growing stages

WANTED: Liberty entrepreneurs

Money is a dirty word in the liberty movement.  Ironic, for a pro-free-market and free trade ideology.  But when theory becomes reality, many recoil at the idea of bloggers doing sales or advertising.  Why?

Spending time to make content or technology means taking time away from other activities, whether business or leisure.  That time has to be compensated.  Yet some act like entitled socialists, expecting this work to be provided for free!

To be fair, some monetization strategies are obnoxious or spammy.  But all that means is we need better monetization options.  Better technologies.  Better feedback and suggestion from audiences of what works and what doesn’t.

For the liberty movement to survive, much less thrive and change the world, it must be economically self-sufficient.  If you can’t feed yourself, you can’t change the world.  If our activities in pursuit of liberty are not profitable, but only financial drains, we will never grow and advance.

We need more business models around advancing liberty.  We need more content, more media platforms, more technologies.  With the fake news media collapsing before our eyes, there has never been a better opportunity than now.  There is so much pent up demand and very little supply.

We need more liberty entrepreneurs.

Not just from an economic perspective, but from a psychological one as well.  It can get depressing focusing only on what the poweful are doing to us.  Who wants to be on a constantly losing team, with a victim mentality?  It’s time we recognize our own power, take responsibility, and become agents of change.

I am working on several media technology projects with a group of liberty-minded developers and creators.  Want to join the effort?  Email me at apollo at apolloslater dot com and let’s get to work!

Climbing a mountain

The 4 steps to political freedom

1. Philosophy – Your foundational ideology should be coherent and correspond to political reality; these are contradictory aims.  Yet the dialectical process between these two requirements is what produces your reason for acting, your reason for being.  Acting without it leaves you to the mercy of “some defunct economist“.

2. Education – This is not just the propagation of your ideology to others.  It is the application of it to the particular backgrounds and historical circumstances of your target audience.  Communication is a task in itself, yet the act of it also affects the thing being communicated.

3. Economy – You cannot change the world if you are scraping by.  To effect change, your community of ideology must be economically vibrant.  It must not only get by, but it must have a surplus of resources, time, and energy.  It must also do so in a way that retains independence from the very power structure it is attempting to subvert.

4. Power – A self-sufficient and well-organized group is unstoppable, regardless of numbers.  The challenge for a group propounding liberty is overcoming the history of such groups creating a tyranny, often worse than the one they replaced.  For the old revolutionaries, the end justifies the means, for the end is the revolution, and it justifies all.  The new revolutionaries must overturn the cycle between tyranny and revolution; therefore, the means can only be justified by their ideological ethics; therefore, the means is the revolution; therefore, the means is the end.

Auto scrapyard: cars crushed

Twitterspeak: the shrinkage of language

Twitter is altering language, not just on Twitter, but across all media.  Everything is being compactified; short attention spans demand it.  Among the benefits are brevity, efficiency, and impact.  The downside is the destruction of nuance and precision.  Dropped indefinite articles, sentence fragments, and an explosion of abbreviations and acronyms.  The danger is a form of Newspeak, in which a decrease in expressiveness of language yields a constricting of thought itself.

Will our capacity for conceptualization be limited to the lowest common denominator or will this punchy format lead to communicating new ideas that otherwise would have collected dust in long-form academic essays?

three pirates fighting

Trump split libertarians

The Trump phenomenon has splintered the libertarian movement into three distinct groups.  The massive political realignment taking place has exposed fractures that have existed for a long time.  How will these factions reconcile and will they constitute a unified movement in the future?

Left-libertarians – Typically DC beltway libertarians and wannabe respectable types.  The biggest of the three groups, they are best represented by Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson.  They value left social issues and are animated by anti-racism, gay marriage, and baking of cakes.  They also think Trump is racist and hates women.  Any good that may come from Trump’s challenge of the establishment is overshadowed by his being Pure Evil.

Paleo-conservatives – People like Lew Rockwell and Jeff Deist.  They value nationalism and traditional right views on culture, immigrants, and political correctness.  There is a silver lining to every one of Trump’s totalitarian or economically destructive proposals.

Voluntarists – The smallest faction, with people like Robert Wenzel and James Corbett.  They see Trump as not much different from Hillary or any of the other candidates, and a potential disaster for the country and the libertarian brand.    They tend to point out both the good aspects and terrible aspects of Trump’s proposals.

private property open borders

Private property means open borders

There’s been a lot of discussion in the libertarian crowd about Trump’s immigration policy and whether libertarians should support open borders.  The tension is between the ideal of freedom of movement, in the context of private property, versus the practical effect that importing many people costs taxpayers money and may lead to voting for more government.

Supposedly a private property society would result in border property owners blocking immigrants, but as my cover meme shows, it just takes one to let people through.  So, strictly from an ethical perspective, open borders seems the right choice.  The practical effects in a welfare state democracy are a different issue.  Once you start going down the utilitarianism road though, you use “ends justifies the means” reasoning and eventually end up back at statism.  It seems the best solution, and political compromise, would be to allow open borders on the condition that immigrants receive no government benefits or voting rights.  We’d be slowly importing supporters of a voluntary society!

