Category Archives: History

Bitcoin Mining Cartels: A Total Non-Threat

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Filed under Bitcoin, History
The short SHORT version of the problem: Cartels are bad.

My short SHORT version of the solution: Fix bugs.  Focus on p2p.  Stay the course.  Ignore the cartels and they'll go away.

There is an interesting discussion on the Bitcoin forum about mining cartels. Some of the forum members are worried that a group of individuals might mount an attack on the Bitcoin network using a cartel style attack.

How is a cartel style attack potentially more of a problem than a non-cartel style attack?

Any cartel entity coordinates itself to represent a threat to the non-cartel entities.  It is comprised of people who want to subvert their target by allying themselves together to share resources and maintain "out of band" communication to that end.

In this case, the worry is that mining cartels will form to target the Bitcoin network.
How can this approach succeed against the Bitcoin network?  A cartel could generate blocks ahead of the network, holding out on announcing these new blocks until they get an advantage by manipulating these withheld blocks.  In other words, they can try to hoard new blocks while they monkey with them by creating cartelized blocks.

A cartelized block contains cartel approved transactions.  If you are being rewarded by the cartel, your transaction will be included in the block.  If you are being punished by the cartel, your transaction will be delayed or dropped completely.

I left out a lot of details in my explanation above.  If you want to know more, take a look at the original thread.

The reason I am skeptical that a mining cartel would ever represent a threat to the Bitcoin network is that in order for the cartel to succeed, it would have to run a very tight ship.

The folk in the thread I mentioned shows that there are all kinds of technical roadblocks to prevent this attack.  The most likely roadblocks typically implement more p2p solutions, not less.

In other words, add more p2p oriented features to Bitcoin so the cartel must cope with things like keeping timestamps in the proper sequence.

And I'm totally in favor of a greater p2p focus, beyond what is already implemented.  The more, the better.

Beyond that and fixing bugs, nothing formal should be done to deal with mining cartels.

Why?  Because they'll do what every other cartel has done in history.  They will self destruct on their own.  It may take some time, but down the line, I can tell, that every cartel in history either self destructs or gets violent.

An example cartel in history may have started off as a friendly pact among good business associates.  But once someone inside the cartel betrays his buddies, something has to give.

And the more p2p focus there is, the less likely violence will be possible in any meaningful way, so the mining cartel can only self destruct.  Maybe it can try to start over with a smaller, more trusted circle.  That's the only option for it: cartel fragmentation.  Fragmentation reduces the chance of a successful attack.

In historical examples, cartels get overtly violent or they join up with government so that the violence becomes legitimized by law.  Cartels benefit from the "captured regulator" effect when they join up with government so they can regulate away competition.  That's just not an option for a well focused p2p implementation.

So what if the cartel is able to maintain control of its members to keep them from breaking ranks?  Well, that's the ultimate boogie-man, isn't it?  It only takes one member to take it down.  But ok, let's say it happens.  Then what?

I'm not suggesting this would be a quick fix, but if the cartel has really done damage to the integrity of the network, then set up a new p2p currency and abandon Bitcoin, if it really is that bad off.  Call it Bytecoin or something.  Or Twobitcoin.  I liked the name Hashcash, but the name doesn't matter.  The cartels can have their own private currency all to themselves.  Either they keep spending CPU time on the old abandoned network they just took over or they start completely over with a brand new network.  Competition makes everything better.

And as Fred Brooks said, "Make one to throw away, you will anyway."

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State Dept. Busted on Support of Coup #09TEGUCIGALPA645

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Filed under Economic, History, Political
This one really bugs me for some reason.  It reminds me of the School House Rock spoof video "Pirates and Emperors."

First of all, I think it's interesting that Wikileaks is being lambasted for releasing these cables.  But I do have a question.  Is there a given cable that should have been kept a secret?  Taken as a whole, it's easy to be critical.  But if you look at them one-at-a-time, specifically which cable do Wikileak's critics claim should not have been released?  If you can find one, I'd be willing to evaluate it.  But all collectivists always love to generalize everything (that's a little dry humor, by the way, I realize I just generalized).  The point is, what is so critical to national security?  Please be specific.

I know it would take quite a while to look at them one-at-a-time.  And sometimes the problem isn't readily apparent on both sides.  So I'll agree that not all of these cables are smoking guns if the critics are willing to admit not all of them as a whole represent a breach of national security.

Taking them each carefully, there are some examples of U.S. "Hegemony" demonstrated in specific cables.  In the political game, you can't be against hegemony if you are nationalistic.  So that's simple, I'm not nationalistic.  Do I like the regimes that the U.S. government is monkeying with?  No, not really.  But not liking a regime doesn't mean I want to topple it using a relativistic approach.

I can be against elected national socialistic regimes without undermining them by using relativistic means.  I guess the democratic process is the best in the world until it isn't.  That seems to be the criteria the U.S. government uses.

U.S. "interests" trump everything, apparently.  Why would we support it?

The article below mentions an Oliver Stone documentary at the end called "South of the Border."  It's a bit dry.  It makes the point over and over that the U.S. foreign policy is being used all over South America.  The cable confirms this notion.  Internally, the U.S. has no issue secretly attempting to topple governments it doesn't like.  And while these South American governments are socialist regimes that are totally wrong, it doesn't mean anyone has to police them and "fix" them, at tax payers expense.

