(via Read manga Akumetsu 089 online in high quality) I already love you Akumetsu, you don’t have to try so hard HD
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» Rand Paul's Confederacy Scandal Is Not an Anomaly -- Libertarianism Papers Over Deep Racism in America | Alternet

Libertarianism is a nice-sounding “philosophy” of “freedom” that obscures 500 years of genocide and apartheid in America. July 11, 2013 | Kentucky Senator Rand Paul the guy who questioned the wisdom of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when he first ran for office, finds himself at the center of yet another race related controversy this week. On Tuesday, the Washington Free Beacon published an article titled “Rebel Yell” detailing the previous career of Paul’s right-hand man co-author Jack Hunter. While working as a radio host in South Carolina, Hunter appeared in public wearing a Confederate flag mask, openly called for secession, and even defended the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He called himself “The Southern Avenger” and was a chairman of the Charleston wing of the League of the South, a group, which, according to its own website, “ advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union, and the formation of a Southern republic.” Rand Paul is now trying to disassociate himself from Hunter, but that will be a difficult task. The “Southern Avenger” isn’t just some random Senate staffer: he’s a close associate of Paul and helped him write his first book back in 2010. It now looks like Senator Paul is continuing in a great family tradition. Even though he denies responsibility, his father Ron published a series of racist newsletters during a1996 Congressional campaign. However, we shouldn’t really be that surprised by either of the Pauls’ connection to far-right racism. That’s because they’re libertarians and libertarianism is the velvet glove over the iron fist of racism. Here’s how it works: when you have an entrenched racial and economic class that has ruled a continent for five centuries, they have well-established levers and levels of power and wealth. They will, generation after generation, do whatever is necessary to hang on to that wealth and power. History shows, including the history of Reconstruction and the history of integration in the 1950s and 1960, that the only thing strong enough to challenge the political and economic power of a multi-century hereditary ruling class is the power of government. It was government that made Alabama Governor George Wallace and Georgia Governor Lester Maddox integrate their states. And it was government that both passed and made the South finally accept the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. This is what George Wallace had to say about integration during his inaugural address in 1963: “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” But Wallace lost that fight because the power of government, when appropriately used, is greater than the power of wealth, class, or race. It took government to break the stranglehold of white rule in the 1870s and 1880, but even that white power structure reasserted itself and fought to reclaim its power, leading to the Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896 and a half century of segregation which kept in place the political and economic privileges of white people. So now comes a political philosophy - libertarianism - that says everything is fine, everything is equal, and government should get the hell out of the way. They say this when the average wealth of a white family when the median net worth of a white family is $110,729 and that of a black family is $4,955. They say this when in the entire history of the U.S. Senate there have only been three African-Americans elected to that body. They say this when just twenty minutes after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the most populous state of the Old Confederacy, Texas, put into place discriminatory voter suppression laws and began gerrymandering.

Sigh, we need to refute these accusations.  It’s getting annoying

» re: How Dare You Not Love Lincoln and His War –

This is getting old, real fucking fast

I feel less like a modern libertarian and more like a classical liberal

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» Libertarians: Still a cult - Salon.com

My previous Salon essay, in which I asked why there are not any libertarian countries, if libertarianism is a sound political philosophy, has infuriated members of the tiny but noisy libertarian sect, as criticisms of cults by outsiders usually do. The weak logic and bad scholarship that suffuse libertarian responses to my article tend to reinforce me in my view that, if they were not paid so well to churn out anti-government propaganda by plutocrats like the Koch brothers and various self-interested corporations, libertarians would play no greater role in public debate than do the followers of Lyndon LaRouche or L. Ron Hubbard.

An unscientific survey of the blogosphere turns up a number of libertarians claiming in response to my essay that, because libertarianism is anti-statist, to ask for an example of a real-world libertarian state shows a failure to understand libertarianism. But if the libertarian ideal is a stateless society, then libertarianism is merely a different name for utopian anarchism and deserves to be similarly ignored.