South Park - La Resistance

“Fake news” hysteria is a huge opportunity

It is an auspicious time for independent media.  The Fake Media’s “fake news” hysteria has capped off this year’s apotheosis of undisguised propaganda.  Now we learn that the US government will directly fund domestic pro-government propaganda in the press and on social media, with $160 million.  Let me explain why this is amazing news for independent media.

The media world has supply and demand, just like any other market.  There is a demand out there for real information and it is up to the media to satisfy that demand.  The more the media avoid this, and publish lies and hoaxes instead, the more business opportunity there is to fill the void.  This is how Fox News became such a cable news powerhouse.  Due to the “fake news” hysteria, the big platforms Facebook, Google, and Twitter are censoring alternative voices.  This creates an opportunity for a Fox News of social media (perhaps many!).

The government’s funding of propaganda reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of media.  It is treating the internet as an “enemy weapons system“.  But media consumption is not a win-lose, zero-sum game.  All this does is crowd out existing journalism and reduces the supply of real information.  But the demand remains the same.  That means there is now an even greater business opportunity for free speech advocates than before.

We have a real, tangible, action plan to dismantle the establishment’s hold on power: Start new media platforms and especially new media technologies.  Let us create independent media content, independent social networks, independent ad networks, independent video sharing, … independent everything!  The opportunities are boundless.  I myself am working with a group on such a project in the media tech space.  If you are interested in learning more about our effort, please email me at apollo at apolloslater dot com.

Vive la resistance!

trump-china-magazine

Media finally sees Trump’s “Asia Pivot”

Here I am on my post-election gloating tour, with another prediction that’s finally been picked up on by the media.  In July, I asked “Is Trump the ‘Asia pivot’ candidate?“, and showed how his candidacy may be the culmination of this major shift in US geopolitics.  Well, here’s a sampling of the Google News results on this issue, now that Trump has been elected.

trump-asia-pivot-news

Looks like there’s something to this.  He may ease tensions with Russia, while at the same time putting us on a war path with China.  Dangerous times!

gary_johnson_libertarian

Gary Johnson’s collapse helped Trump win

Back in August, I concluded my last post with the following prediction:

However, as the clock ticks towards the election, it is likely that the race will be forced into a Trump-Hillary binary, diminishing the third parties, and giving Trump a much-needed small boost.

Sure enough, this is exactly what happened.  Gary Johnson’s collapse helped push Trump over the top in a highly competitive race, as you can see from the RealClearPolitics chart below.

election-2016-gary-johnson-effect

In the end, third parties may not affect the narrative of the election much, but they do have an effect on who is perceived to be winning or losing, especially in a tight race.  This has an outsized effect on the race, compared to the raw vote totals, and should be further studied and exploited by future campaigns.

2016 presidential election 4-way: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein

Gary Johnson helping Hillary win

How is Gary Johnson affecting the 2016 presidential race?  Is he helping Hillary or Trump?  How does Jill Stein factor into it?  For an in-depth analysis, I looked at 4-way presidential polls going back to May 2016, aggregated by RealClearPolitics (CSV data download).  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gary Johnson seems to hurt Trump more than Hillary — but Jill Stein turns out to have a very surprising role!

Let’s look at how the combo of Johnson and Stein affect the race.  Here we see a positive correlation between their combined share of the vote and Clinton’s numbers.  This means Johnson and Stein take votes from Trump, on average.  But how does Johnson affect things individually?

johnson_stein_vs_clinton

Each dot is one 4-way poll, taken sometime between May 2016 to August 2016.  The “Clinton spread” is shorthand for Hillary’s lead over Trump.

Johnson helps Hillary only very slightly by himself, in the graph below.  Yet in the next graph, Johnson helps the leftist bloc of Hillary and Stein much more than he helps Hillary alone.  What is going on here??

johnson_vs_clinton johnson_vs_clinton_stein

To make things even weirder, Stein seems to help Hillary even more than Johnson does.  That implies Stein is taking more votes from Trump than Gary Johnson does!  How can that be??

stein_vs_clinton

Finally, a moment of clarity.  There is a solid, almost 2:1 correlation between Gary Johnson and Jill Stein’s poll numbers.  That means they magnify each other, instead of subtracting.  Probably because whenever the media gives Gary any attention, they also mention Jill Stein, so she gets a boost.  There is a strong “third party bloc” dynamic here, more so than the individual third party candidates.  Ideology seems to have little effect compared to simple media exposure.

stein_vs_johnson

The best explanation I can think of is that there is a contingent of potential Trump voters, who evenly split between Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.  That would account for why Johnson has a smaller effect on Hillary’s lead than does Stein.  The rest of Johnson’s supporters would otherwise evenly split on Trump and Hillary.

In the end, Jill Stein acts as a magnifier for Johnson’s effect on the race.  Trump would definitely be better off if they both left the race, but his biggest marginal gain would be Jill Stein dropping out.

Prediction: A 2-way debate in late September will shift the focus back to Trump vs. Hillary and diminish the attention on Gary Johnson (and Stein).  This should be a net positive for Trump, the debate results notwithstanding.  A 3-way, or even worse, a 4-way debate, would potentially be devastating for Trump, as it would give a national platform for the third party bloc which is on net drawing votes from Trump.  However, as the clock ticks towards the election, it is likely that the race will be forced into a Trump-Hillary binary, diminishing the third parties, and giving Trump a much-needed small boost.