Thursday, 24 August 2017

Will Bitcoin save us from tomorrow (and John McAfee's dick)?

I got into trading crypto currency, such as Bitcoin, early in July out of curiosity and to flex my libertarian muscles and maybe pick up some anarcho-capitalist street cred along the way. I bought a couple of grands worth of coins then sat back to watch with interest as the whole market fell about 40 % in 48 hours. Luckily, we libertarians are made of the sterner stuff as laissez-faire capitalism requires a certain amount of sangfroid.

The price of a Bitcoin was down to US$1900 and market confidence was at an all time low. When the price started to climb eccentric cyber-security millionaire and staunch libertarian John McAfee tweeted that if Bitcoin didn't go to $300,000 in three years he would “eat his own dick on national television.”

Meanwhile, I was busy getting my shirt back without losing my pants in the process - thrashing about like a noob and down to my socks and underwear until the steady upward march of Japanese coin called NEM got me back in the black at the end of August - just in time for the Bitcoin Fork.

Bitcoin soared to a record high just short of $5000 US dollars and Bitcoin investors were given a free bonus coin called Bitcoin Cash which settled at $300 apiece. Had I traded my NEMs for Bitcoin I would have doubled my money in a few days. Then the good ship NEM started to sink and I was getting a little hot and bothered, so I called it a day, cashing out of the market and back into my life.

So as much as I would love to tell you a greed-is-good story of my triumph over the crypto markets - it is instead one of survival on the harsh and unforgiving anarcho-capitalist frontier. But I was there - I saw the First Bitcoin Crash, the Bitcoin Fork, the Second Bitcoin Boom. I saw alt-coins glittering in the darkness by the Poloniex Exchange.

And all the while I thought about Mr McAfee's dick.

We know how a Bitcoin went from $4 to $4400 in 8 years - it was through a process known as hodling. Investors bought 'em cheap and hodled 'em close. As the price went up they bought some more and hodled them through the good times and bad. These brave hodlers became the Bitcoin billionares - they get to fly on Space X and marry Miranda Kerr.

So how might a Bitcoin get from $4000 to $300,000 and save us from watching an old man perform such an obscene and intricate task three years from now?

Well, because of supply and demand.

Because Koreans love cryptos. They are buying up all the coins in the world and driving the second Bitcoin boom. While Americans are selling off their Bitcoins to realise some profit the Koreans are buying them up like there is no tomorrow.

Because cryptos, like gold, are a hedge against tomorrow, against the prospect of war and the chaos and expense of a re-unified Korean Peninsula. And since there is no end in sight to their 70 year old cold war they will continue to invest and the market will continue to grow and the price of a Bitcoin price will go up and up and up.

Imagine fleeing a war zone with only what you can carry. Your cash is worthless your valuables can be stolen - but you carry in your head a password to a crypto wallet. Open a bank account in any country you find yourself in then access the internet and you have funds. You may even be pleasantly surprised to find your funds have grown by several hundred percent. 65 million such people are permanently or temporarily displaced on this planet.

Because the Chinese are very keen on cryptos too. They too feel the heat from their Korean neighbours and uncertainty about the health of their economy. But more importantly they love making a profit even a small one. If I make a hundred dollars profit in a week it's nothing to me – but to a salaryman in Hubei that's a huge win. He can throw a party for all his friends and family in his favourite restaurant and bask in the glory of his good fortune. There are 1.5 billion such people in China and the one child policy is no-more.

And because it is all a game. The trading coins in the crypto market is an exciting global online computer game that you can play anywhere and anytime with only a smartphone. If you are good at it you are rewarded with dollars and you don't need to know anything about finance to play. There are 2.5 billion computer gamers in the world and a billion of them are in Asia. How many of them aspire to playing games for a living? Much has been said about the re-distribution of wealth through the gamification of work in our post-industrial future. I say it's happening already – but due to the stealthy nature of crypto you just can't see it.

Because the informal economy, not just the worldwide black market but the entire untaxed, unlicensed, and unregulated cash economy is worth an estimated 10 trillion dollars and rising. Imagine if all it needs is an unregulated, untraceable, untaxable currency for it to surpass it's only serious rival - the US economy. Well folks, it's here and it's happening.

When cryptos become a serious threat to the stability of conventional markets governments worldwide will try to regulate the crypto market or shut it down entirely a la the War on Drugs. Important to this is that not all cryptos are decentralised. Coins such as Ethereum, NEM and NEO are corporate products that reside on servers in Switzerland, Japan and China respectively. All can be shut down overnight leaving the value of the coins left standing like Bitcoin, Monero and Dash to rocket to the moon.

And because fiat currencies (the stuff in your wallet and bank account) do collapse. You buy stuff in Zimbabwe with US dollars and get your change in rand, yuan or cannabis if you are lucky enough to have cash at all. The Venezuelan economy is kaput and their fiat is literally worth less than toilet paper. Which currency do the think the 31 million locals will favour, the soaring Bitcoin or the worthless bolivar?

Most importantly because the blockchain, the technology which makes these coins, works. The crypto market is worth about US$145 billion dollars and grows by at least a billion dollars each day as God only knows how many millions of users furiously trade more than 850 coins 24 hours a day across 66 exchanges. The networks have handled everything that has been thrown at them and just kept humming along for the last 8 years. Conventional markets also are booming as confidence in the technology that gives access to those markets drives investment from people like you and me, and that guy in Hubei.

