Geoffrey Allan Plauché – The Libertarian Standard Property - Prosperity - Peace Wed, 27 Apr 2016 06:16:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A new website and group blog of radical Austro-libertarians, shining the light of reason on truth and justice. Geoffrey Allan Plauché – The Libertarian Standard clean Geoffrey Allan Plauché – The Libertarian Standard (Geoffrey Allan Plauché – The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace Geoffrey Allan Plauché – The Libertarian Standard TV-G Libertarian Fiction Authors Association and Short Story Contest Fri, 07 Feb 2014 17:55:11 +0000 Libertarian Fiction Authors Association

It’s been a long time since I blogged on The Libertarian Standard. I’ve been busy with other projects, one of which is the subject of this post. I recently launched, in November 2013, the Libertarian Fiction Authors Association.

If you’re like me, you enjoy reading fiction but have a difficult time finding stories that truly reflect your values and interests. This discovery problem affects everyone, but is particularly acute for niche markets like ours. There are individuals and organizations (including Amazon) attempting to solve the problem for authors and readers in general, but no one was really catering to libertarians specifically.

How many libertarians out there have published fiction? How many more are aspiring authors, who are either writing their first novel or are thinking about it but need some encouragement and guidance? I had no idea, but I was sure there were far more than I knew about personally.

As an activist, I also think that dramatizing our values through fiction is an important way to spread the message of liberty.

As an aspiring fiction author myself, I wanted to form a group made up of fellow libertarian writers who could learn from, encourage, and push each other to accomplish their goals and continually reach for new heights — and, eventually, to get my stories into the hands of new readers.

So I started first an email list, then a full-blown association complete with a professional website, in order to provide

  1. a writing group and mastermind that will both nurture new talent and hone the skills of more seasoned pros,
  2. a platform for libertarian fiction authors to promote their work, and
  3. a central location for readers to find fiction written by libertarian authors.

And already, thanks to the association, in a mere few months, I have discovered many more libertarian authors than I had heard of before.

Basic membership in the association is and always will be free. At a minimum, members get a public member directory listing; their books listed and displayed on the site; a link and image-rich profile page; free promotion; and access to a private email list and social network groups.

As our first major promotional endeavor, the association has teamed up with Students for Liberty to hold a libertarian short story contest. The contest is open to everyone, except the judges and SFL staff, and the deadline to submit a story is March 4, 2014. Entrants stand to win up to $300, supporting membership in the association free for a year, and publication. Check out our announcement and the official contest page for more information.

If you’re an avid reader, check out our work and follow us to be updated about new releases and special promotions. If you’re a writer too, join us and enter the short story contest.

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Eric Holder Says Gun Owners Should “Cower” in Shame Like Smokers Thu, 10 Jan 2013 21:17:42 +0000 .jpg

The Attorney General’s exact words:

What we need to do is change the way in which people think about guns, especially young people, and make it something that’s not cool, that it’s not acceptable, it’s not hip to carry a gun anymore, in the way in which we’ve changed our attitudes about cigarettes. You know, when I was growing up, people smoked all the time. Both my parents did. But over time, we changed the way that people thought about smoking, so now we have people who cower outside of buildings and kind of smoke in private and don’t want to admit it.

Cower in Fear

You’ve been a bad, bad… citizen.

Cower — interesting choice of words that. Cower is a word more associated with fear than shame in my mind. One cowers in fear. One blushes or hides out of shame.1

It’s a natural inclination in those with a love of power to want to see those beneath them cower. Our proper posture when faced with the disapproval of our betters is on bended knee, shoulders trembling, head bowed in anxious deference.

It’s also interesting that Holder suggests smokers “cower” outside of buildings, doing their nasty deed in private, on their own initiative. Silly me, I thought it was because government regulations and corporate policies require them to smoke only in designated areas outside. I doubt most such smokers feel any shame in the act, though they may huddle in winter.

I wonder, Does Holder cower in shame over his responsibility for hundreds of gun deaths as a result of Operation Fast and Furious and his zealous prosecution of the Drug War?2

Eric Holder wants to prevent women from defending themselves.

  1. I suppose one can cower in shame as well, though surely not without some fear mixed in. 

  2. Assuming one believes Holder’s claim of ignorance and the government report purporting to “vindicate” him (quelle surprise!), the federal program still happened under his watch and so the unrepentant drug warrior bears responsibility. And given his zealous prosecution of the Drug War, he is certainly responsible for at least some gun-related deaths in the United States and Mexico. 