Believe me, I think people like Hugo Chavez and his ilk are a desease of South America masquerading as its own cure.  But U.S. involvement is like recommending cancer as a cure for AIDS.

All the U.S. does is make enemies for itself.  It spreads the IMF and the DEA which actually create more problems than they solve.  And this is the democracy that is so wonderful?  Really?

The Oliver Stone documentary also holds out the hope that the Obama Administration would correct the mistakes of past administrations.  It looks like this specific leaked cable proves nothing of the sort.  No administration is willing to leave its neighbors alone.  Yet supposedly the U.S. is hated for its freedom.  But we all suffer the consequences, giving ammunition for our neighbors hate us.

By July 24, 2009, the U.S. government was totally clear about the basic facts of what took place in Honduras on June 28, 2009. The U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa sent a cable to Washington with subject: "Open and Shut: The Case of the Honduran Coup," asserting that "there is no doubt" that the events of June 28 "constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup." The Embassy listed arguments being made by supporters of the coup to claim its legality, and dismissed them thus: "none... has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution." The Honduran military clearly had no legal authority to remove President Zelaya from office or from Honduras, the Embassy said, and their action -- the Embassy described it as an "abduction" and "kidnapping" -- was clearly unconstitutional.

It is inconceivable that any top U.S. official responsible for U.S. policy in Honduras was not familiar with the contents of the July 24 cable, which summarized the assessment of the U.S. Embassy in Honduras on key facts that were politically disputed by supporters of the coup regime. The cable was addressed to Tom Shannon, then Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Harold Koh, the State Department's Legal Adviser; and Dan Restrepo, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council. The cable was sent to the White House and to Secretary of State Clinton.

But despite the fact that the U.S. government was crystal clear on what had transpired, the U.S. did not immediately cut off all aid to Honduras except "democracy assistance," as required by U.S. law.

Instead, a month after this cable was sent, the State Department, in its public pronouncements, pretended that the events of June 28 -- in particular, "who did what to whom" and the constitutionality of these actions -- were murky and needed further study by State Department lawyers, despite the fact that the State Department's top lawyer, Harold Koh, knew exactly "who did what to whom" and that these actions were unconstitutional at least one month earlier. The State Department, to justify its delay in carrying out U.S. law, invented a legal distinction between a "coup" and a "military coup," claiming that the State Department's lawyers had to determine whether a "military coup" took place, because only that determination would meet the legal threshold for the aid cutoff.

QUESTION: And so - sorry, just a follow-up. If this is a coup - the State Department considers this a coup, what's the next step? And I mean, there is a legal framework on the U.S. laws dealing with countries that are under coup d'état? I mean, what's holding you guys [back from taking] other measures according [to] the law?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think what you're referring to, Mr. Davila, is whether or not this is - has been determined to be a military coup. And you're correct that there are provisions in our law that have to be applied if it is determined that this is a military coup. And frankly, our lawyers are looking at that exact question. And when we get the answer to that, you are right, there will be things that - if it is determined that this was a military coup, there will be things that will kick in.

As you know, on the ground, there's a lot of discussion about who did what to whom and what things were constitutional or not, which is why our lawyers are really looking at the event as we understand them in order to come out with the accurate determination.

 

But the July 24 cable shows that this was nonsense. The phrase "military coup" occurs nowhere in the document, a remarkable omission in a cable from the Embassy presenting the Embassy's analysis of the June 28 events, their constitutionality and legality one month after the fact, if that were a crucial distinction in assessing U.S. policy. And indeed, initial press reports on the statements of top U.S. officials in response to the coup made no such distinction, using the descriptions "coup" and "military coup" interchangeably.

Why did the State Department drag its feet, pretending that facts which it knew to be clear-cut were murky? Why didn't the State Department speak publicly after July 24 with the same moral clarity as the July 24 cable from the Embassy in Honduras? Had the State Department shared publicly the Embassy's clear assessment of the June 28 events after July 24, history might have turned out differently, because supporters of the coup in the United States -- including Republican Members of Congress and media talking heads -- continued to dispute basic facts about the coup which the US Embassy in Honduras had reported were not subject to reasonable dispute, and U.S. media reporting on the coup continued to describe these facts as subject to reasonable dispute, long after the Embassy had firmly declared that they were not.

As the Center for Economic and Policy Research noted in an August 2009 report, in the previous 12 months the U.S. had responded to other coups by cutting U.S. aid within days. In these cases -- in Africa -- there was no lengthy deliberation on whether a "coup" was a "military coup."

What was the difference?

A key difference was that Honduras is in Central America, "our backyard," so different rules applied. Top officials in Washington supported the political aims of the coup. They did not nominally support the means of the coup, as far as we know, but they supported its political end: the removal of the ability of President Zelaya and his supporters to pursue a meaningful reform project in Honduras. On the other hand, they were politically constrained not to support the coup openly, since they knew it to be illegal and unconstitutional. Thus, they pursued a "diplomatic compromise," which would "restore constitutional order" while achieving the coup's central political aim: removal of the ability of President Zelaya and his supporters to pursue a meaningful reform project in Honduras. The effect of their efforts at "diplomatic compromise" was to allow the coup to stand, a result that these supporters of the coup's political aims were evidently content with.

