Cheating in online poker

Just got email from Full Tilt Poker notifying me they will be sending me a refund for xxx dollars because they determined some of the opponents I had played against were cheating. They further stated the cheating accounts had 100% of their money seized, accounts closed, lifetime banned, and in the event they not enough money was found in the cheaters account to fully compensate all the victims, FTP would do so out of their pocket.

Wait a minute but there is no government regulation agency using a gun to force them to do this, so therefore this story could not possibly be true! For if it were and private firms were capable of operating in such a manner to best satisfy all of the consumers wants as a result of free market forces, then what again is the justification for government imposed regulations backed by the threat of force and violence? And the justification for government's role in....scary independent thought lies ahead of this train, be warned!

PS. I actually have been winning on FTP recently and had no idea I had been cheated at any point until today when I received a nice check in the mail from FTP themselves! Feels like Christmas or whatever the equivalent of that is for a devout anarchist like myself!

PPS. Hi from Costa Rica!


Where modern pro-interventionist intellectuals make a bizarre wrong turn

I am reading an interview with the brilliant scholar and current University of Princeton professor, Cornel West. I am familiar with Professor West from appearances he has made on the Bill Maher show and other television programs. I enjoyed his commentary and found him to be a remarkably intelligent person and this interview does nothing to disprove that. In fact what got me so interested and prompted this blog post was some extremely insightful commentary he made regarding modern social conditions that I would like to share with you now:

West: "What's worse is there's less available love in Black America. If I were born today, I'd have a soul sickness. I think that's true for the country as a whole...They (his students) haven't experienced love in any deep sense. They don't know how to love themselves or one another in a way that empowers or nourishes the spirit. They're used to more fleeting interactions, stimulation, titillation rather than deep nourishment."

Interviewer: So as the song goes, where is the love?

West: "Hey, man, it went to the market. It was devoured by corporate strategies and tactics that caught fire in the Reagan administration and continue to burn in the age of Obama....The problem is, we've lived in a kind of ice age these past 30 years or so, and that's hard to rise out of. The age of Reagan began in 1981. The idolizing of the market, the unleashing of the market, the promotion of an unregulated market stared even earlier, with Carter in 1977...So you end up with 30 years of blanketing every nook and cranny of the culture with free-market fundamentalism."

I see this time and time again from brilliant people. Just a total departure from logic, reason, and factual information when they begin to espouse their views on economics and the market. I find it particularly striking in the above interview because I think his comments on the nature of today's youth are extremely poignant and insightful, yet he then literally comes to the conclusion that the cause of this is from corporations. Or profits. Or preaching free-markets etc. I mean I don't even know how to reconcile these two statements. It's like while transitioning to his explanation on why the current state of affairs is so depressing his brain got temporarily disabled and he just blurted out one of the more bizarre and ridiculous conclusions possible. "Because the corporations made us worship greed." It's hard to take that seriously. Yet he is a serious man, with a tremendous amount of intelligence and sadly for the working class and poor people he and those like him are trying to help, he is far from alone.

I don't really want to go into detail about how his facts are wrong and that we never had a free market, and that the supposedly wild and crazy deregulation that took place under Reagan that he cites as the source of these "30 years of free market fundamentalism" saw government GROW IN SIZE under his administration. You would think that government was reduced to unprecedented sizes not seen since the 1800s by the way they make it sound. But no, this wild and untamed free market was a period in which government actually grew in size. But again I really don't want to waste time explaining how far removed from reality the average perception of history and government's role in history is, I just found it extremely paradoxical that one could make such a penetrating insight on human condition and then conclude the reason for such a complex and far reaching social paradigm shift was because corporations made us all greedy.

As I think a bit more deeply about it, it actually makes a degree of sense. It is not quite as abstractly idiotic of a statement that I first thought it was. It is important to remember that when one believes in intervention and State control, their is also a strong belief in the inability of the people. There is a simultaneous belief in the lack of society to organize itself properly, to do what is "in the best public interest", or to even adopt the best values and belief systems and so forth. As such, when one holds these things to be true, I suppose it is not totally absurd to think that the reason for the current flaws in society (that they view as a ball of clay to be molded by the State), is that the State was not given enough power to do its job properly and therefore some evil entity (in this case corporations) imputed these negative characteristics upon the defenseless people whom had but no choice to acquiesce and take the shape of lonely people devoid of experiencing deep emotions.

