Category Archives: Property Rights

The Brady Bill Was Only Step 1

Remember the “good old days” of the Brady Bill and the instant background check? It turns out that the gun grabbers in the 111th Congress no longer believe these gun control measures go far enough. Introducing perhaps the gravest threat to date against the Second Amendment: H.R. 45 Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009.

The primary goals of H.R. 45 are to license every firearm for every firearm a gun owner owns and regulate the buying and selling of firearms through licensed dealers. To apply for a firearms license, the applicant would have to provide the following:

SEC. 102. APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS.
(a) In General- In order to be issued a firearm license under this title, an individual shall submit to the Attorney General (in accordance with the regulations promulgated under subsection (b)) an application, which shall include–
(1) a current, passport-sized photograph of the applicant that provides a clear, accurate likeness of the applicant;
(2) the name, address, and date and place of birth of the applicant;
(3) any other name that the applicant has ever used or by which the applicant has ever been known;
(4) a clear thumb print of the applicant, which shall be made when, and in the presence of the entity to whom, the application is submitted;
(5) with respect to each category of person prohibited by Federal law, or by the law of the State of residence of the applicant, from obtaining a firearm, a statement that the individual is not a person prohibited from obtaining a firearm;
(6) a certification by the applicant that the applicant will keep any firearm owned by the applicant safely stored and out of the possession of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(7) a certificate attesting to the completion at the time of application of a written firearms examination, which shall test the knowledge and ability of the applicant regarding–
(A) the safe storage of firearms, particularly in the vicinity of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(B) the safe handling of firearms;
(C) the use of firearms in the home and the risks associated with such use;
(D) the legal responsibilities of firearms owners, including Federal, State, and local laws relating to requirements for the possession and storage of firearms, and relating to reporting requirements with respect to firearms; and
(E) any other subjects, as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate;
(8) an authorization by the applicant to release to the Attorney General or an authorized representative of the Attorney General any mental health records pertaining to the applicant;
(9) the date on which the application was submitted; and
(10) the signature of the applicant.
(b) Regulations Governing Submission- The Attorney General shall promulgate regulations specifying procedures for the submission of applications to the Attorney General under this section, which regulations shall–
(1) provide for submission of the application through a licensed dealer or an office or agency of the Federal Government designated by the Attorney General;
(2) require the applicant to provide a valid identification document (as defined in section 1028(d)(2) of title 18, United States Code) of the applicant, containing a photograph of the applicant, to the licensed dealer or to the office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable, at the time of submission of the application to that dealer, office, or agency; and
(3) require that a completed application be forwarded to the Attorney General not later than 48 hours after the application is submitted to the licensed dealer or office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable.
(c) Fees-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Attorney General shall charge and collect from each applicant for a license under this title a fee in an amount determined in accordance with paragraph (2).
(2) FEE AMOUNT- The amount of the fee collected under this subsection shall be not less than the amount determined by the Attorney General to be necessary to ensure that the total amount of all fees collected under this subsection during a fiscal year is sufficient to cover the costs of carrying out this title during that fiscal year, except that such amount shall not exceed $25.

I haven’t had time to read the rest of the bill, but from this and the titles of the remaining subsections (i.e. Sec. 302 Failure to Maintain or Permit Inspection of Records, Sec. 304 Failure to Provide Notice of Change of Address, Sec. 405 Inspections, etc.) it’s probably much worse than I think. This is like a bad marriage between the Real I.D. Act and the Brady Bill.

If the Brady Bill was step 1 and H.R. 45 is step 2 what are we then left with for step 3 but the outright repeal of the Second Amendment and complete prohibition for individuals to own firearms?

A Few Thoughts About the Ryan Fredrick Case

The long and short of the case is that three days after his home was broken into, Fredrick fatally shot an intruder who turned out to be a police officer. Fredrick promptly surrendered to the police once he realized the intruders were in-fact a SWAT team serving a warrant (a very small amount of marijuana was found in Fredrick’s home). The jury considered several charges including capital murder but ultimately decided Fredrick’s actions amounted to voluntary manslaughter and recommended a 10 year sentence.

Rather than rehashing the Ryan Fredrick case here, I would encourage readers to read the coverage by Hamptonroads.com , Tidewater Liberty and Radley Balko .

The police department did not believe the sentence to be harsh enough:

For the Shivers family and the Police Department, the verdict did not provide closure.

“Closure?” said Jack Crimmins, president of the Chesapeake Coalition of Police. “There’s no closure.”

“Their verdict today has jeopardized the lives of police officers,” Crimmins said. “I think the jury failed. They failed the community. You’ve got a man involved in an illegal enterprise, the police come to his house, and he takes the matter into his own hands.”

