Posts Tagged ‘Fellow Workers’

Picket Chipotle! for fair food and living wages for farmworkers. TOMORROW, Wednesday 9/30 11:00am-2:00pm, at Maryland and Harmon

Posted 29 September 2009 // by ALLy Charles Johnson

ALLies,

Southern Nevada ALL is proud to support the the efforts of wildcat unions like the C.I.W. and grassroots community groups like MEChA de UNLV to win living wages and better conditions for workers by the most radical means imaginable — the use of pickets, solidarity, voluntary community organizing, hardball secondary boycotts, and other exercises of pro-worker free association — to undermine the exploitation of government-privileged corporate capitalism, to build alternatives to the corporate-statist quo, and to stand with fellow workers struggling to gain a living wage and control over the conditions of their labor. We extend our solidarity and our support to MEChA de UNLV, the organizers of this local campaign.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a grassroots, community-based union representing farmworkers in central Florida, has called on fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and other large tomato buyers to step up and help farmworkers gain a living wage for their work — by agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound of tomatoes that they purchase from large tomato growers, which will go directly to the farmworkers who picked those tomatoes. (The penny-per-pound program costs participating buyers only a quarter for every 25-pound box of fresh tomatoes that they buy — but it could raise farmworkers’ wages by almost two-thirds. In an industry where the average worker makes approximately $10,000/year, and where wages have not risen significantly since 1978, the penny-per-pound program could finally break through this exploitation, and offer many farmworkers a chance to finally win a living wage for their labor.) Since the C.I.W. began its penny-per-pound campaign, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Whole Foods have all signed agreements with the C.I.W. committing to participate in the penny-per-pound program, and to implement codes of conduct requiring their suppliers to respect the rights and safety of farmworkers in their fields. But Chipotle — while promising “Food With Integrity” and marketing themselves to customers as a leader in socially-responsible business practices — has repeatedly refused to sign any penny-per-pound agreement with the C.I.W. Let’s tell Chipotle that we don’t enjoy the taste of exploitation!

In solidarity with Immokalee farmworkers and the C.I.W.’s historic campaign, MEChA de UNLV has called for a DEMONSTRATION TOMORROW (Wednesday, 9/30) 11 A.M. – 2 P.M. in front of the Chipotle location at Maryland and Harmon, across the street from UNLV. Join us! Bring a sign, bring a friend; most importantly bring yourself. Chipotle exploits farmworkers — let’s tell them ya basta!

WHAT: Picket for fair food and the C.I.W.’s penny-per-pound agreement

WHERE: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Maryland and Harmon, across the street from UNLV.

WHEN: Wednesday, 9/30/2009, 11:00 A.M. – 2 P.M.

WHO: Anyone who supports a living wage for farmworkers and opposes exploitation!

Hope to see y’all there!

For more information on the C.I.W. and its campaign, check out their website at ciw-online.org.

Oscar Goodman: Deep Cover Anarchist?

So here in Vegas the city government has these stupid plans to take a vacant government building and force Vegas taxpayers to pour $11,500,000 or so into another government-subsidized tourist trap — this time, a new Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, which is allegedly intended to attract more customers for the profit of downtown business owners. Here’s what Mayor Oscar Goodman had to say about this latest tax-financed corporate development boondoggle in a recent press interview:

It will bring an awful lot of attention to the community because it’s part of our roots, argues Mayor Goodman. Like it or not, we’re the mob.

Mayor Oscar Goodman, quoted by News 3 KVBC (2009-07-09): What will become of the mayor’s Mob Museum?

… Hey man, you said it, not me.

.. the State, which subsists on taxation, is a vast criminal organization far more formidable and successful than any “private” Mafia in history….

Murray Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty

See also:

Libertarians Against Property Rights and Freedom of Association, Unabridged Edition

The other day I mentioned an exchange that I had with regular R.-J. columnist and occasional libertarian Vin Suprynowicz, over an ill-tempered blog post he wrote on so-called illegal immigration. Since my most recent comment on the post was deep-sixed into a moderation queue and shows no signs of reappearing, I offer this post as a way of recording the conversation so far in full.

Vin’s original article, Speaking in code words to disguise what they really mean,, is an extended complaint about a recent immigration freedom rally in Vegas — not the 1 May marcha that I participated in, but a more recent rally by Reform Immigration for America, focused on family reunification. Suprynowicz reacted with a polemic against the alleged euphemisms being used by those radicals (his word; he says it like it’s supposed to be a bad thing somehow) who would dare propose even the smallest rollbacks of government constraints on voluntary migration. One of these euphemisms, he says, is calling people who move to Nevada without a permission slip from the United States federal government undocumented immigrants, or even immigrants at all; instead, we are told, they should be called trespassing illegal aliens. We are also told that fewer government restrictions on immigration would lead to the swarming and bankrupting of our current [state] socialist policies like government-run schools and hospitals. And he tells us that anyone who does not support the most rigorous and aggressive enforcement of the Fugitive Alien Acts by federal police agencies is promoting amnesty, which is, apparently, supposed to be a condemnation beyond any hope of appeal:

These radicals [sic] can use all the euphemisms they please to avoid the word, but anyone who believes illegal trespassers should not be deported — or imprisoned and THEN deported — is promoting amnesty, and needs to answer the question: How does giving amnesty to a couple million knowing law-breakers not encourage the next set of knowing law-breakers, inviting them in no uncertain terms to Come on in and enjoy all the free stuff; after a few years you can get amnestied, too!?

Vin Suprynowicz (2009-06-14): Speaking in code words to disguise what they really mean

Well, I wouldn’t know; but one of the advantages of being an unterrified radical is that you don’t have to live in fear of boogey-words, or waste time defining down your goals to suit the status quo. (On which, see GT 2007-11-12 Sin Fronteras.) I don’t know all the details of what Reform Immigration for America stands for, but, in any case, I’ll be your huckleberry: sure, I’m for amnesty — immediate, complete, and unconditional amnesty, without any penalties and for every single criminalized immigrant in this grand old country. I’m promoting amnesty, and I’m promoting open borders, too, so I don’t care how many people show up in hopes of the next amnesty. If I really had my way, there’d be no next amnesty — because there’d be no government border laws left for anyone to violate.

