Zuckerberg Embraces the Establishment

There are two obvious branches of the economy.  There is the market economy, entirely benevolent in nature and identified by its voluntary and mutually beneficial transactions, its natural coordination of scarce resources, and its ability to increase prosperity.  And the political economy which is entirely malevolent in nature, and is identified by its reliance on coercion and force, its bureaucratic inefficiencies, and its manipulation of fear, greed, and envy to serve the ends of a select few.

Actors in both spheres of the economy are driven by a desire to better their own lives, the lives of their loved ones, and their community around them.

In the market economy, individuals compete to sell goods and services to other individuals.  These voluntary transactions are mutually beneficial to all parties involved the vast majority of the time precisely due to their voluntary nature (no party would voluntarily enter into the transaction unless they felt they were being served through it).  Rising to the top in the market economy is immensely difficult, and staying there is precarious.  The market moves quickly, and one tiny innovation or improvement in production efficiency can topple even the largest of giants.

This explains why wealthy people who have succeeded in the market economy often find themselves attracted to the political economy.  There are no guarantees in the market economy.  In the political economy, though; the future for those who are able to enter into it or become partners with those in control is much more certain.

Mark Zuckerberg is steadily embracing the political economy.  He built an amazing company, fundamentally transformed communication, created thousands of jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurial marketing, and made a vast fortune for himself.  He recently became the 6th richest man in the world – so he’s got nothing to worry about financially for himself and his family for at least the next generation or two.  Still, despite being in a better financial position than all but 5 people in the world, it appears that Mr. Zuckerberg’s confidence in the long-term may not be as high as it should be.  To boost his confidence, evidence continues to pile up showing that he is indeed embracing the political economy, the establishment, and the powers possessed by the elite.

When a person reaches the level that Zuckerberg has, the world becomes much smaller.  Doors open up that the average person doesn’t even know how to find.  Meetings with political elites at the highest level become routine.  There is a level of access to the levers of power in the world that the rest of us will never even come close to.  Getting to that level allows the richest and most powerful people in the world to influence and even control decision making of national and world governments.  When sitting at these “decision making” tables, the individuals involved do what individuals do – make deals to better their own lives, and the lives of their loved ones.

What do such people have to offer each other?  The better question would be what DON’T they have to offer.  Multi-billionaires like Zuckerberg can fund campaigns, donate huge sums to national committees, and offer the services of whatever their company specializes in.  Politicians and powerful government officials can pass laws, write regulations, alter tax codes, and directly and indirectly manipulate the market economy.Meme

In Zuckerberg’s case, his Facebook is one of the largest platforms for dissemination of information.  Governments and the people who run them desire control over information in order to effectively push their agendas.  There is no question that Zuckerberg is doing the bidding of those in power with regards to censoring information on his site.  From working for Angel Merkel and the German government to suppress knowledge of problems stemming from middle eastern immigration, to censoring “conservative” news and viewpoints, to banning and threatening individuals and pages that violate “community standards”, to removing harmless anti-Hillary Clinton memes.

Focusing on the last item from the paragraph above, it is readily apparent that Zuckerberg is overtly censoring views that deviate from those favored by the establishment.  Liberty Memes, a Facebook group that recently broached 100k likes, produced a hilarious, simple, accurate, and devastating meme in the wake of the FBI’s announcement that Hillary wouldn’t face indictment.  The meme was blowing up, and had garnered 10k likes, 50k shares, and 4 million views before it was removed by Facebook.

Regarding what can be said about public figures, Facebook’s community standards says:

Attacks on Public Figures: What protection public figures receive on Facebook.

We permit open and critical discussion of people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience based on their profession or chosen activities. We remove credible threats to public figures, as well as hate speech directed at them – just as we do for private individuals.”

Anyone who is willing to buy the line that this meme was a “credible threat” or “hate speech” is probably also in line to purchase a bridge in Brooklyn.  Clearly, a partnership has been formed between Zuckerberg and the establishment.  He gets to protect his billions, and they get to protect the flow of ideas & information.

