Monthly Archives: May 2009

Socially conservative sickos

It’s no secret that I harbor no love for the sorts of extreme social conservatives who’d like to shove their religious views up some orifice of mine, but social conservatives rejoicing about the murder of Dr. George Tiller take things to a new low. For those not aware, Tiller performed abortions and was shot at church in front of his wife.

Like cockroaches, “compassionate conservatives” are scurrying out from the cracks and crevices to celebrate this death. Balloon Juice is keeping track of the pro-murder statements over at Free Republic.

At The Next Right, diarist DebraJMSmith entitles her gloating rant: “Abortionist, George Tiller, Shot Dead!” (Update: This post has now been removed from the site)

“And I do not feel sorry for a family who loved a murderer,” she writes. “And I sure do NOT feel sorry for a church that had no problem allowing a murderer to attend.”

It’s to be noted that she also posts Alabama Judge Roy Moore’s poetry on her personal site. Moore recently had to distance himself from a supporter who wrote:

“We must clean up our education system which is indoctrinating our children through a multicultural mix of communism, Islam, New Age and anything that goes, except Christianity, which is now being portrayed as the enemy. Our forefathers founded America on God and his word. The enemy is now taking it away, but he can do it only if we remain apathetic and refuse to listen and act on the truth.”

Of course, Moore attracts supporters such as these when he writes legal opinions like this (emphasis added):

To disfavor practicing homosexuals in custody matters is not invidious discrimination, nor is it legislating personal morality. On the contrary, disfavoring practicing homosexuals in custody matters promotes the general welfare of the people of our State in accordance with our law, which is the duty of its public servants… The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle… Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it. That is enough under the law to allow a court to consider such activity harmful to a child. To declare that homosexuality is harmful is not to make new law but to reaffirm the old; to say that it is not harmful is to experiment with people’s lives, particularly the lives of children.

One wonders how many more Roy Moore supporters will be celebrating the Tiller’s murder in public.  Certainly, a lot more of them will be celebrating in the closet. And Republicans can’t figure out why they are losing elections.

UPDATE: Here is some related sickness on Twitter.

Liberty Rock Friday: Hook in Mouth by Megadeth

md

Megadeth
Hook in Mouth
So Far, So Good, So What! (1988)

Music by D. Mustaine/D. Ellefson, Lyrics by D. Mustaine)

A cockroach in the concrete, courthouse tan and beady eyes.
A slouch with fallen arches, purging truths into great lies.
A little man with a big eraser, changing history
Procedures that hes programmed to, all he hears and sees.

Altering the facts and figures, events and every issue.
Make a person disappear, and no one will ever miss you.

Rewrites every story, every poem that ever was.
Eliminates incompetence, and those who break the laws.
Follow the instructions of the new ways evil book of rules.
Replacing rights with wrongs, the files and records in the schools.

You say youve got the answers, well who asked you anyway?
Ever think maybe it was meant to be this way?
Dont try to fool us, we know the worst is yet to come.
I believe my kingdom will come.

Chorus
F is for fighting, R is for red,
Ancestors blood in battles theyve shed.
E, we elect them, E, we eject them,
In the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
D, for your dying, O, your overture,
M, they will cover your grave with manure.
This spells out freedom, it means nothing to me,
As long as theres a P.M.R.C.

F is for fighting, R is for red,
Ancestors blood in battles theyve shed.
E, we elect them, E, we eject them,
In the land of the free and the home of the brave.
D, for your dying, O, your overture,
M is for money and you know what that cures.
This spells out freedom, it means nothing to me,
As long as theres a P.M.R.C.

Put your hand right up my shirt,
Pull the strings that make me work,
Jaws will part, words fall out,
Like a fish with hook in mouth.

Rewrites every story, every poem that ever was.
Eliminates incompetence, and those who break the laws.
Follow the instructions of the new ways evil book of rules.
Replacing rights with wrongs, the files and records in the schools.

Im not a fish
Im a man

Hook
In
Mouth

Does Sonia Sotomayor Believe that Some Individuals are More Equal than Others?

