What the World Needs Now

This post is reprinted in its entirety with permission from the original author Robert Brager of the blog Astropolis.

The other day I was listening to the over-produced sounds of Swedish anti-capitalist punk rock sensations THE (INTERNATIONAL) NOISE CONSPIRACY . Once upon a high school aged youth, I probably would have stood to the left of them.

tinc-army.jpg

They're pretty stylin', ain't they? Surely, they're thankful for the progression of technology that capitalism has wrought, elsewise how would their hair stay so stylishly tousled or their clothing be rendered from the finest synthetic material? Thankful, did I say thankful? Of course, I didn't. How could I?

Anyway, while immersed in this sonic soup several thoughts struck me. Naturally, I'm struck by the preponderance of collectivist views in supposedly individualist spheres like the arts. I'm far from the first to notice this contradiction but to the best of my knowledge I'm one of the few to agitate for a response to the call.

One of my favorite bands to this day is English Anarcho-Punk agit-prop superstars CRASS. What Crass are largely responsible for is codifying the punk equation with Anarchy, at least of the Kropotkin variety. To this day, the genre of "crust punk" or "peace punk" persists and though next to none of the new school approaches the cunning and brilliance of Crass (even the new projects of ex-Crass members, projects like Conflict and Schwarzeneggar). Punk has since it's generally accepted infacy flirted with politics of all kinds, but Crass were, for my tastes, the first to exemplify a consistent train of co-ordinated political thought and, most importantly, actually strove to live by those values.

Today, on a more mainstream front, we have Rage Against the Machine prior to their break-up and The (International) Noise Conspiracy selling Marxism to the kids and selling it well. Both bands compile in their liner notes "further reading" for their fans on the issues that concern them, a bibliography of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky readers for the market to digest. I disagree, vehemently, with the political and economic ideals of these bands, but respect their way of doing the thing they love (which I defy them to do in their chosen economic systems were they to ever be implemented) and sharing their beliefs with their consumer base. This has been incredibly effective, even though both bands have been derided from certain sectors for being "sell-outs" for their appearances on MTV and, in the case of Rage, distributing their records through corporate conglomerate Sony.

Today, the classically liberal minarchist or anarcho-capitalist philosophies are in a kind of upswing. Our views have gained credence in sectors once thought unheard of and, as Lew Rockwell points out often, those in the know in "bureaucracy" tremble at the name "Rothbard". Mises.com sees tremendous amounts of web traffic and as I peruse over Amazon.com Lists, I find many that recommend a bibliography of liberty. I could almost say that I am truly optimistic.

But then, I consider art. Art is inextricably tied to commerce. Art is commerce. It wouldn't be there were there not a market and a supply for it. Governments deem it vital (to it's propagandistic end, sure). Art is, thankfully, everywhere. Yet it persists that art is linked to leftist causes and visions. Artists expound at length about their "visions", even as they tow a political line that is collectivist in nature and not traditionally (try ever) kind to individual points of view, especially as regards art.

The struggling artist today would do well to consider the fates of the fabulous achievements of the Soviet Avant-Garde in the 1920s. An outpouring of artistic brilliance and technical virtuosity flowered in the immediate days after the collapse of the Tsar. Dziga Vertov and V.I. Pudovkin and Sergei Eisenstein pushed the boundaries of film and their work stands as brilliant to this day. The Suprematicists pushed the boundaries of architecture and, even as socialists, made valuable contributions to Futurism. Agit-prop derived it's strengths from the diversity of the artists who contributed to it. While not at all Communists, Mikhail Bulgakov and Yevgeny Zamyatin were banging away at typewriters creating works of amazingly precient fiction (which of course led to their suppression later). Within a decade, all of this was gone. All art, as is the case in the hard left reality of bad ideas made policy, had become "state" art. Individualism was frowned on as a matter of policy and "Socialist Realism" was the only accepted standard. The danger to art that statism proposed was realized in the worst of ways as many artists faced imprisonment and destitution (destitution, it must be noted, that they shared with the rest of their countrymen) or, perhaps worst of all to the mind of the artists, were forced to create art they would never put name to in a free society.

Yet, strangely, artists continue to agitate for this kind of tyranny.

The Mises site is a true treasure. While simultaneously selling printed copies of works such as Mises' "Human Action", the site also offers such works for free as downloads. What fantastic altruism! The Mises Institute puts it all on the line for it's beliefs. Recognizing that, sadly, the Austrian School of economic thought remains an obscure curio of academia even as it gains new adherents every day, the Institute deflects the prospect of continued obscurity by actually, wonder of wonders, getting the word out.

But how effective is all this when the Left maintains a near-monopoly on the arts? Recognizing that the arts is truly the most public mouthpiece for getting their ideas across to a public at large that will consume socialist agit-prop as readily as it will a can of cola, Statism has gained the upper hand through it's feigned patronage of the arts. I truly believe that. More than any other resource, it is art that firmly cements the support for Statism in the mainstream. It is rare that I see the Mises contributor suggest or the liberty blogger actually suggest countering this stranglehold with an effluence of agit-prop art swinging the other way. Of course, that has everything to do with their own interests which may not coincide with a desire to manufacture art. Understandable.