So here was my first reply. (In which I chose, for rhetorical reasons, to use Vin’s own terms, using socialist to mean state socialist, and also illegal immigrant, for undocumented immigrants, a phrase that I would never choose for myself in conversation, because I think it’s dehumanizing and brutal. But in this context, I chose to use the phrase rather than criticize it, because part of the basic problem here is the underlying notion that there’s something morally wrong with breaking government laws.) Anyway:

The people to whom Ms. Arguello-Kline refers as immigrants aren’t immigrants, by that sensible definition, at all. They’re trespassing illegal aliens,

A trespasser is someone who intrudes on another person’s property against the will of the property-owner.

Let’s pretend I’m an illegal immigrant renting an apartment, working for a meat-packing plant, shopping at the local grocery store, et cetera. Presumably my landlord is willing for me to live on his or her property: if the owner didn’t want me to live there, he or she wouldn’t have signed the lease. Presumably, also, my boss is willing for me to be inside his or her plant; otherwise he or she wouldn’t be paying me to do it. Presumably, also, the stores I shop at are willing for me to be inside their stores: otherwise, they wouldn’t welcome my business.

So just whose property, exactly, am I trespassing on?

How does giving amnesty to a couple million knowing law-breakers not encourage the next set of knowing law-breakers, inviting them in no uncertain terms to Come on in and enjoy all the free stuff; after a few years you can get amnestied, too!?

You say knowing law-breakers like it’s supposed to be a bad thing to knowingly break the law. Coming from someone who so vocally praises the American Revolution, this seems odd.

If the radicals who gathered downtown on June the first want to demonstrate in favor of a mass amnesty — for open borders, over which hundreds of millions of the world’s poor and oppressed would be invited to come here and swarm our free public schools and free hospital emergency rooms until our current socialist policies drive us finally, completely, bankrupt — let them at least say what they mean.

That sounds like a problem with the socialist policies, not a problem with free immigration.

Why exactly do you want to save socialist policies like government control over schools and hospitals?

Rad Geek, June 15th, 2009 at 12:48pm

(For more on conservative welfare statist arguments against immigration freedom, see GT 2007-12-13: On the dole.)

Vin’s reply:

So, presumably, if I wrote warning people not to let their children swim in the river because there are crocodiles, Rad Geek, hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, would ask:

Why exactly do you want to save the practice of crocodiles eating little children just because they go swimming in inappropriate places?

Signing my name, standing tall and risking the consequences, I have fought a radical, no-compromise battle for the complete shutdown — not some kind of half-assed reform, but the literal dynamiting (once the children have been removed to a safe distance) — of the government schools, and every government income redistibution bureaucracy, for more than 15 years.

Warning of — heck, simply observing — the consequences of allowing unlimited millions of people to violate American immigration laws, arriving here to flood the government welfare schools and enormously expensive tax-subsidized hospital emergency rooms every time they come down with the sniffles, means I want to save these evil redistributionist schemes?

How does acknowledging a reality of which we disapprove indicate we want to save it? By this logic, if you believe the Constitution forbids government agents from restricting your right to carry a loaded firerarm into a federal courthouse (as it most certainly does), you MAY NOT leave your firearm in the car; you MUST carry it into the courthouse in defiance of the orders of the armed guards there, lest you stand accused by Rad Geek of wanting to save all their unconstitutional gun laws.

You must, in short, PRETEND that all current conditions of which you disapprove DO NOT EXIST.

In the real world, this is a good way to quickly get yourself killed. But Rad Geek will accuse us of wanting to save any current condition that we merely acknowledge as currently existing.

Do the illegal aliens stand up and declare We reject your laws, here we stand with our guns, we’re willing to risk death to proclaim that your laws have no dominance over us, like the patriots at Lexington and Concord?Are they fighting to free us, as well as themselves, from unconstitutional tyranny? I haven’t noticed them doing that. What I notice them doing is walking away from car crashes and hospital bills and orders to appear in court to answer for their crimes, refusing to take any responsibility for the damage they cause.

Yes, if there were no tax-funded commons, and none of us were numbered or taxed, the arrival of a million strangers seeking work would do me little harm, provided they maintained reasonable sanitary safeguards. When Rad Geek, hiding in the shadows of anonymity, has managed to accomplish goals to which courageous Libertarians have been unable to win over even 5 percent of our casually socialist neighbors in 40 years of effort, I hope he’ll let us know.

Meantime, since he wants to speak in hypotheticals, let’s pretend Rad Geek is a landlord or an employer, telling all applicants who speak poor English, I’m not going to rent to you or offer you a job, because I think you may be an illegal immigrant and I don’t want to become an accessory to your crime. Do you think our brave federal bureaucrats will congratulate him and back him to the hilt, demanding the applicant prove he or she is here legally?

Those employers and landlords soon find themselves in an Alice-and-Wonderland world, threatened with fines by the EEOC and other alphabet bureaucracies, you simpering innocent. Presumably my boss and landlord are willing? Go talk to a few of them, before you go presuming too much, you ivory-tower twit.

Why do you suppose Barack Obama declines to put E-Verify into widespread use?

Yes, I would prefer no Social Slave number or internal passport were necessary to go about my business. But if we WERE allowed to take one state of 50, and make it a Libertarian state, hasn’t it occurred to you that we’d have to require new immigrants to forswear socialism, under oath, and upon penalty of immediate exile, before granting them the right to vote? Otherwise, we’d be swarmed by socialists fleeing their own dysfunctional enclaves, who would immediately vote to tax their wealthier neighbors for their own sustenance, at which point we would have accomplished nothing at all.

Vin Suprynowicz, June 16th, 2009 at 11:47am

My reply, from behind that cloak of anonymity:

“Rad Geek” is a pseudonym, but it’s hardly a “cloak of anonymity.” If you spent a minute searching for it on Google, you’d find my website, which (among other things) talks at length about what my views are, who I am, where I live, what my real name is, and what I’ve published under my name. I don’t usually post comments on the Internet under my given name because it’s a common name, which happens to be shared by at least one prominent blogger with radically different views from mine, so that “Rad Geek” actually provides you with a more reliable way of finding out who I am and what I stand for than Charles Johnson would.

Not that your sniping about pseudonyms as against big manly signatures, or your thuggish anti-intellectual sniping at “ivory-tower twits” has anything to do with the argument; these are simply textbook examples of argumentum ad hominem (abusive form).