It's not the most appealing viewpoint when you take the time to break down its foundation and the various implications associated with an interventionist policy. I suppose that is why you never see it done...

I happen to feel Cornel West's conclusion is overly simplistic and wrong. I would expect the true cause to be a much more complex scenario. One in which personal responsibility and ownership would play a more prominent role. The hundreds of millions of interactions that occur within the free market to contribute to shaping the final product we refer to as society today is an extremely complex process and it seems myopic to attempt to point to one event or one entity as the primary cause for any particular trend of characteristic present in society. I strongly doubt Cornel West or any similar intellectual would ever make such a mistake if they were analyzing any other subject matter besides that of politics and sociology, a field in which the greatness of the democratic State has been ingrained so deeply that one is more likely to encounter anti-free market zealots than unbiased, objective, and rational analysis.


Obama wins the right to detain people with no habeas review

Glenn Greenwald continues to keep my faith in humanity alive. His most recent article is below:

Obama wins the right to detain people with no habeas review
by Glenn Greenwald

Few issues highlight Barack Obama's extreme hypocrisy the way that Bagram does. As everyone knows, one of George Bush’s most extreme policies was abducting people from all over the world -- far away from any battlefield -- and then detaining them at Guantanamo with no legal rights of any kind, not even the most minimal right to a habeas review in a federal court. Back in the day, this was called "Bush's legal black hole." In 2006, Congress codified that policy by enacting the Military Commissions Act, but in 2008, the Supreme Court, in Boumediene v. Bush, ruled that provision unconstitutional, holding that the Constitution grants habeas corpus rights even to foreign nationals held at Guantanamo. Since then, detainees have won 35 out of 48 habeas hearings brought pursuant to Boumediene, on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to justify their detention.

Immediately following Boumediene, the Bush administration argued that the decision was inapplicable to detainees at Bagram -- including even those detained outside of Afghanistan but then flown to Afghanistan to be imprisoned. Amazingly, the Bush DOJ -- in a lawsuit brought by Bagram detainees seeking habeas review of their detention -- contended that if they abduct someone and ship them to Guantanamo, then that person (under Boumediene) has the right to a habeas hearing, but if they instead ship them to Bagram, then the detainee has no rights of any kind. In other words, the detainee's Constitutional rights depends on where the Government decides to drop them off to be encaged. One of the first acts undertaken by the Obama DOJ that actually shocked civil libertarians was when, last February, as The New York Times put it, Obama lawyers "told a federal judge that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their imprisonment there, embracing a key argument of former President Bush’s legal team."

Read the rest here: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/05/21/bagram/index.html

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Great exposition of liberal hypocrisy on race

One of the beautiful things that I love about libertarianism is its logical consistency. Part of the reason I began to take an interest in an alternative to the liberal or conservative viewpoint to being with was precisely because of the enormous amount of hypocrisies that seemed to be entrenched in both ideologies.

Jacob G. Hornberger whom is the founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation recently wrote a beautiful and concise piece highlighting one of these hypocrisies, specifically the liberal hypocrisy on race.

To examine into this latest instance of liberal hypocrisy on race, let’s delve into a few basics.

Suppose a certain white homeowner in a community publicly announces that he is holding a weekly TGIF cocktail party at his home every Friday night. He publicly invites everyone who lives within a one-mile radius of his home to his parties, but with a big exception. He says: Blacks and Jews are not invited and will not be permitted into his home.

How would libertarians respond? We would say that that man has every right in the world to take that position. We might criticize him, we might condemn him, we might ignore him, we might boycott his parties. But we would defend his right to discriminate against anyone he wants, as a matter of principle. After all, we would argue, it’s his home — his private property. To paraphrase Voltaire, we might not agree with how he uses his property, but we would defend his right to use it any way he wants. That’s what private ownership and a free society are all about.

