Dailyish Thoughts #91

I did my act of violence today. Defensive violence that is. And like many acts of self defense a few blows made it through. You win some and you lose some.

Florida has proven itself a bit bipolar, or super lazy. Vote for tax caps but not decreases. Vote against socialists but in favor of militarizing the police. Vote for the “rights” of victims while effectively taking Constitutional protections from defendants. Not to mention unintended consequences: the hundreds of dogs which will be euthanized because they will be out of a job, all because people want to “protect” them.

Oh well. It’s time for bed. Can’t wait to see the responses of the psychos tomorrow.

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An AnCap Take on Voting

Voting… Every year it seems that we get a barrage of election mail and our medians and street corners are covered in ugly signs begging us to vote for this candidate or that, vote “no” on this, or vote “yes” on that. Every election is “the most important election we have ever seen”. The message that everyone should vote is drilled into our heads time and time again.

I just chuckle at all of this madness.

Due to travel I have not been able to vote in the past several elections. It wasn’t for lack of trying either. I applied for absentee ballots, but was informed that I had to have an address on file in my local precinct, something that had to be filed in person, at least a month before the election. So I gave up.

The whole situation got me thinking, can a consistent AnCap vote? I don’t believe in the monopoly of power that is government, what business do I have choosing who runs that monopoly? I don’t believe others have the right to select my master, why should I be a hypocrite and seek to choose theirs?

So I have decided I will not vote for candidates. It would be hypocritical for me to compel others to live under someone I have chosen but they have not consented to. I don’t want others to choose my king, why should I choose theirs?

However, given the chance, I don’t see how it’s hypocritical to vote on amendments and such, when one is voting in favor of more freedom. For example, Amendment 1 on the Florida ballot this year expands Florida’s property tax Homestead Exemption drops taxes on 60% of homesteaded properties (according to some sources). Number 2 keeps in place a limit on tax increases. Number 4 restores voting “rights” to felons who have not committed murder or sexual crimes. 5 is an amendment that would require a super majority for the legislature to raise taxes. These are no brainers.

The rest? Not so obvious. Florida has a fun way of blending several unrelated things into one amendment which makes it even more difficult for careful people to parse out their votes. One section of a proposal might sound great, but the rest is terrible. Or like 6 the amendment may have a ton of great ideas but then ending up striking down someone’s constitutional rights.

I may or may not get down to the polls this year. Life’s been crazy lately and it’s hard to get even time for myself, much less time for my “civic duty”. Plus it takes time to read through the amendments and not just rely on the opinions of others to make my decisions. So if I do, I will let you know how it goes.

If not, oh well.

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Daily Thoughts #7

A whole week? Wow, I’m glad I could keep this up!

It’s the birthday of ‘Murica. I may not be a flag waving super statist, but I would consider myself a bit patriotic. Being a fan of the culture and spirit of a people is different from being a fan of a government. Being a Nationalist is different from being a patriot.

Our government has long ceased to be a government of, by, and for the people. It’s not hard to separate the populace from the beast.

I am rather happy to live in a place that has relatively less government interference than the rest of the world. So, happy birthday, America! Let’s work to reduce that interference even more in the coming year.

Radiator update: I’m just buying a new one. Why spend $30 on repair nonsense that may not work when you can get an entirely new radiator for $55?

EBT: The Crutch That Keeps On Crippling

I’m hesitant to write this, because it’s a bit embarrassing. Especially considering my position on the State in general.

We are on food stamps.

There, I said it.

One of the reasons I started doing all those odd jobs and writing a series on them is that through several life choices and bad financial decisions we found ourselves in debt and falling behind. Not necessarily insurmountable amounts, but enough that food became something we skimped on.

After several years of stretching a food budget of $100/week to feed a family of seven, we decided that instead of continuing to be hungry a lot, we would rather get into the very system we hate and use the money saved to try to dig out of this debt. It wasn’t an easy choice. Once the card got to us it wasn’t easy to go into the store and face the cashier with it. Being fed with someone else’s money is embarrassing.

But we didn’t intend to stay on SNAP. We intended to improve our situation.

