Archive for the America Category

At Least Our Political Purges Are Nicer These Days

Posted in America, Current Events, government, governments, Political, Politics, The United States with tags , , on May 1, 2014 by FoolishReporter

Human skulls from the Killing Fields of Cambodia, 1981, photo by AP

Human skulls from the Killing Fields of Cambodia, 1981, photo by AP

 

I’m currently reading Steven Pinker’s massive tome: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. In the book, Pinker posits that the most recent decades and centuries of human history have been the least violent and most peaceful. Grabbing from a number of fields of study, Pinker is able to present a compelling argument that we do indeed live in the least violent and most peaceful era in human existence.

One of the main driving forces behind this drop in violence Pinker partially attributes to Norbert Elias’ idea of “The Civilizing Process.”  In this theory, its posited that the emergence of powerful states, combined with an increased emphasis on “good” behavior has been instrumental to making humans less animalistic and more civilized. As Pinker writes:

Elias’ theory, then attributes the decline in European violence to a larger psychological change…He proposed that over a span of several centuries, beginning in the 11th or 12th and maturing in the 17th or 18th, Europeans increasingly inhibited their impulses, anticipated the long-term consequences of their actions, and took other people’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. A culture of honor – the readiness to take revenge – gave way to a culture of dignity – the readiness to control one’s emotions.

He summed up his theory, which linked the centralization of state power to a psychological change in the populace, with a slogan: Warriors to courtiers.

So what does this have to do with the title of this post? Well, I would posit that the civilizing process has even creeped into the arena of political purges. We all know of the Killing Fields of Cambodia, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” and Stalin and his brutality in dealing with dissenters, whether it was through direct physical violence or shipping them off to a labor camp in Siberia. Currently, we have a political climate that’s just as charged as any of those countries and movements already mentioned. But, perhaps because of the Civilizing Process, we no longer seem to resort to actual physical violence in our political purges.

One only need to think of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-a, Brendan Eich, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, or most recently, Donald Sterling, to get a firsthand taste of how our political purges work these days. While many of the people who stand opposed to those four men mentioned would probably happily see them dead, they know that’s no longer a viable option. Instead, the dynamic of the purge is to use economic violence to punish dissenters. In each case already mentioned, (and also in recent campaigns against Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh), the most rabid of the left use the threat of loss of sponsors and advertisers to get whomever is being targeted to repent in some way or another.

In Sterling’s case, it was a fine of $2.5 million dollars and a lifetime ban from the NBA. Eich was forced to step down as CEO of Mozilla, while Roberts and Cathy escaped mostly unscathed.

Regardless, it’s an odd, odd dynamic to watch the left gleefully destroy someone’s life for daring to participate in thoughtcrime. One can easily imagine that the most rabid voices of today’s political left would have certainly joined in a physically violent purge of dissenters, and probably would have done so gleefully.

So while it’s incredibly disturbing to see so many people gladly cheer on the destruction of people’s lives because they don’t share popular opinions, at least they’re a bit nicer these days and (typically) don’t result in the actual death of dissenters.

Aint this modern world grand?

Silent Revolutions

Posted in America, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by FoolishReporter

via Penningtonlibrary.org and Royalty-Free/Corbis

via Penningtonlibrary.org and Royalty-Free/Corbis

“The revolution will not be televised”— Gil Scott Heron

While Scott-Heron’s immortalized words were about the tumultuous 60′s and whatever it was that the New Left hoped to accomplish, his words are applicable today, as well. There are revolutions underway everywhere right now, in vastly different areas of life.  While we’ve seen some of the “loud” revolutions, if you will, in the Occupy movement and Tea Party movement in America, or the uprisings throughout the Middle East and, more recently, in South America and Turkey, there are millions more who are taking a quieter approach to being the change they want to see in this world. Below, I attempt to outline a few of the more interesting “silent revolutions” of our times.

A Money Revolution

Bitcoin

There are various examples of this silent revolution taking place all around us. For the first time in a hundred years or more, people are discovering and learning how to take advantage of a currency outside of the State, through BitCoin and it’s ever developing competitors, such as LiteCoin etc. A decentralized money, free from the control (at least for now) of any central state, the possibilities of BitCoin seem endless at this very moment. As someone who mines BitCoins and is getting involved with them in other ways, I happily admit there’s a strange, bubbling feeling that comes from watching all those digits slowly pile up to something useful, something valuable.

It should also be noted that the explosion of the various cryptocurrency’s popularity is proof of the Austrian school’s thoughts on State involvement in money. Here in America, we’re at the endgame of the interventionist and inflationary policies that have ruled since the beginning of the early 20th century. The dollar is failing, and it’s failing fast, and those alleged “smart people” in charge of our money policy still keep talking about printing more of it.

