A Geek With Guns

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Archive for the ‘Nanny State’ Category

Traditional Cigarette Industry Finally Receives The Protection It Paid For

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E-cigs have become a tremendous problem for traditional cigarette manufacturers. Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigs deliver the nicotine people want. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigs don’t include the massive list of harmful additional materials. Not only is vaping healthier, it’s cheaper to boot. There is also a taboo around smoking these days whereas vaping is seen as the new cool thing to do. These benefits are allowing the e-cig industry to eat the traditional cigarette industry’s lunch.

What’s the last refuge of a dying industry? The State, of course. Fortunately, for the traditional tobacco industry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is stepping in to stomp down the blossoming e-cig industry:

As the debate over the health risks of e-cigarettes rages on, the FDA is stepping in to “improve public health and protect future generations.” To do that, the US government will regulate e-cigs and vaping gear like it does any other tobacco product. Until now, these products haven’t been subject to government oversight. With the FDA’s changes, the federal law that already forbids tobacco sales to people under 18 will now apply to vaping as well. Sure, this age limit was already being enforced in some places, but this more formal announcement makes it a nation-wide law.

What’s more, vaping products will be subject to the same regulations in terms of packaging and production. Manufacturers will have to register with the FDA and provide a list of products to the agency. Companies will also be required to disclose ingredients, including any harmful or potentially harmful substances, and they’ll have to get approval before putting new tobacco products on the market. In terms of packaging and advertising, e-cigarette and vaping products must also feature a health warning label — just like the brands selling regular cigarettes.

There’s nothing as fun as good old protectionism. The e-cig market has thrived because the lack of government regulations allows new entrepreneurs to enter the market with little startup capital. Since the e-cig industry is fairly new and the products are highly customizable there is a lot of room for new, innovative entrepreneurs. By putting e-cigs in regulatory parity with traditional cigarettes the FDA has ensured that innovation within the industry will drop and that the entire industry will slowly be monopolized into a handful of large companies.

The slowdown in innovation, restrictions from advertising, and other regulatory burdens will allow traditional cigarette companies to stand a good chance of competing successfully again.

“But Chris,” I hear somebody say, “what about the longterm health effects of e-cigs?” To that I say, what about them? All of the concerns about health effects are unrealized at this point so they can’t even been addressed. Entirely hypothetical threats are not a good foundation for policies. Besides, what a person puts into their body is their own business regardless of health side effects. To quote Ludwig von Mises, “If a man drinks wine and not water I cannot say he is acting irrationally. At most I can say that in his place I would not do so. But his pursuit of happiness is his own business, not mine.” If you want to inject some krokodil into your eyeball, inject some heroine between your toes, and vape all at the same time that should be your right.

There is no sound reason for the FDA’s declaration here except to provide the traditional cigarette companies the protections they paid, err, lobbied for.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 10th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Hobby Lobby

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The Nazgûl managed to stir up a bunch of political drama by ruling that privately held companies whose owners hold strong religious beliefs can be exempted for providing funding for certain contraceptives:

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday that for-profit employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare.

The ruling deals directly with only a small provision of Obamacare and will not take down the entire law but it amounts to a huge black eye for Obamacare, the administration and its backers. The justices have given Obamacare opponents their most significant political victory against the health care law, reinforcing their argument that the law and President Barack Obama are encroaching on Americans’ freedoms.

As you can expect the Internet has exploded. Feminists are decrying this as a direct strike against women’s rights and the religious are hailing this as a great victory for religious freedom. Both sides, in their fervor to be louder than the other side, are missing the big picture. This battle isn’t one of women’s rights versus religious freedom, it’s the inevitable outcome of this country’s state-employer-insurer complex. Or as I like to call it the trinity of fuckery.

The state really made this entire fiasco possible. Today most people receive health insurance as part of their employee benefits package. Have you ever wondered why health insurance is tied to your employer? It’s because employers needed a way to provide higher wages during a time when the state implemented wage controls. Since the state said that employers couldn’t pay employees a higher wage employers decided to offer benefits, including health insurance, to bypass the controls. Today the state has further solidified the unity between health insurance and employment by mandating almost every employer provider employees with specific types of health insurance. That last part, requiring specific types of insurance, is the real kicker because it mandates certain types of contraceptives that many religious individuals oppose.

