Tag Archives: authority

How To Find Great Stuff To Read On The Internet

Most intellectuals, writers and journalists are mediocre. But this doesn’t bother me much. There is a lot of good stuff to read out there on the internet. If you are an intelligent teenager or young adult—or even a full-grown man who disagrees—where should you begin?

Thomas Szasz’ work against psychiatry is great, and I’ve been reading much of his work over the past few weeks. Yesterday, I saw a report on how psychiatrists try to cure people of homosexuality in some bogus country. What people do not know is that Homosexuality and masturbation—and even reading books or being runaway slaves—were seen as mental illness not long ago, by all smarties. Thomas Szasz’ arguments against the concept of mental illness are the best I’ve ever read.

Less Wrong is a community blog which makes you really think.

Satoshi Kanazawa was fired from Psychology Today for saying black women are not very attractive. I am not surprised that much of the prose in Psychology Today is very mediocre.

It’s good to start with this paper on how geniuses become less productive when they age. Continue reading

An Interesting Conversation

You have no fear for me. It is a game.

She: I don’t feel fear in human interactions. I have trained myself to convert fear  into action when I sense it.

Me: Do not be fooled by what I say.  I convert fear into action too. My butterflies are unpleasant only when they inspire fear. I think you know one such person.

She:  I know whom?

Me: Your guess is as good as that of mine.

She: You have no fear for me. You conjure it up only because you enjoy it. It is a game.

Me: Why do you say that I do not fear you? Look, you are quite perceptive, unlike your friend Miss X.

She: Lol. She ain’t my friend. And I have experience on my side.  Continue reading

The Anatomy Of Greatness

Robert Greene understands people really well.

“Robert Greene thinks intelligence is the most sensitive trigger point for envy. A sensible man would regard this “insight” somewhat suspiciously, because intelligence is also his greatest strength. But Mr Greene can say in his defence that he understands people really well. When he writes about the faults and foibles of little people, he does it with the authority of the highest level of scholarship. His erudition would put most academics to shame.”

“As much as he understands people, Mr Greene ignores some elementary facts of human nature. He claims that talent is not inborn, nor it is a product of privilege. But one is confronted by an embarrassing fact: “Success often runs in families.” This cannot be explained away by the claim that talent is a matter of practice or will. Unfortunately for Mr Greene, you cannot have it both ways. Geneticists had long established that many of our differences are innate. Perseverance cannot explain why Steve Jobs thought that his products were a fusion of scientific and liberal arts thinking, and why a designer I once worked with could not spell “Cleopatra”.”

“Another important truth is that most people are conformists. They do not want to achieve mastery by breaking free from all precedents and traditions. Even when they convince themselves that they are being rebellious, they are just replacing one form of conformism with another. There are perhaps people who attempt to go against the tide, but when push comes to shove, they will be back to where they were. Our society punishes non-conformism, and this is beyond reform because conformism is essential for a division-of-labour society. But it is possible that that introspection failed Mr Greene. Before he wrote his vastly popular books on power and strategy, Robert Greene had 80 different jobs. In the longest job he ever had, he lasted 10 months.”

Read my review of Robert Greene’s Mastery in Business Standard

The Hobbesian Myth

Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679)

While most political theorists consider Thomas Hobbes as a political individualist, the most popular argument against individualism in politics is still the Hobbesian notion that in the absence of the state, life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. Hobbes’ only disagreement with political sovereignty was that people should be allowed as much as a right to disobey the orders of the king when their life is under threat. Almost everyone has accepted the Hobbesian myth lock, stock and barrel though valid arguments for this seemingly obvious tenet never quite seem to emerge. There is no opponent of anarchy whose central argument eventually does not boil down to the “sophisticated” notion that without a monopoly of force, we will all be at each other’s throat.

Was Hobbes Right?

What if Hobbes was wrong through and through? The structure of rationalizations against market anarchy would crumble, with political authoritarians left with nothing but rubble. Libertarian anarchists think that Hobbes’ social contract theory is discredited by theory and experience. Human history is full of instances in which men found far more efficient, non-governmental ways to settle their disagreements. Continue reading

The Evils Of Taxation

“Throughout men’s history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, whose names changed, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, and deprived of honor. Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers—as industrialists.”-Ayn Rand.

