Reparations Perpetuate Government Injustice

July 31st, 2015   Submitted by Joel Valenzuela

ReparationsThe cause of reparations is back in vogue. Self-proclaimed representatives of peoples from around the world are claiming that other races owe them for past injustices, payable in cold hard cash. Justice must be done, no matter how much time has elapsed since the atrocities, or how little, if any, relation people alive today have to the original perpetrators of injustice.

That’s not to trivialize the abuse that past generations of certain races have undergone. African-Americans certainly suffered under slavery. The Armenian genocide did claim victims. Greece, like many other European countries, was indeed damaged by Nazi Germany. You’ll notice, however, the common thread through all of these claims: few, if any, of the original perpetrators are still living. Yet their descendants (or other members of their ethnic or national group) are nonetheless tasked with paying for their crimes.

I can play that game too. As it turns out, I’m descended from a long line of oppressed peoples. Hundreds of years ago, my family was exiled from Spain for being Jews. I also have Scottish heritage from Clan MacGregor, which was persecuted and actively banned by the Scottish Parliament, forcing my ancestors into hiding. I am Mexican by citizenship and upbringing, and less than 200 years ago the United States conquered over half of Mexican territory. More recently, the U.S. has wronged the Italian quarter of my heritage by briefly rounding up and interning Americans of Italian descent, which my grandfather thankfully escaped (likely due to the fact that he was born on American soil). By my estimation, then, the Spanish, Americans, and non-MacGregor Scots have all wronged me, and owe me reparations.

On closer examination, though, none of these peoples ever harmed me, or my ancestors. It was the Spanish crown that banished members of the Valenzuela family. The Parliament of Scotland, and not my fellow Scots, persecuted the MacGregors. The government of the United States of America invaded my ancestors’ homeland and annexed their land, while the Roosevelt administration imprisoned my Italian kinfolk. I have no quarrel with any race or nationality. Oppressive governments are guilty of wronging those before me.

Now we come to the point where the great farce of reparations begins to take a dark and sinister turn. When all is said and done, the government owns nothing. Everything that the state possesses is first taken from its subjects. Ask for reparations from the state, and you are seeking possession of other people’s property, people who had no hand in harming your ancestors to begin with. In other words, you are seeking to perpetuate the cycle of theft and abuse that caused select groups of people to seek reparations in the first place. As always, we are inevitably worse off by involving the heavy hand of the state. Instead, we should seek to end violence and oppression, using voluntary institutions to aid disadvantaged groups in regaining societal equilibrium, and leaving past atrocities to fade into the annals of history.

Mankind has done unconscionable things to other human beings over the course of history, with some effects still felt by minority groups today. However, seeking retroactive justice from the state, in many cases the prime culprit of these very atrocities, can only lead to further misery and wrongdoing. We should instead seek to end the institutionalized aggression and theft that leaves peoples seeking reparations to begin with.

Tags: ,

74 Responses to “Reparations Perpetuate Government Injustice”

  1. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    People who believe that someone today should be compensated for an injustice an ancestor of theirs suffered should be asked if they also believe that a person today should be punished or held to account for an injustice an ancestor of theirs committed in the past. i.e. Ask a Black person who favors reparations for slavery if they also believe that if a Black man in 1850 murdered someone and fled from law enforcement and was never captured, arrested, jailed, tried, or even lynched if a living relative of that man should be arrested today and charged with the murder. This is the absurdity of reparations being paid to people who personally did not suffer from an injustice. You can find examples in which members a “group” who suffered injustice also had members of their “group” who are guilty of perpetrating injustice.

    • That’s the main problem with the collectivization angle: it turns a callous blind eye to individual suffering. Unfortunately, every collective is composed of nothing but individuals.

      • VanmindNo Gravatar says:

        Well, there is no such thing as a collective for those very reasons that the Joel Valenzuela avatar indicates, but here is how the socialist psychosis plays out …

        Claim that a collective called We has many obligations toward each individual who claims an entitlement for income redistribution from the We. It’s known as doublethink: individuals who have the so-called obligation to cough up the dough are not in phony-fact individuals at all, while anyone (that’s anyone as in any individual one) who makes a claim of entitlement NEEDS TO HAVE THEIR OWN PARTICULAR STORY HEARD for some reason.

        Aside: if there’s any avatar at this site that hasn’t done so already, be sure to read the book “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

      • The best time to act on something is now or then in all cases, right? Of course…

    • Well said. Only if…and I mean that too!

  2. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    Sometimes Molyneux is saying nutty things, but his video The Truth About Slavery: Past, Present and Future seems very appropriate.

  3. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    “””On closer examination, though, none of these peoples ever harmed me, or my ancestors. It was the Spanish crown that banished members of the Valenzuela family. The Parliament of Scotland, and not my fellow Scots, persecuted the MacGregors. The government of the United States of America invaded my ancestors’ homeland and annexed their land, while the Roosevelt administration imprisoned my Italian kinfolk. I have no quarrel with any race or nationality. Oppressive governments are guilty of wronging those before me.”””

    So, it is never the soldier’s fault? What about more recent events, for example 2014 massacre of Palestinians by IDF? Are individual pawns not responsible?

    That did not slide at a Nuremberg trial.

    I am thinking – if you can pinpoint the actual perpetrator(s) of atrocities, whether they acted on their own or were hiding behind “I was just following my orders”, it totally makes sense to seek justice.

    A tangential thought: from a logical perspective a war is just as senseless as reparations: it starts by a few of “them” killing a few of “us” – people who have not wronged them directly, and “we” respond by a few of “us” (most likely not blood related to the victims) killing a few of “them” (most likely not the original attackers, but some other random people in the “them” camp) … and on it goes.

    • No, I never indicated that individuals weren’t responsible for past atrocities, quite the opposite in fact. Individuals, united in force under the oppressive idea of government, are what caused these past harms. Not races.

      The war/reparations analogy does make sense, to a point. The difference being, one, during wartime both sides are usually complicit in the conflict taking place, and two, it’s a situation of present grievances (not some generations past reparations scheme). But you’re right, it is the same in terms of the nebulous “us” vs. “them” mentality.

