Monthly Archives: June 2013

Does the Free Market Presuppose the State?

Finally finished Man, Economy, and State after only 2 years! (Yes, I read other stuff and took huge breaks in between haha)

Done! Only took me 2 years. Reading a Harry Potter book in one day doesn't train you for 1100 pages of econ.

A post shared by Bharat Chandrasekhar (@negligible91) on

Now I’m going to start reading a bit of Power and Market in my free time, but mainly I’ll be reading a book called The Last Superstition by Edward Feser.

Regardless, here’s a short passage I just read from Power and Market:

The laissez-faireists offer several objections to the idea of free-market defense. One objection holds that, since a free market of exchanges presupposes a system of property rights, therefore the State is needed to define and allocate the structure of such rights.

This is an important argument to deal with. Here’s an analogy: if someone said the natural sciences presuppose free will, then the natural sciences cannot tell us anything about free will. Likewise, if the free market presupposes a system of property rights, someone could argue the latter must be built outside of the free market.

But there is nothing obviously wrong about saying defense can be provided by the free market even if the free market presupposes property rights. All that’s needed is a slight semantical change. Let’s say 10% of the free market is defense and 90% of the free market is the other stuff. I can say that 90% of the free market presupposes the other 10% of defense services. There is nothing illogical about this.

By acknowledging defense services can be provided by the free market, we can have a consistent libertarian theory unimpinged by a State that so clearly contradicts it.

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Archive: Minimum Wage

Although you can use the search function to find all of the minimum wage posts on this website, I figured making a list of all of them in chronological order would be better to refer to. (I could also make a category for it, but I already think I have too many categories as of now and find this more appealing to the eye) Here is the list, from the latest at the top to the oldest at the bottom:

2/2/14:  Does the Minimum Wage Stimulate the Economy?

12/10/13: Krugman Calls for Increasing the Minimum Wage. Here’s Why He’s Wrong.

6/4/13: Spanish Government Starts Reading My Blog

2/15/13: The Minimum Wage Does Indeed Cause Unemployment

1/12/13: The So-Called “Living” Wage

11/11/11: More on the Minimum Wage and Obama’s Attempted Christmas Tree Tax

10/30/11: The Minimum Wage

10/23/11: Praxeology and Subjective Valuation

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DO NOT Click the Blue Words

  • Tom Woods goes psycho and decides to post an entire half of a college-level course free on YouTube.
  • I tell startups why they should get VoIP.

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UPDATE:

6/18/2013 11:37 PM: Whoops, just realized Woods only uploaded half of the course to YouTube, not the entire course. Still pretty psycho if you ask me 😉

The Lind Wars Trilogy (2x)

The Lind Menace

Attack of the Woods

Revenge of the Statist

A New Hope (yeah i gave up. I have no idea how to change this)

Michael Lind Strikes Back

Return of the Libertarian

I’m not sure why I compared this to Star Wars, but I think I counted 6 articles and jumped on it. I myself wrote a blog post which, to continue with the same analogy, could be compared to the Clone Wars animated series they had on Cartoon Network.

But seriously, the issue I had earlier with Michael Lind’s “devastating” question still remains: it is a non sequitur. I made a jump in my previous blog post (about this topic) to that conclusion, so I want to really spell it out here.

Michael Lind asks “If [the libertarian] approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it? Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?”

From this alone, one might think “alright, this is an interesting question for sure, and one that we might need to answer.” But Lind goes on to call it “devastating.”

Curious, sure, but devastating?

To understand why Michael Lind thinks his question is catastrophic for libertarians, we have to continue reading his original article. He states:

“But [the fact that some policies are libertarian] isn’t an adequate response. Libertarian theorists have the luxury of mixing and matching policies to create an imaginary utopia. A real country must function simultaneously in different realms—defense and the economy, law enforcement and some kind of system of support for the poor. Being able to point to one truly libertarian country would provide at least some evidence that libertarianism can work in the real world.”

