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State Education: Money

Eventually, per Rothbard, the pols saw that leaving the marching minions holding promises instead of solid specie was a dream come true. But they did also realize that an honorable verbal promise was an oxymoron. Enter the written promise, aka the IOU, aka scrip, aka paper currency. The typical note promised exchange for the purported full amount in gold, not sooner than 1 year hence. Many of the veterans began to barter these slips of paper for those things for which they could not wait a year -- things like food! Read the full thing

Short Subjects and The Shipping News

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena, pre-TSA world traveler, domestic traveler. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. Obviously, my plan to catch up to my bi-weekly production goal for columns foundered on the rocks of gang awry.  Now I am even farther behind schedule.  It’s the summer schedule or lack thereof.  When I have teaching duties at the Community College, and when I am involved in my Lifelong Learning courses, I often have several hours at the library or in the computer lab which can be filled with constructive work.  In the summer, however, I often find myself working outdoors on the farm during daylight hours, sometimes up until nearly 10 pm. But now the autumnal equinox is near, and I am getting back into a regular schedule.  I’m going to give the serialization effort a more fair trial under these conditions. Logic Fallacies — Short Subjects Just a few days ago, I began to meet with a shared interest group (SIG) on Logic and Reason.  Our facilitator, a retired math professor from Transylvania University, gave each of us in attendance a set of 5 informal fallacies to explore and present to the group next week. Veteran readers will know that I have frequently included discussions of  logic fallacies in previous columns, and I often have an idiosyncratic view of them.  So it is with enthusiasm that I will do capsules here, in hopes of expanding them in future writing. Argument to the stone:  The story behind this one was that Dr. Ben Jonson insisted that Dr. George Berkeley‘s philosophy on immaterialism was disproven by the existence of a stone, which Jonson kicked, thus believing he had proven materialism.  Unfortunately for Dr. Jonson, he himself could just as easily have imagined the stone and the kick.  Both doctors insisted on their own versions of reality to reject the other.  A modern version would be to counter an assertion with “you can’t be serious!” Argument from ignorance:  My lovely bride and I have been married now for 50 years, but I pulled a stunt during our first year that leaves me amazed that we are still a team.  She told me about a huge oceanic whirlpool in the North Atlantic.  I was sure that there was no such thing.  “That can’t be true!  Else I would know about it!”  It turns out that I just had not consulted the proper sources.  This was before the Internet was available to groundlings.  If you go to the Bay of Fundy, in the Canadian Maritime Provinces, by boat, you had better be prepared for the “Old Sow Whirlpool” or you may sleep with the fishes. Argument from (personal) incredulity:  Often we may react to an instance of our own ignorance by insisting that... Read the full thing

Kids for Kash, Dictator Fallacy, Combinatorics

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. I will be publishing my columns for awhile, until we see how it goes, in serial form, following in the footsteps  of Charles Dickens.  Let’s hope that my prose is at least halfway Dickensian. To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart. — Charles Dickens In Dickens’ classic, Oliver Twist, he insisted that we become aware of the exploitation of youth, and in the same spirit I share with you my outrage that modern American statism does not draw a line at the corruption of the treatment of the young. Kids for Kash A few years back, I saw a story about a judge who was being investigated for taking bribes from prison-for-profit corporations.  Then it was just by chance that I caught a fleeting follow-up this past week on some media channel about judges finally going to jail for this scam. My first thought is, what took so long?!  But this new info was hard on the heels of the story about how the FBI was dropping the investigation on a certain candidate for POTUS.  I must admit that I received both of these reports with a minimum of surprise.  Our country is dying of political corruption, and this has been the case for over two centuries — so it is a chronic illness.  The very thing that makes our country great is also the thing that is taking us down.  It is our adventurous spirit for which we are coming to account. America has always been in a hurry.  When we declared our independence from the British Empire, we were so arrogant with our newfound hubris that we decided to run ourselves on the British model. We were a sort of Leviathan Lite.  Let’s rub their limey faces in it.  We started with towns, counties, provinces, and their attendant civic functionaries based on the model of the tyrant we hoped to escape.  What could go wrong?  Just because England was a bureaucratic nightmare of aristocratic monarchists, we thought we could dip in the same slop while keeping dry and clean. It’s as Willy Stark opined in All the King’s Men, we do not rise far above our birth.  We embraced a corrupt system cooked up in the witches cauldrons of the European world of the 17th Century.  Any student of history knows that the train had long before jumped the rails of civilization.  Europe, and by extension, England had clawed and cheated, stolen and murdered its way to dominating the world through colonies.  You couldn’t find honorable individualism with a torch. The stench of the sewer... Read the full thing

