A Book That Actually Changed My Mind: The Problem of Political Authority by Michael Huemer

The Problem of Political Authority, by Michael Huemer, is the rare book that actually changed my mind… at least somewhat. It’s a book arguing for anarcho-capitalism: we shouldn’t have a government. Like most libertarians (people who believe in maximizing freedom and minimizing government force) I’ve never believed anarcho-capitalism, though ideal, was possible. Huemer convinced me that we’ll probably see it eventually, and maybe even during my lifetime.

Huemer starts off by arguing that government is unjust. He uses simple, intuitive examples to make his points. For example, if someone mugged you but said they’d give the money to charity, would you say that was ok? Most people would say no. If the government forcibly takes your money for charity, however, most people say that’s okay. What are the justifications for that belief in political authority? Huemer examines them one by one and convincingly debunks them.

The second section of the book explains how anarcho-capitalism would actually work: private security services and arbitration instead of courts, for example.

The final part of the book argues convincingly that anarcho-capitalism is actually much more likely to come about than we believe. There have been enormous historical revolutions and trends which all point in the direction of anarcho-capitalism. For example, changing beliefs about the justification/glorification of violence and the transition of most of the world from monarchy to democracy in just two centuries.

I have a couple of concerns about the book, however:

  1. I was least convinced by his argument that countries wouldn’t need a military so much if they just minded their own business (e.g. maybe 9/11 wouldn’t have happened if the US acted like Switzerland). There are plenty of examples of that not helping, however, e.g. Putin’s Russia invading Georgia and Ukraine; and the Jewish experience over the last few millennia.
  2. Why is the book so expensive? $73 for an ebook? This book should be priced much lower so the masses can read it.

I read this book because I’d seen multiple people recommend it as the best libertarian or anarcho-capitalist book they’d ever read, and now I can say that it’s one of the best books on governance I’ve read. Every libertarian and anarcho-capitalist should know these arguments.

Prospera Honduras Agreement of Coexistence

Below is the explicit social contract you sign when you apply to become an e-Resident of Honduras Prospera. You can find the ones for regular residents and legal entities here. Please join us on the Prospera Honduras subreddit to discuss the project.


Version 1.-04.20.2020

Article I. Premises

Section 1. Purpose. The purpose of this Contract is to provide for clarity and legal stability with respect to the rights and mutual obligations of the Próspera ZEDE, its officers, agents, delegates, instrumentalities, and affiliates by majority ownership or control (the “PZ”), on the one hand, and the undersigned person (“e-Resident”), on the other hand, effective as of latest date of signature below (“Effective Date”).

Section 2. e-Residency Permit. Subject to the terms and conditions of this Contract, the PZ hereby grants a permit of e-residency to the e-Resident which is a personal, non-assignable license to access certain PZ e-governance services, to do business within the PZ, and to own or lease real property within the PZ, as well as to physically access and visit the PZ for up to thirty (30) days per calendar year. In exchange, the e-Resident promises to honor the terms and conditions of this Contract. The term of the e-Residency Permit is year-to-year until terminated (“e-Residency Term”).

Article II. Obligations of e-Resident

Section 1. Governance Principles. By executing this Contract, the e-Resident:

  1. represents and warrants having had an adequate opportunity to become informed about the PZ’s Amended and Restated Charter and Bylaws, as amended from time to time (the “PZ Charter”), the ZEDE Organic Law, Decreto No. 120-2013 (the “Organic Law”), the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras generally, and articles 294, 303, and 329 thereof specifically, the criminal code of the Republic of Honduras, the PZ Statutes, Regulations, Ordinances, and Resolutions (“PZ Rules”), including related schedules of civil penalties that are officially published as of the Effective Date, all available at http://pzgps.hn/ (collectively “PZ Law”); and
  2. is knowingly and voluntarily consenting: (i) to such delegation of popular sovereignty as is necessary to sustain the power and authority held in trust by the PZ under the PZ Charter for the benefit of the e-Resident and all other residents;
    1. to being governed under the provisions of the PZ Charter, and PZ Rules promulgated and civil penalties posted pursuant thereto, by the Technical Secretary, PZ Council, PZ General Service Provider, PZ Court, PZ default Arbitration Service Provider, PZ Ombudsman, PZ Trust, and the Comité para la Adopción de Mejores Prácticas (Committee for the Adoption of Best Practices); and
    2. to complying with the provisions of the PZ Promoter and Organizer’s master plan common interest community declaration, which shall run with title to all land and severable rights within the boundaries of the PZ (the “Declaration”), when it is duly registered in the PZ Property Registry.