An employer with strongly held religious convictions is going to have problems funding coverage for certain types of contraceptives and abortions. Since they’re being mandated by the state to provide health insurance and that health insurance must cover some of the contraceptives they find objectionable they are using the only avenue left open to them: the courts. Hobby Lobby in this case decided to fight the contraceptive coverage and the state made an arbitrary decision, which sided with Hobby Lobby in this case. You can argue that the ruling was just or unjust until you’re blue in the face but it doesn’t matter what you believe. It only matters what the state believes.

Had the state never implemented wage controls and thus tied health insurance to employment we wouldn’t be in this mess. Assuming a lack of some other form of state meddling, employees would then be free to buy whatever health insurance plan worked for them. People with strong religious convictions against contraceptives could get a health insurance plan that didn’t cover contraceptives while people who want contraceptive coverage could get a plan that offered it. Their employer wouldn’t have a say in the matter since they wouldn’t be providing it. So the only viable solution is to break apart the trinity of fuckery.

How Times Have Changed

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I’ve been on this planet for 31 years so it wasn’t that long ago that I escaped from high school. But in that short period of time things have certainly changed. Zero tolerance policies, which were just starting to be mentioned when I was finishing up my high school sentence, are now the norm and they are leading to increasingly idiotic outcomes. Alyssa Drescher is a high school student who brought a pocket knife to school. For her infraction she’s looking at expulsion for one year:

Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Drescher is facing expulsion after Wells police reportedly found a pocket knife in her purse during a random drug search Tuesday morning.

Her father, Rick Drescher, said he bought the knife for his daughter a few months earlier at Menard’s. The knife was in her purse after a day of cutting hay bales at her boyfriend’s home a few days prior, and Alyssa forgot to take it out, Rick said.

[…]

The father said school officials could have given her a three- to five-day suspension, and initially said they believed that she mistakenly brought the knife to school. Now, however, Jensen is seeking to expel her for 12 months at an expulsion hearing before the USC school board at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

I took a lot of shop classes in high school. Like most other shops students I carried a pocket knife and used it every day. The only policy my school had about pocket knifes at that time, at least that I’m aware of, was that the blade had to be under a certain length. But even that rule wasn’t enforced, at least by the shop teachers. So long as you weren’t acting in a violent or irresponsible nature nobody really cared that you had a pocket knife as it was recognized as a legitimate tool.

Now pocket knifes are treated as weaponry and students who mistakenly bring them to school face increasingly severe punishments. It’s no stretch of the imagination to say that zero tolerance polices are ruining academic careers of students who have made absolutely trivial mistakes. In fact this is a reflection of our society in general. At one time a person who committed a crime and suffered his cage sentence was released with a relatively clean slate. Now anybody who has served time in a cage, regardless of how minor their infraction was, is dogged with that history for the remainder of their lives.

Our society is becoming one where mistakes are not forgiven. If you forget to remove a pocket knife from your purse you may forfeit the entire school year and be forced to redo it all over again. Smoking a little weed when you’re in college can lead to a cage sentence that will harm your chances of gaining employment after you finish college (if you’re even allowed to finish college). Nothing good can come from our increasingly intolerant society.

Update: 2014-04-27: 20:52: The school board unanimously voted to expel her:

WELLS — The United South Central school board voted unanimously Thursday to expel the 17-year-old girl who claims she mistakenly brought a pocket knife to school last week. The expulsion will last through the end of the school year.

Another academic career ruined by our retarded zero tolerance society.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am

The Statist Solution is Always More Government

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Statists have to be some of the least creative individuals on the planet. For every problem that exists their only solution is more government. The current crusade being waged here in Minnesota is distracted drivers:

ST. PAUL, Minn. – It’s difficult for law enforcement to detect distracted drivers, but thanks to an effort that utilizes a school bus, a pair of Ramsey County Sheriff’s deputies lead a crackdown operation that started on Friday.

So we have men with badges and guns driving school buses in the hopes of finding a person looking at their phone so they can be issued a big fat citation. According to their logic:

Distracted driving is a growing problem in Minnesota.

No. The lack of self-driving automobiles is a growing problem in Minnesota (and everywhere else). With a little creativity we can solve the problem of people wanting to utilize their otherwise underutilized driving time by providing a technological solution. Self-driving automobiles would allow drivers to text, tweet, like things on Facebook, and search Craigslist for cheap furniture all while traveling to work, home, or somewhere else.