How would liberals respond to that hypothetical? They would take the same position as libertarians! They would say that a man’s home is his castle and that he has the right to keep anyone he wants, even on racial grounds, from his home. They would defend the homeowner’s fundamental right to associate with anyone he wants, even if his choices are abhorrent and offensive to everyone else. They would not call on amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to apply it to private homeowners.

What? Could this actually be possible? Could liberals actually be defending the right of a bigot to be a bigot in his own home? Wouldn’t this make a liberal himself a bigot? After all, isn’t that what liberals claim about people who call for the right of discrimination in private businesses — that their support of such a right makes them a closet or overt bigot?

Liberals would respond, “No, we’re not bigots simply because we support the right of homeowners to discriminate against blacks, Jews, Catholics, Hispanics, the poor, and anyone else. We simply believe in the principle of private ownership of one’s home and we’re willing to defend that principle, even when homeowners make racist choices.”

Well, then why don’t liberals extend that reasoning to people who support the right of private business owners to discriminate? Why are they so quick to claim that they’re not bigots when they stand on principle when it comes to the right of homeowners to discriminate but so quick to label libertarians who call for the same principle to be applied to business owners as racists and bigots?

Like I say, two-faced and hypocritical.

Full article is here.


Regarding recent attacks on libertarianism

There is a piece on salon.com written by someone whose economic and political ignorance is so outstanding it borders on legitimate delusion, that I am not sure it is really worth the time to address. Unfortunately, it has become clear the author of this piece, Gabriel Winant, is not alone in his delusional understanding of the world and thus I will try and spend as little time as possible addressing his truly bizarre recent article.

The title of his piece is, "The lesson of Rand Paul: libertarianism is juvenile." Despite such a title he never even attempts an effort at demonstrating that Rand Paul has anything to do with his conclusion that libertarianism is juvenile. He touches on some recent criticism of Rand Paul stemming from his comments that not all of the civil rights legislation passed was appropriate.

Rand Paul is of course addressing the fact that government does not have the right to determine what private property owners do with their own property. Rand Paul never suggests that the Civil Rights legislation is a bad thing or should be repealed. Quite the contrary. He accurately understands that part of the reason the Civil Rights legislation is a good, is that it undoes government created evil. The entire reason we needed a Civil Rights Act to be passed was precisely to repeal all the GOVERNMENT-CREATED racist laws that were on the books. I always find it comical when historical ignoramuses proclaim of the greatness of the State by citing the Civil Rights Act when in reality that is actually one of the strongest arguments one can make for libertarianism. Start this video at the 3 minute and 8 second mark for some more comments on this area: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhgy0ymD-NI#t=3m08s

Go ahead and watch the clip, it is only 55 seconds long and worth seeing before reading this any further.

Let us now turn our attention to some interesting passages from Gabriel Winant's article that I think do a great job of reflecting just how close to legitimate delusional psychosis he is. It never ceases to amaze me seeing how fantastically polar opposite from reality one's understanding of the world around them is, while simultaneously they believe so strongly that they are right, that they have the gall to suggest it is lunacy to think otherwise. Let's take a look:

"To summarize very briefly a long and complicated process, we got capitalism in the first place through a long process of flirtation between governments on the one hand, and bankers and merchants on the other, culminating in the Industrial Revolution. What libertarians revere as an eternal, holy truth is in fact, in the grand scheme of human history, quite young. And if they'd just stop worshiping for a minute, they'd notice the parents hovering in the background."

It is hard to know where to begin. I suppose we should start with the fact that he simply just decided to rewrite the definition of capitalism to support his argument. I don't know exactly how to attack this. There appears to be two possible derailments on the train to logic here. Either he simply does not know what capitalism is (which is certainly quite possible) and thinks capitalism is the past 150 years of America or some other random abstract time period based on who knows what criterion; or his understanding of history is utterly flawed.

The reality of the situation of course is that the free market and capitalism existed since the first time one group of people focused on collecting berries to trade with the other group of people whom focused on hunting and acquiring meat. Capitalism which to be clear, is the free market, has existed since before recorded history. If you want to understand which allowed the other to be, there would never have been a civilization advanced enough for the monstrosity of government to be conceived had there not been capitalism. Capitalism continues to work in spite of government.

