Monthly Archives: December 2005

I’m Alive!

I think the insanity is finally coming to an end. I have had a major project at work that was going on right through the holiday, but we seem to finally be in the homestretch. As a couple of people know, I’ve been working 15+ hours a day since about the Dec. 12th, give or take. I didn’t work Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but spent those with my family, of course. This week the workload hasn’t been as bad, but I seriously needed a break, so I left the blog, etc. alone.

Now that I’m back, I’ll catch up on email, see what’s happened in the world and get back into the swing of things. This project will keep taking up more time than normal, so my blogging levels will probably be lower than they have been in the past. And I do need to make my focus family and work first, blogging and online stuff second.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas, I know I did.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Massachusetts Attempts to Ban All Firearms

ALERT TO MASSACHUSETTS READERS: Move, Now, before they ban breathing and eating without a license.

Seriously, this is quite possibly the worst piece of legislation I’ve ever read in my entire life:

Yes, they want complete registration of ALL firearms, and compulsory liability insurance for all firearms, with a $250,000 minimum liability limit, failure to comply punishible by mandatory five years in prison!

Additionally, all handgun licenses will be reviewed by a 9 member board before issuance, and this is the great part, look at how they want to construct the board:

“The board shall consist of nine individuals, one of whom shall be a member of the gun owners action league, one of whom shall be a member of stop handgun violence, one of whom shall be a police chief selected from a list of four selected by the police chiefs association, one of whom shall be a district attorney selected from a list of three selected by the district attorney’s association, and one of whom shall be the director of the firearms records bureau within the criminal history systems board.”

I see… so suddenly a representative from an anti-gun political action organization is qualified to judge the competency and safety of applicants?

Who wrote this, Sarah Brady (well… that’s entirely possible).

Lets see reading further on, a one firearm a month hard limit (it’s a practical limit now since you need a permit to purchase each individual firearm unless you have an unrestricted license which they almost never give out).

Ahhhh, but here’s the kicker:

“All weapons as defined in section 121 including, but not limited to, firearms, large capacity weapons, rifles and shotguns sold within the commonwealth without a safety device designed to prevent the discharge of such weapon by unauthorized users and approved by the colonel of the state police including, but no limited to, mechanical locks or devices designed to recognize and authorize, or otherwise allow the firearm to be discharged by its owner or authorized user, by solenoid use-limitation devices, key activated or combination trigger or handle locks, radio frequency tags, automated fingerprint identification systems or voice recognition, provided, that such device is commercially available, shall be defective and the sale of such weapons shall constitute a breach of warranty under section 2-314 of chapter 106 and an unfair and deceptive trade act or practice under section 2 of chapter 93A.”

Ahh yes, all weapons not smart guns are hereby declared defective and unsafe and are now banned; oh and anyone who’s ever manufactured and sold one can now be sued.

Yes folks, it’s an effective ban on all firearms within the commonpoverty of taxachusetts.

Oh and for a final kick, anyone not a licensed FFL selling or otherwise transmore than two firearms in a 12 month period – no matter who they are sold to, lawfully or not – is mandatorily sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison without parole.

Honestly, I am not capable of editorializing this in an adequately derisory way without resorting to excessive vulgarity, therefore I will leave the spluttering and descending red curtains of blood to my gentle readers.

Crossposted from : The AnarchAngel

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Public and Private Information

Fuz posits the following:

What if two vehicles are hustling along a rural road, doing low-80s in a 75-limit zone, and a Highway Patrol vehicle comes from the opposite direction, suddenly pulls over, reverses direction, and catches up?

The patrol car hovers behind the rear of the two vehicles for about 4 minutes, then passes, hovers behind the front-runner for a few minutes, then lights up and pulls the front-runner over?

Mama-san, passenger with me in the rear vehicle, asks “Why didn’t he just pull the guy over instead of waiting so long?”

I, driver of the rear vehicle, replied “He ran the plates.”

“Wouldn’t he do that after pulling him over?”

“No, he wants to make sure he’s not pulling over some psycho who’ll try to shoot him. He wants to know whether this will be a one-unit stop, or a two- or three-unit. Bench warrant, multiple traffic violations, expired registration, Al Qaeda, you name it. Run the plates first, know what you’re getting into.”

Then the wheels were turning. He surely ran our plates too. Hmmmm, the patrolman was probably thinking, serviceman and his wife and kiddies. Nothing interesting here . . . The guy in the front tripped the radar. What about him?

Which makes me wonder: how many times have my plates been run, either by obvious marked patrol vehicles or air units, or by unmarkeds just weaving through busy traffic? What about when optical-character recognition technology is mated with radar camera units and fast, fast realtime connection to the databases, allowing hundreds of plates to be “run” per minute? The potential there for loss of privacy would be staggering. The anonymity of the herd would be gone if it isn’t already. The consequences of minor errors, either in the tag records themselves or in the data pipeline between the camera and the DMV, would be enormous.

Johnny Law will assert that he has the power to use government-owned information and commerically-available technology to enhance the apprehension of lawbreakers. How can one object, unless one is caught redhanded and wriggling to escape? The syllogism: the innocent have nothing to fear, therefore the fearful are not innocent.

So how should the civil libertarian respond to this development?

As unfortunate as this is, there is no rational libertarian argument against the actions of the officer as laws currently stand.

License plates are the property of the state. By affixing them to your vehicle, and operating it on the public roads, you are implicitly giving the state the authority to view these plates, and to access the public records associated with them.

Now as to whether this data can be collected and indefinitely retained for criminal investigation, surveliance, or profiling purposes, that’s another question entirely.

Numerous times, in many courts, the argument has been presented that an officer could not arrest someone, because they had no probable cause to run the plates which resulted in a warrant hit and subsequent traffic stop. In all cases these arguments have been dismissed, because the plate number is indeed public information; as is your vehicle registration, and any number of other records that many individuals assume to be private.

I had a similar incident happen just the other day. I was driving home just above the speed limit, when a super trooper got up close enough to me to read my plate, then backed off for about 2 minutes, then accelerated and passed me by. My fiancee seated next to me wondered about his behavior and I said “He was running the plate”, to which she responded “Well, it’s not like we’ve got anything to worry about”.

That reminded me of something that happened to me a few years back. I was driving just at the limit when a local cop pulled in behind me for about five minutes, ran my plates, and then pulled me over. Unbeknownst to me, I had a bench warrant for an unpaid ticket. When I asked the officer why he ran my plate, he answered with refreshing honesty “Because I had nothing better to do”.

