A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Superdickery’ tag

I Hope the ACA Mandates the Coverage of Lube

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a massive stack of paper that no single person could ever hope to read and fully comprehend. I only hope that somewhere buried in that mountain of paper is a clause that requires insurance companies to cover lube because us Minnesotans are going to need a lot of it:

Big rate increases next year in the state’s individual market mean that Minnesotans who buy health insurance on their own will pay above-average premiums — a startling reversal from 2014 when individual market rates in much of the state were among the lowest in the nation.

A federal report this week looked at rates for “benchmark” plans across 44 states and found a family of four in Minnesota will pay $1,396 per month for the coverage. That’s about 28 percent higher than the average across most of those states at $1,090 per month.

Everybody is getting fucked in the ass by the ACA but us Minnesotans are going to get fucked a bit harder. Predictably a lot of people are upset about this and have decided that the only fix for more government is even more government. Democrats are talking more seriously about single payer while the Republicans are obsessing over what they want to replace the ACA with. With both major political parties seemingly uninterested in deregulating the healthcare market this situation is only going to get worse.

At least the universe has a sense of humor because the number of people covered by health insurance, the metric being used by proponents of the ACA to prove it has been successful, is going to dwindle as fewer and fewer people are able to afford even a basic health insurance plan. When that happens the proponents of the act will have to find a new metric to declare victory with (which won’t change anything but watching them desperately scramble to spin things into victory again will be amusing to watch).

Written by Christopher Burg

October 27th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Public-Private Surveillance Partnership

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People often split surveillance into public and private. Public surveillance is perform directly by the State and is headed by agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Private surveillance is performed by corporations such as Harris Corporation, Facebook, and AT&T. Some libertarians and neoconservatives like to express a great deal of concern over the former because it’s being performed by the State but are mostly accepting of the latter because they believe private entities should be free to do as they please. However, the divide between public and private surveillance isn’t so clean cut. Private surveillance can become public surveillance with a simple court order. Even worse though is that private surveillance often voluntarily becomes public surveillance for a price:

Investigators long suspected Charles Merritt in the family’s disappearance, interviewing him days after they went missing. Merritt was McStay’s business partner and the last person known to see him alive. Merritt had also borrowed $30,000 from McStay to cover a gambling debt, a mutual business partner told police. None of it was enough to make an arrest.

Even after the gravesite was discovered and McStay’s DNA was found inside Merritt’s vehicle, police were far from pinning the quadruple homicide on him.

Until they turned to Project Hemisphere.

Hemisphere is a secretive program run by AT&T that searches trillions of call records and analyzes cellular data to determine where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why.


n 2013, Hemisphere was revealed by The New York Times and described only within a Powerpoint presentation made by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Times described it as a “partnership” between AT&T and the U.S. government; the Justice Department said it was an essential, and prudently deployed, counter-narcotics tool.

Before you decide to switch from AT&T to Verizon it’s important to note that every major cellular provider likely has a similar program but they haven’t been caught yet. We know, for example, that Sprint has a web portal to make law enforcement access to customer data quick and easy and Verizon has a dedicated team for providing customer information to law enforcers. Those are likely just the tips of the icebergs though because providing surveillance services to the State is lucrative and most large companies are likely unwilling to leave that kind of money on the table.

At one time I made a distinction between public in private surveillance insofar as to note that private surveillance doesn’t lead to men with guns kicking down my door at oh dark thirty. It was an admittedly naive attitude because it didn’t figure how private surveillance becomes public surveillance into the equation. Now I make no distinction because realistically there isn’t a distinction and other libertarians should stop making the distinction as well (neoconservatives should also stop making the distinction but most of them are beyond my ability to help).

The State Giveth and the State Taketh Away

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Do you trust the United States government? Believe it or not, there are fools out there that still do. Unfortunately, many of these fools get suckered into military enslavement (I call it enslavement as opposed to service or employment because an individual who enters the military voluntarily cannot later leave voluntarily and the contract they sign is entirely one sided). Why? For some it’s because they believe the military allows them to serve their country (and that serving a country is noble). For others it’s because they’re out of employment options and need the cash, which is why the State often offers enlistment bonuses. But there is no honor amongst thieves. As the ultimate thief in the territory the United States government is more than happy to demand those enlistment bonuses back:

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.

I guess this is what the United States government means when it speaks of treating soldiers with respect and dignity.

