Friday, February 27, 2009
I will admit my own ignorance of the law as it pertains to healthcare in some respects, but I think the big question on my mind is to wonder why in the hell Bush ever even had to put forth any kind of policy regarding this in the first place.
Without getting into the morality of abortion, because it is truly a black-or-white issue in that you will either believe it to be morally reprehensible or morally justifiable depending on who you are, I really don't understand what it is Obama thinks he's trying to accomplish by proceeding down this path. He's not going to do anything but completely enrage the majority of people in this country. Even if you are pro-choice, you absolutely have to recognize that this action cripples the freedom of people to choose with whom they do business.
I work in construction and I deal every day with a multitude of different companies. I like to think that I make good choices in the companies with which I do business, choosing them not only based on price and performance, but based on whether or not they are honest, upstanding people. I cannot make a decision to give a plumber a subcontract without my own morality coming into the decision-making process.
A doctor receives payment for treating a patient. It is a business relationship. A pharmacist receives payment for the medicine he or she provides to a customer. It is a business relationship. Either of them, while ethically motivated to treat their patients and customers with the utmost care and respect, must be allowed to define their ethical decisions based on their own moral values.
A doctor who believes abortion to be murder should never, under any circumstance, be compelled to perform or aid in performing an abortion. Likewise a pharmacist who believes that life begins at conception should not be compelled to provide any customer at all, or even carry, the "morning-after" pill.
Similarly, patients and customers seeking these purely elective procedures or drugs should not ever expect that a business that does not wish to serve them, should be forced to serve them anyway. This is not a "hate crime." This is not "discrimination." You wouldn't go to Congress demanding that every Starbucks should serve Whoppers. You would just go to Burger King.
This is simple Capitalism, and it is the only remedy necessary for anyone who is denied an abortion or any related services by people who do not wish to be paid to provide them.
I found this to be quite interesting, in that Rand has defined the philosophy by which I have come to attempt to live my life. In that the Libertarian movement has not died, as I am sure she wished it would have, I decided to respond to her thoughts on the movement. While obviously she cannot possibly respond, I hope you will be kind enough to respond to some of my thoughts on the matter with your own. If anyone else reading is a blogger as well, I would also be interested in doing some cross-posting on the matter.
Q: What do you think of the Libertarian movement? [FHF: “The Moratorium on Brains,” 1971]
AR: All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists. But of course, anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet they want to combine capitalism and anarchism. That is worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.
My immediate response to this particular line of thought is that Rand provided this answer in 1971. Thirty-seven years later, I don't believe that there exists in the Libertarian movement, any semblance of a grouping of anarchists that have any kind of voice in any matter. I agree with her thoughts on anarchists in general, that they are simply another style of collectivist, and that they are the scum of the intellectual world. I can't say of the intellectual world of the left, since I think that nearly four decades later, there is no home left anywhere politically for an anarchist. Perhaps some anarchists would feel like calling themselves Libertarians, but I do not believe that at this point in time, Libertarians would accept being associated with anarchists, much less believe that Libertarianism's makeup is heavily laden with anarchists.
Q: What do you think of the Libertarian Party? [FHF: “A Nation’s Unity,” 1972]
AR: I’d rather vote for Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, or Jerry Lewis. I don’t think they’re as funny as Professor Hospers and the Libertarian Party. If, at a time like this, John Hospers takes ten votes away from Nixon (which I doubt he’ll do), it would be a moral crime. I don’t care about Nixon, and I care even less about Hospers. But this is no time to engage in publicity seeking, which all these crank political parties are doing. If you want to spread your ideas, do it through education. But don’t run for President—or even dogcatcher—if you’re going to help McGovern.
This statement on her part, I think, had so much more to do with her pure absolutism more than anything. I think to Rand it was much more relevant to teach people something through honest discourse, and she therefore loathed the idea that anybody would stain her ideas by grandstanding with them politically. There is such an element of propagandizing and dishonesty that pervades political discourse, that I don't believe she felt it possible for people to learn anything via a political campaign. So she ultimately seems to have taken the approach that I see many disheartened conservatives take, in that they vote grudgingly for the Republican candidate, despite not thinking he is the right choice.
This is an argument that I hear a lot of. That being that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. It is not an argument that, for me, falls on deaf ears. It makes all the sense in the world. Every election is a battle, and particularly this last election. I voted for John McCain, despite hating myself for it, because I felt a deeper need to see Barack Obama not step foot into the White House. I couldn't stand John McCain. If he was conservative enough, and principled enough, to lead the party, he would have beaten Bush in the first place eight years ago, and also wouldn't have needed to make back-room deals with Huckabee to sabotage Romney in the South during the primaries this time around. So in that respect, I fully understand her position that it would be a "moral crime" to vote otherwise. However, it should be known that it was a personal crime against my own morality to have supported someone like John McCain, who, to be perfectly honest, would have simply wound up being a watered-down version of Obama anyway.
Q: Libertarians advocate the politics you advocate. So why are you opposed to the Libertarian Party? [FHF: “Egalitarianism and Inflation,” 1974]
AR: They are not defenders of capitalism. They’re a group of publicity seekers who rush into politics prematurely, because they allegedly want to educate people through a political campaign, which can’t be done. Further, their leadership consists of men of every of persuasion, from religious conservatives to anarchists. Moreover, most of them are my enemies: they spend their time denouncing me, while plagiarizing my ideas. Now, I think it’s a bad beginning for an allegedly pro-capitalist party to start by stealing ideas.
This exchange follows the previous one nicely I think, in that it is an extension of Rand's thoughts on the men pursuing politics through the Libertarian Party. If you're educated in Objectivism, you'll understand immediately that it's really the "collection of misfits" here that she's disgusted with. The "men of every persuasion" she discusses, I think, made her hate the party. She very much wanted people to view Objectivism as a new way live their lives and I don't think she could stand that so many people she felt belonged in a different classification would gather into a group simply to be "anti" whatever elese there was. She believed people should live for things, not against them, and that people needed to be taught to live for themselves as their own highest purpose. With such an assemblage of different people grouping together to be against other principles, she felt that they were not making choices for their own benefit, but rather against the benefits of others.
