Redheads, 2

This could actually be an exam question in an Intro to Ethics course. The answer is that, on the contrary, it is a reason precisely not to murder redheads.

This is because pleasure after an act is performed increases both its merit and demerit. If you feed the hungry and feel happy afterwards, then by that very fact your holiness is increased. If you murder someone and feel happy afterwards, then, since you rejoice in evil done, this time the happiness increases your guilt and corrupts you still further.

So, if indeed "general happiness" in a community increases after it cleanses all the redheads by murdering them, then this fact intensifies the hair colorists' guilt, and so more punishment is by justice due to them to counteract and negate the alleged happiness.

Murdering Redheads

If a community's murdering all the redheads in it would in fact increase general happiness, is it a reason to go through with the murder, even if it is perhaps outweighed by other, perhaps stronger, reasons?

Or is it no kind of reason at all?

Repairing Windows 10 Built-In Apps

After upgrading to Windows 10 1511 my Groove Music stopped working; it would open and close immediately. If you are experiencing a similar problem, here's how to solve it.

1. First, uninstall Groove as follows. Run PowerShell as an administrator.
2. Run

Get-AppxPackage *zunemusic* | Remove-AppxPackage

. Replace *zunemusic* with *zune* to uninstall both Groove Music and Movies & TV, if that is malfunctioning, too.
3. Open Windows Explorer. Look under the View tab in its ribbon and make sure that the "Hidden items" box is checked. Navigate to and enter C:\Program Files\WindowsApps.
4. Agree to gain permanent access to it. At first, you will not see anything in it.
5. Right-click on the WindowsApps folder and choose Properties.
6. Click the Security tab; click Advanced. The dialog box "Advanced Security Settings for WindowsApps" will pop up.
7. Take a look at Owner. The text may say that it can't even identify or show the owner. Click Change next to it.
8. In "Enter the object name to select" type your own user id; click Check Names for the system to find the full id if necessary. This will dismiss the dialog box.
9. A checkbox will appear under Owner saying "Replace owner on subcontainers and objects". Check it.
10. Check "Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object" at the bottom of the dialog.
11. Click Ok and wait for the operation to complete. Now you have full access to everything under C:\Program Files\WindowsApps.
12. In that folder find all folders that begin with "Microsoft.ZuneMusic" (and "Microsoft.ZuneVideo"). Delete all of them.
13. Start or restart Windows Store. Search for Groove (and Movies & TV). Install them.

That should do it!

In my case, also my Microsoft Solitaire Collection got corrupted. Fix it similarly by using *solitaire* to uninstall it, deleting all folders under WindowsApps that start with "Microsoft.MicrosoftSolitaireCollection", then installing it again from Windows Store.

Toward a Decent Cosmological Argument

The essence of a thing is a full description of it in its particularity. It is complete information, exhaustive dossier on it. Now information is first and foremost in the mind. For the cup on my desk, for example, the cup's essence existed in its crafter's mind before he fashioned it out of matter. He imprinted matter with form with the help of his labor, causing the form to come to reside in "solid reality."

The cause of essence then is the mind of an intellectual creature. But the essence itself, as an idea or an ideal entity, content of a thought, is fundamentally helpless: it's causally inefficacious. It cannot on its own accord jump out of my mind and shape matter according to itself.

An uninstantiated essence can be said to be in potentiality; a real object is essence brought into the act of existing.

Thus, essence + existence = concrete object, a suppositum. The suppositum can itself certainly be in numerous acts by "doing various things" proper to it: it can be getting hotter, or expand, or be building a bridge, or be enjoying a cut of coffee. It can initiate and maintain its acts. But the suppositum itself is its essence in act.

Concrete objects exhibit a measure of stability. Once an essence is united with existence, the resulting thing is more-or-less permanent. It resists being destroyed. A baseball can hit a window but fail to break it if its speed is low enough. Now the reason why glass is sturdy is in virtue of the bonds or forces between its molecules and atoms and so forth. However, I am talking about union not between molecules here but rather between the essence of glass and its existence. The forces are of no account; for example, an electron is an elementary particle and cannot be destroyed by being taken apart. But the question of what unites the essence of a particular concrete electron and the electron's existence remains vital.

