turns out, there is a licensing scheme that exists and all people must comply with it in order to do anything creative with a work written by somebody else.

There are four basic licenses dealing with music copyrights, they are:

Performance License– This license deals with performing a work in a public place or venue. It could be a bar, a club, on television, a street corner, an aerobics class, on the internet, or any other situation in which multiple people will be hearing the music. This license applies both to cases where one is actually performing the piece, as well as when they are simply playing a previous recording of the piece (such as on a jukebox). The licensing agencies that deal with this area are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. The fees are varied, depending upon the venue and the song(s) being performed (i.e. the class of license being issued), as well the fees can be based upon a per song basis or a blanket license that covers a particular period of time.

Mechanical License– This license deals with all cases where a work will either be recorded (as in the case of a cover) or simply copied to a medium. Essentially, any time a work is put onto a medium other than the original medium, even if they are of the same type (CD, hard drive, website, etc), one must get this license. The licensing agencies that deal with this area are Harry Fox Agency and Limelight. The fees are 10¢ per physical copy or download, and 1¢ per online stream (for songs up to five minutes in length), as well as processing fees.

Synchronization License– This license deals with all cases where a song will be synchronized to a visual media output (such as a film, commercial, website,etc). There are no agencies that issue this license, it must be obtained directly from the publisher and/or songwriters. The fees vary from no charge at all up to $200,000 or more, per instance or into perpetuity.

Print License– This license is pretty straight forward. Any time you wish to reprint the lyrics or music of a song (words, notation, or tablature), you must obtain this license. The fees vary, as do the issuing agencies and the conditions of the license.

Now one might say to themselves, “that seems pretty straight-forward and simple”, but au contraire, this is where it starts to get interesting. To keep things simple, I’ll just run through some of the considerations and complications that I encountered with each license.

At first I was considering hosting my work on my own blog, but then I realized that in order to do this I would have to get a performance license. After inquiring about what this would cost, I soon decided that this probably would not be a good idea, and that I would be better off using Youtube instead. The reason is that Youtube already has a blanket performance license that covers everything, if they didn’t, then their business model of user-created content would crumble very quickly.

Almost all online media websites with user-created content have these licenses, which is very helpful to those who wish to do what I am doing, but it only shows how very insidious this license is. The owners of these websites are not the creators of the content, yet they are still required to purchase the license as if they were. The logical implication here is that one party is being held accountable for the actions of another party, and that they are also being held legally liable for any “damages” caused to the copyright holder. It is sort of like if you had a party at your house, and one guest punched another guest, yet you’re the one that is hauled off to jail for assault (this isn’t a perfect analogy because it deals with actual property, whereas in the case of copyrights, there is no real property under discussion).

The one license that I knew I must purchase is the mechanical license. This allows me to record my own version of the song and to release it to the public (or even sell CDs or digital downloads). However, things get a little tricky when it comes to the copyrights of the songwriter(s). If there is more than one songwriter, then they can either own all portions of the song equally or each person owns only their contribution to the song (i.e. the guitar part, the bass part, the vocal, etc), or some combination of the two. Unless the songwriter(s) have their own publishing firm, they will most likely be dealing with another party as the publisher, who in turn will own a portion of the rights to the work (usually 50%). The kicker here is that the only purpose of having a publisher at all is for it to be the sole issuer of licenses of a copyrighted work, but rather than accepting a fee for this service, the publisher instead acquires actual ownership of a portion of the copyright. Hmm?

In the case of my project, the song in question has three songwriters who each own their respective contributions, but since they contracted with a publisher, the publisher owns a portion of each songwriter’s copyright to the song. So even if I got the permission to record the song from all three songwriters, I’d still have to go through the publisher for final clearance. Even more, I would still have to pay the licensing fees regardless of whether the songwriters demand me to do so or not, because the publisher will always demand a fee.

As I’ve mentioned above, I also wish to make an original video to accompany my cover of the song, so one would think that I must get a synchronization license in addition to the mechanical license. This is not necessarily true and it is the portion of this story that gets a little vague and non-exact.

If I were to host my project on my own blog I would have to not only get a synchronization license, but also the mechanical and performance licenses, as well. Luckily, due to the shear number of people who post videos of themselves doing covers of songs and posting the original recordings of songs, Youtube has gone to great lengths to secure agreements with music publishers, such that so long as the person doing the posting of the song is not doing so for monetary gain, then they cannot be held liable for any “damages” inflicted upon the songwriters and publishers. However, the video can still be taken down without notice.

One problem that I encountered when becoming aware of the agreements that Youtube has with music publishers is that almost none of these agreements are made public, so most people have no way of knowing whether they are breaking the law or not when they post copyrighted material on Youtube. Some of the publishers do post small blurbs about posting such covers on Youtube, but they are very vague.

In my case, the song that I am recording is published by Warner Music Group (WMG), and they do post their policy on their site (you can read it here). Clearly WMG is not granting any real rights or licenses in this agreement, rather they are saying that they won’t sue so long as you are only posting WMG content in a “personal, non-profit” manner. Further, it states that they –as well as any other party that holds a copyright claim to the work– can decide to remove the content, or to simply monetize it.

If you have ever wondered why there are so many ads before seemingly personal videos on Youtube, this is why.

Essentially, the publishers realize that they cannot pursue every copyright infringement due to the shear number of people posting. Further, they realize that in many cases it is in their best interest to monetize the video for their own benefit rather than take it down. While this is a trend toward a loosening of the restraints on those who post covers on Youtube, it also hinders the spread of information by having an advertisement before the video (which may cause some to simply skip the video altogether).

With my project I did purchase the mechanical license, but I have decided to forego purchasing the synchronization license (due to the prohibitive cost). This is actually taking a very big risk on my part. While I will be free from liability for posting the video, there is no guarantee that it won’t be taken down, in which case all of my efforts would have been wasted. Further, I cannot monetize the video at all, but due to the particular mechanical license that I obtained, I will have to pay 1¢ for every view of the video. While I don’t expect to get a ton of views, this still means that if the video where to, say, get 100,000 views, then I will owe WMG $1000 for something that I can make zero money on. That’s a pretty scary proposition, one that makes me question whether I should complete this project at all.

While a print license has nothing directly to do with my project, it bears discussing because it is very much related to my musical journey of learning.

Back in the 1990s when I was first learning how to play the guitar and bass, there was a great online resource hosted by UNLV servers called the On-line Guitar Archive (OLGA). Essentially, it was a massive library of guitar and bass tablature for just about any song imaginable, and it worked very much like Wikipedia does, with all content being user generated. Even better, these tablatures (or tabs) were extremely accurate and of good quality, because users would consistently correct and update the tabs.

Note that tablature does not contain any time, rhythm, or pitch information (the most important aspects of music), so one cannot use tablature effectively unless they already know the timing and pitches of the notes in the song, or they have a recording of the song to use for reference. Absent this, tablature is nothing more than lines and numbers, with no practical use.

One of the most important ways that musicians learn their craft is by learning and playing songs written by others, so it is no surprise that OLGA was a very popular website and was a boon for budding musicians the world over. However, beginning in 1996 the copyright complaints began to come in. The first was by EMI Publishing, who did not sue, but was able to persuade UNLV to kick the archive off of their servers. Two years later, the site came back up on a different server only to receive complaints from Harry Fox Agency, and thus disappeared again for a short period. Finally, in 2006 OLGA met its death as the National Music Publishers Association and the Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA and MPA respectively) issued an official take-down letter.

The result –other than me having to get better at ear training– is that now musicians would have to purchase tablature from the music notation industry. The problem here is that many of these pieces of sheet music and tablature are very expensive, as well they are very limited in what songs are offered. Further, the tablature websites that exist today are horribly inaccurate and are far less encompassing (I don’t know for sure, but my speculation is that this inaccuracy is a means of getting around copyright laws). While OLGA had accurate tabs for just about every song under the sun, and was continually updated with new material, instead we now live in a world where there are less resources for the beginning musician to learn their craft.

This journey through the world of copyrights has been an eye-opening experience for me. I already had a theoretical basis to justify my position against copyright, but having gone through this process, it has only further cemented my opposition to it.

It is said by the supporters of copyrights that it fosters the arts and protects artists. This is false. Clearly, as I have shown, the system of copyright kills the arts and exploits artists. The entire system is nothing more than a mechanism to make the publishers, copyright organizations and associations, and record labels a lot of money, all at the expense of the artist’s efforts. Luckily, in today’s world of digital technology, the internet, cheap recording gear, social networking, online media venues, etc; it is becoming much easier for artists to not only collaborate and produce their own material, but also to get their art out to the world without having to contend with the dictates of a third-party rent-seeker.