It's interesting to me that someone who wrote for a living felt that the people considered the leaders of the Libertarian Party at the time were nothing more than publicity hounds. I personally find myself in a position to want to write and put forth ideas that I feel can help. I find it hard to believe that other writers or speakers discussing Liberty and Freedom and Capitalism at the time felt like they would just talk about such concepts out of self-promotion. Rand seemed particularly upset that they would steal her ideas and not credit her, as she should have been. I'm admittedly ignorant of who took what ideas from her, but it seems to me she wouldn't have been so upset had these same people been able to convey her ideas and teach people with such ruthless competence as herself and Peikoff were capable.
As to her point that it is impossible to educate through a political campaign, it is difficult to disagree. One learns nothing by listening to different people spouting different canned talking points. But I have to disagree that the political campaign is useless in spreading education. We see it now more than ever. Freedom and Liberty are, I think, more on the table now than ever before in my entire lifetime due primarily to Ron Paul's recent political campaign. Without that political campaign, it is impossible for me to believe that we would now have people again discussing F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman and yes, Ayn Rand as heroes of economy and philosophy as vehemently as we are. We also would not see movements like the Campaign for Liberty or Young Americans for Liberty. It's doubtful that educational reading by authors like Tom Woods would be so popular as it is now. Making important ideas highly visible to inspire people to educate themselves cannot be considered a bad thing.
Q: Have you ever heard of [Libertarian presidential candidate] Roger MacBride? [FHF: “?” 1976]
AR: My answer should be, “I haven’t.” There’s nothing to hear. I have been maintaining in everything I have said and written, that the trouble in the world today is philosophical; that only the right philosophy can save us. Now here is a party that plagiarizes some of my ideas, mixes it with the exact opposite—with religionists, anarchists, and just about every intellectual misfit and scum they can find—and they call themselves Libertarians, and run for office. I dislike Reagan and Carter; I’m not too enthusiastic about the other candidates. But the worst of them are giants compared to anybody who would attempt something as un-philosophical, low, and pragmatic as the Libertarian Party. It is the last insult to ideas and philosophical consistency.
This quote, I think best sums up Rand's issues with the Libertarian Party. Her belief that "the trouble in the world today is philosophical" is never moreso evident than it is today. Every person needs a philosophy to guide them, and Rand could not see a consistent philosophy that drove the Libertarian Party, and was angered that she became so associated with it.
I cannot speak to the beginnings of the Libertarian Party and whether or not it had a true guiding philosophy. But I can speak to where it is now. Libertarians believe in small government, true free-market capitalism, liberty and freedom as inherent for all, not given or granted, and respect of that freedom by all and for all.
Liberty, Freedom and Respect are ideas that sure seem like good philosophy to me.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
While stopping short of blaming a factually non-existent out of control weapons use on cowardly white folks, race-baiting fear-monger Eric Holder does take it upon himself to let us know that the reason behind wanting to ban assault weapons is all those damn Mexicans:
I met yesterday with Attorney General Medina Mora of Mexico, and we discussed the unprecedented levels of violence his country is facing because of their enforcement efforts.The ABC News article reports that the Obama Administration is seeking to "cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico, which is struggling with heavy violence among drug cartels along the border."
Isn't it nice to know that the more things (Hopen)Change, the more they stay the same?
Let's continue to expand federal government authority and shred the constitution here folks.
Putting aside the obvious fact that if Mexican drug cartels want automatic weapons, they are going to get them whether from a legal store in the United States or from the black market, the purpose of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution was so that the people would be able to remain armed sufficiently to protect themselves, not only from violent criminals on their own, but also from an oppressive government. While it may seem difficult for many people to believe that assault rifles are necessary for the common person to be able to procure, the fact of the matter is that if the people of the United States ever wish to be able to protect themselves from the imposition of martial law that will eventually be implemented to stem the tide of a fear created and spread by the Federal Government, we need to be allowed access to the same level of weaponry that the military possesses.
After inheriting a tidy economic crisis, Barack Obama is playing the Politics of Fear as we have never seen before. Rest assured he intends to stoke the fire as long as possible until what may now seem like a few glowing embers of crisis has become a raging inferno of panic and catastrophe.
The 2nd Amendment was put into place in order to ensure that the citizens of this country could rise up with vengeance and furious anger to overthrow an overreaching and overly oppressive government. As our President does nothing but expand the size of the Federal Government almost exponentially on a daily basis, now is the time, more than ever, that we must fight for our right to keep and bear arms.
Don't get me wrong, prioritizing the expansion of the overseas empire and the egregious spending related to it are major, major issues in why Republicans have been unable to garner votes.
But this does not explain the Grand Old Party's loss of overall popularity in general. What does explain it, however, and I hate to say this because all through the election and up until yesterday he has been absolutely fantastic on the radio, is Rush Limbaugh. Not necessarily the man himself, but the words he spoke and the overriding sentinment that has been driving the Republican Party's populist movement that began with Reagan in the 80's.
People who don't believe in God believe in Obama. Agnostics, atheists, because believe me, a planeload of atheists on a jet on the way to Hawaii and three of the four engines go out, the atheists start praying to who? God. Not the ocean, to save 'em. Everybody believes in God at some point, but not until they face their mortality. Everybody does. They have some God. Very few people think they're it. Obama is one. I think when Obama prays, it's to himself.
Now, putting aside the fact that I personally don't believe in God and also don't believe in Obama, this statement in and of itself really encapsulates what has been wrong with the Republican Party since Reagan, and why even though their method of improving the economy via lower taxes and smaller government is a successful mix, they have yet to have been popular as a party in general.