But again, a silent revolution, conducted through the Internet and across the world on a daily basis, will hopefully be the answer when everything finally does tank.

The Food Revolution

mushroomsvia facebook.com/growfoodnotlawns

Another silent revolution is slowly gaining steam throughout America and the rest of the world, and it’s one concerning food. While a large aspect of this revolution is a revolt against Monsanto and it’s genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), there’s also a large contingency of this movement that is about self-sufficiency and, to borrow an anarcho-capitalist term, agorism.

For those unfamiliar with agorism, it’s related to the idea of counter-economics, the theory that one of the best ways to defeat the State is to participate in economic circles outside of its control. The food revolution arguably does that in a number of ways, from taking consumers out of the super chain stores and fast food joints, to also allowing them to privately trade freely on an individual basis.

And for me, the idea that really struck me about the food revolution was the simple point of having it pointed out that, in America especially, so much usable land is left useless for an aesthetic known as a “lawn.” For those who complain about the Welfare State and the dependency it typically engenders, the food revolution is one that should be on your radar. Because, when you get right down to it, one of the best solutions for solving hunger in our communities is to be able to produce the food we need at the local level, to help those in need.

(If this is something you find interesting, like I do, the Facebook page attributed for the photo above is a great place to start, as is www.realfarmacy.com)

The Knowledge Revolution

impotentagainstideas

I have, as my great pleasure right now, the relatively frequent occurrence of being introduced to all sorts of new authors who loved liberty and freedom, and see the truth that the best chance for humanity to live in those states of beings is through free markets. From Ludwig von Mises (pictured above, obviously), to Murray Rothbard, to Jeffrey Tucker and Hans Herman-Hoppe, some of the brightest minds in modern history were in love with, or are in love with,  liberty, and either left us, or continue to build upon, an amazing legacy of liberty.

And, thankfully enough, the silent revolution of liberty and economic knowledge is available to anyone willing to seek it out. From Mises.org and it’s vast collection of free works in .pdf and E-Publication format, to Tucker’s lfb.org (Lassiez-Faire Books) to the Foundation for Economic Education (fee.org), there’s no doubt that a silent intellectual revolution has been taking place for some time now. As (I think both) Rothbard and Hoppe have pointed out, modern society has had a deep-seated need for an intellectual class outside of the one that is the State’s lapdog. And thanks to the Internet and the intellectual legacy left behind by von Mises and beyond, this silent revolution is happening and is certainly having an effect.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the “unseen” revolutions taking place in our day and time, silent revolutions that aim at human liberty and freedom. And in each instance, these revolutions aren’t made up of people who consider themselves vanguardists and who feel the need to take to the street and smash stuff. Instead, these are all silent revolutions, ones in which people (knowingly or not) are turning their back on the failed idea that is the State, and remembering that people, when left to their own devices, often figure stuff out quite well, and usually to the betterment of all.

What a cool time to be hanging out, eh?

:)

Enough With the “Wage Slave” BS

Posted in America with tags , , , , on July 26, 2013 by FoolishReporter

slaveryviapbs

Funnily enough, the idea for this post had been floating around in my brain for the last week or two, when I came upon a post at fee.org, “Thoughts On Work and Working“.  As the post’s author, Sarah Skwire writes:

The economist Dierdre McCloskey says the way that we as a culture talk about things like work and business and money changes how we feel about them. She says, in fact, that the biggest push to bring us into the modern world was a change in the way we spoke and wrote about work and business. That means that what we say when we talk about work matters. It matters if we think and say that work makes you “a slave to the man” or “a cog in the corporate machinery.” It matters that we think and say work is degrading. Or fulfilling. Or creative. Or deadening. It matters that I just called it the engine that drives the free market.

For some time now, the engine of human advancement, the free market, has been attacked relentlessly in American culture, media and academia. As Skwire notes, that attack, in some respects, frames the way we think about work. One of the most popular terms of late has been “wage slave”, usually in conjunction with low-paying jobs in any sector, although, at least within an American context, you see it most often linked to fast-food workers, or Walmart employees. Heck, just yesterday, agitators in the Seattle area were filing police reports for “wage theft”:

Regardless, the wage slave appellation is especially dishonest. It’s a cute word trick that falsely frames the situation. By using the word “slave” instead of “earner”, those who use the term are able to conjure up the most horrific scenes in people’s minds of subjugated peoples throughout time.

But, you see, it’s pure malarkey.  And here’s why.