The great irony here is that while the proponents of IP falsely claim to promote innovation, it is innovation that is going to eventually kill IP. I think that this aptly explains the motive behind their lies.

Depro

Posted June 17, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: music, Music (original)

In 2007 I moved back to Ohio. During this time I became re-acquainted with my father, and it is amazing how well we were getting along and how we seemed to realize that we were very much alike.  He even asked me to teach him how to play the guitar and he bought a cheap Fender acoustic for his studies (he always had a sort of resentment with regard to my love of music when I was growing up, he was logical/scientific rather than artistic, so this new turn of his left me with nothing but optimistism for the future of our realtionship). Unfortunately, my father died in October of 2008.

When he died, I of course got his cheap Fender acoustic. I was very depressed at this time, so I almost never touched or even looked at that guitar. Then I picked it up one day and was just fiddling around, and eventually wrote a song. It’s a very simple song because I was mostly playing from emotion: seriously, the entirety of it can be played in a single position. I never did put any effort into polishing it.  However, today I was digging around my past recordings and when I heard this song, I automatically fell into memories of my father.

One never knows how much they truly love a person until they are gone, and I can say without any doubt that my father was the most important man to ever be in my life. Everything that I am today came from him and his guidance, I am essentially his clone. I only wish that he and I had gotten to know each other better as equals, and I also wish that I had produced a better song in his memory.

This song is called Depro for obvious reasons: I was very depressed at the time. It was played on his guitar, my Les Paul, and my Fender bass.  The drums are simple drum-loops, which I often use to help myself keep time while recording. I did consider recording myself playing live drums to replace the drum-loops, but the day is almost done, and I don’t wish to ruin what is already there.  Further, this song has not gone through a final mix, instead it is the standard mix that I use when recording, so there isn’t as much separation as I would like. Obviously, there are also no lyrics, both because I would not know what to say, and the fact that I absolutely suck at writing lyrics.

In any case, here is what I’ve got.  Depro, recorded sometime in the autumn of 2008 …

Kitty-Kitty Bang-Bang

Posted March 25, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Random Musings, Short Stories

Facebook decided to change their whole format and wouldn’t you know it that I found something that I had erased years ago.  Apparently when you delete something on Facebook it never truly gets deleted; this little story is proof.  It was posted on March 13, 2009, but as you can see from the introduction, it was written sometime in 2008 or 2009.  I won’t take full responsibility for its content because … well … just read the intro, you’ll get the idea.

 

This is a little short story that I wrote while I was in a drunken stupor about a year or so ago. It is funny (I think, anyway), but in a really twisted way. But, then again, I am not really that far off from the psych ward anyhow. Just a little disclaimer: There is plenty of offensive words and subjects in here. But, it isn’t to be taken seriously. God knows I wasn’t in a serious mood when I wrote it. And, no. It isn’t about me. It is just random, drunken writing. So, here goes.

Kitty-Kitty Bang-Bang

Beep, beep, beep!
I cry awake for a new day. I shutter at the feeling that my dreams were only a far away place. Fantasy! Reality sets in like a stack of bricks; heavy and cold. How much I’d love to flick the shutter and make it all go away. Back into the slumberous dreamworld of the alternate reality. Very much like a slow-still, dreams are funny like that. They make reality bend while you slumber. You can be whatever you want or whatever you dream to be… So to speak.
But, now is the reality.
And, I must face it.
How many times I have done it before, like a true stallion I face it… Life. It really begs, “show me the way”. But, that way is a wanton failure. Not quite failed. Very much still existent. However, it will always end in failure. Death=Failure. There is no ifs, ands or buts about it.

So, with that happy thought of true optimism I heave myself out of my medicated slumber and throw myself about as if I know what I am doing. I brush my teeth with a gag and wonder how many years my incisors have left; Two? Three? Ten? Who really knows? But, such is life. That of the careless of heart and of mind. I take a gander at the chronograph only to realize that I am falling behind. Not in life. But, definitely on the day. Ten minutes pass like a blur and all I can say to myself is “hurry up”!
“Sure buddy. That’ll happen”. (5 seconds is a lifetime)
And, I do just that; hurry. With that “hurry” comes the absence of mind that often sets one behind. You may forget only one thing in a hungover hurry. But, it is that ONE thing. That thing that cannot be done without. That banana. Oh, that banana. That drink of water to sooth that reservoir that the liquor has syphoned dry. Maybe your coat or just maybe that three hours of sleep that has put you into this confused stupor. I’d put my money on the sleep if I were a betting man.

I step out the door and it is quite brisk. I have nothing to shield the goose pimples on my flesh from the biting wind. Not adequate. But, it will do. As I take a hard B-line stride to my car I see a fat clump of feline quadruped furriness cross my path and circle behind. This mammal takes solace at the nape of my ankles and purrs. Normally, I would swing my foot at extremely high velocity at the humped and arched spine of this meowing creature. However, this fucking thing has some heat left in it, godammit. So, I pick him up and toss him into the auto.

I name him Otto. He is freaking out due to the fact that he is not used to his entire world moving at 70 MPH. Let alone doing so in a vehicle that shudders at the whim of the out-of-round tires that it rests upon. I stroke this feline creature so that I can sooth him and let him know that he has a friend in this world. He just hisses at me and tries to attack me with paws that hold no talons.
“Otto, you silly little cunt”, I say under a whisper.
To be sure, this cat is really starting to piss me off! He/she is meowing incessantly. I imagine my eardrums to be a flag flapping to the wind that is the noises coming out of Otto’s gaping orifice. There is no give to this mobile kitty cat torture machine. Each minute seems to last a screeching hour. This fucking animal is really beginning to bring out a beast in me. This beast usually starts out pretty quiet and gentle. But, this ball of fur is really pushing my buttons. The heater of the auto is blowing strong now, so strong that my eyes are as dry as the sands of time.
I ask myself, “why did I bring this fucking meowbox into my car”?
Good question. Why? Ah yes. Lack of sleep, lack of sense. That would be it, Franky.
I decide I need a smoke so a pop a cigarette into my mouth and push the lighter into its socket. Otto stops his annoying meow and stares straight at me. He senses a change of mood. A slight change of feelings. Maybe it is the fact that I have been staring at him now for the last 10 miles. Sure, I have been a courteous driver of the motorways. But, I have had an eye peeled at this furry fuck.
He knows. It is bone to bone and his probability of loss is exponentially great. So, what does this furry, hairball fuck do but spring straight for my eyeballs with his talonless tufts of fur that he likes to call paws. Sure, my eyes aren’t being torn to shreds. But, a cat boxing your eyelids is no laughing matter. Like Evander Hollifield in his heyday, Otto gives me a left cross and a right hook. Meanwhile, the motorists on the freeway are being less than congenial. I have to give it to that feline fuck. “Otto, you got me on round one”.

The bell rings in a new round. Rather, a fellow morning commuter on the roadway honks his pussy-horn at me.

I….Must….Do……Something…..

So much like Bruce Willis reaching for the pistol in ‘Die Hard’, I reach for the automatic window button. I get the window half cracked and give Otto a good crack to his kitty jaw.
Holy Shit! It has only pissed him off more. This fucking cat is the Terminator. So, I decide to go completely hands free at the wheel and really handle this pussy. Just then I feel a tear of flesh in my lap.. Hind claws.
“You wise little fuck, You”.
Otto has punctured my cajones with the talons that reside in his hind quarter appendages.
“Oh, it’s ON now. Kitty”, I scream at the end of my breath. “Oh, it is definitely on”.
With both hands free of any other responsibilities I grab Otto’s head and start to smash it on the dash. I can see in his eyes that he is thoroughly dazed. He gives me a look that begs to say “what the fuck” as I hear “et tu, Brute” from some distant part of my imagination. Except he isn’t Ceaser and I ain’t Brutus. He’s Otto and I am Franky. But, he knows. His days, if not minutes, are numbered. I continue this motion until I am sure that I can overcome this pestilence and rid myself of it. Just as I see his eyelids start to close I toss him out of my half-open window. And, just in time, too. I look up to see that I have arrived at my exit.

