Assange: I'm Influenced by "American libertarianism, market libertarianism"

Forbes has a big interview up with controversial Wikileaks impresario Julian Assange. This section in particular will be of interest to Reason readers:

Would you call yourself a free market proponent?

Absolutely. I have mixed attitudes towards capitalism, but I love markets. Having lived and worked in many countries, I can see the tremendous vibrancy in, say, the Malaysian telecom sector compared to U.S. sector. In the U.S. everything is vertically integrated and sewn up, so you don’t have a free market. In Malaysia, you have a broad spectrum of players, and you can see the benefits for all as a result.

How do your leaks fit into that?

To put it simply, in order for there to be a market, there has to be information. A perfect market requires perfect information.

There's the famous lemon example in the used car market. It's hard for buyers to tell lemons from good cars, and sellers can't get a good price, even when they have a good car.

By making it easier to see where the problems are inside of companies, we identify the lemons. That means there's a better market for good companies. For a market to be free, people have to know who they’re dealing with.

You've developed a reputation as anti-establishment and anti-institution.

Not at all. Creating a well-run establishment is a difficult thing to do, and I've been in countries where institutions are in a state of collapse, so I understand the difficulty of running a company. Institutions don't come from nowhere.

It's not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp, because I've learned from many. But one is American libertarianism, market libertarianism. So as far as markets are concerned I'm a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free.

WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical.

Hat tip to Emmanuelle Richard. Reason on Assange here.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You know who else made a name for himself stealing other people's work?

  • ||

    Johannes Bach?

  • -||

    Johann Brahms?

  • The Ghost of Pablo Picasso||

    Pablo Picasso?

  • H&R Anarchist||

    Every artist who ever lived, because all creativity is stolen and there's no such thing as intellectual property anyway?

  • Mango Punch||

    That's BS. You need some protections for intellectual propertyin order to make it worthwhile to invest in new products or in developing better practices. The trick is in creating the right balance.

  • H&R Anarchist||

    No, no! If I can't hold it in my hand, it isn't property!

  • Mango Punch||

    Snark?

  • H&R Anarchist||

    Duh.

  • waffles||

    I think your name should be H&Archist;. H&R Anarchist is just too clunky to be taken seriously.

  • ||

    I think your name should be THE COMMANDER. waffles are just too delicious to be taken seriously.

  • COMMANDER waffles||

    WAKE UP PEOPLE! BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY.

    I am not, nor have I ever been THE COMMANDER.

  • ||

    This is a commander I can get behind.

  • ||

    That's BS. You need some protections for intellectual propertyin order to make it worthwhile to invest in new products or in developing better practices. The trick is in creating the right balance.

    That's BS. Ideas aren't property, so protecting them as property makes no sense.

  • Kevin Carson||

    Yeah, because like, there's NO WAY to recoup the cost of creating content except by making the content itself proprietary.

    Paging Mike Masnick and Chris Anderson!

  • ||

    Waaah I can't profit off my work without coercing people waaaah!

  • SIV||

    Jimmy Page

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I was going to say Napster.

    Bill Napster is my CPA. And every year I have all my receipts neatly sorted and deductions already worked out when I get to his office. Yet he gets all the glory for filing my return. I ask you, is that just?

  • ||

    If you do all of the deductions and sorting yourself, why do you even use a CPA?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    To set up a joke I can later use in blog comments. Well worth the fee.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    What?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Nobody gets me.

  • ||

    NAPSTER? MORE LIKE NABSTER!

    DON'T STEAL MY THOUGHTS! IDEAS ARE PROPERTY! STOP TRESPASSING ON MY BRAIN! INVESTMENTS AND SUCH!

  • ||

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  • Observer||

    "I have mixed attitudes towards capitalism, but I love markets."

    I have mixed attitudes toward obesity, but I love ice cream.

  • nj||

    I am pretty sure he is talking about state capitalism, not laissez faire.

  • Observer||

    Almost. "State capitalism" is fascism. He's referring to a mixed economy, where the state allows a certain amount of freedom in exchange for the right to regulate and control that "freedom." That's how journalists and politicians define "capitalism" too. And most normal Americans as well, unfortunately.

  • ||

    I wouldn't assume anything until we know more about his political views.

  • ||

    The last thing libertarianism needs is to be associated with guys like this.

  • affenkopf||

  • nj||

    Yeah, he may very well be a left-libertarian.

  • ||

    Didn't Marx invent the term "capitalism"?

    Why do we insist on claiming the term for our own? Perhaps we would be better off trying to understand what people mean when THEY use it.

    I think that he is saying that corporatism, fascism, crony capitalism, government-assisted monopolism, etc. is not equivalent to the free market.

    As a libertarian, I can't disagree in the slightest.

  • ||

    Why do we insist on claiming the term for our own?

    +1

    From his further remarks Assange is obviously trying to distance himself from the word "capitalism". Why should we give a shit? It isn't our word, it is Marx's word.

  • Fluffy||

    So Reason's not going to link to Sarah Palin calling for this guy's assassination?

  • But||

    "Pursue" means assassination?

  • ||

    I'm sure she just wants to give him a bear hug.

  • Mango Punch||

    Bear hug = hug from a bear. [i.e. let him go the way of this guy]

  • Fluffy||

    Our current policy is to capture or kill Taliban and Al Qaeda figures wherever we can find them.

    We pursue drone attacks on such figures in FOUR countries right now. That we know about.

    So, yeah, when you say that you want to treat someone like a Taliban leader, you're calling for their assassination.

    In Sarah Palin's America, if you publish true statements, but Sarah doesn't like the fact that you've published true statements, or doesn't think you should have known about the true statements you published, she gets to kill you.

  • MNG||

    +1
    I want to see the regular Paleo Palin Support Brigade around here defend her call for going after a guy for leaking government documents. Remember, those paleos hate the government, they really, really do!

  • But||

    That "brigade" is mostly in your imagination. You must be thinking of a different site.

  • MNG||

    SIV, John, Enough about Palin...Yea, must be the Mother Jones site...

  • But||

    Three people? Wow.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    John alone posts enough for three people. He must have a government job.

  • MNG||

    Dude you're funny. What, two minutes after your first post someone posted below defending her call for pursuit!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You forgot Mister Paleo.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Enough About Palin isn't really a Palin defender. His handle is based on being tired of hearing about Palin back when reason ran about fifty posts a day on her.

  • Banjos Kick Ass!||

    He's also a banjo player, so he can come out as a commie and I would still like the guy.

  • SIV||

    These are State department documents. The State Department is et up with commies so fuck 'em.

  • cynical||

    I don't think paleos support her that strongly; they're more puritanical about libertarianism than some libertarians, not to mention more anti-war.

    I think it applies more to libertarian-leaning conservatives.

  • Fabius||

    I think a lot of people's first impressions of her came when she said nice things about Ron Paul in early 2007, and they're just having a hard time shaking those initial positive impressions, knowing that there's at least a kernel of libertarianism deep inside her that could grow into something good.

  • ||

    If our current policy is to capture or kill Taliban and Al Qaeda figures wherever we can find them, why do we have all these Taliban and Al Qaeda figures in custody awaiting problematic trials?

    Why assume Palin is referring to Obama's policies?

    Didn't people in the Bush administration enjoy torturing captured terrorists to get information?

    Those people were pursued, no? And caught.

    Maybe Sarah thinks that a guy who runs what is, for all practical intents an purposes, an activist intelligence agency is dangerous to our national interests.

  • MNG||

    A private actor whose "crime" is leaking government documents to the citizens of that government should be pursued.

    Paleos, come and get it!

  • ||

    So I take it that you object to all classification laws? I also assume that you were really were not outraged about Valerie Plame being outed?

    Here is what she said

    "What steps were taken to stop Wikileaks director Julian Assange from distributing this highly sensitive classified material?" she asked. "Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?"

    I don't see how "pursue" can be taken to mean "kill". Indeed, Eric Holder has said the same thing and is looking into criminal prosecution of the guy. Are you ready to go after Holder to? And Obama who is said to be very angry about this and wants something done about this guy?

    Maybe she wants him killed. But that is a pretty odd way of saying it. It is not she couldn't have come out and said "just send a cruise missile at this guy" and paid any political price for saying it. Indeed, that is pretty much what Rep Peter King has already said.

    And even if you buy that that is what she means, our current President has authorized the killing of an American citizen. Not did a post of face book. But actually told real people with the ability to do so to go and do it. So whatever Palin's sins are in this, they seem pretty small compared to what is actually happening in the world.

