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Keyword: ‘parasitism’

The fight against parasitism and free-riding is a never-ending one.

April 21st, 2015 No comments

[from a Facebook post]

The fight against parasitism and free-riding is a never-ending one. The focus should be not on imagining a world free of either, but on moving it in a direction that makes parasitism more difficult.

Randall Holcolmbe points out:

“[D]espite many theories justifying government because its activities produce benefits to its citizens, no government was ever established to produce those benefits. Governments were created by force to rule over people and extract resources from them. Thus, the argument that citizens would be better off if they replaced government activities with private arrangements and market transactions is irrelevant to the issue of whether an orderly anarchy would be a desirable—or even feasible—replacement for government. The real issue is whether a group of people with no government can prevent predators both inside and outside their group from using force to establish a government. …

“The evidence shows that anarchy, no matter how desirable in theory, does not constitute a realistic alternative in practice, and it suggests that if government ever were to be eliminated anywhere, predators would move in to establish themselves as one by force. One can debate the merits of anarchy in theory, but the real-world libertarian issue is not whether it would more be desirable to establish a limited government or to eliminate government altogether. Economist Bruce Benson notes, “When a community is at a comparative disadvantage in the use of violence it may not be able to prevent subjugation by a protection racket such as the state” (1999, 153). Libertarian philosopher Jan Narveson writes, “Why does government remain in power? Why, in fact, are there still governments? The short answer is that governments command powers to which the ordinary citizen is utterly unequal” (2002, 199–200). …

“[S]ome governments are better than others. Therein lies the libertarian argument for a limited government. People benefit from an institutional mechanism to prevent their being taken over by a predatory gang. They can provide this mechanism by preemptively establishing their own limited government, in a form they themselves determine, not on the terms forced upon them by outside predators. A government created by the people themselves can be designed to produce the protection they desire while returning to them the bulk of the surplus owing to peaceful cooperation rather than allowing the state to retain it.

“Is it really possible to design a limited government that will protect people’s liberty? Despite the challenges, it is well-known that some institutional arrangements do a better job of securing liberty and creating prosperity than others. Nations that have protected property rights and allowed markets to work have thrived, whereas nations that have not done so have remained mired in poverty. A libertarian analysis of government must go beyond the issue of whether government should exist. Some governments are more libertarian than others, and it is worth studying how government institutions can be designed to minimize their negative impact on liberty. This proposition is obviously true if one believes that government is inevitable, but even advocates of orderly anarchy should have an interest in understanding how government institutions can be designed to maximize their protection of liberty. …

“Although ideas have been advanced as to how institutions might be redesigned to lessen government’s coercive activities (for example, by Tucker 1990; Anderson and Leal 1991; Holcombe 1995; Holcombe and Staley 2001), there may be no final answer to the question of how to design the ideal government because any innovations in government designed to protect the rights of individuals may prompt offsetting innovations by those who want to use government for predatory purposes. The preservation of liberty will remain a never-ending challenge.”

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HuffPo covers zombie parasitism in the wild; in our economies, government/corporate-statism parasitism more akin to cannibalism

March 3rd, 2011 No comments

There’s good news in that people are starting to see parallels between parasitism in nature – particularly the striking ‘zombie parasitism where the parasite controls the behavior of its host – and our ruling class … even as our tribal impulses that are so easily hijacked lead us all to suspect ‘those other people’ as being the evil parasites.

But libertarians are absolutely right that we face a kleptocracy, in addition to stupid government and widespread moral hazard.

Enjoy this HuffPo piece, and the comments. Here’s the clip they use.

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Parasites infect our body politic, and do an amazing job of tricking US into DEFENDING THEM

April 17th, 2014 No comments

[Cross-posted from The Anti-Establishment Center Community]

Blind faith in government and denial of reality continues to aid the 0.01% and the Govt-enabled ‪#‎CronyCrapitalists‬ in fleecing and controlling us.

Parasites are highly evolved, infect our body politic, and do an amazing job of tricking US into DEFENDING THEM:

See parasite guru Carl Zimmer:

“Parasites can castrate their hosts and then take over their minds. An inch-long fluke can fool our complex immune system into thinking it as harmless as our own blood. A wasp can insert its own genes into the cells of a caterpillar to shut down the caterpillar’s immune system. Only now are scientists thinking seriously about how parasites may be as important to ecosystems as lions and leopards. And only now are they realizing that parasites have been a dominant force, perhaps the dominant force, in the evolution of life. … ”

“Simply living within another organist—locating it, travelling through it, finding food and a mate inside, altering the cells that surround it, outwitting its defences—is a tremendous evolutionary accomplishment. But parasites such as Sacculina do more: they control their hosts, becoming in effect their new brains, and turning them into new creatures. It is as if the host itself is simply a puppet, and the parasite is the hand inside.”