So what should be done about this?  The short answer: nothing.  Facebook is a private company, and they should have the right to limit content however they see fit.  They don’t force anyone to use their service, their service is provided for free, and it has for the most part been a positive addition to society.

The long answer is more nuanced.  Zuckerberg first of all should be applauded for attempting to avoid paying as much taxes as he can.  It’s his money.  He earned it.  It certainly will be put to better use in his hands than in the hands of some government bureaucracy.  The problem is not entirely with Zuckerberg.  It is with government.  Only an institution that is funded by violence and coercion, that has the power to pull levers and twist knobs to manipulate the economy to their desire, and that can choose winners and losers within the economy is able to attract and ultimately control the richest people in the world.

If this power structure did not exist, market manipulation and favor trading between elites would become a relic “in the dustbin of history.”  Without the risk of losing big chunks of his fortune to taxation, Zuckerberg would not have the incentive to allow elite figures to control content and information on his site.  Without a central authority that has the power to regulate and tax, there would be no government elites for Zuckerberg to lobby and make deals with to protect his business.

Even though nothing should be done to force Facebook to change is its ways, there is plenty that can be done to persuade it to do so.  The market economy is powerful.  Competition is high in the social media market, and there have been signs that Facebook’s market share is shrinking.  This is the power that we have.  We can complain and protest.  And if The Zuck causes us enough angst, we can leave.  What we can’t do is use force.  Force and violence is the way of evil people.  Force and violence is the way of the government.

In order to eliminate the favors for favors relationship between the rich and the powerful, their levers of power must be taken away.  This is not likely to happen in the short run.  It may not happen until a complete collapse of the US empire.  Regardless, the most important work that we can do today is to spread the ideals of freedom, liberty, responsibility, and the power of the market economy.

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My Journey to the Philosophy of Anarcho-Capitalism

Bill Clinton vs Bob Dole in 1996 was the first presidential election that I remember. It was during this campaign season that I first learned the phrase “the lesser of two evils.” My parents were typical conservative republicans and though they weren’t overly enthusiastic about Dole, they thought that his brand of evil was more tolerable than Clinton’s brand of evil.

Another concept I first learned during this election was the idea of a “single-issue voter.” Though the phrase wasn’t explicitly used, the reason Dole was thought to be a lesser evil than Clinton was his opposition to abortion. That alone was reason enough to support Dole regardless of his stance on other issues. In that time and up until the 2008 elections, I hadn’t thought about or formulated my own political opinions. I had more or less taken up the ideology that I was brought up with in my family. However, I do recall being less than satisfied with the idea of voting for the “lesser of two evils.”

Starting college in fall 2005, I slowly started leaning more liberal democrat with thoughts such as “everyone should get free healthcare” and that sort of thing. It was also during this time that I began to see the problems with the war on drugs. During primary season, a friend pointed out to me two candidates who were advocating for the complete legalization of marijuana – Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.

There was something about Ron Paul that drew me to him more so than Kucinich. He was candid and unafraid to voice unpopular opinions. As was true for so many others, his “Giuliani Moment,” was life changing for me, and opened my eyes to the immorality and criminality of US foreign policy. Those in power are constantly preaching that they are keeping us safe with their wars and foreign interventions. In reality with every bomb that is dropped, and every innocent person that is killed, the US is inciting hatred and provoking blowback.

Aside from the war issue, he was he only candidate who ever referred to the Federal Reserve. He was the sole voice speaking about monetary policy, and he explained how inflation and boom/bust cycles are not natural phenomena in an economy. Rather, they are a predictable result of central banking manipulation of the supply of money. His stances on war and on the Fed were the two greatest lessons I’ve ever learned, and started me down the path of fighting for liberty.

When Ron Paul eventually dropped out of the 2008 race, I was drawn to Barack Obama because he sounded a lot like Ron when it came to foreign policy. He was promising to end wars, bring troops home, rein in executive power to declare war, and close down Guantanamo. I let myself believe in the message of “Hope and Change,” and it was then a proud moment to pull the lever and cast my vote for Obama.