  • ||

    So I take it that you object to all classification laws?

    John you have been sucking for the past couple of days.

    One does not have to oppose all classification laws to see that the stuff that the state department was writing has no business being classified. In fact from reading watching and listening to the news the only argument the state department has made as to why these should be kept secret is because it may make foreign powers less likely to talk to us because they may be embarrassed. Not troop movements not spy satellite codes not nuke plans...they want it secret because Kim Jong-Il might feel a little icky. FUCK THAT!!!

    That is not a reason why our government should keep secrets from its citizens. Not even fucking close.

  • TMLutas||

    You've just replicated in miniature the Carter administration policy of humiliating the Shah. Was this intentional?

    A lot of regimes we don't particularly like but are the best we're likely to get out of their societies right now are going to be destabilized. We don't have enough money or troops to fix all these upcoming brush fires. So some countries' governments are going to fall and the replacements are likely to be less friendly to the US.

    Thanks Wikileaks!

  • ||

    This is why I thought it was foolish for the New York Times to get so upset about the Valerie Plame deal. All it was going to do was make leaking harder.

    Establishing precedents is important, but most people are more concerned with the specifics of a case than the principles involved.

  • ||

    "So, yeah, when you say that you want to treat someone like a Taliban leader, you're calling for their assassination."

    I guess that is why we have never captured any of them and don't have a huge problem with what to do with them or anything.

  • ||

    I would also point out that we don't assassinate Taliban leaders when they are in Europe. To my knowledge we have not done a single assassination in Europe, where this guy lives. In Europe, we have them arrested. The general rule is we capture terrorists where we can. When they are in NW Pakistan, that is a little hard so we kill them. Considering that this guy is in Europe and very easily captured, it is inconceivable that we would assassinate him. And this inconceivable that that is what Palin meant. If Assage was in some remote area of Pakistan doing this, I would agree with you. But he is not. And you are just reaching.

  • Fluffy||

    No, I'm not.

    If he finds a host country in Europe that won't extradite him, we've already demonstrated that we'll just ignore that if we feel like it.

    There are CIA agents under indictment in Italy for conducting a forcible kidnapping in response to Italy's refusal to extradite a subject.

    So, to that extent, YEAH, saying we should "pursue" Assange just like a terrorist means that Palin thinks we should be willing to ignore a host government's legal system and just snatch the guy and kidnap him.

    And the kidnapping happened back when we weren't just assassinating whoever we wanted. Obama's laying down the assassination card upgrades things from kidnapping a little.

  • ||

    I would agree with you that Palin would have no problem with the US grabbing this guy if he was hiding out in a country that refused to extradite him. But neither would like 90% of the population. That is a long ways from saying we should just assassinate him. And certainly not out of the mainstream of American public opinion love it or hate it.

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    This is to assume Palin knows about the Italy story.

    That may require more intellectual gymnastics than assuming she wants Assange killed.

  • ||

    "Pursue?"

    She wants to jump his bones, obviously.

  • Jerry||

    She has to stop channeling that sob lobbyist Randy Scheunemann.

  • Paradox||

    Then Assange should have Palin arrested for communicating a threat.

  • Bingo||

    On the subject of the next leak:


    Is it a U.S. bank?
    Yes, it’s a U.S. bank.

    One that still exists?
    Yes, a big U.S. bank.

    The biggest U.S. bank?
    No comment.


    I'm giddy with anticipation!

  • Ben & Timmah||

    "Pursue" his ass already!

  • CatoTheElder||

    The bankster-occupied US government can tolerate small embarrassments related to Iraq, Afghanistan and the State Department ... but if Assange threatens to expose the workings of Citi, Chase and Goldman, he's dead meat.

    Ben already has enough trouble with Ron Paul.

  • RyanXXX||

    This is where the rubber meets the road. He better be ready to withstand A LOT of abuse (does Assange have a family? I sure hope not)

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I noted a couple days ago that I hope he has really good bodyguards, since he's quite likely to get assassinated soon.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I noted a couple days ago that I hope he has really good bodyguards, since he's quite likely to get assassinated soon.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I noted it many, many times :P

  • Name Nomad||

    So, just short the top ten and hope you come out ahead on reveal day?

  • Sam Ting||

    A perfect market requires perfect information.

    Oh, well.

    [F]orce them to be free.

    Uh, oh.

  • Bingo||

    For what it's worth, disseminating information is one of the ways you "force" a market to be free.

  • Sam Ting||

    You'll get my proprietary information when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

  • But||

    H&R anarchists don't believe in proprietary information.

  • Fluffy||

    I don't agree with that, either.

    But it's a common misperception and one that freshman economics professors do their best to brainwash everyone into believing.

    There's no problem with imperfect information in markets, really. It just creates profit opportunities. The fact that some people will profit and some will lose due to differing levels of information provides plenty of incentive to ferret information out.

  • MNG||

    Your brand of capitalism rests on people being one step removed from being defrauded.

  • Fluffy||

    Acquiring information requires effort and intelligence.

    I have no problem with people experiencing different outcomes based on how much effort and intelligence they apply to economic decision-making.

    Again, this is another instance where "your brand of capitalism" results in corporatism.

    The natural state of imperfect information leads to localism [because people stick with producers and service providers they know well] and also provides a check on the growth of large corporations [because the lack of perfect transparency leads people to be cautious in trusting all of their savings to public markets].

    The people who cooked up the notion of regulated transparency in financial markets were completely up front about the fact that one of their primary goals was to make people trust public markets and induce small savers to allow Wall Street to put their savings to work. That has a dramatically centralizing impact on economic affairs, and also serves to greatly expand the influence of Wall Street intermediators.

  • the right does it too||

    Acquiring information requires effort and intelligence.

    So does dissiminating false (or one step removed from false) information. So what?

  • MNG||

    Tru dat

    I mean, imagine how closely we would keep our business and our contacts if fraud were allowed!

  • Fluffy||

    Because one would assume that people would support ethical systems in which one's return is related to the amount of skill and effort applied to any particular problem.

    Your retort here is a non sequitur.

    If I said, "I pay people when they work for me, because their effort deserves to be rewarded" would you jump up to post, "Yeah, but criminals are working hard, too, shouldn't they be rewarded?"

    Arguing that it's not fair that I know more about my business than you do is like arguing that it's not fair that a doctor knows more about medicine than I do.

    "Wah! The doctor knows more about medicine than me! That means he can make money off of our differing levels of information! Wah! I demand that the state erase the economic advantage the doctor has over me due to his superior level of information!"

  • MNG||

    Again, wouldn't fraud avoidance entail all these virtues of which you speak? People use their wary intelligence all the time in avoiding outright fraud. Why would you bring in the big ol' state to protect you and me from fraudsters when smart hipsters like us could sniff it out and avoid it? Heck, perhaps you even want to have fraud enforcement paid for by a tax supported government entity.

    Slaver! ;)

  • Fluffy||

    People use their wary intelligence all the time in avoiding outright fraud. Why would you bring in the big ol' state to protect you and me from fraudsters when smart hipsters like us could sniff it out and avoid it?

    Because the mechanism you would use to sniff it out is requiring specific terms of the transaction to be defined by the seller.

    If someone comes to me with a sealed box and tells me they want me to buy it, the "wary intelligence" aspect comes in when I require them to specifically define what is in the box.

    If I don't require them to define what's in the box, that's different. Then I'm just gambling. [Which I think should certainly also be legal.]

  • MNG||

    If they should not have to tell you what is in the box because only a fool would buy it without looking why is it not ok for them to tell you the box is full of chicken nuggets when it is not. I mean, you should have looked in it before buying either way.

  • ||

    If they should not have to tell you what is in the box because only a fool would buy it without looking why is it not ok for them to tell you the box is full of chicken nuggets when it is not. I mean, you should have looked in it before buying either way.

    If they take your money and give you something you never agreed to buying, that's theft.

  • Mo||

    Then only buy products that come with a limited, money back guarantee. If it doesn't do what it claims it does for 90 days, you can return it for full money back. If someone doesn't allow you to return a product if it doesn't do what it says it does, then don't buy from them.

  • MNG||

    I actually do support government and/or third party sources of information to patients to level the playing field between doctors and them.

  • ||

    I actually do support government and/or third party sources of information to patients to level the playing field between doctors and them.

    Then you support forcing people to pay for information they didn't request and might not ever use.

    Slaver!