I take the exit and have the feeling of a warrior that has taken on the entire Roman Army. I have battled and I have overcome. Veni, vidi, vici. I take a left and then a right and reflect.
“Man, I really kicked some kitty ass”, I say aloud heartily. “Fucked that pussy up, I did”, I declare to the morning darkness. As I pull into the parking lot I cannot wait to tell the guys in the office about this one. It’s a real zinger.

The Book of Mormon

Posted March 24, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Religion

My friend Bob often likes to dedicate his blog posts to religious topics on Sundays, so I figured that I would follow suit (at least for this Sunday).

Admittedly, I am not much of a religious fellow, however I am not one of those who consistently attacks those who are religious.  To each their own, I say.

However, I have read quite an array of religious texts and many of the philosophers that I admire come from the Christian and Muslim traditions (though, the works that I enjoy weren’t dealing with primarily religious issues).  Needless to say, I am very tolerant of other people’s views on this subject, because while I don’t necessarily subscribe to them, I also know that most everybody around me does subscribe to one religious belief or another.

In any case, I recently came upon a Book of Mormon while staying in a hotel over the course of a two week cross-country road trip, and as is the case with such books that set in the nightstands of hotels, they are there for you to take (that actually is why they are there, if you didn’t know already).  I don’t often pick up books that I will not read, so I swiped that one up without much thought … let me explain.

About 6 years ago I was living in a small condo in the college town of Kent, Ohio.  When hanging out with friends I would often see a commercial from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints showing a phone number to call in order to “receive your free Book of Mormon“.  Obviously, I had heard about the magic underwear and Jesus living in the Americas and all of that, and I had seen their churches in many cities in the US and countries around the world, so I was quite intrigued.  Mind you, this intrigue has nothing to do with any sort of feeling of belief or intellectual magnetism toward such things, but rather it was an undying curiosity in knowing what it is all about (for my own reference).

Anyhow, I decided to give this number a ring, and they took down my info and promised that a book would be forthcoming.

About a week or two later I heard a knock at my door.  When I opened it I saw two 19 or 20 year old girls who were super-hot.  I don’t mean pretty, I mean smoking hot.  They told me that they were from the church and they confirmed that it was me that had shown an interest in reading this book.  However, they would not give me the book unless they were allowed to regularly enter my home on numerous occasions over time to teach me “how the book is supposed to be read”.

I must admit, given their beauty and my carnal nature, they almost talked me into it (it was a very tough decision, to be sure).  But my more logical thinking-tool luckily took precedence and I refused them.  I knew exactly what they were doing. I almost regret not seeing just how far it would go.

Needless to say, I never did receive the book that was promised by that TV ad.  However, I now have that book sitting before me, so I have no choice but to read it (it did, after all, take many years to finally get it).  I look forward to it almost like a man who’s remained abstinent until marriage, only I doubt that the payoff will be quite as pleasing.

A Response to Absurdity

Posted March 24, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Banking, Credit, Economics, Government

Dr.Tom Woods recently posted to his blog an excellent essay “Why the Greenbackers are Wrong” detailing the illogic of the Greenbacker position, with emphasis on the common claims by the Greenbackers that: due to the fact that our current money system issues money at interest that there is no way that all loans can be paid back, as well as the claim that this same dynamic also results in a situation whereby bankers ultimately end up with all of the money in the economy. Of course, I completely agree with Dr. Woods’s conclusions, but it goes without saying that there is a small group of people, the Greenbackers, who don’t (agree).

In the comments section of that essay was a commenter who goes by the handle of “CUnknown” that made a rather sad attempt to refute Dr. Woods. This commenter essentially wrote a very long-winded response but ultimately he said very little in terms of substance.

Instead of being disrespectful to Tom by cluttering up the comments section of his blog, I will instead post my rebuttal here (and then post the link as a reply to our economically ignorant friend, CUnknown).  My method will be simply to quote his statements followed by my response, I will then end with a conclusion.

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

“I come from a background of experimental science where theories are formed and disproven routinely. In economics, I think theories would come and go much quicker if the relevant experiments could only be carried out. We can perform economic experiments in our heads all day, but until the experiments are actually tried in real life, economic theory is fairly meaningless in my opinion.”

By “experimental science” I can only assume that you’re referring to the natural sciences.

As Mises said, “Nothing could by more mistaken than the now fashionable attempt to apply the methods and concepts of the natural sciences to the solution of social problems.”

Unlike the natural sciences, there are no mathematical constants in human action.  You could put the same actor in the same situation in two separate time periods, and that actor could choose entirely different courses of action in each case due to the incalculable subjective valuations of that actor given the alternatives.  Further, the purpose of all human actions is to change one’s current state for a more preferable state, in economics the preference of this state over another less satisfactory state is due to the seeking of what is called “utility” (i.e. the perceived happiness that one state provides over that of the alternative; the removal of a fealt uneasiness provided by that good).

There simply is no cardinal measure of utility, because it is entirely subjective to the individual and it will be differentiated by the choices presented to him (as well as an infinite possibility of concerns that may cause an actor to choose one action over the other), yet all human actions are rooted in a choice between courses of action in order to gain utility (this will be different in all cases and between all individuals, based upon the subjective valuations at the moment between two courses of action). Utility can only be talked about in terms of one course of action being more highly valued than the next course of action and so on down the line of possible course of action; utility is entirely ordinal.

Austrian economics, a school of thought within economics, is based upon a priori axioms to come to praxeological truths about human action.  It is an apodictic science in that all of its logical deductions are irrefutable and are independent of experience.  For instance, the core of Austrian theory is the action axiom which states simply that “humans act”.  This is irrefutable because in order to attempt to refute it the critic must himself act.

The process of praxeology is to build upon axioms such as this to explain the actions of humans in their seeking of various ends in a world of scarce means.  So, we might be able to say something like “humans act, and they act to increase utility”, but we cannot say what those actions may be, nor can we say whether those actions are correct or not in terms of, say, morality (the purpose of economics being to explain purposeful action, not to form value-judgements upon those actions).

Praxeological statements, the basis of Austrian economics, can easily be said to be more scientific than those of the natural sciences, because they are free from future refutations and they hold true for all cases and times posed.

Further, the use of economic data to explain such actions is equally as useless in forming economic truths as is viewing a photograph to determine the mind-state of the person in the photograph.  Economic data only shows us a snapshot of time, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the incalculable number of actions and valuations by the billions of humans who caused such a result.  Economic data can only be used to elaborate upon an established theory, but it is entirely useless in forming theory, because it only shows us the results of action, not the apodictic certainties that determined such actions (by the billions of actors within an economy).

You show your complete ignorance with regard to the purpose of economic science. This isn’t surprising considering the rest of your response.

One thing that I find very disturbing is that you essentially say that we should experiment with society to find the best course of action.  This is spoken like a true tyrant.  What if your hypothesis is wrong?  What if your hypothesis results in the deaths of millions?  Would you not feel that this experimenting with the lives of millions or billions of people might not be the correct way to engage in social science and analysis? Or would you say that we should try another experiment or make tweaks to the existing one?

I find this opinion of yours with regard to how to engage in social science to be repulsive, and it only shows that you aren’t to be viewed much differently than the Lenins, Stalins, Hitlers and Mao Zedongs of this world. Truly sickening!

“… as long as we are on the same side, as long as we want to end the Fed and fix the main causes of our economy’s malaise, I don’t care very much your preferred method for doing so”

Tom’s preferred method is to allow people to engage in economic activity under voluntary means (i.e. without force or coercion). Considering that you wish to impose your beliefs upon others through dictatorial social experimentation, it is no surprise that you do not very much care for his method.

“I am strongly supportive of return to the gold standard, especially a modernized ‘basket of commodities’ approach. I think this would be much better than our current system for a number of reasons, but I also think this system would end in a spectacular failure. A very instructive failure. The failure of a modern gold standard would hopefully show everyone that the only way to ensure economic prosperity is the adoption of a debt-free, elastic fiat currency.”

That’s nice that you support a gold standard, but I don’t know that Tom would agree. Tom’s position (which he alluded to) is to allow the actors within the market to voluntarily choose what mediums of exchange are to be used, as well as what is to be the money. In fact, as Tom has already explained, this is how money came about in the first place.

The only reason that most Austrians talk favorably of gold is that it has been historically shown to be one of the commodities chosen by the free market as both a medium of exchange and as the money, thus they use it as the money in their economic modeling. However, this doesn’t mean that it must be the money, nor does it mean that we should impose laws declaring it as the money.