Which is why I today issue a call to arms. The Austro-economic, classically liberal ethos needs a public face. Our views are as revolutionary and as radical as that of a band like Crass' anarcho-socialism was. So, like the flyer you'll find in any Indie record store, I'm putting out an advertisement.

SEEKING: Austro-economic classical liberals with a modicum of musical talent to play BASS, GUITAR, and DRUMS... and provide SAMPLES... for shit-kicking poli-rock band. Vocalist/lyricist frontman entrenched.

Remember the familiar visage of Che Guevera on a red background? The best-selling (ironic) poster of the Vietnam-era? Picture a Pop Art visage of Mises peering down regally from a college dorm room poster because some fantastically creative and popular band, at least on college radio playlists, promoted the writings he so selflessly left us.

vivamises2.jpg


Share this

I'm surprised you didn't

I'm surprised you didn't mention Rush, Canada's favorite Objectivist rock band. They've supposedly turned a lot of kids on to Ayn Rand. (I know objectivism isn't the same thing as classical liberalism, but it's still a radical departure from the politics of most musicians.)

FWIW, I also recall reading

FWIW, I also recall reading not long ago that Neal Peart was a libertarian.

For many of the hard-Left bands, it's amusing how they portray this free-for-all 'do what ya like' posturing, yet in reality abhor individualism in numerous ways.

While I'm not much of a fan of the metal-rap genre, I did enjoy Rage Against the Machine during their heyday. While I disagreed with 90% of their lyrics, they were throught-provoking and the music was great (and, unfortunately, copied and watered down by numerous imitators).

I even went to see RATM in concert. The fact of the matter is, I paid $25 (I think... forgot how much it really was) for their service. By the time the concert tour was over, RATM had gained my $25, and I was short $25. A dollar amount likely derived from supply and demand equilibrium. Capitalism at work. And needless to say, the members of Rage Against the Machine have earnings well above the national average, while mine at the time were at or below national average. So according to RATM's own ideology, they were the haves, and I was a have-not. In Marxist terms, why did I have to pay to acquire their 'services'? Why was I not subsidized by the wealthy?

Some of RATM's orginal album could be interpreted as individualist if you didn't know any better. Repeated lines like "they say jump and you say 'how high'?" and "now you do what they told ya" hardly express love for authoritative figures (although I realize that RATM were using these in a different context). Even the single Freedom takes on the FBI. Yet these guys want more government.

Of course, this group wasn't exactly selling songs to grainy documentaries about Che and Fidel. Rage Against the Machine received royalties from their songs being heard in cineplex blockbusters like Godzilla and the Matrix.

I guess the most charitable

I guess the most charitable face that could be put on the discrepancy between the walk and the talk of RATM is that the Marxism stuff is only pandering to their (perceived) audience. A more likely explanation is that they're just dumb--they're not even smart enough to be hypocrites, because to be a hypocrite, I would say you have to *be aware* that your actions are at odds with your (professed) values. If they're not even smart enough to see the conflict between what they say and what they do, what are the chances that they'll ever understand what's wrong with Marxism?

now, now, qiwi, must we

now, now, qiwi, must we always fall into the "blog ring" trap of assuming everyone who disgarees with you is stupid, because you primarily interact with those who don't make you defend your beliefs? Tom Morello, Rage's old guitarist, went to harvard I believe. While that's not a guarantee of intelligence, it's probably a better guage then his political beliefs.

Rock music has typically been anti-authorty. Much of the spirit of rock-music is based on just that. I know you guys have got yourselves convinced that the magical free market doesn't make any value judgements whatsoever, and hence isn't authoritative, but not everyone shares that viewpiont. Thus, tremendous monetary inequality is just a form of authority like the state, which is why you find "anti-authority" types opposing capitalism and the state, quoting Noam Chomsky (who's an anarchist), and rejecting the libertarian excuse for massive inequalities in wealth and, correspondingly, power.

I remember Morello

I remember Morello supporting the janitor?s strike in L.A. a few years ago, asking why the people who mess up the office get paid more than the people who clean it up. While Morello is a smart, well-spoken individual, he simply doesn?t understand that labor is a function of supply and demand, and whose salary is determined by such. In the L.A. office building, the higher-paid jobs are generally more responsible for bringing income into the company. In other words, who adds more value? Should the Chicago United Center?s janitors who mopped up Michael Jordan?s sweat off the floor for years be paid as much as Jordan himself? (an aside: a music magazine editorialist correctly pondered aloud if Morello?s guitar techs and roadies get paid the same as Morello).

I disagree that monetary inequality is as authoritative and powerful as the state. I have yet to see a private corporation extract money out of my pockets, by force, to acquire their products and services. I have yet to see a rich family from the other side of town seize my property in the name of "eminent domain". I have yet to see a domestic firm penalize me, or charge me extra, for purchasing a product from a foreign firm. I have yet to see Starbucks form a military and involve itself in an armed conflict, funded by me. I have yet to see a McDonalds force me patronize their establishment simply because I?ve grown up in their "district", or mail me an invoice to cover the health problem of one of their workers.

