I am getting old

My feeling about the bailout, which I believe is going to pass (though I hope that I am wrong) is that this is the turning point, the beginning of end of the United States. But stepping back, I think this may just be the turning point of my life, when I stop being a young person with hope for the future and become an old person who won't shut up about how bad things are today compared with the happy days of his youth. After all, this isn't really the first time government has deeply disappointed.

Here are four things that could have happened once the bailout was rejected in the House, ranked from best to worst.

1) No more was heard about the bailout.

2) A revised more helpful or at least less harmful bailout was submitted.

3) A revised bailout, no better than the first, and with a bunch of pork and other crap added to appeal to the corruption of the congress was submitted.

4) (3) was done but it was first passed in the Senate and submitted to the House from the Senate, in flagrant violation of the unmistakable intent of the Constitution.

Number (4) is, as we now know, what actually happened.

My problem is not as much with the bailout itself, as it is with what this reveals about Congress and about our government generally. If we assume 200 million adults in the United States, then the price of the bailout, which I will estimate at 2 trillion (not to be confused with the official price tag), is merely ten thousand dollars per adult. Painful but I'll survive - seeing as so far I survived the cost of the Iraq war, which is a sizable fraction of this.

So how do young people focused on hopes for the future turn into old people focused on disappointments of the past? It may be that a person can tolerate only so much disappointment before he breaks. A young person hasn't been on the planet long enough for many of his hopes to be dashed. The longer we remain on the planet, the greater the number of disappointments. Added to this, of course, is the approaching end of one's own life. The less time I have left to live, the less plausible is my hope that things will have turned around by my death.

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Absolute disgust

When people react with disbelief at something the govt does, I usually ask, "What, you expect politicians to not act like politicians?"

Yet when I heard last night about what was happening/going to happen today, even my cynicism reached a new peak. I'm absolutely disgusted by the new bailout. Only positive is that the majority of the American people seem to be similarly disgusted.

Possible rhetorical strategy

The House members who still oppose this bill might try arguing that the Senate's action is contemptuous and in turn deserves contempt.

1) It is ignoring the House decision by re-submitting essentially the same bill that was rejected.

2) It is subverting the House's Constitutional authority to originate this kind of legislation.

3) It is displaying contempt for the individual House members by expecting that padding the bill with irrelevant sweeteners will change their vote.

4) Finally, it is displaying contempt for the American public, which has deep misgivings about the legislation.

I can still dream. For a few hours, anyway.

Don't focus on the US.

Don't focus on the US. Governments are like companies, they don't get better, they get worse, but they are outshined by new and better governments. I don't expect the US to ever become more libertarian, it's probably going to become worse and worse. It's not a defeat of libertarianism though, because it will become more and more irrelevant. Among the emerging countries, some will adopt libertarian policies and will become successful. I am actively planning to move away from the US within the next 10 years and so should you.

Languages?

What foreign language do you suggest I bone up on? Apart from English, I know Spanish (technically, it's my first language). Maybe the world (and the remaining good countries) is sufficiently anglophone that I can get by on English. I was thinking Mandarin purely on account of number of speakers, but virtually all of them are at the mercy of a government that is currently much worse than the American government.

Data

Heritage Institute Freedom Index, 2008:

Hong Kong 1 [90.3]
Singapore 2 [87.4]
Ireland 3 [82.4]
Australia 4 [82.0]
United States 5 [80.6]
New Zealand 6 [80.2]
Canada 7 [80.2]
Chile 8 [79.8]
Switzerland 9 [79.7]
United Kingdom 10 [79.5]

Hong Kong's de-facto official dialect is Cantonese, a Chinese dialect originating from Guangdong province to the north of Hong Kong, and is spoken by 95% of the population as a first language. English is also an official language, and according to a 1996 by-census is spoken by 3.1% of the population as an everyday language and by 34.9% of the population as a second language.

Singapore:

Language most frequently spoken at home (%)
English 23.0
Mandarin 35.0
Other Chinese Languages 23.8
Malay 14.1
Tamil 3.2

In Ireland they mainly speak English, same in Australia and NZ.

