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Archive for November, 2011

Here’s what you missed at BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Anaheim.

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How much attention have you devoted, over the past few years, to so-called on-line real estate marketing experts? How stupid do you feel now that those unwitting judas goats have sold out your IDX feed to Zillow?

Nobody likes to be mocked for being a dupe — the prospect of which, I freely admit, can make BloodhoundBlog a daunting place. But: Which is worse — being called a doofus or being a doofus?

BloodhoundBlog Unchained is a completely different way of learning net.wise real estate marketing. No dupes. No doofuses. No hype. No cant. No vendorsluts. We work as hard as we can for as long as we can, and we send our students home poor in sleep but rich in ideas.

Here’s what you missed yesterday at BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Anaheim:

I demoed half a dozen ways of creating web pages and web sites automatically from raw content.

Scott Schang showed us how he has used WordPress and select plug-ins to create a lead-conversion machine.

Mark Madsen and Tony Sena illustrated the web marketing ideas that have launched their property management business into orbital velocity in just a few months.

And Eric Blackwell was the show-stopper as always, taking us through all the latest twists and turns emerge from from the Googleplex — and documenting a killer strategy for attracting sellers on-line, the holy grail of Internet real estate marketing.

We had other speakers as well, and Brian Brady regaled us with email marketing strategies until almost 10 pm.

But the highlight of our day was Realtor magazine’s on-line editor, Brian Summerfield, pictured above, who bearded the Bloodhounds in their own den. Brian very graciously and calmly defended the NAR’s more controversial stands, and the dawgs acquitted themselves admirably, engaging Summerfield with insight and without rancor. More that one person compared the talk to Nixon’s visit to China, but I’m not sure who was whom. ūüėČ

Everywhere you turn there are so-called experts peddling so-called solutions — but the problems being solved are not your problems generating leads and closing sales. Instead, almost always, you are being sold, the the problem to be solved is the speaker’s carefully-concealed poverty. But the worst poverty is the poverty of ideas.

Brian Brady and I strive, always, to deliver the opposite at BloodhoundBlog Unchained. We want to send you home with more ideas than you can implement in a year — and we want to come back next year with another quiver full of radical marketing ideas.

Scott Cowan is making plans to bring us to Seattle in the spring, and we’re interested in hearing proposals for one-day Unchained events in other cities. We know we deliver a better product, as do all of the people who have joined us over the years. I’m sorry you missed us yesterday. But you’ll be sorrier if you miss us the next time.

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“Live Chat” Facebook Capture Trap Magic? (or waste of time?)

Just build a quick prototype for this “247 Floortime” idea that’s been rattling around the noggin…

Here’s how it works.

  • Simple page
  • Autoplaying youtube video of an agent
  • Quick blurb about what that agent specializes in, and how he/she can help you
  • Live chat box — (You have to be logged into Facebook to use it.)
  • Traffic Driving Strategy — Facebook Ads, DEMOGRAPHICALLY TARGETED TO PEOPLE JUST LIKE THE AGENT
  • Incubation Strategy — Anyone who chats, well you just shoot over a friend request with a message and get the relationship going…

You can open the demo in a new window by clicking here.

Thinking that if we only show this ad to 25-40 year old males in the Harrisburg area, folks are going to think… “hey that guys just like me, I like him, sure… I’ll interact with him a bit… ”

Of course the trick will be to properly word/structure the ad so only folks likely thinking about real estate will click thru…

What d’yall think?

Will this flop?

Or work like gangbusters? (will update in a few days once we have some datastuffs…)

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Hey, Ron Phipps: I say the National Association of Realtors is a rent-seeking Rotarian Socialist conspiracy against the American consumer. Can you offer even one argument to refute that claim?

My friend and partner, the ever-more-Unchained Brian Brady, posted a Facebook link to a Wall Street Journal article on the current push by the National Association of Realtors for extended loan subsidies for the rich:

To understand why 90% of U.S. mortgages are still underwritten by taxpayers, look no further than the nearby letter from Ron Phipps of the Realtors lobby. He makes clear that the Realtors, like the rest of the housing-subsidy crowd, are working hard to get Congress to reinstate a $729,750 loan-limit for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantees.