The 'inequalities of wealth' are exploited by politicians to feed the fires of class envy, and play up the 'dirty old rich people' stereotype to their own advantage. In reality, wealth inequality is merely the natural cumulative consequence of every individual?s own decision-making, goals, and desires. On a personal note, I have no desire to be a surgeon. The stress, the daily life-and-death operations, the long hours, the umpteen years of schooling, the blood, the organs... They deserve the big house, luxury cars, and Mediterranean cruises. Thus, I have no desire to point my finger at them and say "gimme", no matter how much a given politician would like me to pity myself and be filled with jealousy.

And Qiwi has a point about hypocrisy. Which of these anti-establishment rockers will I see on MTV Cribs next week? After all, 'working man' poster child Michael Moore has a multi-million dollar Manhattan apartment and knows the inside of a limo very well.

now, now, qiwi, must we

now, now, qiwi, must we always fall into the "blog ring" trap of assuming everyone who disgarees with you is stupid, because you primarily interact with those who don't make you defend your beliefs? Tom Morello, Rage's old guitarist, went to harvard I believe. While that's not a guarantee of intelligence, it's probably a better guage then his political beliefs.

I don't believe I've ever said that everyone who disagrees with me is stupid. As an anarchist, that's about the most pessimistic view I could possibly have. And if you think I spend most of my time interacting with people who think the same way as I do, I think you must have a very distorted idea of how many anarchists there are in the world.

Some people think that one's command of the basic rules of grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling are a good gauge of intelligence, but I don't always agree. I also don't think that where or whether someone went to college is a reliable indicator of how intelligent a person might be. People routinely graduate from "educational" institutions without having a single thought about what they're "learning". This Harvard grad does not seem to be aware of the contradiction between his professed values and his actual behavior. There are a multitude of possible explanations for this; that he just never thought about it (I call that dumb) is one, that he's lying about his values is another. Regardless of why, the discrepancy between word and action exists, and is worth commenting on.

The President did graduate

The President did graduate from Yale, after all.

But, no. I don't think Rage Against the Machine, or other leftist bands are dumb. Nor do I think they never analyze their own values. Rather, the best explanation I've heard for the descrepency between an artist's belief and action is guilt. Before they became big stars, these people most likely fit the stereotype of the "struggling artist", and only became rich after the "lucky" experience of being discovered by some music executive. But they don't feel like they did anything out of the ordinary; anything that they wouldn't be doing anyway without being paid large amounts of money for it. And they see their friends who did not make it big, and end up attributing their success and financial rewards to luck.

And if it's all a result of luck, they reason, then there should be no reason to tolerate inequality. (This doesn't actually follow, but lets ignore that for now). In order to make themselves feel less guilty about their own success in light of other people's failure, they support socialism. Strange, but its the best explanation I've heard.

he simply doesn?t understand

he simply doesn?t understand that labor is a function of supply and demand, and whose salary is determined by such. In the L.A. office building, the higher-paid jobs are generally more responsible for bringing income into the company. In other words, who adds more value?
This assumption has been challenged, historically. JS Mill, for instance, claimed that distribution was a result of custom, and that makes sense to me as well. Supply and Demand analysis is a very limited tool in the long term, it seems to me, and much economic thought has eschewed it. In Pollin's "contours of descent" he takes on the idea that wages are related to productivity or value-added. He uses a half-century's worth of data to try and tie wages to productivity and comes up with nada. That brings me to my point: rationalist economics in which principles are cleanly abstracted from reality is bunk. Worse, really- nonsense on stilts, used to justify oppression via ecnoomic logic, which was its role for a long time (obviously.)

I disagree that monetary inequality is as authoritative and powerful as the state. I have yet to see a private corporation extract money out of my pockets, by force, to acquire their products and services.
hmmm... yet there is an extent to which you control the government, via democratic participation. I've seen a powerful corporation exrtract money from people's pockets: ever seen someone pay a fine for damage to private property? While in a sense that's the state, too, the libertarian conception of utopia has absoluteist property rights so you don't solve. ie, even if you claim that the state does it, you certainly are going to need a private property enforcement mechanism, which will almost certainly require force. There's plenty more to this, but I think my point should be clear enough: claiming that taxation is a form of theft, while claiming that absolute property rights are justified (along with compensation principles which accompany them) gains you absolutely no "I don't use force" points.

I have yet to see a rich family from the other side of town seize my property in the name of "eminent domain".
do you not buy into emminent domain? It's CBA efficient. And Hicks-Kaldor, and Pareto (possibly.)

The 'inequalities of wealth' are exploited by politicians to feed the fires of class envy, and play up the 'dirty old rich people' stereotype to their own advantage.
I strongly disagree. Look at the history of popular, grassroots movements and try to conclude that Political leaders cause class sentiment. They just tap into it.

In reality, wealth inequality is merely the natural cumulative consequence of every individual?s own decision-making, goals, and desires.
...made under given circumstances that are heavily dictated by current wealth inequality.