And finally, and this pertains to you my friends, because of the prohibitive cost of housing in cities all over the world. You are about to retire and enjoy the life of a grey nomad but you have three daughters about whom you worry will rent for the rest of their lives. You cannot buy them each a house so they will need money – lots more money than you will will ever have. So before you pack the Winnebago you invest $13,000 and buy them a Bitcoin each – a hedge against tomorrow. And if in 2020 they have not $900,000 between them, well – you all can console yourselves watching John McAfee eat more than just his words.

Remember U R Free - to check out Free to Change your Mind on Facebook. You are free to like, share, follow or disregard it completely. Whatever makes you happy.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Elon Musk just gets bigger and bigger

Recently billionaire businessman Elon Musk confirmed his plans to build the world's largest battery in South Australia within 100 days. Today Mr Musk also revealed his plans to end worldwide hunger in just 30 days by making the world's biggest peanut butter sandwich to feed the hundreds of millions of starving poor.

We started out with a plan to build a giant BLT, but well you know those Muslims and hipsters are picky. Some of the team were pushing for an organic kale and mushroom pinenut pesto kinda deal but well - it was fuckin' disgusting. Our people finally settled on peanut butter - but on wholemeal 'cause like you know what happened to Elvis”.

Mr Musk also revealed his plan to end homeless today – the erection of the world's biggest yurt. Measuring 1.2 billion square metres the giant Mongolian tent would provide shelter for the entire worlds homeless population and even their pets. South Australia has been chosen as the perfect site to erect the yurt as it is mostly wide open desert and most of the population have fled, unable to pay their power bills.

We chose the yurt design because as the climate changes the homeless will be able to pick it up and move it away from floods or droughts or mutants or whatever. And if it's good enough for Ghengis Khan its good enough for me.”

Elon's original proposal was to move the homeless to Mars on Space-X but “they didn't want to go somewhere bleaker than Adelaide, but indicated they would take Mars over Melbourne any day of the week”.

However Mr Musk's eye is always on the future with plans to integrate the giant yurt with his new weapon to combat global warming – the world's biggest air-conditioner.
The problem with air-cons as a global cooling solution is that while they push cold air out the front of the device, hot air comes out the back. I wanted to ship the hot air to Mars to shut the homeless up but that would need a balloon the size of Ganymede and well that's just fuckin' silly. The team was about to give up when I said hey - lets just point the front end at the desert and set up the yurt at the back! No more desert, no more freezing, whinging homeless hipsters”.

It is that forward integration of complex systems and clarity of vision that has made me the billionaire I am today. Just today I solved the how do-we-toast-the-giant-sandwich problem without building the world's biggest toaster and another fuck-off huge battery to run the thing. Get this – you put the sandwich under the Space-X rocket before the Mars launch! Ok so it's only toasted on one side but what the fuck dude – it's my nickel.”

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill welcomed everything Musk had to say as he was very keen to build something in South Australia – even a tent. However as the 100 day deadline looms, he did admit to nerves regarding the giant battery as his state currently “doesn't generate enough power to charge my iPhone”.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young tweeted “Happy now Elaine Musk is saving the world – so sick of rich white men telling us what to do!!”

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Trust not the horse, O Trojans.

In Australia lawmaking has become a political act viewed from a partisan Left vs Right perspective. If a Labor politician proposes a bill it is immediately opposed by those on the Right, and vice versa, regardless of its merits. If the Greens propose a bill there is laughter from both sides. If a cross-bencher propose one then it must be time for lunch.

My libertarian starting point is to oppose the making of a new law because it is a new law.  As each law takes away the freedom of Australian citizens it should be treated with utmost scepticism. The merits of the law must pass my free and fair test. Only then can we begin to debate whether the law is necessary, whether it will be effective, whether it can be enforced, how much enforcing it will cost the taxpayer and whether it is something useful to all citizens rather than just the political tribe of whoever is proposing it.

My libertarianism is a healthy scepticism of lawmaking as the solution to society's evils. As society and technology progresses there will be new laws made and changes to the old ones. But we should not automatically give away our freedoms to enhance the prestige of our tribal leaders and those they owe favours to. Nor should they be used as a weapon against their political opponents or segments of society against which they hold some prejudice.

Some laws are just plain evil as discussed in my last post. Some are ineffectual wastes of our hard earned money. Some laws act as Trojan horses – they are gifted to us for a benign purpose but will kick us in the teeth if we don't pay attention.

One is the Major Sporting Events Act which currently gives the Victorian Police the power to search without giving a reason anyone at and around venues such as stadiums and racetracks.

Designed to eliminate potential terrorist threats at major events, the Act allows police to search you inside or outside the venue – if you refuse they can kick you out or stop you from going in. Refusing their directions will cost you $3000. They can also demand to see your ID and fine you $750 if you don't comply.

Which might all seems well and good if it will help keep some mad bastard from blowing up the Melbourne Cup or the AFL Grand Final.


Victoria's police now want to broaden the scope of this Act to include dance festivals - so that they can surround the event, search young folks for drugs and bar, eject and fine those who do not comply. In other words – so they can shut the damn doofs down.

