Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Penn is the man

Great interview with Penn Jillette. His world view is very similar to mine, and I love the guy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quit deluding yourselves, Greenspan is not for free markets

I don't think it is too controversial to say that politicians lie. Since I know politicians lie, I do not put any stock into their words and try to only look at their actions and the results of their actions. So it frustrates me to no end when I see people believe a politicians words over their actions and I have been hearing a lot of this lately. Don't tell me that Reagan believed in smaller government, when the government grew so exponentially under Reagan as president. Don't tell me Obama is anti-war, when his actions clearly show he is not. Don't tell me that the politically connected asshole Warren Buffett thinks the rich should be taxed more, when he has structured his pay to avoid most taxes and has not offered to voluntarily pay anything extra. Today I heard this doozy, “Devoted market fundamentalist Alan Greenspan now in favor of tax increases”. If you look at actions and not rhetoric, there is nothing to indicate that Greenspan believes in the free market in any way, shape or form, he believes in price fixing from an overarching power, the furthest thing possible from the free market.

In the free market interest rates are set by the availability of savings to lend out. When people save more money there is more money to lend out and so interest rates decline. When there is less savings, there are fewer funds available for lending out, so interest rates rise. This is how interest rates are determined in the free market. This has absolutely nothing to do with how interest rates were determined during the Greenspan years, so it is a complete lie to say he is a devotee of the free market. It doesn't matter if at one point he was a friend of Ayn Rand, or wrote papers about the free market, or any of that stuff. Simply look at his record and you can see that he is full of shit.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The police are not there when you need them.

My neighbor runs a business called the “Game Truck”. It is a for hire trailer that provides a space for multiple gamers to play video games at once and it is popular for tween and teen boys birthday parties, because it provides a way for 10 kids to battle each other at once on the latest video game. They might spend a lot of time at home playing these games, but at home they can only play against one other person most of the time, with the game truck the possibilities open up far more. It seems most popular for the age group that is too young for drinking parties and too old for clowns and bouncy castles. I saw her yesterday and she said that this past weekend the game trailer was robbed of about $10,000 worth of equipment, from games to gaming devices like playstations and Wii's to the televisions, even the cans of cleaner!

She called the police to report the incident. This is what the police are for right? To investigate large crimes against property and people? I advocate ending the government police and replace them with security you hire yourself, but I often run into resistance and people will tell me “one day you will need the police and then you will change your tune”. So I think she was harmed, her business is currently shut down and she is losing money, she suffered major property loss, this is the kind of thing the cops should be investigating. So what did the “brave” boys in blue do to help? They sent one cop out, he glanced around and told her to file a report online. Then he said he needed to leave. She asked if he was going to attempt to get fingerprints or anything and he said “it won't do any good”. How does he know? Then he left claiming he had to go because they were understaffed in the area. Leaving her to fill out an online report, claiming the insurance would respond faster if she did the online thing instead of having him fill out a report.

This pisses me off, it is basically the exact same thing that the police told my mother when her house was broken into a couple of months ago. If they are not there to investigate property crimes then what are they there for? The drug war apparently...

The day after my neighbors game truck was broken into, she saw nine squad cars all at one house a few houses down from where we live and a couple of dozen cops surround the house and yelling things like “They are still in the house, I see them”. They broke the gate to the back yard and it sounded like a lot of excitement. Maybe they had found the criminals who had robbed her truck! A couple of hours later she saw two guys sitting in front of the house that had been raided earlier that day and so she approached them and asked them what it had all been about. They revealed to her that the people in the house had been raided for growing marijuana. She gets robbed and the police hardly have enough staff to even send a single cop out, but they have enough cops to send 20 police on a raid of someone who is growing a couple of pot plants in a backroom.

Is it any wonder people don't like the police. When you are victimized, they are too understaffed to do anything, but when they want to victimize others for fairly peaceful activities like growing plants in a spare bedroom or not wearing a seat belt, they have plenty of resources.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The truthers are out there!

9/11 came and went, I don't really care that much about it. It was a tragedy that was wholly preventable, if the US had not decided they needed to be the world's policeman, then they would not be the target of the worlds criminals.

There seems to be a small segment of the population that are obsessed with “getting to the bottom” of the 9/11 story. They spend hours and hours researching the events of 9/11, they try and figure out how hot the fire would have had to be in order to bring the towers down, they look into ideas like a sonic ray device turning the buildings into dust, controlled demolition, etc. I don't get the point. I have had libertarians try and convince me that 9/11 is a gateway to libertarian thought and this is what makes it useful. The idea being that if someone accepts 9/11 was perpetrated by the government then it will create a distrust of the government as a whole and open people to libertarianism. I think this is folly and a waste of time, even if this has been the case and some libertarians have came from the truther movement, it is not the best approach.

