Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Time to flush another Obama Promise

(edit) I made this so feel free to use it. You might also enjoy the 73+ comments to this picture on another forum that is full of liberals with a couple of repubs and only one other voluntaryist.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another hidden cost in the war on drugs, wasting time buying cold medicine

The other night I went to the store and on my list of things to buy was some cold and sinus medicine. I went to the store alone because my wife was sick (hence the need for the medication). At the store you had to pick up a little card with a picture of the product you want to buy on it and bring to the pharmacy counter. I was lucky that the pharmacy was open as it was getting late. So I take the card up to the counter and the guy working there was on the phone, he never even acknowledged I was there. After a couple of minutes one of the workers in the back came up and helped me. She could not ring up the medicine on one of the cash registers because it didn't have a computer attached to it so she could put my name in some database to make sure I was not buying too much cold medication. So we went to the one register with the computer and she requested my drivers license and that I fill out a form. I complied with this this only because I love my wife and did not want to disappoint her by coming back empty handed. So then after all of the paperwork was filled out in order to buy the medication we had to move to a different cash register to ring up the medication, which I paid for separately. Only then was I able to go about my business and finish my grocery shopping.

I know that every libertarian hates the fact that it has become such a pain in the ass to simply buy cold medicine, but this encounter made me wonder about the hidden costs of such transactions. I wasted more than 5 minutes, so did the person working the pharmacy, who knows how long the person on the other end of the computer that my name was entered into spends analyzing peoples cold medicine buying habits. I am not sure how many of these “behind the counter” drugs are sold every year but I would guess probably 200 million boxes a year are sold in the United States alone, If every one of these purchases adds an extra 2 minutes to a shopping experience and requires 2 minutes of a pharmacy techs time, plus whatever time the bureaucrats spend maintaining this pathetic system. You are talking about millions of dollars wasted in lost productivity, and the vast majority of it hurts everyday people and not the bureaucrats who implemented this policy. It is just another cost of this war on drugs not tallied in any official cost estimate put out by the government.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

NRA equals more gun crime?

The other night at my weekly trivia event, one of the questions was “has the number of gun related crimes increased or decreased since the creation of the NRA?”. The answer is that gun crime has increased since the inception of the NRA.

Of course to a person who believes in gun laws the first reaction would be that this is obvious, the NRA opposes gun laws and gun crime has increased since the inception of the NRA, so they draw the conclusion that more gun laws would reduce gun crime. What they miss is that the NRA's creation preceded almost all gun laws in the US.

The NRA was established in 1871 when there were virtually no gun laws and people often carried guns openly. In the 139 years since the NRA was created thousands of gun laws have been passed in the US. Fewer and fewer people carry guns in their daily life and gun related crime has increased during this period.

So what has been more responsible for the increase in gun crime, the NRA unsuccessfully attempting to prevent new gun laws, or the government actively preventing people from being able to use guns for their own protection?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is "Harold and Kumar escape from Guantanamo Bay" a libertarian movie?

Sometimes you find libertarian ideas in the strangest places. Last night I decided to watch Harold and Kumar escape from Guantanamo Bay. It is a really silly movie with many plot holes and a lot of bathroom humor. It is not for everyone, but if you like these kinds of really stupid movies (think movies like American Pie, Dude where's my car, Pineapple Express) check this one out for the not so subtle libertarian themes laced throughout.

The best scene to me was when Harold and Kumar were smoking pot with George W. Bush and say to GW “you get high and then put other people who smoke weed in jail? That is so hypocritical”. Then the GW impersonator says something stupid as a response, then he says he can't legalize pot because it would piss his dad off. Later GW says “you don't have to believe in your government to be a good American, you just have to believe in your country”. I agree with the first part of that statement, but I am not sure how to define the country without mixing it up with the government. Is a country just the plot of land we live on? I do think that the best Americans do not believe in the government, some might believe that there should be some sort of government, but I don't think any good American could believe that the government as a whole and as it currently stands is something to support.

