Archive for the ‘#anarchy’ Tag

World Didn’t End – Go Figure   Leave a comment

It’s been a year since the Internet as we knew it was destroyed.

What? You haven’t noticed?

This month marks one year since the FCC repealed the controversial net neutrality rules. Don’t you remember the warnings of the net neutrality proponents? It was the apocalypse. Let’s take a closer look at what has actually happened in the year since the rules have been abolished.. I think we’ll find the hysterical rhetoric was unnecessary and that the Internet has actually improved since regulations were relaxed.

Let’s look at history first. The Internet has been a household commodity available for public use since August 6, 1991. For early adopters, it might come as a surprise that, according to net neutrality’s most fervent supporters, the Internet didn’t truly take off until February 2015, when the FCC passed and adopted the new rules.

In both the lead up to the vote on net neutrality and its subsequent repeal, mass hysteria ensued in which many people were honestly convinced that without government intervention, all the online services we enjoyed would cease to exist. In an article called “How the FCC’s Killing of Net Neutrality Will Ruin the Internet Forever,” the magazine GQ even went so far as to say:

Think of everything that you’ve ever loved about the Internet. That website that gave you all of the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City cheat codes. YouTube videos of animals being friends. The illegal music you downloaded on Napster or Kazaa. The legal music you’ve streamed on Spotify. …The movies and TV shows you’ve binged on Netflix and Amazon and Hulu. The dating site that helped you find the person you’re now married to. All of these things are thanks to net neutrality.

I know. It’s kind of weird that this sentiment was so widely accepted as truth because every single listed examples existed prior to net neutrality. The only reason the Internet was able to become such an integral part of our lives was that it was left virtually untouched by regulatory forces for two decades. Spontaneous order was allowed to occur and Internet users were blessed with unbridled innovation that brought forth a robust variety of services, which GQ prefers to attribute to government action that wasn’t taken until nearly 24 years after Internet use became the norm.

That reality was ignored by much of the public, and the panic continued. The ACLU joined the frenzy, telling readers that without net neutrality we “are at risk of falling victim to the profit-seeking whims of powerful telecommunications giants.”

We now realize that none of these dire warnings actually happened, reminding us just how absurd the push for net neutrality rules was in the first place.

I think a lot of people don’t know what net neutrality was and maybe that’s part of the problem.

Net neutrality sought to define the Internet as a public utility, putting it in the same category as water, electric, and telephone services. That change made it open to regulatory oversight, specifically when it came to connection speeds and the price providers were allowed to charge consumers for its use.

The new rules mandated that each Internet service provider was henceforth forced to provide equal connection speeds to all websites, regardless of content. Prior to its passage, providers had the freedom to offer different connection speeds to users, including the option to pay more for faster speeds on certain websites.

Examples?

If Comcast noticed that a majority of its users were streaming content on Netflix, it might offer packages that charge extra for the promise of being able to connect to the site at quicker speeds. That’s the market responding to consumer demand. Not everyone saw it this way. Others saw it as an abuse of power by “greedy” internet service providers.

Then-President Obama praised net neutrality, saying:

For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information—whether a phone call, or a packet of data.

Unfortunately for those who think net neutrality rules are a good idea, the railroad industry serves as a perfect example of just how hazardous declaring consumer goods “public utilities” can truly be.

Railroads changed the world by connecting us with people, ideas, and goods to which we did not previously have access. In 1887, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was created specifically to regulate railroads in order to “protect” consumers from falling prey to the “profit-seeking whims” of the railroad industry. Much like today, the concern was that powerful railroad companies would arbitrarily increase rates or partner with other companies in a way that harmed consumers, just like the aforementioned Comcast/Netflix example. And as a result, the ICC made the railroads public utilities. But the ICC ended up doing more harm than good.

As Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post writes:

The railroads needed ICC approval for almost everything: rates, mergers, abandonments of little-used branch lines. Shippers opposed changes that might increase costs. Railroads struggled to meet new competition from trucks and barges. In 1970, the massive Penn Central railroad — serving the Northeast — went bankrupt and was ultimately taken over by the government. Others could have followed.

Without the freedom to innovate and provide the best possible service to consumers without having to first jump through a series of regulatory hoops, the railroad industry’s hands were tied, and progress was stagnant.

In 1980, the negative impacts became too much for even the government to ignore, and the ICC was abolished. Shortly thereafter, the industry recovered. Not only did freight rates and overall costs decrease, but railroads were also finally able to make a profit again—something that became a struggle in the wake of the ICC’s creation. In other words, the repeal of regulatory oversight resulted in a win-win situation for all parties involved. And it appears the same is true of the repeal of net neutrality.

