A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Incompetency Will Solve Everything

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Computer security has become a hot topic, which I appreciate since it was almost completely ignored for such a long time. Unfortunately, as with any hot topic, politicians are forcing themselves into the conversation. Two members of Congress have come up with the wonderful idea of putting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in charge of regulating computer security:

Two Democrats in Congress are imploring FCC head Ajit Pai to address cybersecurity issues in the United States, arguing vulnerabilities in cellular networks infringe on citizens’ liberties and pose a “serious threat” to national security. Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Ted Lieu penned a letter to Pai laying out known issues in modern communications systems and asking the FCC to step in. However, that’s unlikely to happen.

Putting an agency of one of the single most incompetent organizations, one with networks that are supposedly too old to secure, on Earth in charge of computer security? What could go wrong!

This is the problem with letting people who are clueless about a subject talk seriously about regulating it. I’ll at least give Mr. Lieu some credit for having a degree that involves computers. But a computer science degree alone doesn’t make one an expert in computer security and, as far as I know, Mr. Lieu didn’t work in the industry so his knowledge on the subject, if he has any, is likely entirely theoretical.

But we live in a democracy, which means that whatever the plurality of voters, in this case members of Congress, say is literally law. It doesn’t matter how unqualified the voters are. It doesn’t matter how idiotic the idea being voted on is. The only thing that matters is whether the majority of voters say yay or nay.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 29th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Political Solutions Don’t Work

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A lot of people here in the United States are flipping out because the rulers are voting to allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sell customer usage data:

A US House committee is set to vote today on whether to kill privacy rules that would prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from selling users’ web browsing histories and app usage histories to advertisers. Planned protections, proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would have forced ISPs to get people’s consent before hawking their data – are now at risk. Here’s why it matters.

It amazes me that more people seem to be upset about private companies selling their usage information for profit than providing their usage data to law enforcers so the wrath of the State’s judicial system can be brought upon them. Personally, I’m far more concerned about the latter than the former. But I digress.

This vote demonstrates the futility of political solutions. At one point the privacy laws were put into place by the State. The process of getting those laws put into place probably involved a lot of begging and kowtowing from the serfs. But Congress and the presidency have been shuffled around and the new masters disagree with what the former masters did so all of that begging and kowtowing was for nothing.

The problem with political solutions is that they’re temporary. Even if you can get the current Congress and president to pass laws that will solve your particular problems, it’s only a matter of time until Congress and the presidency changes hands and undoes the laws you begged so hard to have passed.

If you want a problem solved you have to solve it yourself. In the case of Internet privacy, the best defense against snoopy ISPs is to utilize a foreign Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider that respects your privacy and is in a country that is difficult for domestic law enforcement to coerce. Using a VPN will deprive your ISP, and by extent domestic law enforcement, of your usage data.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Facebook Wants You to Be Part of the Problem

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Anybody who was using Facebook during the presidential election probably remembers being encouraged to go to the polls so they could force their will upon their fellow human beings. Facebook wasn’t content with encouraging bad behavior for just the presidential election though. Now it’s planning to harass you about local elections:

Facebook isn’t limiting its get-out-the-vote initiatives to federal elections. The social network is now offering reminders to vote in local US elections, whether they’re at the county, municipal or state level. You’ll see these notices as long as you’re in an area with over 10,000 people, and they’ll include primaries in addition to general elections. It could be crucial to spurring interest in frequently neglected regional elections, especially in tandemn with Facebook’s officially launched Town Hall feature.

Facebook wants you to be part of the problem and that problem is forcing your will upon other people.

Voting is sacred in this country. If you speak ill of it the State’s true believers will descend upon you like starving hyenas. They’ll spout bullshit about voting being the peaceful way to implement change but it’s not peaceful. Voting is very violent. When you vote you are telling the State that you would greatly appreciate it if it used its capacity for violence to enforce your desires. It’s like hiring a thug to beat the shit out of people who aren’t doing what you want them to do except you’re making everybody pay for your thug.

This chunk of land called the United States of America probably wouldn’t be half bad if people weren’t so busy threatening each other with votes. But they are and it has turned this chunk of land into a festering shithole. If you really want to implement change, stop being part of the problem.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Never Listen to the Government

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First the government told everybody to get electric cars. It even went so far as to offer subsidies to both electric car manufacturers and buyers. Why? Because it claimed electric cars were better for the environment. Now that enough people have followed to the government’s suggestion it’s proposing to tax electric cars more heavily:

State lawmakers may take back some of the money that Minnesota electric vehicle owners are saving by not having to pay a gasoline tax.

Bills in the House and Senate would impose an annual surcharge of $75 to $85 on vehicles that are all-electric and plug-in hybrids based on electric motors. Gasoline-electric hybrids would be exempt.