Midway through Obama’s first term, it was evident that he had made false promises. He either didn’t have the power to fulfill his promises, or he didn’t have the desire. Either way, it was during these years that I decided I wouldn’t get fooled again.

It was also during his first term that I began referring to myself as a libertarian. It was increasingly clear that government, especially big government, was the root cause of so many problems. My distrust of the state grew. Obama’s (and Hillary’s) Libyan War was another major turning point in my views on the US military. I read how Gaddafi’s regime was using weapons against the rebels that had been supplied by the US. I read how the rebels that the US was backing were comprised of jihadist fighters who were veterans of the US war in Iraq. How could the US be on the side of Al-Qaeda? Weren’t these the same people who flew planes into the WTC towers? Weren’t these the same people that the US had just lost 5,000 lives fighting against in Iraq and Afghanistan? Then after the US toppled Gaddafi, the Libyan government’s stockpile of weapons fell right into those jihadists’ hands. This played a direct role in the rise to power of Al-Nusra in Syria and in the creation of ISIS. Could the government really be this stupid? Or were they deliberate in their criminality? Regardless, it had become an institution that I feared more than cheered.

Aside from having my eyes opened to the ridiculous foreign policy of the US government, I was also coming to a more crystalline realization that domestic policy was equally farcical. In 2009, I began my first full time job after graduating college. I saw first-hand the problems associated with artificial government regulations, I was confronted with the concept of taxation as theft, and I began to see the problems associated with mandatory unionization of employees.

During the 2012 election, I became a part of the “Ron Paul or none at all” coalition. I was not going to be voting for the lesser of two evils. I donated to his campaign, passed out information on street corners, made the case for him on social media, and went to hear him speak when he come locally – dragging my parents along with me. During a Q&A session at a luncheon that I attended, a person asked him, “I find that I agree with you on virtually everything, what should I do to help bring about the changes that you speak about?” Ron’s answer was perfect. He said simply, “Do what you want to do. Do whatever makes you happy.”

As had become a staple of his speeches, it was not up to him to tell people what to do, nor was it the responsibility of government to make decisions in the lives of people. His advice was that if you’ve become a believer in the philosophy of freedom, the best thing you can do is to educate yourself. To read as much as possible. And, when confident in your knowledge and ability to refute those who would argue against freedom, to spread the ideas of liberty. I took that message to heart, and have been trying to follow that advice ever since.

Ron Paul’s GOP debate debate performances were nothing short of spectacular (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). When his campaign was finally over, it became the work of the millions he had inspired to assist him in carrying the torch for freedom. Reading was my priority. I consumed all the greats including Bastiat, Hazlitt, Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, Napolitano, and Woods. I read article after article on LewRockwell.com, Antiwar.com, Mises.org, and Fee.org. I simply could not get enough. It was like coming out of The Matrix.

In libertarian circles, there’s a joke that goes, “what’s the difference between a libertarian and an anarchist? About six months.” This became true for me. The more I read, the more I became convinced that the state is always a hindrance to human prosperity and an enemy of peace. It does not matter how the state is arranged or who is in power, everything that the state does is always a drain on wealth and on the productive capacities of free people.

Anarchy is a word that comes with negative connotations in the main stream. That anarchy has come to be synonymous with chaos is sad, and goes to show the ability of those in power to co-opt words and to skew language to their benefit. The true definition of anarchy is simply the lack of a ruling class. Anarcho-capitalism, the philosophy popularized by the great Murray Rothbard, is much wider in context. It is the philosophy of true and complete freedom in every aspect of life. Its guiding lessons include the non-aggression principle, property rights, and free market economics.

Every person has a right to their life, liberty, and justly acquired property. Aggression against another is never justified except in cases of self-defense, to achieve restitution, and in certain cases of retaliation. Economic resources are scarce, and as such, they should always be put toward their most efficient use as desired by the will of society.