Funny that Crimmins chose the term “illegal enterprise.” This description is more appropriate for the way this police department chose to circumvent the Fourth Amendment by allowing a known criminal to break into Fredrick’s home to obtain probable cause to search the home in the first place! Most of the case made against Fredrick was from testimony of jailhouse snitches and informants of very questionable character.

And this notion about a homeowner who “takes the matter into his own hands” when someone breaks into his home is especially infuriating. Mr. Crimmins, it’s called the castle doctrine , perhaps you’ve heard of this concept? It’s not exactly new.

When a civilian makes a mistake and kills a police officer, it’s almost always assumed that s/he must “pay the price” but what happens when the shoe is on the other foot? When a police officer makes a mistake and kills a civilian, the badge worshipers and law enforcement boot lickers come up with a statement like this:

A jury verdict that cleared a police officer in the drug-raid shooting death of an unarmed woman will allow other officers to do their job without hesitation, police union officials said.

Officers throughout the state closely watched the trial, fearing that a guilty judgment would have changed how they react in the line of fire.

[…]

During the trial, a Columbus SWAT officer and a retired FBI agent both testified that Chavalia had no choice but to shoot because he thought his life was in danger. They also said Chavalia should have fired sooner.

So when a civilian believes his or her life is in danger, he or she must be certain of who s/he is targeting but when a police officer believes s/he is in danger, s/he can “shoot now and ask questions later”? What’s particularly galling about this is that in statements in both cases, the lives of law enforcement are of paramount concern as the lives of civilians is of little or no concern.

This is but another illustration of how the government has the one power the rest of us don’t: the monopoly of the use of force to accomplish its goals. The War on (Some) Drugs is a means to an (impossible) end (eradication of banned drugs). If non-violent individuals are killed in the process, its considered collateral damage. The War on (Some) Drugs must be won at all costs!

With respect to Ryan Fredrick, his fate is in the hands of a judge (the judge will decide whether or not to impose the jury’s recommended sentence), but what now? How can we prevent these tragedies from happening? Tide Water Libertarian Party has offered some excellent suggestions:

In the months since the tragic death of Det. Jarrod Shivers in the course of serving a search warrant at the home of Ryan Frederick, many questions have arisen regarding procedures of the Chesapeake Police Department. These questions have gone unanswered by the department. The Tidewater Libertarian Party asserts that because all powers granted government to use force on the behalf of the people reside ultimately with the people, it is unacceptable for the agents of government force, the police, to deny the people explanations for their actions when there are legitimate questions as to whether that force has been used with due caution and within the powers granted by the people through our Constitution and law.

• The tragic and avoidable death of a law enforcement officer.

• The use of Confidential Informants is an unfortunate necessity in criminal investigations, and particularly so in drug cases, but we question whether it is good public policy to request or issue search warrants based on the unsupported and unsworn allegations of Confidential Informants without some corroboration through independent investigation.

• Forcible entries in serving search warrants are acceptable police practice only when there is evidence subject to rapid destruction, hostages are in peril, or known, armed, and dangerous criminals are judged to be most safely taken by surprise. The recent trial of Chesapeake resident Ryan Frederick has revealed such forced entries to be the standard practice in serving all drug search warrants in Chesapeake. The Chesapeake Police Department has provided no acceptable explanation for choosing an exceptionally dangerous method of serving a warrant on a citizen with no criminal record over numerous safer and more Constitutionally acceptable methods.

• We are further concerned by the lack of transparency and consistency on the part of the Chesapeake Police leadership regarding what policy changes might be made to avoid future tragedy. Because we believe the police have taken the position that they need not explain their actions to the public, we hold this that is unacceptable in a free society.

This is the City of Chesapeake, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States of America. The police are answerable to the people, not only to themselves. Our military and our police are subject to civilian control and review. Citizens are owed the truth. The proper first level of that oversight is through our local elected representatives on city council.

We understand that it may be necessary to withhold some tactical policy from the public at large for the protection of police officers, but what information can and cannot be made public is properly the choice of civilian authority, with expert guidance, and not that of those being overseen.

The Tidewater Libertarian Party therefore requests the City of Chesapeake establish a citizen review board consisting of trustworthy citizens chosen by council, but with no connection to the Police Department or city government, to investigate this matter. This citizen review board should have full access to all evidence, record, reviews, and testimony, and report to the City Council, and ultimately, with council approval of sensitive content, to the public, in order to restore the lost trust of the citizens in our police department and to ensure that our police officers and citizens are no longer placed in unnecessary danger.

I would also like to offer at least one other suggestion: cameras. Each SWAT team member should have a camera attached to his/her helmet. This would provide invaluable insight to a sequence of events and would help ensure that the police follow procedures properly. Police vehicles have cameras installed on dashboards, there is no good reason why cameras should not be used for knock and no knock raids.