Warning of — heck, simply observing — the consequences of allowing unlimited millions of people to violate American immigration laws, arriving here to flood the government welfare schools and enormously expensive tax-subsidized hospital emergency rooms every time they come down with the sniffles, means I want to save these evil redistributionist schemes?

The question is simple. If you don’t want to save government welfare schools and tax-subsidized hospitals, then why in the world do you care whether or not they are flooded? Are you normally in the business of advising government bureaucrats about how to keep their unsustainable socialist schemes running?

By this logic, if you believe the Constitution forbids government agents from restricting your right to carry a loaded firerarm into a federal courthouse (as it most certainly does), you MAY NOT leave your firearm in the car; you MUST carry it into the courthouse in defiance of the orders of the armed guards there, lest you stand accused by Rad Geek of wanting to save all their unconstitutional gun laws.

Well, no. All that I think you MUST do is refrain from cheering on government agents when they go to arrest, exile or kill those who DO choose to exercise their rights.

If you stand by government police when they do try to enforce tyrannical gun laws on innocent people exercising their rights, then yes, you are trying to save tyrannical gun laws. Otherwise, no, you aren’t.

Of course, the problem here is that you ARE explicitly calling for bigger and more aggressive government when it comes to monitoring, policing and punishing illegal immigrants. Even though you haven’t anywhere stated who they are trespassing against by living in the U.S. without a permission slip from the federal government. And one of the reasons you give for this is the alleged effects of free immigration on cockamaimey socialist schemes that you yourself consider wasteful and foolish.

Yes, if there were no tax-funded commons, and none of us were numbered or taxed, the arrival of a million strangers seeking work would do me little harm, provided they maintained reasonable sanitary safeguards.

It’s true that when you combine something basically moral (free immigration) with something completely immoral (government subsidies for education and medicine) you may get bad results from the combination. But why spend your time attacking the moral part of the combination, instead of the immoral part?

Are they fighting to free us, as well as themselves, from unconstitutional tyranny? I haven’t noticed them doing that. What I notice them doing is walking away from car crashes and hospital bills and orders to appear in court to answer for their crimes, refusing to take any responsibility for the damage they cause.

I don’t care whether or not illegal immigrants fight to free me from tyranny. A little help is always appreciated, but I don’t think that fighting for everybody else’s freedom is necessary for people to be justified in breaking unjust laws. Do you think the American Revolutionaries should have been expected to fight not only for their own freedom but also to free the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh, the English commoners, or any number of other victims of tyrannical English government? Do you expect Ford to make cars for GM?

As for those fighting their own freedom, maybe it’s a matter of who you know. I know plenty of undocumented immigrants who are actively engaged in pro-freedom politics and against the bordercrats’ Papers please police state.

And as for irresponsibility, I’m sure there are some individual illegal immigrants who are irresponsible. So what? I hear some native-born Americans are irresponsible, too. In a free society, institutions work to hold individual people responsible for what they do. They don’t launch massive collectivist campaigns to hunt down and exile whole populations regardless of whether or not they have ever actually done any of the things you mention.

But if we WERE allowed to take one state of 50, and make it a Libertarian state, hasn’t it occurred to you that we’d have to require new immigrants to forswear socialism, under oath, and upon penalty of immediate exile, before granting them the right to vote?

No. I don’t believe in using government to police political thought.

I also don’t know how you intend to enforce these immigration restrictions you plan on implementing without exactly the sort of Officially Permitted Citizen, Papers-please documentation requirements that you claim you would prefer to abolish.

Those employers and landlords soon find themselves in an Alice-and-Wonderland world, threatened with fines by the EEOC and other alphabet bureaucracies, you simpering innocent.

Oh, please. If you think that Tyson wouldn’t be hiring any illegal immigrants but for the nefarious manipulations of the EEOC, I think you probably need to think about this harder.

Of course, in specific cases where a landlord would like to exclude illegal — or for that matter legal — immigrants from renting apartments, or a boss would like not to hire them, I think that he or she ought to have the right to do so, and that if the EEOC tries to interfere, the EEOC is violating the rights of that boss or landlord. But of course this doesn’t answer the question of who illegal immigrants are trespassing against. If the landlord doesn’t give a damn where the tenant comes from as long as she pays her rent — and many landlords don’t — and if the boss doesn’t give a damn where the worker comes from as long as she does her job — and many bosses don’t — then just who the hell is left for this trespasser to trespass against?

Rad Geek, June 16th, 2009 at 5:09pm

(For more on how border laws necessarily entail police state measures, inflicted on immigrants and natives alike, see GT 2009-04-17: Death by Homeland Security #3: The Disappeared and GT 2008-01-27: Someone must have slandered Thomas W…..)

Vin’s reply:

Rad Geek asserts:

The question is simple. If you don’t want to save government welfare schools and tax-subsidized hospitals, then why in the world do you care whether or not they are flooded?

Vin replies:

Because I am taxed to pay for them. I am given no choice in the matter. If I refuse to pay the (ever-increasing) taxes to fund these things, the government will (it has, since I have fought these battles for real, not merely as a let’s pretend intellectual exercise) ) seize(d) my paychecks. It will eventually seize and expel me from my house.

Illegal immigrants, who are trespassing because they come where they have no legal right to be, violating the laws of the place to which they travel , tend to vote socialist, because they are looters. Ask those charged with collecting hospital bills how many illegal aliens make good faith efforts to pay their bills. Those who would amnesty them will guarantee the continued spread of socialism, bankrupting us all.

There IS a theory that this is a good thing: Let socialism be overburdened and collapse. Then we will build a better, more Libertarian society on the ruins.

Interesting theory. It can be argued, for instance, that a society more respectful of the Rights of Man [sic] was built on the ruins of Rome, once Rome fell.

It was. The only problem is … it took about a thousand years.

If there is no right to exclude looters from our midst; if we must allow free entry of anyone who wants to come to our community — and the smallest community is my house — and then allow them to decide how my stuff shall be redistributed by majority vote, then freedom of a family of three can last only until four guest workers break down their front door and vote on how to divvy up the food in the refrigerator.