      • JohnNo Gravatar says:

        Different question, rooted in Sorites paradox – how many nanoseconds must pass after a conflict or an atrocity until it is considered “water under the bridge”? There are still enough alive victims of the Nazi regime, and Germany has been fairly good (better than any other mass murdering force that I can think of) at apologizing and repaying some of the damage.

        So, it makes sense that those directly affected are eligible. What if someone lost a sibling, a parent, particularly when said children were young? Surely, their lives were negatively affected by a war, for many leading to PTSD, mental illness, sickness, eventual suicide … There are further indirect effects, like starving as a child, thus having a shorter life span.

        Now, what about the grandchildren? Those living downwind of Hiroshima or Nagasakki may well have passed cancerous mutations (epigenetics can explain the mechanism of how that happened) onto grand or even grand-grand children.

        Then we have more recent examples of mass pollution, such as agent orange in Viet-Nam or Depleted Uranium dust in the “Gulf region”.

        Someone could have lived there all along, or moved there to join relatives, or simply moved there without any knowledge that the land is polluted.

        When a war or a massacre is recent, the pain is very real, but then time and elements dilute the damage done to the people. At what point does it no longer make sense to seek reparations?

        What about reparations in general? Should a loser in a fresh conflict pay up for the damages? What if both sides committed war crimes? What if NO war crimes were commited, but both sides managed to wipe out a million people each, while doing so in perfect accord to Geneva conventions (and one of the sides loses the war in the process)? What if one side used conscription with severe punishment for evading the draft while the other relied solely on volunteers? Do conscripts get more of a moral leeway because they were facing severe punishment if they did not enlist?

        What if some country enters a war preemptively such as United Kingdom & France to Germany (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declarations_of_war_during_World_War_II), but then what if the United Kingdom lost and Germany won? What if it was not through an ultimatum but just a formal declaration, such as was the case by Canada to Germany?

        What about foreign volunteers in a semi-local conflict- do they get prosecuted differently from the natives? What if they were fighting for some sort of cause, say they are technically a citizen of Germany but they are Muslims from Syria, or Christians from Syria, or one parent is from Syria, maybe even a citizen still, maybe still living there?

        What about the case of a downed MH17 that some people and countries want to push to a tribunal? What about the rest of the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airliner_shootdown_incidents

        In short, what are the clear (or somewhat clear) guidelines for when seeking reparations makes sense and when it does not?

        • Lots of deep questions, and I’m not arrogant enough to assume I have all the answers.

          For me, conceptually, I would limit reparations to the affected parties, or, if deceased, their next of kin, provided they can be shown to be directly suffering as a result of the tragedy. Of course, many more than that get affected by tragedies, but the implications of trying to actually collect by that definition would spin out of control. Do the Mongolians owe reparations to a huge chunk of the world for the lasting ill effects of their one-time conquest? Do the descendants of African royalty owe segments of their population reparations for keeping them out of a modernized and free society? At some point we have to realize that the world isn’t perfect and move forward instead of dwelling on strange specifics of the past and their possible implications.

          And of course, beyond all this, even having established just cause for reparations, using the force of the state to establish them isn’t really productive.

          • JohnNo Gravatar says:

            I am glad that you mentioned the other side of the argument in the last paragraph.

            Are you approaching this from a moral position (reparations are not always just) / consequentialist position (good luck sorting out who owes to whom and how much) / both? If both, then to about what degree for each?

            What about the reason why you are “libertarian” in general – is it because it is more morally just (holy NAP), because it is more efficient (government sucks at schooling, transportation, healthcare, etc.), and if you had to choose – which carries more weight for you?

        • Reparations should always allow for a good future. Timing is everything when it comes to anything. John & Joel you both make good points.

  4. Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

    From an individualistic standpoint one obviously can’t be held accountable for something that one’s ancestors may have done. However when certain individuals continue to reap huge benefits from the use of stolen property or labor, it may be just and feasible to redistribute this unearned wealth with the expressed purpose of undercutting the ruling elite. In the USA today 85% of the wealth is controlled by the top quintile. Much of this wealth was never earned by productivity. To ever get a true free market in the USA the stolen wealth must be taken back from those who have used it to control the rest of us. Much like when a burglerer is caught, his loot is taken from him and given back (when possible) to those he robbed. But in no case is he allowed to keep his ill gotten gains. Those who control the giant corporations and their tyranny do little productive work but get obscene profits. Corporate law needs huge revamping to essentially eliminate corporations in favor of partnerships where individuals will be held accountable for their actions. Individual accountability is the key to curing many problems in our society, most especially the corporate capitalism that today pretends to be free enterprise.

    • I would agree to a point. Yes, if thieves steal, they should lose that. If an innocent party is robbed to subsidize another innocent party, that gets a little trickier, especially the further time progresses from the point of the initial transgression.

      I wholeheartedly endorse ending corporate welfare and the various unjust policies that keep some people poor. However, I don’t think it’s useful to try to then steal back from companies or individuals who have benefited from corporate welfare in the past.

      The only case by which I would favor redistributive reparations would be from the injurer directly to the injured party (or if deceased, next of kin). And even then, not by force of government.

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        Joel, it is a tough call at times. No one wants to rob anyone of earned wealth and it is better to err on the side of being conservative. That being said, no one earned a billion dollars. So reducing a billionaire to a millionaire won’t hurt my conscience. A man working a lifetime at $50 per hour would have a grand total of about $5 million. Damned few folks are worth $50 per hour, so a general limit of $5 million earned is a starting point. Virtually all wealth is obtained and held by manipulating money with what the economists call “rents”. The game has been rigged to protect the interests of the ruling elite and has been for at least the past 400 years, more likely since the dawn of agriculture. To get a true free market system we MUST get the 85% of wealth held by the top quintile more evenly distributed. Otherwise those who control us financially now will just continue to do so no matter what system is implemented. “He who pays the piper calls the tune”. One thing discussed in these pages a while back was the idea of “squatting” and other modes of taking back illicet wealth by those who are in desperate need. I share your distaste for government action on this subject, but realistically I do not see how it could be avoided. If the government is not doing it, then it will be protecting the property rights of the ultrarich. My fear is that in trying to get to a free market socialism could rise instead.

