Friday, May 25, 2012

Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin Renounces US Citizenship — How very Atlas Shrugged of him

Eduardo Saverin: "Who is John Galt?"

Eduardo Saverin, known by most of us as the former CFO of Facebook portrayed in the movie The Social Network, renounced his citizenship right before the public offering of Facebook and now lives in Singapore.

It's typical for people to find this as an ungrateful or unpatriotic act. This roots from the concept that all taxes are good or that taxation is the best way of helping the poor and, if Eduardo Saverin stays in the US and pays taxes, he will be able to "give back" to society.

It's really quite easy to show how coercive taxation can be especially for such a big and powerful State like the US. If he didn't move, for example, regardless of his own personal position on foreign policy, millions of his justly earned money (granted that he did not steal or commit fraud to earn) will be used to fund the never-ending wars and interventionist foreign policy all over the world. That's coercion if they use your money for war even when you are against war.

If not the wars, it'll go to bankers or the CEOs of companies by means of bailouts. Even this is justified by the statist ideology that government has to step in or else thousands of jobs will be lost and that there will be chaos. Such a moral hazard when society deems people like Saverin who earned justly acquired profit as evil and justify bailouts that give a bunch of crony CEOs taxpayer's coerced hard-earned income.

And if the wars or the bailouts aren't enough (I love using those as examples because I know most social liberals, as opposed to classical liberals, hate war and bailouts and attribute them to capitalism when really both are statist concepts), his money will end up subsidizing the "welfare" of the unemployed and therefore incentivizes "freeloader" behavior. What kind of society punishes the productive and honest earners and at the same time rewards the lazy? In the market, innovation, skill, talent, and hard work is rewarded and not the other way around.

It's coercion if a system rewards the lazy and punishes those who work and justly acquires wealth. It doesn't matter if "he just got lucky" or didn't really help out with with the creation of Facebook. It's probably the same reason why he now only owns 4% of the company. It doesn't mean that you will take away his right to renounce the State. Imagine taking away the rights of lottery winners from migrating or expatriation. It is in the root of the social contract that you have the right to renounce your government.

If not for high and unnecessary taxes, he would have stayed and invested in the US and his money would have benefitted society anyway. He would create businesses and create more jobs and opportunities or maybe invest in start-ups or the businesses of others. The problem is that a society with so many red tapes, regulations, and high taxes will always discourage investment and job creation. 

Even if he decides to just squander all his money, society would still have benefitted. For example, if he wastes all his money on sports cars and clubbing, for instance, the wealth is voluntarily shared to car dealerships, clubs, alcohol companies, and many others. Paychecks are signed, products are traded and consumed, jobs are created, all in spite of the lavish lifestyle of the bourgeoisie or the "greedy capitalist pig".

In Singapore, there is no capital gains tax which is supposedly the main reason why Saverin is migrating, something that most people believe will trickle down democratic society if ever abolished (when really it is unnecessary tax and legalized theft) as if roads will stop being created and progress will be at halt. 

Migration as Indicator of Freedom: Singapore and the future of the Philippines

I remember this video I watched of Milton Friedman where he likened migration to "people voting with their feet". He told the story of thousands of migrants flocking from China to Hong Kong and not the other way around. It is quite democratic also because Hong Kong's borders were free and open. Since the days of Exodus, people have walked thousands of miles to look for freedom and opportunity. 

This reminds me of the time that video of Winnie Monsod's video that portrayed doctors who leave as traitors. I just can't agree. I believe that the State is the real traitor for not giving them the same opportunities here. If anything, these emigrants who contribute to the "brain drain" also contribute to the economy and wealth creation here. I have so many relatives who now live abroad who are able to help their families and friends here financially. What they can do instead is earn abroad and invest here. But even investment here is so discouraging. I should probably discuss brain drain and protectionism on another post so I won't stray away from the real issue at hand.