Thousands of years back, when Rehoboam’s main tax collector Hadoram set out to collect his revenues, Israelites met him with all their might. Stones were thrown upon him that he had to die. History tells us that power and authority were always opposed when first imposed, though the opposition did wear off in course of time. How do we fare up with the ancient Israelites? When did we learn to praise the power hungry as ‘aristocrats of the bureau’? When did our perceptions get so muddled, mind so feeble and soul utterly devoid of self-respect that a biblical story is needed to remind us of our folly?

Wealth is goods made by man.Wealth,as such doesn’t exist simply on earth.It doesn’t simply grow on trees.It is not absorbed from the atmosphere.Wealth ought to be produced,and it is produced by individuals.It is man who creates the character of goods as wealth.What is produced by individuals rightly belong to them.No body else can have a rightful claim on it.To say that someone other than the producer can have a claim on wealth would mean that it belongs to the person who hasn’t produced it,but not to the producer.Nothing can be more ridiculous than such a claim.

If wealth produced by a person belongs to him,it should be obvious that taxation is robbery. Taking the produce of another person is definitely robbery .I don’t think I have to point out that robbery is evil and immoral. What is shocking is that most people don’t see taxation for what it is. They fail to realize that to tax is to rob. Of all the nonsensical notions held by man,the most ridiculous is that taxation is voluntary. If taxation is voluntary,why is it conducted at the point of a gun? Is it possible for a person to evade taxes? If it is not possible for one to evade it, then by what code of logic is it voluntary?

People are so used to the practice of taxation that they are unable to think of a world without it. They are unable to think logically and realize how monstrous it is to rob Peter to pay Paul. When it is pointed out that taxation is robbery,statists argue that we get goods and services in return for the taxes that we pay. They totally miss the point. Why not let the people keep their money and have them spend it on whatever goods and services they consider necessary? Why forcefully extort money from them? Is it possible for the government to provide services to people according to their contribution of tax money? If it is possible to do so,what is the whole point of it?

Implicit in the notion of taxation is the belief that wealth should be redistributed. Taxation redistributes wealth in a reckless fashion.
Most people are of the opinion that wealth should be distributed fairly so that the poor would be taken of. There are several problems with this notion. No matter what ones need is,a person doesn’t have a rightful claim to the wealth produced by another person. Even if a person is poor and starving,he doesn’t have a right to another person’s wealth. The notion of redistribution as a fair practice takes wealth as a given. They naively believe that wealth would be produced no matter what policy the government adopts. They fail to realize that taxation reduces the incentives for both the producer and parasite to produce. Why should a person work if sustainability is guaranteed to him? Why should he educate his child at his expense if education is provided free of cost? Why should he pay for health care if it is free for all. While it is true that all do not depend on government for these services, it should be taken in account that a vast majority of people become parasites given a chance.The fact that most of the children study in government funded schools and most avail “free” health care is enough evidence to justify this conclusion. Consider the case of education.Most children are forced to go to government funded schools as their parents are taxed to fund it.The same goes for health care and other services.

Another fallacy regarding taxation is the the money taxed out of the private industry is spent on the public sector. However,the government doesn’t spend the money just as the tax payer would have spent it. If government spends just as the tax payer would have spent it,it would have no excuse to step in and tax. It is also said that there should be some government investment to stimulate growth,to reach a particular level of growth, especially in the case of underdeveloped countries. Nothing can be more ridiculous than that. Government spending is consumption and not investment. Investment is done to serve the ultimate consumers and not the investor himself. In the case of government spending,money is spent in a manner which makes government bureaucrats and politicians happy. It is consumption,pure and simple.

It is also held that taxation helps the poor.Behind this belief is the notion that people would keep on producing wealth no matter what government does to their wealth. When government taxes around 40% of the income of individuals,businessmen would not be able to expand production. It reduces incentives to take risks. Would anyone take a lottery if he has to divide the prize among those who hadn’t paid for it? Taxation also reduces the wage rates received. Wages are dependent on productivity of labor,which in turn depends on the capital invested. It is taxation which tampers with capital accumulation and reduces the lives of the vast majority of the population to poverty.