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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... continue reading

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,... continue reading

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... continue reading

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... continue reading

Futurism, Rugby, The Winning Fallacy

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other week, usually on 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. When you become aware of how often information is baked, by the media, by politicians, by interventionists, by authoritarians, you must learn to see the data around you, then make it your information, your knowledge, your wisdom.Futurism Are we there yet?  Well, yes, in fact, we are always at some “there.”  Will we make something of it, or will we fritter away the opportunity?  Furthermore, each of us is the only one “there” at a given time.  Whose responsibility is it to occupy and improve that conjunction of space and time?  Shall I volunteer to make an improvement, or will I wait until someone else requires it of me? As readers of prior columns may know, I am engaged in lifelong learning up to the gills.  That is how I fill all my time-space allotments.  On Mondays, I go to a writers’ shared interest group, where I often share things I have written here in this column, then in the evening I go to the Socrates Cafe Louisville group, where we discuss philosophical queries.  On Tuesdays, I attend a meeting where we are trying to learn mindfulness.  Later in the day, I teach a class on Thinking Like a Computer, and again on Thursday nights.  Every other Friday, I facilitate a shared interest discussion group entitled Lifelong Philosophy.  All the rest of the times available, I am also making learnable moments out of the data I encounter voluntarily, reading, listening, talking, watching rugby or basketball, working on the farm, doing everything I can do in accord with nature, and taking advantage of a lovely relationship with my partner of more than 50 years — she and I will mark our official 50th wedding anniversary in the midst of May. But let’s get to the reason that I write, under the topic of Futurism.  I am concerned at the number of intelligent people that I see dwelling on things that they do not know and can do nothing about, things in the past, things in a wished-for or feared future. I read a revelatory piece by David Deutsch this week (I got the link from a fellow laborer in the vineyard of Socrates Cafe Louisville).  As usual, things that you learn don’t roll to a standstill in a vacuum.  I shared the article with friends on Facebook (almost 5,000 now).  That evolved into a discussion of whether history repeats itself, to which question I got answers that generally settled into these buckets — 1) Yes, absolutely, 2) Seemingly, but not sure whether it repeats or rhymes, or 3) Perhaps, but events do not match related events repeatedly.  Here are some... continue reading

Wearing of the Green, Rothbard on Ireland, Historical Confirmation Bias

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other week, usually on 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. It is so gratifying that Rothbard has something to say about Ireland, because as I write, it is St. Patrick’s Day.  I am 3/4ths Irish on my Father’s side, and 3/4ths Irish on my Mother’s side.  That makes me 6 parts Irish out of 8 parts.  The other 2 parts are Acadian and Welsh.  And neither of those had much love lost for the English either. In observance of my ancestral day, I am featuring the lyrics of “Wearing of the Green,” a poetic description of the lengths to which tyranny may go, and Rothbard’s comments on where the Irish had been before the oppression of the English.  Then, I will wrap up with a logical review of how history may be abused.The Wearing of the Green A link to John McCormack Singing “The Wearing of the Green”. O Paddy dear, and did ye hear the news that’s goin’ round?The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground!No more Saint Patrick’s Day we’ll keep, his color can’t be seenFor there’s a cruel law ag’in the Wearin’ o’ the Green.” I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the handAnd he said, “How’s poor old Ireland, and how does she stand?”“She’s the most distressful country that ever yet was seenFor they’re hanging men and women there for the Wearin’ o’ the Green.” So if the color we must wear be England’s cruel redLet it remind us of the blood that Irishmen have shedAnd pull the shamrock from your hat, and throw it on the sodBut never fear, ’twill take root there, though underfoot ’tis trod. When laws can stop the blades of grass from growin’ as they growAnd when the leaves in summer-time their color dare not showThen I will change the color too I wear in my caubeenBut till that day, please God, I’ll stick to the Wearin’ o’ the Green. Rothbard Quote #16 For the libertarian, the most interesting and certainly the most poignant example of the creation of a State through conquest was the destruction of the libertarian society of ancient Ireland by England in the seventeenth century, a conquest which established an imperial State and ejected numerous Irish from their cherished land. The libertarian society of Ireland, which lasted for a thousand years—and which will be described further below—was able to resist English conquest for hundreds of years because of the absence of a State which could be conquered easily and then used by the conquerors to rule over the native population. … The most remarkable historical example of a society of libertarian law and courts, however, has been neglected by historians... continue reading