Why do rich people need taxpayer-underwritten home loans? They don’t, of course. The NAR needs loan subsidies at all income-levels to keep churning the real estate market.

In case you haven’t looked at your bank statements or retirement accounts lately, the NAR has already churned the American economy into a five-year coma. But like every other legislative vampire, the NAR won’t stop sucking away at unearned income until the body politic is entirely exsanguinated — bled to death.

This latest Five-Alarm Urgent Action Item — one of three or four a week Phipps and his minions spam-spew — is nothing more than an extension of the original NAR philosophy: Milk consumers, taxpayers and real estate salespeople for the benefit of brokers.

Do you doubt me?

The real estate licensing laws, written in their original form by the NAR, exist to limit competition in real estate brokerage, eliminating alternative sources of real estate brokerage to artificially sustain higher commissions for NAR brokers.

The sales commission co-brokerage fee — the vaunted “cooperation” among brokers — exists to create the Multiple Listings Service oligopoly, the golden handcuffs by which real estate salespeople are bound to their brokers and to the NAR — and which, not-coincidentally, continues the viciously anti-consumer NAR policy of de facto sub-agency.

The IRS “safe harbor” exclusion shielding real estate brokers from having to report income for their employees makes it possible for brokers to churn-and-burn gullible real estate salespeople like a toy store burns through your kid’s allowance money. No other business can afford to treat human capital — that would be you — like so much toilet paper.

And as Brian and the Journal note, the NAR’s innumerable loan subsidies not only induce economically-unwarranted churning in the real estate market, they prevent the emergence of a viable free-market in mortgage financing.

Much worse, the people who actually pay for those subsidies are the ones who don’t benefit from them. But don’t worry, the NAR has other Rotarian Socialist programs to put those folks into homes they have not earned by their own efforts.

The NAR is nothing but a vast, evil conspiracy, a criminal cartel devised to despoil consumers and taxpayers for the benefit of real estate brokers. Everything else is window-dressing. Get rid of the crime — the use of the police powers of the state to take money from people who earned it, giving it to people who did not earn it — and there is nothing left of the NAR.

So here is my challenge for Ron Phipps, who is this year’s Titular Grand Poohbah of the NAR: BloodhoundBlog Unchained will be in Anaheim on Friday. If you can refute — or even dispute! — anything I have said about the NAR, now or ever, we will give you time to defend your position, and we will make a video of your remarks and make them available here for all to see.

Why has the NAR never sought to contest my arguments? I think it’s because they know I am right. But if Ron Phipps — or anyone — can defend what looks to me like brigandry-in-a-Brooks-Brothers-suit, bring it on.

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On the Education of an 11 Year Old…

REWIND: Roughly one month ago, an 11 year old boy was in an altercation during recess. A classmate, known for his “unorthodox” playing style, decided to¬†turn and throw a ball into his face from nearly point-blank range. This “unorthodox”¬†classmate apparently thought it was very funny, and as the boy got¬†up off the ground – hurt and embarrassed – the classmate continued laughing; so hard, in fact, that he fell down. The boy promptly kicked him in the ribs.

This being a public school and the classmate being not only a punk, but a crybabby too… an ambulance was called. The punk went to the hospital (nothing wrong), and returned the next day on crutches. (Why crutches? Because it’s hard to attract sympathy with a fake injury that no one can see…).¬† The boy was suspended for 5 days. No, not the punk who assaulted his classmate; the boy who responded.¬† You see, our public school system believes that only in the most extreme case of self-defense – one in which even the cowardly opportunity to run away is absent – will you not be punished for violence (and truth be told, it’s zero tolerance… so you’ll still be punished).¬† The punk received less days of suspension. Apparently, faking an injury relieves one of responsibility for one’s actions.¬† Upon returning to school, both boys were told in no uncertain terms to stay away from each other.¬† Thus far, a disappointing but not surprising trip through the education industry.

