It sure does seem like we are feeling the first few raindrops of our Storm. Which is about dang time, because for the last few weeks, we’ve been dealing with their Storm.
Let’s have them reading horrific news on a daily basis for a change, instead of us reading about their damn “demonstrations” (really riots) and their disbandings of police forces, and whateverthehell silly–no, dangerous–crap Nancy Pelosi is trying to pass.
But speaking of crap that is both dangerous and silly, I have to just laugh at CHAZ, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, allegedly with no rulers.
It’s dangerous because it’s a direct de jure affront to the rule of law. They are actually trying to secede from the United States there.
It’s also silly, because as I have said, there is no such thing as anarchy any place where there are people.
Someone will always step in and become the ruler. It’s a government at that point, though not one like we are accustomed to, that can trace its origin back to something established by consensus of the people. It’s a thugocracy, run by the biggest bully on the block. (See “Third World Shithole” for bigger examples, though even there they have more of a facade of legitimacy than CHAZ does.)
I read an excellent “thought experiment” on this once, way before Al Gore didn’t invent the internet, and I’ve not been able to find it. I thought it was in Ayn Rand’s writings, but it’s not there. I eventually found it in Robert J. Ringer’s Restoring the American Dream (1979). And as it turns out, he was mostly talking about the concept of having property be owned in common (like, say, the Marxists advocate), but it’s directly parallel to the issues that would arise with no government. The following is my recounting of what the dead tree book next to me says, with some adaptations to also cover the issue of “no government.” If I don’t have it right it’s my fault, not Ringer’s.
Let’s say everyone owns the beach. No one can own beachfront property for themselves.
What happens if you and I both want to sit on the same part of the beach at the same time? One might say that’s unlikely to happen, but if not you and me, it seems inevitable that there will be situations like that when property is owned in common by everyone.
What, indeed, would prevent some gang from going to the beach every morning and staking out 50 yards of their favorite piece of shoreline?
After all they’re free to use it, just like everyone else. Is this what the commies have in mind–first come, first served? And there’s no mention of a time limit (and with no government, no way to enforce it).
Heck, why should they be expected to have to come in first every morning? Why not just have them keep a couple of guys there to guard it overnight?
Technically, they’re still just using common property, as is everyone’s right…it’s just that it’s continuous. And with no government around, who’s going to argue with them? Heck, they could even build a house on it–temporarily, of course.
But, de facto, that bit of beach is their property now. And they are enforcing their property ownership, so they’re acting as a government, too.
It’s an example that might be useful to you, the next time you argue with some custardhead who asserts property should be held in common. Because people can easily imagine that in the absence of legally enforceable property rights–people will create them and it won’t be through a government that answers to us.
So I wasn’t surprised to see some bully assume control of the CHAZ. After all, Antifa seems to attract that type.
There is a branch of libertarianism called anarcho-capitalism. Its adherents seem to imagine that government is unnecessary, especially if people can defend themselves. But, you see, there are some other services that government must provide, even if you can somehow manage to prevent a big gang from taking over because no one individual can fight them off–you have to form your own gang in self defense.
But leave that aside. Imagine you own some real estate. How do you prove you’re the owner? You have a deed. Who issued the deed? Well, here, it’s the county government that does that (there’s a surveyor, an assessor, and a treasurer, and I’m not quite sure how the responsibilities are divvied up).
The anarcho capitalists imagine that this service can be left completely up to the market. And by that, I don’t mean by private people under contract with the government. I’m talking about a private company that sets itself up and sells the service of providing deeds.
But with no government, I could conceivably create my own title deed registration company…and register my deed for your land. Now we’re both holding a piece of paper that says I own your land, and I might even come by and kick you off by force. No government to stop me. But wait, your deed is registered with the real company, mine is some shell company I created.
But who is to say which of those two companies is a “real” company, and make it stick? Basically, the biggest gang. And they become “the government.”