Why does this matter now?

First, the constitutional and political crisis in Honduras is ongoing, and the failure of the U.S. to take immediate, decisive action in response to the coup was a significant cause of the ongoing crisis. After nominally opposing the coup, and slowly and fitfully implementing partial sanctions against the coup regime in a way that did not convince the coup regime that the U.S. was serious, the U.S. moved to support elections under the coup regime which were not recognized by the rest of the hemisphere, and today the U.S. is lobbying for the government created by that disputed election to be readmitted to the Organization of American States, in opposition to most of the rest of the hemisphere, despite ongoing, major violations of human rights in Honduras, about which the U.S. is doing essentially nothing.

Second, the relationship of actual U.S. policy -- as opposed to rhetorical pronouncements -- to democracy in the region is very much a live issue from Haiti to Bolivia.

Yesterday there was an election in Haiti. This election was funded by the U.S., despite the fact that major parties were excluded from participation by the government's electoral council, a fact that Republican and Democratic Members of Congress, in addition to NGOs, complained about without result. The Washington Post reports that the election ended with "nearly all the major candidates calling for the results to be tossed out amid 'massive fraud.'": "12 of the 19 candidates on Sunday's ballot appeared together at a raucous afternoon news conference to accuse the government of President Rene Preval of trying to steal the election and install his chosen candidate, Jude Celestin."

Yesterday's election in Haiti had the fingerprints of the U.S. government all over it. It was funded by the U.S. "Security" for the election was purportedly provided by UN troops, paid for by the U.S. And the crucial historical context of the election was the 2004 coup that deposed democratically-elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide, a coup engineered by the U.S. with years of economic destruction clearly intended to topple the elected government.

Last week, Bolivian President Evo Morales called out the U.S. for its recent history of supporting coups in the region.

AP's treatment of President Morales' remarks was instructive:

Morales also alleged U.S. involvement in coup attempts or political upheaval in Venezuela in 2002, Honduras in 2009 and Ecuador in 2010.

"The empire of the United States won," in Honduras, Morales said, a reference to the allegations of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya that the U.S. was behind his ouster.

"The people of the Americas in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, we won," Morales continued. "We are three to one with the United States. Let's see what the future brings."

U.S. officials have repeatedly denied involvement in all of those cases and critics of the United States have produced no clear evidence. [my emphasis]

It's certainly true that critics have produced "no clear evidence" of U.S. "involvement" in any of these cases -- if your standard for "clear evidence" of U.S. "involvement" is a US government document that dictated in advance everything that subsequently happened. But this would be like saying that critics have produced "no clear evidence" for the Armenian Genocide because researchers haven't yet found a Turkish Mein Kampf. [Some who dispute that there was an "Armenian Genocide" do actually claim something like this -- "there is no proof of a plan" -- but claims like this are generally not taken seriously by U.S. media -- except when the U.S. government is an author of the crime, and the crime is recent.]

 

In the case of the coup in Venezuela in 2002, we know the following:

- Groups in Venezuela that participated in the coup had been supported financially and politically by the U.S.

- The CIA had advance knowledge of the plans for a coup, and did nothing to warn the Venezuelan government; nor did the US do anything meaningful to try to stop the coup.

- Although the US knew in advance about the plans for a coup, when these events played out, the US tried to claim that there was no coup.

- The US pushed for international recognition of the coup government.

- The International Monetary Fund, which would not take such action without advance approval from the United States, announced its willingness to support the coup government a few hours after the coup took place.

These facts about U.S. government "involvement" in the coup in Venezuela are documented in Oliver Stone's recent movie, South of the Border. This is why it's so important for as many Americans as possible to see this movie: because there are basic facts about the relationship of actual U.S. government policies -- as opposed to rhetoric -- to democracy in Latin America that major U.S. media simply cannot be counted upon to report straight. In order to successfully agitate for meaningful reform of U.S. government policy in Latin America, Americans have to know what the actual policy of the U.S. government has been, something they are unlikely to learn from major U.S. media.

And this is why Just Foreign Policy is urging Americans to organize house parties on December 10 -- Human Rights Day -- to watch South of the Border. You can sign up to host a screening here.

Here is a clip from South of the Border, in which Scott Wilson, formerly foreign editor of the Washington Post, describes the "involvement" of the U.S. in the coup in Venezuela:

And here is a clip from South of the Border in which President Morales talks with Oliver Stone about the role of the media:

Oliver Stone: "Now [Morales] is joining the Hugo ranks, becoming more the 'bad left' in the American media."

President Morales: "The media will always try to criminalize the fight against neoliberalism, colonialism, and imperialism. It's almost normal. The worst enemy I have is the media."

 

South of the Border Clip #2 from Cinema Libre Studio on Vimeo.

 

Follow Robert Naiman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/naiman

 

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Private Banking and Other Free Market Myths

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Filed under Economic, History, Political

It's time to have an adult conversation about private vs. public.  There is no private banking system, at least not on the large scale.  If we had a private banking system, it would be able to go under.  The ability to fail is one of the main criteria that makes something private.  Safety nets obscure this notion.  It blurs this distinction.  If the safety net is big enough and strong enough, it obliterates this distinction.

