Category Archives: Political Correctness

A Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Believe me, I’m not advocating the following proposed constitutional amendment.  To be sure, I oppose pretty much everything it represents.  However, if we are to follow the rule of law in this country, we should at least go through the effort of ensuring that contemporary political activities and the law are in sync.

“Any political party which clearly dominates the legislative branch of Congress is authorized to tax any political target to the degree it desires and in a retroactive manner.”

Let’s see how this could be applied:

  • It could be used to tax contracted bonus payments to employees of corporations which aren’t politically correct at the moment.
  • It could be used to tax, retroactively even, all income of politicians from the opposing political party.
  • It could next be used to tax, retroactively even, all income of family members of politicians from an opposing political party.
  • It could be used to tax all campaign contributions provided to any member of an opposing political party.
  • It could be used to levy a specific targeted tax aimed at people who are registered members of opposing political parties.

Remember, these taxes can be as high as 100 percent (on second thought, why stop at 100 percent?).  They can be levied on earnings or other resources from anytime in history.

With this amendment in place, the Democrats can tax AIG executives (and executives from any other corporation) as much as they desire.  Why stop there, though?  They can also maintain political power by taxing non-Democrats in Congress at a rate of 150 percent, going back 25 years.  For those congressmen with spouses or children enjoying income, tax them retroactively, too.

Need to pay off the national debt? Levy an emergency 90 percent payroll tax on registered Republicans, Libertarians and Greens.

Need to ensure that you stay in political power?  Tax the donations made to competitive political campaigns.

Of course, the Republicans could take over Congress again.  This proposed amendment would be to their advantage, too.  It’s not to difficult to see folks like Tom DeLay or Karl Rove using such law to their advantage.  I’m sure the first applications would be aimed at trade unions, to be followed by the political targeting of Democrats everywhere.  If people stop registering as Democrats, simply target them based on other demographics, such as gender, race, age and income level.

If politics are to be tyrannical in nature, why not at least have a constitutional amendment to authorize the actions of the folks standing at the top of the trash heap?

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A Song and Open Letter to a President Who is “No Stranger to the Bong”

Thank you, President Obama, for keeping your campaign pledge to end raids on medical marijuana dispensaries that are legal under state laws in California and elsewhere.

Thank you for reversing an inhumane policy established by the Clinton administration and continued by the Bush administration.

Given the experience you and other elected officials have had with illegal drugs and your willingness to challenge the status quo, now is the time to reconsider decades of prohibitionist drug policies that have succeeded only in massively increasing the toll of human misery, violence, and hypocrisy. As with alcohol prohibition, the drug war intensifies and exacerbates every negative outcome it is ostensibly designed to combat.

President Obama, do the right thing and end the war on drugs.

“Obama, You’re No Stranger to the Bong” was written, performed, and edited by Paul Feine; special thanks to Alex Manning.

I couldn’t agree more! As this song points out, Obama is hardly the first politician on the national stage to experiment with drugs. Despite these youthful indiscretions , most of these very people want to ratchet up the War on (Some) Drugs.

Despite my many disagreements with President Obama, I believe that his decision to call the DEA dogs off the medical marijuana dispensaries is a good first step in the right direction. Pardoning Charlie Lynch (back story here and here) seems like the next logical step.

PETA Says AKC Is Like KKK? WTF?

I’m sure this will get their point across:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals knows how to grab attention. And show off its laundry.

The animal rights group, which every year stages a protest at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, had two of its members dress in Ku Klux Klan garb outside Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Their goal, according to a post on the PETA website, was to draw a parallel between the KKK and the American Kennel Club. “Obviously it’s an uncomfortable comparison,” PETA spokesman Michael McGraw told the Associated Press.

But the AKC is trying to create a “master race” when it comes to pure-bred dogs, he added. “It’s a very apt comparison.”

The group passed out brochures implying the Klan and AKC have the goal of “pure bloodlines” in common.

There’s a bit of a difference, though… Last time I checked, the AKC wasn’t burning crosses outside the homes of people who own mutts. I’m not sure if this is a real-world corollary of Godwin’s law, but I think PETA has already lost this round.

So what’s the over/under on when the media starts indicting PETA for “hate speech”?

So, we’re not all going to drown, or be killed by hurricanes?

This is the single best, and clearest, explanation of the Rationalist Position on global warming I’ve Ever Seen

Key line: “So, why don’t we ever talk about the suns contribution to global warming? …Well, because we can’t regulate it, tax it, or make it feel guilty for what it’s doing“.

Got it in one there friend.

There’s no profit, political gain, or power to be grabbed from acknowledging the real causes, and real effects of whatever global warming there actually is. So, the interested parties simply ignore all that, shout down anyone who disagrees with them, and go about seizing as much power as they can, in a disorderly fashion.