        • The problem isn’t that the rich have more money. The problem is that only they can make it. In a truly free market, the opportunities for wealth creation are such that “old money” never stays on top.

          The real issue is that there are barriers to wealth creation etc. still in place. The un-banked and uneducated are at a loss, especially when government fines etc. keep them down, as do minimum wage laws and regulations against starting small businesses. Those are the real enemy. Fix those, and redistributing money will be seen for the joke that it is.

          • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

            Joel, I respectfully disagree that the problem is not that the rich have more money. You are of course accurate that government has colluded with the ruling elite to create a corporate system that isolates the common man away from being able to even gain entry into many fields. But fixing the obstacles to entry into a free market is meaningless if the very wealthy already have control of the vast majority of the wealth. They can effectively do whatever they want despite the system by using their wealth to control competition, much as the “robber barrons” did over 100 years ago. Free enterprise can’t get a foothold with everything already held by an elite minority. It is a financial feudalism. You just can’t let the crooks who run things now continue to keep their ill gotten wealth and expect that the free market can miraculously fix everything. You remind me of a study reported on NPR where people played Monopoly but one person was given double rolls of the dice and basically unlimited access to the bank. Naturally he won, but in discussing the game afterwards the winners never mentioned that the game was rigged so they couldn’t lose. No, they spoke of how intelligently they played the game. This sounds so much like the oligarchs I have read interviews from.

            • You’re making it sound like zero-sum economics is a real thing. No, there isn’t just one pot of available wealth that the rich are hogging. Wealth can be created.

              My grandfather was a dirt-poor immigrant who worked his way up to build a medical empire and retire with millions. He didn’t take wealth from the rich, he made his own. If a silly YouTube girl like Jenna Marbles is worth millions because of her silly videos, you can’t seriously make the case that the rich are just holding onto all this wealth.

              As for monopolies, in a truly free society they don’t hold power for long. Even in this crony economic system we have, Uber, Bitcoin, the farmer’s market movement, streaming video and music, etc. have decimated the old and powerful corporations of old. Regulations and lack of education and startup capital are the only things holding certain groups from being more financially successful. That’s how you “repair.”

              • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                Joel, like in so many areas of reality economic theory does not reflect what we see on the ground. There are effective zero sum games economically, at least in the short term which actually encompasses most of our lives. I read a scifi story years ago where people had far longer lifespans. In this society which had only recently come from our present longevity, virtually all wealth was controlled by the older generations. Younger folks leased or rented, but could never get the capital to actually own much of anything. This is analogous to our present situation where the top 1 or 2% now own 50% of the world’s wealth. So long as this “ownership” (which I contend is largely illegitimate) is respected, the common man has virtually zero chance of ever doing more than surviving. The wealth he actually creates with his productivity is “owned” by the elite as are he and his children in a de facto vs. de jure sense. This is the economic slavery which is the norm for common men all over the planet. It is true that the real free market has the potential to create a virtual utopia for most of us once instituted. But getting from our present world of police states and worse to a free market economy will be a real trick, especially with most common men being extremely suspicious of the concept of the free market since they have been brainwashed into believing that today’s corporate tyranny IS the free market. It is no wonder they opt for socialism after the Word Bank comes in and steals their countries claiming to represent free trade!!

                • That last third made sense, but I can’t quite figure out what you’re getting at in the first two. Wealth can be created instantly. The only problem happens when people are actively stopped form creating wealth. The ability to create wealth, not a transfer of wealth, is the only thing keeping people out of poverty.

                  • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                    Joel, I fear you may be a bit naive when you speak of wealth being created instantly. Yes there are new pies being baked, but everyone is tied to the already owned systems, both monetary and social, that ultimately control what we can do. You and I both wish to see governmental restrictions to the free market lifted. I do not see that as sufficient now to get to a free market for “money talks and bullshit walks”. Those who own the country will simply buy their way into the power positions and continue controlling everyone with their ill gotten wealth. A guy with a billion bucks has a lot of power in any system. Allowing the ruling elite to keep their wealth while depending on the removal of government impediments to the free market to actually get us there is extremely unlikely. I have faith in the elites criminality.

                    • As far as wealth creation, yes it can be virtually instantaneous. Any broke immigrant can come here and start generating wealth within hours. The barriers to wealth creation, as well as the discrepancy between the richest and the poorest, are due to institutional disadvantages, i.e. government. Remove those disadvantages and soon you’ll have no need for redistribution.

                      As far as redistribution is concerned, good luck. Besides the inherent injustice behind the blanket raiding of “the rich” or “whites” or whatever group you might falsely blame for injustices, how can you expect to effectively pillage the most powerful? Legally? The very people who finance and control the system, with an impressive team of lobbyists and legislators at their beck and call? You know very well they would just ensure that the law somehow doesn’t manage to touch their fortunes, and instead sticks the middle class with the bill. So has it always been, and so shall it forever be.

                      Unless you’re talking about just straight up pillaging, in which case, one, that’s a mob rule far less moral and more destructive than the original slight, and two, again, good luck getting any money. The rich aren’t stupid. They can simply transfer all their wealth to another country and jump ship. Again, the middle class get stuck.

  5. reagan gibbsNo Gravatar says:

    and yet: i think in our precedent obsessive legal system, the idea of reparations for both the indigenous Americans (the genocide, the many many treaties our government negotiated and then broke) and the African americans is one to be looked at as a tool to use against our oppressive government. I agree wholeheartedly with Joel’s post
    and yet….
    I find myself understanding that my middleclass wealth is based on stolen labor… those slaves created our economic dominance
    at one point in time our gov thought about doing the right thing (40 acres and a mule) but never did…
    If we simply went back and made our gov pay for the broken treaties, it would do much to pull a huge group of folks out of poverty…
    and yet…
    the truth’s of valenzuela’s post to me are self evident… i just think this is not an either or

    • The world itself is built on much fortune and misfortune. Large chunks of America were taken from Mexico. However, the people living there right now are far better off than if they were returned under Mexican rule. The problem with reparations, therefore, are that they can end up causing more harm than good. Usually do, in fact.

