(Archive #3: August 1 to August 31, 2001.)

 DON'T GET ME STARTED...!



In this space, I offer brief comments and analysis of current events. I also provide this as an opportunity for readers to ask questions on politics, philosophy, or other items of general interest. (Thanks to my wife for suggesting the title of this daily feature.)
(This daily commentary is an experiment. If it generates donations or pledges from readers who value what I do, I'll continue it. If, however, after a few months, little support is offered, I'll have to cut it back to an occasional feature.) If you enjoy these columns, please tell your friends.
Commentaries are archived on a (generally) monthly basis.

Archive #1: May 24 to June 30, 2001.

Archive #2: July 1 to July 31, 2001.

Archive #4: September 1 to September 30, 2001.


August 31, 2001

Shrug, Please!

The European Union has its collective knickers in a bunch over the newest operating system coming from Microsoft. Seems they're still objecting to "bundled," i.e., freely included extra software. For one thing, they don't like Microsoft integrating their Windows Media Player with the operating system.

Who the ding-dong do these statists think they are? They couldn't produce a web browser or operating system if their bureaucratic lives depended upon it. So rather than marveling and rejoicing that people with such talents do exist in the world and are happy to share their talents and skills with us via the market, the EU wants to punish Microsoft.

Boy, there's an incentive to work hard and be an innovator...

I don't care how many millions or billions of people rely on Microsoft's products to work their computers. (Personally, I use a Mac, though I do now use MS's Internet Explorer and their Media Player.) I don't care what percentage of the market Microsoft does or does not have. (The antibusiness thugs in Washington, D.C., cook the figures anyway by limiting their "universe" of relevant competitors to artificially expand the market shares of successful companies they've targeted for having "monopoly" power.) I don't care what demands or requests or conditions Microsoft puts on computer makers or users. (As long as they can't send the police after me for refusing their conditions, they are powerless against me.)

Microsoft is a private company. Its products are private intellectual property. They can do anything they please with their property (that does not violate others' rights). That's what having property/ownership in X is all about. It's yours. You set the parameters for its use or nonuse. Microsoft can be reasonable, tyrannical, stupid, or just plain silly in what they want people to do in exchange for their property.

(If MS has defrauded other computer folk as some allege, then punish them for that, not for being successful.)

Just once, I'd like to see one of these abused companies shrug: Microsoft, office superstores, tobacco companies, whatever. Refuse to sell in a region. Fire everyone and take a long vacation in Tahiti. Close their plants or offices. Let the politicos sweat as their tax dollars drop to zero, as massive unemployment threatens the golden goose. Maybe then the statists would learn their lesson.

Though they probably would not.

The very fact that so many companies can create so much wealth despite the unconscionable chains dragging them down is a tribute both to the creativity, hard work, and dedication of entrepreneurs as well as to the fantastic power of the free enterprise system.

Leave us alone! Or else...


August 30, 2001

The Surplus Blues

Oh, hear the woeful laments of the politicians. Hear them gnash their teeth and watch them rend their fine garments. Tragedy has befallen the country. The budget "surplus" that the politicians have been salivating over is "disappearing." What, oh what, will we do?!

How about celebrate?

A budget "surplus" -- which, of course, is nothing other than overtaxation -- does present a danger. (We'll leave aside for the moment the fact that all taxation is "overtaxation" since all taxes are immoral and illegitimate in a fundamental sense.) The gravest threat represented by more tax money in government coffers than is needed to meet current obligations is that the statists will seize on that pile of loot and come up with even more excuses for increasing State spending. After all, there is never a shortage of desires and wants from the greedy among us. (Here I define "greed" as the desire to obtain goods that rightfully belong to other people.)

As I've discussed before, there is, of course, no real surplus in the sense of funds setting in an account somewhere. Excess social security taxes are funneled into the general fund while leaving behind IOU's in the social security accounts.

(One libertarian commentator has recently suggested that it is wrong to say there is "nothing" in the social security trust fund; that the government bonds can be sold on the market; that redeeming them is no big deal in a dynamic market; that low levels of debts/deficits are no big drag on the economy; and that folks on both the Left and Right should cool their jets and not get so upset over something that is no big deal. Even if all he says is true, I say, "So what?" I don't give a rat's behind if the bonds can be sold; if the taxes necessary to redeem them are manageable; and all the rest. All such talk does is lessen the pressure for changes in the current system. The Social Security system should be terminated, its head cut off, and a stake driven through its heart lest this vampire rise again to suck the blood from the citizens of this nation. SS leaves recipients worse off compared to private investments and represents a massive welfare program that violates rights and freedoms on a massive scale. Buy annuities for present retirees, give workers monies or other financial instruments equivalent to what they've had stolen so far in their working careers, then lock the doors of the SSA and, for good measure, blow up the damned thing.)

Don't get me started...!

If a "surplus" is present, however, it can be used up primarily in one of two ways: via increased spending or by returning the money to those who earned it.

Guess which is the proper avenue to follow?

Of course, if the Statists are so frigging worried about a diminishing "surplus," what they should do is cut spending. Then when we end up with another "surplus," they should cut spending again. If they won't give us refunds, then they should lower taxes. The lower taxes will increase productivity and thus balloon the surplus. Then more spending cuts, tax reductions/refunds. On and on until we at least return to the basic and proper functions of government: to defend our rights via courts, armies, and the police.

If that miracle should occur, I'd be deliriously happy. I'd still fight to eliminate taxes, but at least the burden would not be as horrendous as it is now.

In my state of Iowa, the legislature is facing a budget deficit after falling tax revenues due to a sluggish economy. At the same time, they sit like hoarders on a $500 million "rainy day" fund. But will they return that half billion dollars to us and help spark an economic revival? Heck, no. They're too economically myopic and stupid to do what is both pragmatically and morally correct (though the practical and moral are, properly understood, identical.)

Truth and freedom are the first victims of the Statists and collectivists. They deserve what they get.

The only bad thing about that is that they drag us down at the same time.


August 29, 2001

Big Brother Parents

I recently saw a television story on a school that is really wired. In this bastion of free thought, burgeoning independence, and critical thinking, your parents can track what you're doing all day long.

Now, doesn't that sound like fun, boys and girls? Hmm?

This school maintains its attendance records online. Dear ol' teach checks your smiling (or in this school, probably frowning) visage against the photos on her computer screen. If you try to skip, well, bad news: your parents can instantly discover that fact by accessing the school records.

If you should do something to gain the displeasure of some school official and are sent to the principal's office for punishment and/or detention, your parents can be notified before you've even completed your trek through those long, linoleum hallways.

(Anyone remember that drek from grade school and junior high, er, excuse me, middle school, that told us that the principal is your pal to distinguish that spelling from principle, a concept that most in modern education seem woefully ignorant of.)

Wait! They aren't done yet tracking your every move. In this school, when you get your yummy and nutritious school lunch, you hand over your photo identification card (!!) which is swiped so the cost can be properly assessed. After all, your parents are paying for your food, aren't they? Heck, in this wonderful little fascist, er, educational setting, they can even learn precisely what it is you chose to eat. Why should you be allowed to make mistakes and select your own goodies?