When you apply for a job, you make a choice of where you want to try and apply to. Your skill set, past work experience, and personal preference all relate to that choice, and lead you to say, Yes, I will take the time to fill out this application, and also make the effort to turn the application in. In essence, by filling out and turning in the application, you are announcing to the potential employer that you are aware of what the job is, what it pays, and would like the chance to have the job.

Great!

Now, you filled out your application, and the company calls you back and asks for an interview. You, once again, of your own free will, agree to the interview, or you don’t. If you do, you go in, do your thing, and then wait. If they finally call back and offer the job to you, you are, once again, in a position of choice: Whether you want to say yes to their offer of employment, or say no.

If you say yes, then you’re an employee of the company *you* chose to apply to, and, in essence, your decision to say yes was an acceptance of the job, the pay, the benefits and so on.

Never, at any point, were you coerced into making a decision, and as a new employee, your labor is not free, unlike actual, real slaves.

And again, the “wage slave” appelation is still untrue, even after being gainfully employed. Why? One simple reason: You can choose to walk away from the job at any time. You are not owned by the company, they have no right nor the ability to compel you to work for them.

Skwire completes the point by writing about Studs Terkels’ 1972 book, “Working”. In it, Terkels interviewed a variety of people from all walks of life who found pride and pleasure in their work:

Wheeler Stanley, who worked on auto assembly lines before being promoted to foreman, begs to differ. “I could stand back, look at a job and I could do it. My mind would just click.… I enjoyed the work. I felt it was a man’s job. You can do something with your hands … [It was] far from boring. There was a couple of us that we were hired together. We’d come up with different games—like we’d take the numbers of the jeeps that went by. That guy loses, he buys coffee.”

There’s Babe Secoli, the grocery store checkout clerk whose pride and satisfaction in her expertise shines through in her words, “There are items I never heard of we have here. I know the prices of every one. Sometimes the boss asks me and I get a kick out of it.… On the register is a list of some prices. That’s for the part time girls. I never look at it.… I don’t have to look at the keys on my register.… My hand fits.”

And then there’s Elmer Ruiz, reminding us that “not anybody can be a gravedigger. You can dig a hole any way they come. A gravedigger, you have to make a neat job. I had a fella once, he wanted to see a grave. He was a fella that digged sewers. He was impressed when he seen me diggin this grave—how square and how perfect it was. A human body is goin’ into this grave. That’s why you need skill.”

The other odious part of the term “wage slave” is the implication of the phrase itself. It’s essentially allegedly “educated” elites asking people “Y U SO STUPID TO WORK THERE?” And, like always, with the elites, the *only* solution is interventionism, either through the State and minimum wage laws, or through the State’s little brothers, unions.

In short, I guess the point of all of this is the fact that the choice is always ours:  Our work empowers us, or our work defeats us.

The Tucker Declaration

Posted in America with tags , , , , , on July 25, 2013 by FoolishReporter

Jeffrey_Tucker

The inestimable Mr Tucker

“If you can’t sell freedom and liberty, you suck, and by suck, I mean, you suck profoundly…” — Andrew Breitbart, Right Online 2011

While I’m not sure either of the gentlemen above were ever aware of each other, there’s an interesting crossover between the two. For anyone who’s read Jeffrey Tucker’s work, or follows him on a daily basis on Twitter or Facebook or elsewhere, you know that there is not a more tireless lover of liberty and freedom than him. It’s safe to say that Breitbart probably wouldn’t think Tucker sucks.

And that’s why, just yesterday, Tucker, in response to a question on Reddit, produced a few short paragraphs about liberty, about freedom, that, at least for me, gave me chills. Call it the Tucker Declaration, if you will, or just call it some awesome writing that moves you, or call it whatever you like. Regardless, I just felt it appropriate to capture it here on my blog:

“Someone on Reddit asked about my optimism. My response below:

The state in all times and all places wants a population of despairing, dreary, hopeless, and weighted-down people. Why? Because such people don’t do anything. They are predictable, categorizable, pliable, and essentially powerless. Such people offer no surprises, threaten no change, destabilize nothing. This is the ideal world that the bureaucrats, the plutocrats, and the technocrats desire. It makes their life easy and the path clear. Today is just yesterday and tomorrow – forever. This is the machine that the state wants to manage, a world of down-in-the-dumps and obedient citizens of the society they think they own.
In contrast, hope upsets the prevailing order. It sees things that don’t yet exist. It acts on a promise of a future different from today. It plays with the uncertainty of the future and dares imagine that ideals can become reality. Those who think this way are a threat to every regime. Why? Because people who think this way eventually come to act this way. They resist. They rebel. They overthrow.

