Ron Paul is coming to UC Berkeley. Yes, you heard it, free speech is still alive and well at Berkeley, and just to prove it Students for Liberty and Youth For Ron Paul are hosting the best potential presidential candidate at an event which is free and open to the public in the prime campus venue Zellerbach Auditorium.
But, some of you may be asking yourselves or others, why should you spend your time listening to what he has to say on Thursday? Well, I’ll tell you why in three simple explanations that relate to issues that every American has been concerned with in recent history:
Ron Paul supports Internet Freedom, and a majority of Americans would agree with him. Good luck convincing Obama or Romney of why Internet freedom is important to you, much less obtaining a promise that they will protect your right to it. You almost certainly would not be reading this blog right now if it were not for that freedom.
Ron Paul is in favor of the right to choose what healthcare you purchase. The healthcare legislation and its mandate dubbed “Obamacare” by both Republicans and now many Democrats is being challenged in the Supreme Court. You will get to hear Paul’s perspective on why all Americans deserve the right to choose to purchase what healthcare they want or none at all.
Ron Paul is against the wars that both Democratic and Republican presidents have continued to support for the past 12 years. Needless to say he takes a much stronger opinion on this, and draws more veteran supporters than any other presidential candidate. All I am saying is Give Peace a Chance.
I have said my two cents for why it is important to attend Paul’s speech Thursday and listen to a man who supports the freedoms that have been achieved by countless generations of Americans. Come and join the discussion, and see why Ron Paul really can follow through with his campaign promise to Restore America Now.
I have excellent news; you can revise upwards your belief of the health benefits of saturated fats. Saturated fats are good for you and make you happy. The American government and a few others have been feeding you bunk science for over 50 years. Check out the informative and lo-fi documentary Fat Head and see for yourself.
You can watch the whole thing at Hulu.com (what Great Stagnation?).
The FDA is going to hold a public meeting on whether they should make it illegal for you to access your genetic blueprints without a medical reason. They are asking for comments from everyone: the public, academia, genetic testing companies, etc. Why don’t you tell them what you think? The link is at the bottom of the article below.
I found this video just before going to sleep last night on one of my favorite new blogs: ideasmatter.typepad.com. The blog is edited by Max Borders, who scans the web for cool, short videos that typically emphasize the relationship between freedom and human dignity. Borders is definitely a practitioner of what Deirdre McCloskey calls “humanomics.”
One of the most appealing aspects of a decentralized political economy is the elegance of the spontaneous manner in which individual actors order themselves. Self-ordering systems, however, have more often been a subject of study for biologists than economists and social scientists. The basic unit for the biologist is the cell in the same way that the basic unit for the economist is the individual. Cells do not divide and arrange themselves at the command of a central planner, but organize themselves. Why can’t humans do the same? The tricky question for economists is determining when intentional planning is superior to a laissez-faire approach. This is also the question that F.A. Hayek addresses in my all-time favorite book, The Fatal Conceit. Hayek argues that planning has to be done at some level (i.e., the family), but that the efficiency of the outcomes depends on who does the planning. Individuals and firms possess local knowledge which helps them determine how they can profit from satisfying the most urgent needs. The larger the institution gets, the harder it gets to utilize such knowledge. Governments, for example, must rely on inferior statistical data (what Hayek called “information”) to infer what ought to be done.
The video also tells how Alan Turing published a mathematical explanation of the biological process known as morphogenesis, or cellular differentiation. The idea that biological and economic processes are underpinned by simple mathematical relationships has profound implications. I recently quoted the great Albert Jay Nock on the topic of the “economic fundamental.” Nock argues that basic principles of economics should not be discounted because of their simplicity–after all, Newton’s laws of motion are underpinned with similarly simple mathematical relationships.
Every once in a while, I encounter a news story that epitomizes government failure and reprehensibility to a degree that I forgot existed outside of North Korea and Cuba. Last week, I claimed that the USDA is poisoning American citizens. The situation turns out to be MUCH worse than I initially thought.
This article from the New York Times (hardly a bastion of libertarian thought) highlights the numerous contradictions implicit in the USDA’s policies. It’s well known that obesity and related heart diseases are the leading causes of death in the United States. Sadly, 616,067 Americans died in the most recent year for which data is available, yet the USDA continues to subsidize and promote some of the most harmful foods. In particular, one branch of the USDA has been promoting cheese consumption despite the high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat. There are too many unbelievable quotes from the Times article to repost them all here, but here are a few that really got my blood boiling:
“…Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture — the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting… the government, through Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans’ diets, primarily through cheese.”