The move would bring Minnesota in line with state governments across the country that are increasingly seeking to slap fees on electric vehicles, some exceeding $150 per year.

Today’s lesson is never listen to the government.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Government Funding of Science is a Curse

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Donald Trump announced his budget. It’s what you’d expect from a neocon. Money was shuffled from neoliberal favored programs into the military:

Yesterday, the Trump administration released its first proposed budget outline. While this is just the first step in what will inevitably be extensive negotiations with Congress, it gives a clear indication of what Trump’s priorities are. First and foremost, he is focused on the military, which will see a $54 billion increase in spending, offset by cuts or wholesale elimination of programs elsewhere. Science is clearly not a priority, as it is repeatedly targeted for cuts in every agency that funds it.

But those cuts aren’t evenly distributed. NASA’s budget is almost entirely unscathed, although Earth sciences research funded by the agency will be cut to expand funding elsewhere. The National Science Foundation, a major source of grants for fundamental research, isn’t even mentioned, so there’s no sense of how it will fare. And the harshest cuts appear to be directed at biomedical research, which will see a dramatic 20 percent drop in funding for the National Institutes of Health.

As one would expect, the neocons are cheering this increase in military spending while the neoliberals are flipping out because the proposed budget cuts from their beloved science. What they fail to realize is that cutting funding for science would be a good thing for actual science.

Resource misallocation has plagued science for decades. Instead of science that focuses on the market (that would be you and me), companies have been allocating resources for the State’s pet projects in order to obtain government funding (which takes the form of tax dollars stolen from you and me). With less government funding to go around researchers would once again have to rely on the market to decide where resources were allocated. That would mean more research into making better goods and services instead of whatever idiotic pet project some random politician drummed up.

Of course, since the military budget is going up resource misallocation will continue to plagues science. Researchers will continue to focus on the State’s pet projects instead of what the market wants. Those pet projects will merely shift to making more effective methods of blowing shit up. This, of course, will anger the neoliberals because blowing shit up isn’t within their vision of what science ought to be. But the belief that science ought to be one thing or another and dictated by the State is the fundamental error being made here.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 22nd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Rise of the Warrior Politico

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As of late, virtue signaling has been turning into increasingly violent action in the political realm. Activists on both sides seem hellbent on demonstrating their piety to their political gods by attacking heathen worshipers of other political gods. While these activists seem to believe that they’re great warriors for doing what they’re doing the truth is they’re little more than live-action role players:

I can’t wait for the liberal genocide to begin,” exclaimed a demonstrator at a March 4 rally in Phoenix on behalf of President Trump, as an expression half-way between a sneer and a smirk creased his corpulent face. Asked by left-leaning independent journalist Dan Cohen to elaborate on what he said, the middle-aged man insisted that targeting political enemies for mass slaughter would be “a way to make America great again … it’s the liberals that are destroying this country.”

If the bloodletting this fellow cheerily anticipates were to ensue, he would be, at best, a spectator. He has taken too many trips around the Sun, and made too few trips to the gym, to be of any practical use in the hands-on business of eliminating the Enemy Within. Like most other people at that event, and others like it nation-wide, he was LARPing – Live-Action Role-Playing – in what could be seen as a contemporary re-enactment and updating of Weimar-era political street combat.

Having spent a great deal of time around gunnies I’ve encountered more than my fare share of wannabe warriors. You know the type. They talk about how they will rise up against the government when it becomes too tyrannical and sometimes form little militias with like-minded individuals so they can play weekend warrior. By and large these supposed warriors are a too old and too out of shape for the military, which should tell them something. Namely that they probably don’t have what it takes to make good warriors.

My advice for people wanting to get into the political warrior game is to hit the gym. First, you probably needs to get into shape if you want to fight. Second, it will give you an outlet for your aggression that is far more productive than whacking people you disagree with with a stick.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 21st, 2017 at 11:00 am

Where Government Involvement in the Healthcare Market Leads

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Why is healthcare coverage so tightly tied to employment? Because during World War II the government implemented wage and price controls so employers had to find another forms of compensation to offer in order to attract employees. Although those controls are gone the damage remains.

Since health insurance is tied to employment (i.e. the employer usually pays part of an employees health insurance premium), employers have become incentivized to control the price of health insurance. This has lead some companies to implement various wellness programs while other employers want to take things to an entirely different level:

It’s hard to imagine a more sensitive type of personal information than your own genetic blueprints. With varying degrees of accuracy, the four-base code can reveal bits of your family’s past, explain some of your current traits and health, and may provide a glimpse into your future with possible conditions and health problems you could face. And that information doesn’t just apply to you but potentially your blood relatives, too.

Most people would likely want to keep the results of genetic tests highly guarded—if they want their genetic code deciphered at all. But, as STAT reports, a new bill that is quietly moving through the House would allow companies to strong-arm their employees into taking genetic tests and then sharing that data with unregulated third parties as well as the employer. Employees that resist could face penalties of thousands of dollars.

