Archive for the 'independence' Category

The Government Qwns Your Body

June 26, 2009

…at least according to The Supreme Court of Canada.

Most at the CBC seem quite happy with this decision – that a 14-year-old-girl’s rights were not violated when she was given a forcible blood transfusion against her wishes.

Read that again.

To me, this is one of the most horrifying decisions any court has ever made. The Court has said, essentially, that this girl did not own and control her body. Not even her parents owned and controlled her body.  The Manitoba Child and Family Services department did.

For the record, I abhor the idiotic, superstitious nonsense that is religion and what it does to people. But so long as no one is harmed by this choice except the person making the choice or others that consent, then, yes, one is free to believe any mythological baloney they want.

Sometimes being free means letting people make choices that are not those we would make, or even choices that are wrong, or choices that are based on idiotic beliefs.

That girl was not being beaten, not being starved or otherwise abused against her will. She made the choice knowing the probable consequences. And no one but her would pay those consequences.

Ask yourself this – would you want some fundamentalist Christian sect or Muslim sect that somehow attained power to have this same power over your children, the power to invade their physical bodies against your wishes and theirs?

“Saving lives” is the same excuse used by the Chinese government to harvest the organs of Falun Gong prisoners. After all, if it means saving a life – especially the life of a child – why shouldn’t the state be able to invade your body against your will?

It is the excuse the fetus fetishists use to try to take away a woman’s right to choose or control her body as well.

That is exactly what this decision says – given a good enough reason (decided by them, of course) the state has the right to violate the bodily integrity of someone against their will, or against the will of their parents or legal guardians.

That is horrifying.

Don’t let our natural instinct to help a child open us to giving the state the power to control our bodies. That is far worse than one 14-year-old girl making a bad or stupid choice and dying.

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iPhone Agorism

May 21, 2009

It’s hard to be part of the counter-economy.

Most people want to be free of the clutches of the state and the manipulation by their corporate benefactors and lackeys. Agorism and counter-economics is, theoretically, a perfect way to starve the state and ignore the corporations, to “grow a new society within the shell of the old” as Kevin Carson is wont to say.

Of course what works in theory is harder  to do in practice.   Often, for most people, counter-economics brings up visions of “black markets” where nefarious people buy drugs and guns, indulge in hookers or take giant, risky leaps of faith like refusing to pay their taxes. For most it is a scary, dangerous leap that prevents most people from engaging in counter-economics who would like to.

But what if there was a small step, a small almost unnoticed action one could take that would start the journey? What if there was a way to join a counter-economy while still maintaining a facade, at least, of being a “law abiding citizen” and still participating in the regular economy on occasion?

There is.  If you own an  iPhone, jailbreak it and join in the growing market in applications for jailbroken phones.

Jailbreaking is easy and safe (and reversible) and opens up whole new worlds and capabilities for your phone. What it really does, however, if free you. YOU actually “own” your phone. No more restrictions on software and use implemented by Apple in order for them to enforce their monopoly on where these phones are used or from whom you can get applications. You also get capabilities (already built into the phone but turned off by Apple) such as a full bluetooth stack or full motion video and sound.

The iPhone is actually a high end 400 Meg desktop computer from 1999, but with modern graphics and 3D acceleration, an always on modern, high-speed network and a large hard drive. And it fits in you pocket and can make phone calls. But Apple won’t let you harness the full potential of this. Even after selling it to you, they seem to think its still “their” phone. Anything you can run on Unix, BSD or Linux can be run on an iPhone.

For the consumer, there is a wider selection of applications, both free and comercial covering a wider range of functions. Admittedly some are of a lower quality than the official App Store (Cycorder mentioned above has a pretty bad UI) but some simply blow away anything the App Store can offer. The consumer can still buy from the App Store, but now has alternatives and can can choose to purchase apps with capabilities not allowed by official Apple App store applications – record calls, scramble voices, games etc. And as more people use these alternate sources, the better the quality will be, from competition and the action of a truly free market.

For the developer and entreprenuer, applications for jailbroken phones opens avenues for better, more productive offerings (because Apple’s restrictions are gone) but also opens avenues for more revenue. As a legitimate Apple iPhone Developer, I can testify to the high barrier to entry of Apple’s process – it took months to get my acceptance to the program (while larger companies took days), still cost $99 USD, had a complex system for phone provisioning, and requires numerous, onerous tax forms to be filled out before they will accept applications to the App Store. They are know to reject apps for vague or no reasons and not provide pointers for developers to make the changes needed. Once in the store, Apple gets a 30% cut. This makes getting updates and add-ons out to clients very difficult and slow (though, to be fair, rumour has it this might be changing in iPhone 3.0).  The jailbroken app market is wide open. For the cost of creating a repository and maintaining it on a web host, a developer and entrepreneur can be to market almost imidieately and push out updated, changes and add-ons just as fast. One can give away or sell their applications and use a variety of payment methods not available in the App Store. And none of it need be reported.

