25 Dec 2020

BMS ep 170: Bob Dissects the Shopping Cart Critique of Self-Governance

Bob Murphy Show 46 Comments

Not as high-brow as my work on reswitching…

46 Responses to “BMS ep 170: Bob Dissects the Shopping Cart Critique of Self-Governance”

  1. Transformer says:

    I think it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of most forms of anarchism to think it has any particular reliance on altruism (unless you count having respect for other people’s property as altruism).

    • random person says:

      I mean, considering the course of human history….

      “Captives: How Stolen People Changed the World”

      You could say that the fact that, as a general rule, those members of humankind who have obtained power have generally sucked, is not a justification for them to continue sucking, but unfortunately, they might not listen.

      Ultimately, trying to envision the ideal society may be less productive than brainstorming strategies to make this one less awful. But, you know, if you enjoy daydreaming, then go for it.

      • Tel says:

        Ayn Rand said that altruism is a scam, and it’s one of the things I agree with her about.

        Where do the shopping carts come from in the first place? The store provides them … out of altruism? No, heck no, the store wants to make it as convenient as possible so you shop there more often and they offer a nice big cart so you buy a bit more. The carts are paid for out of slightly increased prices, and guess what? The wages of the trolly boy who collects the loose carts and brings them back also get paid out of slightly increased prices.

        Shoppers presumably can see the prices, and with the Internet they can search for alternative suppliers if they want to. There’s independent supermarkets in Australia that don’t choose not to provide any trolleys and some people shop at those. Many other shops like butchers and bakeries don’t provide trolleys.

        People who fall for this “Shopping Cart Theory” tend to be people who do not understand the idea of payment in return for a service … which can be a challenging concept at times.

        • random person says:

          Maybe the reasons Ayn Rand thought that altruism was a scam was because she never experienced the feeling herself. She appears to have been a thoroughly awful person.


          Paying a trolley person to bring back the carts is fair enough.

          What’s really sad is all the times throughout history when people have been forced to do stuff, by often brutal means, rather than paid. Or just killed and/or tortured for other despicable reasons, e.g. at the Wounded Knee massacre.

        • random person says:

          The existence of altruism can be demonstrated by the historical example of Edmund Dene Morel refusing a bribe from a representative of King Leopold II, a man who perpetrated forced labor of genocidal proportions. This is not to say, of course, that Edmund Dene Morel practiced altruism 24/7 for his whole life. I don’t think anyone does. But, in the moment he chose to continue his anti forced labor campaign rather than accepting a bribe to end it, he was practicing altruism.

          Adam Hochschild tells the story in his book “King Leopold’s Ghost”:

          Morel’s attacks soon drew a response from the Royal Palace. One evening in London, Sir Alfred Jones, Morel’s former boss, invited Morel to a dinner party. The two men’s relations were, to say the least, strained, but at the meal all was smiles, and, Morel writes, “the wines were choice and copious.” After dinner, Jones and the other guests retired, leaving Morel alone with a visiting Antwerp shipping executive named Aerts, who made it clear that he was acting as Leopold’s representative.

          After one last attempt to convince Morel that the king meant well and that reforms were in the offing, the visitor took, as Morel describes it, a different tack (the ellipsis is in the original):

          “What were the Congo natives to me? Of what use this pursuit of an unrealisable ideal? I was a young man. I had a family—yes? I was running serious risks. And then, a delicately, very delicately veiled suggestion that my permanent interests would be better served if…. “A bribe?” Oh! dear, no, nothing so vulgar, so demeaning. But there were always means of arranging these things. Everything could be arranged with honour to all sides. It was a most entertaining interview, and lasted until a very late hour. “So nothing will shake your determination?” “I fear not.” We parted with mutual smiles. But my companion, I thought, was a little ruffled. For my part I enjoyed myself most thoroughly.”

          • Tel says:

            The Comanche used torture … they were a warrior people, they raided and stole, conquered other tribes, made use of the horses (brought by the Spanish) with great ease and happily adopted rifles once they understood what those weapons would do. Torture was their way of intimidating their opponents … leave the mangled body out there and fill hearts with fear. Not a unique idea by any means … Vlad the Impaler (aka “Dracula”) used slow death of his enemies for much the same reason … he didn’t invent the idea, he was brought up by Ottoman Turks who perfected the technique some time previously and little Vlad copied them. Most likely the same concept has been reinvented many times in many places.


            Does torture make the Comanche bad people? Difficult to say isn’t it? What about the Turks, should we declare them bad people?

            The Comanche were not defeated in battle … they were hard men living in hard country and at that time the USA could not afford to sustain the logistics of an army large enough to defeat these warriors. When I say “hard men” it’s fair to point out that women were property … chattels … this was not a society willing to give a friendly nod to protesting feminists. However, they were defeated when the buffalo were killed in huge numbers; depriving them of their food source. It would never have made sense to people with such a warrior code that anyone might destroy a natural resource in order to win a battle.

            Dirty dishonorable warfare … but highly effective huh? Is that morally wrong, to win by alternative means? No one loves a loser.

            Chivalry is dead … who put the knife in? Well Democracy was the winner, not by one big knife but a million small knives. Don’t you cry for old King Feudalism now, he might yet make a comeback … Klaus Schwab would prefer to convert us back into peasants, and you can’t have Chivalry without serfs … am I right?

            Is Schwab an evil guy, wanting to Great Reset the world? He is offering to free us from the shackles of a democratic system … no more majority ruling over the minority after the Great Reset! No sir, it will be quite the other way around.

            Drop in a personal chapter: my grandad was Irish … guess he falls into the category that you Americans know as “fighting Irish” although he left Ireland because the followers of Christ (both Catholic and Protestant) decided not to follow Christ’s instructions. Left the old country … left God behind … grandpa declared himself uninterested in religion and lived the remainder of his life as an atheist in Australia. I suppose religion never quite delivered what he expected it ought to deliver.

            He worked as a professional street fighter, doing door security outside a bar in the rough part of town … of course he did other “civilized” jobs as well. At least he never cracked anyone’s jaw in the name of the LORD … he did it for money in his pocket, to provide for family. That makes it OK I think … I heard that free trade is good.

            Tricky stuff this business of being judgmental and deciding who is savage. It just occurred to me that perhaps Salon might have not been entirely fair on Ayn Rand, almost as if they had some preconceived notions … what do you think?

            • random person says:

              Apologies for the slow reply. I’m not sure how long your comment was here before I saw it and started wring this reply.

              Tel wrote,

              Does torture make the Comanche bad people? Difficult to say isn’t it? What about the Turks, should we declare them bad people?

              Certainly we can say that the individual Comanche who committed acts of torture were bad people, at least as of the time they were committing torture. That doesn’t make the entire tribe — all Comanche — bad any more than it would make you a bad person if your neighbors suddenly or not-so-suddenly decided to go on torture sprees.

              Of course it is more complicated than that. There are various ways a person may or may not be complicit in torture, even if they don’t perform the deed themselves. There might also be potentially mitigating factors, e.g. if someone is tortured and then the original torturer offers to stop only if the torturee agrees to also commit acts of torture. I’m not saying it’s right to torture other people in order to escape torture oneself, but it makes psychological sense, that people might not be able to live up to their ideals under such circumstances.

              And we could say the same about the Turks, or people of any other culture. Determinations of various shades of guilt or innocence must be made on a case by case basis. Although I think it’s safe to assume that babies are innocent.

              An excellent example of the importance of deciding various shades guilt or innocence on a case by case basis is after Rwandan refugees poured into the Congo following the Rwandan genocide. Some of the Rwandan refugees were civilians, but some were genocidaires. The international community failed to sort out the civilians from the refugees, and didn’t even manage to disarm the refugees.

              Part of this is because of the history of the Congo. The Congo was oppressed for a long time under King Leopold II and Belgium, resulting in the death of millions of Congolese under brutal forced labor policies. By the time the Congo was officially granted independence, things had improved a lot, but, so far as I can tell, forced labor still hadn’t been completely abolished. Naturally, the Congolese, finally being allowed to vote, elected an anti-forced labor Prime Minister named Lumumba. However, the CIA removed Lumumba from power and the Belgians ordered his assassination after he’d been in office less than a year. Within a few years after the assassination, Mobutu rose to power with CIA assistance and ruled as a dictator for roughly 30 years. Mobutu’s regime was incredibly corrupt, so when the Rwandan refugees came, they were supposed to be disarmed (because of the genocidaires among them), but because of the corruption of the Mobutu regime, the Rwandan refugees were able to simply buy back their guns.

              The new Rwandan government wasn’t exactly happy about having a bunch of armed genocidaire refugees near their border, and many Congolese weren’t happy about hosting them. And the international community failed to do anything to sort out the genocidaires from the civilians or disarm the genocidaires. Rwanda (with the help of Uganda, for some reason) decided to invade the Congo in order to kill the Rwanda refugees. Except, they decided it would look better politically if rather than just invade directly, they picked a Congolese rebel to back. For this purpose, Kabila. a Congolese rebel, was chosen, nevermind his outdated Marxist literature.

              Mobutu was overthrown and the Rwandan refugees were slaughtered, including babies who couldn’t possibly have been genocidaires.

              Kabila wasn’t particularly competent, and people didn’t like that he stopped holding elections after he noticed that people weren’t voting for his party. He ended up being overthrown and replaced by his son, also a Kabila.