FAST FORWARD: Last week both boys find themselves in the same group.¬† The punk steals some candy from one in the group, and the boy – Mr. Five Day Suspension – elects to join in the chase. The punk falls down and the boy stands over him, one leg above his torso, in a universal sign of male dominance.¬† No one touched anyone.¬† Just then, two parents come around the corner and, based on what they are seeing, interpolate what must have happened previously.¬† This¬†same 11 year old boy is reported to have, once again, kicked the punk.¬† The principal launches an “investigation” and commences to speak with “witnesses”.¬† (Too many CSI episodes? You be the judge…)¬† A few of the boys dispute the accusation, but she doesn’t talk to them.

The next morning, the Principal approaches the boy as he enters his classroom with this bit of educational enthusiasm: “You are in trouble young man; I have witnesses to what you did. You will be spending recesses in my office.”¬† Now, the boy does not handle false accusations well. (He doesn’t handle well being wrong and knowing it either, but that’s a different scenario).¬†¬†His reaction? “Those stupid parents are lying!”¬† This insult to Principal decorum everywhere was too much; how dare an 11 year old boy stand up for himself?¬† The matter obviously required immediate escalation: “March to my office right now young man.”¬† The boy was now in full rebellion mode: he threw his backpack against the wall, yelled “No,” and stormed out of the classroom, the principal on his heels.¬† He was looking for a place to calm down (which he has been taught to do, not only by his parents, but by the Principal herself.)¬† He headed down to the lower field, to a¬†quiet spot he calls his own behind some bushes (and, unfortunately, outside of “school grounds”). The principal, unable to force his compliance, calls Officer McFriendly… yes, that’s the local police officer assigned to be a liason to the elementary school.¬† And yes, things get worse.

The boy only needed a few minutes to calm down, and he’d come out. The principal and his father are talking to him.¬† The officer decides to go around to the other side and try to help.¬† The boy moves toward where the officer is heading, and the principal, along with the father, head back to the office to meet them both.¬† The officer pulls back up to the school, with the boy in handcuffs!¬† He has been arrested for truancy… but the officer is very reassuring: “Don’t be concerned,” she says with a smile, “because it’s not a criminal code violation or anything, it’s just an educational code violation.” (What the hell is an educational code violation?)

Once back in the Principal’s office, the officer attempts to take the boy’s statement!¬† Turns out she had read the 11 year old his Miranda rights upon arresting him, and felt quite comfortable asking him questions in the Principal’s office, given that the boy’s father was there.¬† Dad¬†quickly ended the conversation, sent his son out of the office, and quietly explained to the officer – in the politest way he could, given the subject matter – why government, by very definition,¬†is evil.¬† There was going to be no questions for the 11 year old.¬† The officer tried to explain how this was all nothing to be too concerned¬†about;¬†the state was¬†simply going to have¬†someone¬†meet with the boy, discuss his transgressions, review his work,¬†his behavior… his¬†compliance, and¬†make a small list of “suggestions”… a list, if you will, of things he¬†must do to regain good lad status.¬† Once completed, they would toss the whole file out!¬† Honest!

So there it stands. Oh, and for making the eggregious error of interacting with the boy he was forbidden to be around, the boy was suspended… again.¬† Let’s total the damage: One overly-sensitive, innocent 11 year old boy: falsely accused, chased, arrested and suspended, FOR ANOTHER 5 DAYS- all before 9:00am.¬† Why? Because when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail…¬† “Hey Little Guy… Welcome to the Revolution.”

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What’s your marketing plan for 2012? Set a Bloodhound’s pace this Friday at BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Anaheim.

We’re having a Scenius this Friday in Anaheim, a BloodhoundBlog Unchained event that we’re running, subversively, during the NAR Convention. We’ve done this before, but the NAR was a lot more powerful the last time. By now it just seems pathetic — but we don’t much care either way.

We care a lot about the Scenius, though. What we do is put a lot of bright, ambitious people together and then revel in the great ideas that emerge from the synergy. Our guests are some of the inventors of the wired world of real estate, and they will have lots of new ides to explore.

Just think: Since the last time we did BloodhoundBlog Unchained, Google has come to be beset by Bing, Twitter by Facebook and the web by app-centric mobile computing. Seems like a good time to rethink your marketing strategies, doesn’t it.