This reduces to absurdity, and I trust I’ve made my point: that there must be a final authoritative source. That would be a government. Sure, if 99 percent of people were reasonable in an An-Cap environment, there’d be no issue–but when was the last time, in the real world, 99 percent of people agreed on anything? This is why you have courts. Whose decisions are final (you can appeal within the system but the system’s final decision is final).
The AnCap response–or at least the response by the people in my favorite AnCap science fiction, entertaining but not taken seriously by me–is that there are indeed courts, but they are private, and if the first judge–chosen by agreement of the parties–can’t resolve things to everyone’s satisfaction, he must pay for a second judge, and if that judge can’t do it, he must pay for a third judge…whose decision is final. Interesting, there’s a whole procedure that has to be followed…and no real enforcement!! It sort of presupposes that people will be reasonable and will voluntarily follow the procedure–or that enough people in society agree with that procedure to be able to compel them to.
I knew someone, once, who had a neighbor who kept tearing down the boundary fence between their lots and building a new one. That neighbor had bought a quarter-quarter section and believed he had a right to 40 acres, not one bit less, especially not because a road ran along the edge of his land and took up two acres and was specifically excluded from his deed. So he took it out on my friend, who took him to court, got a judgment, and the guy still wouldn’t give up. I don’t know how it turned out, but does this sound like the sort of reasonable person who would help pick a first judge, a second judge, and a third judge if he got into a dispute with you? And what if he’s got eight brothers meaner than he is, and they like to say “blood is thicker than water?” You’d be SOL, unless you could get a ton of people willing to get into a gunfight to, essentially, risk their lives to kill the guy when they don’t have a dog in the fight. That’s what it will take, because he and his family are clearly the type who won’t give up once they’ve convinced themselves of their entitlement–any more than a mugger will give up his sense of entitlement to other people’s property. That property is HIS property in his mind, even before he takes it from you.
So this is my rather rambling way of my saying anarchy is nonsense, and especially anarcho-capitalism. Capitalism requires the rule of law to function properly. And if there is no law, someone you probably won’t like will make it exist, and it will benefit him.
Here’s a quote from Ayn Rand, who understood that government is a necessity albeit one that bears close watching (so does Ringer, but he seems a lot less happy about it).
If a drought strikes them, animals perish–man builds irrigation canals; if a flood strikes them, animals perish–man builds dams; if a carnivorous pack attacks them, animals perish–man writes the Constitution of the United States.Ayn Rand
Reminder of the Most Important Thing about the MAGA Movement
Yes, I am going to harp on this, because it is the most important thing President Donald J. Trump has to do, and he hasn’t really gotten started on it yet.
Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American People...Our campaign represents a true existential threat, like they’ve never seen before.Then-Candidate Donald J. Trump
Or, because I think it’s an important video (and Q would seem to agree with me) here’s the video that came from that rally:
Lawyer Appeasement Section
OK now for the fine print.
This is the WQTH Daily Thread. You know the drill. There’s no Poltical correctness, but civility is a requirement. There are Important Guidelines, here, with an addendum on 20191110.
We have a new board – called The U Tree – where people can take each other to the woodshed without fear of censorship or moderation.
And remember Wheatie’s Rules:
1. No food fights
2. No running with scissors.
3. If you bring snacks, bring enough for everyone.
4. The gun is always loaded.
4a. If you actually want the gun to be loaded, like because you’re checking out a bump in the night, then it’s empty.
5. Never point the gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
6. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
7. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
(Hmm a few extras seem to have crept in.)
Now it wouldn’t be one of my posts without a coin, would it?
The 1792 Half Disme is actually a very controversial coin.
(I’m going to apologize in advance for this long ramble, much of which really doesn’t have to do with this coin…but I find the history to be interesting, and if you don’t agree, you can…go jump in a lake.)