It's mostly German in Switzerland, though I was able to make it around with some bad Italian.

Point being, you can probably make do with English. British Empire, FTW.

Help Pay for the Irish Bailout.

I don't know know how they figure these "Freedom" things.The top three freedom spots, Hong Kong under Communist Chinese rule and Singapore, where they live under an ancient dictatorship can be ruled out. So lets go to Ireland but before you go read this. http://www.herald.ie/national-news/eu-anger-over-irish-bailout-solo-run-1487241.html Call Patri. He may be the only hope left.
Dave

I'm fluent in in French,

I'm fluent in in French, English (ur you decide) and Spanish. The places I'm considering are Brazil (Portuguese would take one more year at most), Dubai (hum Arabic would be much harder, not necesseraly needed though), Australia/New Zealand (English, duh), Taiwan/China/Singapore (oh my god, Mandarin :( ).
I was learning Russian but maybe I should switch to Mandarin.

Learn an International language

Maybe you need to learn to be civil. If you call me a shit eating murder one more time ,I warn you,I will retaliate. Only verbally though.
Dave

I have many friends, who -

I have many friends, who - if it were up to you - would unjustly go to jail. So yes, you are full of shit. I usually do not bring up the issue to make social life bearable, but since this is a libertarian blog I choose to be open about my feelings on this issue.

But we will all

He may be more full of shit than the rest of us now, but we will all end up having to eat the crap sandwich.

GO GIANT DOUCHE !

GO GIANT DOUCHE !

Cyrano De Bergiac, Not

The logic,the eloquence,the witty repartee, Perhaps if you said it in French.

Dave

Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano de Bergerac

(woosh though)

Google keeps us in the loop

In case you didn't catch the reference, google: douche turd

Somebody's Angling for a Timeout

Now, now, children.

He Belongs in Jail

Sorry but the Uni bomber belongs in jail.

Dave

Worst comes to worst, we'll go live on Patri's boat

I became less fervent over a period of years. Some of this came from realizing that the arguments for libertarianism weren't as strong as I thought they were. Some came from a desire to ruin fewer parties with political fights. Some came from exhaustion--my interests moved elsewhere. This has all been interweaved with a gentle descent into nihilism (I have no clue which way the causation runs). And I'm only 26!

But the result isn't necessarily bad--I feel peaceful. No, the libertarian revolution isn't on the horizon, and even if it came, the utopia wouldn't last. The world is never perfect, nor will it be. We can only do good as we find it. And that's enough for me.

When I read European history, when I see how many times empires have swelled up, then exploded and how many dynasties have flowed, then ebbed, it becomes difficult to attach much importance to the annual legislative gaffes and victories of one country. My interests turn to things arguably more timeless: art and science.

At the same time, such disinterest in politics only assures that things will only get worse. Hopefully others are made of more mettle.

Not so. I believe that

Not so. I believe that currently, one of the greatest threat to freedom in the developed world is democracy, and democracy can be killed by voter apathy. Once people lose the "we got to do something" concerned-citizen reflex, we will be closer to anarcho-capitalism.

Not just voter apathy

If voters are merely apathetic, then the legislature will simply go ahead and legislate as it sees fit. In fact, isn't that a large part of what happens these days? I would guess that something like 99% of what Congress does is done, in effect, without the voters paying any attention to it whatsoever: a manifestation of apathy. So in a sense, apathy has long been at a 99% level or so, and the wheels of government keep turning.

I think more is required than apathy with respect to voting. I think resistance is required. Resistance is necessarily, pretty much by definition, criminality (from the perspective of the state). One form of mass criminality is, of course, a revolution. Anarcho-capitalists would probably tend not to favor such a thing, because a revolution is more likely than not to install a replacement government.

There are some present-day examples of mass criminality. Drug use is one, and copyright file sharing is another.

If the government doesn't do

If the government doesn't do anything about the crisis (even something bad), it will be punished by voters at the next election. I don't think a monarch would bail out the banks.

Hoppe

You have just got done favorably comparing a monarchy to a democracy. Hoppe has done this as well. Is this an aspect of Hoppe's argument that you have found persuasive?