If you’re going to be in Disneyville for the NAR Convention, or if you’re within driving distance, join us.

Here are the details:

BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Anaheim
Friday, November 11, 2011
12 Noon to 10 pm
Cortona Inn & Suites Anaheim Resort
2029 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802
714-971-5000
Mapped.

The dogs will hit town Thursday afternoon, so, if you’re around, look us up. But the main action will be Friday. I know there are seats left, I’m not sure how many. If you want to get your 2012 off to a running start, assert yourself:

Make the Scene: $99


















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My other favorite beverage…

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We had a house in Orlando, so we were able to make drip coffee. Someday we’ll do an event with our own barrista.

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A cocktail to keep a Bloodhound hunting: Thirty-Six Hours in Vegas.

It would be not-quite-correct to say that I don’t drink. I don’t object to casual drinking intellectually or philosophically, but it has never appealed to me. I will toast with Irish whiskey when appropriate, and I will sometimes have a beer with pizza-and-wings or Mexican food, but my absolute favorite beverage is dihydromonoxide, and alcoholic drinks of any sort are well down the list for me. De gustibus non est disputandum.

But I wanted to come up with something that I could stand to drink when I want to drink with Cathy on our date nights — at home, in town or in Las Vegas. So I invented my own cocktail, the top-secret recipe for which I will now share with you:

Thirty-Six Hours in Vegas

In a 24-ounce glass, pour over 8 ounces of ice:

One shot (or more) Tequila
One bottle of Lemon-Lime flavored Five-Hour Energy
12 ounces of Mountain Dew

Quite a bit sweeter than a Margarita, and very nicely caffeinated. That much liquid lasts me a long time, so I don’t notice the alcohol much, but I get all that good Mountain Dew stuff — hydration, sugar, sodium.

I’ll be in Anaheim for 36 hours later this week, but I doubt I’ll have one of these. If you make one for yourself, I’ll be interested to hear what you think about it.

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Who said this? “The Federal Government must and shall quit this business of relief.”

Witness:

But the stark fact before us is that great numbers still remain unemployed.

A large proportion of these unemployed and their dependents have been forced on the relief rolls. The burden on the Federal Government has grown with great rapidity. We have here a human as well as an economic problem. When humane considerations are concerned, Americans give them precedence. The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is in violation of the traditions of America. Work must be found for able‚ÄĒbodied but destitute workers.

The Federal Government must and shall quit this business of relief.

These games are no challenge in the Age of Google, but I think you’ll be surprised to learn the name of the author of this text.

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The role of information hiding in keeping all of us enslaved to the state.

This is from my book Janio at a Point. I wrote this in 1988 as a sort of blueprint to Agorism, anarcho-capitalism. It questions everything, which is why its proscriptions often meet resistance from people who are in love with human freedom except when it’s inconvenient or prevents them from pushing other people around. I would write the book differently today — and I plan to rewrite it before I die — but there is almost nothing I would change in its philosophy.

 

Information Hiding

We have looked at a number of the obviously tragic consequences of government, but there are others of which we can take account that are not so obvious. You can call it “beating a dead horse” if you want, a Madness. So be it. I want to make sure that horse stays dead…

All of these non-obvious effects are the result of what I call Information Hiding. We can easily see that government commits crimes: it taxes, regulates, conscripts, murders — all in a day’s work. And there is no barrier to our noticing that the state is lousy at keeping Crime from occurring and recovering losses. What is not so easy to notice is the way the government, by its crimes, contributes to non-governmental crimes…

This is no absolution. The man who wields a gun deserves to be shot. If he is misled by the state into thinking that this is an intelligent solution to the problem of survival, it is still only he who is in charge of his brain. It is still only he who motivates himself to pick up that gun. No matter what “egged him on” and how, it is still only he who is acting. If he commits a crime, he is at fault.