Hong Kong and Singapore are currently two of the freest economies in the world (source). Two small pieces of land with very little natural resources have become the most prosperous, peaceful, and secure nations in the world. Both have very minimal taxes and are very pro market and free trade.  I have made the case for Singapore before (see The Singapore Argument). And for those who believe society will collapse and roads will never be built if we abolish certain taxes or minimize government, you should surely check out Gurgaon city in India where a free and prosperous community was created even without the government (see Gurgaon city, India - progress where there is absence of government).

I brought up those things because I believe those are real-life tested economic models we should be following. Maybe create charter cities in every region as I suggested in one of my posts (see Paul Romer talks about Charter Cities). I have always said that we have so much unused space and so many islands that are all potentially future Hong Kongs are Singapore of this country.

Just take Eduardo Saverin as an example. He decided to move to Singapore, a small neighboring country, again with no natural resources or beautiful tourist attractions like ours. We should be more inviting to people like Saverin. We should show investors that our policies will not be a burden to them so that they will come here and invest their wealth in our country.

See Also: Atlas Shrugged Movie Review

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ron Paul Wins Nevada — racks up 22 delegates versus Romney's 6

It's quite rare to see Ron Paul headlining the frontpage of any newspaper. Although I believe it's something we need to get used to in the coming weeks until the convention in Tampa on August (if you're not sure how the whole nomination process in the US elections work, see video below).

Ron Paul headlines Las Vegas Review-Journal frontpage

If you followed my Twitter at the time, you would have noticed I was following the Nevada caucuses very closely. You see, I had a bet with my father. Like many, his prediction was that Romney was going to win. At the time, I was very confident knowing that Ron Paul did surprisingly well in this state back in 2008. With a much stronger and growing organization this year, many Ron Paul supporters were predicting that this will be the first straw poll win. But you see, that's all it was — a non-biding straw poll. And you know what really matters? That's right — delegates!

The next morning after the caucuses, as the results were being counted, the trend was that Ron Paul was on a close third place next to Newt and, yes, Romney was in first. I knew I'll never hear the end of it. My father claimed precognition and seemingly justified his position that I am supporting an unelectable candidate.

Redemption loomed as the image above appeared on my Facebook feed. And it's more surprising because it's on the frontpage of a local newspaper in Las Vegas. I've always attributed people's support for Romney or any other establishment candidate as a lack of information coming from social media (see Why is Ron Paul Attracting Young Voters?). In the long run, the mainstream media will no longer be able to deny Ron Paul's presence especially now that he's been collecting more and more delegates and will surely be a strong force in the Republican National Convention (see my Predictions for the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa).

I am quite pissed that the YouTube channel "RonPaul2008DotCom" was taken down due to IPR claims (see YouTube and IPR). Many of the videos I've posted here came from that channel and now I'm quite lazy to replace them all one by one by other videos that haven't been taken down from YouTube. I do apologize if many of the videos on this blog are temporarily unavailable.

I've been trying to write about local issues recently (see my take on Spratlys or my take on anti lady gaga protesters) so that this blog won't just seem like Ron Paul fan blog but  I did mention that this might be a bit unavoidable especially as the convention in Tampa gets nearer and nearer.

Delegates? Caucuses? Primaries? How do they all work?

Okay, so you're probably really confused with the whole nomination process in the US elections. Don't worry, there was a time when I didn't understand anything either. Here's a really good video explaining the whole nomination process:

Now that you've learned how it all works, let me emphasize again that Ron Paul has been getting a lot of delegates and now has a sure spot in the Republican National Convention that will be held in Tampa, Florida on August.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

An Appeal to Anti Lady Gaga Concert Protesters in Manila

Certain religious groups have decided to protest against the Lady Gaga concert in Manila. Several of our politicians also expressed the same sentiment. (source)

Anti-Lady Gaga Concert Protest

These people, of course, are exercising their freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and, to a certain extent, their freedom to practice the religion of their choice. My concern is that they are protesting against extending these freedoms to others. Keep in mind, our liberty ends where the liberties of others begin. As that famous quote goes: I may not agree with what you are saying but I defend to the death your right to say it. They can peacefully protest all they want in the proper venues but they can never ask the government to take away the same freedoms they are exercising from others.

