Isaac Bergman – 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. Isaac Bergman – The Libertarian Standard clean Isaac Bergman – The Libertarian Standard (Isaac Bergman – The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace Isaac Bergman – The Libertarian Standard TV-G Pass The Press Please Fri, 30 Mar 2012 18:06:55 +0000 What does it take to be considered a legitimate news organization?

Gothamist, the operator of nine city-centric blogs that cover local news, events and culture have finally received their NYPD press credentials which allows them access to on-scene reporting or press events that are otherwise closed to others. This was after almost 8 years, countless emails, phone calls, two appeal hearings, $5,000, and getting high-profile civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel involved.

In their very detailed guide they explain how the process works, and how it favors the establishment players:

If you work for a mainstream outlet, like a newspaper, radio, or television station, you can stop reading right now. Your boss has no doubt processed dozens of press pass candidates through DCPI, and will have no trouble getting you a pass. This seems to apply to any old media outlet, no matter how small, so if you write the produce column for your food co-op newsletter, you’re gold.

As part of the process, the applicant has to show proof that he or she covered a certain number of major events within the past two years, a barrier-to-entry hurdle for those in a fledging news organization denied access to many major events. Furthermore, the qualification for these major events are those that give deference and respect to the powers that be– events that had an NYPD detailed presence, and mayoral and/or city council press announcements.

In other words, the only news that counts is that which covers officially-sanctioned events which flatter the egos of politicians, which is why Gothamist’s “Occupy Wall Street” coverage was rejected(!) even though there was an overwhelming police presence at what could anyways be considered a significant news event absent the NYPD.

Ladies and gentlemen, so much for an “independent” news media.

The Perils of Positive Law Fri, 20 Jan 2012 18:09:21 +0000 Just a couple days ago the New York City council voted to ban the practice by sanitation workers to sticker the window of vehicles that were violating the alternate-side street cleaning rules. Whilst the vehicle’s owner would still receive a parking violation fine, they are no longer allowed to punish drivers by defacing their vehicles with the hard-to-remove stickers. While I find the ban agreeable, I have a bone to pick with the general legislative approach.

One of the problems with positive law is that the mindset it encourages is antithetical to what should otherwise be a presumptive prohibition of aggression and the security of both property and personal liberties. Unlike the “negative” rights of common law, the legislative process of positive law will all too often err and enshrine legal principles that are unjust. This is not to say that legislators do not get it right sometimes– for example laws that prohibit murder, theft and fraud are all [potentially] perfectly just laws.

With a positive law mindset, actions that are not yet defined in the statutes lie in a grey area neither prohibited nor permitted “under the law”.  And later, if ever, when the statutes are codified, the result could be in having laws that don’t prohibit or permit enough, or in fact laws that prohibit or permit too much.  This is a problem inherent to a process that tries to encapsulate the entire range of possible actions and to explicitly codify them into the written law.

The presumptions now change- anything not explicitly forbidden is arguably permissible. Actions which are now prohibited lie beyond the reach of justice if they were carried out before the law was passed under the legal principle ex post facto. Of course it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way– laws that forbids theft and injury could already be understood to include all forms of theft, damage and injury without the codification of specific actions, i.e. “killing with a knife in the right hand using a stabbing motion”. What the positivist mindset encourages is the tendency to look at the codified word as the source of justice, so that one could then hair-split it so that the actual action is not specified and thereby not prohibited.

That said, property defacement should be considered a forbidden action (regardless of the actual codified law) and therefore there was no actual need for a specific law to ban the stickering practice. Instead the government could have enforced the already existing laws against property defacement to stop this punitive, vindictive crime.

Semantics and IP Antics Fri, 09 Dec 2011 20:53:19 +0000 One of the reasons why IP-abolitionists oppose “intellectual property” is because IP monopolies in effect boil down to a restriction on existent ownership rights. To this charge, a common retort heard even from libertarians, is that all property rights are not absolute (i.e. “you can’t shoot your gun wherever you choose”, “the right to swing your fist ends by my nose”, etc.) and so too IP laws can morally and thus justly restrict people from using certain configurations or arrangements of their already owned property.