Oh I definitely do. Hoppe is

Oh I definitely do. Hoppe is great on many things in libertarian theory, immigration being a big exception.

My fears are largely practical

Some of this came from realizing that the arguments for libertarianism weren't as strong as I thought they were.

I don't think that will ever happen to me because of the way my libertarianism was formed and is structured. It is a bit like atheism with respect to the government. As an example, I no longer believe that government has the right to tax. The belief in the right to tax is (as I see it) a belief, a bit like a religious belief, and having lost it I really do not think that I will ever regain it. One might say that I make a religion of respect for the property of others, but I see it as no longer subscribing to beliefs - like a belief in the right to tax - which trump property. Property is, in a sense, what's left over after I've discarded the rest. As to why I don't discard property as well, I'm not sure how to explain this, but I see disbelief in property rights as itself a dubious belief, a bit like a belief in the nonexistence of verbs. As a gesture in the direction of an explanation, I think the difference is the origin of these beliefs.

Some came from a desire to ruin fewer parties with political fights.

I have assiduously avoided talking politics in person through my entire adult life, except with a highly select group of people who I know largely agree with me. If you knew me in person you might never guess that I'm anything other than whatever everyone else around me is. Online discussion is my outlet.

No, the libertarian revolution isn't on the horizon, and even if it came, the utopia wouldn't last. The world is never perfect, nor will it be. We can only do good as we find it. And that's enough for me.

I agree, but what's happening now seems to go beyond mere non-presence of utopia. Suppose we were living in the Soviet Union in the 1950s, and someone said, "libertarian utopia is not an option". I might reply, "maybe not, but as the free world demonstrates, there are still many realistic options far better than the totalitarian state we live in." Similarly, what's happening now seems to me to go beyond mere failure to be libertarian utopia. I think there are far more realistic hopes than a hope for utopia that are being dashed here.

When I read European history, when I see how many times empires have swelled up, then exploded and how many dynasties have flowed, then ebbed, it becomes difficult to attach much importance to the annual legislative gaffes and victories of one country.

In the long view empires rise and fall, but optimistically an individual has 80 years on this planet. It is scant comfort to someone living in an oppressive empire that eventually, long after he is dead, that empire will fall.

My interests turn to things arguably more timeless: art and science.

A good idea. However, the government affects even the pursuit of art and science.

I don't think that will ever

I don't think that will ever happen to me because of the way my libertarianism was formed and is structured.

To be sure, I doubt I'll ever stop being a libertarian, mainly because I rest my belief on my moral values, and my moral values seem to be static--unlike my assessment in various utilitarian arguments. But as I say, I'm less of a zealot, for the reasons I state.

I think there are far more realistic hopes than a hope for utopia that are being dashed here.

Interesting. That seems melodramatic, but I may well be wrong.

In the long view empires rise and fall, but optimistically an individual has 80 years on this planet. It is scant comfort to someone living in an oppressive empire that eventually, long after he is dead, that empire will fall.

If only the present matters, then you should be happy. Things are bad, but, come now, they're not that bad. Private property exists. No gulags, more or less, no concentration camps. Free speech. Drugs are illegal but relatively accessible, if you go in for that.

If it's just the trajectory of the present that has you worried, I wouldn't sweat it. Things get bad and things get better--so just gaze a little farther ahead and you can see things turning up. Or look around the world--the Iron Curtain fell! China's turning capitalist!

However, the government affects even the pursuit of art and science.

Not significantly. We all have freedom to learn and familiarize ourselves with huge swaths of both realms.

Not a mayfly

If only the present matters, then you should be happy.

Well, I'm not Methuselah but I'm not a mayfly either. I worry about the future that I am likely to see.

If it's just the trajectory of the present that has you worried, I wouldn't sweat it.

I'm a bit more pessimistic than you on this.

We all have freedom to learn and familiarize ourselves with huge swaths of both realms.