Tom has already shown that the free-market position supports a debt-free money. Commodity money is debt-free money, and its supply is not able to be manipulated for the benefit of special interests so long as it is not controlled by the monopoly state and/or by an institution granted a monopoly by the state apparatus. As for an elastic fiat currency, any amount of money (so long as it is divisible enough to facilitate transactions) will do, there is no economic benefit in arbitrarily changing the supply of money.

Why does the supply of money have to be arbitrarily increased or decreased, this you do not explain. However, history has been quite clear in revealing that all fiat currencies have been manipulated for the benefit of special interests, to the detriment of the rest of society. Also, the manipulation of currency is at the root of the business cycle, thus you are ultimately calling for the continued malinvestments that lead to a boom and a bust within the economy, as well as the theft from the people of their purchasing power. This is unsurprising considering your opinion on experimenting with the lives of others.

In a free market, the supply of money will be a reflection of the demand for money, as well as the available productive means for the same. If for some reason there is more demand for money, the producers of the commodity money will increase production to meet that demand. If demand is less, then production will be lessened. This is true of any other good that we demand, free market money is no different.

“If I’m wrong, and the gold standard works great, I would be very happy. I would become one of the biggest proponents of the gold standard around, so I am admittedly a little hurt when Tom Woods calls my opinions “wrongheaded” and says my “naive confidence” is ‘beneath the dignity of a free people.”‘

Why are you hurt by Tom’s statement that a fiat money is beneath the dignity of a free people? Haven’t you already expressed zero concern with freedom or voluntary exchange by declaring that you wish to experiment with the lives and prosperity of others by the use of force and violence by the monopoly state (i.e. a government fiat currency)? Obviously, if you’re going to impose a fiat currency on everybody, then you must have a mechanism of force and violence to ensure that those who refuse are punished, thrown in a cage, or killed. Is this consistent with a free society?

“I would hope that supporters of the gold standard would lend me the same courtesy and support a debt-free government-run fiat system, -if such a system were tried and proven to work- just as I would support a gold standard under the same conditions.”

Once again, Tom doesn’t support a government coerced gold standard, he supports a free-market in money.

Luckily, commodity money has many times been shown to work throughout history. The only cases where a commodity money system has shown evidence of not working as theorized is when fiduciary media was pyramided on top of it through fractional-reserve lending, it was manipulated by the sweating or clipping of coins by the state, through the imperial plunder of other nation’s commodity money, or by the fixing by the state of the value of the commodity in question (see Gresham’s law).

” I can’t help but think there is an ideological blindness at work here, and an irrational hatred for anything government-run, that would prevent acceptance of such a system by some libertarians, including Tom Woods. Being ideological in this way is not helpful, in my opinion.”

Who is being ideologically blind here? Really? Certainly not Tom. His position is to allow people to decide voluntarily what to use as the money to facilitate their exchanges.

It isn’t a “hatred for anything government-run”, rather it is the logical understanding of both the inefficiencies inherent to government-run endeavors and that all government actions are rooted in violence and force. You show your ideological blindness by ignoring this, instead believing that those who hold the reigns of power in government will always act in an altruistic fashion, or that they are essentially free of self-interest and corruption. History and human self-interest aren’t on your side here.

The simple fact is that the state is a monopoly of force and violence and all of its actions are rooted in force and violence. As such, it is the central institution by which people will lobby its agents to impose their will upon others. In fact, that is the exact thing that you are wishing to do when you say that we should have a government-run fiat currency; you’re attempting to impose your beliefs upon others through the use of force and violence rather than allowing people to freely and voluntarily exchange their goods and wears as they see fit. In other words, your position is not at all compatible with a free society, it is instead the position of a tyrant and/or a dictator.

“I know I am somewhat of an anomaly, a Ron Paul supporter who also happens to be a socialist …”

I must ask, if you’re a socialist then why do you support Ron Paul? Everything Ron Paul stands for is antithetical to your chosen ideology. My personal opinion is that you’re lying, that you aren’t a supporter of Ron Paul at all. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

“I want to start by saying that there is nothing wrong with fiat money per se. It has worked perfectly well, in many times in world history, and I think even the most ardent goldbug would admit that fiat system could work well, if those in charge of it were completely trustworthy.”

Why are you referring to “gold bugs”? Certainly Tom is not a gold bug, so why would you even mention it? Also, every fiat currency has failed throughout history (just as the current fiat currencies are showing signs of failure), so no, neither Tom nor I will come to the conclusion that a fiat system could work well because it interferes with economic calculation and it is the root of malinvestment (and thus the cycle of boom and bust), it has also been manipulated for the benefit of the political elite and their cronies, all to the detriment of the rest of society.

You say that a fiat currency could work if those in charge are completely trustworthy. Right here you are admitting that your position is both illogical and impossible– your position is based upon a fantasy.

Why didn’t you say this earlier, it would have saved much time if you had admitted that you live in a land of fantasy.

“What concerns Tom Woods primarily, I think, is that this system is ripe for abuse … I will say that, yes, it is a concern, but that our current system (and even a gold-standard system) can be, has been, or is being abused gravely.”

Who or what has been the source of this abuse, might I ask? During the days of gold and/or silver money, was it not the kings that clipped and sweated coins? In the American gold system, was it not the states that suspended the payment of specie when it was clear that the banks had issued more fiduciary media than gold held in their vaults? In the world of fiat currencies, was it not the government that increased the supply of paper money, thereby stealing the purchasing power from the people through devious means? In today’s FRB system, is it not the Treasury who continues to sell securities through primary dealers in order that it can continue to function beyond its means (as well as heap this debt upon the people)? Is it also not the government who has granted the Federal Reserve its charter?

I think that you are entirely missing this trend.

“Still, his argument is highly misleading and mostly wrong.”

If it is, you certainly haven’t proved that.

“It’s certainly possible to pay all the debts in this 100% reserve gold-standard system, if only because there will be so many fewer loans made!”

Actually, that is not it at all. The reason that the debts can be paid is that such payments are an intertemporal flow of funds (i.e. it is not a stock concept). When Tom showed the example of how available credit would decrease, he was only showing that there is a natural limit to how much credit can be expanded, not how the loans can be paid back. The reason that all the loans can be paid back is that the payments on loans is a process that occurs over time, and that so long as the debtor is adding-value (i.e. he is earning an income beyond his costs), he can continue to service the debt until it is fully amortized. This is true of all loans at all times and in all cases.

For instance, take the case of only two actors within an economy, where one is the creditor and one is the debtor. The loan between the parties is for 10 clams at a rate of 10% interest to be paid back one year later (total principal and interest is 11 clams). Obviously, the debtor didn’t have 10 clams at the beginning of the contract, that is why he borrowed the ten clams from the creditor, so it benefits him to borrow the 10 clams (it is 10 more than he had). However, it is clear that he can simply engage in labor to produce 11 clams over the course of that year and thus pay off that debt. He has added value to the economy, because where there were only 10 clams at the beginning of the period, there are now a total of 11 clams produced over the course of that year. He added-value over time.

Now, you might say that the creditor is the ultimate beneficiary of this arrangement, but that would be to ignore the fact that at the beginning of the contract the debtor received 10 clams more than he had, and that he only had to part with one clam (one year later) in exchange for those 10 clams in the present. However, the net increase to the economy was 11 clams (resulting in 21 clams total), thus this benefits both parties because both parties were able to consume more clams than they had at the beginning of the period. Both parties benefited, but that would make sense because that is the entire purpose of exchange (for both parties to benefit), otherwise they would not have engaged in the exchange in the first place.

Further, if the borrower, instead of simply borrowing the clams so that he could engage in leisure he used those clams to sustain him for a period so that he could build a clam-catching device, then clearly he will be better off in the future because of this (he used that borrowed savings to invest in capital). The reason is that he can now catch far more clams with his clam-catching device than without, thus he has improved his state both now and in the future. This would not have been possible if he had not borrowed those ten clams that the lender saved, because he would not have had those clams to sustain him so that he could build that device. The best part is that it only cost him one clam to improve his state in this way, yet now he can consume many more clams today and in the future.

Even more, if our borrower in this case can now produce more clams with his clam-catching device than he can consume, he can now sell these surplus clams to the other party for other goods, or he can save them so that he can invest his efforts into building other capital goods such as a net to catch fish, a pole to pick coconuts, or even build a small hut to live in.