Perhaps we could chalk up President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s racially charged statement as a Bidenesque blunder if she had not made rulings as a judge which suggests that she does believe that some individuals are more equal than others. Ricci v. DeStefano is a case-in-point. Sotomayor joined the Second Circuit’s majority which concluded that Frank Ricci (a dyslexic white male) was not a victim of discrimination by the City of New Haven.

From Ricci v. DeStefano, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

“We affirm, substantially for the reasons stated in the thorough, thoughtful, and well-reasoned opinion of the court below. In this case, the Civil Service Board found itself in the unfortunate position of having no good alternatives. We are not unsympathetic to the plaintiffs’ expression of frustration. Mr. Ricci, for example, who is dyslexic, made intensive efforts that appear to have resulted in his scoring highly on one of the exams, only to have it invalidated. But it simply does not follow that he has a viable Title VII claim. To the contrary, because the Board, in refusing to validate the exams, was simply trying to fulfill its obligations under Title VII when confronted with test results that had a disproportionate racial impact, its actions were protected.”

Dissenting Judge Jose A. Cabranes (appointed by President Bill Clinton for what its worth) criticized the majority for failing to address the complex legal issues surrounding racial quotas in a meaningful way stating that the issues raised by Ricci were “far from well-settled.”

So where does this leave Sotomayor on Obama’s empathy test? Where is her empathy for a man, Mr. Ricci, who overcame his disabilities to pass the test which others (who did not have a disability) failed? Might Sotomayor ruled differently if the races were reversed? These are questions which deserve serious answers.

Fortunately for Mr. Ricci, his case will be decided by a Supreme Court which does not include Sonia Sotomayor among the Justices.

Security Theatre Of The Absurd

Hey Cougars? Want to flash those pearly whites and shiny disposition when that mid-20’s waiter flatters you by asking for your ID at the bar? Well, good luck in Virginia… Smiling is forbidden:

Few places in Virginia are as draining to the soul and as numbing to the buttocks as the branch offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles. And yet, until recently, smiling was still permitted there.

No more. As part of the DMV’s effort to develop super-secure driver’s licenses and foolproof identification cards, the agency has issued a smile ban, directing customers to adopt a “neutral expression” in their portraits, thereby extinguishing whatever happiness comes with finally hearing one’s number called.

The driver’s license photo, it seems, is destined to look like a mug shot.

DMV officials say the smile ban is for a good cause. The agency would like to develop a facial recognition system that could compare customers’ photographs over time to prevent fraud and identity theft. “The technology works best when the images are similar,” said DMV spokeswoman Pam Goheen. “To prepare for the possibility of future security enhancements, we’re asking customers to maintain a neutral expression.”

At a Manassas DMV branch yesterday, that translated to a simple directive: “Don’t smile.”

Now, this is unlikely to be an issue for me. Given how much I hate stupid bureaucracy, inefficiency, waiting in lines, and the government in general, I’m most certainly not smiling in my license photo. And given that I’m tall (and thus the picture is slightly shot from below), let’s just say that if the picture were used for the nightly news, it wouldn’t fit for their feel-good story.

Every time you see government security, it must be weighed against government control. For example, it has been shown and explained numerous times that the government no-fly list is useless at fighting terrorism, as a committed terrorist will quickly and easily have the means to get a useable fake credit card and ID — or fake boarding pass and real ID — to get through a checkpoint — as the checkpoint workers do not verify names against the list. Thus, the no-fly list becomes another huge government database that has the power to make your life miserable if you accidentally get on it but doesn’t actually enhance security in any meaningful way.

But you know what all this security does? It makes normal citizens, whose interaction with the government is already rare and painful, even more difficult. But instead of taking the proper lesson from this — that government is largely useless and their security is entirely for show — they come away with a different lesson. They believe that perhaps banning smiling in a photo is just what is necessary to keep us safe, and that they should do what the bureaucrats ask without question. They are learning the lesson that obeisance is the key to security, even though reason and evidence suggest otherwise. They learn that it is not necessarily personal vigilance that is required to be safe, but rather letting the government keep ever-closer tabs on us. And that’s the wrong mindset for a country that used to have the values of America.