This reminds me. I've seen this small book in Barnes and Noble lately. I haven't skimmed it but it has an interesting, troubling thesis about the effect of law on science:

The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind

The provocative premise of this short book is that even as we appear to be awash in information, governments and industry are restricting access to knowledge by broadening the concept of intellectual property to include things as diverse as gene sequences and sales techniques . According to Laughlin, the right to learn is now aggressively opposed by intellectual property advocates, who want ideas elevated to the status of land, cars, and other physical assets so the their unauthorized acquisition can be prosecuted as theft. With examples drawn from nuclear physics, biotechnology and patent law, Laughlin, a Nobel laureate in physics, paints a troubling picture of a society in which the only information that is truly valuable in dollars and cents is controlled by a small number of individuals. But while Laughlin poses urgent questions, he provides neither in-depth analysis nor potential solutions. Many intriguing arguments—for example, that electronic technologies such as the Internet, which inundate us with useless information, are not instruments of knowledge dissemination at all but agencies of knowledge destruction—are offered but none are usefully explored.

He seems overly pessimistic about the Internet but the bit about the effect of legal encumbrances on scientific advance is interesting.

I'm not so skeptical of IP,

I'm not so skeptical of IP, but even if I were, with the Internet I have access to so much information for free that I find it hard to get my ire up about that which is restricted.

Hopefully others are made of

Hopefully others are made of more mettle.

That's it! The solution, as always, involves robots.

Way to take the bait and pun

Way to take the bait and pun with it!

I expect Mecha-Ghertner to be finished within two years. He stands three stories now and I've added a skull cap fashioned out of a sewer lid.

(Mecha is of course pronouced with the German "ich" sound: [ç])

Please make me water proof -

Please make me water proof - I want to live on Patri's boat. And in case I ever need to film a video with R. Kelly.

Moltar...

You're the only one here made of metal...

Part 1 - Part 2

Ha!

But your next test is even harder: can you find a segue for Kentucky Nightmare Shark?

Don't Tell Me How to Do It

It sickens me.

It's True

It's unlikely talking politics at a bar or party will get you into anyone's pants. (Note to self: Bone up on art and science conversation points...)

I've taken Nassim Taleb's advice and stopped reading newspapers, watching the news, etc. If it's important, you'll hear about it on a blog from someone like Micha. Or at a party, from someone who isn't getting laid that night (like Micha).

A supreme respect for private property combined with the recognition that people own their bodies, time, etc. has led me to a libertarian zen, caring far less about what other individuals are doing or what they think about me. I think it's also made me more polite, at least offline. I like to think that the minute I step out my door I'm someone's guest. But I'll still ask girls if they know what a dutch oven is if I'm laying in my own bed.

Sure, I get eked when they government finds every excuse it can to bind us together through the slavery that is collectivism, forcing people to care about the peaceful actions of their neighbors that are none of their business (which is what leads everyone to turn snitch on their neighbors, friends, and family in communist countries). But I'm one of three hundred million plus in this country, and with the electoral college and my home state never having cast their votes for anyone other than a Democrat in my lifetime, my influence is generally less than 1/300,000,000. Not devoting what precious time I've got on Earth to battling against those odds isn't giving up.

I'm living life by principles that keep me active and engaged (in my own life). It's the collectivists that have given up. I think a good chunk of people are either lazy and don't want to deal with the complexities of life or afraid of them. Some blog or another linked to an article in some newspaper or another talking about the large numbers of senior citizens that should be saving a lot of money now that they have more options under the new medicare plan but are confused by or afraid of the number of options and haven't made any changes at all. I think people that favor statism and collectivism are the folks that have given up, and this fuels the appeal of things like socialized medicine. Who cares if it costs more and provides less, so long as they don't have to compare different plans and budget for the future? Won't it be great when X is taken care of for me? It's the left's "freedom from," which is really no freedom at all, but the ultimate reframing of and perversion of their ideological opponents' best argument.

What I've always found an alien concept, is that because of one particular night in 1980, when my parents where both horny and too lazy to bother with adequate contraception, the rest of society now owes me an education, health care, a job, easy credit, housing, food and a retirement plan.