Division of Labor, Evolution, Tom Woods

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. With today’s column, I am still four columns behind on the year. I am always unprepared for the long days of Summer, when I often work outside with my beautiful bride. We are often slaloming our zero turn mowers over the hayfields until the sun is just an orange glow in the west, sometimes up until 10pm. Then we usually eat together. I am no longer doing adjunct teaching in Lexington, also a Summer happening. But the hiatus may be permanent this time, as our new governor has put the community college system on short rations. When I have more or less regular duties, I can carve out time to sit to write for EVC. No excuses, though, I’m mostly saying that I will make every effort to catch up, now that I have analyzed the problem. It is my objective to author 26 columns a year. I will begin my comeback with a rambling re-enactment of a conversation recently engaged in on Facebook. Then more rambling, as I consider some of the implications of evolution. And speaking of evolution, we have a highly evolved, modern Socrates amongst us — Tom Woods is his name and knowledge is his game. Be sure to check Topic #3 below. Division of Labor A picture of a bustling pre-1913 Washington, DC, looking along Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, shows a prosperous and vital cityscape. Overburned on the scene are the words, “Did you know? … Prior to 1913 Americans kept 100% of their paycheck.” This picture is courtesy of TheFreeThoughtProject.com. It also has a sub-caption, “There were still roads, schools, colleges, fire departments.” I shared this meme on Facebook, initiating this fascinating discussion: NG: Growing your own food also back then. Something I’m still doing. VV: My grandparents lived in that time. On one side, they lived in Boston — the 2nd largest US city then. They lived by division of labor. On the other side, my ancestors lived in Liberty KY — a town of 1,000 then. They lived by division of labor. Something I’m trying to do still. NG: Given modern technology, its a great era to do both, grow great quality food at home, and do division of labor. But I worry that some anarchists see homegrown as some kind of a threat to division of labor. I am into division of labor. But I also love the high quality of my own home produced food, and all the wonderful exercise, the beauty of greenery, the joy for my family picking fresh food, the joy of nature on my own property. It’s incomparable and cannot be bought. I have no quarrel with folks who get their food in... Read the full thing

Short vs Long, Opportunism, Just This Once

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. Because many humans cannot control their raging hormones (and I’m not talking about reproductive instincts), there are far too many who will not look before leaping.  Too many do not comprehend that everything has both a short term and a long term.  Too many learn nothing from the past, squander the present, and fail to recognize how poorly they see the future but regard it’s mirage constantly with fear. Short Term vs Long Term I learned a great lesson, while I was away from home at college, in the 60s, from my father.  Perhaps it was the best lesson during my college years. Dad was a Division Director in the state Highway Department.  In those days, if not still, the political party occupying the governor’s mansion would subsidize the continuing campaigns du jour by requiring division directors to sell fish fry tickets to 100% of the employees in the division. Dad refused. He went so far as to say that he would fire any employee who asked him to sell a ticket to them. They could go elsewhere to buy a ticket. For that act, Dad had the division taken away from him, and his desk was moved into the elevator lobby. He went to work, with no assignment, at the expense of the tax payer, so the hierarchy could pretend they had put his head on a pike. I am gratified to report that he held his head high for three years in that situation. When a new regime came in, he ascended to a higher station. My dad was one of the most accomplished civil engineers in the world, a pioneer in the field of mapping via aerial photography, among many other things.  There is a direct connection between him and the amazing satellite images and GPS we can see and use today. I have written here before about Dad, upon his passing two years ago, so I won’t get into another biography now.  My point in the story above, however, is to illustrate the importance of standing on principle.  Even though I worked for government (two different states, ten different functions/agencies), I never gave a dime to any politician.  I never went to a fish fry.  I made my work serve principle, never convenience, never charlatans.  I always made sure I was worth more than I was paid. I’m sure my Dad was doing that even while he sat at a desk in that elevator lobby for three years.  He spoke truth to power. There was a confluence, a happy confluence of my formulating this story with the theme of our latest Lifelong Philosophy meeting, the Pursuit of Happiness.  I have never pursued happiness,... Read the full thing