Remember your veggies, now, Johnny.

So far (and I stress "so far"), the schools have avoided posting student medical histories online. Not secure enough, don't you know.

And this fact tells them what....? Apparently nothing.

Some students in this story said that they think twice now before doing something unsanctioned by the authorities and often decide not to do what in other eras they might have done without the knowledge of their overlords, er, parents and school administrators.

Oh, sure, sometimes this might be a good thing. But do we really want a generation of docile children growing into sheeple who are indoctrinated into always obeying authority and becoming inured to the constant observation of those in power over them?

But, naturally, a sizable number of adults are precisely aiming -- consciously or unconsciously -- for that very result. That has always been a goal of the state-run educational movement from its inception: to create "good" citizens through indoctrination and propaganda.

Between "reality" shows that offer us all safe voyeurism, traffic and stop light cameras, face recognition cameras and software, and security cameras blossoming wherever we go, the intrusions fade into the background. If you grow up always being exposed -- literally -- then you take it for granted that this is how life should be lived.

Me, I'd rather contend with rambunctious kids challenging authority and maybe, just maybe, clinging desperately to a few thin scraps of freedom and independence. Robots, I can do without.


August 28, 2001

Locked Up

Seems that we now have 6.4 million people either locked up or on parole. I'm sure you all feel much safer now, don't you?

'Course, I'd be less skeptical of this fact if large numbers of these evil lawbreakers weren't guests of our criminal "justice" system for consensual crimes. Drug-related "criminals" continue to be swept up in the law-enforcement net. It's one thing if a druggie initiates force in his pursuit of his high or sale. After all, thugs appear in all areas of life. They tend to concentrate in black markets since there is no legal recourse to settle disputes. The biggest and baddest, most ruthless dudes tend to rise to the top. If you're afraid to whack someone trying to take over your territory, your options are pretty limited: try to "negotiate" (yeah, right) or meekly tuck your tail between your legs and slink off into the night.

Beyond those folks who thrive in all violent venues, though, men and women who seek to get high, to earn money to replace what the State steals from them, or who are merely curious are tossed in the clink to protect us all from ourselves. Too frequently, crowded jails and mandatory drug sentencing means true criminals -- rapists and robbers -- are released on parole to prey on more innocents.

We hear plaintive pleas from sheriffs and police chiefs for more money to pay for prisoners they have to transport to other, emptier jails. They then use those expenses to lobby for building more jails. More taxes and lower lifestyles for the rest of us result.

Hey, I'm all for building sufficient jail space to house those who violate my rights or those of other peaceful citizens. I'm totally against tossing people who never forced anyone to do anything into the hoosegow.

Along with folks engaged in voluntary interactions, the State continues to lock up our liberty in their ever-constricting prisons.

It's about time for all of us to receive presidential pardons and to go free.


August 27, 2001

Curfews

The oh-so-wise political leaders in Kansas City will implement a curfew policy in their fair city starting next month. If you're under eighteen and found in the bar district too late at night, authorities will "detain" you until your parents can be notified. Your crime: being too young.

Seems I missed the lesson in civics class where we were supposed to learn that your civil rights are forfeit when you inconvenience your elders. Unless the "youngsters" in question are committing a crime -- oops, in this warped linguistic era, in which you're a criminal merely for violating what other people want you to do or not do, I'd better clarify that term: if they violate someone else's rights -- they should be left alone. If they are harming property or life, then haul them off to jail. Merely wandering around at what various politicians deem an improper hour is none of the authorities' business.

Once again, the State decides it will usurp the parental role. Whether a young person is out "too late" or not is up to the parents to decide, not some cop or judge or politician.

But wait, someone might say. Are you saying that if an eight-year-old is roaming the streets that the police should do nothing?

I suppose the cops could stop a kid and ask him if he needs some help; if he's lost then they should help him. If his street walking (so to speak...) is the result of parental abuse or neglect, then charges might be brought against the parents.

But, come on. We're talking teenagers here. Ever try preventing a teen from leaving the house if he or she truly wants to and is determined to do so? Sure, you can punish them. Some will inevitably do it anyway.

In any event, a certain age is not de facto evidence that a teen is irresponsible or must have his activities constantly monitored. Too many teens are treated like children. Then we're amazed when they act like children as adults. In prior generations, teens could marry, raise children, get jobs. Indeed, many would be better off following that life path than being locked involuntarily into our State-run school systems where they're bored, disruptive, or fail to learn.

Curfews, like truancy laws, are unconstitutional violations of the rights both of parents and their children.

Hey! Kansas City! Knock it off, already.


August 26, 2001

Nozick Nonsense

I confess off the bat that I've never read any of Robert Nozick's writings. (In case you've not heard of him, he's most famous for his 1974 book, Anarchy, State and Utopia.) You'd think, though, that a Harvard professor would not publicly display his abysmal ignorance of the ideas of one of the most influential and significant libertarian philosophers in the modern era: Ayn Rand.

It never fails to amaze me how so many libertarians of some stripe of another castigate Rand, in general, or some idea or concept of hers, in particular, without having the foggiest idea what they are talking about. I don't much care if such people as Nozick and others of his ilk disagree with Rand's ideas. Hey. I can deal.

What I get rather incensed about, though, is distortion or misrepresentation that is so profound as to suggest either abysmal ignorance or downright evasion. I'm unsure which of those options is worst...

The particular comment that has me riled now is in the September, 2001, catalog from Laissez Faire Books. In a two-page interview, the LFB interviewer says: "Your evolutionary view of our cognitive capacities is quite different from that held by, say, Objectivists."

Well, as I said, I don't know precisely what Nozick's "evolutionary views" of our minds are, but that's irrelevant to my complaint.

Nozick replies that, "I take evolution very seriously, and that the capacities we have, including those of apprehending truth, have been strongly shaped, not to mention created, by evolution....The followers of Rand treat 'A is A' not just as 'everything is identical to itself' but as a kind of statement about essences and limits of things. 'A is A, and it can't be anything else, and once it's A today, it can't change its spots tomorrow.' Now, that doesn't follow."

Well, duh.

I challenge Nozick to tell me one major Objectivist who believes the nonsense he attributes to the "followers of Rand." (Why not just call people like me "Objectivists"? Is he suggesting something subtle, like we're cultists? We don't say "followers of Newton" or "followers of Einstein. Sheesh.)

Of course people were shaped by evolution. (I believe evolution is a fact, though the precise mechanisms and processes by which it operates are still subject to theory.) What other process has any Objectivist suggested led to our nature? What other process than divine intervention is there?

Objectivism treats "essences" as epistemological, not metaphysical as did Plato. I don't know what Nozick is getting at here. But it's more patent nonsense to state that Objectivists on the whole believe that things don't change! That's ludicrous. People die. Acorns become trees. Stars explode. All (and admittedly, that's a big "all") that "A is A" means and that Aristotle meant it to mean is that at any particular time and set of circumstances, something is what it is. That in no way suggests or implies that X can never change. You'd have to be a total idiot to believe that.

