Monthly Archives: October 2008

Is It All Alexander Hamilton’s Fault

Thomas DiLorenzo of The Ludwig von Mises Institute and author of the forthcoming book Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution–and What It Means for Americans Today appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss both his upcoming book and what’s wrong with the banking system in the United States:

An interesting hypotheses to say the least.

Why Libertarians Should Vote: Threats to Liberty from the Left and the Right on the Colorado Ballot (Part 2 of 3)

Cont’d from Part 1

What motivates these very nice people to be such tyrants? Some will vote in ignorance of the issue* and others out of a sense of ‘social justice.’ Very few will intentionally vote to take liberty or property from a fellow citizen; most will vote to do so out of a well intentioned but misguided sense of right and wrong.

The Colorado ballot contains 18 ballot measures, most of which are proposed amendments to the state’s constitution. About half of these measures would restrict liberty, increase taxes, or otherwise punish individuals for activities which ought not to be a crime in a free state or country.

Threats to Liberty from the Left

Union backed amendments 53, 55, 56, and 57 are all very hostile to business. Amendment 53 targets business executives for criminal liability (as if business executives are not already criminally liable for committing crimes), 55 would change Colorado from a “right to work state” to a “just cause state,” 56 requires employers with 20 employees or more to provide health coverage for employees and their dependants, and 57 would put employers at greater liability than the existing workman’s comp laws.

All of these amendments would make Colorado a less attractive place to do business and would likely mean fewer decent paying jobs. Like most populist proposals, the people who the advocates of these measures are trying to help would be hurt the most.

Amendments 51, 58, and 59 concern taxation. Amendment 51 would increase the sales tax to fund programs for the developmentally disabled, 58 directly taxes the oil and gas industry (Coloradans who wish to pay more for gas should support this measure), and 59 redirects funds which under current law are rebated to taxpayers under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) to an education savings fund.

Given governments’ track record of mismanaging taxpayer money (especially given what’s going on in Washington), I am in no mood to pay additional taxes or allow the government at any level to keep more no matter what the reason.

Threats to Liberty from the Right

While many of the ballot measures are economically on the Left, at least one is socially conservative. Amendment 48, the so-called “personhood” amendment would amend the Colorado Constitution to define all fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses as people complete with all legal rights associated with being a person. Clearly, this amendment is an attempt to ban abortion in the state of Colorado. Inevitably, if 48 is passed, there will be legal challenges which 48’s proponents hope would ultimately lead to overturning Roe v. Wade.

Amendment 48 makes no exceptions for rape** or incest. While there is an exception for abortion in the event that the life of the mother is threatened, opponents of 48 believe that doctors would put women at unnecessary mortal risk out of fear of being prosecuted for murdering the unborn. Because a fertilized egg would have the same legal rights as a person, a woman and her doctor could face life imprisonment and even the death penalty (someone explain to me how this is “pro-life”!).

Opponents of 48 also fear that doctors would be compelled to violate doctor/patient confidentiality as they may be required to report miscarriages to the authorities if s/he has the slightest suspicion that the miscarriage was caused intentionally***.

Giving fertilized eggs a definition of personhood would also:

– Ban commonly used birth control such as the birth control pill and the morning after pill
– Ban embryonic stem cell research (both public and private)
– Raise additional legal reproductive rights questions on issues with regard to artificial insemination

Despite what both pro-lifers and pro-choicers say, the abortion issue is very complex and there is plenty of room for debate on the merits of this issue among libertarians. What I would hope abortion foes would realize is that this measure has implications far beyond a legal prohibition of abortion.

NEXT: Why Libertarians Should Vote: Restoring Liberty via the Ballot Box (Part 3 of 3)

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Why Libertarians Should Vote: Meet the Tyrants Next Door (Part 1 of 3)

Let’s face it: no matter who you vote for president in this election, it is highly unlikely that your vote will be decisive. It does not matter how much time you invest studying each candidate, the votes cast by those who do not make an effort to inform themselves will count the same. The good news is that the movie Swing Vote is fiction and the ’08 presidential election will not be decided by Bud Johnson.

When put in this perspective, some argue that not dedicating the time and energy to make an informed voting decision for president is rational ignorance (my vote isn’t going to be decisive so why bother?).

If this is the case, why even bother voting at all?

The reason for going through the hassle of filling out a ballot is very, very, simple: there is so much more to this election than choosing the next president. While your vote for president will be negligible, your votes for your next U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, State Representative, State Senator, Governor, etc. by comparison will not. Perhaps the best argument for voting: ballot measures.