“Dairy Management, whose annual budget approaches $140 million, is largely financed by a government-mandated fee on the dairy industry.”
“In one instance, Dairy Management spent millions of dollars on research to support a national advertising campaign promoting the notion that people could lose weight by consuming more dairy products, records and interviews show. The campaign went on for four years, ending in 2007, even though other researchers — one paid by Dairy Management itself — found no such weight-loss benefits.”
“The department issued nutritional hints in a brochure titled “Steps To A Healthier You!” It instructs pizza lovers: “Ask for whole wheat crust and half the cheese” — even as Dairy Management has worked with pizza chains like Domino’s to increase cheese.”
So let me get this straight: The government is taxing cheese suppliers and using the money to fund biased studies in order to promote unhealthy products to a wider number of Americans, while simultaneously warning them about the dangers of eating too much cheese? It’s unclear who exactly is supposed to benefit from these policies. Oh wait, the executive of Dairy Management, Thomas P. Gallagher, gets paid nearly 2/3 of $1,000,000. Continue reading →
As you’ve probably noticed, the world consists of large central governments and not libertarian societies. What’s the major implication? Human liberty is the exception, not the norm.
In Richard Dawkins’ classic book on evolution, he offers a framework to understand things’ existence:
Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ is really a special case of a more general law of survival of the stable. The universe is populated by stable things…The things that we see around us, and which we think of as needing explanation – rocks, galaxies, ocean waves- are all, to a greater or lesser extent, stable patterns of atoms. - Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, page 12
Stability is value neutral. I’ve compiled a short list of things that are stable and on net, the benefits aren’t worth the costs:
when bad things happen to good people
Most people would choose a society that didn’t contain the elements of my list. Most people would also choose a libertarian society if they could estimate its outcomes more accurately.
But if libertarianism is so great, why is it unstable? Why are people so averse?
I think its because people have socio-biological biases in favor of nationalism and against the market. Humans evolved in tribes where explicit coordination was more valuable than implicit coordination (H/T: Walter Block). There was no market back in the day. There were no such things as firms. You had a tribe and developed your natural intuition under that situation. And your natural intuition helps you understand your immediate surroundings, but your natural intuition fails to help you understand the numerous and complex interactions of a modern economy.
Others and I would like to live within a modern libertarian society, and there’s a real possibility we can have it in our lifetimes. As technology advances, we’ll homestead the sea, and eventually space. “America is too great for small dreams.“
Art De Vany, founder of Evolutionary Fitness. Age 72.
According to Wikipedia, the USDA is “responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food.” In reality, this translates to buying surplus food from U.S. farms in order to subsidize a special interest. What becomes of the surplus grains and meat? Much of it ends up in our public school cafeterias; USA today reports that the meat served in school cafeterias does not meet the privately-set standards of most fast-food restaurants. Additionally, in order to “meet the needs of farmers and ranchers,” the USDA encourages consumption of grains, both whole-wheat and refined, in excess of what I believe to be healthy. In fact, I would go as far to say that the USDA is poisoning you.
As a recent convert to a lifestyle known as “evolutionary fitness,” I have become aware of the damage that a heavily carb-based diet causes the human body. Scientist Jared Diamond has called the agricultural transition “the worst mistake in the history of the human race.” Carbohydrate intake leads to insulin-resistance which has all sorts of harmful health effects. If you are curious about the specific mechanisms by which this occurs, check out Arthur De Vany’s website on evolutionary fitness. The basic theory is that humans evolved over the course of millions of years, and the major lifestyle changes of the last 10,000 years due to the agricultural and industrial revolutions have contributed to the leading “epidemics” such as diabetes and obesity. We are “as if ” designed to be meat- and vegetable-eating hunter-gatherers, not sedentary pie-eating wussies. I’m not suggesting that you go out and kill a gazelle for dinner, but you should definitely stay away from the middle aisles of the grocery store. And don’t jog. It’s not fun and it’s bad for you.
Remember this chart? The USDA has updated it slightly in the last few years, but it is amazing that they were giving such unscientific information on nutrition for so long. What other information do we depend on the government for? Why do we allow the government to educate children?
I find the ideas of free-market economics and evolutionary fitness to be highly compatible. Both deal with highly complex adaptive systems which are frequently distorted by top-down, one-size-fits-all dictums like “eat 6-11 servings of grains,” “measure calories burned,” and “make sure everyone gets a good education!”
Smooth functioning of a complex system requires that individuals have room to experiment. Profits encouraging risk-taking and losses encouraging prudence. Don’t change your diet all at once, but look into this novel and scientific approach to fitness!