A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Superdickery’ tag

Government Granted Monopolies are Good for Business

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Few markets in the United States are as ripe with corruption as the medical market:

A drug that treats a variety of white blood cell cancers typically costs about $148,000 a year, and doctors can customize and quickly adjust doses by adjusting how many small-dose pills of it patients should take each day—generally up to four pills. At least, that was the case until now.

Last year, doctors presented results from a small pilot trial hinting that smaller doses could work just as well as the larger dose—dropping patients down from three pills a day to just one. Taking just one pill a day could dramatically reduce costs to around $50,000 a year. And it could lessen unpleasant side-effects, such as diarrhea, muscle and bone pain, and tiredness. But just as doctors were gearing up for more trials on the lower dosages, the makers of the drug revealed plans that torpedoed the doctors’ efforts: they were tripling the price of the drug and changing pill dosages.

Before some socialist reads this and thinks that they’re going to be oh so clever by posting, “See? This is what happens under capitalism,” let me explain how this kind of behavior is enabled by government.

In a market unrestrained by government interference, news stories like this would result in competitors making cheaper alternatives to the drug in question. However, in this case the manufacturer has a patent, a government sanctioned monopoly, on the chemical makeup of the drug, which makes it illegal for other manufacturers, at least in countries that recognize the patent, to make a product using that same chemical makeup. If a drug manufacturer wants to triple the price of their patented products, there’s nothing to stop them because no competition exists.

If you look at drugs that are no longer patented, there are usually several generic alternatives to the name brand drug. These generics have the same chemical makeup and therefore do the same thing but they usually cost a fraction of the cost of the name brand version. Once a generic is on the market the original manufacturer can either keep their prices absurdly high and lose a bunch of business or bring their prices down to a more reasonable level in an attempt to compete.

Unfortunately, so long as manufacturers can patent chemistry, they can set their prices as high as they want.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 20th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Justice in the United States

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When I discuss the justice system in the United States, I use the word justice with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Justice, at least in my book, implies that a wronged party has been compensated for the damages they suffered by the party that wronged them. Here in the United States justice tends to imply that a governmental body has been compensated for the damages suffered by another party:

T-Mobile USA has agreed to pay a $40 million fine after admitting that it failed to complete phone calls in rural areas and used “false ring tones” that created the appearance that the calls were going through and no one was picking up.

“To settle this matter, T-Mobile admits that it violated the Commission’s prohibition against the insertion of false ring tones and that it did not correct problems with delivery of calls to certain rural areas,” states an order issued by the Federal Communications Commission today.

T-Mobile will pay the $40 million fine into the US Treasury. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn criticized the commission for not getting refunds for customers.

According to the Fascist Communications Club (FCC), T-Mobile wronged rural customers by inserting false ring tones on their lines and failing to correct issues that resulted in calls not being delivered. To punish T-Mobile the FCC fined it $40 million. However, that entire post is going to the FCC. The wrong parties, the rural individuals who had to deal with false ring tones and calls not being delivered, won’t receive a penny. T-Mobile isn’t even required to issue refunds.

This isn’t uncommon. Government regulators often accuse companies of harming individuals. The result of such accusations tends to be fines that are payable to the accusing agency while the parties that the accuser claimed were the actual wronged parties go without compensation. That doesn’t qualify as justice in my book. It’s just a scam for government busybodies to line their pockets while pretending to represent “the people.”

Written by Christopher Burg

April 18th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Winning Hearts and Minds

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I swear that the airliners are competing to provide the worst customer experience possible. United is still ahead in the competition since it likes to beat passengers and kill pets but Sun Country is working to catch up:

We understand that winter weather can wreak havoc on an airline, especially a small airline like Sun Country. On Saturday, Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) received a foot of snow, which closed the airport for most of the day. This, of course, resulted in a slew of cancelled flights, including some of Sun Country’s last flights of the year on a couple seasonal routes, including flights from Mazatlan (MZT) & San Jose del Cabo (SJD). Rather than trying to work out a solution for passengers, Sun Country simply refunded passengers and told them on Facebook to find an alternative way home.