              Rwanda and Uganda turned against each other and started fighting each other on Congolese soil. Some Congolese militias also rose up. But for whatever reason, all these militias, regardless of their origins, started fighting each other over resources and killing, raping, and subjecting the locals to forced labor. And now the Congo has a conflict minerals problem.

              A great deal of human suffering could have been avoided if serious efforts had been made to separate the Rwandan civilian refugees from the Rwandan genocidaire refugees. Like, actual trials. Regardless of whether the plan was to execute the genocidaires, to imprison them in some part of the world that has reasonably secure prisons, to exile them to an island or something, or even just to forgive them after disarming them, a very helpful step would have been to at least figure out who the genocidaires were.

              Dirty dishonorable warfare … but highly effective huh? Is that morally wrong, to win by alternative means? No one loves a loser.

              I would say yes, it was morally wrong, because when the Comanche and other American Indian tribes were deprived of their buffalo, it didn’t only cause the starvation of those individual Comanche who had engaged in torture or other atrocities. There were no trials to separate the guilty from the innocent before deciding who would be allowed to have buffalo and who wouldn’t. Some of those who starved would have been innocent babies.

              Of course, I recognize that Machiavelli might disagree with me.

              I don’t know if you are right about Klaus Schwab. After Googling him briefly I feel confused, so I will have to look into him more later.

              I am also part Irish. And part Sicilian. I happen to be descended from bootlegger.

              I don’t think the Salon article was unfair to Ayn Rand. It is true that there were some American Indian individuals who committed evil acts such as torture. However, while people of European origin also deserve to be judged as individuals, there were atrocities committed by certain individuals of European origin (and which other individuals of European origin were complicit in in a variety of ways) which caused a huge amount of suffering in history. Stuff like kidnapping Africans (or buying kidnapped Africans), transporting them across the Atlantic under conditions of torture, and then torturing labor out of them. And this didn’t happen only in the United States. In fact, the sugar regions such as Brazil imported far more many kidnapped Africans than the United States did. But anyway, some amount of this practice also occurred in the United States.

              The individuals responsible for this (to varying degrees and in varying ways) were not bringing “civilization” to the Americas for any positive meaning of the term “civilization”. They were bringing torture and genocide. (And again, I realize it wasn’t all the Europeans who did this, just like not all the Comanches committed acts of torture.)

              When Ayn Rand said the following,

              Any white person who brings the elements of civilization had the right to take over this continent and it is great that some people did, and discovered here what they couldn’t do anywhere else in the world and what the Indians, if there are any racist Indians today, do not believe to this day: respect for individual rights.

              she was indeed defending what these people, the kidnappers and the torturers and the genocidaires and their accomplices, did. Africans were not kidnapped from Africa out of respect for individual rights. They weren’t transported across the Atlantic under conditions of confinement rising to the level of torture out of respect for individual rights. They weren’t tortured into laboring out of respect for individual rights. And when American Indians were pushed off their land, or deprived of buffalo, or whatever, it wasn’t done in a way that was respectful of individual rights.

              That doesn’t mean that there weren’t some people of European origin who genuinely did believe in individual rights. But those weren’t the ones engaging in the forced labor trade, nor massacring American Indians.

              And no doubt there were some individual American Indians who also believed in individual rights. I’m not really familiar with all the American Indian philosophers, but it is the natural order of things that good and bad people (and many who are somewhere in between good and bad) are spread throughout the world and not confined to anyone one region or culture.

              • Tel says:

                If you want to get up to speed with Schwab and his “Great Reset” plan, this may (or may not) be helpful.


                Hopefully to similarity between people who own nothing and the feudal peasant class should be self evident.


                That’s an alternative perspective on the same thing, if you prefer the smooth British accents. Hopefully putting two URLs into one message does not get me into too much trouble.

              • Tel says:

                You bring up a fair point about judging individuals vs judging cultures and groups. It’s also a difficult question, perhaps more difficult than you realize when you consider the recursive aspects at work here.

                Let’s start with your generally Libertarian approach, which hopefully I can accurately summarize as “Always judge the individual and never judge the culture nor the group.” Now I want to ask where those Libertarian ideas came from? From you as an individual of course, but not fundamentally from you … those ideas go back to John Locke and Adam Smith and many others, perhaps even incorporating concepts from Roman contractual law, and Anglo-Saxon common law, and the yeoman tradition of a self-contained family with both land to live off and the means to defend that land. Might even be fair to add the American tradition on the end of that, with settler/farmers and a belief in Constitutional basis for government and rule of law … which was built on top of that older European tradition, and of course other ideas from the Middle East such as Christianity.

                What I’m getting at here, is that in order to make a judgement … or even put together the basic foundation to start making your judgement you must first depend on a long line of principles and beliefs with threads going way back. It would be impossible for a human with no background, no training, no beliefs to start with empty head and make any judgement at all.

                And yes, I’m sure there’s the argument that all individuals can choose to accept or reject the ideas that exist around them. There are many alternative traditions around the place … you might have decided to be Keynesian and probably in that case you would come to different conclusions … never the less we get to an endless loop here: the culture provides the basis for the individual to understand the world, and at the same time the individuals are what makes the culture.

                Those individuals born into a tradition where men are expected to be a warrior, a tough guy, ruthless and determined … they will be pushed by their friends and family to fulfil the demands of the culture. Are they responsible for their actions? I guess they must be, they could choose to go against the grain, but it’s kind of difficult and not many will do that. The people inside that culture judge the other people also inside the same culture by using their shared cultural values. You are welcome to judge them using your own values, and that judgement is meaningful to you … but probably not meaningful to them.

                Can a culture itself be judged? Well … some people don’t like that question, because it implies a judge that exists outside of any bounds looking on from above. Unfortunately even God becomes culturally embedded … different religions describe their God or Gods in various ways … or more accurately our best efforts to perceive God are constrained by our own personal framing.

                Can science escape this circular loop? I doubt it, partly because empiricism is itself a type of belief system, but also because Physics can tell you a ball rolls down a hill … but it can’t tell you that the ball is better or worse at the bottom or the top. Biology can tell you that cats survive by killing creatures smaller, slower and weaker than themselves … while viruses survive by killing creatures larger than themselves and humans do a bit of both as well as killing each other. What the Biologist cannot explain is whether humans are better or worse than bacteria and cats.

                … running out of time, I’ve rambled so long will need to make the point another day!

              • random person says:

                Let’s start with your generally Libertarian approach, which hopefully I can accurately summarize as “Always judge the individual and never judge the culture nor the group.”

                I mean, close enough. I don’t identify as Libertarian, but I’m sure that there are many different philosophical schools of thought that would more or less agree on the point of judging individuals rather than cultures.

                And you can judge a culture to a certain extent, as long as you understand that you’re judging an abstract concept for your intellectual convenience and not something you can go out and kill and imprison. Before you proceed to killing or imprisoning (if that’s you’re idea of justice, and I’m not saying it should be, just using those examples because they are popular concepts of justice), you need to narrow things down to individuals, preferably with the help of a competent jury to help mitigate the risk of judging incorrectly. The most a judgement about a culture should be, really, is a collection of statements about some historical trends. Possibly very interesting historical trends, but not statements we should proceed to take such drastic actions such as killing and imprisoning over without at least narrowing things down to individuals.

                For example, we can say, “There was a terrible genocide in 1994 in Rwanda. Many Rwandans participated. Hateful radio broadcasts played a significant role in inciting the genocide.” That’s vague, but, so far as I know, accurate. It’s also not enough information to begin executions (or whatever form of justice you think genocidaires deserve).

                An example of an inaccurate statement would be, “All Rwandans are evil because of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.” This is inaccurate because not all Rwandans participated in the genocide. Furthermore, it risks inciting hypocrisy. Such statements should be avoided.

                Tel wrote,

                Now I want to ask where those Libertarian ideas came from? From you as an individual of course, but not fundamentally from you … those ideas go back to John Locke and Adam Smith and many others, perhaps even incorporating concepts from Roman contractual law, and Anglo-Saxon common law, and the yeoman tradition of a self-contained family with both land to live off and the means to defend that land. Might even be fair to add the American tradition on the end of that, with settler/farmers and a belief in Constitutional basis for government and rule of law … which was built on top of that older European tradition, and of course other ideas from the Middle East such as Christianity.

                I would say that the ideas most likely originate from good (in the sense of “relatively good”, not necessarily “pure good”) people throughout many places and many times throughout history and prehistory. There were most likely hunter-gatherers who believed in judging people as individuals long before the first cities were ever founded. Not that they left any written records about their philosophy for us to read to verify that assumption. But it’s a fairly safe assumption. There are a diversity of human thought modes, and throughout history people who prefer particular modes of thought tend to be spread out and not all confined in one location or historical period.

                If the names of philosophers, who were committed to judging people as individuals, that we can actually think of, tend to people European or American philosophers, it is probably because the Europeans and Americans left a lot of written history, and also because, being English speakers, it is easier for us to go and read that philosophy than it is for us to go and read, say, Chinese philosophy. However, simply because some cultures failed to maintain written records, or the written records were lost, or did not include philosophical works, or haven’t been translated into English for us, doesn’t mean that there were no individuals in those cultures who favored judging people as individuals. (Also, I think a lot of the major Chinese philosophical works have been translated into English, but it is also quite likely that many of the more obscure Chinese philosophical works haven’t been translated into English.)

