Archive for the ‘You Can’t Cure Stupid’ tag
The New York City Council decided to open their mouths and confirm to the entire world that they are, in fact, complete fools:
On Wednesday, the New York city council introduced a new bill that would make it illegal to use a 3D printer “to create any firearm, rifle, shotgun, or any piece or part thereof,” without being a licensed gunsmith. And even the creator would be required to notify the New York Police Department and register the gun within 72 hours of completion.
How does those bureaucrats plan to enforce this bill? Are they going to search every building in New York City for 3D printers? Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did pull something like that, but it would still be impossible because there aren’t enough police officers in New York City to search every building simultaneously. If every building isn’t searched at the exact same time then owners of 3D printers can just move them to buildings that have already been searched. Furthermore, even if they were able to order every building searched for 3D printers, they would have to assume the mere presence of a 3D printer implied guilt of fabricating 3D printed firearms (again, I wouldn’t put it past them, but it would be hard sell).
This is another example of a bill that is entirely unenforceable and therefore meaningless.
America is advertised as the land of the free and the home of the brave. That may be true at one time but that isn’t true now. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center demonstrates that America is screwed:
A majority of Americans – 56% – say the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program tracking the telephone records of millions of Americans is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism, though a substantial minority – 41% – say it is unacceptable. And while the public is more evenly divided over the government’s monitoring of email and other online activities to prevent possible terrorism, these views are largely unchanged since 2002, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
I’ve been trying to find a descriptive label for the deterioration of American society and I think cultural deterioration is appropriate. At one time the American culture was known for fierce independence, a general distrust of government, and a strong work ethic. Today the American culture is known for dependence, a complete obedience to government, and a lackluster work ethic. How did we get here? I think there are too many factors involved to list them all but, in my opinion, the overall attitude of expecting the government to care for those in need instead of taking direct action to help those in need played a major part. When a society relies on the government to care for those in need it leaves the door wide open for the government to crack down more and more on society at large.
I discussed the failure of relying on the government to provide for those in need a couple of months ago. The primary weakness of such a system is that the state, being an agent of expropriation, has no interest in investing the wealth is as stolen from the general population on people who have nothing to steal. In the eye’s of the government we’re cattle. It wants to extract as much milk from us as possible. That means it will provide some care for people who produce milk but will take the people who don’t produce milk out back and shoot them. The state isn’t going to invest more resources into a cow then it believes can be extracted from it. Besides having no motivation to help cattle that don’t produce milk the government also wants to avoid sinking resources into cattle that do produce milk. This is where nanny state laws come from.
Why is it so difficult to buy and consume raw milk? Because the risks of getting sick by consuming raw milk are higher that the risks of getting sick by consume pasteurized and homogenized milk. Since the government has been tasked with covering the healthcare costs of those who have no insurance it wants to prohibit anything that could make somebody sick. It’s a way of reducing the amount of resources it has to spend on its herd.
What makes this matter worse is that the cattle become dependent on the government and even begin to see the government as a benevolent entity. American cattle have come to rely on the government for many things including safety. Most of the cattle see the government as the only thing between themselves and the wolves and coyotes. The fear of death is a powerful motivator, which makes it a prime target for exploitation by the government. We’re being told that the wolves and coyotes will get us if our every communication isn’t monitored. Most of the cattle have given their consent because they’re afraid of the alternative.
I don’t believe there is any way to salvage this country. Too many people are tied too tightly to the government for any hope of reclaiming liberty to exist. It’s probably time for those of us who actually enjoy liberty to find somewhere else to live. The world is a gigantic place that is full of untold wonders. At this point sticking around here, in my opinion, is a liability because the culture has deteriorated to a point that all hope of salvation is likely gone.
There may not be any stupid questions but there are stupid ideas. For example, if you designed a line of ammunition specifically for the purpose of offending one or more religions you have acted a stupid idea:
A group of Idahoans have gotten together to produce ammunition loaded with bullets dipped in pork-infused paint. Why you ask? They claim it will deter radical Islam terrorists from fighting if they run the risk of being hit in the stomach with a pork-paint tipped bullet, but most likely they did it because it is bound to offend Muslims (and maybe Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Rastafarians, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, Seventh-day Adventists and vegans as well).
On their website Jihawg say …
We at Jihawg Ammo hope you will stock up on Jihawg as a natural deterrent to the ever growing threat of radical Islam and Sharia Law. We, however, stress that the nullifying principle of our product is only effective if you are attacked by an Islamist in Jihad. Otherwise, our ammo functions just like any other ammunition so we obviously insist upon defensive use of our ammo only-not offensive.
