Monday, August 31, 2009

New Tobacco Laws: Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain...

Well, whisperings of this have been floating through the news for at least a few months now, but now we're at last being faced with the reality. Starting September 22, the sale of flavored cigarettes and clove cigarettes are now banned in the United States.

First, some quick background info: H.R. 1256, The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was passed by the Senate on June 11 with a vote of 79-17. The House approved it the same day with a vote of 307-97 (clearly bi-partisanship is far from dead). President Obama signed the bill into law on June 22.

But the bill isn't solely on the ban of flavored cigarettes. No, this is a veritable motherload of legislation tidily wrapped up in one bill. Here's a list of just some of the results of this bill:
  • It creates a tobacco control center within the FDA and gives the FDA authority to regulate the tobacco industry. All of the tobacco laws put into place will be administered by this new division, and funded by special taxes on the tobacco companies that are expected to raise half a billion dollars a year, which will mean even higher taxes on tobacco.
  • The act bans the sale of all flavored cigarettes, with the exception of menthol. The use and possession of them will still be perfectly legal, but as of September 22, you can no longer buy them at your local store. (The ban applies only to cigarettes. Pipe tobacco, cigars, etc, are not included in the ban.)
  • It restricts advertising of tobacco products, including broad limitations on outdoor advertising that are nearly indistinguishable from restrictions struck down by the Supreme Court in 2001 [Government 1, Free Speech 0].
  • The act requires cigarette warning labels to cover 50% of the front and back of each pack.
  • It bans the use of words such as "light", "mild", or "low" that give the impression that a certain tobacco product poses less of a health risk compared to others.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. Edward Kennedy (side note: if I have to watch another news bit about how amazing Ted Kennedy was, my television is going to go through a wall). It is also heavily supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and, surprisingly enough, Philip Morris, the country's largest cigarette manufacturer, and its parent company, Altria (but more on that later). President Obama has said that the legislation "will protect our kids and improve our health." The New York Times has hailed this as "an enormous victory for public health."

The FDA has 2 years to issue specifics about the new warnings tobacco products will be required to carry. The tobacco companies will then have 18 months to get them onto packages. The new labels will most likely include blunt warnings in large print and graphic images illustrating the dangers of smoking, covering at least half of the back and front of the packaging. If the U.S. takes their cue from other countries, which seems to be exactly what they are doing, the warnings will no doubt be shocking. According to this MSN health article:

If U.S. regulations are modeled after those already in place in Canada and other countries, the warnings will be shocking: blackened lungs, gangrenous feet, bleeding brains and people breathing through tracheotomies.

Over the last decade, countries as varied as Canada, Australia, Chile, Brazil, Iran, and Singapore, among others, have adopted graphic warnings on tobacco products. Some are downright disturbing: in Brazil, cigarette packages come with pictures of dead babies and a gangrened foot with blackened toes.

Now, a very interesting part of this whole fiasco is the involvement of Philip Morris, which sells more cigarettes than nearly every other American tobacco combined, holding about 50% of the entire market share. From The Big Money, a leg of Slate Magazine:

"It is a dream true for Philip Morris," Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, told me. "First, they make it look like they are a reformed company which really cares about reducing the toll of cigarettes and protecting the public's health; and second, they protect their domination of the market and make it impossible for potentially competitive products to enter the market." Other tobacco companies have taken to calling the bill the "Marlboro Monopoly Act of 2009"

Clearly, Philip Morris is just using this bill as a vehicle to eliminate competition. Teenagers are not out smoking cherry or chocolate mocha cigarettes. They are just smoking regular cigarettes, preferably in the form of Marlboro brand cigarettes, owned by [drumroll please] Philip Morris. Going back to the MSN article, about 81% of teen smokers prefer Marlboro brand cigarettes. The most popular flavored cigarette is [another drumroll please] menthol, which happens to be the only exception to the law. Menthol cigarettes make up 28% of all cigarettes purchased in the U.S., and a ban on menthols would have seriously hurt Philip Morris, which sells several varieties of menthol cigarettes.

According to a recent survey by the American Legacy Foundation, menthol cigarettes are preferred by 81% of black teens, 45% of Hispanic teens, and 32% of white teens. A 2007 study by the American Lung Association showed that, of the 20% of teens who smoked, only 6.8% had smoked clove cigarettes, and only 1.7% had smoked other types of flavored cigarettes.

The big selling point of this legislation is that it will cut back on teenage smoking by limiting advertising, making the dangers of smoking clearer, and getting rid of the flavored cigarettes which they feel are aimed to lure teenagers into smoking. They clearly have no idea what they are talking about. Teenagers start smoking because they think it's "cool", and they keep smoking because it's addicting. Cigarettes taste horrible, and no amount of candy flavoring could possibly make them taste less horrible.

I'd be shocked if almost every smoker in the U.S. wasn't already aware of the dangers of smoking. A friend of mine who took up smoking in high school had a very "we're all dying sometime, I might as well speed up the process" attitude about it, and that seems to be the norm with smokers. They are well aware of the dangers, are likely reminded of them constantly, and continue to smoke anyway.

I don't smoke tobacco - I think it's a stupid and dangerous habit, and frequently tell me friends and family who do smoke that they should try and quit, but I could never support the use of government to try to reduce smoking, because all that they are capable of is violence. They have written tons of legislation trying to tax and regulate smoking into oblivion. The taxes on cigarettes have become a huge burden on smokers. They have done everything short of just straight-out banning it, which seems largely due to the fact that it would completely destroy the big tobacco companies like Philip Morris, and the government can't afford to lose such a huge beneficiary.

Coming just on the heels of the huge raise in taxes on cigarettes, this is shaping up to be a horrible year for smokers, and for freedom in general. Here is my home state of Rhode Island, cigarette taxes are highest in the nation - the average price of brand name cigarettes currently floating around $8.35. Smokers have quickly become one of the easiest groups to attack in this country, and no one has stepped up to protect their right to put whatever substance they choose into their body. Maybe as the legislation gets worse and worse, people will start to wake up and oppose this latest tyranny, but we can only hope.

End the Fed

Video via Liberty Pulse

Ever since it was schemed by the Rockefeller, Morgan, and Kuhn-Loeb banking families in 1913, and signed into law by the inflationist-warmonger Woodrow Wilson, the Fed has been instrumental in more than 100 wars, the giant welfare state, the American empire, recessions and depressions — including this one — the rip-off of middle-class living standards, and the subversion of American freedom.

If we want the peaceful, commercial republic of the Founders' dream, prosperity and civilization, sound money and free markets, we must End the Fed.

The Book Bomb to End the Fed

Warmonger Obama

We now learn that this month of August is the deadliest in terms of U.S. Military deaths in Afghanistan since the invasion of the country under Bush.

This is a conflict that our current Dear Leader, Messiah Obama, calls a "war of necessity". Let's not forget that this was the supposed anti-war candidate, The One who promised change. Another 6,000 troops are to be sent there by the end of the year.

