Standard Oil, Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes (Bust the Trusts! The Right Way for Once!)

Standard Oil, Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes (Bust the Trusts! The Right Way for Once!).

What is it with me and bashing evil corporations of late (not necessarily on this blog, though I’m sure if you look through the archives…)? I hope it’s not habit-forming.

Well, could be that some of them, at least at some point in their history, became what they are with special thanks to the government. Could also be that some of them have been grandfathered in and are protected from competition from those who haven’t been grandfathered in. Might also have a little something to do with the fact that some of them have benefitted from foreign policy meddling and institutionalized theft committed by the state. But other than that, I have few complaints. Here’s a comment I left (since edited) at the end of a survey that sparked this article:

“I like surveys that have political and societal relevance. I believe in the desirability and functionality of free markets. And Exxon Mobil is a great company all things considered. However, they could not have gotten to where they are today without a little outside help. Some of this came from the consumer, to be sure. But some of it came from the state through the virtual cartel status granted to all major [US, Dutch, and British, at least] oil companies going back at least to the 1953 [CIA instigated] Iranian Coup… [This] greatly benefitted the Seven Sisters oil companies (a number of which [were Standard Oil descendants that later] merged to become Exxon Mobil) and is one of the main causes of unease in the Middle East and around the world today. They, like all oil companies, great and small, foreign and domestic, have also benefitted from oil’s status as de facto commodity backing for the US dollar. The world reserve currency known as the Federal Reserve Note is denominated in crude oil. The oil companies have a vested interest in maintaining this corrupt arrangement.”

Federal Reserve Octopus

What say you? Are some/most/all big corporations what they are today more thanks to competition or more thanks to monopoly? Here’s one for extra points: what about “small business,”? Aren’t they also protected from competition, in certain industries more than others, by regulations that keep newcomers out and by subsidies that keep competing technologies down?

For the record, anti-trust legislation actually has the effect of restraining competition, thereby securing monopoly, so when I say “bust the trusts” I don’t advocate anti-trust legislation, I simply want to let free market competition give some of these bigger guys a run for “their” money! The burden of proof is on them to show that they would really be as big as they are today were they under a system of laissez-faire capitalism. I guess you could say I’m with the left-libertarians on this one (except for the fact that I dared to use the word “capitalism”).

Standard Oil Octopus

Also, Brandon and I had our little chat on conspiracy theories. The collusion of big businesses (usually involving the state at some level) to form cartels (take note that Standard Oil, known to us today as Exxon Mobil and Chevron, was owned by John D. Rockefeller, who also had a hand in creating the Federal Reserve; I wouldn’t say everything that has happened in regards to these two was meticulously plotted, but I wouldn’t call it mere coincidence, either) happens to be one of the ones that I subscribe to. I think Adam Smith can back me up on this one. And unlike some who use the quote to support anti-trust legislation, I’ll give you more than just the first two sentences in order to show why such laws are not the best conclusion:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.

Monopoly Octopus

First World Camping Problems, USDA Tyranny, a Fish Story, and Some Epic Snapshots

First World Camping Problems, USDA Tyranny, a Fish Story, and Some Epic Snapshots.

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I went on a 50 mile hike in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness (Montana) the week before last. The trail is called “the Beaten Path”. That doesn’t really mean much. It wasn’t rock climbing or cliff scaling, but it wasn’t far removed at times. Or at least it seemed that way with our heavy backpacks and the average of ten miles we covered each day. Two good friends (from Cheyenne, Wyoming) and I camped below the mountains on Saturday night (August 3rd). A $9 fee and the roads on the way there were still super-crappy. What gives? Wasn’t that supposed to be one of the things governments were good at?

Add to that my $26 fishing license (right in the middle of the year-long season, and just past the height of that season) and we’ve already been taken for 35 Federal Reserve Notes. I understand the need for wise management, but does licensing really solve it (to say nothing of the natural right to catch fish)? I’m not so sure. Charging everybody the same fees for what end up being different costs imposed by them can’t be anything but inefficient. In my case, it incentivizes me to go out and fish more than I otherwise would, imposing more costs, just to make it worth getting the license. Considering that I never catch anything, I have a lot of fishing to squeeze between now and the season’s end.

Just how bad is my fishing? I brought a nice little pole that comes with a cast reel and a fly reel. I stimulated the local economy by purchasing several fancy new lures (having temporarily misplaced my other good ones). What could go wrong? Well, within the first five casts my lure got snagged on a rock at about 6 feet depth. I had to wade out to three feet of depth and alternately jerk and loosen my line from several positions to get it unstuck. Nothing I hadn’t had to do before.

I should have quit while I was ahead. Maybe another five casts later I outdid myself. If it weren’t for the fact that my reel had become loosened from the rod I know it would have been my farthest cast yet. Instead, the entire reel went flying out into the lake and the rest of the line hung up on the rod. Not wanting to lose my reel, I panicked and dove in after it. I figured, “8 feet? This will be a cinch!” After going head first to the bottom (the sun was behind the clouds and I was stirring up the mud, so I couldn’t see it) four or five times I decided it would be best to pull on the line until it was completely unraveled and hope that it was tied to the reel. Luckily it was. I was happy to recover all my gear, but I was soaking wet and the sun wasn’t out. Luckily no one witnessed my floundering. No doubt my friends would have gotten a kick out of it.