If this is any indicator of the quality of Nozick's "thinking," then I don't think I've missed much by not reading his work.


August 25, 2001

Downsizing Delights

As have many politicians before -- including that inestimable genius, Albert Gore, Jr. -- President Bush has proposed decreasing the number of government employees. He wants to give them buy-outs, early retirement packages, and other incentives for leaving "public service."

I'm all for it, but I'll believe it when I see it. How many of these initiatives have we seen come and go only to leave with us with a net increase of folks on the government payrolls?

Personally, I'd prefer they pay off and buy out ninety-plus-percent of all government hangers-on...as long as we made it impossible ever to hire any of these people back. In the long run, paying them to do nothing would result in a net increase in both wealth and freedom in this country. Without the various bureaucrats mucking about in the peaceful existences and relationships of their fellow citizens; without them enforcing inane and insane regulations and laws; without their petty or rigid or vindictive interpretation of those laws and regulations, we could remove heavy chains on our economy. Once all these paid-off bureaucrats died, we'd save even more money when we stopped their doles.

The increase in freedom, of course, would be the main reason for putting this "servants" out to pasture.

In a laughable aside to this issue, some government labor leaders complain because they don't think their fellows in government land make enough money! They think State employees need bigger salaries to compete with the private sector.

What are these people smoking?

I suppose some techie types may make more in the private sector, but most studies I've seen show a significant disparity between private and public sector employees. Everyone from government clerks to lower level professionals make more in salary and benefits than their private sector equivalents. I'd wager a considerable sum that more government employees are paid good to excellent salaries for not doing much of positive value. Where there is no profit motive, there is no big incentive to cut out the dead wood and strive for optimal efficiency. When did you last hear of layoffs in Washington, D.C.?

Here's hoping, though, that Bush can do more than merely talk about these drags on our society.


August 24, 2001

Con-ton

Congressman Gary Condit made his network "debut" last night with reporter Connie Chung. To few people's surprise, he set up the barricades and defended them to his last breath. He would not even admit he had a sexual relationship with the missing Chandra Levy. He was continually "puzzled" by the reports from other women of affairs with him; by the D.C. police who said he impeded their investigation; by the stories relayed by Levy's aunt regarding Chandra's relationship with the politician.

In an off-key imitation of former prez Bill I-Did-Not-Have-Sex-With-That-Woman Clinton, Condit appealed to "mistakes" -- without, of course, specifying precisely what those might be in actual terms -- and to "privacy" (funny how politicians in trouble retreat to that bastion...all the while attacking our privacy with one federal intrusion after another).

Condit parsed language with the best of them. Maybe he literally told the truth to Levy's mother when he told her he and Chandra were "not having" an affair. At that juncture, they had probably broken up (more likely he ended it when Levy grew a bit too starry-eyed). Or maybe like his erstwhile mentor, Bill, when asked if he was "alone" with Monica, since he and Chandra were not at that precise moment humping away, then he could pretend they were not having an affair.

Who knows? Who cares?

Maybe Condit knows more about Levy's disappearance than he lets on. Maybe he had a hand in it. Maybe not.

He's a sleaze bag politician. As I've said before: Whoa! There's news. Did you know the Pope's Catholic?

To me what is interesting is the hypocrisy of the Clinton defenders who said that character didn't matter; that private, sexual affairs were none of other people's business; that as long as he did his job well, nothing else mattered.

Funny how they aren't singing that same tune with Condit.

The explanation? Not Levy's disappearance. No. It's about power, pure and simple. Clinton had a lot of it at his disposal. Condit doesn't. The Congressman can't substantially give the Dems what they want; indeed, his "conservative" record no doubt worked against their agenda. Clinton got away with his transgressions because "anything goes" to advance a statist, collectivist ideology. Pragmatism above all else.

Maybe if Condit were a Senator he'd have the cachet necessary to escape his own transgressions.

Unfortunately for him, he's merely a Clinton wannabee brought down by his propensity to think with his crotch and the badly timed disappearance of a young woman he shtupped for awhile then dumped.

Now it's Condit who's screwed. Serves him right.


August 23, 2001

Calling Big Brother

It's amazing how prescient Thomas Jefferson was in viewing the growth of government power. As he said, the natural tendency is for freedom to retreat and government to advance. Because the State does little well -- and more so when it extends its activities beyond its proper bounds -- every transgression breeds another violation of rights until we end up with a Hydra-headed monster.

The Drug War -- aka the War Against People (WAP) -- ignores the Constitution and establishes by legislative fiat the illegality of selling, possessing, or using certain chemical substances. (At least the folks at the beginning of the last century had the intellectual integrity to realize such a ban -- then against alcohol -- required a constitutional amendment.) Since the State cannot even keep drugs out of the ultra-controlled environment of prison, it fails miserably in its efforts to prevent contraband from entering this country or exchanging hands among willing participants.

We've witnessed stepped-up searches by Customs agents; banks spying on their customers to prevent "money laundering"; no-knock raids; random drug checkpoints; and more gun control, among other rights violations.

Now, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has sanctioned another such abuse. Police "persuaded" a drug supplier to tape his messages with another outlaw. The cops then proceeded to arrest the second man based on the taped messages.

Naturally, the trapped fellow believed such tactics violated his right to privacy. Whoa, said the court, you have no "reasonable expectation" that any phone conversation you have will be private. In this era of portable phones, speaker phones, and answering machines, tough tilly for you, sucker. We can tape anything we want to and use it against you. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

So, once again, in order to crack down in one area they have no business in, the agents of the State poke their noses in another, widening the circle of unconstitutional power they wield with relative impunity.

Gee, why not simply hand the cops the keys to your house, the passwords to your computer, and all your bank account records. After all, the scourge of drugs is far more horrible than losing our freedom.

Isn't it?


August 22, 2001

On the Dole

North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms is calling it quits after thirty years in office. (Gee. Wonder what he thinks about term limits...) Hardly a consistent advocate of freedom, he did, at times, oppose some statist initiatives. Sadly, his stubborn stand against the United Nations loosened in the past year as he agreed to give the globalists some of the money they say the U.S. "owes" them.

Regardless of his mixed record, Helms has twirled his fingers in the political world of our country long enough. Unfortunately, some Republicans are pushing Elizabeth Dole -- wife of that disaster of a presidential candidate, statist Bob Dole -- to return to her home state and run for Helms's vacant seat.

Boy, there's an alternative for you. A woman who in her abortive run for the Republican presidential nomination last year trashed self-defense rights and exemplified that modern-day holy icon, "moderation." The political bigwigs seek her out because she has high name recognition and plenty of connections. The Republicans think they need someone like E. Dole to retain the North Carolina seat.

Funny, though, how ultraconservative Helms managed to keep his seat but now, suddenly, the Republicans need a "moderate" to hang on.

Supposedly, Bush's camp would welcome the change. He would reportedly feel "uncomfortable" being seen in public with Helms in '04. He wants to push the image of moderation he seeks to uphold for his party.

Oh, puke.