Unfortunately, I fully expect to learn of many more of these tragedies before any such reforms are made.

Which is Freakier: A bong hit or “the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris [as] an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement?”

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps took a bong hit; Kellogg’s has dropped their sponsorship of Phelps.

In my opinion, Kellogg’s has every right in the world to drop the sponsorship. And I have every right in the world to quit using Kelloggs’ products. If the Phelps issue wasn’t enough, let’s take a look (H/T to Huffpo) at some of the bizarre history of John Harvey Kellogg’s radical beliefs. Here are some cut-and-pastes from his Wikipedia entry:

Some of his work on diet was influenced by his belief that a plain and healthy diet, with only two meals a day, among other things, would reduce sexual feelings. Those experiencing temptation were to avoid stimulating food and drinks, and eat very little meat, if any. Kellogg also advocated hydrotherapy and stressed the importance of keeping the colon clean through yogurt enemas. [snip]

He appears to have gone beyond his own advice, since though he and his wife were married for over 40 years, they never had sexual intercourse and had separate bedrooms all their lives. It has been suggested he worked on Plain Facts on their honeymoon.

He was an especially zealous campaigner against masturbation; this was an orthodox view during his lifetime, especially the earlier part. Kellogg was able to draw upon many medical sources who made claims such as that “neither the plague, nor war, nor small-pox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism,” credited to one Dr. Adam Clarke. Kellogg strongly warned against the habit in his own words, claiming of masturbation-related deaths “such a victim literally dies by his own hand,” among other condemnations. He felt that masturbation destroyed not only physical and mental health, but the moral health of individuals as well. Kellogg also believed the practice of “solitary-vice” caused cancer of the womb, urinary diseases, nocturnal emissions, impotence, epilepsy, insanity, and mental and physical debility – “dimness of vision” was only briefly mentioned. Kellogg was the first to mention the psychological role in producing insanity. [snip]

Kellogg worked on the rehabilitation of masturbators, often employing extreme measures, even mutilation, on both sexes. In his Plain Facts for Old and Young, he wrote

“A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed.”

and

“In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid [phenol] to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement.”

He also recommended, to prevent children from this “solitary vice”, bandaging or tying their hands, covering their genitals with patented cages, sewing the foreskin shut and electrical shock.

I’ll strongly defend Kellogg’s right to no longer support Michael Phelps. I’ll also strongly defend the rights of consumers who choose not to purchase products from Kellogg’s anymore.

Susette Kelo Tells Her Story at The Cato Institute

Interestingly, this new development that was supposed to bring in so much revenue and jobs to the City of New London remains an empty lot. The city has lost a tax base and the only new jobs which were created were for demolition. Here’s hoping that New London does not recover from this immoral stealing of property anytime soon.

To watch or listen to the rest of the event featuring Susette Kelo’s attorney from the now infamous case Scott Bullock and the author of the book Little Pink House Jeff Benedict, click here.

Security theater and online predators

Maybe, just maybe, lawmakers around the country, including here in Georgia, have overreacted with regards to internet predators:

The Internet may not be such a dangerous place for children after all.

A high-profile task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there really is not a significant problem.

The Internet Safety Technical Task Force was charged with examining the extent of the threats children face on social networks like MySpace and Facebook, amid widespread fears that older adults were using these popular Web sites to deceive and prey on children.

Here in Georgia, legislators are taking extraordinary steps to “protect” children from online predators.

A new law that went into effect at the beginning of the year requires anyone labeled as a sex offender to turn over all online usernames and passwords:

Georgia joins a small band of states complying with guidelines in a 2006 federal law requiring authorities to track Internet addresses of sex offenders, but it is among the first to take the extra step of forcing its 16,000 offenders to turn in their passwords as well.

A federal judge ruled in September that a similar law in Utah violated the privacy rights of an offender who challenged it, though the narrow ruling applied only to one offender who had a military conviction on sex offenses but was never in Utah’s court or prison system.
[…]
State Sen. Cecil Staton, who wrote the bill, said the measure is designed to keep the Internet safe for children. Authorities could use the passwords and other information to make sure offenders aren’t stalking children online or chatting with them about off-limits topics.

Staton said although the measure may violate the privacy of sex offenders, the need to protect children “outweighs a lot of the rights of these individuals.”

“We limit where they can live, we make their information available on the Internet. To some degree, we do invade their privacy,” said Staton, a Republican from Macon. “But the feeling is, they have forfeited, to some degree, some privacy rights.”

Lawmakers are already using regulatory takings to force these individuals out of their homes, without any compensation whatsoever. I guess they shouldn’t have any privacy either, nor the presumption of innocence.