There are two important details worth noting here. First, the obvious. The California National Guard misrepresented the deal to the soldiers signing up yet it is not the entity being punished. Instead of the California National Guard being forced to repay the money it wasn’t authorized to distribute the soldiers who signed up with the understanding that they would receive the enlistment bonus are being required to give it back with interest. This solution seems to be acceptable to the United States government. As always, when the State screws up it’s the people who pay.

Second, and this is where my label of enslavement comes in, the contract the soldiers signed when they joined the California National Guard are apparently very one sided. There are very few ways for a member of the military to change the contract they sign, which includes submitting themselves to an alternative justice system, but the State seems to be able to change the contract for any reason whatsoever. If a member of the military wants more pay they’re shit out of luck. If the State later wants the enlistment bonus it paid a member when they joined it can do so without issue and even charge interest.

The State submits us to continuous propaganda about how solider are heroes and how us mere civilians should treat them as such. But the State prefers us to do as it says, not as it does because it has no issue treating soldiers like shit. Of course, in the long run, this will be detrimental to the State because it will have a more difficult time finding people for its meat grinder and those already getting ground up may turn out to view their employer less favorably. An unhappy military is a less efficient expropriator of foreign wealth than a happy military.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 25th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Make Way for Single Payer

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been wrecking havoc on the health insurance market. This is quite a feat considering how chaotic the health insurance market already was before the ACA was passed. But now things have gotten so bad that even the true believers’ faith is coming into question:

Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to many Americans — and that fixing it must be a priority for both state and federal lawmakers next year.

Dayton, who has been among the strongest advocates for the package of health care reforms, said that while the Affordable Care Act has been a success in insuring more people and providing access to insurance for people with preexisting medical conditions, it also has “some serious blemishes and serious deficiencies.”

Speaking to reporters, Dayton said insurance companies have driven up costs in order to participate in the state’s MNsure program — and gridlock in Washington, D.C., has made it difficult to pass reforms that could bring those costs back in line.

What reforms could possible bring the costs down? If you’re an intelligent person you know that the only reform that would accomplish that would be the abolition of government interference in the health insurance market. But that’s not going to happen. Instead I predict that the “reform” that will ultimately end up being passed is single payer health insurance.

Advocates of the ACA are already saying the United States should transition to a single payer model because they foolishly believe that such a model is good. On the surface it looks good because the costs involved in healthcare are hidden from tax payers. They only see it as another tax, which they usually don’t notice because it’s pulled out of their paycheck before they even get it. When costs are hidden from the consumer the product begins to be viewed as free.

Once the United States is on the single payer model healthcare will truly begin to diminish because it will be controlled by a body of people who don’t give a fuck about you. What politicians care about is themselves. And unlike us working stiffs whose personal gain comes from providing goods and services our fellow working stiffs want, politicians derive their profits from stealing your money. When you pay the State for health insurance it’s interested in maximizing its profits. However, unlike a private health insurance provider, the State receives no punishment for doing a bad job. You can’t stop paying your taxes if you’re unhappy with the service you’re receiving. So the State, unlike its private alternatives, has no incentive to do anything other than provide you with a cheap and shitty service. A good example of this is Department of Veteran Affairs, which has been providing lackluster healthcare to veterans for decades.

The only thing you can guarantee when the State admits that a problem exists is that you’re going to get screwed by the solution.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 13th, 2016 at 10:00 am

The Public Education System’s Ongoing War with Education

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Since its inception the public education system has been at war with education. Instead of education people the United States public education system is based off of the Prussian system that was designed to make automatons that were smart enough to operate the machinery but not smart enough to revolt against the State. But remnants of education continued to stick around for a few generations until we finally reached the point we’re at today where the movie Idiocracy looks more like prophecy than satire.

The Hibbing School District has identified a remnant of education that has managed to remain untouched and is working to address that hiccup:

HIBBING — The Hibbing School District is considering ending its nearly 60-year partnership with the Hibbing Rifle and Pistol Club.

During a school board meeting Wednesday, Superintendent Brad Johnson said various concerns from the public regarding the gun range in the basement of Lincoln Elementary has led him to strictly limit access to the facility until there’s a permanent solution to ensure everyone’s safety and to limit concerns from the public.

The facility can only be used once school-organized activities and events have concluded on Wednesdays, or when inclement weather prevents gun safety classes from being held outdoors.

There has never been an incident on the range so safety isn’t the actual reason for attempting to shutdown the range. But teaching children how to safety and effectively operate firearms is education and potentially threatening to the State. And I’m not even talking about the potential form armed revolution in this case. People who have the ability to defend themselves and are confident in their ability are much harder to scare. Fear is the health of the State. Without fear the State has a hard time manipulating people into surrendering their autonomy.

