Saturday, January 29, 2011

Freedom, Bigotry and Civil Rights "Law"

NOTE: I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge writers such as Walter Block, Butler Shaffer, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and Stefan Molyneux in helping me clarify my thinking. And a special thank you to Facebook user Julie Canny for prompting me to write this note.

If there are no functional differences between races or genders with respect to the ability to perform a given job and there are no state enforced barriers to entry into the market place, the employer who discriminates based on race or gender is putting himself at a competitive disadvantage by depriving himself of competent workers and risking public backlash.

If I and another entrepreneur were in the same business, producing the same goods or services and my competitor either would not hire women or racial minorities or paid them less that their white male counterparts he would be shooting himself in the foot.

All I would have to do is either hire those he wouldn't at a slightly less rate of pay than he gives his white men or hire his existing women and minority workers for more than he is currently paying them and slightly less than he is paying his white men.

I would then have lower costs and could undersell him, not to mention I would have the public's goodwill working for me and against him. It would not be very long before my business would more profitable than his and my market share would be increasing while his diminished.

At that point I would be susceptible to the same market forces that allowed me to put him out of business. Since I was more profitable than him and making more money, it would be in my interest to increase the pay of my women and minority worker to a comparable level with their white male counterparts or I would be just as vulnerable to the same tactics as I had used against my competitor.

This can only work in a free market with no barriers to entry. The reason it was not happening prior to Civil Rights Act of 1964 was that there were (and still are) high barriers to entry in the market. Licensing and regulation impose costs on businesses. Existing firms have already passed the hurdles and can afford to operate in the restrictive environment. New businesses have to overcome them, preventing easy entry by new competitors.

Similar dynamics apply to retailers and those providing "public" accommodations. Stores, motels and bus companies, for instance, do not prosper by turning away customers. Women and minority money spends just as well that of white men. If someone has a restaurant or a bus company and they refuse service to minorities all a competitor has to do is serve all comers.*

And when you think about it, forcing a racist or misogynist to serve or hire people he hates keeps the bigot in business. If people were allowed to discriminate openly the public would know who the discriminators were and would be able to shun them, putting them out of business.

I realize this runs counter to most everything people are taught, but people have been taught that free markets are bad things, so they cannot grasp how they actually operate and do not understand that freedom will always triumph over bigotry if it is given the chance to do so.

Forcing compliance does not foster virtue, it only breeds resentment and resistance.

Virtue can only arise when people are allowed to choose it.


*I do not have any cites handy, but I understand that "whites only" restaurants and "back of the bus" were not imposed by the restaurants and bus companies--at least not all of them--but by legislation because the discriminators could not compete with those who did not discriminate. Rather than face competition, they lobbied for laws restricting it.

While I have not found any "hard" cites I have found a few "soft" ones that suggest it.

Anyone who reads this and has solid references would have my gratitude if they would share them. Also grammatical or spelling correction and fact checking would be appreciated as well.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yes, But What About...?

Question: Does Anarcho-Capitalism have a solution to [insert pet issue here]?

Answer: Yes. The aggregated expression of distributed human choice through market behavior.

If people continue to express their lack of care and foresight through their economic decisions nothing will change. Forcing compliance on uncaring and unenlightened people will accomplish nothing.

If people begin to express wisdom through that same process then nothing can prevent positive change.

In either case, no amount of coercion can prevent human choice from expressing itself. Humanity gets the world it chooses. No law can ever stop that.


Definition of terms in the order they appear, both above and in these definitions:

1) Anarchy: Without rulers, not without rules.

2) Capitalism: A system of social organization based on free choice, voluntary exchange and respect for property.

3) Market behavior: Voluntary human interaction in a social context.

4) Economic: Of, or relating to, human choice and human action in the material world.

5) Property: The claim of exclusive control and use of resources.

6) Resources: Those things required for the continuation of life and the improvement of its quality, including, but not limited to, material, psychological, social and spiritual needs.

If you define any of those terms differently we're not talking about the same thing. I do not claim the "right" definitions, I am simply letting you know the ideas I am trying to convey when I use those words. If you want a semantic argument talk to Noam Chomsky. If you want to discuss ideas then I'm listening.

I would be remiss if I did not credit Ludwig Von Mises, Butler Shaffer and Abraham Maslow for the clarity they have brought to my thinking.