This is a basic principle of law, in that public information can be used for any purpose not specifically prohibited by law; and that includes vehicle registration, driving records, birth, death, and marriage records, certain tax and travel records… I could go on.

So what they are doing is in no way illegal, or unconstitutional. The question is, SHOULD IT BE specifically prohibited by law?

Honestly, with the current regulatory regime we live under in our society, this is a prefectly justifiable and correct use of information.

But there is no question that it makes us less free; and that, by it’s nature is evil.

The only way to rationally address this is to make these records non-public information. Either through the elimination of the records entirely (an unlikely, and in some ways unwise thing), or by the re-classification of many public records, as private.

I see no reason why my driving records, vehicle registrations, accident record, or any number of other records as I describe above SHOULD be public records; except as an instrument of governmental control. Perhaps all of these, and any other record the government keeps on us, whatever few those can be reduced to in a practical society (and that’s another issue altogether), should be treated as is our PHI/PCI (Private Healthcare Information/ Private and Confidential Information) wherein the use of the records must at all times require either a court order, or the consent of the subject or legal custodian of those records.

It would of course complicate matters greatly as regards law enforcement, but in the presence of a pervasive computing environment (which is not far off), it could certainly be technically possible.

It would be an easy re-write of the laws, and a massive policy and infrastructure undertaking; but no more so than the HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley requirements that have been recently promulgated on business.

I think that this is the most likely, and most reasonable compromise position; Al-Quaeda or no.

H/T: Jed at Freedomsight

Reposted from The Anarchangel

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Lessons of Russia’s Gas Attacks

Today in St. Petersburg, Russia attacks using gas IEDs were launched against several hardware stores. Fox News is reporting that the Russians suspect that a rival hardware chain store may have launched the attack as part of a dispute the two businesses were having.

The lesson is that capitalism and the free market cannot exist without a rule of law that applied equally to all. The laws and the judicial system provide a means for entities and individuals to solve disputes peacefully. In Russia, according to the World Bank, Russia has high levels of corruption, respect for the rule of law is low, Russians have a difficult time expressing their opinions and having influence on their government, and the Russian government is unstable among less than ideal conditions for capitalism to thrive. Without the protections of the rule of law and a government whose sole role is to protect life, liberty, and property; anarchy prevails and anarchy, despite what many anarcho-capitalists would like to you to believe, usually leads to the rule of the gun where property rights are non-existant (ie. Somalia). The rule of the gun leads to tyranny as people cry for someone to restore some resemblance of order, such as the Russian people demanded Vladimir Putin restore order after the near-anarcharic rule of Boris Yeltsin. I think we can safely call Putin a dictator.

What Russia must do is combat political corruption and restore the rule of law, not the rule of a tyrant and the mafia in order to combat incidents like today’s gas attack. It also wouldn’t hurt for the Russians to develop a truly free and democratic system of government. Freedom makes people wealthier where as tyranny and anarchy keep people poorer.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.


It doesn’t matter our label or what we choose to call ourselves, but those of us who truly believe in personal freedom and responsibility – and live our lives in this way are rarely going to be victims. Sure, there are exceptions – we may at times be overcome by brute force, but anyone who thinks they’re going to rape, mutilate, or murder us will find that they’re going to have to have brute force on their side . . . ’cause we’re not going to make it easy for them to accomplish their nefarious aims.

We’re fully aware that life doesn’t happen TO us, but that things which happen in our lives are a direct result of the choices and decisions we’ve made. One of the things that has always been quietly prevalent throughout my life which makes it difficult for me to be a victim is what I call “scenarios”.

My first memory of this concept was around the time I was 12 years old. One of our neighbors who was remodeling his home was renting a house closer in to town while he made the renovations. His step-son, who was a couple years younger than I – got home one day from school to find that his step-dad dead – killed by a bullet from one of his own guns. It took years before they found the perpetrator, but I still remember vividly the call my mother got that afternoon. She was crying hysterically, and it took a bit for me to get out of her what had happened – naturally, I was afraid something had happened to my own father.

The repercussions for our family were that while my dad had had guns before (.22 rifle, shotgun) my dad acquired a .357 magnum, and immediately made sure that my mom and I knew how to handle it. Dad had given me a Daisy Red Ryder a couple years before, and I enjoyed playing with it, but this was a whole different ball game. I didn’t really like the loudness, but I was proud of the fact that I was a pretty darned good shot. At any rate, back in those days, we NEVER went anywhere without our gun along – and if my folks ever left me at home, dad would remind me “where my equalizer” was and give me a quick refresher. I think I only ever had to get the gun out one time as I answered the door (we lived out in the country and had no “peep hole”) and it turned out to be a friend, but I answered the door with the gun held out of sight in my hand as I’d been taught.

My point is, in order to teach me how to handle the gun and situations that could arise, my dad introduced to me the concept of scenarios. He didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was. He put into my mind the ideas of things that could happen and asked me to come up with how I should handle those situations. A few years later, as I became a driver and took my much younger sister out to movies and things, I would run through scenarios on my own to try to prepare myself mentally should we be accosted somewhere by someone who wanted to carjack or abduct us, and a few years later, I worked for our sheriff’s department (as a secretary in CID) and learned first hand some of the consequences of not being prepared for the worst. I took classes given through the department on self-preservation and rape prevention, but I think one of the greatest teachers I had was that of the crime reports that I typed and things I learned from them.

For a long time, I thought that I was the only one who ran “scenarios” in my mind. Then, when I met my husband, I would notice sometimes that as we were driving along somewhere, I’d look over at him and see him with his jaw set and a “don’t you mess with me” expression in his eye. Since there was nothing that I had seen to precede this behavior, and I knew he wasn’t angry with me, I finally asked him one day “what are you thinking?” when he explained to me that something that he’d seen in passing triggered his going into a daydream about a scenario and what he would do if he encountered it, I think I knew then that I’d met my prince.

Before we married, my home was broken into one day while I was at work. I arrived home, went to check the answering machine, and to my horror, it was gone. I can’t imagine that any thief today would bother with an answering machine, hehehe – but it was no laughing matter at the time. It took probably a full minute for the impact to sink in – for me to realize that my jewelry box was lying upside down on the bed, that a pillowcase was taken from the bed, etc. It was fairly obvious that my arrival home had probably scared the thief away – my VCR had been partially pulled out but not removed and screens were slit in both my kitchen window and a back door. All these years later, I still remember vividly how violated and angry I felt that some stranger had entered MY home and taken MY personal property. I felt deeply the lack of control and the powerlessness to stop what I’d not known was happening, but I quickly took action to insure that no more harm be done. I was a victim I suppose, in the the strictest sense of the word, but I wasn’t going to lie down and be victimized further.