  • Sean W. Malone||

    MNG, if you just said "3rd party" that would be one thing. For instance, if I want to go to Web MD and support what they do with my page-views and advertiser click-throughs, great... But that's one of those things Fluffy was talking about in terms of acquiring information taking time & effort.

    It works both ways: Producers can exploit asymmetrical information in markets to offer services that other people will pay for. In fact, that's basically what division of labor is all about and even more so in service oriented economies... I have information on how to produce all kinds of media which most people don't have, I exploit that knowledge difference by offering my services to anyone who wants them and is willing to pay for them. People who's personal knowledge is similar to mine don't need my services, do they?

    But likewise, I can use my own knowledge to avoid overpaying for certain goods. And I can expand my knowledge into other areas if I so choose in order to further reduce my potential monetary costs.

    If I need a plumber and I don't know ANYTHING about plumbing, I'm going to very likely pay more than I need to for a plumber's services - that's basically just a premium I'd be paying for not paying attention or doing my homework. This isn't intrinsically bad. I tend to value my time quite a bit, as do a lot of people. My personal & professional development is worth the extra costs I might incur by having to pay a plumber more than I "should" if I had used my time developing my knowledge of plumbing instead.

    Why is that bad?

  • ev||

    True. But fraud is a crime. It should be enthusiastically, judicially enforced and those convicted should be severely punished.

  • MNG||

    Why is it a crime? If people should have the duty of ferreting out information then why not also put the duty on them to guard against fraudsters?

  • Fluffy||

    Because there is a difference between deliberate misrepresentation and allowing you to cut your own damn meat like a big boy.

  • MNG||

    What is the magic line that is crossed along the continuum from providing false information to providing misleading innuendo to knowing of a damaging information gap and keeping silent to simply keeping silent on material facts?

    I submit all are on the same information continuum and along a continuum of voluntariness. On the good end is when all material facts are known to both parties.

    Of course you are also dodging the point. If cutting your own meat on the non-fraud end is good for you why not in the fraud end too? I mean, if we really want to have people be independent, rugged individualists using their wits in transactions wouldn't they be asked to sniff out fraud too?

  • Fluffy||

    If cutting your own meat on the non-fraud end is good for you why not in the fraud end too?

    I'm not dodging the point at all.

    A deliberate misrepresentation is a positive act.

    Failure to disclose information that after the fact you think you would have benefited from is not.

    I can be reasonably expected to take responsibility for my own statements, and held to account if they are false.

    I can't reasonably be expected to read your mind and know the decision you "would have" made if you had possessed different information.

    If you ask to buy peanuts from me, and I sell you a bag of rocks, that is a positive act of deception that voids the contract and rises to the level of theft.

    If you ask to buy peanuts from me and I sell you peanuts, I've done exactly what you asked and fulfilled our contract. If you come back to me later and say, "Wah! I'm allergic to peanuts! You should have warned me that some people are allergic to peanuts!" you should go pound sand. What the fuck, it's MY job to make sure peanuts are what you want, even after you've ASKED me for them? Fuck you.

  • MNG||

    But why is it theft in the rocks case? I mean, you didn't force me to give you money for the sack of rocks. Shouldn't I have inspected the bag first?

    I submit that it is wrong because it vitiates the voluntariness of the contract. And if you were to knowingly take advantage of my information deficet it would have the same effect on my voluntariness.

  • CatoTheElder||

    What a silly line of reasoning!

  • ||

    MNG, you need to get into the mindset of thinking of all market transactions as contracts. It's wrong to say one thing in a contract and do something else. It's not wrong to not include something in a contract. When two parties sign a contract, they are agreeing to everything apparent in that contract, nothing more and nothing less. That is why misrepresentation is wrong while omission is not.

  • noyuo||

    "A deliberate misrepresentation is a positive act.

    Failure to disclose information that after the fact you think you would have benefited from is not.

    I can be reasonably expected to take responsibility for my own statements, and held to account if they are false.

    I can't reasonably be expected to read your mind and know the decision you "would have" made if you had possessed different information."

    You may not call it reasonable, but thank God that real life doesn't work the way you want! (Real life being not posts on the internet.)

    We variously call cheating by omission negligence or fraud, or even, surprise, "lying by omission."

    Please don't end your post "fuck you" because that would really upset me and make me sad :(

  • ||

    '-by omission' is the 'positive act' that Fluffy refers to. If you knowingly leave out information that will change the nature of the transaction by it's being left out you are deliberately misleading.

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    This is all dealt with in the common law. Deliberate misrepresentation is fraud. You can't run an economy where fraudulent contracts are enforceable. You can but everyone will be a lot poorer for it. All that effort making sure you are not being ripped off can be spent elsewhere on more productive things if fraud laws make fraud the exception not the rule.

    And as far as not telling someone something, if the defect in the product is latent (i.e. not visible after reasonable inspection by the buyer), and you don't reveal it, you have committed fraud.

  • MNG||

    John
    I don't think appealing to the common law helps us much because I or fluffy can simply argue the common law has it wrong...But I do submit the common law supplies some evidence for me in that it became widely recognized that one could vitiate voluntariness in ways that do not involve a "positive act."

  • ||

    MNG,

    I think the fact that the common law (before it was mutilated by activist judges in the 20th Century) provided the legal basis for the richest economies in history is pretty strong evidence that it got it right.

  • Fluffy||

    The problem here is that I think gambling should be legal.

    If Monty Hall wants to come around and sell me what's behind door #3, I should be allowed to take a chance and buy. And he should be allowed to sell.

    Even if I open door #3 and it's a pile of dog shit.

    There's no way to criminalize sales involving "nondisclosure" without making the transaction between me and Monty illegal. And it shouldn't be illegal.

  • ||

    Gambling isn't illegal. They are called "as is" contracts. There is nothing to stop Molly from selling you something "as is" with no recourse or giving you a quit claim deed that contains no assurances that it convey anything. She just can't sell you something claiming that it is something else. It is just illegal to have people gamble and not tell them.

  • Fluffy||

    She just can't sell you something claiming that it is something else. It is just illegal to have people gamble and not tell them.

    Not according to MNG.

  • ||

    There's no way to criminalize sales involving "nondisclosure" without making the transaction between me and Monty illegal. And it shouldn't be illegal.

    Exactly.

    Indeed, by his argument, gambling is apparently inherently immoral, and automatically not "voluntary" even if you agree to it.

    But don't worry, MNG and other technocrats in government can perfectly decide what's the proper amount of "full information" and disclosure necessary in every sort of transaction that's out there. They can make a long list of exceptions for particular old ideas, even if they help choke off new ideas until they've figured out the proper "all material information" to force people to disclose.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    I submit all are on the same information continuum and along a continuum of voluntariness. On the good end is when all material facts are known to both parties.

    That would make for an awfully boring game of poker.

  • ||

    The magic line is that, if Fluffy is the fuckor, it's okay. If Fluffy is the fuckee, it's fraud.

    This is the time-honored tradition of "the double standard" as outlined by Homer Simpson.

    (Substitute any name for "Fluffy" of course.)

  • ||

    Your brand of capitalism rests on people being one step removed from being defrauded acting illegally.

    I have no problem with any system that requires that people act legally. Do you, MNG?

  • robc||

    Every now and then I view page source to see if people I have incifed away should maybe not be.

    I chose the responses to you (because it was something that interested me). I now remember why I have MNG blocked.

    Gah, why do you all respond to him. Its always the fucking same. Him arguing that A=B because A has some single characteristic in common with B.

    And then someone smacks him down (Fluffy's Monty Hall response) and he refuses to admit he is dead wrong.

    At least joe was sometimes interesting.

  • ||

    In fact, markets only work because of imperfections. If everyone had instant perfect knowledge you would end up with lots of happy economists, but an extremely bizarre economy. For example, there would be no products on the shelves of stores, because the market would have cleared. But imagining there was still a jar of peanut butter left, it's price would increase as your hand approached to pick it up, because your demand is affecting it. Like Xeno's Paradox, everyone would be frozen in time trying to make a purchase.

    Reduced to the absurd, to be sure, but it's what perfect knowledge implies.

  • ||

    There's more than a couple of differences between the effect of increasing knowledge and the effect of increasing knowledge to infinity. Most importantly though, the latter is impossible.

  • ||

    Yes it is impossible. Yet many economic concepts are based on it. Such as market equilibrium.

  • ||

    And that's what got me. 'Force them to be free'.

    He's not talking about freedom--he's talking about the twisted lefty definition of 'fairness'.

    No thanks.