As I've discussed before here in this space, moderation is simply another term for unprincipled behavior. Concrete-bound mentalities love it because it helps them maintain self-contradictory positions without being unduly troubled by their inconsistencies. Morality? Principles? Fuhgetaboutit!

What we need is more extremism...from all sides. I'd much prefer my enemies openly and honestly espouse their statism and collectivism -- and even more so, I would like my so-called "allies" to come clean with their true intentions -- rather than have their programs and anti-freedom ideas cloaked like Romulan Birds of Prey in the friendly glow of "freedom," "equality," and "justice."


August 21, 2001

Saving a Life

In order to deal with the supposed problem of fuel vapors in airline tanks exploding, some people are proposing that airlines reduce the risk by using inert gases to suppress the vapors. The airlines are resisting this fix, claiming that the procedure would cost billions of dollars.

Oh, those nasty, money-grubbing, profit-fixated airlines. Dirty capitalist pigs! Don't they realize that you can't place a price on human life? That if making this change would save one life, then it's worth it?

Thank goodness, the airline executives don't buy into that lie.

Whenever a statist wants to steal more money from your pocket or drape more chains over your shoulders, we are treated to this "life has no price" lie. Sure, if it's your life, you'd like to think it's worth wads of money. But even in our own realms, we don't act according to this bogus principle.

How many of you would bankrupt your family to treat an incurable disease you had contracted? Would you sell all your assets -- your car, your house, your life insurance, everything -- to try every conceivable treatment? Would you do this to pay for a million dollar cure...if you had to pay the total amount?

If the "no price" rule trumped all else -- after all, no price means any price -- would you sell your children into sexual slavery? Would you sell their organs? Would you kill them? But then you run into the dilemma of trading one "priceless" life for another.

Yes, any individual life is irreplaceable. None is priceless. We could reduce our risk of death by never driving on the highways; never riding a bicycle; never walking down a stairway; never getting up in the morning...but then you merely trade one set of risks for another. In the case of the airlines, the change in dealing with fuel vapors might well raise ticket prices. That, in turn, might force more people to drive to their destinations. Since driving is more dangerous than flying, then this supposed "safety measure" would actually result in an increase in deaths.

That, of course, is what this boils down to: acceptable risks. The statists want to spend billions -- of other people's money -- on marginal risks like eliminating DDT, dioxin, nuclear energy, guns in society, or workplace ergonomics while ignoring more immediate risks like poorly designed highways, excess taxes and regulation that reduce wealth, or lack of exercise combined with overeating.

It's easy to say it's "worth it if it saves one life" if you don't personally have to bear the costs; if you're not the one having your freedom truncated. Me, I know better.

The best overall principle most compatible with saving lives is to maximize freedom. That works best for not only individuals but people, in general.


August 20, 2001

Gibbering Gibson Nonsense

The spectacle would be funny were it not so sad. ABC's "Good Morning's" Charley I-Never-Discussed-a-Government-Program-I-Didn't-Like Gibson interviewing the White House's economic adviser, the inestimable Mr. Lindsey about the upcoming budgetary processes.

Mr. Gibson kept pounding away at Mr. Lindsey about the "budget surplus" that will be "zero" next year. Mr. Lindsey telling us that this year we have a $160 billion "surplus"; that this is only the fourth such surplus; that the Bush administration inherited a poor economy. Mr. Gibson so solemnly asking Mr. Lindsey if he can promise "not to touch the Social Security funds."

AAARRRGGHHH!!

Don't get me started...!

There is no budget surplus. There is no Social Security "trust fund." All the money goes into the general fund. All the money spent will come from taxes we all have to pay for.

Mr. Gibson's overt ignorance is astounding!

And just now as I write this, I watch the irritatingly arrogant Mr. Gibson discussing home schooling with a couple of guests. He says, "I worry" about whether the parents are "qualified." He says, "I worry" if the students are being adequately "tested." He says, "I worry" about the fact that the home schooled students don't have dances, athletics, or enough social interaction.

Mr. Gibson: I have this to say to you: Bugger off.

It is none of your business how parents raise or educate their children. It is none of your business what kinds of social activities parents provide for their children. It is none of your business whether you think parents are "qualified" or not.

Mr. Gibson has no conception of what he speaks. How about researching a topic before you spout off, Mr. Gibson?

Mr. Gibson typifies the Standard Statist. He, of course, would do the "right thing" for his children. It's always the "other guy" who is too incompetent, too stupid, too ignorant to run his own life. Mr. Gibson and his sickening ilk, of course, will look down from their exalted heights and guide and protect the poor souls whimpering at their feet.

Patronizing, disgusting, and dictatorial: these thugs in suits need to be banished into the nether realms of Nielsen oblivion.

Grr....


August 19, 2001

The First Libertarians

Some people with too much time on their hands worry inordinately about such issues as who was the "first" libertarian. Was it Ayn Rand? Thomas Jefferson? Cato?

Naw. The first libertarians were cats.

I mean, come on now. All you cat owners out there: you know darned well that a cat will only deal with you on its terms. You can grab a cat (if you're quick) and hold it in your lap. As soon as you loosen your hold, however, zing!, off it goes.

A cat can be friendly. It can also scratch you all to hell if you bug it too much. It's independent; doesn't need to be taken into the yard to do its duty. It sets the terms of an interaction, and you are free to accept those terms or not.

So all this silliness of trying to promote a penguin as a symbol of the Libertarian Party must cease. Immediately.

If we're truly serious about trying to procure a symbol that actually has an iota of relevance to what we're about as a political entity, then we should adopt a cat in whatever poses are appropriate. Cat pins. Cat logos. Cat stationery. Whatever.

Maybe then we'll get more folks to vote for us.

Meow!


August 18, 2001

Phoning Ahead

A new study has discovered that -- surprise, surprise! -- handsfree cell phone usage while driving is no safer than holding a cell phone as you maneuver America's streets. Of course, one study proves little. Even if the findings are replicated, however, you can bet your bottom dollar that the folks who brought you cell-phones-in-cars bans won't be bobbing their heads in sorrow and tearing their shirts as they scream mea culpa, mea culpa, mea summa culpa! None of them will seek to repeal their dragonian legislation.

No. As in all such statist realms, this study will merely fuel the cries for more restrictions on cell phone usage in automobiles. Don't be surprised if soon you'll be hearing demands for total bans on driving while talking on a cell phone. You'll be required to pull over to use that newest technological marvel. (See my essay "Presumed Guilty" for more on this issue.)

Of course, the real reason that the mode of cell phone usage makes little to no difference in accident rates is that the fundamental problem is not cell phones per se but having your attention divided. You end up doing neither task as well as you should, i.e., you tend to forget important points in your conversation and miss important cues in your driving environment.

The proper remedy to this non-issue is simply to enforce reckless driving laws already on the books. We don't need more frigging laws to give cops an excuse to pull us over. If someone drives badly and is a road hazard, it makes no difference what the mechanism is: kids screaming in the back; putting on make-up; or changing your music CD's. Deal with real -- not imagined -- threats to the safety of others. (The campaign for lower blood alcohol levels is more of the same. See my "Mothers Against Common Sense.")