“Our modern economy relies on credit to keep the wheels turning, and going to such an inelastic system as a 100% reserve gold-standard would surely destroy any modern economy. This would mean shutting off the vast, vast majority of loans in this country. Credit would dry up, and we would be reduced to an artificial poverty, in spite of our incredible industrial and technological capacity. There just wouldn’t be enough money and credit to go around to keep our economic engine running. Whatever system we choose, it absolutely must allow for creditworthy people to receive credit, otherwise it unnecessarily hinders the economy.”

This is so confused and wrong, I don’t even know why you are engaging in this discussion, you clearly don’t know what you are talking about. A modern economy operates by the same economic laws as any other economy at any given time. There is nothing different in today’s society that necessitates credit more or less than, say, the economy 100 years ago.

Would there be less loans issued if we were to eliminate fiat currency right now? Probably, for a period of time until the economy adjusted. However, I don’t know that you could say that this would create general poverty, just as it is true that merely increasing the amount of money in the system does nothing to increase general prosperity, it only gives the illusion that there are more savings at a given time, that is until it is realized that that is not the reality, that there wasn’t really as much savings as originally thought (just more money was printed) and a general downturn results.

Increasing the supply of money, ceteris paribus, does absolutely nothing to increase the amount of scarce goods within an economy, it only bids up the prices of certain goods within the economy, thus causing more investment (due to the seeking of profit) in those areas showing artificially inflated prices. We saw this with the housing bubble, the dotcom bubble, the stock bubble in the 20s, the tulip bubble, and every other bubbles throughout history. The fact is that at any given time there are a finite amount of resources to go around, and that increasing the supply of money only serves to distort the price system that is used by the players within the market to make rational decisions as to the best and most economical allocation of these scarce resources.

Essentially what you are calling for is the continued misallocation of scarce resources, the continued malinvestment of capital, and the continued up and down pattern of the general economy that is referred to as the business cycle. In truth, what you are calling for is less prosperity on net for all people, because these distortions to the economy have real consequences, one of which is the wasting of scarce resources on projects that can never see completion. It is no wonder that you don’t have any respect for economics, because you are entirely ignorant of economics.

What the Austrian position is is to allow prices to find their levels naturally, without interventions into the supply of money or credit, such that the availability of credit and the prices of the various scarce goods is a true reflection of the actual state of the economy.

“It is technically true that the bankers would not end up with all the money. As Woods says, “presumably even bankers need to buy things at one point or another, so the money would be recirculated into the economy in any case.” So they wouldn’t end up with -all- the money, just the vast majority of it. The entire economy would revolve around meeting the needs of bankers, because they are the only people with money to spend, the rest of us being reduced to fighting over their scraps.”

In a free market where the banking system is not given a government-granted monopoly on the creation of money and credit, how exactly will the banks end up with all or most of the money? Can you prove this? That’s a rhetorical question, because you of course cannot prove this because it is an intellectually bankrupt idea.

Without government favor, banks perform two (important) functions to an economy. The first is the safe warehousing of money, the second is to act as an intermediary between savers and borrowers. The payment of their services as a credit intermediary is where they make their income in such a case, some of which is used to pay interest on deposit accounts (in order to entice people to deposit their money at this bank rather than the other bank). The profit that they earn is the difference between the two. So where exactly in this relationship do the banks end up with all or most of the money in the economy? It seems to me that they are only earning a small percentage of the total money supply, and they are earning this by providing the very important services of warehousing and the intermediation of credit, just like any other service provider.

You apparently have no idea what you are talking about and are simply making statements that aren’t grounded in fact or logic.

“I’m not breathing easy when the quantity of money and credit shrinks drastically and probably well over 90% of what is left is in the pockets of bankers.”

By what mechanism does the quantity of money within an economy shrink? By what mechanism does the quantity of credit shrink? And where in the heck did you come up with this 90% figure?

The only way that the supply of commodity money shrinks in a free market is if it is physically destroyed or it is instead valued for its direct use rather than it’s use in exchange, there is no other way (see Tom’s distinction between use-value and exchange-value).

Now, I will admit that in a fractional-reserve system that the money supply shrinks as loans are paid back (either through the calling-in of loans or amortization of the loan term), and the Fed can certainly sell the assets on its balance sheet to decrease the supply of money in the economy, but this certainly has nothing to do with any sort of free market money system.

I thought that you had a scientific background, yet here you are making arbitrary statements not grounded in anything to do with fact or logic.

“In the remainder of the piece, Woods goes so far as to actually defend the Fed and the current banking system against the arguments of money reformers. He claims that all debts in our current system are payable at once, which they clearly are not, and I believe Ron Paul would agree with me on this. Where would the government come up with the money to pay back the national debt all at once, without printing it? For those who own homes, are most capable of paying back their mortgage immediately? Can most students just decide to pay back their student debt all at once by “living within their means.” Of course not. There is simply not enough money in the system to pay back all debts at once, a basic fact that Woods ignores.”

No, Tom never once defended the Fed or the current banking system. Your reading comprehension is quite horrible. Please show me a single place where Tom defended the Fed or the current banking system … Oh, that’s right, you can’t.

Also, loans are always time-based instruments, to be paid back over a period of time, if this were not true there would be no purpose for loans in the first place. However, in a commodity money system, certainly all loans could be paid at once– this would be an unlikely scenario– because the sum of all loans will always be less than the total of the money supply (remember, commodity money is debt-free money free of monopoly). The entire idea of a loan is that party A gives party B something that party B does not currently have, and then at a later date party B returns either in kind, or at the agreed upon terms at the initiation of the loan. Often, a loan also has interest on top of the principal, but this is merely the ratio of the mutual valuation of present goods vs future goods (the difference between the two is the discount). As with a loan, interest is an entirely time-based concept.

Once again you show your ignorance with regard to credit, as well as the difference between stock and flow concepts.

Admittedly Tom never addressed the fact that the base money created by the Fed is done by purchasing government Treasuries at interest, and I believe that this may be the source of the Greenbacker’s statement that not all loans can be paid back at once. However, my simple answer to this is “so what?”. Don’t pay it, the banks made a bad bet on lending to the US (certainly there is a case to be made with regard to odious debt). But even still, when would there ever be a situation in which all loans within an economy would be called in all at once? Hmm, never.

But even if they did (call in all loans simultaneously) and not all of the debt could be paid in fiat, then certainly the creditor would then be willing to negotiate for other assets rather than lose out completely. So, certainly all the loans could be paid back simultaneously in this case. And in the cases of a collateralized loan (such as a mortgage), the bank simply takes the collateral and the obligation to the debt is erased.

However, it still doesn’t follow from this that we should put the monopoly government in charge of a paper fiat currency, because certainly they will cater to their cronies and will certainly inflate away as all governments in the past have. Plus, a government-run fiat currency is only one step away from our current system, so there would be a strong push by the banks to lobby for a return to the current system (that this happened in the past is a good indicator that it would probably happen again).

So you certainly aren’t making any case against a free market money here, because a free market money is both debt-free and without a monopoly issuer/enforcer (it is the people’s money), thus it is the furthest from any single entity’s control.

“Woods then tries to use the argument of recirculation to defend the current system. He claims that bank profits will recirculate or trickle down back to the people, who can then gather the money to make their next interest payment by saving and working hard. Why bankers don’t need to work to make money, he never discusses. But average people are supposed to work, and work very hard, while foregoing the consumption and leisure that their work allows the higher-ups to indulge in.”

Um, no. That is not at all what Tom said, you’re injecting ideas that simply were not present in his statements. He merely showed that the idea “the banks will end up with all the money” is ridiculous on its face because bankers also need to consume (all humans must necessarily consume, otherwise they’d surely die of starvation).

Also, I have shown how bankers earn their money in a free market, by either the safe warehousing of money or as an intermediary between borrowers and savers. This is a service that not only makes it much more efficient for borrowers to find savers (or vice versa), but also an efficient means for providing the safety of people’s savings (not everybody can afford to directly purchase a safe or private security services to safeguard their money; economies of scale are a boon here). To say that this is not work or that it is not something valued by society is very naive, and it would be just as ignorant if you were to state that consultants don’t work or that doctors don’t work (these are simply services, as well).