From “What You Oughta Know“, a website with videos explaining an assortment of general, and sometimes esoteric knowledge.

Oh and here are the links he mentioned in the video:

Pacific Research Institute:
the documentary, more information

Reid A. Bryson – scroll down for ice cap article

Solar Activity: A dominant factor in climate dynamics – scroll down read sections in blue

BBC’s The Great Global Warming Swindle

Other possible causes for global warming

Oh and just for fun, here’s the same sites take on “Liberals vs. Conservatives“… which is really a pretty solid explanation of the foundations of minarchist positions:

And a great take on the bailout:

“Because there is no disaster that immediate, decisive, wrong action cannot make worse”

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

The Unselfaware Irony of Fascism

Eric Arthur Blair famously said “The word FASCISM has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies
“something not desirable.
“.

In this he was referring (among other things) to the tendency of those on the left to call anything which restricted their tendencies or desires in any way fascists; which in such usage has been the preferred cavil of liberals and leftists since the 1940s.

Sadly, most of those making such imprecations don’t understand the true definition of fascism: a belief in the supremacy of the state and it’s leaders, over that of individuals; elevated to a level of blind enforced obedience and popular obeisance.

Fascism, for all intents and purposes, is the worship of the state, and of the “Dear leader”. Critically, when instituted it is always instituted by a majority, or a very strong minority, of willing subjects (I cannot call them citizens); who are looking for the government to “heal all their ills”.

Pledge of Allegiance Becomes Pledge to Obama

By Alan Gray, NewsBlaze

A parent in the Clark County School District of Las Vegas, Henderson area reported January 27th that his son, who is in 1st grade, came home yesterday saying that he didn’t want to go back to school anymore.

When asked why, the boy said that during the Pledge of Allegiance the teacher put up a large image of Obama next to the flag.

Thinking that the boy might be exaggerating, the man asked his son if he was sure, and suggested that by “large” he might mean an 8×10 photo of the president. The boy apparently said “No, it is a large picture of Obama and when we are done, the teacher turns off the image.”

The same thing was not done for President Bush last year.

After investigating this morning, the other parent reported that what the boy said was true.

At least three of the five classrooms have an overhead projector and as the children stand to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, the teacher turns on the classroom overhead and a full body image of Obama, with six U.S. flags behind him, comes up about 4 feet away from the flag that hangs on the wall. The screen is apparently around five feet by six feet.

In the image, President Obama appears to be staring straight out with no facial expression, just a serious look. All of the kids in each class faced the President, instead of the flag that hangs in the corner.

15 years ago, I swore an oath to defend this country, and our constitution. Not our president, or our government; but our constitution. The president is our commander in chief; but our loyalty, our duty, our honor; is owed to the constitution, not to the president.

10 days ago, President Obama swore a similar oath; not to defend our government, or our leaders; but our nation, and our constitution.

America is an idea, not a man, or a government. That idea is expressed, however imperfectly, in our constitution; and those of us who chose to serve, be it in government, or the military; swear to defend that idea.

Isn’t it ironic, how the only serious proponents of fascism today are militant islamicists, and western leftists; the very people who, in form at least, rail against fascism… which they are most often accusing US of?

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

Is Atheism Really Threatening?

These signs have been popping up lately in the Denver area…

…and some folks are none too happy about it.

The hate mail and nasty, threatening phone messages began almost immediately.

John Matson, of Denver, was so mad after seeing the Santa Fe Drive sign that he dashed off an angry letter to the billboard’s owner.

“It is a despicable act to allow that sign,” the 60-year-old man said in an interview, “and for just a few pieces of silver.”

He went on COCORE’s Web site, and it made him even angrier, John Matson said. It is trying to gather, he said, “a constituency of what I call mob rule.”

“I know they’re atheists, and my opinion is they want others to believe the same thing. The billboard misrepresents their purpose,” he said. “Their agenda is wolf-in-sheep’s clothing political. Why don’t they just say it.”

Yes, he is a Christian, John Matson said.

Perhaps it’s simply that I’m a godless heathen myself, but I have yet to see any way that these billboards, as some of their detractors have claimed, “denigrate Christians”. As far as I can tell, this is simply an advertising campaign for their group. Given the number of billboards I’ve seen throughout my life advertising for various churches, I don’t quite understand why this would create such an uproar. I’m not surprised, mind you, but I don’t understand.