Control Is Bad, MKay?

Roads Unfit For People

Roads Fit For People

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mutual Aid Alert!

You may have, by now, become aware of the Individual Sovereign University and our plans for a conference coming up in early March 2011. If you were one of the 444 plus members of "Friends of Shaun Lee" during its brief existence, you may be aware that our dean of community relations, Shaun Lee dickerson née Anderson was pushed down the stairs by her husband very early on the morning of Saturday 8 January 2011.

She called 911, but the 911 responders were lied to by her father-in-law, a former FBI agent and a very violent man himself by some accounts named Larry dickerson. Larry then confiscated her cell phone and turned off the wireless router provided to her by IndSovU. She then threatened to go to the neighbours and report him for kidnapping. This tactic succeeded in getting the router turned back on, so she was able to contact friends using the laptop provided her by IndSovU for her work through her foundation Legacy of Many Seeds.

A group of us immediately leapt into action, alerted by Mark Quon to Shaun's cries for help on her Facebook profile. I rounded up Brad Spangler and headed to Jefferson City to help Shaun collect the Jeep she's been using (also provided by IndSovU) and get herself and her children to safety. Bill Stone also headed to Jeff City from his home in Des Moines.

As you may already have heard, Shaun's father in law then apparently arranged for several members of her mother's family to perjure themselves in claiming that Shaun was crazy, on drugs, or abusing alcohol. She was involuntarily transported by Cole County sheriff deputies to the Columbia, Missouri medical centre where she was to be held for 96 hours on psychiatric evaluation.

Thanks to the coordinated efforts by a great many of her friends, dozens to hundreds of phone calls were made to the hospital. Her blood and urine tests came back entirely clean of all drugs and alcohol. Her knees were x-rayed by the hospital, and she was otherwise examined. Bill Stone, Brad, and I got in to see her after a short time. She was released to our care late on Saturday night, so we took her to a restaurant for some food, and she checked herself into a hotel room. The next morning we got her some crutches and helped her get situated in Kansas City.

Things continue to not be well for Shaun. She prefers that her situation not be described in detail, as it may compromise her ability to get custody of her children. That seems like wise legal strategy, to keep information output to a minimum.

So, rather than go into detail about what has happened so far this week, I'd like to ask that friends of mine consider the following objectives, and take related actions.

1. Shaun wants full custody of her children.
2. Shaun wants her property restored to her.
3. Shaun does not expect any reconciliation with her violent husband.
4. IndSovU would like to continue to support Shaun Lee and her work at Legacy of Many Seeds.
5. indSovU would like to have a successful conference in early March.

To advance these goals, you can do the following:
1. Share this note.
2. Tell the story in your own words on your blog, on your profile, or in your own note.
3. Ask your friends to contribute to Shaun's cause.
4. Post this ChipIn link:
5. Follow this link to various links with the story thus far:
6. Send Shaun your love, your expressions of friendship, and send prayers on her behalf.
7. Register for the IndSovU conference
8. Buy merchandise or classes, or offer classes for sale at
9. Donate to IndSovU at our chipin link:

Competent attorneys cost money. So please help Shaun with her custody battle to get her three young sons away from her violent husband.

You may not have any money to give. You may have given as much as you can. That's okay. The drummer boy had no gift to bring, but he brought a song, and it was gratefully accepted. Make your song today about Shaun's plight. Please tell your friends. Please ask them to help fill the ChipIn.

Even small amounts make a big difference. Plant seeds today to have the legacy of a brighter future. Nurture those seeds you have planted, and see to it that they grow.

Thank you.

UPDATE: An anonymous donor will match all donations to Shaun Lee's chipin over the next 48 hours (starting Sun night Jan 16) up to $3,000. So if we can raise $3K for Shaun over the next 48 hours--till Tuesday 1/18/2011 11:59:59 PM, she will get double that! And she desperately needs it to retain the lawyer she feels she needs to get her kids back.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The "C" Word

The "C" Word

by Puck T. Smith on Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 11:26pm

When capitalism is outlawed, only outlaws will be capitalists. ~J Neil Schulman

Libertarianism is of course compatible with capitalism; and we should not equivocate with over-semanticizing. ~Stephan Kinsella

Stephan, is there really such a word as "semanticizing"? Certainly there should be -- in fact, there is now. By decree. ~Michael Morrison