First the government implements wage and price control laws that force employers to find another means of compensating their employees. After the system is firmly cemented the government then swoops in to save the day by implementing information control laws. Then the government implements a healthcare law that prevents insurance companies from turning away people with preexisting conditions, which causes healthcare coverage premiums to skyrocket. Now the government is taking away the privacy laws that were enacted because of it’s original stupidity in order to help employers dodge the consequences from the government’s previous idiocy.

A company can’t just fire somebody because of their genetic makeup, right? While the existence of government enacted employee protection laws might lead you to believe such a thing the truth is that there is a practically limitless number of reasons for an employer to fire an employee. If an employee is a potential liability due to the effect they might have on the group healthcare coverage premium, an employer can find some reason to legally fire them.

We are here because of what government has done but I’m sure people will continue to blame the “free market” instead.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 14th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Unaccountable Council Behaves As Expected

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Last year Minnesotans had the option to vote in favor of creating an entirely unaccountable council to decide when politicians should get a raise. A lot of people were suckered into voting for this because they thought it would take away the politicians’ ability to vote themselves raises willy nilly. Opponents of the ballot initiative pointed out that giving such power to an entirely unaccountable council would lead to politicians receiving more frequent wages. Not surprisingly, the opponents of the initiative were right:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota lawmakers will get their first raise since 1999 after a newly created citizen council voted Friday to increase annual pay for members of the Legislature to $45,000 — a roughly 45 percent pay bump.

The Legislative Salary Council’s 13-1 vote increases lawmaker pay beginning in July, making Minnesota’s part-time Legislature among the highest paid in the country. Minnesota voters themselves set the increase in motion in November, overwhelmingly approving a constitutional amendment that removed lawmakers’ ability to set their own pay and instead handed the power to an independent council.

I wish somebody would vote a 45 percent wage increase for me!

Before the existence of the council, legislators who voted to give themselves wages might face some punishment from voters. Now there’s nobody to punish so legislator wages can go up and up! Isn’t democracy great?

Written by Christopher Burg

March 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

I Want Healthcare Coverage Against Parasites

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Now that the Republicans have seized both houses of Congress and the presidency they are busy going through with their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. The second word, replace, is the keyword because the Republicans are doing nothing more than putting a bandage on a severed limb so they can take credit for helping.

However, the rhetoric surrounding this repeal and replace process is hilarious. Supporters of Obamacare are pissed and already claiming that this new bill will basically kill everybody in the country. Supporters of the Republicans are split. Some of them are not happy with the replace aspect. Others are supportive of it. So far my favorite piece of rhetoric goes to this dumbass:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Tuesday said Americans may have to choose between purchasing a new iPhone or paying for health insurance.

“You know what, Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice,” the House Oversight Committee chairman told CNN’s “New Day,” one day after the House GOP unveiled its plan to replace ObamaCare.

“And so maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own healthcare.”

You have to love the fact that a parasite who lives entirely off of money extorted from tax payers is telling the people he’s been extorting how to spend what little money he and his ilk are allowing them to keep. It also shows how out of touch some of these parasites are. The price of an iPhone won’t even buy a month of healthcare coverage for many people. It certainly won’t buy a year for most people.

Perhaps if he and his ilk allowed us lowly serfs to keep more of our money we could afford better healthcare coverage. Surprisingly, that option apparently hasn’t crossed his mind.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 8th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Redundancies in the System

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The State has redundant layers of protection to defend itself from being meaningfully changed. We see this every time a police officer is fired for excessive use of force but is then later rehired because the union forced the department’s hand. But the redundancies don’t stop there. When a government goon goes rouge the system quickly moves to stop them from doing any damage.

Rand Paul, while mostly a run of the mill statist, has moments where he decides to go off of the rails. The Republicans have been crafting their Obamacare replacement bill in secret. Since he wasn’t invited to the party, Rand decided to grab a camera crew and attempt to bust into the secret meeting only to be stopped by armed guards:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday blasted House Republicans for keeping their ObamaCare repeal and replace legislation under wraps.

“I have been told that the House Obamacare bill is under lock & key, in a secure location, & not available for me or the public to view,” Paul tweeted.

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Reporters later tweeted photos of the senator attempting to access the room where the bill is being kept, and being denied entry.

It was a good publicity stunt and it shows why the electoral process is not an effective means of changing the system. Even when voters manage to elect somebody who is mostly unoffensive to the State, like Rand Paul, he’s unable to make even minor maneuvers against the status quo. His father, likewise, was almost entirely ineffective as a politician because of the system’s redundant layers of protection. No matter how hard you vote you’re still playing in a system designed by the people in power.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 3rd, 2017 at 10:30 am