A classic Trojan horse scenario - a law is passed to combat terrorists but concealed inside it is the means to criminalise our young people for doing what young people do for fun these days.

And while Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville claims that the proposal is all about reducing harm at festivals, if they were serious about harm reduction they would listen to the professionals and allow pill testing which has proven to be effective all over the world.

And where on from there? Well if you can extend the law to reach from the Melbourne Cricket Ground to a bush doof in Lexton, then it is on to the city nightlife precincts where since April the police have increased their use of sniffer dogs in and around Melbourne nightclubs under Operation Safenight.

So aggressive are the police that the High Alert campaign was formed in response to Operation Safenight by a group of concerned harm reduction advocates, health professional and legal practitioners including Nevena Spirovska, a former campaign manager for the Australian Sex Party.
So aggressive that just yesterday a man and a woman were shot by police at a 'Saints and Sinners Ball' inside a Melbourne nightclub following a report that the man was armed with a gun. But as you might expect to find at at fancy-dress party on a guy dressed as The Joker – the pistol was a toy. Not a safe night for him or his girlfriend.

If the Anti-Terrorist / Anti-Fun / Super Safety Squad are successful then it won't be long before similar legislation appears in other States.

Then who knows how far the long arm of the law will stretch to keep us safe from ourselves? Perhaps to Melbourne Cup Day at your local pub, to the Australia Day bash at the end of your street, and to your kid's 18th birthday party at your house.

Be it what it may, I fear the Grecians even when they offer gifts.

Remember you are free.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Freedom for speech, the press, truck drivers and porn

Without a bill of rights to protect us Australians are vulnerable to the tyranny of politicians who make our laws. Though as our country is a healthy democracy with low levels of corruption, we tend to trust that our government will make laws that will not unnecessarily take away our freedom and if they try, we can vote them out.

And tyranny, really? Do we really need this eternal vigilance against an oppressive regime – this isn't bloody North Korea. But in recent times there have been serious assaults on our freedom in this country and while you may have forgotten them, I have not. And I don't mean by Human Rights Commissioners or social justice warriors but by elected politicians.

Back in 2007 the Rudd Labour government tried to censor the internet in the same way the Democratic Republic of North Korea does by blacklisting websites they considered offensive. Costing upwards of $60 million of taxpayer's money, the secret blacklist of banned websites was initially proposed to counter child pornography and benignly described as a 'filter' by then Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who later admitted that it would also target “other unwanted content”.

As the US State Department was mounting a diplomatic assault on internet censorship worldwide, the Obama administration condemned the Australian government's blacklist, along with those of Iran, China, Cuba and good old North Korea.

When Wikileaks rode to the rescue and published the secret list, only half were child pornography the other half being online poker, YouTube links, gay and straight porn, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions and mysteriously - links to a boarding kennel and a dentist.

The Liberal / National Coalition in opposition seemed to warm to the idea so long as it did not affect Internet speeds and commerce. So it was thanks to opposition from the Greens, and Fiona Patten's Australian Sex Party that the plan was finally dumped in 2012. Good thing too as it is generally held that the ultimate aim was to censor all pornography to secure the votes of the Australian Christian Lobby.

In that same year the Labour / Greens coalition government tried to censor the media in a way that both Trump and Putin would have cheered - the first peacetime government to attempt restricting press freedom since censorship was abolished in NSW in 1823.

Then Greens leader and Deputy PM Bob Brown fired the first shot at the free press when he described News Limited newspapers as the "hate media".

PM Julia Gillard convened an inquiry into media regulation and report concluded the Australian media was 'failing the public interest'. It recommended a new government funded regulator, the News Media Council, with the power to make findings against journalists and without a course of appeal. Those who disobeyed the council would face fines or imprisonment. This censor would even have power over online sites that get 15,000 hits a year which these days is just about every half decent blogger in the country (except me).

This brilliant idea became the Public Interest Media Advocate Bill 2013 that would regulate Australian media mergers and acquisitions as well as journalists and publishers by way of regulating the Australian Press Council.

It failed to get up - not because the opposition rejected it on the grounds of press freedom but because the crossbench found it unworkable. But it was damn close.

In 2012 the same Labour government tried to censor our speech. Attorney-General Nicola Roxon was feeling frisky following her stunning victory over Big Tobacco. Fancy packaging of cigarettes was a thing of the past so naturally freedom of speech should be next to go.

Chillingly claiming that her Discrimination Consolidation Bill would "help everyone understand what behaviour is expected", her proposed legislation sought to make any conduct that 'offends, insults or intimidates' into unlawful discrimination.

The proposed law would have reversed the burden of proof so that the offended one didn't have to provide evidence that someone offended them, the offender must instead prove that they did not. And that would be tough as there was to be no reasonable person test and discrimination was redefined as "unfavourable treatment" of a person. Ways you could discriminate against a person include their “social background”, of which there was no definition.

That's right – anything you do or say to anyone anywhere - if it offends someone they can take you to court and free of charge too (well actually compliments of the Australian taxpayer).

Amazingly but not, this dystopian future hyper nanny state nonsense was initially championed by the notorious Gillian Triggs of the Human Rights Commission who later backed away from it as ridicule poured from all sides.

Roxon resigned. Triggs did not.