Another response to my essay has been to claim that a libertarian country really did exist once in the real world, in the form of the United States between Reconstruction and the New Deal. Robert Tracinskiwrites that I am “astonishingly ignorant of history” for failing to note that the “libertarian utopia, or the closest we’ve come to it, is America itself, up to about 100 years ago. It was a country with no income tax and no central bank. (It was on the gold standard, for crying out loud. You can’t get more libertarian than that.) It had few economic regulations and was still in the Lochner era, when such regulations were routinely struck down by the Supreme Court. There was no federal welfare state, no Social Security, no Medicare.”

It is Tracinski who is astonishingly ignorant of history. To begin with, the majority of the countries that adopted the “libertarian” gold standard were authoritarian monarchies or military dictatorships. With the exception of Imperial Britain, an authoritarian government outside of the home islands, where most Britons were denied the vote for most of this period, most of the independent countries of the pre-World War I gold standard epoch, including the U.S., Germany, France, Russia and many Latin American republics, rejected free trade in favor of varying degrees of economic protectionism.

For its part, the U.S. between Lincoln and FDR was hardly laissez-faire. Ever since colonial times, states had engaged in public poor relief and sometimes created public hospitals and asylums. Tracinski to the contrary, there were also two massive federal welfare programs before the New Deal: the Homestead Act, a colossal redistribution of government land to farmers, and generous pension benefits for Union veterans of the Civil War and their families.  Much earlier, the 1798 act that taxed sailors to fund a small system ofgovernment-run sailors’ hospitalswas supported by Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton alike.

State and local licensing rules and trade laws governed economic life in detail, down to the size of spigots in wine casks, in some cases.

It was precisely these state and local regulations that the Supreme Court struck down, in Lochner v. New York (1905) and other cases, to promote the goal of creating a single national market. At the same time, sharing their racism with most white Americans, federal judges in Tracinski’s “libertarian” America permitted the most massive system of labor market distortion of all: racial segregation, which artificially boosted the incomes and property values of whites.

The single national market that Lochner-era courts sought to protect from being Balkanized by state and local regulations (other than racial segregation) was walled off by the highest protective tariffs of any major industrial nation. The U.S. government between Lincoln and FDR engaged in a version of modern East Asian-style mercantilism, protecting American industrial corporations from import competition, while showering subsidies including land grants on railroad companies and using federal troops to crush protesting workers.  This government-business mercantilism was anti-worker but it was hardly libertarian.

High tariffs to protect American companies in Tracinski’s alleged Golden Age of American libertarianism were joined by racist immigration restrictions that further boosted the incomes of white workers already boosted by de jure or de facto racial segregation. The 1790 Naturalization Act barred immigrants from becoming citizens unless they were “free white persons” and had to be amended by the 1870 Naturalization Act to bestow citizenship on former slaves of “African nativity” and “African descent.” Although the Supreme Court in 1898 ruled that the children of Asians born in the U.S. were citizens by birth, Tracinski’s libertarian utopia was characterized by increasingly restrictive immigration laws which curtailed first Asian immigration and then, after World War I, most European immigration.

Calvin Coolidge, the subject of a hero-worshiping new biography by the libertarian conservative Amity Shlaes, defended both high tariffs and restrictive immigration. Here isan excerpt from President Coolidge’s second annual address in 1924:

Two very important policies have been adopted by this country which, while extending their benefits also in other directions, have been of the utmost importance to the wage earners. One of these is the protective tariff, which enables our people to live according to a better standard and receive a better rate of compensation than any people, any time, anywhere on earth, ever enjoyed. This saves the American market for the products of the American workmen. The other is a policy of more recent origin and seeks to shield our wage earners from the disastrous competition of a great influx of foreign peoples. This has been done by the restrictive immigration law. This saves the American job for the American workmen.

In 1921 then vice-president Coolidge wrote an article entitled “Whose Country is This?” inGood Housekeeping, in which he declared:

“Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides.” (Amity Shlaes’s hero evidently believed racist pseudoscience about dangerous and inferior “half-breeds”).