Section 2. Respect for Legally Protected Rights. The e-Resident shall refrain from violating all legally protected rights of all persons; including, but not limited to, refraining from a breach of this Contract.

Section 3. Identification. Upon the Effective Date of this Contract, the e-Resident (if a natural person) will be furnished with one or more identification card(s) that must be utilized as evidence of this e-Residency Permit (the e-Resident may be ejected from the PZ or detained in the event that the identification card is not furnished for inspection upon request by a person who is duly authorized to make such request).

Additionally, during the e-Residency Term, the e-Resident shall furnish the PZ with an annual sworn or certified statement, on such forms as prescribed by PZ Resolution, containing current contact information, as well as facts concerning the existence and nature of any physical presence, domicile, principal place of business, or real property interest within the jurisdictional boundaries of the PZ.

Further, the e-Resident consents to the PZ posting and authorizing the posting of information in connection with the e-Resident on the PZ Personal Registry (if a natural person) or the PZ Entity Registry (if a legal entity) regarding the adverse disposition of PZ court cases or public private arbitration proceedings in an online searchable format.

Furthermore, the e-Resident hereby:

  1. acknowledges that the PZ recommends e-Resident maintain a general liability insurance policy covering liability for any award issued by an arbitral tribunal of the default Arbitration Service Provider, as well as acts or omissions occurring within the PZ or otherwise arising from interactions with the PZ or any physical or e-resident of the PZ during the e-Residency Term either through the Resident’s carrier(s) of choice or through the PZ General Services Provider or its preferred carrier(s); and
  2. consents to the PZ publicly registering in connection with e-Resident’s identification in the PZ Personal Registry or PZ Entity Registry, as applicable, the existence or non-existence of such coverage, the identification of the carrier(s), a summary of coverage(s) and limits, and whether such coverage(s) and limits meet the minimum standards adopted by the PZ for its physical residents.

Section 4. e-Gov License Fee. On or before the Effective Date, and thereafter on the 1st business day of each subsequent calendar year within the e-Residency Term, the e-Resident shall pay to the PZ Promoter and Organizer at such account as provided by the PZ the following annual “e-Gov License Fee:” $130.00 U.S. or 3,120 Lempira.

Payment of the e-Gov License Fee qualifies the e-Resident, as an incident of this e-Residency Permit, to access and use the following services, subject to posted fees, terms and conditions, under license from the PZ Promoter and Organizer:

(a) the PZ Property Registry, as available; (b) the PZ Entity Registry, as available; (c) the PZ Personal Registry, as available; and (d) the PZ default Arbitration Service Provider, as available (collectively “e-Gov Services”).

The e-Gov License Fee may be increased or decreased annually by the PZ to such amount of U.S. Dollars or Lempira as corresponds to the spot price of 0.10 (troy) ounces (~3.11 grams) of gold in COMEX (or otherwise the market with the highest volume of trade in gold) at the close of business on the last business day of the year of the immediately preceding calendar year.

Section 5. e-Resident Representations and Warranties. The e-Resident represents and warrants as an essential part of this Contract that:

  1. the e-Resident is not engaging in and shall not engage in criminal or fraudulent activity in any jurisdiction to the extent that such activity would constitute criminal or fraudulent activity according to PZ Law if it occurred within the boundaries of the PZ, excluding traffic or parking offenses; and
  2. the e-Resident (including the e-Resident’s officers and directors, if the e-Resident is a legal entity) has not engaged in criminal or fraudulent activity in any jurisdiction within the TEN (10) years preceding the Effective Date, excluding traffic or parking offenses.