And just last year you might remember how big government tried to end the free market in the transport industry by regulating self-employed truck drivers into submission or death, whichever came first.

Set up by Labour leader Bill Shorten in 2012, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal sought to shut down owner drivers by fixing the rates that their customers paid them to prevent the drivers from from undercutting bigger unionised companies. Failure to pay these 'Safe Rates' would result in prosecution and fines of up to $54,000 for the customer, not the truck driver.

The only way out was to quit working for yourself, sell your truck and become an employee of a big company and join the Transport Workers Union. Brilliant work, and it only took four years and God knows how much of our money to to come up with.

It would be nice to say that the Liberals leapt to the defence of the truckies and free markets, but no – consecutive Prime Ministers Abbot and Turnbull dithered until the eve of an election in 2016 before abolishing the tribunal.

All these attacks on freedom occurred in the last 10 years. All by elected politicians and funded by you and me. Imagine if all of these laws had passed - government agencies would be regulating the internet, the media, and everything you and I do and say. And having crushed the truckies under their boots – looking around for their next target. And no porn. None.

It would be easy to take the view that the Australian Labour Party is the enemy of freedom. It is true that the Liberals are unlikely to propose such laws as these while in government. But they have shown that they will consider selling out our freedom while in opposition or in any position where they can blame their colleagues on the other side of the house.

Freedom and democracy won the day over tyranny in all these cases. So you could say this is proof that our system works – and it does. But tyranny lurks there in the schemes of those who seek power over others, waiting for us to drop our guard for that crucial moment to deliver a knockout blow.

A law once made is hard to unmake - as evidenced by the reluctance and subsequent failure of the Liberal government to abolish 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.

My brand of libertarianism is a rejection of law making as the solution to all society's evils. These examples go well beyond that - they are of laws made to do evil on our society.

Remember u r free ()

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Equality is a consensual hallucination (and I do not consent)

A casual reader might mistake me for a dope smoking gay rights activist or a cop hating social justice warrior – but they have not read the fine print. Libertarians may share some common ground with the progressive left on such things as same sex marriage - but for different reasons as I shall explain.


The left these days is all about equality, which I guess goes back to their roots as representatives of the working class striving for equality with the middle class. Or the women struggling to be equal to men, or the blackfellas to white fellows.

My sophisticated libertarian position on equality is that it is, in fact, bullshit.

Equality – really? In what way are you equal to me, or even want to be? Why the hell would I want to be equal to you even if I thought that was possible. I have $10,000 in the bank and you have you have $20,000 does that mean you must give away half your savings to be equal to me, or do I have to sell my car to be equal to you? Or maybe you should give me five grand to make us even.

Should I look like you, or should you look like me, or do we have facial surgery to both look like Che Guevara? Should my wife put on some weight or should yours lose a couple of kilos? I have two kids how many you got? Do we need to trade them away too? Mine are different colours though – so should we spray tan one of yours?

If we should all be educated to the same degree - do I have to go back and finish school or should you whip your kids out in Year 10?

Perhaps you mean the minorities? Equality for the blackfellas, the transsexuals, the migrants? I have met many and none of them have expressed an interest in being me - and I don't blame them.

All Australians are equal in the eyes of the law. All can vote. All can access an range of government services to make our lives easier. Health care an education are free for all. We live in a famously peaceful and secular society. So what the hell is it you really want?

What you want is exceptionalism.

You want aboriginals, gays, muslims and others to be different and to be treated as different so you can insist they are marginalised when they should be equal to the majority.

To achieve equality for the exceptional ones you now demand inclusivity. Having insisted that the peg is square, now you want to hammer it into a round hole.

And to do this you need force. You need discriminatory laws to discourage discrimination. You need commissions, agencies, tribunals and cops. You need a big government with a big bloody hammer constantly bashing away at those pegs.

All the while equality is but a consensual hallucination – we have it when we agree that we have it. But we will never agree, will we? No one ever says righto chaps were all equal lets go out and and have a fucking good time, do they?

No. They will fight for rights that don't exist, exclude the included, minoritise minorities or even majorities (women).

During my time in The People's Republic of China I saw a lot of people forced to be equal – they were uniformly cold, poor and pissed off about it. Now many of them are wealthy due to the fact that the government caved in on equality and let them be individuals. Now they might just take over the world.

I support same-sex marriage on the basis of freedom and fairness rather than inclusivity and equality. I don't want the government to be kind enough to include gay people in the Marriage Act - I would rather the government butt out of marriage entirely as it is none of their god-damn business.

Failing that, gay people should be treated fairly by the law - not to make gay people equal to straight people but because as Australian people we are all young and free.

The Marriage Act does exclude not anyone by way of their sexual orientation - it excludes us all. I am not free to marry another man if I choose to do so and my sister isn't free to marry a woman. Whether we wish to do so, or not, is irrelevant.

Their are no gay rights at stake here – just our natural ability to do what we want without interference from church, government or anyone else who wants to to tell us what to do in our personal lives.

So remember u r free (and equality be damned)

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Cry havok and let slip the dogs of the Potato Marketing Corporation

“...eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government." - Andrew Jackson, 1837.