  • Juice||

    If you break down the state/corporate apparatus wouldn't that force companies to be free?

    I'm not sure if that's what he meant.

  • ||

    If his idea of "force" is publishing information that others wish to hide, then I have no problem whatsoever with it.

    Where's the coercion?

  • MNG||

    "For a market to be free, people have to know who they’re dealing with."

    +100

    True voluntariness is exemplified when both sides are totally aware of all material facts, have equal access to such information, and consent to trade. Too many libertarians here seem to get off on the idea of a caveat emptor game where differential information (and access to same) provides kind of a game where the "foolish" will be duped in transactions and the superior consumers/sellers (which they always seem to think they will fall into) will be able to live unscathed and indeed revel in their own cleverness and others mistakes...

  • Fluffy||

    The strength of the market is not only what it does, but what it does not do.

    Whenever someone argues to me that the market is failing to do something, I tend to squint at it to try to find the hidden wisdom in leaving that thing undone.

    Over time I have found that the hidden wisdom becomes a lot less hidden.

    Who here still thinks that the market wasn't assigning sufficient capital to mortgage finance, and that this market failure had to be "corrected"? Can I get a show of hands? That was a commonplace statist observation not too long ago.

  • ||

    "For a market to be free, people have to know who they’re dealing with."

    +100

    So you're in favor of Reason requiring everyone to register with their full legal name and enough identifying personal information that we can tell who in real life is speaking?

    Are you claiming that the Hit & Run message boards are "less voluntary" than boards with arduous verifiable registration?

    Aren't you attacking the entire concept of anonymous speech? There are always private motives and any fact might be considered material; a claim that both sides have a right to be "totally aware of all material facts" would make anonymity impossible.

    In particular, you oppose NAACP v. Alabama (1958), right? Alabama argued that the people of Alabama had a right to be totally aware of all the "material facts" of who was supporting the NAACP, particularly if they were from out of state. The NAACP was an out of state corporation refusing to play by Alabama's regulations and share information.

  • MNG||

    Dude, I'm talking about transactions (capitalism), but we all appreciate the anonymous speech legal lecture.

  • ||

    Dude, the laws of economics exist even when there's no money changing hands. Reputation, information, everything is the market, however much people like to pretend otherwise.

    And in the NAACP case, money definitely changed hands. People contributed money to the NAACP, and it engaged in capitalism in order to agitate for political change. You can't separate out the free market from speech and from political agitation.

    So you're against anonymous transactions, then? That would make leaking to Wikileaks more difficult, from what I understand of how they work.

    It would also make Ebay and Craigslist considerably more difficult as well. Unless you're some god philosopher-king who can determine exactly what sort of "material facts" are necessary to know in each kind of transactions.

  • MNG||

    One of the keys to Craiglist and Ebay are features that give information on the seller (how many past transactions and reviews, etc).

    I don't have to be a philosopher king and decide which material facts are the ones to be revealed, because my position is just that any transaction with any amount more information shared by both sides than another is better.

  • ||

    I don't have to be a philosopher king and decide which material facts are the ones to be revealed, because my position is just that any transaction with any amount more information shared by both sides than another is better.

    So versions of Ebay and Craigslist that shared more information about both parties would automatically be better? Why don't they insist on full names and SSNs? That would be "any amount [of] more information shared by both sides" and therefore, according to you, automatically better. Are you going to push for laws that mandate that they do so?

    Ebay and Craigslist work because they share some information, but not all.

    Sure, under one parsing "all material information" should be shared. But what's the proper "all material information" differs for different transactions.

    You either let the free market figure out the proper level of information-sharing for different types of transactions, or you have some philosopher-king in the government do so. Of course it's easy if you believe that "any amount [of] more information shared by both sides... is better," but I don't believe that you really think that.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    So, an online auction site where the sellers and buyers had to post naked pictures of themselves in order to sell a toaster would be better than an otherwise identical one without the pictures?

  • waffles||

    we can't know until we see the buyers and sellers, naked.

  • MNG||

    Isn't the transaction here between the NAACP member and the NAACP? The former pays dues for the actions of the latter. Would you be against requiring the latter to make certain information available to the former (like the annual reports that non-profs put out accounting for actions and funds)? Caveat emptor with non-profit corporations and their contributors/shareholders? All corporations?

  • ||

    The NAACP also bought ads and rented spaces to have rallies, and otherwise engaged in necessary acts of capitalism in order to do political agitation.

    Would you be against requiring the latter to make certain information available to the former (like the annual reports that non-profs put out accounting for actions and funds)?

    I certainly think that the organization could put limits, agreed upon by the members, on what it shares. Do you really think that the government could force them to share "all material information" with all members? So that Alabama could just have had someone secretly join the NAACP in order to gain access to full membership lists and all their other secrets?

    Congratulations, you've just made government spying much easier.

    Sure, in general I prefer to be a member of organizations that share the material information. But I prefer for the organization and its members to decide what is "all material information," not the government. Do you really think that the government would never abuse its ability to force disclosure of information?

  • ||

    True voluntariness is exemplified when both sides are totally aware of all material facts are willing to act on the information they have in hand,

    Voluntariness means that you make a decision without coercion, not that you make it based on perfect information.

    You can give me all the information about X, hold a gun to my head, and tell me to choose X or else. Have I acted voluntarily? No.

    Or, I can have partial information about X, you keep your gun in your pocket, and I choose X. Have I acted voluntarily? Yes.

  • ||

    MNG, your ideas aren't really connected. How specifically does lack of information make a transaction not-free, involuntary? You think more information would give better outcomes (which is far from axiomatic) but what does that have to do with transactions being free. The answer is really nothing. If one agrees to a transaction without seeking or requesting more knowledge than they have, they have also agreed to not get more information. The amount of information a party has really has nothing to do with how free a transaction is.

    Misrepresenting a transaction, on the other hand, is a form of theft, a form of force. If you have a contractual agreement to give an item defined as X in exchange for money, then taking that money and giving the person an item not defined as X is akin to forcing that person to give you money. That person never agreed to buying the item you just gave him. That transaction isn't free.

    If the contractual agreement never defined the item, or defined it less specifically, then that person has agreed to buy whatever item you give him that fits into the non-existent or vague definition. That transaction is free.

    But then again I'm arguing with someone who accepts positive "rights" as a valid concept, so there is really no point. Better outcome =! more free.

  • ||

    I don't think this quite works.
    If an individual makes a living buying books at yard sales and selling them to used book stores, he is exploiting an informational asymmetry. He knows the correct market value of a book, the seller does not.

    But, without such people, people holding yard sales would probably get even LESS money for their books, because there would be fewer people book-hunting at yard sales. Or they would then have to look up the prices themselves, and take them to the book store.

    In fact, a large part of the distrbuted information processing power of a market is MADE UP OF people attempting to exploit information asymmetries. Without a million people trying to find deals, there is that much less interaction with which to establish a true market price.

    The deal hunters actually provide a servie by doing the information hunting for you and creating demand.

    Now, I'd be with you in a few vary narrow cases, as when there is only a small number of buyers who have very exclusive information. Such as a person who discovers a priceless van Gogh in an old lady's attic, and buys it from her for spare change. That kind of information asymmetry I have a problem with. But a million people hunting for deals on Craigslist, and selling their finds on Ebay --- they are creating market prices and adding to the information sphere.

  • Observer||

    "in order for there to be a market, there has to be information..."

    ...and stealing that information is perfectly acceptable.

  • Jerry||

    It might if you're a Nietzschean market libertarian.

  • the right does it too||

    There is no clear evidence this information was stolen by JA, so your comment is meaningless in this instance. Unless you're a politico who has become so accustomed to screwing up the language that you associate publishing information provided to you as "theft."

  • Mince Words Much?||

    Honest, Ossifer, I had no idea that stuff was stolen.

  • Observer||

    Yup.

  • Fluffy||

    Tax money was used to accumulate that information.

    Basically the modern state has asserted for itself the right to make so much of its activity secret that citizens have no opportunity or ability to judge whether they are being well governed.

    The very fact that our government is upset about the disclosures proves this. The government by its own admission considers these serious matters. If anyone one of us had wanted to challenge the government's conduct in these matters, or run for office advocating different courses of action, exactly how would we have done that?

    Wikileaks isn't stealing anything because the previous possessors of the data here were usurpers. That's MY fucking data, and it had been stolen from ME.