Article III.  Obligations of PZ

Section 1. Recognition of e-Residency. Upon receipt of the e-Gov License Fee and signing of this Contract, and so long as the e-Resident is not in default under the terms and conditions of this Contract (i.e., is in “good standing”), the PZ shall furnish the e-Resident with one or more identification card(s) and recognize the e-Resident as having an e-Residency Permit for the e-Residency Term.

Section 2. Services. The PZ shall use reasonable, good faith efforts to maintain (or cause to be maintained) the platform for e-Gov Services with minimal downtime.

Section 3. PZ Acknowledgment of Limited Power. The PZ may not claim or exercise any governing or enforceable power or authority relative to the e-Resident that is not authorized by the public meaning of the text of (a) this Contract, (b) the Declaration, if any, and (c) PZ Law.

Section 4. Resident Bill of Rights. The PZ shall honor and enforce the Resident Bill of Rights of article 12 of the PZ Charter as it existed on the Effective Date, which is incorporated herein by reference, throughout the e-Residency Term in regard to its interactions with the e-Resident.

Further, pursuant to its authority to enter into legal stability agreements, the PZ promises and guarantees to the e-Resident that, throughout the e-Residency Term, it shall not claim or exercise any governing or enforceable power or authority relative to the e-Resident, directly or indirectly through any agent or instrumentality, that in any way or to any degree prejudices or infringes upon the plain public meaning of the e-Resident’s rights, privileges and immunities guaranteed by the Resident Bill of Rights on the Effective Date.

If the PZ should amend through any process, including referendum, the Resident Bill of Rights as it existed on the Effective Date, any such amendment shall not apply or be applied directly or indirectly to the e-Resident during the e-Residency Term unless the PZ secures the e-Resident’s separate written knowing and voluntary consent to such amendment for good and valuable consideration and without requiring such agreement as a condition of maintaining the license granted under this Contract.

Any breach of the promises of legal stability in this section is a material breach of this Contract justifying prohibitory and mandatory injunctive relief in favor of the e-Resident, which may be a component of the relief granted by arbitration award; and, if such breach is proven to be intentional and to cause injury to the e-Resident, then the liability of the PZ for damages arising from such injury shall not be limited notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Contract or in PZ Law.

Article IV. Dispute Resolution

Section 1. e-Resident’s Agreement to Arbitrate Disputes. Except for claims and causes of action expressly excluded from arbitration by the Organic Law, the e-Resident and the PZ shall exclusively resort to, comply with and be subject to arbitration hereunder as the exclusive means of resolving any cause of action, dispute, controversy, or claim between or among the e-Resident, the PZ, the PZ Trust, the PZ General Service Provider, or any third party accepting the standing offer of Section 2 of Article IV, or their representatives, officers, agents, employees and affiliates, arising out of, relating to or connected with all or any part of this Contract, any subsequent amendment, modification or waiver of all or any part of this Contract, the Declaration, if any, PZ Law, and that of any other transactionally-related document, including, without limitation, any question in relation to or regarding this Contract’s formation, binding effect, interpretation, performance, violation, breach, existence, nullity, validity or termination, as well as any related non-contractual dispute, controversy or claim in accordance with articles 20, 21, 28, and 35 of the Organic Law, sections 9.02 and 11.03 of the PZ Charter, and the PZ Arbitration Statute 2019 as of the Effective Date, and any cause of action otherwise arising in connection with the exercise of rights, privileges or immunities under PZ Law.