Then, of course, the story takes its truly absurdist turn:

When asked how DMV employees are able to determine when customers might be smiling too much, Goheen explained that the process is automated. Naturally, the new software is programmed to reject attempts at exuberance or human warmth. “It will send an error message if it detects a non-neutral expression,” she said.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from science fiction, it’s that the only way that we can defeat the evil android invasion when AI is first invented is to be able to detect the androids amongst us based upon their inability to behave like a human. It appears the machines are already trying to detect whether or not we can behave like them.

Hat Tip: Balko @ Reason

The Signs of Inflation

Since Barack Obama has decided to continue down the path George Bush started down,  the path of Robert Mugabe and Friedrich Ebert, the United States economy will soon be facing all the problems associated with inflation.

Unfortunately, the effects of inflation are poorly popularized, meaning that most people have a very limited understanding of inflation.  As a result when confronted with symptoms of inflation people all to often pin the blame on other “causes” such as Jews or greedy white landowners.  These false accusations are heavily promoted by the ruling classes;  after all it’s better that the mob chase some Jews or hedge fund managers with pitch-forks than coming after the rulers who inflated the currency.

What Inflation Isn’t

The primary misconception of inflation is that it merely is the rise in prices.  The news media encourages people to believe this, reporting the inflation rate in the same way it reports on changes in the weather, as if it is some natural phenomenon over which people have no control.

Price increases are a result of inflation, yes.  However, inflation has the same relationship with price increases that war has with the number of burials per month at Arlington Cemetery.

The Mechanics of Inflation

Inflation is the phenomenon where additional money is created.  In the case of the Unites States, the Federal Reserve purchases some asset, such as a United States Treasury Bond, paying by check.  The seller deposits the check in a bank, which then records the additional money as part of its demand deposits.  This is the moment where the inflation occurs.  The bank then loans out 80% of those deposits to borrowers. Those borrowers spend the loaned money. This spent money is deposited back into the banking system. The banks loan out another 80% of this latest round of deposits. This cycle of loaning out money which then spent and then deposited back into the banking systems continues until eventually an equilibrium is established where banks list $4.00 in outstanding loans for every dollar created when the Federal Reserve Bank wrote that first check.

The Math:

A mathematical calculation of the growth of the money supply when central banks create money out of thin air.

A mathematical analysis of the growth of the money supply when central banks create money out of thin air.

The people spending this newly created money bid up prices;  people selling stuff tend to sell stuff to the highest bidder, and the people holding the newly printed money are competing with other buyers to purchase the stuff they want.

The result is that this new money slowly disperses out through the economy, leaving higher prices in its wake.  The people who spend it first get the benefit of being able to buy stuff at pre-inflation prices, the people who spend it last do not.  The people who have access to the newly printed money are left better off, the people who don’t are left poorer.  Inflation invisibly and without much fuss transfers purchasing power from those who are not closely connected economically with the central bank to those who are.

Follow the Money

The price increases generally show themselves in the sectors of the economy where the new money is spent.  For example,  let’s say that President Obama directs the Secretary of the Treasury to sell a bond to generate the money needed to build yet another bridge over some stream in West Virginia named after Robert Byrd. The bond is purchased by the Federal Reserve Bank with newly printed money.  The money is spent by the Federal Government on tools and materials needed to build the bridge.  The price for cranes, hourly employment of road-crews, concrete and steel increases.