We may even suppose that concrete objects have existed forever and were never brought into existence. Assume that no mind equipped with creative power reduced the ideal entities it was contemplating to actual existence. Our argument does not depend on any such event actually occurring. Regardless, a suppositum, being a real thing, can cause and act (be warming up, etc.). But an essence, being an ideal thing, cannot. But an act is something that must be continuously performed by a thing. If an essence cannot perform the act of its own existing, then something else, some real suppositum, must.

Call that thing G1. If it's real, then it itself is a union of essence and existence. G1's essence must in turn be activated by some G2. The problem is merely pushed back. To avoid infinite regress, we need to postulate some G whose essence and existence are not at all distinct but in fact are numerically identical to each other, self-same. G is such that its essence is existence. It is by its very nature in act; moreover, it is perfectly strong, indestructible; its essence, being identical with existence, cannot be cleaved from this existence, and therefore G cannot corrupt or die. It is a thought thinking itself into reality.

That G is what we call God.

Re: Open Borders: A Libertarian Reappraisal

I understand Lew Rockwell's anti-immigration argument as follows:

If all land and property, including roads, etc., in the US were privately owned, then it would be the case that in fact these private property owners would exclude most of the world population from coming to live anywhere in the US.

Though this is a counterfactual, Rockwell finds it plausible.

In my view, however, he is theoretically wrong, because he does not grasp the nature of roads which are by their essence publicly accessible and most likely government-owned.

I have blogged on the natural right to walk or roam the earth before: A Natural Right; Travel. By "community" I mean nothing bigger than a large business (e.g., Microsoft), university, church, or gated community, certainly smaller than a town.

Thus, public roads connect private properties with each other. They facilitate commerce and trade.

As a result, the state cannot open the roads to "natives" and close them to "foreigners," as the natural right to walk to earth is universal. Freedom of immigration is thereby defended.

NB: This conclusion denies only the Rockwell's specific argument against open immigration. There may be, and are, other, perhaps better, arguments against it.

Basic Income Guarantee

Tom Woods has interviewed Matt Zwolinski, a leading theoretician of libertarian justifications for a basic income guarantee (BIG).

I have blogged against this idea and Zwolinski's version of it in particular before, concluding that there is little libertarian or even sensible about it.

Let's see what new things Zwolinski has come up with since.

His main claim is that many (he does not know how many or exactly which ones) existing property titles have been unjustly acquired. Looting the looters in the form of a BIG, despite ignoring the distinctions between the guilty and innocent, still increases justice overall. It is better to loot every non-poor person than to abstain from looting them, because the latter would acquiesce in more injustice than the former would create.

To evaluate this idea it is necessary to distinguish between (1) the system of claiming and transferring property rights vs. (2) the existing set of property titles. Suppose for the sake of argument that most of (2) are unjustly held. Very well, a justice-utilitarian BIG should continue until the injustices have been rectified. But only if it goes along with a libertarian reform of (1); otherwise it's irrational, to sin again and again and do penance and recover again and again. Once justice has been restored, all compensations should cease and a libertarian (1) should from then on govern the formation of (2).

The claims of the oppressed are not infinite and in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Moreover, I think that the "real serious privilege and injustice that we ought to recognize from the libertarian perspective" will be resolved automatically as the (fully freed and enabled) market process proceeds. If Smith stole a million bucks, then even if he keeps the dough, he is probably a bad businessman and will lose the money posthaste in the market competition. Crime does not pay even in this widest of senses. If, on the contrary, Smith becomes still richer off his ill-gotten gains, then his wealth-creating for other people activities will work as partial atonement. Either way, justice will be served.