We have a great big commons problem that is extremely difficult to solve, not in the least because “good” people are fooled and WANT to keep being fooled.

[See my other posts on parasitism]

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George Carlin was correctly cynical about ‘the American Dream’, but are our elites monolithic?

February 9th, 2011 No comments

I recently ran across (again) the below clip by our now deceased comedian cum truth-teller, George Carlin. While he offers some refreshingly bitter criticism, Carlin is too simplistic and too black, and offers no particular avenues by which informed American sheep can seek to regain control over their lives.

There is no monolithic “them”. Our ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ politics both mask and manifest the very real power struggles among our governing elites — there is hope in this, but the real problem is not that none of them cares about making the world a better place, but that all of our elites seem to be statists who think that the struggle over the wheel of government is the only way to a better future.

Few of them seem to understand the centralization of power, parasitism and rot that have resulted from fractional-reserve banking and the subsequent capture of it by the Federal government — and none appears to understand that the very grant of legal entity status to corporations whose owners have no personal liability for what these entities do drives an even more pervasive socialization of risks, destruction of community and a snowballing growth of the regulatory state and the fight to control and profit from it.

Really improving our societies will require us really to understand and strike at, and not ignore, the roots of the problems that are strangling us.

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What IS "property"? A few weird thoughts on evolution, society, "property rights" and "intellectual property", and the "principles" we structure to justify them

December 21st, 2009 2 comments

I copy here some thoughts I posted on two linked threads by Jeffrey Tucker and Stephan Kinsella in November [2009] regarding problems with intellectual property, as well as some relevant parts of the comment thread by Stephan and others:

My own view has come around to the idea that state-created IP is abusive and has been hijacked by rent-seeking. Firms and individuals that want to maintain information as property should do so without state grants, other than the use of courts in providing remedies for theft.

But that the idea of IP itself as “property” does not seem absurd to me in the least; the prevalence of the idea is an example of the way that communities adopt and internalize rules and apply them rather reflexively (and feel them morally) and is a testament to the capacity of humans to minimize tragedy of the commons situations (as Yandle and Ostrom have noted). The problem is simply that IP has slipped its moorings and become abusive to the point that we need to start working (via legislation, no?) to lessen the evident parasitism and abuse.
Published: November 19, 2009 7:57 AM

Stephan Kinsella:
These comments have an odd air to them–state created IP is “abusive”? It’s been “hijacked”? Libertarians talk about just and unjust, rights and rights violations. And IP was not hijacked by the state any more than taxing power or regulation of wage and working hour or outlawing cocaine was hijacked by the state. It’s not as if these things would occur in a free market.
Yes, let’s just work with the state to decree more unjust fake “laws” …. that’ll work.
Published: November 19, 2009 9:36 AM

“And IP was not hijacked by the state any more than taxing power or regulation of wage and working hour or outlawing cocaine was hijacked by the state. It’s not as if these things would occur in a free market.”

I’m not sure why you want to drum up disagreements; is it because I agree with you as a practical matter, rather than delving into principle? If we change anything here, it will not be so much as a result of principle as getting others, as a practical matter, to agree that IP has gotten out of hand.

In any event, I was referring to abuse by rent-seekers, not by the state.

Further, while I don’t see how we can possibly conclude that communities cannot, without use of a state, derive the equivalent of taxes, wage regulations or outlawing cocaine, how is this even relevant to a discussion of the legitimacy of IP?

Care to clarify the following?
me: “The problem is simply that IP has slipped its moorings and become abusive to the point that we need to start working (via legislation, no?) to lessen the evident parasitism and abuse.”
You: “Yes, let’s just work with the state to decree more unjust fake “laws” …. that’ll work.”
I’m not following you – what is YOUR proposed course of action for rolling back IP? Are you expecting everyone to simply ignore the state and IP laws? Seriously, I’m missing something.
Tizzy Tom
Published: November 20, 2009 2:06 AM

It seems to me that Stephan – as most libertarians who focus on principles – fails to ground his fine edifice on or link it into what we understand of the continual saga of competition and cooperation in Nature for acquiring, using and protecting scarce resources, and man’s ascendant path.

Basically, “property” is simply the name we give to the resources that we are able personally to protect, as well as those which – via sophisticated shared mechanisms that continue to be developed within communities over time – we can protect, plus our recognized share of common assets.

