Hi, I’m Skyler.

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My Latest Content 

    Skyler J. Collins (Editor) – Everything-Voluntary.com

  • Markets aren’t Miraculous; God Bless the World

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Markets, or the array of exchanges of property between individuals and groups, are responsible for the rising standard of living enjoyed by human beings all across the world. To the extent that markets are free to develop, people’s needs are easier met and conflicts over scarce resources are reduced. I’m guilty of describing these amazing effects of markets as “miraculous”. I wrote a few entries in a “Miracles of the Market” series back in 2009.

    But I was wrong to ever describe anything the market does as a miracle or as miraculous. Why? Because the positive effects of markets broadly described above do not depend on any sort of divine intervention, and its totally ridiculous to say that they do. Rather, they are the natural result of individuals and groups engaging in market action. No divine explanation necessary.

    What may require divine intervention, however, is increasing the knowledge that people have about the importance of keeping markets free, of allowing voluntary trade among consenting individuals and groups to happen however the participants involved see fit. What people need is a better understanding of rational economics, first, and second, to explore normative claims that free markets are good for people.

    I don’t know if there is a God [sic], but assuming for a moment there is, I say, “God bless the world” with a better understanding of what it takes to help people meet their needs easier and reduce conflict over scarce resources. “God bless the world” to stop its violent prohibition of voluntary trade among consenting individuals and groups. “God bless the world” to stop its campaigns of terror among innocent people. “God bless the world” to stop traumatizing its children and perpetuating the cycle of abuse. “God bless the world” to one day develop the technology to permanently make the state obsolete.

    Markets don’t need God’s blessing, but humanity sure seems to.

  • White Guilt, Technology and the State, & School Shootings (23m) – Editor’s Break 086

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Editor’s Break 086 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: why he shouldn’t have to apologize for the misbehavior of other white people today or in the past; how technology is necessary to make the state obsolete and bring about a free society; “gun free zones” are really “self-defense prohibited zones” and why the school shooting narratives are all wrong; and more.

    Listen to Editor’s Break 086 (23m, mp3, 64kbps)

    Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”.

  • Body Cameras, Humility, Dueling, & Greed (18m) – Editor’s Break 085

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Editor’s Break 085 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: what it will mean and how tolerable it will be when everyone’s wearing body cameras; the humility inherit in libertarian ideology; the prevalence of dueling in a free society; how best to deal with greedy or self-interested people; and more.

    Listen to Editor’s Break 085 (18m, mp3, 64kbps)

    Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”.

  • Technology Kills the State, Over and Over

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    The state is “a bandit gang, writ large,” wrote economist and historian Murray Rothbard. This is demonstrably true due to the inability for people who call themselves “the state” or “government” to produce any factual evidence that their rules, including the rules to give them money (or else!), apply to anybody they claim to have jurisdiction over.

    Like any other criminal enterprise, they operate within a certain temporal context. The tools they wield are limited to current state of the art technology. The first states probably used what everyone else used to hunt: sticks, stones, bows, et cetera. Later states added swords and axes, then rifles and cannons, and today’s states use high powered guns, missiles, and bombs.

    If we identify a state as not only the particular time and place in which they operate, but also by the tools they use, then what is revealed over and over again are the many ways in which technology has killed the state.  For example, hypothetical State A-Sticks enforced it’s claims of jurisdiction by sticks and stones. At some point swords were invented giving State A-Sticks’s victims more power to defend themselves. In order to maintain their rule, State A-Sticks was abolished and immediately replaced with State A-Swords. Had State A-Sticks not been abolished and replaced with State A-Swords, it likely would have been ineffectual and eventually gone away. Swords made State A-Sticks obsolete, and so the only way to survive was to replace itself with State A-Swords. State A-Sticks was killed by technology.

    Once guns were invented, State A-Swords became obsolete and its survival depended on abolishing State A-Swords and replacing it with State A-Guns. At each point, the state is made obsolete, then killed, then replaced. This same type of analysis applies not only to states, but to any other organization that operates within a certain temporal context. The Catholic church operated on the basis of keeping scripture away from the layman. Once the printing press was invented and scripture was distributed, the Catholic church as it was then known was made obsolete, then killed, then replaced.

