Category Archives: Hubris

Lake Los Angeles

Here in Southern California, water is a pretty precious commodity. And I’m not just talking about the pretentious restaurants where you get dirty looks if you don’t like your water “sparkling” and at $6 a bottle. No, it’s a serious outgrowth of building a major city in the middle of a desert, in which you have to pull water from supplies in other geographies to meet your needs. As we’re more sensitive to water conditions throughout the western US, we’ve been inundated with PSAs encouraging saving.

One of those PSAs has teeth, advising of watering restrictions. If you want to water your lawn, you’re only allowed to do so two days a week, and only in the morning. At least, those are the rules for us mere citizens. I’ve complained on twitter about driving past freeway medians and cloverleafs where the State of California is watering at 5 PM on a Friday, but I’ve simply assumed that this is mere government hubris.

But perhaps I was wrong. In the LA area, old decrepit infrastructure has led to a higher-than usual number of major pipe ruptures, causing significant flooding (NY Times, reg. req’d). Based on one of the potential reasons for that, I must now think that the Friday afternoon waterings weren’t about not following the same rules as mere citizens, but because they fear overloading the system (emphasis added):

Since Sept. 1, there have been 43 breaks that have flooded or damaged streets, compared with 21 in September 2008, 17 in September 2007 and 13 in September 2006.

The rash of blowouts began in June, when a new drought-induced water policy went into effect, a circumstance leading outside engineers and analysts to question whether water restrictions are contributing to the problem.

Under the policy, residents are permitted to water their lawns only on Monday and Thursday, causing a surge in water flow those days that may be taxing the system, said Richard G. Little, a policy analyst at the University of Southern California who studies public infrastructure.

So thank you, California State Government! Your inability to follow stupid* restrictions with destructive unintended consequences may have saved us from some of the negative impact of that stupid restriction! Under normal circumstances, I’d assume your inability to follow the restrictions you expect the rest of us to follow to be simple hubris, but here I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt — you were trying to save us!

Hat Tip: Brian Doherty, City of Angles
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Why You Should Support Auditing The Fed

The Fed is tasked with the dual goals of price stability and restraining inflation. Folks like myself would suggest it hasn’t done a very good job of either, but that’s not crucial to the question of whether we should be able to determine how they’re attempting to fulfill their mission.

Particularly irksome when we’re talking about an audit is the fact that they’ve just admitted to engaging in gold swaps, influencing the gold price, in opposition to past denials and with the assertion that they should be able to continue hiding the specifics:

The Federal Reserve System has disclosed to the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc. that it has gold swap arrangements with foreign banks that it does not want the public to know about.

The disclosure, GATA says, contradicts denials provided by the Fed to GATA in 2001 and suggests that the Fed is indeed very much involved in the surreptitious international central bank manipulation of the gold price particularly and the currency markets generally.

The Fed’s disclosure came this week in a letter to GATA’s Washington-area lawyer, William J. Olson of Vienna, Virginia (http://www.lawandfreedom.com/), denying GATA’s administrative appeal of a freedom-of-information request to the Fed for information about gold swaps, transactions in which monetary gold is temporarily exchanged between central banks or between central banks and bullion banks. (See the International Monetary Fund’s treatise on gold swaps here: http://www.imf.org/external/bopage/pdf/99-10.pdf.)

Gold has been flirting with the $1000/oz level for several weeks (topping it a few times). Those in the gold market have long believed that central banks are suppressing the price to keep fears of inflation from hitting the roof.

How much longer do we have to allow the fed to lie to us, and then when we catch them red-handed, assert that they know well enough that we have to let them hide details on top of their lies?

I say we audit the fed. Then End The Fed.

Obama: You’re doing a heck’uva job, Bernie

Continuing his George Costanzaesque presidency, Obama has decided to reappoint Ben “Helicopter” Bernanke to another term on the Fed.

Here’s what Obama had to say:

Ben approached a financial system on the verge of collapse with calm and wisdom; with bold action and outside-the-box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic freefall

I thought it might be useful to take a look at some highlights of this Solon, this central – planner whom George Bush put in charge of the money supply:

Of course, as usual, Obama is dead wrong: the Federal Reserve’s actions have actually prolonged the downturn, made it worse, and have laid the foundations for an even bigger crash down the road.

Monetary Base of U.S. Dollar

In the days before the election, I told many of my fellow Massachusetts residents that Obama was not so much a break from George Bush as a continuation of his worst policies. I am sorry to say that he has been proving me right since. And this is yet another nail in the coffin of an administration that is showing itself to be even more incompetent than the Bush presidency.

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.

Disturbing Quote of the Day

“This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged ‘actual innocence’ is constitutionally cognizable.” – From the dissenting opinion by Justices Scalia and Thomas on the question of whether death row inmate Troy Davis should receive a new trial after 7 eye witnesses against him recanted their testimonies against Davis.

So as long as the defendant has received a ‘fair trial’ and found guilty, actual innocence does not matter and the state can kill an innocent person according to Scalia and Thomas?