Imagination, Rothbard on Rulers, False Imagination

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other week, usually on 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. This March is the month in which I observe the completion of my third year of writing Finding the Challenges (FTC).  It is nearly incomprehensible to me the journey that I and those I love have taken in that time.  And I’m sure that each of you readers have had an equally astounding set of times and places — some of them, as Mark Twain might have said, actually true. The reason for that odd statement at the end of the above paragraph is that I will be covering imagination, awareness, philosophy, expansion of the consciousness, and adaptability in this column.Imagination — The Life of the Mind I’m thinking of the life of Robert Penn Warren, whose mind roamed the Universe.  Wonderfully for us, he brought much of that expansive view back to his nest and condensed it so artfully.  I see Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Jack London in much the same way. Warren found a workshop for his art,  wherever he hung his writer’s hat.  He could look out his window, seeing what there was to behold in the physical world, but he could look far beyond in the imaginary world where he saw a life and career of Huey P. Long and a fatal crisis for Floyd Collins and the Black Patch Wars of his birthplace. Although I do not claim the ability of Robert Penn Warren, I at least have vision into the imaginary world.  Imaginary and fictional are not synonyms. All fictions are imaginary, but all imaginations are not fictions.  I can sit in my nest, looking at the woods going down the hill and through the wintry trees to the snow covered hill beyond.  But I can also see the ponga forest near Whangerei Falls on the North Island of New Zealand, where we trod the boardwalks among the tops of the tree ferns.  I can see the sea cliffs of Molokai from a helicopter.  I can see the tomb of Charles Darwin in Westminster Abbey.  I can see what that hillside at home will look like when the dogwoods will bloom. Last spring, we visited Mark Twain’s estate in Hartford, Connecticut.  It was grand, sitting on a hill looking across the countryside, but it was meager compared to that which Samuel Langhorn Clemens saw from that apex.  His mind would impoverish any nesting place.  If he were resting on the shore of Marin, west of Tamalpais, overlooking the Farallons, he could, and would, see much farther than that. The mind never rests, but as the body rests, the mind expands throughout the foreign and domestic, the true and the could be true,... continue reading

Scalia and the Constitution, Rothbard #14, Arguing Labels

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other week, usually on 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. The groundhog didn’t see his shadow here in Central Kentucky.  How about where you are?  What establishes the rule, your locality or the specific locale, Punxatawney, PA?  Neither seems to me particularly rational, certainly not scientific.  Just think, the same MSM that dutifully reports on Punxatawney Phil each year is the one who keeps the drumbeat up on global warming.  Oh, well, it distracts them from reporting on the primaries momentarily. But enough for the trivial.  Let’s take a look at the Constitution of the USA, again, this time as observance of the passing of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Antonin Scalia, then we will see what Murray Rothbard has to say about the Supremes.  We will try to tie that up with a discussion of the logic fallacies of labeling.Scalia and the Constitution I have just finished listening to an excellent podcast of the Tom Woods Show, Episode 595, in which he discusses the historical impact of Antonin Scalia’s three decades, with guest, Kevin Gutzman.   They do such an excellent job of discussing the details, I commend their effort for your listening.  I will only write here of my general concerns with the Constitution and the Supremes, as illuminated by the Scalia story. As you likely know, I am a Spooner man.  Every time I think even momentarily about the Constitution (or “The Con,” as I more often refer to it), I am struck by what a dismal failure it has been.  Any accomplishments of this people in this land have been in spite of the Constitution, not by virtue of it.  The Constitution will be the undoing of the statist edifice founded here.  It tells me much that the drafters of the Declaration, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin, had no part to play in the formulation of the Constitution (Franklin signed but did not author any of the document).  What was it meant to protect, and what has it done in service to that objective? In any event, Scalia disdained the role of revision and reinterpretation by a majority of an unelected committee in medieval regalia.  He didn’t go far enough, never making the case as poignantly as Spooner that the Constitution could have no effect beyond the room full of people (a rapidly dwindling number of people by the time of signing) gathered in 1789. Scalia may have done yeoman service in terms of keeping down some of the excesses of SCOTUS.  Maybe he chose the old standby method of working from within the structure.  But it did not work.  In effect, nowadays, SCOTUS allows anything by any authoritarian force and nothing... continue reading