Zwolinski has a second argument close at hand. At least some of the poor today, he says, despite the fact that almost everyone has benefitted from the regime of private property and free market, are poor precisely because they are not in a position to be original appropriators. They would have been successful pioneers, exploring the New World, say, but the present society where most land is privately owned has handicapped them. I find this to be particularly implausible, because the pioneers were precisely the rugged individualists who could survive and prosper anywhere, both in a primitive and developed economy. A decisive counter-point, however, is that Zwolinski's BIG is universal, applying to everybody, irrespective of income, net worth, employment status, etc. Compensating the would-be "pioneers" is not, as he himself points out; besides, how many of them can there be, and how would we identify and find them?

David Gordon objects as follows: Zwolinski says that "people did not create natural resources. How then can people claim absolute property rights to these resources? I wonder why Zwolinski thinks that this question may be asked of individual claimants to property, but not of the people in a society taken collectively. 'Society' did not create natural resources either. Why then does 'society' get to decide what the proper distribution of these resources ought to be?" Our author has to prove two propositions, (a) that a Georgist tax is just; (b) that the revenues collected from this tax ought to be used on a BIG as opposed to, say, on building roads.

I think that by insisting on his Georgist argument Zwolinski has indeed painted himself into a corner. There is no indication that he is rejecting the idea that there are natural rights to property for either individuals or society. He is grasping at this peculiar straw -- that compensation is allegedly due to latecomers to homesteading of land as per David Schmidtz's theory -- to convince himself that there is nothing sacred about the existing ownership status quo, and as a result, property titles can be reconfigured via monthly paroxysms of theft at a moment's notice and at the philosopher's will.

Here Zwolinski is again confusing (1) and (2). Even assuming there is nothing sacred about (2) which admittedly is subject in the market process to constant re-adjustment anyway, there is something holy about libertarian (1). Such a (1) would make compensations otiose or would at least significantly limit them, such as perhaps to a one-time lump-sum payment, as Woods suggests to Zwolinski, as well. I think Zwolinski will proceed by arguing that if people refuse to accept a reform of (1), maybe they can be persuaded to adopt one of (2) which will be more libertarian than neither. I say that this is far more trouble than it's worth. Listen to the interview for Woods' numerous "pragmatic" objections.

Is it the case that present landowners should be subject to a Georgist land tax which should be used to guarantee basic income to all non-landowners? Quite frankly, I fail to see the required connections. Owning land does not entail either high net worth or high income; nor failing to own land, low net worth or low income. (Think of all the people who are "house poor.") Most land is for sale, anyway; anyone can become or cease to be a landowner. Land owners are not feudal autocrats but act within the market and are compelled to use their properties in the best interests of the consumers who include non-land owners. And as Zwolinski himself trenchantly explains in the interview, land and capital owners are the main force responsible for our present civilization and prosperity. Why then shouldn't the far less meritorious landless masses compensate them for their troubles?

Lockean proviso, that when appropriating unowned land one ought to leave "as much and as good" for others, is an olden way of referring to moderate scarcity: it is certainly true that a world of neither super-abundance nor extreme dearth will serve up the right incentives for social cooperation. As Gordon points out, its practical utility is minimal.

Finally, a quote like "we've obviously committed severe injustices against many of the world's peoples both through our military imperialistic adventures; I believe we commit further injustices against them by means of suppressing their freedom of movement with immigration restrictions..." makes one wonder whether Zwolinski knows what he is talking about. Who're these "we"? Why does he conflate the people with the government? As Gene Callahan has taught us, the employees of the US federal government, such as soldiers, are part of an enterprise organization devoted to a common purpose; whereas the people living in the US are part of a civil association, united only by adherence to a common system of law. None of us in this conversation here therefore personally committed any injustices against any person or people. As a result, since we know that we are innocent, we can be immediately excluded from financing any compensation scheme that is based, as Zwolinski's scheme is, on minimization of overall injustice.

A “Crazy, Highly Neurotic” Wasserman Schultz

She misidentifies an attack on her (by Trump) as a "misogynistic" attack on all women.

Schultz is an über-narcissist, too, apparently.

Thanks to Lew Rockwell.

