Saturday, January 30, 2010

No small breasted porn in Australia

Australia's government is "banning" adult publications and films featuring women with "small breasts," says Aussie activist Fiona Patten, on the grounds that such images encourage pedophilia.

How stupid are things going to get? I guess the next step will be to prevent porn actresses from shaving their privates (or is it publics in this instance?). It is pretty bad when the government perverts think they should be able to dictate the body style of actresses in porno films. When this kind of stupidity hits the US how will it look? “Obama only like big butts, so now it is a law that all porn stars have major booty!”. What about Asian porn? Most of those chicks have tiny titties, is Asian porn now illegal in Australia? It is funny and frustrating at the same time. It is funny because the new “law” is so ridiculous, but frustrating because of how it proves that bureaucrats will try and get away with all kinds of asinine crap and they will probably suffer no consequences and the rest of us will suffer from less freedom and fewer choices and it will continually build upon itself until a breaking point, and the tide will roll back somewhat, but this ebb and flow between those who want to control others and those who do not wish to be controlled has no winners in the long run. The best course of action is to not try and micro manage human behavior.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Emission testing scam

I really hate being a slave, but today I had to be a good little slave because I fear the whip of the government masters. I had a good day at work (work is where I voluntarily exchange my mind and labor in return for financial compensation). Then I decided to ruin a perfectly good day by going to get my car emissions tested. Where I live this is a requirement for everyone to do every two years. It took about 45 minutes and cost $25 dollars. I would have rather spent the time doing other things and I have better things to do with my money.

Emission testing is a rip off and is unnecessary, hardly anyone needs the test as modern vehicles are efficient and low polluting, and people like me who want to be able to maintain the value and reliability of their vehicles keep them well maintained. I don't keep my truck in good running order so it can pass emissions, but so I can depend on it to get me to work and I am not unique in this way.

Here is a good article written several years ago about some of the reasons to hate the Denver emissions program.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stossel on Energy Independence, subsidized trains, and more

Last weeks episode of Stossel was a very packed episode with several topics covered very quickly.

The first topic was “energy independence”. He had T. Boone Pickens on and it was not too friendly of a conversation, Stossel tried to be cordial, but members of the audience keep yelling out insults. The real problem with Pickens is that he seems like a guy who has just accepted the way things are and so tries to capitalize on the current environment for personal gain. He has no moral qualms about having the government steal money from average citizens and then funnel that money to him because he feels like that the money would be stolen from you anyways so why not get in on the action? He pretty much said as much because he kept telling Stossel that “you won't be paying any more in taxes if my plan goes through” and “what I am asking for is just a drop in the bucket”. However at the end he was cut short by time and left looking a little bit silly because his final statement was that he would not risk his own money on his schemes because they are a bad deal, but he has no qualms having tax payers “invest” in his schemes that he admits are economically unsound.

Then the subject moved onto trains. Trains may be a good investment for private industry but not for government. They brought Randal O'Toole on. I met him once when he was in Denver educating us on talking points against the light rail expansion that was being proposed. The fact is that if a city wants to encourage public transit, they should focus on buses and passenger vans. They are cheaper and more flexible and they you can add and subtract routes easily as demand dictates. The reality is that government should not be involved in public transportation but if they are going to force the issue at the very least those of us footing the bill should be getting the best possible value for our tax dollars, instead the government seems determined to find the most expensive, least practical option available.

Other topics mixed in to the show were the broken window fallacy, the X prize, and fungible commodities. It was a fast paced show. Even though Stossel may not have got people to fully understand the broken window fallacy just the mention of it on TV may entice people to look it up.

Another good show.

Keynes, you been served - Peace out, ~ F.A. Hayek

You have to be a real economics nerd to like this attempt at rap, but I think it is fun in a "stuffy intellectual" trying to do rap sort of way. It is long because they try to actually explain the core difference between Keynes and Hayek. I would say Hayek wins, but you can sure tell Keynes has more fun.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The supreme court should stop government injustice, not tell people who can work and who must take welfare

If the court could not revisit earlier rulings, [chief justice of the US supreme court] Roberts said, "segregation would be legal, minimum wage laws would be unconstitutional and the government could wiretap ordinary criminal suspects without first obtaining warrants."

