The Pope’s Ambition

It is now clear that he wants to enmesh the Catholic Church into politics, to make it, as it once was, a worldly temporal power.

A huge mistake, in my opinion.

Anyone will be able to say: "If the Pope is wrong about economics or climate change, what else is he wrong about? Abortion, perhaps. Or even faith."

And who is helped by this?

Separation of Powers: A Problem

Suppose the legislature of a community passes a bill that regulates guns "like cars," say. The regulations are fairly liberal and inexpensive to comply with.

A certain person, Smith, demurs. He sues the state and demands to know why his right to carry a gun to protect himself and his neighbors is supposed to be a privilege granted to him by society. It is, he claims, his natural right, not to be abridged by any positive law.

The private judge deciding the case is in fact very much into natural law and agrees with Smith. He nullifies the bill by ruling that Smith is not required to get a license.

The legislature objects. The rules, it says, are mild and not inconvenient and overall moreover are in the interest of the common good, made after a serious deliberation with an eye toward benefitting the community as a whole. How dare the judge disregard the will of the people?

It is not my interest here to find out whether gun licensing is good or not; merely to ask how the dispute between the legislative and judicial branches of government is to be resolved.

The legislature says the law is efficient. The judge says the law is unjust. Whose will is to prevail?

One possibility is to deny that an unjust law can ever be efficient. A positive law can be passed if it depends solely upon empirical considerations without violating any natural law, that is, without running counter to any deduction proceeding from analysis of human nature. For example, nothing in human nature advises us whether to punish car thieves with 5 years in prison or 7 years. The legislature can pass any law that is not unjust; as long as it is that, the positive law can direct the police however it pleases. For example, a pointed difference between cars and guns is that the state owns the roads and as this sort of owner, can set rules for the roads' uses, including demand that drivers be licensed. But the state does not own other people's land and so cannot reasonably insist that Smith must be licensed to carry a gun on anyone's -- let alone his own -- private property.

A judge then must heed all positive laws that this judge himself considers to be not unjust.

The legislature then acts first by enacting a law; judges act second and can nullify any positive law; and the executive branch acts third and can refuse to enforce either a positive law or even a judicial verdict. Thus, for example, in the US, the federal president and state governors can veto bills and pardon convicted criminals. (The reason to veto a bill is if the law is in some sense unenforceable; particularly, will undermine the executor's power to enrich his community.) The result is that no law can become valid without agreement by all three branches of government. The individual represented by judges, society represented by legislators, and state proper as the executive branch, come together to work out a legal system and compromise if need be.

Again, the king or president or whatever has no power to make law (other than to lord over government properties); he only has the power to repeal a law; he has no power to convict a person of a crime; he only has the power to overturn a conviction.

The problem with this arrangement seems to be that if a judge can nullify a statute at will, then why defer to the legislature at all? Doesn't it become entirely impotent? Here the following may work: if there is a genuine discontent between the two branches, the third, the executive can, on its own accord, pick and choose which side to take and which law to enforce. If it sides with the legislature, the positive law stands; if it sides with the judge, the positive law is annulled, and the (presumably) contrary to it natural law is affirmed. The state in this understanding is an intermediary between individual and society, brokering a deal between them in times of unresolved friction.

A Useful Constitutional Amendment

"The federal government is hereby dissolved."

Barring that, here is a less radical version:

"Congress shall lay no taxes, make no economic regulations, and run no enterprises.

"All existing taxes are abolished; regulations, repealed; and enterprises, to be sold off within 2 years time."

Trump Making Deals

Trump is used to making deals as a businessman. As per their nature, such deals are mutually beneficial.

But as president, Trump will surely realize that he has control over a vast machinery of coercion and compulsion, the federal state.

Why bother adjusting himself to the demands of other parties, as businessmen must, when he can just threaten to beat them into submission, as presidents do? Isn't it usually more efficient to do the latter? And Trump is anything if not efficient.

I consider it a strong possibility then that political power will corrupt Trump about 2 days after he takes office, and he will be the most destructive ruler the world will have known in many decades.