This process reminds me of how the politicians and anti-self-defense activists approach guns. First you pass some nonsensical legislation banning a feature -- like bayonet lugs -- that have zero effect on safety. When that doesn't work, they move to ban something else. Eventually, of course, they claim the only thing that will work is total prohibition. Then, sadly, the real problems begin... (See Alcohol Prohibition and the Drug War for how well such approaches work.)

As satisfying as it may be to upbraid chatterboxes in their cars, we can use our crystal balls and see what lies in stall for all of us if we don't resist the anti-freedom movement represented by cell phone bans.


August 17, 2001

Kindergarten Collectivism

For many families, children will return to grade school in the next week or two. This annual rite of passage has parents and kids scrambling to the stores to stock up on supplies. What is disturbing these days is just how many items some schools require students to bring.

This increased level of mandated supplies is supposedly due to schools trying to save money. These are the same @#$%^& schools that push for multimillion dollar bond issues year after year after year. They claim they don't have sufficient room or equipment for their students, that they can't fix deteriorating systems. If you ask why the repairs weren't kept up all along, you're told that those funds are in different accounts.

So what? What kind of mismanagement lets walls crumble and pipes crack for decades without doing anything about them? Of course, the local TV creeps play those sad images up as they push for the bond issues. They never saw a tax they didn't like. How convenient for all concerned...

State-school proponents claim that "public" education is in great shape and should not be privatized; they also claim "public" education is in woeful shape and in need of ever-greater amounts of dough.

Well, which is it? A is A.

If they truly wanted to save money, how about lopping off the top-heavy administrations infesting our schools (that even child-free adults have to subsidize)? Then maybe they could afford copy paper, paint, and whatever else they claim they are unable to supply.

Of course, maybe "lack of funds" is merely another convenient excuse for pushing their collectivist agendas. What is truly sickening and disgusting is that in many schools -- at least in the lower grades -- parents spend their hard-earned and excessively-taxed money on supplies for their offspring and, when the tykes go to school...

...the supplies are "pooled" into a "communal" lump for anyone and everyone to raid!!!!

Don't get me started....!

What kind of collectivist crap is this? And don't give me any nonsense about "learning to share." (See my "Little Lessons in Larceny" to burst that lie.) Whether conscious or not -- and I suspect this stupid trend results merely from the deeply ingrained collectivist ideas percolating in the souls of many of our public school teachers -- the practice should be stopped, immediately and completely. If your children are subjected to this assault on private property, you should lodge your displeasure -- with reasons -- in the strongest terms possible.

Is it little wonder "property rights" rank right up there these days in respect with child pornography and freedom of speech?

Better yet, send your kid to a Montessori school or home school.


August 16, 2001

Pharmacist From Hell

A pharmacist who diluted -- sometimes by as much as 90% or more -- bags of chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients recently had his perfidy discovered. Authorities are currently perusing his records to track down who his potential victims might be.

The pharmacist made up to an extra $800 per bag that he shortchanged. As many of the reporters pointed out, he made a tidy extra "profit" from his shenanigans.

Some people, intent on bad-mouthing the profit motive, might point to this incident as "proof" that profit is evil; furthermore, that capitalism and free enterprise are bad for promoting and being undergirded by profit.

Profit is not abhorrent, of course. Profit -- whether in love or business -- represents justice, what you have earned for providing value to other people. Without such profit, commerce -- and life itself -- would grind to a halt. For evidence, witness any totalitarian country. Today, North Korean people are starving for wont of profit.

What is extraordinary about this particular pirate -- and that is what he is -- is just how rare problems such as this are. Given the number of pharmacists and other medical workers who process and dispense the billions of dollars worth of drugs consumed annually by Americans, this rogue's transgressions of honesty and integrity made national news.

Don't forget that the commonplace is not deemed newsworthy. Most people -- even in today's corrupt moral climate, a climate fostered by our national leaders -- will generally do what is right. Though many young people in college, for instance, will unabashedly cheat if they believe they can get away with it, let us hope that such attitudes will not be the norm one day.

We should take this crime for what it is: an aberration.

And nail this bastard's hide to the wall.


August 15, 2001

Men of Honor

I recently watched the film, "Men of Honor," on DVD. The movie starred Robert DeNiro and Cuba Gooding, Jr. It tells the true story of a black man who wanted to be the first black Navy man to work in deep sea search and recovery. The era is shortly after WW II after Harry Truman integrated the military. Unfortunately, Truman's action did little to remove the overt, hostile racism held by many people in that time.

Gooding's character must endure snubs and unfair treatment both from his fellow Navy men and his superiors. DeNiro's a master chief diver who does all he can to wash Gooding out of the training he worked so hard to obtain. A half-senile officer, played by Hal Holbrook, orders DeNiro to do anything to wash Gooding out.

Gooding's determination to succeed despite overwhelming opposition and unexpected obstacles forms the core of this story. His efforts to walk in one particular scene when no one expects him to do so is truly inspiring.

The unfortunate thing here is just how rare such portrayals are. Film producers and critics seem to relish presenting characters wallowing in depravity and despair. Such disgusting and depressing characters are supposed to be more "interesting." In some cases, the "bad" guys can be more intriguing: think Darth Vader. But without a positive foil, helpless or unthinking or sick characters -- whether "protagonist" or villain -- grow boring and tedious.

The desire for true heroes in films and books does not equate with "happy endings": think Rand's We the Living. Latching onto stories and characters that dwell and revel in the dark side of life, however, says more, I think, about those who enjoy them than anything else.

As for me, give me an involving story and at least some characters I can admire.


August 14, 2001

Take Me Back to the Farm

The critters in Washington, D.C., have once again taken pity upon the poor American farmer and decided to up the subsidies keeping these pillars of society in business.

A few years ago, of course, those same critters passed a much-vaunted "Freedom to Farm" bill that supposedly aimed to eliminate those selfsame subsidies. What the State taketh away, the State can giveth...and vice versa. President Bush proclaimed that, by golly, those men and women of the soil need ol' Uncle Sam to bail them out of their problems. Too much produce for too little money means that many farmers could not survive without government handouts.

Well, gee, that's too bad. I mean it. Honest. It's no fun losing your livelihood. I've done it more than once.

But, gee, too, those farmers can go jump in their farm ponds if they think they deserve special benefits...and I don't care how many other businesses receive subsidies. They should all be taken off the teat and learn to survive -- or not! -- on their own. "Creative destruction" may not be pleasant for those losing their jobs, but economic reality requires that such processes continue. Eventually, even those who lost their incomes will likely be better off in new positions at higher wages.

When I ran for Congress last year here in Iowa, one of the favorite questions posed to me and my opponents concerned the issue of farmers and what the Dem guy called, "The Freedom to Fail bill." He used that phrase in a derogatory fashion, as an excuse to do precisely what the Congress is doing now. Too bad he didn't take those words and see that freedom to fail is precisely what the farm industry needs. Weed out those who aren't efficient or productive enough to compete. Yes, it's sad for longtime and multi-generation families to abandon their profession. No less sad, though, than it was for blacksmiths to hang up their anvils and put out their furnaces.