One thing about this quote I would like to point out is that both segregation and wiretaps are products of the government, so the court is ruling how government should act. So if you think segregation and wiretaps are bad then you can blame the government for implementing them into law in the first place. The fact that the supreme court has repealed these laws to some extent is nothing to celebrate. It is good when the supreme court stops government injustice, but the fact is the government should not create such injustice to begin with.

In the case of the minimum wage it is the court dictating how private parties should act and the minimum wage is not fair or just. It is basically saying that if you cannot prove yourself to have a productive market value of more than some arbitrary dollar value assigned by the government then you do not deserve to work. Most of us have no problem creating value of more than $7 an hour or whatever minimum wage is these days, but what about the disabled or the young, or the mentally slow? Should we outlaw the ability for the less gifted to be productive just because the amount of productive value they have is less than what the government would allow a person to work for? If you advocate for the minimum wage you are advocating to outlaw employing the hard cases forcing them into welfare and disability. In a freer world these people should be able to earn what they have the ability to earn, whether a high wage or a low wage it should be a contract between the employee and the employer.

H/T to Kramer at LRC

Monday, January 18, 2010

Stossel on Youtube

I have written a review on every episode of Stossel that has aired so far. I know that a lot of my readers (both of you) don't have Fox Business Channel. Not to worry, Liberty Maven has compiled all of the shows so far and you can find them here:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Copying is not the same as stealing

H/T and a long thread discussing the issue of IP.

I have to say that IP is a very complex issue, but government violence is not the answer to protecting your ideas from being used by others.

Some food for thought about IP. Imagine how much less full life would be if Pizza Hut had a patent on pizza and the only pizza you could buy is some crappy pizza hut pizza. The ability to copy the idea of pizza has made life much more full and also pizza places still seem to be able to make money even without the government enforcing a pizza monopoly.

Perfectly safe airlines

Of course the lesson this humorous video is trying to get across is that there is no such thing as perfectly safe air travel anymore than there can be a perfectly safe drive, or bike ride or walk around the neighborhood. Nothing in reality is “perfectly” safe.

I think that airlines should have some sort of security, however I think that the type and level of security should be determined solely by the airline themselves. I envision airlines competing based on safety, so if you like intrusive safety measures and it makes you feel good then you could choose an airline that does those types of screening for their passengers. If you would feel safer having no screening and taking an airline where the passengers might have anything in their possession including guns, then that should also be your choice. Personally I would rather go on an airline where everyone is potentially armed, than an airline where nobody is likely to have any sort of weapon. When you disarm all of the law abiding people that is when you run into the situation where only the criminals have weapons.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stossel on "Crony Capitalism"

I finally watched this weeks episode of Stossel. The theme of this show was “crony capitalism”. I am not sure I agree with the name, there is no trace of capitalism when you are talking about companies getting special deals, favors and bailouts from the government that is fascism. The simplest definition of a capitalist to me is a person or company that seeks to maximize profits by creating and selling products that people desire enough to purchase or trade for. When the profits come from the government and not from a voluntary exchange what you have is corporatism or fascism.

He spent a lot of time focused on a story about a window company called serious materials, that seems to have been unusually favored politically. It turns out that a vice president is married to the chic in charge of some stupid “weatherization policy” the government thinks is a good way to waste our money. So let's see if you want to make money in America the lesson is that you don't need to offer a better product at a lower price, why go through all of that work when you can just hire the husband of a prominent bureaucrat to be your “vice president of policy”, whatever that even means (it sounds to me like a job where his main duty is being married to the person in charge of Obama's “weatherization policy”).

He then went on to talk about other examples of government favoritism.

