Archive for the ‘News You Need to Know’ Category
Almost two years ago it was revealed that the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) missed a whopping 95 precent of restricted items. You would think that such a damning report would have lead to a top to bottom rework of the agency’s practices. But the TSA is a government agency, which means it doesn’t suffer consequences for failing, unlike market actors, and therefore has no motivation to improve. That’s what, two years later, we still get to read stories like this:
An off-duty policewoman flew from Los Angeles international airport (LAX) to Taiwan with a gun in her hand luggage.
The weapon was not detected during security screening and Noell Grant only realised she was carrying it as she changed planes in Taipei.
At one point I noted that the TSA exists solely to provide warm and fuzzy feelings to passengers who are too ignorant to realize that the agency isn’t securing anything. But as these stories continue to role out even ignorant fools are likely becoming aware of the fact that the TSA is just as ineffective as every other government agency. When that realization sets in the warm and fuzzy feelings of ignorance vanish, which means the agency serves no purpose whatsoever. The TSA should be completely abolished tomorrow.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Likewise, socialism by any other name would smell just as awful.
The United States is in the midsts of a small cultural skirmish. International socialists, often going by the moniker “antifascists,” are locking horns with national socialists, who are going by the moniker “alt-right.” These fights have been mostly silly to outside observers since they more resemble skits from The Three Stooges than Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts. Both sides seem to believe that they’re the exact opposite of each other but in reality they’re mirror images of one another:
People often argue over whether Hitler and Mussolini were “right wing” or “left wing.” More to the point is that both men’s ideologies had roots in the Progressive movement of the turn of the 20th century.
The Progressive movement was closely tied to the philosophy of Pragmatism: the belief that thought is a tool for action and change. In contrast to the ancient and medieval philosophers, for whom philosophy was the contemplation of reality, the Progressives were animated by the desire to mold reality and to harness knowledge for social betterment. Many in the vanguard of progressive thought initially were enamored of Mussolini and even Hitler, considering their dictatorships a useful “social experiment.”
Complete state control of all aspects of life was seen as highly pragmatic and scientific by many. Nationalism and militarism – elements commonly associated with the Right – were actually key components of the Progressive Era, flourishing in particular under President Woodrow Wilson, as Goldberg documents.
I’m not an “ends justify the means” kind of guy specifically because following that philosophy leads to national or international socialism, which both lead to democide.
I have friends who have cheered and antifascist punching a fascist and other friends who have cheered a fascist punching an antifascist. These friends of mine have been sucked into a trap where they believe each side’s rhetoric about being the opposite of the other side. Personally, I like the idea of locking these two groups into an arena, throwing a few swords into the mix, and letting them fulfill their goal of wiping the other group out. But I digress.
The fight between national and international socialists is no different than the fight between statist libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, with the exception being that the latter hasn’t turned into a Three Stooges skit yet. It’s not a fight between two opposing groups but infighting amongst two factions of the same group that have very minor disagreements.
Just a reminder, today is the last day for you to submit your voluntary war effort contribution without having to worry about men with guns kicking down your door and kidnapping you.
Denying people listed on government terrorist watch lists the ability to own firearms has been a pursuit of gun control zealots in recent years. They’re not fans of due process and foolishly believe that the government had good cause to add people to those lists. But we keep finding examples of people being added to those lists who have no business appearing on them. Take this three-month old baby for example:
A three-month old baby was summoned to the US embassy in London for an interview after his grandfather mistakenly identified him as a terrorist.
Harvey Kenyon-Cairns had been due to fly to Orlando in Florida for his first overseas holiday, until his grandfather Paul Kenyon made the error on a visa waiver form.
On the part of the Esta form which reads “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?” Kenyon ticked yes instead of no.
He only learned of his error when his grandson’s travel was refused. “I couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see it was a genuine mistake and that a three-month-old baby would be no harm to anyone,” said the 62-year-old.
I’m not expert but I can’t imagine a three-month old child having the ability to engage in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide. A quick look at the applicant’s date of birth would have lead any sensible person to realize that the checkbox was obviously checked in error. But governments don’t care about common sense, it’s all about the process to them.
Furthermore, having that question is just plain stupid. Anybody with intent of engaging in those activities isn’t going to alert authorities to their intentions on a government form. After all, people who are willing to break more serious laws probably won’t be dissuaded by charges of lying on a government form. The only purpose such a question on a visa application serves is to add a field where an innocent person can make a stupid mistake.
Government lists are horribly unreliable because there are so many ways to get on them and almost no oversight when it comes to adding names to them. That’s why relying on government lists for any form of punishment is stupid. Something as simple as checking the wrong box on a form might get you added to some watch list.
I generally believe that the United States education system is a cesspool. But once in a while somebody emerges from the muck and becomes a hero to us all. Beth Elaine Allen is one such person:
According to 12 felony and gross misdemeanor counts filed Friday in Hennepin County District Court, Beth Elaine Allen, 64, is estimated to owe the state more than $50,000 in outstanding taxes, penalties and interest over a five-year period. Charges say Allen failed to pay income taxes since at least 2003, but due to the statute of limitations for tax crimes, charges are limited to years 2010 to 2015.
Five years of denying the State of Minnesota a portion of her revenue. That’s quite a streak! Of course, it could have been longer if she was more intelligent about it. If you’re going to forego paying taxes you should do everything you can to stay off of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) radar. For example, if you can’t pay your mortgage don’t spend lavishly after your home is foreclosed:
Investigators also found that Allen bought a Minneapolis condo in 1992 for $245,000 and made mortgage payments of $1,400 until it was foreclosed in 2011, that she paid $94 a day to live at the Residence Inn in Plymouth and pays $700 a month to store her belongings. Credit card receipts show she spent thousands on travel, restaurants, grocery stores, liquor and wineries.