It is a near perfect market and a real world demonstration of agorist principles that is easy to do and available to anyone of the 10 million+  iPhone users in the world.  Really own your phone, put on it what  you want, buy from where you want, earn money from your efforts without being forced to give up a cut or to pay the taxes against your will. For most people this could be the first, and easiest step into the counter-economy and truly the first step into “jailbreaking” their lives.

Jailbreak your iPhone and gain your freedom.

(or use an Android based G-phone and get all this without jaoilbreaking…;-) )

Update: Learning to proof read…thanks Mike

The Problem with Canadian Healthcare

March 13, 2009

Its not what you think, at least not from a libertarian perspective.

The biggest problem with Canadian style universal health care is that, for most people, most of the time, it works well enough. Yes, that’s right, it actually works.

But that never stops some well-meaning people from misrepresenting the Canadian system for their own ends.

For my American friends (and possibly for some Canadians as well) let me do a quick primer on what our system actually is.

The main reason that our system works as well as it does is that, despite cries of it being a “Soviet style socialized medicine”, the Canadian system is actually a hybrid system, with private, for profit delivery and public, monopoly insurance for core care. That is, doctors, diagnostics, clinics, some hospitals and insurance for things not covered by the provincial insurance plans, are all private business, usually operating for profit, based on the number of patients and obtaining fees by billing the patients insurance. The difference is, there is only one insurance company – the state.

The state, either at the provincial or municipal levels, runs hospitals and can keep some costs down because they can buy, for instance, aspirin or antibiotics or bandages or wooden crutches in bulk from private suppliers.

In short, there is just enough private and market forces at play within the system so that it works pretty well. As a Canadian who has been in the system for his entire life, let me assure American libertarians that, much to their chagrin, we get high quality care, for the most part.

Emergency rooms still see people based on priority and waits for this kind of service are not outrageous.

The quality of treatment is exceptional.

The problem is, there is also just enough state interference and manipulation of market forces to be causing the system to be unsustainable and to deteriorate.  We now hove long wait times for necessary but elective surgeries like hip and joint replacements. We have to wait months to see specialists or to get the latest in high-tech tests. People cannot even find a family doctor in Ontario anymore. And the conditions of our hospitals are worsening.

A large part of this is due to a government doctor cartel. Anyone over 30 will tell you that in the 70’s and 80’s, we did not have these problems. But around 1990, after the infamous Barer–Stoddart report, provincial governments and various provincial and national medical associations conspired to keep the numbers of doctors practicing low, so that each individual doctor (and by extension the Canadian Medical Association, the CMA, which is essentially a doctor’s union) can earn more money.

The report stated that there was a glut of doctors and that somehow this was going to cost the system millions. So provincial government, with the blessing of the medical associations, reduced the number of places in our medical schools and placed incredibly high barriers to entry for foreign trained doctors.  As a direct result of this blatant interference by the state into the market for doctors (and applauded by the medical profession itself at the time) we went from having low wait times for treatment, and the ability to change doctors at will in the 80’s and early 90’s to what we have now – long wait times, and no choice in who your doctor is. Meaning today you cannot leave an incompetent doctor because there are no doctors accepting patients.

Provincial health regulations also require a doctor for even the most basic medical requests – a refill of a prescription, to tell you the results of a test etc. Often these require a visit to the doctor’s office, resulting in a bill to the provincial insurance plan, even if the visit lasted 5 minutes. The reduced number of doctors becomes the bottleneck in the system.

Diagnostic clinics can open, but are not allowed to “extra bill” clients for services  and may only bill the province for service. Based on a fee structure negotiated with the province ever few years. Meaning that if a new piece of equipment comes on the market, they cannot charge what the market would bear, but what the state says. And in the end, they simply don’t buy the equipment, or find it economically viable only to run the equipment during certain hours.

In the end, thanks to this interference in the market, at the behest of doctors in order to maintain their privileged positions, we get wait times and poor client service (though the quality of treatment is still high when we finally get it).

So, although Canada’s system is not the much ballyhooed “soviet bread line medicine” it has been made out to be, its ever growing issues are still the result of interference and manipulation of the market by the state. Indeed, it is a microcosm of our entire Western, state-capitalist system – it works “just good enough” to keep most people happy and thinking that it works.  Most people miss how the very serious and growing issues are caused by the state and those they serve and favour.

That is the most nefarious part of it. It is difficult to convince people that freeing it totally from the state would make it better, when they seem to believe that more government will make it better. Trying to convince people of that is immensely harder when those who could and should be allies completely miss-charaterize how the system works. It displays an ignorance that turns people away from our message of freedom, rather than too it.