So, net neutrality went away last year and the sky ought to be falling by now. The Internet should have become obsolete or exorbitantly expensive from the lack of oversight. None of that has happened. Costs aren’t skyrocketing and connection speeds slowing down. Things have actually gotten much better.

According to RecodeInternet speeds actually increased nearly 40 percent since net neutrality was abolished. Uninhibited by government regulations, service providers have been free to expand their fiber optic networks, allowing for greater speed. You’d think there’d be a slew of “oops, we were wrong” articles written by those who worked so diligently to spread fear in the lead-up to the repeal. Not so much.

Wired, which published many articles in favor of net neutrality, did publish an article called “A Year without Net Neutrality: No Big Changes (Yet),” where it admits that none of the scary predictions actually came true, but the reporter is certain that an Internet free from regulation is not truly free.

Whether the naysayers are willing to admit it or not, less government regulation results in better outcomes for both companies and consumers. So the next time we are told that a lack of regulation is going to be the end of life as we know it, we might want to remember what really happened when the government freed the Internet from its grasp.

Posted December 27, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Anarchy

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Must a Jew Bake a Nazi Cake? | Jeffrey A. Tucker   Leave a comment

Jeffery Tucker wrote this back in April, so the decision of who should be the Libertarian presidential candidate had not yet been made. And it is Gary Johnson’s reply to this question that is one of the reasons I will vote for him as an alternative to the main parties, but I can’t love him and support him wholeheartedly.  But Tucker, largely quoting Mises (who has a Jew in Austria just prior to World War 2 knew a thing or two about discrimination), does an excellent job of explaining why we ought to resist the “anti-discrimination” laws that are so prevelant today. Lela

 

The freedom to choose implies the freedom to decline any particular choice on any grounds.

Source: Must a Jew Bake a Nazi Cake? | Jeffrey A. Tucker

At the first-ever nationally televised debate between candidates for the Libertarian Party, the subject turned to a fundamental issue: the freedom not to associate. The subject concerned anti-discrimination law, particularly as it affects religion.

Gary Johnson was asked whether he, as president, would retain laws that prohibit discrimination based on religion. He said he would, especially given the current political climate in this country. There’s so much anger out there, he said, that he would be concerned about Muslims being denied access to basic utilities, for example.

Opponent Austin Petersen immediately seized on this compromise of principle. People must have the freedom to associate or disassociate based on whatever criterion. If they do not, he said, a Jewish baker would be forced to bake a cake for Nazis. Johnson agreed that non-discrimination would imply exactly that.

It was the best moment of the debate, and it sparked a thousand Reddit and Facebook discussions.

Who is right?

One objection is that this hypothetical is wholly unlikely in any case. Why would a Nazi demand such a thing from a Jew? If the Jewish baker really refused a Nazi, could he actually expect to be prosecuted for doing so?

However unlikely this scenario would be in the United States today, it is not entirely ahistorical. In the early years of the rise of the Nazis, party members demanded boycotts of Jewish businesses. This was part of their propaganda to whip up the public into scapegoating Jews for all the sufferings of the German people. Over time, public antagonism intensified to more direct forms of attacks and exclusions, from lootings, pogroms, ghettoization, concentration camps, and finally gas chambers.

A Slippery Slope?

Supporters of anti-discrimination law cite this as a case in point. If you let people refuse service based on a religious criterion (or race, sex, disability, and so on) you create a slippery slope. What starts as a bigoted choice ends in more violent modes of exclusion. Yes, this can lead to weird results such as forbidding a black-owned hotel from barring a Klan member, and a Jewish baker forced to service to a Nazi based on religion. But this is a small price to pay, they say, for a more generalized atmosphere of tolerance.

Let’s consult the great economist Ludwig von Mises, a Jew himself, who was actually present in interwar Vienna and personally affected by the rise of anti-Semitism. It kept him from obtaining a position at the city’s great university, and it eventually drove him out of his beloved Austria. Eventually arriving in the United States, he wrote what might be considered the most anti-Nazi book ever: Omnipotent Government (1944). It opposed Nazi racism and anti-Semitism but also the entire Nazi economic policy that itself was rooted in a form of legal discrimination of some producers over others.

Choice and Coercion

Where did Mises stand on the issue of discrimination? He distinguished two kinds: that extending from choice and that imposed by law. He favored the former and opposed the latter. He went even further. He said that a policy that forces people against their will creates the very conditions that lead to legal discrimination. In his view, even speaking as someone victimized by invidious discrimination, it is better to retain freedom than build a bureaucracy that overrides human choice.

“In an unhampered market society there is no legal discrimination against anybody,” he wrote. “Everyone has the right to obtain the place within the social system in which he can successfully work and make a living. The consumer is free to discriminate, provided that he is ready to pay the cost.”