I'm personally not a fan at all of Lady Gaga but I definitely wouldn't want those who enjoy her music to be deprived of the right to watch her live. This is all voluntary after all. No one is pointing a gun at anyone and forcing them to go to the concert. If the protesters really deem this concert as immoral then they don't have to go. For minors, it's surely a parenting issue and not a State issue. These protesters have every right to be a restrictive parent, perhaps heavily regulate their kids' internet and other media usage or something to prevent them from being influenced by Gaga but they have no right to impose this kind of parenting on others.

This Filipina kid went viral and got featured in the show Ellen

Plus, it is quite a petty issue. If anything, the Lady Gaga concert in Manila or any other concert for that matter will create jobs and be good for our economy. It will also show that our country is safe to be visited by tourists. It's just my opinion that the protesters might have a better use of their time or so many other issues to advocate or protest about.

I was actually at the Lamb of God concert here in Manila a few years ago, something you'd think would be an instant target of protest from social conservatives. Much to their dismay, I don't worship satan or engage in violent activity in spite of my liking for the loud music of Lamb of God. I just appreciate the skill and talent in their music. My theory, had they known about the Lamb of God concert, I'm sure they would have protested as well and they would have wanted me to be deprived of my peaceful and non-violent right to watch the concert.

The social conservatives will always be there and they will always have this war on the "immorality" of music they don't like. Just look at how there are kids on the photo of the protests. They will surely grow up and raise kids of their own and pass on this indoctrination that only certain groups should be able to exercise certain freedoms, especially groups that agree with their own personal beliefs. Again, I emphasize that I respect their right to assemble and speak out their voice for as long as they are not hurting anyone or destroying property in the same manner that I respect the rights of those who want to assemble and voluntarily watch Lady Gaga.

I'm just really scared of the involvement of our politicians and lawmakers. I fear that this kind of social conservative mentality will lead to censorship, regulation of the internet (something most of us fear as expressed by the world when threatened with SOPA), a big and restrictive government, and further degradation of our civil liberties.

1. Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block
2. Liberal vs Conservative vs Libertarian
3. Stay the Hell Away from My Internet

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Two Cents on Spratly Islands Conflict

What lessons can we learn from the 2008 Georgia-Russia Conflict when the US did not help Georgia? 

Have you seen the movie 5 Days of War?

The movie depicts the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia. It's actually very recent and if not for this film, I would never have been able to learn about this conflict. At the time, while the media was busy covering the olympics in China, thousands were killed or displaced in a war that lasted for only five days. Unarmed civilians, even children, were executed. And one of the main causes of the war is territorial dispute between states — a similar problem we now have with China.

Of course, the film is sponsored by the State of Georgia and we can't really be sure if it's entirely factual. The international community is divided; some side with Georgia while some with Russia. The truth is, no one really has proof on who started what. An independent report commissioned by the European Union states that Georgia started the attack (source). Even the Human Rights Watch and BBC (source) take a similar position (something very opposite of what's shown on the film). Of course, these reports came out long after the war occurred.

Although this obviously begs the question of why Georgia, no matter how heavily armed they are, would start a war against Russia's superior arsenal and international influence. It's like what they say: history is written by the victors. We can never really be sure of what exactly happened to spark the 5 days of war. And obviously Georgia is the underdog.

The same could happen between us and China. We might just be at the murky beginnings of a war where the innocent will die and no one will really win. One unordered misfire that will hit either side could cause an unwanted war. It doesn't even have to be from either side. Terrorists, rebel groups, and even  arms dealers could easily take advantage of the situation. And, again, the only victims would be the unarmed individuals and families who have no vested interest in this conflict. 

And in the case of an armed conflict, will our defense treaty with the US really stand or could they easily shrug it off with technicalities being that they would never want armed conflict with China? I have mentioned in a previous post that the world is losing faith in the dollar. When they are already trillions in debt to China, would they really engage in an armed conflict? Perhaps this is the main reason why I am comparing the Spratly Islands dispute to the  2008 Georgia-Russia conflict because when they needed help from the US, they didn't get any.