  1. The arbitration required by this section shall be administered by the PZ default Arbitration Service Provider unless the dispute is
    1. covered by a separate arbitration agreement selecting a different arbitration administrator or
    2. the e-Resident otherwise objects to the use of the default Arbitration Service Provider within seven (7) days after receiving notice of the filing of an arbitration demand. If the e-Resident objects to the use of the default Arbitration Service Provider as aforesaid, then the e-Resident and PZ agree to the International Centre for Dispute Resolution of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) serving as the arbitration administrator under this section.
  2. Any arbitration commenced hereunder shall be an arbitration under the PZ Arbitration Statute 2019 as of the Effective Date, available at http://pzgps.hn/. The arbitration shall be governed by the Rules of the arbitration administrator (hereinafter the “Rules”) in force as of the filing of the demand for arbitration, which Rules are deemed to be incorporated by reference into this clause. The appointing authority for the arbitral tribunal shall be the parties acting in accordance with the Rules. The seat of arbitration shall be any location permitted by the Rules upon which the parties agree or, if the parties do not agree, then any location selected by the arbitration administrator. The language to be used in the arbitral proceedings shall be English and Spanish with English being the controlling language. The governing substantive law of the arbitration shall be the applicable PZ Law. The number of arbitrators serving as the arbitral tribunal shall be one (1) or as otherwise provided by the Rules. The arbitral tribunal shall render its final decision in not more than one (1) year after commencement of arbitral proceedings.
  3. This arbitration agreement and any resulting arbitration award shall be enforceable and executable as authorized by the PZ Arbitration Statute 2019 as amended as of the Effective Date. Any challenge by either party to the validity or enforceability of this arbitration agreement or the arbitration award may be referred only to the arbitral tribunal hereunder appointed. Each party hereby waives its rights, if any, to any form of recourse against or challenge to an arbitration award to any court or other competent authority, if such waiver can validly be made under the applicable law. Accordingly, each party shall
    1. hereby irrevocably and unconditionally submit to the personal jurisdiction of the seat of arbitration and arbitral forum for the purpose of any suit, action, or other proceeding arising out of or based upon the dispute;
    2. hereby irrevocably and unconditionally submit to the personal jurisdiction of the seat of arbitration and arbitral forum for the purpose of any suit, action, or other proceeding arising out of or based upon the dispute;
    3. shall not commence any suit, action or other proceeding arising out of or based upon this Contract except in the seat of arbitration and arbitral forum (except as needed for enforcement of an arbitration award); and
    4. hereby waives, and shall not assert, by way of motion, as a defense, or otherwise, in any proceeding, any claim that it is not subject to the personal jurisdiction of the seat of arbitration, that its property is exempt or immune from attachment or execution, that the suit, action or proceeding is brought in an inconvenient forum, that the venue of the suit, action or proceeding is improper or that this Contract, or the subject matter hereof and thereof may not be enforced in or by the seat of arbitration.
  4. The parties:
    1. agree the matters governed by this arbitration agreement are capable of arbitration;
    2. respectively warrant that each has legal capacity to agree to arbitration as herein stated;
    3. warrant that this agreement to arbitrate is legally valid;
    4. agree that each party shall be regarded conclusively as having fully anticipated and envisaged every potential controversy or claim encompassed by the dispute as governed by this agreement to arbitrate and shall comply with any resulting arbitration award or decision;
    5. agree that the parties shall not seek to annul or suspend any resulting arbitral decision or award which is rendered in accordance with the terms of this arbitration agreement;
    6. agree and acknowledge that the counterparty(ies) is (are) reasonably and materially relying upon this arbitration agreement as being valid and legally binding;
    7. agree and acknowledge waiving the right to challenge this arbitration agreement, and any jurisdiction exercised or remedy furnished thereunder, as invalid or otherwise not legally binding; and
    8. agree any dispute arbitrated hereunder is subject to the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York, June 10, 1958), which the Republic of Honduras joined on August 21, 2012 (“New York Convention”), and shall be construed as arising from a commercial legal relationship, and also that the enforcement of an arbitration award issued pursuant to this arbitration agreement shall not be considered a domestic award in any court in which it is enforced.