If Obama were really Mr. Change, we would have seen something much different. What a perfect opportunity it would have been, coming into the office of the Presidency when Americans were war weary and had humiliated the Republican War Crazies at the polls. Obama could have proposed cutting the Pentagon budget in half and declared he was bringing the troops home. He could have said that we don't need an empire and that its cost is sinking us financially. He may have even had a chance to pass a Utopian government heath care plan, shifting money from the military to domestic spending. The people might have bought it. Instead, like the insane egomaniac Lyndon Johnson before him, he wants it all, guns and butter, and this will likely lead to his ruin, and ours.

h/t to Liberty Pulse

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Normally I would ask a little restraint, let a man be decently burried before trashing his career. However in the face of all of the disgustingly sacharine Teddy worship I have been exposed to, it is refreshing to hear an honest assesment of what Ted Kennedy and his fellow Democrats have done to our country.

Not that the Dems are the only problem our country has, the Repugs are every bit as bad, but right now TKs death is being used as PR for the democratic party and I enjoy Vin throwing some sand in their Vaseline.

Just Some Stuff 8

In every development, just or false, real or imaginary collective or individual, it is always the first step, the first act that is the most difficult. That step once taken, the rest follows naturally as a necessary consequence. The difficult step in the historical development of this terrible religious insanity which continues to obsess and crush us was to posit a divine world as such, outside the world. This first act of madness, so natural from the physiological point of view and consequently necessary in the history of humanity, was not accomplished at a single stroke. I know not how many centuries were needed to develop this belief and make it a governing influence upon the mental customs of men. But, once established, it became omnipotent, as each insane notion necessarily becomes when it takes possession of man's brain. Take a madman, whatever the object of his madness--you will find that obscure and fixed idea which obsesses him seems to him the most natural thing in the world, and that, on the contrary, the real things which contradict this idea seem to him ridiculous and odious follies. Well religion is a collective insanity, the more powerful because it is traditional folly, and because its origin is lost in the most remote antiquity. As collective insanity it has penetrated to the very depths of the public and private existence of the peoples; it is incarnate in society; it has become, so to speak, the collective soul and thought. Every man is enveloped in it from his birth; he sucks it in with his mother's milk, absorbs it with all that he touches, all that he sees. He is so exclusively fed upon it, so poisoned and penetrated by it in all his being that later, however powerful his natural mind, he has to make unheard-of efforts to deliver himself from it, and then never completely succeeds. We have one proof of this in our modern idealists, and another in our doctrinaire materialists--the German Communists. They have found no way to shake off the religion of the State.
-from God and the State - Mikhail Bakunin

These "Just some stuff" posts started out innocently enough as just filler, or something to post when I was too lazy to do anything else here (most of the time, actually) but they've become a little more elaborate, or something, though still for me the lazy man's way to blog. I want to post some real stuff, but even with ideas, it is sometimes hard to write. It's been a suffering heat wave where I'm at, even hot near the water, which is not usually the case (I work near the coast and live inland, so one minor pleasure of going to work is the cooler temperatures-I take my breaks and lunch outside, you see, and sometimes even take a walk up the hill of a nearby street with brand new empty office buildings; glass and steel victims of the new depression) and you just don't feel like doing much when you've got no air conditioning and are relying on one lonely little whirring fan to relieve you.

I also have lower back pain as I write this, which is not helping either. I have a terrible mattress, but sometimes my back hurts no matter what I do. A couple of times (not recently) it's gone out to the extent that I could barely walk. My dad has this same problem. As long as I don't sit or sleep wrong, though, it's okay most of the time.

But enough about poor me. Maybe I have a difficult time getting things written because I'm too concerned with an imaginary perfection, which I never achieve anyway. I look at some blogs and come to the conclusion that you can have readers while just tossing stuff out there without much thought or editing. So you've been warned. Future posts of mine could become unreadable rubbish, if they aren't that already.

Hamish Imlach

When I first watched the video below I didn't know that the singer was dead, but looking at him I thought to myself that he soon would be. When I read more about him I wasn't surprised to learn he had died at the early age of 55, in 1996. We all know that obesity, smoking and excessive drinking will do us in, and maybe lead to a premature grave, but I wonder if some people just accept the fact that they will die young because of their habits and lifestyle. None of us get out alive, anyway.

Below is a live version of his most popular song, (it was banned by the BBC because of its content). He liked to throw jokes and anecdotes into the mix of his performances, and one line of his I especially like (not in the video) is "I think I have an allergic reaction to leather. I find that every time I wake in the morning with my shoes on I have a headache."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rise and Fall of the Dollar (1800-2009)

Sean Malone, a contributor to the Mises Institute blog, put together this amazing graph tracking the change in the dollar from 1800 until now, including explanations of why the rises and falls occurred.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Click on the image to link back to the full-sized image from the Mises blog, which is much larger and actually readable.

(By the way, thanks to Sean for taking me on Skeptical Eye. This should be an interesting adventure into the blogosphere).

How to Become a Cult Leader

Shortcut method: Wear a badge and round up boot licking types like ARC to be your followers. No extensive brainwashing necessary!

The case for 'Texas nationalism'

See this group's website here.

If Texas ever secedes from the evil empire, I'll be on the first plane there.

Marc Stevens on The Government Hoax

The government hoax is probably the oldest, most pervasive and stubborn of hoaxes. It’s the belief in non-existent "states" and "nations," and that "government" is both legitimate and necessary. In the geographic area of the North American continent commonly referred to as the "United States," it’s claimed only "government" can provide the service of protecting "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." This is nonsense if only for the reason "government" has no duty to protect anyone and their property.

Another reason is: No service or product should be provided at the barrel of a gun. It’s that simple. There are no exceptions unless one believes people have no rights. If one believes people have no rights, then "government" is not "necessary" to "protect" what doesn’t exist. If you believe people have rights, then you don’t "protect" them without their freely given consent. Also, protection is not submission to the violent, unaccountable control of another, nor is violent domination a legitimate method of doing business. Would you hire people who don’t acknowledge you have property, to protect your property? I wouldn't...

...What exactly is "government?" Have you ever seen a "government"? While there are varying degrees, "government" is one man violently controlling the life and property of another man. In some places this violent control is "decreed" to be for the latter’s "own good" and "protection" and hailed as the "best system in the world." Because it’s based on violence, there are no "states" or "nations," "states" being "voluntary associations." You may recognize that violent control over a man’s life and property is what we like to call . . . slavery.

Read the rest

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Tom Joad Test

Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. -Tom Joad

Early in The Grapes of Wrath, Joad -- recently paroled after serving four years in prison for killing a man who stabbed him in a fight -- becomes re-acquainted with Jim Casy, a fallen Oklahoma Pentecostal preacher who has embraced a populist version of Emerson's "oversoul" concept: "Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of."

Thus was planted the seed that would sprout into Joad's famous soliloquy, which included the pledge that "Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there."

So here, stated briefly, is the question that serves as the shibboleth/sibbolet dividing line in the "Tom Joad Test":

When you see a cop -- or, more likely, several of them -- beating up on a prone individual, do you instinctively sympathize with the assailant(s) or the victim?

If it's the former, you're an authoritarian, irrespective of your partisan attachments or professed political philosophy.

If it's the latter, you're an instinctive libertarian, whether or not you are consistently guided by that impulse in your political decisions.