Perhaps the greatest threat to our freedom is neither John McCain nor Barack Obama but the tyrants next door. Don’t get me wrong, your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members in your daily life are probably very nice people. But grant these same very nice people the power to use the police power of government to impose their collective will to plunder the pockets of others or to prohibit activities they happen to disagree with, these same very nice people can be every bit the threat to life, liberty, or property as the most Machiavellian politician.

NEXT: Why Libertarians Should Vote: Threats to Liberty from the Left and the Right on the Colorado Ballot (Part 2 of 3)

A Review of ‘Little Brother’ by Cory Doctorow

The always thought provoking Cory Doctorow has a new book out, Little Brother.  I highly recommend it, even though I think he is very wrong on numerous points.  You can download it for free at the link above.

It is very difficult to write a political novel.  I should know, I’ve started 3 or 4 of them, and they all turned out badly.  When the author is convinced that he is right, the protagonists tend to preach at each other, and the antagonists tend to sound like evil simpletons.  In Little Brother, Mr Doctorow has managed to avoid the former pitfall, while falling deeply into the latter.    While the central theme of the book is interesting, there are several improbable plot twists, a deficiency of analysis, and a deus ex machina ending.  Thus, while I think everyone should read this book, and will actually enjoy it, it will not be the classic that, say 1984 would be.  I will, however, be giving it to my children when they are old enough to understand it.

What follows is chock full of spoilers.  Please stop reading here if you wish to keep the ending a surprise. » Read more

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Hopefully, This Is Just The Beginning

Well, it’s been quite a week.

On Monday, the voices of those opposed to further government intervention in the economy scored a surprising victory when the House of Representatives voted the proposal down.

That victory was short-lived, however, because only two days later the Senate, after adding a bunch of pork to the House’s crap sandwich, overwhelmingly passed the bill and told us that we were just too dumb to understand what was necessary. Then today, the Paulson-Bernake Bailout passed the House on the second try thanks to 26 Republicans and 32 Democrats who managed to change their mind in four days, and President Bush signed it into law before the ink had dried on the paper.

It’s pretty easy to be pessmisstic at the outcome, but Leslie Carbone thinks there’s reason to take heart:

For four days, we held Leviathan off. Against an Administration that prizes cronyism over competency and stampedes over dissenters, against the inclination of politicians to slurp up power like chocolate milkshakes, against a Wall-Street lobby that has tons of money to buy pols and ads to proclaim its dire financial straits, we held Leviathan off. Against all the doomsday talk, the cynical appeals to the greed, laziness, and irresponsibility that beset human nature, and the knee-jerk reflex to do something, anything, no matter how bad, we held Leviathan off.

We flooded Congress with calls and emails. We raised free-market objections and alternatives. We called for government to uphold the natural justice that rewards virtue and punishes vice.

If you voiced your opposition to this bail-out to your Senators and Representative, in a blog post or a letter to the editor or a call to a talk-radio show, or in a conversation with a friend or family member, you are part of a historic effort, an effort to throw off the soft tyranny of federal molly-coddling.

Every movement to cast off the yoke of tyranny has started with a small group of dedicated believers who fought their way through tremendous early discouragements.

So is this the beginning of something ? I certainly hope so. It’s certainly a sign that the public doesn’t buy in to the idea that the government exists to solve everyone’s problems. That alone is reason for optimism.

John Shadegg Wobbles On The Bailout Bill

One of most prominent no votes against the Paulson-Bernake bailout bill on Monday came from John Shadegg of Arizona, who is number 5 in the House Republican leadership.

Now, it appears that Shadegg has caved and will vote yes on the bill later today:

Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) signaled Wednesday that changes being discussed for the Wall Street bailout could prompt him to change his vote and support it.

Shadegg, interviewed on Arizona radio station KTAR, said raising the FDIC insurance cap from $100,000 to $250,000 and suspending the SEC’s mark-to-market accounting rules would likely win his vote. “If they make both of those changes, I’d be inclined to vote for the bill, assuming there have not been any bad things added to it,” he said.

The switch would be a major boost for Republican leaders — Shadegg is a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the conservative wing of the conference that helped sink the bill on Monday when 81 of its 106 members voted against it.

In the interview, Shadegg said he is “highly optimistic” the package will pass on its second try this week.

To say the least, this is disappointing.