Instead of sinking resources into sending costume-clad men with guns to fine drivers why not invest those resources into developing more reliable systems for automating automobiles. Hell the damned things already exist and have performed phenomenally in trials. Why not pass legislation that legalizes the use of self-driving automobiles here in Minnesota? The quicker the technology is matured the quicker this problem ceases to be a problem.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 15th, 2014 at 10:30 am

Minnesota: The State Where Government Protects You from Bad Decisions… Even if Its Not Sure if Your Decisions are Bad

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You have to love the legislators here in Minnesota. Even though the transportation infrastructure is in a severe state of disrepair, the electronic pull tabs that were supposed to fund the tax victim’s part of the new Vikings stadium didn’t, and local legislative campaigns are going way up in costs our legislators manage to find the time to deal with the really important issues.

On the table today is the issue of teens using tanning booths. Minnesota’s dear leaders are looking to pass a bill that would make it illegal for people under 18 to use tanning beds:

At a time when melanoma cases are rising sharply in Minnesota, lawmakers appear poised to pass legislation that would ban anyone under 18 from using tanning equipment.

The rate of melanoma cases is increasing and it is due to teens are making more frequent uses of tanning beds. I know this because the government wouldn’t be so stupid as to jump to such a major conclusion without acquiring such facts. Legislators would never introduce such a prohibition based on speculation.

To substantiate whether tanning beds might be behind the increase in melanoma cases, the health department added some tanning questions to the Minnesota Student Survey conducted last year.

The survey showed that one in three 11th grade girls reported that they tanned indoors in the last year. Among those tanning bed users, Korn said more than half reporting tanning indoors more than 10 times that year.

Or they could be doing exactly that. A single survey given to teens about tanning, which has no historical data to go on, is the justification being used to prohibit teens from using tanning beds. Does the increasing rate of melanoma cases correlate to an increase rate of teens using tanning beds? Who fucking knows. That’s not what is important. What is important is that there is an increased rate in melanoma cases and that means we have to do something!

People sometimes ask me, “Chris, how can you be an anarchist?” So here it is, Christopher Burg’s three step program to becoming an anarchist:

  1. Identify the actions of the people tasked with running you life.
  2. Determine whether or not those actions make sense for your life.
  3. If they don’t then logic would dictate that those people shouldn’t be running your life.

Let’s apply this three step program to the melanoma problem:

  1. The Minnesota legislature, in an attempt to address the increased rate of melanoma, is planning to prohibit teenagers from using tanning beds.
  2. No evidence exists trying an increased use of tanning beds with the increased rate of melanoma.
  3. Since there is a lack of evidence showing an increased rate of tanning bed use by teenagers exists the solution of prohibiting teenagers from using tanning beds cannot be said to address the problem.

If you can understand the three step process above then you can apply it to other laws that have been or are being passed by legislators. You will likely find that almost all of the laws being passed don’t make sense for your life and therefore the people passing those laws shouldn’t be running your life. After that you can freely consider yourself an anarchist.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 1st, 2014 at 10:00 am

Racist Fish

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Last week I theorized that political correctness may simply be a social phenomenon of the powerless trying to feel empowered (but you didn’t see it because my post scheduler decided to forget to post it and I missed it because I don’t check my post queue as religiously as I should). In summary, for those not interested in reading my previous post, whiny bitches are whiny because it gives them the ability to lord a very measly amount of power over another human being.

Minnesota has to be the capital of butthurt social justice warriors. Our army of whiny bitches are ready to move at any sign of potential political correctness. Whenever a man says something the social justice warriors are there to point out his misogyny. Middle class individuals need not fear of being unopposed in everything they say because the social justice warriors will let everybody know that any wealth is a privilege (from their iPhones and MacBook Pros no less). If a white person say something never fear because Minnesota’s social justice warriors are here to point out that individual’s inherit subconscious racism. In fact our social justice warriors are so effective that they have even found that the name of Asian carp is really thinly veiled racism:

Jean Lee, who testified for the Senate bill Thursday, said she became upset by the term as it was used during a round-table meeting she attended with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials.

“They were referring to the Asian people in terms of being invasive species. This was offensive,” said Lee, executive director of the Children’s Hope International Minnesota chapter. That St. Louis-based nonprofit organization facilitates international adoptions from countries including China and Vietnam.

Sia Her, executive director of the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, a state agency, also testified in support of calling the fish “invasive carp.” The negative response to the fish “will reflect negatively on our community,” she said.

I highly doubt that the officials in the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) were referring to Asian people during the meeting about Asian carp. But nonetheless Jean Lee seems to believe that the best way to fight bigotry is with more bigotry. She proposed that Asian carp be changed to invasive carp.