It may later be demonstrated that the figure on the receiving end of the beating had committed some horrible crime. However, such a disclosure wouldn't invalidate the results of the Tom Joad Test, because that test reveals a subject's default assumptions about the relationship between the individual and the state.

Do you assume that the state is entitled to the benefit of the doubt whenever its agents inflict violence on somebody, or do you believe that the individual -- any individual -- is innocent of wrongdoing until his guilt has been proven?

-from William N. Grigg: The Plague of Punitive Populism

Edit: The above video is no longer available. The message at YouTube reads: This video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment. It is no longer available in your country. The irony is really too much. I've posted two other versions below. Oh, and FUCK YOU SONY MUSIC MOTHER FUCKING STATIST PIGS!!!! Support Freedom! End copyright!

A Recovering Catholic's Heroes

Rapists on patrol

Thanks to Karen De Coster

A Recovering Catholic calls them heroes, I still call them evil clowns.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Send in the Clowns

Whether it's the Border Patrol (whose arrogant agents--yes, even when they're being "nice" they're arrogant at the same time, as you'll find out if you refuse to stop or answer their inane questions at their evil highway "Checkpoints"--force you to stop and wait while on your peaceful way down the interstate), or the Highway Patrol/State Police, or the local Sheriff's department or police department, I've started calling them clowns.

They wear costumes, you see, which would be hilarious if people recognized the absurd nature of the outfits; government issued clown clothes that somehow magically give these jerks power that a regular human being lacks. This is the mistake we are taught to make from childhood, starting with the very effective brainwashing most children receive in the government-run publik skools. It's like religion; a mass delusion, a cult. We believe in it with faith only, because there are no good reasons, and certainly no evidence, that the clowns are any different than you or I, or that they have the right to do things that it is illegal for you or I to do.

So they are nothing but clowns, a joke, in my book. They even have clown cars to go with their funny attire. You know, the ones with the colorful, flashing lights and the crazy, loud noise-makers.

You may have to obey their orders when you encounter them, just to avoid being beaten to a pulp or killed by them, but you don't have to respect them or honor them.

A long time ago after circuses had been revealed to local villagers and towns people, people used to have a strong fear of clowns, they used to say they were evil, and they looked like murderers. The local circus clowns made visits to the towns and villagers as they would not go to the circuses. People only ran into their homes very fast to get away from these clowns. The clowns would speak and try to make friendly conversation from the doors, but people only ignored and listened until the clowns gave up and left the areas. - from the Urban Dictionary

Directionless Bones: “Anarchism”?

‘Anarchy’ does not mean ‘chaos’. Well, to be fair, it does, but anarchists have spent the last 150-or-so years trying to redefine it. Success in winning the wider population to our usage has been…mixed.

Anyway, as defined by anarchists, ‘anarchy’ means organised society not based on coercion. By ‘not based on coercion’ I mean that things like allocation of resources, organisation of labour, maintenance of infrastructure, and so forth rely on free consent, not (as in our own society) on the threat and use of arrest and imprisonment: individuals are free to order their lives as they see fit, as long as they do not violently endanger others.


Anarchists are neither lovers of violence nor pacifists. They simply believe that if something would be wrong when done by an ordinary human being, it is wrong when done by the state and its representatives.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wayne Root runs into the 'Rothbard dilemma'

Rothbard on how he became a market anarchist:

My conversion to anarchism was a simple exercise in logic. I had engaged continually in friendly arguments about laissez-faire with liberal friends from graduate school. While condemning taxation, I had still felt that taxation was required for the provision of police and judicial protection and for that only. One night two friends and I had one of our usual lengthy discussions, seemingly unprofitable; but this time when they’d left, I felt that for once something vital had actually been said. As I thought back on the discussion, I realized that my friends, as liberals, had posed the following challenge to my laissez-faire position:

They: What is the legitimate basis for your laissez-faire government, for this political entity confined solely to defending person and property?

I: Well, the people get together and decide to establish such a government.

They: But if "the people" can do that, why can’t they do exactly the same thing and get together to choose a government that will build steel plants, dams, etc.?

I realized in a flash that their logic was impeccable, that laissezfaire was logically untenable, and that either I had to become a liberal, or move onward into anarchism. I became an anarchist.

Wayne Root on Thom Hartmann:

No further comment necessary.

The Fundamentals of Voluntaryism

Voluntaryism is the doctrine that relations among people should be by mutual consent, or not at all. It represents a means, an end, and an insight. Voluntaryism does not argue for the specific form that voluntary arrangements will take; only that force be abandoned so that individuals in society may flourish. As it is the means which determine the end, the goal of an all voluntary society must be sought voluntarily. People cannot be coerced into freedom. Hence, the use of the free market, education, persuasion, and non-violent resistance as the primary ways to change people's ideas about the State. The voluntaryist insight, that all tyranny and government are grounded upon popular acceptance, explains why voluntary means are sufficient to attain that end.

Fundamentals of Voluntaryism

The Swine Flu Vaccine Song

Via End the War on Freedom

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

OK, so Ted Kennedy is dead

I'm never happy when someone dies, but it's so disgusting the way the media treats politicians compared to the rest of the population. If someone in your family were to die tomorrow, few people would hear a thing about it. But when a politician thug dies, it's BREAKING NEWS and every program must be interrupted to tell us about it. Do you remember back when that imperialist putz Reagan died? The media wouldn't let us hear the end of it.

I have had it with all the airports, museums and roads named after politicians, as if there's anything "noble" about what these little Eichmanns do for a living. Politicians are the most worthless group of hacks, weasels, liars, thieves and murderers in existence on the planet. They contribute absolutely nothing whatsoever to society. When they start dropping like flies, it's more tempting to celebrate than mourn.

Here's a deal for all of you who want socialized medicine: take the bloated and undeserved salary (and benefits) of each and every politician in the country and give it to those who are uninsured. Maybe then I would be more sympathetic!

The situation reminds me of a snippet from an old STR column:

People die every day, and no one outside of their immediate family and friends seem to care. But when fearless, brave, stoic government workers die--whoa, hold the press! Suddenly a national period of mourning must commence, and we must all stop and realize how precious life really is and why NASA must get more funding.


(Note: this post isn't so much directed at Kennedy in particular, but the treatment of any and all politicians when they die.)


When we were kids we used to make our own, though mine starred only poor little stick figures, and so the storylines were limited.

The water drop that was afraid to drown Flipbook from Claude Jobin on Vimeo.

From Only Flipbooks!

Liberty? Who Needs It!

More Clunker Crap

I hope this is the last post I make on the stupid CARS aka "Cash for Clunkers" stupidity.

I've heard from numerous individuals attempting to use the trade-in program state that many auto dealerships were selling their vehicles at MSRP (the ridiculously inflated sticker price) whenever someone wanted to use Cash for Clunkers. Basically all other rebates and discounts were out the window in those cases, even though this was supposed to be an incentive to car buyers and not a way for the dealerships to be the only beneficiaries of lining their pockets with tax money.

