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This is the archive for November 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A site called IdeaChannel TV has the entire Milton Friedman Free to Choose PBS series, both the 1980 original and the 1990 updated version. These are the full hourlong episodes (15 of them in total), not the snippets that have been available on YouTube.

And, hey, Billy, what happened to your site?

UPDATE: Billy's back.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sometimes the one thing worth living for is worth dying for.

Are you familiar with the names Peter Fechter and Chris Gueffroy? If not, it's worth a few minutes to learn their stories, and to remember them. They're bookends to a tragic library of approximately 200 (the total is not known for certain), lives risked and lost for the one thing they thought worth living for. They were considered property of the state, and they decided to take their own lives back. I hope that for one brief, precious moment, they all found what they were looking for, just like the little Kiwi did.
Either way, Bush is avoiding one aspect of that question on Today's trip to Hanoi by staying at the Sheraton, instead of here

Friday, November 17, 2006

What have you done with Billy!?! Give him back!

No, no, not the Milton Friedman thing. He's at least not wrong about that, not in his objection, anyway. No, it's in the way that teh intarweb has been quietly destroying the English language. And now Billy's gone over to the dark side. I can only assume his body has been taken over by aliens.

I don't know if it's because of an over reliance on spell-checkers, or because a few years ago the internet hit that critical mass that allowed stupid *and* undeducated people to participate, but now, apparently, the word "loose" officially means "to be unable to locate, or to no longer retain possession of".

It's the end of the world, I tell ya.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

One of my heroes died today. I had my disagreements with some of his policy ideas, but almost nobody was a better spokesman for and popularizer of the libertarian point of view. His book "Free to Choose" was my introduction to it, and I'll always be thankful for that.

If you're not familiar with him, or just want to enjoy his style and clarity again, watch some of these.

UPDATE: Billy doesn't agree.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A few years ago, when the QandO blog launched - with much fanfare - a new "Neo Libertarian" movement, several people immediately spotted the fatal flaw in their plan. That plan was, basically, to get libertarians to participate in mainstream political discourse with the goal of gradually influencing it in a libertarian direction.

OK, that's a really generous interpretation. What their plan really meant was that they would pre-emptively concede every substantive argument, abandon any libertarian principle, and re-orient their positions to - maybe - slightly libertarianward of whatever seemed at the time to be the status-quo. It meant redefining their principles so that they became not something absolute, but something relative to whatever was the popular flavor of the moment.

As a strategy, it might seem viable, even practical. The flaw was that in moving their principles, they lost any standard by which to measure "libertarianward". Think of it like making a compass that always points to itself, instead of to north. Try navigating your way out of the wilderness with that. Oh, but at least they're moving!

I knew where they were headed from the start, but I'm repeatedly appalled at just how quickly they're getting there. Today, I see from Billy's link, (I can't bear to read it on a daily basis, nor even to link to it directly) that one of their star bloggers has put out an article about nationalized health care. Is it about how to stop it from happening? No. Is it about how to delay it's happening? No. Is it about how to react if it does happen? No. It's about what form it the program should take.

I commented there, in part:
Do y’all ever wonder about just how power (or the quest for it) corrupts, and how the people being corrupted can move along it inch by inch without ever realizing what it is they are slouching towards? Or away from?

And what power is it they're seeking? Not to rule the world, not to gain a position of power from which they can decree freedom for all, not even the attainment of one lonely elected office. No, the only power they are looking for is so petty, so trivial and pathetic, that it's downright frightening to think that any person could sink this low to attain it.

All they want is for their vote to count.

For that pyrrhic victory, for that superficial, delusional, and momentary good feeling, they're willing to throw away everything they believe in. They're even willing to let others determine the content of their vote just so someone whose power they quake in awe before will grant them the honor of pretending, just for one fleeting moment, to listen to it.

They claim to represent some new movement based on libertarian thought. For a wink and a smile from the only people they think really matter, they're willing to throw all of it under the bus. For the desperate hope that maybe they'll be safely ensconced in some inner circle when the boots come down, they're willing to encourage the rest of us to fall on our swords.

They're not the first, and they won't be the last.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Open letter to Gabrielle Giffords, Jon Kyl, and Janet Napolitano...

You've won your respective elections for jurisdictions in which I happen to reside.

I did not vote for you. I did not vote for anyone. I do not give my consent to be governed in such a manner as you propose, and so you will rule in the explicit absence of consent of at least one of the governed.

I accept that you will be my new and ongoing rulers - not morally, but in fact. I can do nothing to change it, your course is as inexorable and unstoppable as that of a killer hurricane. I can only seek to insulate myself from your influence to the greatest extent possible.