As soon as I realized what had happened, I retrieved the small handgun that I’d had hidden and made a tour of the house – looking under the beds and in every closet, gun in hand. I then made two calls – one to my fiance and the other to the Sheriff’s department. Fortunately for me, hubby-to-be arrived first finding me standing in my driveway, gun in hand. He convinced me that it would be best to put that away and not mention it.

As sad as that was, I’m sure he was right. At that time, laws concerning handguns were more strict in Florida than they are now, and my gun could very well have been confiscated. It wasn’t, and for many years after, I carried it with me in my vehicle wherever I went. Like my dad before me, I resolved never to be caught unawares.

Things are a little different now – I’m home most of the time with my daughters – but I noticed that Daisy has brought back the “Red Ryder” again and they’re selling at our local Wal-Mart. Maybe it’s time I buy one for my gals – I’m definitely NOT raising them to become victims.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

What To Do About Iran

Iran’s Holocaust-denying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad most recent rhetoric is bring comdemnation from the Europeans. In addition, the rhetorical battle between Iran and Israel has reached new levels of belligerence. There is also the potential that Iran could develop nuclear weapons and there is the long standing ties to terrorism. The big question is what do we do about Iran?

Iran’s ties to terrorism alone make it a threat to the United States. Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, on its own does not make it threat, because it is entitled to nuclear technology for peaceful means under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. When you combine Iran’s nuclear ambitions with its ties to terrorism and rhetoric against Israel, then you have problems. The United States cannot launch a full scale invasion for the simple reason that it would be impossible to gain public support for it. That leaves one option left that is to support the Iranian resistance and its fight against the ayatollahs.

What the US needs to do is gather all opposition movements against the ayatollahs and bring them somewhere so they can set up a government and army in exile. Then, Green Berets and guns need to dropped for those in Iran who want to fight the regime. In addition, all Iranian opposition movements that are classified as terrorist organizations need to be taken off the terrorist organizations list. Finally, when the uprising does occur against the Iranian regime, the US needs to be there with air support. The policy must be regime change, but it must be the Iranians themselves who must change their regime.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Nothing More, Nothing Less

In a comment on another blog, someone said “I don’t see why people need submachine guns” and “I don’t see why anyone needs an arsenal”…

Heres the thing; you don’t need to see why someone could have “an arsenal” or a sub-machine gun, because limitations on rights aren’t about justifying why I should be able to do something, they are about you justifying why I shouldnt.

Oh and what exactly is “an arsenal” (no I dont want to get into the legal definition, I know it already, I’m talking about what the anti-gunners think an arsenal is)? One man can only shoot one gun at a time, how is it more dangerous that they have several? How is it more dangerous that someone has a lot of ammunition?

Disregarding that as the irrelevancy it is, why should a law abiding individual be treated like a criminal because his possesions could be used in an unlawful way?

The last time an automatic weapon (which is what a Sub-machine gun is) was generally avialable to the civilians outside of law enforcement was 1934. Since the passage of the National Firearms act of 1934 there have been extremely strict restrrictions as to who can buy or own an automatic weapon of any kind. ALL Firearms, from single shot to fully automatic, were restricted even further with the gun Control Act of 1968 (conventionally known as NFA and GCA’68 respectively).

Most new machine guns of any kind were banned in 1986, and the rest were banned by 1994 (actually back-banning items that were already here before ’86, but somehow missed being banned before), except for the most strictly limited purposes… or of course for the military and law enforcement.

You can still own the machine guns made before ’86, but you have to go throuh a 1 year FBI investigation and background check as well as a background check and approval from your local senior law enforcement official (police chief or sherrif generally).

Again, this is true unless you are in law enforcement. Ironically, since 1934 there has only been one murder commited with a legally owned machine gun, and it was a police officer who used a department owned weapon to kill his wife.

Stepping away from automatic weapons, the department of Justice estimates that approximately 70 million people legally own firearms in this country, out of a population of 295 million. Of those, one in 140,000 will commit a crime with that legally owned firearm.

1 in 140,000.

Almost all crimes commited with firearms are commited by prior felons who have been banned from owning firearms since 1968 federally, and in most states long before that.

Of all fatal shootings, at least 25%, and some estimate as much as 40% are one criminal killing another. Another notable statistic, 50% of all deaths from gunshot wounds are suicides (or more, considering some are reported as accidental). Further restriction of guns isn’t going to change the number of deaths here, it will jsut change the means; actually it probably wont even do that, because in many states it is FAR easier to purchase a gun illegally than legally. I can go jsut about anywhere in this country and get a gun for $100 in an hour.

Restricing legal gun ownership wont in any way change these problems; putting people who commit crimes with guns in jail will.

Justifying gun restrictions “for the greater good” is nothing but illogical rhetoric.

Thats just like saying that because 44.5% of all prisoners are black, and 28.5% of all black men in America will spend some time in prison, that black men are a menace and should be locked up.

Sure, not all black men are criminals, but given the percentage, isn’t it worth doing, for the greater good of society?

(statistics from human rights watch)

Please note again, the percentage of law abiding gun owners who commit crimes with those legally owned guns is ridiculously small. 1 in 140,000 is .0007%, and amounts to about 500 actual criminal acts performed per year with legally owned guns out of the 70 million owners of 200 million or so legally owned guns in this country.

Guns don’t make people into criminals, nor do they make them more likely to be criminals. A gun is a tool, a piece of metal, an inanimate object. Guns have no inherent danger; the danger is in the intent (or negligence) of the user.

Those who would restrict, or ban guns are simply saying that no-one but the state is responsible enough, or adult enough to own a gun. They are convinced that guns are the cause of crime, and that they must be controlled by the government. This is risible on it’s face. If you subscribe to this logic, let me point you to this:

Sensible Penis Control

What guns ARE to those who would misuse them, or who would ban them, is a symbol. To the immature and criminal, they are a symbol of power. To hoplophobes (people who are afraid of weapons), they are a symbol of hate, and fear, and evil.

But neither of these is a rational evaluation. Symbology is not reality.