And these are who conservatives and some libertarians consider the ‘good guys’ on the Supreme Court? They certainly aren’t on this issue.

Hat Tip: The Daily Beast

When You Ask AARP Members to Voice Their Opinions About Healthcare…

…you better be prepared to hear opinions which don’t necessarily support the Democrats proposed government takeover of healthcare. The speaker at this meeting (in the video below) made the mistake of saying “I think we can all agree…”. From there, the AARP members took over.

Really brings a smile to your face huh?

Hat Tip: Boortz

Pope Benedict XVI Would Make Marx Proud

Pope Benedict XVI has decided to wade into territory which he has no understanding or expertise: the global economy. The New York Times reports that the pope is now calling for a “New World Economic Order”*

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday called for a radical rethinking of the global economy, criticizing a growing divide between rich and poor and urging the establishment of a “world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good.”

He criticized the current economic system, “where the pernicious effects of sin are evident,” and urged financiers in particular to “rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity.

I have to ask the question to my Catholic friends who believe in Papal infallibility that also happen to believe in free market capitalism: how do you square the two philosophies? (Argument withdrawn; I am by no means infallible and was lacking in my understanding of this concept)

The article continues:

In many ways, the document is a somewhat puzzling cross between an anti-globalization tract and a government white paper, another indication that the Vatican does not comfortably fit into traditional political categories of right and left.

“There are paragraphs that sound like Ayn Rand, next to paragraphs that sound like ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ That’s quite intentional,” Vincent J. Miller, a theologian at the University of Dayton, a Catholic institution in Ohio, said in a telephone interview.

“He’ll wax poetically about the virtuous capitalist, but then he’ll give you this very clear analysis of the ways in which global capital and the shareholder system cause managers to focus on short term good at the expense of the community, of workers, of the environment.”

Indeed, sometimes Benedict sounds like an old-school European socialist, lamenting the decline of the social welfare state and praising the “importance” of labor unions to protect workers. Without stable work, he notes, people lose hope and tend not to get married and have children.

Sorry padre, you can’t have it both ways. If you truly believe the Communist/Socialist model is morally superior to Capitalism (an admittedly selfish system by honest supporters such as Ayn Rand) just come out and say so! If one honestly reads the scriptures, one will see that the teachings of Christ are much more in line with Karl Marx than Adam Smith.

But wait, it gets worse…

Benedict also calls for a reform of the United Nations so that there can be a unified “global political body” that allows the less powerful of the earth to have a voice, and calls on rich nations to help less fortunate ones.

In other words, the U.N. should force the citizens of the most efficient and productive nations at gun point to give money to people in nations who are less efficient and less productive in large part because they subscribe to the philosophy of the Pope: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” There’s a word for this; it’s called extortion.

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A few thoughts about last weekend’s Tea Parties

While I’ve not had enough time to take a comprehensive look at Tea Parties held around the nation on or around Independence Day, here are some quick observations from this full-time Tea Party enthusiast and part-time skeptic.

First of all, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) was booed when he spoke in Austin, Texas.  The key reason reason seems to be that he voted for the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailout in order to protect “free market capitalism, with our civil liberties, [which are] are the foundation of American exceptionalism.”  In the hyperlinked explanation for his vote, he quoted Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in order to help spread the blame.  “This bill does not represent a new and sudden departure from free market principles…” explained Cornyn, who was quoting Coburn.

Coburn has also infuriated fiscal conservatives because, in his role as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he sided with “establishment candidate, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, in a Senate primary against young conservative leader, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio” in the Florida Senate race.

Coburn probably wasn’t the only Republican Party leader booed in Texas.  I’ve seen some video of Texas Governor Rick Perry speaking in San Antonio, but I’ve not seen any video with jeers from the audience from anywhere in Texas (he wasn’t allowed to speak at the major Dallas event).  However, there are multiple reports that he was booed for “his advocacy of toll roads to relieve traffic congestion.” I tried to obtain additional information on Twitter and it seems my suspicions were correct: He received some sporadic booing, not specifically because of toll roads, but that the road in question is the “NAFTA Superhighway” or “Trans-Texas Corridor”.  Based upon observations during my campaign work in east Texas in 2006, there are probably quite a few Birchers who still vehemently oppose this effort.

The least biased view of the Austin event which I’ve read comes from Robbie Cooper: » Read more

Quote Of The Day

The Sheriff whose deputies raided Berwyn Heights, MD mayor Cheye Calvo’s house predictably doesn’t think they did anything wrong. He said a lot of pretty despicable things in that article, but this one really bothers me:

“I’m sorry for the loss of their family pets,” Jackson said. “But this is the unfortunate result of the scourge of drugs in our community. Lost in this whole incident was the criminal element. . . . In the sense that we kept these drugs from reaching our streets, this operation was a success.”

What criminal element? The mayor? His wife? His elderly mother-in-law? The two labrador retrievers they shot?