                I wouldn’t include John Locke on the list of people committed to judging people as individuals, due in part to his involvement with the Carolina Constitutions. Then again, he drafted those about 20 years before his better known works, so it is possible he changed his mind. So, his inclusion on the list should be considered debatable.


                What I’m getting at here, is that in order to make a judgement … or even put together the basic foundation to start making your judgement you must first depend on a long line of principles and beliefs with threads going way back. It would be impossible for a human with no background, no training, no beliefs to start with empty head and make any judgement at all.

                How many humans really have an empty head, though? Newborn babies? As soon as people are born (and possibly even before that), people can start interacting with and learning about the world.

                It probably doesn’t take a great deal of learning about the world to be able to recognize when someone is screaming or crying in pain or in fear, and this is probably enough for many children to understand that torture is evil (if they are unlucky enough to witness torture), even if they may or may not have the words to articulate it yet.

                In fact, interestingly enough, educators trying to figure out how to teach things like the Holocaust have noted that young children seem to have a much easier time empathizing with individuals, than understanding broader historical trends. This suggests that a way of thinking focused on individuals is a completely natural and normal way of human thinking, and perhaps we are only taught to make broader generalizations as we get older.

                Students in grades six and above demonstrate the ability to empathize with individual eyewitness accounts and to attempt to understand the complexities of Holocaust history, including the scope and scale of the events. While elementary age students are able to empathize with individual accounts, they often have difficulty placing them in a larger historical context.

                www [dot] ushmm [dot] org/teach/fundamentals/age-appropriateness

              • Tel says:

                I’ll try to catch it up and make a point here.

                Ayn Rand’s solution to the recursive problem of trying to find a fundamental basis for judgement was pretty simple … she declared herself right and all the others wrong. She declared that the superior culture (i.e. what she believed) had the right to dominate inferior cultures … and indeed that’s by definition what a superior culture does … that’s what makes it superior.

                Her approach may sound a bit harsh … but is it really so far removed from the tribal warrior culture declaring that the strong and brave should dominate the weak? Sounds rather similar to me.

                For that matter, all the major monotheistic religions have largely done the same thing as Ayn Rand and declared their particular viewpoint and cultural assumptions to be the supreme perspective … and judge everything based on that.

                You want to look at how Christians became dominant in Europe? How about the rise of Emperor Constantine which was the pivotal event that led to Christianity being the predominant European religion for almost two thousand years.


                It didn’t happen peacefully … it happened because one group of people, bound by a common belief and common culture, dominated another group of people. And sure there were plenty of individuals in the Roman Empire who did go peacefully go about their business but after Christianity became a state religion, slowly all those people found they must go about their business in a particular Christian way … or else bad things would happen to them.

                Ayn Rand is not the odd one out … her attitude is the normal … and historically has been normal for a long time. Although Ayn Rand herself used peaceful means (writing books etc) she was OK with the idea that sometimes ideas get pushed by force … which happens all the time! Rand believed in a strong state with specific duties, she was not Libertarian, not was she Christian … one of her beliefs was that the state should rightly impose rule of law … and that meant impose her view of what that law should be. A lot of other people and other cultures agree with that principle, they simply disagree over who should be boss.

                Libertarians are the weirdos. At best perhaps 10% of the population have any interest in Libertarian ideas. Typically the LP gets a few percent of the vote. If there was some universal perspective for judgement then it sure would not be the Libertarian one … not based on popularity at any rate.

              • random person says:

                Tel wrote,

                She declared that the superior culture (i.e. what she believed) had the right to dominate inferior cultures … and indeed that’s by definition what a superior culture does … that’s what makes it superior.

                Military superiority is not the same as cultural superiority, at least in my view. And while the those in power in the United States did was dominate the various American Indian tribes militarily, this does not necessarily imply cultural superiority. (Also, there were numerous distinct American Indian cultures, so, just statistically, without even looking at the details, it’s improbably that United States culture was superior to all of them. Considering the part that forced labor and massacres played in United States culture, the probability drops even further. Of course, some cultural aspects, such as culinary prowess, are quite subjective.

                Disclaimer regarding United States military dominance: It was not always on the battlefield. Sometimes, the American Indians won on the battlefield and those in power in the United States found off-battlefield tactics of military domination, such as slaughtering the buffalo.

                It is true of course that certain people, Ayn Rand included perhaps, equate military dominance to cultural superiority.

                Of interest, and which you even brought up, is Roman military dominance. Here follows a quotation of a Roman boasting about Roman military dominance. I took the translation from a book titled, “Rome: Empire of Plunder”, edited by Matthew P. Loar, Carolyn MacDonald, and Dan-el Padilla Peralta.

                “We have thrived thus (and I’ll tell you the most unambiguous things for you to take and announce to your city): we agree with our enemies to their terms, and we surpass in foreign customs those who have been practicing the same things for a long time. For the Etruscans had bronze shields and were in the phalanx when they fought us, and did not fight in maniples; and we, swapping our armor and taking up theirs, lined up in formation against them and striving in that fashion were victorious over men who had long been accustomed to fighting in the phalanx. The Samnite rectangular shield was not customary among us, nor did we make use of javelins; we fought with round shields and spears. Nor were we strong at cavalry riding: all or nearly all of Roman military might was infantry in nature. But when facing off against the Samnites in war, we equipped ourselves with their shields and javelins and fought them on horseback, and with the help of foreign weapons and customs we ens****d those who were puffed up about themselves. We did not know how to wage siege warfare, Carthaginians; but after learning from the Greeks, men thoroughly knowledgeable about the practice, we have become superior to the experts and to all men in siegecraft. Do not force the Romans to take to the sea! For if we need a fleet, in a short time we will build more and better ships than yours, and we will prevail in sea warfare over those who have been sailing for a long time.”

                There’s really not much in there about Roman culture, other than their military culture. And the Romans were pretty eager to appropriate (to use the modern expression) stuff from other cultures, just as they appropriated military tactics. Very little of what is considered Roman culture was actually originally Roman.

                The much of United States cultures was also appropriated from other cultures, such as the Iroquois Confederacy.

                This is from a review found on Amazon of a book comparing and contrasting the United States constitution with Iroquois constitution:

                This little book has clause-by-clause comparisons of the constitution of the Iroquois Federation, known as the Great Law of Peace, with the US Constitution. It shows how much of the US Constitution was inspired by the Iroquois. You can also see where key aspects of the Great Law of Peace were not incorporated, much to our detriment. The role of the Grandmothers in the Great Law of Peace is an example that I think is particularly important. We live now in a nation governed mostly by uninitiated men without any meaningful check and balance from the elder feminine perspective. Is it any wonder that we are devastating the very lands upon which our future generations depend?


                According to some sources, forced labor was not a thing in Iroquois society. There does seem to be some dispute on this point. In any case, it seems that the Iroquois Confederacy, was, for the most part, more enlightened on the topic of human rights than the United States is even today. (Speaking of the practices of those on power, generally speaking, and not intended as a statement about any individual US citizens or Iroquois citizen unless specified otherwise.)

                While it’s probably a good thing that the writers of the United States constitution appropriated as much of the Iroquois constitution as they did, in fact, it’s quite a shame they didn’t appropriate more of it. I don’t think it was the superior culture that won here (again, speaking of statistical trends and not of individual US citizens or Iroquois citizens).

                Ayn Rand is not the odd one out … her attitude is the normal … and historically has been normal for a long time.

                I wouldn’t call it normal. The view held by the majority of conquerors, probably, but I’m pretty sure that throughout human history, the majority of people have been gatherers and/or hunters and/or famers. Most likely, if a time traveler could go back and survey gatherers and hunters and farmers through the ages, without disrupting the timeline, we would probably find that most of them aren’t in agreement with the whole might-makes-right idea.

                But, unfortunately, history seems to more frequently record the opinions of conquerors, even if these aren’t really representative of humanity as a whole.

                Even today, now that hunter as gathering has mostly but not completely gone out of fashion, and farming requires a much smaller percentage of the world’s population than it has in past centuries, I believe around 26% of the world’s population are farmers.

                I think only around 4% of the world’s population are US citizens, and not all of those even vote, nor do US citizens qualify as a random sample of the world’s population, so I don’t really think the outcome of US elections is representative of human opinion worldwide. If it were, there would probably be a lot less third world countries getting bombed.

                Also, I’m not libertarian. Libertarian doesn’t just mean support for individual human rights and judging people as individuals. Libertarians have some very specific ideas about property rights that I don’t agree with. But individual human rights? I suspect a lot of random hunters, gatherers, and farmers throughout history would be on board with with that or some variation of it.

              • Anonymous says:

                “Now I want to ask where those Libertarian ideas came from? From you as an individual of course, but not fundamentally from you …

                “… What I’m getting at here, is that in order to make a judgement … or even put together the basic foundation to start making your judgement you must first depend on a long line of principles and beliefs with threads going way back.”

                While people *do* benefit from past advances in knowledge because it’s better than starting from scratch, you don’t need to rely on tradition to arrive at individualism.

                You can just start from first principles like Mises did, and argue it from scratch.

                It’s important to understand *why* some traditions are beneficial so you can avoid this very challenge. (“Oh, if you were raised in another culture, you’d believe differently.)

                I like to begin the defence of individualism by pointing out that we are all born as individuals, no matter what our society looks like.

                I am born with my own mind that is not part of a hive-mind; I can be influenced by others and by circumstances, but ultimately my choices and beliefs are my own, for my good or to my detriment. No one can belief things, or behave in certain ways for me.