Section 2. Standing Offer to Arbitrate. During the e-Residency Term, the e-Resident agrees to arbitrate any dispute with any third party arising from any cause of action arising from any act, omission, fact or event occurring within the boundaries of the PZ, or otherwise arising in connection with (a) the e-Resident acting in the disclosed capacity as an e-Resident or (b) the e-Resident’s exercise of rights, privileges or immunities under PZ Law, pursuant to the terms of subsections (a) through (d) of Section 1 of this Article (unless the e-Resident has verifiably contracted to use a different means of dispute resolution to fully and finally resolve the dispute with the relevant third party).

Accordingly, the e-Resident shall be deemed hereby to authorize the PZ to publicly post or cause the public posting of a standing open offer on behalf of the e-Resident in the PZ Personal Registry or PZ Entity Registry, as applicable, to fully and finally resolve any such dispute involving the e-Resident through the PZ’s designated default Arbitration Service Provider (and to be legally bound by its publicly posted fees, rules, terms and conditions), with the offer capable of acceptance by any aggrieved third party prior to the initiation of litigation or arbitration by emailing a conforming manifestation of such acceptance to the respective e-Resident’s e-governance residency email address, as specified below (“Residency Email Address”).

Article V. Miscellaneous Provisions

Section 1. Termination. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary set forth anywhere herein or elsewhere, this Contract may be terminated as follows:

  1. Beta Testing/Probationary Period. The PZ may immediately terminate this Contract upon at least sixty (60) days prior notice to the e-Resident for any reason (or without cause) at any time occurring within the latter of either (i) the first year of the e-Residency Term or (ii) the period of time encompassed by the Effective Date through December 31, 2021.
  2. The PZ may terminate this Contract whenever the e-Resident has breached any provision of this Contract and such breach has not been cured, or is incapable of being cured, within thirty (30) days of e-Resident being given notice of the breach by the PZ.
  3. The e-Resident may terminate this Contract for any reason (or without cause) upon at least seven (7) days prior notice to the PZ.

Section 2. Effect of Termination. The following consequences may flow from a termination of this Contract:

  1. Upon termination of this Contract, the e-Resident is required to vacate the PZ completely and immediately; if the e-Resident fails to so vacate the PZ, the PZ may in the absence of the e-Resident prevailing in an arbitration or court challenge to the termination of this Contract: (i) deny or cause the denial of access by the e-Resident to: (1) the PZ, (2) the e-Resident’s real property within the PZ, and (3) all PZ services including the e-Gov Services; and (ii) eject or direct the ejection of the e-Resident and all of the e-Resident’s movable or personal property from the PZ, subject to distraint for unpaid fees or taxes under PZ Law.
  2. In the absence of a pending or successful court or arbitration proceeding challenging the termination of this Contract, within the earlier period of either twelve (12) months after a termination of this Contract or thirty (30) days after receiving a final court or arbitration decision sustaining the termination of this Contract, the e-Resident shall sell and transfer title to any real property located within the PZ to another physical resident or e-resident who is in good standing. If the e-Resident fails to timely transfer such title, the PZ shall be entitled, without further notice or an opportunity to be heard, to record with the PZ Property Registry the e-Resident’s obligation to transfer title as aforesaid as a charge against such title, and to commence foreclosure sale proceedings to enforce such charge under the PZ Mortgage Foreclosure Sale Statute as an exercise of a duly authorized power of sale, with proceeds from the sale to be promptly paid to the e-Resident or its assignee less expenses incurred by the PZ in conducting the sale and the amount of any outstanding taxes or fees owed by e-Resident.
  3. After termination of this Contract and compliance with this section, the e-Resident shall be released from any subsequently accrued or incurred obligation or liability to the PZ that may have otherwise accrued; however, all previously accrued or incurred obligations and liabilities of the e-Resident to any of the PZ or the default Arbitration Service Provider shall survive termination and remain enforceable, and any previously paid fees or taxes shall not be refunded.