  • MNG||

    +1

  • ||

    See, I agree with this. But different rules apply to government data than private data for a reason. There are good reasons for anonymity in all sorts of transactions; different transactions require different standards of sharing. I don't trust MNG or any other philosopher king to tell me exactly what sort of "all material information" there is in each kind of transaction.

    I do believe that provable fraud should be punished, and I don't believe that government information should be prevented from being published. I'm okay with punishing leakers themselves, though.

  • MNG||

    Just curious, why should the leaker be punished but not the publisher of the leaked info?

  • ||

    I didn't actually say that the publishers couldn't be punished, though I'm generally against that.

    I said that the material shouldn't be prevented from being published. Prior restraint and censorship are worse than punishing people after the fact. Yes, sufficiently onerous penalties impose censorship de facto, but it's a matter of degree.

    I think that some stuff probably does need to be secret. So there has to be some bar so that people only leak when there's sufficient reason to do so.

  • ||

    The leakers generally do sign agreements saying that they won't leak the material; the publishers don't.

    I'm considerably more okay with punishing people for leaking secret information that they specifically and individually agree not to leak, then claiming that everyone in the country agrees not to leak something simply because some representatives passed a law or the President wrote an Executive Order.

  • ||

    agrees not to leak publish something.

  • ||

    Just curious... The Justice Department and Hillary Clinton have called for serious penalty on the leakers. I think the real problem here is with what is deemed classified versus what can/should be public information

  • Observer||

    It's OK to steal government property because the taxpayers paid for it? That's good to know. I've had my eyes on some sweet cruise missiles at the base. The usurpers will never miss them.

  • MNG||

    I think there is a difference between cruise missles and information. All that stuff about an informed electorate our Founders thought important, y'know?

  • Observer||

    Diplomacy often requires secrecy. Are you utterly clueless? Maybe you've never read a history book. Should war plans and strategy also be made public, because we have a "right" to know? Maybe FDR should have publicized the date and details of D-Day. Because, of course, we had a right to know.

  • Fluffy||

    Should war plans and strategy also be made public, because we have a "right" to know?

    The government went to great lengths to hide the development of the atom bomb.

    The development time of the atom bomb overlapped a midterm election and a presidential election.

    I certainly understand their attempt to keep the Manhattan Project secret.

    But this was the most expensive government research project in history to that point, and the eventual use of the weapon being developed had profound moral implications, as well as ramifications for international relationships moving forward.

    Are you seriously asserting that if someone leaked information about the development of the A-bomb to me, that you should be allowed to use the police power against me to stop me from publishing that information and then conducting a political campaign against the program?

    I personally would have supported the program. But say I didn't. Say I thought there were better uses for the money being spent - even better war uses. Or say I thought that the weapon was immoral. And I wanted to run against Roosevelt on that basis.

    Do you seriously think that should be illegal?

  • DesigNate||

    RE: Observer|11.30.10 @ 9:08AM|#

    Are YOU utterly clueless? There's a huge difference between releasing some embarrassing conversations about and between world leaders and releasing information that can get a good many people killed. Jackass.

  • Fluffy||

    The difference between the government's chattels and information about the government's activities should be obvious.

    In a democracy, we are selecting representatives to govern in accordance with our wishes.

    We use elections to pass judgment on those representatives, and to replace them if they aren't doing a good job.

    That means that the fucking pens and paper in a bureaucrat's desk are public property I can't also take for my own use, and the rifles [or cruise missiles] in the hands of our soldiers are public property I can't also take for my own use, but the records of the actions the bureaucrat takes and the wars the soldier is sent to fight are not.

    Tell me this: if the state decided to declare ALL of its actions secret, and simply denied that there even WAS a war in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia, or that there WAS a TSA or a DHS, would you consider it illegal to print newspaper articles saying that these denials weren't true?

  • Almanian||

    Fair is foul and foul is fair. And we've always been at war with Afghanistan, and we've always been allied with Britain. Always.

  • Observer||

    If anyone one of us had wanted to ...run for office advocating different courses of action, exactly how would we have done that?

    I believe it starts with a registration fee and filing the proper papers, and maybe getting a certain number of signatures, depending on where you live. Then there's a campaign, followed by an election, and if you win you get to change things. That's how a republic works, Charlie Brown.

  • MNG||

    If the govenment hides crucial information from us then we can't be expected to run for office to change policies we don't even know about because of their hiding of the info.

  • Observer||

    In other words, it's easier to whine and blame others than to actually do anything.

  • Fluffy||

    This is now officially too stupid to respond to.

  • Observer||

    Come on. You respond to stupid things all day long. It's your substitute for actually doing anything. You are utterly ineffectual. And with that, I'm going to do something productive, and it doesn't include whining about "the government" to other whiners on an obscure blog.

  • Fluffy||

    I do two things:

    1. I enjoy myself.

    2. I poison the environment for others.

    Those are pretty cool things. So I don't really see myself as ineffectual.

    And as for ineffectuality, all of your whining didn't stop those cables from getting posted, now did it?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    "I'm going to do something productive."
    I have my doubts.

  • MNG||

    You can't do anything about things that are actively being hid from you dude.

  • Tony||

    In theory your tax dollars are also paying for a functioning diplomatic network. Part of that functionality comes from not having every secret conversation made available to the world.

  • ||

    One could say that a functioning diplomatic network has no need for secret conversations because they are capable of diplomatic discourse without it.

  • Tony||

    One could say that, but one would be an idiot.

    It's impossible to interact with even your own mother without some discretion. How is international diplomacy supposed to work without it?

  • -||

    It works perfectly well in Anarchotopia, that fantasy land where the "libertarians" dwell in perfect harmony with their peace-loving neighbors.

  • ||

    You can have opinions of another person/group, but you don't need State Department-wide memos that reiterate those opinions. That's what I'm saying is unnecessary.

    But then again, why should things change when they've gone so swimmingly the past 235 years? /sarc

  • Ray Pew||

    In theory your tax dollars are also paying for a functioning diplomatic network. Part of that functionality comes from not having every secret conversation made available to the world.

    This isn't a real argument, rather than merely a statement of fact. Yes, taxation pays for the system we have, but this in no way argues that the system is just/good/necessary.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    Yeah, what's all this BS about him stealing the data? It's called "whistleblowing", and *some* people see that as a good thing.

    As Assange puts it, Wikileaks "specializes in *not* knowing who their sources are". Call me an idiot, but I for one think that must be true for their entire operation to work as well as it has so far.

  • Ted S.||

    I'm an American. I paid for that information.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    The word stealing makes me think that the best analogy for Wikileaks vs The Man is the file sharers vs. the RIAA.

    In the old days, even if Julian Assange could somehow collect all the physical copies of these cables, it would have been a nightmare to process and disseminate. Just like the need for either a vinyl lp or cd put an upper limit to the piracy of music in the old days.

    With electronic docs, it is trivial to send Wikileaks documents and those documents can be easily copied by anyone in the world who can then search them with any number of tools.

    Just like the RIAA, The Man needs to figure out that their old model is broken. They need to stop complaining about this and figure out a new way to do this diplomacy thing.

  • ||

    This guy a fraud ...

  • Steve Smith||

    STEVE LIKE RAPING CLOWNS. STEVE WAS RAPED BY MANY CLOWNS WHEN YOUNGER. STEVE ENJOYS GANGRAPING CLOWNS IN TINY AUTOMOBILES. STEVE ALSO LIKE MONKEYS WHO THROW POO-POO.

  • Rich||

    The notion of "perfect information" always intrigues me. Does "Nature" possess PI? What would the world be like if *everyone* had it?

  • Mango Punch||

    Does "Nature" possess PI?


    Only if you worship Gaia.

  • Zeb||

    What if you just casually acknowledge her existence?

  • ||

    Markets would work very well. There would be little need for regulatory agencies besides enforcement of rights because everyone would have all consumer information available and know the effects of their decisions. Thus, you could have laissez-faire that was self-controlling. Assange is 100% right.

  • ||

    In Sarah Palin's America, if you publish true statements, but Sarah doesn't like the fact that you've published true statements, or doesn't think you should have known about the true statements you published, she gets to kill you.

    Like Abu Ghraib; the crime was not the crime, it was exposing the crime.

    The messenger must die.

  • ||

    The documents reveal that the private motivations and thoughts of US foreign policy are extremely similar to public statements. The only real exceptions is that the US often has more negative thoughts about allies than diplomacy allows it to state directly.

    The documents easily put the lie to the claims that the US does everything that Israel or the Saudis want, the documents demonstrate that the US actually restrains the Arab countries who are begging the US to strike, the documents demonstrate that the US is fully aware of how Pakistani and Afghani politicians, in addition to Russian and Italian ones, are not to be trusted.