                From here, the argument for individualism is as simple as pointing out the lack of an inherent quality in one person that would grant them the right to own another person’s thoughts or behaviors.

                This negative right is the basis for the positive rights of property and meriticracy.

                Because if no one has a right to my thoughts or behaviors, then no one has a right to force me to labor or produce for them.

                And if I transformed an unowned thing into something for my benefit, then for someone to take that thing and use it without my permission is to comandeer my labor for his benefit – a violation of the negative right to not have one’s thoughts or behaviors owned by another.

                This is why “mixing your labor” with items necessarily results in property – the ownership of the thing produced.

                Meritocracy is just being consistent with respecting another’s right to property. If you’re not allowed to have something just because someone else has it, then you are obligated to earn it, if you can.

                (If I own something, I have the right to set the conditions of transfering ownership to someone else. If another person has conditions which are conducive to trade, then ownership changes voluntarily. This takes care of the questions of ownership over previously owned things.)

            • random person says:

              In response to Tel, regarding this old conversation about the colonization of the Americas.

              I’ve recently been reading a book titled “Black Indians”, which concerns many alliances formed between black people and various American Indian tribes, as well as white supremacist efforts to turn blacks and American Indians against each other, sometimes successfully.

              Apparently one tribe in which large numbers of ensl*ved black people found refuge was the Seminoles. The Seminoles accepted the blacks and citizens. I guess life was not 100% free even among the Seminoles, as they did apparently have a mild system of taxation, but this is understandable, since the taxes were used to sponsor defense against the aggressive, warmongering white supremacists.

              In any case, the Seminoles held out for a long time against the white supremacists, refusing to adopt a system of sl*very and insisting on having a society where people had equal rights regardless of whether they were of black heritage, American Indian heritage, or mixed.

              The white supremacists sl*veholders were very angry about this, and afraid that free blacks living so close to their plantations would inspire sl*ve uprisings, so the white supremacists made war against the Seminoles.

              The Seminoles held out for a long time. But they did not manage to hold out forever. As the Seminole became a conquered people, one of the demands white supremacists made of them was that they ensl*ve the black Seminoles.

              The Seminole response to this was mixed. A few did exactly as white supremacists wanted them to. Some told the whites they were ensl*ving the black Seminoles, but in practice continued to treat them with equal dignity to other Seminoles as before. And some, who insisted on maintaining full equal dignity between black, mixed, and non-black Seminoles, fled to Mexico. The Seminole chief who led the flight to Mexico was called Wild Cat, or, alternatively, Coacoochee or Cowacoochee.

              Mexico required the Seminole refugees to serve in Mexico’s armed forces, as a sort of border guard, as condition for granting them refuge. However, Wild Cat apparently refused to obey orders he considered immoral, but there wasn’t much the Mexicans could do about it, since the Seminoles won nearly every military engagement they were in. Unfortunately, Wild Cat eventually died during a disease outbreak, which took a number of the non-black Seminoles in Mexico. As a result, a number of the surviving non-black Seminoles went back up north, out of Mexico, while the black Seminoles remained in Mexico.

              After the Civil War, the US would eventually offer the black Seminoles a deal to persuade them to serve in the US army in exchange for land in the US, but although many black Seminoles came and served, the US government never upheld its end of the bargain.

              Going back to how the white supremacists sought to drive division between the non-black Seminoles and the black Seminoles, by demanding that the former ensl*ve the latter, the white supremacists did this with somewhat more success to certain other tribes — that is, demanding that non-black American Indians ensl*ve black American Indians. Certain white supremacists seemed to believe that getting American Indians to adopt racial sl*very was key to civilizing them. However, most of the tribes who agreed to do this, to some extent at least, had very different ideas than the white supremacists did about sl*very should work, and developed comparatively mild systems of sl*very (relative to the brutality of the system of sl*very practice by white supremacists), which enraged the white supremacists (who didn’t want the people they ensl*ved to get any ideas), and lead to further repression against those tribes who were not as “civilized” (read: depraved) as the white supremacists wanted them to be.

              And thus it is that you are entirely right to put “civilized” in quotation marks. Based on this and also what I read in “Against the Grain” by James C. Scott (and various other books concerning interactions between so-called “civilized” nations and so-called “barbarians”), I think “civilized” is often just a code word for “moral depravity”. The white supremacists objected to American Indian tribes who weren’t as morally depraved as they were. They sought to “civilize” them by teaching them to be more depraved.

              While it is very unfortunate that certain individual Comanche used torture, the white supremacists clearly weren’t conquering them to make them stop, considering they sought to “civilize” certain other tribes by convincing them to commit acts of torture.

              • random person says:

                *blacks as citizens, not blacks and citizens

              • random person says:

                *blacks as citizens, not blacks and citizens

  2. Mark says:

    Hey, Bob –

    I haven’t seen anything from you since Christmas. Wo bist du?

  3. Craw says:

    We are finally living in Bob Murphy’s dream world, where billionaires can stifle Parler and hundreds of thousands of Americans, and what happens the first week? Ron Paul bitches about being censored.

    • Tel says:

      If you care about accuracy, then Ron Paul complained about being punished for “violating community standards” when these supposed standards are applied in an inconsistent and arbitrary manner … meaning they are no standards at all.

      • Craw says:

        He complained about the nature of the punishment. What was that? An inability to speak.

        • Tel says:

          If the “Terms & Conditions” had clearly stated that libertarians are not accepted on Facebook, especially should they question any official narrative … in that case Ron Paul would have every expectation of getting kicked off because he is a libertarian and he does go around questioning.

          Let’s suppose he went ahead anyway … knowing he was not welcome and predictably got booted. He would have had nothing to complain about, and no sympathy from me … but that’s not what actually happened here is it?

          The point about legal contracts is they require an exchange of value and a meeting of the minds. Thus Facebook / YouTube / etc provides the platform (including a share of revenue in some cases, or for Ron Paul a promotion of his brand) and the content provider delivers interesting content to attract eyeballs to the platform and make their service more valuable. That’s a business deal in any legal framework you care to name.

          Then the deal changes … not with agreement of both parties but because one party unilaterally decides that what was perfectly reasonable content a year ago has become unacceptable, for mystical reasons. See … normal business cannot get away with that, and that’s about the time government should step in (or private arbitration if you are a purist, but I’m not) … you have what amounts to fraud right there.

          Best example I can thing of … you have a mail order business and you contract a delivery company to ship the packages as you get orders from your customers. The delivery company ships for years and you have a long standing agreement with them.

          One day they simply decide they won’t ship your parcels anymore, but they do ship for your competitor. They say there’s something wrong with your parcels … but they cannot tell you exactly what. Your parcels are essentially the same as your competitors as far as you can tell. Is that breach of contract? I would think so. That’s not exactly the same as what happened to Ron Paul, but it’s in the general ballpark.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Just so I understand, Craw, it’s my dream world why? Because I don’t think people have a government-guaranteed right to social media accounts on particular platforms?

      • random person says:

        Ignoring the government for a moment, do you think what Google did in that case was moral?

        • Harold says:

          They created the problem to some extent. The recommendation algorithms keep people watching by feeding them more of the stuff they watched and suggesting a bit more “exciting” versions. This tends to funnel people in more extreme versions and into echo chambers. Once in it is hard to get out.

          The defense against bad speech is more good speech. However people on youtube do not get to see the more speech. Their echo chamber just gives them more and more bad speech. When that bad speech is having real world serious negative consequences the only immediate counter to that is to shut off the bad speech.

          It is a non sustainable solution. At best a short term patch that if extended will take us down a dark road. But carrying on with the current practices also takes us down a dark road, so maybe it is a case of choose your hell.

          Longer term, the algorithms must somehow deliver a more balanced feed. The trouble is, people don’t really like that. Platforms offering the echo chamber approach may be able to out-compete platforms attempting to offer good speech with the bad. Good means balanced.

          This is an over simplification and there are nuances, but I think it captures some of the essence of the problem.

          • random person says:

            Sorry for slow reply. Was swamped in business matters. (Which is actually much more pleasant than being swamped by certain other types of matters, but still.)

            Anyway, yes, I can see the problem with that.

            When that bad speech is having real world serious negative consequences the only immediate counter to that is to shut off the bad speech.

            See, when you bring this up, I immediately think “Rwandan genocide”. I realize that “bad speech” played a significant role in a number of other genocides as well, but I remember, when reading about the Rwandan genocide, that the radio played a big role.