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A Response to 2nd Amendment Repealers and Other Gun-Control Nuts Fri, 21 Dec 2012 20:11:03 +0000 .jpg

[Originally published as a comment in response to someone who announced publicly on Google+ that he sincerely believed that, as radical as it may sound, part of the Bill of Rights should be repealed. The post below isn’t a complete case against ignorant, opportunistic statists with an irrational fear of guns, but it highlights a number of inconvenient facts and devastating arguments for their position.]

Obama the Mass-Murderer-in-Chief makes light of shooting people.

Obama the Mass-Murderer-in-Chief
makes light of shooting people.

The idea of repealing the 2nd Amendment is not that radical really. It’s just further down the road this country is already on — toward a full-on police-surveillance state. What’s truly radical these days is any defense of liberty and property.

You know that gun control has a racist history in America, right? And that it disproportionately harms women, minorities (particularly blacks), and the poor? Gun control doesn’t work. It just disarms potential crime victims.

Gun control laws were used to make blacks less dangerous, more vulnerable targets of (racially motivated) police abuse and private crime. Even now they are used to incarcerate blacks who haven’t committed any real crimes. Lacking evidence for anything else, the state puts them away on weapons charges (and/or drug charges, but the Drug War’s another unjust racist policy we don’t need to get into).

Women use guns to defend themselves from would-be rapists, domestic abusers, and the like. Guns are an equalizer, giving them a way to protect themselves from bigger, stronger men. You would deny them this? Police protection is a joke; they usually don’t arrive in time.

As I mentioned above, gun control doesn’t work, especially in America. There are already so many guns in private hands here that any new restrictions or bans will have no appreciable effect. Any politically feasible new laws will not involve confiscating these existing guns and will not ban private secondhand sales. Criminals are not wont to respect “gun free zones” and other gun laws in any case. They’ll just purchase their guns on the black market or steal them (as Adam Lanza did).

The Clinton AWB did not reduce gun crimes. A new one won’t either. Connecticut essentially still has a state-level AWB; Lanza’s (mother’s) Bushmaster was CT AWB compliant. So-called “assault weapons” aren’t even the most powerful civilian firearms (many hunting rifle calibers are more powerful); AWBs typically only ban cosmetic “scary” features that don’t affect the lethality of the firearm (like a collapsible stock); and banning high-capacity magazines won’t slow down shooters much (it only takes a second to reload even if you’re not very skilled).

And gun control laws treat people as guilty until proven innocent. They violate the rights of peaceful people to liberty and property. I can see no justification for violating the rights of innocent people just because some bad guys use firearms to murder other innocent people, occasionally a large number of them at once. I get as saddened and outraged as anyone in the anti-gun crowd when these things happen, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

Bottom line: New stricter gun control laws won’t make anyone safer. They won’t stop these mass shootings. They’ll probably contribute to making them worse if we see any change at all (there actually isn’t upward trend in these shootings over the past 30 years and crime is generally down in the US). Government will just have more power and the people less freedom and less security. If you do manage to repeal the 2nd Amendment and confiscate all/most privately-owned firearms in the United States, what are you going to do when the nutcases start using homemade explosives?

One of Obama's drone victims.

One of Obama’s drone victims.

Meanwhile, I don’t see any of the anti-gun crowd shedding any tears for the many children Obama has murdered overseas with his drone strikes. He’s a mass murderer many times worse than Adam Lanza (as was Bush), yet these people voted him back into office and turn a blind eye to his crimes and hypocrisy. What happened to the anti-war left that harangued Bush? Is it really saving human lives that motivates you? Or is it just an unacknowledged lust to control that which you fear, hate, and don’t understand?

Is NASA Positioning Itself to Become a Regulatory Agency? Wed, 19 Sep 2012 21:19:57 +0000 Space Taxi
Space Taxi

NASA-Certified Space Taxi

It sure seems like that’s what NASA is doing. NASA has to do something in order to maintain its relevance as the space age dawns in the era of commercial space flight. NASA is still running scientific-exploratory missions to Mars and elsewhere in the solar system, but even this role will be soon be overtaken by private enterprises like Planetary Resources.

From comes news that NASA has launched a private space taxi certification program. The program will consist of a two-stage “process aimed at ensuring commercial passenger spaceships currently under development will meet the agency’s safety standards, schedule and mission requirements.” Yay, NASA’s record of safety, timeliness, and priorities with minimal bureaucratic waste leaves me reassured.