That last point is often used as justification for central planning and state authority. How else would scarce resources be put to the best possible use? But this is a fallacy. The free market, comprised of the collective voluntary transactions and interactions between all individuals is the only way to effectively use Earth’s scarce resources. The collective knowledge of billions of free individuals will always be greater than the collective knowledge of a handful of central planners. The price and profit & loss systems that comprise free market economics show how resources will always be put toward the use that is valued most.

This newly acquired knowledge was liberating. Even so, as I began having discussions with people around me, I was still too frequently confronted with arguments that were difficult for me to refute. I knew the arguments I was being presented with were wrong, but I still lacked in ability to respond in a way that satisfied myself intellectually and in a way that could potentially change minds.

The “who would build the roads” argument was simple enough. Others, though; such as “we are the government” and “politicians represent us” were more difficult. The more I read, the more I was comfortable with responding to those arguments. Tom Woods’s podcast, The Tom Woods Show was another major contributing factor to my development, and I would be remiss were I not to give Dr. Woods his due.

Ron Paul ran as a strict constitutionalist, and that is a large part of what attracted me to him. In government schooling, I was taught how great and wise the founding fathers were in drafting the Constitution. That someone would be ridiculed and shunned in the way that Ron was for defending this supposedly revered document struck me.

I have become much more confident in responding to arguments against a stateless society that are presented to me. Politicians cannot truly be our representative, because what is representation? These people “represent” hundreds of thousands of individuals. If another individual and I hold opposing views, how can someone represent the both of us?

The entire premise of government authority is now like something from another planet. What right does 51% have to make laws that the 49% must follow? For that matter, even if every person in the world except one all agreed on a particular issue, what right do they have to tell the one how to live his life?

The questions that people will have when confronted with the ideas of a world without government will be many. While it will be increasingly difficult to answer every possible “what about this” scenario, it will always hold true that the market, the collective actions of millions of free-thinking and free-acting individuals, will be able to provide for any needs that arise.

The philosophy of anarcho-capitalism is so compelling because of its logical, economic, and moral consistency. It never requires one to follow up “I believe in freedom” with “but…” The point I always try to make when engaging people about these ideas is that I don’t want to force freedom and voluntarism on anyone. Ultimately, all I desire is to live with my family in a society free of coercion. I’d never try to force others into that society. If a group of people want to live in a community where they share everything collectively, and all wealth is evenly distributed, they should be free to do so. I only ask that these people do me the same courtesy and allow me to be free of state mandates and edicts.

While I will always be willing to accept smaller government, and a government more in line with the original desires of the Constitution, it has become clear that small, limited government cannot be the end game that is sought. It must be no government. No one should be given power to rule the lives of others. Lysander Spooner said this about the Constitution during the 19th century, “… it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

Top 10 Moronic Political Debates (Part 2, 5-1)

Part 1 of my ‘Top 10 Moronic Political Debates’ can be found here.  The following are the top moronic debates:

(5) Black Lives Matter (BLM) v. All Lives Matter (ALM)

After a series of high profile, highly publicized instances of black men being murdered by police officers, the slogan “Black Lives Matter” has risen to such prominence that it has developed into an international movement, and rightly so. BLM’s problem is marketing. By choosing a slogan that focuses on race, they’ve redirected the narrative away from the issue of police brutality and toward the issue of racism in general. There are people out there who miss the point of BLM’s message, and instead focus on the slogan itself, unable to determine if the slogan means “black lives matter too” or “only black lives matter.” The sad fact that some interpret the slogan to mean the latter has spawned the counter ALM movement. Now the two are becoming diametrically opposed, and the debate is shifting from BLM’s original message.

Both sides are missing the point. Of course black lives matter. Of course all lives matter. Virtually no one would reply in the negative when asked, “Do black lives matter?” Or, “Do all lives matter?” Darren Wilson could be asked the former question, and would likely respond in the affirmative. Both sides need to move beyond the moronic racial argument, and return to the original issue of police brutality. It’s fine to say that black lives matter or all lives matter, but ok – we all agree with both statements, now what? Demanding accountability for killer cops must be the focus of this very real problem.