Passengers will be have to book expensive last minute flights home on another airline, and they will be required to pay for any additional lodging expenses on their own. Based on our calculations, Sun Country has abandoned two flights or around 250 of their Minneapolis-bound passengers in Mexico.

Most airliners will work with passengers when weather causes their flights to be delayed or cancelled. The impacted passengers may be put up in a hotel at the airliner’s expense, shuffled onto flights with open seats, or even transferred to a plane operated by another airliner if no other alternative is available. Sun Country takes the tough love approach by telling its passengers that life isn’t fair so you have to suck it up and deal with it.

I flew Sun Country once. While the airliner didn’t strand me in Mexico, my experience was dreadful enough that I swore to never use it again. I’m guessing these customers aren’t going to be repeat customers either.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 17th, 2018 at 10:30 am

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Three May Keep a Secret, If Two of Them Are Dead

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Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack wrote, “Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.” This quote rings true time and time again. The most recent example is the legal mess surrounding the now shuttered website Backpage:

Carl Ferrer, the co-founder of Backpage, the notorious and now-shuttered site that once hosted a vast quantity of prostitution-related ads, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges.

[…]

Ferrer agreed, in combined plea deals with both Texas and California authorities, where he faced outstanding charges, that he will shut down Backpage “throughout the world,” will aid authorities in ongoing prosecutions of his co-conspirators, and will make all Backpage data available to authorities.

This outcome is very common in cases involving multiple suspects. The first suspect to offer their services as a snitch against the others is usually handed a sweetheart deal.

Benjamin Franklin’s point should be taken to heart by anybody performing illegal activities. For example, if you’re an agorist who is selling cannabis, you probably don’t want to enter a partnership with another cannabis dealer. You can’t control the actions of another person. Even if you take every precaution to avoid being caught by the authorities, you can’t guarantee that a partner will do the same. And if their mistake causes them to be arrested, there’s a good chance that they’ll offer you up in exchange for a sweetheart deal.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 13th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Regulations Make Medical Tourism a Necessity

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The United States was once a leader in medical technology. However, increases in bureaucracy have pulled back that lead. Many new and experimental medial treatments remain illegal in the United States, which has created a significant medical tourism industry. Every year numerous Americans travel to foreign lands to seek treatment for their ailments. The latest example of this is opioid addicts traveling to Mexico to seek treatment:

As America’s opioid and heroin crisis rages, some struggling with addiction are turning to a drug illegal in the US. Jonathan Levinson went to one clinic offering the treatment in Mexico.

At the end of a dead end street in a town near the US-Mexico border, Emily Albert is in the basement of a drug treatment clinic, hallucinating about her son as a heroin addict. She imagines him going through rehab and desperately trying to get clean.

But Albert is the one with the addiction. She’s in the middle of a psychedelic treatment for opioid addiction.

[…]

The drug is illegal in the US, but several studies have suggested it is effective in alleviating opioid withdrawals and curbing addiction.

[…]

Ibogaine, along with other hallucinogenics, such as LSD and psilocybin (magic mushrooms), are schedule I substances in the US – drugs which have no medical application and are not safe for use, even under medical supervision.

The medical potential of psychedelics has been known for decades. Timothy Leary performed research on their psychological benefits in the ’50’s and ’60’s. His research discovered that psychedelics did have a lot of positive aspects. Modern research has shown that psychedelics offer a lot of potential for people suffering from depression. And now clinics in Mexico are using psychedelics to help people kick their opioid addiction.

But even with all of this information at hand, the United States government continues to claim that psychedelics have no medial application whatsoever. So long as they maintain that attitude, it is mostly illegal to experiment with psychedelics for medical purposes in the United States, which creates an impasse. A researcher can’t experiment with psychedelics to determine if they can be used in medical applications so they continue to have no medial applications, which prevents researchers from determining if they can have medical applications.