Guns are tools which allow you to extend your reach and power. They allow the weak to defend themselves against the strong. They are a fine mechanical instrument, and skill in them is personally gratifying.

Used rationally, and responsibly, a gun is far less dangerous than common houshold chemicals, or your car (both of which kill far more people every year than guns do, especially if you factor out suicides, who will find a way to die whether they have a gun or not, and even more so criminals killing criminals).

People who want to ban, or restrict gun ownership are actually saying they dont believe that people are capable of being rational and responsible.

Of course they dont see it that way, they see themselves as “helping to reduce the danger”, but this is completely facetious. The danger exists in mens hearts, and minds, not in a piece of steel.

All they are doing is assuaging their emotions; fear, doubt, and irresponsibility.

Nothing more, nothing less.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Could this happen to <span style="font-style:italic;">you</span>?

The War on Drugs is reminiscent of the tyranny that our forbearers revolted against. Hyperbole? I think not. There’s a horrible miscarriage of justice, which Radly Balko summarizes this way:

Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frightened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns

out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's casino online/a> later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of viagra best price drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.

…with liberty and justice for all?

Battlepanda has a round-up of blogs—of all persuasions—that shed light on this travesty. levaquin cipro Join the chorus so maybe, just maybe, those that support the criminalization of “drugs” will see the consequences of creeping authoritarianism.


The Gadsden Flag

Gadsden Info
For the Christmas party we had over the weekend, we decided to do a gift exchange. When we had to tell everyone what we wanted several weeks ago, I explained that I wanted a Gadsden Flag for my basement. That caused quite a bit of a controversy. I did end up getting the flag, but it brought on even more comments. One of our friends (the liberal lawyer, a former libertarian) said that she thought it was the kind of thing “someone in a militia would have”. Efforts to explain that I’m not a violent person, even with uses of terms like “gentle giant”, didn’t really get across why I love this flag.

For me, the Gadsden flag elicits an emotional response. To me, the American flag is a symbol of our nation, but it’s the refined, socially acceptable version. The Gadsden flag, however, seems like a symbol of our national spirit. And it is a distinctly American symbol. The rattlesnake is ours alone. “Don’t Tread On Me” could very well be an American motto. But I take the idea of “Don’t Tread On Me” and internalize it.

It is a personal issue. Eric’s essay on the Sovereign Individual explains it very succinctly. “Don’t Tread On Me” is a personal statement. It is the statement that I truly am a sovereign individual. It is the statement that I recognize myself, not the government, as the ruling authority in my life. And that recognition extends farther. My parents are not the ruling authority, although I look up to and respect them. My wife is not the ruling authority, although I usually defer authority to her most of the time. I follow my own ethical and moral code, and I believe that I’m a generally good person in doing so. But I do so for my own self-worth, not because society, or government, or the world tells me what to do. “Don’t Tread On Me” says that if you treat me like a servant or a subject, your commands carry absolutely no weight with me.

But it serves a different purpose at the same time. It is a reminder. Every person in this world makes a choice whether to be a sovereign individual. Most of them make the negative choice, and most of them do not make that choice consciously, they adopt it as a default position. They abdicate responsibility for their own lives and their own decisions, and when something like Katrina comes along to shock them into the reality that they alone are responsible for themselves, their world crashes down around them. My new Gadsden flag is a personal symbol that I have made that choice deliberately, and made it in the affirmative. It is a symbol that will hang proudly and prominently on the wall in my basement. As much as it is a reminder to me, it is a signal to all who enter that America is more than just a nation, it is an idea.

The Price Of Regulation

Today’s Washington Times tells a story that brings home, quite literally, the costs that government regulation impose on society.

Escalating prices that have made houses unaffordable for many people in Washington are mostly the result of homeowners using political and regulatory means to block construction of new housing, economic studies show.

The so-called “slow growth” movement has been a political force in the Washington DC area for several years. For the most part, these groups characterize their efforts to limit the construction of new homes as a method to put the reins on “out of control” growth which has led, supposedly, to crowded roads, crowded schools, and crowded neighborhoods. At the same time, the costs of housing the D.C. area has soared.

Washington home prices continued to soar last month despite a slowdown in sales, with gains of 21.5 percent and 18 percent over November 2004 in the District and Montgomery County, respectively, the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors reported this week.

It now costs $618,692 to buy an average-priced home in the District, and $560,327 in Montgomery County. Prices in Northern Virginia also have maintained breathtaking heights, among the highest in the country, despite some slackening of sales.

Until now, nobody has put the two together to see that it is in fact so called “slow growth” that is causing housing to become unaffordable for a growing segment of society.

Economists increasingly are concluding that the shortage of affordable housing in Washington and other major U.S. cities on the East and West coasts is a result more of man-made restrictions on development than high construction costs or other market forces.

“It simply takes too long and is too expensive to move through the development process,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wachovia Securities, pointing at “smart growth, slow growth and no growth” movements in many of the same areas where the population and demand for housing are growing the fastest.

What many economists have been proclaiming as a “bubble” in Washington and other high-cost areas can be mostly explained by the restrictions on development, combined with a rush to homeownership by renters taking advantage of low interest rates, he said.

The effects of these policies can be seen throughout the area:

Montgomery County imposed a temporary moratorium on building this year after a controversy over a developer’s violation of height restrictions in Clarksburg.

The county already had banned most development in one-third of the jurisdiction set aside as an agricultural reserve. Under pressure from residents’ groups, it is considering further restrictions on building in the reserve by churches and nonprofit institutions.

Loudoun County, one of the fastest-growing jurisdictions in the nation, put severe restrictions on the density of housing several years ago, but some of those restrictions were overturned later by a more pro-development Board of Supervisors.

Prices are booming in the District, where federal ownership of large tracts has limited the land available for development and height restrictions imposed by Congress have been in effect for more than a century.

Prince George’s County, with much land available for development, only recently lifted a restriction against building in areas where police and fire-safety infrastructure is not able to accommodate new residents.

Even Fairfax County, which gained fame in earlier decades for free-wheeling development policies that led to rapid job growth and construction, is contending with homeowners against plans to increase the density of housing near the Vienna Metro station.

Existing homeowners, in other words, have become more politically active and have been using the power of their local governments and zoning boards to prevent developers from building new homes regardless of whether the demand exists. The result, of course, is predictable, with a decreased supply of housing, the price of that housing increases. Hence, the housing market “bubble” that everyone talks about. And, since the market is not being permitted to operate in its normal fashion, distortions are inevitable:

The resulting shortage of housing causes an escalation of prices as new residents and renters seeking to become homeowners bid up prices to purchase the few homes available. That further serves the interests of the homeowners by pushing up the value of their houses.