If the price would have been the same without the "Clunker" trade-in, what was the point? But this is what was happening, and it's not really surprising, as the fools in government never consider the consequences of meddling with the free market in the first place.

I was still also hearing of people trading in vehicles they never really used for new ones they would use. So one supposed reason for the program (to get those gas guzzlers off the road) was also baloney. I spoke to a woman who told me she would have to get a jump start or probably a new battery to get her old car over to the dealership, a car that was indeed registered and insured but that had just been sitting for months without being driven.

The unconscionable wastefulness of the program was also indicated time and time again, as with a gentleman who told me his early 90s van was in very good condition and how he hated to get rid of it, but just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get $4500 on it as a trade-in on a new car.

If the program was such a success, as our overlords keep telling us, why have they ended it? Maybe it didn't really make sense after all? Nah, couldn't be.

Monday, August 24, 2009

LOL -- advocate of "topless equality" arrested

Mark me down as a supporter of this movement! (Probably nsfw)

In which the state kidnaps my spotter...

Welp, it looks like my gym buddy is going to jail for six months (for a ridiculous victimless crime, of course). This sucks. He's basically my own personal trainer, except I don't pay him anything.

Damn you, government! Damn you!

Politics: yea or nay?

One thing libertarians love to argue over is whether or not participation in politics does any good. It's an issue I have mixed views on.

On one hand, I reject the ridiculous view that voting per se is an act of "aggression." I think all libertarians should vote, if only to give a big fat NO to every new statist measure being proposed. Yes, it's ridiculous that anyone should have the "right" to vote away the life or property or someone else. But so long as we live under this sham system, it's stupid and futile to sit it out on "principle" as the state grows larger and more fascistic. Not voting may make you feel super duper principled or warm'n'fuzzy inside, but let's face reality: nobody gives a damn. Scream it from the rooftops all you want, 'cause it doesn't make any difference to the mob.

Voting for politicians is a different story. There are precious few Republicans (and almost zero Democrats--maybe Kucinich if he toned down his socialism) I would ever vote to put in Congress. I would love to see a Peter Schiff, a Rand Paul or a Murray Sabrin get in there as a Republican. If they were running in my state they would get my vote.

I just can't see any of these dudes even getting nominated, let alone elected. The only libertarian who has managed to get elected as a Republican has been Ron Paul. The GOP is simply too controlled by its base of medieval theocrats and paranoid 'national-security' bozos for it to ever happen. Any time a libertarian tries to run, the theocrats and Dr. Strangeloves whine "He ain't no conservative dagnabbit! He one of dem libertarians!"

I hope I'm wrong. I hope some of these guys can get elected as Republicans. But it seems so unlikely that it isn't worth the investment. Donating to one of their money bombs is throwing money down a rat hole IMO.

So the GOP is basically out. What about the LP? They'll never win anything, but I'll usually piss away my vote on the rare occasion that they have a candidate for Congress.

But isn't it a waste to vote Libertarian? I don't think so. Even though the LP candidate can't possibly win, it doesn't make the vote meaningless. If the LP works as a "spoiler" for the Republican party (as it has before), or if a very high percentage of people started voting Libertarian, it would force the Republicrats to listen to our ideas and adopt policies that are at least a hair closer to what we'd like to see.

Remember: the Socialist Party succeeded in most of its goals without winning a single election.

But what to do about the current LP, which is hopelessly lame? Not much, except to deny them a single red cent or vote until it goes back to being libertarian again.

To sum it up, I support the idea of voting "no" on statist measures as a necessary evil for living in our statist society. When it comes to politicians, you should either vote third party or not vote at all (or, in the extremely rare case of a Ron Paul type politician, vote for him). Never donate one red cent to any campaign though, because it will always be a big waste. Your money is far better spent on libertarian organizations that educate people, which will in turn hopefully get the more libertarian candidates elected anyway.

I'll stop rambling now.

UPDATE: What about agorism? I support it as the ultimate (and only realistic) step to transition to a market anarchist society. Unfortunately, it's irrelevant in today's world.

Perhaps in a thousand years the masses will organize and teh glorious agorist revolution will ensue. Until that happens (which will probably be never, and certainly not in our lifetimes), there's nothing to discuss. I'm more concerned with minimizing the damage here and now.

Myths about health care...

An excellent article at the American Spectator refutes a number of them.

One more to add to the lengthy collection. Not that it will stop anyone from repeating the same misleading statistics and half-truths over and over.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Philosophy of Liberty

A flash animation on liberty.

The Philosophy of Liberty

(via Alex Peak)

Obama and the CIA

Of all the outside-the mainstream notions I've posited... the one that annoys the most people is my suggestion that the CIA recruited young Barack Obama during his days at Occidental College. I would further suggest that the Agency link runs in the family. I believe that, at an earlier time, the Agency (or some other branch of the intelligence community) may have recruited his mother, Ann Dunham.

"The name's Obama -- BARACK Obama."

Read the Constitution? Then you're a redneck hillbilly!

So says this crazy Obama supporter:

New rule: don't put your name on a column unless you actually wrote it

Does anyone seriously believe that Bill Maher actually writes his own lame-ass columns? Whenever I see something "written" by a celebrity, politician, CEO or whatever I can't help but wonder which ghost writer or PR person actually threw it together. (Obviously there are some exceptions.)

If Maher actually is writing these columns, he should put someone else's name on them. 'Cause they suck.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fast Food Reality

This made me laugh. I don't think I've yet received any fast food item that resembled the ads for it. Below is the Arby's Beef 'n' Cheddar sandwich.

The Ad Photo:

The Real Thing:

See the rest here: Fast Food: Ads vs. Reality

My Camera Does Crazy Shit


Sorry I haven't posted in forever. I have been traveling non stop for over a month and am currently in Honolulu. This week is the first internet access I have had. On the big island and Mauii I was in hotels without WIFI and which wanted a fortune for any internet at all.

I took a picture of this neat looking hotel and due to some strange interaction of camera lens and auto glass it came out looking much more interesting than I thought it would.

Molyneux on inflation and deflation

A completely honest question

I'll abandon the usual snark for this post, because this is an honest question:

Why do big cities tend to be liberal?

I'm not asking the question to trash liberals or anyone else. And I have nothing against big cities (in fact, I'll likely be moving to one soon). I'm just curious. Any ideas?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Goodbye Clunkermania

So those brilliant masterminds behind the Cash for "Clunkers" spending frenzy have finally thrown in the towel. None of it made any sense, economically or otherwise, but the program was nevertheless given another 2 billion dollars to throw down a rat hole after the first billion was exhausted so quickly (hey, a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon we're talking real money, right?).

The cars turned in under the program had to be turned in for scrap, which means it was unlikely any newer vehicle worth more than the maximum $4500 offered for the trade-ins would have inspired any Hummer owners to permanently take their gas guzzlers off the road. So we see instead scenarios like the following (from a gentleman I spoke to): A couple owns a 1986 Ford Van and decides to trade it for a new Toyota. But the guy admits that even though they use the van they hardly ever drive it. "Only once in a while, so we really don't get much use out of it" he confessed. So now the van, which is supposed to be environmentally harmful and fuel inefficient, gets replaced by a new vehicle that will be driven, most likely, daily, and therefore actually end up using more fuel than the old van that just sat there most of the time, harming nobody.