Lind calls it a “utopia” to deride the philosophy, but in other, more objective words, Lind is saying that libertarians theorize a state of affairs that does not currently exist. It has not been tried. Therefore…what?

Therefore nothing. There is nothing you can say about libertarianism from an empirical standpoint. But Lind isn’t trying to say just this. If he came to this conclusion, I’d agree with him. Unfortunately, he’s going even further:

“If socialism is discredited by the failure of communist regimes in the real world, why isn’t libertarianism discredited by the absence of any libertarian regimes in the real world?”

Ignore for a second that this itself is a blatant non-sequitur. Michael Lind thinks a political philosophy should be discredited by the fact that it has not been tried.

This is his real argument, the argument that is the basis for his “devastating” question. Implicit in his initial inquiry “If [the libertarian] approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it?” is the argument “If it hasn’t been tried, it’s not good.” Well, okay, then, that throws every single technology out the window as well, because by definition, at one point in history, they hadn’t been tried.

Imagine if venture capitalists (the investors on Shark Tank for example) held this attitude. “Wait a second, your product is a new idea? Are you nuts!??!? Why would you try something new?? That idea is discredited by the fact that it hasn’t been tried. No way I’m investing in that.”

Likewise, Michael Lind’s question has no bearing on libertarianism whatsoever.

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Telonium: Phone Systems for Your Small Business

The video was made using a (pretty great) free software called PowToon. PowToon uses the freemium model to generate revenue. In other words, it’s free, but if you want extra features, such as HD videos, ability to get rid of the watermark, etc., you have to pay a subscription fee. I thought $60/month for a monthly subscription was a little heavy, but if you buy a yearly one, the price drops down to $20/month, which sounds much more reasonable (I wish that was their regular price).

If you’re looking for a VoIP phone system for your business though, check out Telonium.

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Genius Marketing Strategy

Here.

SlideShare is intelligent enough not to take a position on whether the NSA should be snooping on us or not. If they(SlideShare) have certain convictions about the recent controversy, maybe morally their strategy isn’t the best way to go about it, but purely as a business decision, I think they made the right choice.

However, I don’t think it’s a general rule not to take sides on political issues when it comes to business. I’m sure there are a variety of situations where a firm can take one side or the other when their target market agrees with them. But for this particular case, slideshare made the right choice (again, purely as a business decision). Their joke has zero to do with whether a person likes or hates the NSA’s actions, and so people will find it funny regardless of what view they hold. Take this comment, for example:

“Excellent presentation. Seriously, if you’re going to plan the end of privacy and trash the concept of freedom of expression, at least make good slides!”

SlideShare has no position on the issue, yet someone extremely opinionated can see the joke and thoroughly enjoy it.

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Does God Exist? Yup.

What if reality stretches beyond our concept of cause and effect? What if, like ants who don’t understand reason, human beings don’t understand a specific concept which is vital to having a true understanding of reality and never will, because of the natural limits of their existence? In other words, what if there’s a God (a “first cause” of the universe)?

Atheists would respond “well, we have no proof that reality goes beyond human reason; therefore, there is no reason to believe it does” (this is just a restatement of what they really say:  “we have no proof that God exists, therefore there is no reason to believe it does”).

Yet it’s possible there are some things we can just never have empirical proof of. Meanwhile, in order to believe in a Godless reality, one has to necessarily believe in an infinite regression of causes (in other words, something caused this universe, something caused that cause, and so on). But if there is an infinite regression of causes, and we look back in time to see where it all started, by definition, we keep looking back and back. There is no start. And therefore we never reach the present.

If that’s difficult to grasp, take Tom Woods’s example(35:36) instead:

If I’m at a supermarket and I go up to the deli counter, and I’m about to take a number to get in line. So I go to take a number, and I find out that in order for me to take a number, I have to take a number. So you have to take a number to take a number. So I’m about to take a number to take a number, and I find out I have to take a number. So I have to take a number to get in line to take a number to get in line to take a number to get my deli stuff. Well, suppose this just goes on infinitely, every single time, every single time I go to grab a number. There’s always a previous number I have to get first. Well, if that’s the case, it’s pretty obvious I will never get to the deli counter no matter how much time passes. Millions of year could go on and I will never get to the deli counter; there’s always a prior number I have to grab. But if I’m looking around in the supermarket, I see people are walking around with deli meat, then I know that obviously the string of numbers can’t go on forever cause how did these people get their deli meat?