Because of this impasse, the only way to gain access to psychedelics for medical use is to travel to a country less burdened by such regulations.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 12th, 2018 at 11:00 am

You Can’t Take the Sky from Me

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The United States government suffers from delusions of grandeur. The latest of these delusions is the belief that it owns space:

The story behind the missing live feed is a muddy bureaucratic affair. It appears that NOAA has recently decided to start interpreting or enforcing a decades-old law in a new way. The agency says SpaceX and other commercial space companies must apply for a license to broadcast video from orbit.

“The National and Commercial Space Program Act requires a commercial remote sensing license for companies having the capacity to take an image of Earth while on orbit,” NOAA said in a statement last week. “Now that launch companies are putting video cameras on stage 2 rockets that reach an on-orbit status, all such launches will be held to the requirements of the law and its conditions.”

If you launch something into orbit with the ability to broadcast a signal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, perhaps the agency with the title containing the most hubris considering it states that the agency can administer nature) believes that you have to pay it for a license. Apparently it’s position as an agency of the United States government gives it command over all of space.

This decree would be irrelevant except the individuals who are launching payload into orbit are stuck on the ground where government goons can get them. Fortunately, there are tracts of land run by goons who are less deluded. Were I interested in launching rockets into space, I’d do so from one of those tracts of land. While NOAA might be able to enforce it’s delusion in the United States, it would have a harder time enforcing it in, say, India.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 12th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Reinforcing the Status Quo

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Cop apologists are quick to say that the time to resist a “bad apple” isn’t when they’re violating your so-called rights or curb stomping your face, but in the courtroom after the interaction is concluded. Were the courts just, such advice may be valid. However, the courts are not just and more often than not affirm that heinous acts performed by law enforcers are legal:

The Supreme Court just ruled that a police officer could not be sued for gunning down Amy Hughes. This has vast implications for law enforcement accountability. The details of the case are as damning as the decision. Hughes was not suspected of a crime. She was simply standing still, holding a kitchen knife at her side. The officer gave no warning that he was going to shoot her if she did not comply with his commands. Moments later, the officer shot her four times.

[…]

As Sotomayor argued in dissent, the court’s decision means that such “palpably unreason­able conduct will go unpunished.” According to seven of the nine Justices, Hughes’ Fourth Amendment right to not be shot four times in this situation is less protected than the officer’s interest in escaping accountability for his brazen abuse of authority. According to Justice Sotomayor, “If this account of [the officer’s] conduct sounds unreasonable, that is because it was. And yet, the Court [] insulates that conduct from liability under the doctrine of qualified immunity.”

Worse yet, this decision wasn’t a surprise. And it certainly isn’t an aberration.

This is yet another in a long list of Supreme Court cases that affirm that officers have the privilege to shoot whomever they want for whatever reason they want. This is also why I call bullshit on the earlier mentioned argument commonly made by cop apologists.

If you wait to resist a “bad apple” until a later court case, you may be permanently disabled or even dead. To make matters worse, the court will be more likely side with the “bad apple” than you. Of course fighting with a “bad apple” carries its own risks. The “bad apple’s” buddies will likely join their comrade in beating your ass or summarily executing you. Furthermore, if you do survive, you will likely be tossed into a cage by a court. When you’re so-called rights are being violated by a law enforcer, you’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place and have to decide how to proceed based on the information at hand at the time. However, your list of options shouldn’t consist solely of rolling over and letting a man in a muumuu later affirm that what the officer did to you was perfectly legal.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 11th, 2018 at 10:30 am

He’s Making a List, He’s Checking It Twice

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Few things are as frightening as government lists. No good ever comes from a government list and if you’re one of the individuals who is listed, your future is probably a bleak one, which is why journalists may be facing rather unhappy times in the near future:

In today’s installment of “I’m Not Terrified, You Are,” Bloomberg Government reports on a FedBizOpps.gov posting by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the relatively benign-sounding subject “Media Monitoring Services.”