(4) Healthcare

Maintain the status quo or move to a fully socialized single-payer system. The status quo is awful as most already know; costs continue to rise, quality continues to decline, and anyone who deals with the medical field knows that something is very wrong. The problems with the status quo are continually getting worse as additional state interventions into the field compile. A single payer system would compound these problems and create new ones. One need not look further than the military’s VA medical system to see the problems of single-payer. Looking at countries that have implemented single payer systems we see the same problems that plague the VA; long wait times, rationing of care, limited availability of doctors, etc.

Both sides have blinders on. There is a clear third way that has been proven to work historically, and still is finding ways to work today even in spite of all the associated government regulation and control. This third way is freedom. All barriers between the patient and the care provider must be eliminated. The market’s price and profit/loss systems must be allowed to perform the tasks that they perform best – directing resources to where they are most desired in the way that is most efficient and satisfactory to the end user, the patient.

(3) Climate Change & Environmental Issues

Global warming is real, man-made, and government intervention through regulation is the only way to solve the problem. That’s one extreme of this argument. The other extreme are those who have zero concern for the environment, and who characterize the global warming narrative as a big conspiracy. Like the vaccine argument, both sides have facts, statistics and reports that they’ll use to bolster their position. Similarly, both sides are quick to dismiss the numbers presented by the other side. Both sides throw out ridiculous “facts” that shouldn’t be taken seriously by any rational person. 97% of all scientists agree that climate change is man-made, and government regulations is the answer? Please. The climate is not changing at all? Please.

Both sides miss the point. Whichever side you fall on, this is simply a property rights issue. Environmental pollution and smog causing emissions is best dealt with by a strict adherence to property rights. No person or company has a right to pollute another person’s land including the air above that land. If property rights were respected, property owners could sue the polluters for damage of property. With so much of the world’s land, water, and air being owned by governments, there is a tragedy of the commons problem that doesn’t allow the principals of property rights to protect those spaces. Growing up near Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, NY provided a first-hand view of this type of tragedy. Tons upon tons of chemicals were dumped into the lake by a nearby company, and there was no protection against this as governments are always either slow to react or receiving handouts from the polluting companies to look the other way. Had a homeowners association, fisherman’s association, or some other group been able to have ownership of the lake, they would have reacted immediately to protect their property.

(2) Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life

Far and away the most heated of the political debates. Both sides are unwavering in their belief of being correct, and are just as unwavering in their belief that the other side contains nothing but hate. A woman should have the right to choose at all times what takes place within her body. The termination of an unborn life is murder. We’ve all heard both sides countless times, and it never ends. This issue is so intense that the term ‘single-issue voter’ stems directly from it.

Both sides fail to see the simple facts. This is a debate that will never be won by either side so long as both believe that the only solution is a one size fits all solution. Instead of this type of issue being decided on a national level such that all 330 million Americans must abide by it, the issue should be left to states or (better yet) local jurisdiction. Neither side would be fully content, but both sides would have won. Pro-Life advocates would surely carve out states and localities where their beliefs would reign, and Pro-Choice advocates would do the same. At that point, people could vote with their feet – the most effective form of voting.

(1) Republicans vs. Democrats

Liberal or conservative? Left or right? Red or blue? The primary debate that is had within America is far and away the most moronic. Both sides believe that if only their guy was in charge then everything would be better. All that is needed is the right people wielding power. Name-calling and demonization of opponents of either side is rampant. Those stuck in this two sided box are unwilling or unable to see the possibilities awaiting outside of the box.

Both sides fail to see the bigger picture. History shows that one political party is exactly the same as the other political party, and only differ in rhetoric while remaining identical in deed. Both take for granted the idea that a person or group of people have some kind of legitimate moral right to rule over and control the lives of others. What right does 51% have to boss around 49%? How does winning a popularity contest grant the moral authority to act in ways that a normal person would be convicted of criminal activity for? Taxation is no different than theft. Conscription is no different than kidnapping. War is no different than mass murder. Quantitative easing is no different than counterfeiting. The sooner that civilization realizes that ultimate sovereignty must reside with the individual and not the state, the better off all of humanity will be.