“Woods claims that “when people pay banks interest on their loans, these interest payments themselves will in large measure be spent into the economy by employees of the bank” and that this will be enough to allow the commoners to make their interest payments. Woods must believe that banks pay their employees very well indeed, and that their CEOs and executives don’t hoard most of the profits to themselves, where it will sit in interest-bearing accounts, stocks, and derivatives that take even -more- money out of the productive economy and into their pockets. Yes of course, “in large measure” this money will be recirculated. Certainly. I don’t think Woods understands some basic facts about modern life if he really believes this statement.”

Once again you inject ideas into Tom’s statements that simply aren’t there. He never said that the expenditures of bank employees are what allow the rest of people to make interest payments, you said that. What he did say is that it is ridiculous to think that the banks will end up with all of the money because the entire purpose of money is exchange for goods, thus the bank employees will obviously spend that money to receive goods for their own consumption, and the seller of those goods will receive the money in return. What allows people to pay back loans is adding value above cost either by making profit or by reducing consumption (i.e. saving), it has nothing to do with banks “recirculating” the money. Nice straw man, though.

Further, you talk of investing as if it is a bad thing, but little do you know that saving and investment is the source of capital, and capital is the source of consumer goods, thus the more capital that an economy has the more that the economy can consume on net (and usually at a cheaper cost). That banks invest into capital is a boon for the whole economy, because without that we would be living a much poorer existence. Further, it doesn’t matter who does such investing (whether it be bankers or Joe Shmoe on the street), this increase in the available goods for consumption through investment is true no matter who does the saving/investing, and it is what allows us to consume more goods in the present and in the future.

Also if the banks are investing into stocks and other financial instruments, what do you think happens to that money? What, do you think it just sits there doing nothing? That’s preposterous. Rather, the money invested into stocks and other investments is used to invest in capital, to research and develop new products for the future, to hire new workers, and many other beneficial things for society. That you don’t understand this is very telling.

“Yet even if true, even if there is some recirculation, this is not enough. The Fed and Congress must continually pump literally trillions of dollars back into the banks and the economy through QE, low interest rates, and deficit spending for our system to be functional at all. This fact was not discussed in Wood’s piece. Perhaps he thinks that we could cut off the deficit and QE entirely, and raise interest rates without causing any negative impact on the economy at all? To think, he was accusing -me- of having naive confidence.”

He didn’t discuss this because it has no relevance to the basic premises that he was refuting: that the banks will not end up with all of the money, and that interest makes it impossible to pay back all loans.

Absolutely Tom is against deficit spending, QE, and artificially low interest rates. However, I don’t think that anybody claimed that cutting off these things will not have negative effects for those who benefit from it, but this is only transient and will mostly effect only those who benefit directly from it.

I thought that you were against the banks, yet here you are attempting to support the systems that keep the banks afloat (unjustly I might add).

Whose side are you on again?

“We are slaves to an ever-increasing spiral of debt, and Wood’s arguments do not hold water. The only escape I can see is through a debt-free, elastic money system. But I’m happy to try other systems.”

Yes, we are slaves to this ever increasing debt, but what entity is the enabler of this? Certainly, if the government did not continually bail out the banks, cover for their fraudulent behavior, and put the American people in the position of being responsible for the bad decisions of the banks, then this would not even be an issue. The banking system’s failures have been socialized, yet you’re in favor of socialism. The government is the enabler of this debt-slavery dynamic, yet you have confidence in government being the issuer of money. In other words, you are clearly showing that you aren’t logically consistent, yet you claimed earlier that it is Tom that is naive.

“The only system I am completely against is the status quo, that Woods spent half of this article defending.”

Right, because everybody knows that being against any monopolies in the issuing of money or credit is the “status quo” position. Are you hopping mad?

——————————————————————————————————-

Clearly this fellow who goes by the name of CUnknown is not only ignorant of economics, but he is also ignorant of logic. Not only has he shown that he clearly did not understand Dr. Woods’s paper, but he also has shown that he does not believe in intellectual honesty. He straw-manned Tom more than a few times, injecting claims that were never spoken by Tom, and he completely missed concepts that any person that is even marginally familiar with economics would understand. I really wish that more people in this world would first understand the topics that they wish to refute, but alas, that is not the world that we currently live in.

I will leave you with this quote by Murray Rothbard, because it really elaborates upon the beliefs of those within the Greenbacker movement. One can only hope that they take this quote seriously and improve their intellectual rigor on the subjects in which they wish to discuss.

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

Depression and Suicide

Posted March 23, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Random Musings, Religion

This is going to be quite a strange topic and I might be making a mistake in revealing myself so openly, but I always find that honesty is the best policy and I don’t often fear the opinions of others with regard to myself.  So here goes …

I will admit that I have had bouts of depression at 2 or 3 points in my life, so intense that I have even thought of taking my own life because of it.  Don’t worry, this is definitely not a common occurrence in my life, I mostly found myself in this position when dealing with great stress.  An example would be during my teen years when many changes were happening in my body and I was so immature that things that I would today think were insignificant often seemed like the end of the world.  My most recent bout of depression occurred when I was in the military (say, around 2005 or so).  I not only had great moral conflicts with what I was doing– I still regret being a part of that world of moral depravity– but I was also only getting maybe 2-3 hours of sleep per night for many months at a time (my rational judgement was obviously very disrupted).  So clearly I am not one that is prone to depressive suicidal thoughts in any regular sense and I don’t foresee putting myself in such situations in the future (learning from past mistakes is a great tool).

However, I must admit that suicide has crossed my mind for another reason: curiosity.

What is the purpose of this whole thing that we call life?  Is there an afterlife?  Do we have a soul and is it eternal?  Where did existence come from?  Stuff like that.

I know that the entirety of human thought can never and will never produce a definitive answer to these questions, because we as a species are simply not enabled with that capacity.  We can only view the world in our living existence and our senses are very dull.  Sure, we do sense a great deal of our physical world, and our continued search for answers to our questions often reveal new truths of our worldly existence, none of which get us much closer to the truth of spiritual existence in any appreciable sense (we’ve moved only a tiny trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a sliver during our entire history with regard to the questions of existence) .  So, the only way to get that answer in any immediate way, it seems to me, is to commit to taking the journey, to end one’s life in pursuit of it.  That is the only way of really knowing.  Cross the plane.

I am one that always seeks absoluteness to the questions that vex my mind.  However, there is one reason that I will never ever commit suicide in pursuit of the absolute answer to these questions:  I am going to die anyhow, just as we all are.   Certainly I am not that anxious, life is already too short.

Heat Wave Givin’ Me Night Fever

Posted March 23, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Music, Music (listen)

I don’t think that I’ve been shy in sharing that I am a big fan of funk:  what do you expect, I’m a bassist.  Here’s a couple of tunes that always get me shakin’ my booty to the get down.

*Okay, the second tune is actually disco.  While loosely related to funk, it is not funk proper (due to the arrangement of the drums and bass).

Miscellaneous Debris

Posted March 23, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Misc Debris

  • Economist Robert Murphy takes the econ blogosphere to task for their double-standards and illogic.  I have to say that I completely agree with Bob here, there simply is no excuse to decry a case simply because you don’t agree with the subject matter (especially when equivalent cases can be shown to be clearly agreeable).  Also, Bob’s campaign to debate Krugman is finally getting some traction, the tally of donations has reached over $100,000, all proceeds go to a food bank to feed New York’s homeless and downtrodden.  
  • Historian and NYT best-selling author Thomas Woods takes on the Greenbackers in this essay.  I completely agree with Tom’s conclusions, though I don’t know that many Greenbackers are economically competent enough to quite understand what he is saying.  Ultimately, I think that the confusion of the Greenbackers stems from not only their economic ignorance, but also from their failure to understand the difference between a flow concept and a stock concept.
  • Robert Wenzel of Economic Policy Journal had the privilege of presenting the Henry Hazlitt Memorial Lecture at this year’s Austrian Economics Research Conference.  I must say that I was quite bored by his presentation, I was often distracted by his communicative fumbling, and I think that this gig would have been better served by having a more experience and competent speaker.  Lew Rockwell (I think) makes the decision on who speaks and he apparently likes Robert, I like Lew … it is what it is.
  • Apparently “the Kuehn” is procreating.  I’m guessing that baby Kuehn will be reared to be a drone pilot.
  • A fish with human-like teeth.  Weird.

What is the Purpose of this Clunky Tool?

Posted March 21, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Uncategorized

Yes folks, I’m talking about the ‘ol noggin. This thing sitting inside my head and spitting thoughts at you left and right. Often times I am so certain that I am right that I can almost taste it, but maybe that sip of scotch or the cigarette smoke wafting through the air is what I’m tasting. Am I certain of that? Not really.