I've taken Nassim Taleb's

I've taken Nassim Taleb's advice and stopped reading newspapers, watching the news, etc. If it's important, you'll hear about it on a blog from someone like Micha. Or at a party, from someone who isn't getting laid that night (like Micha).

Hey, that's not true! I don't get invited to parties.

I agree with every word of

I agree with every word of this, and I'm only 24. I guess I'm a precocious nihilist.

Constant, You realize we

Constant,

You realize we live in a country that once had a 90% top marginal tax rate, right? Things have been far worse. The government has taken a far larger portion of our income. And yet, society survived.

Sometimes it is easy to underestimate how good we have it and how robust our society is.

Mere survival is not the goal

Survival is at best a crude measure of damage. It is not saying much to say that, hey, at least we didn't end up like the Tutsis in Ghana.

It's hard to take a 100 year

It's hard to take a 100 year view or a 50 year view without thinking that things are better than they used to be, however defined.

100 years ago

Ultimately I consider the technological changes that have occurred in the last 100 years to be many, many times more important than the political changes. I am not even sure whether the political changes were overall positive or negative, but the technological changes have been extremely beneficial to me. Since this is the case, then I do not hesitate to say that we are much better off than we were 100 years ago overall. But factor out the technological improvement and I can't give any definite answer.

Technology gives me a lot of

Technology gives me a lot of hope. Governments aren't fast enough to keep up. In the past century the left thought they could harness it for the purpose of government. Scientific socialism having completely, utterly and totally failed, statists are now petrified of technology. Whether it's the evangelicals against cloning, the greens against most all of it, both Democrats and Republicans against file sharing, or what have you.

I posed the question in an old post about which comes first, technology or freedom, and Micha rightly put me in my place (we don't see much brilliant innovation from North Korea). But what I couldn't then articulate is that there is a feedback loop in play, which is only getting faster and faster now that computing and robotics (and soon genetics) are in play.

I'm not worried about technology getting out of hand. Under the wrong government, you can already find hell on Earth. I say keep ramping the shit up until the snowball gains so much momentum no state can stop it.

I posed the question in an

I posed the question in an old post about which comes first, technology or freedom, and Micha rightly put me in my place (we don't see much brilliant innovation from North Korea).

Damn, I said that? I think I've become dumber over time; my past self continues to impress my present self with its stellar brilliance. But the reverse is not true. (Ha!)

You, like Constant, should blog more. Your two posts in this thread were inspiring.

Governments always get worse.

Governments are getting worse, governments always get worse, yet what is outside the government's power is getting stronger.

It is the nature of governments to always get worse over time, resulting in them either collapsing or being bypassed by new forms of government - thus feudalism came to be subjugated by monarchy and theocracy, monarchy led to divine right monarchy, divine right monarchs lost their heads, problem solved for a while.

The cypherpunk program was that governments would be bypassed, as organization moved to the internet, hidden behind cryptography. The cypherpunk program died, yet lives - for China's industrialization is being organized through the vpns of firms whose servers are located in the cayman islands. These firms do transactions largely by trading each other's IOUs in private conversations, often made over skype video, rather than through regular bank accounts.

In the cypherpunk vision, people of moderate wealth would escape the power of government - unfortunately what is happening is merely billionaires escaping the power of government. To revive and accomplish the cypherpunk vision, need to make these capabilities and methods more widely available - - available not just to the super rich but to the better off middle class - the sort of middle class person who has a passport of more than one country and does not need to show up at the office at 9AM every morning - and eventually to most of the middle class.

Simultaneously a variety of private use of force organizations also organized over the internet are popping up - thus for example the extortion operation against oil companies in Nigeria was in part run over the internet from South Africa.

We are seeing entirely legal and government approved mercenaries, not quite legal and sort of government approved mercenaries, illegal but government tolerated militias and armed mosques, illegal distributors of recreational chemicals very successfully resisting government power - Mexico may well be collapsing, and assorted extortionists and terrorists

Feudalism arose in substantial part because kings could not do much about vikings. Legislatures and presidents are not much use against terrorists. Victory in Iraq rested on militias. To win in Afghanistan, will have to bring back the Northern Alliance.