Government regulates, suppresses, and strangles productive enterprise. If one were to study history, the most rich and advanced societies, those places that serves the poor and middle class best are precisely those with as little government as possible. Think the most libertarian nation ever conceived for instance, United States of America. Take some time to read the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America and one might start to recognize there has never been a people who despised big government as much as Americans. It of course is no coincidence that for the first 150 years or so this libertarian country which proudly boasted less government than any other nation on the world, made room for capitalism to work and thus produced the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the world. Previously profitable (which is defined as being aptly able to meet the needs of consumers efficiently) businesses go bankrupt year after year as the ever increasing burden of adhering and paying for all forms of various entangling government regulation, not to mention direct taxation, strangle the lifeblood from them. Yet in spite of this, CAPITALISM prevails. Think WalMart, think of the Internet, satellite tv, cell phones so forth.

People tend to blame WalMart for the demise of the mom and pop store. There is a great documentary on this very topic called, "Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices." That documentary also reaches the conclusion that WalMart is to blame. Yet watch the video. If you do, you will find all the complaints sound a lot like, "I couldn't afford to keep paying the taxes and cost of getting a license was just too much etc etc." The free-market created WalMart precisely to cure the drought soon to be created as a result of government's strangulation on small businesses. In addition the corporate tax structure greatly benefit large corporations like Walmart as opposed to the mom and pop stores. Who is responsible for this? Are we still going to try and blame the free market for the demise of the mom and pop stores because the government created a set of rules (taxation) and gave the advantage to corporations? I mean how far on the crazy train does one have to go to not correctly asses blame where it belongs here. And that of course is squarely at the feet of government intervention.

"Get it? The government didn't just help make the "free market" in the first place -- although it did do that. It's also constantly busy trimming around the edges, maintaining the thing, keeping it healthy. The state can think ahead and balance competing interests in a way that no single company can."

I must bow and extend a tip of the hat to Mr. Gabriel Winant for this. I am truly impressed with his ability to get two different, yet both absolutely breathtakingly absurd and ass-backwards statements about the world in such a small space. And as the sign of all true ignoramuses makes such stupendously facetious claims with absolute certitude without even the slightest suggestions of attempting to validate them. I am now asking myself, why have I decided to even waste my time responding to such rubbish, but I suppose it's too late to stop now.

I am not even going to mock and/or correct his statement that the government created the free market. If any reader of this blog (all 3 of you!) thinks that is accurate, I can't imagine I could reach them anyway. I think every remotely thinking individual understands that property, trade, division of labor, and so forth existed well before government. I mean think about what he is saying. Man crawls out of the stone age. Man begins to hunt and gather. Man encounters other man with different gatherings. Trade emerges. Wait no! Government was hovering about them the whole time (disturbingly I want to say "like a God" but have just realized that Gabriel Winant and people whom think like him, probably really do feel the State is God.) and only until the Government decrees, "Let there be trade" were we fortunate enough to allow the oh-so benevolent State to have created the free market. Crazy pills for everyone I guess?

On to sentence two. I can't believe I somehow got sucked into defending an attack on libertarianism by a guy who genuinely does not know what capitalism or the free market is, and now apparently does not know what the State is. God I'm a sucker.

"The state can think ahead and balance competing interests in a way that no single company can."

I don't know if this is the single most incorrect statement arrogantly presented as fact in his article, but it has got to be up there. The State is not god. It is not an omniscient value-free morally superior entity. The State is a group of people. The only difference between the group of people whom comprise the State and those whom comprise the free-market is their respective motives. The people in the free-market have self-interest as their motive. The seek to make profit. Thankfully the only way profit can be made is by satisfying a great number of wants and desires of the people around you. Hmmm, this might be on to something here.

The group of people who comprise the State are also motivated by self-interest. Their political self-interest is a bit different in that they never need to turn a profit (remember this means serve the consumer efficiently) by producing any goods or services. Instead their self-interests are to get elected or re-elected. At which point thanks to outrageously corrupt and unfair salary and benefits structure they are financially compensated quite nicely with truly exceptional benefits and health care packages all of course paid by institutionalized theft via taxation.