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On my way back to camp, dripping, shivering, holding my tangled line and my dismembered pole I was stopped by some ranger chick (the US Forest Service is an agency of the US Department of Agriculture). Just what I needed. She detained me for about five minutes to ask me where I was from, where I was going, how far away our campfire was from the lake, whether we knew not to burn our soup cans, etc. She was at least nice about it (heck, she didn’t even mention the Glock 40 belonging to my friends’ brother, strapped to my belt, or ask to see my fishing license) and eventually realized how uncomfortable I was and said she would come to our campsite later to finish her lecture. Which, of course, she did. She had no problem telling us that we were her worst demographic, three young men. Can you imagine a police officer saying that to a black teenager in a large urban area? I’d say that’s profiling, but I digress. She told us she was going to be off for the next two days but when she came back she would be checking up on us. Add to the profiling some harassment. We had yet to be told or to admit that we had broken any “rules” (which, of course, we had). Luckily we managed to evade her the rest of the hike, but we made sure not to have any extra fun lest we incur her wrath.

So I was basically done fishing on the first day unless I wanted to fly-fish or untangle my other line. I did try a little fly-fishing at one lake a few days later but didn’t catch anything. Luckily, four or five gentleman from Chicago (with thick former-Soviet bloc accents) whom we camped near saw I had no luck and offered us some of their surplus. Five fresh trout. Of course, we had to gut them ourselves, but it was worth it. I wrapped them in aluminum foil and seasoned with lemon juice, garlic, dill, black pepper, red pepper, and salt. Then I put them on our grill over our camp fire for 20 minutes. If I swallowed any bones, I didn’t notice. As a courtesy, in the morning we gave them a package of noodles we would have otherwise eaten the night before. Does that qualify more as reciprocal gifting or as barter? I hope for their sake those boys had their Montana fishing licenses (better yet, that they didn’t have them but managed to dodge the rangers), though as out-of-staters it would have cost them an arm and a leg.

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We camped again the night we got back down. Another $9. 46 FRNs total. Roads were still pretty bad. No hand sanitizer or lights in the bathroom facilities. Almost no good firewood other than some dead, dried pine boughs and a giant old stump which we put set aflame around 7:30 PM. It took two of us to drag it to the fire and all three of us to lift it into the fire. A lot of the weight came from the few large stones that the root system had wrapped itself around. It was 3:30 AM before I decided to douse the fire. The stump was still there. It was a lot smaller, and in two pieces, but still could have burned another hour or two on its own. My one friend had turned in around 11, the other one was up with me until about 2. I knew if I went to bed as early as they I would be awake, tossing and turning after only a couple hours’ rest. Plus, being a night owl, I couldn’t help it.

I’m not sure what our backpacks weighed, and we got back more than a week ago (August 9th), but my shoulders are still a little stiff and my right knee aches when I straighten my leg out. Even with all this, I had a great time.

Hating Energy Dependence, Not Loving Energy Independence

Hating Energy Dependence, Not Loving Energy Independence.

I worked on this piece on and off from November 30th to January 21st. I wrote the bulk of it on the first day, and most of the editing since then had been cosmetic. It is somewhat related to a project I was helping a friend with, although that is not the reason I wrote it. This piece originally appeared on January 21st at Notes on Liberty, where it was my first for that blog.

WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT ENERGY DEPENDENCE?

Contrary to what one might be led to think, energy independence need not be the opposite of energy (inter)dependence. Likewise, contrary to what many advocates of free markets and free trade will say, energy dependence (perhaps not their choice of words), is not a good thing. Energy interdependence certainly can be a good thing, but in today’s world I can’t agree that every instance of it always is. Continue reading

One Year Later at PTPOL

One Year Later at PTPOL.

Well, this blog has been registered at WordPress.com for one year now. It took a while to get it off the ground, but it hit the ground running. (How’s that for a mixed – and contradictory – metaphor, by the way?) Click here to learn more about the blog, and here to learn a little bit about it’s author.

140 posts, 6,602 views, 482 comments, 200 WordPress likes, 192 Facebook likes, 54 followers on WordPress, 1150 followers on Twitter.

Not bad for an amateur one-man team, right? Well, its the readers that are more to thank. Without them there really is no point in writing.

Continue reading

Post on Energy Independence, as Promised

Post on Energy Independence, as Promised.

I have been working on this piece since November 30th. I wrote the bulk of it on the first day, and most editing since has been cosmetic. It is related to a project I am helping a friend with, although that is not the reason I wrote it. I don’t often blog about things that recently happened, and when I do bring up current events it is usually in a very general way. The same is true about this post as well. Still, gas prices have been falling, where I’m located at least, ever since before Thanksgiving. A gallon of regular has been stuck at $2.94 for a week or more now and I begin to wonder if they’re not ready to go back up again. Mentioning that is the best I can do to tie to any recent goings-on to the material below, which I hope you, the reader, enjoy, as it is my very first official Notes on Liberty contribution. Thanks again, Brandon, et al. Continue reading

There is, However, Another Way of Looking at, or for, Socialism.

There is, However, Another Way of Looking at, or for, Socialism.

Hey all, it’s been ten days since my last post (but I’ve got more than 30 drafts, some of which I will discard, others may be outdated, yet a decent amount of which I hope to post in the near future). I’ve been somewhat busy with researching environmental organizations and “green” energy subsidies. I won’t bore you with any of the details (yet?), but I’d like to share some of my general observations.

The pattern I have seen develop for the different types of energy, as well as their advocates, is that, Continue reading