This statement really represents the authoritarian nature of the populist "Religious Right," and its views on the way our country ought to live from a social standpoint.
This is the portion of the Right that started the War on Drugs. This is the portion of the Right that would deny even a woman raped by a thug in the street to choose to have an abortion. This is the portion of the Right that, with California staring bankruptcy in the face, would still fight the legalization of marijuana despite the fact that it would immediately become the state's highest grossing legal cash crop by a gigantic margin, simply because it would mean that more people might drive while high, while turning a blind eye to the question of alcohol's legality.
What the Republican Party has failed to realize ever since Reagan, is that they have won their elections almost solely on what has up until recently been viewed as a spectacularly successful economic policy. The American people have, in the meantime, very grudgingly accepted the GOP's authoritarian views on social issues. What the Republicans have been unable to understand over the past thirty years is that any American who believes in Liberty and Freedom for the individual not only dislikes the Republican stance on social issues, he absolutely hates it.
The authoritarian Religious Right is Pro Life. This is certainly a beautiful attitude to have. But this does not mean that they should have been pushing Pro Life as an agenda for law at the federal level. A Pro Lifer of the Religious Right would have us believe that the fabric of society itself is crumbling around us because people are having abortions. To be sure, our regulations on abortion are completely ridiculous at this point, when a teen girl can have the procedure without notification of the parent, but that same parent could see jail time for send that teen girl to school with some aspirin. However, this does not mean that it is right to eliminate the individual's freedom of choice over the matter.
I use freedom of choice over abortion simply as one of the most visible issues as to why people in general dislike the Republican Party. Similarly, the right for two people of the same gender to go before God in their own Church and their own community and be married is under attack. I can't possibly think of anything more ridiculous than stopping two people who love each other from marrying. There is no force so powerful as love and for the authoritarian Religious Right to shout from the rafters that a union of love between two people who are of age to consent to each other is somehow wrong is simply another example of how they would further limit individual freedom and liberty.
The Grand Old Party has lost its way. It is in the wilderness with no leader and no true goal, and it is there because its authoritarian nature on social issues has led it there. This bodes poorly for America as Obama and the Socialist Left in Congress now leads us down the path of an economic authoritarianism the likes of which we have never seen, and from which we will be lucky ever to recover our personal liberties.
There is a way out, however. There is a worn, hardscrabble path that we can yet barely make out. But in order to get there, those of us that believe in the true American Way, have to leave the Republican Party and its authoritarians to the vultures. Libertarians know the way forward. Take our hands and we will guide you to that path.
That path is Liberty.
That path is Freedom.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
For anybody who doesn't watch Beck, or thinks he's just flat out crazy (couldn't blame you given the eye thing featured on Colbert), I very highly recommend his show.
It's extremely entertaining if for no other reason that he truly thinks outside the box, and is basically the only person beating the drum of Freedom and Liberty and small government on television today.
That aside, a really great video here (Hat Tip: Below the Beltway) that talks about the collapse of both Bretton Woods, as well as the dollar reserve system, the house of cards that we've been living in until right now, and about where the G20 possibly thinks they're going to go now.
Essentially it looks like they're really starting to push the long-conspiracied New World Order, and, get this, somehow still try to base it all on fiat money.
Why is it that these people think that if they do the exact same things wrong, only bigger and bigger, somehow in the end it will ever turn out right?
After a world-wide house of cards collapses, what will they do then?
Their only hope for another 30 years down the road will be to have imperialized space to the same extent as they have this planet, so they can ruin economies at a universal level as well!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
None of this is to say that I'm a goth or a bleak and depressive kind of guy, So I decided that while I'm not about to alter my daily garb I should perhaps at least make an effort to affect my outward appearance to better reflect my inner giggling geek.
So the best solution I could come up with was to sit a sign in front of me for most of the day with a smiley face on it. Not wanting to actually tote around a sandwich board all day, I settled on the solution below:
Monday, February 23, 2009
The Unabomber said (before he started bombing, or maybe in between bombings) that technology is not simply something created and cultivated by man but rather is more liken to a separate entity which propagates its self independently of and in some cases despite mankind's best interests.
I've always been somewhat of a fan of this idea, if for no other reason than that it invokes images of technology evolving and becoming better by an odd and hitherto unknown form of natural selection. And I mean natural selection.
Mankind has for eons used artificial selection to create new breeds of plants and animals by enhancing the reproductive chances of those individuals which display those characteristics most favorable to human exploitation (larger grain size, thicker and faster growing wool, etc).
And in the case of technology as an organism one would expect a similar form of human-controlled artificial selection. However this is not always the case. I think those of us with enough tech-savvy to be reading this post are aware enough of the infuriatingly self-serving way in which tech tends to operate from time to time - the idea generally being that this concession in user-friendliness or this little bit of unnecessary complication is required as a stepping stone to reach a more user-friendly plateau.
Perhaps it is nothing but simple intellectual hubris which drives us to embrace stronger and faster technology as being 'better' than more usable and intuitive products. "This phone may be far too complex and ineffective at placing calls, but im smart and patient enough to deal with it. And besides, its really cool!"
Or perhaps I am simply making the cardinal mistake in attempting to understand evolution and natural selection by personifying the actions of a cold and impersonal system. Perhaps I am forgetting the universe's most potent and omnipresent rule - tautology as it is: That which happens, happens. And that which survives, survives.