However, now that we have used the system, I am convinced it is not there to help people out of a bad situation. I am convinced that it is merely a system to shovel money into people’s laps whether they need it or not. It is hoped that by dumping this money into the hands of needy people the State will come out looking like a benevolent nanny, leading people out of poverty and somehow stimulatong the economy with money that it removed from the economy in the first place.

Why am I convinced of this?

Well, for one, the whole setup disincentivises work. Just like my experience with unemployment, SNAP reduces its benefits commensurate with any increase in income. That increase in income could be as simple as a few extra overtime hours, or a bonus for working harder. This adjustment is of course intended to make sure benefits only go to those who truly need it. Obviously anyone who works hard and makes more money doesn’t need the help. The obvious unintended consequence of this is that people only work as much as they have to to ensure they keep the maximum benefit. Why work more when one knows one will lose a certain amount of “free” money?

The other interesting effect of having our SNAP benefit reduced commensurate with an increase (even temporarily) in pay is that now we have less money to pay back debts and dig ourselves out of the hole. Sure, our monthly income increased by $600 for that month, but instead of having that money available for reducing debt and pulling ourselves out of the hole, we have to spend that extra on groceries instead. And since that increase was only temporary, once a normal paycheck comes in, we are back to our original $100/week budget, and square one.

SNAP is a crutch, but instead of being a crutch that helps families heal from financial difficulties, this crutch just keeps them crippled by reducing incentives to work and reducing the ability to make any headway in paying down debts.

I have a few suggestions for this program, not that anyone with any power will listen.

The first is this: hire financial advisors. Ask SNAP applicants about their debt, ask them about their income, ask them about their monthly food budget. Find out what they are going to do with the money they save on food. Are they going to pay down debt? Are they going to get an education? What are they doing with their subsidy? Help them formulate a plan to improve their situation so they can get off of the system.

The second: don’t reduce benefits because of overtime, bonuses, or temporary increases in earnings. Instead, track what the SNAP user is doing with that extra income. If they squander it, perhaps there is a reason to reduce benefits. If they are using it to better themselves, don’t knock their legs out from under them by reducing their food allowance.

Third: base benefits off of base income. This goes hand in hand with the last one. If benefits are based on base salary the incentive to work overtime remains the same.

Fourth: eliminate the system altogether. This may be the least politically correct way to handle the problem but it would force local communities to do something about hungry people in their midst. It may also create an incentive to form insurance type food programs. Members pay a monthly fee to a “food insurance” type program which pays them back a weekly stipend for times when money is tight.

Personally I long for the day when I am debt free and financially stable. We thought SNAP would help with that goal, we couldn’t have been more wrong.

Imperialism and Hobbes

Yes, I am bringing up Hobbes again. Since we have decided to drop bombs on Syria (again) it seems apt to point out that Hobbes would blame us all for the deaths of innocents abroad. In fact, Hobbes would also blame the Syrians themselves for whatever their dictator did. Come to think of it, in the world of Hobbes there are no innocents.

Over the past couple of days I have seen people saying that Trump voters have blood on their hands, only to be told that they, as non-voters, also have blood on their hands.

Isn’t it great to live in a world where no matter what you believe or do, you are “responsible” for the deaths of thousands and millions?

Thank you, Hobbes, for planting in our heads this ridiculous idea that just because we are born in a certain geographic region under a certain tyrant we are somehow not only subject to his whims but responsible for his sins. Thanks for giving us this preposterous idea that tyranny is legitimate as long as it is passed down successively under a set of rules laid down two hundred years ago.

Eleven Years

Source

Today marks eleven years since the shooting at Virginia Tech. Eleven years since my alma mater was rocked by what was then the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

In the past eleven years we have witnessed many more of these types of incidents. We have continued to blame guns, we have continued to blame mental illness, we have continued to blame “the system”, we have continued to blame violent media. We have blamed everything we can think of. We want to know “why”. Why do these things happen?

There isn’t really a simple answer to why these horrible incidents occur. Humans are sinful, we find ways to commit more and more heinous sins. We have been killing each other throughout history. So why the sudden uptick?

