Sunday, May 22, 2016

You Are Supposed to be Offended

Some background: there is an American football team with a team nickname that has been the target of Social Justice Warriors for a few decades – sometime with more intensity, sometimes with less.  The Washington Redskins – a nickname deemed racist and offensive to Native Americans (well, I don’t know that they were native)…er…American Indians (they aren’t from India)…er…well, you know what I mean.

There has been a big push lately regarding the name – legal battles over the trademark, a push by the city of Washington, DC (the team would like to build a new stadium in the city) to change the name, etc.

Well, guess what?

Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.

This result from this most recent poll mirrors a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy.

Responses to The Post’s questions about the issue were broadly consistent regardless of age, income, education, political party or proximity to reservations.

Seven in ten did not find the word disrespectful; eight in ten said they would not be offended if they were called by this name.

I guess they don’t realize that they are supposed to be offended:

The results — immediately…denounced by prominent Native American leaders — could make it that much harder for anti-name activists to pressure Redskins officials…. Suzan Harjo, the lead plaintiff in the first case challenging the team’s trademark protections, dismissed The Post’s findings.

In fact, it is a who’s who of SJWs who feel the 90% are just plain wrong:

[The movement for a name change has garnered] support from President Obama, 50 Democratic U.S. senators, dozens of sports broadcasters and columnists, several newspaper editorial boards (including The Post’s), a civil rights organization that works closely with the National Football League and tribal leaders throughout Indian Country.

The owner of the team, Daniel Snyder, vows never to change the name – he has been consistent throughout his entire tenure as owner.  As testimony to the religious fervor of those who deem it their business to right the wrongs that are virtually imperceptible to the supposed victim group:

Activists, however, have argued that the billionaire must act if even a small minority of Indians are insulted by the term.

To satisfy this almost imperceptible victim group, the vast majority must, instead, be harmed:

Their responses to The Post poll were unambiguous: Few objected to the name, and some voiced admiration.

But their view doesn’t matter.

The Post interviewed more than two dozen of the survey participant:

“I’m proud of being Native American and of the Redskins,” said Barbara Bruce, a Chippewa teacher who has lived on a North Dakota reservation most of her life. “I’m not ashamed of that at all. I like that name.”

This next part is funny:

Bruce, 70, has for four decades taught her community’s schoolchildren, dozens of whom have gone on to play for the Turtle Mountain Community High School Braves.

They call themselves the Braves!

Some attribute the results of the poll to a low self-esteem within the larger community.  Others see much bigger issues as the main contributors to the problems in the community:

Those interviewed highlighted again and again other challenges to their communities that they consider much more urgent than an NFL team’s name: substandard schools, substance abuse, unemployment.


What goes unsaid and remains unsaid: the treatment of this group by the US military and government over the last two centuries – and especially since the end of the Civil War – ranks right up there with some of the worst colonial episodes in western history. 

Take a poll of Native Americans regarding this – I suspect the results will be damning to those who view America as exceptional.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Jacob Hornberger, I See You

Jacob Hornberger has written a column on open borders. He doesn’t mention my name, but it is pretty clear to whom he is writing.  I won’t go through Hornberger’s post line by line; instead, I will focus on his challenge.  Forgive the lengthy quote, but the full challenge must be presented:

Consider the following hypothetical. Ever since I presented it many years ago, there has not been one single libertarian advocate of government-controlled borders who has ever been able to refute the principles set forth in the hypothetical. Unless and until any libertarian advocate of government-controlled borders successfully refutes the principles set forth in this hypothetical, the government-controlled borders paradigm will continue to stand as fatally flawed.

Two brothers own adjoining ranches in New Mexico, one on the Mexican side of the border and one on the U.S. side. There is no fence dividing the ranches. There is only an imaginary line known as the U.S.-Mexico border, which also demarks the property line between the two ranches. There is a U.S. highway that runs east-west and abuts the northern border of the U.S. brother’s property. The highway is located 10 miles from the border.

One day, the American brother invites the Mexican brother to come to his home for dinner. The Mexican brother accepts.

Under libertarian principles, do they have the right to do that? Of course they do. Their actions are entirely peaceful. They’re not burglarizing, stealing, murdering, or otherwise violating the libertarian non-aggression principle.

Is the Mexican brother guilty of trespass? Of course not. Trespass is when a person goes onto another person’s property without the owner’s consent and permission. The Mexican brother is going to where he has been invited.

The principles (including the principles that are implied) can’t be refuted, because the principles are pure libertarian theory (absent the coincident state border between their properties, as there is no way to derive state borders from libertarian theory).  If all we need do is agree on theory, we can stop here.