    Organizations that refuse to recognize how they’ve been made obsolete will fail to kill the way the organization operates, and then replace itself using the tools necessary to continue operating. This necessarily applies to states, churches, businesses, charities, et cetera. Technological progress makes old ways obsolete, and survival depends on technological adaptation, if possible. The Catholic church as a monopolizer of reading scripture could not survive without a campaign of bloodshed against all non-permitted scripture producers and consumers, and likely would have failed at that. It survived because it killed it’s obsolete self, and adapted to the new technological environment.

    So, what does this say about the state’s future? To me, it says that the state will only cease to exist finally and permanently through technological change for which it cannot adapt. Taxi cartels are quasi-statist organizations. They will not survive the ridesharing revolution. The day will come when we look back at taxi cartels like we do the dodo bird, ie. extinct.

    Technology is constantly killing organizations through obsolescence, and I hope one day the state will receive it’s final shot in the chest, so to speak, and be unable to replace itself. No violent revolution necessary. That will be a glorious day for advocates of liberty, peace, and prosperity.

  • Jared’s Journey, Spooner, & Cognitive Dissonance (34m) – Episode 108

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Episode 107 welcomes Jared Nordin to the podcast for a chat with Skyler. Topics include: the Pacific northwest, career electrician, second marriage and dating, his political journey, Jack Spirko, Stefan Molyneux, Austrian economics, Lysander Spooner, challenging jurisdiction, Larken Rose, cognitive dissonance, outgroup bigotry, and more.

    Listen to Episode 108 (34m, mp3, 64kbps)

    Show Notes

    Jared Nordin, Facebook Profile
    Jared Nordin, “My Philosophical Toolbox
    Lysander Spooner, Collected Works
    Scott Alexander, “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup

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  • Compounded Ignorance Leads to Hubris

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    A broken clock is correct twice a day, so the adage goes. I think I’m correct at least as often, possibly, hopefully, more. The other day I had an epiphany, of sorts, and shared it on Facebook. It went as follows:

    A person is mostly ignorant. People are ignorance compounded. Government is evidence of people’s hubris.

    I know I was onto something when a friend thought he should confirm whether it was a Collins Original™. I can’t take full credit for the ideas conveyed, though, because they have their antecedents in other ideas I’ve encountered. Anyway, I thought I’d explore each idea and explain my thinking.

    “A person is mostly ignorant.”

    Despite the protestations of his ego, a person is mostly ignorant about the facts of reality his entire life. Persons who’ve studied a great deal are usually the first to say that what they’ve learned the most is how much more there is to know. It’s as if the higher you climb on the mountain, the more realize just how big the mountain truly is, and more, that you’ll never approach even the halfway line. But climb we do!

    While I think I’ve studied a lot in my life, I know that it’s a fraction of what humanity knows in total, itself a fraction of all there is to know at all. While I still find interest in things, and dig in, I’m not as zealous as I used to be to really dig for new ideas. (That’s not to say that I never encounter new ideas. I definitely do. Often.) I guess realizing the size of the mountain and impossibility of reaching the top has put a bit of a damper on this area of my life. And I’m at peace with that.

    “People are ignorance compounded.”

    This statement was not meant to say that if we add our ignorance together, we become more ignorant. That’s silly. If my 5-10% of knowledge is partially different than your 5-10% of knowledge, then putting it together boosts are knowledge to more than 5-10%. I get that. What I meant here was the idea that people as a collective are horrible decision makers. And the more people we cram together to make a decision, the worst the decision is going to be as it concerns the needs and wants of each and every individual.

    As ignorant as we are, we are probably most ignorant as it concerns what other people need and want to live a happy and fulfilling life. How many of us even know what we ourselves need and want to live a happy and fulfilling life? Hah! And we think we can make decisions for other people concerning their needs and wants? There’s only one word to best describe thinking this way: hubris.

