Walter Block on Slavery: Another View

Many moons ago now, Walter Block was summarily condemned by the president of the university he teaches for — Loyola University New Orleans, a Jesuit university — named Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes. In his criticism of Dr. Block, he mentions Walter Block’s purported criticism of slavery as “not so bad— you pick cotton and sing songs,” which was quoted in a New York Times article about Rand Paul. He claims that this is tantamount to “hinting to endorse slavery enforced against someone’s free will,” which would then “contradict [Dr. Block’s] basic libertarian principles.”

Many libertarians rightly noted that this quote was taken out of context in the original NYT article, that likely Rev. Wildes never read the source of the quote himself to ascertain any context, and that the quote was not an endorsement of, nor did it “hint” at, endorsement of slavery. In the original piece, Dr. Block was writing in hyperbole in order to draw attention to what was wrong with slavery; namely, it was a forced association between individuals. In the original piece he talked about slavery noting various innocuous features of slavery, which include picking cotton, singing songs, and eating gruel. These are not why slavery is wrong. It is not wrong because of what minimal benefits slaves receive, i.e. food, shelter, or singing while they work; it is wrong because a slave does not get to choose his or her employer or the nature of his or her work. They are bought and sold without the consent of the individual slave. This is a fundamental denial of a slave’s freedom of association.

To put it another way, let’s assume a relationship in which a slave gets better working conditions. They have a beneficent master who is kind to his slaves, feeds the slaves the same food he eats, dresses the slaves in nice clothing, etc. Do we not still condemn this relationship just as much as the one where a slave is fed gruel, beaten, and barely dressed? Of course. In fact, the hypothetical I just presented is the same kind of argument some Southern slave-owners were making leading up to the Civil War; that most slaves were treated kindly and liked their masters. Yet, historians understand that regardless of the truth of this argument of “beneficence”, the institution of slavery is still inherently wrong.

And this brings me to the neglected point in the discussion. Dr. Block’s line of thinking, that most people can recognize slavery is wrong because of its denial of the principle of freedom of association, is not quite true, particularly of his detractors. What do I mean, exactly? Most of his criticizers tend to be of the liberal, socialist, communist, or other leftist ideologies. Hence, it is probably true for them that slaves being fed gruel or forced to live in poor housing is just as wrong as the forced nature of the slave relationship. These individuals are of the idea that every individual is entitled to a minimum wage, adequate housing, food, and so on. This is why things like sweat shops are looked at as inherently “evil”, exploitative, and are akin to slave labor. They subscribe to the idea that if an individual has no other options than to take a job in a sweat shop they are being exploited; whether they chose this or not is of little consequence to them.

In this light, it is easy to see how even if Dr. Block’s detractors understood his argument on slavery, they would likely still disagree with him.

Setting up AntMiner u1 to mine Bitcoin with BFGminer

I’ve seen plenty of pages on the forums and personal websites troubleshooting and giving instructions on how to mine bitcoins with the AntMiner u1 on CGMiner and BFGminer, but had little success getting it to work until after plenty of hours of troubleshooting, searching, and head-scratching. Here I’m going to compile a bunch of information on getting your AntMiner to work with BFGminer. I’m not a coder or anything like that so I left this simple so it’s accessible to those who also aren’t familiar (also since I couldn’t have made it more complicated even if I would have wanted to!).

***First, here’s a link to BFGminer 3.10, the version I am currently using my AntMiner  with(32 bit) (or go to http://bfgminer.org to find the latest version):

http://luke.dashjr.org/programs/bitcoin/files/bfgminer/3.10.0/bfgminer-3.10.0-win64.zip

-All you need to do is extract the bfgminer-3.10.0-win32.zip folder and the BFGminer is basically ready, aside from the steps below.

Also, here is a link to a PDF of the Antminer’s user guide which can be helpful:
https://raw2.github.com/AntMiner/AntGen1/master/manual/AntMiner-U1%20user%20guide.pdf

***You will need special drivers to get your AntMiner to be recognized by BFGMiner. Here is the VCG driver that worked for me with BFGMiner 3.10:

http://www.silabs.com/Support%20Documents/Software/CP210x_VCP_Windows.zip

-For 32 bit Windows, all you have to do is extract the folder then click on the CP210xVCPInstaller_x86.exe and install it and it’s good to go.