A guy rang me recently looking for employment as a security guard. When I offered him a spot at the annual Nimbin Mardi Grass he promptly declined and told me he was “disgusted by homosexuality”. I laughed and told him it wasn't the Gay Mardi Gras but Mardi Grass as in cannabis, pot, weed etc. There was a long pause followed by a “No way”. He hung up the phone and never forwarded his resume - I guess having decided I was doing the work of the devil and trying to lead him astray.

You might go to Nimbin Mardi Grass expecting a libertarian paradise of free love, hash cookies and laughter but no – you will instead find a Police Open Day with the many faces of law enforcement on display – riot police, licensing police, mounted police, drug detection dogs, random breath tests, drug tests and many more flavours of cop all intent on making life as miserable as possible for festival goers. And it works – the event has been in steady decline since the police crashed the party about seven years ago . And cannabis is still illegal.

On my return to the normal world I find there is a new sheriff in the tourist resort town of Byron Bay promising to “clean up Byron” which is cop for for “shut down the night-life in Byron Bay”. Short of stature and chewing gum constantly - he was last seen photographing the cheery crowd of young people outside the Great Northern Hotel on a Saturday night while commenting darkly that “this was no good”. God help us.

Meanwhile in light of recent homicidal attacks on innocent people by various flavours of dick-headed loser in Australia and around the world – politicians and pundits are talking censorship again. Frustrated by their inability to to combat the message of evil they turn their attention to the medium - inferring that some of that evil has rubbed off on it.

Perhaps the time has come to censor the Internet, they gravely intone, and al-Jazeera while we are at it.

While the Prime Minister claims to not understand how a terrorist can be given parole when he knows well the answer - the terrorist in question wasn't one, as he had never actually carried out an act of terror. Turnbull knows this – he was once a lawyer.

As the law-mongers talk minimum sentences and Federal control over State parole boards, the State of NSW hands out M4 assault rifles to riot police and gives all police a licence to kill criminals before they are a threat to others. Both will come in handy next year in Nimbin, or at schoolies in November.

And in Western Australia, a man faces the Supreme Court for the heinous crime of growing too many potatoes.

With no bill of rights to constrain them, Australian politicians will make whatever laws they can get away with to be tough on crime - as being tough on crime, or at least appearing to be, is crucial to winning the next election and keeping their jobs.

With every new law, regardless of its merits, the police and other bureaucrats become more powerful and can intrude further into our lives. We constantly hear of Police being given new powers – we never hear of old ones being taken away.

Instead we hear the sound of our rights being chipped away. For the only right we have in this country is to do that which is not prohibited by laws.

So be suspicious of all new laws, I say. Be suspicious as you would of a lawyer who cannot comprehend the law, a riot cop with an M4, or a man in black from the Potato Marketing Corporation.

And the disgusted security guard I mentioned earlier? Be not suspicious of him. He understands liberty and exercises his freedom to choose where he works and who he works for. His right to be disgusted and express such disgust for anyone, anything and anytime.

He remembers he is free – help keep him that way.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

It's Christians vs Lions (and the Marriage Act be damned)

John Stuart Mill's great essay On Liberty is required reading for libertarians and a good place to start for anyone interested in the politics and philosophy of freedom. What may surprise the reader is how little has changed since 1859 with regard to the way individuals may be oppressed by their own society.

Mill's concept of liberty in its simplest form is comprised of: freedom of thought and expression of those thoughts, freedom of action to live according to our own tastes, and freedom to associate with others for any reason other than to do harm.

On Liberty is about the struggle between liberty and authority. Before the Enlightenment swept through Europe in the middle of the 17th century this struggle was between classes, between the rulers and the ruled.

Though freed from the tyranny of church and kings, of feudal despots and warlords armies, liberal democracy was and is still subject to a tyranny from within, that is, from public opinion and condemnation rather than legislative or executive action.

“Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”

Yikes. Sound familiar to you? It might to anyone who has experienced a social justice warrior attack over a poorly judged tweet. Or has been banned, boycotted, blocked, trolled or ridiculed online by an enraged mob. Or who modifies their speech or any other form of expression to avoid persecution by such a mob.

But whose mandates are right? Whose can be considered wrong?

Mob rule is enabled by the notion that the opinion and feelings of the mob are the prevailing ones - what Mills calls the “tyranny of the majority”.

“The will of the people, moreover, practically means the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this as against any other abuse of power.”

In a democratic society the majority has the right to rule by electing its leaders - so we are conditioned to accept its authority. Note above, however “those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority” are included here. Outside of a polling booth it is not necessary to actually have the numbers - just that they believe they have them and/or can convince others to accept the prominence of their views as prevalence.

You could say that such people wish to exercise power over others that is illegitimate - a minority seeking to oppress others through the false impression of a majority.

These days this process is aided and abetted by social media. Secure in our own echo chambers we surround ourselves with like-minded people we call friends but who are mostly acquaintances with opinions similar to our own. We cherry pick our news from an infinite number of sources and denounce that which offends us as fake, biased or bigoted.

In this environment we can easily convince ourselves that our opinions are the most prevalent - that our feelings are shared by the majority and that it is the others who seek minority rule.

For example,

Same-sex marriage in Australia has turned into a pie-throwing beer-spilling Sunday school brawl of competing narratives of majority.

Those to my left claim that the vast majority of Australians approve of marriage equality but are thwarted by a small group of deplorable religious conservatives from the Lib/Nat coalition who just happen to be in power at this moment.