The details of the attached Statement of Work, however, outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers and are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide.

[…]

Meanwhile, the United States government, traditionally one of the bastions of press freedom, is about to compile a list of professional journalists and “top media influencers,” which would seem to include bloggers and podcasters, and monitor what they’re putting out to the public.

I can’t think of any reason why the Department of Homeland Fatherland Security (DHS) would want a list of all “media influencers” that aren’t horrible. Every regime in history who has created and maintained such a list has done so for the specific purpose of eliminating (either through intimidation, disappearing, or outright murder) media personnel who fail to push the approved agenda.

Since this is a DHS program, it’s being advertised as a method of tracking foreign media personnel. However, I think recent history with the National Security Agency has shown that government surveillance programs aimed at foreign entities tend to get aimed at domestic entities in short order. So while this database of media personnel may be advertised as being aimed at foreigners, if it isn’t already, it will shortly be aimed at domestic medial personnel as well.

On the one hand, this is rather unsettling. On the other hand, I do appreciate that the political class is finally being overt about its intentions.

The Power of Transmutation

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It turns out that black men have the power of transmutation:

It does not matter what it was to begin with. A wallet. A pipe. A cellphone. It makes no difference. The phenomenon remains the same every time.

In the morning, it is very clearly a cellphone. Anyone who looks at it can see it.

In the afternoon, it is still very clearly a cellphone. It sends texts. It makes calls. Its screen lights up.

But in the evening, the transformation occurs. A police officer sees the cellphone, sees that the hand holding it belongs to a black man, and suddenly, quite without warning, it becomes a gun.

When a law enforcer shoots a (usually black) man who is holding something that is obviously not a weapon, cop apologists will quickly claim that one doesn’t have time to determine whether the object in an individual’s hand is a cellphone or a gun in a potentially life or death situation. The first problem with that argument is that it doesn’t hold for nongovernmental agents. Were I to shoot a man holding a cellphone, I would have a difficult time arguing that I was justified in the use of deadly force. The second problem with that argument is that it assumes the situation was life or death before the officer decided that the cellphone had transmuted into a firearm. Most situations entered by law enforcers don’t start as life or death. They might start off rather tense but they usually only escalate to a life or death situation with time. Oftentimes, the situation seems to escalate because of the law enforcer’s actions, not the individual they’re interacting with.

If this kind of situation only happened rarely, it could easily be explained as law enforcers legitimately mistaking a harmless item a hand for a weapon. But it happens with not insignificant frequency, which indicates that there may be a trend of law enforcers claiming that they believe harmless items are weapons so they can act on their desire to use violence.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 10th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Consumers Always Lose Trade Wars

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Trade relations between the United States and China had been relatively smooth in recent years. Had is the keyword there. Trump decided to provide some protection to his cronies by implementing a series of tariffs to artificially raise the price of imported goods. He sold these tariffs as job creators. Not surprisingly, China retaliated with its own tariffs. Now Trump is planning to retaliate against China’s retaliation with even more tariffs:

US President Donald Trump has instructed officials to consider a further $100bn (£71.3bn) of tariffs against China, in an escalation of a tense trade stand-off.

These would be in addition to the $50bn worth of US tariffs already proposed on hundreds of Chinese imports.

China’s Ministry of Commerce responded, saying China would “not hesitate to pay any price” to defend its interests.

Tit-for-tat trade moves have unsettled global markets in recent weeks.

Governments and their cronies are the only winners in a trade war. Tariff profits go into government coffers while domestic cronies can increase their prices since goods from their imported competitors are now artificially higher. Meanwhile, consumers are forced to pay artificially higher prices for goods. If, for example, a $100 tariff is put on all imported cell phones, the government pockets an extra $100 and you pay $600 for a cell phone that used to only cost $500.

As this trade war wages, consumers are going to get raked over the coals. The only upside is that in the end this will screw over the United States government as well since it will lose tariff profits when imported goods become so expensive that consumption drops significantly.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 6th, 2018 at 10:30 am