However, Hornberger offered a hypothesis; let’s test it in the real world to see if it is true.  I will break down Hornberger’s hypothetical into its main – and relevant to libertarian theory – components:

1)      The implied first step is that the government has no say about who crosses political borders.
2)      Pete invites his brother Miguel to his property.
3)      Pete places a condition on this invitation – it is an invitation for dinner.
4)      Miguel accepts the invitation.
5)      Pete finalizes the agreement by allowing Miguel into his home and serving him dinner.
6)      The implied last step is that Miguel will not be a burden to any of Pete’s neighbors.

In other words, individuals voluntarily make and accept invitations; they may also set conditions on the invitation.   How can any libertarian disagree with this?  I don’t.

Now, how does that hypothetical construct work in today’s world of state borders?  The German government has, at least for a time last year, removed almost all conditions for transiting borders – step one from above.  This is why I keep pointing to it for libertarian open-borders advocates to deal with.  (By the way, Jacob, none have).

So, let’s go to the German real as opposed to Hornberger’s hypothetical.  The government removed all restrictions (I know, not all and not permanently, but as close as we have seen in this world in some time).  But where is the voluntary invitation?  Where is the conditionality?  What is libertarian about no one having to offer an invitation but the visitors / immigrants come anyway?  In other words: where is Hornberger’s complete hypothetical – six steps?

Now, you might say “bionic, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” or some such ancient Chinese saying.  “The government has fully opened the borders; let’s give the government time to make it a fully voluntary system.” And I would agree in theory (while I was belly-laughing at the thought in reality), unless one concludes the remaining steps have little chance to be implemented in any case and no chance to be implemented if the first step is taken without the rest.  Let me explain….

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Condescending Reply to Francisco

Today must be my day to reply at some length to comments from my Libertarian Open Borders: Oxymoron in Theory and Practice post.  This reply is to Francisco Torres, with the discussion beginning at May 17, 2016 at 4:05 PM.

In reply to his initial comment, I suggested he do some catching up on what I have written in the past before he yells at me about all of the things I haven’t written.  He replied that he has read it all, and he holds the same objections, yelling once again about things I haven’t written.   So this time I decided to dedicate a full post to answering his points.

I've been reading your columns whenever they're posted by Lew Rockwell or Robert Wenzel, FOR YEARS.

Thank you for reading.  Let’s test that out.

For instance, this:" Libertarian theory does not recognize open borders when it comes to property."

This is conflating property boundaries with the political borders placed by the State.

As I have written in the column above, which you have so carefully read: “There is no “state” in libertarian theory.”

Perhaps you missed that one in your careful reading.  So…how can I be conflating anything along the lines you suggest?  There is no room for “state” in libertarian theory; therefore there cannot be state borders.  There are only private borders in libertarian theory.  Try as some minarchists might, you cannot derive even minimal government (as the term is commonly used today) from the NAP.

That is NOT what you're talking about. If *I* want to RENT, EMPLOY or MARRY a foreigner, who are YOU to tell me I *CAN'T*?

You are yelling at me about what I am talking about?  Don’t be so sure about what I am talking about, and then double down by yelling at me.  Since you have read every word, please find one place where I have written that I would stop any two individuals from a voluntary transaction.  I will save you the trouble.  You won’t find one.

Because that is what you're saying: "... immigrants aren’t moving to the top of the Alps[.]" This is arguing that the only good immigrants are those who homestead completely unclaimed land.

Once again, Francisco, I must question your careful reading skills – both regarding this column and the previous columns which you state you have read.  You will note, in this column, that comment was directed toward Walter Block; in other words, there is context.  He has written before on the idea of immigrants moving to unclaimed land as acceptable under the NAP.  As I have written before – and now again in this post – the problem with applying Walter’s theory to today’s reality is that this is not what immigrants are doing (even if one grants that deserts or mountain peaks are unclaimed).

The difference, Bionic Mosquito, is that I don't pretend to PROJECT my property boundaries to the whole area encompassing a NATION only because I happen to find foreigners icky.

I have written in the past (and in this subject post) that the only option in today’s world for anyone calling for open, closed or managed borders is to call on the state – there is no “good” libertarian option in today’s world.  Does this mean I am pleased with this reality?  If you think so, find where I have written such a thing – in all of your reading of my work, you must have come across something.

I will save you the trouble: you cannot.

Further, and you certainly must have seen it in all of your careful reading as I have made this point too many times to count: I have the right to manage who comes on my property.  My neighbors and I have the right to jointly agree to a common structure of managing who enters our community.

Touching Red Sonja

“No man touches Red Sonja! Death to the Man-Spider!”
-        Red Sonja (Earth-616)

I will try to avoid that fate!

I will address several comments from Sonja Cramer, beginning May 16, 2016 at 1:01 PM.