Traffic Control, Beyond Control, On FTC

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena, pre-TSA world traveler, domestic traveler. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. I reached 73 years old Friday, and there is only one thing that I have seen stay the same throughout each of those years — nothing stays the same.  In none of those years, did I ever have a clue in any reliable way what the following year would bring.  I have to observe now, looking back, that voluntaryism beats the tunket out of trying to stay in control. Before I launch into this weeks oracular wisdom, let me give you a book recommendation — The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, by Kevin Gutzman.  It covers perhaps the grandest experiment in bending Nature to the wills of collections of humans — a failed experiment.  I don’t know how I have gone so long without the book.  My version is an audiobook from Audible.com.Roads Have Intersections All right, I make people uncomfortable at times.  I have two very talented English friends to whom I cannot resist speaking with disdain about Winston Churchill, cases in point.  A few days ago, I ruffled some feathers in my weekly meeting with my fellow writers at Lifelong Learning.  I insisted that natural law can stand up just fine to the rigors of reality without constant clarification (obfuscation?) by the legislators and other legal lunks in our midst. It actually seemed as though nearly half of the room saw my point (borrowed from my alter ego, Kilgore Forelle in his recent blog, “A Secret Statist Decoder Ring“).  My point was that Natural Law is quite exact, hardly ever needing further analysis from the way it applies in the real world.  Then one of my colleagues made the last statement by saying something like, “without artificial law, intersections would be catastrophic!”  This is like saying that the entire history of the world has been catastrophic until traffic signals came into general use.  The natural law that shines over intersections is that no two things can occupy the same space at the same time.  No illogic or fiction can unseat that truth. I have thought about that quite a bit since yesterday: a sophisticated (fairly lightweighted) version of “Who will build the roads.”  Statists can really hang you up the most with that clichéd question — there is usually no answer that they will admit to accepting.  I think the answer is very simple — that users will build roads, as they have since the dawn of time.  It is a natural animal action.  Animals are defined by movement (anim-).  All animals build paths that are suitable for the uses to which they must put them. But the question about intersections at least shows slightly more profound thinking.  I have... Read the full thing

Human Action, Rothbard on Human Action, Empty Symbols

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena, pre-TSA world traveler, domestic traveler. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. You can go through weeks at times in your life, when it may seem as though there is not enough intellectual stimulus to keep an earthworm wriggling.  But now I am involved in a whirlwind.  I participate in a writers’ group, two philosophy discussion groups, a group studying mindfulness, Springtime, and track season for my youngest granddaughters.  In addition, I have begun reading and listening to Ludwig von Mises‘ Human Action.  I am listening to the audio, wonderfully read by Jeff Rigginbach, and I am keeping up by reading a PDF version on my computer and cell phone.  Wow!  Quantity and quality.  The audiobook is more than 57 hours in length.  That should take care of a few round trips to Lexington and Louisville.Human Action “Only the individual thinks.  Only the individual reasons.  Only the individual acts.”  So wrote Ludwig von Mises. The great painter, George Seurat, introduced us to a technique call pointillism wherein he made a vision of concrete life through the abstract action of placing single dots on the canvas.  Each of those dots had a position and a color and the intent of the artist that they should contribute to a whole.  The viewer sees a magic scene.  Please see “Sunday in the Park” here. Our books and newspapers have for a few centuries carried organized dots to our eyes, from which we make pictures and stories.  Now our televisions, computers, projectors, and all presenters of digital information do the same. Ludwig von Mises, writing in Switzerland in 1940, in the shadow of the Third Reich, imagined pointillist economics.  The single irreducible source of human events is the individual human.  Just as Seurat discovered that the overall effect of dots was an image that was greater than the sum of its parts, Mises intuited that the most rational view of economic history was in an understanding of its component parts.  Just as computer scientists know that the nearly infinite colors of pictures are made up of dots composed of varying intensities of red, green, and blue subdots, Mises figured that the behavior of human society can be concretely evaluated by the place and time of a human action with varying intensities of thinking, reasoning, and acting. This is an introduction to my continuing observations derived from Mises, which I hope to share with you more in future columns. Rothbard Quote #17 — On Human Action Mises’ original work was written in German.  I am listening to a translation published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama.  But one of Murray Rothbard’s most towering works is an “explanation” of Human Action, with the title of Man, Economy, and... Read the full thing