The US Mint and the US monetary system was established by law in 1792. Before the Constitution was passed, states could make their own money, and each state did things differently. In a way our federal coinage was the 18th century EuroZone, except that just about everything else still legal tender, including English and Spanish coinage. (In fact the Spanish piece of eight was were we got our dollar, and the name ultimately comes from “Joachimsthaler” since that town, now in Czechia, is where a large silver coin of that approximate size was first invented; “thalers” and “crown sized coins” became popular across Europe after that). We could do that because money back then was coined precious metal; guidebooks were published to tell people how much silver or gold there were in various coins so they’d know how much to accept, say, a British half crown for as payment (somewhere around fifty cents).
Our original system was defined as: ten mills to the cent, ten cents to the disme, ten dismes to the dollar, and ten dollars to the eagle. Coinage of copper half and one cent pieces, silver half dismes, dismes, quarter, half and full dollars, plus gold quarter, half and full eagles was authorized.
The only remnants of those authorized coins are our dime, quarter and half dollar. Other denominations are either dead now, or changed beyond all recognition–they’d laugh at our puny modern cent made out of zinc with a phony layer of copper on it. And of course the dime, quarter and half dollar today have no precious metal content at all. The silver dollar was originally 416 grains (the same grain you use to measure powder with) with 371 1/4 grains of it silver, the rest copper. Later on, in 1837, the copper content was reduced by 3 1/2 grains, so that the coin would be precisely 90 percent silver…and that silver dollar lasted until 1935. (The other silver denominations were reduced significantly in weight in 1853, minutely adjusted in 1873 to make their weights metric, and lasted at those weights until 1964.)
And yes, to be clear, the half disme was a silver coin–half the weight of a disme. Half dismes and dimes were, and are today for those that have survived, pretty small coins.
Anyway, to return to the 1792 half disme:
There is an “old wives’ tale” that George Washington donated some of his silver, a hundred dollars worth, to have two thousand of these made–that ultimately came from a man who had been at the mint almost since the beginning.
But there is much newer research (printed in the August 2017 issue of The Numismatist) that suggests Thomas Jefferson was the driver. (Note, however, that people have argued against this since it came out.) I will follow that account from this point forward.
George Washington approved the purchase of the property the First Mint would be built on, on July 9th, 1792. 1500 (not 2000) half dismes were likely produced on July 11-13. Even Donald Trump can’t build a building in three days, and as it happens the property didn’t even have its old structures demolished until the 19th. So these were probably made in someone’s basement, and that someone was likely a man named John Harper, who was a contractor for the Mint.
The new research points to Jefferson’s personal memoranda, which indicate that Thomas Jefferson withdrew about 100 dollars worth of silver from the Bank of the United States, probably in the form of Spanish dollars, and had 75 dollars worth of that made into these half dismes. Then, as he left Philadelphia to go home to Virginia on a vacation, he records spending money here and there, in multiples of five cents. The first of these was in Chester, Pennsylvania, where on July 13, he tipped “servants” [likely: slaves] in the amount of 30 cents at the inn he stayed in that evening. From that point forward, he notes many expenditures in multiples of five cents, but this ceases on October 5, after he had returned to Philadelphia.
Why were multiples of five cents such a big deal? Because the Spanish dollar was really an 8 real coin. You could find 1/2, 1, 2 and 4 real pieces too…but that works out to 6 1/2 and 12 1/2 cents for the smaller pieces. There was no way to get to any multiple of 5 other than 25 and 50 with those coins. And English coinage would be just as difficult–a shilling of 12 pence was worth (roughly) 25 cents, and you could divide 12 by 5 and get 2.4 pence = 5 cents (roughly) but there was no way to get 0.4 pence out of British money. You had half pennies (0.5 pence) and farthings (0.25 pence), no way to get to 2.4 pence…and it would be roughly equal, not equal, in any case.
Was that night in Chester, PA, the first time when the first coinage of the United States was spent?
When I read this article, it seemed pretty compelling–but people have mustered plausible alternate explanations since then, even for the multiples of 5 cents. So the caveat is, this might all be untrue. Like I said, this is a controversial coin.