      The only thing that ever heals the past is to bury it and move on. If an evil persists, then it isn’t the past, and must be dealt with. But if it’s long gone, the best thing to do is help its descendants erase all but its memory.

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Reagan, most of middle class wealth is not predicated upon the old slave system, etc. That is a liberal myth designed to make folks feel guilty and thus be more likely to fall for the asininity of reparations paid for something most of our ancestors had nothing to do with. My ancestors were poor and sure did not own slaves! It is collectivist thinking, not the individualism that made the USA great.

      • True. My grandfather (mentioned in the article) was born a poor Italian immigrant in Philly and was so poor his family could only afford ice cream once a year. He got through high school top of his class, but was blocked from medical school because of his ethnicity (his teacher had to make a huge stink to get him in). After graduating his job prospects were bad due to him being the wrong kind of white dude, so he joined the Army, which didn’t discriminate. Afterwards he started his own practice, but worked himself half to death and was so poor he had to use his five kids as leverage to keep creditors away.

        He ended up starting the first HMOs in Arizona, selling out to Signa, and retiring with millions on the beach in California. He’s been retired for almost 30 years now. He actually faced discrimination, had many of his countryfolk interned during World War II, and still made it to the top.

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          Joel, your grandfather’s case makes my point for me. He was not successful despite good ability and hard work so long as he tried to be productive (working as an MD). He became successful when he started using the system and manipulating money. Most common men can’t use the system for lack of intelligence or ethical considerations and are thus doomed to lives of busting ass just to eck out a living. In a real free market productivity not ability to game a system would pay off. In such a world most folks would be better off, abut the ruling elite would no longer exist as such. They know this and will fight with all they have to keep their power and perqs. This is the true purpose of government, to protect the ruling elite.

          • JohnNo Gravatar says:

            How do you know how his grandfather earned his money? Whom did he screw in the process? How did he manage to get customers?

            Look, some people are too dumb to create a good life for themselves. They should not be subsidized. Without a promise of welfare and free healthcare and so on those people would not reproduce as much, and the society would be dominated by the folks who have what it takes to make it into the middle class. Whatever you subsidize, you get more of. By subsidizing the poor, we end up with more poor.

            Not having children does not mean having an awful life. It is much cheaper to live without kids.

            • In terms of subsidizing, I actually believe that reparations can be a handicap of dependency. The struggle taught my family how to create wealth. That skill never goes away. Dump cash on people, and not only does the money go away at some point and they return to zero, but it delays the learning of actual wealth-creation skills. The only justice, the only proper form of reparations is to eliminate institutional disadvantages.

              • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                Joel, I essentially agree with you about reparations, especially those from the long ago where it is difficult to ascertain what really happened. I do think there is a huge amount of wealth that is obviously not earned in a productivity sense that should be redistributed from the elite to both allow for the possibility of getting a free market going and to undercut the scum who run the world as it is. Your point that removing institutionalized advantages is the means to proper reparations is pretty much what I am saying too. I just go one step further and stipulate that controlling the vast majority of existent wealth is one more institutionalized advantage that needs to be removed.

                • I’m still going to have to disagree on the usefulness of that one wealth transfer strategy. One, the difficulty in getting the wealthy and powerful to actually give up that cash would be astronomical, especially considering how adept the rich are at shielding their assets from government control. Two, a cash bailout would be essentially gone in a few years, with little to no long-term residual wealth created. Three, such a blatantly racist redistribution would only create lasting resentment between groups. You know, the kind of resentment and animosity that caused the original racial/national hatred in the first place.

                  • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                    Joel, everything we are discussing here is pie in the sky wishful thinking. The elite are never going to give up power. There will never be a free market or even a decent approximation of one. Without a total revamping of the world system everyone not in the elite is fucked. I just try to keep the concept of freedom alive by discussing such things. I live in the backwoods, off the grid, in a house I built with my own hands. I think that even this small level of freedom is doomed within the forseable future. The crooks control everything and have for thousands of years. The experiment with a bit of freedom that was the USA is over. The elite are just waiting for we old freedom lovers to die out. They know they have won.

                    • I tend to agree with almost all of that, though it isn’t wishful thinking. The powerful elites don’t have magical powers. While they can control government effectively, there are limits to what they can get away with without a popular uprising, and even then they can’t enforce absolute compliance. Tax compliance is at an all-time low, in part due to partially successful efforts to defund the IRS, making it so that they can’t be after everyone at all times. Additionally, the app world (e.g. Uber) and Bitcoin are shaking the very foundations of their power, and so far their efforts to stop these measures have been anemic at best.

                      I liken it to the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one can defeat the American military in the open field, but even they are unable to control and stabilize a desperately poor backwater, because they can’t be everywhere at once.

            • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

              John, de gustibus non est dispudandem. Loosely translated from the Latin, in matters of taste there can be no choosing. You have your right to your opinion concerning having kids. Personally I think it is BS!! I think that in a real free market your attitude would be acceptable. In our economic mess where the rich motherfuckers have gamed the system to where virtually no common man whatever his abilities can get anywhere (especially if he is honest), your attitude is an invitation to the underclass to revolt. We really are getting to where we have nothing to lose. If you do not wish to subsidize the poor then first get rid of the legal advantages for the rich, then the impediments to the free market such as licensing and zoning laws, and then get rid of welfare. Everyone seems to want to reduce welfare for people who really need the help while continuing to subsidize the rich through the already compromised system.
              You are correct that many people are too dumb to be able to get anywhere in our system. But more often it is a matter of integrity and the disadvantage of being born poor. My dad had an economics professor back at Ohio State. He told him back then that the smartest man in the USA was 5 years behind the guy with $5,000 in his pocket! It is far worse than that today.

