Big In Japan

A friend sent me an email today with the Subject heading What the…..?! and the entire message was just this URL:

which is for this picture:

… on this page.

Knatz, you see is my original family name. Family Kname. Knatz is the K in BK.

Here is yet further evidence that there is a Japanese pop band called KNATZ:

starry starry night

I spent the day with mon temoin during his week off between the AOL job and his new Martha Stewart gig.

Hadn’t seen him offline in a year or two.

I infected him with the Apple virus. I’m so proud.

When we were teenagers, his favorite painting was Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night.

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I mention this because, for some reason, Google’s logo today looks like this:

The image ?http://bkmarcus.com/blog/images/art/google_van_gogh.gif? cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

RFK2

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.OK, I’m willing to get on the bandwaggon. Here’s something for my “environmentalist” friends to think about:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (yes, son of that RFK!) acts as Chief Prosecuting Attorney for Riverkeeper, “an advocacy group that monitors the Hudson River ecosystem and challenges polluters, using both legal and grass roots campaigns.” He also serves as Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and as President of the Waterkeeper Alliance. At Pace University School of Law, he is a Clinical Professor and Supervising Attorney at the Environmental Litigation Clinic in White Plains, New York. Earlier in his career Mr. Kennedy served as Assistant District Attorney in New York City.

blah blah blah

OK, here’s what the libertarian critter and the mutualist have both already blogged:

You show me a polluter and I’ll show you a subsidy. I’ll show you a fat cat using political clout to escape the discipline of the free market and load his production costs onto the backs of the public.

The fact is, free-market capitalism is the best thing that could happen to our environment, our economy, our country. Simply put, true free-market capitalism, in which businesses pay all the costs of bringing their products to market, is the most efficient and democratic way of distributing the goods of the land — and the surest way to eliminate pollution. Free markets, when allowed to function, properly value raw materials and encourage producers to eliminate waste — pollution — by reducing, reusing, and recycling.

In a real-market economy, when you make yourself rich, you enrich your community.

The truth is, I don’t even think of myself as an environmentalist anymore. I consider myself a free-marketeer.

Corporate capitalists don’t want free markets, they want dependable profits, and their surest route is to crush the competition by controlling the government.

Let’s not forget that we taxpayers give away $65 billion every year in subsidies to big oil, and more than $35 billion a year in subsidies to western welfare cowboys. Those subsidies helped create the billionaires who financed the right-wing revolution on Capitol Hill and put George W. Bush in the White House.

I read this and I’m awfully suspicious. I’m suspicious of any Kennedy. I’m especially suspicious of a rich-boy Yankee in the spotlight.

But I read this. I reread this. And all I can say for now is:

“Right on, Bobby, Jr!”

my brother

Having grown up in the 1970s and 1980s, I never considered the term “family values” to be anything more than Republican spin. I happily declared myself “anti-family-values” for many years. (Easier done, of course, before you have wife or children.)

When CJ first spoke to me of “chosen family” the term resonated.

I feel far less ambivalent about my chosen family than I do about my genetic family.

Of course, chosen family can be just as casually abandoned as casually chosen. There’s the rub. One thing I’ll say for my genetic family: they’re there when fair-weather “chosen” family might choose to be elsewhere.

I’m very unfond of the term “brother” being applied to someone genetically unrelated.

But …

My first blood brother (each prick a finger, mix the red ooze) died of leukemia. His family and mine seemed to think that my blood brother’s genetic brother and I should be friends. It didn’t take.

My next blood brother (same oozy procedure) moved to the other side of the country a few years after we mixed blood. (This is the half-Negro kid the new California locals called Zebra. The one with whom I’d drive our mothers crazy by singing the off-color lyrics from Hair.) Honest-to-G*d, I don’t know if Blood Brother #2 is currently alive or dead. I give it 50/50.

I also have an adopted brother, who was witness at my wedding. He was also one of the pilots in the air just over Ground Zero when the second plane hit on 9/11. But even the term “adopted brother” is stretching it since his sire and my siress lived in sin, nothing legal about it — not by the standards of the State or Church.

If I were to say “my brother” then you might think (a) I’m delirious, since neither of my parents (as far as I know) had any offspring other than yours truly, or you might assume (b) I’m talking about the son of the man my mother lived with and cared for for the couple of decades before his slow demise, or (c) you could believe I’m adopting an African-Americanism to refer to my oldest friend, mon temoin, the best man at my wedding — the one who just took a position with Martha Stewart.

Or, if you know me frighteningly well, you might suspect I’m referring to a thoroughly unlikely candidate:

Angus

My father writes about him here and here.

comic strip paranoia

I have a black friend who grew up in the hood.

(The South Bronx, not the predominantly white neighborhood I grew up in on the upper Upper West Side.)

My friend has just accepted a position with Martha Stewart.

Between today’s Boondocks and yesterday’s, I’m beginning to suspect that Aaron Mcgruder is spying on us.


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For more of my thoughts on conspiracy theories (also inspired by a Boondocks strip), see here.

diseconomies of scale

Kevin Carson, the interweb’s leading voice of hardcore mutualism (i.e., Benjamin Tuckerite individualist anarchism) is contemplating his next project, which will draw on the works of Ivan Illich, Paul Goodman, and Robert Anton Wilson. I note this sentence in particular:

“The organizing theme, as I understand it so far, is that the state subsidizes the diseconomies of large scale, and thus encourages the growth of business firms far beyond the size that could possibly survive in a free market.”

The State’s role in encouraging oversized corporations is not just in subsidizing particular diseconomies of scale (i.e., “corporate welfare”) but much more pervasively in penalizing optimum scale.

For instance, by taxing dividends, the government discourages the dispersal of profits. Investors and shareholders prefer growth in stock price for a postponed capital gains payoff to an ongoing share of profit. Thus profits are artificially redirected back into growth where entrepreneurs see no need for further growth.

(This example in particular works me up, because Marxoids and statist leftists in general believe that the free market has a natural tendency toward centralization and monopoly. It’s the State, baby! It’s government that puts the Big into Big Business!) (more)

Another f’r’instance: central banking (i.e., state-sponsored and -protected fractional reserve banking), by keeping interest rates artificially low, encourages both malinvestment (which is seen in inappropriate size as well as inappropriate direction, etc.) and now also in a culture of consumer debt and spending rather than savings and investing. I’ve already commented on the State’s role in the “consumerism” decried by the Left, but I believe there is another subtle and pernicious effect from this same phenomenon: the dichotomizing of the spending and investing classes.

In a free market, with externalities internalized, the tendency is toward lower time preference and greater investment on the part of everyone. Only newcomers to a free economy have to work hand-to-mouth. But under political capitalism, with price signals and rewards warped and redirected, only those who already have a great surplus are encouraged to invest. With artificially low interest rates, the average worker is steered away from savings and investing and toward borrowing and spending. The culture of the credit card.

The firms begin to feed themselves on the dividends they’re not dispersing (see above), and the general population works ever harder to deplete capital rather than develop it. We have less and less synergy between producers and consumers and more and more dichotomy between capitalists and workers.

Classical liberalism does have a class-conflict theory: the productive (economic) class versus the parasitic (political) class. This theory predates Marx, who perverted it into working class versus capitalist class. But the grain of truth in Marx’s version — political capitalists versus the masses — should still be blamed on the State.

In the free market, capitalist and laborer are roles played within the economy. Under state capitalism, the roles played by individuals become classes of individuals.

my world in 6 panels

Today’s comic strips (emailed to me daily) feel like a summary of recent conversations I’ve been having:






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