    People worried that the US follows the lead of other countries, or doesn't realize the problems with our allies of convenience, should be relieved. Of course these cables are all written by US government actors, so it's going to present the US in a positive light, but there are no conspiracies here.

    There's not a single surprising thing that I've seen reported, and on the whole it casts US foreign policy in an extremely positive light (except for the diplomatic problems caused by leaking honest opinions about allies of convenience.)

    However, the end result of the leaks will be the government security complex sharing data less, and writing things down less. The end result will be a redoubling of security.

  • Fluffy||

    I also agree with this.

    If anything, the panicked reaction to the revelations is overblown.

    I still think all of the information here is important enough that the public should have it, but there's more here for the Saudis to be pissed about than the US.

    The only thing I would not have guessed is Petraeus' personal involvement in a scheme to deceive the public about the deployment of US combat forces and aircraft to Yemen. That was surprising even to me, even though I have long assumed we were doing more in Yemen than we talked about.

  • ||

    I mean the documents say that North Korea supplies missiles to Iran and that Iran infiltrates the Red Crescent with spies... this is going to make the neocons feel justified, not the reverse. They're still pissed at the leaks, apparently, but in a strategic sense, it doesn't really hurt them.

    I think that it should be legal to publish the documents, though I'm okay with sanctions against the guy who leaked it.

    It's the very fact that the US government expects the truth to out more than some other governments that keeps the government relatively honest. If leaking were impossible, then there would be more conspiracy theories in any secret but unattainable messages.

  • ||

    Maybe we should empower the SEC to hunt down and kill short sellers.

  • ||

    There's a Cam Newton joke in there somewhere...

  • MNG||

    Forget the SEC, I hope at least the SC linebackers are empowered to pursue Newton...

  • ||

    That Alabama meltdown was atrocious.

  • ||

    Sorry to interrupt the Libertarian Anti-establishment COllectivte Orgasm ... but all this Guy previous leaks were all nothing but piece of gossip that caused nothing.

    The real deal was get a ''Anti-Wall Street'' media going so further regulation of the economy take place so the government correct the free market

    This is a fraud ... I could even call it a COINTELPRO Operation

  • ||

    What evidence do you have that this is what motivates Assange? Apparently, quite the opposite - more market information = less need for government interference.

  • MNG||

    Talk about fraud...Reports that Tom Brady has...hair plugs?!?

    http://www.bostonherald.com/tr.....id=1068710

  • Jeffersonian||

    His missus is still smokin'.

  • ||

    the documents demonstrate that the US is fully aware of how Pakistani and Afghani politicians, in addition to Russian and Italian ones, are not to be trusted.

    I should fucking hope so.

  • ||

    Well, so should I. But you get people (on the Left, Right, Center, Libertarian, Authoritarian, whatever side) arguing that the US is completely oblivious to these sorts of things. Alternatively, you get people arguing that the US is actively in favor of and/or instigating these things.

    For some people, it's a binary choice between the US being a hegemon and the US being a puppet of its allies in the region. Neither option is true, thankfully. Countries make decisions; the US reacts. There's room to influence on both sides; that's diplomacy.

  • MNG||

    "the documents demonstrate that the US is fully aware of how Pakistani and Afghani politicians, in addition to Russian and Italian ones, are not to be trusted."

    Duh. I hope they included US ones too.

  • ||

    I agree it's so obvious to me. But why do so many people argue that the US government is either unaware of such things, or else fully supportive of them?

    Presumably because it's easier to think in binary terms. It also allows one to clearly place blame. If you think that the US can just order another country to do something and it is done, then the US and US politicians bear responsibility for everything-- or alternatively other countries do. The real world is murky.

  • ||

    Great, now Wikileaks is one more thing that can be blamed on libertarians.

  • ||

    (not supposed to be a reply. dammit, and we were gettin along sooo well, Threaded Comments, why you gotta play me like that?)

  • Jeffersonian||

    Color me skeptical...he's chanting "markets, markets" because he's addressing a libertarian-ish audience with Forbes, and he knows it. I personally don't see what's so market-oriented about exposing private snark and deliberations, especially when his target is always the same: The United States.

    If this guy is so taken with markets, why does he not expose the snark, lies and small-mindedness of nations that are less free-market than even the Obama administration?

  • ||

    Those other nations aren't busy touting how they're "the land of the free"? Just a guess.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Oh, please...a line in the national anthem that one can argue we fail to live up to perfectly is justification for subverting our foreign policy? That's just idiotic.

  • ||

    Oh, ok, I didn't realize it was just some dumb lyric from some gay-ass, lame, old, song, and not a core value of the American People.

  • ||

    His claims seem like bullshit to me, and I do suspect his motives, but I'm not all that worried about what he did.

    He's a huckster and a liar, but people like that can and do still benefit society, whatever MNG thinks about not having "full material information" vitiating a contract.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Yeah, I'm wondering why Assange, being all libertarian and shit, doesn't ferret out the lies and backstabbing of, say, the Chinese, Russian, Venezuelan or Iranian governments so as to undermine their efforts. Wouldn't that go a long way to increasing the sum total of liberty in the world?

  • ||

    Apparently he thinks that these latest releases are really embarrassing to the US, because we're politer in public to our allies than we are in private or something.

    But oh, well, he wants to go after the US and he has to convince himself that he has pure motives. Such is life.

    Doesn't mean I want him to be prosecuted.

  • Fluffy||

    If I put up a sign that says, "I will publish anything you want to send me that exposes government secrets" and a bunch of Americans send me their government's secrets, it really doesn't make any sense for you to come around bitching that no one sent me any Russian secrets.

    If anybody wants to send me a bunch of secret Russian shit, I promise to post it.

    I can't read Russian or anything in Cyrillic, though, so damned if I know how I'll be able to know what I'm reading.

  • Jeffersonian||

    So the only things that Assange has received have been from American sources?

    I got a bridge to sell you, Fluff.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, this is less true than it used to be about the site. Submission is harder and a lot of the non-us stuff went online.

    The solution is for somebody else to start their own.

  • ||

    "I'm wondering why Assange, being all libertarian and shit, doesn't ferret out the lies and backstabbing of, say, the Chinese, Russian, Venezuelan or Iranian governments"

    Dude, he DOES. In fact, that was largely the reason for founding Wikileaks - to monitor human rights oppression. Getting a large cache of American diplomatic correspondence exposes many countries in this regard, even if it currently appears he is merely targeting America (incorrect, although his rational opposition to American foreign policy and human rights oppressions is a worthy public service). Perhaps the Chinese guard their intellegence better?

  • ||

    What American human rights oppressions?

  • Almanian||

    wondering why Assange...doesn't ferret out the lies and backstabbing of, say, the Chinese, Russian, Venezuelan or Iranian governments

    My guess is that it's because he knows those gov'ts would likely have him hunted down and killed. Whereas the US, despite some of the bleating about "what Palin said" and the huffing a puffing from Warshington, likely won't do anything except whine about it till the story dies down.

    Which is cool by me - I don't want the man hunted down and prosecuted, much less physically harmed.

    Just a guess....

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Because the Russians would fucking assassinate him if he published any of their dirty laundry. The US is by far the safest nation to effectively criticize.

  • Putin||

    Beacause he'd be a fucking dead man if he tried.

  • RyanXXX||

    Those nations don't have "leaks" - totalitarian societies don't have much internal subversion.

    God, why don't you guys THINK for two seconds rather than search desperately for a way to discredit the guy

  • Spur||

    Massive leak of documents on corruption in Suriman - news at 11!

  • MWG||

    Um, have you actually read any of the cables? It has the Saudis asking us to attack Iran and the Chinese speaking less than positively about the N. Koreans amongst other things. From what I've read it makes other countries look much worse than the US.

  • ||

    Assange doesn't think so, apparently, but he doesn't really matter. It does show him to be a bit of an idiot, though.

  • Zeb||

    The US has more influence and a larger footprint than any other country. It should not be at all surprising that it is the target of things like this. The business of the US is the business of the world, like it or not.

  • ||

    If you ask me, Assange has a touch of megalomania about him.

    So playing to the crowd would make perfect sense. He wants to spread his legend as far as possible.

  • ||

    I would like to see diplomatic cables from some of our "partners". This morning, the BBC news was saying somebody at the State Department apparently called Prince Andrew "rude and imperious" or some such thing. I would like to hear what the Limeys have to say about the Presidential Suit.