While I don’t necessarily agree with Matson’s statement that “they want others to believe the same thing” — not that I’d find anything wrong with that — this is clearly an advertising campaign. In many ways, being an atheist is very similar to being a libertarian: nobody understands you, you’re often finding yourself unable to admit your beliefs in public, and thus you have a very difficult time finding others like yourself. While church members have a natural venue to meet like-minded folks, the very lack of belief makes it very difficult for atheists to do the same. Thus, it can be a lonely existence, and the knowledge that there are others who at least share your belief is a small comfort.

Matson, of course, does have a point. A group like COCORE may, through campaigns like this, slowly legitimize atheism in the general public. That will allow people of weak faith who might naturally tend towards atheism make the complete leap. But such at attitude by Christians would only make clear that they are against one of those central tenets of Christianity, the idea that accepting Christ is a choice to be made freely and with all the information laid out.

Instead of knee-jerk reaction, perhaps those who believe would do better if they spent their time working towards conversion based upon the positive aspects of their faith, not by trying to silence their opposition. To do such a thing would be respectful of freedom, and would earn my respect*. It may not spur me to believe, but it would certainly temper my disgust at some of the behavior of the more vocal and least-tolerant believers.
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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

A Lone Silver Lining

Today is, truly, a historic day. I’m not an old man, but when I was born 30 years ago the idea of electing a black president was something that might be discussed in polite circles, but was not reality. Today that has changed.

Perhaps I’ve become more sentimental as I’ve aged, or perhaps it’s that I have a 14-month-old son, but I am happy to see living proof that America has moved beyond this. My son won’t grow up knowing that this country won’t elect a black president; he’ll grow up knowing that we already have.

Now, that doesn’t mean I am an Obama fan. America is headed into an economic buzzsaw of extreme proportions, and I don’t have any faith in Obama to do what’s necessary. I have a feeling this country is headed towards a New New Deal, and that America as we know it will never recover. I expect to spend the next four (or 8) years railing against almost everything Barack Obama does in office.

Today we elected a black man to the most powerful office in the world. That’s not trivial. I wholeheartedly wish that it hadn’t been this black man, but that doesn’t change the historical significance of this day.

Take a moment to reflect on what has just happened. Then get ready, because the next 4 or 8 years are going to be a hell of a fight.

Maybe They Should Call It ‘The Cheese-Maker’

No matter how jaded I get, American “Christians” seem to come up with new ways to make me aghast. The latest CINO (Christian in Name Only) is Sheriff Lott, who is prepared to use a 50 machine gun to keep law and order in what I thought to be the relatively unwarlike Richland County of South Carolina.

When I first read that Sheriff Lott named his 50 cal machinegun “The Peace Maker” I was instantly reminded of Tacitus’ tale about the Roman conquest of Britain, specifically the words a Scottish chieftain spoke on the last morning of his life:

We, the most distant dwellers upon the earth, the last of the free, have been shielded until now by our remoteness and by the obscurity which has shrouded our name. Now, the farthest bounds of Britain lie open to our enemies. There are no more nations beyond us ­ only waves, and rocks, and the Romans. Pillagers of the world, they have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder. East and west alike have failed to satisfy them. To robbery, butchery and rapine, they give the lying name “government”. They create a desert and call it peace. Which will you choose ­ to follow me into battle, or to submit to taxation, labour in the mines and all the other tribulations of slavery? Whether you are to endure these forever or take a quick revenge, this battle must decide.”

It turns out, however that Sherrif Lott had a different speech in mind when he selected the name::

Sheriff Leon Lott extended his appreciation to the citizens of Richland County and to the State Paper for their contributions in naming the APC (the State held an online search to garner public assistance on naming the APC). The purpose in obtaining this equipment is the protection of life and our protection of our communities – that the mere presence of the APC will prevent loss of life or injury to any and all citizens. Sheriff Lott stated that the name selected from the entries will be “The Peacemaker” because that is the APC’s purpose and the bible refers to law enforcement in Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”. Sheriff Lott hopes to always bring resolution to all conflict through peaceful means.

Since Sheriff Lott wasn’t stuck in the back of the crowd when Jesus gave his sermon, I can only conclude that he neglected to actually read the sermon he quotes from:

When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.’
But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’
But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Using a speech in which a prophet called for people to love their enemies as the basis for calling a weapon designed to kill people wholesale “The Peace Keeper” is positively blasphemous.

See my other post on Libertarian reaction to The Peace Keeper, here.

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.

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?

Quote of the Day: “Our Collectivist Candidates” Edition

This quote comes from an article written on May 28, 2008 entitled “Our Collectivist Candidates” by David Boaz, the Executive VP of the Cato Institute.

Obama and McCain are telling us Americans that our normal lives are not good enough, that pursuing our own happiness is “self-indulgence,” that building a business is “chasing after our money culture,” that working to provide a better life for our families is a “narrow concern.”