He mentioned that there used to be laws regarding what color margarine could be sold in and said that there used to be a law pushed by the dairy lobby that required margarine to be pink. I had never heard this before, but my grandmother told me that when she was a kid, it was illegal for margarine to be sold in yellow so when you bought margarine, it would be white and come with a little packet of yellow food dye and then they would mix it together. Of course now all margarine is colored yellow, but to think that something so simple was illegal at one point does illustrate that the government has truly exceeded its initial mandate (whatever that was, I am sure the color of food was not something the founders of the government envisioned).

Stossel closed with the constitution, no, sorry Charlie, but that is not the answer. As Lysander Spooner said about the constitution “it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist”.

Russ Roberts was on the show this week, Russ has taught me a lot about economics with his podcast econtalk, and I recommend it to anyone even though sometimes it is more statist than I like. He has done some fabulous interviews, my favorite recent one was with Megan McArdle.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Objectivists are warmongers

On my post about John Stossel discussing Ayn Rand and Objectivism, I made the statement that Objectivists are pro-war. This sparked a comment from byafi questioning why I would think this. Some Objectivists might not be pro-war and I am certain that not all Objectivists are pro-war all of the time, but for sure some Objectivists are pro-war some of the time. They do not agree with me that all of the wars the US has ever been in are immoral and the US should have never engaged in them. I don't want to argue about any historical wars as it is tiring and serves no useful point, but the current and imminent wars are worth talking about. Besides either being in favor of or silently against Iraq, and Afghanistan, the Objectivists have taken a stand in favor of attacking Iran. None of which I can agree with.

Here are some statements by a few well known Objectivists posted on popular Objectists web sites, there are many more, but this is a good sample. Other Objectivists like Terry Goodkind have been vocal in their support of the Iraqi War.

This author supports the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the long-term commitment to rebuild that country that must follow. We need to be willing to use military force soon in Korea as well, if we cannot get a reliable settlement with North Korea—and provided that South Korea accepts the risks. -William Thomas

Eliminating Iran's terrorist sanctuaries and military capability is not enough. We must do the equivalent of de-Nazifying the country, by expelling every official and bringing down every branch of its government. This goal cannot be achieved painlessly, by weaponry alone. It requires invasion by ground troops, who will be at serious risk, and perhaps a period of occupation. But nothing less will "end the state" that most cries out to be ended. - Leonard Peikoff

French president Nicolas Sarkozy said that attacking Iran over its refusal to abandon its nuclear program would be "catastrophic."

Quite to the contrary, an attack on Iran that destroyed its nuclear program and regime is long overdue.
- David Holcberg

What we advocate for is a real war of self-defense, a war to protect the lives and freedom of individual Americans, and we advocate waging as ruthless a war as is necessary to defeat Iran's regime. - Yaron Brook

TSA - Now hiring voyeurs

The TSA feels as if it has been around forever already, like it is so embedded in the bureaucratic process that is can never be taken down, and this may very well be the case. It is hard to believe that they have done so much damage, thrown away so many water bottles and have sniffed so many shoes all since their creation in 2002!

Now they want to look at naked bodies. I don't for a minute believe that the photos they will get from the nudity scanners will be nearly as over saturated as what they claim. They also claim that they will automatically blur out the face, well then what's the point? If you cannot recognize the person carrying the weapon then why even do it? Would an over saturated blurry faced picture hold up in court as “evidence”? Of course the answer is NO, so when push comes to shove the TSA will come up with a clear easily recognizable picture of the suspect standing there with a groin grenade shoved in his or her pants. They have also stated that they are going to have the pervert looking at the pictures sequestered in another room far off from where you will be while they take these pictures, so you will have no way of knowing what exactly he is seeing, or if he is touching himself while looking at the pictures running across his screen.

See Stephen Kinsellas post about this for more on what the TSA will really see.

Here is a TSA commercial:

Stossel takes on the nanny state and discusses Ayn Rand and Objectivism

This weeks episode of Stossel was on Ayn Rand and also on the nanny state.