Shadegg is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Republican Liberty Caucus, which has come out against the bill, and has, until now, been one of the few members of the House Republican leadership to sound a clear and consistent voice for the free market and individual liberty.

If there’s any chance that Shadegg can be persuaded to stick to his original vote, now is the time to tell him to do it. If you live in his district, or even if you don’t, call his office at (202) 225-3361 and tell him to vote “No” for the Crap Sandwich with Pork bailout.

Off Topic — New Snack Treat Becomes Available

Hey, folks, as most of you know (or can tell), there are no ads on this site. It’s not something that we as contributors are expecting to make income from, and in all honesty, I want it to remain as non-commercial as possible.

However, my wife and her sister have just launched a brand new business, and I wanted to give them some publicity. They sell nationwide, and I know we have a decent readership from all across the nation. I’m posting it here and hope you enjoy it, but rest assured, this is not going to become a regular occurrence here. Without further ado, I give you:

Krispy Dips!

I’ll let their description cover it for you:

A Krispy Dip is the grown-up version of the crispy marshmallow treat you loved as a kid.

We start with our signature recipe for the original “Krispy” square made from real imported Madagascar vanilla, creamery butter and the gooiest marshmallows we could find. Each hand-crafted square is then dipped in the finest chocolate and topped with an array of decadent toppings including rich caramel, real espresso beans, sweet coconut and roasted nuts.

Customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance to us. Every order is dipped then shipped to ensure quality and freshness. We are dedicated to providing a superior product that you will come back to again and again. So come dip into delicious!

They’ve worked very hard to create a truly unique and elegant product. For those of you looking for new gift ideas for friends and family over the holidays, you won’t be disappointed. And for anyone who either owns a small business or sends out corporate gifts to thank important clients, they can customize the packaging to give it the personal touch. They’ve already been involved in a wedding, a baby shower, have provided Dips for an LA Dodgers function, and will be doing a major function later this month with another SoCal sports team. For SoCal residents, they’re working towards entry into local gourmet markets.

And last, but most certainly not least, they taste great. If anyone happens to be a fan of dark chocolate and espresso, the espresso bean flavor is my favorite. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and that one blows me away!

So head on over and give it a look. It truly is a new and refined twist on a familiar treat, and it’s sure to please!

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled programming…

Quote Of The Day 2 — Nobody Cares What You Think

Yes, Doug already posted one quote of the day, and I’d usually want to push this one off until tomorrow. But this one from Tim Cavanaugh at Reason is just too good.

The topic is the bailout. The implications are far wider:

The bright spot in the bailout argument is that the public—as it does with so much of what the government provides these days—seems to be spurning the offer. But if one pattern has become well established in 2008 economics, it’s that nobody who matters cares what the public wants.

(emphasis added)

That’s the general rule of politics these days, and what everyone in this country seems to be missing. You can call your congressmen, you can vote, you can do whatever you desire. But regardless of what you do, the show will go on. There’s far too much power and money at stake for them to care what you think.

Quote Of The Day

From the Cato Institute’s Daniel Mitchell:

If investors put money into a well-run company, they can increase their wealth. But if they put their money into a poorly run firm, the opposite can happen. In other words, market forces encourage people to make smart decisions so they can prosper. But it is equally important that people bear the consequences when they make wrong choices. Capitalism without bankruptcy (or losses) is like religion without Hell.

Question Of The Day

Which provision of the Constitution, propertly construed, authorized the Federal Government to do this:

WASHINGTON — Congress has passed legislation that will require the government to keep closer tabs on who has access to the Internet and who does not.

Supporters hope the Broadband Data Improvement Act will help policymakers better identify areas of the country that are falling behind when it comes to high-speed Internet access.

The bill passed both houses of Congress, with the Senate approving a final version Tuesday on a voice vote.

Senate sponsor Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said the federal government has a responsibility to make sure Americans have access to the Internet, but “we cannot manage what we do not measure.”

The Federal Communications Commission collects data on broadband use, but its methods have been criticized as outdated. The commission voted in March to greatly improve its data collection. Broadband providers will be required to provide subscription numbers by Census tract, speed and type of technology.

The legislation passed by Congress goes further. It requires the FCC to conduct consumer surveys of broadband use in urban, suburban and rural areas, as well as large and small business markets. Survey questions will include the cost of access and data transmission speeds.

The legislation requires the agency to compile a list of locales that lack broadband service and determine population and income levels in those areas.

Yea, I can’t find it either.

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