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This is the archive for August 2005

Monday, August 29, 2005

I received the following email in regards to the ongoing work of a semi-well known libertarian author. This is not a scam, it comes from a known (libertarian/objectivist) source. (I've redacted the author's name)
I am sending this e-mail to you because I think you may be interested in assisting ******** complete his major work on freedom. I have been aware for some time that **** is currently in the midst of
his most ambitious book. It is intended to be a major work on freedom. I expect it will be a big seller. However, **** called me today and informed me he is having financial difficulties because the book is taking longer than expected. I proposed to him that he allow me to solicit contributions in the amount of $500.00 from selected people. In exchange for the contribution, **** will mention your name in the book's acknowledgements section as well as send you an autographed copy expressing
his personal thanks. I have pledged the first $500. This is a time sensitive issue. If you are so inclined, please mail to me a check ...

I like the author's previous work, and I would like to see this project come to fruition, but I find the underlying premise of the letter offensive. What kind of objectivist begs for donations to complete a commercial venture? I can almost see asking for donations for political work when the value received can be neither quantified nor guaranteed, but for writing a book expected to be a "big seller"?

I sent the following response, in all seriousness.
Based on his reputation from ****, I'll send him $500, for a cut of the proceeds, in writing, and an autographed copy upon publication. Royalty percentage can be negotiated based on projected sales and risk. Please contact me about providing sample chapters, a complete outline, and a detailed verifiable record of progress to date, along with publication timeline, sales projections and copy of letter of intent (or equivalent) from a publisher.

Or does Mr. *****'s notion of freedom not include capitalism? If not, I probably wouldn't even buy a copy let alone invest.

Does anybody have advice on investing in this kind of market? Risks, typical royalties, expected returns etc? (Let me know what such advice will cost me)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

This could be my big break! It seems that the playing field in the fiercely competitive market for hot guys to advertise alcohol in once-Great Britain has been levelled. No more will the hunky likes of George Cloony and Brad Pitt have a monopoly on opportunities to induce English women to swoon their way to the nearest liquor store.

I had to check the date on this Times article, fully expecting it to read April 1st. This is the stuff of parody. But it's for real. I'm struggling to find words to express how agog I am at this. I can't even make it to outrage, because it's so ludicrous. This law is meant to force the entire miserable island to pretend to forget that there is a link between sex and alcohol, not to level the playing field for those with my good looks, but don't tell me that the stupidity of government in both serious critiques and silly parodies is mere exaggeration for literary effect.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go get ready for my new modelling career. Time to crop my long hair so I can craft a proper combover.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention a tip o' the hat to Bureaucrash for this link. I'd offer to tip a pint to them as well, but heaven forbid we establish a link between liquor and politics...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Comments like this bother me, and not only because of the dishonest trick of subtly changing the context so as to bring in an entirely unrelated fact as an argument to the issue at hand. That's a practice not unprecedented from that particular author, and perhaps worthy of another discussion, but it is not what really bothers me about it.

What bothers me is the greater fallacy it implies. There's no doubt that the state, any state, even the most benign state - of which group the current United States Federal State is a member - is evil. And there's no doubt that some states, N. Korea and Iran come to mind immediately, though there are all too many others - are unmitigated evils. But these individual and separate - barely so, for now - United States, and the Federal state, are mitigated evils. Billy Beck has recently written about moral distinctions, and this is a distinction that the author of the above comment, and so many others, quite consistently fail to make.

The state, like any other abstract collection of people, is not an independently existent entity, it is an aggregate of the decisions and actions of individuals. As such, it does not have any power, ability, or interests beyond those of the individuals comprising it. The state, and I'm now referring specifically to the Federal State under which I live, is made up of some very bad people, some very good people, and the vast middle of honestly well-intentioned people with no clue about what is really good or how to acheive it.

It's been said, and I agree, that evil has no power of it's own, that it can only acheive by turning the power of good to its ends. So why does our Federal State seem to have achieved a monolithic evil that transcends the good intentions of the greater bulk of its individual members? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That saying is perhaps far more true than the trite observation on the human condition that it is used for these days.

Good intentions are good, and when combined with the capacity for planning and action inherent to the human mind, have considerable power. But put them in a philosophical vacuum, and that power is open and available to the must ruthless and cunning force with an eye toward using it. Good intentions do indeed pave a road, but good intentions alone cannot plot a course for that road to follow. Hell, in the form of the few truly bad people in government and the influential elite, if allowed to set its course will naturally lead that road to its own home.

To answer every observation of the mitigation of state evil, every instance of a good produced by the state, whether intentional or accidental, with another cry from the mountaintops of "the state is evil" is a failure to make a vitally important moral distinction. That failure leaves one blind to where evil's power comes from, what is controlling that power, and how it is controlled.

If your preferred state of the union is smashed, then you should realilze that you will never acquire a hammer big enough to smash it - not politically, not rhetorically, and not though force of arms. If you want to escape it, then realize that your only possible escape is solitude, and even that is an iffy proposition.

If you want to remove the evil of the state from your society, then you'd better start making distinctions.

Until you break the hold that evil has on the good intentions of your fellow man, you will not break the hold that evil has on your society. You cannot do that until you first realize that they are good intentions, and that they are good. Your cry of "smash the state" in response to every action of the state, good or bad without distinction, is seen, and rightly so, as opposition to good intentions. If you want to smash the state, then start filling the philosophical vacuum that allows evil to turn those good intentions to its own end.

Don't try to convince your well-intentioned fellow man to abandon the state. Instead show him to what ends his good intentions should be put - the ends, not the means. Give him the tools to see that the state is inherently in conflict with his good intentions, and he will remove from evil's grasp the power of his good intentions without your prompting. Then the state will wither on the vine.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach him to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life. This is a concept any good libertarian holds near and dear to his heart. But when it comes to the ideas that drive the world, he wants to give men his ideas rather than teach them to create their own ideas. When it comes to ideas, most Americans don't want handouts - they are repelled quite violently from any suggestion of it. The bad people in our midst have understood this for a long time, they have made the proper distinctions even while teaching the rest of us not to, and it has been their teaching that has allowed so many to create for themselves the evil ideas that have brought us to our current State.