The nanny state part was fun and they interviewed Nick Gillespie from for that segment. It was definitely the best part of the show. They brought on some politician from New York who believes it is his job to make laws that say you cannot soak your feet in a fish pond if the pond was designed to provide “fish pedicures” which is a popular practice in parts of Asia. The fish eat the dead skin off of your feet and leave the living tissue. It is natural and safe, but the politician thought that since you cannot sterilize a fish between feet that the practice should be banned and he was willing to ban it through the violence inherent in government to get his way. I say if he doesn't want a fish pedicure then he doesn't have to get one, but for others they are willing to take whatever risk there is because they enjoy the process and the results. Fish pedicures are just one example of the stupid nannyism that surrounds the government. Don't they have something better to do? Even the liberal audience seemed to enjoy this segment.

The Ayn Rand segment did not generate the same warm feelings from the mostly liberal audience. I agree with a lot of objectivist principles, and liked the overall message the segment the objectivists on the panel presented. However, there was one point when a member of the audience asked “don't we need some government?”. John Allison answered that we need government to provide defense, and courts, cops, and to protect private property. This is where I break away from the panel. I don't believe it is the governments job to do any of those things, and even if I did think that, the problem is that it puts the government in a role where in order to protect your property they must steal it from you, in order to protect you from crime they must engage in criminal aggression against you. It doesn't make any sense at all to me to think that you are somehow being consistent by saying “we need the government to protect your property and in order to fund the government we will need to take your property away from you”. It is as Marc Stevens says, “if the government really cared about protecting your freedoms and your possessions, they would not be the first ones trying to take them from you”. However, my main beef with objectivists is not that they are minarchists, but rather that they were pro-war during the Bush years. This was a serious infraction to me, and one that showed me their true pro-state colors. You can claim to be small government all you want, but if you also claim that that the military should go oversees and bomb people who have done us no harm and that taxes should be extracted by force from unwilling tax payers to pay for it all just makes me sick. This aspect of objectivism was not discussed on the show.

Overall another good episode, and I look forward to the next.

Thanks to my friend the Whited Sepulchre for finding this weeks episode on Youtube since not all of my readers have Fox Business Channel.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Conspiracy Theory, a bit to cloak and dagger to be taken seriously

I watched an episode of Jesse Ventura's show “Conspiracy Theory”. I thought I would give it a try, and the episode was on global warming, which is a subject I sometimes take an interest in.

The show was alright, and I actually agreed with many of the conclusions he came to, but it was very hard to take seriously and I don't think it was all that persuasive. The main problem seemed to be that it was filmed and narrated like “when animals attack”.

This show might do okay for ratings, but will really not illuminate any substantial “truths”, they made it a little too cheesy and cloak and dagger to really be taken seriously.

At one point one of his investigators met with a “top global climate scientist” who had to remain anonymous and cloaked in shadow because of death threats due to his opposition to the AGW theory. He may have very well been a credible scientist and his story completely true. However, there is no way to verify the story since the “scientist” was never revealed, so it isn't as if we can check on his credibility or credentials.

Jesse met with his “smoking gun” informant in a warehouse where he met Alex Jones the day before. Sorry but as soon as you start meeting people in covert warehouses with security provided by the same fat guys you see acting as strip club bouncers, you start to lose some credibility. I also don't believe that Alex Jones adds credibility to the story. I like Alex Jones when it comes to his coverage of the police state, but those stories are pretty cut and dry, when it comes to statues of owls being worshiped by Jewish bankers, he starts relying more on conjecture than facts and his credibility goes right out the window.

The main problem was that the interviews were spliced up, they filmed it like everything was secret (at one point Jesse was interviewing a journalist in a park or some other outdoor location and the camera guy was filming from behind a plant so leaves would occasionally pass by the lens as if this interview was being filmed covertly, but there were at least 3 cameras). The narrator had that voice and script that just makes you laugh, a deep voice saying things like “coming up next, Jesse uncovers the truth in the bowls of Beijing”.

