Thursday, July 12, 2018

Universal Basic Income: Will We Be Assimilated?

ESR realizes we might need to give the vast, low IQ underclass stuff to do:

Here’s where we jump into science fiction, because the only answer I can see is: become servants. And that is how the Flat Century dies. Upstairs, downstairs isn’t just our past, it’s our future. Because in a world where production of goods and routinized service is increasingly dominated by robots and AI, the social role of servant as a person who takes orders will increasingly be the only thing that an unskilled person has left to offer above the economic level of digging ditches or picking fruit.

I fear that with the reappearance of a servant class the wonderful egalitarianism of the America we have known will fade, to be replaced by a much more hierarchical and status-bound order. Victorian homilies about knowing your place will once again describe a sound adaptive strategy. The rich will live in mansions again, because the live-in help has to sleep somewhere…

This prospect disgusts me; I’m a child of the Flat Century, a libertarian. But I’ve been increasingly seeing it as inevitable, and the genetic analysis I previously cited has tipped me over into writing about it.

Some people who seem dimly to apprehend what’s coming are talking up universal basic income as a solution. This is the long-term idiocy corresponding exactly to the short-term idiocy of the $15-an-hour-or-fight campaigners. UBI would be a trap, not a solution, and in any case has the usual problem of schemes that rely on other peoples’ money – as the demands of the clients increase you run out of it, and what then?

Given the nature of money creation in this country- based as it is on debt creation, one may be able to construct UBI in a way that is actually more stable than our current situation. That is, reduce debt, especially private debt. Public debt may not be good, but it doesn't screw with the economy the way private debt does. And instead of having the Fed meddling in markets it doesn't understand at a high level, let it dole out money at the lowest levels.

The right wing (and I include libertarians in a vast, non-aligned right wing conspiracy to get people the hell off our collective lawns) really ought to figure out how to do this sort of thing. Because you know the left is going to push some idiotic thing through, and it will probably be more pernicious. ESR's idea is a sensible one, but I fear it draws too heavily on historical reality. First, the underclass is not going to like being servants. Second, due to innovation, the elite class is going to find they have no use for these servants.

Another likely approach- the proliferation of walls. Keep the more numerous underclass on one side while the wealthy pay a hell of a lot of taxes to live on the other. There's a lot of potential here, since we've got Empire level military industry. How do you stop them from causing wars and destabilizing a country that wants to end the wars? Sadly, you need to give them something to do... If you just fire them, well, that's kind of begging for destruction.

And left is likely to be just fine with the walls too, though they'd probably add ideological tests at the checkpoints and throw you into the outer darkness if you voted for Trump. Basically, we've got to think like it's 1990 and we've got this crystal ball, and it's telling us about Obamacare. If that had happened, hopefully we would realize we need to get out ahead of the thing and figure out how to head it off at the pass. It's 2018 and the quality of American healthcare is total horseshit because of this stuff. We kept playing a hands off game, and the left kept doing what it does, and people are suffering and dying now because of this garbage.

UBI is no different. Someone is paying good money on a campaign for it. They are in it for the long haul, and if the left implements what the left wants its probably going to suck. How do you head it off? Don't just pretend like it isn't going to show up.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Illusion of Freedom

One of the fascinating tricks in modern times is providing the illusion of freedom through the gratification and development of preferences. Someone somewhere is taking this idea seriously right now, and is trying to precisely suss out which sort of furry he or she is.

Of course, human nature being what it is, the right is a little more clear on the nature of this entrapment, yet I submit we often feel the illusion of freedom when we feed our vices.

many of us prefer sweet things, yet a steady diet of cake undoubtedly leads to unpleasantness. We shall not therefore ignore those downsides, and waddle throughout the town proclaiming cake pride. Because we are not stupid. Cake does not make us free. Our preferences do not make us free.

But what, other than our apparent ability to do what we want, might clue us in to our state of freedom?