In general Sonja’s main point appears to be that no one owns anything and libertarian theorists must develop a proper theory of property ownership else all other concerns are a waste of energy.  While it is possible that this observation is so completely profound that it is beyond my understanding, for now I find this an unnecessary and pointless exercise and will explain why further on.

Rather than the dubious claim that the "taxpayers" are the owners…

I will assume that you are referring to my statements regarding what is known as government-owned (but actually government-controlled) property – the peaks of the Rockies, the western deserts, etc.  I must assume this as it is the only context in which I have referred to anything in this vein.

I am writing of the legal theory of the case consistent with the NAP, and I argue that in theory the taxpayers are the legal owners.  What do you suggest?  The government certainly controls such lands, but one cannot assume that control means ownership.  A thief controls the stolen goods – it doesn’t make him the owner.  The owners is still the owner – he no longer has control of his property, nothing more.

We could suggest that no one owns such lands; this is Block’s position as best as I understand it, although on a different basis than yours.  The best I can make of your position is that no one owns anything – even if I grant it true for today it says nothing about libertarian-based legal theory.

There is no justifiable property ownership in the current paradigm of masters and slaves. Tradition, and customs, and homesteading do not cut it.

Are we talking theory or practice…?

In practice, all you are doing is adding more weight to my view – in the world of state control, open borders is no more “libertarian” than any other option.

In theory, there is often value in discussing and exploring theory.  But not on the question you raise (to be kind, let’s just say I certainly don’t see it).  “Property” will be defined socially; to think otherwise is a utopian notion.

My question to you – say a libertarian theorist comes up with the perfect theory to justify property ownership: what good would it do in this (or any other) paradigm?

More generally, libertarian theorists such as Walter Block and Murray Rothbard have not provided a framework for justifiable property ownership. This deficiency should be priority one for "libertarian theorists."

I find zero value in this exercise; you obviously see otherwise and I would welcome further explanation.  My view is that this will be defined by different communities in different ways – even in different otherwise likeminded libertarian communities; it has been true for all of human history and will be true for as long as humans have a future – they have no reason to listen to Block’s apparently yet-to-be-developed theories.  If other groups are satisfied with their own framework, what do you care?  Why do you want to define it for them?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Rotting Pile of Damp Wood

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is upset.  He is upset with the IMF.  He is upset with the US Treasury Department.  He is upset with Barack Obama.  You might say he was gutted.  What has caused him to be so cheesed off?

If the International Monetary Fund and its co-conspirators in the Treasury wish to deter undecided voters from flirting with Brexit, they have certainly failed in my case.

They have each told the Brits what to do about Brexit.

Having listened to their irritating lectures, I am more inclined to opt for defiance, for their mask of objectivity has fallen.

Ambrose is joining the club – seen most overtly in the reaction to Trump’s campaign: every time some supposed authoritarian speaks, telling us what to do, many decide that the opposite – no matter how crazy sounding – is probably the right choice.

There can no longer be any doubt that they are playing politics with the democratic self-determination of this country.

Ambrose, there never was any doubt.  Not just for your country – for any country.  When politicians are involved, they are always playing politics.  You can’t be so daft.

He finds that figures don’t lie, but liars figure.  The IMF reports that the price of credit default swaps on UK sovereign debt has increased a good amount since all this nonsense about Brexit began.  What the IMF doesn’t point out – but Ambrose does – is that the cost of credit default swaps has increased for the sovereign debt of several major economies around the world during this same time.

He then goes down to tear the IMF a new arsehole:

Perhaps it is churlish to point out that the IMF completely missed the onset of the global financial crisis, and was blindsided when the US fell into recession in November 2007. The Fund’s staff were still predicting sunlit uplands as far as the eye could see, even when the blackest of black storms was upon them.

They missed only the biggest global economic event since at least the end of World War II.

Its forecasts for Greece were wrong every single year following the rescue of the euro and the North European banking system in 2010, otherwise known by some cruel twist of language as the Greek bail-out.

They originally said the Greek economy would contract by 2.6pc in 2010 and then recover briskly. What actually happened – as predicted at the time by the Indian member of the IMF board – was the most spectacular collapse of a developed economy in the post-war era.

Output ultimately fell by 26pc from peak to trough. To its credit, the IMF later admitted that it had horribly misjudged the fiscal multiplier. Indeed.

Wow!  He’s really full of beans!

He then tears apart about a dozen IMF strawmen regarding what will happen to British trade, etc.  He does so smashingly.

Instead of compelling economic analysis, the IMF is offering up pavement pizza according to Ambrose:

There may be compelling reasons for Britain to remain in the EU, but they have nothing to do with the bogus claims advanced today by the IMF. So take your rotting pile of damp wood elsewhere Madame Lagarde.