And Qiwi has a point about hypocrisy. Which of these anti-establishment rockers will I see on MTV Cribs next week? After all, 'working man' poster child Michael Moore has a multi-million dollar Manhattan apartment and knows the inside of a limo very well.
I don't buy it. Our society rewards succesful people with money, picking out succesful people and pointing out that they have money means very little. I hear this argument from capitalists all the time, and it seems to me that it's just a way of requiring that people adopt your ideology. I don't know about you, but if I lived in Stalinist Russia and the choices were "speak out and be silenced" or "infiltrate the inner party and make a difference there" I would be trying to do the latter. The former might be less hypocritical, sure, but it's completely inneffective.

Qiwi and Micha-
firstly, I doubt he's lying about his beliefs. As far as other explanations go, here's one: Moneyed Elites who aren't personally involved with the capitalist sector, or the state, tend to be liberal. Mainly because people closely correlated with with capitalist institutions have it in their own self-interest to buy into the "free enterprise" BS so they can feel good about what they are doing. For people in entertainment and academia there is a buy out, in which the "self-interest" check is significantly less pronounced. Thus they are in a position to access the important political information, their position affords them the leisure to develop a position on the issue, and their self-worth isn't directly involved in making political decisions.

I'm sure guilt plays a role, Micha, but given the egos of these prominent entertainers I doubt that entertaining "low self-esteem" MOs for them is bound to be very fruitful. I doubt 50 cent sits on his couch going "perhaps my flow isn't significantly better than any other rappers flow, despite what I say on my record."

Supply and Demand analysis

Supply and Demand analysis is a very limited tool in the long term, it seems to me, and much economic thought has eschewed it.

Yet the vast majority of economists don't. Cherrypicking some obscure people here and there doesn't make a very strong argument from authority.

yet there is an extent to which you control the government, via democratic participation.

Yet there is an extent to which you control the corporation: via purchasing stocks, or making consumption choices as a consumer. And no individual or even small group of individuals controls the democratic process through voting.

I've seen a powerful corporation exrtract money from people's pockets: ever seen someone pay a fine for damage to private property?

This is compensation, not unvoluntary extraction. (Voluntary because the vandal choose to vandalize.)

gains you absolutely no "I don't use force" points

You are arguing against a straw-man. No libertarian I know is a pacifist; that is, no libertarian rejects the use of force. Rather, libertarians reject the initiation of force.

do you not buy into emminent domain? It's CBA efficient. And Hicks-Kaldor, and Pareto (possibly.)

Which is why explicit eminent domain is compensated. But implicit eminent domain, such as the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits improvement of land upon which endangered species have been spotted, is not compensated, even though it all but destroys the value of the land by government fiat. Richard Epstein, in his landmark book "Takings" argues that this type of regulation should be compensated as well. I recall the Supreme Court rejecting this argument in an environmenal regulation case, on the grounds that it would make a large portion of government regulation inefficient. Well, duh. That's the whole point.

I don't buy it. Our society rewards succesful people with money, picking out succesful people and pointing out that they have money means very little. I hear this argument from capitalists all the time, and it seems to me that it's just a way of requiring that people adopt your ideology. I don't know about you, but if I lived in Stalinist Russia and the choices were "speak out and be silenced" or "infiltrate the inner party and make a difference there" I would be trying to do the latter. The former might be less hypocritical, sure, but it's completely inneffective.

But you are avoiding the point to which you were responding: if Michael Moore really believed in the socialism he proposes, there is nothing stopping him from donating a large portion of his wealth to charity. The fact that they don't implies that they want "socialism for thee but not for me."

. For people in entertainment and academia there is a buy out, in which the "self-interest" check is significantly less pronounced.

Robert Nozick previously addressed this question: "Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?"

Matt, First, let me thank

Matt,

First, let me thank you for your well thought-out responses.

Secondly, I differ a bit from my 'pure Libertarian' friends a bit on taxation. I do favor (very low) taxes to cover essentials and other various nuts n? bolts of society, but I won?t elaborate now. Call me libertarian-lite, I guess.

----

Wages to Productivity

I wouldn?t mind reading some different theories on this. But why does Kobe Bryant of the L.A. Lakers make the money he does compared to a waitress at the Waffle House? What is the supply of professional athletes compared to waitresses? The demand? People are paid to their worth, perceived or real. If Kobe?s off-the-court troubles result in lackluster play and reduced output, his dollar value will drop.

I?ll give a more localized, down-to-earth example. Let?s say I?m interested in hiring one person to shovel the snow off my driveway, and another person to remove my appendix. Countless people can lift and push a shovel, but only a small fraction can cut me open and splice organs without killing me. Which deserves more 'reward'? I don't buy that I should pay both equally, nor artificially adjust what I should pay each of them.

----

Eminent Domain

I direct you to this page featuring the story on the shakedown in Alabaster, Ala., as well as other examples:

http://boortz.com/nuze/alabaster.html

----

"hmmm... yet there is an extent to which you control the government, via democratic participation."

Unless 51% of the others disagrees, of course. If I decide to not visit a business anymore, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I just opt out.