How A $40 Million Nutrition Science Crusade Fell Apart

You should, in a free country, be able to get a study done correctly. Of course, you should also be able to convince retarded nutrition researchers not to pretend the metabolic advantage of certain substrates over others doesn't exist. There is a science called chemistry, and there are people out there who have done the math. So the fact that the chief miscreant in this story was jumping around saying it didn't exist shows we are again thwarted by midwits who can't possibly imagine people smarter than them exist.

It shows up even in this moron's own life's work. If you want to spend a bit of time learning about this Eades wrote something pretty good a while back about Hall's own model:

So, the model shows an almost 12 pound weight loss on a 2,450 calorie low-carb diet and an 8 pound weight loss with a 2,450 calorie high-carb diet. Which is pretty much what I would have expected from reality, but I doubt it’s what Dr. Hall wants his model to show, because it flies in the face of everything he believes. It shows a greater weight loss on a low-carb diet with the same number of calories as the high-carb diet.

Most people never develop a basic heuristic necessary for wieghtloss: don't eat if you are not hungry. The second step would be to do things that help make you not hungry. The Shangri-la diet, paleo, low carb- taking two weeks off from any sort of sweeteners to reset your sensitivity, --- all good parts of the strategy. But you have to remember that if you are eating high fat it doesn't take much overeating to overcome the advantages. So it is vital to not eat when you are not hungry- regardless of how many people tell you you just need breakfast or whatever. Sometimes calorie counting is just necessary because the individual keeps overshooting out of habit.

But I digress, because this post is about our lack of freedom.

What we are not free of is politics. Preferences feed into politics. Research funding has long been politicized, and Taubes great misstep here was to trust a research in a field that had already been politicized. Real research into this area is a threat to a bunch of rent-seekers the established order has been keeping fed via allowing them to do 'research' that either fits the established narrative or at least doesn't directly knock it. And it is relatively simple today to find that this sort of crap is happening in many fields. In the end, the truth will set you free, but we are not permitted to seek the truth- especially not with 40 million dollars.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Supreme Court Allows Crap State Governments to Continue Being Crap

Supreme Court rules states can force online retailers to collect sales tax:

In making their decision, justices ruled that South Dakota can collect sales taxes from online retailers like Wayfair, which brought the suit. In doing so, the court reversed a 1992 ruling that allowed states to levy taxes only on those businesses with a brick-and-mortar location within the state. The court said that law effectively incentivized businesses to "avoid physical presence" in states and led to "a judicially created tax shelter" Ultimately, the justices said the current laws are outdated.

If you ever want to reinforce positive governing behavior, then the only tax that should apply is the tax in the location of the seller. A state that governs properly will have more producers, more sellers. A state that doesn't govern properly won't have very many producers or sellers. In other words, the governments should be cleaning up their acts, so that people can build businesses wherever they are, but instead the Supreme idiots apparently think it's a good idea to shove even more costs on everybody else.

This is just more theft.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Autistic/Libertarian Way of Losing

Eric Raymond recently came up with an interesting calculation:

That means that in order to stop attempted gun confiscations dead on a purely force-on-force level, only one in 317 American gun owners needs to remember that our first American Revolution began as spontaneous popular resistance to a gun-confiscation order. Only one in 317 American gun owners need to remember their duty under the U.S. Constitution as members of the unorganized militia – “the body of the people in arms”. Only one in 317 American gun owners need to shoot back.

If you click on that, meander through the logic of it, as well as the comments, you'll notice this is roughly equivalent to a conservative demonstrating why he is incapable of conserving anything. Of course, it becomes more and more clear over time that anyone with principles has been repeatedly taught, pestered, and even brainwashed into accepting the idea that you can't force your principles on anyone. Like the idiots who pop up and tell us that Jesus wouldn't like whatever it is Christians are supposedly doing...

If you are fond of some of these subjects, people will generally accuse you of being political, but most on the right are not political at all. We often argue that politics is not the right sphere for so much of life, precisely because we aren't political. Often, we are talking policy; everybody else is political. We are surrounded.