Economic Inequality

Is it Ok for me 10 years from now to be unequal to and better off than me today?

Or would that, too, be unfair?

White “Privilege,” 2

In the post below I deliberately use utilitarian language to hark back to Mises'

Ownership of the means of production is not a privilege, but a social liability. Capitalists and landowners are compelled to employ their property for the best possible satisfaction of the consumers. (Human Action, 311)

As a corollary, ownership not only of physical capital is this sort of a liability but of human capital (including IQ, skills, education, etc.), as well.

Other people's high IQ in a free market economy works to my advantage, even if I personally am irredeemably stupid.

Attitude Toward “Caitlyn” Jenner

I am undecided between pity and contempt.

Update. I want to add that the contempt is not for Jenner's original malady, but for what he did to his body in response to it. I mean, the guy did everything but cut off his own balls.

As Fred Reed points out, we are all tired of "compulsory concern for sexual freaks."

Prospects for Liberty, Or Lack Thereof

A story like this, "FBI Ramps Up Biometrics Programs," according to which the results of any background check will end up at the FBI, makes you wonder.

And here's what I wonder: it seems that with a steady stream of new science and technology, eventually society and the state will acquire absolute power over the individual. Individual attempts to evade or outsmart the state will no longer be possible.

Society will be able to brutalize and then destroy and annihilate any individual with remarkable ease.

I mean, there is no "good" purpose behind this FBI's initiative. They do it because they can. And their future persecution, torture, and power will be for the sake of persecution, torture, and power, certainly not for any "greater good" or some such sentimental nonsense.

For example, I foresee that in a not-too-distant future, each person will be required to wear a brain implant which will at the very least send his politically incorrect brain activity to some government database, or even simply zap and kill him whenever the device determines the person is thinking wrong thoughts. This way, dissidents will be efficiently liquidated. Privacy, freedom, security from government interference will in that super-advanced future be a thing of the past. The technologically advanced future will most prominently feature a boot stamping on a human face.

The individual will be at the complete mercy of society and state.

The only solution is for all people to become so metaphysically and morally good that even if they have all the power in the world to step on anyone's face, they, i.e., society, voluntarily and freely refuse to do so. Having acquired absolute power over the individual, the state, if humanity is to survive, will have to give that power up.

White “Privilege”

It is probably true that white people are blessed by nature to be born smarter and with greater potential and nurseries of virtues than non-whites such as blacks. Moreover, these greater IQ and natural endowments have resulted -- by being present in their parents, too -- in their being born into good families and good countries that improve their nurture, as well.

However, these greater abilities, powers, capacities about them are "privileges" only if whites fail to use them for the sake of society and the greater good or, worse, turn them into crime. (Thus, a white criminal will be far more sophisticated than a black one.) If, on the contrary, white people contribute to society to the full extent their natural talents permit, then their being compensated accordingly is in no wise a privilege.

Instead, the superiority of the white race is a social asset that belongs to all members of society including blacks. Good genes and functional families are not something whose benefits accrue to their possessor only but rather are held in trust by society and, through the working out of the market process, benefit humanity as a whole.

A privilege is underserved; if white people earn their money and status honestly, such as especially under laissez-faire, then the fruits of their labors, though indeed unequal with the fruits of labor of black people, benefit society at large including blacks and are to that extent inoffensive. Thus, blacks have profited tremendously from the civilization created by white people around whom these very blacks congregate.

How preposterous that blacks took the white man's burden -- "from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Lk 12:48) -- and turned it into a "privilege"!

Jews and Gentiles vs. Christ

The Jews alone willed that Christ be executed: remember that Pontius Pilate did not want to condemn Him.

Both the Jews and the Gentile Romans agreed on how to do that, i.e., on the plan of how to kill Him: by crucifying Him, etc.

And the Gentiles alone put the plan into action: the Jews merely watched as the Romans acted to murder the Lord.

So, the responsibility is split pretty much evenly.

Microsoft & Adobe

Goodness knows I've never complained about any product on the market, but is there any reason why Microsoft subsidizes Adobe by releasing Office with which old versions of PdfMaker do not work?