Either way, this little slideshow put up by Wired shows (with perhaps the exception of the iphone) how the cell phone has evolved from 'brick to slick.' Furthering its own power and favoring intelligence over physical durability, the gradual change into my beloved G1 from Motorola's humble DynaTAC 8000x seems nearly to mirror our species' own ascent into the frail and over-brained beings we are now.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Santelli does a wonderful job in rebuttal, but this is not the most important part of this video clip. The most important part is Kudlow's musings over the brow-beating the White House is giving the press for daring to question their actions:
This is an unprecedented White House assault on a member of the media in good standing. You've been doing this stuff for years. I can't recall anything like this. In some respects this is worse than the Nixon attacks on Dan Rather, or I remember Papa Bush's attacks on CBS's Dan Rather. Now, there's an issue here. There's a freedom of the press issue. There's also a respect issue. There's also a bullying issue, Rick Santelli. And I want to know, do you want to take Gibbs up on having a cup of coffee? Do you feel that the White House has a right to start bullying members [of the press]? It could be you today, it could be me tomorrow, it could be somebody on Fox News, it could be NBC News, it could be anybody. Does this mean that this is how this White House, and the Obama Presidency is going to react to criticism from the media?
I have actually covered this very topic in two prior posts, about a month ago.
The point of both posts tied together is that Obama is basically bringing ruthless Chicago Machine Politics to the White House, and is following Mayor Richard Daley's tactic of dealing with the press, that being:
"...whenever Richard Daley decides he doesn't like a certain line of questioning, he either berates the press for being so stupid as to ask it, or he decides to move on to the next line of more convenient questioning."
I have simultaneously questioned whether the mainstream media would begin to understand this, and how long they would choose to be treated like red-headed step children, and sarcastically applauded Obama's stones for bringing this tactic to the national stage.
As Santelli points out about Gibbs, methinks the lady doth protest too much. Barely more than a month into his Presidency, Barack Obama's Chicago tactic of browbeating the media is already beginning to wear thin.
Santelli and Kudlow are merely a slim glimmer of hope for the restoration of a professional media at this point. But maybe, just maybe, there are enough real journalists out there to hold the demagogue in check after all.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
For anybody that hasn't, I would ask only that you read what I have to say before dismissing me for having invoked what I am sure many on the far left reaches of webdom would consider to be the holy triumverate of nut-root-dom.
Hayek, Friedman and Rand promoted the idea of Capitalism as the highest ideal for man to achieve happiness. The purpose for this is that true free-market capitalism is the swiftest way that people are rewarded fairly for the skills and the work that they provide. Subsequently it is also the swiftest way for people of no particular name or history to rise to great prominence. One need look no further than the recent rises of men like Mark Cuban, Bill Gates or, for those of you misguided enough to believe capitalism necessarily excludes poor black folk from the south, Robert Johnson, to understand that this is indeed the case.
Our current economic situation has many crying foul of Capitalism, denouncing the free market as having brought the economy to its knees. I should hope, if you're reading this, that you already understand this not to be the case. If you do not understand this, please allow me to assure you that indeed it has been, over the course of time, intermittent meddling by the government, coupled with immoral practices within the marketplace, no doubt by people far too intertwined with the immediate success of the regulators themselves (Read: Political Corruption: Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Franklin Raines, etc.), that have created the situation.
Now, it should further be understood that even further down, at the very root of the problem, where the life of even the smallest corruption begins, is with our country's monetary policy, embodied by the organization known as the Federal Reserve.
There is much to be discussed about how the Federal Reserve operates, but the simplified version is that it was created purely for the purpose of allowing the Federal Government to spend beyond its means, and essentially forever. The beginning of the Federal Reserve in the United States represented the first step away from the Gold Standard for our money. Our Constitution itself requires, to this day, that our money be tied to some sort of tangible product.
People like Rand and Friedman and Hayek argued that in order for the idea of Capitalism to remain the highest ideal, the money always had to mean something. To untie money from the substance that gave it its true value was, particularly to Rand, the root of immorality. This may seem a stretch to many of you, but it is actually only a short jump intellectually.
As an example, and indeed this is how our money used to work, if I had one gold coin, and I knew that for that one gold coin, I could hire a man to paint my porch, I could know that I would get my porch painted well, and he would know that I could pay him one gold coin, which in turn he could then trade to somebody else for whatever that one gold coin was worth to them, perhaps his weekly groceries. With the always-tangible value associated with the gold coin, I must not only respect the man painting my porch, but he must also respect me. Collectively upon entering the agreement to paint my porch, I would subsequently respect that my gold coin was going to allow the man to respect another person in an equal manner.
Enter the creation of the Federal Reserve and the idea, promoted by Keynes and largely instituted by FDR, of defecit spending through a combination of going into immediate debt, as well as inflating the currency, meaning printing more of it than had previously existed. For many years, while we were issued paper money, notes known as Silver Certificates, we were able as citizens to go to the government and trade our paper currency in for physical silver. This ended with the collapse of Bretton Woods in 1971, when our government officially announced that it would no longer allow this conversion, and that, as you will find on your bills at this moment, the currency would be backed only by the "Full Faith and Credit of the US Government."
It is not difficult to understand why someone like Ayn Rand, who believed that in order for all men to live with the highest respect for one another, they be able to trade in a currency that held absolute equal value for all, that this was an extreme hazard to all people of the country, morally.
This video provides a fantastic explanation of what has happened to our money since 1971. Particularly well explained is the fact that it is not the goods themselves that have continued to become more expensive, rather it is the value of our money itself that has evaporated.
Now, as we embark upon what people are describing as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, economic history remains lost on our political leaders. Over the course of the past calendar year, our government has authorized two stimulus packages, as well as a massive bank bailout over and above our typical government spending totalling approximately $1.7 trillion.
The money is not coming from us via taxation at this point, though it will have to at some point down the line. Rather the money is coming from our government setting the tremendous example to its people of going deeper and deeper into debt and, where it cannot borrow, it continues to print more money, further inflating the dollar and further reducing its value.
When one cannot know the true value of the dollar bill in his hand from one day to the next, that dollar bill holds no moral purpose. No longer can I call upon a man to paint my porch for say, $100 today, and know that by the time he finishes painting that porch at the end of the week, that that same $100 will still buy him his weekly groceries. The bond of respect between us over our transaction is necessarily eroded since, over that time, as he had expected to eat for a week from our agreement, he can now only eat for three days. He will want his similar just compensation in value, meaning more money to eat for that week, and I will not want to give it to him, because that was not out agreement. We will fight over the value of what he accomplished and will terminate our relationship having lost all respect for one another. Such will be the state of any transactions made between all people.