This is the current reality. Rad Geek supports it, apparently under the delusion this is some kind of admirable conscientious objection., whereas organizing a campaign to track down and punish lawbreakers is inherently collectivist. I rarely find myself supporting the existence or activities of the FBI, but I fail to see how it’s despicably collectivist for them to try to catch and punish runaway rapists, murderers, and stickup men.

Or those who violate our perfectly constitutional immigration laws.

I would wish him a happy life in the Looters’ Carnival he prescribes for all of us … if only I were not forced at gunpoint to share it with him.

Vin Suprynowicz, June 16th, 2009 at 6:18pm

I have no idea how an open demand for the abolition of all existing border laws constitutes supporting the current reality, but whatevs. In any case, my reply was posted to, and appeared publicly in, Suprynowicz’s comment section, on the next morning, but within a day it was deep-sixed into the WordPress moderation queue. Of course, Vin’s blog is his place, and he can choose what to print or not to print; but if the unabridged version of the conversation won’t appear there, I’ll publish it here, as a matter of record, and to keep things open for further discussion and comment:

Vin Suprynowicz:

Because I am taxed to pay for them.

This is pretty rich, coming from someone who vocally insists on the right of tax-mooching immigration bureaucrats and a jackbooted federal police agency to reach their hands into the tax slush fund to enforce immigration policies that I never asked for and don’t want, and then tax me to pay for it against my will.

In any case, in a welfare statist system, it is true that government forces to pay for everyone—and that it forces everyone to pay for you. But this is true regardless of immigration status. Every time some pair of Officially Approved Citizens send their Officially Approved children to government schools, the government spends money which is ultimately extracted from your pockets and mine. I have no idea why you would blame this on people who could not possibly have shaved one cent off of your taxes by refusing to accept government hand-outs — do you suppose that if government doesn’t spend tax funds on schools, it’ll give the money back to taxpayers? ho, ho, ho — rather than blaming it on the people who are actually taxing you.

But in any case, if you are going to blame the people who reclaim government-seized money, rather than the government that seizes the money in the first place, then you do realize, don’t you, that illegal immigrants aren’t special in any particular way on this count? That you could use this argument just as easily to justify government force against just about anyone — government-enforced population control (since children receive big tax subsidies for education, healthcare, etc.), internal passports (since immigrants from poorer states tend to move to richer states and take advantage of the more plentiful welfare benefits), summarily jailing and exiling everyone over the age of 65 (seeing how they mooch of Social Security and Medicare, usually far in excess of what they paid in when they were working), or any other collectivist horror you might dream up.

Perhaps, rather than creating a police state in order to hunt down, round up, and punish those who take receive welfare payments funded by taxation, the thing you should be doing is focusing on the real problem — the welfare state and confiscatory taxation?

Illegal immigrants … tend to vote socialist, because they are looters.

Dude, what you are talking about? Illegal immigrants don’t tend to vote at all in the U.S., because illegal immigrants can’t legally vote.

Maybe you’re worried about what would happen if currently undocumented immigrants were able to become citizens, and then to vote. The fact is that right now, in the real world, immigrants from California pose a much bigger threat to freedom in Nevada than immigrants from Mexico do. And the real threat is not immigrants from anywhere, but rather from unlimited majoritarian democracy, which is always going to have these problems regardless of who can or cannot immigrate. Maybe you would be better served by focusing on the real problem, rather than on trying to get government to police political beliefs (!) or on getting government to inflict punishment on all members of a population for the bad thoughts or bad behavior of some of them?

Ask those charged with collecting hospital bills how many illegal aliens make good faith efforts to pay their bills.

You know, as it turns out, there are already perfectly just laws against refusing to pay your bills, without getting the federal bordercrats involved.

Surprisingly, it turns out that the appropriate punishment for this is not exile from the country.

Also, surprisingly, they don’t take a federal police state or “Papers, please” checkpoints to enforce.

Also, as it turns out, the laws against running out on your bills generally only allow for you to go after the individual person who actually defaults on the bill, or occasionally close family members — in any case, not against complete strangers and entire populations on the collectivist premise that everybody in that population can be held to account for the bad behavior of a bunch of perfect strangers who just happened to come from the same country as they did.

I have no idea what the hell you think this kind of collective guilt-by-association smear, let alone your proposal for addressing it by means of collective punishment of both the innocent and the guilty, has to do with the politics of individual liberty.

If there is no right to exclude looters from our midst;

You have a perfect right to exclude anyone you want from your private property, for any reason, or for no reason at all. What neither you, nor the United States federal government, has any legitimate right to do, is to go around excluding people from my private property, let alone inflicting a massive system of “Papers, please” documentation requirements and checkpoints on me in order to do so, without my permission and indeed against my will.

So, please, exclude whoever you want from your midst. But who’s “we”, kemosabe? Keep your preferences on your own property.

if we must allow free entry of anyone who wants to come to our community

You have a perfect right to evict trespassers from your own property.

The problem is, you see, that “the community” as a whole is not your private property. Or the United States federal government’s. Sorry.

… and then allow them to decide how my stuff shall be redistributed “by majority vote,” then freedom of a family of three can last only until four “guest workers” break down their front door and “vote” on how to divvy up the food in the refrigerator.

This is of course a ridiculous strawman of my position. I explicitly argued above that private property owners should have a right to exclude anyone they want from their own private property.

It’s also pretty rich, hearing this stirring defense of the sanctity of the family home and private property, come from someone who is so angrily insisting that the federal government has a right to send federal police agencies around and stage stormtrooper raids on my private home or workplace, if some elected government passes a “perfectly constitutional” law that says that I can’t invite who I damn well please onto my own damn property.

Or those who violate our perfectly constitutional immigration laws.

Your immigration laws, maybe. Not mine. I wasn’t asked, I didn’t pass them, I don’t enforce them, and I don’t support them; they are inflicted on me and on people I care about without my permission, against my will, and over my explicit protests. Keep that “our” to yourself.

organizing a campaign to track down and punish lawbreakers is inherently “collectivist.”

It is when the laws you’re trying to enforce are collectivist.

Illegal immigrants, who are trespassing because they come where they have no legal right to be, violating the laws of the place to which they travel ,

Again. Trespassers against whom? You can only trespass against the will of an aggrieved property owner; that’s part of the meaning of the word “trespass.” But the laws you’re talking don’t come from the owners of the property on that illegal immigrants live on, or work on. They are passed by government.