NVC, Unschooling Dads, The Fallacy of Violent Communication

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing, usually every other week 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, nonviolent communication, and self-ordering phenomena, pre-TSA world traveler, domestic traveler. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. One never stops learning.  Today, I learned again that whenever you take a malfunctioning something to a fix-it place, the thing will begin to work splendidly and will stubbornly refuse to repeat the malfunction.  The case in point was a gimpy smart phone, but this has wide applicability.  Sick pets will stage miraculous recuperation on the front step of the veterinary clinic.  Then there was a second thing I learned — the thing that behaved perfectly before the caregiver will suffer a dramatic relapse on the way home. And, as usual, I learned some new things about Voluntaryism in the past two weeks, which I will duly share with you today:  1) a new influence called “non-violent communication,” 2) a great new book from Skyler, as editor and publisher, entitled Unschooling Dads, and 3) a particularly toxic form of begged question, communication in the form of browbeating. Nonviolent Communication A few days ago, I was invited to join a Facebook Group,  wherein members sought to see the match between voluntaryism and nonviolent communication.  By way of introduction, we were asked to write a brief hello telling how we came to voluntaryism and to nonviolent communication.  As I considered this assignment, I realized that though I might be a good voluntaryist, I had very little skill at transferring my non-violent outlook to my ways of thinking, listening, talking, and writing.  Here is how I responded: I have always acted in a way to avoid violence, but culturally I have been influenced toward verbal aggression. In a family which was very competitive in professional pursuits, I was encouraged to be dominant in communications. I have had a lifelong struggle trying to turn my bent away from verbal aggression. I am getting much better now since I have discovered voluntaryism. I left out that I was also trained, in every venue, to respond, slavishly, to violent communication.  In order to have a quiet zone around me, I have become a wielder of a flame-throwing tongue.  In the days since, I have been amazed at how often I have carried on an internal monologue of things I should not say to my worst enemy — silent temper tantrums.  Even now, as I write, I am becoming overwrought, feeling buckling in the layers beneath the thin veneer of placidity that I show to others. Just this Tuesday, the (University of) Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball Team lost to a below-average Tennessee team, blowing a double-digit lead.  How many unkind words have I spoken in my imagination about that?  It is not going to be easy. I have discovered that it takes more than just a... continue reading

A is not B, Another Rothbard Quote, Unknown Processes

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 have not been resting on my laurels, such as they may be.  But I have been somewhat inconsistent, production-wise, over the turn of the calendar.  I don’t know whether I have been exceptionally busy or exceptionally delinquent.  In the end supposedly, it makes little difference. I am reminded of, and I will share, Walt Whitman’s observation, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”  This is one of my favorites, and it applies to consistency also.  In fact, my last column departed completely from my consistently chosen format, but I will return with this writing. Part 1 is about a logical construction that dawned on me while I was conducting a thinly veiled head-butting with a believer in “The Singularity,” wherein computers will supersede their human builders.  In Part 2, I will address some of the wisdom of Murray Rothbard.  And in Part 3, I will relate Part 1 to a more general logic fallacy, which fallacy causes us to misconstrue our own goals.A is not B I wrote recently on Facebook, if A is not B, then there is no process C which may convert A to B while still keeping A.  I referred to this also as the rule whereby one cannot have one’s cake and eat it too.  I could also call this the Alchemist‘s Lament, since at this writing there still had been no report of a magic process in which baser materials are converted to gold. Politicians live and die with this sleight of hand.  You can fool enough of the people enough of the time to have them believe that there is a free lunch.  Sleight of hand is a process.  If you can distract an honest person’s attention (it is easier with a dishonest person) long enough, you can fool them about what he has seen.  One of the greatest distractions is an otherwise hollow process.  A bogus process has the added strength of deepening the viewers doubt so that she will harden her attention, focusing to a fault on the wrong thing. The Singularity is a contrived process, usually described as the point of no return.  If your rocket ship gets close enough to a black hole, your ship’s power plant cannot overcome the gravitational pull of the black hole.  Why, you ask, would one take one’s rocket ship that close?  But some futurists (perhaps people who have reached the point of no return with trying to figure out the past and present) contend that we humans are deliberately flirting with a Singularity of our own device. It is quite popular to pretend that the... continue reading