e$: Altered States, Transfer payment addiction, Le Infame, and Phil Dick's definition of reality


At 1:23 pm -0400 on 5/28/97, Bill Frantz wrote in cypherpunks:
> I object to the state, providing addictive substances/experiences when
> private enterprise could do the job.  If they are against addiction, then
> they should set a good example.

For myself, I deplore the state's all-too-successful efforts to "provide" that ultimate addictive substance, the transfer payment.

From the oxymoron of "Social" "Security", to direct subsidies on everything from electricity to sugar to helium, from deliberately mispriced federal assets like lumber, water and mining rights, to indirect subsidies like the tax-deductibility of mortgage interest and health "insurance", we use our government to bleed money, initiative, and, ultimately, freedom from the people who produce wealth and material well-being and give almost all of it to people who do nothing but consume and obstruct. We've all become a nation of innumerate dole-junkies, unaware of the economic consequences of our actions because the state has hidden them behind a veil of pseudoeconomics and political cynicism.

The heyday of Roman dole was nothing compared to the "compassion" we increasingly have for ourselves.

So, like a lot of people, I hope and work for the day when that giant mosquito on the Petomaine :-) river -- and its larvae in places like Jefferson City -- starts sucking air instead of the economic and moral lifeblood of people who actually work for a living. Then, maybe, this nation of lotus eaters will wake up to the fact that we've no one to rely upon but ourselves.

Science fiction author Phillip K. Dick said, "Reality is that which doesn't go away when you change your mind." I would ammend it to say that reality is that which is still there when transfer payments stop.

Voltaire used to end all his correspondence with "Death to Le Infame". "Le Infame" translates as "the infamous thing". He was talking about the church then, but nowadays it seems that *all* of us take communion at Our Lady of the Federal Transfer Payment.

The end of opressive religeous control of society was the advent of science, the enlightment, and the triumph of reason that resulted from them. The founding of this country was part of that revolution.

Unfortunately, unreason shed its priestly vestments and immediately counterattacked in the form of Rousseau, Robespierre and the French revolution. Since then, through the mechanations of Rousseau's intellectual descendants like Karl Marx, and lately, the people that Harold Bloom calls the "School of Resentment", nation states have justified more and more oppression in the interest of unobtainable mirages like "equality" and "security", and in perverting words like "fairness" and "justice" to mean envy and arbitrary confiscation.

The very touchstone of reason in political thought, this country's constitution, is now standing on the bottom of a vast lake of irrational statist excrement, with its nose barely above the waterline.

Sometimes, I think that, when we can breathe no longer, and we try to return to the shore of reason, we'll forget the swimming lessons the founding fathers and the philosophes of the enlightenment taught us. That we'll drown in our own sloth, envy, resentment, and, more important, lack of faith in ourselves.

However, most of the time, I'm much more optimistic. I believe that the increasing ubiquity of all information, and, more important, the means for each person to competitively process that information himself to get independently replicable results, will create a world where people and their computing technology become the equivalent of scientists, testing and verifying facts about the world themselves, rather than having reality served to them on a lotus leaf.

The operative word in that Proustian sentence was "competitively". That means markets for everything which can be put into ones and zeroes and sent on a network, which in turn means instant settlement and clearing of those transactions, and, most important, a myriad of autonomous economic entities operating in efficient, competitive, auction markets for that information.

Fortunately, we have the technology, in the form of things like the blind signature algorithm, public key cryptography, Moore's law and geodesic networks, to make this happen. I believe that we actually have no economic choice, and so it will happen. It's as if we have found the dole-receptors in our economic neurochemistry, and soon our transfer payment addiction will be a thing of the past.

"Reality is that which doesn't go away when you change your mind."

Kicking an addiction is by definition a mind-altering experience. :-).


Bob Hettinga


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