Archive for October, 2009

Localism and Spontaneous Order in the Commons

With so much talk about war and peace prizes, there hasn’t been much discussion of the recently awarded Nobel Prize in economics.  Elinor Ostrom was co-awarded the prize for her recent studies of public, or common property.

What may seem counter-intuitive and shocking to many isn’t likely to be a surprise for many libertarians and anarchists.

Land does not need to be owned or actively managed by a central bureau; in fact, the keys to upkeep in public spaces has more to do with local engagement, clear and simple rules, and peer to peer dispute resolution.  None of this particularly requires rulers or authority of any kind, except that of the arbitration of disputes between individuals.  Importantly though, this does not require the creation of a state and its own subjective interests, it just requires that all involved parties feel an objective consideration of the case has taken place.

Spontaneous order arises in the seemingly chaotic universe around us.  Complex social institutions and civilizations are no exception, and that which is built from the roots to the sky cannot be planned from the top down.

The Real Bubble – American Debt

The real reason our economy is so weak today is actually the same reason why it had been so strong over the last 20-30 years. A massive acceptance of debt spurred new jobs, new consumption, but very little in terms of long term investment in education, infrastructure, or really anything that can produce future wealth.


For a better sense of relative debt loads, notice the strong resemblance between our current debt bubble and the last massive debt bubble that kicked off the start of the Great Depression.  This second chart is in terms of GDP percentages, rather than nominal (inflation-distored) dollar amounts.


Unfortunately, we’ve got a tough ahead of us in terms of paying back debt relative to our GDP and income. With government borrowing and creating new debt, the responsibility will be left to private corporations and individuals. Some public debt may help cushion the fall, but at some level we’re going to have to deal with what we already spent and consumed and promised.

Lobbyists want your internets under government control

Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of talk about net nuetrality, and in the last few days some of this nebulous debate has become a priority for a few people in Congress.

The thing is, the internet already operates more or less on the principles of traffic nuetrality.  While a few ISPs have been caught throttling traffic and giving some feeds a minor priority over another, the courts have been mixed in their response and nothing particularly egregious has come up to merit harsh retaliation.

That’s not good enough for the ISPs.  Many people from magazine publishers to video producers would like to see the internet turned into a more controlled medium.  Instead of an open peer-to-peer network, they’re dreaming of a one-way mass communication machine that operates like the owners of the infrastructure want it to.  Think radio or TV, where choices are tightly controlled.

Think about all the lost opportunity for the rest of us who don’t happen to own a municipally-granted monopoly on cable lines.

McCain is behind the new push to protect ISPs from accusations of bias, and unsurprisingly he’s one of the biggest recipients of money from the very companies who would benefit from being able to control and fine-tune your internet experience as they see fit.

Defeating this obviously corrupt proposal from the member of a minority party won’t be too difficult.  Despite it, the FTC is digging in on an attempt to regulate online marketing, but their regulations and guidelines don’t demonstrate that they’ve really pondered the full chilling effects on the industry.  As non-American websites are unaffected, we’re moving into a time when American sites are cluttered with disclaimers while ones originating elsewhere will look ‘more legit’ because they don’t come with warning labels. doesn’t advertise (yet) so I don’t have to worry about any restrictions on my electronic speech (yet…)

What Crisis? Bankers Get Paid…

Whether its through stock support through dollar devaluation, or direct injections of public capital into private balance sheets, the top banks and banksters to get us in to this mess are also the ones making loot in America’s worst financial crisis in decades.

Granted, Goldman Sachs wasn’t left holding subprime paper when TSHTF.  They led the way in to that mess but quickly dropped the hot potato on to sucker banks and puppet corporations.  When the dust cleared and only Goldman looked good, the government tripped over itself to hand them cash directly and through AIG.  I’m sure this has nothing to do with the string of Goldman Executives to find themselves at the Treasury Department…

Dollar has few friends

Good news in the stock market is typically bad news for the dollar – at least lately.  As long as the value of a dollar goes down in terms of actual stuff like food, education, and medicine, the nominal value of equities and other assets can rise.

So although you get less stuff for your paycheck, stocks continue to rise.

This, my fellow Americans, is why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

If you own stocks of politically backed companies, you literally cannot lose.  If you do not own these stocks and are not receiving annual raises that match the growth of the money supply, you cannot win.  When politicians rush to “save the system,” they’re spending your money to make sure this master and servant economic relationship stays in tact.

Who says the poor instigate class warfare?  Mass revolutions are always a last resort – a reactionary event against increasingly cruel and greedy elites.

All experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed…

War is Peace – Afghanistan’s Surge

Obama has approved the use of up to 13,000 more troops in Afghanistan, just days after being selected for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Afghanistan is often called the “graveyard of empires,” because well, empires tend to destroy themselves in the hopeless pursuit of conquering this almost worthless tract of land.  The only strategic interest is regional and related to the logistics of oil.  At best, it would be convenient to run pipes through the country – if the locals weren’t so intent on destroying them.

Many natives of Afghanistan are saying they just want to be left alone by the Taliban, Americans, and other various meddlers who want to tell them what to grow, how to worship, or who to obey.  That just wouldn’t be peaceful, I guess.

Obama Declared Peace Guru

The message to the world is clear:  you too can be a champion of peace despite leading many wars on many fronts.  You don’t actually have to end any hostilities you’ve inherited, you just have to avoid creating any new ones!

The selection of Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize is probably just one of a few things:

  • China doesn’t want Hu Jia and Wei Jingsheng to get extra press
  • The committee is trying to shame Obama from starting the next war in Iran
  • A vast right-wing conspiracy to make Obama’s war leadership look pacifist
  • A vast left-wing conspiracy to make Obama’s war leadership look pacifist

Just remember the most important lesson here:  War is Peace.


  • -200 Thursday,
  • -100 at Friday’s open,
  • Employment is down by a quarter million,
  • Dollar is down…

Are you enjoying your economic recovery yet?

I hope so, because another crash in housing is about to get started all over again:


Or are they planning another oh-so-successful bailout for every one of those coming spikes?

Credit card vendors leaving college

An insane tradition of American debt-based consumerism is the marketing of credit cards on campus, to students.  Not only are the students likely to be buried by existing student loan debt, they’re also faced with an onslaught of offers for new credit.

And when you’re broke on campus, it can be hard to say no to another “eat now” and “pay later” type of arrangement.

But what happens when the jobs aren’t there for graduates like we’ve seen so recently?  Many students will be left with huge penalties and horrible credit records for life just because they graduated in the wrong year.

At the very least, efforts to lend to students will be declining across the board.  Instead, the government will take out debt on your behalf.  You’ll still get to pay it back, but they’ll decide how to spend the cash now.

Oh, but you’re hungry now?

Its something to think about while we congratulate the government for “liberating us from debt.”  They’ve done more than any single bank to ensure that we’re all on the hook.

War & Politics – Like a Bad Dream

Reading through the political news is something like reliving a bad dream. Crowned thugs demand loyalty and obedience.  Thieves lurk in every shadow and armored beasts spew dragon fire.  A flying monster drops bombs – death from an unseen above.

Except you don’t wake up.  The next day’s news shows you another scene with all the same players and brand new deaths.

The nightmare goes on and on, with never and end in sight.