There are other libertarian themes in the movie from the stupid and racist homeland security chief who sees Harold and Kumar as a way for him to make his mark. To Kumar's ex-girlfriends fiance who lands a high level position in the government because of his fathers pull. To the selective enforcement of laws based on who you are (Neil Patrick Harris is ushered through a checkpoint, Kumar is picked out of a line for further inspection at the airport, etc.).

I am not saying everyone should run out and see this move, but rather if you like stoner/stupid humor movies, this is one that gets a little deeper into the politics of marijuana and the hypocritical nature of politicians and the government in general.

Here is the clip of Harold and Kumar getting high with GW, even if you don't see the whole movie this scene is pretty funny in a knowing sort of way:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What if government healthcare was structured like government school?

I was watching Stossel's show on healthcare and public schools were brought up. It made me think to myself, would there be any support for government ran healthcare if it were structured like government schools?

If healthcare were structured like government school, then you would be forced to use a doctor based solely on where you live. You would have to move to get into the “medical district” that you think would offer you the kind of medical services that would work for you. If the doctor you like services an area that the housing is too expensive for you, then you are screwed. If you lie about your address in order to get a better doctor than you are breaking the law.

Does this sound reasonable? If not then why is it reasonable for schools to operate in this fashion? Also you have to wonder if the same organization that structures schools the way they are structured should be the ones in charge of structuring healthcare. How do we really know that the government will allow for any choice in who treats you? That is currently the promise, but we all know that the government always goes back on promises they make when trying to push a bill through and then retracts them later.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My personal journey into libertarianism

Why do I talk about shows like Penn and Teller and Stossel, and other shows on television so much? It is because I know they can bring people into the ideas of libertarianism. Even the trashiest show can bring converts, and so I relate my own story.

I realized I was a libertarian was while watching a trashy talk show. It was about 1988 I was 16, it was a late night talk show called the Morton Downey Jr. Show, Ron Paul was running for president as a libertarian and I saw him on the show discussing drug legalization and agreed with everything he said, after that I started calling myself a libertarian and the rest is history. As soon as I turned 18 I registered as a Libertarian and the next election I voted for Andre Marrou.

Back then I didn't know much about libertarianism, but I knew they were against public schools, and I knew they were for the legalization of drugs. Two really important issues for me at 16. Over time I have learned more of the intricacies of libertarian thought, and I have only became more hardcore in my beliefs. In the last few years I have given up on the idea of any coercive government at all and have became a voluntaryist, but a loud and raunchy talk show was where I realized there was a whole movement of people who beleived in things I did and it connected me to them.

One of the best things about the internet age is that when you go down memory lane, you can often find references on the internet to help you rediscover what had been lost. I found the Morton Downey Jr episode on youtube. This is great classic television. Remember this was near the height of the crack cocaine scare and the “just say no” movement. Morton Downey Jr. Was the Jerry Springer of his day and his show was very rowdy and this is no exception. This episode is wild and sometimes hard to follow, but it got me interested in libertarianism and back then it was more difficult to find information on libertarianism than it is now (pre-internet for the masses). It was still enough.

Part one:

Part 2:

part 3:

First episode of STOSSEL on global warming

I watched the first episode of “Stossel” on Fox Business network. This first episode was on global warming. The show started off a little bit slow, but by the end I had got into it. At first I was a bit taken back by the format. It was very much like a talk show similar to the likes of Phil Donahue or Oprah where the host and guest talk for a while and then take questions from the audience, but with a definite libertarian bias. The fun thing was that not one of the questions was from an AGW skeptic and so unlike most talk shows the audience was on the opposite side as the host and the guests. I think they hit on a lot of great points that come up in the AGW debate, of course they skimmed through a few points, but it was only an hour long show after all.