            From “Worse than War” by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen,

            Language demeaning, expressing hate, or inspiring fear about others often coalesces into a stable, patterned set of beliefs, tropes, symbols, and charges often called a discourse but more properly called—because it conveys its social reality—a conversation. Different societies, ethnic groups, political parties, and political leaders and their followers have explicit, symbol-laden, and encoded conversations about other people or groups they deem noxious or perceive as threatening. These conversations can resemble acquaintances’ ongoing, years-long, multistranded discussions, sometimes impassioned and sometimes casual, that pick up where they left off and take off in new directions, repeating and returning to well-known themes even as they incorporate new notions and develop new arguments with unfolding events, resonating powerfully to those familiar with them as they listen attentively or as background music to the familiar tropes, while perhaps sounding striking to newcomers seeking to understand and assimilate their terms. In Rwanda, a powerful Hutu eliminationist discussion of the Tutsi was already long established when the quasi-governmental radio station Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) became its new focal point in August 1993. Vianney Higiro, the director of the government’s official station, Radio Rwanda, explains in these notable terms: “These broadcasts were like a conversation among Rwandans who knew each other well and were relaxing over some banana beer or a bottle of Primus [the local beer] in a bar. It was a conversation without a moderator and without any requirements as to the truth of what was said. The people who were there recounted what they had seen or heard during the day. The exchanges covered everything: rumors circulating on the hills, news from the national radio, conflicts among local political bosses. . . . It was all in fun. Some people left the bar, others came in, the conversation went on or stopped if it got too late, and the next day it took up again after work.”3 Leading up to the government’s initiation of the mass murder, radio stations and other media reinforced Hutu’s prejudicial views and deep suspicions of Tutsi, and further prepared them for the coming assault. During the exterminationist assault, radio became the principal source of Hutu’s understanding of unfolding events, forcefully exhorting ordinary Hutu to annihilate the Tutsi enemy. Augustin Bazimaziki, one of the Hutu killers, explains that the killing began with the “radio broadcast[ing] some news such as, ‘We need to kill all the Tutsi,’” and then, as they were mercilessly hunting them down, “the radio broadcasted the information such that we need to kill Tutsi seven days a week.”

            I think about this and things like this, and I wonder:
            * Was shutting down or jamming the radio even a viable option? Was there anyone who was both sane enough to realize the problem and powerful enough to actually enact such a shutdown or jamming?
            * Is there any way to reconcile the disgust I feel with speech that rises to the level of “incitement to genocide” with my belief in free speech? Clearly, the two feelings/beliefs are contradict each other. Can this contradiction in my psyche be resolved?
            * Would shutting down or jamming the radios have even helped? Or would the genocidal propagandists have simply found other ways to incite the populace to genocide?
            * Assuming that someone who wanted to prevent the genocide actually had the power to do something about this, which would work better, pragmatically speaking: shutting down or jamming the radio stations, or setting up a competing radio station?
            * Does the concept of free speech even apply to radio waves? I mean, when we talk about free speech, in it’s most literal sense, it means the right to vocalize with our vocal cords / lips / etc. Stretch it a little and it also includes the right to sign language, which is basically speech without vocal cords but still with parts of our bodies. Radio waves aren’t a body part. Maybe sending out radio waves of the type that can only be produced by machines is a crime against God/nature to begin with and we should shut down all the radio stations. Or maybe it’s not. I don’t think I’d be comfortable applying that logic to, say, a paper newspaper.
            * Trying to comprehend why people do such horrible things like genocide is really hard, even though history demonstrates that there are a lot of people who would generally be classified as “perfectly normal” who would engage in genocide given certain conditions (such as the radio telling them to).

            Of course, Youtube is on the internet, not the radio, but I should think that if Youtube sometimes incites genocide, or even lesser forms of eliminationism such as smaller mass murders, that many of the same questions/concepts would apply.

      • Craw says:

        Is that how you describe what happened to Parler?

        In general you have spent years wishing for unlimited private police power and unlimited assertions of “property” rights. That’s what we saw all summer, and now in Washington and on social media. As Gene Callahan repeatedly said, your preferences lead to the war of all against all. We are approaching that. Rejoice!

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Craw, can you elaborate just once more? Are you saying something like, “The government has to exist–contrary to dolts like Rothbard–and one of the chief things it should do is check private mobs and billionaire super villains. Yet the feds listened to Murphy over here and look where we are!”


        • guest says:

          It’s not private when the government repeatedly denies people the option to secede. What we saw all summer is the result of *your* preferences, not ours.

          Washington has to obey the constutition, which it’s not doing. The Electoral College was deliberately intended to deny democracy (mob rule, with those closest to where the decisions are made do the actual decision-making while the rest of us do normal people stuff like go to work and try to live our own lives), and we are threatened with the unconstitutional abolition of it.

          So, we don’t want to be part of the latest socialist experiment, but we’re threatened if we try to withdraw our delegated authority. So, we’re being forced at gunpoint to remain in a political association we don’t want to be a part of.

          THAT’S why you have people quite reasonably, and quite constitutionally, surrounding capitols while armed. (except for Lefties, who think their entitled to other people’s stuff, and they’re going to threaten state governments if they doin’t point a gun at their neighbors and take their stuff to redistribute).

          Federalist #28:

          “In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”

          This is the fault of socialist / central planning ideas, not of free market ideas.

          • Harold says:

            Surrounding capitols?

            • guest says:

              Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation

        • guest says:

          Also, when some Native Americans point out that you can look at Google Maps of different tribes and immediately determine which tribes are “taken care of” by the federal government (with welfare programs and their land held in trust as recompense for whites taking their land) and which tribes are ignored, and that it’s precisely the tribes which are ignored and do not receive welfare that have nice homes and even mansions on their land – you have to start rethinking your preferences for collectiviwsm.

          Rethink *something* because your socialism / central planning preferences are destroying lives.

          You have to laugh when Van Jones, speaking of Native Americans, says “Give them the wealth! Give them the wealth!”, because it is precisely his way of thinking that prevents Native Americans from acquiring the wealth:

          John Stossel – Why Are Indians Poor?

          How the Government Turns American Indians into Freeloaders

          • random person says:

            It’s not quite that simple.

            Imagine there was a prisoner being held in a prison cell. Is the prisoner’s chances of survival higher if they are brought food or if they are completely ignored and not brought any food?

            I would say that their chances of survival are higher if they are brought food than if they are completely ignored and not brought any food. It is true that not being brought food might motivate them to try harder to escape. However, if the prisons is well designed, their chances of success at escaping are pretty low, regardless of their motivation level.

            This has nothing to do with collectivism. A person locked in a prison cell simply has almost no capability to support themselves under those circumstances. Nor does it make the prisoner a “freeloader” — if the prisoner is imprisoned for obviously unjust reasons, the prisoner has clearly been robbed, of their bodily freedom and quite possibly of other things as well. Think of it, like, if someone steals ten thousand dollars from you, and then offers you one dollar back, taking the one dollar doesn’t make you a freeloader.

            However, the equation is obviously completely different if we are talking about someone who has a complete freedom to earn a living in a matter of their choosing.

            And there’s a large scale in between: people who have less than complete freedom to earn a living as they choose, but more than a prisoner locked in a cell.

            Native Americans fall on various parts of that scale, but often towards the end of very little freedom.

            Also, I read that if a Native American receives a monthly check, it’s actually much more likely to be from a Native American casino than from the US government. Again, that’s not freeloading, that’s casino profits.

            • random person says:

              See also, “John Stossel’s Racist Attack On Tribes As ‘Freeloaders’: A Farrago Of Ignorance And Lies”
              by David Neiwert

            • guest says:

              I don’t think you watched the videos because if your prisoner analogy holds at all it’s because the government is “taking care of them”, which means they are not allowed to do what they want with their own land.

              With the casinos, you still have the government holding their land in trust.

              So, what’s actually happening is that indians *would* improve their own land except that they are not guaranteed, through ownership, to enjoy the fruits of their labor – their property can be given away by the tribal leaders. What’s the point of improving your own land if someone else is going to take it over.

              Past injustices to indians on the part of whites does not explain their current poverty – especially when you have examples of tribes that are *not* taken care of by the government, and so no one tells them what they may or may not do with their property.

              It is entirely socialism / central planning that makes indians poor, while free(er) markets is what allows indians to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities that are *constantly* staring them in the face.

              This goes for past injustices for any group. The moment you are left alone to take advantage of opportunities that are staring you right in the face, the “past injustices” argument becomes moot.

              I haven’t read your David Neiwert article, yet, but I’m going to right now.

              • guest says:

                I just read the Neiwert article.

                Unfortunately, this guy just thinks free markets are the source of racism and indian poverty.

                How dare the indians notice that whites generally believe in a different economics than they do, and then want to try to copy them. Why they’re sell-outs, of course:

                Neiwert: “Once in a while you do hear reactionary Indians who want to sell out their heritage, assimilate into the mainstream, and become just like the white man.”

                Anyway, check out what he says about Stossel’s generally pro-free-market indian example, the Lumbee’s:

                “Of course, Stossel doesn’t explain that, in fact, the Lumbees became a federally recognized tribe in 1956 — but the bill doing so contained language restricting them from having reservation land and other benefits of full federal recognition. Lumbee tribal members are in fact fully eligible for a number of federal assistance programs, and the majority of the tribe participates in these special benefits: ”

                Although the linked PDF is no longer available, the Lumbee website addresses this issue, elsewhere:

                History and Culture Backup | lumbee-tribe-of-nc

                “In 1956 a bill was passed by the United States Congress which recognized the Lumbee as Indian, but denied the tribe full status as a federally recognized Indian tribe.”

                And also this:

                “The 1956 Lumbee legislation clearly did not establish entitlement of the Lumbee Indians for federal services. It also clearly named the group and denominated them as Indians. Without a court decision squarely confronting the issue of whether the 1956 statute confers federal recognition on the Lumbee, there is insufficient documentation to determine if the statute effects federal recognition of the Lumbees.”

                But for anyone who has actually watched the Stossel videos, his omissions are the most glaring.

                Neiwert says: “The show, titled “Freeloaders,” was all about how those chiseling Indians are constantly on the lookout for bigger handouts, and it clearly implied they were lazy bums whose federal dole should be axed.”