Most subsidies go to corporate farms, anyway, though enough makes it down to the family farmer to pay him for not producing food or to cover his losses if he is unlucky or incompetent enough to be failing. Subsidies prolong their agony, drive up food prices for everyone, lead to needless erosion and irrigation of marginal land, and contributes to the loss of liberty of the subsidizers.

No one, repeat, no one has a right to any particular job or profession. You have a right to try. You have no right to succeed. You doubly have no right to succeed on the backs of people poorer than you struggling to eke out their own existences when even modest taxation lowers their options.

If farmers want to grow something, how about growing more freedom for a change?


August 13, 2001

Oh, Colombia

Around the merry-go-round we go.

How many times must we commit the same kinds of errors before we learn?

Not satisfied with the fiasco of Vietnam and the horrors of conscription, the Bush administration continues the ill-advised policies of his predecessors by committing more funds to the soon-to-be quagmire in Colombia.

Here is yet another casualty of the War on Drugs.

First, we send in advisers. Then a few troops. Add a few tens of billions to the mix. Wonderful cocktail...

The resulting mess lying to our south is a smoldering fuse waiting to set off an explosion. This swamp will suck more lives, more money, more resources into the jungles of South America. The leftist paramilitaries and autodefensas will not roll over at the mere presence of U.S. troops. The body bags will trickle back to the States in the air transports, echoing similar scenes from Vietnam. Given the difficulties in finding people willing to volunteer for such stupidity, any bets on how long it will take some future administration to reactive the draft?

Is this all inevitable? No, of course not. Is it likely? Events take on a kind of logic of their own after awhile. We've set the snowball rolling down the hill. We need to halt this plunge into the morass before too much momentum is built up.

I don't want to be reading a decade from now about our soldiers dying to prevent other Americans from buying cocaine. But then, who could have predicted this latest escalation in the Drug War three-plus decades ago when Richard Nixon pushed this illegal and unconstitutional offensive on the country?

All to keep people from getting stoned.


August 12, 2001

Resourceful Children

School resumes in most parts of the country over the next couple of weeks. As usual, we are treated to public service announcements encouraging drivers to exercise special care. More children will be biking on the streets and walking to and from schools. Some of those children will be distracted and not paying attention as they should when crossing streets or playing.

All well and good.

What I find sadly instructive is how the local television announcers implicitly view children. When speaking about the kids going to school, they say "our" children. Well, last time I checked, I don't have any offspring.

The second thing they say is that "our children are our most precious resource."

Hmm.

I'm sure the people who write this insipid dialog mean well. More's the pity. The language used here reflects the collectivistic streak that has seeped like a spreading stream of pollution throughout our society. It's the same language used to justify all the welfare programs that sop up the wealth of the productive and transfer it to the less resourceful.

Whether it's property taxes, sales taxes, or bond issues to fund schools, pools, and other projects for students, the proponents always say do it for "our" children.

I say, screw them.

In general, I like kids. I have some regrets that my life never worked out in a way that included children. But I chose not to have them. Don't tell me I have to do squat for "our" children. To those folks demanding I lower my lifestyle to help subsidize their younguns, those kids belong to you! Include me out. You want to send your kids to camp, buy them clothes or food, Xmas presents, or college, you pay for it. Keep your bloody fingers off my life.

Of course, this "our" nonsense is rampant in appeals for welfare for businesses that "need to be protected" or for urban renewal projects or for new bike paths and all the rest. Even if I benefit indirectly from a more educated populace (and we all know how well the schools have been doing in that regard...), if I did not request that benefit, I have no obligation to pay for it. Free-rider status applies to everyone in one fashion or another. None of that justifies highway robbery.

The second -- and in some ways -- more insidious point is considering children as "our resource." Last time I checked, children are not "resources"; they're people. If they are anyone's resource, they are their own. Children are not like money I put in the bank to support me in bad times. This altruistic junk-think is demeaning to children and treats them with the same condescension masters used with their slaves.

I'll make all these people a deal: You don't treat me like a milk-cow and I won't treat your children like slaves to be exploited as I grow old.


August 11, 2001

Affirming Actions

Most obliging of President Bush to confirm again the fact that he really wouldn't know a principle if it reared up and bit him in the...Ashcroft.

Seems this administration is asking the Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action, at least in the realm of granting special favors to minorities seeking certain contracts.

Hmm. For someone who campaigned on the bankruptcy of affirmative action, to adopt this stance is an example either of lying or hypocrisy.

As Homer Simpson would say: "Doh!" A politician breaking a campaign pledge. Fancy that.

There is and has never been any way of dressing up affirmative action to make any kind of legal or moral sense. Proponents have claimed -- and, oddly and incredibly enough, still do -- that affirmative action does not require quotas or set-asides or other such bean-counting procedures. But no other way exists for determining if an "affirmative action" program is working. How ya gonna know if ya don't count heads?

Of course, the notion that every area of life should "reflect" the population distribution is laughable. Sad, but laughable. Clinton pretended to that "ideal" while surrounding himself primarily with white folks. Bush has done "better" in that regard, but so what? Race or ethnic background should be irrelevant when it comes to determining who is the best qualified candidate. I don't give a wink if the cabinet is all white, black, yellow, or red...or all men or women. The only basic qualification is a commitment to and implementation of true freedom.

The anal-retentive types who obsess about percentages and numbers only do so when it suits them. I don't hear any of them lambasting the NBA or NFL for such large numbers of black players. No, they seek controls only in other areas of life, mostly other types of business and government agencies.

Affirmative action is an affront to justice by seeking to square the circle: trying to make innocent parties pay for the injustices of dead people. It harms more than helps those it pretends to aid. It creates a sense of inferiority in those "helped" and resentment in those punished for the sins of the fathers.

Individualism -- not the collectivism inherent and implicit in affirmative action -- is what we need.

But beyond that, people have the right to discriminate, a point I continually return to. Until people's right to make wrong decisions is respected -- and they are made to reap the consequences of their decisions -- affirmative action will do nothing to create a more civilized and just culture.

Bush's nonsensical reversals are ample proof of that.


August 10, 2001

Stem Cells and the Rule of Law

President Bush has tried to walk the line again to please as many people as possible. Not surprising, perhaps, but the problem with his approach to tough issues is that no one -- neither his potential supporters of his opponents -- can have any confidence in how he will respond in any given situation.

He has given vocal support to free trade then provided more protectionism for U.S. steel companies. He has said he supports the rights of people to keep and bear arms but so far has not introduced any bills to reverse the egregious anti-self-defense laws that have plagued us the past thirty years. He has repudiated the Kyoto accords but then done nothing of import to correct such environmental abuses as occurred in the Klamath River in Oregon in a fight over the Endangered Species Act.

In a society in which principled behavior is treated as something suspect and those who practice them as "ideologues," the kinds of "compromises" we've seen from the Bush administration leaves most folks confused. Not only are the opinion leaders scathing of principled action, the "middle way" championed by Bush goes hand-in-hand with the disrespect for the rule of law that has grown more pronounced in this country.