And Georgia is a country that sent troops, their own young men and women, to Iraq to help the US with their neocon agenda of looking for supposed weapons of mass destruction. This is all, of course, in the hopes that one day there would be a payback. This was all to preserve their strong ties with the US knowing well that Russia has territorial dispute with them and that there was a threat of war.

During the conflict, then president George W. Bush sent a statement to Russia saying "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."  It's basically like sending an email that he doesn't agree with what Russia is doing. The Bush administration considered a military response to help defend Georgia but in the end concluded that they can't risk inevitable conflict with Russia (source). All they were able to do was send humanitarian supplies. In the end, George didn't help Georgia.

Of course, we gain confidence because of the defense treaty we have with Big Brother but, again, will Big Brother really risk conflict with China? I'd even like to think that China itself won't risk an armed conflict with us but many assumed the same about both Russia and Georgia not being capable of a first-strike before 2008.

It was assumed that in a world that has witnessed two world wars and has created the United Nations (the same big government coalition that created UNCLOS which strengthens the Philippine State's claim to the said islands), you'd think we've had enough of the violence of war and that we now live in a world of peaceful trade and diplomacy.

Nowadays, after an armed conflict, all politicians have to do is stand behind a podium in front of cameras and say that they condemn war crimes and the rest, as they say, is history. War is a messy business where justice is never served. All is not fair in love and war. We cannot afford an armed conflict with China on not just economical but also moral grounds in spite of how confident we are with our defense treaty with the US.

I am reminded of a story a professor once told me about two brothers who inherited a farmland (I'm not sure what the title is). Right before their father died, he told the two brothers that there is hidden treasure in the farmland. The two decide to divide the land equally in half. One brother, greedy for treasure, spent all his time and resources on digging and looking for the treasure. The other spent all his time on planting and cultivating different kinds of flowers. The first brother ended up bankrupt with nothing but a lot full of empty holes. The other brother became the owner of one of the most successful flower store chain in the country and became really rich.

My two cents, let's let go of this petty dispute. Let China dig for treasure, for oil; let them be the first brother in the story who ended up with nothing. We don't need oil to be prosperous. In the documentary Free to Choose, Milton Friedman explains in the beginning that Hong Kong is basically just a piece of rock with no natural resources and yet it became very prosperous because of free trade and limited government. The same can be said about Singapore (a case I've already made in my article The Singapore Argument). Can we not be prosperous without oil?

I actually just came from a beach trip in Bicol and every time I go around the country, I always notice that there's so much unused space. In fact, we already have 7,000+ islands that we have not utilized. Adding a few more won't make a difference unless we change our policies and rethink the role of government. Decentralize power from Imperial Manila and empower the markets of provinces; real peace and prosperity is in civil liberties and economic freedom not in pieces of land that might or might not have oil (that we don't even have the technology to utilize and will most likely just end up with foreign investors with the biggest bribe or crony corporations).

Again, this is just my two cents. I have discussed in my articles about Top Gear's Middle East Special and Conflict Kitchen that foreign policy is very complex and I'm not really sure exactly on what should be done that will result in the least damage or harm. One thing is for sure though: violence and armed conflict is not a solution.

We have been trading with the Chinese since the dawn of civilization. We have thousands of Filipino loved ones working in China as OFWs. Many of the job creators and entrepreneurs here, from smalltime to conglomerates, are Chinese. This laptop I'm using right now was made in Shenzhen. Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei also asserts their claim in the islands. Now, whether you agree or not with my proposed solutions, I hope we can agree that we must not engage in an armed conflict with China.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ron Paul Supporters are All Over the World

Here's a video of Ron Paul supporters in Spain rallying last March in Madrid. It really goes to show that Ron Paul supporters are all over the world and his campaign for liberty transcends US borders.