Those to my right insist that they speak for the “silent majority” of everyday normal people who have no desire to change marriage in any way and are being bullied by a vocal minority of attention seeking virtue signallers.

So far the nays have it. But do they really have the numbers?

The left had its chance to legislate in favour of gay marriage when Labour Prime Minister and Christian conservative Kevin Rudd left power and was replaced by unmarried childless atheist Julia Gillard. But her minority government was too weak to tackle such a divisive issue unnecessarily and Julia was a fairly conservative individual. Same-sex marriage was not on her agenda - full stop.

Same-sex marriage reared it's divisive head big time when another Christian conservative came to power. It was used as a weapon against Liberal PM Tony Abbot to make him appear to be out of touch with the progressive majority and has been used against current PM Malcolm Turnbull to drive a wedge between factions in the Liberal Party.

The crunch came recently when the Turnbull government agreed to a referendum on the issue to find out once and for all who actually had the numbers. Fair enough we thought let's get on with it - but no. The Greens and Labour refused to play the ball, left the field and went home leaving a disappointed crowd to yell abuse and throw pies at each other.

The narrative of the left was well and truly busted that day, my friends. Obviously the only reason you would not want a vote is if you were fairly certain that you would lose and therefore lose acceptance as the majority.

For without a vote the show can go on ! And it does. The vocal minority has become louder and angrier while the silent majority starts to speak up and fight back. Things are getting ugly now it's Christians vs. lions. Who knows what ugliness tomorrow will bring?

But a referendum is not a perfect solution either as its effect is a tyranny of the majority also. Thus the libertarian proposition is that marriage is not the business of government or society, and should just be a contract between two consenting adults that is recognised as legal by government and no more. Society will come around in its own good time, it always does.

If it is not possible to change the Marriage Act to suit everyone - then abolish the damn thing and start afresh.

And remember u r free

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Libertarian pride vs prejudice

Those who seek anti-discrimination laws may do so in the name of equality and diversity, to constrain the prejudices of others to make a better society. Those who favour discriminatory laws may do so for security and the conservation of cultural values but in doing so they attempt to normalise their prejudices and impose them on others.


But all such insistence on legislation can only fail - as you can lead a horse to water but threatening legal action won't make it drink.

Like you I have prejudices of my own. But as a libertarian my prejudices are constrained by my principles.

For instance - a great many Australians, perhaps even the majority, would support legislation to ban the wearing of the burqua (and niquab) in public and why not – about a dozen western countries with larger Islamic populations either ban or restrict the wearing of face coverings in some way.

Part of me is with with them. The part of me that cannot understand why a person would dress like a medieval bee-keeper unless compelled by force to do so. The part of me that wonders who is in there and are they armed? The part that says - you people are obviously aliens, so perhaps you would be more comfortable on your own planet.


The libertarian concept of social justice includes preventing the government from expanding the list of victimless crimes rather than constantly dreaming up new ones.

To ban the burqua would require the kind of legislation that I am generally opposed to - laws that take away the freedom of our citizens and criminalises common human behaviours such as what we wear in public. Banning the burqua fails my free and fair test. As soon as I back such a law I cease to be a noble libertarian and become just a run of the mill suburban fascist.

As I am not prepared to do that – it means I must instead stand up for the burqua wearers regardless. It is that simple. Hopefully they will stand up for me.

These principles also make my life a little easier in that I don't have to judge people on the merits of their religion or fashion sense or any damn thing really. I don't have to listen to the endless squawking from the attention seekers of the Left or the Right. I don't need to decide whether such attire is cultural or religious or what the hell Australian values are before deciding if wearing a black tent is compatible with them.

Thank God.

Try it. Try putting the principles of enduring freedom before your political alignment, your tribal customs and your prejudices, petty or otherwise.

The same principles that make me free make you free also. By defending your freedom I protect my own. So try it, maybe you will like it.

And remember u r free.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

To keep speech free let's no-platform the law-mongers

The libertarian version of free speech wants no conditions, no boundaries and no apologies to anyone. The conservative right claims to champion free speech - but everyone seems to have their own version of it – usually one that enables an attack on actions of those on the left. The left is not bound by such principle at all – leaving them free to attack the speech of others through censorship, legislation and recently no-platforming.

No-platforming is the practice of preventing someone from their expressing ideas usually through a speaking event or some sort of public forum.

Recently, no-platforming attacks have successfully shut down speaking events in Australia by anti-Islamist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and in America by conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

As much as I would love to join our conservative media in defending liberty by shaming the no-platformers I cannot. For when you spend as much time thinking about these things as I do you realise that this is about emotion not reason.

It's so sickening when a radical thuggish institution like Berkeley can so easily snuff out the cherished American right to free speech.” - Ann Coulter

Well it sickens me too Annie, but to shout louder than another is not denying them freedom of speech. Intimidating a person into cancelling a speaking tour comes closer, but does not either. Burning flags, burning cars even burning books does not. These are attacks on freedom of speech to be sure, but they have not and will not take away your ability to speak and subsequently to be heard. These are just provocations and punishments meted out by one tribe to spite another.