No organization that is shielded from failure is private.  It can't be.  Failure avoidance is the incentive that makes organizations efficient.

If you could eat ten cheesecakes with no risk, wouldn't you?  I mean no risk at all.  If the cheesecakes were free ... if you knew you wouldn't feel sick later in the short term ... if you knew you wouldn't gain weight in the long term ... if you knew you would have no chance of a coronary in the very long term ... what would stop you from eating ten cheesecakes every day?

Failure and risk are natural checks and balances.  It's the ultimate cost of doing business.

The same is true financially as with the cheesecakes.  There is no credible risk of a large bank going under.  Even if a bank looks like its at risk, it will be absorbed by another.  Assets will be transferred, liabilities will be wiped out.  The executives get their pay.  Their bonus will resume.  Did you know CEO bonuses are higher today than they've ever been, even in the middle of this recession?

 

I don't want to focus on the bonuses.  They are a drop in the bucket.  Focusing on executive bonus is just an indicator, similar to porkbarrel spending, which is also a drop in the bucket.  But if you want to know the health of an institution, take executive bonuses for banks and porkbarrel spending for legislators to extrapolate.  When they're out of whack, the institution is in trouble.

"Too Big To Fail" is just a cute euphemism for nationalization.  The banks have been nationalized long long ago.  You could say it happened in 1913 when the Federal Reserve was created.  It took a long time to devalue the currency to this point.  It's just like the frog in luke-warm water.  The frog has been in there a very long time.  It's a very tender frog.

In the real private industry, if you do a bad job, your profits are hit at some point.  You might be able to shield or cloak your losses for a while.  But eventually, reality sets in and you have to deal with the problem.  The more deception used to shield the loss, the more the losses pile up.  And if you can just call your "uncle" to make the losses just disappear, then guess what?  You are no longer in the private industry.  You've been nationalized.  It's that simple.

So what's wrong with nationalization?  Well, the failure guarantee is no longer implicit.  The failure guarantee becomes explicit.  Is there an implicit guarantee for banks anymore?  No.  It's completely explicit.  Therefore, they are a nationalized industry.  There's no need for speculating when nationalization will happen.  It's a done deal.  The implicit guarantee is an indicator that will lead to the explicit guarantee.

Has healthcare been nationalized?  Yes it has.  Is the doctor guaranteed to get paid?  Well, at the moment, the guarantee is just implicit.  If enough of them suffer devastating losses (high malpractice, financial ruin from non-payment, anything you can think of), they will become "Too Important To Fail" (or come up with some other cute euphemism).  So while doctors are still at risk of financial ruin at the moment because the relationship between doctor and government hasn't been completely hammered out in practice, there is no doubt in my mind, if a sudden crisis hits the medical field, government will pull out the safety net.  If the sudden crisis isn't forthcoming, it will be created.  "Never waste a disaster," as they say.

Is this all some big mistake?  Nope, it's by design.

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The Good Stuff

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Filed under Economic, History, Political
I am told I am a very negative person and I don't say enough good things about the United States.  Well, part of that is because we so often base our perception of the US as being its government.  But the people are the rulers, thus the elected officials are the servant government.  At least, that's how it should be.  There is also supposed to be a division between a country's private sector and its public sector, otherwise we have state run for-profit initiatives, which is a bad thing (fascism).

So I've decided to look for the good things about American, inside and outside the government.  This is by no means an exhaustive list.  This is more-or-less a grouping of accolades and accomplishments I've singled out for specific reasons.

And remember, all praise is relative opinion.

Warren G. Harding

I was asked who my favorite president was in the last 150 years.  Off the bat, President Warren G. Harding came to mind.  The reason is, when they started to see economic problems, his solution was to invite his buddies over to the White House to play cards and drink booze.

I like that approach.  Doing nothing was a pretty good plan.  True Laissez-faire.

In other words, he did nothing and the economic problems subsided quickly.  But in the process of doing nothing, he also allowed the Federal Reserve System to continue to exist, so that was a Bad Thing.  Not his fault, but not something he saw fit to fix either.

Harry Truman

There had to be another president on my list, so after doing a little more research, I've decided Harry Truman is another favorite.  He did a lot more than nothing.  He got the federal government out of the way of the free market.  He started to restore the gold standard after the war.  He repealed price controls that were put in place for the war.  In other words, he did things that were detrimental to the growth of the Federal Government.  He took his oath seriously.

Any president who puts us back on the gold standard gets a AAA rating in my book.  If Bush had done it even after all of what has happened, even after saying, "I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system," I would have given him a AAA rating if he would have at least put us back on the gold standard.  Keep in mind, if Bush did that, the dollar would probably have to be revalued to $40,000 per gold ounce instead of $35 like in Truman's day, but that's a step in the right direction (I just pulled that number out of the air, same place the dollar comes from).

SpaceX

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is an American space-transportation startup company founded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. It is developing partially reusable launch vehicles - the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 - and the Dragon series of space capsules.
Source: Wikipedia

The reason this is impressive is that they did this in spite of all the resistance and interference of the government.  But it also illustrates where private industry is technologically.

Chinese Food

Technically, I'm referring to American-Chinese Food, but this 15 minute video sums it all up:

Is America Number One?

Here's an ABC special from late 1999 featuring John Stossel.  It's 40 minutes long and outlines exactly why I'm happy to be here.

