Covid-19 vs. Freedom

Hoarding is morally wrong. Personally, I believe that any person who hoards food, medicine, medical supplies, toilet paper in excess to their needs, and for the purpose of profit making, is a person who believes they can survive when his peers are dead.

Newsflash: they can’t. We all live because we need one another. We all die when we think we can go at it alone. To quote Benjamin Franklin, “We must hang together or surely we shall hang separately.” Somehow, not all Homo sapiens are aware of this. Some even think they can survive when everybody else is suffering or at the expense of others. Because of this, I believe hoarders are despicable persons.

But, and this is important to know, people who buy stuff to ‘weather a storm’ are not hoarders. People, who buy stuff in order to capture the market and exploit other people, are hoarders.

Historical background

Hoarding started as a purely commercial opportunity. It is as old as human society.

It is 5000 BC. Somewhere in Sumeria (southern Mesopotamia). The Priests are also bankers and money doesn’t exist yet. Grain is both food and currency. The year has been plentiful. The mighty Tigre river has been good to man. The crops are in and everybody has enough to eat. Nobody is hungry. Some old shmuck realizes he can get away with accumulating lots of grain. He goes and barters with the Priests for enough grain to feed 1,000 people for 1 month.

He gets the grain and stores it safely in his granary. A year passes. The river refuses to grace the city with his blessing. A draught destroys the crops. The Priests release some grain to the city but people are hungry. Mothers abort babies. Fathers kill wives. People are becoming ill with starvation.

The hoarder jumps into action and tells people that he can save 1,000 of them if they accept to sell themselves into slavery for the price of grain. They accept. The hoarder becomes rich and buys some land away from the city. He starts using his workforce to work the land. Founds a new city.

He becomes a king and works together with other “hoarders” also known as Priests to keep the populace in awe of his power and dominion, anointed by the gods.

Many people will say this story is crazy. Some will even say that it is made up. I say this story happened not once but many times over the course of history.

Mesopotamia – “the land between rivers”.

And as abject as hoarding and speculation are, people will always resort to the black market to satisfy their needs. The black market and speculators are abhorrent. They are like vermin. They are amoral beings who do not spend a second thinking what would happen to them in a reversal of roles.

French Revolution – 1789

During the 1789 French Revolution, when bread, meat, and other necessities of life became scarce, speculators who had accumulated vast stores of foodstuffs, made a killing by selling them to the populace. The authorities decided to act, sending a few speculators to the guillotine, scarring others, and using some for graft purposes.

Some French humor – “Hey Macron, are you coming out/down?”

Napoleon – 1799-1814/15

As always, half measures could never annihilate the black market, which proliferated so much that even Napoleon was powerless to subdue. In fact, smugglers were so effective during this time, that his Continental Blockade, meant to bring England’s to her knees by destroying her trade, was ineffective in preventing illegal trade between Europe and the world. And served only to make England devote all her energies to putting down Bonaparte “the Ogre” before he had the chance to bring the guillotine to Piccadilly Square.

Speculators have always flourished whenever government took it into its own hands to do away with the black market and profiteers. Given that the law of scarcity is one of the most important constants of the free market, and given that people exist in symbiosis with a free market, no government, regardless of how powerful or ruthlessness, was ever able to stop the black market.

Modern times – The Age of Total Government Control

Although no political system ever managed to arrest the black market, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Robespierre`s Terror Regime, Hitler`s Third Reich, Mussolini`s Fascist Italy, Stalin`s USSR, Pol Pot`s Khmer Rouge demented regime, Mao`s Red China and even North Korea’s dictatorships attempted to eradicate black market speculators to no avail. And these are states where the individual counts for nothing, government is all powerful and almighty, yet never wrong, and where citizens are mere pawns who do as they are told, and can only own their toothbrush and underpants, if they are lucky.

So, while speculators are clearly the moral vermin of a free society, the crawling worms who proliferate in the wake of all natural disasters, wars, famine, or pandemics, they are not criminals. Since to my knowledge, there is no law that says one cannot buy more stuff than what one needs. Oh wait, I forget. There are such laws in all those regimes I mentioned before. Each and every tyrannical, totalitarian state introduced, at some point in time, measures replacing private ownership with state control over goods and services.