The most fun scene to me was when John brought in a golf cart and explained how he got it for free because of a government subsidy for “electric” cars. Come on, nobody is replacing their car with a golf cart, it is just another giveaway to the wealthy who are the only ones who drive golf carts. Most of us cannot afford to live on a country club estate, and these are the people you see who actually own their own golf carts. Besides it won't do anything for the environment for people to toot around in golf carts for trips that they otherwise would have walked or rode a bicycle. Most people are not replacing trips in their cars with trips on a golf cart, the golf cart doesn't have the range or speed to take it out of a protected environment. Since the show aired, Stossel reports that he is getting a lot of emails asking him for information on how to get a free golf cart. If you want the government to buy you a golf cart, then you missed the point and you are part of the problem, not the solution.

Overall I enjoyed the show and look forward to future episodes. I will be sure to watch every episode, because you just never know what subject you will get new insights for.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

John Stossel's new show on Fox Business premiered tonight

John Stossel's new show on Fox Business premiered tonight. I missed it because I did not realize it was airing so early local time (6-7), but not to worry it is repeating several times over the weekend so check your listings.

Another Uncle Fester

This is another Uncle Fester, but I liked the story. It is not often you find a heart warming story, about a guy who educates people on how to break the law. I am a proponent of free speech and believe that he is a hero of sorts for making extremely unpopular information available to the public. I am sure the government would like to shut this guy up. This is one of those things where once the genie is out of the bottle, you really can't put it back.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

UHI and global warming, presented by a 12 year old

I have long believed that part of the global warming phenomenon was related to the urban heat island effect as well as better temperature gauging equipment. So it is nice to see someone, a 12 year old boy and his father, have crunched the numbers and have proven that at least part of the global warming data can be directly attributed to the UHI effect. I cannot think of a better activity for fathers and sons to spend quality time on than debunking global warming.

If you don't know what an urban heat island is, it is simply the effect that large amounts of materials like concrete and pavement that collect and retain heat have on the temperature in any given area. These materials make the overall temperatures read higher by absorbing heat during the sunlight hours and expelling it overnight, this creates significantly higher average daily temperatures.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trust us, our data is good, we have no proof, but it is good

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.

...The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU’s director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such data.

In a statement on its website, the CRU said: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”

The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible.

At my work, I sometimes have to do trending and I will sometimes have to eliminate anomalies and explain them. I am expected to not throw the original data away in case someone else wants to look at the raw data at some future point in time. The raw data is considered more important to keep than my adjusted data as it is assumed that the adjusted data could easily be recreated by anyone if my calculations were correctly done, and the raw data is what is actually important. By tossing the raw data and only keeping the altered data it indicates to me that these are either really terrible scientists or they are covering something up, which is it? I don't know, but it does not engender trust or make me less of a skeptic.

If today's scientists are coming to their conclusions based on erroneous data collected and altered by an earlier set of scientists then it throws even the best scientists data into doubt as your conclusions are only as good as the data you use to reach those conclusions.

Thanks to CLS for pointing out this article.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Biggest gold heist in History

It looks like there is a very good chance that Ft. Knox is full of fake gold bars. This is probably the biggest heist in history and was perpetrated by someone high up in the government (probably a lot of people were part of it). When the chickens come home to roost, expect gold to sky rocket as the supply believed to exist is probably half fake.

Both of these articles attack the different aspects of the same issue, both are worthwhile if you are interested in gold.

[edit]In response to Brian, I know this is a bit conspiratorial. However, ask yourself, if a few 400 oz bars were faked, then how do we know how many fakes might be out there? The fakes were good enough to be sent out from the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), so our choice is to expect that the bars the Chinese discovered are the only ones, or ask the question “are there more out there?”

What doesn't seem to be in dispute is that the Chinese ordered some gold bars in October and received gold plated bars of tungsten, I had read that story on a bunch of web sites when it was reported. I don't expect the mainstream media cared much as the bars came from London and went to China and once the fakes were discovered I am sure they were replaced at the time with real bars of gold in an effort to limit the outcry from the Chinese.