              • JohnNo Gravatar says:

                Like some of Joel’s relatives, I was born into not a lot of money. I grew up with people who were not born into a lot of money (or had originally come from middle class but fucked some things up).

                I am not making this up. Some of my neighbors abused substances. I did not. Some would eat complete junk food. I would not. Some had gambling problems. I did not. While I was wondering if I were a perv when I was looking at a 17 yo female neighbor, she gave birth before the age of 18. Neighbors calling police on each other because they got into verbal arguments over dumb things. I did not reverse-mortgage an inherited house to smoke a ton of weed. (Well, my relatives always rented, so there is no house to speak of.) Neighbors getting arrested for stealing. Neighbors dumping used car batteries, car parts and other junk in a nearby stream. It was not the evil rich folk!

                I got a job as a cashier as a teen, and I just could calculate the amount of change in my head. The customers could give me a different bill or coins than I already entered, and I could easily give them the correct change. My co-workers would not be able to cope. Out of boredom I would tell my co-workers things like “I am working eight hours today, ten to four, or eleven till six, and they would not spot an error.

                I was having fun at work, I was happy to get paid. One day I was trying to set a record for how many shopping carts I can push, and some dude paused to talk to me about how he likes to work hard, but he owns his own business, works for himself, runs marathons, lifts, and lives very happily. At the time I thought he was a douche-bag who likes to brag. After college I understood that he saw a self-started in me and wanted to drop a hint that I should not slave away for some corporation with that much enthusiasm.

                I went to college without any help from my parents whatsoever. They did not know what college was for and what to do with it. I did not go because I wanted money; I went because I was bored in high school and bored at work. There is only so much one can learn about a cash register and PLU codes and bar codes.

                I did pretty well, graduated and got a decent paying job. I made acquaintances, some from middle class, some more poor. One guy, a college drop out asked me to help his ailing relative abroad, and so I helped. Five thousand turned into fifty, then eighty and counting, and in the process I discovered things about him and his relative that were a huge turn off. Basically, they were all dumb. They could not bother as far as going on Wikipedia or Mayo Clinic and figure out what the diagnosis means/implies.

                Things that were totally predictable were always surprising. The guy who asks me for help keeps hopping from job to job, burning bridges, changing cities in hopes of better “luck’. Meanwhile he got his wife pregnant because he did not know how to use condoms (I kid you not!) and then decided to keep it for religious reasons plus he felt too depressed, wanted a child to be his bright light in life. So they kept a baby and surely his wife has not been able to work for a year and a half now,

                Meanwhile I am forking out a few grand per month while my own lifestyle suffers. He was somewhat close at one point, and I cannot say no to those close to me. I am looking forward to the time the kid grows a bit older, so that the wife can also work. Note that he already reproduced while I did not. A big chunk of my resources went to support the dummies, who are unlikely to raise someone who will make it to middle class.

                Never again will I allow a person into my inner circle without first knowing that they a) have the means to support themselves and b) have the brains and the social skills to crawl out of a bad situation without becoming passive leaches.

                Call me an elitist, but I came “from the bottom”. Moving ahead was not that difficult. You just want to be somewhat not lazy and not making dumb mistakes. Now that I am older, I see dumb people everywhere. Going back to a store where I worked as a teen and seeing some of the same people is depressing. They have not moved up an inch in years. I used to know them and talk to them. While the system is stacked against the poor (and the middle class!), those people are still there making less than $15/hr because they have reached their highest level of incompetence.

                Yes, I come across as a douche, but I have seen the process. If you have some brains and some motivation – and I am not talking rocket surgeon-level IQ, I mean become a nurse or a plumber, and I ain’t talking raising VC funds in Silicone Valley kind of motivation, I mean only smoke weed on weekends, good things are bound to happen. or too many people this is too much to ask for. I have seen it with my own eyes many times. I went from being poor to being part of gentrification, while many that I used to know, but no longer have a reason to talk to, could not spell the word “gentrification” or know what it means.

                I often feel uneasy when I am in a middle class crowd. I think they consume too much stuff, and their vacations are too extravagant, and they are used to being served by another human being in a restaurant and this temporary customer / server relationship does not bother them, but it bother me.

                There is one thing I do not miss however, and that is being surrounded by dumb people. I mean, I am still surrounded by dummies all the time, be it on a bus or in a supermarket (though elitist health stores attract higher IQ folks), but there is now more “distance” between us. I am not their buddy like I used to, I am merely a stranger passing through the same space.

                Yes, the evil rich folks do exist, but middle class is being raped more. Taxes-wise, about a third of my income is stolen, while the poor pay much less in taxes and are eligible for all sorts of benefits. I do not have kids yet and most of the poor folks I used to know certainly procreated. If their is one thing they are good at, it is smashing their genitals together with another person.

                • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                  John, thank you for your reply. You have reminded me of the book, The Bell Curve. In it the authors remark that most people reading it are self selected for intelligence and likely find most of their contemporaries a bit on the dull side. If you have an IQ a couple standard deviations above the norm (about the level needed to get most PhDs) the vast majority of folks will seem stupid to you. One needs to accept this reality without becoming so cynical as to equate the lower intelligence with less humanity. Intelligence is but one (though important) criteria of the ultimate worthiness of a human being. I will take a dumb construction worker out busting his balls to make a living for his family over a smart lawyer who steals legally from everyone using the system.
                  I also worked my way through college doing construction ultimately majoring in draft evasion but getting a BS in Physics. I never used the degree but ended up continuing in construction.
                  I do empathize with your having been used by people. My kids did that to me a lot as have a couple of women. It is a tough call to tell when one is helping others get to a point where they can go it alone or you are enabling them to continue to fuck up. Being emotionally tied to the person makes it even harder to be clearheaded in your decision making. But one helps others not out of altruism but for personal reasons. I would rather err on the side of enabling someone than to be an asshole who has the Hagar the Horrible motto “I got mine”. I find I can still look in the mirror and be proud to have tried to be a decent human being. But it will cost you either way. I just think that often paying a financial cost is worth it to keep my self respect.
                  One area where I think we shall continue to disagree is about children. To my mind being a good parent is the most important job a human ever has. you can’t be a good parent without making babies. Young folks tend to make healthier babies, so I advocate having kids young. Also one’s energy levels are higher in youth allowing one to be a better parent. I hope that you are still young enough to make a few kids with a young lady. Frankly kids are a far greater reward and tribulation than most anything else in life.

