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Since this column is scheduled just before tax day in the good, old USA, let me voice an annual mini-rant. If you believe you are working for a living for yourself and yours, you are working rather to sustain the world's most massive cadres of military and law enforcement boondogglers.
Further, before we get to today's main topics, let's take a look at a couple of stories I stuck a pin in, in the last column. I speak of the near direct confiscation of wealth in Cyprus, and the report that apparently Blackwater was performing illegal acts on behalf of the CIA then getting bailed out by the CIA and other bureaucratic culprits.
On the Cyprus deal, of course the politicos couldn't stand the light of day and backed off. Skyler Collins also did a nice job of commenting on this situation. Lesson learned, eh? Unfortunately, the lesson was: don't ever steal from people when they know you are doing it. Furthermore, use stealth. For instance, did anyone foresee the evil of payroll tax withholding back in the day when very few were subject to much in the way of a tax rate?
Turning quickly to the Blackwater/CIA story, being honest with yourself, can't you say that you are not surprised? And are you surprised that this has virtually disappeared from the lamestream media – meaning, probably, that this is old hat and will continue on into the future. But ask, and ask again: if the big question for a voluntaryist is whether we should even have government, what should be the answers to:
- do we need a government that is looking for ways to break its own laws? and
- do we need a government that believes that it can circumvent its own laws by paying someone else to do it? and
- do we need a government that excuses criminals for hire on the basis that the government wanted the laws in question broken?
OK. Enough kvetching, and back to my regular MO. Again I will take three or so problem areas, convert them into voluntaryist challenges, then suggest a voluntaryist approach to mitigation. Let's look at the following to see what we shall see:
- what really gets exchanged in a market,
- the physical nature of facts, and
- a brief observation while we watch the Supreme Court watch on the State's watch and the States' watch on Marriage.
Is a Market Composed of Information or Goods/Services/Interests?
In my favorite Facebook group, Libertarios, we are discussing the essence of markets. I have been to various markets, and market manifestations, looking for a used pickup truck. In all cases, until a few days ago, so far, I had returned home without a truck, but in every case I had made one or more transaction decisions. The thing that distinguishes a market is the information, in all of its facets. A transaction can take place in a crime, but that is not a market because information is secondary, incidental.
Used car markets are very close to classical free markets, so I recommend them highly to voluntaryists as educational experiences. Mileage may vary.
But voluntaryists should insist on free markets with free information in every instance. You know in your best common senses and in your heart of hearts that information that is coerced by government, as in waterboarding, is only that which is needed to make the coercion stop.
Speaking of markets, I am reading about natural flow right now. The book is Design in Nature by Adrian Bejan. I also recommend the book, The Control of Nature by John McPhee, one of my longtime favorites. The first book is about how the world changes inexorably via the processes of Nature, and the second is about the futility of altering those processes.
I have written before, and I will again, about the self organization of the world. Sit and watch a cat for awhile, then reflect on whether things are in a natural order or not. As a counter exercise you might try micromanaging that same cat for awhile. Again, reflect. As Mark Twain observed, "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."
So why do I bring this up? Power is only appropriate if it arises through natural flow that is not at the expense of weakness, otherwise the power itself is likely to be false. And it is clear to me that illicit power will always take the path of least resistance, will flow through the least resistant media (for example, ideologically weak people, groups, and ideas). True power can only be achieved by the individual, apart from advantage over others. And a sound voluntaryist, by recognizing false power, can be sure of not confusing might with right. Understand that strength does not arise from a collection of broken parts, a waste of resources, or a trail of dead.
Truth and Fact
As we see from the above segments, operating with information is critical to our daily lives, and being in harmony with natural processes too is necessary. Information itself is a natural process – the word “information” means “in formation”. Data form facts that form knowledge. The process is that data, when true, assumes or links in relationships with other true data to become meaningful in a factual way. But always remember, garbage in, garbage out – data that are untrue cannot possibly be processed enough to create truth.
A clinical view of the truth/fact divide: a fact is a relationship between objects (and the relationship itself is an object). Fact: a camel is a mammal. Truths: camel, is, mammal. All three objects must be true to make up a fact. You must have a camel, she must exist (is a), therefore you have a true mammal. This is based perhaps on a preceding fact such as “animals with hair are mammals.” In this example there are many precedent facts, such as “animals with warm blood are mammals” and “mammals with one or two humps are camels,” etc. I'm reasonably sure this is what Ayn Rand meant when she said, “check your premises.” To have a fact, everything that comprises that fact must be true.
There also can be facts that have a past or a future. A male and a female might produce an offspring, because factual observation has shown that a male and a female have had offspring. There are both precedent and consequent facts surrounding such a fact.
Objects are people, places, things, events. An event, being the verb in a relationship, frequently converted to a noun, like "registration," is an object (an event) that arises from behavior in that relationship. So we can say “when a student registers in school, an event called registration occurs.” The use of “when” indicates that sometimes conditions must also be true, so in some future installment, we will talk about the very important idea of conditions.
The kind of understanding that we are pursuing here is critically important to a voluntaryist. By being a voluntaryist you have declared that you will be mainly self-sufficient, that you will solve problems from an individual's stand point. You cannot do this without correct information. You cannot be sure that information is correct unless you have the tools to analyze truths and establish facts.
By the way, the terms “correct information” and “information is correct” are redundancies, but I used them to reinforce my point. Information must be correct, else it is misinformation, dysformation, propaganda, lies, or at best, supposition.
I will close today with that observation I promised. We will all be watching the Supreme Court this session because they will be ruling* on the factual relationship between two human beings. The fact that they will be ruling does not create a consequent fact that it is appropriate for the state to preempt a factual relationship between two human beings where the two humans are in agreement, while creating no factual harm to any third party. We are half a millennium into the Age of Reason, yet we are still trying to figure out whether two (or more) people may voluntarily share their fortune for a while.
* Actually there are two cases, and the rulings if made will apply to lower court findings. The first case involves the passage of Proposition 8, a referendum in California and the second addresses the federal Defense of Marriage Act.