Is there really a sudden uptick? Are we really killing people now at a rate higher than any other time in history? Or is it simply more taboo? Is it simply more obvious in an age of 24 hour news and political commentary?

Governments kill millions of people. They always have been in the business of killing. They spend billions of dollars procured (by force) to invent new and more horrific ways to kill people. They spend millions more in propaganda to dehumanize those they consider “enemies.”

With so much murder being promoted by the “leaders” of the world, is it any wonder that so many in the ranks of society are more than willing to kill others for their own reasons? After all, the politicians are supposed to represent us. Doesn’t their violence simply reflect the violence of those they represent? Could it be that their “leadership” creates a world where killing other humans is perfectly acceptable as long as one can create a justification for it?

Perhaps if we want to create a peaceful society where killing people is not an option for those who feel “bullied” or neglected by others we should start at the top and stop killing people for not being a part of our “team”.

If we want to stop the indiscriminate killing of students in our high schools or colleges we should probably stop the indiscriminate killing of those who just happen to live in areas of the world ruled by jerks our government doesn’t like.

I don’t mean to downplay or dishonor the lives of the 32 killed that day in 2007. Those were innocent individuals. They had no reason to die. They should be honored, as all life should be.

All life should be honored because all life is sacred. That honoring of life should start at the top of society and work its way down through the ranks. If the leaders of this world honored life, how much more would those under that leadership value it?

Stop blaming guns, mental illness, systems, or media, start looking at your “leaders” instead.

Anarchy and Hobbes

Since I have free time now, I’ve been able to go back and re-read some of the books that influenced my political thinking. One of these books is “The World’s Great Thinkers, Man and The State”. It’s a compilation of political thought from Hobbes to Marx.

The contribution of Hobbes to this compilation comes from the second part of his work Leviathan:“Of Commonwealth”. In this treatise, Hobbes lays down the foundation on which the State is formed. Basically he argues that in order to live peaceably, natural man must come together in covenant and give up their individual rights to a sovereign who rules as their representative.

He gives a long list of rights to this sovereign, most of which are not rights which individuals have. This begs the question: “How can the sovereign representative be conferred rights which the individual man does not possess?”

The individual does not possess the right to levy taxes on his neighbors to pay for a road or the defense of his personal property. He does not possess the right to censor by force his neighbor’s thoughts and beliefs. He does not have the right to put his neighbor to death simply for disagreeing with him. How does he transfer rights which he does not have to his representation? Surely that representative should be restricted to the same limitations as those whom he represents.

Hobbes argues that natural man is in a perpetual state of war, which necessitates the formation of bodies politic to “keep (men) in awe, and to direct their actions to the common benefit.” It seems to me that he essentially gives to the sovereign the freedom to act as an exaggerated natural man, using violence and war to institute the “will of the people”.

The formation of Commonwealths does not relieve man of the problem of war, it merely elevates war. War is perpetual in the Commonwealth, as the sovereign must use violence and coercion to keep “peace” among the subjects.

Even if the original covenant was made voluntarily, as Hobbes describes it, it surely cannot be binding to future generations of those who did not personally assent to be subject to the sovereign in power. Force must be initiated to keep those subjects in line, force which is not in the rights of individuals to use.

While I concur with Hobbes that natural man is prone to violence, I disagree with the premise that natural man should bind together to give another natural man or group of natural men the authority to wage war for them. It seems predictably dangerous to do so. Concentrating the violent tendencies of natural men into one central power does nothing to end war, it just makes war a regional thing instead of a local matter between individuals.

I believe that a better state of being exists when individuals retain their own rights. Even Hobbes understands that man will cooperate in order to better his position in life. There is no reason to believe man has to centralize power into the hands of one man or group of men. Man cooperates just fine without the use of coercion or warfare.

Anarchy is not lawlessness. It is simply a lack of centralized force. Anarchy does not plunge us back into warfare as Hobbes contends. It places us back into the position we were in prior to forming commonwealths, that is, a state in which we may voluntarily cooperate and form whatever agreements we wish with our fellow men, without coercion.

From my reading, Hobbes makes a better case for why we shouldn’t form commonwealths than for why we should support them.