Section 3. Notices. Notice shall be deemed effectively given to the other party under this Contract when sent by email with proof of delivery receipt at the party’s Residency Email Address. Otherwise, notice shall be deemed effectively given to the other party under this Contract five (5) business days after the notice is verifiably placed for delivery to such party through any other reasonable and customary mode of physical delivery at the party’s address below.

Section 4. Merger, Interpretation and Severance. This Contract constitutes the entire agreement of the parties relating to the subject matter addressed. This Contract supersedes all prior written or oral communications, contracts or agreements between the parties with respect to the subject matter addressed in this Contract. The parties agree that it is unreasonable and unjustifiable to rely on any representation, promise, term or condition that is not expressed or fairly construed into the text of this Contract. No presumption shall favor either party in interpreting this Contract. The English version of this Contract shall control the Spanish version in the event of any conflict.

Section 5. Disclosure, Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability.  The e-Resident acknowledges that related entities and persons are or could be in positions of control and authority over the PZ, PZ Trust, PZ General Service Provider, PZ Promoter and Organizer, and PZ default Arbitration Service Provider, and each has or may derive a pecuniary gain directly or indirectly from decisions made by a related entity in connection with this Contract.

In recognition of the practical necessity of such joint control and authority due to the organizational and developmental phase in which the PZ is operating, and its “startup government” nature, the e-Resident waives and disclaims any claim that a breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, or fiduciary fraud would result or should be presumed based on any actual or apparent conflict of interest that has arisen or may arise in any way, whether directly or indirectly, from the continuation of joint control and authority over any or all of the PZ, PZ Trust, PZ General Service Provider, PZ Promoter and Organizer, and PZ default Arbitration Service Provider by related entities and persons.

Further, the e-Resident agrees that any monetary liability of the PZ arising from any cause of action connected in any way with this Contract, including claims for compensatory or exemplary damages, as well as court costs, litigation expenses, attorneys fees, shall be limited to an aggregate amount that does not exceed the greater of: (a) the limits of available insurance coverage(s) for the relevant cause of action; or (b) the difference, for the calendar year immediately preceding the incurrence of the liability, between (i) 15% of aggregate tax revenues received by the PZ and (ii) the booked liability for all other known or threatened causes of action against the PZ.

Section 6. Contract Prevails. If there is any inconsistency between the express provisions of this Contract, on the one hand, and those of any PZ Law enacted after its Effective Date (“Subsequent Law”), the provisions of this Contract shall prevail; and the PZ shall not apply such Subsequent Law to the e-Resident to the extent of such inconsistency.

Section 7. Governing Law and Jurisdiction. This Contract shall be governed by PZ Law, without regard to principles of conflict of laws. The exclusive venue(s) for resolution of all matters governed by this Contract shall be as follows: (a) if the matter is subject to arbitration under this Contract, the arbitration administrator designated under this Contract shall determine the venue; (b) if the matter is not subject to arbitration under this Contract or if judicial process is required to reach a final judgment or to execute an arbitration award, then the PZ court system shall be the exclusive venue; and (c) if the matter is not subject to arbitration under this Contract nor capable of adjudication by the PZ court system, then any foreign court of competent jurisdiction among party states to the New York Convention shall be the exclusive venue.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have caused this Contract to be executed by their respective duly authorized signatories and have duly delivered this Contract.

Your signature

By clicking “Accept and continue” you confirm that you agree to be legally bound to all of the text on this page under Prospera ZEDE law.

Other options

Requesting a Side Letter may result in more than 90 days of delay in the processing of your application.

Requesting a side letter

You can propose new terms to override those in the Agreement of Coexistence as an appendix to the agreement.

For your proposal to be considered, you will need to request your Resident application by e-mail, stating the changes you want to make to the terms. The e-mail needs to be sent to (redacted to avoid spam):

The Left’s Excuse for Ending Free Speech

The left says that Donald Trump incited the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2020. At a rally that day he said “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” The assault on the Capitol started at about the time Trump started speaking, and security lines were breached well before he finished. The media made a false claim that a Capitol Police officer was killed that day; the only one that died violently that day was an unarmed civilian shot by police.