Protectionist, nativist paleoconservatives of the Patrick Buchanan school might have reason to idealize the U.S. as it existed between 1865 and 1932. But libertarians who want to prove that a country based on libertarian ideology can exist in the real world cannot point to the United States at any period in its history from the Founding to the present.

I can’t with Salon.com.  They are throwing shade at liberterianism based on the wrong assumptions

» Philadelphia to Close 23 Public Schools While Building $400 Million Prison

Pennsylvania’s School Reform Commission voted on June 1st to close 23 Philadelphia Public Schools, nearly 10 percent of the city’s total.

Additionally, due to a $304 million debt, students will return to school in the fall without many essentials; including books, papers, clubs, assistant principals, etc. Nearly 3,000 people will lose their jobs.

Meanwhile, the city has recently begun work on a $400 million prison project,said to be “the second-most expensive state project ever.”

From RT:

Newly unemployed teachers might consider submitting their resumes to the Department of Corrections, though, with the news that the supposedly cash-strapped government is digging deep to spend $400 million for the construction of State Correctional Institutions Phoenix I and II.

The penitentiary, which is technically two facilities, will supplement at least two existing jails, the Western Penitentiary at Pittsburgh and Fayette County Jail. Pittsburgh’s Western Penitentiary was built in 2003 with the original intention of replacing Fayette County Jail, but the prison has struggled with lawsuits claiming widespread physical and sexual abuse of prisoners.

Scheduled to be completed in 2015, the new prison’s cell blocks and classroom will be capable of housing almost 5,000 inmates. Officials said there will be buildings for female inmates, the mentally ill and a death row population.

81 percent of students impacted by school closings are black, even though they make up only 58 percent of the population.

Yet black people will continue to look to government to fix their issues and disregard what libertarian think tank offer as effective solutions as conservative fairy tales. Kanye shrug

Real feminism aims at genuine equality and good will between daughters and sons. It eliminates the need for parents to choose which of their children are to be privileged by the courts and other institutions of society, and which are to be oppressed.

I am not into electoral politics as a way to change society so I don’t think in terms of competing with Republicans or Democrats. I believe that lasting change comes from transforming the hearts and minds of people - freedom comes one person at a time - and the pulling of a lever every four years doesn’t have much to do with that process. I believe in grassroots activism to improve the daily realities of people, not in electing politicians to positions of power. A politician has never improved my life, has never made me freer.

… the best alternative is to take your children out of the public school system altogether and lobby for the elimination of that institution and the repeal of all policies restricting private education.

I believe the public school system is inherently negative and (especially with political correctness) a vehicle for social agendas, not basic education.

The bounty and diversity of food available in every grocery store demonstrates the richness of society itself - not merely in terms of prosperity, but also in terms of choice

Today, we need to borrow a slogan from a past era and update it to fit our modern struggle: The government has no business in the kitchens (and snack bars) of the nation.

Libertarian Bait: Rent Seeking Edition


A recent NYT article discusses the plight of users of an online crowd-sourced room rental service called Airbnb, which allows users to offer their rooms for rent for travelers looking to avoid paying exorbitant hotel fees.  The problem?  In many cities, such as New York City, people offering their rooms for rent to travelers are breaking local laws:

Back in September, Nigel Warren rented out his bedroom in the apartment where he lives for $100 a night on Airbnb, the fast-growing Web site for short-term home and apartment stays. His roommate was cool with it, and his guests behaved themselves during their stay in the East Village building where he is a renter.

But when he returned from a three-night trip to Colorado, he heard from his landlord. Special enforcement officers from the city showed up while he was gone, and the landlord received five violations for running afoul of rules related to illegal transient hotels. Added together, the potential fines looked as if they could reach over $40,000.

New York City ordinances outlaw this sort of “crowd-sourced” approach to offering lodging for travelers:

 local laws may prohibit most or all short-term rentals under many circumstances, though enforcement can be sporadic and you have no way of knowing how tough your local authorities will be. Your landlord may not allow such rentals in your lease or your condominium board may not look kindly on it … [NYC law] says you cannot rent out single-family homes or apartments, or rooms in them, for less than 30 days unless you are living in the home at the same time.