Did they suspect Calvo was a drug-runner? Obviously not, because they ALREADY knew the drugs were intended (from an on-going investigation) for a false drop.

If there’s a criminal element, don’t you think it might be the guys, dressed in black, who busted down the door of a law-abiding citizen, terrorized his family, and shot his dogs? All without even a cursory investigation to see if they’d done anything wrong other than having their own address on a package that even the cops weren’t sure was intended for them?

This isn’t the result of the scourge of drugs or the criminal element. This is the result of shoddy police work. This Sheriff should be ashamed of his wanton disregard for logic and humanity.

Barbara Boxer is the One Who Needs the Etiquette Lessons

This behavior on the part of Barbara Boxer* would be appalling if the comments were directed at a regular citizen at a town hall meeting much less a decorated general in a Senate hearing! She “worked so hard” to earn this title? What did she have to do to “earn” this title vs. what General Walsh had to do to earn his?

This woman isn’t even worthy of shining the general’s shoes. What a bitch.

» Read more

It’s Time to Impeach Obama

It’s time to impeach Obama; indict him, and his entire administration, for fraud, coercion, extortion, influence peddling, and grand theft under the color of law, amongst hundreds of other charges.

It is not simply the auto issue; but that is currently the most visible.

This is no hyperbole. I am not simply spouting off. I believe, and will from this point forward, work to see, Barack Obama impeached, charged, indicted, tried, and imprisoned, for the crimes he and his cronies have committed against this nation, and its people.

Also, let me make this clear: This is NOT about politics, or at least not about political ideology. I believe that everyone, left, right, libertarian, or indifferent to ideology; should see what Obama and his administration are doing, and understand the damage it is doing, and will do, to this country.

We cannot allow our nation to become a nation of men. We MUST remain a nation of laws.

At this point, Obama, and his administration, aren’t even bothering to PRETEND to obey the law, or the constitution. They have embarked on a campaign of theft and fraud never seen before in the history of man kind; knowing that they had the full cover of the media protecting them, a friendly congress, and a co-operative judiciary.

They are in clear violation of the constitution, and hundreds if not thousands, of state and federal laws; blatantly and knowingly flouting them in fact, because, in Obamas words, “We won”.

Well, I’m sorry sir, for now at least, we are still a nation of laws; and you must be brought to account.

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

Why Collectivism “works”, but doesn’t work.

Generally speaking, when talking with a relatively reasonable and intelligent leftists about politics, economics (which are the same thing to them), econometrics, and social philosophy (again, they can’t be separated in leftist theology); the “question” will arise “If socialism is so bad, why does it work in families, and villages? It works there, so it should work everywhere.”

That isn’t so much a question, as argumentum inquisitum (aka “begs the question”), but let’s take up the challenge anyway; as the answer is simple, fundamental, and absolutely vital to understanding microeconomics, and how it interacts with societal level macroeconomics.

Collectivism (of any variety) does not work on scales larger than a village, because people will ALWAYS respond to their perceived interests and incentives.

ALWAYS

Let me repeat that one more time:

People will always, over time and absent interference, respond to their perceived interest and incentive.

People may (in fact, very frequently do) mispercieve their interest, or may choose a poor course of action in their properly (or improperly) perceived interests, but they will ALWAYS respond to them.

In a family, the incentive and interest are VERY strong, genetically, socially, societally, emotionally, and spiritually; to ensure the prosperity and well being of the family unit equal to or ahead of ones self.

We can see what happens to families where this is not so among the majority of members; or is not so among the “strongest” members (the “leaders” of the family). These families rapidly degenerate into an unhealthy mess of force, fraud, manipulation, pain, and dysfunction.

This is also what happens in society as a whole when collectivist ideology is enforced on it.

One should note, there is no such thing as a naturally occurring voluntary collectivist order above the small tribal group. At larger scales, collectivism must always be enforced on the whole, because it is against the interest of many individuals; until such time as a dependent class is formed which will create an artificial interest, causing that class to act in that interest to enforce collectivism on the independent individuals.

As I said, people will ALWAYS act in their perceived interest. Even in collectivism; which is supposedly communitarian in nature.

In society as a whole, and specifically in societies larger than familial, clan, village, or small tribal level; self interest is a considerably stronger incentive and interest than the interest of society.

Communitarian ideals can generally work scaled up to village size, or even small tribes; but the bigger the unit gets, in general, the weaker the cohesion; unless there is another binding force (such as tribalism, or at least ethnic solidarity).

Also, the free rider problem, which may be one or two individuals within a family, becomes a serious drag on resources even at the village size. It becomes insupportable above the scale of a large tribe or small state.

These village size units work best when the village is itself a competing interest against other villages, or groups of villages united by a common characteristic which creates a cohesive identity.

We call this tribalism; and it allows for progress to a certain point, but is also a natural restraint on it; in that tribalism encourages the violent breakdown of civil culture in conflict with other tribes.

In fact, almost all of the greatest evils perpetrated within the confines of society (as opposed to evils outside of a society such as serial killers, etc…) are the result of violent tribal conflict; including the wars in the middle east and Africa (all of them).

