No, a myriad of new silk roads will not rise up to replace the old one

The State’s war on Dark Net marketplaces will result in previously trusted marketplaces being replaced by riskier and less trustworthy ones. Honest people operating on a reasonable risk/reward calculation will increasingly abstain from using them. The likely consequence is that the confidence level of DarkNet c-to-b transactions will begin to resemble that of traditional c-to-b transactions, with the additional negative repercussions of being more riskier to the buyer than the traditional c-to-b model.

By now, I’m sure anyone reading this post is aware of the sentence handed down to Ross Ulbricht(aka,”Dread Pirate Roberts”). The purpose of this post is not to extend a commentary on the barbaric character of the sentence.1 That will be for another time. Instead, I want to counter the conventional postscript that concludes virtually every postmortem of the drug war.

“Just another example of an irrational,failed drug war. Take one down, fifteen will rise up to take its place…”

Nope. Not the case. Particularly, in this instance.

First, we should accurately report the full sentence Ulbricht received. It was life imprisonment and a 185 million dollar fine. The State rolled up money laundering charges in the conviction, in no small part because the United States government now “recognizes” bitcoin as a legitimate medium of exchange.2The financial penalty of bitcoin money laundering appears to be the total transactional value that can be pieced together through a forensic analysis of the public blockchain.

Secondly, public court documents and testimony regarding the fed purchases of product from the original silk road marketplace indicate an abnormal level of reliability in a c-to-b(consumer to business, or, if you prefer, user to dealer) drug transaction. Documents indicate you had about a 95% level of confidence that you were actually getting what you thought you were buying. Trust me, that level of confidence is not the norm in traditional c-to-b drug transactions. That’s the real story. The “reduction in violence” argument is not. Frankly, if you made the argument, it is a good indication that your only knowledge of the drug trade comes from watching tv/movies and reading state media sources.

Unfortunately, the effect of barbaric sentencing and draconian money laundering penalties will serve to introduce quite a bit of fraud into Dark Net drug marketplaces. Yes, knock one down, and perhaps fifteen will rise up to take its place. But the level of confidence of a c-to-b transaction confidence will begin to approach the traditional level and indeed may even fall below what you can expect on “the street.” In addition, the confidence level of “dealing with a narc,” on either side of the ledger(consumer or supplier), begins to exceed what you can expect “on the street.” So while there will be replacements, they won’t be exactly the same version as the previous ones.

Frankly, anyone who engages in a repeated pattern of buying or selling on Dark Net sites can only expect to be busted. You may as well just send out an email to the pigs for all intent and purposes. This is opposed to the traditional model where only the dealer following a repeated pattern faces a probable certainty of being prosecuted.

Bitcoin has its uses, but in terms of buying contraband, you are better off sticking to the old-fashioned human p2p network of your reasonably trusted inner/outer circle.

Unfortunately, that conclusion doesn’t exactly make for a “failed war on drugs,” now does it?

1 I’ve read many characterizations that described it as “tragic.” Its not tragic. Its barbaric.

2 Another demonstration why the dipshit “libertarians” at George Mason University campaigning for a “bitcoin regulatory regime” are mortal enemies of libertarianism. The argument that a “regulatory regime” carves out a “legitimate space” in a space that would otherwise be treated wholly as “criminal” actually introduces a far more punitive criminal sanction regime.”Legitimacy” allows the feds to wield the weapon of “money laundering.” And the blockchain is not anonymous. It is only pseudo-anonymous. The crime of operating a website can now carry the financial penalty of any applicable transactional value of the duly recorded transactions in the public blockchain.

Hillary vs Jeb

The artistry of American democracy…Its first and only rule: the degree of vitriol and exaggerated importance is inversely proportional to the differences between the candidates. From such a principle we can infer that Hillary vs Hillary would be the most contentious campaign in US history. Instead, we will simply have to make due with the titanic struggle between vs…

The Progressive Promise

This piece, The Libertarian Delusion, by the American Prospect is textbook straw man logical fallacy so bereft of imagination that the author manages to subvert his own position. Memo: if the thing you are claiming to be a failure is also claimed in the same argument to be a creation wholly of the thing you support, you might want to pause a bit to consider what your argument is actually saying:

Government control is not a sufficient condition for market regulation

And this goes to the crux of the matter. For libertarianism is not “the market.”1 Rather, it is no authority between supply and demand, no authority between consenting adults. Beyond that, it promises little.

Progressivism,on the other hand, is a thousand authorities between supply and demand, a plethora of czars between consenting adults. Of course, in return for our subjugation to these myriad authorities, it promises a lot. However, when it fails to make good on its lofty promises, it hardly bothers itself with any type of self-examination. Instead it goes looking for scapegoats. So desperate to slay any hint of an alternative, it claims itself the only source of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and in doing so, undermines the raison de etre for its supposed authority:

by its own admission, it can’t actually guarantee what it is promising

Oh, I quite realize the progressive response: yes, we can, if we have a million authorities between supply demand and a galaxy of czars between consenting adults. But my observation regarding the progressive promise is pretty simple:

Government authority can only guarantee that there will be scapegoats

1 For example, Bastiat’s defining libertarian treatise is “The Law”, not “The Market.”

Political Science V: Net Neutrality

“All traffic is equal but some is more equal than others”
The Pigs

Heuristically, there is no such thing as “net neutrality”…there hasn’t been since the 1988 Morris Worm. Without heuristic filtering by the tiered network providers, the public internet1 would be practically unusable. It would certainly be unreliable.

The Administrative State implementation of “net neutrality” presages the end of civilian control of the internet, the fossilization of corporate monopoly over the “last mile” and the formalization of a surveillance regime against “unauthorized traffic” (read: IP). The Administrative State enforcement of a “public network” will invite the same censorship that the government imposes over that other decreed thing: “the public airwaves,” even though that thing doesn’t even really exist anymore.

On the one hand, the cognitive dissonance being displayed by so-called civil libertarians is stupendously mind boggling, after all this is the same Administrative State engaged in unnumbered secret activities to undermine an open, free and secure internet in the name of the geopolitical status quo(what it calls “terrorism”). If this was a FCC composed of three republicans instead of two, and they had voted to “save the internet” on a pretense of “we have to implement before you know what is in it,” then the chants would be “bloody murder” instead of self-congratulated “salvation.” Of course every school boy knows the difference between tyranny and liberty is “two republicans instead of three, three democrats instead of two.”

On the other hand, it is not only unsurprising, but predictable. This is the de Jasay method in full effect. States persist because everyone thinks they can use the State for their own ends, but the only result is the persistence of the thing itself, the only demonstration being how state and society interact to disappoint and render each other miserable.

vive le moment libertaire!

1 The “public network,” that small network(small as in the number of hops between any two nodes) where the default condition is pass, is a emergent de facto phenomenon, not a de jure decreed thing.

Political Science IV: Hacked Knowledge Problem

If I was the NSA, I would target the same thing – all the crypto keys. I do the same on pentests, so why not? One target, huge ROI.

Kevin Mitnick

Again, as a reminder, The Hayek Knowledge Problem has been hacked. “The Use of Knowledge in Society” has different implications in 2015 compared to 1945. Economic science, like all sciences, is not written in the staid stone of theological scripture. But live on it will–in the classical liberal turf wars…