The thing is that we really cannot know for sure how wide spread this is unless somebody in the government orders a full audit with rigorous testing of the gold stored there, and at the federal reserve, LMBA, etc. It also would not make any difference as long as that gold just remains in the vault, when it will become an issue is when the value of the dollar drops to a point when countries like china no longer trust the dollar and demand payment in gold, then it becomes an issue if we do not have the gold to clear those debts. If they do have it and this is just an isolated incident, and the vaults of gold that the government claims to have at Ft. Knox are pure, then the issue would go away, however they have not done a true audit in over 50 years, so who knows. When you have government agencies ignoring FOIA requests and refusing to allow independent audits, you do open yourself up to conspiracy theories that could easily be stifled with more transparency.

Also a quick observation that lends credibility to the time frame presented in the second article as to when they think the swap may have occurred, is that in February of 1996 gold $415 and then started a decline and by the end of the year was $370, then by the end of 1997 was $290 and then never getting above $300 until 2001.There may be lots of reasons for this decline, but if the tungsten bar theory turns out to be true, then one of the reasons could easily be that the market was flooded with “new” gold.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's time for liberals to get off of the freedom train when the subject of marijuana legalization is brought up

It seems like marijuana legalization is closer to becoming reality than it ever has been in my lifetime. Here is where the rubber hits the road and separates the liberals from the libertarians in this cause. In the past we have been loosely allied for this cause, but that is changing. It is time for liberals to get off the freedom train and everyday this is becoming ever more painfully apparent.

I have been in two internet arguments lately on the legalization of marijuana and both were against other people who share my belief that marijuana should be legal. The sticking point in both of these discussions were about taxes. Here is where libertarians are going to have to stand up against the liberals. I would prefer to see marijuana legal and taxed than remain illegal, but the best option is to keep taxes off of the table. I am sick and tired of hearing the argument that marijuana should be legal and taxed. No, it should be legal and untaxed. It may be a pipe dream (lol) to believe that this is even a remote possibility, but that doesn't mean that the proper libertarian argument should not be for both full legalization and no additional taxes.

It is frustrating to me to have to argue these points. We should legalize drugs because humans are not the property of the government, and we should be the ones who choose what we put into our own bodies, for good or bad. When the government tells you what you are allowed to ingest into your body and is willing to use force to stop you from consuming what you want, what it really is the government telling you that they have a higher authority to decide what you can do with your own body than you do. This is pretty much the same reason I am against all taxation as well, if you own your own body as I believe you do (or should) then you own the products of your labor and mind, taxation is someone taking a portion of that labor through force. I am not sure why liberals seem to think that the best reason to legalize marijuana is to help the government buy more bombs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mormons are trying to save my damned soul

The Mormon missionaries stopped by this weekend. I didn't give them nearly as hard of a time as I gave the last guys. The fact is that I could see the brainwashing in their eyes, and I felt sorry for them. They both told me that they felt god had personally reassured them that their faith in Mormonism was the correct path and they had chosen well.

I don't really want to belittle anyone's faith, but I don't believe I will be turning religious anytime soon. I am just too analytical for that, but I did let them give me a brochure, so I thought I might share some sweet gems from it, and my thoughts.

The pamphlet is called “The Plan of Salvation” and has a picture of white Jesus on the cover. The first page they talk of something the call “pre-earth life” the gist of this is that before you came into being you lived with god and he taught you everything you would need to know to live a happy life on earth. This is great in concept, but doesn't seem to have any evidence, and I seriously have an issue with the idea that god would teach you the meaning of life or some crap, and then send you out to the world only after he strips you of any memory of any of his teachings. It also seems weird that he would teach that Jesus is the savior, but then make you forget and expects everyone to relearn this in a world where only a tiny fraction of the worlds population believes anything like that. The picture is of a Latino couple, quite unusual in Mormon circles, in fact all of the pictures in the book are of minorities, except for Jesus which I find odd.