Was there any economic stimulus? Well, of course. When you give money away, people are going to take it. I am disappointed and disheartened, however, by the enthusiasm of ordinary people for getting their share of the stolen loot. I wonder how many of those who took advantage (there's a perfect word to describe it) of it were tea-partying type Republicans. Did their "principles" hold up under the temptation of big daddy government hand-outs? I don't know why anyone would expect that, considering the hypocrisy of "conservatives" during the years of the baby Bush presidency.

Also sickening were the auto companies and their dealers. They lobbied hard for the CARS program and its extension, then advertised it like there was no tomorrow. This is why so many are disgusted with the poor, downtrodden businessman. It's because he is not now and never has been in favor of free markets.

The car dealers are complaining that they have lots full of "clunkers" that the government hasn't paid them for yet. I wouldn't care if they never got "their" stolen cash. It would serve them right, first for campaigning to take more tax dollars and then as payback for the decades of underhanded, dishonest, snake oil sales techniques that cheated untold millions of consumers out of their hard earned wages. The auto company bailout of GM and Chrysler, and now the Cash for Clunkers fiasco, is simply the auto industry up to its old tricks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Video: The Corporation

This a long video. Are corporations legitimate entities, or are they illegitimate creations of the state?

Lew Rockwell: Down With the Presidency

While not recent, this is one of my favorite Rockwell columns ever. It is simply a classic. Every word of it is pure truth.

The modern institution of the presidency is the primary political evil Americans face, and the cause of nearly all our woes. It squanders the national wealth and starts unjust wars against foreign peoples that have never done us any harm. It wrecks our families, tramples on our rights, invades our communities, and spies on our bank accounts. It skews the culture toward decadence and trash. It tells lie after lie. Teachers used to tell school kids that anyone can be president. This is like saying anyone can go to Hell. It’s not an inspiration; it’s a threat.

The presidency – by which I mean the executive State – is the sum total of American tyranny. The other branches of government, including the presidentially appointed Supreme Court, are mere adjuncts. The presidency insists on complete devotion and humble submission to its dictates, even while it steals the products of our labor and drives us into economic ruin. It centralizes all power unto itself, and crowds out all competing centers of power in society, including the church, the family, business, charity, and the community. I’ll go further. The US presidency is the world’s leading evil.

Down With the Presidency by Lew Rockwell

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Counter Intuitive Perspective

Even as the economy shows growing signs of improvement, there is a lurking fear among many economists and forecasters that we are witnessing a false lull before a storm of epic proportions.

Some major forecasters dispute the rosy picture being painted by the government and its mainstream media lapdogs.

That Sinking Feeling

h/t to LRC

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just Some Stuff 7

If seven is the number of perfection does that mean this is the best Just Some Stuff ever?

I don't care much for Country music, never have really, though my dad was somewhat a fan when I was a kid and I did get hooked on Johnny Cash at an early age. We were at a dinner given by my dad's boss, a dwarf by the name of George who ran a small hardware store. Dad and I were all alone up north in a small town and he was working for this George repairing televisions and other appliances, sometimes in the basement of the store, sometimes out in the field, with the deer and the bear.

One time Dad almost got electrocuted on the job. Not that he didn't know his job, but Mr. George was not a careful man, and also put himself at risk. That's how my uncle (my dad's sister's husband) died. He was a repairman for Sears and one day he didn't come home. He was electrocuted in a stranger's house, while attempting to fix one of their modern conveniences. He'd been a repairman for at least thirty years at the time of the tragedy.

But back to Cash. At that dinner the boss said he DID NOT like Johnny Cash.

"I like Johnny Cash," Dad said, to no one in particular.

Heavenly Surprises

is there a heaven?
is there a hell?
is there a god?
who can tell?

Sign From God?

WWII. American solider hit by German shrapnel, which is deflected by a spoon in his pocket, upon which it lodges in a candy bar. The American is upset about the candy bar being ruined, but nevertheless falls on his knees and thanks God for the "miracle".

Anarchist Communism?

“The trouble is that what you call ‘anarchism’ is at best merely a hodge-podge, halfway position precariously suspended between socialism and anarchism. You yearn for the ego-sovereignty, the liberating individualism, that is the essence of anarchism, but remain captives of the democratic-proletarian-collectivist myths of socialism. Until you can cut the umbilical cord that still connects you to the socialist womb you will never be able to come to your full power as self-owning individuals. You will still be lured along the path to the lemonade springs and cigarette trees of the Big Rock Candy Mountains.”

A Critique of Anarchist Communism [PDF]

Sean Hannity Shills for Government Motors

So there I was on my lunch break (a lousy half-hour instead of a decent hour in which to actually go somewhere for lunch or do a chore if need be) sitting in my car in the parking lot, and while munching on my lunch of rye crackers and golden raisins (yes, seriously) I turned on the radio briefly to catch a short listen to whatever insane right-wing talk show host was currently spouting nonsense about the evil Democrats vs the good Republicans.

Ah, it was Rush Limbaugh wannabe blowhard Sean Hannity hisself. He was doing a commercial for General Government Motors, extolling the wonders of the "new" GM and their wonder cars, like the new Chevy Camaro, and urging his supposedly anti-big government listeners to check out the GM "reinvention" website.

It was right after this that Shill Hannity neatly segued into the statement that 57% of Americans now agreed that the Obama stimulus plan isn't working. Uh, what? Didn't you just get through telling us how great the new General Motors is, Sean? Do "conservatives" have no principles they aren't willing to throw to the wayside on the merest excuse, such as to line their pockets with stolen money, which is exactly what Hannity is doing by endorsing GM, whose ad budget has now been bought and paid for with tax dollars?

Thanks once again phony conservatives for showing me why I'm not one of you and am a libertarian instead.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Golden oldie: Laura Ingraham gets pwned by Ron Paul

Airbrushing Ayn Rand

One of the most genuinely weird features of Objectivism is the compulsion amongst orthodox Objectivists to mythologize Ayn Rand. This compulsion extends to even the most trivial aspects of her personality or life story, which, in classic cult of personality style, are the subject of deliberate and extensive rewriting, airbrushing, and half-truths until they are in accord with Objectivism's internal mythology.

Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature: Retouching Rand

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Leftist crank wants to end "corporate water"

"We definitely need a covenant or [an international] treaty on the right to water so as to establish once and for all that no one on earth must be denied water because of inability to pay," says Maude Barlow, a senior adviser to the President of the U.N. General Assembly, on water issues.

"We’ve got to protect water as a human right," she said, pointing out that the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva would be the most likely venue to propose such a covenant.

No, this isn't from The Onion or The People's Cube. It's from Common Dreams.

Who would be stupid enough to take these crackpot, bizarre ideas seriously? You'd be surprised.

Karen De Coster: "modal libertarians"

Libertarian guru Murray Rothbard called them "modal libertarians." They are an assemblage of leftover Marxists, 60s-70s drug users, cultural leftists, assorted members of the Arts-and-Croissant crowd, and Christian-hating atheists. They latch onto the libertarian name because, somehow, they think "libertarian" means "do-whatever-the-heck-you-want" in the name of freedom.