Coming To America

So there you have it.  That's the good stuff about America.  I'm sure there's a lot more, but remember, I'm a curmudgeon.

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Your Token Government

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Filed under History, Political
As part of an ongoing dialog with fellow Christians, when the discussion leads to politics, as it does many times, my position seems to perplex.  Many times, it boils down to the question, "What is the legitimate role of government?"

And if you know me, the answer I give is none whatsoever.

I concede that if we are forced to have a government, then the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and private property.  Or, to put it even more simply, the role of government is to protect individual rights.  Anything more is an overstep of bounds.

But if we are forced to have a government, that force can go beyond the original role.  Why?  Because it was forced upon us in the first place.

Yet this is what people probably mean when they say they are in favor of small government.  They're in favor of small force, hoping that it won't become big force.  Of course, this also turns on the notion that any person in favor of government smaller than you 
like is considered to be some kind of anarchist.

With Christians, the discussion leads to Romans 13 and other parts of scripture.  Ok, so if that's you, then here's a question for you:

How can anyone defend small government using Romans 13?  I don't think the original audience saw Rome as a small government.

Also if you can manage to demonstrate that small government is authorized by Romans 13, how small can it be before it becomes unbiblical?

Well, I have yet to get a good answer to those questions.

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Because of Romans 13

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Filed under History

anarchism n.

  1. The belief that proposes the absence and abolition of government in all forms.
  2. Specifically, a political and philosophical belief that all forms of involuntary rule or government are undesirable or unnecessary, and that society could function without a ruler or involuntary government (a state).