                This completely ignores the fact that Stossel said, in the first video:

                “Is it because there’s something about indians that makes them lazy or irresponsible? No. When indians own their own land, they do about as well as other americans.”

                So, no, Stossel wasn’t being racist.

                Other things Neiwert conveniently failed to mention:

                A former tribal leader, Manny Jules(sp?) complained that the federal governments in Canada (where his tribe is located) and the United States have legislated them out of the economy.

                In the video with Ben Chavis (who Neiwert just waves off as insignificant) he says that his friend in a nother tribe (forgot which) cannot do the same things on his land as Ben can do on his, because Ben and other indians have titles and deeds to their land – because the federal government does not recognize them as a protected tribe (or whatever the name for that is)

                Also something that failed to be mentioned was when Stossel asked the lawyer who was arguing for Lumbee recognition, “How did the Mormons become wealthy?”

                He asked this after the lawyer mentioned how indians had beem placed on harsh and out of the way lands, which also applies to the Mormons – yet the Mormons got wealthy.

                Stossel also asked the lawyer how the Amish (the freaking Amish!) got wealthy, even choosing not to use modern tools (I heard that some of them do cheat, like using the electricity at some venue where they sell their goods, but still).

                Do you know what the response of the lawyer was? “I don’t know how the Mormons became wealthy”.

                Yeah, because socialists like her don’t understand economics, or where value comes from.

          • random person says:

            Ah, here’s a good example:

            A 1980 Supreme Court decision describes what happened next. When gold was discovered in the area, the U.S. military was obligated to defend the border of the reservation from prospectors. But in 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant quietly ordered the military to let the miners invade. Amid negotiations with the tribe to make the invasion legal, the U.S. military attacked tribal members hunting in an area approved for such purposes under the treaty. A military conflict ensued, and, after notable wins but ultimately defeat, the Oceti Sakowin people were confined to the reservation, where they could no longer access important hunting grounds. Faced with starvation when the U.S. government threatened to cut off all rations, 10 percent of adult male tribal members — not 75 percent — signed a new treaty relinquishing the Black Hills.


            When people are confined on a reservation, deprived of the ability to hunt in their traditional hunting grounds or seek to earn their living by other means, in other words held in a sort of open air group prison, it is not “freeloading” to accept rations from one’s captors.

  4. random person says:

    This is for guest, but I’m replying down here since it’s sort of a long reply.

    Alright, I got past my reaction to the word “freeloaders” enough to listen to both John Stossel videos you linked, and they weren’t as bad as the term “freeloader” made me think they would be. It seems like he actually spent more time complaining about the lack of respect for American Indian land rights, than complaining about the so-called assistance American Indians sometimes receive. And he actually put “help” in airquotes, which is where it belongs in this context, to make it clear we are talking about so-called help and not real help.

    John Stossel was technically talking about property rights, but since a number of the American Indians I’ve talked to prefer the term stewardship rights, maybe it’s best if I just talk of “land rights” to avoid getting into great detail about the differences between property rights and stewardship rights. I guess, as best I understand it, stewardship rights are basically property rights minus whatever is prohibited by natural law, and different cultures throughout the world might have different opinions about what exactly is prohibited by natural law. But, to take an example from our modern American culture, prohibitions against domestic violence or certain types of domestic violence (even when the perpetrator is often the legal owner of the home in question) imply that property rights are not absolute and are subject to some form of natural law, and that domestic violence or at least certain types of domestic violence violate that natural law.

    But they’re still kinda reductionist. There’s a whole lot of history here. When I was travelling through Oklahoma, someone told me that in that state, there had been a scandal where a bunch of white men had married American Indian women for their land and money and then murdered said women, and that at least some of these murderers were allowed to keep this land and money.

    I later looked this up on the internet, and discovered the history of the Osage murders.

    You can listen to or read about the story here:
    “Largely Forgotten Osage Murders Reveal A Conspiracy Against Wealthy Native Americans”

    Alright, so, the Osage were repeatedly pushed off their land, and they finally went to a part of Oklahoma where the soil was rocky and infertile and they thought white folks would finally leave them alone. By the time this happened, their numbers were severely depleted by numerous forced migrations and the starvation caused by forced migration.

    Now, the Osage had actually negotiated fairly strong treaty rights. They actually had a deed to their land, and also headrights in a mineral trust. I think most American Indian tribes did not understand European-style legal codes well enough to negotiate for such treaties. Which is understandable, different languages and different cultures and all that.

    Anyway, the rocky, infertile soil the Osage had moved to in the hopes that white folks would leave them alone turned out to be rich in oil, and the Osage became quite possibly the richest people per capita in the world. And this, combined with an American culture sky high in racism at the time, made them the target of a murder conspiracy.

    Incidentally, it also made them the target of racist guardianship laws, whereby many Osage were deemed unfit to manage their own money and appointed guardians. Which, if I understand correctly, also played into the murders.

    And these were very intimate murders. Men would pretend to fall in love with Osage women, marry them, live in the same houses with them, even have children with them, and ultimately conspire to kill them. And there was a conspiracy among the community to cover it up. Morticians helped cover it up. Local lawmen would fail to investigate. Some of the private investigators hired to investigate also got murdered, which proves that whatever “white privilege” is or isn’t, it doesn’t provide absolute protection against being murdered in the name of white supremacy. You can be white and still get murdered by racist white supremacists for racist reasons, at least under certain circumstances.

    The story also involves the origins of the FBI, because there were pleas for help from investigators who weren’t involved in the local politics. Whatever you think of the FBI more broadly speaking, the federal investigators involved in this case really did try to do their jobs. And it ultimately became less about who did it, than about whether it was possible to convince a white jury at the time to convict a white man.

    Anyway, yes, having decent land rights helped the Osage get rich. But then many were murdered and many of the killers escaped justice. For land rights to function as intended, they need a foundation in a respect for life. If the right of the landowner or landsteward to not be murdered is not respected, then they might get rich but they might also get killed for being rich. Trying to have land rights without a basic respect for life is like trying to build a house on sand, except with much higher stakes.

    And that really goes back to the source of the problem. American Indians were pushed off so much of their land to begin with and confined to reservations or wherever because so much of white American culture failed to respect their basic human rights to not be murdered. If the right to not be murdered were respected, then perhaps white folks would have set up their own homes next to American Indian ones, but there wouldn’t have been all the forced migrations and confinement and other violence involved with pushing people off their land.

    • guest says:

      “Alright, I got past my reaction to the word “freeloaders” enough to listen to both John Stossel videos you linked, and they weren’t as bad as the term “freeloader” made me think they would be.”

      Whew! You have no idea how hard that is to pull off. Heh.

      I mean, I do sometimes post long and/or multiple links, and I realize that not everyone has the time or the patience to look at them, and that I should not expect them to; but I’m used to people not even willing to *consider* another point of view.

      (Aside: I can’t wait to help you get past your reaction to *some of* the slave-owning Founding Fathers. I dare you not to fall in love with them.)

      Anyway, yes, what the Americans did to the indians was inexcusable, but that policy was based on the Labor Theory of Value – which is contrary to meritocracy and individualism. The founding generation were agrarians as a matter of their economics. They believed that since the sources of life, itself – the food produced on land – was the basis of all correct valuations and prices (you still see this, today, with all the subsidies to farmers, and such).

      But since the real basis of correct valuation is the goals of the individual consumer, as soon as the wealth that agrarianism gave people reached a plateau for increasingly more individuals, they wanted to invest their wealth in better labor-saving devices that increased production but reduced the need for human agricultural workers.

      Had the founding fathers left the indians alone and just traded with them, land prices would have gone up, making it harder for people to become farmers, but that’s supply and demand and is *supposed* to happen – when you have enough of something, you don’t value the next unit of that good the way you valued the previous units; and the opposite is logically and necessarily true, that if you value something less when you have enough, then you necessarily value something more when you feel like you don’t have enough.

      That’s how all prices work. That’s life. That’s humanity the way it’s “supposed” to function. That’s what “supply and demand” means. It’s beneficial in spite of hits heartlessness precisely because efficiency renders thoughtfulness moot – your iPhone doesn’t give a second thought about you; it does what you want it to, and that’s the reason you bought it.

      If you had someone from Apple call you up every time you used your iPhone to ask you how your day is going and tell you that they really care about you, you’d get mad.

      This is why, when individualism and property rights are respected, the heartless price system of the free market presents extremely useful information that everyone can use to make themselves more wealthy – both the rich and the poor.

      • random person says:

        Anyway, yes, what the Americans did to the indians was inexcusable, but that policy was based on the Labor Theory of Value – which is contrary to meritocracy and individualism. The founding generation were agrarians as a matter of their economics. They believed that since the sources of life, itself – the food produced on land – was the basis of all correct valuations and prices (you still see this, today, with all the subsidies to farmers, and such).

        Yes, what was done to the American Indians by certain specific US citizens was crimes against humanity. Though I’m not sure what the Labor Theory of Value has to do with it. Somehow, I doubt most of the specific US citizens who participated in acts of genocide and other crimes against humanity had ever heard of the Labor Theory of Value. But it would be interesting if you have specific examples of certain pro-genocide philosophers citing the Labor Theory of Value.

        Although, if I recall, some of the relevant philosophers did not openly endorse genocide per se, but the ideas they endorsed ended up leading down the road to genocide.

        One of the underlying causes (though not necessarily a direct endorsement of genocide in and of itself) was a denial of all American Indians had done to improve the land.