Consider the police state we live in today. It was able to expand because first people were afraid of the communists then they were afraid of the drugs and now they’re afraid of the terrorists. People are willing to put up with widespread surveillance, again, because they’re afraid of the terrorists. Now the State is drumming up fears of war with Russia and that will be used by it to grab even more power.

The knowledge and ability to defend yourself is a significant threat to the State. The public education system has been hard at work stamping down this knowledge by teaching children to never fight back against bullies but instead run to a school administrator. In recent years schools have even begun punishing students who do defend themselves under the idea that violence is never the answer. Sometime like a gun range that teaches children how to use the most effective tools of self-defense commonly available wasn’t going to fly forever.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 12th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Comcast: Because You Suck and We Hate You

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Today’s lack of blogging is brought to you by Comcast. For the third goddamn time this year Comcast has decided to jack up my bill. Why? This time, just as the last two times, they are claiming I was receiving a discount that has now expired. What record do I have of receiving this discount? None. It was never listed on my bill, I was never told about it, and I never received a mailer alerting me to it. Apparently Comcast is in the business of giving discounts without telling you. Or, you know, they’re lying sacks of shit. Either way, I was wasting time on the phone with them and will end up wasting more time on the phone either getting my bill back to the way it was or disconnecting the service and finding another Internet provider (or which I have, maybe, two other options).

To further prove Comcast hates you the company also announced that it will be issuing data caps:

Cellphone users watched with dismay in recent years as unlimited data plans became nearly extinct, thanks to the growing demand for video. Now, many Twin Cities residents will see data caps coming to their internet service, too.

Comcast, in an e-mail to customers Thursday night, said it will place a limit on internet data use for its residential customers in Minnesota, starting Nov. 1.

As a business class customer I don’t believe this will effect me. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until this shit applies to business customers as well.

And while the 1TB cap sounds very generous everybody needs to keep in mind that 4K video is becoming more popular and it sucks up bandwidth. 1TB won’t be much in the near future, which Comcast is banking on:

For serious online gamers or 4K video streamers, unlimited data is still available — for $50 more a month.

Otherwise, what happens if you go over 1 terabyte in a month? Comcast will charge you $10 for every 50 gigabytes over the limit, up to a maximum of $200.

What a bunch of gouging fuckers. Let’s all take a moment to thank the State for providing protections to Comcast so it can do this kind of shit without much worry of losing customers to competitors.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 7th, 2016 at 10:00 am

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

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The status of Internet provision in the United States is pitiful. Speeds here are dwarfed by countries such as South Korea. Most people, because they’re a bunch of statists, blame this state of affairs on the Internet Service Providers (ISP). But the real culprit is the entity they use to maintain their near monopolies: the State.

Whenever an ISP’s near monopoly status is about to be threatened by a new competitor they run to the State for protection:

Charter Communications has sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky, in order to stop a new ordinance that gives Google Fiber easier access to utility poles.

Charter’s complaint in US District Court in Louisville on Friday (full text) is similar to one filed earlier by AT&T. Like AT&T before it, Charter wants to stop Louisville Metro’s One Touch Make Ready ordinance that lets new entrants like Google Fiber make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles instead of having to wait for incumbent providers to send work crews to move their own wires. Charter alleges that the ordinance violates its Fifth Amendment property rights and could cause service outages for its customers if Google Fiber’s installers make mistakes.


Charter’s challenge to the One Touch Make Ready ordinance alleges a violation of Fifth Amendment property rights and state utility laws. The Louisville ordinance gives Google Fiber “a government-sanctioned license physically to invade, take possession of, move, and interfere with [Charter’s] property,” the complaint said. While Charter owns its wires, the poles are owned by AT&T and the Louisville Gas & Electric Company, and wires are placed in public rights-of-way.

These lawsuits are always amusing. It’s always entertaining to see what kind of excuse established ISPs can come up with to keep new ISPs out of their territory. In this case Charter is arguing on the grounds of property rights. What makes this argument laughable is that Charter doesn’t own the poles in question. If anybody has grounds to complain about how the poles can by use it’s AT&T and the Louisville Gas and Electric Company. And even they wouldn’t get mush sympathy from me because they fall under the live by the State, die by the State clause.

The live by the State, die by the State clause is what I use to describe companies that have thrived due to government protections suddenly finding themselves the target of government regulations. AT&T, for example, enjoyed a long period of having a literal monopoly on telecommunications granted to it by the State. It begrudgingly surrendered that monopoly as part of a deal with Congress to allow it to enter the computer market. Today AT&T likes to complain whenever a regulation doesn’t go its way.

