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Thamsanqa Jantjie has admitted gesticulating gobbledigook instead of translating the Mandela speeches for deaf people. Two thoughts arise:
 
1. How come nobody noticed for two or three days?
2. Perhaps he wasn't really mistranslating. What else do Pols speak?
 
 

Danish Pastries

Mandela Worship?

Government is a myth, a religion of sorts; having no rational basis for existence whatever, it functions as a matter of faith, and in the teeth of abundant and ever increasing evidence that it is a disaster for the human race.
 
So it has heroes and saints, such as are memorialized by statues in and near the National Mall. Worldwide, it has a kind of canonization procedure for heroes of any nation; and this week we have witnessed just such a fest.
 
Nobody said anything negative about Mandela. That itself is highly suspicious. Where was the advocatus diaboli? Was there nothing wrong with this man?
 
There's plenty to admire, in what he endured and did; most notably, that after release he encouraged his fellow South Africans not to take revenge. But... this article shows him to have been a long-term Communist. Oops!

The Story of the Story of the Year

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It's lengthy, but totally enthralling: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/snowden-and-greenwald-the-men-...
 
If you have half an hour, this is the best way to spend it.

Bitcoins and Deflation

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One aspect of Bitcoins I've not gotten my mind around yet is this: suppose when the market is free to choose what form of money it will use, it picks BTC predominantly. Suppose also that all 21M have been mined.
 
As suggested in Gold, Paper and Bits, that will mean that as productivity rises (I'd guess, by at least 5%, maybe 10%) prices will fall at the same rate, being denominated in BTC. That's called deflation and is unfamiliar to us.
 
When inflation prevails, it makes sense to buy stuff - to get rid of the currency before it loses value. But when the opposite takes place, would it not tend to motivate not buying stuff; to hang on to one's money for as long as one can so as to take advantage of its rising purchasing power?
 
If so, how does that affect the performance of the market? Perhaps it would slow growth down, and thereby remove the motivation. But that would mean BTC imposes a limit on growth, and that doesn't smell well.
 
Any ideas?
 

Bitcoins Upset Gary North

Today Dr North has added another critique of Bitcoins, and I get the impression steam is spurting from his ears. That's a shame, for he quite often writes well. Here's his latest offering.
 
He's right. A mixed system (private money, government-run institutions) won't work. So long as government monopolizes the kind of money that can buy real stuff, and as long as it adjudicates disputes, private money like Bitcoin can't stay private for long.
 
So obviously, one of them has to go: private money, or government. North completely fails to pick the latter. So either he doesn't want a zero government society (ie, he's a minarchist) or else he doesn't know how to get one.

Rothbard on Truman

- written 1973 in the Complete Libertarian Forum Vol IV #11. Wow!
 
 
In paying tribute to [the recently deceased] Harry Truman with the utmost sycophancy, the media are celebrating the present and seemingly permanent status quo. It is in this light, too, that we must consider the fulsome tribute paid to Truman by his one-time supposed “enemy”, Richard Nixon.

In point of fact, there was scarcely a single act committed by President Truman that was not the quintessence of evil; the Truman administration was an unmitigated disaster for freedom, both at home and abroad. It was Harry Truman who launched and then institutionalized the Cold War; it was Harry Truman who fastened the military-industrial complex and the garrison state upon America. It was Harry Truman who institutionalized government budgets that were gigantic by any peacetime criteria in the history of the country. It was Truman who carved out the policy of permanent counter-revolutionary suppression of radical movements in the Third World: from Greece to Iran to the Middle East. It was Truman who put America permanently in Asia as the world “policeman” by his unconstitutional act of entering the Korean civil conflict. It was Truman who, in short, first boldly took us into war without so much as requesting a declaration of war from Congress (in Korea), and thereby cemented the absolute despotism of the Chief Executive in foreign affairs in an act far beyond anything which Franklin Roosevelt had ever contemplated. It was Truman who induced the United Nations to seize Arab lands on behalf of the new state of Israel.