As a result, the social media accounts of many people, including Donald Trump, have been shut down. (This was encouraged by the government: short Wall Street Journal article; thorough, excellent, Greenwald article. Social media has also taken the lead from the government on censorship. More on the case that it’s a first-amendment violation.) The free-speech social network, Parler, has also been shut down (by their host, Amazon, other service providers, and the app stores). On the day this happened, Parler’s app was the number one app downloaded. The main places the protesters organized were not Parler, but Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

We had a summer of riots, with dozens of people killed and billions of dollars of damage at the hands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa. The leftist politicians and media were apologetic for that. Social media have allowed bad actors to continue to use their platforms (e.g. some Twitter examples; the Ayatollah still has an account there after wishing death on Trump and Israel).

Now, however, the left has their excuse to silence unapproved speech. I’ve been troubled by the trend towards silencing opposing speech for a long time: first, it was media bias (the best books on it) and political correctness; more recently, it’s been the cancel culture. Now, finally, a massive silencing of the minority by the majority seems to have been accomplished and accepted. For many of us, there will be no more peacefully and patriotically making our voices heard.

Robinson Crusoe Explains Free Trade

“You remember how Robinson Crusoe managed to make a plank when he had no saw.”
“Yes; he felled a tree, and then, cutting the trunk right and left with his hatchet, he reduced it to the thickness of a board.”
“And that cost him much labour?”
“Fifteen whole days’ work.”
“And what did he live on during that time?”
“He had provisions.”
“What happened to the hatchet?”
“It was blunted by the work.”
“Yes; but you perhaps do not know this: that at the moment when Robinson was beginning the work he perceived a plank thrown by the tide upon the seashore.”
“Happy accident! He of course ran to appropriate it?”
“That was his first impulse; but he stopped short, and began to reason thus with himself:
“‘If I get this plank, it will cost me only the trouble of carrying it, and the time needed to descend and remount the cliff. But if I form a plank with my hatchet, first of all it will procure me fifteen days’ employment; then my hatchet will get blunt, which will furnish me with the additional employment of sharpening if; then I shall consume my stock of provisions, which will be a third source of employment in replacing them. Now, labour is wealth. It is clear that I should ruin myself by getting the plank. I must protect my personal labour; and, now that I think of it, I can even increase that labour by throwing back the plank into the sea.'”
“But this reasoning was absurd.”
“No doubt. It is nevertheless the reasoning of every nation which protects itself by prohibition…. Consider the nation as a collective being, and you will not find between its reasoning and that of Robinson an atom of difference.”

From Economic Sophisms, by Frederic Bastiat

Death by Government by R. J. Rummel

Democide is killings by governments, not including war. Which killed more people in the 20th century, democide or war? Democide did.


R. J. Rummel’s book Death by Government catalogs democide in the 20th century through 1987. Everyone should know this information.

What has killed more, socialism or fascism? Socialism did: the Soviet Union and China alone killed 97 million according to Rummel, versus 21 million by Hitler’s Germany. Did you know that Hitler killed twice as many Slavs as Jews? Did you know that some of the biggest killers of the 20th century include Mexico, Poland, Pakistan, Japan, and Turkey? Did you know that millions died in Southeast Asia after the United States pulled out of Vietnam?


Post Rummel’s research I believe the biggest killer has been North Korea, where millions died of starvation in the late 90s. Saddam Hussein is also believed to have killed about two million people. I’d also add the DDT ban, which killed tens of millions of people via mosquito-borne illnesses.

I think everyone should know these things, and Rummel’s book is an interesting, easy read. I recommend everyone read it.

The Best Books on Media Bias

Updated February 22, 2022.