"I've seen a powerful corporation exrtract money from people's pockets: ever seen someone pay a fine for damage to private property?"

Using force (ordering a fine via legal system) as a reaction against another force (criminal damage) is legit. To use a government-owned subsidiary as an example... if I destroy a U.S. Postal Service mailbox, it is perfectly acceptable to force me to pay. Libertarians have never claimed that there is no use for force.

"Look at the history of popular, grassroots movements and try to conclude that Political leaders cause class sentiment. They just tap into it."

Even if we agreed on this, why do we need a third-party 'equalizing' hand to repair this class sentiment? Why even "tap into it"?

Johnny works a lemonade stand all summer, saves up, and buys 10 comic books. Billy sits around and plays video games all summer and can only afford to buy 2 comic books. Billy cries bloody murder to anyone who'll listen. Enter the politician to use Billy as a poster child to decry the 'unfair inequalities in society'. With enough collectivism and legislation, Mr. X from down the street will seize 4 of Johnny?s books and give them to Billy. Unmotivated, Johnny subsequently decides not to sell lemonade next summer, meanwhile Billy feels even more empowered to call on the government (public fund) to better his own life. More follow Billy?s role, and the welfare state is born.

"...made under given circumstances that are heavily dictated by current wealth inequality."

I disagree. Wealth inequality is the result of decision-making, motivation, and work ethic. Not the other way around. If I start showing up for work late and drunk, while groping women at the office, I'm finished in this job (and if word gets around, the Industry). At least for the short-term, my 'wealth' will steadily decline. My actions resulted in this so-called inequality.

do you not buy into emminent

do you not buy into emminent domain? It's CBA efficient. And Hicks-Kaldor, and Pareto (possibly.)

C to whom? B to whom? Emminent domain rests on the idea that things have an objective value, that the market price of property is the value to the holder of the property. But this is clearly false, the property owner clearly does not believe that what the market offers is sufficient to make a trade - else he would. The CBA is only calculated by a politician, the cost to the politician of paying current market price (as determined by his buddies over in the courthouse) to the benefit of additional property taxes (and promised campaign contributions). Even then, the CBA is often erroneous as the "likely future tax" data is influenced if not outright determined by the corporate interests who desire the use of emminent domain to their own benefit.

Micha: Yet the vast majority

Micha:
Yet the vast majority of economists don't. Cherrypicking some obscure people here and there doesn't make a very strong argument from authority.
a. JS Mill is obscure?
b. if you look back, the force of my argument lies in claiming that rejecting supply and demand analysis doesn't make you dumb. Appeals to authority as such work pretty well.

Yet there is an extent to which you control the corporation: via purchasing stocks, or making consumption choices as a consumer. And no individual or even small group of individuals controls the democratic process through voting.
to an extent, this is correct. The difference is what's called "plutocracy"- your votes being equal to your money. That is, it's a fucked-up utilitarianist democracy rather than rights-based one.

This is compensation, not unvoluntary extraction. (Voluntary because the vandal choose to vandalize.)
but you see how this is ideology, then right? You are claiming that force isn't force if it's legitimate, right? Hence your argument has nothing to do with "force" but rather the conditions under which it can be used. The "microsoft doesn't use force on me" phrase is a rallying cry, but not much of an argument.

You are arguing against a straw-man. No libertarian I know is a pacifist; that is, no libertarian rejects the use of force. Rather, libertarians reject the initiation of force.
a. the ever-dreaded "origin of property" argument applies here in spades.
b. Ever notice how the US department of war was changed to the dept. of defense? The powerful are always "defending themselves" from attack. Arguing for a clear definition of "intitiation" is what's neccesary.

But you are avoiding the point to which you were responding: if Michael Moore really believed in the socialism he proposes, there is nothing stopping him from donating a large portion of his wealth to charity. The fact that they don't implies that they want "socialism for thee but not for me."
True, there is nothing stopping him from doing so, aside from greed or whatever. But that means nothing to me. For one, if a person with AIDS is arguing that people should use condoms I wouldn't say "fuck condoms, man, you obviously didn't use them. I'll ride bareback, you hypocrite." Other than that, though, if Michael Moore's position was that "all rich people should give everything to charity" then he still might be a horrible hypocrite. It's not though (to my knowledge, though I've read none of his stuff) and so all you can do is conclude that it follows logically from his beliefs. That case is waiting to be made.

Robert Nozick previously addressed this question: "Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?"
I'll hopefully get around to reading this soon, it looks good. I'm always interested in what Nozick has to say, but I haven't the time at present.

First, let me thank you for your well thought-out responses.
and same to you, Doug.

Secondly, I differ a bit from my 'pure Libertarian' friends a bit on taxation. I do favor (very low) taxes to cover essentials and other various nuts n? bolts of society, but I won?t elaborate now. Call me libertarian-lite, I guess.
well the less dogmatic faith you have in the free market, the more correct you are as far as I'm concerned.