At its most fundamental, the rule of law is nothing other than principled action. Good law is objective. It should be applied the same way and not single out any person or group either for punishment or benefits. Given the plethora of laws that have been promulgated to regulate one industry or disfavored group or to advantage others, the rule of law is observed more in the breach than anything we can turn to when we seek redress from grievances.

I suspect the remaining years of Bush's administration will be much more of the same. Given how principle-deficient most folks are these days, Bush may be there for another seven years.


August 9, 2001

Killing a Mockingbird

Note: I've just switched over from a mid-80's computer to a new iMac. Two days worth of aggravations later trying to transfer files from one to the other, I think I'm finally ready to commence work again. Thanks for bearing with me.

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In Oklahoma, a school board pulled To Kill a Mockingbird from the required reading list for a junior high school class. The putative reason was that "some people" would be disturbed by some of the language used by various characters.

*sigh*

Political correctness rears its ignorant head again.

Good literature is supposed to "disturb" its readers. Think of how many people have been "disturbed" by Atlas Shrugged. Good literature is supposed to get you to think.

That, of course, is the real reason for these kinds of shenanigans. "Thinking" has a bad rap in today's world. You're supposed to "feel" everything; subordinate thought to emotions. Don't ask that those unsettled by Mockingbird ponder the reasons for their reactions. Don't ask them to question whether their preconceived notions about such issues are proper or not.

No. Simply because there are and were people who supported Jim Crow words and tossed around words like "nigger," then any such references -- even in an obdurately antiracist book! -- are to be ignored and denounced.

On the radio, I heard a woman who had a hand in pulling this book. She said she could handle the material, but "others" might have more trouble.

Well, to all those "others" who are afraid to think, afraid to face reality, and afraid to eschew their hypersensitivity:

Get a life!


August 8, 2001

Pop Tart Weaponry

Dave Barry -- basically a libertarian -- has often written about purposefully doing odd and dangerous things with various kitchen appliances: using them to set various food products afire, for example. Indeed, he wrote recently about doing such a thing with carrot slices touching in a microwave.

A recent case involving a Pop Tart fire brought those stories to mind. In this case, however, some yutz forgot a Pop Tart in his toaster. The treat got stuck somehow and apparently caught on fire. Now he wants to sue!

Maybe he should apply instead to the Defense Department for a grant. We could surreptitiously infiltrate killer Pop Tarts into enemy enclaves and burn them down when the Pop Tart unleashes its deadly sugar load.

Shy of that, this guy should take responsibility for his own forgetfulness in leaving home with a loaded toaster...


August 7, 2001

Safety Nazis

The Senate recently rejected the Bush nominee to head the Product Safety Commission. She had worked on the commission for quite awhile, even being nominated by Clinton.

But she had the temerity to suggest that the purpose of government might not always be to browbeat businesses or to assume the role of parents in safeguarding their children.

For such heinous crimes, she was set packing by such sterling examples of crap, Hillary Rodman (sic) Clinton. These tinheads think only Uncle Sam can ensure we won't be killed by evil bath seats or car seats for infants.

Of course, the PSC should not exist, at all. At best, such oversights should be done by a private agency such as Underwriters Laboratory. The government has no business being our grandma.

But if the stupid PSC is to continue, a breath of modestly fresh air would have been nice.

But, of course, the Nanny State will resist that loss of control at all costs.


August 6, 2001

Fly Me

That wascally America West Airlines has oops-ed for the third time in the past month by sending children flying alone on the wrong connecting flight to their final destination. The latest case involved two sisters who apparently even told the America West employee that they were getting on the wrong plane. Seems to me that simply looking at their tickets would have corrected the situation. Who knows what the probably-harried employee was thinking (or not thinking)?

The mother was understandably upset. Her children were 100 miles away. In due course, the airline drove them to San Diego where they belonged.

Astoundingly, though, the mother now thinks they deserve unlimited airline tickets for life!

Good grief! The kids weren't harmed. They weren't abused. They simply got to the wrong destination.

Talk about milking an unfortunate situation. Sure, maybe the kids or family deserve a free set of tickets or other compensation. But tickets for life?!?

Don't get me started...!

Just as the other day I discussed punishing everyone because of the transgressions of a few, here, too, is an example of the same sorry phenomenon. Nearly three million underage people travel unescorted on airlines every year. Here we have three incidents in a month -- an unfortunate cluster, true, but hardly a horror -- and everyone's going ape. I think odds of a million to one in your favor are pretty good odds.

Too many people have incredibly warped views on what is worthy of worry. Those kids probably face bigger risks when their mother drives them to the mall than they're ever likely to face on an airline. Because of the bad publicity they received, America West now says they will only allow unescorted children on direct flights. So once again, the whiny of a few have screwed up something beneficial for everyone who enjoyed a valuable service.

The biggest juvenile here seems to be the mother. To her and all the tens of millions of others like her in this country I have one thing to say:

Grow up!


August 5, 2001

Refusing Care

The silly season continues as the Republicrats and Demicans posture and wrangle for positive polls in the public's eye over the so-called Patients' Bill of Rights.

First and foremost, of course, is the fact that this blatant pandering to the social welfare mentality rampant in this country is that there are no such "rights" beyond the right to have a voluntary contract honored and to be free of force and fraud. Mandating positive rights obliterates the true negative rights protected (supposedly) by our Constitution.

The level of hypocrisy on this issue is truly outstanding. Congress should never have meddled in our health system in the first place. All the ills originally predicted when Medicare was being established have come true. (See my essay, "Medical Wrongs...and Rights.") In classic Austrian economics logic, the feds fiddle in a system that's basically working reasonably well (marred then primarily by the use of tax-free, employer provided medical coverage; again an artifact of government intervention following WW II) and create an inflationary spiral in the health field that causes more and more problems. (Though some of those cost increases can simply be attributed to the fact that people want to spend more these days on tests and exams and medicines.) In addition to normal government induced inefficiencies and waste, subsidized costs increase demand, and widening commands to insurance companies to cover more and more conditions (whether requested by the insured or not) all feed into this nonsense.

So Congress creates HMO's with a mandate to control spending. Congress established the limits on lawsuits so HMO's could "compete" more easily with established companies. Congress wanted "gatekeepers" and all the rest.

Now Congress lambastes HMO's for doing the very things they were told to do! All the evil HMO's' fault. Blah-blah-blah.

One of the biggest fallacies promulgated against HMO's -- you hear it during nearly every news story on this issue -- is that an HMO "refuses care" to some patient.

BS on a shingle!

All an HMO can do is to refuse to pay for a procedure. No one -- let me repeat that: no one -- is stopping any patient from getting any procedure or test or care he desires. (Aside from what the State outlaws, of course. But that's another issue.) He just has to pay for it himself. A patient has the responsibility of knowing what will or will not be covered by a policy. He has zero right to have any and every medical treatment paid for simply because that is his desire.