And yet look around: we see progress everywhere. What does this imply? It implies that non-compliance is the human norm. People cannot be forever pressed into a mold of the state’s making. The future will happen and it will be shaped by those who dare to break bad, dare to disagree, and dare to take the risk to overthrow what is in favor of what can be.

I realized all this some years ago, and then when you begin to look around and see how the power elites do not and cannot rule, you discover the whole secret to social order. It turns out that they are not really in control, not finally. Then it all becomes fun. It is a blast to see the powerful topple from the thrones they want to sit in so badly. It is a thrill to use and hold technologies that no one among the elite ever gave permission to exist. It is a kick to see how the market — meaning human beings acting with vision toward the future — is so constantly outwitting the arrogant planners who want to freeze history, control our minds, and wreck our world.

To defy them is so simple: just imagine and future better than the present. You become a enemy of the state, and you begin to love every minute of it.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty good pitch for liberty, freedom and creativity.

:)

A Detroit Narrative That Needs A Home

Posted in America, Current Events with tags , , , on July 23, 2013 by FoolishReporter

statismdidntwork

With the ongoing dissolution of Detroit, the right and left are engaged in their typical oneupsmanship, each pointing out (the right more correctly in almost every instance), to what led one of America’s once great cities to now resemble a place that looks made-to-order from a third world banana republic.

From the left, it’s the usual yadda yadda yadda of THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WITHOUT BIG GOVERNMENT. (Never mind that government is what led Detroit to this particular time and place). MSNBC propagandists Ed Schulz and Melissa Harris Perry both lamented, quite sadly, that what’s happening in Detroit is the endgame of anyone who advocates for small or no government, with Schulz calling Detroit a “conservative utopia”, while tampon earring-wearing idiot Harris Perry said Detroit’s fate is what happens ““when government is small enough to drown in your bathtub.”

Someone might want to point out that the left has effectively been in charge of Detroit for the better part of 50 years. And that’s exactly what Kurt Schlichter did, with his post at townhall.com titled “Conservatives Should Point and Laugh as Detroit Dies.”  Written with the #caring that Schlichter is so well known for, he states the case that Detroit does need to go through that deep shock of total failure, and that conservatives, deservedly, should take some time to enjoy the proof of the left’s ultimately failed ideas.

Unfortunately, this partisan bickering doesn’t give voice to something that has been happening in Detroit for at least a couple of years now. Namely, the fact that Detroiters have been figuring out how to get on with their lives in the absence of any noticeable government, and, in many instances, the fact that these efforts are aimed at the entire community. People are getting done what needs to be done, and the consequences be damned.

In May, Reason ran a post about how “Spontaneous Order Experiments Take Hold in Detroit.” (FYI: Spontaneous order is the idea attributed to economist and thinker F.A. Hayek, which he used to describe how humans arrive at order free of central planners.)

From the Reason post:

When the system fails us, you have to become the system,” said Mitch Logan, a 48-year-old film producer who is part of a self-dubbed “Mower Gang” that mows neighborhood parks after they’ve finished their own yards.

In addition to the landscaping, a church group is boarding up vacant houses in the Brightmoor neighborhood, one of the city’s most distressed, to keep criminals out. And several neighborhoods are now hiring security to patrol their streets, supplementing an undermanned police department.

And while the above excerpt doesn’t attribute which private security firm is being hired, one of the most well-known in Detroit is Threat Management Center, a company founded in 1995, and focused on non-violent means to conflict resolution.

Transportation needs are also attempting to be met by Detroiters, with various groups working to make bus stops better, and also provide private transportation services. Karen DeCoster’s excellent blog Detroit: From Rust to Riches, highlighted 25-year-old Andy Didorosi’s “Detroit Bus Company”, a private company the young entrepreneur founded to meet transportation needs in the city. As far as the aforementioned bus stop improvement, 22-year-old Charles Molnar, together with a number of other similarly aged people, took it upon themselves to improve the bus stop conditions throughout the city, by building bigger and more comfortable benches at the bus stops. 

Unfortunately for both young men, the last remaining vestiges of the state continue to try and stop their efforts.

Regardless, perhaps the most fun piece out there on government-free Detroit was chronicled at DeCoster’s blog. In a post titled The Spontaneous Order : Dining In Detroit, DeCoster describes a fun dining experience taking place in the Motor City these days:

On a recent Sunday evening, hundreds of people dressed in white converged on downtown Detroit’s Cadillac Square Park. They carried folding tables, chairs, white tablecloths, candelabras and food — oodles of it.

A swirl of white clothing and nappery quickly evolved into a formal flash mob dinner party in the urban canyon formed by the Compuware and First National Buildings.