Office 2010 required Acrobat X; Office 2013, Acrobat XI; and the just released Office 2016 apparently needs Acrobat DC ("Document Cloud") to convert Word docs to PDF.

And an upgrade from Acrobat XI Standard to DC costs $140.

What's the deal with that?

Sanders’ Paid Leaves

Here's what the comrade says:

The United States must end the international embarrassment of being the only major country on earth which does not guarantee workers paid medical and family leave, paid sick time, and paid vacation time. Last place is no place for America.

Sanders must imagine that he is bringing a great boon to the masses. All this time, you see, there was cash just lying there on the table, with no one perceiving that everyone could be made much better off if only the government snapped its fingers and mandated "paid leaves," etc. Until Sanders the Great, the Wise, the Prophet, that is.

But consider that for any worker Smith, Smith indeed benefits from his own paid "leaves"; but he loses from the fact that everyone else enjoys their own paid leaves.

Smith would like to earn much for doing little himself, but when everyone earns much for doing little, overall production suffers, and everyone, including Smith, is to that extent poorer.

Thus, Smith is chilling at home on his paid leave and then decides to go to the mall and do some shopping. When he arrives, he finds that half the stores that before the enactment of Sanders' policy were open and bustling with activity are now closed, because half of all the workers who used to be doing their jobs are also on their own paid leaves!

As people refuse to produce, the goods Smith wanted to buy become unavailable, so Smith goes home empty-handed, unable to spend the money he did not earn. The goods still on the market become more expensive, as (1) overall supply drops and (2) companies recoup the losses from paying people for doing no work. Smith's paid rest is hardly free.

This is step 1 in the argument -- to point out that there are distinct costs to each worker of a coercive "paid leaves" government policy.

Step 2 is to say that this exchange of benefits for costs thus identified is made by the government in a one-size-fits-all manner (unlike what would be negotiated during job interviews based upon the unique needs of each company and each employee), which is deeply inefficient.

Another approach is to argue that the government forces Smith to be compensated by his employer in paid leaves. The company cannot be losing money by employing Smith, so if Smith produces less, his overall wages must also be lower.

Before, Smith wanted higher wages but no paid leaves, and Jones wanted lower wages but some paid leaves, and both were accommodated. Now, in an obvious contempt for individual preferences, both Smith and Jones are compelled to behave identically which is again inefficient.

A similar reasoning works when we look at it from the business's point of view. A business may have jobs that require intense commitment on the part of the workers. It can't afford to let a worker just take a leave at his pleasure. To encourage such devotion and hard work, the company is prepared to pay the worker extremely well. But after Sanders is through with the economy, this job can no longer be filled. Business efficiency is shot, and inefficient businesses mean unhappy consumers including Smith.

Thus, when choosing between everyone's -- both Smith and all other workers -- having extorted by the state freebies and no one's -- neither Smith nor any other worker -- having freebies, Smith would be well-advised to choose the latter.

Troubles Have Arisen…

... in the township of Tyr's Hand, with the local peasant population in a state of minor revolt.

To be more precise, "in the United States... compulsory nationwide sex education would present a challenge," moans The Daily Beast.

(Thanks to Lew Rockwell.)

The Quest for a Neutral Tax

It is nothing less than a (futile) attempt to prove that feudalism works as well as capitalism.

Ethics and Ideology: Were the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a War Crime?

Calling the bombings a war crime presupposes the legitimacy of limited war. The state of war is a socially accepted relation between person or group A and group B. It's just that the moral rules -- such as the international law -- that specify the proper way of behaving given that relation were not followed, and so A's atomic bombing B's citizens was proscribed.

But what if we deny that war itself is legitimate? What if we affirm that the relation between A and B called "war" can no more be recognized than the relation called "slavery"? Again, we don't have or try to work out the rules for proper treatment of slaves; why should there be rules for proper conduct of war?

Moreover, war is worse than slavery: a slave is at least alive and may have hope of escape. If we condemn slavery, then a fortiori, how much more war!