He writes, he actually wrote "the state can balance competing interests." Yes, if by balance competing interests you mean serve those who lobby hardest and are most likely to aid in serving your political career best. Wow. I think I have to stop. It's so bad. Oh ya and then he ends his piece by saying libertarians are selfish and racist, just some not all guys!, and libertarianism as a philosphy is bratty.

I think he does a better job of insulting and embarrassing himself though his own words than I ever could.


Are today's democrats simply totalitarians in disguise?

Before I knew anything about political theory, political history, economic theory, economic history, monetarism, and finance/banking, I considered myself a democrat for no other reason than because my parents and family were. Also during the only years I was even remotely interested in politics happened to coincide with the 8 years of the Bush presidency. As such I enjoyed watching Real Time w/ Bill Maher because I thought, and still think, hes a pretty smart guy who would call out Bush on all his warmongering and deficit spending while doing so in a funny and entertaining manner.

I'm watching an episode right now, and its unfortunate that one of my favorite television shows has become a source of irritation and something I literally can no longer even sit through as a result of my recent education in the aforementioned subjects. Anyways I want to quote something he said that I believe is a fairly accurate representation of the mindset behind the modern liberal viewpoint.

Bill Maher: "Michael, you are a champion of the people. Yet, before your film premiered the majority of people supported the public option for health care. Now several months later, an overwhelming majority of the people oppose it. So what do you do when the people don't want what's good for them?"

The great irony and tragedy for someone like myself observing this process is that those on the left whom feel this way and are genuinely more intelligent than the "people" they are planning for, are making decisions in fields where despite their intellectual superiority as a whole, they are just as ignorant of as the common people they view as so beneath them.

So to be clear as to what I am saying. I think the modern left are nothing but closeted totalitarians whom believe in democracy and "representatives" as long as those in power act to use their power to subject the minority and people as a whole to their personal vision of what is best. I think there is a tragic error amongst those intellectuals whom believe their overall higher level of intelligence is in some way a legitimate foundation to make decisions on subject matters and in fields in which they are either totally ignorant of or horribly misinformed.

So this leaves me sitting on my couch watching Bill Maher and his guests lament over the present condition of how people are too stupid to understand what is good for them. And I remember identifying with them, because they talked like I did, they were intelligent, and it was fun being in the cool guys club of being a smart person in a country of dolts. Now its just so painfully bizarre to watch the intellectuals bemoan about how the people are too stupid to know what's good for them, and yet their total ignorance on the topics they are discussing leaves them with an apparently obvious solution that in reality is more destructive than the problem they are trying to cure.

Not to mention the slight moral and ethical problem that comes with being a totalitarian and deciding what is in the best interest of other people. The level of hypocrisy associated with such actions while claiming to be supporters of a system of democracy or the fallacy of political representation is also particularly impressive.

Haha, a guest just said to Bill Maher, "ya, but if everyone pulled their money out of the big banks at the same time, all the banks would fail." Bill Maher, "Really?"

Yes Bill, really. If you are going to lecture on how the government needs to regulate the banks more, and the bailouts were necessary, but the banks should just be less greedy and all the other fairly tales people talk about when discussing banking. It may be helpful to try and learn the basics and fundamentals of the system of banking we use. Hint: it is fractional reserve banking. Read for a day or two. Now you see that literally all banks under the current government mandated system of banking are insolvent. All banks are insolvent. All of them. How would one get the mighty too big to fail banks to go belly up? By having the depositors of the banks ask for their money back! What a sinister and evil plot?!

Maybe the problem is not that banks will fail if people ask for their money back, but I dunno maybe the fact that the banks don't have their customers money and print money out of thin air? Maybe, just maybe....Nah I'm just a nut job I'm sure there's nothing sinister about that process. I'm sure like all other modern governmental creations, central banking and fractional reserve banking was designed by a large group of enormously altruistic bankers to help the lower and middle class avoid the dreaded liquidity trap! Yup, that makes so much sense...