Let?s say I?m interested in hiring one person to shovel the snow off my driveway, and another person to remove my appendix. Countless people can lift and push a shovel, but only a small fraction can cut me open and splice organs without killing me. Which deserves more 'reward'? I don't buy that I should pay both equally, nor artificially adjust what I should pay each of them.
there are plenty of deep questions about this, without any simepl answers. Just a few:
a. One important question is why they should have discrepencies in cost, unrelated to ancilliary costs, in the first place.
b. another regards the nature of "social cost"- i.e. the "dead labor" that exists within this persons mind- years of medical school knowledge.
c. combining those two, there lies the question of "legitimicy"- is the increase in cost justified? My opinion is that it must justify itself, it it very well may be able to. But a doctor can't say "because I can charge you" and expect that to suffice.
d. Doctors and Basketball players are highly special cases, in which production doesn't involve significant labor time. A market socialist would tell you that the doctor is justified, but that the factory owner is not because property can't be absolutely owned. Any profit that accrues to "rents" (in the classic Ricardian sense) is communally owned, and should be distributed based on need.

Using force (ordering a fine via legal system) as a reaction against another force (criminal damage) is legit.
please see my above comments to Micha on this topic. I think declaring libertarian force "legitimate force" and gov't force "illegitimate" is just question begging.

Even if we agreed on this, why do we need a third-party 'equalizing' hand to repair this class sentiment? Why even "tap into it"?
I don't think we "need it" in a deep sense. i.e. I don't think human nature is bound to the state. I think we need it right now because of the incredible power wielded by large business. It gets "tapped into" (very slightly in my opinion) becaus it resonates well with the general populace, which is of some concern to the politicians. And I mean that cynically, but not sarcastically.

Unmotivated, Johnny subsequently decides not to sell lemonade next summer, meanwhile Billy feels even more empowered to call on the government (public fund) to better his own life. More follow Billy?s role, and the welfare state is born.
the problem here is that it's a myth. For one, look to the origins of capitalism with what's oft termed the "enclosure movement." People didn't want to stop working, they were kicked off the land. The modern welfare state has its origins under the extreme hardships faced by the working class, which were hardly due to widespread laziness. The "Black Welfare Mother driving her caddy to pick up the check" is a convenient fiction of the Reagan administration. A cursory look at the US budget should be enough to convince you that "welfare" should hardly be the major worry of those concerned with state spending.

Wealth inequality is the result of decision-making, motivation, and work ethic. Not the other way around. If I start showing up for work late and drunk, while groping women at the office, I'm finished in this job (and if word gets around, the Industry). At least for the short-term, my 'wealth' will steadily decline. My actions resulted in this so-called inequality.
in some cases sure, in some no. I think the libertarian (though not sure on the "libertarian-lite") conception of human behavior is impoverished. Human decisions are not purely autnomous calculations of value. They take place within a social context which heavily affects those decisions. When looking to dire socio-economic conditions, in can be tempting to seek the successes, but if those are only special cases, then its ill advised. I think it's like watching a guy with a prosthetic leg run the NY marathon and then concluding that disabilites don't exist. While there certainly may be some Billys out there, if we have enough people on the iceclimbing line, we can still catch him without much disadvantage.

Well, I've gotten in to this

Well, I've gotten in to this discussion late as usual. For what it's worth, my understanding about Tom Morello is that the reasons he holds the beliefs he does are a) because his father was a guerrilla in the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya, and b) because he says he encountered racism at an early age. I don't think guilt enters into the equation. His beliefs, whatever you think of them, come from his personal experiences and the experiences of his family.

I often wondered how the Marxists in Stereolab could justify their lifestyle as "haves" when their ideology clearly says they shouldn't be pursuing wealth when others so obviously lack it. This bothered me for quite some time, until I realized that all I really wanted from Stereolab was for them to keep making neat Moog music that I could listen to at my whim. When it comes to musicians, politics don't much matter to me. The music's what's important. When I want political philosophy, I read it. When I want music, I listen to it.

Simplicity can be quite the beautiful thing.

Incidentally, anyone who

Incidentally, anyone who likes Rage Against the Machine should check out the band At the Drive-in.

The music's what's

The music's what's important. When I want political philosophy, I read it. When I want music, I listen to it.

That's true; however, as Robert says in the post, a lot of people unfortunately do get their political philosophy from the arts, which includes music. And the arts are dominated by collectivists. I think today's classical liberals should make the most of the opportunity to reach out into popular culture to spread ideas. There is only so much that we can do talking about natural rights and marginal utility.

Jason, I agree with you

Jason, I agree with you about music and politics. While it's fun to find music with lyrics that express my values, it's certainly not a deal breaker if they don't. Personally, I listen to music like RATM and Radiohead to let their wall of noise wash over me, and I mostly don't pay much attention to the lyrics. Same with Stereolab. If I want a sing-along, I'll listen to They Might Be Giants, or Phish, or Cracker.

I'll quote Elvis Costello: "Was it a millionaire who said imagine no possessions?"