 Me: I don't think government
     should have a monopoly
     on the use of force.
You: I don't even know what
     that means.
 Me: Well, you know what
     government is, right?
You: Yes.
 Me: And you know what a
     monopoly is, right?
You: Yes.
 Me: And you know what force
     is, right?
You: Yes.
 Me: So where's the
     confusion?
You: Well, I guess I've never
     put it all together like
     that. I thought monopoly
     was part of business and
     stuff.
 Me: Yes and no.
You: Government isn't in the 
     business of force.
 Me: It's not?
You: I don't think so.
     Government is about law
     and order.  Justice.
     Stuff like that.
 Me: And when it isn't?
You: Well, it's not perfect.
     Nobody said it was.
     It's the best option we
     have, though.
 Me: And how did you come to
     that conclusion?
You: I guess from school.
 Me: You mean government
     school?
You: And church.
 Me: You mean the 501(c)(3)
     organization?
You: What?
 Me: Churches have a tax
     status called 501(c)(3)
     that gives them economic
     favors from government.
You: OK, look.  Even if
     that's true, which I
     seriously doubt, the
     Bible says we should
     submit to government.
     The church just teaches
     what the Bible says.
 Me: So we should submit to
     our government because
     the Bible says so?
You: Because of Romans 13.
 Me: Was Paul writing to you?
You: Yes, all of us.
 Me: So Paul was writing to
     all humans, everywhere,
     all time?
You: Well, I guess he did
     have a specific audience
     in Rome.  But it still
     applies.  It's good
     advice.
 Me: What advice was Paul
     giving in Romans 13?
You: That government exists
     whether we like it or
     not.  That government is
     of God.  And the greater
     context is that we
     should live in harmony
     with one another.
 Me: So if a government 
     exist, that alone is
     prima facie evidence
     that God created that
     government?
You: Prima facie-wa?
 Me: Prima facie evidence is
     evidence that is correct
     "on its first
     appearance" or correct
     just at a glance.
You: Yes, in a nutshell, but
     I think you're about to
     use that against me
     somehow.
 Me: Exactly.  What about
     King George III of the
     United Kingdom?
You: What about him?
 Me: Did Paul imply that King
     George was of God?
You: But you aren't talking
     about starting a new 
     government like the
     colonialists did.
 Me: So then, it's OK to 
     resist King George
     because the colonialists
     intentions were to set
     up a new government in
     its place?
You: I think you're trying to
     trap me again.  All I'm
     saying is that you can't
     use Romans 13 to defend
     your position.
 Me: Only you can.
You: Well, yeah, because the
     outcome is still at
     least a government when
     it's all over.
 Me: I don't see anything in
     Romans 13 that says you
     can resist a government
     that is of God for any
     reason.  So how was the
     American Revolution
     justified in resisting
     King George?  I'm just
     asking you to be
     consistent.  The
     American Revolutionary
     War began when armed
     conflict between British
     regulars and colonial
     militiamen broke out in
     New England in April
     1775. Were the
     militiamen acting 
     consistently with Romans
     13?
You: Among the two choices,
     be ruled from afar by
     King George or be ruled
     by a republic, the 
     republic represented the
     best situation yet still
     fit within Romans 13 
     example.
 Me: So even if I could 
     provide an even better
     situation, if it doesn't
     fit within the Romans 13
     example, it is not a
     viable option?
You: Yes, you got it!
 Me: May I disagree with you?
You: Well of course, but keep
     in mind, you are 
     disagreeing with God.
 Me: Maybe so.  But if I was
     to disagree with you,
     would you take steps to
     keep me from acting on
     my disbelief or would
     you leave it between me
     and God?
You: Me personally?  No, I 
     don't think I would.  
     It's between you and 
     God.
 Me: That's great!  So if you
     were "asked" to 
     "contribute" one half of
     one cent towards keeping
     me from acting on my
     belief, would you not
     contribute?
You: Wait a second.  You mean
     pay my taxes, right?
 Me: Right.  It might cost $1
     million for government
     to deal with me.  Your
     "fair share" is maybe
     about one half of one
     cent.
You: Well.  I guess I would
     pay if it kept me out of
     jail.
 Me: So either jail or be@arrowj, TSD Core
     jailed.
You: Because of Romans 13.
 Me: Is that what Paul meant
     by, as you say, living
     in harmony with one
     another?
You: But that's your own
     fault, not mine.
 Me: It's my own fault?
You: Yes.  You're the one in
     error.  Clearly.
 Me: So you are banking on
     your interpretation of
     Romans 13 to absolve
     your role in the use of
     force by government to
     throw me in jail for
     acting to resist
     government?
You: You call it an
     interpretation, but it's
     pretty widely accepted.
 Me: Widely accepted by the
     501(c)(3) organizations?
You: You seem to think you
     have a better idea than
     government.  But
     government is God's
     idea.  How can you have
     a better idea than God
     does?
 Me: God, by definition, has
     the best ideas.  I do
     not believe Romans 13
     defines your government
     as one of those ideas.
You: You hold a minority
     opinion.  If you can get
     more people to believe
     the way you do, maybe
     things will change.
 Me: So until then, be
     jailed?
You: That's our system.
 Me: No, that's your system.
You: You can always leave.
     You always have that
     option.
 Me: So be jailed or leave.
     Those are my options?
You: All you're doing is
     trying to make me sound
     like a monster.  But
     what you're talking
     about sounds an awfully
     lot like anarchy.  I
     think maybe you are the
     monster.
 Me: And government schools
     told you anarchy is
     chaos.  501(c)(3)s
     told you anarchy is not
     of God.
You: You keep turning this
     around on me.  I don't
     like that very much.
     I'm sorry I called you a
     monster.  Let's agree to
     disagree!
 Me: I am just pointing out a
     conflict of interest.
You: The Romans 13
     interpretation is clear
     enough that a conflict
     of interest wouldn't
     matter, if it even
     existed.
 Me: And there is no doubt in
     your mind that God
     grants a monopoly use of
     force to government
     because of Romans 13?
You: I'm still not sure what
     you mean by that.  
     Wouldn't anarchy also
     require force?
 Me: Yes.
You: So what's the
     difference?
 Me: Imagine there were two
     governments on the same
     plot of land that you
     and I could choose from.
     Neither government was
     perfect.  But you and I
     could pick our 
     allegiance between theNow What?
     two at any time or on a
     whim.  Those two
     governments would have
     to compete for scarce
     allegiance.  Technically
     speaking, these
     governments are not 
     governments because they
     do not have a monopoly.
     Therefore, we have
     anarchy.
You: I don't get how that's
     any better.
 Me: Scarce allegiance is how
     it's better.  
     Competition makes 
     everything better.
You: Yeah, well I bet over
     time, one will get much
     bigger than the other
     until eventually one
     crushes the other and
     you're back where you
     started.
 Me: There were only two in
     my illustration, but
     that's why there
     actually needs to be
     more than two.  The
     number should actually
     be unlimited.
You: That's crazy.  That
     would be a huge mess.  
     How is there any
     accountability in a
     thing like that?
 Me: Is there accountability
     now?
You: Yes.  There is more
     accountability now than
     there would be if
     everybody had their own
     one-person-government.      
     That's just total
     anarchy.
 Me: Does $12 trillion of
     debt represents a system
     that has *any* semblance
     of accountability?
You: $12 trillion of debt is
     a lot better than total
     anarchy.
 Me: Isn't it nice how you
     get to decide that and
     not me, but I am 
     considered bound by that
     debt anyway?
You: Like I said, it's not
     perfect.  Anyway, I'm
     trying to change that
     from the inside.  All
     you're doing is standing
     on the outside, maybe
     even adding $1 million
     to it so the government
     will go after you.  At
     least I'm being
     productive.
 Me: Because of Romans 13.
You: Because of your screwed
     up interpretation of
     Romans 13, yeah.
 Me: I bet a lot of colonials
     accused each other in a
     similar way.  Those in
     power have a way of
     turning us against each
     other.  Many colonials
     thought a 1% or 2% tax
     wasn't really too much
     to ask as long as they
     could keep the relative
     peace.  Isn't it
     interesting that now we
     are asked to pay 40%.
You: I didn't pay 40%.  I got
     my Federal tax return
     filed and it was less
     than that.
 Me: If you don't pay 40%,
     your children pay the
     difference plus whatever
     they pile on by then
     because that is at least
     what is spent right now,
     at least on the books.
You: And you yourself are
     adding to it!  Stop it!
 Me: So you think it's    
     reasonable to send
     accusations my way for
     your government's out-
     of-control spending?
You: There are a lot of
     things you can do
     without risking the
     government coming down
     on you like a ton of   
     bricks.
 Me: For now, that may be
     true.  But that list of
     things is getting
     smaller, which is
     convenient for you.
You: Like what?
 Me: Well, just take free
     speech.  Public
     speaking.  That's on the
     top of your list, right?
You: Yes.  That should be
     safe.
 Me: Well, have you ever
     heard of "Free Speech
     Zones?"  I happen to
     think free speech zones
     are wherever I happen to
     be standing (via Michael
     Badnarick).
You: I don't agree with "Free
     Speech Zones."  But the
     prohibited zones are
     easy to avoid.  What are
     you doing, seeking them
     out just to get in
     trouble?
 Me: I haven't done that, but
     are you suggesting I am
     wasting tax payer funds
     if I did that?
You: Yes.
 Me: Because of Romans 13?
You: Because of Romans 13.
 Me: Well, my friend.  I see
     that as circular, flawed
     reasoning.
You: How so?
 Me: We have a differing
     interpretation, but your
     interpretation 
     authorizes the use of
     force against my
     interpretation because
     of my interpretation.
You: But I'm right, clearly.