The United States of America set out to show the world that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people would live on forever. One of the pillars of the ability of the people to govern themselves was that our money retain its true value. Our government is, almost daily, in the process of devaluing that currency. In the process, not only do they devalue our currency, but they subsequently devalue the respect we hold for one another in our daily interactions and daily transactions.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Now today, Sullivan's eyes seem to be fluttering open and adjusting to just how bright the flame of common sense burns.
Of course, even as he makes one of the most poignant observations I think I've ever seen him make, as usual with Sullivan, he misses the point. Well, he doesn't miss it, but he steamrolls his way right over it.
But like many, I remain nervous about heavy government intervention in the economy in anything but a short-term sense. The Republicans have zero, yes zero, credibility on fiscal matters and their inability to formulate a pragmatic critique of the stimulus, rather than have an ideological hissy-fit, is a symptom of their profound intellectual decline. But there is something lingering around this immediate crisis, and Obama's straddling of the leftward-moving center, that worries me for the long-term.
I fear the depression that we are in will lead to more and more decisions that, while pragmatic and defensible by themselves, can add up to a huge shift in government's role in ways that will not help and we may not recognize till it is too late; I worry that throwing a lifeline to some in a tail-spin might unwittingly lead to a deeper sense that deadbeats and gamblers will always be rewarded by government while hrifty and ethical people get the shaft; I worry that Keynesianism is not a panacea and may prevent a necessary long-term reckoning with debt and deadwood; I worry that the consequence-free, debt-fueled capitalism we let grow this past decade requires a nastier payback than we think we deserve.
If you can look at the situation this country is in right now, at this very moment in time, and recognize that there could be ways in which the government will act with its newly usurped financial power over its people, then you have to understand that the government is, 100% of the time, going to act in those ways.
Sullivan no doubt fancies himself a pragmatic person by saying he worries about it, but overall figures it will be ok. The problem with this line of thinking, however, is that this is the line of thinking that has put big-government, authoritarian-minded progressives in charge of a people that never wanted it that way.
It is time that Sullivan, and other left-of-center liberals like him, begin to let their eyes focus in the light of common sense in which those of us who consider ourselves Libertarian bask every day.
If Sullivan and others that consider themselves to be on the left for the major reason of their social politics are worried that their
We believe in common sense. Small government that does not intrude in peoples lives in any manner, including in social values and most importantly, in the way that our taxes are used, meaning not to take our money to give it to people who don't and won't work for it, are what we stand for.
Libertarianism has the common sense you crave.
We are here for you, Andrew.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
--2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
In Illinois, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, is about to be egregiously infringed.
The bill seeks not to ban guns, but to make it virtually impossible to be eligible to own one.
Provides that any person who owns a firearm in this State shall maintain a policy of liability insurance in the amount of at least $1,000,000 specifically covering any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person.The question of whether or not an gun owner ought to have insurance on his or her gun is, I think, probably a good one. However the issue here is the size of the policy in comparison to the cost of owning a gun. As a comparison, a car costs, say $20,000, and minimum liability insurance only, no collision, probably runs around $500/year. A $1,000,000 insurance policy for the privelege of even owning a gun in the first place, would probably cost on the line of $1,000 per year if not more, compared to the purchase cost of a gun of about, say $500.
The amount of insurance required in this bill is completely disproportionate to the value of the goods. One could easily make the argument that we're effectively talking about injuries and deaths and property damages, but one could make that same argument about driving vehicles, as well.
Ultimately, the main problem with a value like this, is that it's going to be a gigantic punishment to gun owners that are responsible. Chicago has a ban on guns but maintains the highest rate of gun violence and the highest murder rate in the country. Washington, D.C. is in a similar position. If these two cities, and the history of prohibition of alcohol have taught us nothing, it is that when people want to do something, they're going to do it whether the activity is legal or not.
Responsible gun owners learn gun safety, and utilize their guns, when not hunting, only as a last resort in self defense. This bill will only limit the actions of the people who are capable of being responsible gun owners to those levels of economic success who can afford the insurance. Further, the bill goes on to hold said responsible gun owners liable no matter what accidents may befall them:
Provides that a person shall be deemed the owner of a firearm after the firearm is lost or stolen until such loss or theft is reported to the police department or sheriff of the jurisdiction in which the owner resides.This means that if you're away on vacation, and somebody breaks into your house and steals your gun, then robs a liquor store and kills the manager, guess who's liable for the costs? Congratulations, you and your previously hefty, now mountainous insurance premiums! Genius!
Provides that the Department of State Police shall revoke and seize a Firearm Owner's Identification Card previously issued under this Act if the Department finds that the person to whom such card was issued possesses or acquires a firearm and does not submit evidence to the Department of State Police that he or she has been issued in his or her name a liability insurance policy in the amount of at least $1,000,000 specifically covering any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person.Since they don't want to go directly after guns, because that would too easily infringe on the 2nd Amendment, they go after the regulations on being allowed to own a gun. If you can't prove you have the insurance, you can't have the license, hence you can't have the gun.
But how about those gun bans in Chicago and D.C. again? Obviously there are a lot of people that have guns that aren't "allowed" to have them. This bill, again, will not stop those people from getting their hands on those guns.
Insurance sure as hell would not stop me from obtaining an illegal gun if I wanted to.
This bill is nothing more than yet another way for the government to reach into our pockets and steal more of our money, increasing revenues to the government, to the insurance companies and to the lawyers.