I may have given myself brain damage from the massive face palm that follow reading this excerpt.
Classical Liberal and I discussed this matter briefly on Facebook and both noted that possessing this type of ammunition would be a prosecutor’s bonanza if you found yourself in court following a self-defense shooting. Convincing a jury that you meant no ill after shooting somebody with ammunition specifically targeted at a religious group is going to be a tough sell. Even if you didn’t use one of these rounds in self-defense but had some at home a prosecutor could effectively destroy your case by character assassination.
Obviously you’re free to buy it but do know that I will judge you negatively for doing so and so will a jury.
This article has been making the rounds in libertarian circles for the last few days. In it Salon author Michael Lind believes he has finally found the argument that discredits libertarianism in its entirety. His argument is that the complete lack of libertarian countries demonstrates that libertarianism can’t succeed:
Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?
It’s not as though there were a shortage of countries to experiment with libertarianism. There are 193 sovereign state members of the United Nations—195, if you count the Vatican and Palestine, which have been granted observer status by the world organization. If libertarianism was a good idea, wouldn’t at least one country have tried it? Wouldn’t there be at least one country, out of nearly two hundred, with minimal government, free trade, open borders, decriminalized drugs, no welfare state and no public education system?
Before I continue I should note that Mr. Lind has some criteria that determine whether or not a country qualifies as a real country:
But this isn’t an adequate response. Libertarian theorists have the luxury of mixing and matching policies to create an imaginary utopia. A real country must function simultaneously in different realms—defense and the economy, law enforcement and some kind of system of support for the poor. Being able to point to one truly libertarian country would provide at least some evidence that libertarianism can work in the real world.
In order to be a real country there must be some kind of entity providing defense, an unspecified amount of interference in the economy, law enforcement, and some system of support for the poor. Based on Mr. Lind’s previous writings and the tone of this article I am lead to believe that he thinks the state should provide those services and therein lies the problem. Based on Mr. Lind’s criteria there can never be a libertarian country because a libertarian country, by definition, wouldn’t have a state providing those services, they would be provided through voluntary means.
With that said it is now time to jump into the meat of my rebuttal. Although libertarianism is often seen as a political philosophy it is more accurately a philosophy regarding human interaction. Most branches of libertarianism build off of the non-aggression principle, which is a principle that simply states initiating aggression is wrong. Theft, rape, and murder are acts of initiated aggression and are therefore seen as wrong under libertarianism whereas self-defense is seen as a response to aggression and is therefore right. The insidious part about libertarianism is that we live it every day without realizing it. Every time you go to a restaurant and decided to buy your food instead of stealing it you are performing a libertarian act. Voluntary interactions are, by definition, libertarian in nature.
States are the opposite of libertarianism, they are entities built on initiating aggression. The state raises wealth through expropriation. Taxes and fines are both examples of theft because the state is giving the people an ultimatum: pay taxes and fines or face kidnapping, detainment, or death. In fact every law declared by the state has the same ultimatum: obey or be enslaved or killed. Something as minor as a parking ticket can lead to your death. Most people scoff at that claim because they’ve never heard of somebody actually being killed. The reason people aren’t killed over parking tickets isn’t because of the state’s benevolence, it’s because most people perform a cost-benefit analysis and decide paying the ticket offers a greater benefit than a standoff with a state thug. However, if you failed to pay a parking ticket you will likely be kidnapped by a cop who will put you in a cage. After spending some time in a cage you’ll likely be brought before a man in a robe who will order you to pay the ticket. If you don’t pay the ticket that robed man will decided to either put you back in a cage or garnish your wages. The latter option may lead you to work underground so you have no visible income for the state to take and then the state will come after you for not paying income tax. Eventually the only option that will be given to you is a cage and if you refuse to go into the cage you will be forced into it. If you refuse to go quietly, that is to say if you defend yourself, you will be killed. That’s how the state works.
Countries, by definition, are entities recognized by other entities. In our world an entity is recognized as a country if it is ruled by a state. This criteria for recognition isn’t surprising since it’s usually other states that decide whether or not another state is a valid country. The reason there are no libertarian countries is because libertarianism is the opposite of statism and in our modern vernacular the word country is synonymous with state.