Not withstanding J Neil Schulman's characterization of "the few involved in internal ideological debates at the Center for a Stateless Society,"(1) Gary Chartier has given three definitions of capitalism(2) which can be very useful in those discussion where the term arises:


an economic system that features property rights and voluntary exchanges of goods and services.


an economic system that features a symbiotic relationship between big business and government.


rule — of workplaces, society, and (if there is one) the state — by capitalists (that is, by a relatively small number of people who control investable wealth and the means of production)

I call these definitions useful, not because they give a clear meaning to the term--the contradictions among them as stated give lie to that notion--but because they are representative of how the term is used by various people. As a lover and student of words and language from my early childhood I have long known that many disagreements stem not from fundamental conflicts in positions or principles, but from imprecise language no realization of the danger of this imprecision.

C.S. Lewis, another lover of words and language who, despite his ideological emphasis and however one may disagree with his religious views, is widely regarded by many, including me, as one of the masters of linguistics and literature of the 20th century, presented an eloquent and concise exploration of this theme in his masterpiece of Christian apologetics, Mere Christianity:(3)

The word gentleman originally meant something recognisable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone "a gentleman" you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not "a gentleman" you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman; any more than there now is in saying that James is a fool and an M.A. But then there came people who said - so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully - "Ah but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behaviour? Surely he is the true gentleman who behaves as a gentleman should? Surely in that sense Edward is far more truly a gentleman than John?" They meant well. To be honourable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. To call a man "a gentleman" in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is "a gentleman" becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker's attitude to that object. (A 'nice' meal only means a meal the speaker likes.) A gentleman, once it has been spiritualised and refined out of its old coarse, objective sense, means hardly more than a man whom the speaker likes. As a result, gentleman is now a useless word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not needed for that use; on the other hand if anyone (say, in a historical work) wants to use it in its old sense, he cannot do so without explanations. It has been spoiled for that purpose.

Capitalism has undergone the type of "spiritualization" Lewis described. Originating from the proto-Indo-European root "caput, meaning 'head'—also the origin of chattel and cattle in the sense of movable property"(4) Its use in the modern sense is often attributed to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, however capitalist as a value-free, descriptive technical term preceded Marx and Engels by twenty-five years and capitalism in the same technical sense preceded them by seventeen years.(5)

I consider Marx and Engels to represent the point wherecapitalist and capitalism crossed the threshold. Previously the terms were analogous to gentleman in the original denotative sense. Since Marx and Engels they have acquired connotations which indicate more the opinion of the speaker with respect to that spoken of instead of the object's objective characteristics. Depending upon who is using these terms they have been reduced to little more that compliments or insults, shorthand for unspoken diatribe and polemic.

Nevertheless, the words refuse to die however that may be desired and however lacking they have become as conveyors of meaning. It is for this reason I regard Chartier's definitions as useful. For those of us engaged in the war of ideas it can be fatal to make enemies of those who are not our enemies and to think we have friends among those who are not our friends. Consequently, whenever the termscapitalist or capitalism arise in discussion it is critical to clarify the terms.

For many these terms mean little more than exploiter andexploitation. For others it is a code word for freedom. If I argue the goodness of capitalism while understanding it in the sense of Chartier's first definition, a system comprising property rights and free exchange, while another decries the evil of capitalism from the belief it is represented by Chartier's second and third definitions, I could be seen as praising exploitation while to me the other is condemning freedom. We have become enemies, when in reality we share a common love of freedom and an equally common loathing for exploitation.

Conversely, there are certainly those who regard the second or third definitions as positive. In a discussion of capitalism, where the term is not clearly defined, I may sense an ally in one actually favors plutocracy and statism while my advocacy of uncoerced voluntary exchange would represent to them lawlessness and chaos. The lack of clarity may find me standing side-by-side with the enemy of all I hold dear.

Consider, then, the value of clarity and precision in the use of words. The language of our ideas can be a bright flare blazing above the battlefield dispelling the fog of war.

1) J Neil Schulman.

2) Gary Chartier.

Advocates of Freed Markets Should Embrace “Anti-Capitalism”

3) C.S. Lewis.

Quoted by Glenn Slaven. C.S. Lewis on the abuse of the English language

4) Wikipedia.Capitalism

5) ibid.

Monday, January 3, 2011