Passersby gawked. The park’s security guard was nonplussed. When he asked people who was in charge of this gathering, the answer every time was “we have no idea.”
And they didn’t.

Finally, there’s this Free Detroit Facebook page  that’s growing fast, having reached 1,000 likes in the few short days since the bankruptcy announcement last week. (h/t to them for the photo you see at the top of this post.)

All in all, the narrative here is the simple fact that people are working together, for profit or not, to repair Detroit. Either side could choose to see the beauty that seems to be going on here, but I rather fear they won’t. And that’s a shame, because what’s happening in Detroit right now is truly an American narrative and it’s one that deserves a home in the larger discussions of our times.

A Hopefully Thoughtful Response

Posted in America, Current Events, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 23, 2013 by FoolishReporter

ocregisterphoto

While I may be a bit older than the younger workers Jeffrey Tucker was addressing in his article titled “Advice To Young, Unemployed Workers“, in the most recent issue of The Freeman, I found myself nodding along throughout the entire piece. Tucker, as always, spells out his points and brings them to life with clarity and brevity. As someone who found themselves swimming back and forth between the waters of unemployment and the shifting ground of any kind of employment from 2007-2011, I can only agree with Tucker that it’s awfully tough for the young to find meaningful employment, and that the system that produced us leaves us wholly unprepared for the realities of economic life.

Tucker gets to the point immediately, when he decries the fact that the majority of our youth are kept from useful work from the ages of 6-18 and beyond.

“Even if it were legal for you to work when you are capable of doing so – from the age of maybe 12 or 13 -,” Tucker writes, “the government has imposed the wage-floor laws that price your services out of the market. Then you are told that if you stay in school, you will get a great, high-paying job right out of college.”

I, for one, fell for this particular myth in many ways, although there were plenty of times during my college years, (2000-2005), where I deeply thought about leaving school in order to work. But I didn’t, and stuck it through to the end. And while I may have been lucky and found a job in my selected profession right out of college, the experience of falling into the miasma of the ranks of the unemployed for the better part of four years had a lasting effect on me, to say the least.

Another point that had me nodding my head and saying, “Exactly!” is when Tucker wrote “the fear that such work, whatever it is, is somehow beneath you is a serious source of personal undoing,” as he discussed that the most important step, for any young worker, is to find and take that job, no matter what it is.  Having fell prey to that particular bit of arrogance that seems to be deeply embedded in my generation’s psyche, I wish I had moved past it much quicker. For about two years, I wouldn’t apply to anything other than a reporter/newspaper job, because I didn’t go to four years of school to flip burgers, dammit!

And then, the lack of a productive life finally caught up to me, both financially and mentally, and I found making myself making $9.00/hr or so manning a ticket booth at a Seattle tourist attraction. Tucker’s wisdom continues when he writes “You learn from every job you have.” This particular job taught me another set of customer service skills, and also gave me a brief glimpse at the odd world of non-profits. Additionally, it let me walk through downtown Seattle on a regular basis, often at times when the city was mostly silent. I still  miss those mornings, sometimes.

I followed that job up with a variety of others, including a portrait photographer for church directories, Verizon Wireless customer care agent, and running an inventory control system for a large retail chain’s regional warehouse. At each step of the way, I was exposed to new and different people, and  learned how to more effectively communicate with those people. I also picked up other odd skill sets, mostly technical, that help me to this day.

The one area where I depart with Tucker in some respects is his point about “thinking about two possible paths forward, each of them equally viable: advance within this one firm, or move to another firm.” While it’s certainly good advice, I think, at least for my generation, we need to flex our creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. As someone who is being awoken to the thinking of the world through economics and liberty and how they mesh and create beauty, I’ve found myself thinking of various means to find more ways to be productive and profitable that don’t fall within a normal employment framework.

Just today, I noticed my sour apple tree is producing apples a bit earlier this year than normal. For the five years my family and I have lived at this house, we’ve just let the apples fall to the ground, usually to be eaten by the dogs. But now, I find myself thinking of how my family and I could possibly benefit financially from those apples, instead of just letting the dogs have their seasonal treat.

It’s also why I spent the time to figure out how to get setup mining for bitcoins. While I don’t ever expect it to be a hugely profitable enterprise, I do hope to have it be just another income stream, away from all the old structures that have made my generation’s ability to generate income so difficult.

In closing, the bit of advice I’d give to younger workers is pretty simple : Believe in yourselves. You and I were taught that certain things had to be a certain way, that the keys to a good life were to be found in being a good kid, staying in school, and graduating from college. Well, we know how that turned out. Now, let’s believe in ourselves and figure out how the hell we make our own life, and hopefully make it a bit better for everyone else, too.