Exclusive property rights, and therefore, the right to discriminate against others on one's own property, is not even a part of the left-libertarian thought process. After all, these concepts go against the very ideals they support, such as gay and civil rights, utilitarianism, moral relativism, and non-rationalism. However, enjoying true freedom, without absolute control of one's property, is not possible. And on the mass immigration issue, the modal libertarians put their devotion to multiculturalism, diversity, and PC-ness ahead of the core libertarian principle of private property.

Since When Is 'Private Property' Not Self-Explanatory?

Capitalism Is Beautiful

I read a lot of crazy crap from people bashing capitalism who clearly have no idea what it is or how it works. If I didn't understand how spontaneous order can arise from simple "rules" in the absence of any central planning, I swear I would think the free market and the beauty with which it operates would be evidence of Intelligent Design and the Hand of God in human nature. It is that profound, that elegant, that beautiful.


The spontaneous order of the market is created by the competition of capitalists, not to consume limited resources, but to increase the supply of scarce goods and resources to consumers in an effort to get them to voluntarily hand over scarce dollars. Those with poor sight can read because of self-interested optometrists and eyeglass makers. Those with poor hearing can hear because of self-interested hearing aid manufacturers. Those who are paralyzed can move around because of self-interested wheel chair manufacturers. Those who are sick can live because of self-interested doctors. Capitalism leads not to the survival of the fittest but to the survival of all, or at least of more and more for longer and longer at ever higher standards of living.

On Capitalism
by Michael Owen

Friday, August 14, 2009

Zhwazi On Strong Libertarianism

Most people are familiar with strong atheism (there's no such thing as god) and weak atheism (I don't believe in any god). The analogous positions are deep anarchism (there is no state) and an anarchistic or radical minarchism (I don't believe that any state is legitimate). As there are already good labels for these positions, it's not my intent to duplicate them with this new word. So when I say "strong libertarian" I don't mean "the state does not exist".

I see two kinds of libertarians on the radical end where I reside. The first kind of libertarian is the more common on the Free Talk Live forums I post at, and Ian Bernard (anarchist cohost of Free Talk Live) is a good example. They follow libertarianism to the letter in politics, then pretty much let it go. They'd defend Microsoft from any claims of "monopoly" or "predatory business practices" without much independent consideration. They'll advocate ostracism as a good way to punish people. They'll ban people who use the term "wage slavery" because they find it offensive. In short, "weak" libertarianism is strictly political libertarianism, not a social libertarianism.

The second is the kind I am. Libertarianism is more than just politics to us "strong libertarians". The principles of libertarianism have applications outside the sphere of "how much government should we have?" It's about more than just leaving other people alone. It's about empowering people with freedom. It's about empowering yourself with freedom. And not just freedom from government either. Freedom from superstition, freedom from ostracism, freedom from tradition, freedom from being guilted into things, freedom from the "tyranny of genes", freedom from bad ideas in general, freedom from whatever holds you back. Freedom from gender, racial, regional, and age-related stereotyping, among other types. Freedom from restricted information. Freedom from deliberate incompatibility. Freedom from DROs that tell you "You can't buy and sell from this person, they're bad!" Freedom from the urge to control others. Freedom from things that interfere with your power to achieve values and virtues.

"Strong libertarianism" pursues empowerment through freedom in every sense possible. Not just the ones that are politically or socially acceptable. Not even just the ones that you think you want to accept. Every sense that you can recognize it, it's about empowerment through freedom in that way.

Strong libertarianism is about making yourself, and making yourself better. It's about empowering thought and action. It's about brutal honesty and openness. It's about eating with your elbows on the table because it is convenient to do so. It's about seeing yourself as the inherently free and powerful being you are.

It's not about whether you're an anarchist or a moderate (not directly, but I imagine it correlates positively with radical libertarianism). Hans-Hermann Hoppe would qualify as an anarchist (barely) but he's nowhere near being a strong libertarian. Many of Hoppe's ideas are exactly the opposite of strong libertarianism, his ideas about immigration being a prime example. Hoppe is a "weak libertarian".

I think the libertarian movement needs more awareness of this distinction.

-Strong Libertarianism

This Isn't Freedom

Stop Glenn Beck's abominable campaign of HATE!

The hypersensitive, teary-eyed liberals at Crooks and Liars are emoting like crazy over Glenn Beck's "hate." Seriously.

What a bunch of wimps.

They remind me of the hysterical conservatives who said we needed to support our "commander in chief" as he invaded random countries for fabricated reasons.

Flanders Does Islam

Why does just about every Evangelical blogger on the planet think he’s an expert on Islam? Have you ever noticed that? Any mention of Islam in the news and they’ll go off on the Qur’an and all the evil things it supposedly teaches. What’s so crazy about this is that these shmendriks can’t even agree about their own scriptures. Just get a group of them together and ask what the Bible says about, say, baptism or eschatology, and you’ll be amazed at all the fights that erupt. And yet they think they have credibility when telling us, with the utmost of confidence of course, that they understand the Qur’an?

Now I myself have never read the Qur’an. I’d like to. Just as I’d like to one day read Finnegan’s Wake. But you know how it is: too much to read, not enough time.

Nonetheless, I have a suspicion that most of what these Evangelicals say is total crap. More than anything else, I base this suspicion on the way I’ve seen them butcher their own holy book. Prooftext, prooftext, prooftext—’tis the mantra of most Christians today. Never mind understanding a passage’s historical context. Never mind trying to get at the author’s original intent. Your average Evangelical can twist almost any verse of Scripture to justify pretty much anything he does.

Now I know the Qur’an has some problem passages. But so does the Bible. In the Old Testament, for instance, Yahweh repeatedly commands his people to commit genocide, sometimes even demanding that they slaughter innocent children. And in the New Testament, we find Jesus commanding his followers to hate their parents and spouses and children. And we find the Apostle Paul telling women to submit themselves to their husbands. Yet these Evangelical bloggers, with all the chutzpah humanly possible, claim that it is Islam, not Christianity, that is the religion of violence, hatred, and injustice.

I’m not trying to impugn Christianity. And I’m not suggesting that there aren’t adequate explanations for the above passages. But, for crying out loud, why don’t these Christians extend the same charity to Muslim apologists that they would like for themselves? Why all the energy spent slandering Islam? It’s not like discrediting Islam will somehow prove Christianity.

If these Evangelicals want to see their numbers increase, if they want to lead others to Jesus, then they should try showing a little restraint, exercising a little humility. Because, when you get down to it, people join religious communities, not because of dogmas, not because of arguments, but because those communities make them feel loved and accepted. And this, it seems to me, is why so many young people are turned off of Christianity and why church attendance continues to fall.

Why are there still Chimpanzees? Richard Dawkins explains

via Ssnot!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A day in the life of Joe Liberal

The following was a comment made by Gil Guillory at the Mises Blog.