Budget cuts no doubt have something to do with the certification program as well. “NASA expects to award multiple firms a Certification Products Contract (CPC), each of which will run for 15 months and be worth up to $10 million.” Restrict competition, rake in the dough, ensure the continuation of your own jobs, and retain control of the space industry — all in the name of safety, science, human progress, and protecting taxpayer “investments.”

The certification program appears to apply only to firms wanting to be hired by NASA — for now. Firms that want to ferry NASA crew to the behind-schedule and over-budget boondoggle that is the International Space Station (ISS) will have to get certified. But how long until NASA attempts to expand its regulatory reach beyond its own contractors?

NASA admitted in 2011 that it is not “fundamentally a public regulatory agency.” But that can change. We can be sure that the United States federal government will attempt to regulate space travel and commercial activity just as it regulates travel and business on Earth. The only question is, Which agency will be assigned to do the regulating? Will it be NASA, or some other new or existing agency? Surely the top bureaucrats at NASA would rather it be them.

What do you think? Is NASA positioning itself to become the regulator of space travel and commerce? Let us know in the comments.

[Prometheus Unbound]

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The Animus of the Nanny State Fri, 13 Jul 2012 16:49:44 +0000 We don't want your money, let the motherfucker burn!

“Politicians treat firefighters like pawns. When my house burned down, I learned how valuable public servants can be.”

That’s the tagline of an article on titled “Thank God for Taxes.” Naturally the author cannot imagine how firefighting could be better as a private business. It never occurs to him. He just praises public “servants” and calls for more taxes.1

If Andrew Leonard could imagine private firefighting at all, he would probably imagine something like the rival firefighters in 19th century America that fought violently over who would get to put out the fire while the house burned down. But of course, this was caused not by a free market in firefighting but rather a combination of public property (fire hydrants, roads), lack of private property rights enforcement (sabotaged fire engines), and political machines (Tammany Hall) — politicians like Boss Tweed using neighborhood firefighting departments for their own political gain.

We don't want your money, let the motherfucker burn!

We don’t want your money,
let the motherfucker burn!

Or he might imagine private firefighters refusing to put out a fire until the owner paid some astronomical fee, which the owner couldn’t afford on the spot. In fact, he might vaguely recall an incident in Tennessee last December2 in which firefighters let a home burn down because the owner failed to pay a mere $75. “This is what would happen in a free market!” he’d cry, not recalling, or never bothering to learn, the details of the incident. But this was a government firefighting department rigidly adhering to bureaucratic internal rules,3 as government agencies are wont to do, not a private business responding to profit incentives.

I fail to see why the owner couldn’t contractually subscribe to affordable firefighting service with a local company in advance, or why something else, like a payment plan, couldn’t be worked out on the spot.4 Or insurance companies might pay the firefighters, because that would be cheaper than paying out the insurance claim on the house or on surrounding houses that could burn down with it.

But Andrew Leonard is probably doubtful of a free market in fighting fires because he’s an irresponsible risk-taker5 engaging in psychological projection on a massive scale:

Note to mandate-haters: If my mortgage lender hadn’t required that I have home insurance, would I have plunked down that check to Farmers every one of the last 16 years?

This is how leftists really think — that no one would make rational, responsible choices unless forced to do so by someone else.6

Why? Because they recognize in themselves an inclination to make irrational, irresponsible, risky choices7 and project these bad character traits onto everyone else.

This is the animus of much of the nanny state.


Prior to the fire, I had no conception of how big an economic event a disaster like mine is for other people. The hubbub of job-creating activity related to my home in the past few weeks has injected instant cash into the local economy — from Santa Rosa down to Watsonville. I am my own Keynesian-stimulus. Want to get the U.S. economy really moving? Burn everything down.

I hope he’s joking, because this is one hell of an example of the broken window fallacy. How stupid and ideologically blinded can you be to believe such nonsense?

  1. “That firefighter deserves a raise. Put it on my next ballot, please.” No. Volunteer your own money, please. Tip him yourself. 

  2. Or this one, dating back, it seems, to 2010. 

  3. Oops, you forgot to pay the required $75 fee! Sorry, no firefighting for you! No, you can’t pay us now. 

  4. Another Tennessee county near the one where the aforementioned incidents occurred allows owners to pay for firefighting services on the spot: $2,200 for the first two hours firefighters are on the scene and $1,100 for each additional hour. Ouch. 