Criminals? Only Because The State Says So

Posted in America, government, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 22, 2013 by FoolishReporter

speakeasy

From all reports, the father and son duo of Antonio Lopez Miranda and Antonio Miranda, were hard workers, owning two car-related businesses in the greater Seattle area. They operated T&C Auto Sales and T&C Auto Wrecking, and, from all indications, are completely legitimate businessmen. As their name belies, the gentlemen are of Hispanic descent and are fluent in Spanish. Among the services they offered their customers, was to deal with the headache-inducing paperwork here in Washington State when it comes to private sales of used cars between people. Perhaps the most onerous issues in dealing with these kinds of transactions is an excise sales tax (the rate varies depending on the value of the used vehicle, but, for instance, say a $5,000 car is being sold/transferred, the tax would approximately be $400) the state collects for people privately conducting business.

(Hey, we’ve had Democrats in charge of this state since 1985, don’t blame me.)

Now, one of the workarounds that people have discovered here in WA to avoid that ridiculous tax is to “gift” vehicles. That is, to say the vehicle is being given as a gift, i.e., no sale is taking place, so that onerous  sales tax does not apply. I’ve known many people who have done this (myself included, perhaps.) So, with this knowledge in hand, the Miranda’s took advantage of this workaround, and did it to mostly help non-English speaking members of the local Hispanic community.

From a press conference given by law enforcement officials regarding this case:

“The owners of T&C are Hispanic, and they speak fluent Spanish,” Grossnickle said in a press conference May 23. “The vast majority of these transactions were conducted with Hispanic (immigrants). Basically, they would come to (T&C), and bring the paperwork to them. The employees at (T&C) would request their information and the title information and then tell the people…(the necessary paperwork would) get back to them. As far as they were aware, they’d get their registration, tabs and plates. Everything appeared legitimate.Several people we talked to had no clue and in no way had ever given their consent to have the car gifted.”

For all intents and purposes, no one was being harmed by the Miranda’s actions. The people coming to them got what they wanted, and all involved were able to avoid paying the onerous sales excise tax. But, of course, the State sees itself as the victim. Hence the fact that these two men, who were serving their community and making a profit while doing so, now face criminal charges.

But the State wasn’t done in this particular case. Their investigators were only tipped off to this mutually beneficial arrangement because of a licensing sub-agent that was processing many of the Miranda’s gifted vehicles. (Brief explanation : Licensing sub-agencies are essentially private businesses that can act as a Department of Licensing/Motor Vehicles agent.) The investigators noticed that there was an unusual amount of gifted vehicles coming from this particular sub-agent, and began to sniff around.

Here again, it was people privately making decisions to better their financial situation. The particular sub-agent in question had an incentivizing program in place for its workers. The more transfers/sales they processed, the more money they made. So now, along with the Miranda’s, two middle-aged women are now caught up in the State’s criminal punishment apparatus:

….two employees of the White Center DOL Licensing Subagent center in Seattle, 49-year-old Karen Simmons and 54-year-old Lou Ann Myer of Tukwila, are alleged to have allowed the processing of these fraudulent documents in their work at the licensing business….

“The subagents were not taking money from the father/son (team),” he said. “Initially, we thought that was what was occurring. According to the subagent employees, they were just taking bonuses from their employer. In an indirect way…they were conducting fraud for monetary gain, on both sides.”

These two women also harmed absolutely no one. They found a way to put more money in their pockets in this economically depressed time, and, again, from the Miranda’s to them, NO ONE WAS HARMED. People made money and saved money.

All in all, I was reminded of Jeffrey Tucker’s essay called “The Speakeasy Economy.” (Hence the photo) In it, he illustrates how there’s an awful lot of evidence that points out people, on a daily basis, ignore the State’s ridiculous regulatory apparatus and conduct business among themselves, peacefully and cooperatively. The story related above was just that. The Miranda’s helped the lower-income Hispanic community navigate  (and sidestep) the State’s regulatory apparatus when it came to private sales of vehicles between people. Simmons and Myer looked the other way because, again, who did it hurt?

It seems more and more that normal, every day people become criminalized, simply for peacefully and voluntarily interacting with each other through commerce.

Ain’t government grand?

A Terrible Vision Realized

Posted in Abortion, America on July 13, 2013 by FoolishReporter

bravenewworld-heads

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the world’s intellectual elites felt that much of the world’s problems could be solved if they were put through the prism of science, or the scientific method. It was A Brave New World, if you will, one in which all the ills and evils that have plagued mankind since our inception would finally, and irrevocably, be cured.