They’re wrong. Every human life counts. Your life counts. You have a right to live it as you choose, to follow your bliss. You have a right to seek satisfaction in accomplishment. And if you chase after the almighty dollar, you just might find that you are led, as if by an invisible hand, to do things that improve the lives of others.

If you value the concept of the individual or value individual liberty, you simply cannot support Barack Obama or John McCain in this election.

The Value Of The First Amendment

The British don’t have a Bill of Rights per se, they don’t even really have a written Constitution, which is why it’s possible for nonsense like this to take place:\

This past week, apparently, two ministers found out first-hand that what the Bishop claimed was true:

The preachers, both ministers in Birmingham, were handing out leaflets on Alum Rock Road in February when they started talking to four Asian youths.

A police community support officer (PCSO) interrupted the conversation and began questioning the ministers about their beliefs.

They said when the officer realised they were American, although both have lived in Britain for many years, he launched a tirade against President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Cunningham said: “I told him that this had nothing to do with the gospel we were preaching but he became very aggressive.

“He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam and said that he was going to take us to the police station.”

The preacher refused to give the PCSO his address because he felt the officer’s manner was “threatening and intimidating”.

The ministers claim he also advised them not to return to the area. As he walked away, the PCSO said: “You have been warned. If you come back here and get beaten up, well you have been warned”.

Left unanswered, of course, is why the police wouldn’t go their job to protect the preachers if they were, by chance, beaten up by thugs for committing the apparently unpardonable crime of proselytizing in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. Instead, it’s just easier to stop the speech and let the thugs have there way.

Of course, having a written Constitution and an explicit protection of freedom of speech doesn’t always help either. Just ask our neighbors to the North:

Representatives of B.C. Muslims are seeking a ruling from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal over a 2006 Maclean’s magazine article they say discriminated against them and exposed the community to hatred and contempt.

The complaint was filed jointly by Canadian Islamic Congress president Mohamed Elmasry of Ottawa and Abbotsford cardiologist Dr. Naiyer Habib, a B.C. director of the congress.

At issue is an Oct. 23, 2006, article that suggested Muslim demographics will soon enable them to overrun countries in Europe and North America.

Apparently, in Canada, as in Britain, the “right” not to be offended, even by the truth, trumps free speech every time.

Why Can’t Government Deal In Cyberspace?

As a member of the internet generation, I do more things online these days than offline. In the world of commerce, there are a host of simple and useful tools, created by companies, that make it very easy for me to accomplish what I want to accomplish. Need a map? Google. Need information on where to go for dinner & drinks, and then what entertainment to take my wife to celebrate special occasions? Citysearch, ticketmaster, etc. Hotels, airfare, and vacations? A host of sites provide me with information, pricing, and simple booking. I can communicate with fellow homebrewers or fellow Boilermakers on a number of message boards. Buying and selling of goods and services can be done on a host of sites (my favorite being craigslist). Even banking, a form of commerce as old as money, is available and convenient online. I can’t remember the last time I actually wrote a check, stuck it in an envelope, added a stamp, and sent it off to pay my bills.

But when it comes to making things easier for “consumers”, one area of our society lags far, far behind: the government. Outside of a few bright spots, government-service web sites are largely cumbersome and useless. Why? Well, the economist points us at the usual suspects: lack of competition, lack of accountability, and a tendency to spend money without actually ensuring the results are achieved.

Governments have few direct rivals. Amazon.com must outdo other online booksellers to win readers’ money. Google must beat Yahoo!. Unless every inch of such companies’ websites offers stellar clarity and convenience, customers go elsewhere. But if your country’s tax-collection online offering is slow, clunky or just plain dull, then tough. When Britain’s Inland Revenue website crashed on January 31st—the busiest day of its year—the authorities grudgingly gave taxpayers one day’s grace before imposing penalties. They did not offer the chance to pay tax in Sweden instead.

But shame and beauty contests are still weak forces in the public sector. Failure in bureaucracy means not bankruptcy but writing self-justifying memos, and at worst a transfer elsewhere. Bureaucrats plead that just a bit more time and money will fix the clunky monsters they have created. That kind of thinking has led to the botched computerisation in Britain’s National Health Service, where billions of pounds and millions of precious hours are spent on a system that at best will be substandard and at worst dangerously leaky with patients’ private medical data.

That reflects another problem. In the private sector, tight budgets for information technology spark innovation. But bureaucrats are suckers for overpriced, overpromised and overengineered systems. The contrast is all the sharper given some of the successes shown by those using open-source software: the District of Columbia, for example, has junked its servers and proprietary software in favour of the standard package of applications offered and hosted by Google.