Nation or Government?

Lew Rockwell has created a puzzle on his blog Political Theater. He writes in two separate posts that:

(1) the alleged "national" debt is in fact debt of the government;

(2) erasing national borders, as George Soros would have it, is a terrible idea.

I asked him in an email: Lew, how can you say at the same time that national debt is in fact government debt, yet that government borders are in fact national borders?

He did not reply, so here's my attempt at resolving the apparent paradox.

First, when a state is identified with a nation, at least each state is limited in wrecking its havoc to the territory of "its" captive nation.

Further, Lew is pointing out that the abolition of the Hungarian state will result in empowerment and imposition of the European super-state.

Well, in political practice, that's probably what'll happen and what Soros wants to make happen. At the same time, it is a false dilemma. A third alternative could be "no state at all."

Re: Is Having a Loving Family an Unfair Advantage?

Becky Akers blogs on an article about the philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse's analysis of the family. "I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity," says Swift.

The thesis is that the cause of equality delegitimizes the family, because obviously good genes and good environment in which children grow up gives them an edge over the less lucky people.

As always in these risible ruminations on equality, the authors realize early enough how hard and even impossible the task of uplifting the worse off really is. Unwilling to abandon their great goal, they opt instead to champion the indeed far easier thing, and that is to drag down and ruin the better off. It's yet another attempt to defend envy, i.e., the indefensible.

There is no surprise here, and that is why the article is boring.

Parental care has most salutary aspects of both competition and cooperation. First, better cared-for children do better in life which encourages parents who love their children and want them to succeed to struggle to do their best. The competition between them makes for happier children.

Second, I've already blogged on how individual productivity in a free market is a liability instead of privilege: [1], [2]. Parental competition is virtuous and pro-social.

As a special case, if parents want their children to care for them when they get old, then they had better make them productive now. Everyone benefits.

One more thing. "Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods," Swift says. "It's just not the case that in order for a family to realize these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school."

Is his problem that a school is private or that a school is good? Is he an ideological socialist who thinks education is most efficiently produced by (and so must be monopolized by) the state -- which is at least an idea, however wrong; or is he a straight-out lunatic who would deny people good education so that everyone is equally ignorant?

My 50 Cents

This problem was posted in the Telegraph.

Solution. The first thing is to connect the number of sides, n, with the inner angle, α. It is easy to show that the formula is α = 180(1 - 2/n)°.

For n = 12, α = 150°. Then θ / 2 = (180 - 150)°, and θ = 60°.

In general, θ = 720 / n°.

Death and What?

Taxes may seem inevitable to a medieval feudal peasant, not to a proud citizen of a capitalist commonwealth.

Re: Empathy, Not Scorn, as Heroin Epidemic Hits Whites

This is reification at its best: it's not whites who hit heroin of their own free will and for their own pleasure; it's heroin "who" maliciously, deviously, and unjustly hits whites!

In other words, in Soviet America, heroin injects you!

Economical Metaphysics

From Summa Against the Keynesians:

With respect to the economy, then, one can first deny that it is a natural system at all, as Marx did. For Marx, the free society is in fact profoundly perverse, with the state protecting the capitalists' property rights in the means of production to the detriment of the vast majority of people. Laissez-faire, instead of being a natural system of liberty, is an artificial and self-"negating" clunker that is bound to fall apart because of its inner contradictions. ...

Alternatively, one can accept that free market is consistent with nature (i.e., that it was not imposed on people by force or guile but arose by serving the self-interest of the immense majority and continues to do so) but deny that it is self-sufficient, as Keynes has done, asserting that it needs constant government intervention in order to hobble along somehow.

Finally, one can think of the free economy, as the Austrian school economists have thought of it, as both natural and self-sufficient, not "so defective that reiterated... intervention is needed to prevent its failure."

In short, it is not true that the free economy perpetually underperforms and must be prodded by the fiscal and monetary policies toward full employment, sufficient investment, adequate consumption, and so on.

