Archive for the ‘1984 was a Warning not a Blueprint’ tag
According to the Star Tribune the State of Minnesota lost 11,600 jobs last month but, somehow, unemployment went down:
Minnesota’s job market posted its second straight negative month, shedding 11,400 jobs in April, the state said Thursday.
The biggest job losses were in trade, transportation and utilities, which shed 5,700 jobs, according to figures released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 5.3 percent in April, its lowest point since May 2008 and well below the U.S. rate of 7.5 percent in April. The March figures were revised upward from 5,200 jobs lost to 3,300 jobs lost.
One may wonder how an economy could lose jobs and experience a drop in unemployment. Logic would dictate that unemployment would go up as the number of people without jobs also went up. What we’re seeing here is another example of the state cooking the books in order to make unemployment look better than it actually is. I’ve touched on how the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses what is called the U3 unemployment statistic in order to make unemployment look better than it actually is. Another trick often used by statist statisticians, such as the ones employed by the State of Minnesota, is seasonal adjustments.
Seasonal adjustments, as the name implies, involves removing drops in unemployment caused by seasonal changes from the official statistic. The theory goes something like this:
- During certain seasons there is a spike in employment during the rush to hire needed seasonal help. Christmas, for example, generally involves a spike in employment as stores try to have enough staff to deal with the Christmas season rush.
- After these seasons conclude stores, who no longer need the additional help, can the seasonal employees.
- Since this is seasonal it can be safely ignored when creating unemployment statistics because those employees aren’t actually unemployed, they’re, err, um, look over there!
In other words if your unemployment statistic is looking bad you merely have to write off a large section of unemployed people as a seasonal phenomenon and your unemployment statistic will suddenly look better! Further adding precedence to this scam is the fact that there are multiple seasonal adjustment calculations to choose from! If one of the calculations isn’t giving you the statistic you want you can simply use a different one. Eventually you’ll find a calculation that will give you the statistic you desire.
War is peace, freedom is slavery, and unemployment is employment.
The more power the state obtains the lower the quality of life for the general populace is. Power production is one of the most heavily regulated markets. Although the state claims it must regulate power production in order to reduce pollution its interests in the market involves protecting its cronies from competition. Consider the Clean Air Act, which we’re told was passed to ensure better air quality. In actuality it was designed in such a way as to drum up business for expensive sulfur dioxide scrubbers and protect eastern coal producers. From Political Environmentalism by Terry L. Anderson:
Under the 1970 Clean Air Act, the EPA had established a policy whereby all coal plants were required to meet a set emission standard for sulfur dioxide. The original standard of 1.2 pounds of sulfur dioxide (SO,) per million British thermal units (BTUs) of coal could be met in a variety of ways.
Despite its apparent flexibility, this regulation had disparate regional effects. Most of the coal in the eastern United States is relatively “dirty” due to its high sulfur content. Western coal, on the other hand, is far cleaner. Using western coal enabled utilities and other coal-burning facilities to meet the federal standard without installing costly scrubbers to reduce the sulfur content of their emissions. At the time, scrubbers were so expensive that many midwestern firms found it less expensive to haul tons of low-sulfur coal from the West than to utilize closer, dirtier deposits.
When the Clean Air Act was revised in 1977, it was time for the eastern coal producers to get even. As Ackerman and Hassler (1981) noted, eastern producers of high-sulfur coal elected “to abandon their campaign to weaken pollution standards and take up the cudgels for the costliest possible clean air solution-universal scrubbing” (31). The result was a “bizarre coalition of environmentalists and dirty coal producers” that successfully advanced a new set of environmental standards that probably did more harm than good in much of the country (Ackerman and Hassler 1981, 27).
Under the 1977 law, coal plants had to meet both an emission standard and a technology standard. In particular, the law contained new-source-performance standards (NSPS) that forced facilities to attain a “percentage reduction in emissions.” In other words, no matter how clean coal was, a new facility would still be required to install scrubbers. This law destroyed low-sulfur coal’s comparative advantage, particularly in the Midwest and the East. If all new facilities had scrubbers, then there was no need to transport low-sulfur coal across the country. Less expensive, high-sulfur coal from the East would work just as well, even if it produced substantially greater emissions.
The result of such regulations is predictable, power production facilities pay more money to install sulfur dioxide scrubbers and we, the consumers, pay more money for electricity so the power production facility can pay off the scrubbers. We end up getting less electricity for more money and suffer a hit in our overall qualify of life because of it.
Now consider the United Kingdom (UK). That state’s rule over power production has led to a shortage of power. Being a state the only solution seen by the UK is rationing:
Fridges and freezers in millions of British homes will automatically be switched off without the owner’s consent under a ‘Big Brother’ regime to reduce the strain on power stations.
The National Grid is demanding that all new appliances be fitted with sensors that could shut them down when the UK’s generators struggle to meet demand for electricity.