Libertarian societies have existed and still exist. Medieval Ireland [PDF], medieval Iceland, the American West, and Neutral Moresnet were all historical examples of, what could be properly referred to say, libertarian societies. Today the region referred to as Zomia still exists as a libertarian society. In the case of Zombia many states claim jurisdiction over the area but none have any actual authority over the people living there because those people refuse to bow down. Instead, for the past 2,000 years, they have preferred a voluntary society based on cooperation, ritual, and tradition instead of coercion.
There are no libertarian countries but there are libertarian societies and each and every one of us lives most of our lives in a libertarian manner. Those who live outside of libertarian manners generally end up in a cage, dead, employes as cops, or politicians.
As it turns out Apple isn’t the only organization that avoids paying taxes. Another well-known organization is actively trying to avoid the tax man but it’s not a greedy capitalist private enterprise, it’s a benevolent egalitarian public organization called the National Security Agency (NSA):
Under a bill the 2013 Utah Legislature passed, the National Security Agency’s new Bluffdale data center might be taxed on the millions of dollars of energy it is expected to consume, providing a potential windfall for an obscure state authority.
The NSA is protesting the possible tax, even though a Utah attorney said he informed the agency about HB325, and the top U.S. electronic spy agency voiced no opposition until an official emailed Gov. Gary Herbert’s staff weeks after Herbert signed the measure.
“We are quite concerned [about] this,” Harvey Davis, NSA director of installations and logistics, wrote in the April 26 email, obtained through a Utah open records law request.
In a follow-up email Davis sent 31 minutes later, he explained: “The long and short of it is: Long-term stability in the utility rates was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5 billion construction at Camp Williams. HB325 runs counter to what we expected.”
You see, when an evil private enterprise that provides goods and services people voluntarily buy tries to keep its wealth it is an evil plunderer that the state sees necessary to destroy. When an evil public enterprise that spies on the general populace and backs up its existence at the point of a gun attempts to keep its ill-gotten booty the rules change. Suddenly exceptions must be made so taxes can be avoided.
This story demonstrates succinctly that there are different sets of rules. One set of rules applies to non-state agencies and another applies to the state itself.* When non-state agencies fail to pay taxes they are persecuted and told that they must pay their “fair share.” When a state agency is faced with a tax bill it protests, screams, and files official complaints to avoid paying them. Somehow they don’t have a “fair share” to pay. One thing is certain, nobody likes the tax man.
*There is also a third set of rules that applies to us lowly serfs. Fortunately it is a simple document that only contains one rule. Unfortunately that sentences is, “You are the slaves, we are the masters, and you must obey every one of our decrees or suffer whatever punishment we see fit.”
John Tierney, a politician from Massachusetts, is introducing a bill that would require all firearm to be equipped with technology that prevents them from being used by anybody besides its owner. What makes this case interesting isn’t the legislation but Mr. Tierney’s justification:
A House Democrat inspired by the last James Bond movie has offered legislation to produce handguns with “personalization technology.”
The idea is to produce guns that can only be used by the gun’s owners. Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) cited the latest James Bond movie, “Skyfall,” as inspiration for the bill.
Technology appearing in movies is now real? Awesome!
Seriously, my life is going to be so much better with a giant walking robot!
Central planners never learn. When one of their plans go awry they blame the data, implementation of the program, and anything else that allows them to avoid admitting central planning doesn’t work. Centralized plans rely on things never changing, which in an ever-changing world is a pretty stupid thing to rely on. Hell, the fucking continents don’t even remain the same!
The United Nations (UN), the largest central planning organization in the world, want people to supplement their diet with insects instead of current livestock:
A 200-page report, released at a news conference at the U.N. agency’s Rome headquarters, says 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diets with insects, which are high in protein and minerals, and have environmental benefits.
Insects are “extremely efficient” in converting feed into edible meat, the agency said. On average, they can convert 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of feed into 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of insect mass. In comparison, cattle require 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of feed to produce a kilo of meat.
Most insects are likely to produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases, and also feed on human and food waste, compost and animal slurry, with the products being used for agricultural feed, the agency said.
Currently, most edible insects are gathered in forests and what insect farming does take place is often family-run and serves niche markets. But the U.N. says mechanization can ratchet up insect farming production. The fish bait industry, for example, has long farmed insects.
How could this possibly go wrong? Let’s pretend that the majority of the regions that currently rely on beef, poultry, and pork for their protein intake decide to rely on insects instead. While the number of cattle, chickens, and pigs raise by farmers would decrease the number of insects being raise would increase. Simply walking around in forests and gathering insects wouldn’t provide enough foodstuff to replace current livestock so insects would have to be farmed. Farming insects is likely to be more difficult than farming current livestock because insects are difficult to contain (and difficult to keep out of your house). The UN report notes that many insects feed off of waste but it fails to note that insects also feed off of crops. Have you ever heard the phrase “A plague of locust?” There’s a reason people use that phrase, it’s because locust have a pension for wiping out crops.