The pamphlet then goes on to say that god teaches us right from wrong. I don't think you really need god to teach you, there is basically one rule in life that determines right from wrong. If you hurt another person with your actions, then those actions are wrong. You don't need god to tell you that those actions are wrong, you normally get immediate feedback from the person you harmed, especially as a little kid when you are learning these things.

The rest is just a rehashing of the Jesus story, until the last page where it says that you will know that all of this is true through prayer and that Joesph Smith has added to the resurrection story. Sorry, but this whole idea of resurrection seems silly to me. The claim is that Jesus was resurrected, but the proof offered for this claim is the lack of a body, but then they say that resurrected Jesus appeared as a spirit, so why did he need his body to disappear, and is there not any other possible reasons that a body may have disappeared in the middle of the night 2000 years ago besides god incarnate deciding to resurrect his body and walk out of the tomb and into heaven?

The good news, they are coming back to see if I read their pamphlet. I think there is more of a chance of me converting them than them converting me. It would be a real win, if I could move the conversation to politics and convert them to reject the idea of coercive government.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Biggest Loser loves big fat bureaucracies

I was watching “The Biggest Loser” the other night and for the episode they went to Washington DC. Let me tell you that this episode was disgusting, the hero worship that was shown for the bureaucrats was amazing. I guess it gives me a window into an aspect of society I rarely see. They kept saying things like “I can't believe I am working out right here where I can see the white house, THE WHITE HOUSE!”. I say so what?

I used to live a couple of blocks away from the Colorado State Capitol and I don't believe I ever thought to myself anything like “I am going to eat at the Noodle bowl that is across the street from the capitol building! The capitol building, that is where the bureaucrats work!”. For 2 years I lived right beside the governor's mansion, I felt no awe about it. So am I unusual and the fact that I didn't feel any awe about the trappings displayed by the state government? Am I an anomaly or do most people not really feel much about the state facilities? If most people don't care about state facilities then why do they care about federal facilities?

Back to the Biggest Loser, at one point they ate a salad in the kitchen at the White House. To my eyes it seemed pretty lame and the kitchen looked like any other restaurant kitchen. They didn't eat in a dinning area, but rather in the actual kitchen and most were standing or leaning against counters, etc. I thought it seemed rather lame, but the players in the biggest loser interviewed seemed to act like this was the highlight of their life.

They also spoke to some bureaucrats, and this was even more lame. They were pleading with these bureaucrats to “do something” about the obesity crises. What the hell can some bureaucrat do to prevent obesity that doesn't involve a greater level of tyranny? If I had been on the show (an I am obese so this is not as much of a stretch as you may think) I would have told them to leave us alone and that if they really wanted to do something about obesity (which I doubt) they should quit subsidizing farmers. Maybe if people had to pay the true price for food then obesity would drop, it may make the tax payer thinner and the tax payer's wallet fatter, a double win.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Food Stamps now accepted at Papa Murphy's Pizza

Sorry for deleting all of the old posts on this blog. I am not sure what motivated me to do that, I was just not feeling it at the time.

Blogging is mostly a way to vent in the best of circumstances, I know I don't have a lot of readers on this blog, but then something happens that I just want to yell about and I have nobody to vent to, so then it is back to the blog. That is what happened to me today. I saw a big advertisement outside of Papa Murphy's take and bake pizza that announced “we accept EBT”. For those that don't understand what this means, it means food stamps. EBT stand for “Electronic Benefit Transfer” and is basically a credit card that allows you to buy food and stuff using other peoples money. Normally I simply don't dwell on things like that, but Papa Murphy's pizza is not exactly a meal for those acting in a frugal manner. It is just a slap in the face to poor people who don't take government benefits and actually have to live like they are poor to have expensive restaurant pizza being paid for by food stamps.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I own me - by The Neema V

Libertarian Rap by The Neema V

This is actually pretty well done, unfortunately it seems that as of this posting this is the only video on the You tube channel.