All forms of collectivism fail to recognize or account for the inherent competitive, and striving nature of man; and generally fail to account for his inherent xenophobia as well (yes, certain individuals or small groups may suppress those characteristics, but man as a whole is man; unchanging and vicious from prehistory to this minute. We just have better tools to kill each other with, faster, and on a larger scale now).

Thus, aside from its structural deficiencies, inefficiency, and moral evil; socialism is antithetical to the natural social nature and structure of man (contrary to the assertions of socialists that it is in fact derived from the nature of man, or is scientifically and historically inevitable. Both logic and history show this construction to be elegant, but falacious).

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

Why Do We Keep Believing Them?

Men (and women) who physically abuse their spouses often express remorse afterwards. “Come Back Baby, I won’t hit you anymore” they say. And puzzlingly, their battered spouses often say yes, even though this latest offer is probably just as unlikely to be true as the previous 600 offers. To those of us observing such a relationship from the outside it is often a bewildering experience; we can’t understand why a person would trust a serial liar and leave themselves vulnerable to yet another attack. Many of us even look down on the victim; after all, we would never allow someone to take advantage of us in this way!

If you think about it, though, this bravado is probably wrong. The victims of this abuse are human beings just like me or you, dear reader. Why wouldn’t you react in ways similar to these chronic victims? You are not so different! You behave this way towards an organization that is incredibly abusive, that bullies you at every turn, that is far more controlling than most abusive spouses, whose officers not only lie often, but know that they are making promises that they have no intention of keeping. I am speaking of the state, a barbaric organized crime gang that take advantage of you at every turn, and then demands that you thank them for it.

A typical promise made by the state and the lying lyers who people it is that a) they need expanded powers to provide some service effectively, and that b) they will never abuse them, never, ever, ever, cross their hearts and hope to die. Typically the ink hasn’t had time to dry before the promise is broken. I will ignore the many examples of this phenomenon with regards to how Native Americans were betrayed by the U.S. government in favor of looking at seatbelt laws.

Those of us who are older than 30 remember a time when it was legally permissible to drive a car while unbelted to the seat. State by state, proponents of seatbelt laws held campaigns to require people by law to wear a seat-belt. Almost universally the campaigners promised that the law would be such that police wouldn’t peer into our cars and pull us over if we weren’t wearing them. It would be a secondary offense, we were assured, an additional ticket given to those pulled over for genuine moving violations. Today, that assurance lies in tatters. In most states the police can pull you over if they think you aren’t wearing a seat-belt. “Click it or ticket” is the new mantra.

Let’s move past a little thing like seat-belt laws. Instead, let’s look at something more substantial. Remember the promises of that vile traitor, George Bush, when he ran for office in 2000? Remember “a humble foreign policy” and “restoring the rule of law”? How about his promises to execute a spendthrift fiscal policy? What did he do once he got in office? Tried to foment a war with China, fomented a war with Iraq, expanded medicare, attempted to nationalize the stock market, failed, then did it again successfully using a crisis as an excuse. How many of you who voted for George Bush in 2000 would have voted for him had he run on a platform promising to do what he actually did? It’s safe to say that President Al Gore would have had an easy run to victory had candidate George Bush run an honest campaign. Had Barack Obama vowed to continue the war in Iraq and expand the war in Afghanistan while shoveling corporate welfare at the investment banks that his treasury secretary had worked at, President McCain would be enjoying his run as a 21st century reincarnation of Teddy Roosevelt.

From Pearl Harbor to 9/11, from the Great Depression to the Collapse of the Housing Bubble, government officials, and the elites whom they serve have been hyping or generating crises which they then use as an excuse to impoverish us. And we, like a battered wife who fears what will happen to her should her man leave her, let them.

George Bush abused us. Barack Obama is abusing us right now. In two years, some people will announce that they want to be president and will do right by us. If elected, they will turn out to be abusers too. It does not matter whether they wave posters of Donkeys, Elephants, Rainbows or whatever the mascot the Libertarian Party likes to wave around; in the end they will hurt you.

Our only hope for ending the abuse is to kick the bums out! And by that I mean it is time to dissolve our governments. I call upon all of you to support constitutional amendments to dissolve not only the U.S. government, but your state governments as well. De-incorporate your towns. Teach your children to hate the flag, not salute it.

Make these predators earn an honest living for a change. Sitting around hoping that they will turn over a new leaf is about as futile as hoping a leopard will change its spots. It’s not going to happen. Politicians and civil “servants” (so-called) only stop their abuse only when they are deprived of their offices.

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.

A new libertarian line-of-attack when debating medical marijuana issues with Republicans

For years, activists have been trying to pass federal legislation which prevents the feds from arresting patients (or doctors, growing clubs, etc.) when they’ve been prescribed medicinal marijuana by a physician in the states where such prescriptions are allowed by law.  Libertarians have often made valid points about Republican hypocrisy regarding federalism when it comes to medical marijuana.