I might give it another try if I see he has an episode on a subject I am interested in, but I I don't think it will be like Penn and Teller's bullshit show or John Stossel's show where I watch every episode.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Promises Promises: Broken Promises that is

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It is obvious that Obama is not planning on living up to very many of his promises. Even though those promises were what got Obama elected in the first place, do you think him breaking them will actually prevent him from being reelected? I don't. I expect that when it comes down to it, people who vote are still going to prefer Obama over whatever bible thumper the republicans are likely to come up with.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cowboy Clyde loves his country!

Go Cowboy Clyde!

I posted this before, but then I got a hair up my ass and deleted every post I made my first year of running this blog, but I love this video so much I decided to repost.

My only criticism is the last line where he references the false flag attack. I don't know if it was or not, but I know that 9/11 is such a controversial subject that I hope that people don't just dismiss the overall message of the song, because of the one line.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Taxation and Medical Cannabis

The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a pot head. He is also a liberal and he seems to think that the government is an agent of good. I take the opposite view and believe the government is an agent of evil and even when they do good things they are still evil due to the process in which they had to utilize to achieve those means (theft, coercion, threats, etc.).

My friend was showing me his new medical marijuana patient card. Now just because he is a pot head doesn’t mean he doesn’t actually need medical marijuana, he had a serious accident last year that severed part of his hip and he could not walk for a long time and it still causes him pain. Not that I really care if a medical marijuana patient has an actual need or not, but I am trying to point out that his issue is legit and it was not someone just scamming the system. We started discussing medical marijuana and like me he believes that marijuana should be legalized, unlike me he doesn’t extend this belief to all drugs, but consistency has never been a strong suit for liberal democrats.

Then he said “we really need to start taxing medical marijuana”, of course I had to disagree. His basic point was that many of the medical marijuana dispensaries popping up here (Denver, the place with more MMD’s per capita than anywhere else in the nation) have not been welcomed with open arms into the neighborhoods they have graced and he believed that if they paid more in taxes this would put them in the good graces with their neighbors. I have to disagree here on many points. First of all paying taxes on the products sold has not generated warm and fuzzies for other stores selling controversial products, like sex toy shops, porno theaters and head shops. Secondly if the shops wish to give back to the community in an effort to create more community support, there are plenty of non-governmental ways they can do that, that would not only be more effective at generating local support, but the dollars they invest in such projects would be better spent and would do more to help than tax dollars would.

I also have an issue with burdening the poor and the sick, which medical marijuana already disproportionally burdens. First off, as far as I know there are no insurance companies that will pay for medical cannabis, so anyone who gets it will have to pay out of their pocket. Secondly, many medical cannabis patients are people with severe illnesses that make it difficult to work. There is no sales tax on other prescription drugs in the state of Colorado, so why would we carve out an exception for medical marijuana? It makes no sense to me that the government will admit that it is unfair and may even be cruel to tax a person taking oxycotin for pain but believe that it is perfectly okay to tax a person taking medical cannabis for pain.

My final objection to taxing medical cannabis is that the government is an organization that relies on violence to achieve its ends and its expansion should always be opposed. Why on earth should anyone advocate giving the “mafia with clipboard” more money and power when we know it will be used to inflict harm on people, whether through war, regulations, incarceration or other means? I am not sure what my liberal friend believes the additional tax money should go towards, but whether it is educating children, feeding the poor, or reducing harmful criminal activity, there are ways to do these things that do not involve the government, and there is never any guarantee that any tax money will be spent on any of these causes, once government gets tax money they tend to spend it however they want not how the tax payers want them to spend the money. I would say my friend should request that his favorite medical marijuana dispensary voluntary contribute to worthy causes in whatever fashion they believe would be the most effective and quit advocating coercive taxation as a way to endear the MMD’s to the community.