    “Government is evidence of people’s hubris.”

    There’s very little more hubristic than the belief that we can effectively and successfully make decisions for other people that concern their lives, except that this is exactly the basis for government. At the very least, government tasked solely with the protection of life and property must make all sorts of decision that involve other people.

    Knowledge, calculation, and coordination are problems even for the so-called nightwatchman state. Where should we build security measures? What sorts of security measures should we build? Which crimes should we deal with, and which crimes should the people deal with themselves? How should we force everyone to pay for it all? And what are we going to do about dissent? These are one-size-fits-all questions, and one-size never truly fits all.

    Now compound the number of tasks performed by government to include things like managing the money supply, controlling foreign trade, providing welfare and entitlements, regulating business activities, prohibiting nonviolent behavioret ceteraad infinitum. What do you get? Problem, after problem.

    Any economist worth their salt will recognize the futility in using government to solve problems. It never turns out as intended, and never without unintended consequences to other people. And these consequences are not benign. They’re terrible interruptions to everyone’s goal of meeting their needs and wants to live a happy and fulfilling life.

    The less ignorant I became of the consequences of government actions, the more convinced I was that government is one of the worst ways to make decisions as it concerns other people. I’m glad I learned this early on, and every year the reasons for viewing government action as folly pile up higher and higher.

    It’s truly astonishing to me how many people still believe in government.

  • Want Power?, Obey Parents?, Contentious Politics, & Self-Defense (28m) – Editor’s Break 084

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Editor’s Break 084 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: why does anybody desire power?; why should you or should you not obey your parents?; why politics is always contentious; whether defending yourself from an attack by a police officer is justified and wise; and more.

    Listen to Editor’s Break 084 (28m, mp3, 64kbps)

    Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”.

  • Helping Others, Comforting Upset Children, Estranging Parents, & Freedom (29m) – Editor’s Break 083

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Editor’s Break 083 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: whom libertarians want to help; the importance of comforting upset children; why people grow up and estrange their parents; how freedom begins in the mind; and more.

    Listen to Editor’s Break 083 (29m, mp3, 64kbps)

    Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”.

  • Laws Always Mean Guns to the Face

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    One of the very first red pills a person swallows on the journey toward becoming a voluntaryist is the idea that every law is guaranteed by an act of violence. In our day and age, that means a gun to the face. In days past, it meant a sword, a club, or a fist. Thus begins the critical analysis of every type of government law that is proposed, passed, and enforced.

    It often proceeds as follows: laws regulating the use of private property are summarily dismissed as obvious violations of liberty; laws regulating the use of one’s body are likewise summarily dismissed as obvious violations liberty; laws requiring fees for permission to do things or fines for doing the wrong thing are next; and sooner or later, laws requiring people to give a part of their income to the government and laws protecting businesses from competition are seen for what they are: extortion and protectionism.

    Finally, the budding voluntaryist recognizes that the claims of territorial jurisdiction made by people who call themselves “government” are without factual merit. They are nothing more than, “Pay us and obey our rules, or else!” The commands wouldn’t be so bad if not for the “or else!” What is the “or else!”? It’s a gun to the face. Always.

    Mind-bogglingly, some people at some point in this journey fail to understand that government laws always mean a gun to the face. Their argument is that because the law is not always enforced at the point of a gun, the law does not always mean a gun to the face. It is perfectly observable the fact that laws are not always enforced at gunpoint. Most people hand over their income, follow business regulations, drive the speed limit, et cetera, without any guns to their face. This is all well and good, but begs the question: why do they do this?

    There are two reasons why people obey government laws: 1) to avoid a gun to their face, and 2) other self-interested reasons. The ongoing threat of a gun to the face is why laws are obeyed as a matter of law. If people calling themselves “government” were not willing to enforce their laws at gunpoint, their laws would deteriorate (as many specific laws do). Anybody seemingly obeying them at this point are not doing so to avoid a gun in the face. They are doing so for some other self-interested reason.