          • While I’ll agree that the government rules do protect the ruling elite etc., what my grandfather did was anything but taking advantage of a gamed system. He innovated by making a new healthcare model that allowed affordable healthcare to all in a world before widespread insurance. That allowed him to sell off his business with more than enough. Even retired, he’s moved houses several times, each time making a net profit when selling the old house. He’s always been a businessman through and through.

            He exactly proves the point because he was the exact definition of a common man with a dream who became exceptional by struggling through a nervous breakdown to overcome extreme poverty and an overtly racist society, far worse than anywhere in the US today. This is why he proves the main point: He erased struggle in a generation. His children grew up in poverty, but by the time they were young adults they were able to get higher education and have successful upper-middle class careers. Dumping a bag of cash in my mom’s lap wouldn’t change anything, because she already had no need of reparations. My grandfather could’ve maybe used the startup capital, but now it’s too late, he wouldn’t take it.

            • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

              Joel, I mean no denigration to your grandfather. I respect what he did and think that he far more than most earned his wealth. But it is undeniably true that he only became wealthy when he started manipulating money rather than trying to earn it working (even with a decent paying profession). I have a brother who has made himself middle class after starting less than dirt poor. He worked hard, but all his major money was made manipulating money in one fashion or another. He mostly bought and sold homes. He used the bubble growing and got mostly out before it burst. Now he was somewhat productive in that he remodeled and built new, but most of his profit came from playing the system and legally beating the taxes by moving into more expensive homes until you could make one big profit and have an exclusion. This is not the same as working and earning money. What my brother and your grandfather both did was to recognize how the system was set up for the elite and use it minorly to enhance their own position. I do not blame them for that, but when averaged across the society this equals everyone always looking to screw everyone else in cutthroat competition rather than the cooperative competition that a system based upon productivity promotes.

              • You’re confusing two different, albeit positive, approaches: building a business and avoiding government theft. My grandfather’s path to success was just as honest as being a wage slave, though much better for society. One doctor with a practice and a modest income can only help so many. The same doctor building a business is able to hire more doctors, giving a better living for more professionals, while at the same time providing more affordable healthcare for the masses. If he had retired from being a doctor, his benefit to society would’ve ended there. Instead, his legacy lives on and continues to help people to this day. That’s far more moral than being a lifetime wage slave.

                Getting really off topic here. Back to the original point: Grandpa fought his way to the top through institutionalized racism. Now that racism, at least for his kind, is gone, and in one generation Italian-Americans have erased their disadvantage. That’s the main point: If a people is still suffering the residual effects of past wrongs, we aren’t talking about past wrongs anymore, but continued present wrongs. Stop the wronging, don’t start a money bomb.

                • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                  Joel, I do tend to wander off topic. I agree about no reparations for ancient history. That has never been an issue to me. I just do not want the ultrarich keeping their ill gotten gains by claiming that it was ancient history when their grandfathers stole their way to the top. The progeny continue to use the legacy given them to rule the world. That can not be allowed to continue if we want to ever have true freedom. When you control the markets simply by how big you are monetarily there no longer is free enterprise except in trivial senses like neighbors bartering. Even when one tries to go around the present system it is ineffectual for the elite control the supply chains, the natural resources, and the legal system that runs the show.
                  Your grandfataher’s case is an example of how difficult it is to tell in our present system when wealth is earned by productivity or garnered through using a corrupt system. Usually it is a bit of both. If we were in a truly free market, then guys like me would have nothing to complain about legitimately for there would be no system to be gamed and controlled by explicit or tacit governmental controls. I am just so tired of oligarchs saying how they “earn” their wealth while lower class guys fight to get a minimum wage part time job. Then the elite start whispering campaigns to end food stamps or other benefits to the poor. I say get rid of the impediments to free enterprise first. Then phase out welfare. The Republicans wish to get rid of welfare, social security, etc. and keep all their market advantages. Fuck them!!!

                  • In total agreement. I think the best for of reparations is “living well.” In other words, forget justice from the oppressor, instead seek freedom and prosperity. For example, if black community activists pressed just as hard for the abolition of the drug war, minimum wage laws, and firearms ownership restrictions, and pushed against the police state’s blanket injustices (not merely the ones visited on minorities), their world would be a much better place now.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      Joel, I think that fundamentally the only thing we disagree about is how quickly wealth can be created. I see all wealth creation as requiring cooperation from those who came before. If the system is already allowed an elite to control it and get the vast majority of the wealth, it becomes a virtual impossibility to work around them for they will recognize you as a threat and either stop you or eliminate you if necessary. No they are not omnipotent, but they have proven over thousands of years just how effective they are.
                      You are correct that taking back from the elite will be extremely difficult, but without that as a precondition I see no rational way to establish a free market.
                      By the way, the elite are already putting the shaft to bitcoin. It all comes back to the old saying “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. Thank you for a fine article and very stimulating conversation. Good luck to you!

  6. VanmindNo Gravatar says:

    Asininity is a great word. Reminds one of ninnies, which reminds one of collectivists ….

    Are there any linguist avatars out there with some 411 on possible shared etymological roots?

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Van, I never thought of it before! Thanks for the comparison!

    • JohnNo Gravatar says:

      I doubt that they are related, as asininus means donkey in Latin.

      Dictionary.com, “asininity,” in Online Etymology Dictionary. Source location: Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/asininity. Available: http://dictionary.reference.com. Accessed: August 05, 2015.

      Word Origin and History for asinine Expand
      asinine
      adj.
      c.1600, “obstinate, stupid,” from Latin asininus “stupid,” literally “like an ass,” from asinus “ass,” also “dolt, blockhead” (see ass (n.1)). The literal sense in English is recorded from 1620s.

      Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

    • JohnNo Gravatar says:

      On the other hand, ninny is an abbreviation of nincompoop which comes from Latin non compos mentis ‎(“not of sound mind”)

      As often is the case, both are bastardizations of Latin, but stemming from very different words / phrases, although rhyming (or looking alike) at the end.

  7. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    Another opinion on reparations, by the self-styled “doctor of common sense”

    Will Reparation End Racism

    I do not agree with everything that he says in general, but decided to throw this video into the mix.

  8. Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

    “Reparation” is crazy-making.

    Any talk about “reparation” tends to sidestep something so basic and obvious it defies logic: “The State” does not exist. Government is a brainless abstraction.

    Psychopathic predators do exist. In order to commit their evil deeds they must hide behind the mantle of an abstraction called “the state”.

    The science of rulership, then, is to convince masses of ordinary folks that the predators who committed the evil had in their possession at the time an illusory phenomenon referred to as “jurisdiction” — and that it was in place as the result of “consent of the governed“.

    But the craziness does not stop there. Keep in mind the predators had no resources that were not originally stolen from the folks who were raped and murdered and ethnically “cleansed” to keep the entire swindle in motion.

    So now they get the hoi polloi to gaggling and babbling over “reparation”???

    Pray tell, from whence are to come “funds” to make those repairs? Why robbery, of course. Where else could they come from??? Robbery of very folks who are to be “repaired”.

    The enormity of the truth is incredible.

    Sam

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Sam, bravo!! Notice that when I wrote above that I am interested in restitution and the undercutting of the ruling elite. But you are undoubtedly accurate that those scum in control will steal more from us all in the name of reparations! Oligarchs control and use the system which is only free enterprise in what they call it, not reality. They have gamed the system to such a degree that they own most everything and are in position to control any system that we care to institute so long as we continue to honor their “ownership” of largely ill gotten wealth. Free enterprise is the answer. To get from here to a free enterprise system will require not only an entire revamping of our attitudes and laws but also redistributing the elite’s basically stolen wealth.

      • Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

        Fritz: “…To get from here to a free enterprise system will require not only an entire revamping of our attitudes and laws but also redistributing the elite’s basically stolen wealth…”

        As for revamping of attitudes, I would agree — at least to the extent of revamping MY attitude. At 80 I’m in a constant state of “revamp”. Who’da thunk 25 years ago when I was in my 50’s I would one day have the opportunity to communicate daily and electronically with highly intelligent individuals such as you and the gang here at Anarchist and other forums — sometimes in agreement, sometimes not. Hopefully never disagreeable when not in total accord.

        Seeing a problem plainly is a major step in solving the problem. If I can listen carefully to you — even when we don’t agree — I will become better equipped to see the problem clearly. And to take any action I can take. And to admit when there is no action whatever open to me (except run — when indecisive or fearful, I can always run).

        I don’t have the faith you appear to have in “laws”. In fact, I see political action (“laws”) as the heart and core of the problem. I’m convinced that the only logical place to start for me is to abstain from beans. I’d like for you and 99% of the remaining voters to also abstain. Think what an impact that would have.

        I know the chances of that, however; so have had to take alternative actions of my own to defend myself from “voters” and their “votes” — and the claim to jurisdiction the predators prate gaggle about when they declare gleefully that “the-people-have-spoken!”

        I am a sovereign state. I am “the elite”. Mine is the only wealth I’m capable of redistributing.

        As the result of that knowledge, I have become the richest man in my city. My wealth is attributed to the fact that it is not measured in US “federal reserve notes”. I could go into detail, but will stop for now. Sam

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          Sam, let me assure you that I appreciate your comments. You show remarkable skill in seeing through BS and at giving me my comeuppance on occasion. That we disagree sometimes simply means that we both are thinking. I only hope to survive to your age (I am 63). I can’t imagine my mind will work anything nearly so well as yours.
          Sam, the only “laws” I have faith in are the laws of physics and their derivatives. But I do recognize that humans are constantly used by those who understand psychology. This may be the elite’s biggest advantage today for most people seem to have nearly zero capacity to think critically. Given our public schools, that is no surprise.
          It is possible to take back what a thief steals be that thief a common crook or a billionaire ripping off millions of folks. But it is not easy. Sometimes I think the French revolution had the right idea, but they just did not keep it up long enough. As always thanks for your input. I enjoy your thoughts.

          • Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

            Thanks, Fritz!

            The late Carl Sagan was (is) my favorite scientist. He had the capacity to put all these banal “arguments” we razzle and dazzle about into perspective. Watch this.

            Did I agree with Sagan? Not entirely. I strongly suspect, for instance, that his life was probably cut drastically short (he died at age 62) due to his almost religious faith in medical “science” — among the largest lobbying interests in this part of the world. And in this video he strongly advocates for “global warming” laws and taxes and government intervention into “our environment”.

            I think Sagan may have more-or-less denigrated “weirdos” who advocate for sound, organic diets and active lifestyles. And “anti-vaxxers“.

            But his ability to break “our” world — including all our trivial debates — down into a pale blue dot was genius.

            Sam

            I don’t know that. It is a suspicion. But if so, he and I would have been at loggerheads.

            • Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

              Flubbed my latest comment — I think link to the video that did not “take” would have been this:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrZ4197C1I0

              Sam

            • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

              Sam, I think Sagan represented both the stregths and weaknesses of modern science pretty well. To the extent that science is supposed to be based upon logic combined with accurate observation it is the driving force behind our technological advancement. But in reality scientists are humans who are both fallible and bribable. If getting your grant aopproval means sucking up to a rationally indefensible position, many if not most scientists will do so. Both global warming and the AIDS epidemic have numerous rational questions which the scientists avoid because there is too much money and prestige on the line. Read S. Fred Singer’s book Unstoppable Global Warming every 1500 Years for a good layman’s book on the science involved in the climate achange debate. Peter Duesberg had lots of articles and a book questioning if AIDS was indeed caused by HIV or was HIV a marker for a piss poor immune system largely caused by years of drug abuse?