What might this principle imply?

A Czech or a Pole may prefer to buy at higher cost in a shop owned by a Slav instead of buying cheaper and better in a shop owned by a German. An anti-Semite may forego being cured of an ugly disease by the employment of the ‘Jewish’ drug Salvarsan and have recourse to a less efficacious remedy. In this arbitrary power consists what economists call consumer’s sovereignty.

These choices are up to the consumer, and, presumably, the producer too.

In a world in which people have grasped the meaning of a market society, and therefore advocate a consumer’s policy, there is no legal discrimination against Jews. Whoever dislikes the Jews may in such a world avoid patronizing Jewish shopkeepers, doctors, and lawyers.

And yet, if you have a social movement that is just dead-set against a certain group, and pushes a strategy of boycotts and exclusions, does it eventually end in harming people in devastating ways? So long as markets are working, Mises says the answer is no.

Many decades of intensive anti-Semitic propaganda did not succeed in preventing German “Aryans” from buying in shops owned by Jews, from consulting Jewish doctors and lawyers, and from reading books by Jewish authors. They did not patronize the Jews unawares—’Aryan’ competitors were careful to tell them again and again that these people were Jews. Whoever wanted to get rid of his Jewish competitors could not rely on an alleged hatred of Jews; he was under the necessity of asking for legal discrimination against them.

Mises is arguing, in other words, that voluntary discrimination tends not to create permanent disabilities for groups. It might be wrong. It might be ugly. It might be intended to create harm. But so long as the market is working, exclusion does not work over the long run. The benefits of the division of labor are too great, and the costs of pervasive discrimination are too high, to make it worth it.

As Mises wrote elsewhere:

The market does not directly prevent anybody from arbitrarily inflicting harm on his fellow citizens; it only puts a penalty upon such conduct. The shopkeeper is free to be rude to his customers provided he is ready to bear the consequences. The consumers are free to boycott a purveyor provided they are ready to pay the costs. What impels every man to the utmost exertion in the service of his fellow men and curbs innate tendencies toward arbitrariness and malice is, in the market, not compulsion and coercion on the part of gardeess, hangmen, and penal courts; it is self-interest.

Power Will Be Used

What’s more, argues Mises, society needs a market society that includes a full range of freedom to choose precisely to prevent political violence against groups. Nazi economic policy punished importers against domestic producers, large stores against shopkeepers, large-scale industry against startups, and so on. The machinery was already in place legally to punish Jewish businesses against non-Jewish businesses.

Sacrificing principle for the sake of marginalized groups is short-sighted. If you accept the infringement of human rights as an acceptable political weapon, that weapon will eventually be turned on the very people you want to help. As Dan Sanchez has written, “Authoritarian restriction is a game much better suited for the mighty than for the marginalized.”

Commerce has a tendency to break down barriers, not create them. In fact, this is why Jim Crow laws came into existence, to interrupt the integrationist tendencies of the marketplace. Here is the hidden history of a range of government interventions, from zoning to labor laws to even the welfare state itself. The ruling class has always resented and resisted the market’s tendency to break down entrenched status and gradually erode tribal bias.

Indeed, commerce is the greatest fighter against bigotry and hate that humankind has ever seen. And it is precisely for this reason that a movement rooted in hate must necessarily turn to politics to get its way.

The real danger is not human choice but a regime that overrides it. The market is rooted in choice, which also means the right to discriminate. But so long as the state stays out of it, the discriminatory intent can’t last.

The freedom to choose implies the freedom to decline any particular choice on any grounds.

What about the Johnson scenario of a public utility that denies service to a Muslim community? One can easily imagine a private power generation company using that as an opportunity for profit.

As for the Nazis, they will just have to find someone else to bake their cakes.

Posted August 12, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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The New Revanchism: The Theme of Politics Today | Jeffrey Tucker   Leave a comment

The vast gulf that separates politics from real life seems to be growing.

What strikes you most about the world today is precisely how little confidence people have in political solutions.If you listen to the leading politicians talk these days, you would think that the whole of American life is currently dominated by violence, injustice, discrimination, pillaging, isolation, deceit, fear, poverty, suffering, and decline generally. There are left and right wing versions of this story, but each portray a population cowering in fear, seething with resentment, obsessed with inequity, longing for a time gone by…and begging politicians for the strength and vision to change things.

 

Source: The New Revanchism: The Theme of Politics Today | Jeffrey Tucker

Posted August 4, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Is a Freedom Revolution Even Possible?   Leave a comment

Is a Freedom Revolution Possible?

Source: Is a Freedom Revolution Even Possible?

 

NOTE: I am not voting for Trump, but otherwise, I agree with this article. Lela

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