The NYCRR is a labrynthine mess that even lawyers have trouble navigating.  Needless to say, though I’ve worked with the NYC regs before, I was unaware of this particular restriction.  

What struck me about these ordinances, however, is that it appears to be a textbook definition of rent-seeking by hotel concerns when I read it.  Indeed, after reading further, the justification for these laws seem flimsy at best:

New York City officials don’t come looking for you unless your neighbor, doorman or janitor has complained to the authorities about the strangers traipsing around.

“It’s not the bargain that somebody who bought or rented an apartment struck, that their neighbors could change by the day,” said John Feinblatt, the chief adviser to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for policy and strategic planning and the criminal justice coordinator. The city is also concerned with fire safety and maintaining at least some availability of rental inventory for people who live there.

These justifications don’t hold up upon interrogation.  The “bargain” in question is one governed by the terms of the lease, and landlords are generally free to dictate the terms of that lease as they please.  Landlords could, for example, place a restriction on this sort of short-term room rental if they wanted to.  The fact that the landlord at issue in this case did not only proves further that this isn’t really a concern that comes up that often.  If it was, you can bet the landlord would have a section in their lease devoted to banning this practice, so as to ensure they don’t get held liable for their tenants’ violation of the ordinance in question.  

Second, the fire safety concern is related to the number of people in the building at any given time.  That would be controlled by placing restrictions on maximum occupancy, which already exist.  Notably, the fire hazard concern would also be implicated where people simply allowed friends to sleep over in their apartments, which a ban on individual room rentals would not prevent.

Third, the idea of “maintaining at least some available rental inventory for the people who live there” doesn’t even make sense.  The only way these rooms get rented out is by someone who already occupies them.  There’s no way that crowding out of rental space could occur here.  The room is already “unavailable” to the other residents of the city because somebody already lives there.

So all we are really left with in this case is a law that represents rent-seeking by hotel businesses in New York City.  There doesn’t seem to be a good reason to place a per se restriction on this sort of transaction where other laws already account for the justifications given.  Which makes this whole thing a shame, because people clearly benefit from having this option available to them.  Particularly in New York City, where reasonably safe and clean hotel rooms are notoriously expensive.  

This is a good example of an instance where we really should just let the market (and the wonders of the internet) do its thing.  For the reasons cited above, I can see no legitimate reason for this type of ordinance other than fattening the pockets of both hotel concerns and city governments, who get to impose fines every time a violation occurs.  Regulations that attempt to solve legitimate problems with land use in a heavily populated suburban area are one thing.  Regulations that serve merely as revenue-raising and rent-seeking provisions for the city—and its attendant private beneficiaries—are another thing entirely.

h/t Matt Yglesias

As someone who used Airbnb for housing in Indianapolis, during the MBA job fair, I have to say it is a wonderful service. In fact, I intend to use it from now on.  This situation, explained above, is reminscent of the food truck battle occuring in NYC, D.C., Chicago and L.A.  Incumbents, aka the hotels, are trying to find ways to curb the competition from people who offer far better service at a cheaper price.  The same can be said of brick-and-mortar restaurants( and food carts) who pushed for parking regulations against food trucks.  The market has decided it wanted an alternative to traditional housing and like all other industries, where incumbents are fighting competition, they will use government to force consumers to choose them.

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marxualistbasedsteve replied to your post:Conservatives/Libertarians

-__- separate the 2.


Communismkills is a Libertarian. 

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Rules, Regulations, and the Free-Market


After Romney’s point of “Free-Markets need regulation” during the debate on Wednesday rustled my jimmies, my Macroeconomics Professor (a Chicago School macroeconomist) point out that markets do need regulation.

Naturally, I challenged him saying that we need stable rules, not governmental bureaus.  He simply countered saying that rules are regulations.