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Gospel Effect: Nero vs. US President

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Filed under History

So I've come to a conclusion about the difference between Nero and a US President.  Both were/are the heads of state in an imperialistic, violent regime.  Both were/are drunk with power.  I've had several people dialog with me about my position on Romans 13:1-7.  Basically, the question they ask me is why do I think we should resist our government today but Paul's original audience didn't really have to?

Some believe the study of Nero is problematic because they question the reliability of ancient sources when reporting on Nero's alleged tyrannical acts.  Let us set that issue aside for the moment and assume all of the hateful things reported were true.

In fact, let's assume it was worse for the Christians than the historical documents say.  Where the historical documents might say Nero persecuted Jewish believers, it's entirely possible some of those Jewish believers were in fact Christians.

It's true that the people who received the letters from the apostles didn't have the same situation as we do today.  Even though Nero's rule was centralized and absolute, there were other technological limitations.  An edict or ruling from Nero would take months to reach all points of his empire.  But today, there is no delay at all.  In fact, markets react before the executive orders or the legislative rulings are signed.

Although Nero had a formal centralized government at his command, each region functioned more-or-less autonomously in most matters.  On specific edicts or rulings, it took quite a bit of time for them to spread and even more time to implement.

If Nero decided to confiscate all of the gold in the Roman Empire, it would have had a rather tough time actually accomplishing it.  But we know from US History, this task was relatively easy in the United States during the FDR administration.  US Policy policies and decisions literally go coast-to-coast in an instant.

Today, the President can declare CO2 an illegal pollutant which means our very life process is in violation of the law.  Can you imagine Nero pulling something like that off?  They would have laughed him off his thrown.

I believe the US Regime is a full frontal assault intended to hinder the spread of the Gospel.  Instead of private citizens going out from the US to go along side the people of other nations and show them the truth, this government is using our resources (by taxation) to send the military to kill people and break things.

In Nero's day, the gospel permeated and flourished in spite of the Roman regime.  Yet today, the United States is still the fifth largest mission field.

The general response from a lot of Christians about why we're winding down the Gospel is that it is God's plan as read in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation.  Sorry.  That's stupid.  God would not undermine the Gospel like that.  Go back to studying scripture.

So if biblical teachings in the United States are on the decline and God isn't behind it, which must mean mankind is.  But many Christians like to point to "end times" as the real cause.  It's that convenient?  We have a responsibility to spread the good news and then when we fail, we chalk it up to being God's will??

Or maybe there's another explanation.  Maybe we are just bad witnesses and that's all.  Christians have a higher rate of abortion, divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, and lies to cover them up.  No wonder the world laughs at us.

It's truly sad that Jesus has forgiven us.  Jesus is for losers, and we certainly excel at that point.  And we will make sure we find every possible method to prove that fact over and over.  Is there a sick and twisted way to prove Jesus should not have died for my sins?  My depraved mind will find a new example before the day is over.

The way eschatology is preached today just the current sick and twisted method pastors like at the moment.  I prefer the word, "Exit-ology" as in, "The study of how *we* Christians will exit this world before *we* make it any worse for *those* sinners."

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Richard Dawkins is Misguided

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Filed under History, Political

Believe me when I say I can take any subject and pretty much tie it back to a political argument. It's not hard because the state has ensconced itself into every facet of life.

A friend of mine recommended that I read "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins. It seems that Dawkins' primary beef is that 40% of Americans don't buy evolution. He explains that this is the primary purpose of writing his book. And that's a fine reason indeed. If you have a viewpoint you want to get across, write a book and help people understand.

But that's not why Dawkins is misguided. You have to ask yourself, why is it so important to Dawkins that everyone accept evolution as fact? Well, that's where I get political. Dawkins wants science to be pure. He wants it to be free from pseudo science. And on that, we both agree. But he believes that the only way to do it is to convince the general public to accept evolution. And that's where I disagree. Science shouldn't ever depend on a majority.

If science can only be done by consensus, there will always be conflict. So the solution is to get away from the need for consensus. I'm talking about general consensus, not consensus within science itself.

If you don't get away from consensus, you have to turn to indoctrination. But it shouldn't matter if 50% + 1 of the general public accept one conclusion over another. You can present the general public a mountain of evidence, yet they believe what they want (see OJ trial). Science should be unfettered by general consensus. If the evidence leads a certain place, science should follow that evidence, even if 100% - 1 person believe otherwise.