But it is worthwhile to look to the actions of government, to see if they do induce people to commit crimes. I say they do, and, moreover, that the actions of government tend to dilute the value of self-preservation and self-love. Beating a dead horse though it may be, I say that the idea of government is at war with human life as such, in retaliation for being what it is. The “secret weapon” in that war is Information Hiding…

And again and again I protest that I do not think they are evil. I don’t believe anyone intended any of this. The Gangsters and their brothers under the sheepskin do intend to commit crimes. But they don’t intend to create a self-accelerating self-destruction engine. That happens as an unintended consequence. There is no “conspiracy” to send the world to hell in a handbasket. It’s just rolling that way from the causal forces acting upon it, which no one is trying to stop…

Government is Madness. Like any Madness, it achieves the opposite of its intended consequence. And like any Madness, it can only be checked by the recognition that it is a Madness. That it cannot work and that it is wasteful of the precious time of a finite life to continue to try to make it work… This they are not yet ready to do — and don’t hold your breath…

Okay: so what is Information Hiding? It is action that distorts or disguises the information content of causal events. It is not just government that does this. When the adult buys that child a second ice cream cone, he is “hiding” the lesson the child could have learned from his error, that it is wise to be careful with values one prizes. But government, by virtue of its being a “Cosmic Injustice” engine, hides information epidemically…

Here’s an easy example: currency inflation. There have been few governments in history that have resisted the urge to despoil the trading medium. They pump out paper money as though it were toilet paper, and soon enough toilet paper is worth more in trade. By this action, the state “hides” the value of personal savings. In a paper economy, cash is constantly losing value against goods. If you exchange it for goods as soon as you get it, you realize more than you would at any later time. If instead you bank your cash, it diminishes in value through time. If you leave it there for long, it will lose all of its trade value. You will still have the same quantity of cash, or even more, allowing for interest. But the quantity of goods you can buy with that money will have shrunk drastically…

Similarly, government bankruptcy laws hide the value of fiscal restraint. If you can kiss-off on your debts at any time, you have no good reason to take them seriously. Now, thank goodness, there are some fairly effective market restraints on credit fraud, notably the credit rating system. But the government, by arbitrarily and criminally “forgiving” debts owed to others, encourages those people who already suffer from an irrational view of the future consequences of present actions to further shrink their range of vision.

Now a question you might ask at this point is: how would an Anarchy deal with personal bankruptcy? I can’t dictate what choices people should make, but I can envision a system that would be Just to all parties: indenture. A person who is strapped with debts he cannot cover could sell his future labor to a bankruptcy contractor. This person would pay the debts, then provide bed and board for the debtor and keep the full value of his labor, until the debt is repaid. It’s hard to imagine that bankruptcy would be even as small a problem as it is now, since there would be no arbitrary restraints on credit reporting.

The bankruptcy laws are forms of liability limitation, of which every variation is an Information Hiding crime. Another type is the limited liability corporation. When a proprietorship or partnership causes an injury, the owners are liable for the full damages, to the extent of their assets. But when an incorporated business commits a crime, it is liable only to the extent of the assets of the business. The other assets of its owners remain untouched. This is simply an arbitrary fiat of law, but it is not without consequences. First, it tends to reward incorporation and to penalize other ways of organizing businesses. It may be, as some of the Conservatives say, that free trade is necessarily large-scale industrialism. But their argument is skewed by this and other types of laws that tend to reward large organizations at the expense of smaller ones. Second, it dramatically hides the consequences of Crime from the owners of corporations. A proprietor can lose not just his business, but also his house. Consequently, he is much more apt to be careful than the owners of a corporation, whose houses are artificially protected by the law. In an Anarchy, I would expect that the principle of full restitution would hold, the restoration of the previous condition as much as is causally possible. People would be liable for the full consequences of their crimes, irrespective of their assets.

Another form of liability limitation is the way the state responds to unintentional injuries. If you cause a traffic accident that results in a death, you will have to pay the full damage to both cars through your insurance premiums. You may be fined, and you may have your driver’s license revoked. But you will not be held liable for the death you have caused. You will not be liable to the people who have standing contracts with the deceased and you will not be obliged to compensate those contractors for their losses. If you wonder why there are so many people who do drive, but shouldn’t, here is your answer. They are not held accountable for their errors, and hence they have no utilitarian reason to seek the truth.