Among one of the questions the intellectual elites (and make no mistake about it, they were a decidedly Progressive bunch) was what to do about poor people, people of color, and other malcontents, such as habitual criminals and people with mental and physical disabilities. In his excellent 2007 work, “Liberal Fascism”, Jonah Goldberg sums it up:

Intellectuals feared that modern technology had removed the natural constraints on population growth among the “unfit”, raising the possibility that the “higher elements” would be “swamped” by the black and brown hordes below.

Not only was America no exception to this widespread panic among the intellectual and aristocratic classes; it often led the way. American progressives were obsessed with the “racial health” of the nation, supposedly endangered by mounting waves of immigration as well as overpopulation by native-born Americans. Many of the outstanding progressive projects, from Prohibition to the birth control movement, were grounded in this quest to tame the demographic beast. Leading progressive intellectuals saw eugenics as an important, and often indispensable, tool in the quest for the holy grail of “social control.”

As Goldberg briefly references there, among the solutions that the leading intellectuals of the day came up with was the birth control movement, along with the propagation of the practice of abortion. A terrible and misguided vision if there ever was one, it can perhaps be best illustrated by Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, who was a devout eugenicist. From Goldberg again:

Under the banner of “reproductive freedom”, Sanger subscribed to nearly all of the eugenic views discussed above. She sought to ban reproduction of the unfit and regulate reproduction for everybody else. She scoffed at the soft approach of the “positive” eugenicists, deriding it as mere “cradle competition” between the fit and the unfit.

“More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief issue of birth control,” she frankly wrote in her 1922 book, The Pivot of Civilization. (The book featured an introduction by (H.G.) Wells, in which he proclaimed “We want fewer and better children…and we cannot make the social life and the world-peace we are determined to make, with the ill-bred, ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens you inflict on us.” Two civilizations were are war : that of progress and that which sought a world “swamped by an indiscriminate torrent of progeny.”)

Again, it can’t be more explicitly stated that Sanger and her intellectual cohorts of the time saw poor people, people of color, and any and all other “undesirables” as unfit strains of humanity, who should either be tightly controlled through reproduction, or, in some instances, outright eliminated. Blacks, especially, seemed to be in the cross hairs of these nutjobs, given Sanger’s “Negro Project.” Again, from Liberal Fascism:

In 1939 Sanger created the previously mentioned “Negro Project,” which aimed to get blacks to adopt birth control. Through the Birth Control Federation, she hired black ministers…doctors, and other leaders to help pare down the supposedly surplus black population. The project’s racist intent is beyond doubt. “The mass of significant Negroes,” read the project report, “sill breed carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes…is (in) that portion of the population least intelligent and fit.” Sanger’s intent is shocking today, but she recognized it’s extreme radicalism even then. “We do not want word to go out,” she wrote to a colleague, “that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of theiir more rebellious members.”

Hence the title of this post, “A Terrible Vision Realized.” Within the context of racist, eugenicist intellectuals who wanted to make sure that the “mongrels” of society would not reproduce, or again, would be outright eliminated, was born the modern birth control movements and its antecedent parts, including the practice of abortion. The terrifying vision has been realized, as today’s statistics on abortion show us:

From The Guttmacher Institute, a decidedly pro-choice organization:

  • Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women have higher rates of abortion (40 and 29 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, respectively) than non-Hispanic white women do (12 per 1,000).[32] The higher rates reflect the fact that black and Hispanic women have high unintended pregnancy rates (91 and 82 per 1,000 women, respectively), compared with non-Hispanic white women (36 per 1,000 women).[26]
  • Women with family incomes below the federal poverty level ($18,530 for a family of three) account for more than 40% of all abortions.[32] They also have one of the country’s highest abortion rates (52 per 1,000 women). In contrast, higher-income women (with family incomes at or above 200% of the poverty line) have a rate of nine abortions per 1,000, which is about half the national rate.

Women of color, and women of minimal means, have the highest rates of abortion among all groups provided for in Guttmacher’s statistical analysis. Damn near 100 years on, and Sanger and company’s terrible vision is working to  perfection.

For all who know me and count me a friend and who also happen to be pro-choice, just know I’ve never advocated for the practice of abortion to be banned.  But, given the knowledge of how the various movements came to be, and what their intent was, I cannot help but feel a sense of revulsion to see that their vision has been realized, horribly, terribly, in our times.

For that, I will not apologize, and I will not be silent.