Staying somewhere in the U.S. that the United States federal government doesn’t want you to stay is “trespassing” only if you think that the United States federal government is in fact the rightful owner of all the land in the United States. Do you?

I don’t. My view is that the government is not the rightful owner of my home or my business. I am. If I want to invite anyone to peacefully move in on my land (for love or money), or to work for me in my shop, that is exactly none of the government’s business, and the fact that people have not gotten a permission slip from the federal government doesn’t make them “trespassers” on my land — when they have permission from me.

As for whether or not It’s The Law, who gives a damn? Seriously? So’s tax evasion; so’s nonviolent drug use; so’s owning an unlicensed fully-automatic AK-47; lots of things are Against The Law that government actually has no legitimate right to prosecute or punish people for doing. When that happens, the problem is with the government law, not with the law-breakers.

—Rad Geek, June 17th, 2009 at 10:46am

On which, see also GT 2006-04-09: Freedom Movement Celebrity Deathmatch.

Elsewhere, Tom Knapp stages a tough love intervention against border-creep libertarians. And while I’ll thank him for the support, I can’t agree with Justin M. Stoddard (2009-06-18) that I completely owned Vin Suprynowicz. Inalienability, you know.

See also:

Idle questions

Here’s regular Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and occasional libertarian Vin Suprynowicz, in a recent column against so-called Political Correctness in American Universities:

Internationally renowned Austrian economics professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe used a standard textbook example of investment time preferences in a classroom lecture at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a few years back, pointing out that gay couples often invest with shorter time horizons[*] because they are less likely to have children to profit from investments that mature after they’re gone.

Vin Suprynowicz, las Vegas Review-Journal (2009-06-07): Discussing guns dubbed academic misconduct

Actually, what happened is that, in a lecture on time-preference in economics, Hoppe listed homosexuals alongside small children, muggers, murderers, rapists, and democratically-elected politicians, as an example of a group of people whose supposedly high time-preferences supposedly led to destructive or antisocial behavior.

Suprynowicz describes this as a standard textbook example of investment time preference. That’s a claim that makes me curious. Is it really? Can anyone name at least one college economics textbook in common use that cites homosexuals as an example of a group characterized by high time-preferences?

* Actually, the lecture had nothing especially to do with investments or investing in the conventional sense of the word. Hoppe’s examples of actions driven by high time-preference included consumption of snack foods, muggings, rape, and tax increases. On the whole sorry, stupid affair see Jason Kuznicki (2005-02-12): Last Words on Hoppe and GT 2005-02-08: Hoppe and Churchill: On the Justice of Strange Bedfellows.

Friday Lazy Linking

  • Winter Soldier: Just Another Tuesday. From Ryan Endicott, formerly a United States government Marine stationed in Iraq.

    Via Clay Claibourne, L.A. I.M.C. (2009-05-13): Winter Soldier Southwest on YouTube #1

  • The regulatory State versus freed markets and the human future: A quote from Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, via B.K. Marcus at Mises Economics Blog:

    To expect the government to prevent such fraud from ever occurring would be like wanting it to provide cushions for all the children who might fall. To assume it to be possible to prevent successfully, by regulation, all possible malpractices of this kind, is to sacrifice to a chimerical perfection the whole progress of industry; it is to restrict the imagination of artificers to the narrow limits of the familiar; it is to forbid them all new experiments; it is to renounce even the hope of competing with the foreigners in the making of the new products which they invent daily, since, as they do not conform to our regulations, our workmen cannot imitate these articles without first having obtained permission from the government, that is to say, often after the foreign factories, having profited by the first eagerness of the consumer for this novelty, have already replaced it with something else. … Thus, with obvious injustice, commerce, and consequently the nation, are charged with a heavy burden to save a few idle people the trouble of instructing themselves or of making enquiries to avoid being cheated. To suppose all consumers to be dupes, and all merchants and manufacturers to be cheats, has the effect of authorizing them to be so, and of degrading all the working members of the community.

    —Turgot, Éloge de Gournay (1759), translated by P.D. Groenewegen

Outrage

Think.

Left-Libertarianism

  • On dialectical jujitsu: Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2009-05-19): How to annoy a conservative

  • Ownership failures, not market failures Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling (2009-05-01): Markets, the poor & the left. Dillow makes two really important distinctions: one of them the familiar left-libertarian distinction between freed markets, on the one hand, and actually-existing corporate capitalism, on the other; the other a less familiar, but very important, distinction between market processes and patterns of ownership. Quote: In many ways, what look like ways in which markets fail the poor are in fact merely ways in which a lack of assets fail the poor. Exactly; and the many cases where there are not really market failures, but rather ownership failures, have everything to do with feudal, mercantile, neoliberal, and other politically-driven seizures and reallocations of poor people’s land, livelihoods, and possessions — and nothing to do with genuine market exchange.

Counter-Economics

Movement

Communications

Rad Geek Speaks: Motorhome Diaries interviews me on agorism and counter-economics

It’s been a couple days since I was hepped to the fact that this video has gone online; but I’ve been delayed by travel and other considerations. Anyway, here is a video of Jason Talley’s interview with me in Las Vegas back in April, focusing on anarchism, agorism, and counter-economics. Judging from the closing title card, it looks like the MD3 have decided to break out the material from the interview on anarchism into a separate video, presumably forthcoming. But, in the meantime, this video has the segments of the interview where our discussion focuses on building the counter-economy as an alternative to electoral politics. Enjoy!