If this bill were to pass, your desire to own a gun would require that you stare one down the barrel first.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I believe that the American people elected Barack Obama in a tideswell of angst and anger over decisions perceived to have been made by the Bush administration, and did not effectively vote for the subsequent mandate for change that Obama continues to trumpet almost daily. It did not matter which sides made which decisions in regard to foreign policies, everyone simply hated Bush, and wanted to swing the other way. It also does not matter now to our President that he won the election by a similar margin as Bush did over Kerry, and with less total voters turning out overall. Given the amount of Democrats in Congress, and the fact that he won and has the mainstream media in his hip pocket, he considers himself to have a mandate to do as he pleases. That said, we have already seen the depths to which he will sink to get his way.
The reality of the situation remains, as I have previously pointed out, that Barack Obama is a ghost. He ran as a blank slate onto which people projected their own desires for the presidency. He truly succeeded in being all things to all people. But as he has begun his presidency in as rocky a fashion any of us can remember, it seems more and more that we will see his true nature, as he approaches conflict with the petulance of a small child who has had his fire engine taken away. As he continues to approach the highest office in the land with this attitude, I cannot help but think that there will be many people who consider themselves to be of a Left persuasion to become disillusioned with the man. It is in anticipation of this happening that I ponder the question of when they've realized that they've been following a ghost, an empty suit, where will they go from there?
But let me not be accused of insinuating that Barack Obama is the only ghost we have followed. This has been happening for quite some time.
One of the great myths that currently pervades our politics in this country is that there is a major difference between the Left and the Right as they have come to be established. The idea that there is a major difference between the two is a fallacy in the respect that neither of them, going back to Coolidge, not even Reagan, despite his rhetoric, has physically done anything to promote the idea of a United States of America with citizens who are truly free. The market has not been allowed to operate freely, no matter what the detractors of the free market on the Left would like you to believe. The Right has, at the same time, failed to actually govern from a limited government standpoint, despite what they would have you believe.
Both the Left and the Right, as they have come to be established, trade in the same currency. That currency is Fear, and its bank is Big Government. It just so happens that the Left and the Right, as they have come to be established, simply trade in different denominations of this currency. War and Empire has become the currency of the Right. Hence when we find the Right in control, the predominant issues at hand become the expansion of our influence overseas. Though this becomes the predominantly discussed issue, the denomination of Left still remains at large in the meantime. That denomination is Social Programmatic Spending draped in the spectre of Civil Rights. As the Left comes to power, as we are confronted with now, these are the issues that we have seen come to the forefront. This does not mean, however, that War and Empire have gone away. Indeed they continue unabated, and have merely taken a backseat in the minds of the general public.
Think of the Left as trading in Ten Dollar Bills, and the Right as trading in Twenty Dollar Bills. At the end of the day, they are both trading a thousand dollars, it just happens to pass through the clerk's hands in differently sized stacks at a time. The currency itself is still Fear. The bank is still Big Government.
To be sure there are other issues, such as abortion and gay marriage and racial equality, currently hot-button issues, that continue to pervade everyone's rhetoric, and there are those people that will align themselves with one side or the other over those issues. But the tragedy of those issues has become what the federal government is supposed to do about them. The question is never asked anymore, "What would happen if the federal government were to relieve itself of these issues, to allow them to remain with the states?"
In order that I not go off on a tangent discussion about morality, I will answer my own question. These ideas are not left to be decided by the states because there is no money in it. Our politicians have come to such a level that they are politicians as a career choice, rather than as public servants as they were always meant to be. Abortion, gay marriage and racial equality, among the full myriad of other smaller, relatively inconsequential have become industries unto themselves, and the politicians that make them their primary discussions are serving to temporarily line their own pockets, rather than serving their constituents. These politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are served in these issues only by dragging them out, and continually increasing the size of the government in the process. Their actual stance means nothing in the long run, other than that it gives them a chance to keep working in a position that produces nothing but more argument, and perpetually more government. Therefore let us not believe that either the Established Left, or the Established Right has a correct solution for where we find ourselves currently. Indeed they have both led us down the frightening path of collectivism:
It is true that the virtues which are less esteemed and practiced now - independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one's own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary cooperation with one's neighbors - are essentially those on which the working of an individualist society rests. Collectivism has nothing to put in their place, and in so far as it has already destroyed them it has left a void filled by nothing but the demand for obedience and the compulsion of the individual to do what is collectively decided to be good.
F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
We have seen recently, with the passage of the "stimulus" package, a greater single expansion of government than we have ever before known. This bodes ill for those of us who believe in the principles of Freedom and Liberty of the individual. So what are we to do about our expanding Leviathan?
There is only the path of educating as many people as possible over the course of the time we have that will aid in following the correct path. It is incorrect to believe it is the government's job to do anything other than protect its citizens, and a government's citizens are not protected by being given free rides, having their will and self-reliance eroded
Education of the masses on both sides is the task at hand.
We must remain Prometheus and Gaea.
This is the fight we face.
The fight for our Freedom. The fight for our Liberty. The fight for Ourselves.
First, a commercial.
Next, a sneak peak at team VW Bus impersonating Spiro.
And now the meat of it all.
Tune in tomorrow night for the action.
See more for yourself at SpeedTV.com!
The USB thumb drive has been described as the refrigerator magnet of technology, because it can, and presumably does, come in every color, shape, and size imaginable. However I have been pondering this presumption and I've found it to be particularly problematic.
Here, let me illustrate while I alliterate. This is my USB thumb drive, as it currently is – attached to my keys:
Innocuous as such an incarnation of itinerant information storage as this may seem, it is actually ripe with the potential for tiny disasters. Just this morning in fact, I was nearly befallen of such a disaster. My carpooling flatmates had left for work and I was mustering – by the way, is the past tense of 'mustering' 'mustered'? – to head out to campus. Being February in Chicago, I found the morning pissing rain. A quick IM verified that while my crappy umbrella was broken, a spare could be found in said flatmates' car. So out the back door I poped, clad in my usual boots, jeans, Tshirt and hoodie with naught in hand but said flatmates' fancy car key/unlocker remote thingy. But as the door swung to close behind me my so far un-caffienated brain wobbled in warning. I caught the door with my boot and checked my pockets for good measure. [I have a ritualized pattern for leaving my apartment that I've kept to since highschool. I pat my pockets in order with one hand, saying aloud 'phone, keys, wallet' while holding the door open with the other. It ensures that I do not – nay, can not lock myself out or forget any of these vastly important personal rectangles] I realized with a sluggish start that my keys were plugged in – via the attached and above pictured flash drive – to my desktop pc.