        Incidentally, Ayn Rand was one of the people who denied what American Indians had done to improve the land. And was also pro-genocide.

        To quote the Salon article I mentioned earlier in my discussion with Tel,

        “Let’s suppose they were all beautifully innocent savages, which they certainly were not,” Rand persisted. “What was it that they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their right to keep part of the earth untouched, unused, and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal?” she asked.

        www [dot] salon [dot] com/2015/10/14/libertarian_superstar_ayn_rand_defended_genocide_of_savage_native_americans/

        In fact, certain American Indians (including quite a number in the Amazon Basin area, and also some in North America as well) were some of the most advanced agriculturalists history has ever seen. Monsanto was outdated thousands of years before it was even founded.

        In the Amazon River Basin, the agricultural technology has been named by archaeologists as Terra Preta. Terra Preta is what happens when some of the world’s poorest soil is terraformed into some of the world’s richest soil. This sort of terraforming (although admittedly from a different soil beginning) also occurred in North America. In North America, these have been called “fire derived soils”.

        Agricultural scientists have discovered that the key ingredient is something biochar. Biochar is what happens when you take organic matter and you do a low oxygen burn (pyrolysis) to burn it down to char, but not all the way down to ash. (But it’s hard to do it perfectly, so if you just do it in your backyard with fairly simply equipment, you probably will get some ash with your biochar.)

        There’s a great documentary about Terra Preta here:

        And you can read about the fire derived soils of North America here:

        char-grow [dot] com/the-other-terra-preta-story

        Anyway, Biochar significantly enhances soil fertility, provides erosion resistance, and has the potential to help reverse climate change by putting carbon into the soil.

        Also, for optimal results, Biochar should go through an activation process and be combined with rock dust (such as basalt rock dust) before being mixed with the soil. (Failing to do this can before adding Biochar to the soil can sometimes cause problems, such as actually reducing fertility for the first year before being properly integrated into the soil and then increasing fertility.) One way to activate Biochar is to mix it 50/50 with grass clippings. Another way is to mix it into your compost.

        One time, I used some homemade Biochar for food poisoning because I couldn’t find any medical-grade activated carbon. However, medical grade activated carbon would have been optimal. Using Biochar is just something I did in a pinch, and while it did help me, it’s not really recommended.

        You can find some instructional videos on Youtube, if you’re interested. For example:

        www [dot] youtube [dot] com/watch?v=7REMpeJlf64

        I realize I haven’t yet responded to all the points you made, but I’ll try to come back later today or tomorrow to continue other points of this discussion.

        • guest says:

          “Incidentally, Ayn Rand was one of the people who denied what American Indians had done to improve the land. And was also pro-genocide.”

          I don’t know much about Ayn Rand except that she was generally great on free market principles, and I think that Rothbard called her particular movement a cult (so to speak) because of their rejection of religious members (irony).

          But I will venture to guess that adding stuff to the soil where they *did* choose to grow food would not have been among the things that qualified as improving the land, for Ayn Rand’s purposes.

          Likely, what she had in mind is creating the buildings, large pens to breed animals and such, roads, and tools/vehicles conducive to creating efficient supply chains, which would have required the clearing of forests and such.

          Again, I don’t know for sure. I would be impressed with the bio-char stuff (I’ll watch that video), but if they stopped there, then I’d say that misses the point, which is that to not use resources that are just sitting there right in front of you that would improve your standard of living is wasteful.

          Bio-char seems great, but would only get you so far. Because of trade (which the indians knew about, but were only willing to develop it so far) whites could become vastly more wealthy than the indians, even without stealing their land.

          I remember that at some point before, on this blog, someone else had a problem with John Locke’s (I think) position on the indians, and he misinterpreted what Locke was saying – he wasn’t saying that the colonists were naturally better than indians at growing food and developing their land, he was saying that their chosen lifestyle left a lot of potential untapped, and that *that’s* why the colonists were better at developing land.

          ““What was it that they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their right to keep part of the earth untouched, unused, and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal?””

          If Rand did favor genocide, then that’s bad. But this particular statement is great. To the extent that they believed this, it was a backwards way of thinking.

          For the same reason you can’t simply point at something and claim that it’s yours (like the ocean or a mountain), the indians don’t have a right to prevent someone else from developing a land they have no intention of using.

          (Aside: You don’t have to conclude from this that Manifest Destiny is apparent. You can choose to be consistent with the principles of the Declaration of Independence and actually go out and mix your labor with land that you indend to homestead rather than stealing it.)

          • random person says:

            But I will venture to guess that adding stuff to the soil where they *did* choose to grow food would not have been among the things that qualified as improving the land, for Ayn Rand’s purposes.

            To get an idea of the historical and modern day significance of Biochar, consider this. Once upon a time, there was a priest (a Portuguese priest, if I recall correctly) who went on an expedition with some other folks down a river in the Amazon Basin area. While on the expedition, he saw large populations of natives and wrote about it in his journal. Then people thought he had lied about the large populations, and his journal was suppressed. Later expeditions did not see large populations, and archaeologists wrote the claims of large populations off as impossible due to the extremely poor soil quality in that part of the world. Archaeologists believed it was impossible for such poor soil to support large populations.

            Then archaeologists began to discover extremely rich, clearly man-made soil in the Amazon Basin area. Apparently, if all the man-made soil were put together, it would equal an area the size of France. Redoing their calculations based on this new discovery, they concluded that yes, the Amazon Basin area could and apparently did support large populations. Now historians believe these large populations were wiped out by European diseases. Attempting to reverse engineer the tera pretta has lead to the discovery of Biochar, which has also been found in North America, indicating that some North American natives used similar methods of soil improvement. And it turns out that biochar also has significant implications for biowaste management, e.g. dry toilets.

            While it is sad that this rich soil did not help protect the natives of the area from European diseases, being able to transform an area that, without such intervention, would not be able to support large populations, into an area that could support large populations, is a tremendous accomplishment. And it lasts. People today can still use Tera Preta that was made 3,000 years ago. If that doesn’t qualify as improving the land, nothing does.

            Compare to the deep plowing of the great plains which lead to the Dust Bowl, which basically did the opposite: transform land that was very suitable for agriculture into land that was very unsuitable for agriculture. Compare also to to many chemical fertilizers which might provide a temporary fertility boost but which degrade the soil in the long run. A headline from 2015 stated that the Earth had lost a third of its arable land in the past 40 years due in large part to destructive agriculture.

            www [dot] theguardian [dot] com/environment/2015/dec/02/arable-land-soil-food-security-shortage

            Likely, what she had in mind is creating the buildings, large pens to breed animals and such, roads, and tools/vehicles conducive to creating efficient supply chains, which would have required the clearing of forests and such.

            All that stuff is useless without sufficiently good soil to grow enough food to feed the population.

            Although American Indians are known to have used a number of tools, including the bow and arrow, knives, various cooking utensils,

            Also roads can carry significant disadvantages, such as making a place more accessible to violent conquerors, which might explain why roads are sometimes built by conquerors (or forced laborers controlled by the conquerors).

            Also, Pueblo Indians actually did build multi-story apartment complexes prior to colonists arriving from Europe.

            A number of southwestern tribes use adobe as a building material, which is a very high quality building material. It helps keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than some other building materials. To this day, adobe homes in places like New Mexico tend to be more expensive than otherwise comparable non-adobe homes.

            Pens aren’t necessary for breeding animals. Animals are generally quite capable of breeding on their own when humans simply let them. However, some American Indians were known to help salmon out by transplanting salmon eggs after a stream changed course.

            As historians continue to learn more about American Indian agriculture, many practices which in the past were mistaken for hunter-gatherer culture have been revealed to actually be highly advanced agricultural practice. Europeans of the past were, in many cases, simply too agriculturally backwards to recognize advanced agriculture when it was staring them in the case. (As they say, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Or, in this case, sufficiently advanced agricultural practices are apparently indistinguishable from hunting and gathering. I mean, if you think about it, the ideal is for a garden to grow itself as much as possible, full of rich variety, so that a culture can enjoy high quality, varied, plentiful food with minimal effort.)

            For example,

            Turner, who has spent a career studying indigenous agriculture, says knowing what to look for is key to understanding native agriculture on the coast of British Columbia. “They used perennial cultivation. ‘Keep it living’ was part of their philosophy, and it shows the way they value other life. A lot of perennial plants were being cultivated, but outsiders saw this as random plucking.”


            If Rand did favor genocide, then that’s bad. But this particular statement is great. To the extent that they believed this, it was a backwards way of thinking.

            Ayn Rand significantly misrepresented the native American lifestyle. Although it is very difficult to generalize, since there were many distinct tribes, and many unique individuals within those tribes, many American Indians were advanced agriculturalists, far more advanced than the European agriculturalists of the time.

            For the same reason you can’t simply point at something and claim that it’s yours (like the ocean or a mountain), the indians don’t have a right to prevent someone else from developing a land they have no intention of using.

            Part of the point I am trying to make is that the American Indians were using the land. They were developing it, and they were doing a far better job of than people of European origin were doing, and still a far better job than most people of European origin are doing to this day.

            Much of what people of European origin did with the land (or forced people of African origin to do on their behalf) would have been impossible if certain American Indians hadn’t drastically enhanced the soil fertility first.

            Also, even if some were doing nothing more than dwelling on a particular piece of land, that’s still quite sufficient to establish the right to not be violently relocated or murdered right where they were. (Although, considering that humans require food to survive, it is highly probable that at least some members of any given family or tribal unit were engaged in using the land for food production.)