Welfarism is Information Hiding of a similar sort. So, incidentally, is the voluntary support of mendicants. By rewarding people for doing nothing, the state — or the “soft touch” — conceals from those people vital survival information. It hides the bodily and spiritual consequences of idleness and discounts the future value of the pursuit of righteousness. The state does this for a reason — to buy votes. But the people who allow themselves to be “bought” in this way are immeasurably damaged by it. For hand-outs also distort awareness of the true value of values, having them and fidelity to them. A life that does not have to be earned is of no value — to anyone, including the person living it. If the needs of ourselves and our children are to be provided without our having to produce them, there is no reason at all to educate our children to be independent, self-sufficient individuals. If you wonder why ghettos are such filthy, crime-infested places, here is your answer. By imposing itself between people and the awareness that error causes pain, the state hides from those people the disvalue of error. Now this is bad enough by itself, but what happens when the Cosmic Nipple dries up, as it eventually must? Many, many people who never “bothered” to learn how to live will starve to death…

“Free” “education” is a hand-out of which most Americans avail themselves — at their peril. Statist education is always propaganda, carefully contrived and ritualized lies about the greatness, beauty and virtue of organized crime. But there is information hiding as well as deceit in public education. For example: at its very best, it is lousy. Because it loudly advertises itself as being “free”, while quietly stealing its funds, public education deeply discounts the utility of pursuing alternatives to itself. The United States has not yet forbidden alternatives to government education. But by means of this trickery, it “persuades” people to submit their children to twelve years of victimization, brutalization, and damn little education, instead of seeking a product of higher quality.

Because everything it does is arbitrary — because it does not act as a real person acts, using his own resources toward his own chosen ends — everything a state does distorts information. I could name examples endlessly. The Neo-Classical Economists have done some remarkable work on the information content of the market price and how it is skewed by taxes, regulations, subsidies and price supports. One need only think of those news films of dairymen dumping milk in the rivers to see what can happen. In the same way, the concept of “public” ownership is the source of the so-called “paradox” of “The Tragedy Of The Commons”. As an example, consider that bison, which cannot be privately owned, are near extinction, where cattle, which can be owned, are more numerous than ever. The garb of patriotism in which the state wraps itself, the songs and stories and myths taught in the state’s schools, disguise the disvalue of warfare. If you have ever talked to a young man eager for the chance to get himself killed in the defense of some Gangster, you know what I mean…

It goes on and on. The state’s willingness to use “Cosmic Injustice” to mitigate politically favored crimes hides the disvalue of Crime. Taxes and other penalties on virtue discount the value of virtue. Forbidding effective self-defense and peaceful dispute resolution discounts the value of non-coercive social interaction. In general, the Information Hiding that is an unavoidable consequence of government obscures the value of life…

We can look at the history of civilization as the gradual realization, in the minds of individual people, that life is precious, that being alive is a value for which very few others ought to be traded. We can observe this process through the spread of literacy, hygiene, aesthetic appreciation, etc. Even through the spread of constitutional government, to give the devil his due. But government is never other than a Madness in the pursuit of the value of life. It is a less-threatening Madness than those that preceded it. In a tribal system, few babies live long enough to be threatened by “the bomb” or the IRS. But it is still a Madness, and it is still a very dangerous peril to life.

First and always because of the force it wields — and here the tribes come out ahead; by their very inefficiency they lack the capacity to commit assembly-line murder. But second because its “Cosmic Injustices” discount the future value of being alive. Those skittish youngsters who want to get killed in order to prove they are “men” are the perfect example… We noted that people who own homes are more likely to consider the future consequences of their actions than those who rent. Would not the same sort of relationship hold with respect to life as a value? Wouldn’t the person who treasures his life be less likely to commit acts with potentially injurious future consequences than the one who doesn’t…?

Now think of The Man Who Wielded The Gun… I’m not exonerating him and blaming the state. Only he controls his actions, and only he is at fault for the crime. But who was it who taught him to hold his life in such low esteem…?

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