So, has he given up on this monstrosity?

I don’t wish [to] denigrate the Fund. It remains a superb institution.


Oh.  OK.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Libertarian Open Borders: Oxymoron in Theory and Practice

Angela Merkel’s open borders policy continues to pay dividends in the destruction of open borders as a libertarian concept.  But before I come to “practice,” I will revisit “theory.”


There is no “state” in libertarian theory.  The only “borders” are the borders that divide private property, one privately-owned parcel from another.

Libertarian theory does not recognize open borders when it comes to property.  Property is private and exclusionary.  Is your property open to anyone who wants to come on it?  Now, this doesn’t mean “closed” is the only other possibility.  Is your property closed to everyone?

Access to property is managed.  Not only is this perfectly compatible with libertarian theory, it is the only acceptable application of libertarian theory.  (If a property owner chooses his border to be “open,” he is still managing his border.)

What of property that isn’t owned by anyone?  Certainly, this property is available for anyone to claim, according to the customs (call them laws, regulations, whatever – but not limited solely to homesteading) of the region and if the property owners between the individual and the unowned property allow him travel to the unowned property.

So, that’s it for theory: borders are managed, not open.  By definition, unowned land is land without a border – something without a border by definition cannot have an open border.  It is just open.


Now on to the German gift that keeps on giving.  You will recall that Merkel said all are welcome, no stopping them, no questions asked (she has since backtracked a little, mostly by hiding behind Austrians and others, but the object lesson remains).  You cannot get more open than this.  How is it going so far?

Germany's government expects to spend around 93.6 billion euros by the end of 2020 on costs related to the refugee crisis…

That doesn’t sound very libertarian.

The report said that 25.7 billion euros ($29.07 billion) would be needed for jobless payments, rent subsidies and other benefits for recognized asylum applicants by the end of 2020.

“Now bionic, you are complaining about government subsidies – these should be dealt with on their own, and not on the back of the refugees.  After all, local Germans get similar subsidies.”

Do you realize how non-libertarian that sounds?  But, OK, I will play along.

Another 5.7 billion euros would be needed for language courses and 4.6 billion euros would be required for measures to help migrants get jobs, it added.

Language courses?  These aren’t necessary for Germans – as they already speak German.  Aid to get a job – isn’t this what German schools and their well-developed apprentice programs already do?

No, there is nothing libertarian about open borders in practice.

I Can Hear Walter Block Now

“bionic, the government doesn’t own any land.  What if the immigrants go to the deserts or the top of the mountains?”

Sounds good in theory.  What about practice?  There are some problems with this.  First, while it is true that the government doesn’t own land, it does not follow that nobody owns the land.  Even government controlled land has labor applied to it – labor paid for by the taxpayers of the country.  It is to the taxpayers that the land belongs – ask Ragnar Danneskjöld.

You don’t like that?  Then try this: immigrants aren’t moving to the top of the Alps; they aren’t roughing it north of the Arctic Circle.  They are moving to the cities, the developed parts of the country, using resources that you will pay for whether you want to or not. 

An immigrant moving to the deserts or the mountaintops carving out an independent life in the new world can be OK in libertarian theory; it doesn’t happen in practice.  The €100MM that Germany is going to spend is €100MM that was not going to be spent otherwise.


Open borders is bad libertarian theory and can only be implemented by initiating force in practice.  Once advocates of open borders recognize and accept this, perhaps the dialogue on this topic can finally move along toward some meaningful ends. 

In this world, that will require including in the discussion some concepts that libertarian theory does not directly address.  As if this is the only topic where this is true.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Any Ideas?

You will recall the FIFA scandal – as if it was news that international football had a dark side involving backroom deals and bags of cash.  For some reason the US government was involved in the investigations and arrests of officials governing a sport barely noticed in the US, with their home base in Zurich.

Today, a new Secretary General is selected to govern FIFA:

FIFA broke new ground by appointing a Senegalese United Nations official as its first female and first non-European secretary general on Friday.

Female, black.

Fatma Samoura has no experience working in sports…

No experience in sports.

But Samoura, who speaks French, English, Spanish, and Italian, appears to have no experience dealing with commercial deals and broadcasters — a key part of the job as FIFA's top administrator.

No experience in commercial transactions.

There is more to this story than equal employment laws on steroids.

Was this the plan all along?  Is this why the arrests were made in the first place?

Perhaps international governing bodies are gradually going to be moved under UN auspices? 

Is it as simple as FIFA making a hire that buys cover?  Someone with no business experience such that the money skimming can continue under the shield provided by political correctness?

What is it?  Any ideas?