If Congress really gave a rat's behind about people and their medical care, they'd end government-subsidized third-party coverage, end Medicare and Medicaid, let people keep their own money via lowered or eliminated taxation or at least give full rein to medical savings accounts, stop mandating insurance coverage and risk-pools, and allow real competition to match product and buyer.

Of course, that would mean Congress losing control and political issues to push during elections.

What we really need is to euthanize the whole sorry mess of State and medicine that is killing our freedom one drip at a time.


August 4, 2001

Kids and Cars

A number of tragic accidents involving the deaths or near-deaths of infants and children being left in hot cars by parents have made national news this summer. Whether from parental carelessness or indifference or whatever, these situations could have been prevented if the parent in charge of his or her offspring had been less rushed and more focused in discharging his or her responsibilities in safeguarding the wee ones who cannot fend for themselves.

Depending upon the circumstances, the parent might appropriately be charged with child endangerment, involuntary manslaughter, or other offenses. The key phrase here is "depending upon the circumstances." With their usual club-footed agility, some politicians are calling for laws to make it illegal ever to leave your children alone in the car.

Ponder that, you parents out there.

Never able to leave your child or children in the car. Not for ten seconds while you return to your house to get the purse you forgot. Not when the temperature is fifty degrees out and there is no danger of overheating. Not to run into the store to get a carton of milk.

Never.

Once again, politicians make the fundamental error of assuming we are all guilty regardless of what we have or have not done. Because some small number of people abuse a situation or are irresponsible, then everyone must have their freedom limited, must face punishment for acts that have violated no one's rights, for behavior that has harmed no one.

It's the same dense-headed mind-set that says because a minuscule percentage of people who own guns use them incorrectly then all gun owners must have their liberty curtailed by means of "instant checks," licenses, permits, or outright prohibition. This fallacious idea lies behind aggravating seat belt laws, anti-cell phone laws, zero tolerance policies, and thousands of similar fascist rules.

The notion of "prior restraint" -- trying to control someone's behavior before they have committed any crime -- is anathema to justice, proportionality, and morality.

The politicians need to butt out. They totally ignore the tens of millions of parents who leave children briefly in their cars with zero harm. If someone is criminally negligent, then fine, punish them for their transgressions.

Just don't bother the rest of us.


August 3, 2001

Procedural Errors

Let me understand this:

Husband and wife missionaries along with their two children (one an infant) are being flown in a small prop plane over the Peruvian jungle. They are spotted by American-flown planes and trailed by Peruvian fighters on the lookout for that most "evil" of devils, the drug dealer. Even though the Americans don't believe the plane matches the proper profile -- it's flying too high and not engaged in evasive maneuvers -- the Peruvians don't give a damn. The fighters prepare to open up. The brilliant American rejoinder: "Are you sure these are bad guys?" "Oh, yes, yes!" the Peruvians reply. (Or words to that effect.)

So bingo-bango, the jets start strafing the plane.

"You're killing me! You're killing us!" the pilot yells.

Ah, gee, sorry. We just blew away a woman and her baby. Sorry! "Procedural error!"

Barf in a bag.

Is anyone considering stopping this insane practice of sending Americans into foreign air space to direct shoot-downs?

No-o-o-o.

Is anyone discussing the fact that this nutso policy is a direct result of the crazy, Constitution-shredding War on Drugs?

No-o-o-o.

Is anyone going to punish the bloodthirsty Drug Thugs?

No-o-o-o.

This nonsense of focusing on superficial rather than fundamental causes is merely another symptom of the irrational, context-dropping, evasive mentalities in charge of our government and our lives. Deciding to correct "procedural errors" in this tragedy makes as much sense as treating skin blotches with make-up rather than diagnosing and treating the underlying cancer causing them.

The real "procedural errors" at fault here are in the puny brains of the idiots promulgating an immoral War on People.

If anything should be shot down, it's them and their anti-rights agenda.


August 2, 2001

Bet On It

Ever valiant and concerned with our welfare, Congress takes more steps towards outlawing online gambling.

Gambling: so evil, so destructive, so lucrative...for governments.

Hypocrisy has always run deep in the political realm. Moves to prohibit online gambling are especially egregious. How many states now run lotteries or have state-approved and licensed casinos, either on land or on "riverboats"?

(Which raises an odd question: How is it that it's fine and dandy to walk onto a floating boat to gamble but a similar action would be heinous in the extreme if the gambling shifted to a building on land?)

Adults have the right to entertain themselves online by gambling, if they so choose. They have the right to screw up and end up in massive debt. Politicians should not be butting into the privacy of your home and dictating to you how you will use your computer, your credit, or your time.

Any and all restrictions on gambling of any kind are wrong and violate your rights. Whether it's betting on horses or football games or playing poker or craps, as long as you aren't out to defraud or cheat someone, it's none of the State's business.

Here is yet another example of politicians seizing a power they have no Constitutional delegation to have. Yes, I might be more likely to gamble in the quiet of my own home. I might even do it in my pj's. I might even have a beer while I do it.

So what?

I don't need anyone else -- and especially a politician -- protecting me from myself.

I don't want that, don't need it, and am insulted by any and all attempts to do so.

Bet on it.


August 1, 2001

What a Pain

The anti-drug warriors in Congress are once again on the warpath. This time the evil item in question is a potent pain killer called Oxycontin.

Apparently, this prescription medicine is usually provided in a time-release form to aid pain-management in patients who receive no relief from other pain killers. However, if you crush the pills, you destroy those tiny time-capsules that spread out the dosage and receive the whole hit immediately. Quite a rush, they say. Some users are so taken with the effect that they have stolen supplies of Oxycontin from pharmacies.

So, of course, just as with guns or knives or fatty foods or any other product that some small minority of the population can abuse, the first impulse of those stalwart idiots on Capitol Hill is to ban it. To hell with those desperate souls suffering back pain or the agony of cancer or whatever. Get rid of it! Can't allow, can't permit anyone to enjoy something if they don't have official sanction to do so.

The dunderheads proposing this ban are the same crowd who push the Drug War, aka the War Against People, on us. Not only are they against the recreational use of drugs, they are down right nasty in preventing sick people from using such products as marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Not much better than these prohibitionists are those who think it's OK to use medical marijuana or Oxycontin...but only if its via prescription. Once again, they sanction the notion that the State, in all its infinite wisdom and compassion, has not only the power but the right, the duty to tell adults what they can or cannot place in their bodies.

It's all baloney sauce.

When we're talking about adults, people have the right to ingest, smoke, inject, or whatever any and all substances, safe or harmful, that someone is willing to sell them or that they can grow or make themselves. Sure, a lot of those things should be avoided. Some ignorant souls will abuse the products or misuse them. Those outcomes still do not excuse the violation of others' rights.

I would no more tinker in the bowels of my computer-monitored car's engine than I would take a medicine whose effects I hadn't checked out. I take my car to a mechanic when it needs servicing. Why do these government nannies think I would take less care of my own body and not consult with a physician?

But if I don't want to do so, that is my right.

The same principle applies to experimental medical treatments and procedures. Politicians have zero right to violate your moral autonomy.

That fact is painfully obvious.


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