The result is to turn the housing market on its head, the study found. High home prices should act as an inducement for developers to build more houses, increasing supply and lowering prices. But construction rates in Washington and other high-priced cities are substantially lower than those in the interior, less-pricey areas of the country.

Its not very often that we see the cost of government regulation so easily displayed in a monetary amount. For those of us in the D.C. area, all we have to do is glance at the weekly real estate listings.

Cross-Posted at Below The Beltway

General Semantics

I suspect that many of my readers, and, indeed, many of the people I read, have never heard of Alfred Korzybski or General Semantics. I would highly recommend, before reading and commenting, that you familiarize yourself with the idea that the “map is not the territory” and the “word is not the thing”. Better yet, read some of Heinlein’s work. You can find more information at the links provided. You might also take a look at Eric Raymond’s The Utility of Mathematics for some insight into binary choice logic.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Why Does The Second Amendment Exist?

I’ll give you your first hint. Or several even. The Second Amendment does not exist so that gun collectors can buy antique muskets. Nor so that Elmer Fudd can keep on trying to bag Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. It was never contemplated so that survivalist types can stock their hideaways in the mountains of Idaho against the day that civilization breaks down and it’s kill or be killed. In fact, so long as they did not actually infringe on the right to own guns, Congress and/or state legislatures would not be doing anything unconstitutional if they were to regulate, or even prohibit, these activities.

The men who wrote the Constitution included the Second Amendment for one reason only. They even told us what that reason was when they wrote it.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

It is important, though, to understand just what James Madison, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and their fellow Revolutionaries considered to be a “militia”, in order to understand the importance of this Amendment. So, to do that, let’s review what some of them had to say.

Patrick Henry:

“O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone …” Elliot p. 3:50-53, in Virginia Ratifying Convention demanding a guarantee of the right to bear arms

“Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?”

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.”

Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Member of the First U.S. Senate.

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms…”

George Mason

“…to disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them…”

Thomas Jefferson

“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”

In fact, Patrick Henry, Richard Lee, and most other Revolutionary leaders knew full well that their revolution against British tyranny would have been impossible without the arms that nearly every colonist kept in their homes. The Second Amendment is our last, final defense against tyranny.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Natural Rights doctrine – the missing piece

Some of you remember the debate raging a while back about whether property rights are natural rights, and exactly what that means. There were a few things that just didn’t sit right with me, but I haven’t had the time to really collect my thoughts and provide the response I wanted to give, until now.

To sum up, Eric, Robert, and I argued that property rights were a natural right because they exist inherent to man’s nature, and that is why we should push them as a society. Alice and JimmyJ pointed out that whether they exist in a state of nature or not, a right is only as valid as the society surrounding it. And Dada took that line of thinking to the next level and decided that socialism is perfectly valid because a society can define rights as they wish.

The disconnect for me was that I heard what Alice and JimmyJ said, and they are correct. Once you reach the point where you have a society and government, your rights are truly only worth the ability to back them up. America is still pretty well off on that score, but societies throughout history have proved that life, liberty, or property rights are quite easily discarded by an overbearing government. We can call them “natural rights” all we want, but a natural right to life doesn’t stop a corrupt government from putting a bullet in your head. To clear up this disconnect, we need a valid reason for why a society should be set up to recognize and protect those rights. In our debate, neither myself, Eric, or Robert explained why that should be the case. And that’s unfinished business.
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Renewing The Patriot Act

Despite their faults, the ACLU is quite rightly questioning the authority of the US Government where individual liberty is concerned. Specifically, they have been relentless in their opposition to the Patriot Act, legislation that all but ignores the Fourth Amendment and the Viagra online presumption of innocence.

Under the Patriot Act, the FBI can demand the disclosure of personal records about innocent people without getting approval from a judge. Simply by issuing a National Security Letter, the FBI can force Internet service providers, universities and other institutions to turn over customer records.

Even more disturbing, anyone who receives an NSL is gagged forever from telling anyone that the FBI demanded records. Secrecy surrounding NSLs has made it difficult for the public and Congress to know just how the FBI is using its new power.

What made the Congress and Bush think that they could just dispense with due process? buy viagra online purchase Yes, we’re at war with a casino network of psychos that don’t wear uniforms, but does that mean that we, US citizens, must forfeit the constitutionally

protected right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures?

Think of the implications of such arbitrarily assumed federal power. The FBI could, after having issued an NSL, search, seize, arrest and jail one indefinitely without providing an iota of proof in open court. Joe Stalin and Saddam might approve of this, but Bush?

There may yet be hope. According to an AP story, the House and Senate are negotiating a deal that will mitigate the injustice of NSLs.

The compromise CryptoLogic Operations Ltd operates Poker as a platform subscriber of Ongame Network Ltd, a registered license-holder of the Government of Gibraltar under a license (License No. also makes changes to national security letters, an investigative tool used by the FBI to compel businesses to turn over customer information without a court order or grand jury subpoena.

Under the agreement, the reauthorization specifies that an NSL can be reviewed by a court, and explicitly allows those who receive the letters to inform their lawyers about them.

While the changes are a step in the right direction, I’m not sure that those in Washington appreciate the potential danger of such legislation. For example, “the Bush administration contends that such consultation already is allowed, citing at least two court challenges to NSLs.” Nice try, Bush, but those two court challenges were raised after you signed that piece of crap into law!

Sigh…just remember, Mr. & Mrs. America, if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear…right?


Keep Your Powder Dry

Over the years, I’ve had many dialogues with people about inherent rights and constructed rights, and why they are different. I’ve also tried to distinguish between capitalism and corporatism, and why the are different. The issue that continues to crop up is that most people, even though they have taken classes on politics in high school, and even college, appear not to have been exposed to the Enlightenment philosophies that our political system is founded, nor the Age of Reason thinking that preceded them, or the Rationalist that followed. Unfortunately, without understanding those philosophies, it is impossible to understand why the Constitution and government of the United States are constructed as they are. In the next few paragraphs I will attempt to lay out the basis for the idea of inherent rights, and how they differ from constructed rights.