***The BFGMiner folder does not contain a .bat (Batch) file (what you need to launch BFGminer and input your mining pool info, as well as information so AntMiner will be recognized by BFGminer), so we will need to create one; it’s very simple.

How to create a .bat (Batch) File for Bitcoin mining:

-First, have open the folder in which you have the .exe file located in (this works for either CGminer or BFGminer).
-Then, in the folder options, make sure ‘Hide extensions for known file types’ is unchecked.
Hide Extension
-Next, create a new text (notepad) file and name it AntMiner or whatever you might want to name your batch file. You should then see AntMiner.txt (or whatever-you-named-the-file.txt).
New Text Document
-Rename the file AntMiner.bat (or whatever.bat). It will tell you changing the file extension may make a file not work, etc. Just click OK.
Are you sure
-Next, right click the file and select ‘edit’ to edit it in NotePad. Here you will type out or cut and paste the command to mine using BFGMiner. Generally, you will need to know your pool’s username, password, mining http, and desired Mh/s or Gh/s you want you AntMiner to run at.
Antminer

Here is the specific .bat command I used to finally get my AntMiner to be recognized and work in BFGminer:

bfgminer.exe –set-device antminer:clock=x0781 -o http://mint.bitminter.com:8332 -u USERNAME_WORKER -p PASSWORD -S antminer:all

(http://minter.bitminter.com:8332 is the particular mining pool I use which mines for both Namecoins and Bitcoins)

This is the general format you want to have for a .bat file. You want to have the .exe file at the beginning, then the device speed you want, the mining pool (the http) and port you’re using (:8332, or others) which the pool’s website should tell you, the username and worker number (if using multiple workers), the password, and the end command which I’m not sure exactly what it accomplishes but seems to help.

*I’ve seen others have used a bsmc-freq argument to regulate the speed of and overclock their device (in their .bat file), but that didn’t work for me with BFGminer, you may have better success than me (ex.: –bmsc-freq 0981). Not sure what the difference is but, again, this did not work for me.

Here is a guide to setting the speed you want your AntMiner to mine at (1.6 gh/s is the standard; higher is overclocking which may cause overheating. All you have to do is edit the .bat file and change the numbers):

0581 =1.2
0681 =1.4
0781 =1.6
0881 =1.8
0981 =2.0
0A81 =2.2

You now just have to click on the batch file whenever you want to start mining and it works pretty much autonomously. Just pay attention to how hot your AntMiner gets because you don’t want to have to buy a new one.
Here’s what BFGminer looks like when it’s working:

Command Screen

A couple notes on some of the problems I ran into during my quest to get AntMiner to work with BFGminer:

-After a long time of tinkering with the commands in the .bat file, I figured out the drivers I was using weren’t correct (obtained using zadig) and once I downloaded the correct driver it began to work for BFGminer.

Thus, it is VERY IMPORTANT if you want your AntMiner and batch file to work to have the correct drivers. If the miners don’t recognize or pick up ‘no device’ (in BFGminer), chances are it’s a problem with the driver, and you may have to try different ones and see which one works with the miner you are using.

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Clear Your Conscience; Voting Does Not Imply Consent to the Government

no treasonRecently, I got into a short discussion on Facebook whether voting implies a Lockean “consent of the governed.” My (friendly) opposition claimed voting is consent because voting is an affirmation of your United States citizenship. They claimed it is a voluntary action; nobody is putting a gun to your head to make you choose whether to vote or not. Hence by virtue of voting, you are signing a contract agreeing to abide by the Constitution and laws passed by the government, regardless of the outcome of the election. I didn’t think it was appropriate to (nor would I have been capable of) respond in a Facebook post, so here is my response.

My initial reaction was an intuitive feeling that voting, or participating in the system in some other way, cannot be considered consent. In the same way we may assert someone who is coercively imprisoned cannot be said to be consenting to their imprisonment if they accept food from their imprisoner, we cannot say that participation assumes consent. Likewise, someone using government roads or some other service cannot be said to be consenting to the government; in the case of roads, individuals are left with very little choice but to participate and use the government roads since it has monopolized the production and maintenance of roadways, through its coercive system of taxation, by which they can provide this benefit for free. This effectively monopolizes the system because no business can compete with free goods and services. In both situations, individuals are left with no real choice but to participate in the system, since the State has all but made it impossible to withdraw from it.