  5. He didn’t properly maintain his Weber grill, or put out the fire, and initially blames the manufacturer before mentioning his own carelessness. Did he have even one working smoke detector in the house? He doesn’t mention it. In fact, he was woken up not by an alarm but by the sound of the fire itself. 

  6. By the by, why assume mortgage lenders wouldn’t require home insurance in a free market? How is this a government mandate? 

  7. That’s what all the “addiction” language is about too, I might add: “addicted to high taxes” as the author puts in this article; or addicted to fossil fuels as environmentalists like put it. We’re not in control of or responsible for our own actions, so we need the state to make us do the right thing — to free us from our addictions (well, when the addictions are bad anyway; addiction to high taxes is apparently good). 

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Admin Update: Ch-ch-ch-change-e-es! New Host, Community Forums, & More Fri, 22 Jun 2012 21:16:07 +0000 First of all, our apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced or annoyed by any issues with our site recently, especially those who received a rapid-fire blast of several dozen tweets yesterday. We’ve been in the process of moving the site to a new webhost (DreamHost) over the past couple of days. That process is now complete. We have been able to fix some longstanding problems with the site as well as provide you with new features.

The problems with our old WordPress install were caused by how our previous host had set things up after a server move. The blast of tweets was caused by activating our WordTwit plugin on the WordPress install with our new host. A long queue of Twitter announcements for blogposts had built up in the plugin on the old host. For some reason the tweets were being blocked from release to Twitter. When we transferred everything over and activated the plugin, suddenly the block was gone and all those tweets were released at once.

Whatever the problem was with our old host, our WordTwit plugin is working again and we’ll once more be able to push out Twitter announcements of new blogposts automatically when they’re published.

There were a few other issues on the backend of the site that have been fixed, which will make the site easier to maintain.

We’ve dropped the Libertarian FAQ, since it didn’t garner enough interest from our readers and, it turns out, ourselves.

One new feature is that we’ve dropped the “www.” prefix on the url. Minor perhaps, but it’s a nice convenience. Hopefully, the site will be a little faster now as well.

Here’s the biggie:

With our old host we were unable to get our newest feature installed and up and running. We’re now able to offer you community forums where you can discuss myriad subjects from libertarianism and Austrian economics to politics and history and more. The forums are powered by the Simple:Press plugin. It’s similar to a phpBB system, but it’s built right into WordPress, so you only need one user account for the forums and the rest of the site. Come help us get the conversation started!

And please, let us know if you spot anything that might be broken.


]]> Interviews Science Fiction Author David Brin Tue, 01 May 2012 07:02:08 +0000 David Brin is the author of science fiction novels The Postman, the Uplift series beginning with Sundiver, and others as well as the ever-popular nonfiction work, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?. He recently sat down with’s Tim Cavanaugh to discuss his recent criticisms of “dogmatic libertarians,” his hobbyhorse of government transparency, and the subject of uplifting dolphins.

I have much to say about Brin’s attacks on “dogmatic libertarians,” by which he means followers of Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand who worship property too much, but watch the video first and then continue on below for my commentary.1

I’ll state right up front that I do not think of Brin as a libertarian, much less as a heretical one (as he describes himself). To the extent that he is right on anything, he’s not telling libertarians anything new. As for the rest, I’ve seen enough on his blog and various social networks to come to the conclusion that he doesn’t understand the actual positions held by principled libertarians (as opposed to the bizarre straw men he’s concocted and attributed to us) and that it’s impossible to carry on a civil, constructive conversation over the internet with him about libertarianism if you disagree with him on the subject. Although he says in the video that he doesn’t want to insult, after he’s already insulted, if you dare to challenge his views about “dogmatic libertarianism,” prepare to be mocked and insulted and misinterpreted and talked past.

Brin says, “The issue should not be government. It should not be unalloyed and unlimited idolatry of personal property,2  which is the path that the libertarian movement has gone down.”

I have no idea what he means by “unalloyed and unlimited idolatry of personal property”3 and I’ve yet to see him give a clear explanation of this magic-talisman phrase he bandies about like a Hammer of Refutation. I can’t imagine what problem he sees in upholding private property rights. He seems to think our “unalloyed and unlimited idolatry” somehow leads to oligarchy, but I’m at a loss as to how it is supposed to do so. I can only assume he thinks it means we must uphold “rights” to even unjustly acquired property, but this is simply not so.