    For that matter, it might be enlightening to be a fly on the wall at the House of Saud, when election time rolls around.

  • Almanian||

    My fave was the assessment about, I believe, the Italian Pres being a "political novice" or some such thing.

    Really? OUR government said that about the head of another government?

    Pfffffffft! Pot, meet kettle....

  • ||

    he's addressing a libertarian-ish audience with Forbes

    You don't read Forbes very often, do you?

  • Jeffersonian||

    I can't say that I do, but of all the financial rags out there, Forbes is probably the most libertarian.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    The tentacles of the Kochtopus are all over Forbes.

  • ||

    Pretty sure that Forbes has more articles written by Reason contributors than most magazines, or most financial magazines.

  • pmains||

    Steve Forbes is a goldbug (NTTAWWT) who has called Joseph Schumpeter the greatest economist of all time (or something to that effect).

    And, yes, Shikha Dalmia's articles often pop up there before they arrive at Reason. The last one prompted a "well, I'm glad I cancelled my subscription," response. Drink.

  • ||

    Noted legal scholar weighs in:

    On Monday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said flatly, "WikiLeaks and people that disseminate information to people like this are criminals," according to CBS News.

  • 0x90||

    Information like this is universally feared primarily because it tends to lower the level of prestige of government and corporate operatives in general. It pulls these personalities down out of the heavens and puts them back on earth in the common perception; it exposes them for the petty manipulationists that they are. It shows much too clearly how they consider the world much as if it were nothing other than a big game of Risk, with their hands always on the pieces.

    So naturally, they don't like it. At the very least, it will force them to deal with one another on more realistic terms, and possibly prevent wars based on misunderstanding from occurring. If that means that some individual actors at put at risk, so be it -- it was they who chose to play the game they played; I, for one, never asked them to do it.

    As such, I could not care less what label the guy does or does not want to put on himself. Labels never fit without an accompanying collection of definitions and caveats anyway. He's getting the data out there; that's the only description that matters to me.

  • Jeffersonian||

    No, that's not the nature of the damage. Everyone engages in this sort of cattiness and bitching behind the scenes. Everyone. The nature of the damage is that now other nations know that their private communications with US diplomats cannot be assured to remain private.

  • 0x90||

    I would've thought it was clear that I couldn't care less what diplomat A thinks of diplomat B. I only care what the people think about both of them.

  • ||

    I like the information arguments. The only place with perfect info is the economics classroom talking about wickets. The real world does not and cannot have perfect info.

    No one has picked up on the Assange remark about monopoly, however. He has it completely wrong there. The free market does NOT cause monopolies, that the state has to come in and "force" to be broken up. Laissez faire may allow a firm to dominate a market, but there is more opportunity for competition as well, and free, unregulated entry into markets is better at preventing private monopoly than government intervention.
    Surprised no one picked up on his retreat into Progressivism.

  • ||

    Laissez faire would have no corporate entity, therefore the risk of total liability for violation of rights would naturally discourage monopolization and conglomerization. You'd have lots of small entities closer to perfect competition compared to oligarchy.

  • Apple||

    Dude looks like Joe Jackson.

  • Spur||

    I've read or heard various establishment and right winger types try to cast him into the 'Chomsky' corner of foreign policy - I believe Dan Drezner used that phrase though I can't imagine Chomsky or any of his pals using Assange's language towards markets in an interview... other pundits and what have you have used labels: 'nihilist' 'anarchist' 'anti-American' - but wikileaks is relatively new - only time will tell if this is the case - if you are gonna grab people's attention on a global scale the way wikileaks has these first three data dumps is the way to do it - something similar done to other countries - even modest global powers like Germany or Japan would likely only attract local attention and get very little attention globally - now wikileaks has done this my guess is people will pay more attention to the more minor or focused leaks thus increasing the impact - this is marketing on wikileaks part and it's quite good you'd have to say.

  • RyanXXX||

    Assange makes hacks like Chomsky irrelevant

  • Tony||

    I was behind Wikileaks at first, but this dump, at least based on the reporting I've read of it, doesn't contain any whistleblowing or reveal much if any wrongdoing.

    Every single organization human beings engage in, from a family to international diplomacy, requires a certain amount of confidence to inspire trust. This, as far as I can tell, has done nothing to shed necessary light on government activity. The only thing it seems to have accomplished is to embarrass the US and its diplomats.

    I think if Assange wants to be seen as a champion of open government, he needs to have the goods, not just be the guy who nobody likes because he announces everyone's dirty little secrets at parties. Sounds like a libertarian, though.

  • Doctor||

    Don't worry, scrote. There are plenty of 'tards out there living really kick-ass lives. My first wife was 'tarded. She's a pilot now.

  • ||

    OK, so it's only good if it reveals US government wrong doing. As opposed to Saudi or Iranian or North Koran government wrongdoing.

  • Tony||

    Dunno about what's "good", it depends on what the statutes say and how the First Amendment interacts with those statutes.

    My initial opinion is just that more harm than good was caused by this leak. Whistleblowing is supposed to uncover wrongdoing, not be an exercise in voyeurism.

  • ||

    not be an exercise in voyeurism.

    Yeah cuz knowing what our government is doing and what it thinks of other foreign powers is a game of peekaboo....and not hiding germain information that we need in order to know who to vote into office.

    You are so beyond the level of stupid it is truly amazing that you can live.

  • ||

    Government: "Lick on these nuts and suck the dick"

    Tony: "OK!"

  • ||

    Every single organization human beings engage in, from a family to international diplomacy, requires a certain amount of confidence to inspire trust

    Fuck you tony, you fucking hypocritical dipshit.

    Democracy requires that its citizens are informed and if our government is keeping secrets from us on such flimsy ground as "We might make our enemies feel icky" then we do not have a democracy.

  • ||

    Quick, name three Malaysian telecoms!

  • ||

    The day the government quits invading my privacy and repeals the Patriot Act will be the same day I will agree that government actors have some reasonable expectation of privacy. Until that day, I say the government snoops, spies and masters deserve every bit of exposure and embarrassment they get from Wikileaks. Wikileaks is essentially both a private spy agency for the citizens and the most daring member of the Fourth Estate. There's nothing government hates more than to have their own actions reciprocated.

  • ||

    Exactly. Don't they always tell us that "if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear" from privacy violations?

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    I'm trying to remember when I voted for this guy to have authority over the dissemination of American secure documents. Oh yeah, I didn't. Nobody else did, either.

  • ||

    I'm trying to remember when I voted for any of the guys who have authority to classify and thus block dissemination of American documents. Oh, yeah, I didn't. Nobody else did either.

  • Tony||

    You voted for their bosses, at least, and the legislators who made the relevant policy.

    Should someone be lauded for leaking secret troop deployment information in the name of open government and total information?

    Not saying it's quite the same thing, but I think there's a strong argument for the necessity of secret communications in diplomacy.

  • ||

    I don't think many of us libertarians voted for politicians who promised to spy on us and keep government in the dark. A foreign policy of neutrality would have avoided most of this mess in the first place.

  • DesigNate||

    Troop movement and deployments can get people killed, whether or not you agree with our foreign escapades. Embarrassing some haughty diplomats is hardly comparable.

  • ||

    Dude, our troops are already in danger - they're in a war zone. Wikileaks did not put them there. If the causes for putting them there are flawed, the government is totally at fault and Wikileaks is merely the messenger.

    Moreover, as far as I know Wikileaks is not publishing current troop movements with soldier quantities so al Qaeda can plan their attack. They also censor certain names of informants that they believe might be personally endangered by the revelation of their identity.

  • Geraldo Rivera||

    Yeah, that's my job!

  • Tony||

    Diplomacy is the art of avoiding war (getting people killed), so I wouldn't be so sure that there is no comparison.

  • ||

    No, actually you did vote for them.

  • Zeb||

    When was that, now?

  • ||

    "You can't handle the truth!"

  • prolefeed||

    but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free

    OK, here he's an idiot. Free markets don't wind up as lasting monopolies unless rent-seeking companies use government force to arrange that.

    That should read "free markets remain free unless forced otherwise by the government."

  • 0x90||

    By 'force them to be free', he may have been referring to keeping them honest against their will, via mechanisms like wikileaks. Or, maybe not, but that was my impression, given the broader context of the interview.

    I got the idea that the guy is either not very ideological, or that if he is, he tries to stay miles away from being seen as such. For all I know, he could be a fascist anarchist; it still doesn't change the fact that I don't own a car.