Invasive carp? Really? These poor fish were kidnapped from their native waters, hauled over to America in suboptimal conditions, and forced into labor for the commercial fisheries! They are no more invasive than African Americas. In fact I’m betting that Mrs. Lee’s entire crusade against these underprivileged fish is due to her inherit speciesism. Mrs. Less probably thinks that just because she’s human that she’s a member of the master species and sees other forms of life on this planet as inferior. I’ve got news for Mrs. Lee, these fish didn’t ask to come here, they were kidnapped. We’re not talking about an invasive species, we’re talking about victims of the fish slave trade! Mrs. Lee should be ashamed of herself for publicly displaying her blatant speciesism.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 31st, 2014 at 10:30 am

New York City Suing FedEx for Delivering Cigarettes

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Michael Bloomberg is one his way out so it’s not surprising to see one last hurrah coming from his administration. In one of its final acts the Bloomberg administration has brought a lawsuit against FexEx because the company supposedly delivered cigarettes to New York City denizens:

New York City has sued FedEx Corp, accusing the package delivery company of illegally delivering millions of contraband cigarettes to people’s homes, violating a 2006 settlement.

Monday’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan and seeks $52 million of civil fines and unpaid taxes from FedEx, which is based in Memphis, Tennessee.

It marks one of the last acts by the administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose more than decade-old campaign to ban smoking in various public and private places has been credited with saving thousands of lives and become a blueprint for other cities.

There’s no way of reforming New York City. I think we’ll have to wait for it to go the way of Detroit before the city’s all powerful mayoral administration is toppled.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 31st, 2013 at 10:30 am

How Do You Sign “Shut Up Slave”

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I often hear people say that the right to free speech much have reasonable restrictions placed upon it. Usually these people are hyper sensitive ninnies whose skin is so thin that it’s penetrated by even the most childish of insults. A school board in New Jersey, a state that is well ahead of the average American police state curve, have found another reason to curtail the freedom of speech, safety:

School officials have threatened a hearing-impaired girl with suspension if she uses sign language to talk to her friends on the school bus, the girl’s parents say.

Danica Lesko and her parents say sign language is the only way to for the 12-year-old to communicate, especially while riding to school on a noisy bus.

But officials at Stonybrook School — which is not a school for the hearing-impaired — and district officials in Branchburg, N.J., apparently believe signing is a safety hazard. They have sent a letter to the Lesko family ordering Danica to stop using sign language on the school bus or risk a three-day suspension.

[…]

In a statement released through the school district’s attorney, David Rubin, the Branchburg Board of Education refused to discuss the details of Danica’s case, saying only that its version of events differs from the parents’ version.

However, the board insisted it has not violated anyone’s rights and is only trying to protect other students who must ride on the school bus.

“The Board is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to all students with disabilities, and is satisfied that there has been no violation of that policy in this case,” officials said in the statement. “The Board is also committed to assuring the safety of all students who travel on District buses, and will continue to take appropriate steps to accomplish that goal.”

It appears that little Danica’s reliance on sign language to communicate is a danger to her fellow students. By Odin, she could have expressed ideas that haven’t been expressly approved by the Thought Police! Imagine the damage she could cause if she incited her fellow slaves to throw off the shackles of the public education system. There could be freethinkers running around in a few years!

Written by Christopher Burg

June 25th, 2013 at 10:00 am

Your Child Belongs to the State

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Remember when MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry started a great deal of controversy by claiming that children belong to the community? It turns out the New Jersey Supreme Court agrees with her:

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled this week that authorities can seek custody of a child, even where there’s no evidence of abuse or neglect.

The case involved a divorced Camden County mother of 9-year-old twin girls. In 2007, she asked New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency for help, claiming she was unable to care for the girls who had psychological and developmental disabilities and needed to be placed in residential care.

“You can turn to the Division for help, but it may come with a cost,” says Diana Autin, executive director of Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey. The group filed an amicus brief in the case.

Autin says under the court’s ruling, the state can get custody of a child with behavior problems if it proves that the parent can’t provide the type of services the child needs and the services are in the child’s best interest. She says the division can get custody without using the state’s abuse and neglect law.

In layman’s terms your child is the property of the state. You may be allowed to raise the state’s child if you are the biological or adoptive parent but that privilege may also be revoked if the state decides you are unworthy of the task. Or, to be put even more tersely, shut the fuck up slave and raise “your” child as you’re told to.

Seriously, how much more ridiculous does the legal system in this country have to get before people finally see it as illegitimate?

Cultural Deterioration

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 12th, 2013 at 11:30 am