NO DISSENT OR YOU WILL BE BEATEN : Religious Protester Attacked at Seattle Gay Pride Event

Posted in America, Conservative, Current Events, Freedom, God, Liberty, Political, Politics, Progressives, The United States with tags , , on July 3, 2013 by FoolishReporter

prideflag

 

Seattle’s KOMO News is reporting that two men were arrested after video surfaced of them assaulting a religious protester during Seattle’s recent Gay Pride event. Here’s the raw video:

Now, as you watch that, note that the two men being confronted were *NEVER* the aggressors. In fact, the sign the man is holding doesn’t even directly mention gays, but rather is that view that one finds among the devoutly religious about the state of sin that they believe the United States currently rests in. Also, again, notice, that they were never the aggressors and actively tried to avoid any physical confrontation with those who decided they were worthy of being harassed.

But, yannow, just remember it’s the right-wing that’s inherently violent and reeks of fascism.

LOL.

OBGYN Group Behind “All But 5″ Narrative in Texas Abortion Debate

Posted in Abortion, America, Current Events with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2013 by FoolishReporter

Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis, state senator for Texas

 

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Texas Governor Rick Perry

 

With the Texas legislature reconvening today to argue over a bill that would limit abortions past 20 weeks, and also require clinics/facilities to meet surgical standards, the nagging thought I couldn’t escape was the rather overstated claim by media and “opponents of the bill” that all but five of the clinics currently providing these services in Texas would be closed as a result of the surgical standard requirement.

Given the way the media shaped the narrative, such as with this AP story appearing in the Las Vegas Sun, one was led to believe that Texas Republicans and pro-life advocates were, as one person on Twitter put it, putting in a “backdoor ban” on abortion in the state. (The fun part of that particular story, although I can’t, at this time, prove it, is that the headline read differently the day it was published, declaring emphatically that all but 5 of the clinics would have to close.) Regardless, the AP writers’ closing sentence still sells the idea:

The surgical center requirement would shut down 37 of Texas’ 42 abortion clinics.

NARAL-Texas, framed the issue in about as blunt a manner as those AP reporters did in this press release dated June 10, 2013:

Another bill by Sen Bob Deuell Greenville places extra restrictions on abortion
providers forcing them to become mini hospitals. If enacted, this bill would close down
all but five clinics in the state.

I also emailed NARAL-Texas’ media contact for further clarification. Here’s her response:

Only 5 abortion clinics are ambulatory surgical centers in Texas currently. These exist due to the 2003 law that requires all abortions after 16 weeks to be performed in them. So, in 10 years only five clinics have been able to comply with the burdensome and expensive – and medically unnecessary – regulations. If this law takes effect, none of the other 37 clinics will be able to provide abortions. When you add in the admitting privileges requirement, this could reduce the number of providers to 2 or 3.

A curious absolutism from all involved so far, no? Well, it appears they believe they have a reason to be. The first attribution of this “All but 5″ narrative seems to appear in this April 24 article at http://www.statesman.com. According to the article, the narrative was likely originated by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

Deuell’s bill would require abortion clinics to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers, mandating upgraded facilities — including air-filtration systems, backup electricity and specialized medical equipment — to better treat potential complications.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, head of the 12-member Senate Democratic Caucus, said most of the caucus is following the lead of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which opposes Senate Bill 537.

“The bill does not promote the public health objective it claims to enhance — the safety of women,” the organization said in a letter to senators. “Instead, it harms public health by creating obstacles in access to safe, legal and accessible abortion services.”

Only five of the state’s 37 abortion clinics are licensed as ambulatory surgical centers, a requirement for performing abortions beyond the 16th week of pregnancy. Most of the remaining clinics provide only drug-induced abortions and would likely have to close, unable to meet the renovation costs required to become a surgical center, the organization said.

(emphasis added)

It appears there’s a full-blown campaign by ACOG to fight these measures, given the existence of the blog “Me and My OBG“. Curiously enough, at least publicly, ACOG doesn’t seem to specify a number on how many clinics would possibly be affected by the surgical center requirement. In this statement, dated June 20, ACOG points out:

  • Women outside of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin will have to travel long distances to find a clinic that meets ASC regulations.
  • These burdensome requirements will make these services harder to access as well as make these services more costly.

So, somehow, that “All but 5″ quote from the Statesman story has now morphed into “women outside of ____ will have to travel long distances”.

While me being bugged by this and figuring it out is probably not some great revelation, it’s still instructive in how the left and their media allies shape a narrative. (Think the President et al and the 90 percent of Americans want gun control narrative). Usually, when they arrive at some startling number or consensus, there’s an excellent chance that somehow, the information is being spun in a very specific way.

Or, more simply, agenda-driven media has an agenda!

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