To understand the underlying issue of whether voting may imply consent, we must first reference the 14th Amendment, which states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States.” For some, this is a blessing; so many individuals have crossed over the border between Mexico and the United States illegally in the past few decades with the intention of having a child on U.S. soil so their child can become a U.S. citizen and be entitled to all the perceived blessings that come with it. For those radical libertarian, anti-government, and anarchist individuals born in the U.S. who consider U.S. citizenship more of a burden than a benefit, this presents a problem. Whether they like it or not, from the moment they are born on U.S. soil they are subject to the coercive power of the US government even though they never originally consented to it. The 14th Amendment, de jure, at the moment one is born, implements an initial condition of coercion upon any individual born within United States borders. Even should they totally abstain from participation in any government services throughout their life, they will be subject to U.S. laws by virtue of the barrel of a gun pointed at them by a federal agent should they not obey government dictates like taxation. The government’s claim on you may be illegitimate, but that won’t save your from being unjustly victimized at the hands of a despot. Certainly, an individual who abstained from government obligations would be morally justified in doing so and the government would be acting as a coercive criminal if they did not recognize it as such. The government threats of jail or death for such a refusal can readily be classified as circumstances in which any contract created between government and (unwilling) subject was created under duress, and is void. The initial and ongoing compulsion executed by the American government is the compelling evidence leading to a rejection of the sentiment voting implies consent to the government.

With the 14th Amendment, the government has presented the choice of either refusing to participate in the system and be punished, or participate in a system in which one has a minute chance of rectifying one’s abject condition (prior to this they would have claimed dominion over the individual anyway, albeit with a fuzzier justification, mostly through property taxes). And with the 16th Amendment granting the government the unwarranted ability to tax one’s income, the ruthless circle of plunder was completed. This is the true nature of the so-called “voluntary” decision of whether to vote or not. As Lysander Spooner said in No Treason, voting, in these circumstances, is a defensive measure adopted in the hope of rectifying the wrongs perpetrated by an illicit government. As an analogy, imagine you were kidnapped and held in prison against your will. Let’s say your captors decide to give you the choice of playing a game of dice with them; if you roll five 6’s in a row, they will release you. They say you can either participate in this game of dice or you can persist in this state of involuntary bondage. However, they stipulate that your participation in the dice game constitutes consent to further imprisonment should you not roll the five magic 6’s that grant you your freedom. Would anyone say this is a valid contract? Would anyone assert since you were given the choice of whether or not to participate in this dice game it was a voluntary action expressing consent? I think we may see, after some reflection, the absurdity of claiming that voting, or any other participation in the government, may constitute consent to the government. We could make a similar analogy with a slave being born into slavery and coerced to operate within the system. Pretending they had a choice by giving them the chance to choose a white slave master, in the hope of their being treated less harshly by a more benign master, no more validates their slavery because they voted on it than does the above situation legitimize their imprisonment because they agreed to play the dice game. The voting paper could explicitly state “voting is a contract and participating is a declaration of consent” but this contract isn’t valid because they are actively threatening the individual with compulsion.

I would recommend reviewing what Lysander Spooner wrote on why “Voting Does Not Imply Consent”. This is a succinct portion of his longer treatise, No Treason, addressing the issue directly. Here he touches on a slightly different analysis of voting, but still reaches the same conclusion that voting does not imply consent. “To take a man’s property without his consent, and then to infer his consent because he attempts, by voting, to prevent that property from being used to his injury, is a very insufficient proof of his consent to support the Constitution.” If it were the case that anyone born within the United States was not automatically a U.S. citizen and therefore not automatically subject to the jurisdiction of the federal government, and that the government did not attempt to expropriate the property of individuals with or without any actual consent, only then could we say that an individual, by voting, may be expressing consent. Only then would their choice truly be voluntary because they could live free of the laws and jurisdiction of the State by refusing consent and because they were not actively being expropriated by the government.

The idealist thing to do may be to refuse to vote or in any way participate in the government, knowing that you are vindicated when the government tyrannizes you and exercises its illegitimate dominion over you. For all intents and purposes, though, it is a rather foolish endeavor, especially in light of the above proof voting is not consent (at least not in the current and historical state of affairs in the United States).