At least for me, I don't really take a side on the 9/11 thing. I don't know if it was an "inside" job or not. I already accept that the government is evil, so it really doesn't make much of a difference to my position. The problem I have with arguing about 9/11 is that I don't like to deal with these arguments where both sides make good points, and I feel like this is what makes getting my position across more difficult than it is worth. I think the conspiracy crowd makes some interesting observations, but seems to be missing pieces of the puzzle and so are the main liners.

Why waste time on something like 9/11 which even if the smoking gun comes out that proves the conspiracy crowd right, what is that going to change? It changed nothing when the Tonkin incident came out. There have been new revelations about FDR's prior knowledge about Pearl Harbor, I don't think anyone believes the JFK story presented by the government, we know the government infected Guatemalan's with syphilis, and yet none of that matters to most people, it has not changed a damn thing. Why not stick with causes and arguments where we have a solid case, not based on conjecture, but solid evidence or at least solid moral grounding? I mean trying to convince a person that 9/11 was an inside job and this is why they should oppose government is going to be a difficult task, trying to convince them that the cops can get away with murder and this is why they should oppose the system is much easier. Trying to convince them that the politicians are in the pockets of the corporations is easy compared to a murky conspiracy about 9/11, and these types of arguments are cumulative. I think these are more useful arguments, I plant an idea like “the politicians are taking their marching orders from the banksters” which is initially met with resistance and then over time I bring more and more stories to my co-workers or friends attention until eventually they see my side. Whereas 9/11 I have to convince them on this one event and there are not a dozen new cases a year where the government is taking down new skyscrapers to help build my case. If it was an inside job, then I guess we just have to accept that it accomplished its goals for the government and they have not felt a need to take anymore actions in the last 10 years.

I am not sure about anyone else, but I am pretty good at discussing libertarian ideas, even so I am lucky if I get 5 minutes with someone to pitch some libertarian concept before they lose interest. Is my best bet in 5 minutes time to try to convince them of 9/11 and then try and use this as leverage for opposing the state as a whole? I simply don't think so. If I spend hours upon hours researching 9/11 truth, that is time I could have spent developing more timely arguments that have a more direct impact on peoples current lives and can be presented much more quickly and easily and have a better chance of convincing others at least about one topic. If I convince a statist that 9/11 was an inside job orchestrated by Dick Cheney or something and I am so successful the whole world agrees with me, then what happens? They put old Dick on trial along with one or two people in the CIA and call it over and then the statist goes back to their support of big government, now that the evildoers have been punished. Rosie O'Donnell is a 9/11 truther, but it doesn't seem to have moved her towards an anarchist position, she just seems to use it to help prove that republicans are evil. It doesn't strike at the root. If instead I convince a person that they own their body and the government should not be able to tell them what they can or cannot put into their body, that has lasting ramifications no matter who is in charge and once that person has accepted that concept as truth, then they see why everything from drug laws to trans fat bans are to be opposed and it becomes less about who is to blame, who did it, and more about principle, even if they remain statist in general they have moved more towards a libertarian position on many issues from this one seemingly simple change in perspective.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fester is cranky when it comes to titles

I am the ultimate crank on titles. I don't like them. I don't really even like Mr. and Mrs., I don't like Dr., I don't like calling a judge “your honor”. I don't mind descriptive titles for what you do for a living, for instance accountant, engineer, store manager, florist, auto mechanic, etc. These to me do not represent an attempt to gain status, as much as they are descriptions of what you do and possibly your role within the limited confines of a specific organization, but not designed to elevate you above others in the wider world.

I recently got into an argument about the use of the word “doctor” when used in a non medical setting by someone with a PhD. I simply refuse to call a non-medical person “doctor”, I might call an MD “doctor” on occasion just to avoid conflict since I will often say I am going to the “doctor's office” and thus I tend to see calling an MD a doctor to be more descriptive than status elevating, but a PhD in accounting? I don't really care if they have an advanced degree I don't see how the title is descriptive of what they do and so I do not want to use the term. I don't have history on my side on this except among the Quakers who refuse to use titles that are designed to elevate one person over another. I am a friend with them on this.

Doctor is common in the US, so it is what brought up the argument, but if I lived somewhere with royalty I would refuse to call someone a duke or duchess, prince or princess as well. Simply put if you have a title that you use to make yourself feel like you are superior to another person, do not expect me to address you by it. I am fine with “John the auto mechanic”, but I am not okay with “Dr. John, the auto mechanic” who also has a PhD in art history, but found that he couldn't get a very good paying job with his education, and likes to act superior to his peers by calling himself “doctor”.