The Rise of the Ersatz Product

The other users of these raw materials find themselves struggling to buy the  supplies they need.  For example, a manufacturer of prefabricated steel sheds might find that he has to pay more to get the metal he needs.  He is caught in a squeeze; the price his customers are willing to pay has remained unchanged while his production costs have increased. The manufacturer can’t raise his prices, so naturally he decides to cut costs by attempting to reduce the amount of steel he uses by substitution or adulteration.  The end result, the steel shed might cost the same, but the quality of the steel, the strength of the steel, or its toughness will be inferior, resulting in a shoddier product.  Candy bars are packaged to look like their sizes are constant, while the volume of candy is reduced.  Houses are built less sturdily.  Automobiles are manufactured with lower quality steel, with engines that wear out more rapidly, etc.

The Rise in Prices

As the money percolates out through the economy, the people coming into possession of it bid up prices.  In fits and starts, at different rates in different sectors of the economy, the price levels go up.  People on a fixed income find themselves becoming poorer and poorer.  The unpredictability of  the price levels causes  accounting to become more uncertain.  Investments and projects that otherwise would be attempted are foregone.  A majority of the population is left poorer as a result of the inflation.

Increased Political Repression

These people naturally lobby for relief.  However the political classes that benefit from the inflation don’t want to stop,  and the people are too ignorant of economics to recognize the fact that it was the printing presses which caused their problems.  Instead the people attack profiteers or greedy manufacturers or the greedy bankers.  They call for price and wage controls, which if instituted, further wreck the economy.

People also try to abandon the unreliable monetary system for alternatives.  They try to do business in foreign currencies or even use commodities such as cigarettes or gold chains as money.  Governments typically react savagely, criminalizing attempts to do business using alternatives to the rapidly devaluing currency.

Stop Me Before I Inflate Again!

Typically, when a government or central bank engages in inflation, they find it hard to stop – the political incentives are too great to resist. They cannot fund their operations if they stop the printing presses. The more the economy falters, the more the tax-base is disrupted, the lower the productivity of the industrial base, the more dependent the elites are on the printing press to fund their lifestyles and the operations of the state.  In private, the central-bankers will admit that the currency debasement is wrecking the economy.  But the central-bankers’ fear of the negative personal consequences if they should stop inflating the currency overrides any impulse to do the right thing.

America’s Peculiar Institution

Some economists argue that since the Federal Reserve is not part of the U.S. government such a doomsday scenario cannot play out here.  They claim that the Federal Reserve, being independent, is immune to political pressure.  Yet throughout its existence it has acted to support the U.S. government; periodically, the Congress threatens to update or revise the Federal Reserve Act to mandate greater congressional oversight of the Fed’s operations and the ‘independent’ organization suddenly becomes quite accommodating.

Historically, the Federal Reserve has purchased only a small fraction of the bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury;  it didn’t have to – there were always sufficient buyers willing to buy Treasury Bonds to keep the U.S. government operating.  That is changing.  The U.S. government will have to borrow more than a trillion dollars a year to fund its operations.  At the same time the U.S. Government is borrowing at such unprecedented levels, the willingness of voluntary investors to purchase the bonds is collapsing.  If the Federal Reserve were passive, within a year or so we would see U.S. Treasury Bonds routinely going unsold at auctions. The Federal Reserve, inevitably, will begin purchasing those bonds to keep the U.S. government solvent.

Protecting Yourself

In an inflationary economic regime, the formal economy is generally a suckers game.  To avoid being taken to the cleaners, consider doing the following:

  • Start or purchase a business making something in relatively widespread demand that is not likely to have price controls slapped on it.
  • Go into a profession where your skills will be in wide demand.
  • Learn how to fix broken things.
  • Cultivate circle of associates with whom you can engage in gray-market or black-market business deals.
  • Befriend a policeman or a judge! They can get you out of hot water should you get tagged for committing an economic ‘crime’.
  • Get to know local gold-dealers, particularly ones who buy and sell gold chains.
  • Learn how to defend yourself; police take time to respond, and are prone to prosecuting economic crimes when confronted by evidence of contraband.
  • Buy an old “Whip Inflation Now” button. It will be about as helpful as it was in the 1970’s

You don’t have to be helpless as the Democratic and Republican Party Apparatchiks loot the economy.  Prudent steps taken now can pay off in the coming dark years.

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.
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