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He makes it with a machine he could not possibly have made himself. He does not know where it was made, or how it works, and may not care. He does not know the people that planted, cultivated, harvested, dried, roasted, packaged, freighted, warehoused, distributed, marketed, or retailed his coffee, and may not care. The company that insures the manufacturer of the coffee machine required that it meet certain safety guidelines, as established by the private insurance-company-funded Underwriters Laboratory. Joe has seen the UL mark, but is not really sure what it's for or how it protects him. He doesn't clearly understand why greedy businessmen might be interested in a safe product. All of this was made possible by libertarians who fought for and won the legal right to free trade.

He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water which he bought from Ozarka, because the local government monopoly of water supply bears the comforting designation of "accepted" and also tastes funny.

He thinks back to going to church on Sunday. He is happy to have a community where he can participate with other like-minded people in ceremony. This was made possible by the long struggle to disentangle church and state, and his church enjoys the absence of taxation. He wishes other aspects of his life could be so free.

He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee, and then he takes a long drag on a cigarette. He bought his medication while on a trip to Mexico, where, thanks to less regulation and looser enforcement of IP laws, they were much cheaper. His medications are safe to take because he bought them from a reputable dealer. He can still afford cigarettes and can still legally purchase them, because of those who continue to fight for his rights, even if his exercise of those rights might harm him or his family.

Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; it is fragranced with some sort of exotic flower and there are strange chemicals in it - god knows what - and he bought it, well, because he liked the picture of the kangaroo on the bottle. He luxuriates in his bourgeois moment in the shower, a luxury unavailable to even the most wealthy of only 200 years ago. He is able to have many of such seemingly simple luxuries because some greedy businessmen sought enormous profits in the only way they could: satisfying consumer demand.

Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because the accumulation of capital over centuries has now brought the discounted marginal value product of a schmuck like Joe to unimaginable heights. Joe doesn't know anything about economics because he doesn't have to. He is no smarter than his forbears, and he works less. Nonetheless, because he participates in a world-embracing division of labor where his specialized work on a growing capital base is greatly valued, he is richer.

Joe's employer pays these standards because if they don't, his employer's competitors will.

It's noon time, Joe doesn't need to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills - he uses online banking and direct deposit. He has no idea how these systems work, or what a banking clearinghouse is, but he is able to use these services at the lowest cost practicable because banks compete for his business. Notwithstanding the massive interventions to the business of banking, such as the creation of central banking and the Federal Reserve system and the repudiation of the gold standard, he is able to weather the government-induced business cycles and inflation by investing in mutual funds, annuities, stocks, bonds, REITs, real estate, and other investment vehicles. He is able to do this because of greedy entrepreneurs and libertarians who fought against usury laws.

The online banking leaves him free to take a moment to browse for his favorite books, movies, and music.

Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is not among the safest in the world because he chose not to buy a Volvo. His brother has a Volvo, but he has a gas-guzzling muscle car. He has this choice because nationalization of the auto industry was prevented.

He arrives at his rural boyhood home. The house didn't have any good programming choices until DirecTV offered an array of programming and high-speed internet, too. His dad uses a VCR, which only became affordable to him after lots of rich people bought the early, expensive versions and the manufacturers improved the designs and cut costs. In fact, his dad has a cell phone, TiVo, refrigerator, microwave oven, and a CD player - all of which became affordable to him because they were first the toys of the super-rich, and the crackpot schemes financed by the wealthy entrepreneurs willing and able to risk their money in such endeavors.

He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on a reverse mortgage - a recent market innovation. After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home. He turns on a radio talk show. The host keeps saying that libertarians are kooks and anarchists and thank God for continual market intervention and government protection. Government intervention and taxation improves and will continue to improve the standards of living of Americans. (He doesn't tell Joe that his beloved Democrats/Republicans have fought to destroy every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.)

Joe agrees, and puts his support behind protectionism, taxation, monopolies, interventionism, and war: these are obviously the things upon which civilization is built.

Sam Bostaph's version:

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with bottled water because he knows that the municipal water system supplies water that occasionally has e coli and other natural organisms that will make him ill--after all his mother died from drinking water that was polluted by sewage after a heavy rain. Joe tried to sue, but was told that the city had sovereign immunity from such suits as a result of state law. If the water he pours from the bottle he bought at Safeway is polluted, he knows he can sue the manufacturer and collect big, so he feels pretty sure that it's clean.

Joe grinds his coffee beans carefully because they're very expensive as a result of the U.S. government-enforced international coffee cartel that exists to protect the jobs of coffee importers--heavy campaign contributers to Congress. He's also careful about how much sugar he puts in his coffee because it costs seven times the world price of sugar as a result of the U.S. government imposed import restrictions on sugar to protect the domestic sugar beet and sugar cane industry.

Some mornings he drinks a coke instead, although it hasn't tasted as good since the manufacturer substituted corn syrup for sugar as a sweetener, since sugar is so expensive.

With his first swallow of coffee Joe takes his daily medication for his liver cancer. His doctor assures him that it is the best medication available in the U.S., although more effective medicines are used in Europe. Joe has a life expectancy of only two more years, but it will be a decade or so until the FDA tests on those other medicines are complete and they are allowed to be sold in the U.S. Joe feels protected anyway; after all, he might lose his hair or suffer some dizziness from the new medicines.. The FDA will protect him from that eventuality. Besides, the medicines he takes are paid for by money that his employer would have otherwise paid him in his regular salary. Since he never sees that money, he doesn't realize that his medicine isn't really subsidized by his employer after all.

And so on....

LOL. (These are parodies of A Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican, in case you're really slow.)

The Christian Death Cult

What is it about Christians and death? They seem to think everyone should be as obsessed about it as they are. Going through some books out in the garage (most of my library is unfortunately stored in boxes) I came across an Evangelical book defending a literal Hell with actual flames that tortures the "lost" forever (and you thought Joe Stalin and Hitler and Pol Pot were monsters when obviously they've got nothing on the Christians' god).

I may have bought the book back in my born again days, I'm not sure, but it starts out in the first chapter by emphasizing that, yeah, we're all gonna die (tells us something we don't know, please) trying to lay the ground for the scare tactics to come in the rest of the book.

It relates a tale of Alfred Hitchcock and an encounter with him by actress Ingrid Bergman on the great director's 80th birthday:

He took both my hands and tears streamed down his face and he said, "Ingrid, I'm going to die," and I said, "But of course you are going to die some time, Hitch- we are all going to die." And then I told him that I, too, had recently been very ill, and that I had thought about it too. And for a moment the logic of that seemed to make him more peaceful.

The book's author wants to get you thinking about your mortality and pondering what comes after, and that even the "rich and famous" can't escape it, so we all better cower in fear and seek out the invisible god to save us. But the notion of "after death" is nonsensical. As Ayn Rand explained in an interview with Tom Snyder, after Snyder expresses his preference for not believing that we are just "corpses in graves after we die":

But we aren't corpses in graves. We are not there, don't you understand that when this life is finished you're not there to say "Oh, how terrible that I'm a corpse". No, it's finished.