Charter, like most ISPs, is where it is today due to government protections. Namely state and municipal protections against competition. Through zoning and utility laws state and municipal governments have artificially restricted the number of ISPs that can operate in their territory. With few competitors Charter was able to rake in more cash without having to provide increasingly better service. Now those protections are being taken away and its crying foul. Meanwhile I can’t help but laugh. I’m not above admitting to enjoying when karma comes around and bites these politically connected companies in the ass.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 6th, 2016 at 10:00 am

At Least He Apologized

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Usually officers who use excessive force refuse to take responsibility for their actions. But once in a while an officer will attempt to make amends. Take this shining beacon of conscious. After unnecessarily deploying his Taser into a woman he baked a cake and wrote “Sorry I Tased You.” on it in frosting:

A local woman has filed a civil lawsuit against a former Escambia County deputy who allegedly discharged a stun gun into her chest and neck without provocation, tried to cover up the incident, then apologized by sending her a photo of an off-color cake.

The suit, filed in federal court by Stephanie Byron in May, also names Sheriff David Morgan in his official capacity as sheriff. The suit alleges Michael Wohlers used excessive force against Byron, violated her civil rights, committed battery against her and caused her hardships, including physical injuries, monetary loss, medical expenses, humiliation and mental anguish.


According to court documents, Wohlers later attempted to apologize to Byron by baking her a cake. Byron’s attorney, Alistair McKenzie, clarified Friday that Wohlers sent Byron a text message stating that he baked her a cake and wanted to give it to her. The text message included a photo of a cake with the phrase, “Sorry I Tased You” written on it.

I can’t see why Mrs. Byron is so upset. The officer apologized!

You really have to wonder what runs through some people’s heads. The officer must feel at least a little bit guilty for firing his Taser, which means he probably realized it was entirely unnecessary. But thinking that baking a cake was suitable compensation for battery. Physical assault causes real harm and therefore real compensation (as in monetary). A simple “Sorry, brah.” generally doesn’t cut it in those situations. Still, I’ll give points to the officer for at least acknowledging his fuck up and making some kind of apology. He did more than most of his ilk.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 5th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Why Police Hate Being Recorded

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Many police officers have negative reactions towards being filmed. Why is this? They obviously have something to hide since they always tell us people with nothing to hide shouldn’t oppose surveillance. But what are they hiding? Perhaps instances where they fabricate charges against protesters?

The ACLU of Connecticut is suing state police for fabricating retaliatory criminal charges against a protester after troopers were recorded discussing how to trump up charges against him. In what seems like an unlikely stroke of cosmic karma, the recording came about after a camera belonging to the protester, Michael Picard, was illegally seized by a trooper who didn’t know that it was recording and carried it back to his patrol car, where it then captured the troopers’ plotting.

“Let’s give him something,” one trooper declared. Another suggested, “we can hit him with creating a public disturbance.” “Gotta cover our ass,” remarked a third.

That’s embarrassing!

Notice how the recorded footage came from the protesters camera and not the dashcam in the police car or body cameras? Recently many police officers have expressed a willingness to wear body cameras. This change of heart seems to indicate that officers are willing to be monitored. In reality the officers know that the departments control that footage and can disappear it “accidentally” at any time. It’s public recordings that really body them because they can’t conveniently toss the footage down the memory hole. This is why I encourage everybody to film any police encounter they are either a party to or come across even if the officers are wearing body cameras. Don’t let shit like what these officers pulled go unnoticed.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2016 at 10:30 am

First World Police Problems

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How much wealth has the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stolen through civil forfeiture? Nobody knows but it’s enough that if calculated it would apparently crash NYPD’s computers:

The New York City Police Department takes in millions of dollars in cash each year as evidence, often keeping the money through a procedure called civil forfeiture. But as New York City lawmakers pressed for greater transparency into how much was being seized and from whom, a department official claimed providing that information would be nearly impossible—because querying the 4-year old computer system that tracks evidence and property for the data would “lead to system crashes.”

I’m not sure if that means NYPD has a really shitty computer system, has stolen a mind boggling amount of stuff, or is lying to us. The worst part? All three possibilities are equally likely.

And can you imagine the public relations meeting where this excuse was considered acceptable enough to release? Who in their right mind thought admitting that their computer system cannot calculate the amount of stuff that has been stolen was a good idea? That just illustrates the sheer scope of the problem to the public, it doesn’t make NYPD look justified.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 20th, 2016 at 10:00 am