Electric ovens, air-conditioning units and washing machines will also be affected by the proposals, which are already backed by one of the European Union’s most influential energy bodies. They are pushing for the move as green energy sources such as wind farms are less predictable than traditional power stations, increasing the risk of blackouts.
The result of the UK’s unwillingness to expand their power production with reliable sources may lead to massive amounts of food spoilage as refrigerators across wide swaths of the country shut themselves down and people dying of heatstroke because their air conditioners automatically shut off when it was 115 degrees outside. Once again the state’s desire to control everything is leading to a drop in the overall qualify of life and, in a rather ironic twist, a potential waste of food, which isn’t a green policy at all. Oh, and to add insult to injury, people living in the UK will be footing the bill for the development and installation of the technology that will allow the power facilities to automatically disable your appliances.
Why wouldn’t the power production companies demand to be allowed to build more reliable production facilities? Because that would cost them money and so long as they enjoy the state-provided protection from competition they have no motivation to actually spend money to improve their product. Who would want to spend millions to build a new power plant when they can charge more money for the same amount of electricity thanks to state-mandated rationing? Nobody, that’s who.
For the longest time news agencies have enjoyed privileges above and beyond what us mere serfs enjoy. When you look at the very biased news that pretends to be unbiased it’s not hard to see why these agencies have enjoyed special privileges, they were toting the statist line. Now things are beginning to change. The current administration, who many news agencies shilled for, is finally targeting journalists:
The Associated Press has described the US government’s secret seizure of its journalists’ telephone records as a “massive and unprecedented intrusion”.
Chief executive Gary Pruitt said AP was told on Friday the justice department had gathered records of outgoing calls from more than 20 phone lines.
The press are finally experiencing what the rest of us have been experiencing for decades, a complete loss of privacy and liberty. I hope the press responds but airing out the state’s dirty laundry but I doubt that will happen. In all likelihood the Associated Press will roll over after a little complaining because that’s what people in this world do today.
Although this news is likely to excite my “tough on crime” friends I find it rather disgusting, especially for a nation that calls itself the freest on Earth:
“Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today,” writes the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik. “Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America – more than 6 million – than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”
Is this hyperbole? Here are the facts. The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and Britain – with a rate among the highest – has 153….
That’s right, the United States, the supposed bastion of freedom on this planet, has more people in its prison system than the Soviet Union did under Stalin. Anybody who has paid attention to the prison-industrial complex in the United States is unlikely to be surprised by this news. We’re talking about an industry where children have been sold to prisons so those prisons could enjoy the benefits of young slave labor. It is rather sickening that people still claim the United States is some kind of bastion of freedom considering we have more people in cages than any other nation, including some of the most tyrannical regimes.
After thinking about the State Department’s attempt to censor 3D printable firearms I came to the realization that the destroyer of intellectual property may very well be the entity that created it. The state has never shied away from censorship but its desire to control information is obviously increasing. What will happen if the state continues to censor more and more material that it defines as objectionable? In all likelihood more information will be published anonymously.
How many people will attach their name to something if they know it will land them in prison or cause them to be murdered by the state? I think that list is pretty short. Most people would prefer to release such material anonymously. When material doesn’t have a name attached to it there is nobody to claim a copyright on it and therefore nobody to initiate an intellectual property lawsuit. In effect the state, through its efforts to censor information, may kill intellectual property. It would be fitting that the creator became the destroyer.
It finally happened, the state finally made it’s move to suppress 3D printable firearms:
On Thursday, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson received a letter from the State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanding that he take down the online blueprints for the 3D-printable “Liberator” handgun that his group released Monday, along with nine other 3D-printable firearms components hosted on the group’s website Defcad.org, while it reviews the files for compliance with export control laws for weapons known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. By uploading the weapons files to the Internet and allowing them to be downloaded abroad, the letter implies Wilson’s high-tech gun group may have violated those export controls.
“Until the Department provides Defense Distributed with final [commodity jurisdiction] determinations, Defense Distributed should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled,” reads the letter, referring to a list of ten CAD files hosted on Defcad that include the 3D-printable gun, silencers, sights and other pieces. “This means that all data should be removed from public acces immediately. Defense Distributed should review the remainder of the data made public on its website to determine whether any other data may be similarly controlled and proceed according to ITAR requirements.”
I think we all knew this was coming. To tell the truth I hoped it would come. This was the overt act of censorship that was needed kick the Streisand effect into action and, in so doing, ensure that the 3D printer models created and hosted by Defense Distributed will never die. As it stands the number of seeds for the Defense Distributed files has jumped to several hundred. I’ve even found a Tor hidden service that is hosting the files (you need to use the Tor Browser Bundle to access that link). As I’ve heard several people say, you can’t stop the signal.
As I stated in my post explaining methods to render the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) irrelevant, the need for anonymity and strong encryption is greater today than ever. The state is trying to spy on our communications and censor material posted online. While some may wish to beg the state to allow information to flow freely we know they aren’t going to comply. Because of their desire to control information we must bypass their ability to detect and censor information they find objectionable.