            If you read the Salon article about Ayn Rand’s pro-genocide views, you’ll find this statement:

            Any white person who brings the elements of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it is great that some people did, and discovered here what they couldn’t do anywhere else in the world and what the Indians, if there are any racist Indians today, do not believe to this day: respect for individual rights.

            www [dot] salon [dot] com/2015/10/14/libertarian_superstar_ayn_rand_defended_genocide_of_savage_native_americans/

            “Any white person who brings the elements of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it is great that some people did”, combined with our knowledge that certain white people “took over” the continent by means of genocide, makes this statement by Ayn Rand a fairly clear endorsement of genocide. Additionally, Ayn Rand’s accusation that American Indians didn’t respect individual rights says more about her prejudices against American Indians, than it does about American Indian views. Note that she fails to quote any American Indian philosophers. Even if she had, it’s highly improbable (to the point of being practically impossible) that not a single American Indian had respect for individual rights, especially considering it’s apparently fairly natural for young children to respect individual rights, and some American Indians must have been young children.

            Also, the more we learn about American Indian agricultural practices, the more apparent it is that certain people of European origin brought an agricultural dark age. Not to mention, that certain people of European origin kidnapped a bunch of people from Africa and tortured them into helping spread this agricultural dark age.

            And also, although the more warlike American Indian cultures tend to receive more attention, there were some that were quite peaceful.

            The Conestoga Indians were, so far as I know, quite peaceful. They were also quite happy to integrate into European culture, and some even converted to Christianity. However, they were still slaughtered. According to modern people studying the topic of genocide, this is one of the things that distinguishes genocide from war: the slaughter of people who pose no military threat.

            unchartedlancaster [dot] com/2019/12/27/lancasters-darkest-moment-the-massacre-of-the-conestoga-indians/

            • guest says:

              “If that doesn’t qualify as improving the land, nothing does.”

              (Aside: At least you use paragraphs … [Heh.])

              That misses the point. People who criticize indians for not being willing to improve the land do so even when indians have abundant good soil.

              The point is that agriculture can only get you so far, and that developing your land for trade and improvements in your standard of living require the clearing of land and private property.

              I saw you mention that animals don’t need pens to breed, but my point was that if you have pens you don’t have to go chase them, and they will multiply in one general area were you are certain they will be (because you fenced them in).

              You mentioned roads. Roads make it easier to transport invaders, but that’s because roads make all transportation easier.

              Oxygen and water make it possible for invaders to fight for longer than a day – should we ban those, too?

              In fact, refusing to build roads just makes you less proficient in supplying materials for defense, while it does absolutely nothing to prevent potential enemies from using *their* roads to acquire materials for offense (and armor and vehicles).

              So, you’re making it harder for invaders, but only until potential enemies surpass you, economically, and don’t need roads, or can buy enough time with their advanced weapons to construct their own.

              And besides all this, as the saying goas: “When goods don’t cross borders, armies do.”

              Your trade relations with other people provides an incentive *not* to invade.

              “Compare to the deep plowing of the great plains which lead to the Dust Bowl, which basically did the opposite: transform land that was very suitable for agriculture into land that was very unsuitable for agriculture.”

              Another mind-blower here for you: It wasn’t the plowing of the great plains that lead to the Dust Bowl, but rather government subsidies (always unsustainable) to farmers to help supply the WWI effort.

              So, once again, it wasn’t greedy, white, racist, free market economics that caused a disaster, but rather central planning:

              Boom, Bust, Dust

              “Then the Turkish navy kept Russian wheat from making its way to Europe and the federal government told farmers to produce more wheat to win the war. And produce they did; from 1917 to 1919, the number of acres put into wheat production increased 70 percent. And why not: the government guaranteed a price of $2 per bushel.

              “But when the war ended, the price collapsed and there was no one to buy the mountains of grain left rotting in the sun.”

              I forgot to follow up on my comment relating to the Labor Theory of Value.

              That theory is responsible for agrarian as an economic system – not just when it’s all you have, but where you’re providing subsidoes and general honor to agricultural jobs and products over and above other types.

              America’s founders were agrarians of this type, generally, and that was a bad thing. That world view has its roots in collectivist thinking.

              An individualist, meritocracy type of thinking would have just made way for non-agricultural jobs, as they came.

              The Failure of Wage and Price Control in the Massachusetts Theocracy

              “From the first, the Massachusetts oligarchy, seeing that in the New World land was peculiarly abundant in relation to labor, tried by law to push down the wage rates that they had to pay as merchants or landowners.”

              (Supply and demand: A low supply of laborers for the amount of agricultural projects attempted. Time to stop making so many farms and invest in the productions of machines – but they didn’t allow prices to tell the something about the economy.)

              Continuing from the same article:

              “But the economic laws of the market made enforcement hopeless, and after only six months, the General Court repealed the laws, and ordered all wages to be “left free and at liberty as men shall reasonably agree.” But Massachusetts Bay was not to remain wise for long. By 1633 the General Court became horrified again at higher wage rates in construction and other trades and at the propensity of the working classes to rise above their supposedly appointed station in life by relaxing more and by spending their wages on luxuries.

              You see this mentality at work when governments try to supress “saturating the market” with cheap goods, or preventing many fast-food or side-of-the-road type businesses fro opening because they don’t like when consumer choices put other businesses out of work.

              Whatever you think about America’s founders, their slavery, their racism, their refusal to allow certain groups of people to participate in free markets, to the extent that they *were* acting consistently with free market principles, they prospered.

              (Notice that whites were generally entirely comfortable with “exploiting” their fellow whites, and being so “exploited” – meritocracy, and all; So, free markets aren’t racist, they merely expose the deficiency of the socialist policies blacks, in general, believe in: minimum wage laws, workers rights / unions, etc.

              (These days, whites are adopting more socialist views, but that will bite them in the rear.)

      • random person says:

        Guest wrote,

        But since the real basis of correct valuation is the goals of the individual consumer

        Valuation is subjective, although we can judge which valuations are acceptably moral.

        For example, a sadist might enjoy torturing people, and get value from performing the act of torture. However, this creates negative value for his victims. (Assume we are talking about non-consensual torture here… otherwise, it’s like, roleplay fake torture, which is a separate issue.) Who’s values are more important? The values of those who do not wish to be tortured. The sadist’s values can be condemned as immoral violations of the basic human rights of the torturees (assuming he carries out his evil wishes).

        By extension, it is also immoral to serve consumers by means of torturing labor out of people.

        So, for example, torturing people into producing sugar is not a moral means of producing sugar. And the history of sugar produced by means of tortured labor is quite disturbing.


        (Note that that video discusses a variety of topics related to sugar production, not only when it was produced by means of tortured labor.)

        One can imagine that Africa would probably be a much more awesome place to live right now if it hadn’t been for the transatlantic forced labor trade. And a cure for cancer might have been not only discovered, but also widely published. (Note: I am just speculating about the cure for cancer. But one can only imagine how much medical knowledge was lost when people were kidnapped and transported across the Atlantic to force them to produce sugar. Not to mention when others had to abandon their traditional lands to escape from the kidnappers.)

        So the level of brutality involved in sugar production, during at least part of history, helps explain why, historically, some people boycotted sugar or at least sugar from certain sources. It’s really a shame more people didn’t join these boycotts.

        • guest says:

          “Valuation is subjective, although we can judge which valuations are acceptably moral.”

          (Aside: I watched your Terra-preta video, and I think it’s pretty cool stuff. It’s amusing to me that people want to use it to fight the non-emergency of Global-Climate-Warming-or-Cooling-Change-Whichever-Scary-Words-Ends-Capitalism. I say produce that awesome Terra-preta *and* drill, baby, drill.)

          Just like how the laws of chemistry don’t change because you pass a law that bans the production of explosives, the laws of economics don’t change by banning the sale of goods used in criminal acts.

          Economics, as such, and also chemistry have nothing to do with morality. They are amoral. It’s important to not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

          (For example, you don’t ban cars because people have used them in crimes.)

          When you ban products or extremely high salaries that have been used in crimes, you interfere with the production of goods for which people can have the opposite motivation to buy.

          “It’s really a shame more people didn’t join these boycotts.”

          If you boycott sugar from places that use torture labor, first of all, they will be tortured to produce something else.

          Second, you will be preventing anyone from that area that *does* produce sugar, but without the threat of torture, from making a profit off of sugar. So, any innovations that would make labor more productive – thereby, in some small ways and increments, alieviates the suffering of tortured laborers – are disincentivies from being produced.

          And it’s important to distinguish between tortured labor, and labor that just gets paid low wages. If you make the false claim that those being paid low wages are wage-slaves due to the low wages (apart from any other coercion that may be occuring) and that those businesses employing low-wage labor must be boycotted, then you will make life much harder for those low-wage laborers, since, unless they are forced at gunpoint to work at a certain job, those workers have decided that the job pays better than their other existing alternatives.

          (Duration: 5:12)
          How Can Sweatshops Help The Poor Escape Poverty? – Learn Liberty

      • random person says:

        as soon as the wealth that agrarianism gave people reached a plateau for increasingly more individuals, they wanted to invest their wealth in better labor-saving devices that increased production but reduced the need for human agricultural workers.

        Biochar does that, although it’s technically classified as a soil amendment, not a device.

        (See above discussion regarding Terra Preta and Biochar.)

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