Socio-Economic Cults (Re: CypherPunk Cults)

Tim May tcmay at
Thu Aug 21 13:04:24 PDT 1997

I usually can't understand more than 5% of what John writes, but then I was
never very good at Blake, Coleridge, and all those DWM dudes.

But I think I understand this paragraph:

At 9:10 AM -0700 8/21/97, John Young wrote:

>Now, to move on to the day's news: Is Tim going to be kidnapped
>by a gang of mixed breed cops and ammo merchants, shot instantly
>and chained in dugout till his loved redeems his maggoty carcass by
>redistributing his nestegg? That's the topic of the NYT's lead business
>story today, the need for secret ransom insurance, so secret that it
>does not make you a free-for-taking target like the usual unwise display
>of peacockery.

Like the game of chicken, it pays to look like a madman. Strangelovian
logic, but valid. If attackers _think_ a victim will pay a ransom, or
relatives will, or that hostage/ransom demands will be met, the result is
both more such events "overall" (which is usually not a concern we as
individualists have), but also an increased probability of
kidnapping/terrorism in the first place. Fairly classical game theory, with
mix-ins specifically of the tragedy of the commons ("everyone negotiates")
and the iterated prisoner's dilemma ("let's all agree not to negotiate,"
except many "defect" from the pact).

Interestingly, many of the strategies for moving assets offshore, to
offshore banks and money havens, is not so much to evade taxes as to
"protect assets." Protect them from ransom/extortion demands of the _legal
profession_ sort, e.g., "deep pockets" lawsuits. For example, somebody
finds out that J. Random Cypherpunk is  financially well off--perhaps from
the increasing number of online credit report records, etc.--and decides to
have a convenient "fall" on his property. He then sues for some large
amount, either covered by Homeowner's Insurance, or more.

(Think this is paranoia? Look into "deep pockets," Lerach, and the
escalation of such lawsuits.)

Not to mention lawsuits by ex-spouses (or even current spouses, who want a
bigger cut of the action).

This is part of what Duncan talks about with his points about "judgment
proofing" oneself. (Two main ways to do this: have few assets, and rent
cars, keep residence somewhat secret. Or, move assets beyond the grasp of
the court system. Both have advantages and disadvantages.)

Unsurprisingly, such attempts to hide assets, even if not done for tax
evasion reasons!!!, are looked at unkindly by the authorities, who would
like it much better if all assets were visible to them and hence pluckable
on various pretexts. The restrictions on banking privacy--named in true
Orwellian fashion, the "Bank Privacy Act"--can be seen as moves to force
all assets out into the open. And the whole "discovery" process in divorce
and civil cases, where even private diaries and personal papers must be
produced for perusal by various parties, is a shameful abrogation of Fourth
Amendment protections. That a court has duly ordered the turning over of
diaries, letters, records, etc. is no excuse.

(When I was at Intel we were urged to never write down anything which could
be used against the company in a lawsuit. Increasingly this meant "don't
write anything down on paper" unless it is neutral and bland. I understand
things have since gotten even more paranoid, and that this is a common
practice. Under "discovery," literally tons of records can be ordered up,
including Day-Timers, scratchpad notes, archives of e-mail, etc. Technical
solutions abound, of course, such as hosting the archives in offshore
locations, or using strong crypto....and "forgetting" the key. This,
obviously, is yet another reason the authorities want "key recovery.")

>Hide it if you got it, hide your lush affiliations too, the poor reporters
>advise, or the world's scum with nothing else to do but watch and wait
>are gonna snag your unsmart ass when you least expect it, now as in
>ages past, unless, to be sure, more scum-world guardians are hired
>and more big-nuke prayerbooks and ransom policys are arsenaled
>bedside, 4X, ankle and thigh.

Not sure what this means, but hiding assets is becoming harder, not easier.
Strong crypto may someday reverse this, but it sure ain't the case today.

(Don't anybody waste their or my time with penny ante ideas for getting
small amounts of money out of the country.)

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay at  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."

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