What I've always thought is a sentence from some Greek philosopher I don't unfortunately remember who it was that I read at sixteen and it's affected me all of my life. "I will not die, it's the world that will end." And that's absolutely true. I know for me now, it should be a serious question, because my time is fairly limited, and I have the same feeling , that I will enjoy life to the last moment, and once the end I don't have to worry about it, I'm not there. It's too bad that the world will end and I think a very wonderful world will end with me, but I had my time, I can't complain.

And when asked by Tom, "Ayn Rand does not fear death?"

No, only the death of someone I love, but not my own.

I have felt the same way for a long time. It's not my own death that tremendously bothers me, it's the death of others I care about.

It is only as self aware beings that we suffer as we think and linger in our thoughts on those who "pass away". We could survive most anything and do quite well without gods and religions (it's all about getting to Heaven, in the end) if there were no death. But understand that it is even the case now that that is so, for you are everlasting from your birth, as you can never experience a moment when "you" don't exist. You will always exist in that sense. But still, don't waste your life chasing after phantom mansions in the sky where you'll live in bliss forever. Those castles are not there, they are as imaginary as sand castles, which may appear for their short time before the waves dissolve them as castles of a sort, but are merely playthings for the mind, as Heaven and religions are.

In time, the Deity perceived that death was a mistake; a mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient, for the reason that while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be contrived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb.

The Deity pondered this matter during four thousand years unsuccessfully, but as soon as he came down to earth and became a Christian his mind cleared and he knew what to do. He invented hell, and proclaimed it.
- Mark Twain

Love is one of the things that makes life worthwhile and gods unnecessary (though I do not mean to suggest that one necessarily has to "be in love" or be married to have a fulfilling life) and so I end this with one of my favorite songs, a song Frank Sinatra proclaimed "The greatest love song ever written".

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Original Fascist

The Bible’s opening books describe, over and over again, how God torments the people — with plagues, hunger or bloody murder — for any doubt or disobedience. In this old Bible picture (above) — reproduced on a modern fundamentalist internet site — Moses leads the cold-blooded execution of 3,000 Israelites for questioning him and his God. And God follows up by killing even more with a plague. No mercy, no compassion, no forgiveness — just death for disobedience. If such rules were imposed today, it would be a nightmarish tyranny and horror for the people.

-from God the Original Fascist by A. Brooks

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

God is a statist

A libertarian debate over religion at fr33agents (which I plan to join soon) produced this excellent quote:

Your self-ownership applies even to the imaginary Sky Tyrant: your soul, if it exists, is your own. The Sky Tyrant does not own it and does not have the moral right to torture you should you choose to follow your own path and not its. I think anybody who still believes in the Sky Tyrant as a good and just god requires some alone time with their conscience, to ponder what possible morality such a torturing, murdering bloodthirsty demon god could possibly push into the world.

There are many Christian libertarians out there who are perfectly decent, well-meaning people. But remember: the thing that makes libertarians different is we apply our moral standards (against crimes like theft, murder, rape, torture) to everyone, including the state. Should we not apply these standards to god as well?

Why should god get a free pass?

Socialized healthcare is easy to defend, right?

Then why won't they answer questions? And at their own "town hall" meetings?

Yes, I know we've been obsessing over healthcare lately. But that's because it's important, dammit!

I'm Still Following You, I Think

Just in case anyone thinks I've stopped following their blog, well, I haven't. The list of blogs I follow has disappeared from my Blogger profile page and from my dashboard. I also have checked some blogs I follow and see that I've vanished there as well (though not in every case, I still see my cat's eye on many of them).

I'm also apparently not the only one this has happened to. There are a lot of great blogs out there and many of them I access only through my blogger account, and now that that list is gone, I can't visit many of them as I have them saved no where else, so I hope this problem is fixed soon.

Update: Someone who actually has the exact same problem, i.e., their Blogger dashboard says: You are not currently following any blogs, even though they are following blogs!

Hans-Hermann Hoppe on the healthcare reform we need

1. Eliminate all licensing requirements for medical schools, hospitals, pharmacies, and medical doctors and other health care personnel. Their supply would almost instantly increase, prices would fall, and a greater variety of health care services would appear on the market.

Competing voluntary accreditation agencies would take the place of compulsory government licensing--if health care providers believe that such accreditation would enhance their own reputation, and that their consumers care about reputation, and are willing to pay for it.

Because consumers would no longer be duped into believing that there is such a thing as a "national standard" of health care, they will increase their search costs and make more discriminating health care choices.

2. Eliminate all government restrictions on the production and sale of pharmaceutical products and medical devices. This means no more Food and Drug Administration, which presently hinders innovation and increases costs.

Costs and prices would fall, and a wider variety of better products would reach the market sooner. The market would force consumers to act in accordance with their own--rather than the government's--risk assessment. And competing drug and device manufacturers and sellers, to safeguard against product liability suits as much as to attract customers, would provide increasingly better product descriptions and guarantees.

3. Deregulate the health insurance industry. Private enterprise can offer insurance against events over whose outcome the insured possesses no control. One cannot insure oneself against suicide or bankruptcy, for example, because it is in one's own hands to bring these events about.

Because a person's health, or lack of it, lies increasingly within his own control, many, if not most health risks, are actually uninsurable. "Insurance" against risks whose likelihood an individual can systematically influence falls within that person's own responsibility.

All insurance, moreover, involves the pooling of individual risks. It implies that insurers pay more to some and less to others. But no one knows in advance, and with certainty, who the "winners" and "losers" will be. "Winners" and "losers" are distributed randomly, and the resulting income redistribution is unsystematic. If "winners" or "losers" could be systematically predicted, "losers" would not want to pool their risk with "winners," but with other "losers," because this would lower their insurance costs. I would not want to pool my personal accident risks with those of professional football players, for instance, but exclusively with those of people in circumstances similar to my own, at lower costs.

Because of legal restrictions on the health insurers' right of refusal--to exclude any individual risk as uninsurable--the present health-insurance system is only partly concerned with insurance. The industry cannot discriminate freely among different groups' risks.

As a result, health insurers cover a multitude of uninnsurable risks, alongside, and pooled with, genuine insurance risks. They do not discriminate among various groups of people which pose significantly different insurance risks. The industry thus runs a system of income redistribution--benefiting irresponsible actors and high-risk groups at the expense of responsible individuals and low risk groups. Accordingly the industry's prices are high and ballooning.

To deregulate the industry means to restore it to unrestricted freedom of contract: to allow a health insurer to offer any contract whatsoever, to include or exclude any risk, and to discriminate among any groups of individuals. Uninsurable risks would lose coverage, the variety of insurance policies for the remaining coverage would increase, and price differentials would reflect genuine insurance risks. On average, prices would drastically fall. And the reform would restore individual responsibility in health care.

4. Eliminate all subsidies to the sick or unhealthy. Subsidies create more of whatever is being subsidized. Subsidies for the ill and diseased breed illness and disease, and promote carelessness, indigence, and dependency. If we eliminate them, we would strengthen the will to live healthy lives and to work for a living. In the first instance, that means abolishing Medicare and Medicaid.

Only these four steps, although drastic, will restore a fully free market in medical provision. Until they are adopted, the industry will have serious problems, and so will we, its consumers.

A Four-Step Health-Care Solution by Hans Hoppe
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