Not that such an indictment of the system will surprise any regular readers of this web site, of course. Systems don’t work when the incentives don’t force them to work, and the political incentive to operate efficiently simply doesn’t exist. I would, of course, add one additional point. I added emphasis to the article’s point on bureaucrats’ use of overpriced, overpromised, and overengineered systems. In addition, it’s quite often that these systems are not chosen for their technical fit in the required application, but are chosen because of who is supplying the system, and what politicians they have lobbied. Or, as is common in the military, the politically-correct need to source products from “small disadvantaged businesses” leads to perverse incentives, where either sub-optimal solutions are chosen, or the implemented solution has needless overhead in the cost because it must be purchased through a qualifying distributor.

As is usually the case with government, it’s not that incompetence or malfeasance is the direct cause of the failure of a system. It’s that the system is not designed to operate in the way we expect it to. Our elected officials and the bureaucrats they appoint are not supermen. In fact, those who believe the internet is a series of tubes simply shouldn’t be expected to implement sound e-government policies.

More on Obama’s Doublespeak

Last week I wrote a post about how Barack Obama was trying to have it both ways on the Second Amendment. Ken Blackwell at Townhall.com, however, believes that Obama’s doublespeak about the Second Amendment (among some of Obama’s other statements) reveals a disturbing pattern in his attitudes about individual rights and a host of other issues:

Yet while Mr. Obama says he supports your Second Amendment rights, he also says he supports that gun ban. He went on to say that local governments should be able to enact any gun control laws they consider necessary to end gun violence, and that any such measures are constitutional.
What kind of gun rights does he supposedly support? What kind of “right” do you have, when the government can completely rob you of 100% of the exercise of that right, anytime they decide they have a good reason?

That’s like saying you have the right to worship as you choose, but the government has the power to ban attending church. Or that you have the right to free speech, but that government has the power to stop you from speaking about any subject it wants. Or that you have the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, but that anything the government wants to search at your house is automatically reasonable.

A right that the government can completely take away at any time is no right at all.

So to say that the Second Amendment means you can own guns, but that the city where you live can ban all gun ownership, then you have no Second Amendment rights at all.

I truly hope that someone will have an opportunity to ask Obama if he really believes that local governments can toss aside the Constitution whenever convenient (though I have a hard time believing that Obama would restrict federal agents to the Constitution while giving local law enforcement carte blanche to violate basic civil liberties of citizens). As if doublespeak on the Constitution wasn’t enough, we can expect doublespeak on many other issues which concern such issues as the economy, terrorism, and growing government.

The article continues:

This is what Americans could expect from a President Obama. He’ll wax eloquent about your rights, but then say government can take away whatever part of them—or all of them—that it wants.

It’s the disturbing pattern that’s starting to emerge of Mr. Obama announcing a principle or a goal, then endorsing policies that are the exact opposite of what would promote that principle or goal. It’s political-doublespeak. It’s Orwellian. In fact, it’s Clintonian.

Look for this pattern across the board. This is how he’ll empower private markets, by increasing government control. He’ll preserve our private-market healthcare system, by having government take it over. He’ll lower taxes, by raising them. He’ll cut government, by increasing government spending. He’ll create jobs, by raising taxes and fees on business […]

I’m sure there will be even more Obama doublespeak as the campaign wears on. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he proposed a new cabinet level position such as The Ministry Department of Truth.

The Media’s Latest Hoplophobia-mongering

Internet Broadcasting Systems has a new breathless article warning of the latest danger to government space travelers making the rounds of the internet:

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station apparently have access to a gun.

Oh the horror! Then comes the letdown:

Russian Cosmonauts carry a gun on their Soyuz space capsule, which is attached to the space station.

Every spacecraft carries survival gear for crash landings, and the Russian Soyuz has a kit that includes the gun.

The weapon they are referring to is a gun designed for the Soviet space program that can fire a shotgun shell, a solid round and a flare, and which can be converted into a shovel and a machete. The Soviets included this weapon in the inventory for the Soyuz because the capsule lands in the wilderness of south-western Russia and could be out of reach of rescue crews for hours or even days. The Soviets began including the guns after wolves were seen in the vicinity of a capsule during one recovery effort.

Of course, this is too substantive for this authors, who decided to stick to their core competency of yellow journalism:

Experts said the idea of an astronaut losing control was unthinkable until one year ago, when Lisa Nowak shattered the myth.
Her own attorney said she was insane when arrested for hunting down another woman, and prosecutors said she was heavily armed.
Nowak had flown in space just seven months earlier.

The article is substantially lifted1 from an article written by journalist James Oberg who is primarily focused on writing about space travel. His much more substantive article may be found here:

In fact, Moscow’s latest diplomatic offensive to get a treaty banning weapons in space may be shot down by one of the proposed pact’s little-noticed provisions: Nobody else should get to put weapons in space, but Russia gets to keep the ones it already has.