Inherent rights are also known, in the Rational tradition, as negative rights, also expressed as “freedom from … “. Constructed rights are known as positive rights, also expressed as “freedom for … “. To understand why this is important, you have to start with the foundation of classic liberal philosophy, that political power originates with the individual, not with society, or anything else external to the individual. The individual also has inherent rights that exist prior to society, or outside of society. And these rights exist regardless of society. Put another way, one does not require a society for these rights to exist. And that is why we call them inherent. Two are easy to understand, life and liberty. Obviously, whether society exists, or not, you, the individual have life, which confers on you the right to live and defend your life. Liberty is also clear and logically obvious. Without society you are, in fact, free to do as you choose. Thus, you have a right to your liberty, although you may agree to some limitation on that right in order to gain other things of value to you. Property though, that is harder to argue. And it is often the point where folks get hung up. Most left wing political philosophies do not agree that individuals have the right to property, or take the position that their right to property is very limited, stems from society or the state and is essentially a state of renting the property, rather than having a right to it.

Here’s how we establish what inherent rights exist. Let’s suppose I live alone on this deserted island. And suppose that, during my time alone, I build a house, plant crops, cultivate a front yard, etc. Now, suppose that you show up on the island and decide that you should be able to live in the house that I built. Should you be able to whether I want you to, or not? Or, have I, in fact, by improving the land and constructing a dwelling established it as my property? And, if you try to move in without my say so, will I defend the house and land that I have improved and cultivated? Should I be able to, or do you have some right to that land regardless of my situation?

The basis of modern property law is to protect this “natural”, pre-society ownership and to leave you and I free to do more than simply defend our property from those who would take advantage of our work to improve our land. In fact, American law encapsulated this very idea with the Homestead Act. The Homestead Act was one of the few times a government actually explicitly captured the idea of this right within a law. The reason that it did happen is that the United States is one of the only countries ever founded upon classic liberal philosophy. Since most governments in history have existed based on the belief that political power originates with an elite of some sort, this isn’t really unusual. The reality, if you explore the idea logically, is that governments were either established to continue an elite in power (the successful conqueror theory of government) or to protect a group of people from the successful conqueror. This is fairly logical, if you stop and think about why and how humans would have banded together in groups, created rules (laws) of behavior and set up certain people to make decisions. In fact, even in the successful conqueror group it seems logically obvious that, by and large, the followers of the original leader would have chosen to follow him (perhaps not all, but many) because he would provide them with better protection of their own right to life, liberty and property, even if that would mean infringing on the rights of others who were outside the group.

Going back to our argument that inherent rights exist in a natural state, or prior to society, it becomes clear that in a natural state constructed rights don’t exist. You don’t have an inherent right to healthcare. Healthcare doesn’t exist without society. If you live on a deserted island, all by yourself, there is no healthcare, nor can you establish it, as you could establish ownership of your property. Healthcare is a “right”, constructed by society. Normally we call things like this privileges, except in our new political philosophy, the so-called neo-liberalism (that’s what democratic socialism in the USA was called in the 1930’s by the way), privileges are now considered rights. It’s as if we have removed the idea that some things exist with or without society and some things can only exist with a structured society. We, in this country, have lived in a state where our inherent rights are not threatened by the infringing activity of a conqueror for so long that we have forgotten that such a thing can be. And now we decide that privileges are rights. Yet, if this comes to pass, we will soon remember the truth of the proposition. Most of us who have grown fat, dumb and lazy will learn the lesson the hard way that constructed rights are privileges of a rich society and inherent rights must be defended by force to be kept. The law of the jungle rules mankind, there is no getting around it. We have constructed, for a short time, in this limited place, a society where the jungle rules are kept at bay, but this will not last. And when it ends, whether tomorrow or a century, or 5 centuries (but end it will, never doubt that) you had better keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your powder dry.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

A citizen, or a Subject?

What is the difference between a citizen, and a subject?

Very simple. A citizen has rights, a subject has priviliges.

Some believe that one can be free in a monarchy, if the laws are structured properly. That in fact, their societies can be more free than more democratic ones, because the head of state can overrule any law that would violate the freedoms of the peope.

Others believe that since no government, no matter how it is structured, can be depended upon to not vote itself more power, more money, and more control; that anarchy is the solution, and in fact only under anarchy can people be free.

I have to make clear, both of these thoughts are entirely mistaken.

There is no monarchy, even a constitutional monarchy, where the people are truly free. It comes down to the difference between a citizen, and a subject.

There is no way that anarchy can exist without the weak becoming subject to the strong.

It is as citizens, participating in a free state, where we are subject to none but ourselves, but where we are citizens bound by justifiable laws, that we are most free as a people.

As individuals we may be more free under anarchy for a time, but as a people, the strong will dominate the weak, and our society as a whole will suffer for it, as will each individual member within it eventually; But that’s a second order effect that anarchists dont tend to see. They don’t follow their argument to its eventual end.

It all comes down to the difference between a citizen, and a subject.

Even though our government has overreached greatly, and grown into the monster it is today, we are still at core free men, different from almost all others in this world.

Taking as an examle Britain; as a subject of the queen, technically speaking you don’t have any rights, you have whatever priviliges the queen allows you.

Though the royals haven’t ruled that way since the early 19th century, and their absolute control was curtailed by the manga carta, and again after the failed republic (and the somewhat disastrous but thankfully short Stewart restoration) the freedoms of the British peoples are entirely a matter of tradition, not of law.

Britain is often referred to as a constitutional monarchy, but this isn’t actually true. There is no written guarantee of either the limitation or structure of government, nor of the rights of the people.

Britain is governed according to the principle of common law, where tradition and precedent are the primary means of enforcing structure and shaping legislation; but that’s all there is. The only real limitations as to what parliamant can or cannot do are tradition, prior acts of parliament (which can always be changed or repealed), or the will of the crown.

Americas governmental structure is radically different. In America we have a constituiton which defines the form, and structure of our government, and very stricly limits how that government can restrict our liberty as free men. The constitution iteslf makes explicitly clear that the governments powers are limited, and that power rests in the people.

We are not subject to anything, or anyone but ourselves, as free sovreign men.

As free men, we have no obligation to comply with laws, or regulations that are unconstitutional.

Sure, there are situations where folks disagree(or pretend to disagree) about what the constitution says, or how it says it, or what it means. Here’s the thing: Nuance and subtelty are not in the language of the constitution.