    I don’t murder people, but not because there’s a government law that says I’m not allowed to murder people. I don’t murder because I consider murder wrong and want to avoid hurting other people, and my conscience. Same goes for speeding on the freeway. I drive the speed I’m comfortable driving. As does everyone else in the absence of speed limits. Government laws prohibiting liberties are wrong, and government laws prohibiting crimes are redundant.

    One of the final red pills swallowed by the voluntaryist is the idea that people can be peaceful and cooperative in the absence of people calling themselves “government” and forcing others to pay them and obey their rules. What begins as a critical analysis of these rules rightly ends as a rejection of the people making them.

  • The Deviousness of “Have To”

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    “Have to” is one of those phrases that I only began thinking critically about when we travelled further along our unschooling journey. A major theme in radical unschooling is the removal of rules and obligations, and replaced with principles and choices. “Have to” often implies unchosen obligations, and can be, but is not always, incompatible with respecting your children’s autonomy and preferences.

    “Have to” is an awkward pairing, called a “quasimodal” in the English language. I wrote in 2014 that whenever I encounter “have to” I mentally switch it to “have an obligation to”. I think this is often what is meant by “have to”, but not always. Digging deeper, this use often masks other valid uses, and does so in a devious way. Let me show you.

    Here are at least three versions of “have to” that each have conceptual utility:

    Have an obligation to…

    Have a desire to…

    Have a need to…

    Here are some examples of each of these uses as it concerns the parent/child dynamic:

    Sweety, you have to get dressed if you want go play at your friend’s house.

    Darling, you have to brush your teeth before bed.

    Buddy, you have to turn off the computer before we can leave for soccer practice.

    If you are wondering which version of “have to” goes where, that was intentional. Actually, each version fits each of these sentences, and they will make sense, though the conceptual meaning will change. Let me demonstrate with the first sentence:

    Sweety, you have [an obligation] to get dressed if you want to go play at your friend’s house. The obligation is there due to the friend’s parents’ requirement of wearing clothes at their house or the parent’s own requirement for wearing clothing outside the house.

    Sweety, you have [a desire] to get dressed if you want to go play at your friend’s house. The desire to get dressed is secondary to the desire to play at the friend’s house or go outside, where which wearing clothing is required by one or the other parent.

    Sweety, you have [a need] to get dressed if you want to go play at your friend’s house. The need is there due to the clothing requirement obligation, but also because wearing clothing in our society and for our species is a general need. 

    There are similar reasons for each version of “have to” for the other two example sentences. Obligations, needs, and desires are separate but often related concepts. The deviousness is present when the needs and desires are the parent’s, but obligation for the child is implied.

    Let me clarify this using the second example sentence:

    Darling, you have [an obligation to satisfy both your health need and my financial need] to brush your teeth before bed.

    The child has a health need and the parent has a financial need to protect the child’s teeth, so “have to” allows the parent to say both “have a need to” and “have an obligation to” simultaneously, and thus the implication is clear: you must brush your teeth, or else. The “or else” implication could mean “or else your teeth will suffer and ultimately cause you pain,” or it could just as easily be inferred as “or else I will make you suffer and/or cause you pain.”

    “Have to” used in these mixed ways are often enforced with threats of punishment, implied or made explicit. If this is the context in which “have to” is usually implied, then it has become shorthand for “have an obligation to, or else”. “Have to” then becomes something that parents dedicated to replacing rules and obligations with principles and choices must be very cautious of.

    Personally, when “have to” is soon to roll off my tongue, I perform a quick filter in my mind, passing my entire sentence through each version listed above, ie. have an obligation to, have a desire to, and have a need to. Once I figure out which of these I really mean, I then break it apart critically with the goal of presenting principles and choices instead of rules and obligations, and never threats of punishment. It becomes a discussion and a negotiation with my children much like it would other adults, rather than commands and control.

    I hope this analysis proves useful to other parents who have decided to respect their children’s autonomy and preferences by living by principles and choices instead of rules and obligations. One final note: this analysis is not limited to the parent/child dynamic, but can also be helpful in the realm of politics.