The one thing which I regret not having the time to discuss during the interview — which I would have done my best to break down, were I not already taxing Jason’s very generous allowance of time in what are typically very concise interview segments — is how my sympathies for mutualism and wildcat unionism influence my understanding of the agora, and of the sort of counter-economy that we should work to build: why, in short, I think that libertarians should be especially interested in building, so to speak, Black-and-Red markets. (Red as in workers-of-the-world-unite. Not, of course, as in Konkin’s notion of red market mafiosi.) Of course, Konkin’s original-flavor agorism is already very much in favor of the informal sector, and opposed to the state-collaborationist, state-supported corporate economy; but I think that agorists would do well to look at the kinds of counter-institutions that have historically been associated with the anti-statist and anti-authoritarian Left: fighting unions, direct action on the shopfloor, grassroots mutual aid networks, worker and consumer co-ops, neighborhood permaculture projects, community free clinics, participatory indymedia, CopWatch as a means of community self-defense, LETS trading networks, small-scale gift economies based on gleaning and homesteading (Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails, free stores, etc.). And so on, and so forth. To the degree that State privilege and State subsidy have artificially roided-up the rentier-centric, cash-lubricated, centralized, formalized bidniz economy, we can expect the counter-economy (which is the embryonic new society, being built within the shell of the old) to form up in opposite tendencies: egalitarian and decentalized exchange (which Konkin rightly predicted and emphasized), and also significantly more emphasis on informal connections, often based not on contracts or cash-on-the-barrelhead exchanges but rather on practicing solidarity, mutual aid, gleaning, homesteading, and other cashless forms of value-creation and social exchange (which I think Konkin underemphasized and overlooked in various ways). (I hardly expect cash, let alone simple quid-pro-quo exchange, to disappear; I’m certainly not interested in any dogmatic campaign to rub them out. But I do expect the counter-economy, and future fully-freed markets, to emphasize them much less intensely, and much less monomaniacally, than the current state-approved official economy does.) All of which underlines why I think it’s important for radical libertarians to see ourselves as part of the Left; and for that understanding to cash out in serious efforts to work together on countereconomic projects with the folks who ought to be our primary allies — that is, other anarchists — rather than working on the familiar set of conventional-delusional electoral projects together with conservatives and conventionally pro-capitalist minimal-statists, which all too many good radical libertarians have, due to a combination of cultural comfort zones, and statocentric models of political change, wasted their time and resources on in the past.

Anyway, like I said, there may be another interview segment forthcoming focusing on anarchism; if so, I’ll let you know when it drops.

May Day 2009

Fellow workers:

I am back home, footsore, throatsore, exhausted and happy. The marcha was awesome. I hope there will be some pictures and some video soon. Unfortunately it leaves me absolutely no time at all to prepare one of my usual May Day orations. In its place, I offer you this, from my 2006 May Day post, which I made at the beginning of the current explosion of the immigration freedom movement. I hope that it offers some idea of what this day for LIBERTAD and SOLIDARIDAD SIN FRONTERAS is all about.

May Day is and ought to be a Day of Resistance, of defiance against the arrogance and exploitation of the bosses — whether corporate or political. A day to celebrate workers’ struggles for dignity, and for freedom, through organizing in their own self-interest, through agitating and exhorting for solidarity, and through free acts of worker-led direct action to achieve their goals. So what a real joy it is to see May Day 2006 honored through general strikes across the country, demanding freedom and respect for immigrant workers…

Of course, there’s no actual extortion involved in refusing to work for a day; workers are not your servants, not even immigrant workers, and declining to freely give their work for a day is not forcing you to give up anything that was yours to begin with. But you’re damned right that this is about confrontation, and you’re damned right that it’s about defying the law.

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. … One may well ask: How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others? The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: There are just and there are unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with Saint Augustine that An unjust law is no law at all.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1963-04-16): Letter from Birmingham Jail

And it is an unjust law: neither you nor the government has any right to commandeer the lives and livelihoods of innocent workers to satisfy your Law-and-Order hang-ups, or your theo-national power trip. …

What we are witnessing today, and have been witnessing for the past few weeks, is nothing less than an explosively growing freedom movement. A freedom movement bringing millions into the streets, bringing together labor militancy and internationalism. And it is being done in defiance of the violence of La Migra, the bullying bigotry of the nativist creeps, and the condescending hand-wringing of the sympathetic politicos. It is exactly what May Day was made for. And exactly what the kind of creeps behind the Loyalty Days of the world — whether state-communist or state-capitalist — fear the most: ordinary people standing together, celebrating together, free, happy, irreverant, and unafraid.

There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!

—Last words of August Spies (1887-11-11), immigrant, anarchist, and Haymarket martyr

Happy May Day, y’all.

See also:

In twenty words or fewer: Comparative Politics edition

From a short article in the most recent issue of reason (Citings, p. 13) taking notice of recent changes in the Cuban government’s policies towards private taxicabs:

But in January, the Cuban government took a surprising step, announcing that it would loosen up the rules, even going so far as to let taxis set their own rates in the city. Rates are still capped, and the number of licenses will be determined by local officials, but it’s a pretty big step for Cuba, where nearly all aspects of commercial life are state-controlled.[1]

Taxi drivers and passengers in communist Cuba now enjoy freer markets for transit than their counterparts in hypercapitalist Las Vegas.

1 Katherine Mangu-Ward, Connecticut vs. Cuba, reason (2009.05), p. 13; originally appeared in Hit and Run (2009-01-13). Emphasis added.

See also:

The State of the Debate

Las Vegas is having a city government election soon, and one of the noxious byproducts of the process are the debates among the ranting power-trippers who are scrapping for the jobs, which completely took over a perfectly good local news-talk program pretty much every singe day last week. The discussions are boring, and depressing, and mostly pointless, but they occasionally offer a bit of insight into the kind of a policy debate that electoral politics allows. For example, here’s an excerpt from Tuesday’s show, in which we hear from Jennifer Taylor (the challenger for the seat in Ward 6) and Steve Ross (the sleazebag currently in charge). Here they work out the range of politically acceptable debate over development in the desert around Las Vegas (which is to say, government hand-outs to politically-connected multimillionaire developers, and government land-grabs in which they arbitrarily dictate to landowners what sorts of things we do or do not need to put on their land).

Taylor leads off by proposing that she knows better than you do what sort of neighborhood you might like to live in, and that the city government ought to deal with this by forcing the developer to do what she wants rather than what they think their homebuyers will want.

JENNIFER TAYLOR: Let’s start specifically with some of the issues that I think Steve needs to address.

And of them is the absolute failure to work aggressively to truly diversify this economy. Two years ago, a group of us were down in front of Steve at City Council arguing about the Kyle Canyon development agreement, which would have allowed the construction of 16,000 homes on the eve of the foreclosure crisis. we said we really don’t need that kind of glut on the supply of homes because we were already seeing that there were problems. It would have also centered on a neighborhood casino, and I think it’s been pretty clear that when you lean solely on one industry that you end up in the type of quagmire that we are in now. We are suffering so much more than so many other cities who have taken proactive roles to diversify their economy….