It occurred to me that this is a mere semantic quibble. If we substitute the word “to” for the word “with”, we no longer have an equivalence between IP and those examples. For argument’s sake, we can even agree with the gist of those examples and suppose that an owner may not always have the right to do certain actions with his property but this wouldn’t contradict a fundamental right to do certain actions to his property, which is more precisely what anti-IP arguers hold.
This retort focuses solely on the restrictionist view in that it’s [morally] just to have laws that restrict existent property rights. But those examples are a flawed comparison to begin with; we would never hold that property rights to a gun would allow the violation of another persons’ property.
This is because ownership isn’t a bundle of certain permissible actions or rights, but rather the totality of  a “negative” quality– a restriction upon others from violating the owner’s right to control. In any given context, violations of property rights is what determines the impermissibility for any given action, not a deficiency in the ownership rights of the hypothetical gun or swinging-fist.
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Land of the Free™ (Rules and Restrictions May Apply) Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:18:09 +0000 From I learn that the terrorists hate us so much for our freedoms, they are now preventing us from using their online poker rooms., a small independent online poker room, became a trailblazer this week, becoming the first internet poker room to accept Bitcoin as a valid currency for both deposits and withdrawals.  Bitcoin is a unique currency, as it is purely virtual and does not require financial institutions to process transactions… It does not accept players from the United States.

What will the terrorists think of next?

Crying Over Spilled Trash Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:34:18 +0000 I came home yesterday to find that someone emptied our outdoor waste receptacles (read: garbage cans) onto the sidewalk, most likely to root through them for valuables, you know the sort that the state extorts a $0.05-$0.15 bounty in advance for their rendition to the local bailiff for redemption.

This isn’t the first time that profit-seeking scavengers have combed through our trash for illegally-discarded recyclables, but most of the time they are kind enough to retie the bags and place them back where I left them. I suppose this may be a new low in the professional salvage business.


The Chutzpah of the “Do Something” Crowd Tue, 03 May 2011 22:00:23 +0000 Supporters of free markets are often attacked for their “Do Nothing Principle” position, which tends to deeply upset policy wonks and media talking heads alike. Obviously this is buncombe, and to the contrary it is these would-be do-somethingers who are intellectually or ideologically incapable of grasping the sweeping scope of necessary changes that free market advocates are calling for.

For example, the charge that “Hangover Theorists” are selfish moralizers who want poor and middle-class families to needlessly suffer during a recession is prima facie incorrect. The interlocutor is simply misled by my yawning enthusiasm for his policy prescriptions into thinking I have no “serious” and “realistic” plan to help society, and that I want to “do nothing.”

Do nothing you say?

To the contrary, I advocate doing a lot, including the complete abolition of the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US Federal Mint, the US departments relating to labor, trade, banking, securities, etc. It is those who want to merely tweak a bit here and there who are hem-hawing over making serious policy changes, and who have the gall to accuse me of advocating to “do nothing”!

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Winning the Battle of Ideas Thu, 28 Apr 2011 15:46:08 +0000 Major kudos to John Papola and Russ Roberts on the release of their latest project:

To call this a “rap video” doesn’t do it any justice; the phrasing of the lyrics is clear, precise and natural in that it doesn’t seem forced. Who ever said that economics is a dismal science?

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The Shutdown and What It Means To You Fri, 08 Apr 2011 18:22:27 +0000 With all the hysteria in the mass-media in concern to the shutdown, your friendly Libertarian Standard blogger is here to deliver a public service announcement to allay any dissonance you may be needlessly experiencing.

You, dear citizen, will not be regaining any freedoms you might have had before; anything that otherwise might have been permitted to you before as a natural, human right will not necessarily be allowed again because of this unfortunate shutdown event.


  • The freedom to retain the full gain of property you’ve obtained through voluntary means. Our dedicated IRS agents will be working round-the-clock to ensure that you pay your full due (and then some). Sadly, due to current budgeting woes, money you’ve lent us interest-free (thanks again!) in advance will be held hostage due to despicable, greedy taxpayers shamelessly(!) refusing to fork over more of their property.
  • There will no freedom to enter or leave your invisible jail without permission papers from your ever-so-gracious wardens. You will have to defer your furlough plans until passport services are resumed.
  • You will not be free to trade with people living in other territories without paying our bridge trolls the proper custom. Any privacy you think you may have to be secure in either your person or property is out of the question once you are within the marked territories of the bridge trolls or their Uruk-hai siblings at the TSA.
  • The freedom to consume foodstuffs or chemicals for your pleasure and even health will be strictly prohibited without the specific permission of our Surgeon General. Any pleasurable activities that are as yet unknown are categorically forbidden by emergency measure. Yes, Granny may die because the FDA couldn’t approve her medicine in time, but so what, somebody might get high in the meanwhile, and we couldn’t have that, no sirree.