Is a keychain really the best we techno-geeks can come up with for a solution to the derelict data docking device? I tried a few other ideas for places to keep my thumb drive, but the design was working against me all the while. The only decent one I could come up with was to replace the little dongly thing that broke off my favorite hoodie's zipper.
Clearly I think the issue here is not where to keep these cleverly crafted keychain companions (close enough) but rather how we design our portable data storage solutions. The problem is certainly not one of size or form factor. Here next to my 1Gb flash drive is a 2Gb micro SD card I just pulled out of my phone:
So with data storage is so small and efficient, why not integrate said storage into a watch or wrist band? An anklet? A subtle and manfully simple (yet elegant) necklace? Such products have been attempted to be sure:
But clearly as a product marketed to fashion-sensible 'tweens [or to put it another way, someone who would buy any 'Bratz'-related product]. What of us sensible young techno-geeks who prefer a simple fashion statement of the black Tshirt and dark jeans? Is it too much to ask to be granted a more sensible solution to the simple storage of selected slices of saves and WAV's?
What are the fixed poles now which are regarded as sacrosanct, which no reformer dare touch, since they are treated as the immutable boundaries which must be respectedin any plan for the future? They are no longer the liberty of the individual, his freedom of movement, and scarcely that of speech. They are the protected standards of this group or that group, their "right" to exclude others from providing their fellow men with what they need. Discrimination between members and nonmembers of closed groups, not to speak of nationals of different countries, is accepted more and more as a matter of course; injustices inflicted on individuals by government action in the interest of a group are disregarded with an indifference hardly distinguishable from callousness; and the grossest violations of the most elementary rights of the individual, such as are involved in the compulsory transfer of populations, are more and more often countenanced even by supposed liberals.
FA Hayek wrote those words of England in 1944.
It seems to me he may as well have written them of the United States today.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
You may or may not remember my previous post, showing the most recent commercial.
Now, I present you with the intro to the season premier.
Again, keep your hearts in the game for my boss, who is on the show with the White Shelby Supersnake!
Enjoy the new video!
Monday, February 16, 2009
They don't gotta burn the books, they just remove 'em
--Zach de la Rocha, Rage Against the Machine
There is perhaps in no better time than the present in the United States to prove these two lines true.
Our House of Representatives, the people that have been elected to represent our interests as people, have passed a bill that they themselves have not even read, and that the American people in general know absolutely nothing about.
Our Senate, the more parliamentary of the two bodies that make up the legislative branch, and purportedly those members of the legislative branch that are to act with far more deliberation in their activities, were no better in the process. Indeed it seems they may even have acted more hastily, and more egregiously therefore.
All of this comes at the behest of a president acting, not in the interests of the people of a country he has been elected to lead, but in the interests of claiming a victory for himself, by any means necessary. This president has spewed forth the politics of fear like no president before him since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He does not tell us that we have the Soviet nuclear threat to worry us. He does not tell us that we have the threat of an unseen, unknown network of terrorists to worry us. He tells us that we have ourselves to be afraid of. He tells us that our ideologies have been wrong. He assures us that we should pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, to pay no attention to the facts, to pay no mind to any past government involvement in disrupting individual freedom. He assures us, as did that president, so highly esteemed by so many despite his failure to improve the country over the course of more than three terms until his death, that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. The road will be hard, we are told. The road will be hard and it will be long, but we will struggle through and persevere.
This is a crisis of unprecedented proportions. We are told that only the government can bring about the necessary change. We are told that we must act now. We are told that we must not know what the legislation reads. We are told that we must allow the government to move forward. This is a crisis. Action must be immediate.
Action must be immediate in order that we be kept in a climate of panic and fear over how even to provide tomorrow's food for our children. We can't be allowed to know that this is not the climate in which we truly reside. If we knew better, the contract would most certainly not be alive, much less moving.
At the same time, as any voice of the opposition to the exponential growth this government is about to undergo is heard, listened to, and admired; as these voices grow louder and more popular, we find our government in an all too familiar historical position.
But our growing Leviathan knows its history, and better than we give it credit for. It knows its past failures, and it remains determined to correct them. It knows the failures of that all too familiar historical position as well, and knows that indeed there is no necessity to physically burn the books, merely quietly, and slowly, to remove them.
We are living the creation of George Orwell's 1984 as we breath every one of our most recent breaths. We have seen established the practice of doublethink. We have heard spoken the words of Newspeak. We are surveilled daily by Big Brother.
Will we continue to stand by while our government grows?
Will we continue to be ignorant of our surroundings, allowing the contracts to move?
Will we watch them remove the books that speak to us, that guide us to think independenty and impede their growth?
Will we accept and celebrate Oceania's victory over Eurasia?
I will not. I refuse.
I will embrace knowledge.
I will embrace liberty.
I will embrace freedom.
I will embrace my independence.
I will embrace the fight for all of these things.
The whole system will tend toward that plebiscitarian dictatorship in which the head of the government is from time to time confirmed in his position by popular vote, but where he has all the powers at his command to make certain that the vote will go in the direction he desires.
Reading the article about Chavez, it is perfectly clear that this is exactly the case that we have seen come to pass in Venezuela. This is particularly the case when you see statements made by Venezuelas citizens such as this:
When one looks at the culture of fear created by Chavez in Venezuela, as he has spent the past six weeks campaigning to tell the lower class in his country that they would lose their government provided social benefits, indeed, their bread and circuses, it is remarkable to realize that he has utilized that fear to overcome a 17 point defecit in the polls.