Loretta Nall provides a brand new argument to use with Republicans on the matter:

I am sick of hearing Republicans scream about ‘socialized medicine that would put the government between you and your doctor.’ Just what the hell is the difference here? The Republicans want to be involved in your health care decisions if they seek to prevent you and your doctor from discussing/using marijuana as medicine…and that is the same thing. Socialized medicine. HYPOCRITICAL FUCKS EVERY ONE OF THEM! […]

[…] Mention that it is socialized medicine for Republicans to stand between a doctor and patient….no matter what their ‘justification’. Human suffering shouldn’t be used as a political football.

Let’s take a look at some recent Republican stands on socialized medicine and compare them to the views of the very same people on medical marijuana.

“In any serious discussion of health care in our nation, this should always be our starting point — because the goal, after all, is to make the best care available to everyone,” said Senator John McCain in a 2008 presidential campaign speech. Later on, he added: “[With nationalized health care, ] we’ll have all the problems, and more, of private health care — rigid rules, long waits and lack of choices, and risk degrading its great strengths and advantages including the innovation and life-saving technology that make American medicine the most advanced in the world. The key to real reform is to restore control over our health-care system to the patients themselves.”

“Families also place a high value on quickly getting simple care, and have shown a willingness to pay cash to get it,” noted McCain, surely aware that the cost of home-grown marijuana is significantly less than the cost of Marinol. “Government can provide leadership to solve problems, of course. So often it comes down to personal responsibility — the duty of every adult in America to look after themselves and to safeguard the gift of life.”

When asked about medical marijuana on the very same campaign trail, McCain responded, “Right now my answer to you is no.”

On the same presidential campaign trail, Rudy Giuliani had a moment of libertarian lucidity when he stated that “government cannot take care of you. You’ve got to take care of yourself.”

Here are some of Giuliani’s views on socialized health care:

Charging that Democrats’ health care proposals would lead to “socialized medicine,” Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Tuesday he wants to give American citizens more control over their health care.

“We’ve got to do it the American way,” Giuliani said during a town hall forum in Rochester, New Hampshire. “The American way is not single-payer, government-controlled anything. That’s a European way of doing something; that’s frankly a socialist way of doing something.”

McCain and Giuliani weren’t alone on the GOP presidential campaign trail regarding these issues. No stranger to hypocrisy regarding health care issues, Mitt Romney piped in, as well:  “[Senator Clinton’s health care] plan is crafted by Washington; mine is crafted by individual states.”

Of course, Giuliani and Romney both opposed medical marijuana from both a federal and state perspective.

Let’s take it off the presidential campaign trail for a moment and pick on perhaps the most hated drug warrior in Congress.   Here’s Congressman Mark Souder’s take on health care (from his website):

Every American deserves affordable and quality health care, not government control. I support a patient-centered approach to health care reform that provides every American, regardless of health or financial status, access to the affordable health care coverage of their choice. Nobody should go bankrupt because they get sick.

I will continue to fight to make health care family-focused and patient-centered. I think that patients, in consultation with their doctors, should have control over the health care they receive. The government, your employer or a health care plan selected by your employer should not decide what health care you receive. The road to affordable health care for all is not easy or simple but, by implementing more consumer choice, cracking down on frivolous law suits and lessening the bureaucratic paper work it is achievable. Forcing Americans into a government controlled health care plan will not solve the problem. I believe that it will only make things worse.

Here’s Souder calling for a non-patient-centered “approach to health care” which is neither family-focused nor “patient-centered.”  Here’s a direct contradiction to “I think that patients, in consultation with their doctors, should have control over the health care they receive.”  Here’s a crystal-clear example of the hypocrisy to which Nall referred.

If passed, this amendment would put people in danger of shysters and quacks willing to recommend a dangerous drug, marijuana, in place of federally approved safe and proven medicines. You can get Marinol. We have got other ways by taking a pill to treat this. There are multiple chemicals in marijuana. It is not medicine. Marijuana is just as much medicine as the carbolic smoke ball from the later 19th century was medicine…. The rhetoric about marijuana as a ‘treatment’ for medical purposes… probably was dreamed up at some college dorm…

[L]et me state that my mother and father-in-law both recently died of cancer as well. Compassion is not limited to either side, but there is science and there is not science. In fact, the Carbolic Smoke Balls and the snake oil is very similar; getting high is the same as getting splashed….

Furthermore, we have heard kind of a silly argument here on the House floor today that physicians should be making up FDA law. Physicians do not do trials of a different drug when they come to market. Physicians do not have big testing agencies. That is why we have a Food and Drug Administration. This is in effect asking to repeal the Food and Drug Administration.