I don't know, Jonathan, it

I don't know, Jonathan, it seems more like it goes in the other direction. It doesn't seem to me like people choose popular music primarily based on the content of the lyrics, but based on, uh, y'know, how it sounds--the melody (or lack thereof), the beat, the rhythm, the sound of the singer's voice (independent of the content of the words sung), and so on. Yes, many artists and musicians seem to be collectivists in their personal philosophy, but the overwhelming majority of their work doesn't overtly promote collectivist values. I know Michael Stipe is a fruitbat collectivist, but I still love R.E.M., and even though Stipe is their primary lyricist, their songs aren't a parade of Marxist hymns, not even close. We're talking about pop music here, it's mostly love songs. Yeah, RATM are popular--for a punk band, or alternative metal, or whatever you want to call them--they're still a niche market. And there is one segment of the popular music juggernaut that seems to be unabashedly capitalistic--rappers. Bling bling.

Yes, I agree that most

Yes, I agree that most people choose music depending on how it sounds. However, this gives the artists an opportunity, a voice if they do want to spread their political ideas.

I have no scientific evidence, but it seems like artists - whether it be poets, novelists, playwrights, musicians, columnists - in general loathe individualist values.

The same opportunity could, and should, be used by those of us who do hold individualist values. The artists who do take advantage of this - Heinlein, Rand, Tolkien(?) - have probably done more to spread these values than the philosophers.

WRT rap, I agree with you. Although rappers have been condemned by a large segment of society, it seems they are the only artists who understand individualism and capitalism.

Qiwi: Regarding rap and

Qiwi:

Regarding rap and hip/hop...

It's fascinating how hip-hop culture has morphed from the in-your-face anti-authoritarian/whitey-is-bad vibe of Public Enemy to the internecine turf battle stuff of NWA, Tupac, and Snoop Dogg to the worship of conspicuous consumption (bling bling) of the more current artists. I'm left wondering what it all means, if anything, regarding race in America.

jonathan; i produced a lot

jonathan; i produced a lot of rap music for years and could'nt agree more. most rap artists have a far more visceral connection/understanding of basic capitalism than any of the goofball white liberals i work with in the television world now, who paradoxically handle more money in one tv budget than any rapper ever would. been noting it for years.

i disagree about artists hating individualism. they hate your and my ability to keep our income, but detest anyone who would relieve them of thier income. they are gross hypocrytes, to an unreal level of mathematical certainty. another aspect of musicians/artists that is rarely examined is the fact the they as a group are not very bright, and are mostly MAL-EDUCATED from what i could discern of their one dimensional philosophies or pet socialist jag they were on. i think its always been that way. i'll give that group another record or two until the ladder climber/dyke in front starts doing mAdonna or whatever and gets a movie deal.

Jonathan - I guess it's hard

Jonathan -

I guess it's hard for me to get on board with the "artists in general are collectivists" argument because, as a fiction writer who's marrying a visual artist, I'm just way too close to the whole thing to be objective about it. I can tell you that I'm an individualist, and that my fiancee, despite some collectivist leanings that I'm working very hard to correct (:-)), is on the individualist side of the fence as well. Most of the artists and writers I know, too, prefer to err on the side of freedom. Granted, none of us are "established" artists - yet - so what we believe can't necessarily be equated with the opinions of a Rage or Stereolab or what have you. But we're still artists, and we don't fit the paradigm.

And as far as collectivist artists spreading their ideas, that depends on people ever hearing the words in the first place, then paying attention to the message, then processing the message, then saying, "Yeah! I agree with that! Let's go start a communal farm!" My fiancee, for instance, never listens to the lyrics of music. She likes music purely for the sonic enjoyment one can take from it. She's most likely been exposed to hundreds of collectivist messages that have never penetrated her thinking. You have to reach the target in order to influence it.

I would venture to say that a sizable portion of the population is never subjected to the average artist's political message, because the average artist isn't nearly as direct about his message as, say, a Bruce Springsteen or MC5 or RATM. You have to be overt about your politics to get a sizeable portion of the population interested.

Qiwi - I think your point about the niche market is well made. How many people out their are humming an Econochrist or Propagandhi tune - or even an International Noise Conspiracy or Rage tune - as they go to sleep at night? Very few, and I'd guess that those who are sought out the music as an expression of common beliefs rather than just as music they enjoy on a purely sonic basis.

And Jonathan, for what it's worth - when you say that individualist artists should take the same opportunity as the collectivists to spread their worldview, be careful what you wish for. I think that anyone who injects a political message into their art without ruining it ought to be congratulated for their skill. Even though I'm an individualist, I find it hard to write stories whose main point is to trumpet the value of individualism. While my characters tend to make choices based on what's best for them as individuals, the stories these characters inhabit are not overtly political. In my experience, most overtly political art just sucks because it ignores the fact that art must grab the soul first and worry about politics second. (This is one reason I've never been able to stomach Rand - the speeches those people give! Agh!)

The words of Noel Gallagher

The words of Noel Gallagher of British rock group Oasis:

"Nothing bothers me more than when groups like Pearl Jam and Nirvana whine and moan and complain about life and being famous. Let me tell you, being famous is great! The feeling when someone asks you for an autograph, unbelieveable! I just think Americans are tired of people telling them how crap their lives are. I think when people listen to our music, we tell them how good their lives could be. I guess I just can't understand the thoughts of Eddie Vedder or that whole bit... I mean, lad, if you hate your job so much, why don't you f***ing go work at a car wash or McDonald's or something?"