My recommendations, in approximate order of preference:

  1. Left Turn, by Tim Groseclose. This the first book anyone interested in media bias should read, and the most thorough, covering all the theories and evidence (especially Groseclose and Milyo’s 2005 study A Measure of Media Bias). It’s written by an academic, but in a fashion that’s completely understandable to the general public. Still, if you don’t think you can hack a book that uses the phrase “thought experiment” multiple times you may want to skip this book.
  2. Stonewalled, by Sharyl Attkisson. Attkisson was an investigative reporter at CBS. The core of the book is example after example of how the government and her employer impeded her reporting. I consider it essential reading on media bias. Attkisson’s The Smear is also a valuable read, for example on how politicians control the media.
  3. Give Me a Break, by John Stossel. This book isn’t only about media bias, but Stossel experienced it when he was at ABC and relates his story here (after a political conversion he stopped winning awards and couldn’t get his content aired). Even if you’re not interested in media bias this is just a good book that I recommend everyone read.
  4. The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies, by John Lott. This book is about the public debate on gun control, mostly how people mislead with statistics. Beforehand, you may want to read Lott’s research, the most extensive study of crime ever conducted, in More Guns, Less Crime. That book has one chapter on the media bias and related issues he experienced after his research was published. Lott also published a book about media bias, The Bias Against Guns, but I haven’t read it.
  5. Bias, by Bernard Goldberg. The most well-known book about media bias is Goldberg’s story of his experience at CBS. Unfortunately, I think it’s only a fair book. Still, anyone seriously interested in the subject has to read this.

I also found this 12-minute video from John Stossel to be of high value:

Berlin Diary by William L. Shirer

I decided to read William L. Shirer’s Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941 because I’d read that it gave insight into how Hitler fooled the world during the 1930s. Shirer was a CBS radio correspondent in Berlin from 1934 (the year after Hitler came to power). His most famous work, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, came later than the book I’m discussing here. Berlin Diary contains Shirer’s diary entries from the time, written with the intention of publishing them later. They do provide an inside chronicle of Hitler’s lies, but in my opinion the book is far too long (over 600 pages) for what I learned. In the latter parts of the book I was eager to be done with it. Admittedly, I already knew much of what happened from reading biographies of Winston Churchill and Hitler, among other things.

I’ve always been interested in the appeasement of Hitler that took place during the 1930s. Europe allowed Hitler to build up Germany’s military (in violation of the treaty that ended World War I) and take over various countries, initially with just the threat of violence. Meanwhile, the rest of Europe cut back their militaries, leaving them completely unprepared for World War II when it came. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is primarily remembered for that appeasement, particularly for saying he’d achieved “peace in our time” after the Munich Agreement in 1938. In that agreement the European powers agreed to let Hitler take over part of Czechoslovakia (he’d already taken over Austria without opposition). Shortly after that Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia. Within a year he’d invaded Poland and, it finally being obvious that the appeasers had been wrong, Britain declared war on Germany. Hitler invaded Western Europe shortly after that.

It’s one of the great lessons of history that people could be so oblivious to something that seems so obvious in retrospect. I believe Hitler was able to get away with his lies because people wanted to believe them. They wanted to see no evil and hear no evil because they were afraid of another World War. They were willing to do anything for peace, and it ended up costing tens of millions of lives. If they’d merely stood up to Hitler his own people probably would have killed him (and they came close a couple of times).

Winston Churchill was one of the few voices in the 30s that warned about Hitler. I remember an anecdote about it. When you say you “stand for” a particular issue, that term comes from the British Parliament. There, to vote on an issue, the members would leave the chamber and stand in different adjoining rooms to be counted, each room representing “yea” or “nay.” Winston Churchill put forth a motion to censure Hitler and was the only member standing in one room to pass it… until one young member said “I can’t bear to see the old man stand alone” and went and stood with him.

I read that anecdote in William Manchester’s biography The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940. That’s my recommendation if you want to learn about appeasement. I also recommend the first volume of that three-part series, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932. Unfortunately, the final volume, covering World War II and later, was finished by someone else after Manchester’s death and is inferior in my opinion.