The phrase is also code for “Hey, man, let’s be practical; sometimes one has to make compromises, break a few eggs to make an omelette.” Those who want government solutions to perceived problems hate it when libertarians stand on principle and refuse to budge. It drives them into uncivilized fits of apoplectic, frothing rage.

Brin also seems to think that so-called “dogmatic libertarians” have lost sight of the importance of competition and transparency and whatnot. Uh… No. No, we haven’t. I don’t know where he gets this stuff from. We see private property rights as making fair and creative competition possible in the first place; and we value fair and creative competition greatly, especially those of us who see intellectual property as illegitimate government grants of monopoly privilege that can only be enforced by infringing on the pre-existing rights of others to their physical property.

“Libertarians need to be reminded that, across 6,000 years, the greatest enemy of free enterprise, of market enterprise, innovation, creative competition… have always been oligarchs,” says Brin.

No… No, we don’t. But mayhaps you need to be reminded that all forms of government, not just the one labeled oligarchy, are ultimately ruled by oligarchs. It’s in the nature of the state. You know… that organization you said we shouldn’t concern ourselves with. Theory and history show us that it is through the state that oligarchs acquire and exercise their power. Without it, they are impotent. It is the state, always ruled by oligarchs, that has been the greatest enemy of free markets, free enterprise, innovation, and fair and creative competition.

The Pyramid of Oligarchy

The Pyramid of Oligarchy

In the video, Brin lays out a plan to rein in government growth, corruption, and “abuse.” Here’s a summary: Let’s draft 10,000 average Americans into a pool every year. Excuse Brin’s poor choice of words; this “draft” is one that can be refused without penalty (although an opt-out system is an unnecessary hassle for people and is frowned upon by savvy Netizens). We’ll then do background checks on this pool of candidates to winnow it down to a list 1,000 trustworthy, loyal citizens who can keep their mouths shut. Give them security clearances and arm them with a badge that let’s them get in any door in the United States of America — you read that right, any door. They are tasked with watching the watchmen. There will be penalties for revealing “anything about anything the’ve seen.” Brin suggests a mere month in jail. The idea being that spending a month in jail will be a price worth paying to patriots in order to bring truly heinous acts of government out into the light so that they can be stopped.

What was interviewer Tim Cavanaugh’s response to all this? “Huh. Okay.”

That’s it?

This didn’t immediately strike him as a terrible idea? He didn’t think or, better yet, say: “Gee, this can’t possibly go wrong.” Not a single problem with the proposed system immediately sprang to mind that he could ask Brin to address? Or did Cavanaugh just not want to ask the celebrity any tough questions?

I’ll just toss a few ideas off the top of my head into the ring for consideration:

  1. Who is going to administer this new system of citizen-watchmen — the lottery for the draft, the background checks, security clearance decisions, and so on? Oh, that’s right — the government. Despite Brin’s talk about non-governmental, or market, solutions to problems, his proposal is a government solution to a government problem (government failure).  What? You need me to flesh the implications out for you? Okay…
  2. It means the creation of a new bureaucracy or ratcheting up an exsiting one. Either way, a WIN for big government and more spending! That’s what we libertarians are fighting for!
  3. Who’s to say the penalty won’t be ratcheted up over time like the income tax? Thus decreasing the risk to government officials that their secrets will get out?
  4. The selection process couldn’t possibly be rigged or gamed, could it?
  5. No citizen-watchman would ever take a bribe to keep quiet,  surely.
  6. Or stay mum in the face of threats to himself or his family… right?
  7. Brin’s proposed system entails acclimating Americans to increased government surveillance of and deep-probing into their public and private lives. Oh, and revisit #4-6 in light of this. Worse, it might come to be seen as a patriotic duty to accept such scrutiny from the government.
  8. Brin says there will be penalties for revealing “anything about anything the’ve seen.” I hope he’s only referring to classified or top secret, not unclassified, information here. Let’s take him charitably and assume he is; how much do you want to bet that this will lead to more and more aspects of government becoming classified so as to have the threat of the penalty for revealing what is seen hanging over the citizen-watchmen’s heads for matters of less and less importance to the “national interest”?
  9. The system Brin proposes is likely to make people more complacent about government in the same way and for the same reasons that democracy fools them into believing they’re ultimately in charge and that regulations encourage them to abdicate responsibility for the quality of the goods and services they buy, for their own safety and security and that of their families, and so on. “Hey, man, there’s a system in place to make sure our representives and public servants do what they’re tasked with doing and to weed out corruption and bad secret policies and stuff. They have enough volunteers. I don’t need to waste my valuable  Celebrity Apprentice–watching time ((Bread and circuses! Bread and circuses!)) worrying about it. Did you see what happened last night? Aubrey O’Day is soooo right. She’s the only one with any talent on her team. Nobody else every has a creative.”4
  10. Brin doesn’t  mention monetary compensation for being a citizen-watchman. Is it likely that as many as 1 in 10 draftees will not only accept being drafted but pass the background checks to qualify for a security clearance? A much larger pool than 10,000 might be needed. And might there not be a selection bias in who chooses to accept the responsibility after being drafted? No potential for abuse there?
  11. What if the citizen-watchmen are generally okay with things libertarians would deem heinous? In light of the direction this country has been headed lo the past couple centuries, this isn’t much of a stretch, is it?
  12. Brin says that citizen-watchmen will be able to get into any door in the United States. Any door. I hope he means any government door, not really any door.
  13. Let’s face it, Brin’s proposal is a pipe dream. The Powers That Be will never let it happen and the American people are not really interested in that level of transparency in their government — not enough to make Brin’s plan a reality, at least. And Brin has the gall to mock and blame “dogmatic libertarians,” the lapel-grabbing (lolwut?) Rothbardian and Randian wing of the movement, for the Libertarian Party failing to make headway (more than 1%) at the polls in presidential elections.
  14. Brin’s citizen-watchman program will be funded by taxes, and taxation is theft. Oh, sorry, did I grab your lapels too hard?5

I could go on, but what’s the point of continuing to kick a dead horse?

[Prometheus Unbound]

  1. It’s heartening to see that the video on YouTube has more dislikes than likes at the moment. 

  2. The transcript has the words “unalloyed” and “unlimited” in the wrong order. 

  3. What do “unalloyed” and “unlimited” even mean in this context? Can there be alloyed and limited idolatry of personal property? 

  4. My wife subjects me to Trump’s insipid Celebrity Apprentice show on Sundays. We both can’t stand that obnoxious, narcissistic, conniving, overhyped “reality”-pop-star twit. Fire her already! And WTF is “a creative.” The word is an adjective, not a noun! 

  5. I would have placed this item in the #2 position but wanted to make a joke about the lapel thing and it needed context. Again, lolwut? 

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Laissez Faire Books Launches the Laissez Faire Club Fri, 20 Apr 2012 05:44:55 +0000 Laissez Faire Books

Laissez Faire Books (LFB) is a seminal libertarian institution that dates back to 1972, six years before I was born. In its heyday, it played a central role in the libertarian movement as the largest libertarian bookseller, a publisher of libertarian books, and an old-school social network, hosting social gatherings and other events. This was before my time.

I’d never bought a book from LFB until yesterday (the 19th). By the time I became a libertarian in my undergraduate years at Louisiana State University, after reading the work of Ayn Rand (starting with The Fountainhead) at the urging of a friend, I was able to learn about libertarianism and Austrian economics from a large and growing sea of resources online. I bought books from Amazon and the Ludwig von Mises Institute (LvMI), read online articles and blogs, and took advantage of the growing library of digitized books and other media put online and hosted by the LvMI.

Laizzez Faire Books was fading into irrelevancy and, I think, in danger of being shuttered for good as it was passed from new owner to new owner. Enter Agora Financial, the latest owner of LFB, and hopefully the organization that will oversee its resuscitation and return to relevancy. With Jeffrey Tucker at the helm as executive editor, the prospects for profitability, innovation, and spreading the message of liberty are exciting indeed.

Many, if not most, of you know Jeffrey Tucker as the editorial vice president who led the LvMI into the digital age, building it into the open-source juggernaut with a vast online and free library of liberty and a thriving community that it is today. We were sad to see him leave that beloved institution, but eager to see what he would do in charge of a for-profit publisher and bookstore. Now we’ve been given the first taste.

Jeffrey Tucker Meme

Laissez Faire Books will of course be publishing and selling ebooks and dead-tree books individually. They’re a bit pricey this way, if you ask me.  The way you’ll want to get these books and the added value that LFB has to offer, however, is to sign on to the new business model that promises to return the company to the center of the libertarian movement as a book publisher, seller, and community (with online forums).