Likewise, if there is an infinite regression of causes leading up to the present, there in fact is no present. We do not exist.

And so atheists are actually fooling themselves, pretending to be scientific by focusing solely on the empirical sciences but not consulting logic and reason. If they did the latter, they would see two options: a Godless reality and a reality with God. This is identical to the logic argument that, for example, a ball must either be red or non-red. There is no third option; it must be one or the other. A Godless reality (where there is an infinite regression of causes) clearly does not make sense if reason exists. But a reality with God does make sense if we admit that there could be something beyond reason. Therefore, God must exist. There is reason to positively believe in God.

One might argue that I am using a double standard by saying the first scenario is limited by reason and the second is not. But the former is in fact limited by reason: it is a situation only considered because we deny the existence of God. Therefore we must apply that assumption all the way. The second option is considered by accepting the existence of God, i.e. something beyond reason. So the second option allows us to “cheat,” whereas the first does not.

UPDATE:

Crossed out something I think is wrong (thanks Michelle!). Also, when I speak about reason, I’m talking about the human concept of cause and effect, something we often think about in our own actions as means and ends. Every effect must have a cause, by definition, and causes are effects as well. With this in mind, I define God as the “first cause.” For something to be a first cause and have no other cause, it has to be outside and beyond human reason.

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Hilarious Interview of Tom Woods

These guys have hit it out of the park with their interview of Tom Woods. Really unique interview style and questions and unique video-making style as well:

I haven’t heard of them before; their YouTube channel shows their name as “MundaneMedia” but it looks like this is their first interview. From how good this interview was, I expected at least another 10 interviews on their YouTube Channel. They look promising! I hope to see more videos from them soon.

Hahahahahahaha hahahahahahahaha!… You serious?

Yesterday, Michael Lind wrote an article at Salon titled “The questions libertarians just can’t answer.” I have a feeling he was speaking to the mute.

I found Lind’s post so entertaining, I had to make a response. Quotes are italicized, my commentary is not.

If your approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it?

If I had to explain why this is a non-sequitur, I think my head might explode. (Hint: can inventions ever be good?)

While there is no purely libertarian country, there are countries which have pursued policies of which libertarians would approve: Chile, with its experiment in privatized Social Security, for example, and Sweden, a big-government nation which, however, gives a role to vouchers in schooling.

These sound like State policies, not libertarian policies.

But think about this for a moment. If socialism is discredited by the failure of communist regimes in the real world, why isn’t libertarianism discredited by the absence of any libertarian regimes in the real world?

After thinking for the mandatory one-mississippi, I realized this was another non-sequitur. It’s right there, he is with a straight face saying “If X1 is discredited by Y, then X2 is discredited by Z.” Y and Z are not in the same class.

The rest of Lind’s article is a comparison of the United States with one other country that is ranked 2 spots better in Heritage’s economic liberty index. The United States surpasses this one country in a few (important, I’ll grant) characteristics, so he’s proven economic liberty sucks (i.e. he doesn’t say anything about the other 9 countries ranked better than the U.S. in said index).

Tom Woods chuckles and Bob Murphy giggles.

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New Startup Website: The Startup Voice

A new website for startups has just been launched, The Startup Voice. It offers curated news, blogs, etc. from all over the web, but it’s main value-adding feature is the section called “Startup Voices“. Here, startups themselves will be able to contribute blogs describing what they’re going through, any thoughts they have, and any advice they have to offer based on their current experiences, in contrast to the “Advice & Opinions” section which will include expert (those who went to the process and have already been successful) opinions as well.

If you’re interested in startups or are actively entrepreneurial, check out the website.

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