Politicians want to give the appearance of “doing something,” many times without any regard for personal rights and liberties. There is a line that a legislature cannot cross when it comes to privacy. The Fourth Amendment protects the rights of all individuals, including those who have paid their debts to society, to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Legislatures cannot continue to look the other way and cry “judicial activism” when courts strike down constitutionally questionable laws relating to sex offenders, which has happened in November of last year and as recently as last month, and could very well happen with this new law.

H/T: Reason

Che, Mao, and Pop Culture

One thing that disturbs me to no end is the way despotic Communist serial killers like Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Mao Zedong are iconic figures in American pop culture. When I see someone wearing Che’s ugly mug on his/her chest, I want to ask him/her: “Do you really have any idea who this man was or what he did?” I suspect that if I were to ask, I’d get a blank stare.

This short video below from reason.tv features interviews with two individuals who lived under the thumbs of Che and Mao. Neither are what you would call fans of these pop culture icons.

Gay Marriage, Religious Rights, and Freedom of Association

California’s Proposition 8, the ballot measure aiming to outlaw same sex marriage, passed on a very close vote. Prop 8’s supporters* pushed a campaign of fear, misinformation, and a complete distortion of the meaning of individual liberty. This campaign commercial is typical of the intolerance and hysteria being promoted from the “yes” campaign.

Argument #1: Churches could be forced to marry gay people.

Argument #2: Religious adoption agencies could be forced to allow gay couples to adopt children; some adoption agencies would close their doors as a result.

Argument #3: Those who speak out against gay marriage on religious grounds will be labeled “intolerant” and subjected to legal penalties or social ridicule. Careers could be threatened.

Argument #4: Schools will teach students that marriage is between “party a” and “party b” regardless of gender. Schools also teach health and sexuality and would now include discussions of homosexuality.

Argument #5: There will be “serious clashes” between public schools and parents who wish to teach their children their values concerning marriage.

Argument #6: Allowing gays to marry will restrict or eliminate liberties of “everyone.” (Example: Photographers who do not want to work at same sex weddings)

Argument #7: If Prop 8 fails, religious liberty and free speech rights will be adversely affected.

My response to these arguments is that we should be advocating for more freedom for everyone rather than restrict freedom of a group or class of people. The state should recognize the same contract rights** for a gay couple as it would between a man and a woman. To get around the whole definition of marriage issue, I would propose that as far as the state is concerned, any legally recognized intimate relationship between consenting adults should be called a “domestic partnership.” From there the churches or secular equivalent to churches should have the right to decide who they will marry and who they will not (just as they do now).

Rather than subject an individual’s rights to a vote or either party forcing their values on the other, we should instead advocate freedom of association and less government in our everyday lives. Somewhere along the way, we as a people decided that the government should involve itself more and more into the relationships of private actors. The government now has the ability to dictate to business owners quotas of who they must hire, family leave requirements, how much their employees must be paid, and how many hours they work (among other requirements). For the most part, businesses which serve the public cannot deny service to individuals for fear of a lawsuit.

A return to a freedom of association society would remedy arguments 1, 2, 6, and 7 from this ad. As to Argument #3, the anti-gay marriage folks are going to have to realize that in a free society, they are going to have to deal with “social ridicule”*** or being called intolerant. Anyone who takes a stand on any issue is going to be criticized and called names. In a freedom of association society, an employer would have every right to decide to layoff individuals who hold views or lifestyles they disagree with.

While we’re on the subject of intolerance, perhaps we should take a moment to consider if people who would deny equivalent rights which come with marriage are intolerant. This ad is exactly the same as the previous ad except that the words “same sex” and “gays” have been replaced with “interracial.”

Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when there were such laws against interracial marriage. Those who argued against interracial marriage made very similar arguments to what the anti-gay marriage people are making now. Today most of us would say those people were intolerant.

Intolerance aside, Arguments 4 and 5 can also be answered by reducing the role of government in our lives. What the “yes” people should be arguing for is a separation of school and state. While we as a nation are trending toward more government involvement in K-12 education, those who do not want the government schools to teach their children the birds and the bees or enter into discussions of homosexuality can put their children in private schools which share their values or home school. School Choice is the obvious answers to these concerns.

Prop 8’s supporters have turned the whole idea of individual liberty on its head. They claim that in order to preserve the rights of the greatest number of people a minority of people necessarily must sacrifice their rights. This is absurd and dangerous. Perhaps it is this complete misunderstanding of individual rights among Californians which contributed to Prop 8’s passage.

When explained properly, the rights of life, liberty, and property is the easiest concept to understand.

Hat Tip: The Friendly Atheist

Posted Elsewhere:

Dan Melson @ Searchlight Crusade has written a very thought provoking post on this issue. Some of his arguments I agree with, others I don’t but all of his points are well argued.