That’s the kind of thing that raises red flags with revenuers and red flags can lead to investigations. So I commend Beth on refusing to pay money to the State but I think she could have gone about it better.
The United States spent tens of millions of dollars on Tomahawk missiles so it could totally fail at destroying a Syrian airport. Supposedly the operation was done in retaliation for the Syrian government using chemical weapons on rebel fighters. You see, under no circumstance will the United States tolerate human rights violations and war crimes! The might of the United States military will be brought to bear against anybody who crosses such a line!
Unless, of course, the human rights violations and war crimes are occurring in a country the United States has no vested interest in:
More than 100 gay men have been detained in concentration camp-style prisons in the Russian region of Chechnya, according to reports by local newspapers and human rights organisations.
The arrests are being made as part of a widespread anti-LGBT purge in the area. The prison camps are the first to be established for LGBT people since the Second World War.
It’s difficult to claim the moral high ground when it’s obvious your morality is based entirely on your interests. People start to think you’re not sincere when you selectively invoke your morality as justification for your actions.
But morality to a government is nothing more than propaganda. It’s pulled out and cited when it’s convenient to forward one of the government’s causes but then buried again once it has served that purpose. When you see a government cite moral grounds for actions know that you’re being propagandized. The actions aren’t being done for moral reasons, the actions were being done for entirely selfish reasons and morality just happened to be a convenient excuse that sounded far better than greed.
One of the reasons healthcare in the United States costs so much is because dealing with health insurance companies is a hassle. The cost of dealing with insurance companies gets pushed onto the consumer. Fortunately, some doctors are starting to see the light and moving towards doing business in cash:
In March, Business Insider reported on a new movement happening with primary care doctors. It’s called direct primary care, and it works like this: Instead of accepting insurance for routine visits and drugs, these practices charge a monthly membership fee that covers most of what the average patient needs, including visits and drugs at much lower prices.
It’s happening at a time when high-deductible health plans are on the rise — a survey in September found that 51% of workers had a plan that required them to pay up to $1,000 out of pocket for healthcare until insurance picks up most of the rest.
And it’s not just happening in primary care. A number of specialists — oncologists, physical therapists, and even some hospitals — are jumping on board as well.
As government entangles itself more in the health insurance market the costs will continue to increase. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many people are already at the point where they can’t afford health insurance. I hope the continuously increasing cost of insurance will cause this slow trend of cash-only doctors to take off like a rocket. The more the medical industry divorces itself from the State the more healthcare quality will increase and costs will decrease.
In case you sleeping when it happened, last night the United States decided to dump tens of millions of dollars of Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airbase:
The US has carried out a missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town.
Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two US Navy ships in the Mediterranean. At least six people are reported to have been killed.
According to Wikipedia, the cost of a Tomahawk missile is $1.59 millions. The United States launched 59 of them, which comes to a total costs of $93.8 million. So far at least six people were killed, which brings the cost to kill ratio to $15.635 million per kill. At this rate Syria just needs to wait for the United States to bankrupt itself.
More importantly though, I’d like to welcome back the anti-war left! After eight years of mysterious absence I saw them popping back in last night. They were too busy decrying the actions of Mr. Trump to answer my question about where they were for the last eight years but I’m guessing they were on vacation or something and they’ll get around to posting pictures of their trip soon.
Omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina. Everything sounds more impressive if said in Latin. While that’s generally true, it only applies when something is said in correct Latin. When something is said in incorrect Latin you just end up looking like a damn fool:
A development of luxury homes in Cambridge has been daubed with graffiti – written in Latin, of course.
Vandals spray-painted the new five-bedroom river-front houses with the words Locus in Domos Loci Populum.
Locals have said the messages, which appear to be a protest against the development, could “only happen” in the university city.
I’m glad that something like this could “only happen” in Cambridge. I’d hate to see a trend of vandals writing “A place on the houses of a place the people,” on houses spread any further.
Today’s lesson is not to rely on Google Translate, especially for Latin. If you really want to use Latin and are unwilling to learn the language, head over to the nearest university’s Latin department and ask for a translation.
A lot of municipalities require residents to sign up for garbage removal service. As far as I can tell, the justification for such requirements is that residents are too lazy to haul their own trash to the dump so every one of them must pay somebody else to do it. But rules are for thee, not for me. When the State decides to leave trash on land it claims as its property what consequences befall it? Usually nothing. However, once in a while there are a handful of people who step in and take action:
Since December, clothes, syringes and other waste — remnants of a homeless camp — sat at the corner on the edge of downtown. St. Paul staff members said they repeatedly called the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the property, and asked them to clean it up. But the trash remained.
When Mische heard about the months of inaction, he rallied neighbors and family members and spent more than five hours on Saturday and Sunday cleaning it up.
On Saturday, he took about 50 bags of trash to an official dump site. The site was closed Sunday. Frustrated, he thought of an alternative for the additional two dozen bags.
“If City Hall is not going to come get it, we’ll bring it to City Hall,” he said.
He left a heap of trash bags at the doorstep of City Hall.
Personally, I’d have bypassed the dump entirely and went straight to City Hall but that’s just me nitpicking. I applaud Mr. Mische’s efforts. To add icing to the cake, the city has also decided again charging Mr. Mische with illegal dumping. I guess the city decided it would look bad if it fined somebody who did its work for it.
Little acts of civil disobedience such as this may not topple the State but they can act as a thorn in its side.