  9. Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

    It might seem that our discussion of the late Carl Sagan strays from Mr. Valenzuela’s fine essay regarding “reparations”. But I see a vivid connection. Reparation will or can only be done with more stolen resources. How else could it be done?

    As an astronomer, Sagan had no choice but to interface with “deep pockets” — stolen resources — to accomplish his work. It shouldn’t be forgotten, of course, that every government imposition on the rights and property of the individual is a contingent death sentence for those who dare defend themselves against the State’s criminal aggression ( ~William N. Grigg)

    Whenever anybody anywhere states that “we” should do this or that, they’re invariably talking about utilizing stolen resources — robbery which is always accomplished under penalty of death.

    And that, my dear friends, is what forms the skeletal bulwark of anarchy.

    Sam

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Sam, I only wish I had stated it so well as you have here. Bravo! I have often thought that most of modern physics is problematic in that it requires huge funding (normally governmental) to create giant accelerators, etc. If we had true free enterprise where government funding did not exist I think Physics would have adapted to thinking small with perhaps outcomes that were viable for individuals, families, or small communities.

      • VanmindNo Gravatar says:

        Yes, it’s the difference between having the freedom to tinker with something that might later become a worldwide market success story (complete with economies of scale and bigger/better versions at lower prices and competitors nipping at your heels), and having the chafe of shackles by which self-styled pharaohs demand legacies to their vainglory (e.g. pyramids).

        Think about the people who (wrongly) consider it necessary to seek a large VC “war chest” fund before ever attempting an entrepreneurial venture, who consider nothing to be worth an entrepreneurial effort unless they are in a position to market the Rolls Royce of whatever it is they hope to sell. It’s a symptom of the programming that is designed to keep down upstarts for the benefit of NWO legacies — notice how a typical kid with a lemonade stand tends to have more courage and more reasonable expectations (i.e. they are willing to start small and grow because they are small and growing), while today’s indoctrinated adults are under such a Mystery School spell that far too many refuse to try unless they are confident that others will consider them from Day One as being god-like. And the word (mercantilism) was good — according to career fraudsters. This avatar is e-talking about serious Brotherhood of the Bel stuff (watch the Glenn Ford movie for a probably-based-in-fact fictionalized example).

        To paraphrase the NWO: “Not psychotic enough to consider yourself a god? Then you’re a failure so get back to your cubicle. Want to have a chance to escape the cubicle? Seek permission to join the gods of the MBA guild and you might gain some of the exclusive political connections without which entrepreneurship is impossible.” Occupational licensing scams, indeed.

        For those who manage to come up with great ideas but are unwilling to kowtow to the NWO, guess who is always there waiting to glean trade secrets and then use political connections (e.g. the MBA guild) to claim entrepreneurial genius: the offspring of those who used the same tactics to swindle the previous generation. This is why none of the swindlers (for simplicity call them “bloodline children”) ever calls for free markets while each of them cries for a little thing known as continuity of government. Gotta fake the need for so-called accreditation before anyone will start begging for political inclusion.

        And that is how economic activism dies.

  10. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    IQ and Immigration | Jason Richwine and Stefan Molyneux

    When the subject of Intelligence (IQ) is discussed in the mainstream media – hysteria and slander from journalists often trumps the available science. Jason Richwine and Stefan Molyneux discuss media controversy in a politically correct culture, the latest science regarding human intelligence, the predictable capabilities of IQ and what this means for the success of immigrants in America and around the world.

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      John, thanks for this. I can’t tell you how often I get castigated for even mentioning heritable intelligence in a somewhat libertarian venue. Then if you really want to set them off, quote Professor Richard Lynn’s works on IQ and race internationally. One fellow with a PhD in Physics tells me that all soft science people are stupid so you can’t trust their research. I think the PC brainwashing in our schools has done its job.

      • JohnNo Gravatar says:

        “One fellow with a PhD in Physics tells me that all soft science people are stupid so you can’t trust their research. I think the PC brainwashing in our schools has done its job.”

        Only the Sith deal in absolutes. I think your friend is very arrogant to put it this way, but I do think that soft sciences are indeed, softer. You could tell him that mathematicians are not of very high opinion of physicists 😉 the proof is in this picture:

        https://xkcd.com/435/

        • Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

          John, the late Delmar England had much to say about the lack of viability of what’s being called “soft science”. Read the first few paragraphs of this:

          http://www.anarchism.net/anarchism_insanityasthesocialnorm.htm

          The gist of England’s essay is that technology has grown by leaps and bounds, but peace and freedom are totally elusive (and illusive) due to the fact nobody appears to want to study the workings of the mind. And if you can’t broach that particular science, peace and freedom will remain elusive.
          Wars will remain the health of the state.

          And even professing anarchists will declare that one cannot be(come) free — here. Today. Where you’re “at”. Without proclaiming the need to produce a change in others. Sam

        • VanmindNo Gravatar says:

          Yes, well, the dumbed-down generations of recent history do tend to place artificial labels of superiority onto all things positivist/dialectical (mathematics thereby becoming the artificial divinity of such half-wittedness). It’s a common, NWO-programmed character flaw that helps to maximize serf.

          “STEM!”
          — Serfy Serf

          “Grammar and song are window dressing!”
          — Serfy Serf

          “Stop thinking of your own aspirations, there’s a communitarian pyramid to complete and you must concentrate on following A-B-C instructions — we choose to do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard!”
          — Pharaoh

          Again this avatar recommends the novel “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin (one of its themes is numbers-not-names … or in other words: dialectics is considered superior to grammar in such an artificial society).

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          John, love the cartoon! I started as a math major and ended up with a BS in Physics. However I loved psychology and had enough classes to have minored in philosophy. I agree with Heinlein’s assessment that specialization is for insects.

  11. AnonNo Gravatar says:

    No irish need apply?

  12. It’s a same people don’t or can’t learn from all mistakes through KNOWING what happened and why.