Freedom is Everything

Although there is very little on which we agree, Marxists and socialists have provided me with some excellent philosophical discussions.  One such person recently wrote this article in which he attempted to take to task the libertarian concept of freedom.  The piece starts out well enough as he does a decent job describing how libertarians view the concept:

“What the libertarians mean by freedom is that the government does not interfere in the lives of private citizens.  If we were freed from government coercion, people would have a good life, because the free market would regulate our lives, and we would need no bureaucrat to tell us how to live wisely.”

Nothing there that I take issue with.  The rest of the piece, though; is littered with logical fallacies and false conclusions.  His primary thesis is that if an individual must work in order to survive, then he is not free; true freedom is to choose leisure over labor.  Throughout, he draws on his personal experiences in education and in retail work to show why leisure is preferable to labor.  The way to achieve such freedom of leisure, he says, is through a guaranteed UBI (Universal Basic Income).  In a separate article, he examines the UBI proposal extensively.

A driving belief of Marxists, socialists, and supporters of a UBI is a class analysis which claims that in society, there is an exploiting class and an exploited class.  Libertarians regard this analysis as correct.  The difference is that the former conclude that the exploiting class are capitalists (business owners), and the exploited class are workers; the latter conclude that the exploiting class is the state and those connected to the state, which takes money by force, and the exploited class is everyone else.  The difference between the two analyses couldn’t be clearer.  No business owner forces anyone to work for him or purchase his product.  The state, on the other hand, can only exist through the use of force.

Free market economists liken labor to material resources in that both are scarce. Because of this scarcity, business owners must offer competitive wages in order to attract an adequate labor force.  The profit and loss system is the market’s way of signaling whether resources are being efficiently used.  If a business can only be profitable by offering sub-satisfactory wages, he will be unable to lure workers, and his venture will fail.  If, in order to make a go at it, he offers wages that attract the labor he requires, and then his business makes losses, again his venture will fail as the market has signaled to him that he is making inefficient use of labor resources, material resources, or both.

Socialists will argue that labor is losing its status of scarcity.  That as technology increases, and production becomes more automated, the job market decreases.  While it is obviously true that certain technological innovations will cause certain jobs to become obsolete, it is wrong to assume that this process will result in increasing unemployment.  The labor that is freed by increasing technology becomes available to be put to use in another, perhaps new, sector.  Because human desires are limitless (wouldn’t everyone like a personal masseuse, a yacht, a helicopter, a yacht upon which to land their helicopter, etc.?) the demand for labor is also limitless.  In his UBI article, he adequately analyzes past shifts in employment by stating:

“Fast forward to 200 years ago, the production of the steam engine implied that factories could produce manufacturing goods in vast quantities and shorter periods of time, allowing a new and more complex form of division of labor to be created.  Farmers were moving out of the farms, from which they were either forced out or lured out because of the greater economic opportunities connected with city wage work.”

It is a lack of imagination that prevents this same analysis from being applied to today’s labor conditions.

Socialists will point to employment statistics which show falling labor force participation rates as proof that technology and automation are eliminating the demand for labor.  Many will also point to the even higher lack of labor force participation among young people, especially young minorities.  They will say that young people, coming into an automated world, are finding that not enough jobs exist through which they can earn a living.  This analysis ignores the enormous interventions into the markets that states have undertaken and continue to undertake at increasing rates.  Ever-increasing taxes, minimum wage laws, constant creation of artificial regulations, and bureaucratic red-tape all place huge hindrances on the market and is the true cause of a shrinking labor force.  Inflationary monetary policies and artificial credit expansion create the unpredictable boom-bust cycle that makes the market largely unpredictable.  When markets are unpredictable, business owners will postpone or cancel plans for expansion.  Entrepreneurs will be less willing to take the risks necessary to create new ventures.  The boom-bust cycle is not a natural phenomenon of a free market economy.  It is caused by the aforementioned monetary and credit expansion policies that are only possible through state-created central banking (see here).