Imagine being in the audience the next time a local Republican congressional candidate gives a speech.  When it comes Q&A time, it might be fairly easy to ask the following:

Congressman Smith, I applaud your view that the federal government shouldn’t be able to tell states what to do.  Furthermore, you are to be applauded for your views that the government shouldn’t stand between a patient and a doctor, that individuals should be empowered to make their own medical decisions, that federal bureaucracy harms the health care process, that when patients have the responsibility to make their own decisions health care costs are drastically reduced, and that health care choices should be made in a free market.  Since it’s so obvious that you agree with how I feel about these issues, I’m pleased that you’ll be supporting both the Hinchey-Rohrabacher bill and our state legislation to treat cancer victims and AIDS patients with a bit more compassion.

Obama Encourages Corporate Malfeasance

The trainwreck that is the Obama administration continues with his support for caps on executive pay. This bad idea has been tried before, and had the disastrous result of enhancing the power corporations wield over their employees, particularly with upper and middle management. It contributed to many of the instances of corporate malfeasance.

The problem is that the Obama administration is attempting to cap executive compensations at below market rates. Whenever the government does this, people come up with alternate forms of compensation to offer in lieu of the salaries or bonuses that are now illegal. A company may, instead of paying its management a high salary, offer them a lower one and buy them a house. It will buy them health club memberships, or give them no-cost vacations at company-owned resorts. The end result? People who don’t own their homes, but are dependent on their employers for their housing, their memberships, or even their kids’ schooling.

Many corporate scandals progress until someone is brave enough to blow the whistle. When blowing the whistle merely only the loss of a paycheck, people are still reluctant to do it.  A loss of a paycheck and the loss of one’s home, one’s social circle, access to the kids’ schools etc, and the incentive to turn a blind eye to criminal behavior, or even to participate in it is heightened.

One would think that one of the major lessons of the current meltdown would be do decentralize economic power by reducing the competitive advantage handed by the regulatory environment to large, hide-bound companies. Instead, the Obama administration is attempting to tilt the playing field further in their favor. Assuming that he is sincere in attempting to curb malfeasance and dereliction of duty amongs corporate officers, this bill is definitely an own goal.

I thought it would be many decades before we saw an administration as incompetent as that of George Bush. I was wrong; it took no time at all to get one that was even more incompetent.

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.

United Nations Opposes Freedom of Religion

Some group calling itself the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution yesterday opposing what they see as the leading human rights issue of our time. You’re probably thinking, maybe they’re now addressing the situation in Darfur, or perhaps they’re talking about Communist China’s treatment of Tibetians. Perhaps there maybe a resolution about Cuba’s continuing persecution of its citizens. If you guessed any of the above, you were wrong. Instead, this little cabal decided to pass a resolution condemning “defamation of religion”.

A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning “defamation of religion” as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries.

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favor and 11 against, with 13 abstentions.

Western governments and a broad alliance of activist groups have voiced dismay about the religious defamation text, which adds to recent efforts to broaden the concept of human rights to protect communities of believers rather than individuals.

What exactly is defamation of religion? Is criticizing certain Islamic practices such as stoning adulterers defaming Islam? Is criticizing Sharia law because it is a barbaric, seventh century legal code defaming Islam?

Or is flying jetliners into skyscrapers defaming Islam? Maybe the Pakistani government should answer that instead of handing the Taliban parts of their country and demand we shut up.

Of course this is nothing more than an attempt by the nations of the Islamic conference than to further exempt themselves from the conduct of civilized nations, especially on matters of freedom of speech, thought, and coinscience. Under this resolution, just about anything from criticizing an “Islamic government” to demanding human rights for religious minorities and certain groups such as homosexuals as “defaming religion”. This resolution is nothing more than the criminalization of thought.

Another curious thought, what does the Islamic conference in particular and this cabal in general think about anti-Semitism?

Of course there was some opposition to this resolution by more civilized nations.

India and Canada also took to the floor of the Geneva-based Council to raise objections to the OIC text. Both said the text looked too narrowly at the discrimination issue.

“It is individuals who have rights, not religions,” Ottawa’s representative told the body. “Canada believes that to extend (the notion of) defamation beyond its proper scope would jeopardize the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of expression on religious subjects.”

Perhaps Canada’s objections would have a little more merit if Canada wasn’t engaged in its own war on thoughtcrime.

Finally, a simple question of morality. Why does the world take a body seriously that calls itself the “UN Human Rights Council” that has Nigeria as its president and includes such members as Egypt, Russia, Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan? Isn’t this really letting the fox guard the henhouse?

If these countries won’t protect human rights at home, why would they protect human rights around the world?

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

The Liberty Papers Welcomes Fellow “Militia Members” and Enemies of the State

Are you an enemy of the state? Chances are if you are reading The Liberty Papers, you are! According to a new report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center, “The Modern Militia Movement” authored by Governor Nixon and Attorney General Koster, signs that you may be a domestic terrorist or militia member include:

– You supported Ron Paul or 3rd party candidates such as Chuck Baldwin or Bob Barr in the 2008 election (Guilty!)

– You have “anti-government,” Campaign for Liberty, Gadsden Flag, and “libertarian” bumper stickers on his or her vehicle or possess other related literature (Guilty!)