Cosmonauts regularly carry handguns on their Soyuz spacecraft — and actually, that’s not unreasonable. There are practical and historical justifications.

But wait! Apparently the survival gun is being phased out and replaced with conventional side-arms

Just before last October’s Soyuz launch, a British news report said that the gun, manufactured by a factory that is now in an independent country, was being phased out because all the in-stock ammunition had exceeded its certified shelf life. In its place, a standard Russian army sidearm was now to be carried.

Guns were never carried aboard U.S. spacecraft. Instead, a sharp machete served as the most serious armament for a jungle landing. Besides, with a worldwide U.S. network of bases and existing air-sea rescue forces, odds were that any downed astronauts would be found and rescued pretty quickly. The same now goes for Soyuz spacecraft supporting the international space station and usually carrying an U.S. crewmember at launch and landing — any off-course vehicle would have the entire U.S. rescue team at their disposal almost immediately. But the legend of the hungry wolves trumps current realities, so the guns have remained.

Then Oberg too engages in some hoplophobic advocacy of his own:

And here’s the safety issue that nobody seems to want to talk about. As the space station crew size increases, with a much wider range of crew members (including paying passengers, either tourists or representatives of national research groups from Malaysia, Chile, Venezuela or elsewhere), everyone on board will have access to the gun in the Soyuz. By 2009 there will always be two Soyuzes attached, so two guns will be available.

The next Soyuz launch is set for April 8. The handgun is probably already packed. If Moscow wants to show it is really serious about keeping space “weapons-free,” and keeping orbiting astronauts and cosmonauts free of too-easy access to lethal weapons, the gun ought to be removed. Carry a machete, carry a Taser — but stop carrying guns into space.

Mr Oberg’s point is quite interesting. It isn’t weapons per se that are dangerous, but guns themselves. Why a crazed crewmember with a pellet shooting gun is unacceptably dangerous while a crazed crewmember armed with a stun-gun is not, I am not sure, since any thing that can be done with a gun – incapacitate humans, wreck equipment, open the pressure hull to space – can also be done by a malevolent crewman armed with a stun-gun.

The fact is, prohibition never works. It never will work, even in space. Where humans go, conflict follows. Even in prisons, which should be a hoplophobe’s dream since the guards work diligently to keep anything that can be used as a weapon out of the inmates’ hands, stabbings and shootings with improvised weapons are quite common.

If prison guards can’t keep prisoners from smuggling weapons or constructing them, how do the administrators of government space programs propose to keep arms out of the hands of intelligent, free people who have a knack for engineering?

Twenty years ago, a fellow named Grant Callin penned a wonderful pair of books, Saturnalia and its sequel A Lion on Tharthree. I highly recommend them since it is some of the best ‘hard’ science ficition written in the 1980’s. Both books are focused on the discovery of alien artifacts on Saturn and the conflict between various consortia as they vie to control access to the alien technology.

In A Lion on Tharthree, the Captain of humanity’s first interstellar spacecraft takes Mr Oberg’s precautions. Getting wind of a potential mutinous act on the part of one unstable crewmember, he locks the only weapon in his safe. When the mutiny does occur, spearheaded by the executive officer and the representative of one of the consortia, the captain finds himself facing mutineers armed with guns constructed from the kinetic sculptures they had brought on board quite openly. The price the Captain and his crew pay for this willful disarmament are the life-threatening bullet wounds they suffer as they are forced to make a human wave assault in a desperate attempt to preserve their lives.

Mr Oberg’s recommendations, if adopted, would ensure that the first time a weapon is used in space it will be a disaster.

Postscript:

1 I find the warning at the bottom of the IBS article, “This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed,” kind of funny in that what they really did was rewrite Mr Oberg’s article, and that badly.

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 Consequences When Government Tries To Do A Good Thing&#153

I think we can all agree that gender equality is a Good Thing&#153. I think we can all agree that there should not be any barriers, legal or otherwise, to women reaching the highest levels of the workforce. And I think we can mostly, if not all, agree that the “old boy’s club”, to the extent that it exists, harms our economy by making it much harder for qualified women to reach that level of a company.