In addition to his argument about diminishing demand for labor, he also presents an argument that implies the current labor force is poorly structured.  He lists what he calls “bullshit” jobs including accountants, managers, lawyers, consultants, bankers, and financiers who earn an unjustly high income but whose labor provides a “lack of intrinsic value for the society.”  His conclusion to this is that if only the bullshit jobs were eliminated, then the capital that goes into those jobs could instead be put toward paying a UBI.

There are several ways to refute this argument.  First, any person who is providing a service through voluntary transaction is necessarily providing value.  If he wasn’t providing value, the person purchasing the service would keep his money and spend it elsewhere.  The decision to partake of the given service is made because the service is valued more highly than the money cost.

Second, it is true that some of the professions he lists earn incomes that exceed the intrinsic value their job provides to society.  Bankers and financiers especially, and lawyers and accountants to a lesser extent.  These jobs are artificially protected and their salaries artificially inflated as a result of the workings of the state.  He correctly states that bankers and financiers “get government bailouts, which is not available to working class people,” but later states that these jobs should stop being produced altogether.  Perhaps, but ultimately it is the special state-granted privileges these jobs receive that should be eliminated.  Once that happens, the market can determine whether these jobs should exist, and at what salary.

Finally, he is correct that bullshit jobs do exist in today’s economy.  However, he is looking in the wrong place.  The true bullshit jobs are bureaucrats, politicians, policy makers, lobbyists, generals, dignitaries, and anyone who works for the state.  None of these people provide any good or service through voluntary transaction.  Each of their salaries is paid entirely through coercive taxation.  One only needs to take the word of a former “public servant” to see just how bullshit these jobs truly are.

Let’s return to the definition of freedom.  Again, he throws libertarians a bone by saying, “freedom means to own one’s own source of labor.”  This is a correct summary of the libertarian principal of self-ownership, but somehow from this he deduces that “right-wing libertarians think that the current oligarchs are the rightful owners of the labor, while socialists believe that workers themselves are the rightful owner.”  This is so far from the truth as to be laughable.    Workers voluntarily trade their labor for wages so that they can afford to purchase the necessities and amenities that life has to offer.  Libertarians believe that workers should keep every penny of their wages, while socialists believe workers should be subject to heavy taxation by an oligarchic government, so this commentary is exactly wrong.

The retort will likely be that business owners earn more than their “fair share” of the income of the business.  This constitutes little more than envy and greed.  It was the business owner who invested the initial capital to create the business, and who risked all of that capital solely on his belief that the venture would be successful; he had no guarantee that it would be.  The business owner offers a wage to a potential worker in return for his labor.  No business owner puts a gun to the potential worker’s head to accept the wage, and workers are always free to seek better and more lucrative employment.  Likewise, he doesn’t put a gun to the heads of his potential customers; he is only successful by providing a product that serves his fellow man.  Additionally, it is always possible for the worker himself to be entrepreneurial; he can attempt to start his own business, and if successful he now becomes the business owner.

Another idea at play here is the economic concept of time preference.  The business owner takes a long term return on his labor, while the worker takes a short term return.  If a business owner has to invest $100,000 to begin his business, and it takes several years for the business to become profitable, it makes sense that he should earn a return that incentivizes him to take the risk of that initial investment.  Workers put up no initial capital and demand to be paid weekly in return for their labor.  Workers have a shorter time preference than the business owner.  This concept can be likened to a loan where the bank takes a long time preference, and lends money to a borrower who has a short time preference.  The bank is willing to forgo the money in the present because it expects to make back more than was lent through the borrower’s payment of interest, while the borrower is willing to pay back more over time than what was borrowed because he wants the money now.

The real person who takes more than their “fair share” are those who work in the state.  They are simply busy-bodies who do nothing but interrupt the natural workings of the free market system.  In the author’s UBI article, he historically states:

“As societies gradually became more complex thanks to technology and the production of grain surpluses that could also be stored, a whole layer of government bureaucrats, kings, tribal leaders, military officers, and priests were created to run this more complex society.  For the first time in human history, it was possible to have a small group of people, who were not primarily responsible for doing the most basic tasks of survival for humans.”