» Read more

Social Security: The Betrayal Between Generations

If you think the “bailout from hell” is going to be painful to taxpayers, wait until the bill comes due for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. According to Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, the unfunded liability for Social Security and Medicare sits at an incredible $99.2 trillion. This figure does not account for the myriad of other existing so-called entitlement programs or even consider future wealth redistribution entitlement programs Barack Obama and the Democrats wish to burden the taxpayer with.

The looming Social Security crisis is one which angers me to no end. If you are under 40, you should be angry too. The payroll taxes which are forcibly taken out of your paycheck by the federal government are given to current retirees. There will be little or nothing left when you retire but you will still be paying the bill for those who have benefited from your labors.

Yet anyone who dares to suggest even putting aside a small percentage of FICA withholding into private accounts is accused by the Left of trying to undermine Social Security. AARP and other such organizations run attack ads aimed at the elderly to make them believe they will be kicked into the streets if any such reforms are suggested by anyone who recognizes a need to reform the system.

Reason.tv is currently running a very entertaining, humorous, and informative animated series which explains exactly how royally we are getting screwed by this Ponzi scheme we call Social Security. Here are the first four episodes:

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)

» Read more

Welcome to the U.S.S.A.

For those of us who value the concept of life, liberty, and property, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to be optimistic for America’s future. Last week we saw one government (taxpayer) bail out after another. The price tag seems to grow a couple of hundred billion dollars each day (depending on which figures one chooses to believe); by some estimates the taxpayers will be on the hook for over $1 trillion. According to the Libertarian Party, $1 trillion could buy the following:

• To buy everybody living in Los Angeles at least one Lamborghini Gallardo.
• To buy 88,052, 394′ custom mega yachts; enough to stretch around ¼ of the world.
• To buy everyone living in Belize and Malta a Manhattan apartment.
• To get half of the Democratic Party into a fundraiser for Barack Obama at the $28,500 admission price.
• To give one out of every two men in the United States a Men’s Presidential Rolex watch.
• To buy every woman in the United States a Tiffany Diamond Starfish Pendant.
• To get two Mitsubishi 73″ HDTVs for every household in America.
• To buy four copies of The Office: Season Four on DVD, to every person on earth.
• To send everybody in America on an all-inclusive vacation to Tahiti (and some people can stay a few extra days).

Anyway you want to look at it, $1 trillion is a lot of money ($3, 278 for every man, woman, and child in America).

And how do our so-called leaders wish to ultimately “solve” this problem which they have created? More government, of course! Joe Biden is calling on “the rich” to do their “patriotic duty” to pay more taxes, not only to pay for the already bloated federal government (which grew by leaps and bounds under the so-called compassionate conservative George W. Bush) but also to pay for the government programs that he and Barack Obama wish to impose on us (programs such as fighting global poverty among others).

But it gets even worse than that. The current Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson has proposed that he should have the absolute authority to purchase any mortgage-related assets as he sees fit (obviously with our money). Section 8* of the proposal reads as follows:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Section 9 puts a time limit on this absolute power provision but even placing this much power in the hands of one person for a two-year term is a very frightening thought. Perhaps the one good thing about having power hungry politicians in congress in both parties is that they would likely not support this measure as it would take power away from them.

Welcome to the U.S.S.A. What’s left of our free market system is all but dead. While one can make a libertarian case for both John McCain and Barack Obama in certain aspects of their policy proposals, neither are what I would call champions of capitalism (to put it mildly). Personally, I don’t find the arguments for McBama to be persuasive. I will proudly support Bob Barr knowing full well that he will not win this election and knowing full well that whomever wins, we will be in for difficult times.

Is America’s best days behind her? Is there any way that we can restore our Republic to what it once was?

As always, the answer will depend on how “We, the people” will respond.

» Read more

In fact, let me say unequivocally, I’m OK with more people dying, so long as we have more freedom; be it with drugs, or guns, or sex, or anything else.

Are there limits? Of course there are; at the very least, my fist is limited by your nose… but doing immoral, unethical, and unconstitutional things (and I include setting arbitrary limits on freedom in that list) in service of “a good cause”, does not make those things right.

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

Ron Paul’s Speech at the “Rally for the Republic”

Ron Paul spoke in front of a crowd of approximately 10,000 at the “Rally for the Republic” (AKA the “Ron Paul Convention”) across the river from the Republican National Convention.

Below are the first 3 parts of his speech, the full text of the speech can be read here.

Other speakers on the last day of the rally included Tucker Carlson, Lew Rockwell, Gov. Jesse Ventura (who hinted that he might make a presidential run in 2012), and Barry Goldwater Jr.

Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr was also in attendance at Ron Paul’s big show but Barr said he was not disappointed that Paul did not make an official endorsement of his campaign:

Barr, a former GOP congressman, told ABC News he respects Paul’s intent not to make an endorsement in the general election, and is “here today because there are thousands of people who believe we need to shrink the power, the size, the scope of the federal government.

“These are liberty-loving Americans, and those are my kind of people,” Barr exclaimed.

[…]

“We’re all in this together — we believe in the same things,” Barr said.

“Ron has chosen to work within the Republican Party, I’ve chosen to work through the Libertarian Party through the electoral route, but we all want the same thing,” he added.

http://www.campaignforliberty.com/

http://www.bobbarr2008.com/

Libertarians Who Don’t Respect Property Rights

A blogger at Lew Rockwell.com decries the notion that private organizations have the right to make their own rules:

Homeowners’ associations can be filled with hordes of power mongering, petty, little tyrants who love to play Big Bureaucrat and run the lives of everyone else. In Texas – of all places – there is an HOA that will not allow your Hillbilly Cadillac in the driveway. Because it’s too unsightly. Yeah, you know the rules when you move in. But still, non-libertarian people yearn to play the roles of authoritarian bullies who can’t wait to use a bunch of silly and domineering “rules” to control others.

But, you see, there’s a perfectly reasonable libertarian answer to this non-existent problem:

POA’s are entirely a creation of contract. Groups of homeowners come together and form an organization that will accomplish certain goals. Typically, this includes maintaining some standard rules of esthetics for the community, contracting for trash removal, and maintaining property that is owned by the POA members in common rather than by any one person.

When you buy a house that is part of a POA, you agree to certain rules and regulations. These rules can be as mundane as what day you put your trash can out or what color you can paint or front door. Or, they can be as rigid as telling you that you cannot put a sign of any kind in your front yard. In fact, if your front yard is actually POA property, which is true of many townhouse communities here in Northern Virginia, then the property really isn’t yours anyway.

(…)

If you don’t like the rules that a particular POA has then you have several options. For one thing, you don’t have to move there to begin with. In Virginia, sellers are legally required to give buyers a copy of the POA rules and buyers are given an opportunity to review those rules and back out of the contract without penalty. If you’re in a POA and you don’t like the rules, or how they are being enforced then get involved in your community and get the rules changed.

And, most of all, don’t complain when the rules you agreed to take a turn you don’t agree with.

Government Reefer Madness Update: Lynch Receives 100 Year Sentence

This is an update to a post I wrote in late June. Maybe its time to propose some sort of “fully informed jury” legislation and demand a return to federalism?

Barr Weighs in on No-Knock Raids

I didn’t see the press release from the Bob Barr campaign when I wrote yesterday’s post so I thought I would pass along some of his thoughts on the issue today. The case Barr is specifically referring to is the recent raid in Berwyn Heights, Maryland. Here are a few excerpts:

“Absent exigent circumstances, not present here, so-called no-knock raids are an affront to the Constitution,” explains Barr. “So is a shoot first, ask questions later philosophy by the police. Yet the Prince George’s police have done this before—last fall they invaded a house at the wrong address and shot the family dog. All Americans are at risk when the police behave this way. Just ask yourself what might happen if a suspicious package is delivered to your home and the cops bust in,” says Barr.

“But there is an even larger point. Law enforcement agencies have become more arrogant and less accountable in cases other than those involving drugs. Most people are aware of well-publicized examples like Waco and Ruby Ridge, but similar abuses are common across the country, though they usually receive little or no public notice,” notes Barr. “We all want police to do their jobs well, but part of doing their job well is respecting the people’s constitutional liberties.”

“As president I will ensure that federal law enforcement agencies set a good example for the rest of the country,” says Barr. “In a Barr administration, government officials will never forget that it is a free people they are protecting.”

It’s nice to see a presidential candidate address this issue. Clearly, the phenomenon of no-knock raids isn’t on John McCain’s or Barack Obama’s radar at this time.

Cali Going “Green” — Raising House Prices By Restricting Supply

California, in an attempt to fix the housing mess* by making houses less affordable by making you buy features you wouldn’t otherwise**, has announced new statewide building restrictions to go “green”.

From the Governator on down, nanny statists in California are more than willing to use force to make your life more expensive, and are quite happy to gloat about it the whole while:

Today, the California Building Standards Commission announced the unanimous adoption of the nation’s first statewide “green” building code. The code is a direct result of the Governor’s direction to the Commission and will lead to improved energy efficiency and reduced water consumption in all new construction throughout the state, while also reducing the carbon footprint of every new structure in California.