On the contrary, the state and banks wound the market which always keeps trying to heal itself and recover yet is frustrated again and again by interventions.

Why Be Just: Externalism Rightly Understood

Recall that there are 3 reasons not to be an asshole toward other human beings: charity, inner peace, and fear of punishment.

Charity and union of souls are the most perfect expressions of "natural sentiment," admittedly a superb term of referring to relations between strangers in civil society. One wants to do good; the profit of the beloved is his profit, as well. This corresponds to love of friendship, and of course, it pays greatly to have friends.

Inner peace has to do with indivisibility of virtue. Remember that true human happiness is composed of 3 parts: nature, virtue, and narrow happiness. Unless one does his duty to fellow men, he cannot create his own personality which also involves doing duties. Other-regarding virtues are a foundation for self-regarding ones. Criminals are shameless, yet "it must be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to feel no compunction at murder yet feel bad at a breach of modesty or temperance or some other self-regarding virtue."

One who is unjust to others will be unjust to himself, yet without a holy personality, no lasting narrow happiness can be had. This corresponds to love of self.

Finally, fear of being punished is the last barrier standing between a man and perdition. This corresponds to love of concupiscence.

As per the lemma in the previous post, customized ideal threats all the way up to eternal damnation prevent all crimes. This is the reason why we are ultimately externalists regarding natural law and interpersonal ethics. The first two reasons can fail, but not the last one.

No crazy bastard, no matter how stone-cold and inhuman, can fail to heed the horror of hellfire and mend his ways posthaste.

Lemma: Ideal Prisons

Why do we imprison people? For two reasons. First, to isolate incorrigible reprobates from society so that they can't harm it. Second, to reinforce the deterrent incentive or stimulus against those who are thinking of committing crimes, to show that the state is serious about punishing lawbreakers, to strike fear into the hearts of the morally lax.

Here's why neither of the two reasons require actual people in prisons.

First, the very fact that some temperamental Monsters are in prison means that they were not deterred by the existing threat of punishment. Very well, what if we up the stakes? Let us consider an ideal situation in which everyone's punishment is personalized to him. "Is 5 years in jail enough to deter you from stealing a car? No? How about 10 years? Still not enough? 12 years in solitary confinement? Also severe beatings every day? How about we'll have rats devour your hands and feet? Also genitals?" And on we go ratcheting up the brutality, until our Monster trembles with terror at his fate and refrains from stealing the car.

If there is a chance one can avoid detection, the punishment is to be increased still more to compensate for it.

Second, ideally, the threat is credible to Barely Humans even without actual evidence (trials and sentencings) that the legal system works efficiently.

In an ideal world, then, prisons would exist but be empty.

Separation of Powers, 3

On the one hand, then, the mayor can mess with the judicial branch by pardoning a person. This influence is "extraordinary" and is due to the need for agreement by all 3 branches to restrict the conduct of citizens: all laws, I hope we realize, are backed by government coercion and compulsion, and we must take every precaution that everyone is happy with such a dangerous device. The executor should be allowed not to execute.

On the other hand, any private judge can rule against the state in a lawsuit filed by a citizen. This influence is "ordinary" and commonplace, and in a free society would occur quite frequently.

Or again, a positive law may be invalidated if (1) nullified by a judge from below, so to speak; or (2) vetoed by the mayor from above.

Separation of Powers, 2

There is another way to view the interaction between the branches of government.

Judges discover natural law.

Legislators create positive law, none of which can contradict natural law. Hence, I have argued that a judge must have the power to nullify any statute.

Executive branch makes administrative law, and it in turn cannot run counter to any natural or positive law. This means that either a judge or the city council can rebuke a bureaucrat.

We might picture the laws as concentric rings: natural circle on the inside, surrounded by the positive law ring, which in turn lies inside administrative law. In case of a contradiction, the law closer to the center prevails.

How can it be then that the chief executor can both repeal a law (positive by vetoing it and natural by pardoning a convicted criminal) and yet must not disobey it?