Yesterday, on the 19th of April, Jeffrey Tucker and LFB launched the Laissez Faire Club. This is an innovative subscription-based book club that offers a host of members-only benefits for the price of $10 per month, or $120 per year. Members will receive a 20% discount on all LFB products, a new ebook at no extra charge every week (in epub and mobi formats) as well as access to the entire archive of previously distributed ebooks, Tucker’s Take (short video book reviews by Jeffrey Tucker), free reports, live author interviews, a private online community forum shielded from search engines and prying eyes and drive-by trolls, and more now and to come.

That sounds like a good deal to me. I signed up last night for a free trial, which comes with some free content that’s yours to keep even if you choose to cancel your membership before the free trial is up.

In the information age, and in light of the illegitimacy of so-called intellectual property, how do you  make money publishing and selling books? Many are wailing and gnashing their teeth, rending their shirts, and lashing out in fear and lazy greed — unable to let go of their precious, state-supported publishing model, dependent on IP and an oligopoly over the publication and distribution of dead-tree books. The Big Six publishers don’t seem to have a clue. But I think it’s not really that hard to figure out:

You treat your customers right, provide them with valuable content that they’ll want to ensure you’re able to continue providing, and sell them added value built around the books: reasonable prices, great customer service with a personal touch, knowledgeable and engaged staff, early access, extra content like free reports on how to circumvent the state legally or Tucker’s Take, personal engagement with their favorite authors, a private and secure community comprised of fellow lovers of liberty, and so on.

Head on over to Laissez Faire Books to learn more about the new Laissez Faire Club and, if you’re a lover of liberty and books and books about liberty, become a member today.

[Prometheus Unbound & Is-Ought GAP]

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Ebook Price Fixing and Bad Journalism Thu, 12 Apr 2012 21:13:03 +0000 You may have heard that the Department of Justice decided to launch antitrust litigation against Apple and some major publishers for alleged price fixing and that most of them decided on the same day to settle. The alleged sin was that Apple and the publishers decided to go with the agency pricing model in which the publishers get to set the prices for their books in the iBooks Store, while Apple takes, I believe, a 30% cut.

So late last night I read this:

How Steve Jobs Got Apple Into Trouble Over Ebooks” by Lance Ulanoff, Editor-in-Chief of +Mashable.

Wow, is this guy clueless.

And if Steve Jobs really thought Amazon screwed up, he was clueless as well. Amazon is WINNING.

Jobs pushed the agency model on the publishers? I don’t think so. They preferred that model but couldn’t get Amazon to go along with it without Apple’s help. It’s the screw-your-customers model and it wouldn’t have been good for the publishers over the long haul. They want high ebook prices so that they can hang onto their outdated IP-dependent business model of selling paperbacks and hardcovers in big box brick & mortar stores for as long as possible.

“Over the years I spoke to numerous people in the publishing industry who were somewhat shocked and not necessarily happy with this turn of events [Amazon’s low ebook prices and domination of the ebook market].”

Oh, boo hoo.

“[Best-selling author James] Patterson’s books have long been on ereaders, but back then he was clearly feeling the pinch of lost royalties as his bestsellers which once sold for over $20 at Barnes and Noble and were now selling for $9.99. Was it any wonder he was riding coach?”

I doubt he was riding coach because Amazon’s ebook pricing was preventing him from doing well financially. The guy writes (or lends his name to) and sells a shit-ton of books. If he wasn’t making out better on his ebook sales than he was on his hardcover sales, then he had a shitty contract deal with his publishers, because Amazon offers much better royalty rates for ebooks than you’ll get from a traditional publisher for hardcovers.

“Amazon’s $9.99 pricing insistence did not sit so well with government types, either. Back in 2010, the Connecticut Attorney General called Amazon’s $9.99 pricing scheme potentially anti-competitive. Certainly, undercutting brick and mortar competitors by more than half on new hardcovers made it difficult for anyone else to compete in the ebooks space.”

Oh, boo hoo. It’s not anti-competitive to offer your customers a better deal than the other guys; that’s what competition is! If you’re not going to call government officials on their ignorant bullshit, you’re not doing your job as a journalist. If you didn’t realize it was ignorant bullshit, then you shouldn’t be reporting on economic matters.