In the People's Republic of China where I once lived there is no such thing as free speech and there has not been for at least 60 years. This blog could not exist there. The authorities would have blocked it from the first post and warned me not to write another. Had I persisted they would have come around to my house and taken me away and put me in a cell for as long as they saw fit - perhaps forever. To speak of freedom is illegal.

I remember after a typically boozy business lunch in China when a few of our younger associates became relaxed enough to start complaining that the government was keeping them poor. My interpreter shot to her feet and said it was time to go and we left. Not only is it dangerous to speak, it's dangerous to listen.

There was a gay pianist who played in the lobby of the 5 star hotel where I worked in Shanghai. Over time his demeanor went from mildly effeminate to being flagrantly camp until one day he pushed it too far and they took him away.

This is what it looks like to have no freedom of speech. No freedom of expression.

Thankfully, it is very difficult to shut down free speech in the modern western world. You can read books, magazines newspapers and blogs, watch television and youtube, listen to podcasts and the radio all day and night. You will find Hirsi Ali and Coulter prominent in all of them.

No-platforming really only imposes geographical limits on speech. It does not stop you from speaking, just from speaking here. You are free to speak over there.

Even in America where free speech is enshrined in the First Amendment we know that such geographical conditions do not infringe constitutional rights. How? Well thanks to the Westboro Baptist Church.

Between 2006 and 2012 state and federal laws were passed to counter the picketing of funerals by it's hate-mongering members. First Amendment protection of the church's extreme hate speech was confirmed by the US Supreme court in 2011. So to comply with the constitution laws were made that excluded any kind of protest from within 300 ft of a funeral service. You can scream that “God hates Fags” over there, just not over here.

Proof that no-platforming is not only ineffectual but counter-productive is brought to us by the irrepressible Milo Yiannopolous. Right wing media personality Milo has been banned from Twitter, fired from Breitbart News, dropped by his publisher and blocked from speaking at universities in US and Britain. Earlier this year Milo's speech at Berkely UC was shut down by violent protesters. All of which have added to his fame and expanded his audience to make him the new Justin Bieber of the Internet (though as his recent comments in favour of sex with 13 year old boys has seen him branded a paedophile - free speech may well be the undoing of Milo).

In Australia we have no constitutional right to freedom of speech. So lawmakers are free to make whatever laws they wish. Here lies the real danger. Scream loud enough and some populist law-monger will want to criminalise no-platformers or the people they wish to silence. The civil courts could then be used to force institutions into hosting controversial speakers and be accountable for their safety. Or the speakers could be taken away by police for illegal “hate speech”.

Then their tribesmen would congratulate themselves for striking a blow for freedom and justice, when all they have done is throw those things away - forever and a day.

Making laws won't make you free. There are no safe spaces out on the street. Free speech in the public arena is, and always was, a fuck-off all-in brawl.

Let's keep it that way.

R U R Free

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Two small steps to freedom (and perchance to happiness )

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

that all men are created equal;

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;

that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thomas Jefferson

I would love to tell you that freedom equals happiness but I cannot.

The author of the fine words above sought not to either. But he did say that happiness could be achieved by being free to pursue it - though of the outcome one can never be certain.

So often we exercise our freedom of choice by choosing to be miserable. We bend to the will of others not because we are compelled to, but because we choose to. We employ our freedom of speech to say nothing, and our freedom of association to be alone.

All the while others may exercise their freedom to attack our way of life, to police our thoughts, to exclude us from the political arena and to make us question our relevance and worth in society. They demand laws that criminalise our choice of lifestyle and marginalise our forms of expression.

Freedom does not equal happiness.

What I can tell you is what got me started on the road to happiness. It is what I call the two stages of acceptance. Make of it what you will, but it works for me.

The first stage of acceptance is the acceptance of you. You are who you are and can never be anyone else or anything else, other than a corpse. You have total control over what you do but not over whether or not you are you. You are stuck being you for the rest of your life. Hopefully you are happy being you. Ideally you love being you. But when you look in the mirror there you are, regardless of how you feel about you. So you might as well get on with it and make the best of being you. Be a wiser, faster, fitter, stronger, funnier you. Be the best you that you can be. Or not (that's up to you).

The second stage of acceptance is that everyone else in the world is not you. As most of the people on this earth don't know you exist and never will they do not want to be you. Because they are not you they do not and will not ever think like you do. Or look like you or behave like you do. Concern yourself with them no more than you wish them to be concerned with you. You will never be able to make them like you, nor be like you. So stop trying to force yourself upon them.

My father is 80 years old and has never been a happy person. It was only quite recently that he accepted himself and became at least more contented than he has ever been. Leaving the behind the anger that comes from the fierce envy of others and the suffering that comes from desire to be someone better than himself - he is almost free.

But the second stage has so far eluded him.

Why? - he asks me constantly. Why do they do they think that way? How could they believe that? Why do they vote for them?

The answer is always the same and needs no elaboration. It's because they're not you, father. They are not you.

He hears me and he believes me and it silences him for a while but it does not last. Some small part of him holds out and I suspect will do so until he is no more. But that's him. He is not me.

In accepting ourselves and others we can be free of the need to govern the lives of others and concern ourselves only with governing of ourselves. To be the captains our own ships, to master our own fates without the interference of others seeking to re-make us in their image.