Now let’s pretend that one of the insect farmers experience a failure in the system they’re using to contain their insect herd. What consequences would follow a massive number of fast-breeding crop-consuming creatures breaking out of their cages? In all likelihood all crops in the vicinity would be wiped out. In other words foodstuff would escape, more foodstuff would be destroyed, and the people in our hypothetical society would face the potential of starvation.
Of course central planners tend to believe they can control everything so this scenario has likely been written off as impossible.
The Atlantic has discovered that many colleges are soaking the poor by charging high tuition while handing out discounts to students from wealthy families:
Sometimes, colleges (and states) really are just competing to outbid each other on star students. But there are also economic incentives at play, particularly for small, endowment-poor institutions. “After all,” Burd writes, “it’s more profitable for schools to provide four scholarships of $5,000 each to induce affluent students who will be able to pay the balance than it is to provide a single $20,000 grant to one low-income student.” The study notes that, according to the Department of Education’s most recent study, 19 percent of undergrads at four-year colleges received merit aid despite scoring under 700 on the SAT. Their only merit, in some cases, might well have been mom and dad’s bank account.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with handing out tuition breaks to the middle class, or even the rich. The problem is that it seems to be happening at the expense of the poor. At 89 percent of the 479 private colleges Burd examined, students from families earning less than $30,000 a year were charged an average “net price” of more than $10,000 annually — “net price” being the full annual cost of attendance minus all institutional and government aid. Less technically, it’s what students can actually expect to pay. At 60 percent of private colleges, that net price was more than $15,000.
Of course the author of the article is unable to understand why colleges are partaking in such chicanery:
Otherwise, it’s hard to think of a justification for their behavior. Could it be that their prices are worth it, that the educations they provide justify the eye-popping cost? It’s hard to say definitively. But I’m hoping to put that possibility to the test in the coming week by matching Burd’s data against graduation and student loan default rates. In the meantime, the preponderance of evidence seems to suggest that many private colleges are either undercutting the intent of the Pell program, if not abusing it outright.
I’m nothing if not helpful so let me explain what is going on here. The phenomenon noted by the author is really another version of the state’s war against the poor. That is to say colleges, like states, want to raise a herd of dairy cattle that will produce a lot of milk. Doing so requires culling cattle that produce less milk and breeding cattle that produce more milk.
As the article notes many of the students being favored didn’t score notably well on Scholastic Assessment Tests (SAT) or demonstrate any real form of academic exceptionalism. The primary criteria for handing out discounts appears to be parental income. Why would a college prefer to attract students from wealthy families over students who demonstrate academic exceptionalism? Because students from wealthy families provide more milk.
When a college accepts students from wealthy families they stand to get far more than just tuition. Have you ever wondered how college buildings get their names? In many cases college buildings are named after large donors. For example, Parkhurst Hall at the Georgia College is named so because:
Next to Foundation is Parkhurst (2003), an imposing structure that replaces the 1949 Parkhurst Hall that chiefly had been occupied by faculty. The first Parkhurst was built with money from the Sylvester Mumford Fund, established by Mumford’s daughter, Goertner Parkhurst (1850-1949). Sylvester Mumford was a New York merchant who settled near Waynesville, Ga., and built a stately, antebellum home. The beautiful Goertner Mumford cast a romantic figure in the 1870s as she rode her favorite white stallion through the sand hills and pines of the Brantley County estate. Mrs. Goertner Mumford Parkhurst later used her considerable fortune to support the cause of women’s education.
Wealthy families tend to donate money to the college their student(s) went to even after their student(s) graduated. In addition to donations, colleges also gain name recognition by having students from prominent families in their communities (often wealthy families) attend. Name recognition can greatly increase enrollment because many people want to go to a famous college (I’m told it also looks good on a résumé). Not only that but children are often encouraged by their parents to attend whatever college one or or both of them attended. That means a college may enjoy multiple generations worth of students from a wealthy family, thus expanding the amount of time they enjoy the previously mentioned benefits.