“Without Apple to force Amazon to rethink its pricing model, book publishers might have had to resort to draconian measures to stay afloat and deliver product (for all I know, they did anyway). Authors might have seen their publishing and sales platform opportunities shrink as fewer publishers took risks on unknown or no-name authors. Oh, and surely Amazon would be making less money on ebooks than it is today.”

So much FAIL in this paragraph. Where to begin…

“Without Apple to force Amazon to rethink its pricing model…”

Amazon didn’t “rethink” its pricing model. It reluctantly gave in to pressure from the Big 6 and Apple. As soon as Amazon can ditch the agency model, it will.

“…book publishers might have had to resort to draconian measures to stay afloat and deliver product (for all I know, they did anyway).”

Book publishers will have to resort to draconian measures to stay afloat and deliver product anyway. They need to make radical overhauls of their organizational structure, business and distribution models, accounting practices, contract terms, and more. Apple was just helping them maintain the status quo a bit longer. This was neither a good thing for consumers nor for authors.

“Authors might have seen their publishing and sales platform opportunities shrink as fewer publishers took risks on unknown or no-name authors.”

Are you serious!?! That’s the situation today under the traditional publishing model! It’s been that way for a long time.

Amazon is disrupting the status quo, opening up new opportunities for publishers and authors. Small presses seem to be flourishing. And, thanks to Amazon, authors can now easily self-publish, reach a wide audience, and develop a steady income stream through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform, Barnes & Noble’s Pubit!, and various other platforms. The stigma of self-publishing is disappearing. Thanks to Amazon, traditionally published authors are able to put their out-of-print backlist back into publication (if they can get the rights back from their publishers) and generate a steady income stream from books that had long since ceased to generate any income due to an antiquated business model and publisher neglect.

“Oh, and surely Amazon would be making less money on ebooks than it is today.”

Wow. Just… wow. You think major publishers going out of business wouldn’t be a boon to small presses, lead to the creation of more small presses, and swell the ranks of self-publishing authors in Amazon’s KDP program and other self-publishing platforms?

I haven’t researched the precise timing of events, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the agency-model deal between Apple and the Big 6 pushed Amazon into starting its own publishing imprints or accelerated plans it already had to do so. Likely the Big 6 encouraged Amazon to go into direct competition with them on the publishing front, either period or earlier than originally planned, thus hastening their own demise. They can’t compete with Amazon on their own turf, at least not without radical changes. Amazon has lower costs, better distribution and marketing, better data, better accounting practices, better contract terms, treats its authors better, has better customer service.

I think Amazon would do just fine without the Big 6.

“Ultimately, this whole drama is just another little piece of Steve Job’s legacy laid bare. He was a hard-nosed business man who knew how to win — at almost any cost. Do we judge Apple or him more harshly for it?”

Was this a fluff piece? Or what? It’s not all about Steve Jobs. I think Mashable’s editor-in-chief over-estimates Jobs’s role in this. It’s not like the agency model had to be shoved down the throats of desperate publishers. They wanted to set their own prices. They just needed Apple’s help to create an alternative store and publishing platform and to push the agency model on Amazon.


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Good Samaritan Laws in a Stranger Danger Society Mon, 19 Mar 2012 13:58:29 +0000 Via Radley Balko comes the news story of a father of three who, so he claims, attempted to be a good samaritan and offer two teenage girls caught out walking in a snowstorm without protection a lift home only to be charged with disorderly conduct for his trouble. The girls, you see, were “alarmed and disturbed” by the offer. They waved him off and, like good citizens, did as they were taught in public school — they wrote down his license plate number and reported him to the “authorities.”

Now, we don’t know what really happened. It’s a he-said/she-said situation in which no one was harmed, which makes charging the alleged good samaritan with a crime all the more ridiculous. Maybe the guy really did have bad intentions in this case, though I doubt it; but it hardly matters for our general point because more clearcut cases can surely be found to illustrate how our culture and the US legal system discourage and punish good samaritans.

This is a likely tragic example of the state’s corrosive effects on society as it breaks down social bonds, foments fear and distrust of strangers and even friends and family, encourages snitching and dependence on its protection and support, and punishes good samaritans. In America, the state can let no private good deed go unpunished.

Those who favor laws requiring people to be good samaritans should bear incidents like this in mind. You’re setting people up to be criminals no matter what they do or don’t do, and you’re employing the very institution responsible for creating the conditions that led you to perceive a need for such laws in the first place.

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