Let me say this again, there is no nuance in the language of constitution. If you think there is read the federalist papers for reinforcement. The constitution was written quite painly. There is without a doubt both subtle and profound genius in the concepts of the constituiton, but it’s only because it is written in 18th century high cant that anyone can legitmately see any ambiguity. Again read up, you’ll figure it out.

Of course lots of folks pretend, or convince themselves there’s real ambiguity, but they are either mistaken or they are lying.

Oh and the spot in the constitution that says we shouldn’t follow any laws that are not explicitly authorized by the constitution?

Well you can’t get more explicit than the 10th amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Not surprisingly, that ones not too popular among legislators, liberals, or far right conservatives, because it very clearly states they arent allowed to make any law they want to.

The government cannot under any circumstances make law that is unconstitutional. If they do so that law is not legal, valid, or binding.

In most countries, you are only alllowed to do what the government lets you. Almost all countries in the world other than the U.S. are like this (even Australia, the second freest country in the world).

In America we can do anything we like, so long as it is not specifically limited by the government, and the government can only restrict us in ways that are in the constitution. Thats a pretty radical concept, and when it was first instituted, it had never been tried before. In fact everyone predicted it would fail quite spectacularly. Instead, some 230 years later (I’m from Boston, we remember the revolution started on April 19th 1775, not july 4th 1776), we have the most stable and long lasting government since the roman empire.

Of course the government has taken upon itself to intrude, and to regulate far more than the constitution explicitly allows, both for good and for ill.

The vast majority of federal law and regulations flow from a few basic statements in the constitution, which I’ll paraphrase here: The federal government has the authority to promote the general welfare, secure the peace, negotiate with foreign powers, make war, ensure the full faith and credit of articles (licenses, marriages etc…) between the states, to resolve disputes between the states, and to promote and regulate interstate commerce.

The problem lies with that last one, promoting and regulating interstate commerce. It’s a pretty vague clause, ad it can (and has) be stretched to encompass almost anything. This isn’t really in the constitution as such, but if a judge allows it…

As our government was concieved, the states were for most purposes their own independant entities. The states had all the power to tax, and control of all laws and jurisdictions within their states, except in matters that would conflict with other states, or with the consitution. The federal government had EXTREMELY limited power and authority.

Even up until the early 20th century, the average citizen in America would have no contact or interaction with the federal governement in any way their entire lives, except perhaps through the military, or during wartime.

Then, as a result of the growing tensions between the states, and several wars, there were a series of rulings by the supreme court in the 19th and through the early 20th centuries that were very questionable as to their constitutionality, but very clear in their intent to grant the federal governement ever increasing authority and control.

During and just after the civil war the president and the out of control congress did many things that were blatantly unconstitutional. They also packed the supreme court with justices that would allow them to do so, or simply igonored, or didn’t allow to go to court, issues they didnt like. After restoration things calmed down significantly (though not back to where they were before).

It wasnt until World War 1 that the federal government layed any sort of regular permanent tax on citizens. In fact their authority to lay this tax was successfully challenged (several times), and they had to pass a constitutional amendment to get the right to re-instutute it.

The last straw as it were for our original intended system of federal government was Franklin Roosevelt, who used the circumstances of the great depression to multiply the size, and power of the government by quite literally a factor of 10. Before 1934 most people never heard or saw the feds in their entire lives, afterwards, the feds became the dominant force of government eventually relegating the states to near irrelevance.

This continued apace through the second world war, then Korea, and into the 60’s; until by the time Lyndon Johnson was done, the federal government was over 20 times the size it had been before 1934, for a less than doubled population. In this time frame the number of federal laws and regulations expanded to over 1000 times it’s original size.

Almost all of these things were in fact unconstitutional, but they were done while the country was reeling through 40 years of continuous crises; from the great depression through the cold war. Anyone who challenged the government during this time was totally marginalized as a cook, or their point was acknowledged and ignored because “these things have to be done for < -- insert crisis of the day here -->“.

By the time anyone thought to mount serious challenges, there was a huge bulwark of time and precedent surrounding the changes, and we’ve been trying to chip it down ever since. Anyone who has protested too vigourously has been declared crazy, made illegal, harrased, or even been killed (Randy Weaver was a racist POS, but he was deiberately targetd for being anti-government, and what they did to his family is wrong in every way).

Meanwhile the sheep continue to munch away; but even with all this intrustion, we are still free men, subject to none but ourselves.

A very graphic, and simple illustration of the structural differences between America and Great Britain, and what that means, to be free, and not be a subject:

In America all elected officials, and all military officers and enlisted men swear an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States. They do not swear to the president, or even to the constitution. They swear, to THEMSELVES, and to their fellow men, that they will uphold the code that is the constitution.

In Great Britain elected officials and military officers serve at the pleasure of her majesty, and officers commisions are granted by her majesty. Each man swears his oath to the sovreign, who he is subject to. He is not a free man, but a subject.

All prison sentences and court decisions are at her majesties pleasure as well. The final recourse of justice is in all cases a petition of right, which supercedes all courts, where one directly appeals to her majesty for a decision, and that decision has the force of law.

So heres where we stand. The British, most liberals, anarchists, and some conservatives seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding, and make some improper assumptions about American government.

The Britsh are subjects. They have been raised as subjects, and do not percieve how any government can be any other way. They are bewildered by our talk of unconstitutional law, and limitation of government, or of the thought of disobeying the law not being wrong, or not being a crime.

So are many liberals. They have the mentality of subjects.

Anarchists belive that one cannot have any government without being a subject.

We are not subjects, we are citizens. We do not have prviliges granted us by the government, we have rights inherent to our nature as men.

A subject is required to obey all laws propagated by those he is subject to. A citizen is able, and perhaps morally required to disobey, and in fact to actively resist all laws that infringe against his fundamental rights.

A subject is raised to believe that government is ultimately in power. A citizen knows that it is himself, and his fellow men who are in power, and he is answerable to none but his own soul.

Liberals want us all to be subjects. I wish to remain a citizen, and I will die before I am made a subject.

From the declaration of independance:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Clark Foam vs. the EPA

I’m writing today about a situation that I just learned of which hits pretty close to home for us. Some of you may have realized from my writings that my husband is a surfer (has been since the 60’s) and it has played a rather large role in our life – we host a website dedicated to local surfers where we post pictures of them that we have caught at local surf spots. My hubby along with a number of his friends have made several surfboards – both for themselves and others.