The second sentence of the quote illustrates exactly the libertarian point.  The small group of people he describes don’t contribute toward the survival of society.  They are merely parasites who live off of the work of those unfortunate enough to not have made it into power.  The first sentence begs the question of, if a more complex society with increased productions occurred naturally, then how come after it has come to be does it all of a sudden require a ruling class to “run this more complex society”?  It doesn’t, and this phenomenon is what led to the institution of slavery.  Once a group of people gains the power to wield control over other people’s lives, where does this power end, and how is it morally justified?  Libertarians are morally correct to state that it is never permissible to own another person or their labor.  It is the socialists who defend ownership of others.

As he delves into his own personal experiences as related to his concept of freedom, it can be argued that what he is truly seeking is not freedom but the ability to live without working, being productive, and serving his fellow man.  Granted, he is seeking this for all, but it can’t be denied that this is the ends he seeks.  It’s impossible to deny that the majority of people would prefer to choose leisure over work.  That is what mankind has been working toward since he came into existence.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to legislate this desire into existence, and to advocate for such legislation is wrong.  As much as we may wish it to be true, we do not yet live in a fully automated world.  Machines and robots are ever making life easier and more prone to leisure, but still there are needs that must be met.  As he has demonstrated, it is through the natural progression of human labor, ingenuity, and capital accumulation that increases in production have been possible.  Impeding this progression through the interventions of central planners can never be as efficient as what occurs naturally and is a large reason why mankind is still so far away from being able to provide a life of leisure to all.

When he draws on his educational experiences, he correctly points out that the tendency for real learning comes through self-directed learning.  When people pursue that which is important and of interest to them, retention of information is greater than that which is mandated.  He even rails against the “government-mandated school system,” but fails to conclude that the solution to this problem is abolition of that system.  He is also correct when he says that this system is “backed up by powerful forces.”  John Rockefeller once said, “I don’t want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers.”  He backed up those words by giving over $180 million in 1902 to the government’s General Education Board which was responsible for huge increases in the power and scope of “government-mandated” schools.  The reasoning behind his words, and his purpose for such giving was simple.  He wanted his businesses to be protected from competition.  If he had workers who were also thinkers, the likelihood that one of his workers would start a competing firm and be able to produce the same goods more efficiently and cheaper was high.  Libertarians will be quick to point out that if there were no state, there would have been no mechanism through which he could have carried out these desires.

All people should be free to study exactly what they want to study.  If a person wants to study in an area where they will make a lot of money such as software development, that is their right.  If a person wants to study art history, where the potential to make money is far less, that is also their right.  Because everyone owns themselves and their labor, it would be wrong for the art history scholar to steal from the software developer, even in the name of fairness and equality.  In the same way, it would be wrong for the art history scholar to use government coercion to steal from the software developer on his behalf.  Each individual made his choice as to where to dedicate his studies.  Each must be willing to take personal responsibility and accept the consequences of their decisions and actions.

The descriptions of his experience in retail are similarly reasoned.  He “hated selling shoes,” especially when the store got busy and his leisurely job became less so.  Freedom came when he wasn’t having to focus on selling shoes, but could instead focus on personal interactions and conversations with his co-workers and the occasional customer.  Why did he take such a job?  Presumably it was for the money.  If those busy times never came, would it have remained profitable for the store to keep him employed?

The thesis that true freedom is to be free from the need to work is all well and good.  The problem is that humans have needs.  The fact that people must eat, drink, clothe themselves, and have shelter means that one has to find a way to satisfy those needs.  The only moral way to satisfy those needs is to work.  It is immoral to take from someone else to achieve those ends.  Using government to take for you is equally wrong.  Government legislation cannot eliminate needs.

Economist Walter Williams wrote, “Let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn.  Do you disagree?  Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you – and why?”