Well, regarding positive law, his decision is made once only when the law is presented to him. He has the power to reject it, but if he signs it into law, then the law binds him from then on. He cannot repeal the law later.

For natural law, he can indeed pardon prisoner Smith, but pardoning Smith does not also free Jones, even if both men are convicted on the exact same grounds. The mayor cannot overturn any provision of natural law as a whole; he can do so only with regard to individual persons with each pardon being issued separately.

Another aspect is impeachment and removal from office. For example, if the mayor commits a serious crime, a problem can arise to the effect that he might reasonably prefer not to enforce a judge's verdict against himself. Thus, in order to be prosecuted, the mayor must first be fired, thereby becoming a private citizen, and another executor, crowned in his place. We might want to give the legislature the power to impeach.

Gun Control for Blacks?

The Arizona politician Randy Pullen wrote: "Yes, black lives matter. The best way to end the slaughter of young black men is to take guns away from blacks as they are the main killers."

The premise that blacks are the main killers is impeccable. The conclusion, however, does not follow.

For example, gun control would be a viable policy for white people precisely if white people committed no crimes, and if the government of those white people were exceedingly tiny and peaceful. Then people would have little use for self-defense against either private or government criminals. Even if guns were subsequently banned, it would not make much of a difference in the life of an average white.

It is precisely because blacks are so ruthlessly violent in civil society that the potential black victims so desperately need weapons to defend themselves against black criminals and why arming black people and teaching them to use guns effectively, both personally and through private militias in black neighborhoods, are so important.


The previous post impelled me to re-read Mises' article "Middle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism."

There are three parties in the political struggle to be considered. The first or "late Marxists" or M1s desire an immediate transition to socialism via a revolutionary paroxysm of confiscation and expropriation of all capital.

The second, adhering to "early Marx" instead, call them M2s, prefer a more gradual approach. They know very well that interventionism is an internally inconsistent system of production. Any individual intervention into the market produces perverse consequences. If people were economically astute, then they would detect the guilty intervention and swiftly repeal it. But the M2s rely on the stupidity of the masses and instead blame the interventionist economic atrocities on what's left of the free market and demand that the offending "loopholes" still present -- an outrageous state of affairs for them -- be closed, one after another, until all business is fully under control of the state.

The third are the anti-communists who are so afraid of M1s that they are always eager to support the M2s in order to postpone full socialization and delay for a spell some of the "especially ruinous measures." And what a pathetic bunch they constitute, Mises points out. "They are always in retreat. They put up today with measures which only ten or twenty years ago they would have considered as undiscussable. They will in a few years acquiesce in other measures which they today consider as simply out of the question."

This third group of conservatives, let's call them, is exceedingly naive in Mises' view. They are even mistaken about the very essence of the Third Way. They think they can play the role of an intermediary between the "workers" and "capitalists," splitting the fruits of production equally between them. This, Mises says, is nonsense. The Third Way is a system of production not of distribution of goods already produced.

To add to Mises' analysis, if the middle-of-the-road policy is to be construed in the latter way, then there is scarcely a problem to worry about:

  1. Under laissez-faire, goods are not distributed at all; they are produced by entrepreneurs and come to be owned by them immediately upon being created. They are then sold to the consumers.
  2. Under socialism, all goods are owned by the state and are distributed by it to the populace at its pleasure.
  3. And under a Third Way, the government orders businessmen to dispose of their goods in a particular fashion.

Thus, regarding "distribution," whoever owns an item, be it a businessman or the state or as per some joint arrangement between them, has the responsibility to move this item into the hands of its final recipient. It's a trivial and hardly interesting conclusion.

In actual practice, the middle-of-the-road policy ends up not as a system of distribution but of production, and Mises points out how unstable it is. The conservatives, hoping to walk the path between ideological M1 socialists and ideological capitalists, end up playing right into the hands of M2 socialists. They help the M2s "transform capitalism into socialism by a series of successive steps." And what sense is there in doing that?

Bernie Sanders’ Popularity

It illustrates one way in which interventionism leads to socialism.