Indeed, the inclination to avoid politics is so strong- hey, we'll still win if 317 people are individually surrounded by a heavily armed superior force and some or all of them die, because even if they all die the backlash will be tremendous.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to bank on a posthumous win. We need to figure out a way to neutralize the political people and effectively end this era where there's legislation about everything, even your toilet. The idea of a law about guns should be completely alien to people in this country, in no small part because the Constitution obviously doesn't allow all the crap that has already been written.

There's also the issue of fighting back against the infiltrators, the surveillance, etc... I think counter-surveillance at a local level is necessary to keep bad actors at bay.

Not that this doesn't suck. I don't want to engage in politics. Nor is it particularly easy to figure out who and how to collaborate with in order to get anything done. I can see the temptation to assume a handful of atomized gun owners can make a difference, since it is so damn hard to make a difference now. But if they ever got to the point where they were trying to take the guns- they've got time, superior firepower, surveillance, and at least some names. And it's worth it to remember that they could have picked David Koresh on the sidewalk in town rather than be major idiots and try to hit the compound.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Piper of the Media

In seeing the planning with regards to the North Korea summit, it was obvious Trump had out planned the media. And now, in a completely different arena, he proves the same- pictures of unfortunate children who have been separated from their parents highlight the bad law and pathetic planning our elites have been handing us for years. It may even highlight some criminality.

Suddenly the spotlight is on this issue, and the media will set up it, assuming there's anyone left doing investigative stuff. Most likely their intent will be to smear Trump, but he is already firmly out there pointing out they need to change the laws that existed previous to him. There have already been missteps from his enemies, people who happily throw out pictures that are meant to make Trump look bad, but are actually from Obama's time.

So a whole bunch of ugly stuff is likely to come out. I don't know how much, but little of it is likely to catch Trump unaware.

To some extent, he's just picking low hanging fruit. It has been known one of the main issues North Korea had with the U.S. was an issue of respect. Since the war, the U.S. has refused to deal with them as one would an actual country. Past dealings with N.K. have been multilateral, where they may be invited, but they don't get to sit at adult's table. It has been worth taking this shot and seeing what they would do with it- well, especially once Junior got into power. The Dad was a lot tougher, but hey, even talking to him would have been better than the silliness that has gone on for all these years.

And it will be interesting to see the effect on China, especially if development of NK really does get underway. That would mean access for the U.S., which would mean assets that much closer to China. Does it matter that much now? What effect might this have on future negotiations with China. Surely, the Chinese have begun to think about this, but I doubt the American media has. They have basically ignored most U.S./China negotiations in favor of pretending Trump was doing nothing.

No doubt they will be quite surprised again.

Update: Trump: Space Force and Air Force will be 'separate but equal'.

Yes, it will befuddle the media, but it will also have interesting effects on international diplomacy...

And it's hilarious. SPACE FORCE!!!!

Friday, June 1, 2018

It Isn't The Tool, But What You Are Using It For.

The Economist is pretending the West is less authoritarian than China:

Under an authoritarian government such as China’s, digital monitoring is turning a nasty police state into a terrifying, all-knowing one. Especially in the western region of Xinjiang, China is applying artificial intelligence (AI) and mass surveillance to create a 21st-century panopticon and impose total control over millions of Uighurs, a Turkic-language Muslim minority (see Briefing). In Western democracies, police and intelligence agencies are using the same surveillance tools to solve and deter crimes and prevent terrorism (see Technology Quarterly). The results are effective, yet deeply worrying.

Well, lets think about what China is trying to do. In part, I started thinking about this in the aftermath of the conversation that inspired my last post. Basically, we need a metric for agency, but it isn't something you can just do objectively- i.e. a person demonstrates agency by making and keeping agreements. And despite being large institutions of questionable repute, both corporations and governments really need to figure out who has high agency, especially in a world where money is created via debt.

This is why we have credit scores in America, and why China is creating an even more comprehensive version. Now, I am of the opinion that China would be better off innovating rather than trying to repeat and/or out-compete America in the financial empire arena, but the rather obvious nature of their intentions leads one to an inescapable conclusion:

They are, generally speaking, using technology to figure out who they can trust. They need high agency people they can trust, because they need to out-compete the rest of the world. The leaders of China have seen the post-Soviet Russian struggle, and they naturally don't want to be dethroned. So moral whinging about 'political freedoms' will get you nowhere, or in jail. However, I will not be surprised to see some relatively wealthy Uighurs vacationing in America in a few years, assuming any of them have a reasonable IQ and can pass this rather intensive test.