War is a way of life in (1) Stone Age autarky, (2) slave-owning society, and (3) feudalism, with each improvement of these social orders making war increasingly more limited. It was under feudalism that the law governing war-making came into its own and became best developed. The 20th century saw a reversion into total war, the consequences of which we are still dealing with. (4) Laissez-faire capitalism abolishes war as an institution.

It follows that if we do not consider war to be a legitimate state or relation between any two individuals or organizations, then the atomic bombing of the two cities can in no wise be called a "war crime." Instead, under the ideology of capitalism, it is simply a crime, a mass murder of innocents of titanic proportions. The alleged war between "US" and "Japan" was nothing of the sort; instead, certain individuals, Smith, Jones, Robinson, etc. slaughtered each other for mysterious reasons and most unjustly.

At the same time, under the ideology of total war, everything is permissible, and there are no such things as crimes including war crimes.

Now slavery already presupposes the concept of property in things other than one's body. The slaves, like merely material objects, such as weapons, forts, food, land, supply lines, etc., are tools of the slave-owner. Each slave-owner, in waging war against his peers, would want to conquer and plunder the enemy's property. Moreover, such property, including the slaves, can be legitimately destroyed if doing so helps to secure victory. However, slavery is a step up from total war. A slave-owner would not want to cleanse an enemy slave-owner from the earth entirely. He wants the spoils of war for himself. Those include slaves. The result is that it is likely that rules will be developed to minimize property damage during a war that benefits no one. We thereby enter the realm of limited warfare, insofar as slaves are now somewhat protected from harm by law.

War becomes even more limited when we move up to feudalism in which workers graduate into tax-serfs. At this point, the tax lord's peasants can no longer be considered solely his tools. True, they pay taxes to him, thereby financing his military campaigns. But they also live for themselves. They are partially free. They can even own property and run a business. The recognition of neutrality of these almost real human beings limits war still further.

Finally, capitalism does away with the legitimacy of war altogether. There are no proper rules for starting or waging war any more than rules for correct serial killing.

Ethics and Ideology

We don't have or bother speculating about any ethical rules or precepts for how masters should treat their slaves, because living in a capitalist society, we do not consider master-slave relations to be legitimate. An attempt to enslave (such as by kidnapping a person and keeping him in a hole on one's property) is a crime and that's all there is to it.

In this sense, ethics depends upon ideology understood as "a doctrine of the mutual relationship among the members of society." (Mises, Liberalism, 192)

Recruiting Socialists to Fight Communists

Was a tactic of the CIA. (Thanks to Lew Rockwell.)

How pathetic. The US government then admitted ideological defeat, namely that communism (and socialism) could not be refuted by reason and that dishonest subversion from within was the only way or one of the only ways of defeating it.

As a result, we can brand the US government itself as socialistic, because it has no idea why socialism does not work and so only rather flimsy tradition restrains it from turning totalitarian.

Think About It

When God the Father was in eternity begetting the Son, was He aware that the Son would die on the cross?

My answer is no, He was not.


I remember my distaste for chemistry in high school, because I could never understand (and still don't) how to prove an "equation" like

2H2 + O2 → 2H2O.

What chemical laws made this "identity" true? How do you derive similar reaction equations? Do you just experiment and memorize every single reaction formula or are there any a priori rules?

I mean, it looks kind of like algebra, but with totally mysterious axioms and theorems, if any.

Power Overwhelming

It's a mistake to think feminists want "equality" or ever did. If men and women are enemies battling for power, as the feminists would have it, then the end goal of the women cannot reasonably be a détente; instead, it must be unconditional surrender of the men.

And here's one strategy to achieve total dominance: the feminists indeed wanted to free women -- contrary to all reason -- to have as much sex as they wanted, but that was only step 1. Step 2 is now to have women use sex to accuse their lovers of rape.

Thereby bringing all the coercive might of the state upon their heads. All is fair in love and war which are, according to the feminists, the same thing!

What a clever roundabout plan hatched by some crafty dominatrix long ago.