"This guy came up to me from some band and he said 'Man, I'd hate to be you right now, no privacy at all' and I was thinking, 'Sure thing man, I have a f***ing Rolls Royce, a million dollars in the bank, a f***ing mansion and my own jet and you think you'd feel sorry for me? What are you? I'd hate to be you, broke as hell living in the dole.'"

"The only person who can solve your problems is yourself."

That's probably the most

That's probably the most intelligent thing Noel Gallagher has uttered in his life. ("Ugh" being a close second.)

Jason, I'm glad you and your

Jason,

I'm glad you and your fiancee go against the general trend I see among artists. Perhaps music is not the best example. The written word is probably better. Steinbeck, Pound, Lazarus, Yeats, Eliot, Wilde (Oscar - no relation), Shaw are just a few of the writers that come to mind, and they have influenced many people over the years.

OTOH, science fiction is the one genre that appears to be any sort of bastion for individualist writing.

And Jonathan, for what it's worth - when you say that individualist artists should take the same opportunity as the collectivists to spread their worldview, be careful what you wish for. I think that anyone who injects a political message into their art without ruining it ought to be congratulated for their skill.

Yeah, it's not easy. I hate it when I read sf along the lines of, "Well, as you know Billy, Rothbard said in _The Ethics of Liberty_ that man bla bla bla." It takes talent to express ideas without turning the reader off. I think Heinlein was great at this. He wrote some of his most radical stuff without the term "libertarian" ever appearing in his work, and before it had even hit the mainstream.

Yeah, Rand's speeches were not the greatest. But I think she has probably had more influence in selling a moral basis for capitalism than any other author in history.

Perhaps music is not the

Perhaps music is not the best example. The written word is probably better. Steinbeck, Pound, Lazarus, Yeats, Eliot, Wilde (Oscar - no relation), Shaw are just a few of the writers that come to mind, and they have influenced many people over the years.

Perhaps something to think about here is the time period that these writers come from. Modernists like these men came from a wildly different historical point than ours. There are many similarities, of course, but we certainly haven't seen anything like World War I in our lifetimes. On the same note, they never saw anything like the Internet. In my study of history, I don't recall coming across any big libertarian movements in the 1880-1920 period. (Big as in focused on root causes more than on one issue - I'd consider suffrage movements libertarian.) Try as we might to escape, we are still fettered by our time and place in the world. That's not to say that your time period absolutely determines what you will write, just that trends always emerge. And I think that one trend that continues to grow as modernism slips away for good is that realistic writers focus more on the individual. Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford, for instance, is concerned with the moral choices we make of our own free will in our personal relationships with others, and with how our actions rarely play out in ways that could have been foreseen. Or, as some might phrase it, he's concerned with the implications of the Law of Unintended Consequences as they relate to interpersonal relationships. This focus on the individual gives a much more intimate feeling than the old modernist works ever had, something that I think is a hallmark of late 20th century American realism.

OTOH, science fiction is the one genre that appears to be any sort of bastion for individualist writing.

You know, it's funny, I find myself gravitating more and more toward what would traditionally be called SF. Part of it is the desire to show everyone what happens when you fool around too long and try to repress the forces of human nature, mostly through dystopian armageddon scenarios that allow me to destroy a world that peeves me and then remake it however I want. So maybe individualism comes to the surface of the individualist writer's work subconsciously, whether he intends it or not.

Yeah, it's not easy. I hate it when I read sf along the lines of, "Well, as you know Billy, Rothbard said in _The Ethics of Liberty_ that man bla bla bla."

Heh...anytime dialogue starts with "You know, Billy," it's time to duck and cover. Exposition's necessary, of course, but some people never learn how to deliver it with anything but brute force.

I think that L. Neil Smith

I think that L. Neil Smith did a pretty good job of presenting radical individualist ideas in his book Forge of the Elders without any "You know Billy..." dialogue. He presented an anarchic society being visited by humans from a collectivist society. Because the human protagonists were confused about what was going on, it was very natural to the story to have the workings of the anarchic society explained.

" The music's what's

" The music's what's important. When I want political philosophy, I read it. When I want music, I listen to it."

I'm a guitar player, since 1969. I rock.

I think about The Guess Who's "Share The Land". Aesthetically, I just love that song. The chord changes are right up there with endless jammables like "Hotel California" or "Stairway To Heaven".

When I hear the lyric, though, I just instinctively reach for my pistol because I know I'm dealing with straight-up commies.

Sometimes, there is nothing at all "simple" about it.

Take a look at this link for

Take a look at this link for new Austrian-related apparell...

http://www.livejournal.com/users/aubreyherbert/

Over at Mises, Professor

Over at Mises, Professor Tucker's running with your design, Jonathan.

http://www.mises.org/cgi-bin/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=1764

It looks good to me, but opinion appears to be mixed - two objections so far I think.