The whole of human thought has been a tale not unlike this wafting of smoke through the air, at certain times truth is tasted by many and at others, by only a few. So what exactly is this truth, and does this clunky tool really have anything to do with it? Further, are we certain that it is truth that we’re tasting, or is it just some nasty smoke. And who is the decider of this?

Perception is such a crazy thing and I don’t know that any of us could truly describe it if we were to be completely honest. Sure, we have this dominant logic that we all rely on, it being part of our common humanity, but is that any more a truer reflection of the world than that of, say, one dog to another? Are humans somehow the only entities in the universe that are able to grasp the truth?

I think that this is probably unlikely, but then, I cannot help but to live inside the world that this clunky tool has wrought me.

My Laziness is Profound

Posted March 20, 2013 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Admin, Uncategorized

Hey folks, I’m back. Yes, that was quite a long hiatus, but every now and then I need a break (don’t we all).

What has it been, two or three months? Sorry if any of you actually look forward to my postings, but I had some stuff going on and for the most part I really didn’t have much to say to the world. And if I don’t have anything to say then why force it, right? Right.

As always I have big plans for the future, but also as always not all of those plans will come to fruition. Certainly when I make these plans I hope to see them through, but life has a way of getting in the way or steering you away from your formerly desired path. Don’t fret, this time away hasn’t been completely wasted, and I will let you all in on what has been keeping me away from the ‘ol QWERTY keyboard in due time.

For now just know that I haven’t given up on the whole blogging thing and that I will be posting some great content in the near future.

Until then, all of the best to all of you,

Joe Fetz

Curious Inconsistencies of the Left

Posted November 28, 2012 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Political Philosophy, Race, Random Musings

Now, don’t go thinking that because I am picking on the left here that I am some sort of right-wing ideologue. No! I don’t like either the left or right of the American political spectrum (which, as Tom Woods likes to say, is about the width of about 2 inches, and one shouldn’t stray from this 2 inches lest you be a radical). However, I must admit that I often find a greater preponderance of inconsistencies from the left.

The idea of equality is often bandied about by those of the leftist persuasion as a noble goal, a highly sought end. Now, of course, I know that actual and real equality is an impossibility, and that if such a thing were to be a reality, that no progress would ever exist in the world (after all, progress is achieved by straying from the norm, by being unequal– this is especially true of economic matters). However, even with all of this talk about “equality”, those same people who praise this idea also like to talk a lot about diversity and such things as multi-culturalism.

So, which is it? Should we embrace equality or diversity? Apparently they haven’t quite thought this through with much rigor.

Also, here’s a bonus thought. Those that preach the virtues of equality also have a great fondness of democracy (a most horrid institution, if I do say so myself). If everybody was truly equal, then wouldn’t this pretty much make democracy a pointless exercise? Possibly democracy is viewed as the means to the end, but then the means is entirely antithetical to the ends, because democracy is all about having one’s individual “voice heard” (which implies differentiation and distinctness). There is also the case of democracy being inherently anti-minority, which implies that the majority is not only correct and just, but also that it is favored above (or superior to) that of the minority.

I’m just a fleshy sock puppet of an intellectual, but even I can see the gaping holes in this logic.

Bassaroo

Posted November 24, 2012 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Music, Music (original)

This is a song that I wrote entirely on the bass, which is why I called it ‘Bassaroo’. However, I also called it by that name because of what I was trying to do aesthetically to the overall sound. Essentially, I was trying to mimic the old smiley-face EQ of the 70s, but instead of the entire mix having that distinctive smiley-face shape to the EQ, I was instead doing it by mixing each instrument in a certain fashion to reap the same result. For instance, I wanted an extremely heavy bass, a really thin guitar, and the drums to be a mix between the two (depending on whether it was snare, kick or cymbals). I think I got pretty close, but it certainly isn’t what I expected.

In writing this tune I was essentially trying to come up with a very simple, but catchy tune. It’s very repetitive, but is arranged in the exact same fashion as many pop tunes, except that instead of just an intro or just a pre-chorus, I instead have a full intro and full chorus at the head. Intro-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus-verse. I will admit that while I was trying to make the song catchy, I also wanted to make the intro as least catchy and most irritating as possible (I’m weird like that).

Now let’s get to the mix.

The intro is the only part of the song with a thicker guitar sound, that’s because I used my Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus to record it. But that is where the thick guitar sound stops, instead favoring a thin sound for the rest of the song to go along with what I was attempting to do with the entire aural picture of the mix.

In order to get the thinnest guitar sound possible, this required that I use a guitar that produces the thinnest sound possible (unfortunately, I didn’t have my Fender Telecaster back when I recorded this). My 1978 Electra Omega is essentially a Les Paul copy. However, it has many features that you don’t find on a Les Paul. I can switch each humbucker pickup to single coil, which goes a long way in thinning out the sound. However, the other feature of my Omega is that I can also have both pickups be paired together, but be out-of-phase with each other (that’s straight 70s funk, right there). This is the guitar sound that is present throughout, but it changes slightly during the chorus.

During the chorus I was not happy with this thin guitar sound. It isn’t that it wasn’t thin enough, it is that it sounded far too much like a guitar. So I kept all of my guitar’s settings the same, except then I routed my guitar through a Whammy pedal set to one octave above standard. Then, I applied a few filters on specific frequencies in order to take out some of the “guitarish” tone. The result almost sounds like a synth, but not quite. Actually, it almost sounds like Poindexter’s violin from ‘Revenge of the Nerds’. In any case, I was very pleased with the result.

Also during the chorus is a guitar that is playing a single chord every 8 bars that is run on a really long tape delay (long tail, but short decay). I did this because it just sounded like something needed to go there.

As for the bass, it is recorded as is throughout the entire song. However, I have it set somewhat high in the mix during the chorus in order to give a punchier sound, and to dominate that particular part of the song. Also, during the chorus I was not entirely happy with a clean bass sound, so I wanted to distort it a bit. Instead of just putting a distortion effect on the bass, I copied the bass track so that there are two identical bass tracks. I kept one untouched, but with the other I bit-crushed it and added compression. Bit-crushing isn’t distortion, per se, rather it is decaying the resolution of the digital signal. Imagine running your iPod through an Atari or Nintendo system, that’s essentially what bit crushing is doing. Once I got one of the bass tracks bit-crushed to my liking, I then mixed them together (the bit-crushed and dry bass tracks) to produce that bass tone that you hear during the chorus. I think it turned out awesome, because it reminds me of how back in the late 70s, all of the funk bands would have a synth bass playing along with the electric bass (think Lakeside’s ‘Fantastic Voyage’).

The drums aren’t messed with much, other than to make the kick have more bottom, the snare a little more top, and the cymbals natural. I did, however, have to overdub a few cymbal splashes here and there, because some of the originals weren’t quite on time, and two of them accidentally got cut short of their natural decay during editing. Also, the drums during the intro and the bridge are actually AppleLoops. I tend to use AppleLoops during recording to help me keep good time. I rerecorded the chorus and verse drum parts using my Roland TD-9SX drum kit, but I left the other parts as they were.

As for reverb, I didn’t get too crazy. Just enough so that the instruments don’t sound dry. This is a departure from what was prevalent in 70s mixes, but then I was only trying to mimic the EQ curve of the 70s, not the dimensional aspects. Also, I mixed the drums in such a way that the layout of the drums follows the placement of the guitar. When the guitar is on the right channel, the drums are mixed with the HH on the right (as if there is a right-handed drummer playing), and when the guitar is on the left channel, the drums are mixed with the HH on the left (as if there is a left-handed drummer playing). The bass guitar and kick drum are always right down the center throughout the song.

A little word on the bridge: In case you haven’t noticed, it isn’t complete. First, the bass part for the bridge that is on this recording was done entirely off the cuff and improvised. I knew what chord changes I wanted, but I never wrote anything for it, so I just played whatever came to my mind when I hit “record”. I really need to rerecord it because it is not nearly tight enough for my liking. Also, I wanted to put a guitar solo in there, but alas, I am too lazy. I will eventually get to it, but it isn’t that important, so I’ll do it at a later date.

Anyhow, here’s what I have so far … Without further ado, here’s Bassaroo!