Remember you are free to be happy (or not, it's up to you)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Strange ways indeed (most peculiar markets)

Australia is not some banana republic backwater any more. We are a big fat rich nation of big rich fat people who will fork out $2000 for their kids to see Justin Bieber if they have to. But they don't have to – they choose to.

If you want a ticket to see Jerry Seinfeld's sold out show in Sydney it will cost you about $500 for a ticket that was bought by a scalper from Ticketek for $100.

While everyone bangs on about the unfairness of it all - am I the only one who wonders why the tickets are so cheap in the first place? $100 is four packs of cigarettes. It is two cases of beer or less than two tanks of petrol.

The actual market value of the ticket is $500.

Imagine a car dealer inexplicably selling you a new car for $6000 that is for sale at the dealership down the road for $30,000. Wouldn't you stop and think that something was a little odd about that? (Then Nick Xenophon comes along and yells, STOP THIEF!! when you try to re-sell the car for what it's actually market value.)

Inexplicable also is how Tiketek chooses to allow this kind of scalping when it clearly doesn't have to. Tickets to my local festival Splendour in the Grass are not scalped despite overwhelming demand for tickets means they sell out in 12 hours or less. Their agent Moshtix simply does not allow direct re-sale of the tickets. Each ticket is booked in a person's name and address which cannot be changed. Unwanted tickets can only be sold back to Moshtix minus a fee of $20.

For the same reason Jetstar air tickets are not scalped - despite that they release small quantities of tickets at very low prices from time to time. Jetstar uses the same “paperless” ticket as Moshtix but allows you to change the name of the passenger. There are deadlines for name changes though and the fee they charge will negate much of the profit from scalping. Their tickets are not refundable. And as Jetstar handle the changes they will know what you are doing and can easily shut you down and bar you from flying with them – forever.

So why does Tiketek choose to do business in this way? Why don't they just sell the tickets for what the market will pay? (These questions are not rhetorical, by the way, if you can answer either of them please do).

But the cat is now out of the bag and we all know what riches await us if we can just get out hands on one of these golden tickets. If Nick Xenophon were to get rid of those damn ticket bots then you and I could become home-grown scalpists. Even if I'm limited to purchasing only four tickets per show, by investing $400 I can make a profit of $1600 - then I'm in and you should be too.

'Cause you're free to do what you want (any old time).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Freedom vs market interventionists, scalperbots and Adele

Serial market pest Senator Nick Xenophon is at it again. Poker machines again? No it's ticket scalping prompted by Australian politicians' bi-partisan love for Adele and the fact that a ticket to see her recent show cost as much as $5000. 

Put simply - this is because only a small number of tickets are available to the public and the bulk of those seem to be snapped up by scalpers who go on to sell them for huge profits via the internet. 
This is an example of supply and demand economics - when demand outstrips supply prices go up. As profiteers move in prices go up some more. This has been a feature of the free market economy for some time now and is well understood by Year 10 students everywhere.

However, this being 2017, scalpers are thought to be unfairly aided by software 'bots' which are conveniently taking the heat for the situation.

Being a federal Senator and a market sceptic Nick's solution is, of course, market intervention through federal legislation. Firstly by following the US which last year passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act and banned these digital daleks.

Ticket bots are basically hacker's tools that can be downloaded from the internet. Banning them would be like banning a virus, or outlawing hacking. Or banning crime.

There is so far no evidence that this legislation has affected ticket prices. No one has been charged let alone convicted under the Act.

Nick has his own ideas though none of them could be described as bright. Such as allowing tickets to be re-sold only when where a ticket holder has a legitimate reason to do so and dis-allowing tickets to be resold for more than 10 per cent profit. Really, Nick? Do you really think such nonsense could be made law?

If it could - we would end up with is a taxpayer funded Fair Ticket Pricing Commission. The Federal Police will need a Ticket Scalping Strike Force with offices in every state. Teams of hackers would be employed by the government to fight the scalperbots in cyberspace. All paid for by you and me. Would it affect ticket prices ? Unlikely. But even if it did, you and I would be subsidising concert goers to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. 

Luckily for us all - Nick Xenophon speaks softly and carries a small stick – for he is just a Senator and cannot put forward a bill to Parliament. He can only put forward a motion which is a statement that other Senators can agree or disagree upon, and that's it. Such motions carry as much weight as the belligerent utterances of a drunk as he slides off his barstool to the ragged cheers of rival barflies.

Xenophon is, and always was, a cheap populist hack.

Politicians commonly branded as populists, like Trump and Hanson, actually have ideas about society and government – big, weird ideas that make them saviours to some and devils to others. Nick Xenophon is a true populist in that he keeps to the centre to please as many voters as possible and kindly offers to legislate against anything that might vex them.

But those who seek to make laws purely to increase their popularity are the enemies of liberty. Every law they make takes away our freedom. And as we only have the right to do what is not prohibited by laws – our rights are taken away too.

Government interventions into the energy market have stuffed it up, particularly for those in Nick's home state of South Australia. Nick's solution – more interventions to stuff up the old stuffed up interventions.

To do this he waved his little stick at a weak government and took tax reform hostage to force his interventions upon us. Tax reform meaning - the lowering of our taxes. His little stick just got a little bigger.

So don't encourage him. Don't vote for him. Don't fall for his populist bullshit.

Remember you are free.

More on the complex issue of ticket scalping to come. In the meantime check out,