Unanimous? There’s nobody willing to step up and say “maybe we should let individuals decide how their houses should be built”? You can argue day in and day out whether building codes for safety purposes are a legitimate form of government coercion, but this is just nanny-state do-gooderism. It’s the logical next step to a government that won’t allow any market forces the freedom to develop the energy people want to use, so simply requires that they use less. Allowing market forces to price water, for example, might suggest to people that they should save water for their own sake. But government regulation artificially keeping water prices low means, of course, that they must either ration water, mandate regulation to reduce use through the building code, or both. Throwing bad government after bad? I’d say so.

“Once again California is leading the nation and the world in emissions reductions and finding new ways to expand our climate change efforts,” said Commission Chair Rosario Marin.

Sometimes being first is a good thing. Sometimes it’s not. Something tells me that increasing housing prices in a place like California, already far too expensive with other taxes and regulations (and market forces) for the average person to survive comfortably, will not end up helping the state.

“The commission should be commended for bringing everyone to the table including representatives of the construction and building trades industry, environmental groups and labor organizations, and achieving something no other state has been able to.”

“We railroaded this through in a bipartisan manner. Therefore it’s obvious that it’s futile to resist.”

The new California Green Building Standards Code goes well beyond the current building standards. These new statewide standards will result in significant improvements in water usage for both commercial and residential plumbing fixtures and target a 50 percent landscape water conservation reduction.

Plumbing fixtures? Better buy a plunger. Maybe even an auger when they get through with your house. Oh, and I hope you like Xeriscapes, because you’re going to see a lot more of them. (Again, this is a result of government artificially pricing water too low, and then enacting use restrictions that natural market forces could already have arranged).

They also push builders to reduce energy use of their structures by 15 percent more than today’s current standards.

Again, in many ways this is a good thing. But it’s not something that most people had deemed necessary to pay for in the past, or it wouldn’t need to be regulated.

They also push builders to reduce energy use of their structures by 15 percent more than today’s current standards.

I guess they thought this was really important to point out, since they repeated the sentence in the press release. Or perhaps they are just experts on “being green”, and not so much into the whole proofreading thing…

The new standards declare the minimum California will accept in environmentally friendly design – local jurisdictions and builders who wish to do more are applauded.

[clap clap clap]Yay, Berkeley! You go girl![/clap clap clap]

In addition to the new codes adopted today, Governor Schwarzenegger’s Green Building Initiative (Executive Order S-20-04) (http://gov.ca.gov/executive-order/3360/) directs state agencies to reduce energy use at state-owned buildings 20 percent by 2015, while also reducing the impact state buildings have on climate change.

Please tell me they’re going to do this by reducing quantity of state buildings and number of state employees by this much!

His executive order directs that new state construction and major renovation projects should meet a minimum of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification in order to save energy, conserve water, divert waste from landfills and cut greenhouse gas emissions. To date, 13 state buildings have achieved LEED certification.

I guess that’s the end of major renovation projects to state buildings. Oh, wait, they’re spending our money? Never mind.

And wow, 13 whole buildings so far? What size bucket does that drop fall into?

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings nationwide account for 70 percent of electricity consumption, 39 percent of energy usage, 12 percent of potable water consumption, 40 percent of raw materials usage, 30 percent of waste output (136 million tons annually), and produce 39 percent of associated greenhouse gases (CO2).

I thought I learned from the NRA that buildings don’t waste energy, people do. Up next, Washington DC outlaws private ownership of buildings!

California’s new building standards will result in increased water and energy savings through a combination of more efficient appliances, use of efficient landscapes and more efficient building design and operation.

Again, I’m sure they’re not doing anything to increase the efficiency of government.

The code also encourages the use of recycled materials in carpets and building materials, and identifies various site improvements including parking for hybrid vehicles and better storm water plans.

Hey, so you get primo parking for your 20 mpg Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, while the guy with the much more environmentally-friendly 36 mpg Honda Civic languishes at the back of the lot. I’ll bet he produces a lot less smug, too.

Additionally, the new code contains standards for single-family homes, health facilities and commercial buildings. The code is composed of optional standards that will become mandatory in the 2010 edition of the code. This adjustment period will allow for industry and local enforcement agencies to prepare for, and comply with, the new green building standards.

This is why the construction industry went along… Anyone with half a brain will be pushing for their construction to be complete by 2010! After all, what California really needs is MORE real estate being developed, because we don’t have quite enough of a surplus now!

Moving forward after 2010, the California Green Building Standards Code will be updated on an annual basis to ensure that the latest technology and methods of construction have been incorporated to always maintain a high level of standards.

And here’s the giveaway to lobbyists. Just think how much money is going to be spent at the state capital ensuring that pet technologies get implemented into the code. Oh, and I’m sure regulations that change yearly will require a lot more inspectors and training, another fun way to spend taxpayer money. Sacramento should be a boom town over the next few years.

For more than 20 years, the California Building Standards Commission has established California as an international leader in areas such as energy conservation, water conservation and seismic strengthening—resulting in some of the most efficient and sustainable buildings in the world.