I do not delegate any authority to you. You will rule over me, not govern. Perhaps you are the kind of people to whom that thought creates some discomfort. I hope so. If it is, maybe you should print this out and tape it to your bathroom mirror, so that you may start each day with this knowledge, and that it may temper your actions.

In any case, you will rule without legitimate authority over me. In this too, I have little choice but to accept it as fact. I can only try to adjust my life in an attempt to mitigate the damage you will do to it.

You do not represent me. Your values are overtly hostile to mine, and you will work almost entirely in direct opposition to all that I value. The few cases in which that is not true will be mere coincidence. But I will continue to pursue my values in the hopes that I can accumulate them more rapidly than you can destroy them - even as you turn a portion of what I create against me.

I'm confident that I will be able to do so, and today I am free - more free than I have been in as long as I can remember. My peace of mind, my hopes for the future, and my vision of the values I wish to create are no longer influenced by the results of your election processes. I have today, in my abstinence from any voluntary involvement with you, in my refusal to grant you any sanction whatsoever, acheived a moral clarity that is more valuable than any effect that could have been acheived by a misplaced and futile attempt to use the ballot as a means of self-defense.

I've realized today, not just abstractly as I have for some time now, but as a concrete fact directly perceivable, that I don't need you; yet you need me. You may claim to represent me, you may claim to rule with my consent and through a delegation of powers, but your claims cannot make it true. These are things that cannot be taken, they can only be offered voluntarily. Neither wishing, pleading, cajoling, nor threatening can change this simple fact. And though you think you can pretend otherwise, the truth is that they are vital to your purpose.

I have no illusions that my withholding of consent, the retention of my sovereign authority, my refusal to grant sanction, will be noticed by you. But it will diminish you. That diminishment may be imperceptible, beneath the level of the background noise that will dominate your awareness during your terms, but it will be real. The cumulative effect of all those that have already done so, those you write off as "apathetic" because their choices were not as clearly deliberate as mine, is already readily apparent.

But more importantly - the only important consequence, in fact - is that it will elevate me. It will elevate me back towards the stature that only a free human being is capable of.

Perhaps some day many others will join me - perhaps, if I allow myself to indulge a moment of shameless fantasy, even you yourself. Yet I am prepared to be alone in it in the likely event that such does not come to pass. You may destroy me - unlikely, but not impossible - but until that time my life will be mine. You can no longer touch it.

UPDATE: I've been involved in a few discussions over this, here , and here. A commenter named Jahn at that first link put the whole thing into one sentence:
I refuse to participate in my own destruction.
'Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

truth (noun): "that which allows identification of the cause that will produce a desired effect"

  • that - something, an existent in reality
  • which - not just any thing, but a specific thing of a particular nature
  • allows - does not conflict with, does not contradict
  • identification - the process of consciousness, of putting a concept to a fact of reality; "identify" is the verb form of the word "consciousness"
  • of - consciousness's object, that upon which consciousness acts
  • the - a particular thing, unique, specific, exists in reality
  • cause - an action, a change applied to a given context by an existent of a specific nature
  • that will - in the future, predicted, a conceptual abstraction until concretized by real action
  • produce - leads to, creates, the process of causation
  • a desired - something valued by a specific consciousness
  • effect - a result, the state into which the context changes due to the cause

Words mean things, and this, in a nutshell, is what the word "truth" means, and what the words in the definition mean. Truth is a relationship between consciousness, value, and reality. Take any one of these away, and the word, the very concept, ceases to have meaning. Truth does not exist out there in the world, independent of consciousness, and it does not exist "in here", independent of reality, arbitrarily different for each of us.

Truth is meaningless outside the context of future action: it is validated by reality when, and only when, an action occurs. Truth is meaningless without value: any cause can be chosen if the effect does not matter to someone. Truth is meaningless without identification: only the correct cause will produce the desired result. Truth is meaningless without a reality that pre-exists conscousness: There has to be something for consciousness to identify, and the correctness of the identification is the degree to which the effect produced by the actual cause correlates to the effect predicted.

Divorce truth from any of it's essential components - disintegrate it - and you're asking for trouble. History is full of examples of finding trouble exactly there. "Truth" divorced from value is Ivory Tower proseletyzing. "Truth" divorced from consciousness is blind obedience. Truth divorced from reality is religious or political dogma. "Truth" divorced from any of these cannot be validated logically, and so must be "validated" forcefully if it is to be retained at all.

The fact that I posted this today shouldn't be taken to imply that it has anything at all to do with the elections. It doesn't. But, on the other hand, it has everything to do with today's elections.