The real question, then, is what to do about it. Personally, I’m more of a “let the market sort it out” type. After all, we’ve seen a sea change on this issue in just my lifetime, and anyone who still harbors thoughts that business is just a “man’s game” should keep his guard up before Oprah owns his ass. Norway, though, has taken a different tack. Not content to let the market sort it out, they’ve mandated that 40% of the countries seats on Boards of Directors be held by women. Unfortunately, though, they’ve put the cart before the horse, and simply crowned a few of the countries top business women:

Before the law was proposed, about 7% of board members in Norway were female, according to the Centre for Corporate Diversity. The number has since jumped to 36%. That is far higher than the average of 9% for big companies across Europe—11% for Britain’s FTSE 100—or America’s 15% for the Fortune 500. Norway’s stock exchange and its main business lobby oppose the law, as do many businessmen. “I am against quotas for women or men as a matter of principle,” says Sverre Munck, head of international operations at Schibsted, a media firm. “Board members of public companies should be chosen solely on the basis of merit and experience,” he says. Several firms have even given up their public status in order to escape the new law.

Companies have had to recruit about 1,000 women in four years. Many complain that it has been difficult to find experienced candidates. Because of this, some of the best women have collected as many as 25-35 directorships each, and are known in Norwegian business circles as the “golden skirts”. One reason for the scarcity is that there are fairly few women in management in Norwegian companies—they occupy around 15% of senior positions. It has been particularly hard for firms in the oil, technology and financial industries to find women with enough experience. DNO, for instance, an oil and gas firm that operates in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere, found women it was happy with last November, but their expertise is in finance and human resources, not oil, says Helge Eide, DNO’s president. “However, we retain sufficient oil and gas experience in the men on our board,” he adds.

When government tries to do something “good”, they end up bringing in unintended consequences and ill effects that they often seem surprised to find. In this case, much like Sarbanes-Oxley, it has caused many companies to go private. And rather than leveling the playing field for all women, it has simply elevated a few specific women to a level where they sit on so many boards that their efforts must be spread too thin to have any real effect.

What is also interesting here is the difference between allowing the market to sort it out, and not. America tends to have relatively low business regulation in comparison to Europe, where the barrier to entry for a public company is tremendous. Thus, America’s more free market offers more opportunity for women to start public companies and to prove their mettle in the business world. As the story points out, this has resulted in about 15% of Board of Directors at American Fortune 500 companies to be women, with Britian, Europe, and Norway (pre-mandate) lagging behind.

This is a perfect example of government attempting to fix a problem through mandate, when all they have done is masked the problem. America lets the market sort this out, and women hold more top-level positions than other industrialized nations. It proves what we free-market advocates have long stated: the free-market isn’t simply the most efficient distributor of capital, it is also one of the most equal and fair systems for distributing opportunity.

I Thought The Pole Tax Was Unconstitutional?

Or was that the poll tax?

Either way, I’m not a big fan of this new Texas law:

There is a new price to be paid for looking at naked women in Texas. On January 1st the state’s strip clubs began imposing a $5 surcharge for each visitor. The “pole tax,” as it is commonly called, is expected to bring the state an additional $40m in revenue each year.

Ahh, there’s no better way to increase taxes than to make people who can’t defend themselves pay for them! After all, most strip club patrons aren’t going to leave their wives and kids at home to go protest this sort of thing down at the state house. Just like most “dirty evil smokers” won’t get much sympathy for their pocketbooks when a city or state raises the tax by a buck a pack or so.

After all, the politicians know what they’re doing. In Texas, they raised this tax to pay for shelters for rape victims, despite the fact that there isn’t much of a link between strip clubs and rape, as far as anyone can tell. Just like the smoker taxes are to pay for health care, despite the fact that some studies have shown that smokers die sooner and actually take less from the public trough than non-smokers.

But it’s always a winning tactic. Politicians create a scapegoat that the general public doesn’t like, and they can downright lynch them if they’d like. All you need to do is complain about how the strip clubs are ruining the fabric of society, or about how smokers are destroying their health and killing us with their second-hand smoke. Once you make the public think they’re bad people for their actions, the public agrees that they must be punished.

And it’s not a new phenomenon:

Such targeted taxes seem to be in vogue at the moment. Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, recently proposed that retailers pay a fee for selling sugar-laden fizzy drinks. The revenue would fund a city initiative to encourage healthy eating and exercise. Last year’s proposed expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Programme would have been funded by increased tobacco taxes (though the connection here also seems rather a stretch, since not that many children smoke; George Bush vetoed it anyway). In Wisconsin, a state legislator wants to raise more money for the juvenile criminal justice system via a tax on video games.

When our politicians need to push for increasingly dastardly methods for pulling in their tax revenues, one must ask whether we should really let them have the money.

What’s next, will they just finance government via a big swear jar? After all, if they can’t say those words on TV, maybe us foul-mouthed cretins should be charged a quarter by the feds each time we use the seven words in our personal lives as well.

Author Of The Ron Paul Newsletter Outed?