Its about being truthful and having integrity.

Two years ago I wrote a post discussing some of these issue and demonstrating how the goal of universal health care could be obtained without the state. It seems like a good time to bring it up again.

I am perfectly able to advocate for free market healthcare while recognizing both the strength and weaknesses of the Canadian system. I hope that others can now do the same.

Randian Collective Action

March 10, 2009

You know, in principle, I agree with the “Go Galt” crowd. I think its a brilliant idea to seceed, to withhold your labour and finacial support from the state. Hell, Agorists in particular and left-libertarians in general have been calling for this for ages.

My problem is, of course, is that the “Go Galt” crowd isn’t actually going to “Go Galt”. Rather than advocate refusal to pay taxes, or to disobey unjust laws and regulation or to participate in the counter-economy (and thus maintain their standard of living), they advocate what can only be described as class warfare. And their target is not the state, but, seemingly, those who aren’t “rich.”

For instance, Dr, Helen Smith, wife of Glenn Reynolds has called for the rich to stop spending, stop tipping wait staff and instead to leave them nasty notes. I’m curious how “stop spending” doesn’t equate to “stop eating in restaruants” but rather “screw over the hard working person who served you your food when you ate out in a restaruant”. I guess the revolution shouldn’t be inconvenient, eh?

Another aspect of the meme seems to be finding itself expressed in a fake “Letter from the Boss”. Yes, the “productive class” should help other’s “Go Galt” even if they don’t want to, even if those whom they are coercing into “going Galt” are members of the “productive class” themselves, who perhaps had the wrong bumper sticker on their car or supported the wrong candidate (becasue we all know John McCain would never support the kind of government action Obama is doing…right?).

It seems to me that this is merely a perversion of Rand’s ideas in order to serve the partisan political battles of statists. In other words, those who may take Rand’s words, through the character of John Galt to heart, are being duped and used by those who themselves do not believe them.

In the interests of clarity, perhaps people like Smith, and Michelle Malkin (who, it seems, never saw a Bush program she didn’t like) what their new found heroine had to say about conservatives:

The conservatives want freedom to act in the material realm; they tend to oppose government control of production, of industry, of trade, of business, of physical goods, of material wealth. But they advocate government control of man’s spirit, i.e., man’s consciousness; they advocate the State’s right to impose censorship, to determine moral values, to create and enforce a governmental establishment of morality, to rule the intellect…The conservatives see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories—with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington.

Seems to me the latest machinations about “Going Galt” are only exposing the Conservatives as the authoritarian partisan hacks they are and ironically proving Rand was right in her assessment of them.

And the irony of calling for collective action in the name if John Galt is just too delicious.

Anarchist Canada?

January 29, 2009

When one thinks of examples of anarchist scoial structures or legal stituations, Canada is almost always at the bottom of the list. We are more known for our nanny state, our socialized medicare and our arcane government regulations. But there is one area that, surprisingly, Canada is a leading light of anarchy in:

Abortion.

For those who do not know, Canada has not had an abortion law of any kind since January 28, 1988, the day the Supreme Court of Canada struck the existing law down in R. vs Morgentaler. Attempt to enact a new abortion law failed and since then, Canada has had no law of any kind surrounding abortion.

And what was the result?

I’ll let my friend JJ explain:

They said abortion rates would go up: the abortion rate has been continuously decliningand without regressive legislation.

They said women would go batshit crazy and abort viable late-term fetuses with wreckless abandon right up to the moment before birth: 99.6% of abortions are performed early-term, and the late-term only for medical or health reasons. Not only are women NOT batshit crazy (but thanks for the vote of confidence, fetus fetishists — misogyny much?), but doctors, guided by ethics, won’t perform such proceduresand without regressive legislation.


A perfect example of an emergent, bottom-up generated social and legal framework that simply works. My contention is, that if this kind of free choice and self-regulation and policing can work for something as contentious as abortion, imagine how well it will work for other things – health care, trade, even policing.

Another example of The Wisdom of Crowds and evidence that people will make the “right” decisions if given the freedom to do so.

Walking the Walk

April 13, 2007

Posting has been terribly light of late for a few good reasons:

1. Wading through the daily e-mail blast from the LeftLibertarian2 Yahoo Group eats a lot of evening free time that doesn’t involve playing with my kids, eating or sleeping. Don’t get me wrong, I love the list and it has some amazing threads, but there are a lot of them. Great reading.

2. I have given up being a wage-slave and started my own consulting business. I’m still doing what I always did, but now I am an independent IT consultant with a long-term contract and a great per diem. More money, more freedom, less taxes. Why didn’t I do this years ago? (Oh yeah, I wasn’t a market anarchist back then)

So I am quite busy between these two things, especially establishing my business and taking a small step to living the anarchist and agorist ideal.