It came to my attention last night that Clark Foam, the producer of 90% of the polyurethane surfboard blanks used world-wide has been closed down by the 9th District of the EPA for a two-week period while they investigate the factory which they believe does not meet industry standards. At issue is the chemical toluene diioscyanate commonly known as TDI along with the fact that the technology inside the factory was designed and built by Gordon “Grubby” Clark in the 60’s.

In a fax which Clark sent out to shapers on Monday afternoon, he says that the citation issued him by the EPA could mean prison time for him or the fining of an “astronomical” amount of money. He also apologised to customers and employees saying “I should have seen this coming many years sooner and closed in a slower, more predictable manner . . . I waited far too long, being optimistic rather than realistic.”

And, frankly, the research that I’ve done overnight on my own, I can understand why he would be optimistic. According to the EPA website, research on toluene diioscyanate has been rather inconclusive – a number of studies have been done over five-year periods and while it has been shown that inhaling TDI is a bad thing (that’s why they wear respirators, yanno?) the only link to increased cancer that has been shown was when they put to substance into the stomachs of rats! TDI is not only found in the manufacture of surfboard blanks, but also in sealants, adhesives, carpets, furniture, etc. – probably in items found in every home in the world!

So it seems to me that Gordon Clark’s only crime is one of naivete – most other companies using this chemical have already left California, where, by the way, simultaneously with the Federal EPA implementing a slightly weaker version of California’s existing anti-TDI law in 1999, California itself actually instituted stronger laws against its use.

The outcome of this investigation could potentially have a devastating effect, at least in the short term, on the surf industry. Yes, there are other ways to make boards. (Polystyrene, epoxy, etc.) Yes, others will move in to take up some of the slack – but in the short term, at least, there are going to be jobs lost, manufacturers of boards who have to lay off employees, and prices of surfboards will definitely increase. I’ve already heard some rumbling in the surf community (not known for their conservative views in general) that “he shoulda known better” or “he coulda switched to a less harmful way of manufacture – it wouldn’t cost that much” but to those folks I just say get real – if it could have been done better, cheaper, smarter – why did he end up with such a corner on the market? Seems to me it would be a real feather in the cap of a new manufacturer to be able to say that they had a safer way to produce a polyurethane blank.

My heart, personally, breaks for Gordon Clark, his employees, and the shapers, manufacturers, hobbiests, etc. who are losing a great resource. While most homes in America may not have a surfboard among their prized possessions, of those of us who do – Clark Foam has had a solid reputation for almost 45 years.

In a letter of allocation placed on the web for their customers, I think Matthew Weaver of Fiberglass Supply sums it up best:

It behooves all involved to take some time to reflect on what is happening to Clark Foam, and what is happening here in the United States. We need to be concerned about the future viability of manufacturing in the U.S. especially in regards to small businesses and the regulatory burdens placed on them. We need to become educated in the issues and facts. Then we must act. Write letters to your legislators and become involved in local area politics and organizations.

While my own family doesn’t rely on Clark Foam for our livelihood, I’ve never felt a governmental burden hit more close to home – and I’m afraid we may have reached the end of an era.

Update – Quotes from the EPA and local officials are coming out now, saying they did not force Clark Foam’s Closure. But I think Clark himself spells out pretty clearly what has happened:

“Meeting increasingly stringent environmental regulations would cost millions of dollars.”

“The way the government goes after places like Clark Foam is by an accumulation of laws, regulations, and subjective decisions they are allowed to use to express their intent. Essentially they remove your security, increase your risk or liability, and increase your costs.”

“They simply grind away until you either quit or they find methods of bringing serious charges or fines that force you to close,” Clark wrote.

Cross-posted at Left Brain Female

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

Insufficient capacity for ridicule

I just recieved this via corporate global email from a company I’m contracting for:

“In an effort to address escalating air quality issues, the Arizona State Legislature passed a law requiring all major employers within Maricopa County to reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles traveling to the workplace by ten percent. {insert company name here}, a Scottsdale-based corporation, is required to fully comply with this legislation.

In support of this initiative, Maricopa County is issuing a confidential survey regarding employee commuter habits and preferences. As part of the overarching legislative mandate, {insert company name here} is required to capture a 60% response rates to the surveys.”

I see… and a local community government has the power to do this how? Precisely what grants them this authority? They will be enforcing it how? A state government even?

Honestly, can you imagine a government in this country seriously thinking they can do this?

Well no, that’s wrong, I can imagine they DO think they have that power, along with thinking that they can push back the tides, and legislate how much sunshine each square yard should recieve… but as to actually doing it…

I have suddenly discovered I lack the capacity to ridicule this sufficiently. I can of course do my best, but it simply isn’t enough.

Perhaps I should forward this to Misha and Kim and look out for explosions to my east…

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Carnival of Liberty XXIII

Carnival of Liberty XXIII is up at Below the Beltway. There is, as always, a bunch of really great posts on the topic. In reading through it so far, I’ve already discovered some great posts from folks such as Coyote Blog and Eidelblog. I know there’s a lot more great stuff, I just haven’t had time to read all of it yet. Head over and check it out.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Why We Are Not Conservatives

Libertarians are often lumped into the same camp as conservatives and it usually takes alot of explaining to the uninitiated before they completely understand the differences. I was reminded of those differences this morning when I read this piece on Hit & Run that contained the following quote from Robert Bork:

“Liberty in America can be enhanced by reinstating, legislatively, restraints upon the direction of our culture and morality,” writes the former appeals court judge, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Censorship as an enhancement of our liberty may seem paradoxical. Yet it should be obvious, to all but the most dogmatic First Amendment absolutists, that people forced to live in an increasingly brutalized culture are, in a very real sense, not wholly free.” Bork goes on to complain that “relations between the sexes are debased by pornography”; that “large parts of television are unwatchable”; that “motion pictures rely upon sex, gore, and pyrotechnics for the edification of the target audience of 14-year-olds”; and that “popular music hardly deserves the name of music.”

Bork’s logic is strangely Orwellian. By restraining you, we will make you more free. Of course, by free we mean free to make only the choices that we approve of. This is the difference between conservatives and libertarians. Libertarians are content to let people live their lives as they see fit, to watch the television shows they want to watch and listen to the music they enjoy, without getting the state involved. Conservatives, bound as they are by the chains of tradition, talk as though they believe in freedom, but it is the freedom to only make a limited set of choices.

I remember back in 1986 I was upset that Bork was not confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court. After reading quotes like the one above, I am glad that he wasn’t.

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