  • prolefeed||

    That's BS. Ideas aren't property, so protecting them as property makes no sense.

    So if I'm thinking of writing a book, or spending several hundred million dollars creating the next "Avatar", others should be free to swoop in and appropriate those ideas and steal all those profits the instant I try to market the fruits of my labor and monetary investment?

    Who is gonna bother writing books or making movies if a bunch of leeches will make it unprofitable?

  • robc||

    Bach.

  • -||

    Jesus, you're an obedient little parrot. Reason says it and you repeat it.

  • ||

    ...says the troll indistinguishable from every other troll.

  • ||

    The 'Avatar' they make isn't going to be exactly the same as the avatar you would make.

  • ||

    Maybe you don't watch TV, but the same scripts are sold to competing studios every season. Or at least that's what it seems like judging by the shows that are shat out every fall/spring.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    "Maybe you don't watch TV, but the same scripts are sold to competing studios every season. Or at least that's what it seems like judging by the shows that are shat out every fall/spring."

    Actually, you're not too far off... It's not identical "scripts" that get sold to competing studios, but rather "treatments".

    The basic deal is something like this: You go around pitching your idea to everyone you are either out of people to talk to, or until someone gives you cash to make a pilot out of it... If you get lucky, this happens quickly and you get to make a pilot episode which 9 times out of 10 goes straight into the trash bin. If you're not as lucky, you get to go around telling studio executives your idea year after year with nothing to show for it.

    But obviously, once you've told a bunch of studio executives your idea, there it is... out there.

    So they can either pay you for it and let you have some say in producing it, or they can take elements of the idea they like and turn it into their own project.

    Unsurprisingly, Option B is taken fairly frequently. That said, I don't know if it's out of some kind of nefariously sneaky, plagiaristic greed of studio execs (and to be sure, those adjectives are accurately descriptive!) so much as it's probably most often the case that they really only like part of someone's idea, but not all of it, and they don't really like the guy pitching it to them that much.

    Easier to just let that idea spawn new ideas that they like better and get people they trust and want to work with to put it together.

    And thus continues the cycle of unoriginality in Hollywood. Hoorah!

  • ||

    So if I'm thinking of writing a book, or spending several hundred million dollars creating the next "Avatar", others should be free to swoop in and appropriate those ideas and steal all those profits the instant I try to market the fruits of my labor and monetary investment?

    Yes, if people were allowed to copy others and make knock-off and bootleg products, why no one would make anything anymore! I can't even imagine what a world with knock-offs and bootlegs would look like!

    There is no reason why someone should automatically make money off an investment. An investment makes money because it is profitable, not because you put time and effort into it. Without profitability, an investment will make no money regardless of how much money you put into it.

    You are putting the cart before the horse when you complain that a system where ideas are not treated as property would not allow people to make money off an investment. Irrational and coercive IP laws allow people to make money of their investments when such investments lack profitability.

    But IP doesn't actually allow everyone to profit off their labor. Come up with an idea similar to mine all on your own? Spent lots of time and effort on it? Too bad! I came up with it first, so I "own" it! IP goes both ways. It protects the people that first put out an idea, but screws over the people that come up with a similar idea later.

    So really the problem boils down to whether or not ideas are property, not on whatever predicted outcomes people make up. You can whine about how people can copy your shit all you want, but that won't make valid the argument that ideas are property.

  • Jose di Pandora ||

    Nonsense! I'd much prefer the ability to see an ersatz Mexican version of Avatar on Telemundo on taco night! My guess is that the Na'vi would have much larger boobs. (Mmmm, blue Na'vi boobs.)

    The market would adjust, then clear.

  • prolefeed||

    Every single organization human beings engage in, from a family to international diplomacy, requires a certain amount of confidence to inspire trust.

    When politicians or businesspeople or anyone else is doing nasty things in secret, I don't want to have an unfounded trust in them based on my not knowing what the hell they are up to.

    I want to trust those who are trustworthy, not those who don't merit it.

    If someone is a serial child rapist living next door to me, I don't want to have an unwarranted trust in them. I want to be properly suspicious of them. Same for governments.

  • Tony||

    There's definitely a gray area, but certainly some aspects of diplomacy require discretion. I'm not sure this particular leak did more good than harm.

  • ||

    I'm not sure this particular leak did more good than harm.

    I had no idea the house of Saud asked the US to bomb Iran. Just that small nugget alone out weighs any scenario your small mind could ever come up with that could cause harm.

  • KingTaco||

    Cause' Julian Assange isn't some moralist, hard-working muck-racker. He's just another run-of-the-mill eccentric huckster. His claim to fame is lucking into a cache of US intel coming from an army private having a Bravo-channel style break-down over his ex-boyfriend.

    At first the big branding effort was Julian Assange "truth-teller of dirty US Army secrets". Since that fizzled, he uploaded a bunch of pissy diplomatic cables. They don't really 'expose' anything nefarious, but it buys him more attention.

    Assange, like all good hucksters, knows how to both pick and read an audience. Revealing secrets about despotic governments like China and Russia is like....totally messy and dangerous. So that's right out. Nothing sells in Europe and the US like dirty laundry on the U.S. of A., and you probably won't 'accidentally fall from your roof' ala' Russian-style for leaking US secrets, so there's your low-hanging fruit. Since this diplomat thing has fizzled as well, Assange is wisely changing his brand to "expose US corporate secrets". Even though all his previous political writings are doctrinal anti-capitalist and anti-US screeds, he understand a lot of libertarian-styled wonks are cheap dates who will gush over any semi-market talk from lefty sources, so now he spices in a few nebulous bumper sticker slogans about 'Free Information..Free Markets!!!'. And hey, on queue Reason plugs the interview!

  • rac||

    Why are people focusing on this Assange guy? He is getting his info from someone. We need to focus on the someones. Give them the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg treatment and see just how principled the leakers really are.

  • RyanXXX||

    Free minds and free markets, indeed. Go do us all a favor and give yourself the David Carradine treatment

  • RyanXXX||

    To all the people asking "Why does he hate America so much? Why not publish North Korean or Russian documents?"

    BECAUSE THOSE COUNTRIES DON"T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH LEAKS!! It's a lot less appealing to leak secret info if there is a high chance your family will be killed

  • Cata||

    "To put it simply, in order for there to be a market, there has to be information. A perfect market requires perfect information."

    this is nonsense. there is no such thing as "perfect information". people always know what they want to know at the cost they consider worthwhile.

  • Right Wing Wacko||

    There goes reason authors writing in the National Review

  • ||

    Hopefully he starts dumping China's state secrets! Wait, he's not free to do that. Wanh, wanh.

  • Anonymous||

    The most rudimentary glance at Wikileaks would show that it's leaked hundreds of secret PRC documents. The website's been around for four years, just because a bunch of idiot Americans only know it because it's recently got a good source for American documents doesn't mean it hasn't been an incredibly useful tool for dissenters in other, less free countries.

  • ||

    So what useful Chinese "state secrets" has wikileaks leaked? And how have Chinese dissenters used the leaks to the advantage? What have the accomplished because of the leaks. Is war less likely to happen with North Korea because of the leaks? Haha.

  • Zeb||

    1. This is interesting, so I like it. The world is not likely to be the way I want it to be any time soon, so I just hope that it stays interesting.

    2. What difference does it make what Assange's politics are?

  • Nearly Fat||

    The only difference that it might make would be to show that he's doing all this for the right reasons. If, say, Assange was a devout statist, then he'd be less intriguing as an international enemy of the state.

  • ||

    Another person who heard the word 'libertarianism', and thought it sounded cool, but doesn't really know what it means.

  • daveed||

    It's not surprising to me that he's waving the free market flag so vigorously. If you look at his other interviews (aside from the disastrous and ill-advised on on Larry King), Assange tends to offer responses that fit the media outlet or audience.

    Whether he's being genuine or not, time will tell. I suspect his political views are quite malleable.

  • ||

    His views sound pretty voluntaryist to me. It is possible to be both left-wing and extremely libertarian-anarchist, you know.

  • Jeffersonian||

    He's clearly influenced by Rousseau: Force them to be free. He can get the fuck out of here in my opinion.

  • ||

    "I'm a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free."

    Doesn't sound very libertarian to me...

  • Augusto Pinochet||

    It didn't sound very libertarian to me, either, hombre. But I still applied it, and lo and behold: after my rule, Chile is the most free-market, prosperous country in South America, and democratic too.

  • دردشة||

    thanks

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