After speaking with multiple sources (many of them off-the-record) and going through a publishing history, Reason Magazine has added weight to the suspicions of many on who was responsible for the Ron Paul newsletter…current Ron Paul advisor Lew Rockwell.  From the tone of the article nobody else seems to come close as a prime suspect, except anarcho-capitalist icon Murray Rothbard (who is now dead and unavailable for comment).  Rockwell’s denied the allegations but there don’t appear to be a swarm of people coming to his defense.  Of course, we’ll never know for certain unless the guilty party does step forward or someone provides evidence to point him out, but it seems pretty clear that Rockwell had some significant level of involvement with the newsletter (he benefited financially from it according to Reason) and as such if Ron Paul expects libertarians to believe he had nothing to do with the sentiments in those newsletters when one of the chief beneficiaries of that newsletter is still one of his key advisors I think he’s got some explaining to do…something more convincing than the “I have no clue what was going on because I’m an incompetent manager” defense.

And to the commenter on an earlier thread who claimed that Murray Rothbard was very capable of writing some of the more offensive things in the newsletter, based on what I read in the Reason article you were right and I was wrong.  Kudos for being able to recognize the stench.

I Can’t Think Of A Catchy Title

I suppose the best way to describe myself would be to say that I have a problem with authority. I’ve always disliked when people told me what to do, even as a young child, and I’ve always preferred to find my own path through life and make my own decisions, even if it occasionally went against the conventional wisdom and sometimes worked to my short-term disadvantage. My dad said I inherited it from him, but that I’ve taken it to a whole new level. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, until I got to college and realized that journalism was less about the search for objective truth than it was about writing the stories that best suited your employer’s interests, whether they were true or not (which didn’t sit well with me at all). So I drifted aimlessly through a couple of years of college as an indifferent (often drunk) student, unsure of what to do with myself until one of my fraternity brothers gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” and I got hooked on the ideas that success and a refusal to conform to societal standards were not mutally exclusive, and that the greatest evil in the world was society and government’s failure to recognize or accept individuality and individual freedom as a strength, not a weakness. So I threw myself into studying politics and history, worked in a few political campaigns after college, had some success, and thought about doing a career in politics until I realized that most of the people I knew who had never had a career outside of politics had no comprehension of how the real world actually worked and tended to make a lot of bad, self-absorbed decisions that rarely helped the people they claimed to be representing.

That didn’t sit well with me either, so I decided to put any thoughts of going into politics on hold until I’d actually had a life and possibly a real career, and I spent the next couple of years drifting between a series of random yet educational jobs (debt collector, deliveryman, computer salesman, repo man, dairy worker) that taught me the value of hard work, personal responsibility and the financial benefits of dining at Taco John’s on Tuesday nights (2 tacos for a buck) when money got tight.

After awhile, however, the desire to see the world (and the need for a more consistent and slightly larger paycheck) convinced me to join the Army, where I spent ten years traveling around the world on the government dime working as an intelligence analyst. I generally enjoyed my time in the military, despite the aforementioned problem with authority (which wasn’t as much of an issue in the military as many people might think it would be), and I got to see that the decisions our political leaders make were sometimes frivolous, often ill-informed, and always had unforeseen repercussions down the road…especially on the soldiers tasked with implementing those decisions. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my 10 years in the military doing jobs I enjoyed, traveling to countries that I always wanted to see (Scotland is the greatest place in the world to hang out, Afghanistan is very underrated) and working with people I liked and respected, until I finally decided that at 35 it was time to move into a job where I didn’t have the threat of relocation lying over my head every two or three years, where I didn’t have to worry about my friends being blown up, and where I didn’t have to work in any capacity for George W. Bush.

I work now for a financial company in Kansas where I’m responsible for overseeing, pricing and maintaining farms, commercial and residential properties, mineral assets, insurance policies, annuities, etc. In my spare time I like to read books on economics, history, and politics (I’m preparing to tackle Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy & State” and Von Mises’ “Human Action”…should take me about a year at the rate I’m currently finishing books), watch movies, and destroy posers on “Halo 3″ (where I’m signed in under “UCrawford” for anyone interested in taking a shot at me some time). I used to play rugby until age, inconsistent conditioning, and a string of gradually worsening injuries finally convinced me to quit. I’m a rabid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks in general and their basketball and football programs in particular and I’m also a devoted fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. I’m also fond of going online and debating/picking fights with people on the merits of the philosophy of individual freedom…sometimes to the point of being an asshole (but hopefully a reasonably well-informed asshole). I’ve been a big fan of The Liberty Papers ever since finding it online, I respect the body of work they’ve put out, and I’m honored that Brad Warbiany invited me to join his jolly band of freedom fighters. So cheers, Brad, and to everyone else I look forward to reaching consensus or locking horns with you in the near future.

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