Apparently, by looking at the coins, you can see the dies they were made from degrading from use; the people who have no life and look at these things define six “die states” and Jefferson’s 1500 coins (if this is true) would be the first four of the six. So if you can find and buy one of them, you own an artifact that Jefferson actually handled one time. What of the other two die states? (Who knows, perhaps Washington had those made from his silverware.) We know that there was indeed a second striking of anywhere between 200-500 pieces, but don’t know much about it, other than it was at the new Mint building on October 9th. (That building had gone up in less than 20 days, so perhaps Trump was there to help.)
But it has also been pointed out that whoever made these, from whatever source of silver, they were of dubious legality. The Mint act called for the officer in charge of gold and silver coining to post $10,000 bond, and no one was actually able to do that; the number got lowered by another act of Congress in 1794, and that’s when we could finally mint silver and gold. (Copper began in 1793.) So how is it that people were banging out silver coins in someone’s basement, while we were waiting for the First Mint to be built? (The current Philadelphia mint, which faces the same park Independence Hall faces, the same park that houses the Liberty Bell, is the “Fourth Mint.”) On the other hand it may have been deemed “OK” because the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson was likely there to watch it being made. And, interestingly, at the time the Mint was part of the Department of State, not Hamilton’s Department of the Treasury. George Washington had set things up that way, partially to not give one man a monopoly on all things monetary, and partially because our coinage system at the time was largely based on Jefferson’s concept of having weights, measures and money be decimal. (Jefferson even came up with a system a lot like the metric system, but with names coming from our traditions–however, this wasn’t adopted.)
The first US Mint director was David Rittenhouse, who at the time was a very famous and respected scientist, albeit not quite a bona fide world celebrity like Benjamin Franklin, who had become world famous even before the Revolution. Rittenhouse would likely have been there too, for the coining of these half dismes.
So the coin is shrouded in mystery. We don’t know for certain why it was made, or whose silver it was made out of. What seemed like solid research published in 2017 still hasn’t settled anything.
But the rest of the story on the half dime, as a denomination.
The letter “s” was dropped from “disme” sometime around 1800. It’s hard to be sure precisely when because we didn’t put the actual word on a coin any time between 1794 and 1807–during that timespan coins were typically identified by size and weight, with no actual denomination on the coin itself (the quarter dollar was an exception with “25 C” on the reverse). Collectors today argue over how “disme” was pronounced and many will say “half deem” when talking about this coin.
The half dime as a denomination was discontinued in 1873. The modern “nickel” had been invented in 1866 and, since silver wasn’t circulating in the aftermath of the Civil War, had taken over the job of being a five cent piece. So the half dime was deemed redundant.
If you want to get a half dime, and don’t care about the date, you can find examples from 1850 or so, and later for less than 300 dollars, in a “choice” uncirculated condition (MS-63 in technical parlance). (There are pretty ratty-looking coins out there that are technically uncirculated, MS 60 and 61, for a bit under $200–it’s probably a false economy; if you want uncirculated, go for something better.) Higher circulated grades, perfectly acceptable as curiosities, run from $35 (XF-40) on up. Ones in very low grade (Good-4) go for as little as $18; again, I’d suggest spending the extra 20 bucks–there is a world of difference between Good-4 and XF-40, and almost as much difference between XF-40 and AU-55 (which can be had for just under $100 if you pick a “common date”). AU 50 will look perfectly pleasing without a magnifier. Another factor is that any coin worth above $50 or so will likely be in a big sealed plastic holder; if you want a coin you can hold in your hand, either get a cheap one, or buy a more expensive one and crack it out of the holder.
Standard Disclaimer: None of the coins I show are my coins, not even the cheap ones. In this particular case, the coin shown is the finest known 1792 half disme and is probably worth more than my house and certainly is worth much more than my entire coin collection.
Reminder Of One Basic Fact
Just one more thing, my standard Public Service Announcement. We don’t want to forget this!!!
Zhōngguò shì gè hùndàn !!!
China is asshoe !!!