Ron Paul supporters from Spain

It's interesting that the question of why I am so passionately supportive of Ron Paul was brought up recently. At first glance, I understand that it seems irrelevant. What would be the relevance of a statesman in the US to someone halfway around the world who is not even part of their electoral system? I'm sure they're asking the same question about those people in Madrid on the video above who went out of their way to organize and exercise their freedom of assembly and freedom of speech to voice out their support for Ron Paul. 

I have laid out the reasons in my article Why Do I Support Ron Paul and What Relevance Does He Have to Filipinos. I've learned though that people don't like reading long, overly passionate, and unintentionally dogmatic articles. I'm thinking of writing a new article and laying out the reasons to support Ron Paul and his platform in bullet form to make it simpler and easier to absorb.

economics in one lesson
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

I did decide yesterday to reacquaint myself with Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson (pdf available for free here) being that, since there are very few Ron Paul supporters or libertarians here in the Philippines, I feel that I have somehow been tasked or that it is a grave responsibility of mine to defend libertarian political positions in casual debates and somehow change people's opinions or at least change the direction of the conversation.

It is dangerous to engage in debate, I realized. With one wrong word or faulty historical reference, I may actually just misrepresent libertarianism and counterproductively worsen people's opinion of the philosophy I have learned to love.

This is, after all, one of the books that converted Dr. Walter Block into libertarianism and somewhat a good summary of what economic freedom is really all about and why the status quo of economic interventionism is flawed. And all that is stated in a very easy to absorb manner, not too technical, and is exactly the right tool I need so that I won't fail miserably when trying to challenge statist mentality.

I was, in fact, like most libertarians I know, radically left-leaning in the past. I did read a lot of Marx and other socialist material. Dr. Walter Block himself explained that this is normal for those who are young and compassionate. It is so easy to be swayed by the proposed solutions of the left. It is rooted mostly on the emotional, on things that are apparent (and it's quite fitting that the first part of Henry Hazlitt's book explain the broken window fallacy: that which is seen and that which is not seen).

Libertarians do not agree on everything. Unfortunately, the things we may agree on are the most unpopular of positions. We propose a bitter medicine that many will refuse to swallow. Imagine how I'd have to say that Noble-prize winners like Paul Krugman and thousands of people with PhDs on economics are wrong. And who am I to say that, right? I have no credibility whatsoever in this field. I'm just some blogger who happened to stumble upon Ron Paul. And this really makes it a thousand times harder for me to argue for the libertarian position. 

And that's just the economic aspect of it all. When it comes to the social justice discussions, I'm most definitely screwed. As I have said before, libertarian positions can easily be deemed as the "anti-poor" or the "selfish" position. A case I tried to argue against in my article about Why Jefrey Sachs is Mistaken About Libertarianism. I actually got engaged in a casual debate recently about the bailouts , the housing bubble, and the recession and I was pretty sure going against government intervention and "regulation" sounds ridiculously bad. In fact, too much government involvement caused the housing bubble and the recession. Actually, when Ron Paul and other free marketers were warning people of the housing bubble and the recession no one listened: 

Ron Paul predicts the housing bubble years before it happens 

Peter Schiff (economic adviser to Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign) predicts recession and no one listened to him

So in a world where you are against Noble-prize winners, PhD degree holders, general public opinion,  and the status quo, what sort of hope is there for you? When you have proof like the videos above that  are opposite of what's reported in documentaries and by so-called experts about the recession yet somehow people still refuse to believe it, how do you respond?   

The pen is mightier than the sword, they say. My only hope is that somehow my writings and the videos I share on this blog will, even in a small way, make people curious about Ron Paul and libertarianism. Hopefully, you, my dear reader, get to see that maybe there is so much more about this political philosophy and that it is in the interest of a prosperous, peaceful, and free society.

Help support this blog by checking out these other helpful links:
1. My list of Top 10 Libertarian Books 
2. Why did FOX News Cancel Freedom Watch?
3. Why is the internet slow in the Philippines?