It was Truman, furthermore, who took us in a giant leap toward domestic collectivism and bureaucratic socialism, with his Fair Deal program, a program that later bore fruit in federal aid to education, Medicare, and compulsory integration. It was Truman who instituted price and wage controls during the Korean conflict, and whose “state of emergency” has continued ever since, to account for a raft of domestic despotism. It was Truman, moreover, who severely repressed civil liberties with his loyalty and security programs; not Joe McCarthy but Harry Truman was the real and effective opponent of civil liberties during the late 1940’ s and early fifties. Consider the unfortunate hacks whom Truman appointed to the Supreme Court: every one a defender of government prerogatives in every area as against the liberty of the individual. Look around at the Truman record, and there is scarcely a single area that one can observe without indignation; his administration was truly a cornucopia of horrors.

Last but not least, there was the Truman act of mass murder of innocent civilians at Hiroshima, compounded by Nagasaki. His decision to drop the atomic bomb for the first and let us hope the last times, was done for “reasons of State” as a counter in the emerging Cold War. Not only was it totally unnecessary as a measure to defeat Japan, but what is more Truman knew full well that it was unnecessary. In the long and bloody record of shame in American foreign policy, there is no single act of degradation that can compare with this.

In face of the ghastly Truman record, we cannot remain silent in obedience to the polite canon that one must not speak ill of the dead. If we cannot speak ill of the dead, where is the justice that only the historian can bring to the record of the past? The great classical liberal historian Lord Acton once wrote that the muse of the historian must not be Clio, as blood. And in the case of Harry S. Truman, there is O so much blood to avenge.

Roots of the LP

28% of the way through the Kindle edition of the Complete Libertarian Forum, at Location 20034, there is a segment entitled "Hospers On Crime And The FBI." It is most revealing.

It tells of how in 1972 the "Friends of the FBI" posed a questionnaire to the candidates for US President, and the segment compares answers from the first-ever LP candidate (John Hospers), Dr Benjamin Spock of the People's Party, and Linda Jenness of the Socialist Workers Party.

Editor Murray Rothbard summarizes: "on the eight separable questions above, Dr. Spock gave the best libertarian answer or tied for the best five times, Linda Jenness three times, and John Hospers three times."

One example may suffice. Question: "What is your attitude toward court-authorized electronic surveillance? Answers: Spock: Dangerous and impermissible in a democracy because it will always be easily abused for political purposes. Jenness: Any use of electronic surveillance, whether court authorized or not, is a violation of every person’s basic right to privacy. It is furthermore clearly in violation of the Constitution of the United States. Hospers: Courts should be very careful as to what surveillance they authorize, so as not to violate the individual’s right of privacy.

Yuck.

Read the others for yourself, I think you'll agree. Three out of eight!

I had no idea, but it appears the LP did not have a very principled start, any more than it has had a principled position in more recent years. I can point to several very fine candidates, such as Bergland and Browne, but this exposure of John Hospers shows the record to be patchy at best.

Surveillance Made Simple

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If anyone still doesn't understand why NSA's spying is a bad thing, http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/nov/26/nsa-gchq-surveillance... may help.

T-Day

Every Thanksgiving, the Wall Street Journal gives over its Editorial space to an essay called And the Fair Land. I expect it will be seen again this Thursday.
 
T-Day actually has a rather disreputable history. Allegedly the Plymouth Colony pilgrims celebrated their first harvest and invited their native American neighbors to share the feast, and so they may have; but the first was a thin feast and in later years native Americans were made subject to systematic government genocide.
 
Harvests dramatically improved after 1623, when the communist structure of the settlement gave way to the private ownership of land. Even Governor Bradford had to admit that “This had very good success”.
 
The designation of the annual, National holiday was fixed by Abraham Lincoln, who in the middle of his war to prevent secession declared in 1863 "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens". Hypocrisy seems to know no limit, and I wonder how far the victims of his army's savagery shared his pretended piety.
 
We shall know that the Government Era is over when the WSJ, or its successor, scraps that romantic editorial and substitutes Murray Rothbard's What really Happened at Plymouth.
 

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