Libertarian Ambivalence on Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day

Last year I wrote this post on Times of Israel entitled “Why I do not celebrate the birth of the State of Israel”, though I do celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence day. I went through all the reasons I hate the institution of the State, and ended with this:

I do not celebrate the birth of the State of Israel because I despise it. There is nothing it does or provides that free independent Jews couldn’t provide better and more efficiently. I wish the State would go away and let private Jews protect themselves and organize their lives based on voluntary agreements. All the politics about whose money goes which way would vanish and we could stop all the infighting. Life would finally be peaceful.

So what, then, am I celebrating? I am celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut. Independence Day. Today is not Yom Medinat Yisrael. Today is Yom HaAtzmaut. I am celebrating the fact that I am free from the British State which harassed Jews much more. This is indeed something to celebrate. I am not yet free, however, from the Jewish State. But God willing, soon, I will be.

This year it’s still harder to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut. I suspect it will get harder and harder as the State gets bigger and bigger. It’s hard because while I know that I celebrate Jewish independence from Britain, I also know that everyone else is indeed celebrating the institution of the State itself. So it feels really awkward to be celebrating together with people who are celebrating something I hate.

Not that I’m the only one who’s ambivalent. Everyone else is, too, because when it comes down to it, they all hate the State as well. They just don’t want to come out and say it as honestly as I do, because they don’t want to sound like “anarchists” or some other scary word.

Last night it was especially evident. I’m in Zichron Ya’akov now visiting my brother and his family, who just moved back to Israel after 15 years. We ended up going to a house of a bunch of hippieish modernistic Jews, like the kind I used to hang out with in America. The Dvar Torah at the end of the service was, essentially, in so many words, something along the lines of “Even though we all hate the State and the people in charge are disgusting, we still have to celebrate it because Rav Nachman says everything will be good eventually.”

No, he did not say it that way exactly, but that was the message. It was more diplomatic of course, like “Even though there is a lot to fix in the State, it will all be better at some point.” The point is it started off conceding that there are a lot of problems. Generally, Jewish holidays don’t start off on that kind of negative.

Like, take Chanukah. The geulah, redemption, was not complete, but we only say that at the end. And Purim. Same thing, but we only say that the redemption was not complete at the end. Even Pesach, very happy, but we remind ourselves at the end that 80% of the Israelites did not make it out of Egypt alive. Footnote. But Yom HaAtzmaut, everyone knows there’s something seriously wrong here, right out in the open, and it feels disgusting for everyone to celebrate a political institution, and that awkward feeling everyone has needs to be addressed immediately. It has to be said at the beginning, because nobody feels completely right about this.

With other Jewish holidays, the celebration is obvious, we just have to remind ourselves that it’s not completely happy yet. With Yom HaAtzmaut, we have to remind ourselves that things aren’t completely horrible, and there is still something to celebrate about this.

Which is essentially what I say, but without dressing it up in qualifiers and watered-down language.

I was sitting next to my brother in the back who, it is publicly known so it’s not loshon harah, does not believe in the narrative of the Exodus as historical. So the ultimate irony hit me. Here’s what I told him.

“So, you don’t believe in the Biblical God and I don’t believe in the State, and here we are thanking God for the State.”

And we both cracked up.

On Yom HaAtzmaut, I say Hallel, with a bracha, but I can no longer do it in a minyan, because they say Hallel for the State, and I say it in spite of the State. So from now on, I daven alone on Yom HaAtzmaut.

If there are any Jewish libertarians out there anywhere in the world, male or female, who celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut but not the State of Israel, then let’s make a minyan (egalitarian even, if we can’t scrape up the male numbers) and do Hallel, through Skype, through whatever.

Jeb Bush Loves Obama and the NSA Surveillance Programs

Just when you thought the Bush family couldn’t get any worse, Jeb Bush comes out with this disgusting praise for Obama. Not there aren’t a few (very very few) things to praise Obama for. I praise Obama for deescalating the fight with Cuba, and for being just a bit less of a schmuck on marijuana than most other presidents.

But Jeb Bush praises him for tracking the phone calls and emails of every American, a program introduced by his alcoholic war monger cokehead brother George. This is that wonderful program that Edward Snowden bravely made us all aware of, God bless him.

From RT (Or is that too pro Soviet Union? So is the NSA monitoring your phone calls more American then)?

“I would say the best part of the Obama administration would be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big metadata programs, the NSA being enhanced,” Bush said.

“Advancing this — even though he never defends it, even though he never openly admits it – there has been a continuation of a very important service, which is the first obligation, I think of our national government is to keep us safe. And the technologies that now can be applied to make that so, while protecting civil liberties, are there. And he’s not abandoned them, even though there was some indication that he might.”

These programs cannot be stopped. Nobody will stop them. There’s a very small chance, very small, that Rand Paul might stop them, but I doubt it. If he is elected and does stop them I’d be very surprised. I doubt any president even has the ability to stop them at this point.

Government is turning into Skynet.

Israel’s Price Controls on New Books Come Home to Roost

Three years ago, I wrote this, when some idiotic law was passed to force up the price of books so authors would make more money. Nobody likes the fact that when prices go up, demand goes down:

According to the bill, stores will not be allowed to discount the price of a book for 18 months following its publication. Therefore, the logic goes, people will be forced to buy the book at a higher price, thereby “protecting the author’s income”.

Well, this is genius. That should work well.