When the state makes attempts like this to censor information it allows us to test our ability to preserve said information. As it stands more people have downloaded the 3D printer models provided by Defense Distributed than would have if the state hadn’t made an effort to censor the models. In fact I’ve had several friends who were uninterested in 3D printed guns ask if I knew where to get the files. Now that the files have been declared verboten everybody wants a copy. The state really shot themselves in the foot with this one.
Most people who travel in libertarian circles are quick to point out the dangers of government spying. Many of those same people are unconcerned with spying performed by private entities. After all private entities are good, right? If we lived in a black and white world where public and private entities were clearly divided that would be true but we live in a world where private corporations are married to the state in such a way that it’s almost impossible to tell the two apart. Do libertarians who oppose state spying but condone spying done by private corporations oppose or support private corporations that spy on users and sell that data to the state? It’s an important question to ask because we live in a world where that happens with increasing frequency:
It’s no secret that we’re monitored continuously on the Internet. Some of the company names you know, such as Google and Facebook. Others hide in the background as you move about the Internet. There are browser plugins that show you who is tracking you. One Atlantic editor found 105 companies tracking him during one 36-hour period. Add data from your cell phone (who you talk to, your location), your credit cards (what you buy, from whom you buy it), and the dozens of other times you interact with a computer daily, we live in a surveillance state beyond the dreams of Orwell.
It’s all corporate data, compiled and correlated, bought and sold. And increasingly, the government is doing the buying. Some of this is collected using National Security Letters (NSLs). These give the government the ability to demand an enormous amount of personal data about people for very speculative reasons, with neither probable cause nor judicial oversight. Data on these secretive orders is obviously scant, but we know that the FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of them in the past decade — for reasons that go far beyond terrorism.
NSLs aren’t the only way the government can get at corporate data. Sometimes they simply purchase it, just as any other company might. Sometimes they can get it for free, from corporations that want to stay on the government’s good side.
Scenarios such as this moved me away from my original libertarian roots that believed private entities had a right to do as they please so long as they didn’t harm anybody to viewing many of those private entities are mere extensions of the state. These scenarios also jump-started with interest in crypto-anarchy, specifically the need for anonymity and strong encryption of communications. In our world we must assume that everybody is spying on you and take appropriate measures.
Do you want another reason to encrypt your data? According to a former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) counter-terrorism agent everything electronic communication is being intercepted:
On Wednesday night, Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could:
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It’s not a voice mail. It’s just a conversation. There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: “No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
Is Mr. Clemente telling the truth? Are all electronic communications being intercepted or is he putting out misinformation to make people believe the state is omnipotent? I’m not sure but encrypting your communications is the best defense against pervasive snooping and would render the state’s surveillance powers irrelevant.
After reneging on his original promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison (Gitmo) Mr. Obama promised that he would really close Gitmo this time. Of course he has no intention of closing Gitmo because if he did then the facility would be closed:
The relevant law is the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA). This statute confirms the president’s power to wage war against al-Qaida and its associates, which was initially given to him in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed shortly after 9/11. The NDAA also authorizes the president to detain enemy combatants, and bans him from transferring Guantanamo detainees to American soil.
The NDAA does not, however, ban the president from releasing detainees. Section 1028 authorizes him to release them to foreign countries that will accept them—the problem is that most countries won’t, and others, like Yemen, where about 90 of the 166 detainees are from, can’t guarantee that they will maintain control over detainees, as required by the law.
There is another section of the NDAA, however, which has been overlooked. In section 1021(a), Congress “affirms” the authority of the U.S. armed forces under the AUMF to detain members of al-Qaida and affiliated groups “pending disposition under the law of war.” Section 1021(c)(1) further provides that “disposition under the law of war” includes “Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by” the AUMF. Thus, when hostilities end, the detainees may be released.
The president has the power to end the hostilities with al-Qaida—simply by declaring their end. This is not a controversial sort of power. Numerous presidents have ended hostilities without any legislative action from Congress—this happened with the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War II, and World War I. The Supreme Court has confirmed that the president has this authority.
Since nothing is preventing Mr. Obama from closing Gitmo he must want it open, which means his promise to close the facility is empty. Somehow Obama’s supporters still believe he is against war. In reality Obama is just like Bush, a warmonger who gets off on the fact that he can personally order the assassination of anybody he wants. In fact Obama so enjoys order assassinations that he actually had to redefine “enemy combatant” and create new classes of enemies because he was running out of people to have butchered.
I almost forgot to wish everybody a happy Loyalty Day:
In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America, our Constitution, and our founding values.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2013, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.
Demonstrate your loyalty to your masters but public demonstrating your willingness to obey. Fly the colors of your master, pledge your undying allegiance, and acknowledge that the United States is a country founded on obedience to our masters in Britain! If you’ll excuse me the Two Minutes Hate is about to begin and I plan to scream extra loud at the image of Emmanuel Goldstein to prove my undying loyalty!