It is crystal clear and there can be no doubt as to the identity of the biggest thief of all time: the State. Bill Blais said it best on Quora:

Throughout human history, and across the world, the only goals of a State— the thing you call government— has been conquest and confiscation. One State wages war against others to confiscate or control their resources. The State confiscates the wealth of its citizen/subjects to finance that warfare. By operating the mechanisms of the State, the political class becomes wealthy. When it comes to stealing the wealth and resources of others, no other person or entity in history has been as consistent or complete as the State.

And when the state government comes out and confiscates, or dispossesses them of their goods, basically robbing Paul to give John, that is theft. And theft is not justifiable. Property is either guaranteed by law or isn’t. If it is, we live in a lawful society. If it isn’t, we live in a society where people with guns can forcefully steal from people with little or no power their stuff. And that is wrong.

Is Government the Sole Dispenser of Violence?

And before you cry murder, think who will retain their firearms no matter what. Hint: it ain’t the people. The Government will always keep their guns. After all, gun control is not about controlling guns. Gun control is all about controlling who has guns.

A few days ago, an evil man impersonating an RCMP officer, killed 22 people in Canada. An abject, inexcusable crime, perhaps related to the fact that the man’s place of business and livelihood had just been shut down by the government. He was one of many businesses around the world, which were deemed non-essential and closed down, in order to curtail the spread of Covid-19. Perhaps his abominable deed stemmed from a domestic dispute turned really, really bad. Most likely, he acted out of a combination of factors.

We may never know what really happened in his mind although one needs to point out that his killing spree was somewhat planned. Let me be clearer. People had hints that the guy was Big Trouble. He had been convicted for assault back in 2001, when he brutally beat a 15-year old boy. Now, people are coming out saying that he swindled them out of their homes. And in addition to all of this, there were clear indications that he was going to kill. Again, bear with me.

About a month ago, I was watching a YouTube video of a gentleman who is a firearm educator. And in one of his videos, this gent who goes by the name of Paul Harrell, was explaining how most criminals and serial murderers practically “beg” the police to apprehend them by providing them with ample clues of what they are about to do.

Since we do not live inside the universe of “Minority Report” where police can investigate criminals before they commit the deed, it is obvious why the police cannot always assume that a crime will be perpetrated until it has been done. By that time, it is too late for the victims. But sometimes, there are indications or ‘bread crumbs’ that something bad will happen.

Case in point. On his YouTube channel, Paul Harrell quotes the eminent authority “Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit“, which is a 1995 non-fiction crime book written by retired FBI agent John E. Douglas and his co-author Mark Olshaker. These experts demonstrate that would-be serial murderers exhibit certain traits, inclinations and tendencies, which are dead giveaways if someone is looking for signs of impending danger. For instance, 25 years ago Douglas et al found data suggesting that aspiring criminals have a penchant for police vehicles and gear.

The Guide to Understanding Crime.

In other words, when police forces around the world are selling Crown Victoria cruisers surplus to the public, the vast majority of such vehicles are snatched by aspiring killers. The fixation these psychopaths and sociopaths form for police gear, uniforms and paraphernalia is as demonstrable as gravity. And if you read the papers this week, the murderer who killed 22 people, used a police cruiser he either stole or purchased legally and disguised as an operational vehicle. This is how he most probably enticed 1 RCMP officer and 21 other innocent souls to their deaths.

Enough said about this. The best thing that we can do moving forward is to forget the name of the perpetrator. History should only remember the victims. Silenzio stampa is the best way to deal with the murderer.

Hoarding vs. Stockpiling

Hoarding is not the same thing as stockpiling. The former is abhorrent. The latter is prudent. One takes advantage of people, feeding off of their needs, and sapping their resilience. The other provides relief in times of want, cushions life’s blows, and ensures the continuation of our species.

Unfortunately, people conflate the two notions, painting them with the same ugly brush of callousness. If saving money is prudent all year round, how come saving food and other supplies around the house is a despicable thing to do?! Is it not smart to make hay while the hay is making?!

While the West fights over toilet paper, the East goes for the ‘jugular’. Money is the sinew of war and apparently in much demand among the civvies too. Private cash withdrawals in Russia during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anyhow, since when did stocking up became a bad thing? I wonder why preparing for the worst and hoping for the best has become a pejorative term. Who benefits from associating hoarding with saving up for a rainy day? And yet the media and government have a tendency to conflate the two.

And while people nowadays are being told to put speculators and hoarders in the same boat because it is politically expedient to do so, I beg to differ. I completely disagree with the official narrative.