01 bassaroo

Thoughts on the Crusoe Model

Posted November 3, 2012 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Economics

Recently, I was involved in an economic discussion with a few coworkers, primarily dealing with where the source of economic prosperity lies (they think that spending is the key). Granted, none of them has studied economics, so it was very difficult for me to explain my position without straying from standard economic parlance. For instance, when I was speaking of capital and investment, they thought that spending (which is usually associated with consumption) accounted for all of this. Even harder was to explain how savings and investment are really the same thing (ex ante), and that additions to cash balances are not necessarily defined as savings (it ultimately depends on what those cash balances are used for). Basically, I had to bring out the ‘ol Crusoe Model in order to illustrate the differences between what consumption is and what savings/investment is, and how capital comes about through savings (deferred consumption) and investment (speculative action), not by way of consumption (spending).

Unfortunately, much of this was lost on my fellow coworkers, because while these concepts are relatively easy to understand, it can be hard to get one’s head around the idea if you are in a certain frame of mine. However, disregarding these questions of definitions, one of my coworkers brought up a good point. He essentially called me out on the fallacy of composition, even though I am certain that he is not aware of this particular logical fallacy. He said that the Crusoe Model is not representative of the current economic reality, and that due to this, it is unrealistic. He didn’t say it in quite this way, but that is the conclusion that can be drawn from his words, and it got me to thinking: Does the Crusoe Model fall victim to the fallacy of composition?

After giving it a little thought, I conclude that, “no, it does not fall victim to the fallacy of composition”. Why? Well, because the Crusoe Model is first and foremost a regression model. So, while it may use as an example a “smaller” economy to elaborate upon the truths of a “larger” or more integrated economy, at root its purpose is to regress to the source of economic phenomena. Its purpose is to identify from whence things came.

It goes without saying that everything has a root source, and that while things may change slightly due to increased complexity, that one cannot discount the ultimate source of the thing itself. The purpose of the Crusoe Model is to regress back in time to find the ultimate source of particular economic phenomena, and if we accept this as true, then there lies therein no logical fallacy, especially that of the fallacy of composition.

Hurricane Sandy: Cleveland Edition

Posted October 31, 2012 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: General

That may sound strange, but indeed, we here in Cleveland got quite a storm the other day. Trees, power lines, light poles, street signs, and many other things were taken out by this storm, and many things were blowing up and down the streets. A coworker and I took a trip to Edgewater Park on the lake to see 15-20 foot waves crashing over the breakwaters and splashing onto the windshield. It was pretty cool.

Unfortunately, the aftermath has left me with little power. I checked my outlets with a multimeter and I am getting a range of 7-15 volts (it’s supposed to read 115-120 volts). Luckily, my internet router works, but there isn’t enough power to charge my laptop, use my desktop, use my recording gear, use my stove, use my microwave, etc. Pretty much anything that requires more than about 10 volts isn’t working.

So, I probably won’t be blogging much until this problem gets fixed.

Why Do I Even Try?

Posted October 29, 2012 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Government, Random Musings

In case none of you are aware, I am dirt poor. I’ve done well in the past, but over the course of the past 5 years I have barely been able to earn $27,000 per year working. After taxes, this amounts to about $20,000 net income per year. Yep, that’s mighty poor.

A few days ago I became aware that the total welfare spending per household is roughly $60,000 per year, more than double my gross salary. Now, since I live in a small 300 sq. ft. efficiency apartment in the middle of the ghetto, I often get a good view of what it is like to live in government housing, and it is quite luxurious compared to my condition. Further, since I often shop in the same stores as those who are on the public dole, I also get a view of the expenditures of those on food stamps. I’ll just say that while I can only afford to buy a few items per week, those that I see using their food stamps typically have a cart (or carts) full of food.

It is so very depressing to risk your life day in and day out at work, busting your ass, and dealing with the detrimental effects of hard, laborous work, only to find that you’re being taxed to subsidize people so that they can live twice as well as you are. Even worse, they don’t even have to lift a finger to live twice as well as I do, other than filling out the paperwork.

One might suggest that I find another job. No shit! I’ve been trying to find something better for two years now, and nothing is doing. With my qualifications I could work for government or a government contractor, but why would I do that when I can make almost as much money to fill out some paperwork and sit on my ass? Further, if I did find a job that paid more, that would just piss me off more, because due to the progressive tax schedule, I would be subsidizing these people even more than I am now. It should go without saying that working for government and/or living on the government dole are equivalent in my opinion, and both are in direct violation of my personal code of ethics.

I guess that I’ll just have to accept the fact that my life will be spent serving the purpose of allowing others to live off of my labor, in a much better state of affairs than I.

Update: After a brief correspondence with Dr. Thomas Woods, it appears that I forgot to account for bureaucracy. So, let us assume that bureaucracy absorbs roughly 50% of the total figure (an assumption that I believe is too generous), so that only $30,000 is getting to these families to sit on their ass. That still means that they are essentially taking in more than me, yet I am the one subsidizing them. There is something really wrong here.

Elevendy-Hundred

Posted October 29, 2012 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Random Musings

I was just thinking about my childhood and came upon a strange memory.

I was probably around 3 years old and my father was picking me up from pre-school. We were on our way home and he was teaching me how numbers work. At this point I could count from zero to one-hundred without a problem, but from there on I was pretty much clueless. Every time I would get to one-hundred I would stutter a bit.

No matter, my father told me, you just repeat everything from the beginning, only with one-hundred placed before it. OK, this makes sense. So I proceeded, “one-hundred and one, one-hundred and two, one-hundred and three …”. I was getting the knack of this. Easy, no problem. However, once I got to one-hundred and ten I simply could not fathom that the next number in the series was simply one-hundred and eleven. Instead, I created a new number: Elevendy-hundred.

How I came upon such an idea is beyond me, but that is what my young mind reasoned to be the answer. Funny how that works.

To this day, whenever I see the number 111, I still think in my mind “elevendy-hundred”. Perhaps this explains why math was never my strong suit: I am far too individual to stick to the established rules of mathematics, I just make up my own.

Mike Rivero And The Master Dilemma

Posted October 28, 2012 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Common Sense, Government, Random Musings

I tend to peruse quite a variety of websites, most of them are news aggregation sites, many of which have an underlying agenda. I don’t necessarily agree with the agenda behind these sites, but they are often very good at posting news stories that you just don’t see in the mainstream, thus making them quite a valuable resource. One of these sites is Michael Rivero’s WhatReallyHappened.com.

Now, I will admit that I agree with some of the things that Mike talks about, though I often disagree with him economically, especially on monetary matters (he’s a Greenbacker). However, what I want to talk about is the tag line that he has on the front of his site, which reads “No Government Can Serve Two Masters”.

What he is referring to in this statement, I believe, is the fact that the state of Israel has far too much influence on the United States’ government. On this point I agree. However, Mike also talks a lot about democracy, and it is clear that he is a firm supporter of democratic government (something that I see as the scourge of the Earth). It should be quite clear to any thinking person that there is a contradiction in Mike’s beliefs here.

Clearly, if no government can serve two masters, this implies that it cannot serve many masters, or more specifically, that government can only serve one master. So, what Mike is essentially saying by “no government can serve two masters” is that democracy cannot possibly be a preferable form of government (democracy being predicated on many masters forming a majority position). In fact, one could make the claim that such a phrase is in support of monarchy and/or dictatorship. It is possible to interpret the phrase as government should serve no masters, but due to familiarity with Mike’s support of democracy, this clearly isn’t the case.

Of course, I know that this conclusion is not the intent that Mr. Rivero has in making such a statement, but simple logic dictates as much.

Where’s the love?

Posted October 27, 2012 by Joseph A. Fetz
Categories: Random Musings

I might be opening myself up far more than I should, but I need to write more, so here goes.

I was pondering a question earlier today regarding love. I asked myself whether or not I have experienced love and whether I have ever truly loved somebody. Mind you, I am not limiting my question to merely the love found in romantic relationships, I am speaking about love in general. Love for family, love for friends, a pet, etc. Any kind of love.

The conclusion that I came to is that I have never in my life experienced love. Maybe I did as a child, but I certainly don’t remember it. Sure, I’ve said “I love you” in the past, but it seems that that was merely a lie, or just going with the flow. I cannot, for the life of me, identify a single person in my life that I have actually loved.

While this may offend certain people in my life, especially a certain family-member that reads this blog, it is the absolute truth. Strangely, I am entirely content with that. It certainly makes it far easier to deal with the inevitable.