Always remember- a government shutdown affects YOU, not them.

Secondhand Statism Sun, 03 Apr 2011 21:52:02 +0000 A common charge leveled at free-market advocates is that, if as FMA’s claim  the free-market could/would be superior to the existing “mixed economy”, then why hasn’t it already been widely adopted due to it’s supposed superiority– and furthermore, FMA’s should accept that this shows that their minority position is rightly deserved to be such. Obviously, this is a weak claim, but in my estimation a fairly common one.

I can think of a number of reasons why this charge is without merit. For one, it assumes that the knowledge regarding the operational structure necessary for a freed-market [sic] is widespread. A casual glance at political commentary that emanates from likes of expert talking-heads, down to the teeny-boppers in school reveals that many people conflate a Dickensian perception for a free society.

Secondly, the claim is based on a flawed understanding of the concept of rationality. Rationality does not mean for someone’s actions to be considered “normal”. To illustrate this, think of a smoker, who we will assume for this day and age is well aware of the dangers of cigarette smoke. Most people would say the smoker’s actions demonstrate irrationality, but as Ludwig von Mises taught, all purposeful action is rational by definition. In other words, the smoker is aware of the costs to his actions, but in his estimation, the immediate benefits outweigh those long-term risks (the costs) that he is willing to undertake.

In this sense, the smoking habit is rational. To claim otherwise is akin to dictating to another person what is their favorite ice cream flavor, despite whatever that person may say about his own likes. What people actually mean regarding the smoker, is that if the smoker presumingly values his good health and lifestyle as much as they do, then how could he possibly still choose to smoke. But this is a disagreement over ends, and not the means advocated to obtain those ends. Quite correctly, a smoker could agree with the anti-smoking advocate in concern to the effectiveness of the means, and would simply prefer different ends. (It’s likely that he would prefer good health too, but in his preference scale, the immediate enjoyment of a smoke is more highly preferred than to a distant risk.)

Another explanation is that the smoker is simply not aware of the severity of the risks involved and in effect he doesn’t have enough knowledge to internalize those costs into his decision process. Presumingly, once he is made aware he would make the attempt to change his habits– but it’s still subject to a cost-benefit analysis! (A person on or nearer his deathbed may choose to continue smoking, while someone with long-term life expectancy may choose to value the good health of a protracted life associated with quitting the habit.)

The only valid way to term the smoker’s habit as irrational would be if the smoker’s means were knowingly incompatible with his ends. Meaning, that if there was a person who valued his good health above the enjoyment of the smoke and yet continues to smoke, then can we term his actions irrational, and such a person would be in need of psychiatric help. Of course, most people who continue to smoke might only claim to value their good health above all, while their actions simply demonstrate, or reveal their higher-ranked preference is for smoking.

To get back on subject, the interlocutor was in effect asking the FMA, are you really saying that all state-supporting people are irrational– how can the FMA hold that 99% of the population is irrational? To this the FMA can genuinely respond in the negative, that he does not think statists to be irrational. After all, the FMA can be charitable to assume that most statists believe statism to be beneficial. And just like with smoking, prior to the knowledge of the risks and costs being acknowledged and understood by the public at large, the FMA is likewise trying to educate others about the inherent dangers and costs of statism.

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Passing a BillMeNow For Later Thu, 03 Mar 2011 16:01:43 +0000 Jeremy B. White of the NY Observer writes:

“City Council Member Brad Lander introduced a bill today that would require banks to help pay for the upkeep of foreclosed homes by posting bonds with a minimum value of $10,000.”

What he failed to write was that if this bill were to pass, new mortgage applications would either require a $10,000 fee to cover for foreclosure contingencies, or more likely just include a risk premium for that $10,000 bond. Even if the bill would ban sticking the potential mortgager with that bill, it would compel banks to be even stricter in their lending standards than they would have been otherwise, thus cutting off otherwise qualified applicants from buying homes, foreclosed or otherwise.

In either scenario, the tendency will be to have empty foreclosed homes sitting longer in unkempt vacancy than in the counterfactual situation in which the government didn’t meddle as much.

Don’t you love well-intentioned, yet clueless legislators?