In a state of nature, very little is secure, as most life forms have limited means of securing or maintaining exclusive control over assets. What one predator catches, another often soon steals. Different species have developed different ways of coping with the ongoing struggle, utilizing varying degrees of cunning, speed, strength and cooperation.

Humans have triumphed over the rest of nature because we have found sophisticated ways of balancing individual initiative and moderating intra-group struggle with cooperation, and devised methods to acquire, use and defend resources.

Property has been a key tool, but we can readily see that our “property” has its roots in the ways that our cousin creatures invest energy in marking out territory, fighting (individually or in groups) to protect their young, and growling over bones. At the same time, we can see that animals treat each other as dinner, make calculated decisions as to when to “steal” resources that others are guarding, and as well find advantage in cooperating, both with relatives of their kind and with others.

Our need to defend property from other groups has fed our inbred mutual suspicions of “others”, and our ongoing battles, both for dominance within groups and to acquire the resources held by rival groups, – and has led directly to states.

Bruce Yandle has addressed the ascendance of man through methods such as property to facilitate cooperation and to abate ruinous conflicts over resources; he has an interesting short piece I’ve excerpted here:

To tie this in more closely with Stephan’s battle with libertarians and others over IP, I note I have further discussed the ways that groups have, in order to strengthen group cohesion and dampen conflict, of developing and inculcating mores; formal religions are obviously just one branch of this tree:

– see my discussion with “fundamentalist” here:

– and my discussions with Gene Callahan and Bob Murphy on whether there are “objective” moral truths, or simply a felt need on their part to find some:

These are relevant because they explore not property per se, but our related need to make our property rules stick, by tying them to “sacred postulates” of one kind or another. The problem with this, of course, is that it makes us difficult to abandon what we all pretty much assumed was sacred, like IP. (Of course it also makes even discussing property quite difficult at times.)

Published: November 20, 2009 9:13 AM

• Lord Buzungulus, Bringer of the Purple Light
TokyoTom’s latest post is, frankly, bizarre, and I fail to see that it has anything do with the issues of property rights and IP.
Published: November 20, 2009 9:19 AM

• Stephan Kinsella
Lord B– re TokyoTizzom — I kind of agree.
Tom: I really am not sure what you are asking. You seem to be rambling in a sort of New Age libertarian “we’re all practical moderates can’t we just get along Rodney king” kind of way, “can’t we just have incremental improvement, kumbaya”.

Maybe I’m misreading you. I just can’t follow this amorphous way of thinking.
Published: November 20, 2009 10:43 AM

• TokyoTom
LBBPL & Stephan:
Sure, it’s a bolt from the blue and kinda past my bedtime, but it’s not so hard:

The deep roots of “property” are not in principle but in simple competition, physical defense of assets valuable enough to make the effort worthwhile, and in the grudging recognition by others – more willingly offered by those who share bonds of community – that yielding to others’ claims may be more productive than challenging them.

This is as true for rest of creation as it is for man. While we have developed property to a a very sophisticated degree, at its core property remains very much about the Darwinian struggle to survive and prosper, violence, theft and calculations as to when challenging control over an asset is not worth the effort.

To the extent we’re past that, which is quite a ways indeed, property is a social construct that is flexible (though rigidified in various ways, including legislation) and based primarily on practical considerations as to what parameters best engender wealth and respond to shared purposes by minimizing free-for-alls, externalities, free-riding & rent-seeking and facilitating voluntary transactions.

Elinor Ostrom has spent alot of time documenting sophisticated local community property rights, all of which at the end of the day all supported by threats of sanctions and violence against rule breakers and outsiders.

It’s natural that we feel strongly about what we consider to be ours, but this feeling is a gut one that is not in essence grounded on principles deeper than our sense of fair play and just desserts in a community to which we feel we have bonds of common purpose.

And we have a natural tendency to dress up our shared institutions – such as property rights – in moral precepts.
But we always remain subject to problems of theft, especially so as our bonds of community and shared purpose loosen. Libertarians are absolutely right to keep shining a spotlight on how the state has become an instrument of theft.

As for IP, as specialized knowledge can be quite valuable, it seems quite possible for me to imagine a society that developed IP and enforced it mutually, as a way to minimize high costs for protecting trade secrets.But such rules would not be enforceable against other societies, unless resort is made to government. And it seems clear to me that there are substantial rent-seeking costs now associated with state-granted IP.

To roll things back, just the argument that things are out of control and IP is now grossly abused and counterproductive is good enough for me, but I wish you luck in wielding arguments of principle. That’s the great thing about being a pragmatist.
Published: November 20, 2009 11:54 AM