In this deeply polarized country, the climate of fear was evident in the answer of Nestor Moreno, a 58-year-old construction worker, when he was asked how he’d voted.
“I voted yes because I didn’t want to face reprisals for voting no,” said Moreno. “People lose jobs because they don’t agree with the Chavez regime. Chavez is very authoritarian[."]
It is through the same politics of fear that we have recently seen our own president, Barack Obama, ascend to the podium over the past week and a half to say that if our government did not act immediately, the world itself could come to a fiery end. Considering that he promptly took a leisurely three-day weekend off instead of signing the bill into law, it really is now blatantly transparent that the situation does not require this particular action from the government, only that the climate of fear was necessary to allow a piece of legislation to be forced through that grows the government more in one fell swoop than at any other time in our history.
Given the growth of the government's social programs about to take place, combined with the recent revelation that our government's outlays already exceed the Gross Domestic Product of the entire world, it seems particularly likely that within the next several years, our country's debts and overall defecits and spending could drive us into bankruptcy. At such a time, could it really stretch one's imagination to think that Obama would ask a country conceptually illiterate of the true nature of its own history to hearken back to the time of FDR, when it required that president four terms to pull the country out of depression? Is it such a stretch to believe that a push would be made to repeal the two-term limit on the presidency, effectively pushing the politics of fear to create in the presidency, an office for life?
Given the great anti-capitalism push currently underway, and the heavy use of the fear as the great political motivator as the fallback for decision, it does not seem that unlikely. The apparent nationalization of the banks that seems to be imminent at this point only furthers the thought that this could be the case. Democracy, and indeed the personal liberties provided therein, simply get in the way of centralization.
We are not far off from having our liberties usurped in their entirety in every respect but on paper, and, should the government continue to expand, under the guise of emergency and in a culture of fear, it seems not long that we will no longer elect a president, but rather bow to a king.
The clash between planning and democracy arises simply from the fact that the latter is an obstacle to the suppression of freedom which the direction of economic activity requires. But in so far as democracy ceases to be a guaranty of individual freedom, it may well persist in some form under a totalitarian regime. A true "dictatorship of the proletariat," even in democratic form, if it undertook centrally to direct the economic system, would probably destroy personal freedom as completely as any autocracy has ever done.
--F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
Allocated as part of a total of $600 million the government to acquire hybrid vehicles, neighborhood electric vehicles and electric vehicles, consider this a further bailout to Chrysler, as the company that makes these things, Global Electric Motorcars, or GEM, is a subsidiary to them. They seem reasonable enough for driving around the pit areas at race tracks or at airports or on military bases or large college campuses or office parks, but other than that, they are basically toys for people with too much money, as evidenced by this guy, who took the time to pimp his out:
Sunday, February 15, 2009
The reason a person is a conservative republican is because something is wrong with them. Again, that’s science – that’s neuroscience. You cannot be well adjusted, open-minded, pluralistic, enlightened and be a republican. It’s counter-intuitive. And they revel in their anti-intellectualism. They revel in their cruelty.Now, first, since I'm going to be using her name a lot, and I don't want to keep typing that long, terrible name out over and over again, I'll use her real name instead: Jane. I'll bet she likes that. Anyway, as you can tell, Jane is one of these C-level actresses/comediennes who aren't really funny and who aren't very good at acting, but somehow keep getting paid for it anyway, and then try to act like they're smart on top of it. You can tell she likes to think she's smart because she uses big words and refers to herself as being pluralistic and well-adjusted in the same sentence, something that when you actually understand what you're talking about is philosophically impossible.
Philosophically speaking, Pluralism claims that there are several conflicting but still true descriptions of the world. You will find people that believe in pluralism are the people that think it's OK to cheat on their spouse if they love the person they happen to be cheating with. People who believe this to be true are not people who are well-adjusted. Jane, too, is not somebody who is well adjusted. Somebody who is well adjusted would not have gotten married to her boyfriend as a joke. The reason she feels that she is "enlightened," then, is that she must tell herself that her belief in being pluralistic allows her to be at ease with her own failures as a person. She absolves herself of her defects and considers herself "open-minded" to the ways she has failed.
Since many many conservative republicans are strong family people, with strong marriages and children, who believe in God and work hard every day to grow their families, and would like to see their politicians reflect those same values, Jane considers them "small minded." She goes so far, in fact, to claim that because she cannot personally fathom living her life in such a manner, that Sarah Palin is
successful with a segment of the country because she represents that lesser segment of the country. It’s people’s lesser nature – their human frailty. You know whatever’s wrong with them is what she is about.Jane seems to think that people enjoy Sarah Palin, not because she's a strong mother with a good family and good kids who's done very well at her jobs and is successful, but because she appeals to all the evil things people care about. Well, in essence, this is true, since Jane seems to think all of the things that Sarah Palin and a great many of the "unwashed masses" feel are virtuous, are in fact evil. It is apparently wrong for people to believe in and love God. It is apparently small minded for people to be married, faithful and have kids; a joke even, to her. People who believe it is right to have these values are simply anti-intellectual. There is something wrong with them on a neurological level.
It seems to me, given the general disdain she shows for them, that Jane thinks conservative republicans are a disease to the human race. It seems an easy philosophical jump that she believes in some form of practicing eugenics, as a method of moving society beyond all those people of lesser nature.
The Nazis were the group that most generously embraced, and most rigorously practiced eugenics, striving for their Master Race of blonde haired, blue eyed Aryans.
Given her propensity to dye her hair blonde, and her lust to cleanse the world of small-minded, anti-intellectual conservatives, it is rational to this open minded intellectual that Janeane Garofalo is a Nazi.
Photo Courtesy of Commenter, Don Miguel