N95 face masks.

There is a world of difference between the likes of Baruch Feldheim who tried to sell 192,000 N-95 masks, 130,000 surgical masks, 598,000 medical grade gloves, as well as surgical gowns, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant, charging 700 percent markups, and any regular person, who decided to put his family first, by stocking up on food, supplies, etc, etc.

It is interesting how easily the government appropriated his personal stockpile by invoking public necessity. The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI confiscated these supplies while disbursing a “fair market value” for the seized products, acknowledging the fact that Feldheim hadn’t broken any laws. And yet, his goods were taken away. If hoarding was illegal, then punish the perpetrator. If it was not illegal, then pay the man the asking price. After all, Feldheim purchased all the merchandise before the crisis was declared.

In another case, the Colvin brothers, who purchased 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer before and during the crisis, were forced to donate it to charity, after trying to make a huge profit by selling their stockpile on Amazon. Despicable? Very. Illegal. Not at all. And yet the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office opened a price gouging investigation in relation to their legal business. In this case, however, it looks as though price gouging limited supplies during a state of emergency is illegal. Even more interesting, the media exhort people to report price gouging to their state attorney general’s offices, which makes me wonder about lots of things. Here is a list of top 3 things that come to mind.

  1. Why is price gouging illegal during a state of emergency and not during normal times? In other words, if price gouging is illegal when times are tough, how come it is perfectly legal to do this in normal times? One would think the practice is either wrong or right. If wrong, then let’s do away with it. If right, then embrace it or at least tolerate it.
  2. We know that fighting the black market never works? The speculators will only go ‘underground’ and find a way to circumvent the rules. They always do. In the end, the government just wants to look tough on crime, so it makes up a new type of crime, comes up with a punishment, sells it as a solution, and is worshiped by the people as Jesus Christ Superstar. So instead of 10,000 speculators engaging in competition against one another, the government becomes the sole repository for popular solutions. The government abhors competing on the free market.
  3. Instead of appearing lethargic, lacking viable solutions, completely caught off guard and unprepared by Covid-19, the government will instead act tough “against crime” thus displaying vigor, fortitude, valor and a firm grip on the situation, although in truth, they are more like deaf men guided by the blind on a pitch dark night. When the media starts telling people to start reporting on their neighbors, promoting witch hunts, that is how you know that the state is turning against citizens.

Do we really want to live in a nation of informers, of snitches?

To quote the ever famous lyrics of the 90s song “Know Your Enemy” by Rage Against the Machine “What? The land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy!”, America is turning more and more into an authoritarian nightmare, which has more in common with Stalinist USSR than it does with Jeffersonian ideals.

How does one know that they are approaching a point of no return? When the State or Government tells one that this is BAD …

Stockpiling food for a ‘rainy’ day.

but this is GOOD.

Food line in Venezuela.

Let’s hope that Covid-19 decides to quit while it’s ahead and calls it a day before the people pretending they know what they’re doing aggravate a horrible crisis into a catastrophe.

In other words, if the proverbial sh.t hits the fan, then people who have stockpiled this…

Assorted ammunition.

will be the only ones who can pull through the chaos that accompanies any violent societal cataclysm.

The Course of Empire – Destruction – Thomas Cole (1836). What a cataclysm looks like!

Freedom has cost countless generations rivers of blood and toil. People don’t understand how precious freedom is and how easily lost it can be. Let us remember that freedom is never lost during normal times. It is a rule of history that liberty is threatened when our sense of security is under attack. We need to be reminded that life in bondage is never but NEVER worth living.

Perhaps, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. But vigilance is worthless without unity. We must all realize how closely related our goals are. We all want to survive. We all want what’s best for our children. And we all want to live in peace and harmony with one another and nature. Most people however believe that someone else must provide these necessities of life for them. That is false.

We are responsible for our well-being, our security, our happiness, our health, and our future. These are all rights that we must explore on our own. The moment we allow a form of authority to take over and dispense these, they stop being rights, and they became privileges. Any form of privilege is toxic to society. The most toxic privilege is the privilege of absolute power that people have surrendered to the state, when they placed it above themselves.

Do we really need to give some people special powers? That is the question before us. How we answer it will preface the next chapter of human development. We are therefore before the precipice of an epic decision. Freedom or bondage. Which will it be?

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