-Anyone involved in The Campaign for Liberty (I’m sure that anyone associated with the Tea Parties or those in the “Going Galt” movement should also be considered a threat)

-People who frequently visit or participate in libertarian related blogs, discussion boards, or websites (Guilty!)

-Those who write about or talk about the coming economic collapse of the U.S. (Guilty!)

Basically, anyone who distrusts the state on any level could be profiled as a potential militia member, domestic terrorist, or enemy of the state.

I first learned of this report from the video clip below (Glenn Beck with Penn Jillete as his guest).

So what does Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr, and Ron Paul think about being associated with domestic terrorism?

Chuck Baldwin’s response:

Can you imagine the fallout of this preposterous report had the names Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters been used instead of the names Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr?

Accordingly, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and I wrote a formal letter to the above-named Missouri officials demanding “that the following-described document be immediately removed from any and all websites associated with or maintained by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof, including the MIAC; that the said document no longer be circulated by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof or associated therewith; and that the state of Missouri repudiate its references to the three of us contained therein.”

Bob Barr seems to be content with the response he co-wrote with Baldwin and Paul, at least for now (I haven’t found any response so far from Barr other than the aforementioned letter)

Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, however; is not taking this laying down and is circulating a Citizen’s Petition for Redress of Grievance

Both Ron Paul and Campaign for Liberty champion principles of freedom, peace, and prosperity. We believe that the Founder’s vision for America can be reclaimed through education and peaceful activism.

Simply supporting the Constitution does not make you worthy of a watch list; it makes you a Patriot.

I find it interesting that some (mostly Democrats) who when Bush was president said that dissent was patriotic now get nervous when anyone dares to question the policies of “The Messiah” a.k.a. “The Chosen One” a.k.a. President Obama. To be against this enlightened being is to commit heresy and obviously should be considered a wild-eyed, dangerous enemy of the state.

Well, believe it or not, not everyone believes that the direction Obama and the Democrat controlled federal government are in the best interest of those who value the rights of life, liberty, and property. The State has become an enemy to these very basic human rights.

Does this make me an enemy of the state? Well, I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a “friend of the state.”

To those of you who have my name on a watch list and reading this, you can take that statement however you like.

Don’t Tread on Me!

Obama’s Policy to Fight Mexican Drug Cartels is Doomed to Fail

The Obama administration, rather than dealing with the root cause of the violence along the Mexican border, has decided to adopt a policy to deal with the symptoms. The problem is that this policy will neither alleviate the symptoms nor come close to treating the problem.

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration promised Tuesday to help Mexico fight its drug war by cutting off the cartels’ supply of guns and profits, while resisting the Texas governor’s call for a troop surge at the border to ward off spillover violence.

Let’s assume for a moment that Obama’s policy to prevent Mexico bound firearms from leaving the U.S. 100% successful. Given the fact that the drug cartels can acquire firearms from other sources (such as corrupt Mexican government agents with access to firearms among other sources) the only difference would be that the firearms are no longer coming from the U.S.

The Obama administration correctly identifies that the drug cartels are so powerful because of the profitability of the illicit drug trade. It’s this ability to make enormous profits, particularly in an impoverished country as Mexico, that attracts players into the business and makes corruption on the part of government officials almost irresistible. Unfortunately, though the Obama administration has identified the profitability of the drug trade as the source of the drug cartels’ power, there is clearly a profound misunderstanding of the way basic economics work (as if the bailouts, handouts, and myriad of other government programs were not proof enough).

The steps announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano – 450 federal agents shifted to border duty, supplied with dogs trained to detect both drugs and cash, and scanners to check vehicles and railcars heading into Mexico – amount to a subtle but important shift:

The blockade of contraband will now be a two-way effort. The fence begun under the Bush administration will be completed, to deter smugglers of drugs and workers. But the new emphasis will be on disrupting the southbound flow of profits and weapons that fuel the cartels.

At his televised news conference Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that for now, it’s more important to disrupt the cartels’ access to profits and weapons than to fortify the border with soldiers.

“That’s what makes them so dangerous,” he said. “The steps that we’ve taken are designed to make sure that the border communities in the United States are protected and you’re not seeing a spillover of violence. … If the steps that we’ve taken do not get the job done, then we will do more.”

So what’s wrong with this approach? The basic economic law of supply and demand tells us that whenever a product is in high demand (drugs in this case) and the supply is lower (in this case by successful drug interdiction by the U.S. governemnt), those who supply the given demand stand to profit more NOT LESS! Whether Obama’s policy results in a decrease in the supply of drugs of 1% or 99%, those drugs which do make it to the end customer will pay even more to get them.

I would even go as far as to say that the Mexican drug cartels would cheer this policy. Sure, the cartels might have more difficulty moving their product into the U.S. and their profit and firearms out of the U.S. but for the most clever smugglers, these enhanced drug interdiction efforts would filter out the competition! (And we know how black market operators hate competition).

On some level, I do believe that even the political class understand this but somewhere, there is a disconnect. Just yesterday in her visit to Mexico, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that the war on (some) drugs over the past 30+ years “has not worked.”

“Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.”

And now the disconnect:

“Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians…”

Mrs. Clinton apparently recognizes how the war on (some) drugs has been an abject failure fails to realize that the Chosen One’s policies will do little to reverse this trend. If she truly wants to do something productive, something has to be done about what she (correctly) describes as this “insatiable demand” for these drugs. She seems to understand that the “Just say No” campaign didn’t work but does she and others within the Obama administration really believe that more drug hysteria PSA’s will do anything to curb this demand?

Given how the Obama administration has decided to deal with the drug war related violence along the border, I’m not optimistic. If spending billions of dollars annually on this insane war on (some) drugs which has contributed to leading the world in the number of people in prison (imprisoning 1 out of every 100 adults; more than half of the U.S. prison population is there because of drug related offenses) has failed to curb the demand, then perhaps it’s time to try a different approach.

Nothing short of legalizing the drug trade will stop the violence, so why does the politicos, law enforcement, and government bureaucrats at almost every level continue the same “get tough” policy which clearly has not worked? The only conclusion I can come to: they must be high.

You, Sir, Are the Devalued Prime Minister of a Devalued Government

Would that we had an articulate defender of freedom in Congress as Daniel Hannan, Minister of the European Parliament for South East England.

Here is a video of him confronting the Prime Minister of England.

The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around &#163 20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is oing to cost more than educating the child.
Now once again today you tried to spread the blame around; you spoke about an international recession, an international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squalls, but not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapitated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and to clear their rigging – in other words to pay off debt. But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the waterline under the accumulated weight of your debt.

Now it’s not that you’re not apologizing. Like everyone else here, I’ve long accepted that you are pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things. It’s that you are carrying on willfully worsening our situation wantonly spending what little we have left.

Prime Minister, you cannot carry on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund the unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt.

Watch the whole thing. Much of it applies to all the Democrat and Republican politicians in government today.

Hat tip, Lew Rockwell

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.

The Dastardly Bonuses: AIG, Fannie, and Freddie

Those eeevvviiilll capitalists at AIG have been taking quite a beating. Now it’s time to spread the “wealth”:

Fannie Mae plans to pay retention bonuses of at least $1 million to four key executives as part of a plan to keep hundreds of employees from leaving the government-controlled company.

Rival mortgage finance company Freddie Mac is planning similar awards, but has not yet reported on which executives will benefit.

The two companies, which together own or back more than half of the home mortgages in the country, have been hobbled by skyrocketing loan defaults. Fannie recently requested $15 billion in federal aid, while Freddie has sought a total of almost $45 billion.

Fannie Mae disclosed its “broad-based” retention program in a recent regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company was only required to disclose the amounts for the top-paid executives, who will pocket at least $470,000 on top of their base salaries.

The bonuses are more than double last year’s, which ranged from $200,000 to $260,000. Another round of bonuses ranging from $330,000 to $429,000 are planned for next February.

Hubris.

What’s the over/under on how soon Barney Frank calls for the heads of the top folks at Fannie and Freddie?

Hat Tip: Cafe Hayek

The Hubris of the National Tactical Officers Association

In my report following the live chat @ The Agitator with Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo last week, I made mention of some very modest reforms he was pushing in Maryland. The bill would require all police departments with SWAT teams to provide monthly reports to the state’s Attorney General, local officials and the general public.

Who would have a problem with just a little public oversight over law enforcement? Apparently, the National Tactical Officers Association’s executive director John Gnagey does:

[John Gnagey] says reporting requirements for SWAT teams should emanate from the law enforcement community, not legislators.

“Our data shows that when SWAT teams are deployed, the violence goes down,” said John Gnagey, who was a SWAT team member for 26 years in the Champaign, Ill., police department.

One question for Mr. Gnagey: That slogan that you have on your squad car that says “to serve and protect,” who exactly are you trying to serve and protect? Based on the tone from the article, it appears that you are only interested in serving and protecting law enforcement. Silly me, I was under the impression that the purpose of law enforcement was to serve and protect the general public! If you have some data that shows SWAT deployments bring the level of violence down, why are you so afraid of putting this data to the test?

The hubris of Mr. Gnagey illustrates exactly why more oversight of law enforcement is necessary. The article also points out that nationally the number of SWAT deployments rose from 2,500 annually in the 1980’s to between 50,000 and 60,000 in 2005; the War on (Some) Drugs is largely responsible for this dramatic increase. Not everyone agrees that these SWAT deployments have reduced violence.

Mayor Cheye Calvo was also interviewed in the article:

“It’s pretty clear to me that police are using SWAT teams for duties that used to be performed by ordinary police officers,” says Calvo, whose Berwyn Heights house was raided July 29 when police mistakenly thought his wife was involved in drug trafficking. “No question, there are times when SWAT teams are appropriate. What strikes me about this is that police are using SWAT teams as an initial response rather than a last resort.”

What we need is more transparency and it’s never going to happen if we depend on those who have something to hide to change the reporting requirements.

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