What do colleges stand to get when they accept a student from a poor family? Tuition. Somebody is probably saying, “Hey Chris, you dumbass, a student from a poor family will make more money after they graduate college!” As it turns out economic mobility in the United States isn’t very mobile. If you are born into a poor family you are more likely than ever to remain poor. That means a college is less likely to see large donations from students of poor families after they graduate. On top of that, students from poor families are more likely to be, at least somewhat, fiscally conservative. That means even if the student becomes wealthy he or she isn’t as likely to waste that wealth by tossing it to a college they already paid. Because of those two things the college has to milk cattle from poor families as much as possible right away.
In summary colleges favor students from wealthy families because they expect to gain more. The mistake being made by many people is believing colleges are something other than businesses. Colleges aren’t magical egalitarian institutions that are able to rise above self-interest. If that were the case senior college administrators wouldn’t make six-figure salaries, they would forgo a great deal of their salary so that money could be used to educate more students. But they do make six-figure salaries and they know that they need a strong herd of cattle to milk in order to continue making six-figure salaries.
Harry Reid appears to be confused. In his world, likely created by the onset of dementia, he believes that the Tea Party and anarchists are equivalent:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says the Tea Party is the main reason why things are not getting done in Congress and views it as a party of modern-day anarchists.
Reid on Wednesday afternoon stood by comments he made on the Senate floor last week comparing Tea Party-affiliated Republicans to 19th century American anarchists.
“I believe that, my experience with the Tea Party, is that they are against government in any form. They throw monkey wrenches into the government,” Reid said during an interview on the “Rusty Humphries Show.”
The Tea Party isn’t ready to rock with us anarchists. They’re like the metalcore fans at the death metal show. While they know some of the lingo and can name a some well-known bands they still complain about their inability to understand the lyrics and won’t venture forth into the mosh pit. Given a few years to mature they may be ready to rock with the big boys but they’re not at that point yet.
Through my mistaken adventure in libertarian politics I attended several Tea Party rallies. Most of the people attending those rallies would qualify, in my book, as being quite patriotic. They love the United States of America, the Constitution, an believe the government has been hijacked by socialists but is still legitimate. What most Tea Party members seem to want want to kick the socialists out of the government and replacement with good all-American conservatives. Tea Party members generally seem to be OK with the concept of taxation and believe we’re simply being taxed “too much.” The neoconservatives in the Tea Party movement (of which there are many) support having a large standing army and even believe that defense is one of the few rightful duties of the federal government. To understand the Tea Party one need only use a layman’s interpretation of the Constitution (as opposed to the convoluted lawyerly interpretation used by the state).
Us anarchists differ by opposing the state in its entirety. We don’t believe in any taxation, oppose standing armies, and don’t believe there are any rightful duties of a state. Those of us who identify ourselves as anarchist don’t believe that the government has been hijacked, we believe the government is running as intended. Whether socialists or conservatives are in charge is of no consequence to us because politicians on both sides of the political spectrum want to expropriate from the general population.
It’s true that many members of the Tea Party may eventually give up their small government desires and transition to no government desires. Tea Party members who transition in such a way will likely become anarcho-capitalists. This isn’t unique to members of the Tea Party though, many socialists and communists may eventually transition to anarchism, specifically anarcho-communism. With that said members of the Tea Party, socialists, and communists haven’t made that transition and many never make that transition. They’re toes may be in the water but they haven’t decided if it’s too cold to jump in yet. To say any of them are equivalent to anarchists are is completely wrong.
Are you ready for some surprising news? You may want to sit down for this. As it turns out, the central banks haven’t a clue as to what they’re doing:
Growing concern at the International Monetary Fund over the long-term side-effects of interest rates close to zero came as some of the leading figures in central banking conceded they were flying blind when steering their economies.
Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, the former member of the European Central Bank’s executive board, captured the mood at the IMF’s spring meeting, saying: “We don’t fully understand what is happening in advanced economies.”
But the best part of the article the following paragraph:
It is troubling for monetary policy experts that their crisis-fighting tools – rates stuck at zero, money printing operations to bring down longer-term interest rates and encourage private sector spending, and efforts to calm financial market fears – might have nasty side-effects.
Who would have thought that artificially lowering interest rates to nothing, printing billions upon billions of dollars, and sucking people into malinvestment would have any harmful side-effects? Just everybody with an elementary school understanding of basic economics. Unfortunately the politicians decided that Keynes’s mysticism sounded much better than Mises’s deductive logic, which isn’t surprising since Keynes’s mysticism basically said anything the state does to bolster the economy is good whereas Mises said the state should take an entirely hands off approach. Needless to say the state liked the idea of monopolizing the monetary system and it has been downhill ever since.