To me, I think this is the hardest thing to convince people - that free-markets can exist.

But, we need to take into consideration the ideas of rules as regulations seriously.  For example, David Friedman talks about arbitration agencies and for-profit law systems.  This, effectively, means that even under free-market anarchy,  the free-market would not be “free” to most academic economists.

So, I think we need to assert the idea that rules are not “regulations.” Just as we can create a “free-society” that still has rules, we can create a market that is free but still has rules.

I think we need to assert these rules as necessary as well, but they aren’t “government intervention” anymore than rules in a household are.

A market without rules is like a society without rules - chaos where only the strong and ruthless survive (literally).  While no business can survive by killing it’s consumer base, some companies can get away with killing 1 or 2 customers by accident.

For example, the nature of car companies (yes, even in a free-market) is that they are economies of scale that can become massive companies (remember, a lot of arguments about free-markets assumes perfect competition - there’s no such thing as universal perfect competition).  Without stable rules, these companies could create Ford Pintos and kill a few customers per year and simply externalize the cost.

So, we need these rule systems.

Now, the statist in me says that we should (following this logic) not be completely against rule systems in augmenting current markets.  That is, due to the nature of banks at the moment, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss rules that correct externalities.

This doesn’t mean I want bureaus set up.  This means I want a stable Rule of Law system that equally protects everyone.


I hope you don’t mind me putting this on my blog because I think that this discussion is very much needed among libertarians.  I don’t think it will get enough discussion though.
When I was first introduced to anarcho-capitalism (or rather, when I started identifying as one) I found this to be a very convincing argument.  I read into the Coase Theorem and I was (and still am) impressed by its market-oriented implications on how to take care of the environment.
However, there are a few problems (that my friend Sam pointed out to me over dinner one night) that need to be addressed:
Air pollution around your house is good and all, but how can you pinpoint who is violating your rights?
Similarly, water run-off (containing chemicals used in agriculture) are hard to pinpoint when every farmer uses the same chemicals.
Ronald Coase said that easily divisible property rights with little transaction costs would be a good way to deal with externalities.  This idea was used to help establish radio stations using different radio waves
However, when applied to the real world, we have tons of transaction costs and not-so-easily divisible property rights.
Obviously it’s easy to say “if this guy pollutes my air/water, I can sue him.”  However, proving that in court is ridiculously hard as it is, on top of the fact that (depending on the state and/or arbitration service) comparative negligence would need to be adopted in this situation.
Yoram Bauman (the “Stand-up Economist”) who is a comedian and an environmental economist (he does economics jokes, they’re actually really funny) noted in a video (which I can’t find) that everyone pollutes and thus, because of that, everyone suffers.  His solution, however, is taxes.
What we can take from this idea that “everyone suffers” is that you can’t pinpoint who is really polluting you the most.  Thus, your case in court would be thrown out or you would lose it because you can’t convince a jury that the Oil Company polluted you over your own damn car.  
So this is the problem of the Coase Theorem.  As I’ve stated, hydraulic fracking is a great place to test the Coase Theorem as property rights are easily divisible and there are only a few companies that are possible polluters.
There is, of course, the problem of “just because you’re willing to take an extra $10,000 a year from a big oil company is no justification for him polluting on your ground” because that could lead to pollution to other people and so on and so on.  Don’t forget global warming and other environmental problems associated with fossil fuels and other pollutants.
(Who would’ve cleaned up the BP oil spill in the Gulf if it we were in an ancap utopia?  The people?  Surely they would, but is that fair?  You can’t claim ownership to the fish they killed, can you?  No one can force BP to clean up something if there is no claim to property. In fact, BP could claim the area they polluted under “homesteading” principles.)
If you’re looking at this from a Coasian perspective (as I am right now), all I see are transaction costs on top of transaction costs on top of transaction costs.
So when Coase said “no transaction costs” and all we see are “transaction costs on transaction costs on transaction costs”, do we really have a “Coasian” solution to our problems?
My conclusion: no.   HD
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