Archive for the ‘Random Musings’ category

On Government and the State

April 28, 2014

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 …

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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. 

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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.

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Kitty-Kitty Bang-Bang

March 25, 2013

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.

Depression and Suicide

March 23, 2013

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.

Curious Inconsistencies of the Left

November 28, 2012

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.

Why Do I Even Try?

October 29, 2012

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

October 29, 2012

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

October 28, 2012

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.