But there’s another possibility, with a likelihood of something along the lines of absolutely certain: Sales of new books will plummet at Tzomet Sfarim and Steimatzky when consumers can no longer find good deals on them. Authors’ royalties will fall through the floor. Tzomet Sfarim and Steimatzky’s sales will plunge in general,  chains will go out of business, unemployment will go up, and people will cry to the government to bail out the bookstores, or better yet, pass a national “support Israeli literature tax” to give the industry a boost so authors don’t starve because nobody is buying their books.

It took a year since the law took effect, but now the author lobby is pissed for shooting itself in groin. Sales of new books have plummeted. What a surprise. 

מה נשתנה? שנה לחוק הספרים

שנה עברה מאז נכנס לתוקפו חוק הספרים השנוי במחלוקת. התוצאה בינתיים היא ירידה במכירות, ברווחים ובמספר הספרים שיצאו לאור. החוק שרבים קיוו כי בזכותו ייחלץ הענף מהמשבר, לא מספק את התוצאות הרצויות

What happened? One Year After The Book Law

One year since the controversial Book Law came into effect, the results are a fall in sales, profits, and the number of books published. The law that many thought would save the industry from crisis has not delivered the desired results.

And now publishers are are not making money, so they’re not publishing new authors at all, because new authors are subject to price controls. It’s not going to be easy getting this piece of crap repealed.

Just like the minimum wage hurts the weakest workers, minimum book prices slaughter the weakest authors.

Amazing. The Law of Supply and Demand still works, even after these politicians passed laws to override it. I can’t believe it. Who can? Surely not Limor Livnat or Nitzan Horowitz.

Livnat has since retired from a life of telling people what to do and dictating how much books she didn’t write, doesn’t publish, and isn’t trying to sell should cost people, but “continues to work on projects” for the betterment of whatever. She should really stop doing anything, just stand still, don’t move, and don’t talk to anybody. Politicians should not try to better anything.

Don’t breathe too hard either.

 

What to do when a 3 year old asks the ultimate question?

I wasn’t there at the time. I was in my office. And I got this email midday from my wife of the record of a conversation between Dafna and her. Daf (rhymes with laugh) was taking a bath. “Me” means wife.

Daf: Everyone dies….so…..

Me: So what?
Daf: So what’s the point?
Me: The point of what?
Daf: The point of everyone.
Me: Very big question for such a small Daf.
Daf: Yeah, I know.
I have of course comes to terms with my own answer to this question. But comment below as to your suggestions for how to handle this with a three year old if/when it comes up again.

Greece Raiding Pensions, This is What Will Happen Everywhere

The evil of social security and other government-mandated savings programs is that when the government runs out of money, they will take it all.

All of it will be gone. When the Federal government can no longer sell bonds to pay its existing bonds in its $18,000,000,000,000 Ponzi scheme, everything will be gone. Anyone with any savings in any government program will have nothing.

From The Telegraph:

Greece plans to raid coffers as creditors dash hopes of resolving cash crisis

Athens could force pension funds to transfer assets to the government as desperate Greeks tout possibility of delaying IMF repayments

That’s Newspeak. Here’s what it means, sans Orwellian crap:

The politicians who force pensioners to save money through their programs will force the people who they made save that money to give them that money in order to pay back the megapile of tax loot made up of loot donations from every developed State in the world.

Because God forbid the IMF, an institution that never earned a damn thing for providing something to consumers in the marketplace, should lose money.

Rav Uri and Ronit Sherki’s Son Murdered

Rav Sherki is one of the few Rabbis I look up to, and can stand to listen to. I have many of his shiurim on my phone. I’ve gone to his home for the annual Manhigut Yehudit Sukkah party for many years. I recognized the picture of his son Shalom in the paper, though I’ve never spoken to Shalom. I see Ronit at almost every Manhigut Yehudit event I attend.

Shalom, Shalom Sherki

Shalom is dead now. He was murdered in an intentional car crash at the bus stop he was standing at on French Hill in Jerusalem.

The man who rammed the car into him is in the custody of Shabak.

Some people don’t like how cynical I am. But I am who I am. I can’t give any words of comfort other than to say Rav Uri, Ronit, and the rest of his family, as well as I and everyone else in Manhigut Yehudit and now in Zehut, know what has to be done. Only we know what has to be done. Nobody else does. And we will get it done.

I don’t blame “Arabs” for this. They are who they are. The fact that they are still here is the State of Israel’s fault. I blame the State of Israel.

Now that you’ve been warned of my cynicism, here it is in all its biting disgust and despair.

I wonder what academic degree this murderer is going to get while in the prison that I’m paying for, and whether he will have time to procure enough credits for a bachelor’s degree before being released in Netanyahu’s next good will prisoner exchange.

Shalom Sherki, may God avenge your murder, because the State of Israel sure as hell ain’t going to.

The Global Economy is Within 6 Months of Collapse

I’m feeling more comfortable now giving a more exact time frame for when this all goes down. It’ll happen in the next 6 months.

I still may be wrong because I don’t have a direct line to God, but I’m opening myself up to people calling me a stupid alarmist if I am. I’m confident enough now to risk that.

Greece is going to default sometime in May. Varoufakis is now meeting with a sovereign default lawyer. and the Fed is going to raise rates at some point in June. Those two things together are enough to screw with the bond markets which are showing negative yields for the stronger States like Switzerland and Germany. Negative yields mean that people are paying governments for the privilege of lending money to them. German 4-year bonds are yielding -.2%. That means people are giving Germany $100 for the privilege of getting back $99.80 in four years.

People think I’m insane. That’s insane. It’s about to reverse.

Price inflation will follow a bond slaughter, indebted countries will be applying all their tax revenues to debt service, meaning all your taxes go to banks. And of course, precious metals will explode very suddenly.

Let’s give it a 180 day countdown. It’s tax day isn’t it? April 15?

April 15.

180…