The problem is that science is funded primarily by government and coercion. Grants come with strings attached. But even if the strings don't affect the outcome of scientific research, a moral problem still exists. The moral problem is that the funds were obtained by violent means.

Government should not be involved in research. It should not do science. There needs to be a separation of science and government, but instead there's a lobby. Research should be funded voluntarily. Political angles always surface. The scientists who do the research that tends to lead to pro-state political outcomes will successfully lobby the funding while the research that leads away from pro-state outcomes will get ignored.

There will always be piles and piles of money waiting to go somewhere. Some of it goes into war. Some of it goes into major economic sectors. But even what's left over for scientific research is huge.

The above is a problem even assuming there is no fraud in scientific research. But imagine what kind of money-pit could happen if research is falsified for a time just to get at that cash-cow. Nobody is surprised when fraud is found in the commodities industry. If "Big Oil" or "Big Iron" is caught with its hand in the cookie-jar, it's almost expected and they get a slap on the wrist. So why would scientific research free from the same scrutiny and suspicion?

There is another gentleman named Dan Dennett who has similar but not identical misguided ideas about education. Dennett is a little less of a prick about it than Dawkins. Where Dawkins would beat people over the head with scientific research, Dennett's approach would be to beat people over the head with all other religions.

Their ideas might be different, but both approaches on dealing with their ideas are identical. They both pine over the democratic implication of ignorance. They both want to take their appeal directly to children, bypassing the parents because they know better.

Dennett claims he wants the parents involved but then asserts that children must be taught all facts in all religion, possibly against the wishes of the parents. I'm sure there are some parents that are totally in favor of this idea. There are some who would rather home school their children, at great expense, to avoid it. Dennett wants to mandate his curriculum policy even for the home schooled.

Both Dawkins and Dennett want to teach their overarching philosophies regardless of what parents value. Check it out, and listen to their recommended tactical political policies:

While Dawkins outright attacks religion, Dennett fanes support for it:

I highly recommend you watch both of the above. It is where education is headed whether you like it or not. The only solution is to abolish government schools. These nutjobs will continue to assert their dastardly policies piggybacking scientific research to get there.

By the way, I'll put anybody on the intelligent design side of the discussion into the "nutjob" category if they are trying to mandate national policies for education too. I know they exist. None of it is valid if the goal forced curriculum. Both sides of the origins debate are trying to leverage public opinion and that's what I object to.

As for the true science itself, I have no objection to it. If you want to research evolution by natural selection, do it. Have fun. It is certainly compelling science. And if you want to teach a curriculum on the same, do it. Offer your curriculum to schools that want to teach it. But don't force it on people by offering it as a national policy. If you have the truth, it should be self-evident. You shouldn't need the violent apparatus of the state to get what you want.

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A Tribute to the Polish People | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

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Filed under History
Tagged as
This movement should create a situation in which authorities will control empty stores, but not the market; the employment of workers, but not their livelihood; the official media, but not the circulation of information; printing plants, but not the publishing movement; the mail and telephones, but not communications; and the school system, but not education.

An excellent article about where we're headed in the US. Check out the whole article when you get a chance.

Posted via web from Anthony Martin's Weblog

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Nationalistic Recovery Administration

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Filed under History, Political
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You should listen to the talk by Roger W. Garrison, who spoke at this year's Mises University. One of the things he mentions is this idea of a NRA. No, not the National Rifle Association. In 1933, the NRA was a program President Franklin Roosevelt established to deal with prices (among other things) in The Great Depression, and it stood for National Recovery Administration.

This NRA symbol was later banned to prevent misuse. That shows how powerful symbolism is. The Obama version is called Recovery.gov. History just repeats itself.

Garrison talks about how the Cash for Clunkers program was supposed to last until November, 2009. Congress originally allocated $1 billion, which was supposed to last that long. But the program was more popular than they realized.

As you recall, the bill requires that the cars be destroyed. No resale, no charity, no exports to foreign nations. Not even a moment’s consideration to whether the drive-train could be used by anyone, for anything, anywhere.

Garrison mentions the fact that Roosevelt had pigs slaughtered in the fields and left to rot, in a vane attempt to bring prosperity to all.

So an interesting comparison to the wastefulness of these programs, by Garrison's estimate, Roosevelt had 24 pigs killed for every car Obama destroys, up to the $1 billion point (adjusted for inflation). Garrison made that estimate back in late July of this year, so at the time, he didn't know it was going to be extended due to popularity.

To extrapolate, I think that means when Congress spends $3 billion on the revised version of the plan, the equivalent pigs slaughtered per car will become 8 to 1. Many countries in the EU have made their Cash for Clunkers program permanent, so how long before Obama will have crushed more cars than Roosevelt slaughtered pigs?

At the end of the MU talk, Garrison shows a public service announcement made in 1933 for support of Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration, urging employers to hire. Moe Howard from the Three Stooges appears as an exterminator, whom Jimmy Durante urges to hire more men.


Source: YouTube

I also highly recommend listening to the MU talk. It was given on July 31st, 2009. Amazing stuff. Just listen and look for the parallels to today.


?The Great Depression by Roger W. Garrison
Download now or listen on posterous

MU2009_Garrison2_07-29-2009.mp3 (13318 KB)


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