DAVE BERNS: Back this up even more. When you talk about Kyle Canyon, and I hear you talking about homes out there and development… The 1,700 acre Kyle Canyon project would have put homes, shopping, offices, a casino, at the southwest corner of US95 and Kyle Canyon Rd, pretty much at the base of Mt Charleston. The developer, Focus Property Group, paid $510,000,000 for the land. In October of last year, Wachovia Bank foreclosed on the property after Focus Property defaulted on the loan. One of the criticisms that we heard of this project was that it was inappropiate. It didn’t belong at the base of Mt. Charleston.

JENNIFER TAYLOR: No it didn’t. It was just a basic, cookie-cutter repeat of projects that we had seen throughout the Valley, and really worse than that Dave, was that the contract was so poorly vetted and provided so little benefit to the citizens of Ward 6 compared to what Clark County and the city of Henderson had forced folks to do in Inspirada and Mountain’s Edge.

DAVE BERNS: Such as what?

JENNIFER TAYLOR: Such as open space. We had significantly less percentage of open space in that project; the density was significantly higher than those other projects; there was not as much public and service funding in the Kyle Canyon development agreement as there was for Inspirada and for Mountain’s Edge. And again, it centered on this whole concept of anchoring it around a neighborhood casino.

Of course, the real problem is not that the city government in Las Vegas has somehow failed to force developers to do the right things; the problem is the fact that the city government of Las Vegas controls who does and who does not get access to unused land in the first place. There was no right way for such a planned community development contract to be written, because there is no way to fake freed-market results through government monopoly on sales or politically-allocated ownership. So the solution is certainly not more aggressive government thuggery, but rather giving up entirely on the idea of half-billion-dollar politically-determined land sales for state-capitalistically planned communities.

Of course, Steve Ross is often referred to as a defender of private property rights and a friend of developers. No doubt he will point out the destructive thuggery of Taylor’s position, right? Well, here he goes: check out this principled defense of private property. (Emphasis is mine.)

DAVE BERNS: Let’s start off… let’s back up a step and then we’ll come to the campaign contributions. First of all, your position position on Kyle Canyon. Spell it out.

STEVE ROSS: You know, it’s a great thing that we live in America, where if someone wants to do something with property, they’re allowed to apply to do whatever they want with their property.

knpr’s State of Nevada (2009-03-31)

Wait.

I’m not sure I heard that right.

You mean, they’re allowed to do whatever they want with their property, right?

STEVE ROSS: When somebody owns a piece of property they have the right to apply and do what they want with it. My role as a city councilman in the northwest is to ensure that development in that project is right for this city. Somebody owns the land at Kyle Canyon road and US95, they’re allowed to apply to do something with it. They want to build something, they’re allowed to do that. And that’s how our laws are.

knpr’s State of Nevada (2009-03-31)

Oh.

Right.

So that’s your freedom, fellow citizen — and such an important freedom that Steve Ross had to make sure he repeated it three times within a few minutes: that, when you want to put something up on your own damn land, you have the precious right to apply to the government to do something with it.

This may be the purest expression I have ever heard of the only kind of debate that’s allowed in city politics, here in Vegas and in countless other cities across the country, when it comes to private property and land use: the Smart Growth tools who figure that you can somehow force government-privileged monopolists to do the right thing, and, on the other hand, the Growth Machine tools who will stand up resolutely and defend, come hell or high water, your freedom to apply for permission to do whatever you want on your own land.

In case you were wondering, here’s an example of why Steve Ross, by the grace of Law Warden of 6 and Vaquero Supreme of the Vegas Valley, might decide that your plans to do something peacefully on your own property just isn’t right for this city of his: it might interfere with neighboring property owners’ wishes to make sure that land that doesn’t belong to them gets subdivided into equestrian estates instead of affordable family homes.

DAVE BERNS: Can you think of a residential development where somebody owns some property — Focus Group, Olympic Group, whatever it may be — that you would vote No on. As you say, if they own the land, they have the right to do with it as they may, as long as they follow our laws. Can you think of any project, Steve Ross, that you would reject, as a member of the city council?

STEVE ROSS: Oh, absolutely.

DAVE BERNS: A residential project?

STEVE ROSS: Yeah, let me give you a heads up here.

DAVE BERNS: Give us an example of why you would.

STEVE ROSS: Well, let me give you an example of actually something that did get approved, but not according to how the homebuilder want to build them.

DAVE BERNS: Please.

STEVE ROSS: There was a project out in the northwest, on the north end of Jones Blvd. The developer wanted to build a highly dense community in basic ranch land. I mean, there are 2 to 10 acre ranches out there in the northwest, and it didn’t fit. This neighborhood was going to be next to a proposed 300 acre equestrian facility that’s still proposed for the northwest, one day when we have the funds to do it. The developer, again, I had the developer go meet with those neighbors out there long before it came to city council. Interest enough—projects are vetted out in the neighborhoods long before they get to the council level. And projects don’t make it to the council level if the neighborhoods don’t like them. And that’s just the nature of how it works. This one particular neighborhood, they wanted half-acre equestrian estates on this property. And the developer bent over and said, OK, I will do that. I will build half-acre equestrian estates, because it’s in a rural neighborhood; we want to maintain the rural nature of this area, and that’s what they did. And not because of me, but because of the neighborhood.

knpr’s State of Nevada (2009-03-31)

When I tell people that I don’t see the use of lobbying or electoral politics as a means to social change, the first response that I get is typically some kind of complaint that I’m out of touch with the real world; that if I want to make a practical change, I have to jump in and try to intervene in the power-games of the existing political aparat. This kind of complaint is the worst sort of nonsense — the kind of dogmatic practicality that you constantly get from people who are unwilling to actually think about what gets the goods, rather than what the tiny minority of professional politicians and media professionals have decided to dignify as proper political etiquette. In the real world, the debate is perpetually, structurally locked into a very limited range of positions, oriented around two poles that are themselves fixed by the platforms of the two established political parties, and if you want to try proposing anything outside of that range of politically-acceptable debate — like, say, a genuine notion of personal freedom, or a principled opposition to government planning and privateering corporate development scams — you will quickly find that such arguments find no purchase, and no interest within any of the political parties. The message won’t fit through the channels that electoral politics makes available. If you want to advance the ideas, you are going to have to do so through other means, that aren’t filtered by the conventional idiocies, or constrained by the structural barriers, of electoral politics, because as long as you’re subject to those filters and that structure, you’re not going to get much out other than a debate like this, between the virtue of force and the importance of your God-given right to apply to the government to do whatever you want on your own property, as long as the neighbors don’t want equestrian estates, instead.