Ahh, the final buzzword. “Sustainable.” As long as they keep taxes and regulation just shy of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, Sacramento’s economy should remain sustainable. But just imagine if the local government was trying to pull this sort of shit in a state without beautiful scenery and picturesque beaches… They’d call it Detroit.
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What is Your Life Worth?

No, I didn’t ask you about your net worth but what dollar value would you say that your life is worth to you. Most of us would not be able to come up with a figure or might say that putting an exact dollar amount on one individual’s life (especially one’s own) is impossible to quantify.

If you cannot come up with a figure no need to fear, the federal government has come up with a dollar value for your life on your behalf (isn’t that nice of our government?). Actually, the worth of an individual’s life varies from one government department to the next. The Associated Press reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the government agency which has the highest dollar figure for a human life, has dropped the value by $1 million to its current appraisal of $6.9 million* (in today’s dollars).

Why is this important, aside from the immoral, collectivist, big government, notion that it is morally justified to sacrifice the few or the one for the good of the many? Well…nothing! As the AP article points out, government agencies make decisions based on this arbitrary figure:

Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths. At $7.8 million per person (the old figure), the lifesaving benefits outweigh the costs. But at $6.9 million per person, the rule costs more than the lives it saves, so it may not be adopted.

Putting aside the fact that many of the departments, programs, and regulations are completely unconstitutional to begin with, I find it very disturbing (but not at all surprising) that my life could be shrugged off if I find myself in too small of a class to “matter” to government bureaucrats. This is the ugly reality that altruist/collectivists such as Barack Obama and John McCain speak of idealistically when they call for Americans to “sacrifice for the good of the community” and “serve a cause higher than self.”

Many people find sacrifice is a wonderful and noble thing, particularly if someone else is offering the sacrifice. If Obama or McCain needs to sacrifice the life, liberty, or property of an individual to serve his political/policy desires, each is quite willing to make that sacrifice (what’s $6.9 million in the federal budget anyway?).

Unfortunately, the age of reason, self reliance, and individual liberty did not survive much longer than Paine, Jefferson, and Madison. Our anti-Western, Judeo-Christian, “mob rule,” culture has conditioned generation after generation of Americans to think this way. Children are taught in government schools and their churches that America is a democracy rather than a constitutional republic, the rule of men rather than the rule of law, and to put “God, family, and country” before self. Obama and McCain are only reflecting this sentiment.

Not that these same politicians are not willing to pander to vocal minorities for votes. Obama and McCain will consider every minority group but one: the smallest minority.

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
-Ayn Rand

So what is my life worth to me? To quote John Galt (the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged) “I am the man who loves his life.” My life is not for sale because to me my life is priceless. There is no need for me to set a price for something for which no one has the ability to pay me.

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Government Reefer Madness

Its stories like these that make my blood boil. Here we have a young man who has found relief from serious pain with marijuana. I have yet to read a story where anyone has overdosed and died from smoking too much cannabis but for some reason, our federal government sees a need to prosecute those who dispense and use the drugs for medical and therapeutic purposes. The Republicans can talk all they want about how they are proponents of federalism but regrettably, their actions differ from their words when states like California decide a new direction when it comes to drugs.

What makes me even angrier is the thought that John McCain’s wife Cindy, was busted for stealing prescription pain killers (drugs many times more dangerous than marijuana, by the way) yet because she is married to John McCain, she gets a pass. One would think that Sen. McCain would be a little more sympathetic to those who seek relief from pain via marijuana or other means but the good senator seems to be content with the status quo double standard which currently exists. When asked if individuals such as Owen Beck should have access to medical marijuana, Sen. McCain “Just Said No!”

Steve Kubby

Despite these setbacks in what the federal government says that an individual can do with his or her body, there has been at least one recent victory on the medical marijuana front. Former 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate Steve Kubby recently wrote a post at Third Party Watch reporting that all the charges against him have been dropped and his record has been expunged.

Kubby writes:

Yes, you read that right, thanks to the incredible support of my fellow libertarians, I not only survived, I PREVAILED!

Because of those who cared enough to help me and my family, I survived an indictment for 19 criminal counts amounting to a minimum of 40 years to life in prison. That indictment was backed by a $10 million grant by the US government to put me, and the medical marijuana revolution, behind bars.

While Mr. Kubby’s fight appears to be over, the man who made it possible for Owen Beck to receive relief from his pain, Charlie Lynch, his fight is just beginning. Lynch is facing charges which could put him in prison for 100 years. And for what? Dispensing a product (marijuana) which California voters decided was acceptable for medicinal purposes?! Meanwhile, the average first degree murderer spends 20 years in prison in California.

This is madness. Foolish, disturbing, government reefer madness.

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