But meanwhile, the West, which is already supposed to have freedom- when we get these systems applied to us, well it is mostly to restrict us. This is because we were relatively free, and our leaders keep trying to figure out ways to make us less free.

Eventually, I believe even local governments will have to use surveillance defensively. If you aren't doing it, someone else will, and they will be able to manipulate you and your people. I am not fond of the cameras and tech being given to the police, for I suspect that stuff often calls home to bad actors who are interested in their own nefarious ends, not in keeping the local police and people safe.

Indeed, I think the Chinese are being rather honest and open about what they are doing, while much of what is going on in the West is being hidden. Much can go wrong in both places. Intentions don't always translate into results. But I don't think the Chinese can be using this for more tyranny. They already had tyranny, so spending assets and effort on all this tech means they are looking for a solution to a different problem.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Libertarian Progressives

Although there are a few who would no doubt like the term, in the main I suspect many libertarians would want to, upon introspection, rid themselves of error.
There is a strand of libertarianism that would, for instance, be happy to do away with marriage. And I remember enjoying many treatises of the future, with various forms of corporations providing services that governments monopolize now.

But we can see marriage pre-dates all insitutitions. Should we actually have freedom of association and private property, many would arrange their lives in a manner that they have been not free to do so since the rise of the modern state. Religions would likely matter more, not less. The state would be less political and more personal- as the power of the vote of the non-owner wanes in favor of allowing the successful property owner- i.e. the people who have personally demonstrated some real world capacity- to administrate.

This would not be a continuation of the ancient regime, but it would look similar. Such a world must be grown, because it requires not only removing bureaucrats from power, but removing the bureaucratic mindset from those who would be part of the noble class.

What often happens is that there is an assumption that people engaged in marriage, church, or other institution are always and everywhere under duress and that therefore they don't really know what they want, and that when we magically arrive at full libertarianism we will suddenly all be free from all this stuff...

And how is this different from the revolutionaries? Foment insurrection and promise the glorious future. The only difference is the libertarians promise not to be in charge at the end of the day, which means they won't be in charge ever. Most libertarians aren't helping, but harming any chance of moving in the right direction.

We live with the illusion of freedoms of religion, speech, thinking, etc... This is because the bureaucrats don't immediately ban much of anything. First they fashion their version of the thing- and then often they even redefine it. Marriage, hate, love, assault weapons- the list is practically endless. The tactic is simple: to make you err so that you cannot free yourself from them. If you reach back for tradition, looking for some bedrock upon which to stand, you'll find even that has been meddled with.

But of course, the progressive libertarian is not reaching back for tradition, so perhaps he is unaware of the conflict- that his imagination, or lack thereof, violates his principles. Liberty is not a virus; it does not auto-generate. All memes must travel through minds, minds come attached to people (at least the ones we are concerned with here), and people are attached to each other.

So family will matter. Private property will matter. Agency will matter and it shall be determined mostly by how succesfull you are with the other two. Who shall rule? If we are as free as can be, the property owner will rule over his property, and any larger sort of governance will arise through contract and free association of the owners. The children of owners tend to marry each other...

Individual certainly may choose to break their contracts, but the consequences will be unpleasant enough to make sure most don't. Because a violation of contract is harm to others. A wife determined to break up her marriage harms her husband, children, and frankly much of the community, assuming the community is healthy.

Some of this harm could be expressed directly in property terms. Certainly our modern divorce industry is much concerned with getting its hands on family assets, so much so that it has abandoned any concept of enforcing contract. Additionally, the community would prefer what ever it built up together not to be ripped apart.

The people don't want to build just to find out everything is going to be consumed like Detroit.

None of this negates anything- it just puts in it context, whereas much of these conversations are context free. But freedom itself is not context free.