Good night, and good luck.

See also:

The Metro Police Beat

  • A couple of months ago, just before New Years’, [a Las Vegas Metro SWAT team rolled out to Emmanuel Dozier and Belinda Saavedra’s house in Seven Hills, at 9:30 at night (about four or fve hours after dark, around here, during the winter) in order to serve a search warrant. The cops blasted open the gate with a shotgun. They claim they announced themselves but nobody other than the police says that they heard anything other than a lot of noise. Saavedra has a three month old baby and a 13 year old daughter who were in the front of the house when this hard-to-see gang of armed strangers opened fire late at night and started forcing their way in. Saavedra called 911 as soon as she heard the gunfire; the recording of the call is now available online. Dozier got a handgun that he keeps for self-defense and fired back at the gang of strangers, apparently wounding three cops. After a stand-off, once the 911 dispatcher convinced Dozier that the men outside were in fact cops, he dropped the phone, went outside, and surrendered himself with his hands up. Here’s how he looked when he got to the police station:

    This is his mug shot from the police; he has a huge bruise and a lot of swelling around his right eye.

    Then they searched the house. They found no cocaine anywhere. Dozier is being charged with attempted murder and possession of marijuana — even though an inventory of items seized doesn’t include the marijuana or paraphenalia the police claimed to have found with their search warrant. Apparently the search warrant was to gather evidence to bust Dozier on charges of being a low-level cocaine dealer. The cops claim an undercover had already made a few purchases from Dozier; allegedly they had a business relationship with him, but they couldn’t be bothered to meet up with him one more time in order to be able to make an arrest that didn’t involve storming his house late at night while children were present. They told the media that Dozier had no above-the-table job; actually, he had a regular job at the time as a sheet-metal worker. They have not made any claims that Belinda Saavedra committed any crimes whatsoever at any point, either related to the drugs or related to the shooting; but the did make sure to force her down and rough her up after she had surrendered (since she wouldn’t calm down or shut her mouth while they shot at her house, hollered at her, took away her baby and called her a dumbass for her trouble).

    Meanwhile, the D.A. has taken steps to take away her children and charged her with abuse and neglect — even though, remember, she is not accused of any independent crimes whatsoever. The explanation is that she is being charged with abuse and neglect because she doesn’t have a job outside the house. There’s no sign that being a stay-at-home mother (while her boyfriend holds down a job as a sheet metal worker and her mother works two jobs in order to help support her grandchildren) has caused either kid any hurt or want. But the prosecutor does inform us, in the complaint, that the 13 year old was traumatized when cops started a gunfight at her house. I wouldn’t be surprised, but whose fault is that?

    The cops refuse to answer any questions about the reasons for staging a late-night SWAT raid in this case or about the discrepancies between their public statements about the suspects and the documented facts that emerged later. Dana Gentry reports that Police refuse to answer but a Metro spokesman did tell me extreme measures are necessary to guard against some liberal judge throwing out the case. Metro are liars and child abusers who routinely use maximal force in situations where they could easily have gotten anything they needed to get by other means. They also spend tremendous amounts of time, and tremendous amounts of money that taxpayers are forced to turn over to them against our will, prosecuting people who — even if everything alleged against them is true — are doing nothing more than selling a valued product to a willing customer, and who never should have been threatened or hassled by the police in the first place.

  • Las Vegas Metro made a road stop at about 4 in the morning on February 6. They suspected that the driver was drunk. He got out of the car and ran away on foot. Cops sent a helicopter to look for him and concluded (based on heat in the yard) that he was hiding out in a backyard in a nearby neighborhood. He wasn’t — turns out he was hiding in a different part of the neighborhood — but the family’s dog, a pit-bull named Coco, was. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except that the cops decided that catching a DUI suspect was so incredibly urgent, and respecting other people’s private property being, after all, no concern at all to Las Vegas Metro’s important work, they would send a gang of seven cops, first to barge into the next-door neighbor’s yard without asking, and then, again without asking anyone’s permission, to jump the wall into the backyard where they thought the suspect would be. The family dog came out and confronted this gang of strangers barging into her territory; she didn’t actually attack anybody, but, after all, she was only surrounded by seven fully-grown, professionally-trained, and heavily-armed police officers; her continued existence clearly posed a threat, so they shot the dog dead. The cops took responsibility by issuing an Oops, our bad to the bereaved family — along with a self-serving claim that the cops just had to shoot the dog in self-defense. (No, they didn’t. Self-defense is no longer an excuse when you put yourself in danger by invading somebody else’s private property.) Then, public servants that they are, they left Jose Fernandez and Yurisel de la Torre by themselves to cover the $200+ bill for cremating their dead dog.

    Metro are home invaders and dog killers who routinely exercise contempt for private property, instigate violent confrontations in order to deal with trivial crimes, shoot first and ask questions later, and then excuse their use of maximal force as the necessary means to completely unnecessary ends.

  • While we’re here, I should also mention that the Nevada Crime Technology Advisory Board, representing Las Vegas Metro, the FBI, and several other law enforcement outfits from around Nevada, wants a new law passed that will allow police in Nevada to unilaterally seize the balances on prepaid debit cards without any kind of warrant — because, while they don’t have any evidence to present in any particular case, they reckon that somebody, somewhere using one of these things might turn out to be a bad guy selling drugs to willing customers — which is apparently enough of a reason to give these lying, child-abusing, dog-killing, home-invading, itchy-trigger-fingered irresponsible thugs a unilateral right to seize private citizens’ money, by arbitrary fiat, with no need for any kind of prior judicial review.

There’s a cliché around here, about how longtime locals compare the way things are now — for better or worse — with the way things used to be, back when the mob ran Vegas. The problem with this is that the mob never stopped running Vegas. The only thing that’s changed is the name of the families, and the color of the tailored suits.